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Business Writing When Not To Be Professional
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It's time to write your next ad or brochure. Maybe some web content. You've done all your research, and you're staring at a blank computer screen. You want to look good in print. You want to put your "best foot forward." And, of course, you want to make a barrel full of money.
Well, you're going to have to pick one, because you can't do all three.
Not, that is, if "looking good in print" means sounding like an educated professional. Or using perfect grammar. Because unless all of your prospects are English teachers, they're going to respond better to more natural writing - writing that reads like people actually speak.
Real people don't speak like "professionals" write. (Neither, for that matter, do most professionals.) Real people use sentence fragments. They start sentences with "and", "or" and "but."
Every now and then they kind of trail off like...
One thing real people do not do is use big, fancy words when shorter ones will do. And neither should you.
Real people do not say things like, "I am committed to finding the lowest cost alternative." Why, then, would you want to be "focused on providing" it?
Copywriting that uses stuffy, complex language just doesn't sell. You know what I mean: The verbose, impersonal, corporate-speak that sounds more like a mission statement (which nobody cares about) than a personal communication. The kind that strokes the CEO's ego when it should be stroking the prospect's.
With that in mind, here are some tips to help bring your writing back "down to earth":
1. Picture your prospect. Get a mental picture of the one typical person you're writing to. If you have to, get a real picture from a magazine or even your family album and tape it to your computer screen as you write. Then write like you're talking to that one individual.
2. Read your copy out loud. If you stumble over anything, so will your reader. Rewrite until your words flow smoothly and sound natural.
3. Read your copy to someone else. Preferably a group of people. If, when you are finished, they tell you what a great job you've done, you have failed. You've succeeded when they ask you how to get what you're writing about.
Never be afraid to be personal in your ads, web pages, sales letters - any time you are communicating with a prospect. Make it sound like you are actually speaking to them.
If you still want to "look professional", use the money you make and go buy some nice business clothes!
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