October 17, 2017

Lists with benefits

Make them parallel, verb-based

When Mr. Wylie’s Writing Tips had a hip replacement recently, he had to take a break from grocery shopping. I went searching for my new BFF, an online grocery delivery service.

I found Envoy, which turned out to offer grocery delivery and a writing workshop in one.

Lost weekends envoy - save 80 hours

Lost weekends You had me at “Save 80 hours a year.”

Envoy does a great job of expressing its benefits. My favorite: “You’ll save 80 hours a year.” You mean I can avoid two work weeks of selecting the perfect rutabaga and standing in line with the almond milk each year? Who cares how much it costs?!

Benefits are verbs, not nouns.

But Envoy’s benefits are inconsistent. And that’s where the writing workshop comes in. Remember, benefits are verbs, not nouns.

So tell me, please, what’s wrong with this list:

List with benefits - make lists parallel

Three of these things are not like the others Keep lists parallel: Write in verbs, not nouns.

  1. Choose verbs. When you set up a benefits list, imagine a line that says, “That means you will …” You don’t need to write that line; just know that it’s there. That line will force you to use verbs, not nouns, for your list. That means you will … live life to its fullest; eat healthier, for less; support local.
  2. Make lists parallel. Now note which of these items doesn’t follow that line. That means you will … your favorite stores. That means you will … a shopper you can trust. That means you will … always the best prices.
  3. Fix your list. Now you can see what to do. Rewrite every “benefit” that’s really a feature (or a noun). Instead of That means you will … always the best prices, you’ll wind up with That means you will … save with the best prices.

Make sure your “benefits” aren’t really features.

  • Think Like a Reader

    The secret to writing to persuade is to position your messages in your audience’s best interests. (Most communicators position their messages in their organization’s best interests.)

    Catch Your Readers - Ann Wylie's persuasive-writing workshop in Kansas City on Nov. 16-17, 2017 imageAt Catch Your Readers — a two-day Master Class on Nov. 16-17 in Kansas City — you’ll learn a four-step process for making your message more relevant, valuable and rewarding to your audience.

    Specifically, you’ll learn to:

    • Take advantage of the formula readers use to determine which messages to pay attention to (and which to toss).
    • Tap two rewards of reading you can use to boost audience interest in your message.
    • Answer the No. 1 question your reader is asking, regardless of your topic, medium or channel.
    • Make a two-minute perspective shift to focus your message on the value to readers — not on “us and our stuff.”
    • Use a three-letter word that magically makes your message more relevant to your readers.

    Learn more about the Master Class.

    Register for Catch Your Readers - Ann Wylie's persuasive-writing workshop in Kansas City on Nov. 16-17, 2017


    Browse all upcoming Master Classes.

    Would you like to hold an in-house Catch Your Readers workshop? Contact Ann directly.

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