Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why Hire a Professional Writer, part 2: You Shouldn’t Need a Magic Eye

In part 1, mischievous but insightful Calvin tells Hobbes he’s found the purpose of writing:

“To inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!”

Remember the “Magic Eye” 3D poster craze back in the 1990s? The ones with the scribble of lines and jumble of shapes that you had to stare at and stare at just so until the picture hidden in them popped out? What Calvin’s describing is the written equivalent of hose pictures: dense, wordy prose that uses big words and overly-formal constructions to camouflage ideas with a presentation that appears knowledgeable and fills up a page. A lot of people learn to write that way in school, where an overworked TA who’s required to review a paper, search out the ideas in it, and provide feedback can be worn down by the slog the paragraphs and award points for style and language more than clear communication of ideas.

But to a casual reader who’s reviewing your brochure or letter or website . . . do you also remember how many people couldn’t see the hidden 3D picture? How many would shrug and walk away from the poster, shaking their heads and grumbling? If your writing is the verbal equivalent of one of those hidden image pictures, most likely you lose a client every time someone who was trying to learn about your company or organization in order to decide about doing business with you gave up on your text and tossed your brochure in the recycling or clicked away from your website. (the digital version of tossing your brochure).

To hold on to readers, writing must engage them personally, draw them in, and – most importantly – create an immediately clear picture of what you want to get across. A professional writer will help you sell your products or services by helping your prospects and customers see instantly what you have to offer them by telling your story, whatever that may be, from simply listing sales and specials to conveying what makes you better than you competitors.

A particular skill itself, it’s one you can’t do without any more than sales or negotiating or the niche knowledge you use to make your business grow.

Next time:Why you can't "get by" when it comes to someone with these skills . . .

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