5 Costly Mistakes in Business Writing

We feel your pain. (Photo: dotshock)

For most people, writing is a challenge.

Even if you’re an expert on the topic you’re covering, you’ll still have to sit down, put your thoughts on paper, refine your ideas, rewrite, edit, and repeat the process.

Aack! No wonder so many people dislike writing and suffer from writer’s block—the entire writing process can be difficult.

Business writing has its own obstacles because the goals are different. These projects might involve training new employees, communicating with shareholders, or building a solid brand and professional image.

In other words, most business writing projects are less about entertaining the reader and more about conveying information, persuading readers, or getting people to perform an action (such as calling a phone number or buying a product).

Here are five common (and costly) mistakes in business writing:

1. Being Vague

Readers should easily understand the message you’re trying to get across, as well as what you want them to do (if anything). That’s why it’s important to be clear about what you’re hoping to accomplish and the information you want to convey.

Even that won’t be enough if your writing is vague and cryptic. So make every effort to be very clear.

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2. Using a Formal Style

The style and tone depend on the details of the project. For example, a video script for a commercial will typically be less formal than an annual report for the board of directors would be.

Nevertheless, many business writers make the mistake of using a tone that’s overly formal for the situation.

For most business writing projects, the tone should be conversational. Another benefit of using a simple conversational style is that it will help you avoid the first mistake of being vague.

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3. Trying to Demonstrate Cleverness

There’s definitely a place for being clever in business writing, but unfortunately, many companies overuse it.

Your primary goal should be to communicate clearly. Trying too hard to demonstrate cleverness may leave your readers confused and unimpressed.

4. Writing for Everyone

No product or service is for everyone, so get clear about whom you want to reach with your message. After you know your potential readers, it’ll be much easier to write in a way that resonates with them.

Here are a few questions that become much easier to answer once you’ve figured out your audience:

  • What do they want to know?
  • What are they interested in?
  • What examples will they find helpful?

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5. Not Proofreading and Editing

As we discussed earlier, writing is a process of writing, rewriting, and editing.

The first draft should never be your final draft. It’s easy to overlook something you’ve written, so it’s often best to have someone else do the proofreading and editing.

When you avoid the mistakes above, your business materials will stand out from those of many of your competitors. If you’re searching for a business copy editor who understands the unique obstacles you’re likely facing right now, contact us today for a free copy editing quote.

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