Why Writing Skills Are Important in Marketing
Much of marketing communication is text. Think blogs, straplines, knowledge bases, press releases and whitepapers, for example.
We may come across the odd visual-only masterpiece, but this doesn’t stop the need to write a jaw-dropping brief to get creatives to produce stellar work.
Basically, you can’t shy away from writing if you’re a marketer.
As a marketing manager, you’ll need to be confident in your written communication skills and believe this is your best asset.
In the context of a marketing manager’s toolbox, these are easily your screws.
Just like screws, written skills come in all shapes and sizes and ultimately do the job of holding your marketing together.
Without them, your advertising campaigns and communication are likely to collapse, leaving the remains of what could have been a great structure. You’ll be left with the raw materials of something great that no longer has any context and fails to serve its purpose.
Which Writing Skills Should You Have
Writing is a broad practice with plenty of different specialisms. As a marketer, you’ll need to be well-versed in all types of writing, utilised in different areas of a campaign and as part of the creation process.
Generally speaking, there are four types of writing you’ll want to master:
Persuasive Writing — Perhaps the most obvious of the four, you’ll need to know how to make propositions attractive to generate sales from your advertisements.
Informational Writing — Marketers can often fall into sales-y scripture when sometimes clarity and accuracy is what’s needed. Informational writing has never been so in demand.
Formal Writing — Formal writing has always been heavily involved in marketing for professional pieces like journalistic reporting, press releases and whitepapers. However, continued scrutiny on data regulations and increased transparency are forcing a formal approach to become more commonplace as marketers explain policies, customer rights and legislation.
Informal Writing — Most advertising is written in an informal style, as though brands are chatting to a group of friends. You’ll deploy informal writing in captivating email marketing headlines, entertaining blogs and engaging website copy to name a few formats.
Some of these approaches will merge depending on the format a marketer is using. For example, a press release is usually formal and informational, while a blog can be informal and persuasive.
Here are a few writing formats marketers will need to master:
- Press Releases
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Posts
- Website Copy
- Ad Copy
- Creative Briefs
- Written Feedback
- Policy Writing
This list is not exhaustive and you’ll notice the above formats span across both public-facing and employee-facing documents.
That’s right. Marketing managers, in particular, will need to sharpen their written skills to deliver effective communication to more than just their brand’s target audience.
As a manager, you’ll need to be able to write compelling yet clear briefs for your team to follow and give eloquent and tactful feedback, as well as possess an entire range of other communication skills.
What Writing Rules Should You Follow?
If you feel like you have your approach to writing down to an art, the fun doesn’t stop there.
There are some rules you should follow to increase the quality of your writing. These rules apply to all writing professions, but they’re particularly important to marketers who carry the reputation of their brand on their shoulders.
Rule #1 Active Voice
Perhaps the simplest and most effective rule to follow is to avoid passive voice. This means opting for an active voice that sticks to the present tense and avoids talking about scenarios as if they are in the past.
This approach is particularly effective for marketing communication as it forces your writing to feel relevant, direct and concise.
The easiest way to check your use of active voice is by using the Hemingway app.
As well as flagging complex sentences and adverbs, Hemingway will highlight any passive words and phrases in green.
You can rework your text in the app and see your changing writing grade in the top right-hand corner of the screen.
Rule #2 Sentence and Writing Structure
Using active voice should encourage you to write simpler sentences. However, it is worth baring writing structure in mind as a separate rule.
This rule will help you to remove fluff in your writing and stop readers from being put off by huge clumps of text.
As well as paying attention to sentence structure, you should be wary of the overall structure of your piece.
For example, each piece of writing should have a compelling headline. Seriously, marketers can spend the majority of their writing time crafting the perfect headline.
Writing should also be split between logical paragraphs no longer than three to four sentences in length.
Expert marketers think about writing structure before they begin putting pen to paper. They’re likely to sketch out the headline and subheadings of their piece first and brainstorm the content after. This all ties in with the essential planning skills marketers should have.
Rule #3 Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation
Marketers, Grammarly is your friend.
It will point out spelling mistakes, grammar issues and complex words to make your prose professional.
The app can also help you if you want to spice up your writing by suggesting synonyms of words if you double click the word in question.
This step takes around four to five minutes and can alter the level of your work from a hypothetical D grade to an A grade.
After all, nobody trusts a brand with careless spelling or unfortunate grammar mistakes.
As the process is so quick, we suggest using this to vet all of your written communication, whether that be an internal report or a quick email.
You can also download Grammarly as a Chrome extension so you can see issues appear in real-time.
Rule #4 Rereading Your Work
Although applications can refine and tweak work on your behalf, you shouldn’t solely rely upon them.
You should still reread your work after all structural and grammar changes are made.
Does the content still flow in the same way and have the same sentiment? Is the point you’re making or the idea you’re conveying clear to the reader?
These are the type of questions that can only be answered by a human.
As a marketer, it’s a smart move to employ a meticulous editor who may point out these oversights for you. However, you should still scan your work before submitting to streamline the process.
Rule #5 Fact Check
Remember when we said formal writing was more commonplace due to changing customer behaviour and data?
Well, so is fact-checking. And this is non-negotiable.
The rise of online misinformation, tighter advertising guidelines and the need to write important disclaimers means marketers must be accurate with their information.
This is especially true if you’re writing content Google considers as YMYL (Your Money Your Life).
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, YMYL content is any type of writing that could influence a life-altering decision. We associate YMYL content with sectors like finance, medicine and law.
Ideally, content in these fields should be written by experts with qualifications in the subject. However, as a marketer, you can write effective content as an amateur by quoting expert resources and doing thorough research.
Rule #6 Write for a Purpose
This final rule is imperative for commercial writing that aims to convert customers.
As a marketer, you should always write for a purpose — meaning a reader should have no confusion as to why they are reading the content or what they should do next.
Although the purpose of the piece might be clear at the start of writing, this laser-focus can get lost in translation.
Always do a final check of your work to ask yourself if you would understand the text if you were viewing it for the first time. And what would you do next?
If your answer is unclear, you might want to review your headline and call to action to strengthen the overall message.
In this final sign-off period, it’s a good idea to get a second opinion on the matter.
Try asking your peers their experience of reading the content as a first-time reader.
This objective insight should allow you to decide whether a piece is ready for publication — or not.