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Earlier this week I was reviewing the web site of a company that helps the children and spouses of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
These people, as I know from personal experience, are ready to explode from the stress that builds up from trying to prevent Dad from wandering into the ravine or Mom from destroying the bathroom.
When my mother’s degenerative brain disease was getting out of control, I didn’t want to read clinical descriptions of services. I didn’t want to look at happy snaps that reminded me of what life used to be like.
I needed to find someone, right now, who would make sure my chain-smoking mother didn’t burn down the house when my father took a well-needed break on the bike trails. I needed someone strong enough to stand up to her rage. And that was just the beginning.
Talking to the people who run this service was so much better than reading their web site. They were passionate and compassionate, expert and experienced. They understood me and my mother and father and the millions like us. I wish I’d known them when my mother got sick.
Unfortunately, like so many other small business owners, they thought they could write their own web content. After all, they are experts in their field. They have excelled at university, written countless essays and been published in professional journals.
Unfortunately, organizations like these don’t think they can afford to hire a writer, a good one anyways. So what should they do?
Write like they talk. That’s my top piece of advice and the inspiration for the e-book that I’ll be publishing very soon.
Like the Alzheimer’s helpers, most people, especially those with businesses and causes, are quite articulate and emotional when they talk about what they do.
The trouble comes when they treat writing as something utterly divorced from talking, worse still when they forget that web sites are about starting conversations.
Too bad. People like them don’t make money by exploiting the desire to look cool or young or whatever. As anyone who has fallen down the caregiver rabbit hole can tell you, they fill a profound need.
Their site wasn’t all bad, but it needs to be much better so more despairing caregivers can be reassured that there’s quality help available.
So let’s hope they can learn how to write like they talk. Or make enough money to pay someone.
After all, their web site is their introduction to the people who so desperately need them. They are their web site.
This post has been revised and moved to http://www.stickycommunication.ca/2010/09/just-write/.
First impressions mean everything, whether it’s your first day of kindergarten or the first paragraph of your post.
Hook your readers with a clear summary of your point and a compelling reason to continue.
The art of persuasion
People respond to people, not faceless organizations.
Persuasion directs specific benefits to individuals; inspiration offers higher ideals for the greater good.
More coming soon in the interactive e-book Write like you talk—only better. 3 steps to turn good talkers into great writers.