1. Make your communication personal.

Imagine you are writing one-to-one with someone you’re trying to help be more successful in their personal or professional life. Speak directly tothat person.

2. Use plain language: straightforward, direct, action-oriented.

No acronyms, no jargon, no corporate speak. Imagine you’re speaking to someone who has no prior knowledge of your product or service and you want to make them feel an integral part of the community of customers. Empower them with clear explanations and accessible suggestions.

3. Focus primarily on how this will help your customer’s work or personal life, specifically and with examples.

Speak about ‘benefits’ on as specific a level as possible: relate them to the results the customer will directly experience by using your product or service. High-level are often not relatable, even though they are important to include. Customers will be more motivated when they understand how the new product or service they’re getting is going to help them achieve their goals and get results.

4. Use references, examples, and context from your customer’s perspective, not yours.

Imagine you are looking at everything sitting in their seat, their office, and their home. If you don’t know what that is, go spend a day in their world and then use that first hand experience to inform your communications. (This is the scientific observation method used by cultural anthropologists and is frequently now used to understand gaps and needs of customers and markets.)

5. Tell a story.

Storytelling is the most powerful form of communication we have. Humans are designed to remember stories, relate to them, and apply the learnings from them in ways other styles of communication can’t even hope to accomplish. When you want your customer to really get something and be inspired, persuaded, and motivated by it, use an example that’s a story. Stories can be very simple–here’s a very generic example: 

Before a new tool was available, this is what Karen was up against and this is how long it took and how much it cost to get this done. With this new tool, Karen will be doing this kind of work and the impact will be that she’ll get this accomplished in much less time, resulting in Karen getting more done in less time overall, and having her work be more accurate and possibly have more leisure time. That will have a positive impact on her life allowing her to focus on more important activities.

6. Recognize and acknowledge yourself to be a facilitator of your customer’s success.

They are the hero in all your communications. They are the ones who will be creating the results and making the difference in reaching goals. By placing your customer in the hero role, you engage their identity, energy, enthusiasm, and partnership. And in the end, they will be appreciative of your role in helping them be more successful.

7. Be playful, humorous, and surprising.

When you’re able to delight your customer, they’ll want to hear more from you, work with you, and appreciate your efforts. No one wants to read toneless, boring, explanatory documents and memos. When we are surprised by a more human-to-human approach, we give the content more attention and are more likely to take action.

8. Create a cadence to your communication.

This will allow your customer to receive your information. Think about how to organize the information to take the reader through an experience that will help them partner with you. A generally effective sequence is:

  1. Get attention with something that will make a positive difference to the customer (a benefit). This is quick and to the point–like a subject line or headline.
  2. Greet the customer in your role of helping them be more
  3. Give them the big point of what this communication is about.
  4. Let them know how this will help them. This is where stories are helpful, perhaps inside major topic bullet points.
  5. Explain how you can help them use this information and how you’ll be available.
  6. Close with the big point again, and a thank you for being a contribution to the common goal you have with them.
  7. Note: Leave white space, both physically on the page, but also in the message. Not everything needs to be said–you can have supporting reference material.

9. Customize your communication content and vehicle for different types of customers.

People consume content in different ways and the communication needs to be tailored to each outlet. Additionally, different groups of people are interested in different ‘benefits’: customizing the communication to different types of customers will increase the likelihood of the message being heard, digested, and acted on.

10. Take advantage of the magic numbers of communication.

People generally need to see something about a particular topic 3 to 7 times in different places before the message sticks. Separately, 3 of anything is easier to remember than 2, 4, 5, etc. Three ‘benefits’, three features, three times, three bullet points, three options–use 3 of something when you want your customer to remember more than one message.

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