Speak little, say much, get heard

Posted on:10. 11. 2013

By Cliff Findlay

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead” wrote Mark Twain. A great statement but unfortunately consumers now have the attention span of a fruit fly and have lost what little patience they might have once had, so today’s business communication methods have to be more than short, they need to be instant.

We all expect, if not demand, instant gratification. Whether it is information, entertainment or some personal gratification, it had better be instant or I’ll change channels. Hence that long copy and insane sales texts will switch someone off, not on. Of course, if they want further information it should be available to them, but not at the loss of key communication.

We teach clients that it’s the initial 5% of their overall content that will define whether a prospect buys in and decides to find out more. Therefore this initial message has to be clear, concise and all about the client’s ‘pain factors’ and not about you.

The next 50% should consist of supporting information that will justify their initial decision. But again, keep it short, to the point and helpful. There’s no point in enticing someone to find out more only to bore them to death with endless amounts of copy. Focus on highlighting benefits rather than features and provide them with calls to action. If they want to find out more, they’ll pick up the phone and ask

The remaining 45% should consist of things such as articles, white papers, case studies, blogs, technical data, product specs, etc. It may be boring and in all probability it won’t get read and yet it can be a critical aspect when it comes to convincing someone to buy, purely since it creates a sense of trust that you know what you’re talking about. How could you possibly have written all of that stuff if you didn’t?

As George Orwell writes in his essay Politics and the English Language “Probably it is best to put off using words as long as possible and get one’s meaning as clear as one can through pictures and sensations. Afterwards one can choose – not simply accept – the phrases that will best cover the meaning, and then switch round and decide what impression one’s words are likely to make on another person.”

This means that you must take time writing and rewriting your business communication. Say in two words what others are saying in 20. Employ a copywriter, they are worth every penny. Yes you may have an English ‘O’ level (showing my age) and be very good at brain dumping stuff onto a page. But a good copywriter will break down what you’ve written and rewrite it in half the words.

So can you tighten your key business communication and shorten it? You never know, someone might actually read it.

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