MUST-READ for Copywriters and Marcom People: Fast and Easy Way to Make Your Copy Easier to Read

April 19, 2015

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It doesn’t matter if you’re a sales copywriter or a Marcom person, one of the most important things to do is to check your writing for readability.

You may have spent countless hours fine-tuning and editing your work but does it necessarily mean your readers can understand you?

So before you send your press release or sales brochure for print, make sure you understand this rule-of-thumb: the more readable your text is, the higher the chance you’ll get a response.

Before you go, “What?! Does that mean I have to proof-read my document again?” Here’s the GOOD NEWS: Checking for readability is as easy as a click of the button. It only takes a minute and involves very little work on your part.

Here’s what you should do:

Copy and paste your text into Microsoft Office Word 2010. If you’re not using Microsoft Word, you can use an online readability tool such as http://www.readability-score.com

In the menu bar at the top of the screen, click on Review.

Next, click on Spelling and Grammar:

Spelling and Grammar

In the window that pops up, click on Options:

PopupTick the little check-box that says Show Readability Statistics, then click on OK:

Show readability statsWhenever you run a spell-check on your document, you’ll get a summary of the readability statistics:

readability stats

Right up to this point, you’ll see several sets of figures. Don’t let them frustrate you. I hate numbers myself! But what we’re really interested in are the bottom 3 sets of scores

1. Passive Sentences is the percentage of your text using passive voice. The lower the percentage, the better.

Here’s why you should minimize the use of passive voice in your writing

2. Flesch Reading Ease is a highly accurate formula developed by world leading readability expert Dr. Rudolph Flesch. As the name suggests, the formula is based on the number of long words you use, and tells you how easy a text is to read. The higher the score, the better.

3. Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level relates to US Grade School reading ages. For example, a score of 8.0 means that an 8th grader can understand the document.

Now this doesn’t mean your reader has to be an 8th grader!

Bear in mind that your reader, who is very likely a busy person, has very little time (and patience!) in reading your copy. Asian readers, especially, hate to read something that is difficult to understand, or as they often say, “bombastic”.  It is very unlikely that he or she will give it full attention if they have to check the dictionary each time they encounter a difficult word (e.g. “tenacious”, “exacerbate”, “scintillating”, “collegial”).

You get the idea.

So always make your text easy for busy (and impatient) people to understand what you’re trying to say – without them having to check the dictionary.

If your Flesch Reading Ease score is low (e.g. 50 or below), it’s mostly due to sentence length. Proof-read your document again and pick out any long sentences. Could you reduce them? Or split them in two, even three? Check for any unnecessarily long words and use an online thesaurus such as http://www.wordreference.com for a simpler meaning of that word.

For example, could you say “co-operative” instead of “collegial”, or “lucky”, instead of “auspicious”?

Remember, the more easy your copy is to read, the higher the chance you’ll get a response!


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Useful Phrases To Make Your Business Emails Come Alive

April 4, 2015

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When you’re writing business emails or ANY type of marketing message, the only thing in your reader’s mind is “What’s In It For Me?” (WIIFM).

You’ll have to use words and build sentences that keep your readers involved, in line with the WIIFM principle. To help you achieve that, I’ve compiled a checklist of useful phrases you could use to make your business emails and letters come to life for your readers. All of a sudden, your reader becomes involved in reading your messages and responding to your ideas. He’s nodding. He’s stroking his chin. He’s thinking “hmm that makes sense!”

Your goal as a marketer/copywriter is to make your ideas come alive in your reader’s mind so vividly, he paints pictures of the results he can achieve by using your product or service.

Don’t you think that’s exciting?

Openers
Openers are used at the beginning of sentences and/or paragraphs

You see…
You see Peter, when you see our new [PRODUCT] in action, you’ll realise why it will have such significant impact on your Return on Investment.

You’ll see…
You’ll see exactly how this new technology will help you save…

You’ll discover…
You’ll discover an amazingly simple truth about…

You’ll find…
You’ll find it brilliantly simple to use…

You’ll recognise…
You’ll recognise just how valuable…

You’ll hear…
You’ll hear, perhaps for the first time, how…

You’ll be able to see at first hand…
You’ll be able to see at first hand exactly how using the new idea will…

You’ll realise…
You’ll realise how effective…

Translators
Translators translate key product features into benefits for the reader.

So…
It has a dual processor so speed is doubled and productivity increases…

What this means is...
What this means is a significant increase in effectiveness and productivity…

And, more importantly…
And, more importantly, the freedom to focus on what matters for your business…

So that you…
You’ll see just how solid the new furniture is so that you can considerably reduce maintenance costs…

So you can…
That’s $197 in savings, so you don’t have to worry if you’re racking up extra dollars every month…

How would YOU use the above phrases in your business emails and letters?

If you found this article useful and would like to learn even more ideas and techniques that get your business emails and letters read and acted upon, download your copy of “Quickstart Copywriter” now.


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Improve Your Business Email Writing Skills: How to Build Rapport through Email

January 10, 2011

In a face-to-face scenario, it’s easier to build personal rapport because a real person can be seen and heard. It’s also easier to communicate over the telephone because you can hear the tone of the voice used without having to see the person at the other end of the conversation.

But on email, you don’t have either of these advantages, so it’s important to learn writing techniques that can help you create rapport with your readers, customers and colleagues.

Here are some email writing techniques you can use.

Engage your reader by using positive affirmations

In general, everyone loves reading messages that bring a smile to their faces. With this rule in mind, always be warm and friendly in your opening. Use positive affirmations where appropriate.

Here are some examples:

  • Thank you for taking the time to meet up with us earlier this afternoon. It gave us a good opportunity to learn more about the new project.
  • Thanks for calling me today. It was nice of you to clarify this issue with me personally.
  • I’m so happy to hear this good news from you! You’ve worked really hard the past few months and I think you deserved to win the “Best Staff of the Month” award. Congratulations!

Be personal, write with emotion and empathy

Emotive and sensory words add texture and dimension to every message that you write. But most people (office managers especially) are so keen to get straight to the point that they often sound rude, authoritative and even offensive.

Remember that people typically respond better to positive language and messages that sound personal. For example:

  • Let me know what are some of the questions you have. I’ll help you sort out this problem.
  • I appreciate your understanding in trying to resolve this issue.
  • I hope I can help you solve this problem very soon.
  • I understand your concern. I’m always here to help. Please call me.
  • What are some of your concerns? I’ll be most happy to help you out.
All these topics and more are also covered in the QuickStart Copywriter ebook.

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How to Write Better Emails: Avoid Unnecessary, Old-Fashioned Phrases!

March 4, 2010

Business language has changed. But unfortunately, not many people realize that!

Take a look at this email I received a few days ago:

Dear Sir,

Enclosed herewith is the letter as per your request.

Please revert back to us if you may need any further information to support the membership application.  We will do our best to assist.

Cheers

If the tone of the email sounds familiar, that’s because everyone else is using it! Open up your inbox and I guarantee you’ll find emails that are riddled with stuffy, centuries-old expressions like “I am pleased”, “As per your request” and “Enclosed herewith”, among others. Unnecessary, long-winded phrases such as those dilute the meaning behind your messages and lead to confusion.

So if I were to re-write the above email in the style and tone of today’s writing, I’d say:

Hi Marc!

Here’s the letter you requested.

If you need more information to support the membership application, please me know.

I’ll do my best to help.

Cheers

See the difference?

On print, the word count of the email is now shorter and the messages are easier to read. When read out loud, the tone of the email sounds more natural and relaxed. So if you want to capture the interest of your readers – some of whom I believe could be important business clients – you have to keep your emails concise, focused and personal. It also leaves a better impression on your readers!


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