What to say, how to write it more compellingly and my PICASSO writing checklist for success.
In the 10 years I’ve been in business, I’ve attracted world-class brands and plenty of BWC (best work clients) to me via the content I’ve put out online.
I wish I could bottle the moment when La Perla emailed “out of the blue” asking us to come in and talk to us. And Wedgwood. And Jumeirah.
To put a monetary value on it I’ve generated £300k or more through this method for writing for my business as well as saved myself a lot of time talking to people who aren’t the right fit.
And: Bonus, I’ve made some great relationships by genuinely commenting and researching and writing on the topics people want to know more about.
Writing with confidence, in a way that is overtly you but also directly connects with your reader and future clients as well as serves them is the hot ticket you need.
With the brands I’ve worked with, it was all about creating content aimed to attract people in those brands. We created engaging blogs, videos about how to work with people of influence to build audience trust.
And today, helping solo creative business owners create, tell and sell through stories, I focus on taking them from fear to confident, to write more on-point emails, to be more visible.
Words and structure are how you can really cut out the crap and instantly create a powerful connection with people.
And writing for business is different to journalism, or fiction of course. Successful writing for your business is writing that sells. With every piece of work you put out into the world, you are effectively pitching why you’re the one for them.
I like this article on Medium by Danny Forest; the headline is click bait but I think they’re good principles for any writing.
This is where most people make the # mistake. They talk about themselves, their service.
So the opportunity for you to weave in powerful storytelling, to show your confidence in your specialist subject, whilst at the same time listening to them, helps people make their minds up before they send that email to you.
My three basic rules
#1 Less is more. Speak powerfully, cut through the noise and create something great; keeping it simple always wins.
#2 Set aside a time every day to write (even if it’s only 30 minutes). Like with a workout, this is something that needs practicing over time.
#3 Write like you speak. Learning to sound like the real you online can take a bit of work at first. But people want to know who as well as what they’re buying. This guide by the Writing Cooperative is a good further explanation of that.
Who + What
Before you start, get clear on these three things:
If you want to knock your competitors right out of the park, there are three things to be clear on as you start:
#1 Who you’re talking to. That one person and only them. Who can you do your absolute best work with? I call them BWC (best work client). Write to them and ONLY them.
I talk a lot about Attract + Repel; the only marketing strategy you every need, and being as focused as possible on one reader will save you heaps of wasted energy and dead leads because it takes out the uncertainty. It’s based on the magnetic theory but also comes into play in creating human chemistry with your reader (my favourite topic)!
#2 What makes you you. I call this chemistry content. Being clear on what your principles, values and beliefs about the world. Sharing your greatest passions and the things that really bug you about your industry. People want to get to know you, to hear your stories so they can connect and relate.
You are your USP so think about all the things that make you you; the quirks, the idiosyncrasies, the life events that have shaped you.
3. What is it you want to say (your messaging)
This is where you can create fast action and make an impact straight away. You already have values and beliefs and things that you believe in.
Now’s the time to weave those into your specialist subjects.
For me that’s storytelling for business, relationship building, pitching and persuading; all things other people talk about all over the internet, but when I wrap who I am around this, my passion for adventure, my interest in spirituality and emotional well-being, our travel stories, my personal and rather messy story, it starts to feel unique.
It starts to feel like the picture of me you’d get if we were sitting having a cuppa green together at my kitchen table.
Do you see how it comes together?
I want for you to feel confident in being overtly you; I know that’s why you’re here, to learn about marketing that’s not really marketing.
Messaging is the foundation layer that your brand, your content and your social media channels sit on.
The thing is about people – including your future clients – they want to be taken on a journey, they need familiarity in order to connect with you. Because familiarity is one of the key traits that attracts us to people and relatable stories are the most powerful way to do this.
Plus, every time you write, you are selling something; a call-to-action, a sign up, a read more….Threading the same messages and stories throughout your content helps people get to know, like and trust you.
This is how you get those inbox bursts of joy:
“Hey Ruth, I’ve just read your post on celebrating staying small in business. I need your help!”
Would you like to get more emails like this?
Confirm, Call and Disrupt
I like to call the blueprint for this CCD.
That’s CONFIRM – CALL (TO ADVENTURE) and DISRUPT
So the confirm is where you confirm a belief of theirs – because you are empathising with your reader and future client.
In fact, we only really need nine core messages. Each main message may well have sub messages but if you can create nine core ones, the art is then to keep on telling the same messages over and over, so people get to know you.
A real world example might look like this:
I can see you over there, reading this but feeling frustrated. You want to create a successful solo business but you’re struggling right now with what to say, especially with the way the world is right now.
People need stories now, more than ever, to help them figure out these turbulent times. And most people are churning out the same old stuff; this is good because it gives you the chance to show compassion and help people feel more certain and confident in very uncertain times.
I’m going to show you a method that not only raises your EQ but is going to cut through the noise. Right now, you’re going to learn to say EXACTLY what your future client needs to hear. You’re going to learn – in the next ten minutes – what’s important and what’s not.
Are you ready?
The PICASSO method
The PICASSO method will help you create extraordinary content that will build you an army of fans.
P is for problem solving. Knowing people’s problems is the number one way I come up with headlines. Especially in these Coronavirus times, people are not looking for nice-to-have improvements. They want direction, clarity and certainty.
I is for imagination. I’m talking about the ability to visualise a situation that hasn’t yet happened, to predict how you’re reader and future client is feeling and where you can transform or inspire them.
C – celebrates YOU, quirks and all.. ‘cos this is the part that makes you truly unique and sprinkles fairy dust and personality and sparkle onto your content.
A – A voice for your industry – like, are you actually making commentary on the world around you?
S – Shares your secrets – making people laugh, sharing the vulnerable moments as well as the highs.
S Sounds like…..on-point for the audience. Does the language speak to your dream client? This is the goal.
O is for open -hearted. Curiosity, compassion and listening are essential for powerful writing.
Let’s dive in to each one individually and then look at some examples of things you can talk about.
This kind of content is your hero content and it’s the value and knowledge and expertise that you already have inside you but made relatable to your dream client.
Some of the stories you can share, are:
- If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing for your audience, what would it be?
- What are the 5 most common questions that people ask you about your area of expertise?
- What books / podcasts would really help answer your future clients problems?
- What mistakes is your future client making right now and why isn’t it their fault?
- What is your future client going to get out of working with you? What does life look like for them after the transformation?
- What’s the one thing people always squirm with embarrassment about asking you?
- What are the biggest hurdles for your customer and what are your tips about how to overcome them.
- What 1 thing would you change for your future client, and how?
I is for Imagine
Being able to visualise and imagine future situations is a really powerful skill.
Day dreaming is hugely under-rated.
Helping your people visualise their own future helps them to really step into their power.
This makes them feel good, especially if you can help them think about the possibility.
Some examples of content you could use include:
- If you only had a month to live, how would you spend it?
- If you could write out your dream business, what would it look like?
- What is your word for the year ahead. How does it manifest itself and how does it make you feel?
- Imagine you have a recent grad asking what it’s like to do what you do, what would you tell them?
- What’s on your bucket list?
- What 1 thing do you really, really want? What does it feel like when you close your eyes and picture having it? How do you feel?
C is for celebrating YOU!
This is my favourite because it’s the part where you get to show your unique side, the quirks, the vulnerabilities, the things that your friends know about you.
This is why the introducing me Insta posts work so well, people are genuinely interested in people. The idea here is not to businesscise a version of you (is that even a word?!) but it’s about painting the picture of you through stories and anecdotes and memories.
Let’s keep with the PICASSO theme: We’re creating art here, through your words.
Some examples you could use are:
- If I was in your house right now, what would I know about you?
- Who was your first love and why?
- What movie d’you know every single word to?
- What pointless skill do you have?
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
- Who are three key people in your life, good or bad – and why?
- Have you ever done something scary or dangerous?
A – A voice for your industry
The big question to ask yourself here is: “how can I become a voice for my industry?”
It’s good to go back to your beliefs and values here because these are your points of view that separate you from others.
Whatever your business, becoming the go-to person is the goal, and the more niche you are the better and easier you can slip through.
Topics to explore include:
- What really, really bugs you about your industry?
- What mentors and investment in yourself have you made to get to where you are?
- Myth busting. What myths can you bust around what you do?
- What’s the most important advice you’ve ever heard about your industry?
- What really lights you up in your work?
- What breaks your heart about what you do?
S – Shares your secrets
Making people get to know the real you, making them laugh, sharing the vulnerabilities, the lows as well as the highs is so hugely under-estimated. And when I say this I don’t mean share every single thing, cuz nobody needs an oversharer, but you have to let people in, you have to help people see you.
Our BIG advantage as a small business owner is that we can use our story and our personality so that people do buy into us.
And there’s such a movement away from big brands and corporations that this is a great thing for you and your business.
How this translates to the real world would involve answering questions like:
- What scares you most in the world?
- What 1 thing makes you feel vulnerable and how does that manifest itself?
- When did you last fake it?
- What’s happening behind the scenes that people don’t know about?
- Have you ever let go of a friend who sapped your energy? How did you feel and what did you learn?
- What do you wish you could tell your 25 year old self?
- Share the behind the scenes of a day in your life
S – Sounds like.
This is about how you speak to your dream client through your content. If you can imagine the language you use is the connector between you and them.
I like to call this process LISTENING and there are two ways you can do it:
LISTEN: Literally get into some Facebook groups where they’re hanging out. What words are they using, what’re the buzzwords (and avoid or reframe those buzzwords). I literally keep a Google Docs of my notes, when you build a bank then you’ll see it so clearly and be able to adjust your style to them.
ASK: The second way is to do a survey or quiz or something (in return for something of value).
Does the language sound like them? Do you use the words they use? Is their language soft and dreamy or punchy and vibrant? Are the sentences short or long? What words do they overuse? How do they use tone to build their brand?
O is for open-hearted
This is a little bit more nuanced than the rest but it’s critical in building trust. People want to feel heard, they want to feel like you’ve listened to them, and this needs to come across in your writing.
Rather than letting snipes creep in (I’ve been guilty of this too), stay positive, stay curious, stay open-minded. People really appreciate generosity.
The more you give, the more you’re open to receive.
“The more you give, the more you will receive, because you will keep the abundance of the universe circulating in your life. In fact, anything that is of value in life only multiplies when it is given. That which doesn’t multiply through giving is neither worth giving nor worth receiving. If, through the act of giving, you feel you have lost something, then the gift is not truly given and will not cause increase. If you give grudgingly, there is no energy behind that giving.”
And finally, these will help:
Go study Medium; it’s a great place to hone your writing skills, grow your readership, stay accountable and there’s loads of great content about writing for your business (and you can get paid for it too).
And don’t forget: Always let people know what the next logical step is. Do you want them to sign up? To go to a page where they can learn more about you?
In the spirit of show don’t tell, if you’d like me to review or show you how you can massively upgrade all your online communications, you can check out how to work with me, for more info, pricing and to book a short call to check out we’re a good fit.