Earlier this week saw the first presentation of a half day training session on effective writing for marketing and business development (all PM Forum training courses are listed here: http://www.pmforum.co.uk/training/index.aspx#KT18Apr12).

It was 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

Key areas of interest 

The delegates had a variety of questions and challenges:

  • Adapting style for different tasks (emails, reports, articles, pitches)
  • Adapting style for different  internal and external audiences
  • Key writing techniques and best practice
  • Different ways to present different types of information
  • Grammar and “Good English”
  • When to edit and when to rewrite
  • Making copy shorter and snappier
  • Translating technical content into user friendly material
  • Writing for those with short attention spans (!)
  • Messaging and brands
  • Persuasive writing to change attitudes and achieve buy-in

Insights from the writing exercises

  • 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

Reflections on some brand personality case studies and examples:

  • 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 


I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to the participants for their enthusiastic involvement and all the feedback (which has been incorporated for future sessions). I promised that I would post up the key points arising from the “takeaways” 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 said that I would provide all the links we discussed in one easy to access place: