Businesses like yours or ours churn out hundreds of documents if not thousands. In fact, this trend is likely to grow three-fold as content marketing continues to grow in popularity.
Think about those business emails, newsletters, letters of inquiry, reports to the board of directors and even the marketing plans.
Whether you like it or not, your business needs a team of good business writers.
Competition is not likable and you have to do everything in your power to stand out. In this post, you’re going to learn the 13 silly mistakes your business writers are making.
In fact, these are the same mistakes we’ve been keeping track of to increase our readership from 607 to 4, 453 in a span of 6 months.
Let’s dive right in…
#1Saving the main message for the end
Back in college writing, the idea was to introduce the topic, provide the evidence with the arguments and end with a conclusion or recommendation.
But if you are keen enough when writing for business, you will note that the reader does not even get to the recommendation part.
Don’t believe it?
A study conducted by the nngroup to understand how readers respond to content found that most visitors read about 20% of the content on any page.
You can clearly see in the image below that on average, users will read about 30% of the words. Having said that, if you target a broad audience, you’d be wise to put out the most important message first.
#2No clear call to action?
Writing for business is different from academic writing. More than 50% of online business use content and especially blogging to attract leads. The intention is to attract readers with informational products and convert them to sales.
In fact, Hubspot statistics noted that 55% of marketers use blogs as their top inbound marketing channels. If you are writing business content without a purpose, stop writing. Your users want to know what next depending on their intent.
For examples, if a visitor to your business blog is reading your free e-book, the call to actions should make it obvious that after reading the book, you want them to subscribe or buy something. If you are selling bananas, then the CTA needs to let the readers know that if they click on a certain link, they can buy your bananas.
Do not waste time with surprises.
#3 Lack of a catchy hook
Are you worried that your business content may never get noticed? Do not worry, we’ve all been there. Thousands if not millions of businesses spend a lot of money creating content that may never get read. Believe it or not, we are living in a world of crap content. But if you are reading this post, it means that you’re tired of producing stupid documents. However, you need to understand that the first step towards any content is having a clear attention grabber.
You used a compelling headline to attract the reader; does your introduction have a catchy hook that will encourage the reader to continue reading? If not learn about creating a catchy hook here. Attention grabbers act like glues to stick the reader on the page.
People love facts and evidence. We have seen this on our blog. From our study, we noted that 78% of readers loved the content that referred to a reliable source by using statistics or even evidence.
Spend time collecting data and evidence to support your content. Do not include random facts. Include data that helps you to prove your point. To see how we do this, go through this article again and you will note we have used many credible sources and data.
Lastly, do not replace content with data. Use both of them together and keep the reader engaged.
#5Using quotation marks to emphasize
When highlighting or emphasizing something do not use quotation marks. Use Italics. In informal writing, quotations may be used to emphasize sarcasm through scare quotes. For example, someone may say, “that’s so cuuute!” When you know it is not cute.
Wrong: This is the “only girl” in the room
Correct: This is the only girl in the room
In the sentence above, the first sentence is wrong because it used quotation marks to emphasize the phrase ‘only girl.’ The second sentence, however, is correct because it emphasizes the phrase with italics.
In business writing, readers pay attention to the little things. Do not ignore this.
#6 Not using Fanboys
Commas are the most misleading punctuation marks for business writers. As a business, you want to make sure that the comma is in the right place and that another has not been left out. To do this, use the FANBOYS.
FANBOYS is a grammar acronym that stands for conjunctions such as For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet and So. The words are used to connect phrases or clauses together. Whenever you see FANBOYS in a complete sentence, you should insert a comma before.
Wrong: The boy is hungry, but he is not eating.
Correct: The boy is hungry, and he is eating.
In the sentences above, there are two complete clauses that are joined by the conjunctions; ‘and” & ‘but.’
In the first sentence, the writer forgot to include a comma.
For example, in the screenshot below, you will note that both clauses create a complete thought.
However, there is one exception to the FANBOYS. If the clause after the FANBOYS does not make a complete thought, do not use a comma.
#7 Using the wrong voice in business writing
Have you found yourself using too much of the passive voice? I know I have. While it is not entirely advisable for you to avoid the passive voice, you should use it sparingly. Strive to use the active force because it creates an engaging copy. In English grammar, sentences are either in the passive or active voice. In a passive voice sentence, the doer of the actions comes at the end of the sentence. In active voice, the doer of the action comes first.
Too much passive voice can create confusion.
To avoid the passive sentence, you need to first identify them. To identify a passive sentence, check to see if the doer of the action is absent or if there is the use of ‘to be’, was’ etc.
Having identified the sentence, start the new sentence with the doer of the action.
Passive: China was invaded in the 1900s, this leading to civilian deaths.
Active: Japan invaded China in the 1900s and lead to civilian deaths.
In the examples above, you can see the first sentence we did not identify the doer of the action. But in the second sentence, we identified Japan as the doer of the action and the sentence changed from passive to active voice.
Reader hates passive voice because they cannot relate. Take back your brand’s authority with active voice.
#8 Using the texting/ informal language
As Millennials continue to dominate, the use of phone conversations such as short text messages is increasing fast. Perhaps you run an online marketing agency and sometimes you message your coworkers and supervisors.
Using informal language is okay, but not for business writing. First, because it is not professional and also because it does not follow the Standard of English and grammar. The last thing you need in business is for your prospects or recipient to capture the wrong message.
Wrong: You shld come right on time b4 I go home
Correct: You should come right on time before I go home.
In the first sentence above, it is easy for customers or even the recipient to get the wrong message. Avoid abbreviations. But when you use them, make sure to define them in the appendix.
#9 Forgetting the audience
Did you think about your audience before you wrote anything? If not, you are doing it wrong. Strive to know what they do for a living, how old they are and where they live. For example, you may be writing for a young mom who works as a stall manager in Virginia, USA.
With this information, you will then try to understand how your content is of importance to the young mom. Write specifically for the young mom.
Instead of writing for a broad audience, focus on writing for a specific tribe.
#10Too much fluff/ Jargon
People are already tired of jargon and fluffy words. We often see jargon in business brochures, reports, white papers, and even eBooks. In business writing, do not assume that your audience understands the words you are using.
Jargon makes the reader feel stupid or bored. Fluffy free documents impact the reader in ways you can never imagine. If you must use hard words,
#11 Long sentence
Many readers do not give business content maximum attention. Probably they are doing something else. Having said that, it would be wise to write clear, short sentences. Many white papers, use a long, complicated sentence. Good business writing is identified with clarity and readability. Long sentences may lead to many grammatical errors. Besides, they are boring.
Ever wondered why Shakespeare was so exceptional in his writing? Because he used poems. The poems use short, sweet sentences.
#12 Silly Grammar mistakes
Writing in perfect grammar is not easy. But it is a necessity in business writing. Grammar is important in written communication because it established the author as a thought leader. It is also important for enhancing accuracy.
If you are writing a resume or curriculum vitae, it is very important for you to write in error-free grammar. Many people fail in their interviews because they do not put much weight to the silly grammar mistakes. You may have accomplished much in life, but if you cannot deal with those simple grammar errors you will not land your dream job.
If you cannot deal with grammar, pay an editor or a business writer from our pool and win the interview,
#13 Overly Promotional Content
People hate it when try selling to them. I know I do. When writing your business articles or newsletters, strive to satisfy the user’s intent. The average user searches for information first before buying. It is advisable that your business writers focus on delivering valuable and impactful content first before selling anything.
To Wrap up
Now, I’d like to hear from you, what do you think of this tip or maybe you have another suggestion
Lastly, if you need help with your business content, you can hire one of our experienced business writers.