Ask the expert - Your top 7 communications questions answered
In my line of work supporting businesses with their communications, people often ask me the same questions over and over again. I’ve decided it’s time to share seven of the most commonly-asked questions and my responses in this week’s post.
Q. What’s the secret of writing on behalf of another business?
A. Getting to know you and your business. I like to find out what makes you tick, what motivates you and understand your business aspirations for the future. I learn about the products and services the business offers, profile your customers and the sectors you work in. Only then will I be able to work as an extension of your team and write content on your behalf.
Q. How do you get the right balance between educating someone and selling to them?
A. Subtlety and placement are the keys here. If you want to include a sales message in your copy the secret is to be discreet with your wording so the reader doesn’t realise they are being sold to. Or, if they do realise they are being sold to, they’re not offended by the message. Placing the message towards the end of your copy can also help. For example, if you write a great blog and your reader enjoyed it and found it valuable, they’ll respect what you have to say and won’t mind the inclusion of a subtle call to action towards the end.
Q. How often and when should I post on social media?
A. How long is a piece of string? If you’re looking for hard and fast rules I’m afraid there are few. There are optimum posting times for each channel: Facebook tends to be during the morning and evening commute and at lunchtime, Twitter is 3-5pm on a Thursday, LinkedIn is weekday mornings. My strongest piece of advice is to monitor your analytics and look for the posts that achieve high engagement and see when you posted them. Then do more of the same.
The following graphic should help you with the frequency question. Times are all per day.
Q. Which communications channel should I prioritise?
A. For the majority of businesses, I would say your website. Unless you have a physical store that customers can visit, your website will be the shop window for your business to which all calls to action should be directed. Think about social media, brochures, presentation slides - they should all include your website url so people can find out more about you and what you do. You’d be amazed how many people give me their shiny new business card with a web address on that is ‘coming soon’ when I go to have a browse. This is a definite fail. The only exception to the rule is if you have a company Facebook page instead of a website. In this case, you should treat it as your primary channel.
Q. How do you start writing business copy?
A. Consider your audience, key messages and then select the most appropriate channel to use - in that order. Whatever type of content you’re producing, you should always write with your audience in mind. Make the content speak to your audience, otherwise they won’t find it or read it.
Q. What should I put in my newsletter?
A. Newsletters can take many different formats, here are a few common types:
Looking forward / what’s coming up - send at the start of the month
Review of the month - send at the end of the month
Sales newsletters - focus on current offers, discounts, seasonality
Corporate - share news, events, appointments, achievements, new contracts
You don’t have to choose one of these types, you could use elements of each that fit your business and your audience. As above, the most important consideration in creating a newsletter must always be your audience.
Q. What should I write about in my blog?
A. What do you enjoy? What are you passionate about? What knowledge and expertise do you have that would be useful to your audience? Make it relevant for your readers. Try and put equal parts of yourself and your business in a blog. First and foremost, people will read it if the content is relevant, but they’ll keep coming back if they enjoy your personal stories and your writing style. If you’re still unsure, do some research. Have a look at what your competitors are blogging about or what’s topical in the news. Are there any ideas that you could adapt for your own content?
If you have any pressing communications questions that have not been answered here, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to help!