One holiday season I was in a long line at a California post office. An elderly woman was in line in front of me. When she finally got to the counter, she ordered a book of stamps. After asking for the book, she qualified her statement by saying with a great deal of irritation, “And none of those darn Elvis stamps, either!” Everyone within earshot tried not to laugh out loud.
Do you use “weasel words”? I don’t mean a furry critter that goes through your garbage in the late hours of the night. 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, which 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, even if inadvertently.
More and more insurance industry organizations turn to White Papers to spread their message.
What is a white paper? A white paper is usually a “thought leadership” paper of about five-to-12 pages that highlights one or more of the benefits of your business. Insurance organizations use white papers to educate the public by delineating a problem or a challenge then posing a solution, usually highlighting your services.
Here are some of the key elements of a white paper:
- Cover page
- Executive summary
- Description of the problem or issue the paper addresses
- A solution to the problem
- An action step (how readers can take action utilizing your product to solve their dilemma)
- Charts and graphs, if needed
- Footnotes, if needed
- A conclusion
- Information about your company
Once written, organizations distribute their papers either electronically to sites your potential clients visit, to sites that warehouse business data, or to their customer list. They are also great to hand out at a trade show booth or a local networking event.
One of the best uses of a White Paper is to announce its publication with a press release distributed through Business Wire or some other news service agency. A White Paper may simply serve as a reminder to clients who haven’t used your services in a long while or to those who’ve considered you in the past. It’s one way of saying, “We’re still eager to work with you.”
White papers generate short-term “buzz” and create a long-lasting testimonial that builds your brand.
Insurance white papers abound. Some insurance-related white papers we’ve written include “Computer Modeling Tames Super-Cat Hurricane Risk,” “Growing Wildland Urban Interface Increases Wildfire Risk,” and “Supply Chain Risk: Hidden Exposures for Your Company.
To non-insurance readers, these topics sound pretty dull. Okay, to insurance geeks, they still sound kind of dull. That’s why, if you’re considering a white paper to promote your business or technology, finding a writer with knowledge of the insurance industry and enthusiasm for the project is imperative. I can help.
Feel free to contact me at via my website at www.insurancewriter.com for more information or call me (602) 870-3230.
Part of our ability to promote and persuade in the insurance industry hinges on our ability to write clearly, concisely and unemotionally. By eliminating adverbs from our writing, we can reduce the clutter in our communications.
What is an adverb and why should anyone care? An adverb is a part of speech that modifies several parts of the language, including verbs and adjectives. Often, adverbs end in “ly.”
Adverbs often answer questions like “when,” “how often,” “how,” or “in what manner.” Here are some adverbs:
Adverbs weaken your writing. Most adverbs can be eliminated from text without losing one iota of meaning.
We see adverbs often in insurance writing. Have you ever written any of these sentences?
“The home was totally destroyed.” If it was destroyed, why do you need to add “totally”?
“Admittedly, you made a valid point.” If you say the point was valid, why add “admittedly”?
“I note that you were understandably confused.” Not only is the tone condescending, but it’s clearer to say, “I understand your confusion.”
We can avoid the use of adverbs in writing by using verbs. Instead of saying, “I was badly mistaken,” how about saying, “I was wrong”? Or instead of writing, “That is highly unlikely,” try “That is improbable.”
Search “ly” with your ‘find’ function and you can search and delete those adverbs. Your writing will be clearer and more concise.
Even the best writer needs occasional help to deliver the best message in the fewest words. A copywriter streamline your communications and set you apart from your competitors.
Most magazines have editorial calendars with monthly publication themes. A great way to get your message across to your public is to advertise in a trade journal. Before you pay to advertise, however, how would you like to receive several pages of free advertising? If you write a professional article for one of your favorite journals, you can.
If you’ve never written an article for publication, this may seem difficult. Here’s a secret: It’s easier than you think. Most professionals have one or two areas where they consider themselves “experts.” Why not share your expertise with an audience that can benefit and perhaps refer business to you based on your expertise?
Because of my background in public sector risk management, I often write for Public Risk, the magazine of the Public Risk Managers Association. It dovetails perfectly with my experience and allows me to keep my name in the public sector spotlight since public sector risk managers subscribe to this magazine. Best of all, it’s free advertising. Articles build my credibility just as a published article can build yours.
You don’t have to be a great writer to write an article. If you have a good idea, a ghostwriter can work with you and develop an article geared to your favorite publication, as well as write the query letter for you. All you have to do is devote an hour or two of time and a good ghostwriter can make you a expert in your field.
Becoming successful means building your brand by keeping your name and your knowledge in the spotlight. A ghostwriter can help. I’d be happy to talk to you regarding your article idea.
P.S. No one needs to know that you didn’t write every word. What happens in Arizona stays in Arizona
As insurance professionals, we must often deliver speeches in meetings or to large gatherings. It is never easy to find the time to prepare adequately for the talk. Even once prepared, many of us dread public speaking. These four tips will help you painlessly prepare your presentation.
- What is the theme of my talk? Always begin and end with a clear theme. If you are discussing premium increases at a Rotary Club, for example, your theme may be this: Premiums are increasing worldwide. The only way to control your premiums is through a more structured, loss-sensitive insurance program or through tighter risk management controls. Punch that theme repeatedly in your talk.
- Know your audience. If you are addressing your colleagues, your tone will be much different than when addressing CEOs of competing businesses, for example. Just because you feel comfortable with your audience, do not let your guard down too far. Remember that every word you utter could later appear on social media or in some blogger’s post, either in or out of context.
- What steps can the audience perform when they leave your talk that can help them implement action to your theme? Maybe they can meet with their current broker or hire a risk management consultant. Perhaps business owners should explore higher deductibles or other premium cost-saving measures. Anyone can regurgitate statistics and dry, “Rates are expected to increase six percent in the commercial property sector in 2015.” Provide action steps for your audience as a takeaway from your talk and watch their interest grow.
- How do you want your audience to feel after your talk? Open your talk with some humor and close with a laugh, as well. If you’re just not funny, find a funny meme like Dumbpoodle or make one yourself. Never let your audience walk away feeling gloomy. Audiences rarely remember content — they remember how you made them feel.
By taking these four steps each time you prepare a speech or even informal talks to your staff members, you will find preparation easier and your talk much more effective.