Have you ever written a message–say, a new piece of news for your web site–and published it, only to discover after the fact that it contains errors? Having another pair of eyes–or six–goes a long way toward mitigating such embarrassment.
Whether you’re a one-seat consultancy or a corporation with hundreds of employees and a full marketing-communications team, it’s really important to submit any public-facing communication for review–particularly those that affect the overall credibility of the company! Even something as simple as an email autoresponder can benefit from the review process; in that case, it’s one of the first things a potential client sees, and can truly make or break the relationship!
It’s not only the concrete things such as facts about your company and its products and services; it’s the way you address your audience. Grammar, spelling and sentence construction may not be noticed by those people who don’t care about such things, but those who do will be instantly turned off. And in terms of style, for example, the “hard sell” no longer cuts the mustard in most cases; neither does a laundry list of features (now fondly referred to as “featuritis”).
Instead, offer a solution–even if it’s a solution to a problem your client doesn’t know he has. Maybe especially then!
You would be amazed at what a fresh perspective can do for your communications–even your own fresh perspective!
How do you freshen your own perspective?
You can freshen your own perspective in a few key ways:
- Do some research: Don’t fall into the trap of becoming complacent about your methods. The landscape of our business communications, especially in sales and marketing, is constantly shifting. It may no longer be possible to keep up (there’s SO much information out there!), but regular research will help you catch up.
- Get multiple perspectives: If it’s at all possible, fly your communications by people who will look at it from angles other than your own. Do you have a client you trust to offer a good opinion? Ask! And ask associates who work in other business units; their perspective may not apply exactly, but on the other hand they might catch things you missed.
- Step back from your own work: It’s a bit scary how easily we can get tunnel vision about our own work if we’ve been at it for too long. So put it away for a while, work on something completely different, and come back to it later with fresh eyes. I can practically guarantee that you’ll see things you didn’t the first time around, catch details you missed, expose errors, and so on.
This leads me to another way you can get a fresh perspective:
Take a break!
Especially in this uncertain economy, it is altogether too easy to get caught up in working harder, working longer hours, taking fewer breaks–believe me, I am so guilty of this! But even the most precision machinery needs downtime for maintenance, and the human brain (not to mention the human body!) is no exception. Working longer hours does not result in greater productivity, and often results in a reduction!
Here’s an interesting phenomenon, and you have probably experienced it yourself: you’re familiar with the concept of background processing in computers? This is when some heavy number-crunching such as a virus scan or a large equation gets done in the background while you’re carrying out other operations. The brain works the same way: when you relax, your brain continues processing information, and is likely to come up with answers to sticky problems in the oddest unguarded moments–haven’t you even had a “Eureka!” moment while sitting on the pot, or a flash of insight that wakes you up in the middle of the night? I’ve said for years that I do my best work at such times.
Those leaps are often what saves the day, and if you’ve experienced them (as I hope you have), it’s good to remember that you must relax in order for such breakthroughs to occur.
An outside look
Recently we invited comments about our web site from a number of colleagues in the fields of marketing and public relations. Boy, did we get them! Some were very positive, and some were less so. In one case, we received a no-uncertain-terms indication that we were on the wrong track altogether, so we asked for details. This reviewer did not have to do so, but she replied with a very thorough explanation of why she thought so–and we are incredibly grateful, because it caused us to step back and look at our own work with fresh eyes.
The result was an updated design and increased awareness of modern design and usability trends, both for our clients and for the company!
A fresh perspective can make the difference between work that is routine and work that is truly great–we’re not saying we’re there yet, but this experience certainly nudged us (we hope!) back on the right track. We learned a great deal from this experience, and hope that you can, too.
I invite your perspective on this article and any others on this blog or at our (newly redesigned) company site, http://www.shetech.com.
Get your fresh perspective today!