We’ve spent our careers championing quality—and we’ll continue to do so, despite the sometimes quixotic nature of the quest. Why? For starters, the quality of your communications reflects the quality of your work. It sends the message that you’re credible and trustworthy.
Quality content, in particular, is important if you’re addressing new technologies, emerging markets, or skeptical audiences (the clean tech sector faces all three challenges).
First-rate content delivers crystal-clear information about your services or products, your values, and why you’re different or better—and backs up those claims with facts and concrete examples. This is critical in a website, organization brochure, or other materials that introduce you to key audiences. People aren’t going to buy your pitch just because you say it’s so.
Homework: Not Just for Kids
That’s why, when developing critical communications for clients, we make sure everyone does their homework, so we have the information needed to clearly convey benefits and value and provide substantive information rather than vague claims. We also make sure the design serves the information and reflects the personality and values of the organization.
Getting Away With Good Enough
Can you ever get away with “good enough”? Even we have to admit that sometimes, the answer is yes. With a one-time handout or a simple, event-specific website, for instance, you don’t need to add to your workload with elaborate planning and complex execution. Just know what you need to say and the results you need, and create only what you need to accomplish the task—no more.
One organization, for instance, recently sent an HTML e-mail announcing a few upcoming teleconferences. The design wasn’t great and the copy had a first-draft feel. But they didn’t need more. They’re a pretty casual group, the message was sent to people who already knew them, and the content was fundamentally sound: the class descriptions were engaging and the message clear. On the other hand, the teleclass message probably did nothing to raise anyone’s esteem for the group. And if this were the first contact we had with the organization, we wouldn’t think too highly of it.
When You Care Enough …
Good-quality design, active writing (free from errors), and substantive content send the message that you care about your audience and you care about what you do. Quality communications are compelling because they speak clearly to your target audience and reflect what your company is all about. Sloppy copy, weak content, and poor design convey exactly the opposite.
So, if you want to attract discerning customers, educate skeptics, or win converts to your cause, it pays to put your best foot forward. First published in Words That Work, October 2007.