We’re at Day Seven of our marathon series, Writing Website Content. We’ve moved through specializing in website content writing, the right questions to ask buyers, how writers are like website tour guides, why great headlines are important, how to lose 7% of your client’s customers and why you should never be clever and always be clear.
Today, let’s talk about more serious matters: negative thinking and bullying.
One of the most common mistakes seen in website content is the use of negative language.
Never, ever, EVER use negative language. Always keep content positive and watch out for any word that signifies no action, refusing action or not taking a specific action.
Here’s an example:
“We will never use methods that are questionable. We believe in honesty above all.”
The second sentence is a positive one, describing what a company will do.
The first sentence, though, is negative. While it clearly shows where the company stands and what it won’t do to earn money, the feeling and message the sentence conveys is a mental no-no.
The reader’s brain processes negative phrases and words as something to avoid, even if the sentence means something good.
The result is that the brain doesn’t read that the company is a good one with strong values. It thinks, “Avoid this company” because it is hung up on the “do not” part of the phrase.
Here’s another example that lets you compare two phrases:
“Do not hesitate to contact us.”
“Please feel free to contact us.”
Which sentence makes you feel good? Which makes you feel that the company is approachable and ready to help? Which one compels you more?
The Schoolyard Bully
Some website content writers tend to use the competition as comparisons. You may often read the phrase, “Our competitors will try to bargain your prices… but we never will.”
There are two mistakes involved with that tactic.
Using comparison applies the strategy of making someone else look bad to make you look better. Remember that big bully in your schoolyard playground? He’d pick on the little guy to feel stronger. When you start picking on the competition in your website content, you’re being the bully of the schoolyard.
Not cool, that.
Also, when you point out what someone else does, you degrade them to improve your client’s image – and you also have to state what your client won’t do, which lets negative language creep into your content.
Pretend instead that the competition doesn’t exist. In our own work, we never ask a client about their competition. We don’t want to know. And we’ll tell you why.
Nothing but the Best
When you write with the mindset that there is no competition, there is no possibility of making comparison. Also, if you have no competitor’s website to glance over, you’re forced to be more creative and original with your work.
Original, creative work stands out. Face it: aren’t you bored of websites that all say the same thing?
Imagining that there is no competition also increases the confident tone of the work you write – there’s no one else, so there’s no one better than your client. That attitude seeps into your words and helps you write website content that conveys good tone.
Learn to recognize negative language in your writing, and turn it around. Find the positive. Instead of “we never,” try “we always” or “we will.” Forget the competition, and always portray the company you’re writing for in the best, shining light possible.
It’s your job to help them put their best foot forward.
We’ll be taking a break from this series, as we’ve got a few great posts coming up. Stay tuned for an extract of our upcoming creative writing role-playing game, what we’ve been up to lately, what we think of wolves and a few special posts you won’t want to miss.
If you have any questions about writing website content that you’d like answered, feel free to ask in the comment section. We’ll address the subject again soon and give you what you need to know.