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When clients come to us with marketing challenges, they’re usually struggling with some version of this key question:

What do we say, what do we write?

Arresting photos and graphics will get you noticed, but words encourage action. Words sell problems, explain implications, and call people to action.

Words illustrate ideas – ideas of smarter, better and faster – and inspire people to support causes, products and services. Whether you’re drafting a pitch script, marketing copy, or a blog post, it’s critical to keep your language concise and compelling.

Here are five tips that will immediately make your writing more powerful and purposeful:

Outline first. Nothing ruins the written word faster than an illogical flow of ideas. Take the time to outline work, identifying the key points that will flesh out the piece. You’ll also find that outlining your work in advance makes the task of writing less daunting. Whether you’re writing a case study, an article, or a book, an effective outline creates a flow of logic in your ideas that brings a more valuable experience for your reader.

Own your advice. You’re an expert at what you do, so write like it. Own your recommendations. You believe they work, so be assertive about suggesting them. If not, your reader may question your own confidence in the solutions you are advocating.

Ditch passive voice. Passive voice is the hidden killer of strong writing. The opposite of passive voice is active voice. For example, in passive voice, I would write that “an article is being written by me.” The active voice would read, “I am writing an article.” Used consistently, active voice draws the reader in and creates a stronger sense of story.

Use story and visuals. People can easily forget facts and figures in cascading bullet points, but story gives them context and makes them stick in the memory. Stories create memory palaces with rooms and distinct mental pictures. Infographics, flow charts, timelines, and metaphors are examples of visuals that can simplify complex  concepts. It’s simple enough to say that people should give back to their communities. It’s far more powerful to feature one person who is actually doing it. It moves others to relate and aspire to similar behavior.

Tighten up. Edit, edit, edit. Remove extra words, phrases, and sentences that don’t add to what you’re writing. A good test is to ask yourself whether the meaning of the piece would be changed if you removed a word, phrase, or sentence. If the answer is no, remove it. If it’s not helping, it’s probably hurting.

Your readers – prospects, clients, investors and influencers – are quick to sniff out content that wastes their time. Keep them engaged with content that gets to the point – and gets them to act.

Have a great week.

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