Writing for impact
“Anything sharp in there?”
“Just my pen. Mightier than any sword.”
That was my exchange as I entered a building last week before the security worker rustled through my bag.
When I was 10 years old I changed my first law. I wrote a speech that I delivered to my junior school which resulted in them allowing girls to play football on the school pitch.
When I was 30 I changed my second law. I wrote a proposal that won me the right to write a pitch to engage millions of people in a campaign which involved writing radio scripts, magazine articles, copy for posters, emails, websites and reports. This was a small part of a 20 year campaign by The Children’s Society – but you see my point.
There’s an art to writing. Deliver words clearly and swiftly. And then stop.
I’ll push my point. What was the best report you ever read? What made it the best? I’m guessing it answered your questions. It used terminology that you use. It gave examples so you trusted the answers. It told you where to find more information.
You need to know your audience. You need to understand their motivations. And you need to know how your words are being consumed because we consume words differently through our ears and eyes, online, via email and in paper reports. What is your reader looking for?
You need to know your purpose. We write to entertain, to explain, to plead, to persuade, to apologise. And we do this differently. We use a different voice. I want to get close to you right now, and earn your trust, so I’m being conversational. What do you want to achieve with your writing?
If I wanted to sell to you I would give you:
5 reasons to join Luma Marketing’s Writing for Impact course on 29 April
- We’ve researched the top 5 mistakes you are making in your report writing
- We’ll give you best practice structures for reports, proposals, blogs and communications
- We’ll review and redraft examples of your own work
- We’re really good. In 2019 we’ve written a White Paper, a film script, press releases, too many emails, blogs for clients, not enough blog pieces for Luma
- We’re industry specialists: you’ll join our Building Brilliance alumni
But I want to build trust so I’ll give away some of my tricks to show you that I have more to give.
If you’re writing a report, what questions are you answering? Answer them, keep it factual.
If you’re writing a proposal, how do you meet the brief? How can you deliver more? Don’t hide your costs, do showcase your team. Keep it factual but make it positive. Ask your proofreader whether you have responded to the brief.
If you’re writing a blog, how do you make this interesting? My litmus test: what would you say about it about to your mates in the pub / gym. Choose your tone. If it’s a company blog, you need to use the company terminology, statistics and stories. You must gain permissions to name clients.
If you’re writing for the web, use shorter sentences. Use smaller words, show more white space.
And as you know, it’s all about impact. And you can’t have impact everywhere so part of writing well is choosing carefully.
As a strategic marketing agency we work with clients to identify and clarify their stories – what conversations they should be leading or joining? Who do they need to be engaging with? Where?
Above all don’t forget that you are writing for human beings and we love stories. So, where you can, tell the story.
And this comes to my final piece of advice: no stories without stats and no stats without stories. People are 22 times more likely to remember your message if you give them a story; by giving them numbers you also make it real. You need to appeal to the head and heart.
And storytelling is something else we consider on 29 April.
MIPIM 2020 will no doubt be the place to be again. But this year, there is a swing away from talking money towards a focus on people.
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