Business Writing That Sells. Part 6
I’ve been a professional writer since 1998 and as Editor for The Business Show and Business Startup, I have worked with literally thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs to improve their content marketing. As a freelance copywriter specialising in content marketing, I meet and talk with many entrepreneurs, start-up founders and owners of SMEs on a regular basis. I will share some of my secrets and tricks of the trade with you here. Today, we look at how to turn your ideas into words.
Turning Ideas Into Words
You live your brand every hour of every day. It excites you. Maybe it consumes you. But how do you distil that passion into a soundbite that is readily understood by everyone? How do you communicate just why your business fires you up?
If you’re like most of the business founders and owners I work with, then you’re so caught up in the day-to-day that you find it hard to express why you do what you do to an ‘outsider’. And that’s my tip for this week; take a step back – even better, step outside your business entirely – and look at it from the outside. Become an outsider for the day. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and prospects. What do you see?
Now what would you like them to see? If you could be a fly on the wall when one of your customers describes your business to other potential customers, what do you want to hear? Is it value for money? Great customer service? The fact that you ‘get’ your customers?
It could be all of these, or it could be none of these. That’s one thing I’ve learned from working with hundreds of start-ups and SMEs; every business is different. That’s why you can’t buy a one-size-fits-all marketing plan off the shelf and expect it to work, whatever your agency promises.
Ideas Are Based On Understanding
There’s no substitute for understanding both why you wanted to start this business in the first place – and why your customers are your customers. If you really – really – want to communicate effectively with them, then you need to ask some probing (and often difficult) questions about who you are, who they are, and how you see your relationship with them.
It’s only then that you’ll be able to turn your ideas into words. At least, words that connect with your audience. Most clients would rather outthink their competitors than outspend them and putting in this groundwork will put you ahead of the pack.
Forget The 60-Second Sell!
As a professional copywriter, I meet some incredible and inspirational entrepreneurs – and many of them have sadly failed to really engage their audience. You know that ‘elevator pitch’ that all the business books tell you to practice? The 60-second-sell that sums up your business proposition? Forget it. Sure, it might be great for convincing Richard Branson to invest millions on that one-in-a-billion lift ride that will never happen, but in terms of talking to regular people? It’s worse than useless. In fact, it’s counterproductive; you need to learn a new language.
That’s why I spend most of my time creating words that capture what my client wants their customers to feel about their company, but can’t quite articulate. A huge part of my work is acting as a translator to communicate what businesses needs to say to everyday members of the public. Everyday members of the public who happen to have a wallet with a debit or credit card in it.
Although I like to talk to my clients regularly and gather as much information as I can, I’ve found that when I write for a new client – if time is short, or I just can’t get more answers for some reason – there are just two things that I really need to know:
- The big idea
- The brand personality
To get to the point where you know these two things, you’ve already asked and answered a lot of questions. You’re good to go.
Don’t Get Lost In Translation
If you don’t want – or can’t afford – to hire a professional copywriter (are you sure you can’t afford one? Talk to me!), then you should try to be your own translator. To mix metaphors; take off your business hat and put on your consumer shoes. This is one time you won’t get strange looks if you talk to yourself…
If you find the series – or any of the articles in it – useful, please share them via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. I’d really appreciate it, thanks. If you need professional copywriting for anything from your new web copy to marketing collateral and press releases, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today to find out how I could help your business.