The Business of Business Writing
With most economies feeling squeezed, lots of companies have had to let staff go. This has a massive impact on the economy (there are less people with spending power) and on businesses (the remaining staff are stretched). However, it also leads to an increase in entrepreneurship.
As experienced staff find themselves made redundant or taking early retirement, they often turn to self-employment as a way to earn an income.
The worldwide economic meltdown, the advance of social media and widespread availability of technology has created a perfect storm for the small business person. The ranks of freelance consultants and small businesses have swelled to enormous proportions that could not have been envisioned even ten years ago.
What this means for communication and marketing companies is that two new sectors have sprung up. Mid-sized companies who would previously have employed their own communications team are increasingly looking to outsource their needs. From proof-reading to newsletter writing, companies realise that they can keep their overheads low if they recruit independent professionals rather than a new staff member.
Equally, the newly redundant who set up their own businesses are suddenly faced with creating a professional image and issuing communications.
Recently, we've been completing contracts for both these sectors. From a business plan to a risk assesment to a method statement, there are strict criteria that need to be met. We're experienced in compiling all of these documents and have been doing so with greater regularity as the economy has waxed and waned.
At the same time, we've also been creating newsletters, websites and company brochures for businesses that were started by experienced professionals in their field but who recognise they do not have the communication, design or IT skills to present a professional image to their public.
It is sometimes difficult to see any silver lining in a time of global economic crisis but our clients prove that there are small companies who are thriving and individuals who have grasped their release from employment with both hands and set up their dream businesses. We get on with the business of writing, and they can focus on growing their dreams.
The Art of Letter Writing
In the past week, we have completed letters for two different clients. One was a newsletter. The other was a sales letter. They are distinctly different disciplines.
Traditionally, a sales letter would expect to achieve a conversion rate of between 1% and 2%. In the current economic situation, that rate may have been impacted. However, a large factor in the success of your sales letter's conversion rate will be whether you are working with warm or cold leads. Our client was targetting warm leads and hence should expect to maintain the industry average.
The internet has rejuvenated sales letters in many ways. Long form sales letter are often the only content on affiliate marketing sites. You scroll down for over a page reading all the benefits of the product to be confronted with an urge to buy and a reason why it has to be NOW! For example, they mention a limited offer or a great deal ticking to a deadline. Writers tend to feel conflicted about writing such letters. Undoubtedly they can be effective but often they represent sales at its most manipulative.
On the other hand, direct mail sales letters (like the one we produced for our client) are much more difficult to pigeonhole. McShane Media has had the pleasure of working on some award-winning direct mail campaigns over the years with some amazingly talented salespeople and fundraisers. They have taken direct mail letters to an art form. Their work is witty, concise, factual and innovative.
A good sales letter marries the innovative and the informative, as does a strong newsletter.
Of course, the other important aspect of a newsletter is the 'news'. It's important to remember to augment your company news with the wider news context. Yes, your newsletter should be singing your company's praises but it should also be claiming your company's niche in the industry and showing you are alert to any external issues that impact on your strategy. Like a sales letter, your newsletter should have a clear aim and audience. Only then can you guarantee the best results.
Maggie will be blethering about our latest projects, marketing news and events.