How to Write With Credibility

Recently I read an interesting article in USA Today about using words that build credibility. The author, Andrea Kay, was working on a research project that required her to interview a variety of business professionals and she noticed that almost all of them ended their sentences with “right?” or some variation thereof. An example: She was so annoying, right? or He was so pushy, know what I’m sayin’?

Reading the article got me thinking about whether or not there was a lesson in here when it comes to written copy. And you know what? There is. Just like in speech, there are ways to build credibility and ways to destroy it.

Here are a quick list of tips for how to write with credibility:

1. Know What You’re Writing About

This may sound basic, but if you’re going to write with credibility, you must have it. And to get it, you must know the subject in and out. Do your research – read articles, talk to experts, ask someone who works in the field to fact-check your draft. No one ever said being a writer was easy. Unless you’re already an expert in the field, your writing time will pale in comparison to your research time.

2. Put the Most Important Info First

By putting the most important info in the beginning, your readers will know that you have their interests in mind – not yours. In the case of an email, the “first” area includes the subject line and the from line. It’s shocking how many companies forget that. Recently I received an email from “no reply,” and my first thought was “No reply = no open.”

3. Use Active Verbs

Ask a group of 2-year-olds what an “active verb” is and you’re likely to get blank stares, but just because they don’t know the term doesn’t mean they aren’t experts when it comes to the stuff. Think about it – how do 2-year-olds talk? “I want…” “Let’s go…” “You do it.” At two, kids aren’t waxing philosophical. Their speech is simple, confident and designed to get results. Yours should be the same.

4. Don’t Over-Promise

Your job as a writer is to know what’s being offered and to communicate that offering through some sort of appeal – intellectual, emotional, etc. But when you’re trying to pull on someone’s heart strings or get someone to laugh, just make sure you’re not inadvertently making a promise you can’t keep. Is that blanket really the softest thing you’ve ever felt? Is your pizza really the best in town? This is the age of Yelp and Facebook fan pages, so if your promises are overblown, your customers won’t hesitate to let you (and the world) know it.

5. Keep it Brief

By staying short and to the point, readers will know that you’ve selected only the most important information that they need and want. Novice marketers often try to appeal to as many people as possible and want to throw in the kitchen sink, but smart marketers know to study their audience and target the message. If you screw up, audience confidence will drop, but when you get it right, confidence soars.

What helps you build credibility in your writing? Leave a comment!


~ by SFcopywriter on August 16, 2011.

4 Responses to “How to Write With Credibility”

  1. Direct mail marketing may seem like unimportant but a reply card can encourage the recipient to do more
    beyond reading marketing vss finance your message.

  2. Great article, thank you again for wrtiing.

  3. I agree 100%

  4. Very good advice for all writers! I am not a copywriter, but the suggestions help with all the e-mail I constantly write internally and externally at work!

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