Five favourite thoughts on fantastic writing – from a business development writing workshop (2015)Posted on: March 18, 2015
I thank my lucky stars for days like today. I spent the morning with bright marketers from the professions, honing our writing skills and sharing ideas. Whilst I can’t convey the fun and energy at the business development writing workshop, I can share some of our favourite thoughts.
After considering writing basics and good grammar, we worked in groups to explore different writing situations and challenges:
Pitches and tenders
- Invest time – There is so much pressure to turn things around quickly that we often “make do” rather than excel. Great writing eats time. Take time out to do the research and finesse the writing that transforms an adequate pitch into something extraordinary. This might also prevent partners coming to us at the eleventh hour in the hope that we can create a midnight masterpiece.
- Do more than titivate – Sometimes we are given a done deal and asked to “make it pretty”. Help them appreciate that the structure, content and proposition needs our attention.
- Show, don’t tell – This is a rule of writing that we can apply to educating the partners. Rather that telling them that we can produce better pitches, why don’t we just show them what good really looks like? Success sells.
- Focus – Well, we could request more resources or we can prioritise. Rather than turning out 50 mediocre pitches, how about we focus on crafting 10 astonishing ones?
- Use psychology and science – There’s plenty of material around on the science of persuasion. Learn it and use it.
Newsletters and alerts
- Engage the reader – Shift the perspective from what the writer wants to say to what the reader wants to see. Or hear. Or feel. Deploy the frameworks and knowledge we have to entertain and engage.
- Respect the reader – Rather than deluge the audience with information on our agenda and our schedule, we should write what they want, in the way they want it at a frequency that suits them. And if we don’t know what the readers want, then do the research. Turn your content management plans inside out. Avoid internally-focused self-indulgent disclosure – ban the use of “We”.
- Keep it short – Attention spans are short. Scrolling is a pain. It takes more effort to be concise. Sentences are the new paragraphs. Remember Winston Churchill’s “I’m going to make a long speech because I’ve not had the time to prepare a short one”?
- Signpost – Use subtitles, pull outs, quotes, bullets and other devices to break up blocks of text. Make content scannable.
- Be active and prompt action – Make your words active. Create an alluring call to action.
- Start with the end in mind – Think about the external reader and how you want them to think and act. What outcome is required?
- Be consistent – Where there are multiple content creators and contributors, ensure consistency (e.g. use brand and personality guidelines)
- Tell a story – Facts and figures are dull. Human beings are wired for stories. Create a scene. Evoke an emotion. Make the reader the leading character. Generate tension.
- Remember SEO – Balance great content and writing with skilful SEO. Think about those key words and links.
- Avoid jargon – Jargon jars. Jargon confuses. Don’t assume readers’ knowledge. The best experts know how to keep it simple. And resist meddling – prevent idiosyncratic or pointless editing.
Social media (Twitter)
- Pay attention to timing Delays for sign-offs. Audiences in different time zones. Can you piggyback on a topical tide?
- Share and converse Avoid broadcasting. Take time to balance your content with liking, commenting upon and sharing others’ content. Join the conversation.
- Mix up your media Some generations prefer text. Others prefer images. And audio. And video. Great writing is needed in all media.
- Balance professional and personal Brand values, team values, individual values. Be consistent but balance and blend styles.
- Use creativity, surprise and curiosity Don’t follow the herd. Find an unusual angle. Be bold. Pique their curiosity.
And remember that in The Economist Style Guide, the following words were included in the horrible and emetic list: facilitate, governance, guesstimate, prestigious and proactive!.
Details of future writing workshops and other courses are shown on the Professional Marketing Forum site: http://www.pmforum.co.uk/training/
- How can I write articles that raise our profile and generate interest?
- What makes an effective blog?
- How can I improve my chances of winning a pitch?
- Top 10 tips in marketing communications - Marketing and BD assistants share their knowledge
- What is neuro linguistic programming and how might it be useful to me?
- How can I improve the effectiveness of my persuasive writing?
- What is thought leadership and why is it so important?
- Why should lawyers accountants surveyors and other professionals devote time to blogging?
- Book Review: Valuable content marketing by Sonja Jefferson and Sharon Tanton
- Media Relations in Property
- Published Articles
- How do I integrate social media into my business development?
- 11 top tips on marketing and business development writing in the professions
- Creativity 4 – Enhancing creativity using Leonardo da Vinci’s seven methods
- Book Review: “The small big – small changes that spark big influence” by Steve J Martin, Noah J Goldstein and Robert B Cialdini (persuasion science)
- Seven secrets of great business writing (Video)
- Feedback from the PM Forum Marketing and Business Development Effective Writing Workshop
- How to write a press release
- Update on digital marketing and social media in the professions (May 2015)
- Do perfect pitches need proper processes?
- Book Review: Hypnotic Writing – How to seduce and persuade customers with only your words By Joe Vitale
- Book review: Business writing – How to write to engage, persuade and sell by Ian Atkinson
- Book Review – Persuasive writing (how to harness the power of words) by Peter Frederick
- Content development – Get blood out of a stone
- Advanced social media use amongst lawyers, accountants and surveyors
- Better Business Relationships
- Social Media
- Power of three - Writing and presentation basics (Video)
- How can I improve my persuasion skills?
- Selling - The vital role of research in the pitch process
- Top 10 takeaways - Proactive Marketing Executive (Feb 2019)
- 7 building blocks of a proactive marketing executive (2015)
- How to design a marketing and business development team
- Persuasive writing tips – Five technical questions
- Persuasive writing – Nine quick tips
- Persuasive writing: Titles and tweets
- Checklist: 25 practical and professional skills for marketing and business development assistants (2015)
- Hubspot’s guide to building a content strategy
- Law firm web site benchmark from Draw
- What’s right to write? Highlights from a persuasive writing for business development workshop
- Pitching and Tenders – Nine top tips and client feedback (June 2019)
- Positive, persuasive and persistent - Therapy and theory of partner buy-in
- Business development writing for lawyers - 13 top tips for writing for impact
- Selling legal services with storytelling
- SEO update for professional services (October 2020)
- Marketing automation – New pitch development system from Iphelion
- Two big guns of communication – Face-time and reframing
- From expert to rock star – Using Passle for content creation and distribution
- Proactive Marketing/BD Executive (Oct 2020) – Session highlights
- Winning pitch presentations – Tips on preparing content and presenting well at competitive tenders
- Writing tips for finding news stories, backstories and explainers
- Top persuasive writing tips – Audience, structure and content (Feb 2019)
- Making an impact, influence and persuasion
- Take a walk on the client side - Empathy and emotional intelligence when selling professional services
- Presentation skills – Preparing the content and delivery
- Getting to grips with Instagram marketing in professional services
- Book - Social Media in Business Development and Relationship Management: A Guide for Lawyers
- Rainmakers and Trailblazers – Business development for lawyers
Category: Accountants, Kim's Blog, Lawyers, Marketing, Selling, Social Media, Web Sites
Tagged: Accountants, Agents, Communication, Copywriting, Editing, Lawyers, Newsletters, Persuasion. SEO, Pitches, Pitching, Social Media, Surveyors, Tendering, Tenders, Training, Twitter, video, Web site, Writing