The following post is courtesy of Diane Harrison who is principal and owner of Panegyric Marketing, a strategic marketing communications firm founded in 2002 specializing in alternative assets.
We are in the third month of Covid-19’s global pandemic, with businesses of all kinds forced to close down for many weeks. The restarting of the economy will take many forms, and guidelines for how to proceed are slow and nebulous in coming. The real acid test across the board will be the consumer. Who will feel comfortable in venturing out on a plane, on mass transit, into stores and service locations, and with what restrictions?
THE NEW NORMAL IS, IN SOME RESPECTS, A RETURN TO OLD SCHOOL
No doubt there is concern and confusion over how we are to proceed into the post-pandemic economy. With such a need for information, the forced shutdown is an opportunity for a revival of the well-turned phrase. For those in the business of financial sales and marketing, no large gatherings, such as conferences, or close contact personal meetings mean a greater reliance on other forms of communication. Letters, blogs, webcast presentations are all good options to get intimate and cover important topics. Don’t just autopilot on Zoom meetings and rely on virtual group conversations…it’s hard to manage a real conversational flow online when attendees climb past four or so.
As we begin the adjustment in phasing back to business, there are some basic communication practices that bear repeating. A look at several of these principles and why they are important to sales and marketing efforts going forward are outlined below.
Written communication can be framed as you intended it to be, because you finalize it when you are satisfied with its message. One of the main drawbacks of verbal communication is either omitting crucial information or misstating the same because you get only one chance to convey it, in an interview or a speech, or even a conference call. No matter how familiar you are with the subject matter, humans can and do misspeak, and even if you catch and correct the error, the whole messaging process is weakened for it.
Remember that the audience drives the message. In other words, write the way your target audience wants to receive information. Typically, being short, to the point, and benefit-driven to solve the reader’s issues will work across a variety of message platforms.
Establishing a Permanent Record. One of the main advantages of putting something down in writing is that it creates a permanent record of what is stated. It can provide an objective overview of something for one or more parties, and can be shared without being subject to alteration, distortion or misinterpretation from the original meaning.
Don’t blur the line between fact and opinion. If you are stating a fact, make that clear. If you are offering an opinion, also make that clear. Don’t have your reader guess at your intentions or your rationale. That only makes your whole communication suspicious.
Quality and quantity are wholly unrelated in strong written communication. There is a greater art to writing short, concise, and powerful messages versus long-winded diatribes. Think of memorable taglines, where just a couple of words can denote entire concepts to multitudes. The amount of time it may take you to craft a strong paragraph or two may be disproportionate to the amount of time it takes to write a standard progress report.
The use of proper English is analogous to the practicing of good table manners. Respect your reader as you would respect your dinner mate and demonstrate a mastery of the medium by avoiding jargon, poor grammar, punctuation mistakes, etc.
Finally, there is no more powerful tool in writing than the judicious use of editing. Few writers, professional or amateur, can express themselves perfectly the first time around. Experienced writers learn to ‘follow the muse’ and get a concept down and explained or supported, then walk away for a period of time. When read back through, obvious edits can be seen in the first effort and the whole is made stronger with a bit of rest between step one and step two. As fashion icon Coco Chanel said, ‘Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off.’ The same applies to a good piece of writing.