First, a question.
When you plan to launch a startup, do you consider how much writing you’ll need to do? Emails, business offers, press releases, marketing materials… No wonder why many suggest starting a blog before you start a business: it helps to develop a clear voice as well as understand the power of written word for your future brand’s success.
Sure, you can hire writers to create business content for you. But what about emails you write at work? Or, contracts and business proposals, which are essential for your startup success? You’ll hardly entrust their writing to random authors who know nothing about your brand’s mission, values, product, and audience, right?
And now, think about how much time you’ve wasted trying to get the point of poorly written emails or reports others sent to you. They can lead to miscommunications, email etiquette breaches, lost opportunities for your business, and its destroyed online reputation.
So, whether you craft a business plan or cold email outreach, business writing skills are what you’ll need to succeed.
And here’s what you can do to improve them.
Write With “5Ws + H” in Mind
Your business writing needs to be, above all, relevant. And it’s clear why:
Overwhelmed with tons of incoming messages, people don’t want to read anything that leaves them wondering, “What’s the point?” Business writing is about free-of-fluff messages.
Try the journalistic “5Ws + H” approach: answer six questions before crafting your business message.
- Who’ll read this?
- What do they need to know?
- When do they need it?
- Where will they read it?
- Why do they need it?
- How should they use the information I give?
Also, ask yourself: “Do I need to send this message? Specialists in your niche are bombarded with content every day, and many of those writing pieces look like spam to them. Save their time by sending content that’s 100% relevant and needed.
Keep It Short
In business writing, the more concise you are, the better. Even if you need to share a narrative with readers, get to the point quickly and don’t make them struggle to understand what you were going to say.
Use clear words and short sentences. Structure your writing so a recipient could scan it and understand what you want. Outline it before writing: create a plan for your article, press release, or email.
Once you’ve got the list of main points to cover, you’ll be able to communicate your thoughts to readers.
Professional jargon, slang, abbreviations, too long sentences – avoid them in business writing. They make you sound pretentious rather than smart, driving readers nuts. Keep your writing natural.
Jokes are taboos, too: they are easy to misunderstand, and your reputation of a professional may suffer.
Use an active voice, say no to redundant adverbs, and resist the temptation to show emotions. To master the craft of writing great content, you need to understand a fine line between sounding mentoring but not bossy and confident but not cocky.
Proofread Before Sending
You might even want to work with a professional editor who’ll review your content because grammar mistakes in business writing are not only embarrassing: they hurt your credibility. Readers and clients will consider you less intelligent and trustworthy.
The minimum you can do is rely on spellcheckers. They can’t catch everything, but it’s a good start to minimize typos in your writing. Also, proofread your every piece of writing just after you’ve finished it. Tricks to use here:
- Read it backwards. This tick allows you to notice mistakes you didn’t see while writing.
- Read it out loud. It helps to read slower and “hear” mistakes you might miss. When in the office and can’t read out loud, consider AI-powered soft such as Proofread Bot, Read My Essay, editMinion, etc.: paste your text there – and listen to the bot reading it, specifying typos and weird word constructions.
- Ask someone to proofread it for you. Or, if time allows, proofread it later again, in a few hours after writing. It’s a chance to take a fresh look at writing and see its weak points for better optimization.
In a word
Business writing is a must-have skill for every entrepreneur, and anyone can learn and improve it. The best way to master writing is to practice it. And even if you have a staff of copywriters and editors, you still need to control a business correspondence as well as marketing materials of your brand, don’t you?
By Lesley Vos
With 7+ years in marketing, Lesley specializes in sales copywriting and storytelling. Currently associating with Bid 4 Papers content, she’s also a regular contributor to many publications on business, digital marketing, and self-growth. Feel free to find more works of hers on Twitter @LesleyVos.