02 December 2013

ARE YOUR WORDS SCARING OFF YOUR CUSTOMERS?

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Today, more than ever, small business owners have to write. We not only have to write daily communication (and with email we are all writing a lot more personal correspondence than ever before), there are brochures and promotional material in general, copy for our websites, blog articles, even face book posts, tweets and various other social media snippets that simply don’t write themselves.

The words we use in all of these mediums can either attract or repel customers. Smart businesses have realised this and that is why we are seeing much more modern language being used but not everyone is happy about it.

Sure I am a small business author, but I am not about to start lecturing people on the use of adjectives, adverbs, nouns or “proper grammar”. But I am going to say that if we don’t write in a way that is engaging, no one will read what we write and that has major ramifications for our businesses.

Most people have never been taught how to write, apart from English at High School (and doesn’t that bring back wonderful memories?). Shakespeare isn’t much help when it comes to writing this weeks blog post. Today it isn’t about writing right, it is about writing in a way that builds a relationship with our customers, that is personal, that lets them into our world.

Writing has become very intimate in recent years, and as much as my old English teacher may roll over in her grave, I feel that it is far less important to be grammatically correct than it is to connect, to be relatable and to build a relationship with our customers.

This means we need to use language that is simple. Shorter sentences, more “I”, “we”, “you” and “us”. In other words, we need to write how we speak. This used to be frowned upon in the literary world, but now it is not only welcome in the entrepreneurial world, it is essential.

Many business owners struggle to adapt to this new way of writing, sticking with the more traditional and more formal, corporate gobbledegook. Sure there is a place for this formal writing, in contracts and other legal documents, but it doesn’t work any more in anything to do with building relationships, and certainly not in the marketing space.

My advice is simple. Worry less about what you write, and just be yourself. Open up, share your views, your ideas and your philosophy behind anything to do with how you do business. When you have to write anything, imagine you are sitting and having a chat to your very best customer, and write for them. Have fun, smile when you write, keep it short and to the point and yes, make it personal.

The world continues to change, whether we like it or not. It is only fair to assume that language needs to change as well. So as much we might try to fight it, it’s in our best interests to go with it – LOL (and lets add a smiley face).

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Andrew Griffiths is Australia's #1 small business author with 12 best selling books now sold in over 60 countries. He's a writing and publishing expert, an international speaker and leading business advisor with over 20 years' experience. Andrew presents around the world and is considered an expert in entrepreneurship and an authority on building a profile. He is a thought leader through writing, publishing and speaking and is featured regularly in mainstream global media.

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