People think of writing as something only “writers” do.
When considering how to succeed in business, most entrepreneurs don’t understand the level at which writing impacts their progress. It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is if you can’t communicate that value to customers.
You don’t need a fancy writing degree to learn how to write well.
You don’t need to be a pro writer to craft words that can help you grow your business.
If you follow these tips on writing for an audience, you’ll increase your bottom line. Keep reading to learn how to build trust with your target market and win and retain more customers…
Learn how to use words that sell
Most businesses have terrible copy on their websites, especially small businesses. Copy is marketing jargon for the words you use to get people to buy your products and services.
Good copy will grow your business by:
Getting more people who visit your website to buy your products
Generating more leads—people who aren’t ready to buy now but can be convinced down the road
Helping your potential customers decide whether your product or service fits their needs
Some of the elements of good copy:
Uses simple and plain language
Shows how your product or service can either solve your potential customer’s problem, help them improve their lives, or give them what they want
Focuses on the potential customer above all else
When I worked at a digital marketing company, most clients had god-awful copy on their websites. They’d usually have some cryptic mission statement that nobody could understand. They’d ramble on and on about the company itself instead of what the company does.
Nobody cares that you were “founded in 1971.” Nor do they want to read long walls of text that describe the history of the company and its founders.
They want to know the outcomes your product or service will provide.
The text on your website and marketing materials should speak to the previous sentence and nothing more.
Quick pieces of advice:
Make a tagline on your website that makes it very easy to understand what your company does, e.g., “We will make your yard the envy of all your neighbors” for a lawn-care service.
Have clear calls to action. Tell your prospect the exact next step you want them to take, e.g., “Book a call with us today by clicking the button below.”
Use the word “you” more than the word “I.”
Take the exact phrases people in your target market use and add them to your copy.
Focus on the benefits over the product/services themselves. People don’t want to buy drills; they want holes in their walls. Speak to common benefits like saving time, increasing status, and saving money.
Use writing to attract eyeballs to your business
Once you describe your products and services in a convincing way that’s easy for people to understand, you can use words to drive traffic to your product offering.
There are many different ways you can use words to drive traffic:
Social media posts
It doesn’t matter which form of content you use to drive traffic. It matters whether or not you do it consistently and in a way that moves potential customers to the next step in the process of becoming your customer.
Creating content is part of the “top of your funnel,” which is a fancy way of describing the things you do to build awareness about your company so that they’ll take the next step.
You can take different routes here, but the key is that you should use your written content to get people to know, like, and trust you enough to “move down the funnel” and eventually buy from you.
Some examples are:
A tea company writing blog posts about the benefits of drinking green tea
A marketing company writing social media posts about ways to grow your business with marketing
A weekly financial tips newsletter from a financial planner
Usually, this type of content aims to educate, entertain, or inspire your audience. You don’t necessarily sell anything in these pieces of content. Instead, you add a strong call to action for your potential customer to take the next step, e.g., sign up to your email list.
SEO means creating written content that ranks on search engines.
With SEO, you’re creating content people are already looking for. This increases your chances of finding people who will buy from you because they’ve shown interest in a topic related to what you sell.
There are a lot of detailed guides you can use to learn SEO, so I won’t share them here. Instead, I’ll talk about action steps to get SEO to work.
Be patient. When I worked at the agency, we stressed to new clients that SEO takes time to work. It’s a long-term content marketing strategy that a lot of business owners won’t do because the results aren’t immediate like paid ads.
Focus on depth. If you want an article to rank #1 on search engines, it has to be the end-all-be-all article on the topic. This usually means writing long-form pieces with more than 2,000 words.
Focus on quality, too. A lot of people think SEO means you just write long articles. Instead, focus on making the most useful blog post you can think of and then tailor it to search engines by doing things like adding keywords.
Social media network effects
Written content on social media can grow your business because of network effects. These platforms have algorithms that help show content to people who want to see it.
If your content gets a bit of traction on its own, the platforms will keep featuring it to more people. The more people continue to like it, the more the platform pushes it.
You can write a single social media post that reaches hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people.
Again, there are plenty of detailed guides on the subject, but here are some important footnotes:
Learn how each platform works. The same content you post on Twitter might not do as well as on LinkedIn. Take the time to either study each platform carefully or hire someone who specializes in it.
Capture attention. Social media content is all about making people notice your brand fast. You can do that in a ton of different ways—share unique takes, focus on the elements of good copy just like the first example, and don’t be afraid to be polarizing when it makes sense and happens to fit your brand.
Be original. A lot of companies get on social media and share the exact same content as everyone else in the exact same way. To stand out, think about why your company is different and express that in your content.
Good ol’ fashioned word of mouth
Content goes viral with the help of algorithms, butgood content spreads because people share it. If you become the go-to resource in your space, people will mention you when others come to mind who might benefit from reading it.
Here are some frameworks you can use to create content people are dying to share with others:
Create content that makes people look good if they share it. For example, if your company focuses on travel, you can write a guide about the coolest places to visit, which people will share because it makes them look adventurous.
Create helpful and educational content. The lawn care company I used in an earlier example could write an article with easy-to-implement tips to make your lawn beautiful. People will share it with their friends who love their yards. They might do the simple tips and come to your company for advanced work.
Write content so useful and in-depth that people could use it without your help. For example, a lot of marketing companies will write detailed marketing guides. Business owners think to themselves…if this is what they give away for free, I can only imagine how well their actual service works. They’ll be too lazy or won’t have time to do it themselves, so they’ll just hire you.
One important thing to remember when it comes to building word of mouth through content: Ask people to share it. A simple call to action to share your written content with a friend (or someone who might benefit from it) can spark a viral loop that gets tons of people to read it.
Use writing to succeed in every other aspect of your business
So far I’ve mentioned ways to use writing to grow your business through inbound methods, which means you use written content to draw people in.
You can also get customers through outbound methods—reaching out to people and letting them know about your products or services. This happens in the form of “cold-pitching.”
You reach out to someone who doesn’t know much about you or your business and try to convince them to talk to you further. Most cold pitches, just like the copy on most websites, are awful.
Any time you’re trying to pitch yourself, your first question should be:
What’s in it for them?
Yes, you’re pitching because you want something, but your pitches won’t land if you don’t create a win-win scenario.
Bad writing comes from bad thinking. Bad thinking is usually self-centered. It’s interesting how little time many business owners spend thinking about the person they’re talking to.
The ones who do are the ones who win business.
You can read that guide for more depth, but the main takeaway is that you should focus on crafting your pitches in the same way you’d focus on any other sort of writing.
Pitches fall under the umbrella category of business communication. So many business owners treat their communication with clients and customers as an afterthought when it’s actually one of the most important areas to focus on.
You can use writing to win clients and customers, but you can also use it to keep them.
This includes things like:
Make all of your messaging easy to understand, e.g., writing concise yet informative emails to your clients about timelines and expectations.
Make sure all of the social media profile pages for your company communicate what they do for customers in a way that’s easy to understand, e.g., adding a tagline (like I mentioned above) to every social profile.
Use effective communication in areas of your business like customer service support emails, memos to your staff, and letters to shareholders.
There isn’t a human being alive that doesn’t write.
The written word is everywhere, and communication can be the difference between whether or not you get what you want. This goes for personal relationships and business alike.
The words you use to describe your business, attract potential customers, and keep them happy can mean the difference in millions of dollars of business.
If you own a business and you’re not focused on those words, you’re almost surely losing money. Master the written word yourself or hire an individual business to do it for you, but whatever you do, remember: Words shouldn’t be treated like an afterthought.