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Increase Your Profits:

Business Writing Made Clear

by Jennifer Hicks, CEO, WordsWork

Communication IS Your Business

No way, you say? You're into Web hosting? Brokering? Auto repair? Widgets? Think again.

No matter what service you sell or what product you design, without communication you'd be nowhere.

In any organization, communication is crucial. In a small business, though, the results of your words determine whether you win or lose. These words govern the way your company is perceived.

Issue #1

Wednesday, Jan. 7, 1998


Absolutely everything you write influences your credibility. If you're aware of this immense power, you can harness it to your advantage.

Whether you're writing a brochure, a business plan, or an RFP, what you communicate says who you are, what you do, where you do it, and how consumers benefit. Effective communication occurs when it is clear--when it targets a particular audience whom the communicator has researched. Social, cultural, economic, and educational aspects need to be considered.

Do you know how your organization is perceived?

If not, it's time to take a step back.

Who are your current customers? How can you define them? Which professional or social groups do they belong to? Consider demographic and socioeconomic factors. Knowing as much as you can about their age, education level, interests, and income level provides you with information essential in designing your communication strategy.

How do customers hear of you? What media do they rely on? Advertisements, yellow pages, Web site, word of mouth? Can they hear of you by more than one means? Each form of media appeals to different audiences. Each is viewed differently. An ad in the newspaper needs to be significantly different from your Web site or a radio spot.


"In other words, what is unique about your business? Decide which of those characteristics are most important to customers."

When do your customers purchase? Daily, monthly, one time only? What influences their purchase? Price, coupons, sales, impulse, research? Determine this and maximize its use. If price is a deciding factor, make sure you know what your competitors charge. If research counts, make sure your company's name comes up during that process.

Why do customers buy this particular service or product? List every conceivable reason. Then, consider why they buy from you. In other words, what is unique about your business? Decide which of those characteristics are most important to customers. Determine which can't be imitated and which can be easily communicated and understood. Doing this helps you create your unique selling proposition, which then becomes part of each communication you produce.

Incorporate your unique proposition into all that you write. Ensure that each memo, ad, or bid targets an audience you know and understand. Know what you want to say before you try to say it. And, stay aware of the environment in which you operate. This enables you to continuously understand audience needs, trends, competition, and image perception. Some call this competitive intelligence.

A clear understanding of your audience and the world around you allows you to update and recreate your business when competitor challenges, social changes, or new laws and regulations threaten. It forces your communication to be timely and articulate. It also allows your communications to achieve results.

Next Steps

(See my column in Net Worth for more on competitive intelligence.
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And this is the whole point of communication. Whether you are selling, informing, persuading, or arguing, hold in view the results you want.

Choose wisely. Know well.

Want to read more?

Go directly to

Issue # 2, Clear Communication

or visit the


Jennifer Hicks is CEO and President of WordsWork, a communications consulting firm that works with clients to provide for their training, writing, editorial, and research and communication strategy needs. Since its start in 1996, the company has experienced tremendous growth and has grown from a one-person show to a staff of more than 25 full- and part-time people. Clients have ranged from start-ups to companies in the Fortune 500. While their trainers, writers, and editors have expertise in a variety of areas including technology, business, education, and medicine, they are renowned specialists in communications for the healthcare industry. For more information, contact info@wordswork.com
Phone: (774) 368-0514
Fax: (508) 374-8389

Text © Jennifer Hicks, 1998. Part of the original Sideroad.
The new Sideroad is now receiving traffic at www.sideroad.com.