Choose your words carefully: the words you use in articles, blog posts, and emails do more than just share information–they create a lasting impression of your personal brand.
The next time you’re tempted to dash off a blog post or email, slow down and reread your message.
Ask yourself: Are the words that I used appropriate for the personal brand I want to project?
Each time you write, your words play both short-term and a long-term roles:
- Utility. In the short-term, your market will judge your words pragmatically, by the utility, or value, of the advice that you share.
- Likeability. In the long-term, however, your words will either enhance or undermine your personal brand–a measure of your attraction, likeability, and value as a source of future information and assistance.
Ideally, individual reading your words for the first time–no matter what the topic–will be so impressed they’ll want to visit your website or do an online search to find other things that you’ve written.
Always remember: it’s possible to be knowledgeable and relevant, yet present an image that creates an obstacle to a personal connection.
Measuring the impact of your words
Use the 7 characteristics of a strong personal brand to evaluate the impact that the words you’re using say about your personal brand.
As always, asking questions is the best way to gain new insights and perspective. In addition, it often helps to think in terms of opposites, and consider where your words would fit on a continuum running from good to bad.
- Knowledgeable. Do your articles and blog posts accurately reflect your experience and accumulated knowledge? For example, does you writing project deep experience and understanding, or do you emerge as a relative newcomer writing about a trendy topic? The details and examples you include with your recommendations and conclusions play a big role in your ability to project strong knowledge of your topic.
- Relevant. Does your writing address topics of relevance to the market you want to serve? Do your headlines and titles of your articles promise information that will help your prospects solve their problems or achieve their goals? Your market is always in a hurry; few have time to read for the sake of “reading for the sake of reading.” The sooner you establish the relevance of your topic, the better.
- Caring. Does your writing reflect your empathy, or genuine concern, for your readers? Can your readers immediately relate what you’re writing to their specific goals and objectives? Can they see themselves in your article? Years ago, the first time I read Richard Bolles’ What Color Is Your Parachute?, I got the feeling he wrote the book specifically for me. Your readers should feel the same thing. (Parachute is now in its 40th bestselling edition!)
- Professional. Do the words you’re using project a trustworthy, professional image? Or, do your words project an amateur, or newcomer’s, image? The way you’ve organized your words plays a key role in projecting a professional image. Do you start with a premise, support the premise with details, and end by summarizing the the relevance of your ideas? Do your ideas follow each other in a logical sequence, or do you jump around from topic to topic? Reader cues, like subheads and lists, also help project a professional image. Brevity– focusing your message and eliminating unnecessary ideas and words–also projects a professional image.
- Friendly. Does your writing project a conversational, friendly image? Your writing style previews what conversation with you would be like. Does your writing style resemble a one-way speech–delivered from a podium (with questions reserved until the end)–or does your writing resemble a game of tennis, where ideas–or, the ball–is in constant motion? Providing exercises and questions for readers to address helps project an open, friendly image. Sharing your own personal experiences also builds bonds with your readers.
- Actionable. Do your words provide enough information for readers to take action? If you want to build the trust necessary for readers to contact you for assistance, you have to prove your ability to help readers take action. This requires more than abstractions and theory; you have to provide examples of steps–like simple tasks–that readers can take that will help them solve big problems and achieve complex objectives. Avoid “fast food” writing–lots of spices and sizzle. Help them get started before they even contact you.
- Inspirational. Do your words project a positive image? Avoid focusing on the negative–challenges, difficulties, obstacles, and threats. Negativity doesn’t win elections; in the depths of the depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt stressed “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself!” His campaign song was Happy Days are Here Again! Appeal to your prospect’s optimistic side by stressing how you can help them improve their current situation.
Resist that urge
Resist the urge to immediately press “Send” until you’ve reviewed what you’ve written, and are confident that the words you’ve used will support the long-term personal brand you’re building.
There’s lots of competition out there; your value as an author, employee, coach, consultant, or speaker is constantly being judged relative to others with similar qualifications. Take the time for a second review of your project, paying particular attention to the words you’ve used. View everything you write as a “portfolio piece.” Make sure prospects reading your work for the first will want to know more about you and how you can help them. And, let me know if you have any comments or suggestions about the 7 ways to measure what your words say about your personal brand. See another approach to words in an earlier post.
Roger C. Parker is an author, book coach, designer, consultant who works with authors, marketers, & business professionals to achieve success with brand-building books & practical marketing strategy. Visit Roger’s blog to learn more about writing productivity tips or to ask a question.