Thursday, February 7, 2013

Words Matter: 7 steps to enhance your association's connection with members

Words Matter to Association Members and Should Matter to Association Professionals
If I see one more association website extolling the value of it’s “endless opportunities” for members, I think I’ll puke.

Come on folks. Where is the precision in our writing?
Words matter to your members and prospects!
Your writing goal should be ...

Clear, crisp, concise benefit-oriented writing with a member-focused style.

Here are the 7 Ps of Power-Writing Steps I’ve taught over the last 35 years:

#1 - Preparation: Answer these four questions:

  • Why am I writing?
  • What do I want to say? 
  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • What do I want them to do after listening to my presentation?
#2 - Priorities: 
  • The Main Thing is to Make the Main thing the Main Thing!
#3 - Personalize: 
  • "Be something special to somebody." 
  • This is about your members and prospects ... not you.

#4 -Positive: Offer solutions!
  • The brain responds one-third faster to positive words.
#5 - Persuasive: "Sell the sizzle!"
  • Focus on benefits (from the prospect’s perspective) not features (from your perspective)
  • As my old PR prof said, if you work at a lawn & garden store, the customer perspective is “to heck with your grass seed, what will it do for my lawn?”
#6 - Plain: Express NOT Impress
  • "Don't use $5 word if a 5¢ word will do." 
  • Make it conversational. 
    • Simple words. 
    • Short sentences. 
    • Short paragraphs. 
  • Action words. 
  • Avoid jargon.
  • Be specific.
#7 - Purge 
  • Edit what you've written.
  • Clean it up. Have someone else proof it!
  • Is it clear, concise and compelling?
  • Does it meet your objective? 
  • Rewrite and revise. 
  • Review the order and flow: 
    • Did you start with the "main issue?" 
    • Did you back it up? 
    • Have you given compelling reasons?
    • When in doubt, cut it out.

Here’s what I would like you to do:
  1. Go to your association’s website ... right now!
  2. Review it ... not as an association professional but as a potential member
  3. Record the changes that should be made to make it clear, crisp, concise, benefit-oriented with a member-focused style.
Please tell me (in the comments box) what you discovered. 
Share examples of both “fuzzy writing” and “benefit oriented” writing on your site. I’ll share your examples with SCDdaily’s readers.

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