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Business Health Series – Healthy Business Words

Please join me in welcoming our second guest contributor, wordsmith extraordinaire – Alex Christopher from ‘Alex  Christopher {Writes}‘, for our three part blog series  “Business Health”. Inspired by the work of some of my fellow small business friends, this series is all about keeping “healthy” in business and life. In it are the voices of great business people sharing their knowledge from various fields. We hope you enjoy the rich and diverse topics of keeping you and your business healthy.

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unnamed-3Healthy Business Words

You know when you see or meet someone new and they have an amazing glow about them? They have super cute clothes; it looks like they eat well, get enough sleep, and like they have a lot of joy in their life. They present like they are “with it.” Happy, confident, present, and healthy looking.

As I trawl the Internet looking for examples of fantastic writing for businesses, I come across some websites that have this kind of healthy glow too. These websites have just got “something” about them like a light switched on inside, and the warmth and humanness oozes through the screen. It’s almost always through a happy marriage of copy and design.

Great words for our business are hard to capture. It’s difficult to detach just enough to write objectively and to understand things from a client or customer’s point of view. To me, great website words are ones where there’s an effervescent feeling I get after reading them. They’ve hit the spot for what I’m looking for, they’ve piqued my curiosity, and they’ve made me question and think about something. They make me want something. They’ve created a moment for me. I am inspired. (And yes, they must have no blatant errors… I am an editor after all.)

So how do we get our website words to be this glowing, bubbly experience, that also translates into people signing up for our opt-in or emailing/calling to hire us?

Here a few things I can suggest to give your website words a beautiful glow.

Know your business and yourself inside out

Understand your business from your point of view, from your staff’s perspective, your client/customer’s perspective AND its reason for being. Get comfortable with some language that describes what it is you do, why you do, how you do it, and who you do it for. Connect with these words and ideas regularly. You may note they change from time to time. An awareness helps to write with greater clarity.

Write with purpose, intention and spirit

I’ve seen it six million times. Business owners have writer’s block – they have to write an important email or write a sales page, and they just can’t do it. So they pretend it doesn’t exist. Or they have a go at writing – and the piece is all over the place. No clear direction, and no clear outcome in mind.

Sometimes it’s because we lack confidence in our ability to write it, but other times it’s because we haven’t done any writing planning or prep. I do the following for the majority of what I have to write. Otherwise, the weight of all the elements can overwhelm me. You can find your intention for writing something by doing the following:

  • Focusing on what the writing is all about – what are all the facts and what’s the outcome you need?
  • Who are you writing for – what do they need to hear? Why do they need to hear it? What can you tell them?
  • What length does the piece need to be? How much time does the reader have to consume the information?
  • What kind of language does the piece require? Formal, informal, somewhere in the middle? Some sort of legal language, even?
  • Where and how will the piece be published?

Getting this out first helps you to get over the writing block’s hump. If you write without a purpose, plan, and an audience in mind, your website words won’t be so sparkly. And it may not be a pleasant process for you.

Let go – let loose – writing convention and clichés can be boring!

Another way to allow your words to shine is to forget about writing conventions and stereotypes. While I like to make sure my clients have no rogue apostrophes and misspellings, I am ALL for people writing the way THEY want to. Forget Mrs. Philips from high school English for a bit. She was a dragon and doesn’t understand that communication is broader than rules. If you’re a healthcare professional, you don’t have to sound like a government organisation, if it’s not right for you. If you’re a yogi, you don’t have to sound all blissed out and enlightened. If you’re an artist, you don’t have to sound profound and abstract. Just be you.

I encourage people, if they are struggling to write their business stuff, to not write it, but to speak their message into a Dictaphone or a similar app. Then simply transcribe what they’ve written.

This exercise will shake out any stuffy word cobwebs and sound like a conversation, and more like you the person will hear when they pick up the phone.

I find this approach works wonders for writing About pages. Just speak your story out.

Less about skills and more about outcomes

If you come to writing and you switch your brain from, “What do I do? What do I offer” mode over to, “What will my customer/client/patient come away with?” or, “What pain point am I alleviating in their life…?” this will automatically make your writing more active and exciting. When we write about what we do, it can sound “all about me.” The words can come across as lacklustre for someone who may not understand what your area of expertise does or knows.

Think about this. You need a massage because your neck is killing you. (Damn computer screens!) Through the pain, you do a search for some massage businesses near you.

Are you inspired to go to the place that says, “We offer X, Y and Z massage modalities.”

Or are you inspired to go to the one that reads, “Allow us to take a load off your day and reduce your pain within only an hour….”

Hmmm…. Right then and there, I know which one I’d be more inspired to contact. I am given a sense of the benefits I will be getting.

Don’t try to say too much

One of my entry point services is the Key Message Workshop. Lots of people don’t know what they’re saying in their business writing. They know their craft, and they know their industry inside out, but communicating that is a WHOLE OTHER STORY. The end result is that many business people write about anything and everything that either tightly or loosely connects to what they offer. This can make things confusing for their followers.

So I work with businesses to figure out the THREE messages all of their copy should be sending consistently. We investigate the business and audience and then select the most important messages to send via the website and other promotional platforms. Messages with a clear purpose.

Just because we are complex, amazing creatures with lots of skills, and given the opportunity we probably could help people in 27 different ways, this doesn’t mean we need to say all of that stuff on our website and other material. It’s easier for someone to figure out whether we can help them if we communicate the basics, say them regularly, and then allow a conversation to be where we explain the details and extra. And don’t forget, our words can be complemented by images and examples that can communicate things too.

Simple, consistent, aligned messages, that sound like you, are focused and give a sense of what people will feel/get/achieve when they work with you, are the ingredients to business writing that’ll give your website and promotional material that gorgeous, inspiring, healthy glow.

With good business words, you’ll come across as self-aware, aware of your market, holding your space within it, and able to connect with an individual on the either side of the screen with authenticity and truth.

You’ll inspire people to want to work with you. You’ll be attracting the right people to you from that glow you’ve directed to your reader.

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