Many insurance professionals invest in technology and expect it to be a magic pill, only to be disappointed by continued lackluster results with their communications. If you have to write often and your insurance communications aren’t achieving results, it might be time to upgrade your writing skills – your brain’s “writing software.”
Most of our writing skills and habits are ingrained in us by the time we leave high school. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep learning. Especially if you think of your writing skills as a software program in need of an occasional upgrade.
Fortunately, you already have the main “operating system” in place to write clearly, articulately, and effectively. After all, you’re an intelligent businessperson who knows how to speak naturally and conversationally when you interact with people face to face or on the phone, right? So there’s no reason you can’t learn to write more naturally and effectively.
Here’s a five-step upgrade to improve your business writing and insurance marketing results:
1. Delete antiquated business lingo. One of the most common problems in business writing is the use of stuffy, outdated business language such as:
- Enclosed please find
- Sent under separate cover
- As per your request
- Pursuant to our conversation
- Above captioned claim
Many insurance professionals have bought into the myth that this kind of antiquated language gives their writing an air of professionalism. But this kind of language is outdated and should be upgraded to a more modern, conversational business style.
2. Eliminate wordiness. Expressions such as “in the majority of instances,” “at this point in time,” and “after the conclusion of” use more words than necessary to convey a thought. They muddy your writing, obscure your point, and waste your reader’s time. Use the fewest possible words to communicate your meaning.
3. Use active vs. passive language. Instead of using wishy-washy, passive language and saying, “Your application will be reviewed by our underwriters,” use the active voice and say, “Our underwriters will review your application.” Put the subject in charge of the action instead of making the subject acted on.
4. Trim long-winded sentences and paragraphs. If you think a sentence or paragraph you’ve written is too long, read it out loud and see if you run out of breath. Better yet, read it to someone else. If you lose them, it’s probably too long. If your sentences tend to grow like weeds, try eliminating wordy phrases and redundancies or breaking up longer sentences into smaller sentences.
5. Implement a company style guide. A “company style guide” doesn’t have to be a lengthy, complex document. It can be as simple as a one-page list of commonly agreed conventions and practices for writing throughout your company, such as spelling of certain company names, dealing with sticky grammar issues, etc.
Clear writing = clear thinking
Everyone from George Orwell to blog commenters have pointed out that clarifying our language makes us better thinkers. Make it simple and clear. Write so that you’ll not only be understood, but can’t possibly be misunderstood. If you want to see an upgrade in the response you get to your communications, upgrade your brain’s writing software to give your writing greater power and clarity.
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