Ever sat entranced by someone who really knew what she was saying? Someone who didn’t stumble for the right words or sound like they weren’t sure where they were taking you? Someone who had a clear focus and knew every step between where you were and where you needed to be? Those moments are magical, aren’t they? Like a storyteller, a professional communicator can hold you spellbound and stir your heart with hopes of better days ahead.
Is your company a storyteller? Take a few minutes to read through your company’s website or brochure. Try to read through the eyes of a stranger. That may be easier to do than it should be, since many companies’ content will have sat untouched for quite a while since anyone there really read it objectively and honestly. Okay, done? Do your written messages ignite any passions? Demonstrate any expertise? Build any bonds? Sound different from your competitors’?
Every organization has a reason to exist and a cause vitally important to someone. Your materials should reflect that, building a connection to those who share your passion, and irresistibly inviting those who have not yet been brought into your fold. Every entrepreneur and executive knows this to some degree, yet a startling number of companies still trust their content to the new hire or whoever seems least busy that day. You will be creating sentences to entice people to either give you their attention or love someone else. Every word should come from someone skilled in crafting effective marketing messages.
John Caples, one of the most famous and effective copywriters of all time, conducted research that found that changing just one word in a headline could generate up to 19 1/2 times more responses. 19 1/2 times! That’s the difference between one new customer and 19 (or more). Ten people walking into your store or 195. That’s not to say that every change will generate that level of response, but the more care and resources you put into your writing, the more likely you’ll be to see some new customers coming your way.
When someone calls me asking for a new website design or brochure design, they often say they want a new look. They want a new image. They use the word “brand” a lot. But when we get to the content, it is usually clear that much less effort has been given so far. Content is often an afterthought. “We just want a site that looks great. The content? Yeah just pull that from the old site.”
Now looks are important. We all need to make a good impression. But hopefully we don’t pick our friends and loved ones or even the companies we deal with solely on looks. We focus on the heart and the mind. We look for substance and someone who can meet our needs. Your company’s communications should make people feel like they’ve found a new friend, and someone to trust.
You want people to make a purchase or fill a seat or make a donation? Make sure your message makes it hard for them not to. Romance readers with your story and how it brings new life to theirs. Let them like you. Make them want to stay close.
Your writing is the beating heart of your company’s message, or at least it should be. If you’ve been trusting your beating heart to the newest person in the company, or are still using messages that were written and forgotten years ago, find a skilled word surgeon with a sharp scalpel to cut out the old and get your heart racing again. You and your company — and your customers — can find new life with new words.