12 Ways To Get Results Through Business Writing, Part 1
I've been in the business world a long time. I'm not a C-suite level executive. I've not invented a product or led a huge transformation. However, there is one key skill that I possess that most leaders I work with don't have—I can write a clear and concise sentence that can influence others.
In a world dominated by email and social media, your success is directly proportional to your ability to influence others through the written word, and in my experience, the leaders who can do this stand above the rest—and they have more control over the authenticity of their messages.
Today and tomorrow, Promotional Consultant Today shares these 12 business writing tips (and examples) from Inc. magazine contributing editor, Geoffrey James.
1. State your conclusion first. People today are simply too busy to ponder your thought processes. They need you to get to the point of the email within the first two sentences.
Wrong: "In this white paper, we will investigate the potential impact of remedial sales training in our buyer/seller relationships. First, let us discuss the initial conditions which precipitated our inquiry."
Right: "If we don't fund the ABC sales training program, our sales will plummet."
2. Be personal and authentic. Strong business writing strengthens relationships. But how can you have a relationship with somebody you don't know or who hides behind jargon?
Wrong: "The operational goals of this organization include an increase in morale as well as overall job satisfaction."
Right: "I want to enjoy working here. I'll bet you do, too."
3. Give concrete examples rather than abstract concepts. While abstract concepts have value, they're difficult to understand when not anchored by an actual example.
Wrong: "The ability for sales and marketing to cooperate on sales opportunities is crucial to sustainable revenue growth."
Right: "The other day, we lost the Acme account because our sales message and our marketing message didn't jibe."
4. Appeal to emotion as well as intellect. Human beings make decisions based on their emotions and then find intellectual reasons to defend the decision.
Wrong: "Our records indicate that 10 percent of our sales opportunities are lost without any sustained effort in the area of competitive analysis and comparison."
Right: "Everyone around here loves winning deals so much that we get skittish when it comes to finding out why we lost a deal."
5. Use vivid wording rather than corporate-speak. Using unimaginative jargon or tired old metaphors causes your writing to fade into the mental woodwork.
Wrong: "This action item calls for out-of-the-box thinking."
Right: "If you've got an idea that you're afraid might be half-baked, let's consider it anyway."
6. Don't repeat yourself. Repetition adds bulk to your writing without adding any content. It drags your writing down and blunts whatever point you're trying to make.
Wrong: "This training program teaches you to learn the best tricks, tips, techniques and skills for every stage of the market process."
Right: "This program teaches the best marketing tricks."
Clear, concise and personable writing is the key. Read PCT again tomorrow to learn six more tricks of the trade.
Source: Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author and a professional speaker whose award-winning blog, Sales Source, appears daily on Inc.com. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. To get your sales message critiqued for free, subscribe to his free weekly Sales Source newsletter.