Better business writing: six smart ideas

Better business writing: six smart ideas

Create copy that sings, whatever your audience

If you value your clients, then you value the copy you produce. And that means crafting the right words for both the message and that audience. Here are some practice notes to help keep you focused:

1. Know your audience

And we mean really know them. Tone and style with their motivations in mind are everything – misjudge these and you may as well not write a single word. Remember, the copy is for your audience, not you. You need to capture, retain and nurture their attention. Are you writing for internal teams, customers or investors? As an example, walk into a high street bank and take a couple of leaflets aimed at both personal and business customers – the difference in tone should be obvious immediately.

2. Cut to the chase

Don’t bury the message. Chop out unnecessary scene setting, make your statement and then support it. Try to write your copy in one productive session rather than in segments, then re-visit it. You’ll find something to change and your piece will be better for it.

3. Keep it simple

Less is more – it’s that easy. Don’t use 50 clever words when five short and snappy ones will do. This is especially true with headlines. Leave the long sentences to the novelists.

4. Avoid clichés

It’s easy to slip into the cliché trap, so make a conscious effort and avoid them. The same applies to scientific words, foreign languages or well-known phrases. Try to write in plain English and use your creative skill to illustrate your points with interesting metaphors or fresh examples, rather than trotting out the tired and overused

5. Exclamation marks are a lazy distraction

And they’re unnecessary too. Peppering your copy with too much furniture makes it sound glib and detracts from the impact your copy should have. It’s the equivalent of laughing at your own joke.

6. Get active

Verbs make things seem clearer, especially to casual readers. Take the initiative and give your text the imperative. Words such as hurry, free, quick, now, start, go and register all convey a sense of urgency. It’s unusual to see words such as maybe, possibly, probably or sometimes in good copywriting because they suggest ambiguity and a lack of confidence in your message. Your audience needs to be inspired to act or take note, not search for more definite responses written by someone else.

Sammy Todd Former Marketing Manager CIM
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