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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Don’t Be Afraid to Write as You Speak!

February 6, 2012

Don’t Be Afraid to Write as You Speak!

I often find it amusing when I read my emails.

It almost always starts off with “Dear Marc”, and then goes on with “Please find herewith…” or “Kindly be advised..”

I find that amusing because not only does it sound old-fashioned and boring, they are just not written in the language that people speak.

Do you feel the same way too?

In modern sales writing, it is important that your messages are the same as what you would say to your readers if you were speaking to them face-to-face. If you were talking to somebody in person, you wouldn’t use words like “Dear Sir” or “Please be advised” would you?

Let’s say you want to invite somebody out on a date. Can you imagine going up to that person and saying “Dear Michelle, I would kindly like to invite you to a seafood restaurant tonight. It is a very famous restaurant located in town. Please kindly RSVP. ”

You wouldn’t say it would you?

In fact, you are far more likely to say something like this, “Hey Michelle, there’s this new restaurant in town that’s famous for its amazing seafood! Why don’t we go try it out?”

See the difference in the emotions? One is written in the way that WE would speak, while the other is written in the way that our great-grandparents were taught to write in school.

In copywriting, it’s all about the results. Sometimes it doesn’t really matter if you write in perfect English or grammar as long as you achieve these 3 things:

  • Did you get your intended message across?
  • Was it interesting (and FUN) for other people to read?
  • Was it written in a conversational tone that you would normally say face-to-face with a friend?
Learn even more advanced copywriting techniques from my QuickStart Copywriter ebook. Get it here (still) at the special price of just US$9.97 >>

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How to Increase Readers’ Response in Any Sales Copy: Speak Your Audience’s Language

January 21, 2011

How to Increase Readers’ Response in Any Sales Copy: Speak Your Audience’s Language

When you are writing to elicit a response from a particular type of reader, it doesn’t always have to be in perfect, polished English. It depends on whom you are writing for.

If your readers belong to a specific group of people who understand only basic English, then keep the style of your writing as simple as possible. It wouldn’t make sense to use writing devices like metaphors or similes or clever wordplay, which would confuse your readers even more.

The best way to increase the number of responses to your ads is to understand what a certain market segment want to hear and say it to them.

What is the ideal tone of voice you should use to motivate health buffs? What sort of language would appeal to teenage rock music fans? What would move die-hard romantics to tears?

You can apply this writing technique, among a string of other response-pulling strategies as taught in the QuickStart Copywriter eBook, to any form of sales copy. It can be anything, from a Facebook Fan Page wall post or even a script for face-to-face selling.


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1-Minute Learning for Busy Copywriters: How a Simple Writing Technique Can Make a Powerful Impact on Your Readers

January 18, 2011

How a Simple Writing Technique Can Make a Powerful Impact on Your Readers

Whether it is for a speech, sales letter or email, pay attention to the final word in your sentence.

In copywriting, we call it the “hot spot” – the word that makes the biggest impact on readers. So keep it for powerful words.

Instead of:

You will feel refreshed when you use XYZ brand of body foam.

Say:

XYZ brand of body foam leaves your skin feeling clean and refreshed!

Instead of:

You’ll learn how to dress to impress when you read this article

Say:

This article will teach you how to dress to impress!


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Copywriting Technique that Hooks Readers into Your Sales Copy: Use Positive Language

December 7, 2010

Here’s a sample of just one of the many advanced writing techniques from the QuickStart Copywriter ebook.

Everyone loves good news, whether it is an email informing you about a pay raise, or a special someone telling you that he or she loves you.

The same applies in sales writing. People typically find it more enjoyable to read something that sounds positive than negative. Using positive language makes your sales writing sound pleasing to the ears and it increases the likelihood of your readers reading it to the end.

So instead of:

Don’t forget

Say:

Remember

Instead of:

Don’t delay

Say:

Hurry

Instead of:

There’s never been a better time to…

Say:

Now’s the best time to…


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Common Copywriting Mistake: Using Complicated Jargon that Nobody Understands

November 29, 2010

Have you ever got confused by complicated, jargon-filled writing?

I’m not sure about you, but as someone who proofreads hundreds of thousands of lines of text everyday, I certainly have – more so than you can ever imagine!

Here’s an example of a horribly confusing email I received this morning. (Note the spelling, punctuation and grammatical mistakes peppered all over the copy)

Dear Sir,

I would like to take this opportunity to Introfuce ABC Engineering, a subsidiary company of EFG Pte Ltd. Please find the brief of our Learning and Training services we provide through our division.

We offer our services in developing customized Creative Learning and Training solutions & well known for the game-based e-learning modules while also offering a complete range of learning solutions for all kinds of corporate training requirements. We are a one stop shop for end to end eLearning solutions.

We have worked in varied domains in developing different type of training and learning programmes for various verticals across the globe. Just to list a few domains, we have worked big time with Educational, Telecomm, Media, Universities, Engineering, Government, Publishing and many more.

We have got a huge appaluse for developing 30Hours of Banking and Accounting courseware in just 60 calender days for IGNOU, thus breaking all the records so far done by any other company and Brandon Hall is evaluating on the same. We are also working with couple of esteemed universities in USA and Singapore. And, couple of Ministries and government bodies in Singapore and Malaysia.

It would be a pleasure, if we could get a chance to get to talk to you over a meeting at a time convenient to you to discuss if there is a match and a synergy for us to work together and explore the possibilty for a mutually beneficial and long term relationship.

please advise a suitable time for a meeting for 30 minutes to brief more on services.

We appreciate your consideration on this request and look forward to a rewarding and productive meeting with your esteemed organization.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at below mentioned address. I will be pleased to provide any additional information you require.

P.S : Please find the corporate profile and the corporate presentation attached.

Regards,
[Name omitted]

Overlooking the stuffy, centuries-old style of writing, do you understand what the email is trying to convey?

It may sound as if the writer has been working in the education industry for a while but technical jargon such as “game-based e-learning modules”, “various verticals” and “domains” mean nothing to the average reader. It is confusing and painful to read wouldn’t you agree?

And do normal people really speak like this? Probably not – but many certainly write like it!

You’ll not only see such writing in business email correspondences, but complicated, jargon-filled writing have had a long tradition in the workplace where some of the worst culprits are members from the technical and accounts department or even senior management.

It makes me wonder if the writer is trying to communicate in a clear, simple way. Or are they more concerned about communicating status?

Having to read something that you don’t understand wastes precious time and causes frustration. It also causes errors if you need to send an urgent reply to a message you can’t even understand. That’s why you should always write in a simple, clear language that ordinary readers would understand.

Learn even more techniques you can apply today to avoid the most common copywriting mistakes. Download your copy of the QuickStart Copywriter ebook here.


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Common Copywriting Mistakes: Showy Writing that Serves No Meaning to Your Readers

November 15, 2010

Ever heard of the phrase “It’s all show and no substance”?

A lot of writers often fall into the trap of bombarding their readers with meaningless, showy copy just to make their sentences sound impressive, or even worse, increase the word count!

Bear in mind that readers today are much more discerning and better educated than ever before. They are quick to recognize that they are being sold to and anything that reads and sounds like a blatant sales pitch would be thrown away.

Think of your writing like a window. You want your readers to see the view on the other side of the glass. You want them looking at the view, and not the window.

Here are some examples of showy, meaningless writing that you should avoid:

  • “We are the world’s leading IT solutions provider, with more than 20 years of professional experience. We are most happy to provide reliable and convenient service at your doorstep.” (So what?)
  • “We offer high quality and reliable services!” (So what?)
  • “We are the country’s most trusted plumbing service. We believe in our esteemed ability to solve all your plumbing problems.” (So what?)
  • “Powerful and cost efficient, our office printers are the best on the planet!” (SO WHAT?)

How many ads have you seen start like this?

This is just scratching the surface of some of the critical copywriting mistakes that most writers overlook. I strongly recommend that you get your copy of QuickStart Copywriter to learn in greater detail the style of writing that will get you results – get it immediately and delivered to your inbox.


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