Are you confident in your writing ability?
I’ve encountered lots of people that truly dislike writing. Often, they become my clients!
When I receive a new assignment, I first complete the research or interviews I need to put together the piece, then begin the organization of the material. I find that this step is usually 50% of the total job, with the other 50% being the actual creation of the content in the correct tone or brand voice to achieve the client’s results. In some cases the percentages change but knowing how to organize your writing is a big part of the battle won.
If you’re one of those people who have trouble getting started with your writing, I offer this simple formula to help you organize virtually any piece of business writing and can even be applied to other marketing communications pieces such as advertisements and web content. I’ve found that in most cases, the formula is present in one form or another in what I am reading.
Ready? Here’s my formula for most pieces of business writing:
1. INTRODUCTION—Greet or acknowledge the reader appropriately.
2. STATEMENT OF OBJECTIVE—tell the recipient the reason for the communication
3. EXPLANATION-add details that will enhance the information you are trying to give.
4. CLOSING-include a call to action or next step in the discussed activity.
It’s very simple isn’t it? Let’s examine some examples.
THE FORMULA IN A BUSINESS LETTER/EMAIL
This follow-up email, composed after meeting a prospective client at a networking meeting.
I enjoyed meeting you at the networking meeting Tuesday.
At the meeting you had requested information about my company and it is enclosed. We are the biggest manufacturer of widgets in the tri-county area and are known for our competitive pricing and exemplary customer service.
I will call you next week to discuss your needs for our services. Again, it was a pleasure meeting you!
In a letter or mail, the INTRODUCTION is of course, the “Dear” opening and perhaps a personal statement. Did you catch the STATEMENT OR OBJECTIVE? It was the next sentence, mentioning that Nick had asked for some information about the company. The EXPLANATION follows, which is the description of the company and what they are known for. Depending on your audience and your objective, it is possible to sell as you supply the explanation, which is what I did here. The CLOSING call to action refers to the next step, which is to hopefully place an order.
THE FORMULA IN ADVERTISING COPYWRITING
Sometimes it’s not so easy to “see the formula.” Writing an advertisement involves a creative process much more complex than that of writing a simple email, yet when it’s carefully dissected, there are shades of “the formula” buried within. Consider the example included here.
INTRODUCTION or “greeting” to the audience is cleverly disguised as a headline to get our attention.
The STATEMENT OR OBJECTIVE of the communication is to introduce the company called Xclutel with a statement of what they do.
The EXPLANATION goes on to explain what else they do–their unique features and benefits.
The CLOSING includes a “call to action” asking to contact them for a no-cost evaluation. All necessary information to do so is supplied.
Now that you know the formula, it’s easy to spot it in different areas of marketing communication and to put it into practice yourself. So next time you’re staring at a blank screen needing to write about something, remember the simple four-step formula. And be sure to send back a comment and tell me what happens when you do!