I’ve been guilty of this too at times, trying to find eye-catching titles or using jargon to connect with my audience.
Being able to communicate effectively in your writing is more about clarity than cuteness, more about the right words rather than many words. You want them to get to know you and your brand. And that requires being open.
Good writing isn’t easy. But it’s always revealing. And personal.
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Think about powerful speeches you’ve heard: Kennedy’s inaugural address, or Brene Brown’s TED talk about vulnerability. They stir you. They empower you.
You want to do the same with your clients and customers. Connect with them emotionally. Deliver the information they need so that they can understand it clearly.
That’s the power of great writing.
True, you may decide to hire someone to do your promotional writing. And that’s OK. Still, having good writing skills yourself will help you recognize good writing when you see it.
To help you develop good writing skills, here are 8 business writing essentials to look out for as you hit those keys:
1. Turn down the volume. You don’t need to throw words at something in the hopes that someone will connect with even a part of what you say. The Gettysburg address was only 272 words, and it continues to inspire more than 150 years later. Keep it as brief as you can while communicating what you want to share.
2. Keep it simple. Multi-syllabic (see, I just did it right there) words are usually not necessary. Research has shown that even highly educated people understand better when things are expressed simply, especially when they’re under stress. When you’re communicating about your solution to a client’s problem, are they stressed? Probably. Make it easy on them and write using clear and simple wording.
That doesn’t mean you have to oversimplify. Give people credit for being able to appreciate the complexity of what you do. Find the balance between simplicity and conveying important points.
3. One idea, one sentence. The thing I see most often when people write is the run-on sentence. Trying to pack a lot into one sentence, even if the parts are related, just confuses your reader. Keep sentences short. One and done when it comes to ideas. This is especially true when you’re writing for marketing purposes.
4. Accuracy is important. Get your facts straight. Do the research. Look up the information you need. In most cases, it’s right there on the internet. Be ready to stand behind what you write.
Look for typos. Always use your spellchecker. If you don’t have an eye for typos, let someone else look over your work before you hit, “Send.”
Bad spelling, especially with spellcheck readily available, looks like you don’t know what you’re doing. “Register for the webinar” and “So fun, they won’t even know their learning” for children’s software are less likely to get you clicks. No matter how great your ideas are, you risk being overlooked.
5. Good grammar and punctuation are beautiful to behold. To me, there’s nothing more jarring than a badly constructed sentence. Here are a couple of examples: “Rachael Ray finds inspiration in cooking her family and her dog”. And, “If the smallest hole appears after 6 months’ wear, we will make another absolutely free”.
True, I’ve been a professional writer for a long time. Still, the reason that grammar and punctuation conventions were created is to help the reader read smoothly. Help your readers along by knowing the conventions and following accepted grammar and punctuation conventions.
Bonus: Watch the possessive apostrophe. You’re more likely to have people “enjoy our blueberry pancake’s” without the apostrophe.
6. Clarity outperforms cute. Every time. It’s tempting to get really cute when you’re naming or titling something. Avoid cute. If the reader isn’t really clear what you’re talking about, cuteness will not serve you or your product or service. And it won’t serve the client either. Be as clear as you can be, even if it means leaving your cute idea behind.
7. Don’t just write. Communicate. Whether it’s a client or a colleague you request feedback from, listen to what they’ve said. You are working to communicate. If it’s clear only to you and no one else, you have not communicated. You’ve only written. Ensure that what you’re writing is clear to those you’re trying to reach.
8. Write and then rewrite. This is a hard one for me to encourage you to do. I don’t enjoy editing nearly as much as I enjoy writing. But I know that it serves the work. It helps you be clearer and briefer. It helps you visit different perspectives, so you can reach the audience you want to reach.
Writing is an essential way you share the value that you offer to your clients and customers. Don’t shortchange that value with poor writing.
Your words matter, in business and everywhere else. Spend the time and effort to develop your skills. You’ll be rewarded.