Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Weasel words

Do you use "weasel words"? I don't mean a furry critter that goes through your garbage "of an evening" as they say in Missouri. Weasel words are terms and phrases that are deliberately fuzzy. Rather than providing clarity, weasel words obscure your message.

Weasel words get their name from the crafty weasel, who sucks eggs without breaking the shell. Similarly, weasel words suck the meaning out of your message. If you communicate with phrases like "highest quality," "prompt service," or "highly qualified," you may be weaseling.

Before you write, ask yourself, "What exactly am I offering?" If you believe your product is of the highest quality, explain why. For example, tell your customers that you represent only A-rated carriers and briefly explain the importance of a rating. This offers much clearer information to your potential customer.

If you offer prompt service, you might say "We return all phone calls within 24 hours." No matter what product they are buying, everyone wants to be a priority customer. This clear message informs people that "We are so committed to excellent service that we offer you this promise."

"Highly qualified" doesn't explain the depth of your expertise. "Meeting the insurance needs of my community for over a decade" gives potential clients a clear look at your knowledge.

What about "with all due respect"? If you disagree with someone's opinion, don't bother telling them that you respect them. State your case and then offer to discuss their concerns with them personally. This leaves the door open for more communication.

Weasel words can destroy communication. No matter well you write, it's easy to slip into fuzziness. A professional copywriter offers you an objective edge. She can take your raw copy and help you develop communications that are specific and tailored to your audience.

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