In this third installment describing sessions from FPA Experience 2012, I wanted to review the session “Writing Letters And E-Mails People Will Read” presented by Susan Weiner of Investmentwriting.com.
Did you ever write a note to a client and get no response? Ever talk to a client to follow-up an e-mail only to find they have no recollection of it? It may be because your e-mails are put together poorly, difficult to understand, or not compelling.
Weiner suggests keeping a few basic principles in mind that will help your writing reach its target much more effectively. What is it your clients care about when they hear from you? What keeps them awake at night? Why will they care about your content? Will they understand your vocabulary? What do you want to accomplish by sending this e-mail? Here are a few areas where you can probably improve the quality and readability of your e-mails:
Keep it short. Make it something they care about. You remember the old story about everybody’s favorite radio station? WIFM– what’s in it for me? Put that right in the subject line and it is more likely your client will read the body.
Consider breaking up your e-mails by using headings before certain paragraphs. Studies show that eight out of 10 people will read a heading where only two in 10 will read the body. Draw your client’s attention to the parts you want them to read.
When listing a number of things you need to address with your clients, consider making it a list with bullet points rather than a paragraph. These days especially, we are all conditioned to scan things rather than read them thoroughly. A bullet list will help important items stand out and catch your client’s eye.
I struggle with this one myself. My staff used to refer to me as “the king of the run-on sentence.” Be conscious of when you are trying to cover too much in a single sentence. Consider breaking it into shorter sentences, or even a list.
Use Simple Language
Advisors have a tendency to write in jargon. Keep your audience in mind. Avoid language you would use with other professionals. Write notes to clients using an everyday vocabulary.
Keep these principles in mind and you will get more messages through to the people you want to communicate with.