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The first time anyone had access to a commercial Web page was 1995. The Internet had been around for awhile but, like any cool invention, the power is in the application by users. And boy have we users applied the Internet.
Like all human applications, words are a huge part of the Web. Adam Smith, the father of modern economics and author of “The Wealth of Nations,” identified the written word as one of the three most important inventions by mankind -- the other two being money and mathematics. Today, we’ve taken Smith’s reverence for the written word to a new level. One of the Internet maxims invoked most often is “content is king.”
Of course, there are many kinds of content -- video, audio and so on. But since the early days of the Internet, most of the “kingly content” comes in the form of the written word. Here’s how to make your words count in your online business strategy:
Find your voice. Today’s customers expect to read about your products and services to make sure you’re selling what they want. But they also want access to real words. Not marketing copy, but meaningful communication about your business vision and values. Humans must deliver those messages in an authentic, conversational voice.
So don’t worry if you’re not a professional wordsmith. Instead, you should work on establishing your true voice, be it physical or digital, so you can convey your unique business promise to customers and prospects. In the process, you may discover how to communicate more effectively with employees and vendors, too.
Write like you talk. There was a time, before 1995, when businesses and customers didn’t have much of a dialogue. Customers needed stuff, businesses needed to sell the stuff -- and any communicating was mostly about that stuff. But the Internet has empowered customers to seek answers about your stuff long before you see their faces.
Artful language and proper grammar are definitely important. But dialogue is even more important. Customers have a growing appetite for dialogue with the companies they do business with. This entails real people writing conversationally -- especially when it comes to Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites and other online platforms.
Sure, you’ll still use traditional marketing messages to help prospects find you the first time. But as you build that relationship with customers over time, you need to initiate real dialogue -- in your own words.
Jim Blasingame is one of the world’s leading experts on small business and entrepreneurship. He is the creator and host of the weekday radio program “The Small Business Advocate® Show.” Jim is also a speaker, a syndicated newspaper columnist, and the author of “Small Business Is Like a Bunch of Bananas” and “Three Minutes to Success.”
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