One key element for a small business to be successful and continue to grow is effective business writing. Small business owners must communicate to employees, clients, and prospects in various forms, for example emails, web pages, social media content, and advertisements. Clear and effective business writing can save time, increase productivity, and lead to more sales. Here are three secrets to becoming better at business writing.
Some Things to Consider When Engaging in Business Writing
First off, it is extremely important to think about what you want to write and the medium you are writing in before a single word is typed. An email to a colleague takes a different approach and tone, compared with an email to a current client. Likewise, a blog post on your company’s website needs to be written in a different way than copy for a social media campaign. It is always important to remember who you are writing to, why, and how they would perceive your communication. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine them reading your words aloud. It can have a drastic effect on your initial draft.
Second, once your draft is written in the medium appropriate for the communication, it is important to again put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Now, work on making your draft clearer, simpler, and more direct. Don’t beat around the bush — say what you mean to say and say it in the most simple way possible. This entails deleting any jargon (especially with clients) and replacing these words with a layman’s explanation. For example, don’t say “we’ve embedded content on a popular microblogging platform to increase conversion rates” when the simple way to say that is “we posted a link on Twitter hoping for more sales.”
Third, following advice from one of the greatest writing books of all time The Elements of Style, omit needless words. As the author himself states, “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.” To make your writing strong, eliminate needless words and shorten up your sentences. This type of clear writing demands a lot of work, but the result is worth it.
Recommended Resources for Business Writing
Various software applications exist to help you improve your business writing. Here is a brief list of some:
- WhiteSmoke — automatically checks all emails sent from Outlook.
- Grammarly — finds and corrects over 250 grammatical mistakes (this is far beyond the capability of Microsoft Word).
- Ginger — a specialized keyboard for Android devices that gives grammar and spelling suggestions
- PaperRater — a free web-based tool used to instantly analyze a piece for grammar or plagiarism
- Scrivener — quite possibly the world’s number one writing environment for people who write regularly
- WordStream — helps to optimize your content for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns
As for books, Inc.com suggests eight great books on business writing which are highly recommended reading material.