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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Reading and writing

Yeah, I read a lot. This is a picture of just part of my personal library. If you enjoy reading -- and writing -- you have a powerful competitive advantage. You should put these skill and interests to work for your business.

Most readers of this blog will not need or want to read as much as I do. After all, you are unlikely to consider writing as your trade. Then again, if you are reading these pages routinely, you know the value and power of the written word. Even as electronic and visual media have increasing role -- and accessibility -- in marketing, you can still absorb more information, sustainably, with words than with other media. (Obviously visuals can appeal to your emotions, and provide great demonstrations, but words still communicate abstract ideas and thoughts most powerfully.)

In fact, if you are an architectural, engineering or construction professional or trades person, if you are a reader, you have a powerful competitive advantage if you can convert your reading into writing. Succinct and informative articles in relevant trade journals and publications create credibility and relationships; both in writing them (your research opens the door for contacts you would not otherwise achieve) and in the distribution achieved to your readers.

Original, informative and educational content on your website will, of course be more powerful and effective for readers than the traditional platitudes and brochure-type imagery -- and if you update your site frequently with this original content, your search engine rankings may soar.

Finally, you might dare to tackle the biggest writing challenge -- the book. Earlier this year, I set a goal to have the first draft of my first book (naturally, the topic is construction marketing) ready by Christmas, and I'm on track to achieving the goal. Every day I set the alarm for 5 a.m., and complete about two hours writing and editing before everyone else awakens.

If you want to write a book, of course, you need to learn new skills and have patience and organization for a long-term project. Writing coach Cindy Shearer helped out at the start -- now the editing task passes to my wife, Vivian. As things progress, I expect the edited draft will be ready for layout and pre-press production at the end of January 2009, and then the manuscript will go to the online print-on-demand service. (Since my business is publishing, I'll self-publish this title -- using the wholesale print-on-demand service which allows for truly reasonable production costs (but you need to have qualified people familiar with the process of preparing and designing printed materials available to use this printer -- it isn't for amateurs.)

One great thing about effective writing is you can often recycle the same material in different formats and environments, allowing you to multiply your marketing impact for the same effort.

If you can/enjoy writing, do it.

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