Your brand is much more than a logo or tagline. It’s everything your company stands for. It’s the quality of your products and services, the attitude of your employees, the altruism in the community and so much more. When your customers and the public at large see your logo or hear the name of your company, they get an image in their minds based on their personal experiences with your company. Good or bad, that image is your REAL brand, regardless of what your logo or tagline says.
Readers can relate better to a personal story than to a statistic. Stories show. Statistics tell. It’s always better to show than to tell when trying to communicate a point. Showing helps readers imagine themselves in the story – especially if the point you’re trying to make is a positive one, like buying your product. So consider using case studies and testimonials instead of statistics.
That’s not to say you should never use statistics. Just use them responsibly. Here are a few guidelines for when you do feel statistics are necessary:
Active sentences specify who does what. Passive sentences only say that something must be done. Passive tends to sound apologetic and wishy washy. Worse, it can leave the reader wondering if he’s the one who must perform the action. For employee communications, this confusion can wreak havoc on performance. In customer letters, the uncertainty can stifle the reading process, or flood your customer service center with unwanted phone calls.
Here’s how you can make your communications easy to understand.
If the purpose of your writing is, “to impress readers with my amazing vocabulary skills,” then by all means, break out the fancy prose and five syllable words. But, if you want your readers to act on your message, buy your product, or simply to “get it,” then check your thesaurus at the door.
Write conversationally as if you’re talking to your mother over coffee. For example:
Here are some techniques that can put you face-to-face, sipping coffee over a cozy table with your reader, instead of you being high up in a cold corporate tower looking down at your nameless subjects.
Start by reviewing your marketing materials, form letters and other communications (both internal and external) to see if you refer to your company in the third person. For example, “XYZ Company thanks you for your business.” “XYZ Company is pleased to introduce a new product…”
Even though they make up a small percent of your overall communication, headlines and subheads are the most important real estate on the page. That’s because 8 out of 10 people merely scan the largest print. If the few pieces of big copy don’t draw them in, there’s no chance they’ll read the little copy.
Remember, we’re smack in the middle of the age of over-information. You get about one second to grab a reader’s attention and draw him in before he tosses the communication aside. Get the headlines right and you’ve won 80% of the game.
In today’s age of information-overload, reader preferences have shifted to quick and helpful, rather than bureaucratic and stiff. Do your business communications measure up? Here’s a checklist you can use to spot-check the effectiveness of your company’s internal and external materials. “Effective” means readers can follow the content with speed and ease, it’s meaningful to them, and they can act on the information presented without confusion.
Know your audience
• Did you prepare your communication with your audience in mind?
You can lead a horse to water… but sometimes you have to make it easier to drink.
We’re smack in the middle of the Information Age. Everywhere you turn, you see words ― in books, magazines, television, junk mail, not-so-junk mail, computers, tablets, smart phones, billboards ― even the tag on your child’s bedtime bear. We’re so surrounded with words that we have conditioned ourselves to ignore most of it. It’s all white noise until something grabs our attention.
It’s no secret that healthy employees can mean a healthier benefits budget. Study after study shows that employers who create and sustain a culture of wellness in the workplace really can spend less on health benefits. They also see less absenteeism and fewer disability claims. And let’s not forget their employees are more productive on the job. If you’ve ever been to an HR convention, you already know this. If not, go ahead and Google it. We’ll wait.
Companies with highly effective employee communications show an average of 47 percent higher total returns to shareholders than companies with the least effective communications.
It’s easy to see how communicating effectively to employees translates to better earnings. After all, employees are the backbone ― as well as a major expense ― of most companies. Effective communications can help:
• Reduce employee turnover and keep them engaged on the job
Have you ever heard that we only use about 10 percent of our brain? If that is the case what in the world is going on with the other 90 percent? Well, here are some answers to that question. The 10 percent of your brain that this is referring to is actually your conscious brain. This is the part that we use while we’re awake and allows us to think and communicate. About 45 percent of our brain is the un-conscious part. This is used for functions that we don’t think much about like breathing, blinking (or in some cases, when my wife drives her car . . . just kidding hon!).
The downturn in the economy has been dragging on for quite some time now. We keep reading and watching the news reporting that things are starting to turn, all very slowly they add. Many large businesses have announced improved earnings. Although many of them have cut costs instead of increasing sales in order to report improved earnings. Washington keeps saying things are improving. It’s not easy to tell if these statements are strictly political posturing or facts. But most of the people I talk to who are running smaller businesses have not seen an improvement.
“People buy based on emotion and rationalize their decisions based on facts.” This is a common quote you will hear from most sales trainers, or you will read it in most sales improvement books. It’s true. If you don’t embrace this philosophy in your business and sales process you will not reach your potential in sales and profit.
Most of the “how to” articles you read, including the ones I write here, tend to advise you on what to do in order to improve and be successful. There are many books that do the same, like . . . The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, and 40 Strategies for Winning in Business. How about all the top 10, eight ways, seven things, five reasons, four ideas, two rules and the one most important system to…. (fill in the blank).
Most business leaders feel that the vision and mission of the company is all important. They determine “what” they need to accomplish and then determine “who” should be part of their team to help them get there. Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, observed that great companies identified the “who” first and secondarily figured out “what” they needed to accomplish. The problem with starting with the “what” is that when things change, as they are inevitably going to do, you realize you have the wrong people on your bus.
Have you ever experienced bad service and complained about it only to realize your complaints are falling on deaf ears? Some businesses feel they have enough demand for their products or services that they can ignore complainers. I will warn you this is a dangerous game to play. When a customer complains about something in your business, you really need to pay close attention to what they are saying. Remember, there could be 10 other customers who may have experienced similar dissatisfaction but for whatever reason don’t say anything to you.
How many of us started out in life hearing the words from peers, parents and professionals that failure is bad? Schools around the world predominantly are run on pass/fail systems. Is not failure a judgment placed on us by others? If so, then what judgment they pass on us is, in truth, none of our business! It all comes down to how we interpret the result.
My Webster’s Dictionary defines failure as “unsuccessful in the obtaining of” — SAYS WHO??
I recently recommended a book to a colleague of mine titled The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. It seemed the organization he was part of was struggling working together as a cohesive team. There was a lot of back-stabbing, poor communication and a lot of conflict that was nasty rather than constructive. If you haven’t read this book, I would highly recommend it.
Many owners of small businesses get to a point when they want to hire salespeople. They do this for a couple of reasons. They don’t like to sell. Or they’re not good at selling. Or other parts of the business are demanding their attention and they don’t have the time to put into selling. Whatever the reasons, they feel they need to get someone to get out there a sell for them. But what I have seen far too often is that many owners have had bad experiences with managing and keeping good sales people.