Write ‘for’ your readers not ‘at’ them

Whether you consider yourself a writer or not, there really is no excuse for sending out a bad email – especially if you believe in the message you are trying to communicate. All it needs is a little thought.

Consider what you would say if you were presented with the opportunity of an uninterrupted audience with a room full of your ideal customers. Would you ram your products in their face and endlessly list the features and benefit statements associated with it? Or would you drone on about all the technical specifications and maybe even have a little dig at the competition? Maybe you might come out with the same string of the everyday platitudes that everyone else uses: claiming things such as good service, cheapest price, very experienced and so on… I assume (indeed I hope) that it would be ‘none of the above’.

I think you would probably try and engage the prospective customers in front of you with things that interest them and then open a dialogue. You would be understanding of their wants and needs, and you would be looking for ways to ‘demonstrate’ your expertise without having to ‘tell’ them why you are the best. You would be looking to build credibility, likability and believability with them. In short, you would be aiming to start up a relationship, engender trust and learn a little more about them and what they are looking for in a (whatever it is you do).

Writing well is no different from communicating well verbally. In fact, if anything, writing gives you a massive advantage because you have as much time as you need to review what you want to say and, where necessary, find a better way to put it – before you press ‘send’. Unlike with the spoken word which, once uttered – cannot be taken back. Having space to think before communicating is such a powerful opportunity.

A few golden rules to follow when communicating business messages in writing:

• Share, don’t Sell: There are times when you are doing a direct marketing piece that you might want to go for ‘the close’ in writing. But generally speaking I would recommend using email marketing to build a relationship and share valuable information and examples which demonstrate your quality, not sell your stuff.

• Talk about ‘how’ not ‘what’ you do: Most people tell their customers about all the things they want to sell them or what they are able to do for them. But if you simply talk about the ‘right way to…’ or ‘how important it is to…’ or ‘the real value of using quality…’ etc. then the message becomes about value; and the reader’s assumption is that you actually do things this way as well (in other words you don’t need to tell them).

• Think, type, think: Get into your ‘I am talking to my customers’ frame of mind. Write what you would actually ‘say’ and then go back and think about how you can make what you have written, read a little better. Writing well really is that simple.

I hope those basic tips are helpful. Now go and start communicating well.

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