perfect your message

21 Ways to Perfect Your Message

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It’s not about posting or writing more. It’s not about creating more images or infographics. Perfecting your message is all about consistency and staying in front of the right audience.

Here are twenty-one tips to help you spread your content and take part in your ideal community’s daily conversations. 

1 – Use a Time-Tracking Sheet

If you’ve been telling yourself you don’t have time to add more platforms to your messaging or create more content, then do yourself a huge favor and track your time for at least two weeks. It’s a mind-blowing eye-opener for figuring out where others interrupt you, which tasks take too long, what you are doing that you need to jettison … or where you just plain waste time!

Tracking your time helps you see exactly how much money you are making – and losing. This can do more to help you narrow your focus and concentrate on your messaging than all the articles or books in the world.

2 – Schedule and Plan Content Creation Time

Building in a block of time every day for content creation – no matter how small a block – is another powerful way to get from A to B, one small step at a time. (Hey, those steps add up quickly!)

If you find it too restrictive to schedule a block of time, then schedule one writing task per day instead – just enough room to write one post, create an infographic, or write your Twitter feeds for the week … or just work on refining your message!

3 – Consider Instagram

If your target audience is between 18—29 in age, be aware that sixty percent of this age group loves Instagram. (And be sure to use hashtags with your Instagram images to boost engagement another fifteen percent or more!)

4 – Get Specific with Your Hashtags

Just as you look for unique, specific keywords to use in your messaging, do so with hashtags also. Avoid the temptation to go generic. Search for unique hashtags with strong evidence of relevance to your mission statement as well as proven reach.  

5 – Use Transitional Phrases

To make your content flow smoothly without tripping the reader up, use transitional phrases to bridge each paragraph to the next. 

Examples:

  • Before you decide
  • That’s when I realized
  • If you’re still not sure
  • The best part is
  • On top of that
  • Let me break this down
  • And what’s more
  • Here’s how

6 – Get Rid of Weak Beginnings

Inserting phrases that don’t really mean anything at the beginning of a paragraph or sentence is nothing more than a bad habit that can make you sound indecisive.

What reads better?

  • Basically, I think people who skydive know no fear.
  • People who skydive know no fear.

If you’re writing a letter to your BFF it’s okay to dither – but not when you’re writing content to present yourself as an authority figure.

Get rid of all those weak or tentative phrases. Speak with confidence! 

7 – Stay with Your Message

It takes practice to stay with your message. While anecdotes and examples can make a post or email more interesting, they can also detract if they don’t precisely mirror or demonstrate your main point.

Get into the habit of re-reading what you’ve written with the eye of a tangent-hunter. No matter how brilliant the tangent, remove it to a different file for use in another piece of content.

8 – Write and Display Your Main Point

If you do have trouble going off-topic while you write, print or write out your main point and stick it up beside your computer, where you can see it at all times. It really helps keep you on track. (Be sure to take it down the instant you’ve finished with that piece of content.).

9 – Use ‘You’ Messaging

Talk directly to one ideal visitor – not several – no matter how many people you’re writing for. It’s better to say, “You may be feeling invisible” than to say, “A few of you may feel invisible”. Giving people the impression you’re talking to a room full of people distances them. “You” brings them closer. When you talk to one person in your messaging, it’s more like having coffee with a friend and leaning in for a private discussion.

Use ‘you’ in CTAs, headlines, and email subject lines. “See how the changes affect you” feels far more immediate and urgent than “Click here for more information”.

10 – Use Interrogative Words

Journalists and detectives always base their investigations and research on why, who, what, where, and when.

‘Why’ messages are much more compelling than ‘how’ messages – unless you’re looking to put together a set of shelves. Human beings are naturally curious about motivations. Why? Because motivations can provide real connection and prove that the writer is just like the reader.

Give people the ‘why’ in something, and you’ve convinced them of the importance.

‘Who’ – usually, that’s ‘you’. You’re talking to the reader; but if you’re presenting a case study, choose someone they can identify with and relate to. If you’re presenting a prominent expert, introduce them as soon as possible to keep people reading.

‘What’ is good when you’re getting down to describing features (“What will I get if I buy BigBentoBox?”) And remember to give ‘when’ details if you are talking about live events or courses – it’s amazing how many people sometimes forget this small, important detail – and, likewise, ‘where’!

11 – Use Relevant Images

If you are talking about daisies, it’s easy to stick a photo of a field of daisies into your article or email – but do make sure you’ve chosen the most relevant daisy image possible. Do your best to trigger and invoke the most relevant emotion in your reader.

For example, if you’re using the daisy in an article about loneliness, what would grab the reader’s emotions more: A sunshine-lit, postcard-pretty riot of daisies in a field … or a picture of a daisy chain (made with fresh daisies) lying on a table, with one dying daisy left outside it?

Which image would be more relevant to your topic?

12 – Banish Jargon, Clichés and ‘Writing Tics’

If you want to make your writing resonate with your true voice, don’t use jargon. It makes you sound as if you’re parroting everyone else. The same with clichés – they don’t make an emotional impact because people have stopped listening to these glib, trite expressions and phrases.

And then there are ‘writing tics’. Those are words and expressions that writers tend to overuse – you can recognize these because you’ll find you use them over and over several times in one article.

Getting rid of these bad habits will help you tighten your copy, speak with authority, and free your authentic writing voice.

13 – Upgrade to Premium

When it’s time to proof your copy, don’t just rely on spell-check. Use the Pro version of writing programs like Grammarly when you check your written work. Programs and SaaS such as Grammarly or ProWritingAid will point out your bad writing habits and help you instantly correct and eliminate them.

14 – Perfect your First Paragraph Last

If you have nervous breakdowns over creating a strong hook, try putting off perfecting your first paragraph until after you’ve written your entire chapter, article or email. If you try this, you may find that your second paragraph actually provides the perfect hook – the first paragraph you wrote now feels more like a warm-up.

15 – Take Time for Creative Processing

Make sure you schedule blocks of time for processing and idea generation. This means fitting in activities that engage the left brain, leaving your right brain free to ‘spark’ ideas.  When you are focused on repetitive activities with a physical component, that’s when your muse often gets busy, so leave her room to work!

Go for walks, do yoga, take long bubble baths, garden, ride a horse – even do the dishes. And be sure to keep a notebook or your mobile handy, so you can jot down those great ideas!

16 – Know Your Purpose

If you want your message to be clear and focused, then decide before you write what you wish your article, email or post to do. Just as you have a goal for your business, have goals for every piece of content you write.

17 – Use Your Ideal Client’s Language

You should never try to be someone you’re not or copy another competitor, but do mirror or use your ideal client’s language as much as possible. Take note of clues like language that is incredibly formal or incredibly informal. Mirroring your perfect client’s language is more subtle and powerful than just using the same swear words.

Look at the overall style. Does your ideal client speak in short, clipped sentences and get to the point straight away? Or does she talk about her inner intuitions and use metaphors and imagery? What power words does she use? What is ‘power’ to her? Are there words that turn her right off – for example, some clients hate the word ‘tools’ when you are talking about resources and apps because it sounds too ‘aggressive and masculine’: Others like the directness. 

Pay attention to the words she uses and, when editing, substitute some of these in your own copy. 

18 – Check Your Assumptions at the Door

Are you making assumptions about your ideal client that you haven’t really researched, tested, or tried out? What could you be assuming that might not be true? If something comes to mind, run a quick poll to double-check for sure. (There’s nothing like asking if you want to know if what you think of as fact is true.)

19 – Identify Your Reader to Themselves

Don’t tie yourself up in knots trying to come up with a brilliant email subject line. Often all you need to do is identify your reader and/or offer them what they need. If you do this correctly, your email will usually get opened.

For example:

  • Open if you’re a busy work-at-home mom with kids not yet in school
  • Betting you could use five minutes of meditation music
  • Because you’re frazzled and over-worked – here’s thirty seconds of escape
  • Here’s your daily affirmation on boosting self-esteem

20 – Don’t Compare Yourself with Competitors

It’s one thing to research competitor keywords, what generates conversation, what their audience praises or complains about: It’s another thing entirely to compare yourself or your message with theirs. That’s the way to insecurity. Be authentic. Speak your truth. And leave it up to your audience to decide whether or not it has value to them.

21 – Repurpose and Recycle Your Best Content

Take your best content and put it into other formats: For example, turn a webinar replay into slides or a transcript. Take your top twelve articles and turn them into a book. Break your book down into blog articles, and so forth. 

The reason for doing this is not just to avoid re-inventing the wheel and save time, but also because this is proven content that did generate interest and response. Repurposing it helps you reach new segments of your ideal audience and reinforces your message to those who already appreciate it.

But most of all, never forget that perfecting your message is really all about how well you get to know your ideal follower and how well you listen before deciding to speak.

Click here to download a PDF of this post.

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