Why businesses absolutely must understand writing to communicate, and how some get it horribly wrong.
You have the space and the freedom to completely market your business on your own. The newspaper, radio and television middlemen no longer dictate the size of your audience. This is both daunting and freeing, depending on the day of the week, and your perspective.
We’ve all seen the marketing efforts that miss. We’ve seen the ones riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes, and the ones that don’t at all resonate with where you are as a potential customer. Writing to communicate is not hard, but it requires a learned skill set. It’s a necessary skill for any small business.
Strategies for Writing To Communicate
Consider Your Audience – It sounds basic, but many businesses overlook this step. What do your customers actually want to know about? There are several ways to find this out.
- What is the product or service that they ask for the most?
- What questions do they ask of you or your sales team the most?
- What questions or phrases are they searching for online the most?
- What posts of yours have garnered the most traffic?
Some simple keyword research using Google Keyword Planner can tell you what they are searching for the most. A look through your Google Analytics can tell you what posts of yours received the most traffic. Understanding these elements should dictate the direction you go with your marketing and your blog. If you still don’t know what your audience is looking for, you could also go directly to the source, and ask them.
Write How You Talk – This is another one often glossed over. Businesses mistakenly feel like they have to revert to a formal, academia-style voice as they write their marketing materials. If you were out to coffee explaining what you do to a perspective client, is that how you would talk? Probably not.
Relax and be you.
It’s OK To Go Personal – From a customer’s perspective, sometimes it is difficult to distinguish what separates two businesses. The products are nearly identical. The services are the same. So how do they decide? In all honesty, they’ll probably go with the one they like better – the one they can identify with.
Your website and blog are still there for a professional basis. But there is nothing wrong with writing a post tying together what you’ve learned about your business from being a parent, or from being a Cubs fan (the Cubs post is from before they won).
These things become icebreakers with new customers or clients. They can identify with the sheer personal joy, and understand a little more about what drives you as a person. These are the things that round out your character, and make you personable and likeable. A key piece of writing to communicate is winning your audience over. They have to like you to buy from you.
Avoid the Geek Speak – You probably know a lot about your business and industry. You may have even gone to school for what you do. So, you want to convey to your reader how smart you are, and all of the fancy $10 words you learned while earning that piece of paper on the office wall, right? Wrong.
While your customer has read a minimal amount of online material, if you start writing like this is a dissertation paper, they’ll drop off fast. The more productive approach is to be the business that can break down complicated concepts, and talk about them in a way your reader will understand. If your site can become a true resource, you build trust and strengthen relationships. This will be far more productive in the long run. This is a key secret to writing to communicate.
Know Your Purpose – This one cuts deep. Why are you in business? What are your mission, vision and values? Understanding these high level concepts can keep you headed in the right direction. As you set out to write your website content, blogs and other marketing materials, this can be an important guide post. Make sure that your individual marketing pieces fit the bigger picture of what you’re trying to accomplish.
Stay on Message – This is the micro-version of understanding your purpose. Each piece of marketing has its own purpose, or goal. Your services pages are built to sell each individual offering. Your blog posts are there to educate your customers. Tangents that stray from the intended purpose weaken your efforts. It pays to be concise and stay on topic. Even if your tangent offers some of the best prose you’ve ever written, cut it, and use it for another piece.
Keep it Clean – I’m not talking about swearing, though in most cases that’s probably a good idea too. (There are probably businesses that can pull this off under the right circumstances.) What I’m talking about more, is keeping the copy clean. Spelling and grammar mistakes detract from the larger point of what you are trying to say.
If someone reads through your piece to simply tell you that you misspelled a certain word, they’re not getting what you are trying to say, and it’s a sale you likely won’t be making. Take the extra time, and make sure you are using the right there/their/they’re.
Writing to communicate has become a necessary business skill with the expansion of the internet. Are you doing everything you can to speak your customers’ language? If this is a skill you’re struggling with, you can always hire a freelance marketing writer to create your copy.