Business writing used to be simply about communicating — getting information across to others. Not anymore. Now you have to influence, not just communicate, with your writing.
And it’s not just ad copy, sales material or proposals that need to influence. Whether you are competing for business or competing for career advancement in your organization, everything you write should be designed to influence the readers to like you, buy from you and even talk about you. That includes your staff, colleagues, boss and customers.
If you aren’t influencing, your competitors or colleagues probably are, and that’s driving increased attention and business for them.
If you simply sit down and start writing that letter to the customer, memo to your employees or anything else, you’re writing backwards. Before you put pen to paper, you need a strategy to influence.
It’s not as hard as you think. You don’t have to be a salesperson, copywriter or public relations guru. All you need to do is follow these six steps for everything you write:
1. Establish Your Purpose
Everything you write needs to have a purpose, otherwise why would you bother writing it?
If you’re writing a memo to your employees, you try to influence them to follow your instructions or procedures.
When writing a report internally or even a memo or status update for your boss, you are trying to tell them how your initiatives are succeeding and influence them to see you as a high performer.
When you write a letter to a customer, you want them to agree with your position, buy more from you or simply feel good enough about their interaction with you that they’ll become a repeat customer.
When you write a sales letter or proposal to a prospective customer, you are trying to convince them to become a customer because of the benefits you provide and attributes you have.
When you tweet, write a blog on your company website or post a Facebook update, you’re trying to get interest in your product or service.
By understanding the purpose of what you are writing, you can then develop the strategy you need to achieve the influence you want.
2. Analyze Your Audience
To be influential, you need to know what will actually influence your audience. Then, you can write in a way that is tailored to what matters to them instead of what matters to you. Do this by targeting your message and your arguments to their interests. That means you might even have to write more than one version to target different audiences.