On the list of 15 things you don’t know about me is the item, “I was a volunteer guide for historical tours in Philadelphia, sponsored by a group dedicated to preserving the city’s amazing landmarks. It was challenging. Compared to guiding, teaching students in a university classroom (something most people do know about me) is a piece of cake.
When you’re guiding a group of people around the city, you have to find a way to hold their interest. Unlike college students, people on a tour can tune out anytime: there’s no final exam. They can even leave if they find something more interesting.
As a college professor, I never competed with noise and traffic. I didn’t have to remember not only just what to say, but also where to say it. If you take a wrong turn, your tour unravels, and so do you.
Commanding attention – whether with a tour group, a workshop or a class, is all about creating energy.
Reading from notes? Energy destroyed.
Lively stories and anecdotes? Energy goes way up.
You need the same energy when creating your online persona, which is defined as the way others perceive your online personality.
When your website, blog and sales letters radiate energy, your readers want to hang around – just as we all enjoy spending time around vibrant, high-energy people.
While you don’t have to compete with fire alarms and honking buses, you do face invisible but infinite sources of distraction: anything from cell phones to a dog who’s demanding to go out right now to an unexpected call from a client with an emergency.
As a copywriter and a tour guide, I’ve learned a lot by trial and error. Here are 5 tips creating high-energy content that keeps readers riveted:
(1) Use strong verbs that carry an emotional charge.
Some marketers use verbs like “smash,” “hammer,” “develop,” “master,” “triumph,” and “crush.”
Others use equally effective words like, “share,” “collaborate,” “coordinate,” “energize,” “connect,” and ” gain insights.”
Strong verbs are like spices you use in cooking: a little goes a long way. Leave them all out and you’ll end up with a bland, boring mess that nobody wants.
(2) Create a showroom, not a tea party.
Phrases like, “Welcome to my site,” and “Please look around my website” will signal, “I’m not really comfortable with marketing.”
Copy that walks on tiptoe around your benefits will communicate, “I’m not sure I’m very good.”
Let’s face it. Your visitors know they’re welcome. They expect you to share your best qualities with confidence and pride.
They know you’re not doing this for fun. When you’re too soft and gentle, they start looking for the elephant in the room.
(3) Replace abstract phrases with concrete word pictures.
We’ve all heard “Create your perfect life,” “Take it to the next level,” and even “Boost your business.”
Those phrases can be effective, but why not challenge yourself to get the reader involved:
“Imagine yourself in a bookstore, standing next to your published book…”
You can be even more vivid:
“Imagine yourself signing your first published novel in the Miracle Mile Bookstore.”
(4) Make your artwork elevate your copy, not distract from your message.
If you’re a sailing instructor, definitely include photos of sailboats, preferably with yourself in your instructor’s role.
But if you’re a business consultant, use photos of yourself working with clients — not sailboats and oceanviews.
When you’re creating content, your copywriter is like the quarterback. She gets your message moving in the direction of your sales.
Your designer is like the offensive line. He makes sure the message stays free of visual distractions that keep the ball, or message, from moving in the direction as prescribed in the copywriter’s playbook.
(5) Tailor your style to your audience.
Many people automatically shift to a stuffy writing or speaking style when they get in front of an audience. The truth is, people are hearing your voice speaking to them as they read. Even left-brained, highly educated professionals respond more to conversation than to jargon. Classroom lecturers at top universities can’t get away with being stuffy anymore.
Some business owners choose to get really down to earth. They borrow language from Tony Soprano, sometimes enough to make a sailor blush. And for some audiences, they’re right on target. Others will assume you’re a lazy writer who’s relying on shock effects instead of professional copy. You’ll have to know your audience.
Energy is contagious.
When you add these 5 energizing tips to your content, you’ll get a double benefit.
A long time ago, someone said, “When you’re looking at a stage performance – such as a song and dance number – look for the person with the highest energy. That person will be the s tar.”
That’s still true. Attention naturally goes to high-energy people. And audiences tend to focus on the person with the highest energy in the room.
Secondly, you’ll help your audience gain momentum. They’ll feel more energized, too. They’ll listen to your message.
And if they’re thinking about buying, or even just wanting to get to know more about your offer, they’ll be more likely to take action instead of nodding off.
Sharon Gibson says
Great blog post Cathy! Active verbs energize your writing. Painting word pictures can be a creative challenge and I love what you say about quoting yourself!
Having taken a course from you and bought some of your products, I can verify that you would give great website advice.
Keep up the good work!