FREE DOWNLOAD: A useful plain language checklist

plain language

FREE DOWNLOAD: A useful plain language checklist

Is your content ‘talking’ to your audience?

plain languageThe 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.

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.

Download this useful checklist and keep it handy for when you write your next white paper, case study or blog post.  Make your content more easily understood. More believable. More persuasive.

 

Download Your Free Checklist

 

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Five simple steps to start the conversation (Part 5)

readability

We have found an emotionally compelling idea, adopted an easy-to-read style, and kept it concise and to the point.  We have made it skim-able by adding headings and lists. The last step is to complete your structure work.  This week Step #5: Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye.

Step #5: Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye

Readers can be intimidated by long blocks of text.  Making content easy to read in a visual sense will make it easier for the reader to understand your key message.

You can soothe the reader’s eye by using white space. Use adequate margins and space between sections. Keep paragraphs short.  The lists we discussed last week help break up text and provide relief to the eye as well as enhancing its skim-ability.

Visual tools can help explain your content.

  • Infographics provide a clear visual representation of data, relationships, or ideas.
  • Tables can help comparisons and show relationships without using a lot of text.
  • Lists group similar items. Numbered lists are ideal for items that are sequenced or ranked; other lists may be bulleted.
  • Other visual tools include inserts, charts, maps, and checklists.

Make sure the tool you use matches your content and the needs of your audience. You can’t explain everything with a pie chart!

Conclusion

In this series we have seen how plain language improves understanding.  Understanding leads to trust, and ultimately to action from your prospect.  Take these 5 simples steps to start the conversation:

  1. Find one compelling idea.
  2. Use an easy-to-read style.
  3. Keep it concise and to the point.
  4. Make it skim-able
  5. Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye.

 

To keep these simple steps in mind while writing, download and print the handy checklist:

Checklist 5 Simple Steps to Start the Conversation

Download Your Free Checklist

 

Contact Water Copy for all your content writing requirements.

CONTACT ME

 

 

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Five simple steps to start the conversation (Step 4)

readability

We have found that if you find an emotionally compelling idea, adopt an easy-to-read style, and keep it concise and to the point, your content will be easier to understand.  This week and next we look at ways to structure your document to make it easier to read.  This week Step #4: Make it skim-able.

Step #4: Make it skim-able

You can make your document more user-friendly by providing cues that promote skimming.  There are a couple tricks you can use to help these readers out.

Trick #1: Use headings

Headings show your readers how your document is organized.  And they let your reader skim the text to find the information they’re looking for.  Readers on the Internet tend to move on to something else if they don’t find what they’re looking for quickly.  In longer documents, add a table of contents at the beginning, too.

There are several ways to write a heading.  You can state it as a question, as a phrase or as a declarative sentence:

  • “Are there two kinds of people in the world?”
  • “Two kinds of people in the world”
  • Declarative sentence. “There are two kinds of people in the world.”

 

Trick #2: Break up blocks of text with bulleted/numbered lists

Lists are easy for readers to skim. Choose numbers when presenting a list with items in a specific sequence or rank order. Use bullets when the items listed are equivalent in importance.

Conclusion

These tricks improve readability because:

  • They make it easier for readers to find what they want.
  • They make your content less intimidating by breaking it up visually.

 

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 #5: Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye

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Five simple steps to start the conversation (Step 3)

readability

We now know that if you find one emotionally compelling idea and adopt an easy-to-read style your content will be easier to understand.  This week we look at Step #3: Write concisely and to the point.

Step #3: Write concisely and to the point

When writing about complex technical subjects, you need to construct your sentences carefully.  Direct, simple sentences will help get your point across.  In fact, long sentences almost always have complex grammatical structures.  This puts a strain on the reader’s immediate memory.  The reader has to retain several parts of each sentence before he can combine them into a meaningful whole.

Here are a few tricks to help you keep concise and to the point:

Trick #1: Keep sentences and paragraphs short.

The average length of your sentences should be 20 words or fewer

Trick #2: Sentences should focus on one idea

Keep it simple. Cover only one idea per sentence and one theme per paragraph. Get to the point; don’t wander around first.  Find one emotionally compelling idea, as we discussed in the first post in the series.  Find it here.

Trick #3: Use the active voice

Use the active voice.  The passive voice tends to seem evasive:

The standards were breached.

Who breached the standards? As a reader, you might think: Is the writer trying to hide something from me? If you don’t want to appear to be hiding something, you should use active voice:

The refinery breached a water quality standard.

Conclusion

Keep you writing concise and to the point.  Keep sentences short and focused on one idea. Use the active voice.

 

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 #4: Make it skim-able

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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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