I’ve been looking back over my work and considering how I can improve it in the future…yes, improve because writing is a skill that needs to be developed, cultivated, prized and nurtured as often as you possibly can. But I know people struggle with the whole writing issue, so if you’ve ever found it hard to start writing your bid when faced with a blank piece of paper; or you’ve ended up not really saying what you wanted to say; or know your writing style can do with some improvement this post is for you.
My middle daughter is about to leave home to study fine art at university and I recently suggested developing a website to promote her work and possibly even sell some (in the vague hope that university might cost me a bit less!). Her response was that she wanted to wait a little while because she wanted her work to be ‘good enough’, which left me wondering…
Her journey in art from primary school to university has been exactly that…a journey. When she started her first steps she would fall over (metaphorically speaking) and as she has developed she has learnt new skills and can now run faster and jump higher and skip longer. In other words, she has developed her artistic skills and learnt new techniques along the way that make her the artist she is today but she will only ever be ‘good enough’ when her artistic journey finally comes to an end and hopefully when she is a very old lady.
You might ask how this relates to business writing because it generally isn’t seen the same as being creative, particularly if it is more related to work generation and sales promotion. But the skills you learn along your journey make you the writer you are today. You first learned to write in school and then developed your skills perhaps at university and then in business. There were always lots of helpful examples of work that other people have produced that you can use to enhance your skills…but how do you know which ones to choose and whether they are any good or not?
The important measure is whether they help you to improve your communication and messages so you make that vital connection with your clients easier, quicker and stronger.
Anyone involved in sales and used to meeting clients will use techniques that might or might not have been learned formally but that live in their subconscious. When faced with an objection they will use persuasive language to overcome the problem and guide their client towards making that important purchase.
And the same can be done in writing although the dynamics are a little less fluid…
Firstly, preparation and good research to understand the issues surrounding and underlying the opportunity are vital because you will then have a greater understanding of the likely objections you will face and can address them before they grow into something even bigger. Then comes the exciting bit when you get to tell your story and can use situations, examples and characters to explain the problems you faced and how you overcame adversity to win the prize!
Quite simply, it’s all about telling the story about your business and connecting the beginning to the middle to the end in a way that your client understands. When you do this well you take them on a journey of discovery that ends in a place where all their worries have been addressed and they can see how the results they want will be achieved using only your solutions.
When writing your bid and choosing the style in which you want to communicate make sure you are discerning because writing is like art and what works for one person doesn’t always work for another…we know what we like in art so be true to yourself and write in your style but be sure to use the right techniques behind your particular writing style to connect with your client and win that contract.
Now let’s have some fun- I’ve just finished a multi-million pound bid and thought it would be fun to share some credibility killers that I had to remove from the initial drafts. You can use them as a reminder of what not to do if you like – there will be no naming and shaming if you’re guilty of using any and I’d love to hear any more that you know of or have used!
…we are energised by this agenda
I’m not entirely sure how and it sounds a little weird: so what anyway?
…we recognise the importance of
Interesting, but if you don’t offer a solution then just ‘recognising something just isn’t enough.
…we are delighted to submit our proposal
Or, “…thank goodness it’s over!”
…we recognise that to deliver this challenging agenda we need to draw together the best of the best…
Are you really sure and does this mean you don’t have the necessary internal resources?!
…our proposal is in our view best in class
But does your opinion matter or is your clients opinion more important and what is best in class anyway?
…which we are convinced can deliver an outstanding outcome for you
Who are you really trying to convince? Without proof it’s just your opinion.
…we are ready to go with our seamless delivery model…
Really, but what does that mean anyway?!
Be careful how you come across because what you think you’ve said may mean something entirely different to someone else.
So after all this what will I do differently? I’m going to read more to learn what works best and what doesn’t…I’m going to listen to my clients and learn how they communicate so I can mirror their style to our mutual advantage…I’m going to review my work and be really critical about whether I said what I wanted to say or whether I need to be clearer in my messages.