Many people may think, “I’m not a writer so I’m not going to write articles and blogs.” Fine, but if you think you are not writing for your business then you are wrong. Communication via the written word is going to be a very big component in the success or failure of your business, so you better learn something about doing it right. Let me first give you a list of the places you will need clearly understood content for your business and then I will give you three tips to help you improve your writing so you can be more confident about the content you have to create.
What am I Writing?
You will need documents for every aspect of your business, operations, sales, management, financial, and of course marketing. Some can be casual and others will need to have a legal aspect to them. Here is a list of the types of documents that you will need to write (or have written for you) to be able to run a successful business. Note that there are probably tens, if not hundreds, of more documents that could be on this list.
These documents help create the systems that will ensure that the people you hire to do work for you will do it the way you have branded your company to operate. These are critical if you are hoping to license or franchise your business.
- Manufacturing process
- Testing or Q&A
- ‘How to’ documents – How to post, how to create newsletter, how to use templates, how to use the cash register
- Cleaning, food handling, disinfecting
- Product handling
Your sales are one of the places in your business where you will be in direct communication with your customers or potential clients. You will want to ensure that the language you or your sales staff is using to speak to your clients is the way you want your business to be portrayed. A lot of this will tie into the marketing brand language as well. Note that you will create a guideline, but you want people to use their authentic voice to speak to clients, so scripts are to lead, not to follow word-for-word.
- phone scripts
- answering the phone or welcoming customers into your store
- placing an order
- contracts and agreements
In management you need to really understand what everyone’s role is within the company, even if every role is yours. Each person also needs to completely understand what their responsibilities are.
- HR policies
- contracts and agreements
- advisory board structure
- meeting agenda and minutes
- employee responsibilities
- client interaction
Financial information helps not only you understand what the goals are, what has already been achieved, and what financial requirements are needed to continue to grow the company, it also is used to speak to the governing body that can financially cripple you if you are not following the tax laws and cannot adequately explain what you are doing. Just ask Conrad Black about keeping good information: although I think he might have been in bigger trouble had he held on to the documents they charged him as removing. Who knows!
- business plan (especially if you need to raise funds for your business)
- incorporation papers
- corporate minutes
- yearly financial statements
This is the writing that people start worrying about and it is the easiest to find someone to help you with. If you really are not a captivating, marketing writer then hire someone that is. The branded message should be clear throughout all your marketing messages.
- press releases
- blogs & articles
- interview questions
- CV or resume
- website content
- speaker’s bio
- marketing plan
- applications for awards
3 Tips to Creating Great Content
Model Great Content
No matter what type of writing I am doing (user manuals, help systems, articles, blogging, proposals, agreements, etc.) I always start by finding something that works. I look at the manuals that won any of the STC awards, the bloggers that are world renown for their skill, articles that inspire me and millions of others, agreements that get successful businesses their jobs.
There is so much information on the Internet you can find something, but determining which is the best is hard, so ask people or follow people you know are successful and see what they are doing. Model their layout, their heading usage, their brevity, and their language use. Don’t steal or copy directly unless you plan on giving them credit for the information, or if the information is not copyright protected (e.g. legal wording for Non-disclosure agreements).
When I wrote my first client contract it took me days of research to find contracts I had used or seen in the past and other companies’ contracts I had access to. I used these contracts to create the words I needed in mine to ensure I had the information I needed to create an understanding both me and my client would feel good about and would understand. If during a contract there was a misunderstanding I would change the wording of my contract so that I would not have that issue again. It was a trial and error process, but if it is a highly litigious industry you will want to hire an expert for contracts or HR policies etc. You do not want a misunderstanding that costs you your business or worse, your home and savings.
When you start writing it is not going to feel authentic or natural. The more writing you do the easier it will become. When I started blogging my words and thoughts were stiff. I tried too hard to make content interesting. It took about 4 times longer than it does now to get my ideas onto a page. It was painful.
To improve I get feedback from another person. I am a firm believer that you cannot accurately edit your own work, so ask someone else to read it over.
What are you writing?
Share with us the documents or content you have had to create for your business or any tips you can give that has made it easier for you to write.