Keeping it real: Writing that’s trustworthy and credible

And in only 7 tips, not 10!

Helping people solve problems, answer questions and make informed decisions is key to your success. But you have to be real, or they won’t buy it. Here are seven easy tips to make sure you’re communicating authentically, whether you’re marketing a product or sending an informative email.

  1. Know your audience.  Sounds obvious, but write or speak to them directly (you, we, etc.) using words they’re comfortable with.
  2. Kill the jargon and fancy words.  Using industry–speak or internal jargon (including acronyms) is not the way to connect with your audience.  (NO: “The populous legion of impecunious vagrants congregated near the basilica.” YES: “The large crowd of homeless people gathered near the old church.”) Don’t try to impress; you’ll only irritate the people you want to reach.
  3. Be specific.  The right details give you credibility. Plus, specific information is more memorable than generalities.  “Scurrying down Park Avenue” creates a mental picture. “Proceeding down the street” does not.
  4. Be careful with punctuation. Don’t overuse exclamation points (too hard-sell), and incorrect punctuation can change the meaning of your words. For example,  “Let’s eat Grandpa!” is not the same thing as Let’s eat, Grandpa!” One comma makes the difference.
  5. Don’t cram in keywords.  Only use keywords when they fit naturally; don’t force them. Otherwise, you’ll seem more interested in SEO than your audience.  Read the piece out loud after you pop in keywords. If you don’t stumble (or laugh), you’re probably OK.
  6. Add modifiers sparingly. Avoid words like “biggest,” “best,” and “unique.”  It comes across as bragging and inauthentic. Don’t tell them you’re great, show ‘em… with proof.
  7. Don’t overpromise; admit mistakes.  If you have a customer guarantee for your brand, write it in plain language, short and to the point. If you make a mistake in this age of transparency, be open and honest about it and elaborate on your effort to fix it.  People will appreciate it.

The key to being real is to communicate as a living, breathing human being. One person to another.  It works.

Don Heymann

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