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Read Between the Lines

Your prospects read hidden messages between the lines.

They’re right there – embedded between the lines of every marketing communication you send. These often-implicit messages can be a powerful indication of the validity of your value proposition. And – yikes! – you are being judged each time they’re read. Take these guidelines into account the next time you create content, and you’ll be well on your way to being seen as a unique and valuable thought leader that merits your readers’ time and attention.

Read between the lines

Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest impression. The quality of your written communication, in effect, is a way for your coveted business prospects to see how your offerings measure up against those of your competitors. “Trivial” mistakes such as a misspelled word or a misused adjective right up to a clumsily-stated stated opinion can negatively affect your readers’ view of you and your content because it creates an undesirable distraction.

Your personal interpretation is what people value most. In this TMI Age, there’s an excellent chance that your competitors – even your prospects – have seen – or, at least have access to – the same information you do. Sometimes, therefore, your only clear advantage is not so much what you write, but the way you write it! Compelling content often comes down to style over substance.

Keep in mind the following Big 3 Factors as you craft your marketing messages – brevity, clarity, and action:

It’s crucial for you to realize that your company is often “on trial” with the readers you value most, based on the “grab-worthiness” of your written messaging. You needn’t be a great writer – but being a better one can make all the difference in empowering your quest to win, or keep, business. You know how you have little time to spare and how you like quick wins? It’s the same for your readers. Do you want your readers to love you? Then deliver these three factors in each piece of content that you write.

  • Brevity – Use fewer-but-better words: If there were a Top 10 Award for quality trumping quantity, surely “get-quickly-to-the-point” writing would be among the winners. A strategy to help you implement this factor is to cut 1/3 of your original piece without losing your main message.
  • Clarity – Think “reader” before you write: It’s amazing to see how many business people – even relatively successful entrepreneurs and C-suite inhabitants – often use jargon meaningful to themselves but not to their audience! Write in a way that you would write for someone who is new to your subject.
  • Action – Stimulate response: Getting desired results is the holy grail of marketing communication. Breaking through the clutter is facilitated by making a positive impression on your reader. It’s fair game to intentionally evoke emotions that translate to an actionable response. Also, remember that most of us are overwhelmed and want a quick win, so focus on giving the reader something they can easily accomplish that will move them along the path to reaching their goal rather than giving them a master course with an overwhelming amount of tasks.

Turning your “raw” copy into “great” copy begins with one simple truth:  Do not put total trust in your writing abilities.

After you’ve written your article, you might be tempted to release it to the public, especially if you spent a lot of time, sweat, and tears creating it. However, the best pieces get a little more TLC before they are ready for the world to read. If you want your readers to see you as a pro, do at least one of the three steps below before publishing your content

  • Best practice: Enlist the services of a gifted editor – even the best writers use them. You can find editing help at places like
  • The next-best practice: Put content in front of another set of eyes; someone whose abilities and opinions you respect and trust. This should be someone who can review your work in an unbiased fashion.
  • The bare minimum: Put your copy aside for a few days and then re-read it. Really. This one simple step is usually a game changer.

The way you communicate sets the tone for the relationships you develop.

Do your most trusted friends only talk with you when they want something from you? Do you only randomly communicate with the people you like the most? Probably not. So remember, it’s important to stay in front of your prospects on a regular schedule through your blog and newsletter. Doing so establishes your own comfortable cadence and facilitates consistency and continuity – important complements to the quality of your communication. You’ll also establish yourself as an expert in your space because you are demonstrating the mastery of your knowledge through the content you freely share.

Akira is the Founder & CEO of Cayenne Consulting. He has over 30 years of experience both as an entrepreneur and helping other entrepreneurs succeed. Akira earned his BA in Engineering Sciences from Harvard University. View details.

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