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Write the Way You Speak

More than ever, writing content is a big part of marketing: brochures, web pages, sales letters, emails, Instagram blurbs, etc. However, writing is a MAJOR block for most business owners. I see it when we used to ask Clients to write the web copy for their new website…procrastinate, put off, postpone, prolong, pause…anything but produce!

(OK, maybe I had a little too much fun with the alliteration there!)

For many business owners, the hang-ups and mental blocks with writing are real. As is the need to write. The good news is that the resistance to writing is mostly a head game that can be overcome. They often leave it to “professional writers” to do. And I don’t recommend it. No one knows your business or your Clients better than YOU.

Imperfect writing that’s authentic will win over perfectly polished writing every time.

If you’re still with me (and your anti-writing defenses haven’t flared up), I’m here to provide some fresh thinking for you.

Remember writing essays in school? We had to use very proper English and grammar. There weren’t no “aint’s” in them essays! Well, Academic writing is NOT what builds trust, convinces, or sells when it comes to Marketing. You’ll often hear the advice “write the way you speak” when it comes to writing marketing copy. And that’s almost true. Your challenge is do develop your “Marketing Voice” and use that voice to write.

For those of you who really suffer with writing and put it off at all cost, here’s how I want you to approach it…

  1. First, don’t think of it as writing. I want you to think of it as explaining something to a Prospect or Client. If you’re writing a brochure, think about what you want to say to a Prospect. You talk to Prospects and Clients all the time. I sometimes find it helpful to, out loud, ask myself a question as if I am the Prospect. And then, out loud, I answer it. (Pro Tip: do this away from people or they’ll think you’ve “done lost your damn mind”.)
  2. Rough Edit. At this point, the writing is done…you’re now rearranging stuff. Cutting, moving, shortening, lengthening. Don’t worry about getting it perfect. You just want to put the words you’ve captured into a sensical order.  Either you can edit or have someone else edit it for you.
  1. Capture it. Write it down. Record it. Once you’ve said it out loud, your brain knows what to write. Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, structure, or spelling at this point.
  2. Edit Again. Once you’ve roughed out your piece, you can start to get nit-picky. This is also a great time to have someone else take a look at your writing. The editing steps raises your writing from “sloppy speak” to “polished prose” (OK, I’ll stop with the alliterations!)
  3. Rinse and Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you’ve captured all the content you think you need for whatever piece you’re writing.

How would you SAY it to a Client?

When you talk to Prospects and Clients, what you say usually:

  • Has contractions (we’d, I’d, aren’t)
  • Has structure (there are formulas, but generally, you want your writing to be in a logical order…OK, some points for academic writing here!)
  • Is personable/relatable (don’t be boring!)
  • Uses words they understand (keep your industry jargon to yourself)

Now, instead of asking our Clients to do all the writing, we do it for them. (“But Scott, you just said: ‘no one knows your business or your Clients better than YOU’!”) That’s true. That’s why we’ve developed what we call the Delta Interview. It’s a version of Step 1. We ask you probing questions and record your answers. We work with you to answer questions like: “Why you?” We get you to SAY it. Then we’ve got the raw material—your words—that we can edit and polish. It’s the best of both worlds.

So, what kinds of writing have you been putting off? I challenge you to block out a time in your calendar and try this method. If it’s a big writing project, break off a small chunk and do it.

Whatcha say?