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Why Not Freshen Up?

Yesterday I received Robert Middleton’s weekly e-newsletter, “More Clients.” The newsletter has a subscriber list of more than 40,000, and Robert is a top marketing resource for small service businesses.

This week’s “More Clients” focused on repackaging one’s products and services. Although it wasn’t about writing, it reminded me that we need to repackage or freshen up our business writing too, especially if it feels stale or isn’t getting results.

For example, if you regularly write requests to others–let’s say requests for data, reports, signups, or approvals–are you getting the responses you need?  If not, why not try something new? A new subject line for your email message, a new link to capture quick responses, a new format with bullet points rather than thick paragraphs–these adjustments can help you elicit what you need.

If you write minutes, do people read them? Do they come to meetings with their action items completed? If not, refresh your minutes by highlighting each action item, deadline, and person responsible for the task. And when you send out minutes, include an action step in your cover message, like this one:

“Please review these meeting notes to remind yourself of the action items assigned to you.”

If your flyers or marketing materials aren’t moving readers to action, pick up a good book such as Persuading on Paper, by Marcia Yudkin. Then try something fresh–a free trial offer, a money-back guarantee, or client testimonials–to inspire your readers to act.

Freshen up and take action. Then please share your comments about any writing “refreshers” that bring you success.

Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.