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The Right Words

When we have a message to communicate, we obsess over finding the right words. Which copy will convert better? How can we construct the perfect offer that draws people in?

What we lose in our attempt to optimise the words is the ability to create a deeper more lasting connection with the reader, user or customer. We forget that we’re not just in the business of trying to win a sale today, but that we’re aiming to build a relationship that sustains both the people we hope to serve and ourselves.

Yesterday a note arrived in the letterbox from our wonderful local council. They’re resurfacing the road and repairing the pavement on our street next week, and of course, there will be disruptions. The note addressed to owner/occupier, goes straight into the project details, time frame, parking and access. It ends with a warning that vehicles parked will be towed and an apology for any inconvenience caused. What a missed opportunity not simply to inform, but to deepen connections with people in the community.

The whole tone of the message could be flipped on its head by positioning as something to celebrate.

‘We’re delighted to let you know we’re starting work on improving your street next week. No more potholes! Obviously, this will mean some disruption and inconvenience for a few days, but we hope you’ll think it’s worth it when you cycle down the brand spanking new road. Here’s what you need to know and how you can help.’

What we say might get people’s attention, but how we say it changes not only what they think, but how they feel and act. It’s worth considering how you want people to feel after they’ve read or heard your message, not just about what you want them to do next.

Image by Hans Splinter.

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