23 Jul The Importance of Good Writing
We hear from many companies that finding good writers can be quite the challenge. As an agency founded on writing and CrystalClear℠ communications, staffed with marketers who bring many years of writing and content development experience, quality writing is in our DNA. The importance of good writing in marketing success is something we understand well. But unless you eat, sleep and breathe writing and marketing, you might not fully understand or appreciate the significant impact good writing can have on your marketing success.
Good writing is more than picking the right words.
Good writing is a skill encompassing more than just a keen knowledge of language and stringing words together. Great writing is grounded in research, insight, strategy and an understanding of communication. Being knowledgeable about how people receive and interpret information allows you to write content in a way that can reach and be comprehended by the right audience.
When writing for a company, the desirability of the company’s ideas, products, services and values need to be communicated to potential customers in a persuasive manner. It’s the writer’s job to boil all that information down into the most salient ideas, features and benefits and communicate them in a way that resonates with potential customers. Clearly highlighting the benefit to the consumer in your marketing communications answers the “What’s in it for me?” and will help the message resonate more clearly.
The reader’s attention span must also be considered, making sure messages are being communicated in the clearest, most concise manner to maximize engagement time with the reader.
“It’s not what you said, it’s the way you said it.”
Deciding what to write is half the battle. The other half? Deciding how to write it. High quality, effective writing will match the tone and reading level of the intended target audience.
The same general message can be delivered in a variety of ways, depending on the tone that the writer strikes. Tone is all about how you make your reader feel. Make sure your tone is not too personal or negative, which can be distracting and off-putting to readers. Sometimes writers try to influence the tone of their writing by over-punctuating and over-formatting, which might catch the attention of some, but can be seen as disruptive or juvenile. If your writing is strong and clear, your reader will be able to sense the tone without the extra fluff.
If content is written at a reading level that is too low for the audience, you may lose their interest. But, if the reading level is too high, your reader may not be able to understand what you are trying to communicate. Determining your audience’s reading level and matching it in your work is an important step that is often overlooked.
Tools exist to analyze the reading level of your writing—one of the most popular being the Flesch-Kinkaid test, which is readily available in Microsoft Word. This tool estimates the number of years of schooling an individual will need to understand your writing, taking into account factors such as number of words per sentence and number of syllables per word.
While your goal reading level will depend on your audience, you’ll likely want to shoot for an 8th to 12th grade reading level for broad audiences. Reading level plays such an important role in writing that many states now require important documents, such as insurance policies and legal documents, be written no higher than a 9th grade reading level to ensure a wider range of individuals can read and interpret the text.
The impact of good writing.
The best way to demonstrate the impact of good writing is to explore a few examples:
- Easy to navigate. It’s the job of a communicator to not only provide information, but also make it easy to find and understand. If the recipients of your messages are spending time thumbing through pages for relevant information, you’re not doing your job.
FedEx noticed that it was taking employees too long to locate information in their operations manuals, so they decided to rewrite the manuals for clarity and ease of use. Accomplishing their goal of ensuring users spent 80% less time looking for information, FedEx saved $400,000 annually with their readability improvements.
- Improves clarity. In 1977, the FCC was receiving a large number of questions regarding their regulations, leading them to rewrite their regulations in plain language to improve clarity. This resulted in the organization being able to reassign five full-time staff members whose job it was to answer questions about the regulations.
Similarly, GE rewrote its software manuals, resulting in a decrease of 125 calls per representative from customers asking questions about the software. With its revised manual, GE estimated that it saved up to $375,000 a year for each business customer.
- Encourages action. If you’re unsure which communications will have the best impact on your target audience, consider performing an A/B test. The U.S. Army tested two versions of an officer memo being sent to 129 officers asking them to perform a specific task. Officers who received the revised, more readable memo were twice as likely to act on the task on the day they received the memo.
- Easy to consume. When it comes to writing, less is usually more. Narrowing your messaging down to only the most important tidbits and removing superfluous language can increase clarity and provide efficiencies. The U.S. Navy rewrote its business memos to officers and saved $27 to $37 million a year in officer time because they could read the revised memos in 17 to 27 percent less time.
Good writing is an investment.
As mentioned above, it’s not easy to find good writers. From daily emails and client communications to reports and presentations, companies are recognizing the importance of good writing and the potential risk created by employing poor writers.
According to employers, 26.2 percent of college students had deficient writing skills and businesses are spending as much as $3.1 billion on remedial writing training every year. This focus on quality writing has also become part of the hiring process for many businesses who are now taking a closer look at the writing quality of resumes and cover letters and are even incorporating writing exercises into the interview process.
Writing is our foundation.
Writing is the foundation of our agency. But with writing being such an integral part of so many pieces of marketing, it was a natural step for us to expand our marketing services beyond simply providing the written word in text. Producing TV and radio ads, animated training videos and more requires additional layers of ideation, creativity and skills, but at the end of the day, they all have a foundation of strong communications, telling a story that is clear and concise.
Need writing help for your next marketing project? Writing by Design can help with projects big or small, working as an extension of your team to make sure your marketing is grounded in strategy and focused on meeting your goals. Request a quote today to jumpstart your next big idea.
Matt served as an account manager and writer on the Writing by Design team in 2020 and 2021. Matt’s previous work roles include Client Development Manager at iResponze, (hospitality brand marketing), Social Media Manager at Extended Stay America Hotels and Copywriter at JUICE Pharma Worldwide. Matt earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass media from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and his master’s of mass communication from the University of South Carolina. Matt enjoys using research, insights and innovation to provide quality communications for clients. From Twitter posts and video scripts to CEO presentations and training modules, Matt loves finding creative ways to gain and keep an audience’s attention.