blog home Online Content Development Word Choice Matters

Key takeaways:

  • When you write content on your website, the words you use matter not only to your intended meaning, but also to your clients’ understanding.
  • There’s a good middle ground between words that are too arcane and words that are too simple. Try to find it, and your clients will thank you.
  • In the end, you want to be as authentic as possible while reaching the widest audience possible!

Today, our writing team at SLS Consulting would like to play a little word game with you…

“The Internet is an exemplary conduit through which to entice potential clients.” There’s nothing wrong with that sentence. It makes a statement and it speaks a truth. But is there a more effective way to say the same thing—spread the same message?

Let’s start with the word, “exemplary.” Merriam-Webster defines “exemplary” as: Deserving imitation, commendable, deserving imitation because of excellence. That’s certainly true of the Internet. No other invention in the history of civilization has been a more effective tool for spreading and procuring information. But, one could have also just used the word “good.”

Now, let’s move on to the word “conduit.” Merriam-Webster defines “conduit” as: A means of transmitting or distributing. Well, the Internet is definitely an excellent way to transmit information. But why not just use the word “way?”

Finally, let’s examine “entice” looking to Merriam-Webster. “Entice” is defined as: To attract artfully or adroitly or by arousing hope or desire. Well, yes; a law firm does want to artfully attract clients using hope and desire. But is “entice” the type of word you want to use to attract clients when they are in a time of crisis? Why not just use the word “get?”

So, with a little dictionary/thesaurus use, we’ve changed the original sentence to “The Internet is a good way to get clients.” That sentence is to the point, but it doesn’t exactly make you tingle, does it?

Why don’t we try a middle-of-the-road approach? Instead of exemplary or good, we could use the word “great.” It’s not as fancy as “exemplary,” but not as bland as “good.”

Now let’s look at the words “conduit” and “way.” The Internet is a great ___? How about the word “tool?” Once again, not as high-priced as “conduit,” but not as white-bread as “way.” So, now we have “The Internet is a great tool…” Following suit, we might end up with the sentence “The Internet is a great tool for attracting clients.”

Now let’s compare all three sentences:

“The Internet is an exemplary conduit through which to entice potential clients.” It’s a bit over the top.

“The Internet is a good way to get clients.” This sentence kind of puts you to sleep.

“The Internet is a great tool for attracting clients.” This version isn’t fancy, like the first sentence, but it gets its point across; yet it also doesn’t have the yawn factor that the second sentence has.

Shazam! We think we’ve found a happy medium.

So, what was the point of this exercise? First, we’ve confirmed that word choice does matter. Second, we’ve discovered that extremes should probably be avoided. Both “exemplary” and “good” work in the sentence, but they’re not the best choice. Finding a happy medium between the two extremes helps the writer reach the widest audience possible.

For the most part, your law firm isn’t trying to market itself to other attorneys, so using a bunch of technical language and legalese is not going to attract the clients you want. At the same time, you’re not really trying to market yourself to second graders, so over-simplicity isn’t going to portray the image you want for your firm either. In the end, you want to reach for the widest audience possible, while being authentic to the impression you want to make on potential clients.

In short: word choice matters.

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