What Not to Say: The Right Words Clear Away Confusion

Remember the show “What Not to Wear”? The hosts rescued badly dressed women mostly by stressing simple outfits that brought out the women’s innate sense of style and gave them confidence. Sometimes as a writer I find myself in a similar situation. My clients have marketing materials that are confused about audience, mission and even the power of words. My job is to find the clear, accurate, passionate message (the style) beneath the confusion so that clients feel good about their marketing materials–and so do customers.

  • Confusion over the audience. A local nonprofit’s website switched back and forth between addressing the people they were trying to help and addressing potential donors. As a result, on the home page, people they were helping became “you” part of the time and “they” the rest of the time. No one looking wants to be categorized as one of “them.” When you know your audience, your writing has the power to move people, whether to seek your help, buy your product or donate to your cause.
  • Confusion over the mission. One of my clients was transitioning between two main products. As a result, their website had become a roiling sea of information with no true focal point. Visitors to the website didn’t know where to look first and wondered if they had found the best company to meet their needs. You have to be committed to your own mission before you can convince customers to buy into it.
  • Confusion over the power of words. More words and longer words don’t equal more power. I like to use the example of two salespeople. One says, “Our professionally engineered, state-of-the-art product has the incredible capability of significantly reducing your annualized monetary outflow” and the other says, “Our product saves you money year after year.” A simple, clear statement that you believe in carries more weight than any string of five syllable adjectives.

At TWP Marketing & Technical Communications, we believe in the power of clarity, accuracy and passion. Let us bring those three elements into your marketing materials and enable your message to shine. Contact us today.

Never Underestimate What Your Customers Don’t Know

I recently visited a website for a company selling beeswax candles. On one page of the site, the company explained how beeswax candles were made. The information fascinated me. I knew all about melting crayons to make candles and simply assumed any candle was made in the same way. It isn’t.

Many business owners give their customers credit for knowing much more than they do. The beeswax candle company did not make that mistake; and as a result they provided information on their website that kept me there much longer than I intended.

If you have been telling yourself that “Everyone in the industry does it that way” or “Everyone knows that,” it may be time for a reality check.

  • Knowledge that is common in your industry may not be common to your customers, who have their own special interests. Share your knowledge, educate your customers and you’ve hooked them. Items you can share include how your product is made or used, how to distinguish a good product from a bad one or how to repair or upgrade the product.
  • Knowledge that should be known to your customers might not be if you’ve left it to someone else (your competition?) to tell them. Items in this category include industry regulations, awards and baselines that you meet or exceed.
  • Knowledge that customers think they grasp (like my knowledge of how to make a candle) might be wide of the mark. Be specific. For example, if your industry is noted for extremely precise measurements, your customers will benefit from hearing exactly what precision your company reaches: within 1 foot, an inch, the width of a human hair, 0.00003 cm? “Extremely precise” seems clear but it actually vague.
  • Knowledge that you assume customers have because of their education or years in the industry might baffle them. After all, they are your customers because you have knowledge and skills they lack. Make sure you define acronyms and industry terms and try to stay away from industry jargon. Make it easy on your customers to understand what you are saying.

Need help figuring out how to write for your customers but not down to them? Contact me today at TWP Marketing & Technical Communications.

From its base in Peterborough, NH, TWP Marketing & Technical Communications writes marketing copy that engages your customers and delivers your marketing message with accuracy, clarity and passion.

Before You Start Writing

Before you start writing any marketing copy, whether a blog, newsletter, website, success story, proposal or article, you should know the answers to these four questions:

1. What does your customer want? Your marketing copy must provide a solution for the customer’s problem. You have to know the problem, be able to solve it, want to solve it and know how to communicate all that to the customer.

2. Where do your customers hang out? Do they search the web or newspapers? Are they more likely to read an article in a magazine or a story on your blog?

3. How much time are you prepared to spend? A regular newsletter or blog takes time; so does tweeting and maintaining a Facebook presence. Do you have the resources?

4. What is your deadline? A website or proposal that is four years in the finishing is four years overdue. Your marketing copy can’t start working for you until it reaches your customers.

If you are having trouble defining and reaching your audience or finding the resources and time to complete writing projects, contact me. At TWP Marketing & Technical Communications, our words mean business.

A Customer Walks Into Your Company….

A customer walks into your company and is greeted by two sales people.

Sales person A says, “We offer quality custom parts, specialized design, and professional project management services that provide dependable product solutions to meet customer needs. From simple products to complex cross-functional projects involving a variety of materials, functions and teams, we deliver quality products, on-time, backed by world class customer service and support.”

Sales person B says, “How may I help you?”

Which sales person do you think the customer will relate to?

Yet, website after website, brochure after brochure, success story after success story, and newsletter after newsletter sound like they were written by sales person A. The marketing content overwhelms (or underwhelms) the customer with long lists of vague claims that could apply to any industry from space station manufacturing to organic farming. The customer, in effect, doesn’t exist.

At TWP, we answer your customer’s most important question: “How will you help me?” Our solution-driven content differentiates your company from the competition and converts inquiries into sales. For marketing and technical writing that connects with customers, contact TWP today.

 

Five Writing Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

Whether you’re writing an email or a 50 page brochure, a blog or an entire website, a one-page instruction or a success story, here are five mistakes that can cripple your effort to connect with customers:

  • You didn’t identify your audience. Before you can write for your customers, you have to know who they are and what they want. What problem are you solving for them?
  • You didn’t focus. Even major department stores, with thousands of products, focus their brochures, website and blogs on one topic at a time. A list of everything you can do or sell isn’t marketing, it’s monologuing.
  • You forgot the power of pictures. Sometimes the best way to deliver a marketing message isn’t in words but in photos, drawings and charts. (Be sure to label any pictures so that search engines can find them.)
  • You were lured by the phrase of the moment. The strongest marketing messages are those with the most truth expressed in the simplest words. Anything can be a “proactively engineered state-of-the-art system,” even a paperclip. To differentiate your product or service, stay away from the phrase of the moment.
  • You never reviewed your marketing materials as a whole. As a result, your brochure says something different from your website and your website is out of date and neither one supports your latest success story or Tweet.

A great marketing message targets a specific audience, keeps its focus, uses as few words as possible, differentiates you from the competition and is consistent. Maintain those standards, and your customers will definitely get the message.

Need help? Contact TWP Marketing & Technical Communications today.