The best investment a company can make is to hire a good writer

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Nearly a year ago, on LinkedIn, Michael Seidle of Problog Service asked “Why is it so hard to find good writers?” All answers, including mine, looked at the question from the writer’s angle. You can learn how to write properly, but the ability to write compellingly is a gift that still takes work to perfect.

As I work my way through 30 Days to Better Business Writing, Matthew Stibbe’s recently published e-book for wordsmiths, several chapters swirl in my head, calling for a client-oriented version.

Maybe even client-oriented versions in other languages. Take Day 7, “Analyse bad writing”, and Day 16, “Manage your writing”, for example.

Selling copywriting services to companies that recognize the benefits of good copy is a relative cakewalk. Selling to those that are the most in need of good writers is often an uphill battle. The are many reasons for mind-deadening copy, but two stand out:

  • A lack of awareness of how ineffective the company’s written communications really are (and how they got that way)
  • A not infrequent epidermic reaction by the text’s author to suggestions for improvement (often senior in-house staff)

The challenge is compounded when striving to produce compelling copy in another language from insipid source text. If Churchill had lived in the Internet age and perused multilingual corporate websites, I doubt he could have claimed “eating words has never given me indigestion.”

Tweaking some of 30 Days’ chapters to resonate with business writing buyers might just offer the gentle push some companies need to look at their copy more objectively. It would be the perfect companion to Chris Durban’s often cited guide to buying translations, Translation: Getting it Right.

A good team is more important to a successful business than products or profits, according to Lee Iacocca. Including good writers on your corporate team is an essential investment. “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere,” he quipped.

In any language.


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Comments: 2

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  • I like the Lee Iacocca quote which I’m going to use in a presentation tomorrow!

    I would tweak what you recommend slightly, as follows: “The most important MARKETING investment a company can make is to INVEST IN GOOD WRITING.”

    That investment can involve hiring a good writer (yay me!) or it can involve raising the standards of an in-house team or firing a marcomms agency and replacing them with one that can write properly.

    But I totally and completely agree with the sentiment!

  • Glad you liked the quote 🙂

    And of course, I agree with your “tweak”.

    If horses could fly, companies would recognize that each part of their business is intimately related to marketing (and each stakeholder a part-time marketer)!

    Not all do.

    In some, there are even absurd walls between departments (marketing, corporate comm’, financial comm’, etc.) this post, in lobbying for good writing (period) sought to break through. We know it is the most important marketing investment a company can make, trick is to get non-marketing pros to listen too!