This week we re looking at the words and phrases you can use to make your content stand out with confidence. You ll learn some techniques for turning timid writing into copy written by a trusted expert.
If you have a great business (which I know you do) you have to sound confident whether you re writing a sales page, blog post, email newsletter or any other piece of media content. I m not talking about bragging but rather having the conviction to stand by your product and your expert opinion.
The process of writing and publishing content for the world to see can be a daunting task, and sometimes those nerves can be picked up in your writing. Fortunately, there are some practical words and phrases that you can use to beef up the tone-of-voice in your copy, without sounding pushy or arrogant.
Tune in to this episode to find out:
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Amy Harrison: Hello this is Amy Harrison and you’re listening to Hit Publish, where I cover simple ways to get better results with your online business.
This week we re looking at the words and phrases you can use to make your content pop with confidence. You ll learn some tricks and techniques for turning timid writing into copy that sounds like it was written by a trusted expert.
I want to thank you for downloading this podcast and I want to thank Rainmaker.FM for hosting it.
Are you ready to be seen as an authority whenever you write? Let s Hit Publish.
As always, before we get into this episode s Dear Amy letter, I need to give you: The word of the week.
Somewhere in today s show you are going to hear a word that I ve hidden in amongst the other words. This week s word is: solipsistic. It means highly egocentric. For example, many see Facebook as a wholly solipsistic internet forum.
So, there you go Mark Zuckerberg, see what you ve created. Thank you to The Reader s Digest for inspiring that word and giving me an example so I sound like I know what I m talking about.
On with the show and now it s time for our Dear Amy letter which comes from Zainab, who is up in London. She got in touch with the show to say:
I was writing an article for a client and the feedback was that the tone of voice sounded a little weak. How can I sound more confident in my writing.
Yours, timidly, Zainab.
Well Zainab, first of all don t worry, you re not the first person who has written content that seems a little nervous. The whole process of writing and publishing content for the world to see can be a daunting task. And sometimes, those nerves can come through in your writing.
It s almost as though readers can smell your fear. Remember how back at school there were certain teachers you would mess around in front of
Umm, excuse me. Please, could you just settle down. Please. Umm, Just a bit. umm.. do you think? I mean, it would be really nice if you could [quiet] right, now if someone could just untie me, that would be great.
And then there were those teachers that just commanded your attention and obedience:
[chalk on board.]
Good morning children. I am Mr. Wolf. And I want you to read what I ve written on the board very carefully, because that is what will happen to anyone who misbehaves.
Okay, I should make it clear that demonstrating authority in your content is not about threatening your reader. But you do need to show that you are confident and in charge. Especially if you re writing about your product or service.
I m going to give you some specific tips to boost your confidence when writing a sales page, a blog post and a call to action.
First up the sales page. If you don t sound confident when writing about your product, your customer will definitely pick up on it:
[Doorbell to a shop]
Customer: Hello, I d like to buy a parachute please.
Store owner: Oh. right. Which one do you think you should get?
Customer: I was hoping you could recommend one.
Store owner: This one might be okay. A couple of people have quite liked it.
Customer: Right, it looks good!
Store owner: It s okay I suppose.
Customer: And will it open when I need it to?
Store owner: Oh gosh, I d hope so. I mean, wow. Ooh that would be awful if it didn t. I mean, if you buy it I ll keep my fingers and toes crossed for you. Umm, don t suppose you re like to buy it?
Customer: Ahh, I might come back later.
[footsteps and doors close]
Amy Harrison: Now, if what you re selling is a great product, which I know it is, then you have to be confident when you write about it. Now I know a lot of people don t want to brag about their product or service, but we re not talking about bragging here, we re talking about being excited to match the right product to the right person.
Otherwise you re doing your customer a disservice. Let s say you have the perfect service for someone, but they mistake humility and being humble in your copy as not believing in what you sell? If they walk away and go without, they re worse off than if they worked with you and had the chance to benefit from what you offer.
And of course, I m not talking about being deceptive. Confidence doesn t come from making up wild claims about your product, or making promises you can t keep, instead it s about standing by and being proud of what you have.
So here are a few specific words and phrases you can use that can really change the tone of voice in your copy from nervous seller , to trusted authority .
Because is a great word and not just because it has inbuilt psychological power. You may have heard the story about the photocopier machine? A study was done to see how different phrases performed when trying to persuade someone.
I ll link to the study in the show notes, but basically someone waited until a queue was building at a photocopier machine and they tried to jump in front. They used one of 3 phrases when asking.
Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine? – that one had the worst results.
The next was:
Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I m in a rush?
and finally it was:
Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?
Now, the first request caused more people to decline the request. When the researcher explained he was in a rush, more people let him in front.
But here s the funny thing. That last phrase, where there s no real justification to push in front, everyone has to make copies, worked just as well as when using a legitimate reason.
The word because simply added in a layer of authority and confidence that made the person in line feel like they should acquiesce.
Now, I ve got a bit of a confession to make. I did actually use this at a train station once. I felt a little bit bad about it, but was more impressed with the result. I was in a rush and I was at the wrong station which meant my ticket didn t work.
I had about 10 minutes to catch a train and said to the guard: “excuse me, can you open the gate because I have to get a train.” He looked at me blankly, I repeated it and held up my ticket – though not close enough for him to see) and he opened the gate. It was so spooky and I can say I ve never tried that power again.
But, I have to say, personally, from a copywriter s point of view, that s not why I m recommending you to use it. The reason it builds authority and confidence in your product is because it reminds you to justify and prove any claim you make.
For example, let s say you write:
Duolingo makes learning a language easy.
That sounds okay, but what about this:
Duolingo makes learning a language easy because it was developed by examining how thousands of users react to learning language skills. The algorithm assesses how easy or hard you find an exercise and adapts future exercises to improve your learning process.
So my first word for importing confidence into your sales page is because. Learn to develop the habit of using because whenever you make a claim or a promise in your sales page. It will prompt you to prove that claim and as a result, you will seem more of an authority to your reader.
The next word is When instead of if.
In copywriting, this is based on a technique called the assumed sale. As in, when you write your content, you write as though the sale is inevitable.
But Amy, that sounds a little bit big-headed, not everyone who reads my sales page will buy. I ll just sound like I m being arrogant.
Well here s the thing, that doesn t happen. You re not telling people they have to buy, you re simply telling them what will happen when they do buy. Listen to the difference.
If you decide to buy you ll be taken to the membership area.
Now listen to this:
When you buy, you ll be taken to the membership area.
While the first one subtly raises the room for doubt that a purchase will ever take place, the second one sounds much more confident. And remember, yes people will visit a sales page and decide it s not for them, but you re not writing copy for them. You re writing for that perfect person who is going to love what you do and want what you have.
Swap when for if in your sales copy and you will transform the tone into that of a friendly expert.
Here s another one for you:
What s more.
Now, this phrase has been used in a lot of advertising, but it doesn t have to sound like this:
What s more you get the super deluxe portable 14 inch TV, along with the novelty phone, a comprehensive set of encyclopaedias and oh what the heck, we ll even throw in the latest, most modern tape to tape boombox!
[end of music]
Sorry about that, I ve been watching a repeats of Bullseye lately. A classic British darts TV show from the 80s that gave away top prizes like the ones I ve just listed there.
Yes, What s more, along with phrases such as: Not only that, In addition to
These subtle phrases are there to build momentum into your copy, which encourages the reader to read on. By using these techniques you do 2 things:
Not only will you get a one hour consultation but I ll write up your tailored action plan and get it to you within the hour. What s more I ll be on hand by email should you have any other questions.
Simple phrases, but that added flow builds confidence and value into your copy.
So, those are a few words you can use in your sales page, but what if you re writing a blog post or an article?
Well, the main thing this really comes down to is having a clear, confident opinion backed up by proof.
Now, the proof is important, but how you communicate your opinion is just as important if you want to be seen as an expert.
A study on the Psychology of Experts by James Shanteau at Kansas State University concluded that to be seen as an expert you needed to exhibit certain traits in addition to knowing your stuff.
One of these traits was communicating your opinion clearly and with confidence. The idea of experts has come under scrutiny in a number of studies. In fact, some people have said that the prediction of an expert is about as useful as a monkey throwing a dart at a dartboard.
Host: Here we have a panel of experts discussing how to construct the next spaceship for an expedition to Mars. First up we have Dr. James Montague-Douglas Scott, and just next to him, doing somersaults on the chair, is coco the chimp.
Dr. Montague Scott, would you like to tell us you opinion based on your last 25 years of studying rocket science?
Dr. Montague-Douglas Scott: Yes (clears throat). Well, my recent peer-reviewed paper indicates
Host: Sorry I m going to have to stop you there, Coco the chimp has got something to say ah, he s picking up the dart, and he s thrown it at the board! Egg cartons! That s what Coco is saying and I suppose that settles it. The crowd love it.
Dr. Montague-Douglas Scott: But that s preposterous! I have a complete paper backed by years of research
Host: Well yes, but Coco does seem very certain in his opinion.
Dr. Montague-Douglas Scott: That s not being certain, that just being highly egocentric!
Host: Well, whatever you want to call it, I m afraid his conviction is instilling a lot of confidence in the crowd, he s certainly demonstrated himself to be a thought-leader.
Amy Harrison: Okay, I m pretty sure this isn t how NASA operates when designing a space shuttle, but I m sure that you ve been in a situation where someone has won over others by the confidence they had in their own opinion.
I want you to have that same confidence when you write, and there is a quick way to do this. I ll link to more tips that were based on James Shanteaus Psychology of Experts report, but here s one you can try straight away.
One: state your opinion boldly.
Try to avoid words phrased such as “I think that” or “in my opinion” or “it could be seen” when you re referring to an opinion that you hold. The very fact that you are the author of the article and writing it shows that it is your opinion. You re not ruling out anyone else s opinion but you re showing that you are confident in what you think.
Okay, finally let s talk a little bit about Calls to Action.
Nothing makes a call to action sound quite as confident as a lovely verb, especially if it relates to something your reader wants to achieve. I wrote about this recently on Copyblogger in an article about how to get your customer beyond the buy button. The examples I shared over there were ones like:
So, there you go, a few practical words and techniques you can use to build confidence in your content and prove beyond all doubt that you are an expert who should be liked, trusted and listened to.
So, here s my question to you:
Do you have a piece of content that you d like to give a bit more punch in its tone of voice? Try and weave in some of the words today and see how it sounds.
Let me know how you get on in the comments over at HitPublish.fm
Thank you for being an astute Hit Publish listener. If you ve found this useful today, I d love it if you popped over to iTunes and left a rating and a review. It takes just a few minutes but apparently if you do that, you apparently increase your luck for that day by 12%. Got to be worth it, right?
Don t forget, if you d like to be featured in the Dear Amy column, simply leave a comment on the show page with your question or problem, or email me using firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s all for this week, so until next time, remember to take action and Hit Publish.