As a small business owner, you need to communicate effectively through writing to customers, employees, vendors and other stakeholders in your business.
From your business plan to a company blog to a simple email, your writing should be clear, concise and targeted to your audience. Here are tips that can help improve your business writing.
1. Know Your Audience
This slogan from the advertising world sums it up: “A message aimed at everyone often appeals to no one.” Before you pick up a pen or type one letter, give some thought to your target audience. What is the demographic you’re trying to reach? Is it your employees, your customers or another contact? For example, your voice and tone for millennials will be vastly different from the voice and tone you use targeting retirees.
Here’s an article with more information to help you identify your audience: Tips To Find The Correct Target Audience For Your Emails.
2. Determine Your Message
Before you get started, decide what you want to achieve. Are you just sharing information? Do you need to explain a complex concept? Are you inspiring readers to act? Once you nail down your key message, writing will be a bit easier.
3. Keep It Short and Sweet
Back in 2000, around the time of the mobile revolution, the average human attention span was twelve seconds. The findings of a recent Canadian study revealed that the average human attention span is now eight seconds (shorter than a goldfish!). Whatever you’re writing, keep it short, sweet and easy-to-understand. Here’s a great example from the Business Writing That Counts blog.
An email to employees might read:
“In order to increase in-store and online sales of products with the highest profit margin, a training will be held for new and long-time sales staff, as well as customer service employees. These meetings will take place in two weeks.” (40 words)
A shorter way to present this information is:
“We’ll hold training sessions in two weeks for sales and customer service staff aimed at improving product sales.” (18 words)
Most people face a barrage of content every day and can be turned off by a long email or a document that doesn’t cut to the chase.
4. Check Your Grammar & Spelling
This quote from an author and business trainer Jeffrey Gitomer sums it up well: “Your grammar is a reflection of your image. Good or bad, you have made an impression. And like all impressions, you are in total control.” Most programs (like MS Word or Google email) have a spelling and grammar check function available. For more writing assistance, explore Grammarly. It’s a simple proofreading app that checks grammar and proofreads your writing for spelling errors and poor use of vocabulary.
5. Break It Down
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! This old saying is especially true for those tackling a writing project. Sitting down in front of a blank document can be intimidating and kick procrastination into high gear. Instead of trying to get an entire project done in one go, try breaking it down into manageable chunks. A strategy to make a large writing project seem less daunting is to set a timer. Work on copy for a set amount of time – 10 or 15 minutes – then take a break away from the keyboard.
6. Get Feedback
Writers are usually too close to a project to look at it objectively. Also, it’s really hard to proofread your own writing! Ask one of your employees, a friend or family member with some writing chops to look over what you’ve written before you blast it out.
7. Go with a Freelancer
If you have a lot of projects but don’t have the skills or time, consider hiring an outside professional to take over writing duties. This excellent article has great tips to help you find the right fit: Guide to Hiring a Freelance Business Writer.
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