Business writing is a specific style that promotes clear and effective communication between colleagues and customers, which helps achieve business goals. It’s also an art; good business writing must have the right tone and style but also needs its message to be clear.
Writers often use a business style to meet one or more of the following objectives:
- Encouraging action. Many professionals can guide others on what goals to pursue and how to accomplish them.
- Providing news. You can alert internal and external audiences to recent business developments.
- Explaining or justifying an action or idea. Many writers use a business style to explain or defend a decision, especially if the situation is complex and potentially controversial.
- Influencing methods. Business writing can advise audiences on more effective ways to accomplish tasks, such as leveraging a specific analytical tool or contracting outside personnel.
Why business writing is more important today than ever before
Business writing skills are crucial in today’s digital, tech-heavy world. People want information in a hurry, and writing clearly and concisely is critical to effectively communicate with an engaged audience. Here are just a few of the benefits of good business writing:
- Boosts efficiency and productivity. Effective business writing helps team members disseminate clear internal communications—such as emails or messages on chat platforms—with minimal confusion.
- Builds manager and colleague confidence. Business leaders who explain action items properly encourage employees and colleagues to believe in their capabilities.
- Improves your ability to manage effectively. Good management relies heavily on effective written communication. Employees are more likely to achieve results when managers send clear emails and instructions. Clear communication encourages collaboration and builds trust.
- Enhances brand reputation. Many customers encounter products and services through written content such as website blogs, social media posts, and email campaigns. Your content can influence customers’ initial perceptions and impact their purchase behavior.
- Drives more sales. A well-written piece of content can have a significant impact on your marketing and sales operations. For example, poorly written business proposals and marketing materials might give the impression that your company is unreliable. Quality content can help you convert more sales and generate more leads.
Top challenges of business writing
Providing a clear call to action
In business writing, it’s vital to keep a clear call to action in mind. What action do you want your intended audience to take? Whether it’s a memo to a cross-functional team or a sales email to a prospective customer, start with the action in mind and don’t muddle your message.
Communicate honestly and directly by clearly defining your expectations. Interns, mid-level professionals, and executives alike value clarity and efficiency.
Even if you only intend to share important information, be sure to clarify that no further action is necessary on your reader’s part. A clear call to action helps prevent misunderstandings, improves internal productivity, and fosters positive relationships through improved team and customer experiences.
Editing for conciseness
Get to the point faster. Keep your writing as brief as possible without cutting out essential information. Consider breaking up long paragraphs by incorporating bullet points and subheads. Make content and communication more skimmable for colleagues and customers.
Striking the right tone
An uncomplicated writing style will help people better understand your message or marketing content. Avoid overusing internal or industry-specific keywords, acronyms, and buzz words.
Convey your intended message without unnecessary words, phrases, or informal language. When writing to inform or educate, provide facts and research that support your statements and arguments. When communicating with customers, provide clear answers and helpful resources while communicating with empathy.
Ensuring writing is polished and mistake-free
Grammatical mistakes, misspellings, misused punctuation can be distracting and reflect poorly on your team or company. For important business communications, consider stepping away for a moment and revisiting with a fresh pair of eyes.
Considering cultural differences
Customs, attitudes, and communication styles vary significantly across the globe, and understanding these differences is crucial to communicating more effectively in business. These differences in cross-cultural communication can often influence the voice and tone in business writing. Taking the time to consider a diverse and global perspective to your writing can positively impact your business as you build a more diverse team and customer base.
Types of business writing
Informational writing provides your colleagues with new or relevant information. In business, informational writing can be an urgent message or memo.
When writing in this style, consider the following questions:
- What information does this communication cover?
- How exactly does this information benefit the reader?
- What action should someone take after reading it?
Delivering information is often challenging because you must capture attention right away—in the subject line or above the fold.
Instructional writing explains how to do something. The objective is to guide your audience through a step-by-step process to complete a task as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Assume the reader is a new colleague or customer. Provide thorough instructions and essential details. Here are some ways to ensure your writing captures every point:
- Use imperative sentences for calls to action.
- Use bulleted lists for tasks that do not require a specific order of completion.
- Use numbered lists for tasks that need to occur in a particular order.
- Write a single action item per line. When a step requires multiple actions, your reader may miss one if instructions list two on a single line.
Persuasive writing prompts the audience to act. For example, convincing a customer to purchase a product or encouraging a team member to complete weekly tasks a day early.
To write persuasively, follow these steps:
- Understate, don’t overstate. Exaggeration and hyperbole could dent credibility and even cause the audience to dismiss the content altogether.
- Focus on benefits rather than features. What’s in it for me?
- Anticipate and preempt any potential concerns. Failing to address issues ahead of time may turn people off to your message entirely.
- If you’re aiming to persuade colleagues or customers to take action, add a clear call to action, plus instructions for taking that action.
How to develop your team’s business writing
Provide opportunities to upskill your team
Although everyone brings their own skillset to work, that skillset can stagnate without regular training. This doesn’t just mean writing—training in customer experience improvement or cognitive and digital capabilities can be invaluable. Clear, concise phrasing and good grammar are essential, but if readers can’t understand your point, it doesn’t matter how important that point is. That’s why offering training in business writing is also essential. You can provide an in-company curriculum or engage an outside consultant for this step.
Digital writing tools
There are many advantages to using digital writing tools to help your teams:
- Align company writing with business standards. Team members often will not develop the appropriate writing skills unless managers provide defined skill improvement goals that reflect acceptable business standards. Companies can use writing tools to measure this progress and teach team members how to switch among instructional, informational, and persuasive writing modes while remaining aligned with industry standards.
- Provide useful feedback. Providing valuable and timely feedback can be challenging. Writing tools provide team members with constructive feedback in real-time that helps them hone their writing skills.
- Provide opportunities to tailor instruction. Managers often need to tailor instruction for each team member to reflect varying job duties. Writing tools like Grammarly Business’s style guide feature can prompt managers to incorporate duty-specific terminology when drafting instructions for different team members.
- Promote engagement among team members. Writing tools can facilitate meaningful and productive team member interactions. Grammarly Business’s tone detector allows your team to set a goal tone and then adjust their writing accordingly.
Online style guides can be handy for organizations with team members working in various locations worldwide. Everyone communicates differently; however, customers recognize and appreciate consistency. As a result, they often feel more comfortable patronizing brands that present a unified front across marketing messages and intent.
The more familiar that message becomes to a customer, the more likely they are to develop brand loyalty.