No matter what business you’re in, you’re in the communications business. You sell your product or service through the words you choose, helping your customers to understand the value you offer. That’s been true since the first Sumerian used this newfangled “written communication” to drum up customers for their pottery business.  

There have been a few advancements since then (for example, Sumerians now use hashtags. Or they would, if there were any Sumerians still around) but the basic principle remains the same: words matter. They not only drive your customer’s opinion, they are also crucial in helping search engines find you. And the words you chose can be the difference between landing a sale and losing a customer. So how do you find those right words? Like any good writer, you start with the wrong words and then edit.

Don’t Make it (Entirely) About You

We get it. You like your product or service and are proud of it. Your certifications include some of the most prestigious accreditations in your field. Your customer satisfaction ratings are through the roof. And your product has more quality than anything else on the market. Your customers get that you’re passionate and have a great product, they just don’t care.

They just want to know what’s in it for them.

It’s your job to tell them, aligning your words with the outcome your customers desire.  Let’s say you run a landscaping company. You’re not just mowing grass and bedding plants. You’re giving customers the yard they’ve always wanted and time to relax and enjoy it instead of maintaining it.

In short, you’re improving their lives. You’re making them happier, saving them money, improving their health, eliminating their stress, etc. etc. etc.

Focus your words on the benefits to the customer. It’s not about what your product does. It’s about what your product does for them.

Give Reasons Behind News (Especially Bad News)

Here we’re going to get into a little bit of psychology.

Back in the 1970s, a team of researchers ran an experiment where they asked people if they could cut in line for the Xerox machine. (They called their experiment “The mindlessness of ostensibly thoughtful action: The role of ‘placebic’ information in interpersonal interaction” because scientists have yet to explore the frontiers of brevity).

Essentially, these researchers found that if they gave a reason why they needed to cut in line, they received permission 90 percent of the time. The reasons they gave didn’t even seem to matter, with some of them being nonsensical (one researcher, and I promise this is true, told a subject they needed to use the copier because elephants were after them).

So what does this mean for you, the copywriter? It means your message resonates more if you give a reason. That should be self-evident when talking about the benefits of your product or service, but we bring it up here more as a tool for breaking bad news. If you have an extra charge for a particular service, explain why. For example, if you have a surcharge for after-hours work, explain the expense that comes with keeping staff overtime and how maintaining set hours helps keep costs low. The more you explain it, the more customers will accept it.

Don’t Pad Your Word Count With Drivel

You only have so many words to capture a customer’s attention. There have been no shortage of studies done on our dwindling attention spans, with some putting our average at around five seconds. That’s not a lot of time to make a case, especially with average person reading around 200 words a minute.

So you have to make each and every word count. You start by eliminating adjectives.

Why that particular part of speech? Because more than any other, adjectives typify wasted words and meaningless jargon. By now, there isn’t a business in the world that hasn’t referred to itself as “world-class” “cutting-edge” or “state-of-the-art.”  These hyphenate adjectives get glossed over, burning precious seconds you could be using to convey your value proposition.

That’s not to say you want to eliminate all adjectives. Just ones that are tired and played out. Don’t tell your customer your product is great. Show them why it’s great. If you have to use an adjective, lean towards sensory adjectives (here’s a great run down on honing your adjective game).

There are plenty of ways to craft a compelling message that resonates with your customers, driving conversion rates and building your bottom line. If you need help, give us a call at 904.257.8154, or fill out our contact form.

Also, don’t forget to download our Guide to Digital Marketing for the latest insights.

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