Original insights in international business and marketing
It is easy to think that the business world today runs almost exclusively on spreadsheets, e-mails and PowerPoint presentations. The business memo has faded away from most organizations and even market/strategic reports have adopted a headline + bullet approach. Some of this is perfectly understandable. Some of it is a symptom of our packed agendas and fast-paced corporate culture. In a world of Twitter and Facebook, who needs to write more than a 2-3 sentences on anything? Similarly, a clever headline with a few “Top 10” of something using bullet points, seems to be the in-thing across the blogosphere these days (I too am guilty of engaging in this practice). But will this persist and for how long?
Writing has always been a fundamental skill of almost any business person. And although today’s environment seems to favor brevity and levity, there will come a point when people will start looking again for substance and eloquence, even in the digital world. Whether people will have the language skills and attention spans to process longer reads remains to be seen, but in the long run, substance needs to regain lost ground. In a world of casual blogging and so-called experts packaging (even re-processing) other people’s ideas & content, there will inevitably be a flight to quality. Companies and marketers looking to claim a space in the digital media world will need to upgrade their talent pools and expand their job requirements to stay relevant. To address the bourgeoning demand for quality content, writing skills will once again need to come to the forefront, perhaps even ahead of technical skills for certain industries. Parents, teachers and high-school students need to be prepared for this shift and balance the lust for technology with a renewed appreciation for writing. The business world is not necessarily looking for the next Jane Austin or Shakespeare, but it will need people capable of articulating clear ideas and expressing them in captivating English.
The Marketer as Journalist
Companies and marketers looking for their “voice” in the digital content world will need to up their writing skills and capabilities. Tomorrow’s marketer must adopt a more “journalistic” set of competencies and will need to become a regular (daily?) contributor to on-line communities and electronic content. Now that doesn’t mean that we will see a rise in old-school, long form writing. Language has to evolve and adapt with the prevailing culture. The strength and beauty of the English language is in fact its malleability and its endless ability to adapt with passing generations. What I foresee is business/consumer writing evolving into something practical, agile and perhaps even more colorful than what we learned in school 20-30 years ago. Spelling and grammar rules will still need to be respected but the language & style will be more contemporary and defy some of the classical English textbook models. I believe that good business/marketing writing will become more original and less formal/structured. It may well be laced with humor, irony and punchy, provocative headlines. Information will be presented more like magazine articles interspersed with original artwork and images. The form and style may evolve but the actual substance will still need to be there. More than ever, marketers will need to clearly articulate an idea or a message that resonates with the audience, using every technique in their communication toolbox (tone, style, layout, illustrations, flow, sentence structure, language, etc…). Of course, this will need to be supported by excellent critical thinking skills and a clear purpose. Such skills, unfortunately, are not learned in textbooks or off a blog, they are developed only through practices and coaching.
So ladies and gentlemen of marketing persuasion: Start your word processors!
Photo credit: kwerfeldein at Photo Pin