Five simple steps to start the conversation (Step 2)

readability

We saw in last week’s post that if you find one emotionally compelling idea it will be much easier to write clearly and concisely.  This week we look at Step #2: Use an easy-to-read style.

Step #2: Use an easy-to-read style

When you use an easy-to-read style, your reader can focus on your message rather than muddling through dense text.  These three tricks can help you develop that easy-to-read style.

Trick #1: Use personal pronouns

Using personal pronouns gives your writing a conversational tone.  Personal pronouns seem to connect the reader to the writer.  And that conversational tone helps your reader focus on your message rather than your language.

Just be sure that personal pronouns are right for the content.  It may not be appropriate in every situation.easy-to-read style

Trick #2: Avoid jargon

It’s easy to be drawn to words that are common in your industry. But are they common to your audience?  When writing for non-specialists and you have a choice between words, use the common, everyday word.

A couple further pointers on word choice:

  • Use positive words. Negatives like don’t in front of a verb can make some readers stumble.
  • Avoid long strings of nouns. Sentences with several nouns in a row can be difficult to navigate.
  • Use inclusive language. Unless your document is about men, don’t use only male pronouns (he, his).

Sometimes you may have to use a technical term, even when you’re writing for non-specialists. In that case, choose words that will help your readers.

Trick #3: Avoid padding with words like very, really, actually, or carefully

These words don’t serve any purpose.  Keep in simple, keep it easy to understand.

Conclusion

By adopting an easy-to-read style, you can start a conversation by engaging your audience.  Use personal pronouns, where appropriate.  Avoid jargon by choosing the right word. Avoid padding your text with words that serve no purpose.

 

Do you have a white paper or case study that didn’t bring the return on investment you had hoped for?  Perhaps it needs a Readability Revamp.

I am a water quality scientist with fantastic writing skills.  I offer a service that can improve your content’s ROI.  I take the text and bring the FK score down.  I improve the readability without “dumbing” it down. By increasing understanding, I help your readers take the action you desire.

Contact me to discuss your next content project.

 CONTACT ME

 

Stay tuned next week for Step #3: Keep it concise and to the point

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Five simple steps to start the conversation

readability

Introduction

Is your content ‘talking’ to your audience?

The whole point of marketing is to start a one-on-one conversation between two people.  Ultimately a conversation between your sales person and their business manager. one compelling idea

Your product is complex and technical.  That’s fine.  But if your content is hard to understand the conversation may never get started.  You need to simplify the language in your content to make your complex, technical product understandable.

In this series of posts, we look at how to simplify your writing using five simple steps.  But first we should understand how readability is assessed.

Readability: Flesch Kincaid (FK) Explained

The Flesch Kincaid readability assessment was developed to assess the difficulty of reading materials for upper elementary through secondary grades.  Although the FK test was developed to assess reading material for students, the FK score is basically about the readability of the text.  A scale based on a formula.

The FK (as it is known) looks at these factors in a piece of writing:

  • # of letters per word: more letters, more difficult to read.
  • # of words per sentence: more words, more difficult to read.
  • # of sentences per paragraph: more sentences, more difficult to read.
  • % passive sentences: more passive sentences, more difficult to read.

Word processing software can review documents and report on two FK parameters:

  • Flesch reading ease, and
  • FK grade level.

The Flesch reading ease assessment is reported as a percent and the higher the better.  And for persuasive content writing, a FK grade level score of 8 or less is best.

Although the FK score can help you improve the clarity of your writing, it does have drawbacks.  Of course, you should avoid jargon and technical terms as much as possible but sometimes it just can’t be helped.  Just be aware that your FK score may creep up if you rely too much on these less familiar and less used terms.

Remember, a bad readability score does mean reading will be difficulty.  But a good readability score does not in itself mean the writing was good.

 

Now on to Step #1 of 5 that will start you on your road to content that is easily understood.

Step #1: Find one emotionally compelling idea

The most powerful aid to clear, concise writing is to identify an emotionally compelling idea.  One that engages the reader or listener on two levels: emotionally and rationally.

It doesn’t have to be factual. But it does need to feel like it is or should be true. It must be so emotionally attractive the reader wants to believe it.one compelling idea

An emotionally compelling idea must generate a feeling of discovering something new and useful.  Something new to think about and share.

How to find that emotionally compelling idea.

There is no substitute for research.  You need to know the topic – your product – and its features and benefits. You need to know your audience and their needs.

It always helps to start with a brainstorming session.  Whether alone or with your team, think about all the features and benefits of your product.  If an emotionally compelling idea doesn’t jump off the page, which it most likely won’t, more research is required.

After further research into features/benefits and your audience’s needs, you then repeat the brainstorming activity.  Once you really understand the values and benefits, one benefit will stand out.  Turn that one benefit into an emotionally compelling idea.

Put that emotionally compelling idea right up front

First things first.  By putting your main message right up front, your reader is more likely to come away with at least that message.  You can help your reader by:

  • Stating the subject of an email in the subject line.
  • Including an executive summary with a white paper.
  • Stating the basic facts about a news item in the first sentence or two of a news release.

An introduction is also helpful, regardless of the length of your document.

Conclusion

Studies have shown that people like to know what they’re in for right from the start.  Put your emotionally compelling idea right up front.  In primary school, they taught us that when writing a report, you should:

  • Tell them what you are going to tell them,
  • tell them,
  • then tell them what you told them.

It still applies today.  Put the emotionally compelling idea up front and draw your audience through to the call-to-action.

 

Do you have a white paper or case study that didn’t bring the return on investment you had hoped for?  Perhaps it needs a Readability Revamp. 

I am a water quality scientist with fantastic writing skills.  I offer a service that can improve your content’s ROI.  I take the text and bring the FK score down.  I improve the readability without “dumbing” it down. By increasing understanding, I help your readers take the action you desire.

Contact me to discuss your next content project.

 CONTACT ME

 

Stay tuned next week for Step #2: Use an easy-to-read style

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Does your water industry writer have these 5 key skills? (Final)

research skills

So far in this series we have seen the importance of writing well, water knowledge, understanding your prospects, and research skills.  This week, in the final post of the series we discuss Skill #5.

Skill #5:           Planning Skills

Writers have a dubious reputation when it comes to planning and project management.  You need a writer who can plan your content project and carry out that plan.  You need to know your content investment, which may be significant, will provide a good ROI.

You need to make sure that your efforts are focused on achieving business objectives.  It’s not about the content.  It’s about the business outcomes that the content can achieve.

What should be in the plan?

  • Goals: Ensure the content will align with your business goals.
  • Audience: Be clear about your target audience.
  • Content asset: Make sure the type of content is right for the target audience.
  • Call to action: Identify what you want the prospect to do after accessing the content.
  • Keywords: List keywords your target audience is searching for.
  • Research: Describe sources for further research
  • Overview: Outline a high-level overview of the content.
  • Review: Streamline the review process by identifying all reviewers in the plan.

Each content project must be planned, no matter how seemingly trivial.  You should find a writer that appreciates the importance of planning.  A writer who can help you plan and can then execute that plan.

Conclusion

We have explored 5 key skills your water industry writer should have:

  • Writing well. Able to convey complex scientific and technical information in clear concise language.
  • Water knowledge. Able to explain and illustrate large data sets using graphs, tables, conceptual diagrams, infographics.
  • Understands the water industry audience. Knows your prospects’ pain points and understands how your audience can change through the sales funnel.
  • Research skills. Able to find the evidence that proves your process and translate complex jargon into plain language.
  • Planning skills. Able to plan and execute the project effectively and efficiently.

If you want to build awareness of your products and services, you must publish quality content.  Of course, your company is full of talented people.  They all work hard in their core areas.  Pulling people out of productive roles to write content may not be cost effective.

In that case, hiring a freelance writer is the best option.  Finding a writer is easy.  Finding a good, much less an excellent one, is tough.

So, next time you’re looking for a freelance writer, be sure to check for the five skills we’ve looked at here.

 

To keep these key skills in mind, download and print the handy infographic:

5 Key Skills You Want in a Water Industry Writer

DOWNLOAD A FREE INFOGRAPHIC

 

Contact Water Copy for all your content writing requirements.

CONTACT ME

 

 

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Does your water industry writer have these 5 key skills? (Part 3)

research skills

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been looking at how to pick a writer.  How to choose the best writer for water industry content marketing.  We have seen how important writing well and water knowledge are.  In this week’s post, we look at Skill #3: Understanding the Water Industry Audience.

Skill #3:           Understanding the Water Industry Audience

A key skill crucial to being able to write persuasively is the ability to understand your audience.  In the water industry, the sales funnel is long.  There are many people involved in every purchase.

Your writer needs to understand who your prospects are and how their personas change through the funnel.  At each stage of the funnel, these people have different information needs.  Different pain points.

Wouldn’t it be great to find a writer who knows your prospects and their pain points?  Pain points that your products and services help alleviate.  Things like:

  • Water supply – quality and cost
  • Wastewater – quality vs. disposal costs
  • Compliance with water quality discharge standards.

Water quality is important to your prospects.  It influences how the wastewater is treated and how it can be used. Water quality determines wastewater discharge options.  Water quality impacts the bottom line of your prospects’ business.

But there is something else about your prospects that’s harder to pin down.  It’s their desire to do the right thing.  To be involved in managing water sustainably.  To be contributing to our environmental resilience.

There is no reason why your prospects should not be seen doing the right thing. You want a writer that understands that.  A writer that can weave that story of resilience and sustainability into every white paper, every case study.

Finding a writer that understands your audience may be difficult but you will be glad you did.

 

I am an expert water quality scientist with experience in the water industry. I know your prospects.  I regulated them.  I inspected their operations.  I set the water quality standards they must meet.  In other words, I know their pain points.  I can help you engage with your prospects.  Enable you to provide the information they need, when they need it. 

 

Contact me to discuss your next content project.

CONTACT ME

 

Next week Skill #4:       Research Skills

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Does your water industry writer have these 5 key skills? (continued)

research skills

In last week’s post, we started looking at how to pick a writer.  How to choose the best writer for water industry content marketing.  We saw how important writing skills are.  In this week’s post, we look at Skill #2: Water Industry Knowledge.

Skill #2:           Water Knowledge

This week we discuss another important trait you want in a content writer: water knowledge.  You need someone who knows your industry.  You shouldn’t have to explain the difference between an anaerobic digester and a clarifier.  Or the difference between removing oils and grease from effluent and lowering the BOD.

Integrated wastewater management is complex.  Wouldn’t it be great to find a writer that understood the water industry?  Understood water quality? Understood wastewater treatment and use? Understood water quality regulation?

water industry knowledge

A writer for the water industry must be able to interpret the unique jargon.  As with everything else in the water industry, the jargon is complex.  There is the language used by academic researchers.  There is the terminology used by engineers.  There is the semantics of legislation.  The writer you need understands and interprets this jargon.  And translates it into simple terms.

A writer for the water industry must be able to explain and illustrate large data sets.  Graphs, tables, conceptual diagrams, infographics.  All these tools can help your audience understand complex information.  Your writer must be able to use these tools to accurately relay your data.

That’s the kind of writer that could deliver powerful, persuasive content for the water industry.

 

I am an expert water quality scientist with experience in the water industry. I understand the science behind your solutions.  I can interpret the jargon.  I can explain complex ideas in simple terms and compel your prospects into action.

 

Contact me to discuss your next content project.

CONTACT ME

 

Next week we look at Skill #3:    Understanding the water industry audience 

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