How can I improve the effectiveness of my persuasive writing?

Posted on: July 20, 2012

In early 2012, I designed and delivered the first half day training workshop on “Effective writing for marketing and business development” (all PM Forum training courses are listed here: http://www.pmforum.co.uk/training). Since then, I have produced a number of other in-house writing courses tailored to the needs of lawyers and accountants and actuaries – often with a focus on writing proactive pitches or responding reactively to competitive tenders. There’s also an increase in interest from people wanting to know how best to find in social media environments – whether this is for blogging or shorter updates such as you find in Twitter or to answer questions on platforms such as Quora.

On the half-day session, there is an ambitious agenda (and much of the feedback suggested that we should have devoted a whole day to the subject), covering:

  • Writing basics (grammar, style, structure)
    • Persuasive writing styles
    • Key messages (Propositions, Calls To Action)
    • Reflecting brand personality
  • Different types of writing
    • Internal plans, reports and communications
    • Media relations
    • Web sites
    • Newsletters
    • Direct and digital marketing
    • Social media
    • Pitches and tenders

I thought I’d share some of the Insights from the delegates completing the various writing exercises to apply the ideas:

  • Start with the end result in mind (aims)
  • Concentrate on the reader’s needs (audience)
  • Devote more time to planning (structure, chunking and flow)
  • Reverse the process typically used (process)
  • Drawing people in and engagement (style, storytelling, emotion)
  • Common structures (e.g. beginning, middle, end) not always appropriate
  • Context and tone
  • Show, don’t tell

Brand reflections

Some of the reflections there were on some brand personality case studies and examples included:

  • There needs to be congruence amongst visual appearance, messages, words and style
  • Images have a big impact and set the tone
  • Both consumer and commercial services can reflect brand personalities
  • Layout and amount of words communicates aspects of personality
  • Less technical style and words are a strong communication mechanism
  • Apparent dialogue in the writing

Summary

The delegates noted the following key “takeaways” from the session:

  • Planning
    • Consider the medium
    • Consider the audience – have a clear picture of one person in mind
  • Good writing
    • Less is more
    • Get to the point quickly
    • Cover all the key points in subject line/first sentence
    • Spend more time crafting titles and sub-titles
    • Include key words in titles
    • Keep sentences short
    • Avoid technical and jargon words
    • Use an active and positive spin
    • Concentrate on benefits and solutions
  • Process of writing
    • Produce output then refine vs. identify key points and then draft
    • Consider the visual layout (especially against competing documents)
    • Experiment with different structures
    • Allow incubation and reflection time
  • Good marketing and selling
    • Integrate brand values into copy and across platforms and media

Links to additional resources

I also provided a number of links to additional resources to help with writing:

 

I do not restrict access to the FAQs but I politely request that you let me know by email and acknowledge the source (www.kimtasso.com) if you wish to use the material anywhere.

As always, if there are particular topics you would like me to address in the future, please let me know. You will also find a source of more and up to date information on a broad range of management and marketing issues in the professions by checking out the blog where I also post regular reviews of books that might be helpful.

Original branding by Matt Playford · A site by Fresh01