Try not to write. Just speak!
"Be yourself - everyone else is taken"
This saying is attributed to Oscar Wilde - the chap in the photo. But this blog is really about a gentleman who's nothing like the Victorian man of letters.
It's about writing in a natural, conversational way. But first, I'd like to tell you about Sean.
His newsletters just weren't hitting the spot
Sean is a landscape gardener, local to Northampton. I first met him a while back at a networking breakfast. He immediately struck me as a nice chap, attentive and courteous in every way. He even had the good grace to listen to my unfunny anecdotes.
Sean dutifully introduced me to the other members of the group, making sure I wasn’t last in the queue for breakfast. (OK - I confess. His name isn’t Sean. If you’re local to Northampton, you might know him. So, anonymous he must remain. But he's a lovely feller nonetheless!).
As the event went on, Sean told me about something that was bothering him in his business. He'd started sending out newsletters but the response had been really poor.
Could I help? Well, Sean was right about one thing. Writing regular newsletters is a great idea. And he isn't just a nice man. He’s an authority who knows his stuff. His clients would surely be pleased to receive regular gardening tips from him.
His newsletters were packed with ideas and information and illustrated with great photos (his partner is a talented photographer). But – the newsletters were dragged down by a style that was impossibly stiff and formal:
- They were filled with has not’s and will not’s instead of hasn’t’s and won’t’s.
- He signed off with ‘Yours Sincerely’ when ‘Happy Gardening’ would have been so much better.
- His sentences were wordy.
- His paragraphs were endless blocks of unbroken text.
- He wrote as though an English Teacher from the 1950s was standing over him.
The critical missing element from Sean's newsletters was … his fantastic personality.
Don't 'write' - 'speak'
A day or two later we went through the newsletters together. We agreed he should forget about ‘writing’ to his clients. Why not ‘speak’ to them instead - crafting his newsletter in the same upbeat, friendly way in which he greeted me at the networking meeting? In other words - write as though he was chatting over a cup of coffee.
Sean agreed to give it a go.
The effect was impressive. Within weeks, his social media ‘likes’, 'comments' and 'shares' were showing a marked improvement
Enquiries were on the up too. Sean was a happy man.
All that he needed was ... to be himself.
And to write engagingly, that's all you need too.
And here's where you'll find out plenty more about writing newsletters.
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Till the next time ...