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Brevity is bravery.

When I heard Teresa say that during a conference call the other day, I wrote it down. She credits it to Doyle Dane Bernbach founder Bill Bernbach, but no matter who said it the message is clear.

Marketing is not cheap. Unless it’s CreateAthon, where, in that case, it’s free for nonprofits. There’s a temptation to speak to everyone and tell everything all in one sitting. Don’t let your communications fall prey.

Speak to one audience.
You probably have multiple audiences, but your audiences have very different needs, varying interests. Make your work resonate by speaking to your most important audience. Don’t forget your other audiences if they are important, too, just speak to them in another way.

Make one point.
In some cases, bullet points are perfectly fine. Just because we have them doesn’t mean we need to use them. If your main message cannot be stated in one sentence, you haven’t worked hard enough on it. Editing is one of the sharpest tools communicators have. Wield it like a hungry pirate.

Make it fast.
Today’s communications move quickly. Audiences are bombarded with messages. Get in, get out and give yourself a chance at being remembered.

DDB has a wonderful recap of the many keen insights of Mr. Bernbach here. The next time you’re at a meeting where everyone is stuck on the fence, prod the herd for the good of all. That’s what Mr. Bernbach would have done.

 “If you stand for something, you will always find some people for you and some against you. If you stand for nothing, you will find nobody against you, and nobody for you.”

Nobody says it better. What motto would you share with Mr. Bernbach?

I am not a mathsmith.

The upside of owning your own business is that you’re your own boss. And what that means is you own a business: yours. So, for the most part, your success or failure depends on the choices you make. Like right now. I would love to watch the season finale of Glee. Or, the Justin Timberlake-Lady GaGa Saturday Night Live from this weekend. But here I am writing a blog post for wordsmith. And that’s what I need to do rather than swoon over Blaine and the rest of the McKinley High Glee Club.

This very grown up insight follows a very educational meeting with my accountant, wherein he reassured me that I am not failing miserably as an entrepreneur. Wordsmith is actually clicking along very, very well. What I found so interesting about the meeting was his sheer command of the tangled mess that is tax law and business finance. In these two areas, I freely admit I have zero expertise. None. And that’s why I got help from someone who knows this stuff. He patiently answers my many (some outright laughable) questions and at the same time gives me the Business 101 class I never took or tuned out.

I’ve worked for twenty years, but there’s so much I’ve never had to think about before. You never realize how much there is to “working for yourself” than writing. Thankfully, there are smart people and smart software out there who can help with all that.

So you can get on with the business of being successful at what you do. Or watch the Glee finale. It’s up to you.

Write. Edit. Repeat.

There are plenty of people who don’t enjoy writing. That’s okay. Actually, it’s good for people like me. Here are tips to get you through your next writing assignment if you can’t hire a word nerd like me.

  1. Think about what you have to write. Who is your audience? Is there a purpose or call to action? How long should your piece be? What are the main points to cover?
  2. Outline. Jot a quick outline of your main points. The outline will help you establish structure and get the information in logical sequence. In the outline stage, you may find there’s not room for everything. That’s good. Base all of your content and editing choices on what’s important to the reader.
  3. Write. In theory, once the outline gets going, writing’s already happening. Don’t be afraid to work out of order. You can always write “Thrilling intro here” and head straight to the meat. Editing is for smoothing out the rough edges and creating transitions from one idea to another. Adjusting beginnings and ends is clean up work.
  4. Edit. Invest time here. If you can say it in three words rather than 13, go for three. Don’t use five-dollar words when dollar words will do. There’s an ongoing joke that no one reads anymore. Sadly, it’s true. But if writing is easy to follow and interesting, people will read through it without realizing they are reading.
  5. Repeat. Always go through your work one more time with fresh eyes or give it to someone else for a read-through. Look for typos, missing words and edit what doesn’t make sense. And remember the typo is always in the headline so pay extra attention there.

Nothing’s more scary to a non-writer than a blank piece of paper. It’s a lot of pressure and stress for being nothing more than emptiness. That’s why I suggest getting some words or thoughts on it quickly. The words may not make it into the final draft, but they’ll get your brain working. And that’s the first step in any writing project!