Websites and other digital content venues are living documents in which we communicate where we are going… together with our customers. Has your business model changed but not your content? Do you have new products, services or hires that clients and prospects should hear about in newsletters, on your website, social media, etc.? Then you need some new content.
Let me tell you how I go about my work as a business communications consultant. When I get a grasp of what a business is and how it works, then I want to write about it. The type of work I typically handle are blogs, other website content, social media and presentations.
What I do is tell a business story. Sometimes that is selling someone on an experience. For instance, the About Us section of a website should give someone the sense they have visited with your company in person and more importantly, that they want to buy from you.
Business stories should build confidence in the customer. When I covered Wall Street as a financial writer, the expression my editor used was “numbers tell the story.” I find out what metrics and other key indicators mean the most to you and your customers and make sure we get those points across to drive home your business story.
Enhancing communications, elevating the brand
I’ve worked on website launches where the client has a web designer who is expert in web development and SEO, but not a business writer. This is where I come in and craft unique content for that business that ensures all the key points and key words are addressed. This is not just writing for search engines, but writing for people and speaking in a voice conversant in your business culture.
Strong business writing is a specialty unto itself. My background covering a variety of businesses as a news reporter gives me a huge scope of expertise in different sectors. I can speak your business language and your customers’ language.
I interview the business principals to get in depth about what differentiates them, what their reputation is, what they are going after.
In one such conversation, I realized something major was missing from the initial website content. Turns out, a company has a star player who attracts business and that person’s name wasn’t on its website. I crafted paragraphs on this person and their contribution to the clients, and got that over to the web developer. If you had Google searched for that person in that business sector, I don’t think you would have found them at their new company.
In other cases, a business may be running on autopilot and remaining profitable with its existing customer base. And, it wants to reach new pools of customers. It’s time to rev up some fresh content targeted to those audiences. You don’t need to change everything. You are expanding on your messaging. It’s not a costume change. Instead, we can reach more people with added vocabulary. The new content can keep you engaged and relevant.
Tips for Better, Clearer Writing
The first one sounds simple, but I know professional writers who skip this step:
Edit yourself. Let’s use email as an example. This is not a quick glance through what you just banged out. Read the content from the bottom up – sentence by sentence – that’s how you catch the big oops you would have glossed over when glancing down to the end.
When approaching writing, especially a presentation, blog or new marketing material, some people may feel like Charlie Brown with the football. Every time they intend to write something, it is as if the blank screen is Lucy taunting Charlie Brown with a football kickoff. They intend to do it, but don’t want to flop on their back.
Reimagine your audience as your friendly neighbor over the fence. You cannot see his facial expression, but you know who they are, a nice guy, a smart guy. Let’s say he doesn’t know anything about your business – how would you explain the situation to him? You’d simplify it. You wouldn’t dumb it down, but you’d frame your business scenario in a way that would be clear, sensible and persuasive. Now, write down what you just said in that imaginary conversation and work from there! Most of the time, good writing is matter of a reflection. Or, as a good editor will tell you, “Think before you write!”
For more tips on better business communications or to obtain customized consulting, contact consultant Katharine Fraser.