8 Pointers in a Time of Skepticism on Boosting Belief

Make your claims specific

“Platitudes and generalities roll off the human understanding like water from a duck,” famous advertising man Claude C. Hopkins noted in Scientific Advertising (1923). “A definite statement is usually accepted,” he wrote. If you say that a tungsten gives more light than a carbon lamp, he added, and you leave some doubt—but say that it gives three-and-one-third times the light, and people perceive that you have made reliable tests and comparisons.

Be sure that your message is clear,easy to read, and interesting for your recipient

Marketing consultant Wanda Loskot of Sarasota, Florida, says that what counts in advertising is communicating with your audience. “The more effective you are in writing, the more people trust you, like you, and—heck, yes—the more they buy from you.”

Know your objective

“You will be amazed how easy it is to write when you really know what you want to accomplish,” Ms. Loskot writes.

Organize your message logically

You should know your conclusion before you write the rest of your promotion, says Ms. Loskot. Before writing, she advises,outline your message from your first to last points. Jarring logical lapses distract the reader and depress response.

Keep it simple

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address uses 275 words. Of them, 196 (71%) consist of only one syllable. “To communicate effectively,”Ms. Loskot observes, “simple is better.”

Concentrate on your reader

“Your reader is more important than your topic,” Ms. Loskot advises. “By saying ‘you’ (and yours) at least three times as often as saying ‘I’ (and ‘me,’ ‘we,’ ‘mine,’ ‘our’), you take the focus away from yourself and put it on the reader.” Keep in mind that your reader has one major question: “What’s in it for me?” Write to answer the reader’s needs, wants, and fears. And make sure that he feels better informed after reading your advertising.

Exploit the advantages of writing

You can communicate much better in writing than in speech—and, if you rewrite wisely, can control your communication more exactly.“Ernest Hemingway rewrote the ending to his classic novel, ‘A Farewell To Arms,’ more than 50 times,” Ms. Loskot points out.

Make an iron-clad guarantee

Consultant Markus Allen reports that when the Seattle Sonics offered a money-back guarantee of satisfaction to ticket buyers, only three fans (or 0.027% of attendees) asked for a refund.