Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Easy reading is hard writing: Lessons for Association Communicators

As I review association marketing and communications pieces, it appears that most of us fail to write from the perspective of the readers/audiences.

As associations, we tend to talk(write) about how wonderful we are (whether the association or its products/services) and use “our” language and don’t understand when members and prospects don’t respond.

Walt Seifert (my old PR prof) told us: “If you are selling grass seed, remember that your ‘readers’ are saying ‘to hell with your grass seed, what will it do for my yard?’”

A research firm reported to the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) on two levels: “What you are saying versus what consumers are hearing.”

Let me share an example to illustrate what am I saying?

  • When I worked at the American Soybean Association, we did a marvelous job of writing about the “features” of our national convention but had a difficult time converting our promotions to the benefits of the convention. For example, we had to switch promotion of the convention’s youth program from “Soybean Expo offers 39 hours of kids programming” to “know that your child will be having fun in age-appropriate activities in a safe, nurturing environment.” 
Focusing on benefits not features makes all the difference to your readers/viewers/listeners. 

Have you ever watched “cable shopping networks” such as QVC? You can learn a lot about the use of customer-focused language from them. Listen their words and imagery as they convince you that you can’t live without what they are selling.

I found this information on Coppyblogger ... great advice for all associations.

  • “Copy cannot create desire for a product. It can only take the hopes, dreams, fears and desires that already exist in the hearts of millions of people, and focus those already-existing desires onto a particular product. This is the copywriter’s task: not to create this mass desire — but to channel and direct it.” ~ Eugene Schwartz
Model your writing after these folks and other companies and nonprofits who focus their communications on benefits and not features.

And, realize that it is hard writing ... but the key to reaching your objectives.

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