Everybody needs to know how to write. Even clinicians.
Writing opens doors, quite literally when you’re building a practice or healthcare business. It’s key to creating content that reaches your audience on email, social media, and blogs.
Even if you do get help with your marketing content, it should reflect your voice, personality and subject matter expertise.
Consider Dr. Lucy McBride. She’s sent out multiple e-newsletters each week during the pandemic focusing on facts not fears. Her thoughtful messages comfort hearts and minds during this confusing time.
The power of some clinicians’ words this year has quite literally saved lives. And the misuse of that power has led others to make dangerous choices for their health and others.
The effects of your writing won’t always be that dramatic, but your words can still make or break your business. Listen up for seven tips to improve your writing and make it easier.
Make writing easier with these 7 tips for better writing
Have your target reader in mind
Don’t know what to say? No problem. Picture your very favorite client or patient. What do they need to hear from you today? Write about that and then write it LIKE that. Unless you’re writing a white paper or for an academic journal, most of the day-to-day writing you need to do is informal. Use contractions. Use second person (as in “you” for those of you who blocked out ninth grade English). Speak to them and everyone else in your ideal audience will take what they need as well.
Use a dictation tool
Before you throw your hands up and say you don’t have time to write, ask yourself: can you talk? If the answer is yes, then pull up a dictation tool on your phone (I like the Microsoft Word app for this). Press the mic and then speak. These days, this counts as writing. You can either clean that up later yourself or send it off to someone else.
Make a list
A blog post can be as easy as making a list. Is writing a grocery list hard? Of course not. (Remembering to bring it on the other hand…) A blog or social media post can just be a list of tips around a specific topic that matters for your audience. Lists work nicely for SEO content too. Make a list and then the items you list can be your headers.
Never start with a blank page
This advice comes from Laura Gale, whose job is to help business leaders write their books. I interviewed on my Sparks of Marketing podcast and her advice for avoiding writer’s block is to never start from a blank page. This means keeping a log of writing ideas. Then, start from there. Don’t worry how it sounds as you regurgitate the words. Just get words on paper (or on screen). Ann Handley in Everybody Writes calls this TUFD: The Ugly First Draft.
Start in the middle
The opening and closing can be the hardest part of writing a blog or article. So follow what William Zinsser recommends in On Writing Well and start in the middle instead. Once the middle’s done, you can write an opening that coaxes your reader to read a little more. This is especially important for a social media post, where all your reader sees is your first few lines. Your conclusion can be just a few lines that wrap up your idea. For a marketing piece of content, you’ll want to include a call to action in there to tell your reader exactly what they should do next.
Share your stories
In The Storyteller’s Secret, Carmine Gallo reminds us: “Storytelling is not what we do. Storytelling is who we are.” Telling stories in your marketing content is what works. I recommend breaking up stages of your life in periods of five or 10 years. Then, list everything you remember from those years. Do the same for your professional years. Find the lessons you can glean for your practice or business in those stories. You don’t have to get personal. A story on the way to work or an incident with your toddler, dog or garden can be a relatable story.
Write for a fifth grader
Healthcare is complicated. Your writing should not be.
Forget the writer you were in high school or college, doing your best to impress. Your reader doesn’t time for complicated words or sentences. Unless you’re writing on an academic platform or for The Atlantic, keep it simple. Digital readers skim. Use short sentences. Drop the hyperboles. Ask yourself if every word is necessary. If it’s not, then hit “delete.”
The most important tip when it comes to writing is write. Writing is a muscle. Get going, and you’ll get better. The hardest part is starting.
By the way, I never became the person to read bigger vocabulary books, but I collect writing books by the dozen. Here are a few more I like.
On Writing: A memoir of the craft by Stephen King
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
On Writing Well by William Zinsser
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Grab your quick guide to fast social media action for heath providers
For more training on digital marketing, at a deeper and more interactive level, join me in Everyday Marketing for health providers Facebook group. I go live every Thursday at 10:30AM CT, training you on a new digital marketing topic.
I help service providers stand out by telling their story on websites, emails and social media. When it comes to marketing, the greatest waste is an idea that fails to connect to its audience – not because it wasn’t a good idea but because it wasn’t packaged as a great story.
My goal is to help health and wellness experts stand out with content marketing. I’ve worked in marketing communications for nearly 20 years and experienced firsthand the rapid pace of change in this space. I launched Sparkr Marketing to help you stay ahead in this age of information overload. I’ll help you filter through the countless marketing tactics to find the right ones to reach your target market. Most importantly, I help your business stay true to your story.
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