I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy!Tash

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Who are you communicating about?

Are your website, your emails, your flyers and your conversations about you (and your business) or about your (prospective) client and their business?

Robert Middleton has written a blog post on turning your marketing around to be more effective. That is, stop talking about your business services and features and find out about your client’s business and how you could help them.

By listening to people you become more personable and interesting to them and you get more insight to help their business succeed.

Think about it – do you care that I run a writing and communications business? Or do you care that I can save you time and worry by managing your communications project?

You want to know how you will be impacted by my services – and your clients want to know how you can help them reach their goals.

 What is your blog communicating?

smiling woman welcomes you

Are you communicating welcome and friendliness?

Have you ever analysed your blog posts for their content?

How many posts are about what you do or your products? And how many are giving information or tips that would help your client?

Are case studies or client stories about what you did? Or are they about your client’s problem and the results of solving their problem? The difference may seem subtle but one is me-centric and the other will be more effective at engaging your readers.

What is your website communicating?

Robert asked the question ‘how often do you see a website that’s “you-centered” instead?’ and it’s worth thinking about.

Do you prefer a homepage that rambles on about awards won, pride in service, years in business and pompous language, or one that addresses your issues and questions?

Have you looked at your own website and thought about its appeal to others? If you can’t see it objectively, ask others (friends, clients and professionals) what they think, what your site is communicating to them.

Even a few tweaks to your homepage could make it more appealing and therefore more effective.

One simple improvement you can make is to remove we/I and rewrite those sentences to include you instead.

Define ‘you’ for clarity

A clear message will get the best results.

An unclear message will literally cloud the waters, giving you confused, low quality or reduced quantity in results. For example, an unclear question will get meaningless answers and unclear shopping cart instructions will get fewer sales.

The word ‘you’ can be used to add clarity or obscure it.

When writing ‘you’, is it specific to the reader, a general term or someone associated with the reader? That needs to be clear, without thought, for the word to work as part of your message.

I just did a  quick survey which was aimed at parents and asked “How often do you make school lunches at home?” then “How often do your children get canteen lunches?”

In  my case, both answers were ‘never’ which may give the impression my kids starve! The reality is that I do not make their school lunches – they make their own.

Was the question specifically after how many lunches parents make or how many lunches are made at home? If the question was about home-made vs canteen, it was worded poorly and would have been better as “How often do your children take a home-made lunch to school?”

Have you seen other examples where ‘you’ is potentially misleading or confusing the message?

Once could be an error…

As much as I advocate being careful with spelling and grammar, everybody is human and mistakes will be made. So I can excuse an error.

It is much harder to excuse a document or website that makes the same mistake more than once. I came across this sentence a little while ago:

“Informing you super fund of a change of address is just as important as informing you bank.”

Using you instead of your is one of those things done easily enough (spell check won’t pick you as wrong) but really annoys me. Seeing it twice in that sentence just tells me the writer doesn’t understand the difference between you and your or just doesn’t care about being professional or making a good impression.

Two errors in that sentence would also make me less forgiving of other mistakes in the same document so it goes further than two missing letters.

How about you – do you also cringe when you read (or hear!) about ‘you object’?

Who reads a media release?

Unlike a lot of business writing I do, media releases are not written for the end user.

What does that mean? Well, usually if I write some webcopy, an article or a flyer, I write it in a way that appeals to the consumer of that business. So I would write words to the effect of ‘this will solve your problem’.

With a media release, I am writing to a journalist or other media person who may or may not be part of the business’ target audience. Of course, I am writing to the journalist but in a way that will appeal to their readers/viewers/listeners. So it is usually written in the third person such as ‘this will solve the problem for your readers’

Aiming a media release at your target market won’t work; it needs to catch a journalist’s attention and then be used as the basis of their article. Think of it this way – if you read a company’s website or flyer, you expect them to use ‘you’, ‘your’, and so forth; when you read a newspaper article, it will be one step removed and will not refer to ‘you’ at all.