It was one of those glorious early spring days. A day to take your kids, or maybe your grandkids, someplace they love to go. To do something you all love to do. We looked at each other, and with one voice shouted, “Lunch at Costco!”
Of course it could have been any other wholesale grocery warehouse, or for that matter, any other grocery store, but Costco is the closest to us, and they offer a gracious plenty of just what we were looking for. So what makes this grocery store so special on Saturdays? The menu.
That’s right: the menu! But…
The menu is terrific! Your choice of exquisite appetizers; magnificent main courses; beneficent beverages; and delightful desserts! There are cheeses from distant places, and handmade domestic cheese from closer by. Breads from artisan bakeries. Foods we’ve never tasted, from exotic places whose very names may be new to us. And the best part of it all? We can have all of them. We can taste each of them. Free!
They are all there in bountiful plenty: Free Samples! And if you like them, they are available. Just buy them and take them home. They are yours.
So what is so special about free samples, and what do free samples have to do with business writing?
Everything you write is a free sample.
“Free Samples” of your business writing, whether you intend it or not, for better or for worse, carry with them the potential for being your most cost-effective marketing tool. Your best, easiest-to implement customer satisfaction solution. Your strongest team-building technique. And your best way to demonstrate your professionalism, credibility, and hire-me-now employability.
What you write on the job not only reflects on you, and your professionalism and credibility, but on your prospective employer. No wonder how you present yourself – in writing – on that job application is so important to that prospective employer.
Of course writing will be critical to who is chosen for an interview, and ultimately who gets the job.
Where else are free samples used in business writing at this very minute?
Coupling the newest technology with one of the most traditional enticements, today’s marketers have carried free samples, demonstrating their products or their capabilities, into the 21st century – apparently, for the most part, with reasonable success. We all want to see what we’re getting before we buy. Free webinars, teleseminars, and white papers abound online and are downloadable, in case you miss the scheduled time. Newsletters, Blog sites, and videos are readily available, and you can choose to subscribe to receive these “free samples” on a regular basis.
A local plumber has thought outside the box. Speculating on the greatest inconvenience a plumber can cause the customer – making him or her either take a day off work, or hire someone to wait for the plumber to arrive – he sets a specific appointment time, and advertises a $50 discount if his plumber is 15 minutes late. A free sample of this company’s responsiveness to the customer, rather than the other way around.
These are obvious free samples. Yet the way you write every email, every hand-written note, every instruction, every in-house memo – the way you respond to every question or explanation on a day-to-day basis, both internally and externally, can inspire confidence, build trust, and make your reader want to work with you.
For this week, let me ask you to think about these “free samples.” Think about what your business writing is saying about you, and about the organization you represent.
- Is your intention clear in the first paragraph? Have you made your point quickly, clearly, concisely? If the reader read no further, would he or she “get it”?
- Have you considered what this piece of business writing must accomplish? What results you need to have? Should this piece reasonably be expected to do it?
- Have you considered the all-important tone you will use for this piece? Did you succeed in creating, or reinforcing an existing relationship? Is this the appropriate relationship for this issue?
- Have you organized your information in a logical sequence, with one thought or point building to the next?