4 Free Online Content Tools to Help You Write What You Really Mean
By Cindy Spitz, Senior Content Director, Marcum Strategic Marketing
How many times have you searched in vain for just the right words? Whether you’re the owner of a company or a marketing professional, you want to clearly communicate your competitive advantages and how you can help ABC Company resolve its challenges. What sometimes makes writing difficult is that we land on empty words or phrases, or words so overused they no longer pack a punch. Even when you know your product or service is unique, you know better than to use that word…right? How many times do you use “leverage” in your communications? Sorry, but it’s one of the most overused words in business communications.
The thesaurus tool on your computer is a good starting point, and it can often provide you with a more powerful word. However, it has its limits when you’re trying to replace phrases. WordHippo is a great solution for phrases. For example, I was recently stuck on “freeing up” with regard to cash flow. In this search on WordHippo, I found a bounty of suggestions. What’s more, you can click on each suggestion for more words and zero in on the word or phrase that works. In this example, I found that “easing” fit the bill.
Another handy tool is Related Words. This easy tool not only suggests great alternatives—it also provides the meaning of each word. Sometimes I find the best word lies within the provided definition. As we live through this pandemic, it can be difficult to read anything that doesn’t include the words “unprecedented” and “uncertain” to describe the times we’re experiencing. I typed “uncertain” into the Related Words search bar. I like “unsettled” and “unpredictable” as alternatives. Other choices include:
If you do use “unprecedented,” add context. For example, if you’re writing about the construction industry, how has the pandemic affected future jobs, project backlog and strategic planning? If you are writing about the retail industry, explain what uncertainty means in terms of profits, store closures and future trends.
If you’re more of a visual person, consider using Visuwords™ to see words displayed in a colorful diagram. This tool also provides a definition of each term when you simply hover over the suggestion. The black background makes the words pop. For example, the search for “unique” resulted in the following display:
Let’s get back to “leverage.” While widely used by business professionals, leverage is a noun that pertains to the action of a lever or the mechanical advantage gained by it. Or, in the financial sector, it is the use of credit to enhance one’s speculative capacity. If it must be used as a verb, it means to exploit something. So, if you really want to leverage (exploit) your expertise in healthcare financing to attract new clients, go ahead and use it. Just don’t use it several times in one communication. Alternatives include:
- Take advantage of
- Capitalize (on)
Finally, when you keep circling around the words you want to express and just can’t get that word to come out, there is a free resource to get you unstuck! By using OneLook Reverse Dictionary, you can type in your concept and receive a list of words. I typed in “at the same time” in the search bar, which provided a list of words and phrases. I chose “simultaneously.” That populated 100 similar words to give me more choices than I could have imagined. You also have the option of using a number of filters.
We only have seconds to capture our readers’ attention. From emails and blogs to websites and social posts, word selection makes a real difference. These tools should help you find words and phrases that help differentiate your value proposition and stand out from the competition.