Being able to communicate effectively is one of the most important skills you need to have as a business owner. Every element of what you do is based on some form of communication, whether it’s with suppliers, staff or customers. Communication takes many different forms as well, including face to face, letter, email, phone call, video link, text messaging and collaborative online groups. Mastering the skills to be effective in all these formats and with a diverse range of people can be a challenge, as they all require a different approach to work well. Examining the communications generated by your business is well worth your time, and improving both your own and your team’s communication skills will have a significant impact on your success.
Being able to say what you mean
One of the problems with effective communication is the common situation where you think you’ve said one thing, but the recipient understands what you’ve said as something entirely different. Ensuring absolute clarity in terms of what you provide, and the message you are trying to send is paramount for any business. Understanding what you can offer so, you can present this to your customers in a concise manner is always worth establishing early on. Clear communication and an obvious understanding can be misconstrued if you stray too far in terms of your creative energies. This will especially be the case if you, understandably, have in-depth knowledge of what you’re offering, and may forget that some people aren’t familiar with what you are offering and are finding out about your business for the first time. The first rule of communication is to make sure that what you think you’re saying, is what the person you’re communicating with thinks you’re saying too!
Clarity and conciseness
The simpler your message, the more easily it will be understood. Adding lots of unnecessary text to a marketing campaign or an email will just put people off reading it because with so many emails being received every day, it’s only the important ones and the ones that catch your eye that you’ll bother to read. Make it crystal clear what your message is in the plainest language you can, without leaving anything important out.
Construct your message around the key facts, dates, times, prices, product details, whatever the essential information might be in your case, then add your call to action. Leading with a lengthy paragraph about how excited you are to be launching a new product will leave readers cold, but if you have a headline at the top of your message that is short and snappy. This way you’ve hooked them straight away, and then you can follow up with the essential details. Linking through to in-depth information is fine because readers can choose whether to read more or not, but you don’t want to have pages of writing obscuring the vital initial message.
Seeing poorly written posts, emails and web content is very off-putting. It speaks of a lack of care, of there not being attention to detail, and comes across as being unprofessional. When buyers are looking for products and services, they want to feel they can trust the supplier, which means they need to be demonstrating their care and attention, and the overall quality of the work they do.
Having well-written content on your site is also important for boosting your search engine rankings, as the quality of articles is one of the factors used by search engine algorithms to determine how far up the list of results your site will appear. The odd typo won’t be a deal breaker, but frequent mistakes, badly written sentences and content that is more filler than helpful article will all lead people to believe your business is of equally poor quality. Writing well is not a skill that comes naturally to everyone, and if you struggle with writing articles for your website or posts for your blog, you need to either improve your own writing or find someone who can do a better job. You might have someone on your team who would be better suited to the role of writer, or you could outsource your content writing. There is an army of highly skilled freelancers available that you can hire, and it’s worth finding out more info on how to engage them and what rates you’ll be paying.
Communication needs to be consistent to be effective. Don’t start a blog and then forget to post for months on end; you need to communicate regularly, and the most effective frequency can differ according to the mode of communication used. Tweets, for example, are best posted daily, but you might want to do Facebook posts every other day, or three days a week. You don’t want there to be a bombardment of information, or you will be seen as a nuisance; but if you don’t communicate regularly, people will either forget about you or think you aren’t reliable. If you’re looking at maintaining a valuable online presence you need to be using a scheduling tool that will send posts out for you to all or some of your accounts, and have the ability to send posts out at allotted times, so you are never late and don’t miss days because you haven’t had time.
Communication skills can be learned, and indeed training should be considered as mandatory for your team. So much depends upon your ability to communicate effectively, and very often the lack of clear, positive communication results in missed opportunities and lost sales. If you can’t make clear what you’re selling or promoting, or if your message is delivered using poorly constructed sentences with misspellings and grammatical errors, your communication efforts will have been largely wasted. No matter how brilliant your company, your product or your service, unless you can tell people what you do in a way that they understand and that appeals to them, you will fail to get the message across. Look at the effectiveness of your own communications and see how you could improve them going forward.