Good communication can be an art, but there's always informed practice behind successful examples. There are ways to improve emails and memos, for example.
And there are techniques for boosting the effectiveness of marketing, like simple steps to rescue your press releases. Each of these examples has particular practices that can help.
However, you'll also find general advice that applies to every form of communications. When it comes to marketing, one thought can save much of what you use. That is to remember audience segmentation.
Marketing can focus on a number of different potential audiences. It might be intended for prospective customers, active customers, business partners, the press, investors, or your own employees. It's great when you can target your communications for an exact audience.
Unfortunately, it's not always possible to create an individual piece for every market segment. You might not have the resources. It could be difficult to provide specific versions only to the correct readers. Or you may have too much crossover readership from people in all groups performing due diligence.
There is an answer, although it's not optimum. Nor is it necessarily easy. (That's my subtle way of saying that all you're going to need some considerable writing talent and knowledge to pull this off well.) Here are the general steps:
- Identify all the general groups that realistically will read this. Don't just say "everyone." Look through and consider who might be looking at it.
- Because you can't write something for everyone, create a prioritized list. Maybe the main audience is investors -- and you might have to treat retail and big institutional investors differently because the latter will be more sophisticated. Or perhaps it's the media, or customers. Whatever the case, create the top to bottom list.
- You're going to focus on the top two or three groups. You can't realistically reach everyone effectively, so recognize that the world isn't perfect and consider how to make what you're doing as useful as possible.
- Develop the greatest common denominator content. The mathematical concept of least common denominator is often as slang to indicate the lowest level of knowledge. You want to identify the largest body of information that will be of interest to all the major target groups you've identified.
- Common content is fine, but you need to provide something of interest for each of your major target audiences to make them feel you're trying to talk right to them. You'll need some specific content that people in the other groups will skip over.
- Consider how to present the content. A mention here and there in the overall piece might work, although if you put too much in one place, others might not just skip over a section but walk away from the entire piece. Perhaps something like sidebars or links to more specific content would work for you. Design will be critical to lead people to the points the will find most interesting.
- Also think about your channels of distribution. Identify the ways of reaching each of your major audiences and be sure to use a combination of all.
Again, it's not the best approach, but when you have to, this is a way to avoid drowning messages and to reach a broader subset of audiences.