Between sending, receiving, posting, forwarding and replying, we devote countless hours of our time to the actual dissemination of information. Can the same be said for the actual crafting of the message we’re trying to communicate?
Effectively communicating a point is critical to success in our professional—and personal—lives. Below are eight tips to help you successfully communicate your message.
1. Write with a purpose.
Whether you’re penning a single paragraph of copy for a print ad, crafting a newsletter article designed to enlighten on a relevant topic or sending out an illuminating, descriptive and assuring email to a new client, you’re working toward a very specific goal—the communication of a relevant point. So before you embrace your inner writer, ask yourself the following: What is my goal here? What, exactly, am I trying to accomplish?
Know your destination before you get behind the wheel. Otherwise it’ll be an awkward road trip. Decide on your key message—the idea with which you want your reader to leave. Then, consider what three (or four, or five…) points that support the messages you are trying to convey.
2. Consider your audience.
Consider who will be reading the piece, along with the context in which they’re reading it. Think about your audience and which industry carved out their perspective. What motivates them and drives their thinking? Do they utilize a glossary of terms that you should embrace? How do they work? What do they want to hear and why do you, of all people, deserve their attention?
Someone who’s process oriented, for example, may prefer a read that contains more literal, technical writing. Whereas a creative marketer or sales person may relate better to benefit-driven language that they can in turn use to sell the concept.
This will help you be a little more pragmatic when it comes to selecting language and describing concepts.
3. Map out your message.
Once you’ve determined your key takeaways and audience, it’s time to get inside your own head. If you’re describing a process, walk yourself through that process mentally. If you’re describing your company, think of all the pieces that make up your company and their roles. Take notes, writing key steps and observations along the way. Think about the last time you had to articulate what you’re describing to a client. Or talk it out with someone in your office.
I’ll sometimes only remember an important detail after I’ve considered another important detail. For this reason, I prefer to jot down concise bullet points because it helps me gather my thoughts and develop a broad overview. Then, it’s a matter of re-ordering those points in a way that makes sense to the reader and reinforcing those key messages consistently throughout all communications.
4. Utilize benefit-driven language.
There’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that your audience wants you to solve all its problems. The good news is that you are in control of the narrative.
In any effective communication piece, you should strive to answer the question that’s in every potential client’s mind: “How does this benefit me?”
Remember: Any statement about a company is fundamentally about trust. So it isn’t really believable unless you’ve demonstrated trust and convinced you of that first. Prove to the reader that you know the pickle they’re in. You know the challenges they seek to overcome. Then give them the answers—honestly.
5. Less is more.
You know your business better than anyone. In fact, you can talk about it for hours upon hours. But don’t.
Whenever possible keep messaging as simple and straightforward as possible. Don’t skimp on details—just tighten things to the bare essentials. Brevity has a way of sticking with us. Need proof? Consider the following advertising taglines:
- Just do it.
- Think different.
- Reach out and touch someone.
- I’m lovin’ it.
- Snap, crackle, pop.
- Change you can believe in
Odds are at least one of these is branded into your memory banks. But beware, when developing short, punchy statements, don’t make the language overly cute. Making audiences think too hard to ‘get it’ is risky, even among the right target
6. Be consistent.
Mixed messaging makes for bad branding. A lack of uniformity and consistency across messaging is the mark of a company that isn’t particularly familiar with itself. Or one that suffers from an identity crisis. It can come across as segmented—disconnected. Don’t make a claim one place, then contradict yourself later on. Stay focused and don’t dilute your main message.
7. Call to action.
You’ve crafted the perfect message, and it’s ready for the world to see. It’s not too long and not too short. It consistently matches marketing materials and claims you’ve made in the past, and you’re pretty confident you’ve made the sell. You’ve articulated your argument and are confident that your audience will leave enlightened—or at least with a little more information about what it is you do well.
Don’t forget to clue your audience in on what they should do with this new knowledge. Should they contact someone from your company to discuss it further? Is there a website you think they should visit for even more information? Let them know!
8. Everyone is a marketer.
Not so much a tip, as a general truth: Everyone who works for a company acts as an ambassador of that company. Employees can be a great source of PR if they are ingrained with the one or two consistent messages that a company wants to put out there. Leads come from all directions—and you want to prove that your company knows what it’s talking about through and through.