Now, more than ever, alternate approaches to reach potential customers are vitally important. Some of those channels might include a revamped social media strategy, a fresh look at product and service descriptions on your website, or an email marketing campaign. I am certainly not attempting to present a grammar course here, but three key tips may add life to your written customer communications.
1. Write in Active Voice.
Active voice remains the simplest, clearest form of written communication. Active voice’s opposite is passive voice:
- A quality guarantee accompanies all of our tax preparation services.
- Our wide selection is appreciated by our customers.
Writing in active voice means you start with the subject and explain an action or a result (instead of the other way around):
- Our tax services come with a quality guarantee.
- Customers appreciate our wide selection.
Passive voice often sounds overly formal or academic. Start with your primary subject and add a resulting action or explanation to keep your message active.
2. Avoid Expletive Constructions.
No, we’re not talking about unsavory vocabulary here. Here are examples of expletive constructions:
- That is the reason our only goal is to serve you better.
- It’s our commitment to quality that makes us shine.
An expletive construction is a sentence that begins with a nonspecific pronoun, such as “This is why we…” or “It has come to our attention that….” Expletive constructions are passive, weak, and more importantly, unclear. As noted in the first tip, stick to simple, active constructions for clarity:
- Our only goal is to serve you better
- A commitment to quality makes us shine.
Fewer words, active language, and to the point.
3. Pose Meaningful Hypothetical Questions.
There’s a good reason traditional TV infomercials use hypothetical questions to gain audience attention: they work to engage customer interest: “Isn’t there a better way?” or “How many times has this happened to you?” But questions are only truly effective if they evoke a picture in your reader’s mind or identify a desire a potential customer didn’t know they had. Here’s an example of a question you might use to begin a social media post: Do you love great pizza? Pretty generic, and not many would say no to that question. Instead, entice your reader with a specific question directly related to your value proposition and unique product or service offering: Have you tasted Wyoming’s best wood fire pizza? Now you are evoking a sensory experience (tasted) and the uniqueness of your offering (not just pizza, but wood fire pizza). The more specific and enticing the language of the question, the more likely you will inspire customer action.
Help is Available
Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network advisors can assist you in developing and executing marketing strategies, including social media and web-based approaches. Contact an advisor by clicking here. All Wyoming SBDC Network services are completely confidential and offered at no cost to Wyoming residents.
About the Author: Paul spent 25 years with an entrepreneurial-minded small business in the educational publishing market that attained an international footprint and experienced sustained, substantial growth. As a long-time member of the executive team with LinguiSystems, Inc., he served as Editor-in-Chief and Chief Marketing Strategist. Johnson most recently held the position of Instructional Technology Educational Specialist with University of Wyoming Extension developing and administering all of Extension’s online programmatic and educational efforts.