5 Must-Have Habits of Better Business Writers
When you think of “business writing,” what comes to mind? Lengthy correspondence filled with big words that prove you’re intelligent or insider jargon that prove you’re industry-knowledgeable? Let’s hope not. That kind of writing went out of style a long time ago. Today, business writing is – or should be – all about simplicity and brevity.
When was the last time you even wrote a business letter? Today’s business writing (the vast majority of which is sales-oriented) encompasses completely different formats – your website, email, blog articles, social media posts and, yes, longer pieces such as whitepapers or eBooks. If you want your marketing to really perform, you must adopt these 5 business writing habits.
People are busy. You don’t have time to wade through acres of type to get to the point of whatever you’re reading, and neither do your own readers. We’ve become a culture of skimmers, and impatience is at an all-time high. If you can’t make your point quickly (and compellingly), your prospective readers will abandon you in a heartbeat.
Short paragraphs are more inviting to the eye, whereas long ones scream “boring.”
Get to the point, part 1.
By now, smart business marketers know using stories to illustrate their point can be a very effective technique. But you have to use the story properly. For instance, starting your blog article by recounting a story that starts seemingly at the beginning of time and finally gets to the issue at hand will bore readers and leave them wondering where you’re even headed.
Instead, turn it around, so the story underscores your point: make your key point first, then recount the story (only the relevant parts, please) as an example.
Get to the point, part 2.
In fact, you should always make your most important point first no matter what you’re writing, so your reader knows exactly what to expect from the rest of your written piece. What is this all about? Readers that can’t even figure out the topic or quickly discern what they will learn by reading further won’t bother. It’s insulting to waste people’s time with rambling blather.
Keep your sentences on the short side, and keep each paragraph to just 2-4 sentences.
Use more nouns and verbs, fewer descriptors (adjectives and adverbs). Divide longer pieces into sections and give use one a short sub-headline. This accomplishes two things: it visually breaks up your writing so it’s more appealing to the eye, and it lets your skimmer-readers pick up the gist of your piece by checking out the sub-heads.
If this is difficult for you at first, write a draft and then ask yourself, “How can I say this in fewer words?”
Just say no to jargon.
Remember that much of your marketing, even for heavy-duty truck or construction equipment dealers, is aimed at top-of-funnel prospects who may not be entirely familiar with all the industry buzzwords. Your goal is to be seen as a resource to readers, so using too many expressions or abbreviations that make them feel like an outsider will cause them to look elsewhere for help. And, frankly, no one appreciates the “baffle ‘em with you-know-what” approach any more. People want straight-forward information they can understand and put to use without a lot of effort.
There’s another kind of jargon, too – pointless over-the-top adjectives such as “unbelievable,” “awesome,” “epic,” “revolutionary,” etc. They may be trendy, but they have no real meaning, and they have no place in business writing. They simply make you appear childish or unimaginative. Save the superlatives for the few times when they are truly appropriate.
Use adult punctuation.
Business writing, even marketing, should be based on facts. Your teenagers might use multiple exclamation points in their social posts and texts, but over-the-top punctuation merely diminishes the authority of your business writing.