Written communication is as important to business as oral communication; but, for some reason, it's often underrated.
Sales professionals send an average of 36.2 emails per day and spend 31% of their working time writing them. Faced with such time limitations, it's no wonder many employees would rather send emails "as is," without any revision or rereading.
However, your sales reps should pay attention to grammar and spelling: 53.4% of respondents to a new survey said they were negative about the possibility of further cooperation with a company if its sales reps write emails with typos; 26.3% said they would not even bother to reply to such an email.
There's much more to business writing than just sending work emails. It also entails marketing and sales materials, pitch decks, ads, blog articles, social media posts, RFPs, contract drafts, guidelines, product descriptions... and the list goes on.
Written communications must be taken seriously. When they aren't, the consequences can be pretty costly.
What's the price to pay for poor writing?
Poor writing has direct and indirect costs. For example, ineffective business communication forces employees to spend extra time on follow-ups to clarify unclear parts. A poorly written article or product description can prevent a potential customer from making a purchase from your company. Likewise, grammar or punctuation mistakes and unclear wording in a contract can lead to undesirable outcomes and loss of money.
Bad business writing costs American businesses nearly $400 billion every year, Josh Bernoff estimated in a 2017 survey. Common signs of ineffective or poorly written text "too long," "poorly organized," and "unclear."
How exactly can bad writing affect your business?
Poorly written texts can perplex the reader and distort the intended message. If your text is too complicated or rife with mistakes and typos, many potential customers will just move on rather than try to figure out what you're trying to get across. Thus, you'll lose audience and profits in the long term.
Bad business writing can also affect team productivity—especially for white-collar employees who deal with writing on a daily basis. If they regularly produce poor or inefficient texts, that adversely affects their overall performance and undermines their contribution to your business.
Along with that, employees who struggle with dyslexia make mistakes quite often if no proper accommodation and software are in place. The condition causes them to confuse letters that look similar, or put them in the wrong order. What's more, they are often unaware of those errors. As a result, many emails are sent with typos and incorrect spelling.
Unclear instructions or guidelines for employees can also result in poor performance and replicating mistakes, which again incur financial losses to your business.
What can be done to improve business writing?
1. Use straightforward language
Be clear on the concepts you're writing about. Avoid too much complexity in your copy; your goal isn't to impress a reader but to convey your ideas in a clear and concise manner. Therefore, eliminate four-line sentences, academic phrases, and ambiguous idioms. Instead, use plain language and try to be on point.
2. Use a style guide
Nowadays, a company can hire employees from any country. Even though companies and remote employees alike benefit from such collaboration, challenges can arise. The language barrier and cultural differences, in particular, can affect business communications in an undesirable way. That's why it's important to instruct employees on the company's style guidelines by providing a set of rules for writing.
3. Take time to write and rewrite
Many mistakes in business writing stem from a sense of urgency. When employees have sufficient time to complete texts, they can put them away for a while and then come back to refine their writing. That results in a dramatic increase in text quality. Plenty of simple errors and typos can be avoided if authors have a chance to review their work before sending or publishing.
4. Ask someone to proofread your text
For more important texts, it's helpful to have someone—preferably an editor—proofread them to catch the errors and typos you might have missed. Product descriptions and technical documents often need a review by a technical specialist. Marketing and ad texts work best if tested on your target audience before being launched as full-scale campaigns.
5. Use AI writing assistants
One of the most efficient ways to quickly improve the quality of business writing is to use AI writing assistants. Such tools are specifically designed to power up your writing and ensure there are no grammar, punctuation, syntax, or stylistic errors—let alone typos.
These assistants also offer suggestions on how to fix mistakes or choose better wording. You can even paraphrase sentences of your choice—not only those with errors.
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There are multiple ways to improve business writing, but you'd do well to start with those five.
More Resources on Improving Business Writing
Love, Signals, Noise... and Great Business Writing
Changing the Tone of Business Communication
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