When your business is about service (as all businesses should be) then your communications with your clients and potential customers are a pivotal point from the start of your sales process, through the purchase and delivery, and well into the customer support and follow up. People must be able to understand you and your message. They must be understanding of your offer and its value to them. They must see themselves in the results of your solutions, and they must do all this before you have had a chance to talk to them. Making your message clear is imperative and being able to write effectively is the critical piece to making this happen.
1. Practice Makes Better
I don’t believe in perfect so ‘practice makes better’ is a more realistic and relevant statement. When my kids say, “I can’t do that I’m really bad”, I tell them it is because you have not done it before. No one is great at something they have never done before. You can have an aptitude towards writing or you can be new to it, the key is getting better by doing it over and over. As you put in your time you will improve.
Start a blog and write regularly to find your voice. I have been technical writing for several decades, but when I started my company I needed to bring my personal voice to my message. It was difficult at first, but over the years, I have improved substantially. My articles are now sought after by other publications and the time I spend writing is less. More for less, that is worth the effort of practicing.
2. Don’t Worry About Flow
When you are trying to capture your thoughts and get your ideas out my recommendation is to just let them flow. Don’t worry about how it will look in the final copy, just get started. I wrote this article in this order:
- Point 1
- Point 5
- Point 2
- Point 3
- Point 4
- Additions to Intro and Point
Then I switched a couple of points at the end and added more copy to a couple of points. Sometimes I even move content from points into the intro or conclusion. I don’t worry about where the information is going to end up when I’m trying to find the words to write.
3. Know Your Market
You have to know what your clients want to hear from you. You have to write to their needs and wants. Knowing your client as well as you know a family member is key to creating a conversation in your sales message, whether it is your website copy, an email invitation, or a sales page. Talk about what interests them to catch their attention, not what interests you. Talk about the things they want to see improve in their lives, whether it is more saving on their grocery spending or better health so they can live to play with their grandchildren. Give them what they want to read.
You cannot do this without knowing your target market, so go back to your business development plan and your branding and marketing research to reintroduce yourself to your ideal client.
4. Follow the Rules
There are several rules for writing (check the Chicago Manual of Style to get an idea of how many thousands of rules there are.) Here are a few to help you make the best of your page.
- There are accepted ways of speaking and writing and this is different in different countries and for different cultures. Know your client well enough to understand the language that will appeal to them as well as images and words that will not be offensive or misunderstood.
- Keep to your points and be succinct with your message. Don’t add words just to make it look like you have created more value. Add value and keep as short as possible.
- The more white space you have the easier it is to read. The white space is the area around your message that has nothing in it. If you fill a page with one long paragraph it will be tiring and difficult for someone to read through the information. Unless you are writing a dissertation or your thesis it is likely you will never need to write something that is extremely word-heavy. Use shorter paragraphs, headings, and more point form to help bring the eye to important information.
5.Get It Edited
Have everything you write for publication (e.g. blog posts, web copy, or proposals) edited. Great writers look amazing because someone else has reviewed their work and made it better. I have a two-step process that works well for those of us without a paid editor.
Step 1 Copy my content into another application so it will be in a different layout format and then I read it out loud to help me find issues.
Step 2 Pass the finalized document to someone that is willing to review for you on a regular basis and is capable of catching both grammar and spelling errors. I use my husband to look through my documents and I am so grateful when he catches my misuse of words or points out hard to understand sentences.
Alternative If you cannot do this well for yourself and you do not have this type of free support then hire someone to edit for you. Try the local College or University Business or Journalism programs to get educated support for less than a someone with experience until you can afford the best. The articles I have published to The Opinions Post are edited by The Post’s internal editor, my technical writing had a scientific editor, and my books have a professional editor. It can cost thousands of dollars, but when people pay you for your expertise it is worth it.
Your message is important. Make sure it will be understood and welcomed by all the people you want to reach with it.