In early 2012, I designed and delivered the first half day training workshop on “Effective writing for marketing and business development” (all PM Forum training courses are listed here: Since then, I have produced a number of other in-house writing courses tailored to the needs of lawyers and accountants and actuaries – often with a focus on writing proactive pitches or responding reactively to competitive tenders. There’s also an increase in interest from people wanting to know how best to find in social media environments – whether this is for blogging or shorter updates such as you find in Twitter or to answer questions on platforms such as Quora.

On the half-day session, there is an ambitious agenda (and much of the feedback suggested that we should have devoted a whole day to the subject), covering:

  • Writing basics (grammar, style, structure)
    • Persuasive writing styles
    • Key messages (Propositions, Calls To Action)
    • Reflecting brand personality
  • Different types of writing
    • Internal plans, reports and communications
    • Media relations
    • Web sites
    • Newsletters
    • Direct and digital marketing
    • Social media
    • Pitches and tenders

I thought I’d share some of the Insights from the delegates completing the various writing exercises to apply the ideas:

  • Start with the end result in mind (aims)
  • Concentrate on the reader’s needs (audience)
  • Devote more time to planning (structure, chunking and flow)
  • Reverse the process typically used (process)
  • Drawing people in and engagement (style, storytelling, emotion)
  • Common structures (e.g. beginning, middle, end) not always appropriate
  • Context and tone
  • Show, don’t tell

Brand reflections

Some of the reflections there were on some brand personality case studies and examples included:

  • There needs to be congruence amongst visual appearance, messages, words and style
  • Images have a big impact and set the tone
  • Both consumer and commercial services can reflect brand personalities
  • Layout and amount of words communicates aspects of personality
  • Less technical style and words are a strong communication mechanism
  • Apparent dialogue in the writing


The delegates noted the following key “takeaways” from the session:

  • Planning
    • Consider the medium
    • Consider the audience – have a clear picture of one person in mind
  • Good writing
    • Less is more
    • Get to the point quickly
    • Cover all the key points in subject line/first sentence
    • Spend more time crafting titles and sub-titles
    • Include key words in titles
    • Keep sentences short
    • Avoid technical and jargon words
    • Use an active and positive spin
    • Concentrate on benefits and solutions
  • Process of writing
    • Produce output then refine vs. identify key points and then draft
    • Consider the visual layout (especially against competing documents)
    • Experiment with different structures
    • Allow incubation and reflection time
  • Good marketing and selling
    • Integrate brand values into copy and across platforms and media

Links to additional resources

I also provided a number of links to additional resources to help with writing:


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As always, if there are particular topics you would like me to address in the future, please let me know. You will also find a source of more and up to date information on a broad range of management and marketing issues in the professions by checking out the blog where I also post regular reviews of books that might be helpful.