Sunday, August 06, 2017

Writing with Power, for Impact

The other day a business acquaintance, Jeff, sent along the beginning of a blogpost, and asked me what I thought. I thought he was off to a good start, so I wrote him back some notes on how to turn it into an article with credibility and reader utility – and, hopefully, some promotional value for the writer.

But it has to happen in that order.
A blogpost that promotes the writer over the needs of its audience is doomed to be ignored and forgotten. An article that brings real value to a reader is much more likely to be remembered, to be shared, and to encourage readers to follow up.

Here, only slightly edited to preserve his confidentiality, is the advice I gave Jeff.

I think your article is off to a great start. I like your passion and your professionalism. And you offer some very vivid examples.
But before you start writing, you should always ask yourself:

·  *   What am I trying to say?
·  *   Who is my audience?
·  *   What do I want them to take away from this article that’s new and impactful?

You have to decide if this is going to be a promo piece for you, a think piece, a tool packed with useful tips, or a manifesto that will open people’s eyes to new thinking in their fields. (There are many other possibilities, of course; these are just a few samples to show the range that’s possible.)

Usually, the right answer is a blend of the above. The best promo pieces don't brag; they offer real value to the target reader. Confident professionals are happy to give knowledge away, because they know that’s the best way to earn respect, goodwill, and potential follow-ups and referrals.

So I suggest you now prepare an outline that includes what you have here, explores why so many people have the wrong idea of [redacted], and then follow up with some really insightful observations that will make your business market sit up and take notice. They might point to the essential changes your market needs, or examples of organizations that failed because they lacked the ability to change. Or you might get more prescriptive, and offer three to give tips on how companies can rethink their processes, make them simpler, more powerful or more effective, and reap the benefits of consistent improvement.

There’s so much free information available today. To make an impact, you have to share powerful ideas, stated simply, clearly and accessibly.

Good luck!