Think like a marketer when you’re writing policies

When was the last time you read the terms and conditions you issue to your suppliers? Or any of the internal policies where you work? Or the privacy policy at the bottom of a web page?

Chances are it’s been a while. Because, more often than not, documents like these are not thought of – or created – in the same way as their sales and marketing cousins.

Maybe these “behind the scenes” documents don’t bring in new customers directly. But when they’re positioned, structured and communicated thoughtfully, they can help you in ways which are just as valuable.

Most organisations know that they need to be clear and engaging when they communicate with customers. But when it comes to critical internal documents like policies, a similar sentiment is often lacking. And what you get instead is dull, legalistic slabs of text that are all-too-easy to ignore.

Our view is that all the language in your organisation should be treated with equal care. Here are some reasons why:

Your communications will achieve what you want them to

If a document looks too difficult – or makes your colleagues’ brains freeze over when they try to read it – they won’t read it. Or maybe the most diligent will try, and then quickly forget. If you’re setting out the ways you want people to work with you, you need that information to land and be remembered. Otherwise, there’s no point in creating the document in the first place.

A well understood and often-referred-to document creates trust

Policies and technical documents should actively be trying to democratise the information they contain. Achieving this level of transparency creates trust. The opposite is true of text that makes information more difficult to access.

Your language is a window on your culture

The words you use don’t just perform the role of conveying facts. They’re also  understood as an expression of who you are, what matters to you and the ways you work. Which means if you write in an open, accessible and inclusive way, not only will you be seen as open and inclusive – you’ll also provoke open and inclusive behaviours in your teams. Conversely, if you communicate in impenetrable, hierarchical ways, you could – albeit unwittingly – have whole suites of documents that promote siloed cultures.

These documents should set out the nature of your relationship with teams and other stakeholders

The odds are that you offer good terms and conditions of employment. And that you’re a decent organisation to work with. If you don’t make this sing out loudly from your Ts&Cs and policies, you’re missing an important opportunity to position your organisation positively.

As ever, if you’d like to talk to us about your internal documents, please give us a call.

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