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How to Get Your Message Across
How to Get Your Message Across
By Jennifer Stewart Write101.com
It sounds easy, doesn't it? Just send out a few sales letters, mention what you're selling and why people should
buy it and that's about all there is to it.
Well, yes ... and no.
Sadly, the Internet has seen an increase in the number (and intensity) of hype-mail. You know the sort of thing:
"Secrets Revealed - Earn $10,000 a Week, Starting Now!!!"
Such over-the-top methods may have worked for a short time, but people have developed a healthy cynicism about
these "offers" and now any business that sends out letters with unrealistic promises is going to lose
So, how do you get your message across to your potential customers and maintain your credibility?
There are five key points to remember when preparing your sales material - all equally important:
People Like Dealing with Other People
In the early days of the Internet, all small businesses were enthralled by the notion that they could portray themselves
as huge enterprises. So you'd find sites that never used a singular personal pronoun, ever. It was always, "contact
us"... "send us your suggestions" ... "our staff are waiting to ..." and so on. I know,
because I did just this when I started my own site. Like so many others, I felt customers would only want to deal
with a Big Operation.
But, people like doing business with other people, not with huge conglomerates. We're a gregarious lot, we humans,
we enjoy the company of our fellows, so make it clear in your message that you are a real person. Don't be embarrassed
to admit that you're the sole operator, in fact, this is a very positive benefit for many customers because it
ensures that they'll receive personal attention.
People Are Busy
Despite all we were promised back in the 70s and 80s, technological advances have not led to increased leisure
time, but just the opposite. Studies have shown that the majority of people are working longer hours now than they
were two or three decades ago.
This means that time is precious, so don't waffle. Get straight to the point in your message. Tell your prospects
in the first sentence what it is you're offering and why it will benefit them.
People Like Directions
This is directly related to the previous point - people don't have time to play guessing games with you. Tell them,
exactly, what you'd like them to do and they're much more likely to do it. Don't leave them looking for a missing
page which explains the reason for the message, state it up front. Don't make them search for phone or fax numbers
to call, list them clearly. Don't make it necessary to type in an e-mail address or URL, put in a hyperlink if
you're sending out e-mail messages.
People Like the Simple Approach
Again, this is directly related to the scarcity of spare time in our modern lives. It's quicker to read a series
of short sentences which are arranged in short paragraphs than it is to wade through long, complex sentences and
slabs of unrelieved paragraphs.
Incorporate one (count it ...1...) idea in each paragraph.
Use plenty of action words, forget the adverbs and the adjectives, they're just there for decoration. It's the
nouns and verbs that get your message across. So don't wax lyrical about, "...the smooth, flowing lines of
the new Whizzo cleaner that make it glide like silk across your floors ..." Just tell us that, "Whizzo
cleaners get the job done fast."
People Appreciate Professionalism
These people are your potential customers, the people who are going to pay you money to help keep you in the manner
to which you have become accustomed, so don't insult them by sending out anything that isn't as perfect as you
can make it. This means that you must proof read your letter, several times, before sending it out. You'd be amazed
at just how easy it is to read what you meant to write, instead of what you've actually written. This is why it's
also a good idea to have someone else read your letter before it goes out.
It's fine to be informal, in fact, it's better than the corporate jargon that passes for language in many large
companies, but this doesn't mean that you can be careless or sloppy. You still need to choose your words with care,
so that the message is clearly conveyed. It's also important to read your message aloud, to make sure it sounds
right and that it flows easily.
Check for repetition in words and phrases, sometimes, repetition can be used effectively to emphasise certain key
points, but repetition that is simply the result of laziness is not good. The following example (from an article
by Bill Gates) shows an effective use of repetition:
"If the 1980s were about quality and the 1990s were about reengineering, then the 2000s will be about velocity.
About how quickly the nature of business will change. About how quickly business itself will be transacted. About
how information access will alter the lifestyle of consumers and their expectations of business."
This one is not effective:
"Whizzo cleaners are great and give a great finish to all surfaces. Give your whole house a great new look
The final point to consider is the timing of your message. Even though we live in a global village now and day
is night and night is day, it's still possible to time when your prospects will receive your message. Studies have
shown that people are most receptive to new messages mid-week, so aim to have your letter or e-mail arrive on Wednesday
About the Author
Jennifer Stewart has had her own web-based business at http://www.write101.com since 1998, offering professional
writing services for business people who cant spare the time to write. If you need sales letters, but feel you
couldn't write your way out of a wet paper bag, try this: http://www.write101.com/letters/sales