Introduction for meeting topic discussion:
This article is contributed by Jo Morris, ‘the Write Coach’. Whether you’re a plumber, an interior designer or a lawyer, writing is an essential part of your brand. Your writing – your website, your social media, your emails, and your promotional materials – will set the tone for how you engage with clients, who those clients are and how they regard you. To grow your business, you need to ensure that your writing showcases what’s great about it.
In preparation for this week’s one-minute intro, ask yourself – ‘How do I want my business to come across to my prospects and clients? Does this translate to the language I’m currently using on my website, my emails, or my promotional materials? If not, what do I need to change?’ and share your thoughts.
Writing for Business Growth – Watch Your Tone! by Jo Morris
Writing for business exists on a continuum. At one end is the most formal English, like how the Queen speaks and writes (Well, I assume she writes like she speaks – she’s never emailed me.). At the other end is slang, which most people don’t understand– think of teenagers you know. In between is standard English – like TV1 News – and casual – the everyday language of New Zealanders. And, of course, all the other shades along the continuum.
What does this all look like when it’s happening? Well, let’s suppose a range of people go to a seminar, and everyone enjoys it. Their comments might range from, “An excellent presentation, through “It was bloody good,” to “That seminar was hella lit.” (My daughter helped me with that last one.)
Getting the language of your business right involves making a conscious decision about where you want to sit on this continuum. Getting the tone right – so everything you write suits your business, reaches your target market, and sounds like you – can be harder than you think. Small details like your call to action, your punctuation, or your email salutations can help set that tone.
When you’re deciding on a call to action, think about the difference in formality between: ‘Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions,’ ‘Call me. Now!’ and, ‘Hit me in the DM’s.’ The first is a gentle invitation, the second an order, and the third targets the social-media-savvy generation. Your choice will depend on who you’re targeting, but also on what feels the most authentic to you as a person and as a business.
Speaking of Facebook, punctuation has evolved along with the internet. Two markers of casual English are exclamation marks and emojis. It’s become commonplace to use both in online chat (think Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Messenger). However, both should be used sparingly, if at all, in emails and your website. A good rule of thumb for emojis in emails is to use them only when your client does first.
Personally, I find email salutations – how to open and close your email – a nightmare. I think this is because emails feel somehow less formal than letters. With letters, there was a clear hierarchy from formal (Dear Sir/Madam /Yours faithfully) to friendly (Dear Liz/Love) Now, it’s much less clear. Do I use a Maori greeting, like ‘Kia ora’ or ‘Tena koe’? Or do I open with ‘Dear’ (transferring this from my letter-writing days)? Or ‘Hello’? Or ‘Hi’? And when closing, do I use ‘Nga mihi’? Kind regards? Just ‘Regards’? or ‘Cheers’?
Like many pākehā, I suspect, I’d love to use Maori salutations but am nervous about getting it wrong. I’m not going to offer specific advice because of this, but ask a Te Reo fluent friend – or try a website like Victoria University’s https://www.wgtn.ac.nz/maori-hub/ako/te-reo-at-university/maori-greetings-and-phrases or the Te Taura Whiri ‘Maori for the Office’: https://tetaurawhiri.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/c5dd6c6bfd/Te-Reo-o-te-Tari-Phrases.pdf
When beginning an email formally, I like ‘Greetings’ or ‘Hello’. Less formal would be ‘Hi’ or ‘Hi there.’ The least formal – so be careful using it – is ‘Hey!’ As for your ending, you might be able to relate it to the content of the email. For example, you could write, ‘Thanks so much,’ or ‘Looking forward to our meeting.’ Otherwise, formal endings might be ‘Regards,’ ‘All the best,’ or even ‘Sincerely.’ If you’d like to be less formal, you might choose, ‘Cheers,’ ‘As ever,’ or ‘Best.’ In an email chain with colleagues, you probably don’t need an opener at all, and a simple sign off with your first name is enough.
When you’re thinking about the written language of your own business, consider your ideal clients. For example, a lawyer might decide to keep her writing reasonably formal, because she wants to appear knowledgeable and trustworthy. A counsellor might aim for conversational or even chatty, to appear warm and inviting.
Whatever tone you decide on, check that it’s consistent across all writing aimed at your target market.
You can find out more about Jo’s experience and how she helps her clients get their tone right here: https://thewritecoach.nz/
Next Meeting Topic
Lee Retimana is the Director and Chief Marketer & Brand Strategist at Muritai Group in Christchurch. In this article, Lee shares her take on how to build a successful collaboration between two businesses. That collaboration could be for a few different purposes – from creating better efficiencies to reaching a new market. Lee also shares what to consider BEFORE approaching someone and then HOW to approach that person to get the best possible result for both businesses.
Read the entire article below, and as you construct your 60-second introduction this time, be sure to share with your group one or two specific companies or TYPES of companies you would like to form a collaborative relationship with! Ask and ye shall receive!
How to collaborate and partner with others to grow your business By Lee Retimana – Director, Muritai Group
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