Your business thrives on words.
Ok, you might think I would say that, being an editor and all, but stop for a minute.
How do you get your message across to your clients and customers?
Fabulous, eye-catching images and words. Lots and lots of words.
Your words define you and your business.
Your brand identity is defined by the words you choose.
Your company culture is defined by the words you use.
Your customer focus is defined by the words you use too.
Words can entice, excite and entertain. Or they can confuse, alienate and drive away business.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: bad writing can kill your business.
For example, how are your emails being received?
You don’t get to the point.
The point gets lost in jargon.
The point gets lost in meaningless drivel.
The emails are so long getting to the point that the reader loses the will to live.
Don’t worry about getting straight to the point. Your recipient probably has a million and one things to do other than read your mailing. Lower the chances of them hitting the delete button by telling what you need to tell in a straightforward, professional manner.
Ditch the jargon, unless it’s absolutely necessary. If your recipient is unsure what you mean they’ll delete. Use plain language. No one ever complained about easy to understand emails.
Stop the waffle. Seriously. Just stop it.
Avoid the tl;dr culture. If you have a special offer, let your recipients know sooner rather than later. If you have something to tell them that will benefit them, tell them at the beginning. If your emails are so long they aren’t going to be read, split them up.
Top tip: If you find that your business emails are taking up too much time, they’re being binned before they’re read and are not giving a return on your investment – simplify the process by spending time creating templates that you can reuse. A few hours of template writing will free up your time later on and will make things so much easier for you … just remember not to leave in dummy text!
But it’s the same for all your business writing.
Your website is your virtual shop window. It’s also a way to talk to your customers and make them feel valued. Common business writing mistakes that will lose you customers and cost you money are:
Broken links and bad navigation on your website
Complicated language, jargon and inconsistencies
As well as all the points I noted above.
Brochures, flyers and advertising material, along with your website and business communication, need to be straightforward and to the point, without forgetting that your customer is your main focus.
Here’s how you fix it, and make your business words work for you:
- Take your time and really read what you’ve written. Seek out spelling mistakes and fix them, and if you’re not good with words, hire someone who is. Spelling mistakes and sloppy writing will lose you business. Seriously.
- Take time to write your business information. Research, draft, write, read, rewrite, read, rewrite again if you need to. Don’t just write something and stick it out there (unless you’re writing very quick, to the point, blog posts that don’t pretend to be anything else).
- Focus on your customer, not yourself. Make things as easy as possible for them. Use words they will enjoy reading, and words that are not overly complicated. Using plain English is NOT dumbing down, it’s making your writing as easy as possible, for as many people as possible, to understand.
- Don’t tell your customers too many things all at once. Let them digest each nugget of information before they move on. And give them the choice to know more – don’t force it down their throats. Use separate pages for each area of your business.
There’s a reason that copywriters and editors exist. You may be a whizz at your business, an engaging entrepreneur with fabulous ideas, or a nuts and bolts trader of essentials, but you may be rubbish at writing. Hey, not everyone is good with words. That’s why we train to be good editors and writers. I’d make a rubbish entrepreneur.
While your business thrives on words, try not to make mistakes like these:
The online wine shop I happened upon in my search for a fizzy German wine made from strawberries (a favourite of mine back in the 1990s when Safeway stocked it for £1.99 a bottle!), where well-known varieties of wine were spelt incorrectly. I left without purchasing. I never did find that wine.
The local restaurant who advertised in our post office, on the little TV screen that blinks at you as you’re waiting to send off your parcels, and who couldn’t spell the name of the street they were situated on. Probably wouldn’t affect trade that much, unless someone who wasn’t local was trying to find the establishment, but it’s just sloppy.
The well-known department store that accidentally missed out a digit and sold an expensive necklace for only $47. Huge mistake, which was honoured before anyone twigged what had gone wrong.
The British bank that right now has a glaring typo on their home page. I won’t put up a link as hopefully it will have been rectified by the time this post is made live. Let’s just say there’s a Northern Santa who doesn’t like surprises, but a dictionary should be on his gift list. People, respect your business and we might respect yours.
So, if you want to make the most of your business, keep potential customers engaged and have them return for more here’s what to do:
Seek out, locate and destroy spelling errors.
Keep things simple and avoid jargon unless it’s needed and expected.
Use plain English wherever possible.
Respect your clients by investing in your businesses writing.
Write for your clients, not for yourself.
Take time over your content.
And if you need professional help find a copywriter to write your content, an editor to help you polish your content and a proofreader to give it that final check.
It’s not as expensive as you may think, and good content is key to a successful business.