Practice Made PerfectBy
Greenfield Belser, a Finn Partners company
March 1, 2006
You will learn:
- Why service descriptions fail
- How to rethink the structure and organization of descriptions
- Strategies for printing on demand—as you need them!
Why does no one read service descriptions? Because they look hard to read, they are hard to read, they deliver more useless than useful information, they are firm-centered, not client centered and, in all likelihood, they are woefully out of date as well as out of tune.
Unravel the problem by focusing on how readers actually behave, not how we want them to behave. Readers scan; they’re impatient. In order to capture their attention, we’ve got to create an entirely new approach to developing service descriptions.
The solution? Flip your thinking. Focus on the parts that make up the whole, on the scanning reader (the only kind there is) and on how to keep service descriptions current. Music to your ears? Tune in!
Stop the killing!
Long, windy sentences all but guarantee readers will nod off halfway through the first paragraph. Detached, scholarly, filled with technical jargon? That’s the norm for writing and that approach kills readers. But have you ever tried to cure the problem yourself? Or have you hired someone to write it for you? It can get ugly. We're not going to do it ever again the same way. You shouldn’t either.
Stop writing practice descriptions
What? You heard us. Stop thinking of the service description as a narrative with a beginning and an end. Recognize that 60 percent of the impact of a service description lies not in the words themselves (contrary to everything most professionals believe), but in the presentation. Therefore our approach is totally different from any other. We believe different stories should be told differently and that effective service descriptions must be developed in modules. One module is certainly the core service description but other modules could be graphs, tables, charts, lists, process diagrams, testimonials, quotes, illustrations or photographs. In other words, there is no such thing as a standard service description if your goal is to communicate with your buyer.
The more creative your approach to describing your work, the more appealing you will appear both as an expert and as a business professional!
Start with expectations
A service description should be written in plain English. You need to write headlines (not labels like “Antitrust”) that intrigue your prospects and text they can understand. Don’t write a legal brief. Your prospects want to read something interesting. Write copy that you believe your clients, even your most intelligent and hypercritical clients, will read, understand and enjoy.
Create a systematic approach. Even this more intelligent approach is not easy to execute. First, you almost certainly must reorganize the service description listing that may have grown topsy. Next you must define what services are really important and what is just on the list. Then you must rank the quality of the existing information within each description, etc. . . .it gets complicated doing the right thing right.
We are! Most companies have lived with their service descriptions for decades and are still content with the same old approach of telling clients all about themselves and not the benefits they provide. However, companies brave enough to reach out and ask for the help they need to free themselves of the shackles of the long-winded, outdated and ineffective service description may begin to breath new life into their marketing materials and communications. Revising and creating new service descriptions will reward a company with a unique and powerful sales tool at their command.