The Rules

Yes, it’s important for businesses and nonprofits to ‘think outside the box’ and to stand out from the competition… BUT… there are still a few cardinal rules for successful communication… and for success in life.

Be clear about your purpose and the outcome you want to achieve.

This is true with good communication and with success in all areas of your life, isn’t it? In business, It helps to define your goals for a piece of communication before you start. Is the ultimate goal to raise money or to sell a product or service? Are you writing to inform or educate? Or do you simply want to say thank you?

Always write with your goal in mind. If something in a letter or piece of communication doesn’t speak to the purpose of that piece, it isn’t necessary.

I’m sure you know that setting goals (and writing them down) has been proven again and again to be highly effective. But I believe it’s even more important to sit down and think about your core purpose — for your professional and your personal life. It will help you decide which actions support (and which detract from) the direction you want your life — and your business — to take.

Tell a clear and compelling story.

In my many years of experience with direct response marketing, I learned that people respond best to a story. Ideally, one told directly to them by another person. A story elicits an emotional response, and emotions drive people to take action.

Stories are what connect us as human beings. We use stories to educate, to inspire, to celebrate and to mourn. Many of us read stories to relax or unwind at the end of a busy day, or to escape from the stresses of life. We tell stories to make sense of our lives and the lives of those around us.

We tell stories to others, but we also tell stories to ourselves. Is the story you’re telling yourself clear and compelling? Is it positive and focused on all that you are grateful for, or is it focused on the negative and all the things you feel you’re lacking?

Focus on connecting and building relationships.

Relationships are important. For everyone. In business or in your personal life. Without your relationships with the people in your life, what do you have? And yet, how much time do you spend nurturing and maintaining those relationships?

It’s important to treat people (donors, clients, contacts, friends) with respect. To focus on long-term relationships over short-term gain. It’s common sense, really. You say ‘thank you’ when you receive a donation or when someone purchases your product or service. You keep in touch in a meaningful way, on a consistent basis. Perhaps you send birthday and anniversary cards, or cards on other special occasions. (For a fantastic service that lets you do this quickly and cost-effectively from the comfort of your own home, click here.)

Be honest and transparent with others and with yourself.

Now, more than ever, honesty and integrity are key values for businesses and nonprofits to model. Today’s consumers are looking for absolute transparency. They want to know they can trust you, your business, your organization, with their money.

Know — and clearly show — how you’re helping others and the world to be a better place.

Our world is in an extremely fragile state. Consumers are choosing to support those businesses and organizations who are helping to make it better.

Get in touch with me to see how I can help you implement some of these rules in your own communication materials — or in your personal life!