Writing can change the world. Writing conveys passion, enthusiasm, interest, intrigue, and critical details to help people make better decisions. Writing is a tangible expression of thought, analysis and influence.
So, why is there so much bad writing in business?
One of the challenges in business writing is that we are trying to get people to change their minds and change their behavior - decide to engage our services, choose to download something, ask for more information, or express interest in hearing more from us. But too much business writing is flat, unexciting, emotionless, and ineffective. If you want your business writing to help sell what you're selling, you need to create an emotional connection with the audience, build trust, and start establishing a relationship before the customer ever talks to you on the phone or meets with you in person.
Here are a few ways that your business can get better sales results via better business writing:
- Get inside the mind of your audience: Who is the person that will be reading your writing, and what are they worried about? What problem or stressful situation or long-delayed decision can your business help them resolve? Before you write a single word, spend some time thinking about what is going through the mind of your reader. What is the perspective that they are coming from when they read your writing? Whatever the answer is should be evident in your content.
- Build trust with your audience: One of the most important functions of good business writing, especially when writing website content, proposals or social media content, is to establish credibility. Everything you write needs to build trust. Think about all the empty promises made by advertising, all the bluster and hype. Are your readers skeptical of too many sales pitches, are they doubtful about your budget promises, or are they prepared to go find a cheaper price quote? You need to think about the reasons why your audience might be reluctant to trust you - and address their concerns openly and honestly. Show them the value that you offer. Explain why your services or your solution are worth the price. Don't "overpromise" and use lots of glitzy sales language - speak honestly and plainly. Use your own authentic voice.
- Show some passion: Too many business websites sound exactly the same. "We provide customized solutions to deliver value for the most important asset of our business - our customers!" There are too many boring clichés in sales writing. Instead, tell your business's unique story. Explain why you started doing what you do. Convey the enthusiasm that you bring to your work each day. Give the audience something to hang on to and remember you by. If you wanted to be boring and "by the book," you could have worked at a big corporation - but you decided to hang out a shingle as a an solo business owner or independent consultant. Show the audience why you care about what you sell - and they'll be more likely to care about you.
- Don't try to appeal to everyone: Your business is not the right fit for every customer, and you shouldn't try to be "all things to all people." Some customers won't want to buy what you sell, and that's fine. Your business writing should have an attitude and point of view that helps your prospective customers "pre-qualify" themselves by either saying, "This company isn't right for me and I'm not going to waste their time by calling," or "Yes, I love this company and I want to hear more from them." As Jason Fried talks about in this Inc.com article, good business writing should have a point of view. It's OK for your business writing to alienate some prospective customers as long as it has the effect of motivating your best customers to love you even more.
Business writing doesn't have to be "rocket science." Perhaps the best way to get better business writing that sells is to write in a more authentic human voice. If you know how to empathize with your audience, get them to trust you, convey the passion and real human energy behind your work, and use your writing to help "pre-sort" your sales prospects, you'll find that your website content, proposals and other business writing are attracting prospective customers who are better suited to your business and who are more ready to buy from you.
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