How difficult is it to communicate precisely what we mean?  In marketing, PR, sales (and in many other walks of life) you must be able to convey your message concisely, unambiguously and in a way that strikes a chord with the recipients.  On this topic, there’s a good article posted on the ‘Red on Marketing’ blog by Robert Celaschi called “Solution is not the solution in B2B communications“.  His point – the word ’solution’ has been rendered meaningless because of overuse and imprecise use.  There is an article making the same kind of point from TechCrunch too – “10 words I would love to see banned from press releases“.  Most of us will recognize the points being made, and know when we’ve been guilty of this kind of lazy writing (and thinking).

The use of words to communicate and persuade is a subject I’ll come back to in future posts because I thinks it’s (a) important and (b) fascinating.  How can you be really good at business communications?  How do you increase the chances of persuading your audience?

These are important questions because your business depends on  your ability to persuade people to buy your product or service. (In the greater scheme of things these questions are important to society – how do we promote a particular view or cause, how do we avoid being fooled by spin and propaganda?  How do we ensure people understand what we mean?)

They are interesting questions because there are so many routes you can take to arrive at your answer.  For example, you could look at the techniques courtroom lawyers use to persuade a jury.  Or you could look at how mass-mailing direct marketers use A/B testing to determine which word in a particular sentence in a particular paragraph can increase buying actions by half of a percent.  You could look at the structure of speeches by Lincoln and Kennedy, or you could analyze the visitor stats to alternative versions of a web-page to see which one is most effective at generating sales.  You could start with Aristotle’s “The Art of Rhetoric” or Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People“.  And we haven’t even considered the non-verbal persuasive techniques taught to actors and politicians.  As a starting point I recommend two great books on the subject of conveying ideas and persuading an audience, “Made to Stick” and “Thank You For Arguing“.  I plan to nail down some common themes from all of these sources over the next quarter as a separate blog post. I’m open to suggestions for the post title.  How about “Aristotle as CMO”?

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