Business Writing For Dummies, 2nd Edition book cover

Business Writing For Dummies, 2nd Edition

By: Natalie Canavor Published: 04-14-2017

The ability to write well is a key part of your professional success. From reports and presentations to emails and Facebook posts, whether you're a marketer, customer service rep, or manager, being able to write clearly and for the right audience is critical to moving your business forward. The techniques covered in this new edition of Business Writing For Dummies will arm you with the skills you need to write better business communications that inform, persuade, and win business.

Articles From Business Writing For Dummies, 2nd Edition

page 1
page 2
page 3
30 results
30 results
Business Writing For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-29-2021

Whether you’re a manager, an entrepreneur, or a recent graduate, the ability to write well is a skill you can’t afford to be without — particularly in the world of business. This handy Cheat Sheet helps ensure your business writing is fit for the right purpose, and gives you tips on effective resume writing, international communication, and online content creation for your business.

View Cheat Sheet
Business Writing Tips for Raising Your Fee Structure

Article / Updated 08-21-2017

Most freelancers hate talking about money. Often, business writing is a good way to do it. You can marshal your thinking points and articulate them more effectively without the person present, and give them breathing space to consider your request as well. Clients typically don’t enjoy these conversations any more than you do, and may blurt out a negative response that’s hard to reconsider. Many successful consultants sidestep cost questions before presenting a proposal because they can write out all the work involved. Writing also enables them to analyze and define the larger value of the proposed work to the company. This sets the stage for a better conversation. One challenging need is a request for a fee increase. Most people who hire independent workers are content to continue in the same groove forever. You don’t often hear of any instances where a freelancer was offered a raise. Ask you must, whether your business and living costs are going up like everyone else’s, or because you’ve experienced “scope creep” — that is, you find yourself investing more time than your fee structure covers fairly. The approach for collecting on invoices also works for this problem. List your possible content points. You will have specifics according to the situation, but here are some fairly universal points to make in framing the message: I’m raising my rate 5 percent. I haven’t increased my fees for three years. My overhead and operating expenses go up inevitably. My work is valuable to you, as proven by … My service this coming year will be even better because … The last point is optional, but if you can think of something that doesn’t really cost you anything — like a staff expansion or new capability you planned on anyway, an offer to meet more often, or a way to repurpose your work for additional uses — you provide a mitigating factor that inclines the client to agree more easily. She’s spending more, but getting more. Remember that a message like this will probably be passed up the managerial chain and reviewed by financial people, so supply your connection with information to help him win approval on your behalf. And use an impersonal but still friendly writing style. When you spell out your basic points first, you spare yourself a lot of agonizing. Just follow the trail! Dear Jed, I’m writing to alert you, as a client of many years, that Marsh Sisters will raise our project fee rate by 5 percent this coming year. I know you’ll understand that just like Tailor Enterprises, our operating expenses steadily increase. We have not raised our rates for three years, and did so only once in the seven years we’ve worked together. Of course, we want to continue providing Tailor with the best possible service. We were very proud to earn the March Association Award of Merit for the Chancellor Project this past year, and even happier to know our work played a part in helping Tailor increase its Blue Division revenue this past quarter. We have plans to support you in meeting your business goals even more effectively. We’re implementing a new software system right now that will give you more detailed reports, with even faster turnaround. All of us at Marsh look forward to working with you this year and together, know we will achieve new heights. Sincerely, Maggie

View Article
Business Writing Tips for Communicating as a Virtual Worker

Article / Updated 08-21-2017

Business writing becomes even more important as more people work from home. Working from home and virtual teaming trend upward every year. In addition to the escalating numbers of people who work on a project or hourly basis, more employees than ever work from their home base part of the week. Many others do their jobs away from headquarters, and may be continents and time zones away, or crosstown. Teaming with people you never see has become a commonplace experience for many of us. Communication technology opens up all these possibilities with ever-easier ways to work virtually. But few of us are trained to function well in a virtual environment. Strategic writing gives you a key advantage as a virtual team member or project leader. Except for occasions when you see our virtual coworkers on screen, interaction between virtual coworkers is generally by written messages and phone calls. This brings a host of drawbacks. You must collaborate without being able to read people’s facial expression, body language, and perhaps, intonation. It can take much longer to understand people’s perspective, establish trust, and know what to expect from each one so you can interact effectively. If you participate in short-term projects with new teams every time, developing a set of practices is especially important. If you have a choice, try to start the collaboration off in person, or close to it. Meeting face to face with the team is best because spending some time getting to know each other pays many dividends. Video conferencing is choice two, or use Skype or a cloud video meeting ground like Zoom. The telephone is third choice. However accomplished, your initial meeting should address good practice and set agreed-to guidelines for distribution in writing to everyone involved. This document should spell out the group’s goal; individual responsibilities; mutual obligations; milestones toward the goal and timelines; and each person’s availability, taking locations and time zones into account, as well as working preferences (for example, are folks reachable at night? On weekends?). Include a checklist to denote progress. Decide on sharing mechanisms, such as Google Drive, Google Docs, or Dropbox. It’s preferable to plan for periodic group meetings online if not in person to maintain momentum, address personality issues, and solve the inevitable roadblocks — all are handled much better face to face. It’s important to know who’s in charge. If there’s a designated project leader, his role should be fully spelled out. If “everyone is equal” and no one is centrally responsible, it’s a good idea for the group to agree that a specific person will coordinate, keep everyone on track, and hold team members accountable. A notetaker or communicator-in-chief should for designated for meetings. If this unpopular task is up for grabs, volunteer! In notetaking lies power. You’ll know more: Everyone shares information with you. And when you’re the reporter, you create the perspective. Here are some ways to help you be a good virtual collaborator and a good team member in general: Communicate always in a positive, upbeat way that promotes relationship building. Express appreciation for other people’s good work or contributions in written notes, which are especially valued. Contribute appropriate personal notes. Until you know people better, you can ask about mundane matters like the weather or someone’s weekend away. Note that research on teaming finds that the “small talk” and good listening that build comfort and trust level characterize the most successful teams. Write considerate messages. Respect your teammates by making all your writing clear, concise, to the point, and complete. Introduce a written repeat-it-back technique to confirm everyone is on the same page. Doing so prevents misinterpretations, especially if there is a shift in direction. For example, confirm your own actions with notes such as, “To follow up on our conversation on Tuesday, I plan the following … .”

View Article
Business Writing: Collecting on Your Invoices

Article / Updated 08-21-2017

No matter how carefully invoices and contracts are written, every consultant, freelancer, business person, and entrepreneur has trouble collecting money at times. How to maintain a good relationship while pressing for payment? Minimize the risk of losing your money and/or customer by asking for a retainer on signing, no matter how much you trust the person you’re dealing with and how steady a client she has been. People are known to leave jobs and those who replace them have been known to prefer suppliers of their own, or bring the work in-house. Companies have been known to go out of business and file for bankruptcy without warning. You may also encounter disputes about whether, in the buyer’s opinion, you delivered to the standard expected. No one with honest intentions will ever fault you for acting in a businesslike way to protect yourself by requiring an advance. And don’t lay the groundwork for cheating yourself if the nature of the work means you’ll do a major portion in the beginning, like coming up with ideas or creating the blueprint. Set up the payment schedule to cover this aspect of the job should the agreement dissolve. A contract is only as good as the parties’ willingness to live up to it. If a client doesn’t like what you produce, legal enforcement may not be desirable or practical. When payment is running a little late, minimize resentment by saying as little as possible in a perfectly neutral, blame-free, impersonal tone. Make the person you’re writing to a partner in the collection effort: Subject: Can you help? Dear Tardee, My payment for the Tyler project hasn’t come through yet, though the work was finished two months ago. Is it possible for you to nudge the machinery a bit on my behalf? I’ll appreciate it very much. —Marty Or: Subject line: Friendly reminder Dear Tardee, I’m wondering if it’s possible to speed up the processing of my second check for the Curio Design work. In line with our agreement it was due September 4 but has not arrived. I’ll appreciate your help with this. Thanks, Marty There’s never a reason to plead poverty. Don’t say you need the money to pay your bills. Late payment messages work better when they are impersonal. The same minimalist approach is useful when you bear some responsibility. A friend was embarrassed to discover that she had neglected to deposit a check and it was too old for the bank to accept. She wrote to the client: Dear Mr. Black: In tracking invoices and payments for tax purposes, bookkeeping has brought to our attention that your check #9174 written on January 12 of this year was rejected by ABC Bank due to endorsement requirements. Our records indicate that the check was not redeposited. Attached is a copy of the check that was not credited to the Marketing Pro account. Would you please issue a new check to replace the one that was originally provided? We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. Thank you, Marcia White Assuming the editorial or kingly “we” along with the formal tone depersonalizes the request and presents it as a glitch between bureaucracies, though the writer runs a very small company from a virtual office. Sometimes, however, a true “letter of record” is called for to document an event or problem or present your claim more formally. This kind of letter may have legal implications that involve lawyers. You can try a strategy to keep in your back pocket for severely late payments and other confrontational situations: a chronological accounting. Here, it’s all about the facts. Marshal all the relevant bits and arrange them in a timeline. Then create a letter that simply marches down each item on your list in a dispassionate, matter-of-fact way: no frills, no flowery adjectives, no emotion. Start each item with the date. Suppose you’re an independent graphic designer and a client hasn’t paid your last bill, which was due six months ago. He now hints that the work wasn’t done to his satisfaction and won’t take your phone calls. You don’t want to go to court, but you do want your money. Your letter can go this way: Dear Mel: On July 6 of this year, you contacted my firm, MorningGlory Design, to inquire about website services for your firm, Thompson, Ltd. On July 8, we met at your office for two hours to discuss Thompson’s needs and goals. On July 15, I sent you a summary of our conversation with our suggestions for a website to meet your specifications. You called and said “I like the approach very much, go ahead.” On July 22, I sent you an agreement specifying that MorningGlory would provide the services outlined (see attached contract pages 1 and 2) at a proposed fee (see attached contract page 3) and a schedule of payments. On July 22, we both signed the contract. You remitted the one-third payment due. On August 10, I presented the preliminary design. You said “with some revision it would be exactly what I want” and that you’d mail the second payment at week’s end. On August 19, I presented the revised version based on your input. You said, “It looks fantastic, let me take a more careful look with my staff, and I’ll check about the payment you didn’t receive.” And so on. Further entries might include the dates the invoices were sent, when the new web design went live, and every other relevant detail — the more, the better. The close: In sum, I have met every obligation of our contract in a timely manner and with your full approval. The site is online exactly as I designed it. But six months later, you have not paid two-thirds of the fee to which you agreed in writing. Kindly remit the balance owed immediately. Very truly yours, Natasha This may one of the only situations where you should use a stilted, formal language with an archaic tone. Such a letter sounds as if a lawyer is advising you. Or at the least, your reader will recognize that you have a good case and are prepared to seek legal redress. If Mel doesn’t come through and you decide to take the legal route, your letter becomes part of that process and serves you well. The approach works just as nicely when you’re on the other side of the fence. Moreover, if you don’t want to pay an unfair bill and clearly state that you have no intention of paying, the other party’s recourse may be limited, depending on the state you live in. Underscore your letter’s legal undertones by mailing it — or better yet, certify it and require a signature to prove receipt.

View Article
Tips for Business Writing to Pitch Your Services

Article / Updated 08-21-2017

If you’re a solopreneur or partner in a small business, you may regularly need to write pitch letters or deliver cold-call messages. Typically, your goal is to bring you, or your product or service, to someone’s attention and ask for an in-person meeting. Such letters are important for professional specialists of many kinds. Here’s an approach which is visualized via a specialized professional. Sarah, a professional historian, knew that a county preservation office would soon need someone to organize an application to obtain landmark status for a local building. Aiming for an appointment to present herself, Sarah drafted a letter. Try This: Imagine you’re the government official Sarah is addressing. How would you react to this letter? And how might you improve it? Dear Mr. Johnson: I had the pleasure of meeting you last July when I accompanied Jane Maxwell of the city preservation office and architect Roger Brown on a site visit to Marigold House. At that time, Jane and Jeremy were working on the city’s new Local Landmark designation for properties of historic and cultural importance outside the Big City Historic District. The Pritchard Building was officially approved by the City Council on November 28. Robert Brown was the consulting architect on that project, and I served as the consulting historian, preparing a historical title search and the land use, cultural, and biographical information necessary to establish the significance of the health center. The nineteenth-century Marigold House has more than 300 years of stories to tell and a number of them are nearly unknown. For example, the eighteenth-century correspondence of Margaret Green and Eleanor March; Mary Jennings’ 1810 book of poetry, recently discovered; the autobiography of the slave Emelia, who escaped to the north on a boat in 1814. All of these and more contribute to your property’s historical and cultural significance. I would like to research the title and history of Marigold House and prepare the significance portion of its application for Landmark designation in conjunction with Lisa and Roberta and the city preservation office. Can we schedule some time to talk about this? Sincerely, Sarah Jones Did you have trouble getting through this? Most people do. You can assume Mr. Johnson would have too had he received the letter. Here is a suggested revision. How does it compare with your idea? Dear Mr. Johnson: We met at Marigold House last July when I accompanied Jane Maxwell of the City Preservation Office and architect Robert Brown on a site visit. I’m taking the liberty of writing now because as a professional historian, I would very much like to work with Jane and your office to research the property’s title and history for its application as a designated landmark. This eighteenth-century house has more than 300 years of wonderful stories to tell. For example: The correspondence of … Mary Jennings’ 1810 book of poems … The first-hand account of the slave Emelia who escaped … All these stories contribute to Marigold House’s historical and cultural significance, but only a few of them are now part of the official registries. I would like to prepare the significant portion of the application and include these stories and many more. I’ve previously worked with Jane to develop the city’s new Local Landmark designation regulations and I served as the consulting historian to establish the significance of Margaret Field … I am the former resident historian for … Can we schedule some time to talk? I will welcome the opportunity to explain my qualifications to research Marigold House and support its application for Landmark status. Sincerely, Sarah Jones Here are the guidelines derived from comparing these two versions: Say what you want ASAP so the person knows why you’re writing. When you have a personal connection, begin with that because it positions you, establishes trust, and builds instant connection. Format the letter to be quickly read and easily understood. In the revised letter, the short, bulleted list breaks up the copy and gets the examples across more effectively. Paragraphs and sentences are shorter and less dense to encourage reading. Make the most of what’s interesting, relevant, and/or close to the reader’s heart. Sarah showcases her qualifications with specific details in the bullets. This show-not-tell technique is far more effective than saying, “I am an expert historian and know many interesting stories.” Use a writing style that relates to the audience and your goal. In this case, the writer is addressing someone with an academic orientation similar to her own, so a slightly formal tone feels right. Cite credentials, but not necessarily up front. They are often not your best sales points. People respond more to your understanding of their challenges and what you can do for them, rather than what you’ve done in the past. This isn’t really counterintuitive: Knowing how to bridge your expertise to other people’s problems is a top trademark of professionalism. If you came up with a different version you like better, good for you. Editing and writing are far from scientific. It might be nice to think you can follow formulas or use templates, but “canned” approaches come across as overly general and boring. Practice thinking each challenge through with a goal-plus-audience framework in mind, address head and heart, and you’ll get the results you want more often.

View Article
How to Write Persuasively for Business Cross-Media

Article / Updated 08-21-2017

Writing persuasively can be useful in business. Persuasion is a topic that obsesses marketers, communicators, psychologists, neuroscientists, and even economists, who created the field of behavioral economics with breakthrough thinking about how humans make decisions. The nutshell version is that while we may believe we make choices based on information and logic, in truth, our decisions are usually driven by emotion and then justified with rationality. Because analytic thought consumes enormous amounts of energy, we typically call on it only when we more or less force ourselves to take the trouble. In business writing, the lesson is: Whenever possible go for both the heart and the mind. Look for ways to capture people’s imagination, give them a vision, and provide reasons to trust you. Help them back up instinctive decisions with solid facts and evidence. These two elements of persuasion support each other. For example, if you don’t establish trust, a long recitation of facts is unlikely to convince your audience to take a chance on you. But likability isn’t enough. Aim to satisfy their analytic review. Communicating with conviction Nothing is more convincing than your own belief. When you write an important message to introduce yourself, for example, or pitch a product, take a minute to reinform yourself of why that product or service is outstanding and why you’ve made it your life’s work. What drew you to do what you do — a passion? A commitment to solve a problem or help people? Why are you certain that knowing about your service will benefit the other person? Or, why are you the ideal person for the opportunity? Try This: To further reinforce your positive spirit, experiment with proven techniques for calling up your confidence. Actors, presenters, and salesmen commonly use them, and they can help you infuse confidence into your writing. When you’re about to work on an important email, letter, proposal, or other document, energize yourself by assuming an assertive but comfortable posture and walk around that way for a few minutes. This technique exploits the mind-body connection, signaling to your mind that you are capable, resourceful, and so on. Another strategy, drawn from the psychologist’s repertoire, is to relive a proud moment from past experience as vividly as you can, employing all your senses to re-create how you felt. Or: put on whatever music lifts your spirits and energy. Carry your conviction and upbeat mood to the writing task. Good, well-strategized writing is inherently persuasive. The best quick self-check is to read your message aloud and identify the stumbling blocks to smooth delivery. Then edit until your copy reads easily and naturally. Humans are attuned to oral communication, and material that reads well aloud conveys credibility and competence. Also: Write for speed reading. Build sentences with action verbs. Use short, easily understood words that are tangible rather than abstract — things you can see and measure. Alternate short and long sentences. Compose short paragraphs. Minimize the use of meaningless hyperbole. Skip the wishy-washy. Edit for totally correct spelling and grammar. Attend closely to all transitions between sentences and between paragraphs. Add extra transitions to help you clarify your own logic: You can always cut some in final editing. Connecting with your reader Whether you’re asking for an appointment or writing a blog, the first essential is to get your message read. Assume you have about 4 seconds to entice someone to read your message instead of tossing it. Time yourself if you don’t believe me: Scan your email inbox and note how quickly you make decisions about whether to read a message, and note what kind of subject lines and leads draw you in. Here are some techniques to help you make the most of your brief window of opportunity. Adapt them to your purpose. Characterize your audience before you begin writing. Imagine the ideal reader you want to reach and think about the message you’re delivering through her eyes. Write action headlines. This applies to proposals, reports, marketing pieces, and other materials. Online materials, including blogs and websites, also need headlines that attract readers and crystallize your message to establish its relevance. Write organized, progressive subheads. Action subheads entice readers along and are worthwhile even in short messages. Even a skimmer will absorb the important points, or may be drawn in more deeply. Keep the reader going with a compelling lead. Focus in on what is most interesting, useful, or relevant about your subject. Why should your readers care? Answer that question yourself to find your best opening. Use graphics and images to lighten and liven. If it appears dense and difficult, few people will dive in. Give every kind of document lots of white space. Keep type and format simple, and use images whenever possible to attract and entertain the eye and promote understanding. Maintaining reader engagement Yes, you must capture your reader’s wandering eye, but good leads and writing style aren’t enough to keep him. For that you need solid substance. Before writing, brainstorm all your selling points and write them down. Here are a few ways to deliver the message convincingly: Cite evidence of your expertise or the wonders of your product. Include reviews, testimonials, statistics, awards, signs of authority such as blogs or articles, and published interviews. Sprinkle your material generously with anecdotes, examples, and illustrations. This brings it alive and makes it both real and relevant. Center on benefits, not on features. What does the product or service do for people and how does it makes them feel? Create a vision of how life will be more wonderful. If your idea is adapted or your product is bought and put to use, how will some aspect of life improve? Call the reader to action. What do you want the reader who’s made it to the end (or skimmed to get there) to do now? Call? Write? Read your blog? Go to your website? Subscribe? This should be built into your conclusion. Here’s a favorite technique to help you be your most persuasive: Figure out the main opposing arguments and build in the rebuttals. Take account of opposing ideas rather than ignoring or dismissing them. You become more credible. This affords you good openings for citing evidence, too. For example: One reservation you may have is that the system requires adapting to a whole new technology.We know there’s a learning curve, but we also know that users become 18 percent more efficient. And we have a good training program ready to go. It’s true this strategy was tried 10 years ago, but at that time, we couldn’t tap big data to fine-tune each step. You can produce a new website less expensively. But a Second Opinion site generates twice as many leads for our clients than any of their previous sites. Giving people time When you sell a service, product, or new way of thinking, it’s wise not to expect overnight miracles. Decisions are grounded on trust. Think “one goal at a time.” A good letter can gain you entrée to meet with someone; a well-crafted email pitch draws people to your website; an interesting tweet leads someone to read your blog; a free webinar brings in people ready to pay for a service; effective blogs lead readers to trust you enough to buy your ebook. Good teachers aim for incremental learning. They start where their students are and take them, step by step, toward more knowledge and understanding. Experienced marketers also know that persuading someone to buy a different product or adopt a new idea takes sustained effort and a consistent message across platforms.

View Article
Business Writing Tips for Online Profiles

Article / Updated 08-21-2017

Try approaching your online profiles with some business writing strategies. Online professional networks, such as LinkedIn, XING, and Ryze, are good business connectors for many people and are generally considered the “professional” social media. The tips you find here apply to profiles for LinkedIn and similar business networking sites. To adapt these ideas to other media, read a batch of profiles on the site or service that you’re interested in joining and see what approach you feel works best. Use that style and the guidelines of the medium. In general, an online profile is a chance to communicate more of your personality than in a résumé. Writing in the first person works best because you automatically take a more personal tone and genuine feeling comes across. Write with a sense of where you want to go, not just where you’ve been and are now. Align your profile with your big goals. You can use the headline area to list what you do and appeal to search engines with search terms. For example: Business Writing. Magazine Features. Writing Workshops. Publication Projects. Then create a strong opening statement that instantly tells people what you want them to know about you. Surprise! You can draw this from your core value statement or your story. For example: When I realized how terrified most people are of sitting in the dentist’s chair, I decided to find ways to make the experience more positive — something people would look forward to. Or almost. If you’re trying for a career transition or new job, take advantage of the chance to say so: I’m a public relations professional with a great background in the entertainment industry. My special love is hip-hop culture. I’m looking to connect my two passions. Successful online material doesn’t follow a formula. Experiment and scout for profiles you like, both in and out of your own field, and draw your own lessons from them. A few tips and possibilities: Share your enthusiasm and passion for what you do. Include the achievements you’re most proud of. Skip empty rhetoric and get down to brass tacks; what you actually do and what it means is always more interesting. Know what you want to achieve with this profile — find new customers? Connect with an industry? Showcase creative skills? Establish expertise? As always, write to specific audiences to accomplish specific goals.

View Article
Business Writing Tips for Your Web Pages

Article / Updated 08-21-2017

You Home Page and About Us pages will require a different business writing approach. Once those are complete, you can move on to write the rest of the pages your plan calls for. Here are some of the pages most sites need. Services and How It Works: Use one, or both, to get across the concrete options and opportunities you offer. Describe your services in a lively, user-oriented way, and counter any predisposition not to invest in you. not to over-burden this section, however. Keep descriptions brief and down to earth. Use images as much as you can to shorthand your words. Testimonials: Some sites devote separate pages to first-hand endorsements. Some scatter endorsements everywhere, from the home page on. Some sites do both. In any case, be sure they are real: Never write them yourself, because somehow, they won’t be convincing. And you don’t know until you ask what clients actually value in working with you. This is a word-of-mouth era for marketing. People believe fellow buyers, not official company statements. Don’t overlook this resource and the value that video testimonials in particular can give you. Contact: Be real here, too! Use at least a first name for email, not an anonymous “[email protected]” address; give a phone number if you can; offer phone appointments; cite your special irresistible offers; and collect contact information from your visitors every way you can. You need to build keywords and search terms into every page of your website. And keep in mind that websites are global. If you have any interest in an international reach, you have even more reason to create easy-to-read and simple-to-navigate sites.

View Article
Business Writing Tips for the About Us Page of Your Website

Article / Updated 08-21-2017

Business writing techniques are an important part of your website. Did you know that after the Home page, About Us is the most frequently visited website page across industries? Often, it’s the make-or-break part of your site that keeps people with you or leads them to click away. You want to be your best and most trustworthy self on the About Us page. Therefore: Write in first person: Use “I,” not “they.” Center on the problem-solving core of your business. Deliver your value proposition in reader-friendly terms — what your business provides that no one else does. Tell your story: why you founded the business, why you are passionate about it, what is satisfying to you, what audience success means to you. Translate your skills or product capabilities into benefits for the customer. If appropriate, say why the opportunity is special or why the timing is wonderful — for example, new technology opens up the Internet to almost everyone, affordably. Include a good photo of yourself, looking friendly but confident, and video of you in action if possible. Cite evidence of your authority, expertise, and trustworthiness, but don’t lead with it — it’s probably boring. No résumé-speak! See credentials as a backup to communicating who you are and how and why you can help. Here is the place to present a vision of how much better life (or something) will be with you in the picture. A good About Us page prompts the reader to look into the actual product by moving on to your Services, or some other page. It’s another good place to offer something free and collect email addresses, too: “Schedule a free 10-minute consultation now!” “Register for our webinar now!” “Ask for my free ebook!” “Read my free newsletter!” “Follow me on these social media!” What if there is no “us”? Then “Meet Jane” or something similar is fine. But it’s not a virtual world for nothing: Most consultants have allies on call and occasional partners according to the gig. Our Golden Years Internet CEO might well notice when writing the About Us page that in fact, he does need to back up his qualifications with other people like an occupational therapist and psychologist. This team should also be introduced on the About Us page.

View Article
Business Writing Tips for Assembling and Writing a Home Page for Your Website

Article / Updated 08-21-2017

No matter whether you’re working on your own or with a team of specialists, the first step for creating a home page for your business is writing. If you have a designer on tap, explore your ideas in tandem and elicit his thinking. The back and forth between writer and designer produces the best communication in most media, definitely including websites. If you have a technology specialist, listen to her explanations of what is practical and ask for insights into what else is possible. It’s smart to ask both kinds of professionals for choices: different ways to accomplish what you want. The “classic” way to compose a website calls for: Your business name, preferably in logo form, or something that looks like a logo A tagline amplifying the nature of your business so it is immediately understood A “positioning statement” that tells your target audiences they are in the right place A call to action — where to go next or something more specific — and contact information (some experts advise putting this on every page) An overview of the whole site, in image or words, and a clear way to access all the inside pages The stumbling blocks for many people are the tagline and positioning statement. Paying attention to your keywords and search terms can help center you. The tagline needs to identify your business as closely as possible. If your business name is self-explanatory, this is easier. For example, if your name is “Main Street Drop-off Service,” you have a lot more explaining to do than if it is “Overnight Apple Repair by Main Street.” And remember, you’re telling search engines as well as customer prospects who you are. In the case of the vague business name, you’d use the tagline to specify the actual work, such as “overnight repair of Apple products.” But if that’s already in your name, the tagline can move on to “24-hour turnaround on every laptop, desktop, and iPhone problem.” Taglines are worth a lot of thought. But as an old advertising adage puts it, “Don’t be clever, be clear.” Suppose our theoretical senior coaching business is named “Golden Years Internet.” A tagline might read: “Personal coaching to help seniors and the physically limited connect to the online world.” Or “Open up the world. Connect. Enjoy.” The positioning statement gives you another way to expand on what you do. It’s trendy to dispense with this, but ask yourself: Will the visitor I want, who may run across my site randomly (while looking for “nursing home entertainment,” for example) or because he was searching for my specific set of services, know immediately he is in the right place? The positioning statement is a tool for making that match. Unless you’re a household name, take advantage of the chance. Actually, even household-name companies take pains to clarify that you’re in the right place. They may have numerous and complex websites, so must tell customers they’re in the right place to make payments, find information about a product, file a complaint, and so on. Our Golden Years Internet positioning statement might say: In-person in southern Georgia, or online anywhere: individual or small group coaching that empowers physically limited people to socialize, learn, explore, and be entertained online. You might add another line to address the senior’s children (for example, “Give your loved one the greatest gift of all: today’s best way to counter boredom and loneliness by connecting with the world”). And you could even address your third audience, managers of senior residences: “Entertaining people in their golden years is easy when they know how to use today’s inexpensive tools to open up their worlds by Internet.” Another favored home page element is an irresistible offer of some kind — sign up for a free blog, newsletter, ebook, introductory conversation, and so on. This will further your marketing plan. Do you have such materials? Can you create them, and do you want to? Once you are clear on your message, think about how to translate it into visual form. You can illustrate it with photographs, but make them authentic — not generic stock photo people but real customers and real staff members. Use video if you can to demonstrate a learning session and to present testimonials from happy customers. Consider introducing yourself to visitors as the warm, caring, expert individual you are.

View Article
page 1
page 2
page 3