28/04/2017

Business Writing Tips That Will Set You Apart

Karen Sturrock

By Karen Sturrock

You might not think it, but you are the best person to write about your business

Writing about your own business can be hard. There are always more urgent things to do and sometimes - as the business owner - you can be your harshest critic. Being as close as you are to the business can mean that you can’t always see the forest for the trees.

However, you are the best person for the job, even when you can’t find the words yourself. It was your passion and drive that got things started and your vision that will help your business grow.

Being clear about your business makes it easier to communicate with your clients and for them to engage with what you do. So you can get the response you’re looking for.
 

Setting the Scene for Great Writing

Before spending any money on advertising or marketing, asking yourself some big-picture questions is a great place to start. These might be answers you already have. For example, your vision, mission or strategy. But if not, capturing some of the answers to those questions will set the scene for any content you create.

From press releases to website content, it's vital to be clear about who you are and what you do. There are hundreds of businesses, much like yours. So the clearer you can be, the better.

 

It’s All About You

Good writing makes sure you stand out for all the right reasons.

What is it about what you’re offering that brings a fresh perspective? Or perhaps you’ve been in business for years and younger start-ups seem to be crowding the market. You can use your track record and experience to show customers you’re trustworthy and reliable.

Defining what you bring to the market - your ‘unique selling point’ - is really helpful for determining what you what to communicate and how.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re just getting started or not.

So once you’ve managed to define your business - who you are and what you’re offering - it’s a good time to think about who your customer is.

 

Know Your Customer

Companies spend many millions on surveys and focus groups defining their customer, "narrowing down a demographic to a 35-year-old single woman who likes cats." But you most likely have the information for your business at your fingertips.

Facebook and Google provide online analytics showing who visits your site or engages with you on social media. You can review your database or invite your clients to complete a survey about themselves.

Whatever you do, it's important to know them well. It's their problems that your services are seeking to solve. They are your readers.

Who they are will affect what you say, how and where you say it - in print, on your website, or across social media.

Two Types Of Copywriting

Whatever content you are seeking to create, all this is key to good communication for you and your business. However, there are two types of writing to focus on:

Conversion

This is writing for a specific and immediate action that you want your reader to take. It may be a special offer, signing up to your newsletter or gaining a new customer. It may involve a small advert or a wider campaign.

The less said the better, in many ways, but your writing should always contain a clear call to action for the reader. Keep it short, simple and specific.

A good guide for most small ads is to answer these questions:

  • who are we (flower shop)
  • what are we offering (flowers for every occasion)
  • why use us (we'll create something personal)
  • call to action: (get £5 off your Mother's Day flowers with this ad)

You want to provoke a response. This is not writing that’s focussed on the long-term. So make sure the action is obvious, the benefit is clear, and your contact details are easy to find, accurate and up-to-date.

Content marketing

This is writing (or video, images, etc) which is more general, usually available through your website. This writing serves a more long-term purpose, to establish credibility and demonstrate your expertise.

Think of this content as a taster or a free trial. It’s your opportunity to gain the trust of a potential new customer so that they want to investigate further. It can also create a sense of added value which your competitors may not offer. Through this, you can begin to build or reinforce an ongoing relationship with your customers.

In both instances, you want to think about what you’re trying to achieve. For example - an accountant who wants new clients before the next tax return date might start by providing simple financial advice throughout the year on their website. Closer to the end of the year they might make use of targeted ads to offer specific services. Having already established their credibility and experience, new clients may be more likely to respond to their ad.


Tone of Voice

Whatever you have to say, we use the term ‘tone of voice’ to describe the sound of the writing to the reader.

Start by imagining this person and how you’d approach them. Is it a sensitive formal relationship? For example, offering funeral services or legal advice on divorce? Do you want to appear exclusive and unobtainable except to your select clientele? Or are you a start-up wanting to communicate something new and unique for everyone?

The answers to these types of questions will help inform the sound of your writing and the language you use.

All business writing should be clear, easy to understand and relevant. Long passages of text should be broken up by headings and images should reflect the content. Relevant images can be vital for reinforcing the writing and engaging the reader in more emotive ways.

 

Better Writing to Grow Your Business

Copywriting is about creating a persuasive message. Subtly, to engage the customer over time. Or explicitly, requiring an immediate response. Making the most of these two types of writing is crucial and each can serve the other when it’s used in the right way.

Ultimately, whatever your business, you’re in business to offer a great service and get a good return. Take some time to ensure that you’re clear and confident about what you do and how you do it. You have clients and potential clients who have need of your products and services. So by presenting your business - in writing - in the best way possible, you can connect with them more effectively and get on with growing your business.

 

Karen Sturrock writes for SIXTYEIGHTFEET - a creative partnership which provides design and content services - including copywriting - for organisations large and small. Follow us @sixtyeightfeet

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Karen Sturrock

Published 28 April, 2017 by Karen Sturrock

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