Business Development Series Posted by David McDermott

Here is the second part of our edoBuzz article explaining how to write client-focused marketing materials and proposals. In part 1 we looked at the problem of writing too much about your firm and resolved this by showing how to rewrite using the “you” factor. Now we look at how to write and speak directly to your clients.

Write directly to clients

Most writers in a business setting feel compelled to write only about their own company or department’s interests. In personal conversations it is important at times to put others at the centre of the conversation, rather than talking only about yourself. Likewise, when writing, you have to consciously and deliberately focus on client interests and avoid writing exclusively about yourself. Let’s look at some techniques that can help you do that.

Worked example: write directly to clients
Beginning with ‘our relationships’ and ending with ‘our investment insights’ once again reflects a self-absorbed perspective. The suggested rewrite provides a more client-focused message.

Original – internal focus

The strength of our relationships with clients is built on the frequency and clarity in communicating our investment insights.

Rewrite – client focus

We work hard for you in order to earn your trust through clear and frequent updates on your investments.

Focus on benefits and perceived effort

One way to think about client-focused writing is by using perceived benefits while making it as easy as possible for readers to read and digest the information. Wilbur Schramm, a pioneering researcher in communication theory, saw dramatic increases in readership when text was structured and written in this way. Crucially, this means that your readers will read more of your text if you increase their perceived reward while lowering their reading effort.

Worked example: Focus on client benefits
The original text lacks immediacy and impact. The suggested rewrite includes a benefit and addresses the reader directly.

Original – feature focus

We will be promoting our Global Real Estate Fund to advisors this year.

Rewrite – benefit focus

Investing in the Global Real Estate Fund this ISA season will bring your clients the added benefit of diversification.

Make it personal

When you read something in which the author uses the first (I, me) and second person (you, yours etc), you gain a sense that they are talking directly to you. You feel engaged and involved in the message. It generates more interest and keeps your attention longer.

Some people falsely believe that writing in the personal style is somehow unprofessional. This perception resulted from an early 20th century scientific and academic belief that the individual had no place in academic and scientific writing. However, business writers are not academics. Writing like an academic holds back your brand, your career and your business.

You’re not writing for university assessors, you’re writing for clients and colleagues, to win them over and keep them on your side. You should seek to convince, persuade and ultimately sell your products, services and expertise in a professional manner. This means clients come first and you need to care about their perceptions of you.

Worked example: make it personal
Aside from being shorter and more direct, the rewrite puts the client at the centre. The self-centred statement that “we have established ourselves as a leading bespoke investment provider” is omitted in favour of statements that reflect client interests.

Original – self centred

Responding to the continually evolving and diverging requirements of our clients, we worked hard to establish ourselves as a leading custom investment provider, delivering solutions that meet each of our clients’ unique requirements.

Rewrite – client centred

We know that your investment needs are unique and constantly evolving. We provide bespoke solutions designed to meet your individual requirements.

Writing in client focused plain English provides you with an opportunity to differentiate your firm from the competition with the use of language. Have the conviction to follow the research and write in a client-focused way.

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