Successful Small Business Marketing Advice: Communicate Effectively
The last couple of weeks have been a little tough for us. We’ve been trudging through a rocky patch in a relationship with a “partner” of sorts whom we helped develop a marketing product/system for his existing clients (business owners in a specific industry he teaches sales and operational tactics to).
“Why is the relationship rocky,” you ask? Two reasons.
First, the guy doesn’t want to pay us. We generated too many sales too quickly and he now owes us a pretty hefty chunk of change which I think he his uncomfortable parting with. But that’s not your problem, and it’s not the point.
The second reason is that his associate is a real ass. She can’t ever seem to find anything nice to say, constantly complains and has a negative demeanor toward everything and everyone. Not to mention, she’s extremely demanding—literally. Meaning she barks commands like a drill sergeant. Have you ever worked with a person like that? Probably. And we’re sure you agree, it’s no fun.
So what’s the point, right? The point is that this lady sends us a few emails per day and they are generally very nasty in tone and they demonstrate a complete lack of effective communication skills.
In fact, it’s likely that her extremely poor communication skills are the culprit behind why this fragile partnership is fracturing.
That caused us to realize (and wish to discuss with you) the extreme importance of effective communication in your marketing.
Now, this isn’t a lesson about netiquette or email manners. Who cares? But this situation illustrates a problem we witness in many business owners. It’s not just about being a jerk in your email. It’s about how to use words and language to make people take a desired action (like buy something from you).
Just as this person seems to be incapable of writing a 200 word email with any decency or effectiveness, many business people can scarcely write a letter (or ad) that serves any positive purpose for their company.
Think about it. Have you ever been in a situation where you were trying to sell something to someone and the process ended up involving letters sent from you to the other party? Ever wondered why those letters rarely work?
It’s because we’re not taught how to effectively communicate (in pen or any other media for that matter). In school they taught us (or attempted to teach us) proper grammar and complex sentence structure. In speech class they teach us how to read boring essays without wetting our pants in front of the class.
But when are we ever taught to sell in writing? Rarely.
That lady who sends those nasty emails…she’s trying to sell us on her way of thinking. Perhaps why something should be done one way over another or maybe why we shouldn’t expect to be paid. Whatever it is. But each time we get an email, the message gets lost and the animosity builds. She does her purpose injustice with those terrible notes. It’s just like most companies’ ads and sales letters.
So what does it take? What can you do to add the pen (or keyboard) to your arsenal of deadly sales weapons?
How To Sharpen YOUR Pen
Great news. It’s not as difficult as you think.
In fact, with a little coaching and some decent advice (like we’re giving you right now), you could pen a great sales letter tonight.
Here’s our three step system for sharpening your pen.
If you are like most business people when you sit down to write a real letter you become some stick-up-the-butt, faceless, corporate Dictaphone. You lose your complete personality and flare for who you are. You begin to write boring, corporate letters that blather on about you, your company and your products… BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.
You’d sell yourself, your company and your products better if you actually wrote nothing about business and just wrote a note to someone you really like about what’s going on in your life. At the bottom you could put “P.S. you wanna buy my widget?” The main point here is that you have a personality and you MUST use it. It’s your most potent sales tool.
People buy you first, your company second and your product or service third. So if you write your sales message like your company is sending the letter you are dead before you begin.
Write Like You Talk:
This really ties back into what we were just talking about. With personality comes writing style. Your personality leads you to speak a certain way. If you’re a laid back type of person you most likely talk in that kind of style. If you are a southern gentleman or women you speak in a slow, sweet and very open style. Your letter should be written exactly like you talk.
When people read a letter they read it to themselves. They can actually hear the words being spoken in their head (some even read everything out loud to themselves).
If you write in a corporate tone and corporate speak it will be very cold and boring for the person involved in the conversation. This is precisely why all effective marketing communication is written in a conversational style.
Write like you talk. Put in all of your own idiosyncrasies just the way you would speak them. Use the kind of slang language you would use as if the person were right in front of you and you were telling them the same message you are writing them. Make analogies, use clichés and colorful language.
Don’t worry about proper grammar either. You don’t speak with proper English grammar and you shouldn’t write that way either. I know what you’re thinking… We’re nuts and your English teacher wants to string us up by our toes.
Forget English class. Use run-on sentences, wacky punctuation and fragmented sentence structure. That’s the way we talk. We don’t talk thinking about subject verb agreement, direct objects and dangling participles…so don’t write that way either.
Junk it up too. What? What the heck does junk it up mean? Do you know how some people try very hard not to make mistakes when hand writing a note? They want it to look very nice and clean and neat. Don’t do that.
Junk it up. Make it look real and personal. If you are typing use ALL CAPS on certain words to make them jump out. If you would be passionate about that part of the conversation in person… then make it stand out of the paper. Make it bold. Or maybe underline major points you don’t want the reader to miss!
Read It Out Loud:
When we craft a response to an important message, a note to a client or write a sales piece we often spend a lot of time on it. We go over it and over it and edit for many different things (and as you’ve prob’ly realized, typos aren’t on the list). After each revision we read it out loud. Remember it’s a conversation. It’s going to be spoken by someone in their mind.
Often times when you read things aloud you find stumbling points or odd moments in the conversation. Paragraphs don’t flow as they should or don’t feel natural. If you don’t read your material out loud you will never find these little pitfalls.
Reading out loud and making edits and corrections because of it can give you a BIG time boost in the response of the recipient and also cut down on misinterpretation of your message. You should never let a letter, email, ad or anything go out of your hands that you haven’t read out loud.
To take it a step even further we often have someone else read it out loud for the first time to see if they misinterpret a point, stumble or get confused. Having someone else read it out loud to you is a super secret strategy that only the true stars implement. You can learn so much. It’s like listening to your prospects’ inner monologue. TRY IT… you’ll like it.