Startup CEO? You Need These 5 Writing Tips for Corporate Marketing
You’ve got a great idea for a new business. You know you can translate that idea into a product of the highest caliber. But you may not have expertise or experience with marketing, public relations, business plans or grant proposals. Without those, your excellent product is likely to remain a big secret. The common denominator for all those disciplines is good writing.
You don’t have to be Shakespeare to write a press release or website copy, but you do have to adhere to basic good business writing rules. When your company is bigger, you’ll be able to pay someone on staff to listen to your ideas and boil them down succinctly to their essence. But until then, you’re either on your own or you have to pay an outside expert to help. In this blog post, I’ll lay out five tips for good business writing that will help you do it yourself.
- Don’t be intimidated. The effort to say something perfectly can obscure the big picture of what it is you want to say. It’s frustrating when you try over and over again to write the same sentences and aren’t satisfied with the results. Good writers generally start by simply putting the essence of what they want to say into words without worrying about writing it to the best of their abilities. Then they go back and improve the writing. You should do the same.
- Think carefully about your audience. It’s made up of various groups, and each group has different needs and attitudes. You can’t approach them in the same way. To be persuasive, you need to understand and focus on those needs and attitudes. The arguments you use in your writing to persuade one group could leave another group cold.
- Eliminate promotional language. This may sound counter-intuitive if you’re trying to promote yourself, your company or your product/service. However, promotional language turns people off much more than it convinces them. Facts convince readers. Go through what you’ve written and ask yourself, “Can I prove it?” If you’ve made statements that you can’t prove, go back and revise them. Example: “XYZ widget will be the best new widget since the introduction of widgets 10 years ago.” That statement is your opinion, not a persuasive statement. Delete sentences that make that type of general claim and include the facts that differentiate your product from others, such as “Unlike other widgets, XYZ widget is made entirely of steel and holds up to 500 pounds.”
- Less is more. You’ll lose most of your audience right away if they’re presented with long and detailed text. Don’t go off into unnecessary tangents. They may be interesting to you, but they cloud the overall picture you need to present. Stick to the main points you want to make and the necessary evidence for each point. After you’ve put your thoughts into writing, go back and delete unnecessary words, sentences and concepts that aren’t central to your point of view. Then do it again.
- The process of writing about your company and product will force you to hone in on what’s important about your business and differentiates it from competitors. You’ll learn to tell your story more quickly and more powerfully as a result.
By Lucy Siegel