The Power of the Written Word: A Marketer’s Manifesto
If you’re involved in marketing in today’s fast-moving world, you’re probably wrapped up in a hundred day-to-day decisions and activities. But once in a while, it’s helpful to pull back for a moment, catch your breath, and remember why we do what we do, as marketers.
We’re in the communication business. And communication is as fundamental to humans as eating, sleeping, and breathing. The ability to communicate effectively from one person to another is a skill that’s often taken for granted. But as marketers, we need to do it better than most. Business success depends on our ability to persuade someone to take some action, educate someone to understand our point of view, sell someone on our idea, or convince someone we’re right. Failure to achieve our communication goal can make or break opportunities – both for our business and our personal prosperity and happiness.
Clearly, much of our interaction with others is verbal – on the telephone, at the podium, on a webcast, or around a table. But an important part of how we communicate involves the written word. In 2000, the A&E Network celebrated the new millennium by airing a series of features on the top 100 most influential people of the last 1000 years. The list included explorers, world leaders, inventors, scientists, humanitarians, authors, dictators, artists, visionaries, and more. But the network’s number one most influential person of the last millennium was Johann Gutenberg – the German inventor of the printing press in 1439. Despite his humble background, his influence was profound, for it ushered in the revolution of mass communication that continues almost 600 years later.
Today, words we read are everywhere – in emails, on billboards, on our websites, in our collateral, in social media, and yes, even in printed documents. Highly effective written communication must be clear, compelling, audience-appropriate, and well organized to achieve our specific objectives to convince, inform, or persuade. They take time, care, and skill to create. We need to use both sides of our brains to do it, and sometimes, it’s pretty tough to do.
As we face our daily business challenges, remember that the memory of spoken words may fade, but words on a page, whether a printed or electronic page, linger. They are there for all to see. Most successful businesses have found that investments in high quality written words achieve our business goals and pay dividends. And such success is likely to reflect well on us personally as well.
At the agency I run, we provide writing services for our clients. We’ve been doing it for 30 years, and it never gets old. I’m as enthusiastic today writing about big data as I was in 1985 when I founded the company and wrote about early microcomputers out of a Palo Alto, California garage. Perhaps the thought that what we do for a living is in our DNA as humans gives us some perspective. Gutenberg had no idea of the impact of his invention. How will you influence the world?
For the last 30 years, Hoffman Marketing Communications has created white papers, collateral, and more recently multimedia, on complex business issues and technologies. Sign up here to get your free copy of our White Paper on White Papers to learn the ten best practices for creating effective white papers.