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Less-Is-More Blog by Pierre Khawand

Excerpt: Defining Marketing and Copywriting in the Socially Responsible Context, by Dalya Massachi

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Fri, Jul 08, 2011 @ 04:01 PM

Guest blog article written by Dalya Massachi, M.A., Published Writer, Founder of Writing for Community Success


What do you think of when you first hear the word “marketing”? A bunch of deceptive hyperbole with no substance? A sleazy game that shady characters play when they are trying to get you to buy something that you don’t actually need or want? At some point, most of us have even said something like, “Oh, that’s just a marketing ploy.”

As a representative of a community-oriented effort, you definitely do not want your voice to be associated with empty promises. Fortunately, marketing does not have to be that way. Your organization is not just about building a better mousetrap that serves the community. You also want people with rodent-control problems to be aware of you, easily access you, consider supporting you, and spread the word about your work.

People working in the public interest increasingly acknowledge that we too have to get out there and hustle to attract attention to ourselves. Terms such as “social marketing,” “cause-related marketing,” “green marketing,” and even the old standby “outreach” come to mind. After all, if no one knows about your good work, you simply are not going to get very far.

So when I say “marketing” in the public-interest context, I am talking about:

Sharing information and enthusiasm about your work with interested people who may want to exchange their involvement or support for the value you add to them and their community.

That exchange is important. It is essentially an agreement, sometimes even a contract, between you and your reader. Remember: We are talking about dialogue that helps everyone win. That is what writing to make a difference is all about.

When you write on behalf of a community-benefit organization, you have to convey its work clearly, concisely, and persuasively. Your readers may include investors, clients, the press, activists, volunteers, colleagues, allies, and other stakeholders. You want to educate, inspire, and activate them. And to do that you have to write strategically to reach each specific type of reader. That is, you have to copywrite (notice the “w” in there).

When copywriting, you also want to cultivate relationships with your readers over the short and long term. You want to encourage them to see your work as credible, successful, and vital—a solid investment of their time and/or money. You are looking to strike a responsive chord, so that your relationship can grow from there.

To communicate to the right people, in a way that builds solid relationships, you have to treat everything you write as a potential marketing tool. The specific language you use will vary, of course, according to the type of document and the intended reader. (For example, you would not write a project or funding proposal in the style you use to write a brochure, flyer, or press release.) The tips I share in this book offer a wide range of concepts to consider, no matter what your writing task.

Additional Resources

Writing to Make a Difference (2 x 90-minute webinars, 8/12, 8/19 11:30 am Pacific Time)

Writing to Make a Difference (Book on Amazon.com)

Topics: business writing

Creative Business Writing Is Practical, by Lynda McDaniel

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Thu, Jun 23, 2011 @ 04:00 PM

Guest blog article written by Lynda McDaniel, Founder and Director of the Association for Creative Business Writing

creativityLately, I’ve talked to several people who told me that creative business writing isn’t really practical. Somehow the word creative makes them think it’s silly or frilly or not really useful.

Not so. Creative business writing is more effective because:

  • People will read (i.e., finish reading) what you write.
  • Creative business writing engages them.
  • Readers who are both mentally and emotionally involved are more likely to buy and/or buy in.

Here are three creative tips to get you started:

Creative Business Writing Tip #1: Similes.  Similes help your readers immediately grasp your point because you compare your topic to something already familiar to them. The office was as quiet as Wrigley Field in January.
Our program works like a bustling cafeteria.

Creative Business Writing Tip #2: Alliteration. Webster’s defines alliteration as: “Repetition of an initial sound, usually of a consonant or cluster, in two or more words of a phrase.” Why bother?  Alliteration is memorable. There’s a reason the Better Business Bureau chose that name.

Creative Business Writing Tip #3: Dialogue.
Dialogue breaks up copy, adds white space, and brings live voices into dense material.

When you add creative techniques to your business writing, you’ll stand out and get the attention you deserve.

Additional Resources

The Effective Business Email Writing upcoming workshop: 7/19 (11:30 am to 1:00 pm Pacific Time)

The Business Writing Track special offer: Join now for only $35!

Topics: business writing

How to turn 20 hours of writing into something fun and achievable

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Mon, May 09, 2011 @ 12:56 PM

deadline business writingAs the deadline approaches for completing the manuscript for the Accomplishing More With Google Apps book, I needed to take some drastic measures to stay on track. One of them was to take two whole days out of my busy schedule and work uninterrupted on writing and editing.

The thought of spending two full days on one task is not necessarily the most appealing especially when it comes to writing and editing; a process that takes energy, creativity, and requires a certain mindset/mood.  I had to pull every trick I know, and every tip  and technique I teach, in order to make it through!

So here are how I turned these 20+ hours of writing into a fun and successful project:

  1. Started with a vision:  I spend some time reflecting and reminded myself of why this is important to me, and what the finished product will look like. As you know, I am a strong believer in writing things down. So I described this vision vividly on my journal!
  2. Proceeded to breaking the project down: I divided the two days into 4 half-day chunks, with a goal for each, and each half-day chunk, into about 5 or 6 smaller focused sessions. The exact times were loosely defined to allow for flexibility and spontaneity.
  3. Alternated between focus sessions and mini-breaks and play time: After each focused session of exactly 35 minutes (for some reason my default guidelines of 40 minutes seemed too long for some reason), I engaged into an active fun break or exercise of some sort. This included moving around, stretching, and/or a little walk. I even designed a 5 minute exercise that I will be soon introducing at some fo the workshops (those who are attending my May 18th workshop are likely to experience it).
  4. Arranged the environment ahead of time so I can stay uninterrupted during this project: I cleared the inbox, handled any outstanding and time sensitive issues, and even full cleared my desk. So now my workspace and my mind were ready for focus. Most importantly I cleared by schedule and set the expectation that I won't be available.
  5. Stayed offline the whole time: While there was an overwhelming temptation to check e-mail on the breaks, I resisted and shut down e-mail all together. No e-mail and no browsing except when I needed it for my task--writing and editing. With no connectivity, focus got deeper and deeper, and momentum got higher and higher. No connectivity largely contributed to the success of this project.

How did you manage your last important project or deadline? Did you apply any of the above and how? Or what other tricks did you pull to overcome interruptions, complexity, and procrastination?

Topics: business writing, business results, interruptions