The “Write” Way to Market a Product, a Cause, and Yourself
Sold! Count me in! Sign me up! You’re hired! Score these responses with a marketing pitch fueled by powerful writing.
A stellar product, a worthy cause, exceptional skills … each requires a compelling message to secure a sale, a grant, or a job. Follow three tips below to strategize that influential text. Then, see how this applies to actual situations: 1) interviewing for a job, 2) bidding on a contract, and 3) competing to hire talented employees.
1) “Know your audience” – the cardinal rule of communication. Comprehensive background data is key. Begin with questions such as:
- A job applicant – What are the prospective company’s products and services, mission, values, goals, and objectives? Who are its customers?
- A business – What are your clients’ strategic directions, buying plans and patterns, competitors, and mission deficiencies? How do they define “success”? What more do they need? Have you solicited their feedback? What does your competition offer?
- A grant applicant – What are the grant maker’s mission, vision, goals, and objectives? What other grants has it awarded? To whom and for what?
- An author – What is your audience’s demographics? What similar books have they purchased? What price is likely to appeal?
2) Compose from the audience’s perspective. Empathy is key. Address their needs as exemplified here, “Our yard hose is retractable, lightweight, easy to handle, space efficient, and guaranteed for 10 years. Gardeners love it!” Consider these questions to frame your communique:
- A job applicant – How will your skills advance the employer’s goals?
- A business – How will your product improve customers’ lives? How can your company satisfy needs depicted in the request for proposal (RFP)?
- A grant applicant – How will your project further the grant maker’s mission?
- An author – How will your book benefit the reader?
3) Elicit this reaction, “You’re speaking my language!” How? Use terms pertinent to the audience, e.g., pitch an investment with words such as market research, capital gains, yield to maturity, and return on investment. That said, be judicious when using specialized language. It can help … or hurt … your marketing campaign! See how:
- Inappropriate. When marketing that yard hose, don’t begin the ad with … multi-layered, 3/4″ tubular latex inner-diameter, 600D exterior fabric, and special protective ABS sleeves. Your audience is a gardener, not an engineer. If necessary, place amplifying, technical data at the conclusion.
- Appropriate. Specialized terms are sometimes preferred, e.g., when addressing scientific, technical, or other subject matter experts. Why? It expedites communication. For example, Scored +3/-3 on the Chinese DLPT conveys volumes in scant time and space to military linguists.
Three scenarios that demonstrate the “write” way to market …
Interviewing for a job? When the interviewer states, “Tell me something about yourself,” focus every word of your response on securing the job. Correlate your skills, hobbies, or personal experiences to the employer’s needs. [Hint: Don’t describe recent antics of your cocker spaniel or profess a passion for knitting!] This is easy, since you thoroughly researched the company and prepared (and practiced aloud) these replies … right? Hint: Remember, in this situation … you are marketing yourself.
Bidding on a contract? Correlate your resources, expertise, and experience to the client’s profile you sedulously developed. Reflect RFP terms in your bid. Include accolades for similar jobs you completed. In a re-compete, identify possible issues the client had with the incumbent. How can you improve on that? Retain the proper focus, “Here’s how you benefit from our services.” Keen perception of the client’s needs and a tailored message should position you well!
Seeking talented employees? Other companies pursue them, too. What contrasts your company from competitors? To gain a job applicant’s perspective, I inquired, “What would entice you to consider employment with a particular company?” The astute employer might compose vacancy announcements accordingly.
- I love the startup space. I am passionate about building something and helping shape a company. I seek such opportunities.
- The possibility of owning my own task, problem, or team excites me.
- I want to know my potential impact – my value added – to the operation.
- What is my room for growth? I am ambitious and want a trajectory in the firm.
The “write” way to market is simple. Follow these tips to strategize a compelling message: 1) know your audience, 2) compose from their perspective, and 3) tailor your language accordingly. In short, “Write to Influence!”