The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.
– Mark Twain
I love this quote by Mark Twain–almost as much as I love Mark Twain.This gem is posted right above my desk right next to a picture of my customer personas.
Why? Using just the right words:
- positions you as the solution of a customer’s problems
- conveys trust and integrity in your business
- breathes life into inanimate products and services
If you’re a business owner, professional or entrepreneur writing your own business materials such as website content, social media profiles or the company newsletter, then finding the right words and doing so quickly is key.
Here are 5 tips on how to select the right words to engage and activate your audience:
1. Aim the spotlight on the customer.
Who doesn’t love to be the star, the centre of attention? When writing, use “you” instead of “I” or “we” in your website, your newsletter, your marketing materials. Convince your customer how you’ll meet their needs, answer their questions and make them feel good. Position yourself as the fixer of all customer problems, the all-knowing provider of answers to their questions.
2. Accentuate the positive.
Choose words that have appropriate connotations. An attention-grabbing vehicle is not the same as a conspicuous one; and platform shoes that are trendy are not the same as those that are just a fad.
3. Speak to your customers in their language.
Use industry jargon only if it’s appropriate and your customer understands it. If you’re a personal injury lawyer, you’re going to want to save the legal terms for discussions with other lawyers, not your broken-legged, in deep duress client. If you and your customer are both medical professionals then jargon may be just the thing you need to convince your customer of your expertise.
4. Dig deep, or at least a little deeper, into that vocabulary.
Or use the Word or an online Thesaurus. Our first word choices are often lazy or common. Is there a more enticing way to say a product is interesting? A superior way to say you’re engineering firm is better than the competition? Of course, you don’t want to get too zealous or fervent and sling strange words into your writing unless you really want to draw attention to them. But why not use language to draw attention to what you can offer customers instead? They’ll love you for it.
5. Edit, once, twice, O.K. twice is probably fine but do it with fresh eyes.
I once saw a high-end restaurant that meant to promote “Fresh Crab” on their prominent signage but had unfortunately placed a p where the b should have been. They got a lot of attention–but it wasn’t for their crab.
Ever been sold on the right words? What were they? Ever been turned off by a word? What was it?