3 power tests for your writing

Thursday, 01 October 2015 by

When a prospective or existing client asks RichWords to assess an example of their writing, we use a step-by-step system of analysis called PAGES.

The “P” stands for Power – we’ll consider the other elements in future posts – and we judge the strength or weakness of the sample by answering these three questions:

1)       How persuasive is the writing?

With the right structure and language, you can address your reader’s likely objections and lead him/her through a series of logical steps to the call to action.

2)       How reader-centric is the writing?

If the text addresses the reader’s concerns, talks about benefits, and uses “you” more than “we”, it will achieve a higher power score than a piece of writing that does none or just some of these things.

3)       How effective is the writing?

Scoring well on (1) and (2) goes some way to scoring highly on effectiveness, although other factors come into play too. Does the headline and overall design (for example) create an impact? Is the call to action simple or complex? And so on.

Today’s post will focus on persuasiveness – how you should structure your text, and what language you should use. Get these things right, and you’ll keep people reading and convince and persuade them to take action.

Building your case

What’s the best structure to use when writing your marketing messages? The answer is… it all depends.

Some differences in structure relate to the audience you’re addressing. For example, you should set out a written press release in a specific way that’s designed for that collateral – read about it in How to write a press release that journalists will read and act upon.

With any other marketing materials, you can use a technique that successful salespeople (and copywriters) employ: AIDCA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Conviction, Action):

  • Attention is all about grabbing the reader with one of 12 types of arresting headline
  • Interest relates to keeping readers engaged by writing from their perspective
  • Desire involves unlocking the emotions of your reader
  • Conviction is about reducing the perceived risks that your reader associates with your product or service
  • Action relies on you addressing all of the above, and then making the call-to-action clear and easy to follow

You can learn more about AIDCA on the RichWords one-day Copywriting Fundamentals training course. We can tailor this to your needs, or you can attend one of our open courses – more coming in 2016 – for delegates from a range of organisations.

Using the right language

To choose the right language, you have to bear your reader in mind as well as your own branding and tone of voice.

We say “reader” (singular) because addressing one person rather than a mass of people helps you connect to every reader in turn. To do this, use the word “you “ (as a singular, not plural, pronoun) more than you use “I”, “we” or your company name, and adopt a conversational tone too – writing as if you’re speaking to someone. These techniques will create a more personal tone in your writing, even if the reality is that you’re communicating with dozens or even thousands of people.

In addition, you should write about what matters to your reader: empathise with their issues and problems, and explain how your product(s) and/or service(s) can help to solve them. And remember to write about benefits, not just features.

What’s tone of voice?

Simply put, tone of voice is the way your words sound to your reader – and the way the words make him or her feel. So you have to decide what your brand stands for (as well as why it’s unique) and then capture that through your word choices.

Your tone can be: formal or informal; youthful or traditional; posh-sounding and intellectual or full of slang (I’d recommend somewhere in the middle of those extremes) and so on. Getting the tone right is one of the hardest parts of writing… which is why many organisations turn to a professional copywriting firm for help. To discuss this further, please get in touch.

 

If your organisation commissions RichWords to assess some writing samples – with a view to editing, rewriting or replacing the text – we’ll use our PAGES analysis system to give you a structured response.

We’ll consider the Power of the vocabulary/overall message – as defined above – and its Architecture, Grammar, Eloquence and Style.

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