Writing: A Subtle Fear of Small Business Owners
If you ask a small business owner to give a presentation in public, you can see beads of perspiration forming almost immediately. That is, if your attention isn’t drawn to their knees knocking or their leg imitating a piston right where they sit.
While public speaking is a known and easy-to-admit fear of many, writing is a more subtle fear. Accepting the task is easy, but when it comes to stringing words together, many business owners are like a deer in headlights.
Just as the best speakers value speech writers, and professional athletes have coaches, business owners need copywriters and copy editors. Here are a few areas where most small businesses could use a wordsmith:
Writing Big Pieces
- Web Page Copy: There are plenty of small business web pages filled with mangled text, piecemealed and pasted from multiple sources, not always from their own pages or brochures.
- Ebooks: Every business owner likes to think they are an expert in their field (ask their employees). Every business owner would like a bigger mailing list. Ebooks can prove the former while building the latter.
- Press Releases: While some writers think press releases are a thing of the past, small business owners (your potential clients) do not. In smaller towns, well written press releases can mean local media coverage.
- Blog Posts: This type of writing is the mud where many businesses get stuck. Providing conversational copy, relevant to a targeted audience, with a clear call-to-action, often means bigger profits in less time (and agony).
- Articles: Most business owners are not familiar with terms like article marketing, advertorials, or native advertising. They like the concept, but shy away from the writing.
- Sales Pages and Landing Pages: Most small business owners are familiar with the concept of long-form sales letters. Few are adept at putting the copy, the callouts, and the calls-to-action together.
Small Bits & Pieces
- Commercials: Television and radio remain a popular platform for small business advertising dollars, especially in smaller local markets. As you know, short-and-quick is not always synonymous with clear-and-concise.
- Catalog or Product Descriptions: Small blurbs like product descriptions, catalog copy and menu items are often difficult for a small business owner. It becomes an exercise of the ketchup trying to read its own label – from inside the bottle.
- Email: Canned responses are time savers. Template sales emails or inquiry emails can also save time and increase outreach. When written clear and concise, a small business can send these emails with confidence.
- Display Ad Copy: From taglines to internal signage, chamber directory ads to phone books, some small businesses haven’t changed their ad copy in years.
- Brochures: Still viewed as an expected leave behind, sales collateral like brochures and sales cards hold a lot of value to some businesses. Creativity can be a key in creating a library of copy to be used elsewhere within the business.
- Status Updates: If a small business is active in social media, status updates read more like commercials than conversations.
- Speeches and Presentations: Whether the full body of the speech or an outline, some of the best presenters tap into the strengths of a writer. Presentation slideshows are often in need of a good writer or editor.
- Profiles and Bios: A lot of business leaders have difficulty writing about themselves. Bio pages on the web, in print or media kits, and social media profiles can all use the touch of a professional writer.
- Video and Podcast Scripts: The “ums” and “ers” along with the always popular “so” and “basically” fill video voice overs and podcast episodes across the mediums. Good writing and a tool like CuePrompter will make your clients sound eloquent when they say the words you’ve written.
- Transcription and Re-purposing: Smart business owners are starting to realize the value of recorded presentations or conversations, capturing large portions or small money quotes they can use elsewhere. A writer or editor who can extract the value from the whole is an asset to the company.
- SEO Copywriting: Writing title tags, headlines, and meta data is a specialized writing skill all its own. Recognizing how to improve copy for findability is also a strength many business don’t have internally. SEO copywriting is one of the most sought after types of writing.
- Infographics: This style of writing also requires talents for both research and design. Being able to partner with a graphics person can strengthen the copy and the flow.
- Tutorials: Technical writing or instructional manuals are very important to many kinds of businesses. Small businesses with a high turnover of employment are often seeking operational guidelines for new employees. Manufacturers are always on the lookout for a simpler way to teach customers how to use their products.
- Grant Writing: If writing blog posts strikes fear into the minds of a business owner, grant writing can send them running for cover.
- Policies: Terms of service, disclaimers, and codes of conduct are sought after as more businesses launch their own websites. This type of writing often includes a back-and-forth approval process with a legal department.
A lot of small business owners will avoid writing at all costs, sometimes delegating to someone within their company. Not every business will use all of the writing types listed above. It’s likely they haven’t yet considered the possibility of most of them.
As I work with small business owners daily, writing is clearly one of their weakest areas. If you’re a copywriter, or learning to build a copywriting business, I strongly encourage you to reach out to the small business owners in your area and help them in these areas.
About the Author
Mike Sansone works with small business owners and solopreneurs in building a better business presence online and offline through his company, SmallBizTracks. He has authored the ConverStations blog since 2006. You can connect with Mike on Twitter or Google Plus.
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Photo thanks to niekverlaan