Whether you’re a brand strategist, graphic designer, web developer, or marketing analyst, words matter to your business. Borrow from creative literature to write better copy.
They’re how you communicate to customers, stakeholders and employees. How customers experience your product. They sell your work and rouse people to action.
Your website, your advert, your speech — one of these may be the first contact a potential client has with your company. The words on it have to be great. Whether it’s a letter, advert, Tweet, Facebook post, email or web copy, investing in the words you use is important.
We tend to put creativity in one box, and communication in another. When we’re earning a living from our writing, writing for business, or engaging with corporate clients, there’s something about the involvement of transactions, and well, money, that sucks the life out of words and takes away all creativity.
It doesn’t have to be this way. All communication should evoke some kind of reaction, be it educative, informative, entertainment or emotion. This can’t happen unless there’s a bit of passion behind the words. A bit of creativity. Some life. It can be so easy to stick to the same formulas and language, yet this not only doesn’t benefit the client in the long run, it makes your working life a little bit dull.
What can we learn from creative writing for business writing? How can exercises usually reserved for fiction and poetry help our business writing? In more ways than you think.
Tell your story
What’s your why? Your purpose. You need to know who you are before you know how you speak and communicate. People will draw conclusions about your brand’s personality, and make inferences about what your personality says about them.
Find and express your story so that you can connect. What effect do you have, or intend to have, on your consumers?
I’d encourage you to spend a few minutes free writing. Don’t censor yourself, just let it flow.
Ask questions such as:
- Why am I here?
- How did I start?
- What do I want to do?
This becomes your personality and the character of your business.
Focus on Character
The most crucial element of any story is the character. Who they are, how they act, and what happens to them is how the plot develops. It’s also where the emotion is found. People connect with other people. As great as a company might think their product is, or as much as an agency may believe people are passionate about electricity, as loyal as a shop might think people are, the truth is that it’s about the person.
Novelists say you should know everything about your character, even that which seems irrelevant to the writing at hand. They will have a bank of information, detailed character sketches, some of which will never overtly make it into the story. Do the same for your reader. What’s their name? What’s in their bag? Do they wake up early or late? What do they like to read? Have they ever told a lie? What do they do on a Sunday afternoon? Do they prefer cryptic crosswords or sudoku? Only when you know your reader and customer do you know what matters to them, and so how you can connect with them.
Spend five minutes jotting down traits and elements of your character, or customer. Make them come alive. Your brand has to be able to connect with them.
Build a storytelling arc
For storytelling to captivate you need to follow the arc of storytelling. Immerse people in your tale.
You’ve all heard of the story arc:
- Introduction: Set the scene. Who is the character? What is normal for them? Describe what’s happening.
- Challenge: They are in some kind of difficulty. What has happened?
- Rising Action: Frustration builds. What impact does their difficulty have on their daily life?
- Climax: It gets too much. They have to solve the issue
- Resolving Action: They buy your product. Why do they choose you? How can you help them?
- Resolution: Life continues — a bit better than before. How did your product help?
Here’s an example:
Introduction: They’re cooking dinner, and the kitchen is a mess.
Challenge: It’s frustrating, and they need to clean up. but they don’t have much time.
Rising Action: They’re getting angry and frustrated. The kids have got swimming, their partner is late home from work, and there’s too much to do.
Climax: It’s all too much.
Resolving Action: But it’s ok. They’ve got your bleach. It acts fast, and cuts through the mess.
Resolution: It doesn’t only clean, it creates a safe place to cook dinner for the people you care about the most.
Spend some time thinking about not only when they are using your product, but the before and after. How does your product transform someone’s life, and fit into their story?
There’s a lot to be learned from creative writing when it comes to writing for business. Use some of these tips and tricks in your business to help shape your communications. Develop content that has a human element — all business is ultimately about people. Remember to be sincere, and lead with emotion and the heart before the head. Have a personality – people buy from people. Know what links your customers to you — and try to resonate with them. Above all, it’s about making that connection.