Your clients and customers have less time than ever before. When they arrive to your website, sales page, or blog, they want to know, right away, what’s in it for them.
You want to connect to your audience in a way that feels authentic, but in order to get your message across, it can sometimes feel as though you are writing a novel. There are so many details of your story that you want to convey! And so many nuances of speech you’d like to include to make it sound, you know, like you.
By the time you get to the end of writing your About page, your latest blog post, or even your next social media campaign, you may feel as though you’ve said enough, but is it possible that you’re saying too much? (Hint: You are almost certainly saying too much.)
Don’t get me wrong, your story is important. But it’s the heart of your story—the essence—that will grab your readers’ attention.
3-Step Clear Copy Method
I have a three-step process that I use to write clear, concise copy that honors the writer’s story and intentions. You can use it to get to the heart of your message so that your readers stay with you to the end. It involves three simple steps: brain dump, trim the fat, and add meaning.
I give you full permission to begin writing about your topic without worrying about perfection. Just get it out. Stick to a general outline with beginning, middle, and end in mind, but don’t worry about getting it perfect. Write what you think is important for your audience to hear. Most important, don’t overthink it. Just let it flow.
Trim the Fat
Time to work. Get your red pen ready, or whatever finger you use to hit delete. Be on the lookout for extraneous words. Often, phrases at the beginning of sentences can go. For example, when you read a sentence that begins, “Now I want you to . . .” or “I think that . . .” or “In my opinion . . .” or “Go ahead and . . .” get rid of it! Be direct. If you want someone to do something, don’t beat around the bush. Notice the difference in impact of the following two sentences:
It would be best if you could eat a healthy breakfast each morning so you have plenty of energy to face the challenges of your day.
Eat a healthy breakfast so you have the energy to face the day ahead.
The last two sentences say the same thing, essentially, but one takes twice as long to read. (That’s twice the chance of losing your reader to fatigue or boredom.) If your sentences look more like the first, your readers will get tired. Learn to unpack your sentences. Ask yourself, “How could I say this in the most concise way?”
Once you’ve trimmed the fat, read through your piece. You fill find that certain words or phrases come to mind that help not only connect one sentence to the next, but also connect you to your reader. Set an intention of connection. Take a look at the difference between the following two paragraphs:
To write with your reader’s most nuanced desires in mind means to forget your “5 Tips for Success” and your need to make money this week. When you sit down to write for your business, do it as though you are sitting down with your customer to sip coffee and chat.
To write with your reader’s most nuanced desires in mind means to forget your “5 Tips for Success” and your need to make money this week. How does your client want to feel? When you sit down to write for your business, do it as though you are sitting down for coffee with a good friend who needs some support.
To add meaning, simply ask this question, “Have I meaningfully improved my client’s life in any way?”
Simple as ABC—Always Be Concise
Your message will go far when your readers take the time to listen. They will do so when you are crystal clear, concise, and meaningful.