If you are one of the many business owners who find writing a challenge, take consolation in the fact that you are not alone.
You may well avoid it until you have no choice and begrudgingly sit down in front of that blank screen or piece of paper waiting for inspiration to strike.
Or you may rather enjoy it - sitting down with enthusiasm only to find that it never comes out quite the way you intended.
The good news is that there is a simple way to improve your writing skills, make the process easier and get better results.
The Eight Step Process to Better Writing
Improve your writing skills with these simple steps. They will guide you through planning what to say and how to say it for maximum impact and results.
1 Who are you writing for?
Focus every piece of communication you produce - emails, tweets, social media posts, website copy on your ideal customer. Each communication should be tailored to a primary customer type. Use your customer profiles to identify which customer you are targeting.
2 What result do you want?
What do you want potential or existing customers to do as a direct result of your communication? Maybe you want them to buy something, visit a page on your website or just be more aware of what you do. Whatever it is, declutter your communications by focusing on this - if it isn’t relevant to the result, keep it out.
3 Craft a CTA
Your Call to Action (CTA) should be compelling, simple and clear. And it should be right for your ideal customer. It could be a link for people to click, a number to call, an add-to-basket option.... It could refer to special offers, limited availability, time sensitivity and other factors that would motivate action.
4 What is your primary message?
What information and message will encourage the action you want your customers to take?
Think of the benefits and the results your customers will get, how it will help them. Features of your company, product or service are only relevant if they have a direct benefit to your customer.
Every customer has a problem or need that you should focus on solving. Even if you perceive your product as a positive - there is an underpinning need or “pain point” that will trigger a purchase. If there isn’t, then there isn’t a market for your product or service! Think creatively, turn things on their heads and the problem will become obvious. Often those problems or needs are much simpler than we think!
5 What style will you use?
The language you use will be influenced by:
• The values of your business
• The components of your brand including its personality
• Your customers
The action they will take, how they will feel about your business or product will depend on the language you use.
• Speak directly to your customers - using the third person is not personal. Use you - a lot.
• Don’t talk about yourself unless it’s important to your customers (about pages are different). Use I or we if you do.
• Keep sentences short.
• Use words and phrases that will help your customer imagine the benefits to them.
• Keep adjectives to a minimum. If you do use them make them specific tangible ones or evocative terms to help them visualise the benefits.
• Use the right approach for your ideal customer - friendly or formal, informative or illustrative, traditional or modern - it depends on your brand values and customer profiles.
6 Where is it going to be seen?
Each location for your communication will affect how it should look and feel. You may need to have multiple tweaked versions.
What works on social media is less likely to work well on email - the length, the format, the language may all need to change. Find a brand appeals to you, which has an active presence on email and social media and see how they do it.
7 Structure Your Message
Begin with your main message - a summary of the main points.
Then fill out the details:
• Paint a picture/Tell a story
• Answer the questions your customers are likely to ask - be creative and use storytelling, case studies, testimonials etc to illustrate the benefits.
• Use your CTA within the message.
• Summarise again at the end and use your CTA again.
Break up your text to make it more readable.
Use sub headings and keep paragraphs to no more than 2 or 3 sentences. People scan read, make sure your most important messages are clear - use bold or italics to highlight them. Use capitalised letters for titles or sentence case depending on the context, but only use capital letter words if essential.
8 Before You Hit Publish
Proofread at least twice and give yourself enough of a break to be able to see those nasty typos and errors - there will always be one!
Edit it at least twice to get rid of unnecessary information, adjectives and clumsy grammar - there will always be more than one instance!
Writing by hand or on in a word processor? Edit it again once it is in place. This is particularly true for online communications - the structure and flow is always changed on screen.
Preview for mobile use - If it is being seen online, test it out on a mobile first. Layout associated readability changes dramatically according to devices.