What does your writing—email, texts, social media posts, website, proposals, books—say about your personal brand?
For all the words you speak during the average day, my guess is that you write with far less confidence—and often less fluently. Yet your business and your brand depend on what your writing can deliver. And chances are you blog, tweet, post, and comment on discussions daily. Occasionally, you may even write an article, a white paper, a book, … or a check.
In a nutshell, your writing reflects the essence of your personal presence as much as your face-to-face interactions. No, I take that back. Your personal presence as reflected through your writing has become more powerful than face to face because the audience reach has become broader.
How did writing as a marketing and networking tool rise to such prominence? More than three decades ago, it all started for us at Booher Research with a consultant, his book, and his speech.
Martin Broadwell was speaking at an industry meeting in Houston. A couple of months before hearing him, I had founded my company and spent my first few days cold-calling executives, a task not exactly my idea of fun. At the end of Mr. Broadwell’s keynote, he agreed to take questions from the admiring crowd.
A member asked him, “You’ve obviously been very successful. What’s your marketing strategy?”
Broadwell looked puzzled. “Don’t know as I have one. Hide, I guess. Somehow people find me.”
Second question from the group: “I understand you’re a solo practitioner and travel most of the time. How do you find time to handle your administrative work—invoicing, that sort of thing?”
“At the end of the year, I divide up my expenses, and send each of my clients an invoice. I guess you’d call it a retainer. They pay it. I’ve never had a complaint.”
I heard nothing else that day. What did I have to do to market to the extent that I could hide and prospective clients would be motivated to find me? After much reflection, I decided that I’d need to become either a professional athlete, a movie star, or book author. Not having the talent for the first two categories, I set my sights on the latter.
At Booher Research, we live by what we write. And for many successful organizations, writing remains their number one tool for communicating their marketing messages and delivering customers to their door. To do likewise, keep these fundamentals in mind:
No, I’m not talking about dating. I’m talking about picking up lines from everyone else’s conversation—as parrots do. If Twitter had a section for “Trending Words and Phrases,” you’d see these: “Absolutely.” “Seriously!” “Awesome.” “Awesomeness.” “You’ve got this!” “I hear you!”
With email closing lines, the repeater is this: “If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call.” This closing sounds like the second-grader’s “See you later, alligator.” Friendly, but oh, so worn out.
The cliché opener: “I hope you are well.” Yes, right. Get on with your point or an original pleasantry.
Start your sentence by telling who or what is taking the action. Avoid passive verbs in sentences like this: “This approach has been shown to be most effective when ….” Or: “The plan should be reviewed before implementation.” Who is going to review it?
Without the “doer,” key information is missing. Another example you’ll find in cryptic emails and texting: “Gave her further information on the arrangements discussed” when your readers may be confused about who did the “giving and discussing.”
Avoid the once-upon-a-time structure of going through the details and “background” before getting to the point.
Tell readers exactly what you want them to do, or what you yourself expect to do next. A vague jumble of details can be interpreted in many different ways. If you don’t believe it, stand outside a conference room door and listen to people walk out of a meeting. They often draw varied conclusions after hearing the same presentation. Ditto after reading a document or browsing your website.
Writing skills have never been more visible—or more important—than they are in today’s marketplace. If you decide yours are too bland to set you apart, add spice to create sizzle and a brand.
Learn more ways to improve your email communication with Faster, Fewer, Better Emails.
Join me at the next Booher Book Camp (B-o-o-h-e-r, like my name) for a complete 12-step process for actually getting the draft done quickly in a couple of weeks. Plus, you’ll complete your book proposal and query and get invaluable feedback from me and other attendees. For details, check out BooherBookCamp.com