Effective Business Writing – Be Natural

Have you noticed that when companies write brochures, web copy and other marketing materials, they produce text that’s very jargonated (yes, I made that word up), corporate and downright boring?effective business writing

There seems to be a misconception that sales writing has to be that way.


Do they think it makes them sound important? Interesting? Intelligent?

Well, it doesn’t. In fact it’s a complete turn-off.

The way you write reflects the type of company you are. For example, something as simple as the salutation in a letter can speak volumes about your company:

  • Dear customer – we are a company that really doesn’t care about you, we just want your money
  • Dear Mrs Jones – at least me know your name, but we’re very formal and not very approachable
  • Hello Mary – we want to talk to you, you’re a real person and we want to build a relationship with you
  • Hi Mary – we love our customers because they make us the company we are. Come and talk to us, we want to hear from you

How you structure your brochures, web copy and sales letters is also very important. Writing these in-house can lead to stuffy writing. Company employees very quickly become indoctrinated to communication through ‘company jargon’ and therefore, when they write, that’s what they write.

A better way would be to imagine yourself with a friend and think about how you would explain the concept you’re writing about to them.

The chances are you won’t use ‘corporate’ words and phrases like obtain, retain, further to, in the event that and instead use simple words you’d use in everyday speech like get, keep, following and if.

In other words write as you would speak. And before you go getting on your high horse and start ranting about professionalism in business, let me ask you this – is it better to get your message across simply and effectively, or appear ‘professional’ by using complex words and sentence structures that complete baffle your reader?

To me, and just about every other marketer under the sun, it is professional to understand your reader and to address them in simple language that effectively communicates your message.

If you ignore your reader and their needs, they are not going to want to do business with you. Why should they?

So, in a nutshell:

  • Write what you mean and say it clearly
  • Write to your reader (i.e. in the second person)
  • Cut out any jargon, business buzzwords or anything formal
  • Use verbs as much as possible rather than nouns
  • Use the active voice (i.e. the subject of the sentence ‘acts’ e.g. ‘I threw the ball’, ‘Dave stroked the cat’)

By following those simple steps, your writing will become more effective, punchier and clearer.

Give it a try – find a piece of writing you’ve done before and write it again using these tips.

Sally Ormond – Copywriter

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