My friend Crystalee says she is “a word wrangler by profession.” I love that because it is so true. She works on all kinds of copy for global brands like HP, Whirlpool, Yahoo, AGCO and others as part of the tech team at MarketStar. Crystalee also contributes to KSL.com and The Deseret News (both big media outlets here in Utah). She just can’t seem to get enough writing, as some stories beg to be told. She has a great blog about, you guessed it, writing. I should also note she is just a very kind person. Incredibly friendly and positive all the time. But she is here to help all of us (myself included) learn how to be better writers. As entrepreneurs, writing well will always be an important skill. Talking with customers, investors, partners, employees, media and more all benefit greatly from improved writing.
So here we go with six “must-know” writing tips for entrepreneurs! Thanks again, Crystalee.
Let’s face it: We live in an age of media saturation. Ads target us with increasingly sophisticated technologies among the tweets, Facebook posts, emails, blogs, websites, and print ads we encounter daily. Sorry to break it to you, big dreamer, but it’s only gotten more difficult for your business to stand out.
No fear, StartUp Flavor fan, you’re up for conquering this conundrum. But how? Write well.
Good writing is so direly needed that USA Today is currently hosting a contest, offering $1 million of free ad space to a winner who can capture interest with zesty, clever copy. Describing the contest, Michael Wolff of USA Today shares the anecdote:
Every time a new person was put on his account, Steve Jobs, who was as shaped by good advertising as he was by innovative technology, would say “but can he (or she) write?”
That’s a question it seems every client should reasonably ask.
“Pictures,” Jobs once told Chiat, “…are easy. Words are hard.”
As writers we can’t help but smile at that one, nodding our heads. And our secret? Once you know a few basics, words are fun.
Here are six tips to make your business writing worthy of eyeball time:
1. Know your audience. Marketing homework complete, you’re keenly aware of your target market. Think from their perspective. What is relevant and meaningful to them? Personalize your message to meet their innate business needs and goals, and articulate in a way that will be both relevant and valuable for them. Often times we fall into the trap of writing too much from our own perspective. While our own take on things is definitely important, remembering who our audience is should always be at the forefront of our writing.
2. Resolve a tone. What tone or voice should you use? Your writing voice can range from formal and technical to witty and playful. Do you use “we” and “you” or keep things third person? Each piece (website, ads, email marketing, etc.) resonates differently, depending on the chosen voice. Your credibility rides on your ability to keep voice and tone consistent.
3. Understand messaging. Long before sending ads to print or buying AdRoll space online, spend thoughtful time with messaging. Dive into key takeaways and clearly define them. Make sure your overarching communication plan offers valuable information for prospective customers, and not merely sales jargon. Always remember to keep the “so what?” factor top of mind.
4. Write tight. Skip the fluff. Every word counts, so weigh the importance of each phrase. This doesn’t mean sacrificing eye-catching words, which paint a picture or slam-dunk an idea. Effectively communicate with a dose of creativity, but realize audiences prefer bite-sized, palatable sections to verbose ramblings. As a rule, vary sentences both in terms of length and word choice.
5. Incite action. Purposeful marketing writing provides readers with a recognizable call to action. Often the success of your writing is measured by click-through rates or sales stats. When you’re looking for quantified results, you must persuade readers and invite them to act. This could be as simple as, “Call now for a free trial” or “Sign up for our next webinar by clicking here.”
6. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Dodge this one, and you’ll regret it. A large mall recently sent me (and countless others) an email advertising an event. I might have opened it, had it not born a grammar-offending subject line: “Your Invited.” Really? With a quick edit, the correct “You’re” could have saved their invite from my trash box. As a rule of thumb, if you’re planning to share with potential customers, get a trusted colleague/friend to give your words a second look before you press send or approve the printing press.
If you have any questions about your writing, find me on Twitter! I’d love to hear from you.