7 things that can strangle your business writing

Writing for business can be a challenge, especially as in many cases there is surrounding pressure on you – as the business writer – to create a first-class result despite the challenges. Here are some common pressures, and how to deal with them…

1.The person needs an answer NOW

Sometimes you need to answer a letter or an email very quickly. For example, it could be from a customer who has a problem, or from a prospect who needs to make a choice between doing business with you or someone else. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, though, you still need to stop and think before you write. You need to get up from your desk, walk to the water cooler or coffee machine, look out of the window, forget about everything else and concentrate. If you can do that, what you write will be much more effective than if you rush into it.

2.You have a “deadline” and must react in two days’ time

Deadlines are strange things. Many people say they hate them. But they can be very useful, because they make you concentrate on your project. In fact sometimes it’s actually a bad thing to start work on a business writing project too early. If you have a long time to think, you might overwork your message so it loses its spontaneity and freshness. However, you should always treat deadlines with respect. If you miss them, you could miss important business opportunities. Deadlines are like going to the dentist’s; the worst part is thinking about it before you get there. The reality is not as bad!

3.The competition’s going to get there first

Here it’s important to concentrate on what you do that the competition can’t, or doesn’t do as well as you do. You may have to make a big effort to write about that when time is short, but it’s worth doing. Whatever you do, do not write words that insult your competitors or make them look bad. If you want your readers to think positively about you, then be positive – always. Concentrate on your strengths (or your business’s strengths) … and especially those which you know your competition can’t beat.

4.My boss wants me to do it this way

That’s OK, but finally it’s your responsibility to do it the best way you can. If what you think is right is not that same as what your boss thinks is right, go and discuss it with him or her before you start writing your message. It’s important that you consider his/her opinion, but it may be that your knowledge of business/marketing writing is better than your boss’s. Be polite and show him/her how the combination of your skill with his /her expertise as a boss, will result in a good solution.

Key things that can prevent clear thinking

These are ideas or opinions that may be yours, or may be your boss’s – or they may be those of someone else who is important.  All that matters is that you know what the problems are and what damage they can do you don’t avoid them.  Here are the problems you might find:

5.You know the subject very, very well

This can be a problem, because your readers probably don’t know as much about the subject as you do. Because you know more about the subject it is very difficult for you to write text that is easy for less knowledgeable people to understand. However hard you may try to “get down to readers’ level” you probably will overlook some basic things that your readers should know – only because you have known these things very well for a long time. Be careful here … make sure that whatever you write is read by someone who is typical of your readers before you send the text out. That way, if you have written things which are too technical, you will know about them in time and will be able to simplify them for your final text.

6.I know how to sell this product/service

There is an old “saying” about the value of experience. “Is it really 20 years’ experience? Or is it one year’s experience repeated 19 times?” However cruel it may seem … although you and your business have been selling your product/service in the same way for many years, it may not be right for this time. For this reason, always start thinking about your message from the beginning. Readers change … their needs change … the business world changes. Never assume that what worked before will work now – it may not.


7.I know what the audience wants to read/see/hear

No, you don’t. Just because that’s what they wanted last time doesn’t mean they want the same now (see above, “I know how to sell this product/service.”) One or two weeks or even one or two hours can make a difference to the way your readers will receive your message. Something can happen in a very short time, which changes everything.

Well, there are my seven issues. Do you have any more? And if so, how do you compensate for them? Please share!

Now, let’s get your business writing strangle-free:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English