10 writing tips for business writers
Years ago, my manager routinely received instructional one-liners like these from her director: ‘Provide me with reasons for budget overspend by lunchtime today’; ‘Give me statistics relating to staff turnover by return’; ‘Talk to Simon about low staff morale’.
These bald business online communications – or ‘calls to actions’ - were negative in their tone and were never accompanied with any common courtesies. The business writer’s commanding messages left the readers feeling frustrated and rattled – and very unlikely to carry out the call to action with any enthusiasm.
In this illustration, the business writer’s call to action was loud and clear, but the communication evoked emotions that were contrary to successful cooperation. The director’s business writing style stood out for all the wrong reasons.
This was the first time I had thought about business writing, and how it can be used to evoke particular emotions in the recipient. It’s all about how the reader feels. If the writer wants the reader to respond to a call to action they need to consider the feelings they are looking to evoke, and how best to use those feelings to inspire the willingness or the need to carry out the required action.
Here are three quick considerations to have ‘front of mind’ before you put pen to paper:
- Who are you writing to?
- How do you want them to feel?
- What do you want them to do?
Let’s imagine you are a bookkeeper and your target market is business owners who are too busy to post their business expenses through their Sage software. You decide to write to this target market telling them how your business can ease their pain. Your goal is to evoke emotions of the joys of handing over the data entry process to you; all they have to do is call you for an informal chat.
These are my top ten winning writing tips to help you write this business letter:
- Think about the mindset of just one person within your target market group. This is your client persona. What are his pain points? What keeps him awake at night?
- Use straightforward language. Avoid complicated terminology that could alienate him or detract from your message.
- Use a confident, knowledgeable and decisive tone.
- Write to him in a conversational way, using words that resonate with him. Imagine he’s sitting across the desk from you. What would you say to him?
- Add weight to your business message through convincing statistics or powerful testimonials from someone he respects.
- Refer to his emotions when talking about the specific benefits to him. Let him know he will have more time to focus on his core business.
- Talk in terms of ‘You’ and ‘Yours’. Steer clear of ‘I’ and ‘Me’. Use “By using a bookkeeper to manage your expenses, you will have more time to focus on your clients”.
- Be clear about your call to action. Tell him he can simply pick up the ‘phone and call you for an informal chat.
- Be friendly, professional and courteous throughout.
- Let your letter rest. Return to it the following day. Edit, print and proofread it. (Read it out loud to yourself.) Be absolutely certain it is error-free.
To summarise, after you have taken the previous three considerations on board, stick to my top ten winning writing tips for business writers. If you follow this guide, your business writing will stand out for all the right reasons.
What are your tips for effective business writing? Please let me know in the comments section below.
Lindsay McLoughlin runs a blogging, copywriting and editing/proofreading service at www.proofedbylinds.co.uk. Lindsay writes about business, networking and social media within her ‘Business Talk’ blog category. In the UK Blog Awards 2014, Lindsay’s ‘Business Talk’ blog has been voted for two awards as a result of the open public vote.
In the same month, Lindsay’s business was also voted ‘Best Loved Business 2014’ in Henley on Thames and was the nation’s runner-up in the UK’s ‘Best Loved Copywriter 2014’ Award. Check out her blog at http://www.proofedbylinds.co.uk/blog/ and get in touch with her via social media.
Image remixed via Antonio Litterio