A ‘critical friend’ (aka colleague) checked some writing for me last week. Her comments were characteristically to the point – “you’ve lost sight of your audience, so cut out the management guff and write as you speak, not as you’ve been conditioned.” I couldn’t argue with her. She was right. I had lost sight of what I preach – marketing in a more friendly, human, accessible way. And it prompted this post; a recap of how to get it right.
Pictures are worth a thousand words – I know it’s a cliche but pictures work, especially in this YouTube world, where the first thing we do is to ask the limitless Google for help, or absorb information visually via one of the excellent video channels, meaning we read less and less. So keep the pictures in your business writing, and if anything, use more to communicate simply and powerfully
Simple, short words are in – scientists have proven that long, convoluted words (pun intended) slow us down and get in the way of communication. Chuck out extra words that don’t say anything and simplify language everywhere. For example, my pet hate (along with The Daily Mail) is the word ‘utilize’ when ‘use’ says the same, but quicker. Be tough on yourself. Check every word that you use is clear and aides clarity
Express yourself – Madonna sang about it and I advocate it. It is a good thing to express character and personality in your communications, especially in these socially-savvy times, when being warm and immediate are in and being cold and distant are out. The days of ‘management speak’ are over. Let’s get more businesses marketing themselves #thehumansbuyservices way
Think about what you want people to do – there are plenty of communication experts who preach story telling, with a beginning, middle and end, but few talk about getting your audience to do something, to take action. It sounds obvious but ask yourself if you fall into this trap. Think about it upfront and plan for an outcome. I guarantee it will improve your chances of getting heard
Get the tone right – check out Sharon Tanton’s excellent post on the topic ‘How to get the tone of your writing very wrong indeed’. Sharon takes a look at “the bank who likes to say yes”, showing us what not to do
This stuff matters more than ever. Why? Because we are saturated with messages 24/7. For example, ten years ago there were four ways to communicate with me (in person, by phone, by mail and by email). Today there are at least a dozen and most of them (snail-mail excepted) are instant, very flexible and engaging. That means that management speak no longer sounds clever or impressive. It sounds old-fashioned, out of touch and slow.
Our social networks have set new ground rules and raised our expectations. They teach us to challenge what we think we know and free us up to communicate in a modern, liberating way. It doesn’t mean that these networks give us all that we need in business. They simply show us how to connect with and keep it real for the people we are trying to reach. Tell me what you think.