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Powerful Communications: Grammar & Timing

December 17, 2014

Grammar Police

Last week we discussed the power individual words have on your communications and how a simple exercise can help focus your communications. But great communication is not only a matter of what words you say; it is impacted by the manner in which the words are composed, as well as the how they are delivered. In this week’s article; you’ll see how grammar and timing influence overall communications.

The Power of Grammar
During my career in advertising agencies; I got to work with many talented writers. Regardless of the client, medium, length, scope, or cost; they were always focused on what emotions were to be communicated to which audiences. Complete, well-constructed sentences say much more than just the words they contain. This correct use of language instills confidence in buyers that supports higher price points. Just how much higher is difficult to measure, but there are plenty of luxury brands who enjoy significantly higher prices than their moderate competition.

What is more significant is how much the use of improper grammar costs businesses. Such errors introduce doubt and cause shoppers to question quality of the product or seller. With similar products just a few keystrokes away (or even pictured on the same Amazon.com page), shoppers regularly opt for products using proper grammar and premium prices. Some experts claim such errors for half their non-purchases.

You won’t have to worry about my uncle (pictured above) and members of the Grammar Police chasing after you with citations. You’ll likely just have to deal with the abandoned shopping carts. Hint: abandoned carts just tell you there are problems. They don’t tell you the details of the problems.

The Power of Timing
Besides well-constructed sentences composed of great words, the timing of said messages (regardless of format) wields tremendous power.

I love how Amazon.com sends simple emails (that I don’t even need to open to understand) about the progress of each of my orders. One to confirm the order, one when each items ships (including tracking numbers), then one more after delivery. They even follow up a couple days later with a prompt for feedback on the product, or their services.

There is no doubt that an incredibly intricate system is running such a colossal operation. Yet when it comes to smaller easier-to-manage businesses; we rarely get the same treatment.

Do you know what types of communications do visitors and customers want to receive?
When do they want to receive them?
What will help them move through your sales process?

You can simplify communications into three types of activities:
1) Gain Attention or Interest
This information should be available all the time to all people. Websites, branding, positioning, what you offer, who is in the company, what makes you different from others, etc. Social media is a big opportunity to build initial fans, likes, shares, retweets. The possibilities are endless, but be sure to have a strategy.

2) Build Desire or Move Towards Action
Blogs are great as they can work as static information, and also help move visitors towards action of subscribing to get automatic updates. Things like whitepapers and e-books are even better as you can build profiles of what interests individual visitors and collect contact info for responsible use. Clever variations might be to offer a simple assessment for free, or an invitation to seminar (local or webinar).

3) Make Initial or Repeat Purchases
Once you have their contact information, and a purchase history, use it… responsibly. These customers are asking for engagement and would be disappointed if they didn’t get it. Monitor your open rates, click-throughs, additional views, and unsubscription lists for vital feedback.

As you start to build a profile of ideal customers, you can begin to predict when they are about to disengage or become uninterested. This is a perfect time to offer some new information or a story of a similar customer’s situation.

Making special offers or promotions that are relevant to your customers, will help them become bigger fans of your organization.

I encourage you to leave a comment about how this helps your communications. You can follow me here as well as on twitter @drfrick.

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