All of us will have to do some writing for our business. Whether it’s a report, webpage, social media post or blog post it’s inevitable. Not everyone likes writing or feels confident in doing it. Practice makes perfect as the old saying goes and I fully believe that. There are steps that you can take which will make you a better writer. Here are my 8 tips to make your writing more effective and your business more successful as a result.
Need to know
Writing can sometimes be self-indulgent. You can spend hours writing something, that in the end only you want to read. The key to successful content is making sure that your audience is interested. There’s no point slaving over a blog for your website for hours on end and when it’s finished the only person who reads it is your partner (under extreme duress)!
Before you start crafting your content ask yourself this question:
Why would my audience/client/customer care about this?
You can also shorten this to “So what?”
Take this blog. You’re reading it because you might do some writing for your business and you want to improve it. You want more people to read it and for it to be a useful part of your marketing mix. To make sure this blog addresses that I’ll pull out key actions you can take which will help you achieve your goal. That’s so what.
Make them cry
Ok, we don’t want to make people cry, well you might do but that’s a whole other issue! The best writing makes people feel something. Now that could be bringing them to tears but it could also be making them laugh.
The best way to achieve this is to work out how you want your audience to feel before you start writing. That way the emotion will be embedded into your content.
Stress the benefits
This relates back to point 1. Why should your audience care? People are overwhelmed with content constantly. So you need to really quickly and easily convince them that your product or service will have positive benefits for them.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of saying “Buy my brilliant product it does x, y and z!” Instead, you need to flip that on its head when writing for your business. “If you’re short on time then use my product, by doing X it will give you back the time you’re missing!”
People are a bit lazy. They aren’t going to look at a list of features and apply them to their lives. Instead set the scene, think about your customer’s needs and how your offering will benefit them and improve their lives.
I’m going to hazard a guess that whatever you’re writing about you feel confident in. If that’s the case then be bold in your writing. Don’t be shy. Throw out the words maybe, might, just, nice, bad, stuff – you get the picture. Replace them with stronger alternatives. This will help make your writing more convincing and assert your authority, knowledge and skill to your audience.
A 2015 study by the OECD* found that 16.4% of adults in England have the same literary ability as a 5-7-year-old. That means you need to keep it simple. Your default might be to use long words, lots of terminology and complex sentences. Now if your audience is highly academic or you’re writing a report that’s ok. For those of us that are writing blogs, social media content or web copy we need to use plain English. The more people that can understand your content the more successful it will be.
It can be tempting to make a grand sweeping statement and then move on. STOP! For your audience to understand your point you need to explain. Not just in a quick pitstop way but in a relatable way that they will understand. Make your point, pull out and highlight a key snippet or quote then relate it back to what your content is about and why your audience should care about it.
“A quote in bold”
will help draw the readers eye when they’re scanning your content. This helps people to decide whether your content is worth reading. Failing to expand and digest the quote for your audience will leave them frustrated and chances are they’ll stop reading. Game over.
Don’t leave it all until the end
55% of visitors will spend less than 15 seconds on your content**. You need to forget about building suspense and finishing on your main point. Instead, state your case upfront then spend the rest of your time explaining and going into more depth.
Breaking up your content with headlines and snippets in bold will help your audience quickly understand what you’re writing about. Most people will scan an article, blog or webpage quickly to see if it’s worth them spending more than 15 seconds on. Clear, concise and relevant headings will help them to realise that they’ve found exactly what they’re looking for!
I am all about stories. Stories add humanity to whatever it is you’re writing about. If you ever end up talking to me I will undoubtedly tell you that I believe people buy from people. That’s why you see so many case studies or testimonials. Use stories to your advantage. Take advantage of descriptive language, emotions and people to draw your audience in. Then sell to them without them realising. Trust me, it works.
Writing is an art. The more you do it the better you’ll get. Like so many things though it’s easy to fall into bad habits. Before you start writing conjure up who you want to read this, what are their concerns, goals and how do you want them to feel at the end. Then make sure you finish on a call-to-action.
Here’s mine. If after reading this (and thanks for getting to the end) you still don’t feel confident then let me help you. I can work with you to tell your story and bring your business to life. Still not convinced about letting someone help you? Then take a read of 4 reasons why you shouldn’t write your own copy!