Is it what you say?

And how you say it?

What can derail your promotion?  Face it, as the owner or manager of a small business we all have to write something at some stage that is meant to lead to a sale.  It may be a sales letter, a promotional email, a quotation, a response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Tender (RFT). And it could be your new web page, or even an advertisement for your local newspaper, a flyer or a brochure.

Whichever, your intent is to have a prospective customer to say “Yes please, I’d like to buy that.”  Now you could just write it, and put it out in your market place and wait and see the impact, but there are a few basic checks you should follow before you do so.  Now you may well do some of these, but I’d hazard a guess you don’t do them all.

These checks can be broken down into 2 groups; who you are addressing, and what can derail you.

To whom are you talking?

This fundamental factor stymies so many small business marketing efforts.  They think their marketing needs to cover as broad a range of people as possible, just in case they miss a potential prospect.

Your promotion must be targeted. 

Now this factor doesn’t apply to you if you are writing a specific response to a request – a sales letter, quotation, RFP or RFT (the second group of checks does apply), but it does apply if you are writing any other form of promotional material.

Is your market “everybody”?  Can you tell me who “everybody”; what are their beliefs, feeling, desire?  Why are they buying?  What is their specific problem that you can solve?  The fact is that very few of “everybody” will have that problem, and even those who do, may not be aware of it, or are not ready to buy. 

Your promotion to these people will simply be a waste of time and money.  You might as well throw a dart at a dartboard while blindfolded and hope to score a bull’s-eye – and that is about the odds you will have. 

The 80-20 rule always applies; 80% of your sales, and profits, will come from 20% of your customers. 

So it makes a lot of sense to specifically target those highly profitable 20% with an offer that meets their needs, and not try and please everybody with an offer that meets no-ones needs.

Is what you are saying aimed at a specific target, and do you really know what that target desires?

What can derail you?

When you write something with the intent of getting someone to do something you need to:

Check it for typos and grammatical errors – basic, I know, but you would be surprised how many get through.  I know I’m much better at picking up others errors than my own.  There’s a good reason why that applies to all of us - we know what we mean to say and subconsciously skip over things. 

The problem with typos and grammar errors is that the reader, having been moving along smoothly with your pitch, comes to a screeching halt.  You lose their momentum.  It interferes with them absorbing your message. Even worse, typos and poor grammar plants a question in their mind, “Will this lack of attention to detail carry over into your product or service.”  They will question your quality. 

The next few checks help overcome this.

Sleep on it – 24 hours later you see things in a different light.  This not only applies to typos and grammar, but also to what you’ve said and how you’ve said it. You will be surprised at the changes you make in the cold light of day.

Read it out aloud – when I first came across this check I said to myself “don’t be bloody silly”, but then I found many experts in this field in both technical and creative writing recommend it.  So I tried it.  You will find it makes a real difference in improving your message.

Have a colleague check it.  There’s nothing like a second pair of eyes. Back in eons past when I was marketing in the aerospace industry, I found that European companies had two people sign all important letters.  Now that made sure a second pair of eyes had looked at the content and its accuracy.

But there is one other check you should take, and vitally important it is too.  This I’ll discuss in my next blog.

In the meantime if you would like to take advantage of my new offer, a “fast track to cash” free strategic consult, please click here.   This is not a sales pitch, just an opportunity to get an outside perspective on the issues you may be facing.

© Copyright 2015 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 
23rd April 2015

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