It’s all very well writing an article for a magazine, but how can you find out whether your message is engaging the right people and having the desired impact? Executive communications specialist Mindy Gibbins-Klein suggests that the first step to successful communication is accepting that writing very likely to be a one-way approach, at least at first…
A business colleague said something astounding the other day. He said he would rather speak to an audience of ten people than write for an audience of a thousand. I thought that sounded a bit strange, so I challenged him on it. It turned out that he had written an article for a magazine with a good circulation, but he hadn’t had any feedback at all from it. He felt he had spent his time crafting a wonderful, informative piece that no one appreciated. He also felt that if that message had been delivered in person, he could have seen the response from people immediately, in their eyes and their body language.
It’s true, what my colleague said, so how can we justify putting time into writing when we don’t get feedback? That, my friend, is the nature of writing. Sometimes you get to find out what your readers think of your material, and many times you don’t. It’s my view that we have to be OK with the fact that writing is one-way until we get a response, and we must continue to put good material into the market. There are some excellent guidelines for one- way communication that I have seen business experts use to their advantage. Here are my favourites:
1. Keep your outcome in mind at all times.
Hone your message according to what you have to say as well as what your reader needs to hear and decide what kind of information you are imparting. For example, if you need to teach people with your writing, you may choose a different style from writing which aims to influence or persuade. Make whatever you write clear.
2. Deliver your message as passionately and authentically as if you were speaking.
I prefer to see writing as an extension of speaking, and in fact, for people who will not get the opportunity to hear you in person or even on the phone, your writing must do the same job. It has become very trendy to write conversationally, spurred on by the advent of blogging and newsletters. That style can be used effectively in books and articles as well. It’s no secret that one of my favourite authors is marketing guru Seth Godin. I love the in-your- face, direct style he uses. It feels like he’s in my living room talking to me one on one. It seems from his book sales that others also respond to that style. And it happens to be the way I prefer to write, in case you hadn’t noticed!
3. Get feedback.
That may sound like it contradicts what I said earlier. Actually, there are some clever mechanisms to get people interacting with you, even though you are not there. You can get them to go to a web page and complete a survey – with or without an incentive. You can put an email address at the bottom of the piece, asking for comments – again, with or without an incentive. This can work equally well for books. I get a lot of clients excitedly planning to include CDs with their books, until I show them how they can still give away free CDs and capture people contact details and feedback at the same time. Never include bonuses with your book when you could engage with readers and get some indication of how many people read it and liked it at the same time. That’s plenty for you to be getting on with. If you know your subject and deliver your message well, if you write powerfully and authentically, they will listen. And they may even respond. Let me know all about your success by writing to me at mindy@bookmidwife. com – I offer lots of fabulous bonuses for my readers