Writing for your business can be a bamboozling affair at times. Attempting to translate what you think, or what you want to say, to words on a page is something many business owners find challenging (or dread like the plague, depending on who you talk to).
As tricky or frustrating as it sometimes is, your written communication is an essential part of marketing your business. It is your link to your market. It communicates what you do, who you are, what you stand for, and what your customers can expect from you. So if you’re operating a professional business or service, it stands to reason that your written communication needs to be professional too.
If you read a business website that is sprinkled with spelling errors and typos, or that is rambling and confusing to read, how does that make you feel about the business?
Yes, me too.
You don’t want to be that business. So, to help you communicate professionally and effectively to your market, and generally look and sound spectacular, I’ve put together five simple tips to help you whip your copy into shape.
1. Don't use two words when one will do (thank you, Thomas Jefferson).
Plain English is one of the greatest gifts you can give your audience. Keep your writing simple and to the point and always remember that you are talking to real people with real needs. Avoid traps like the month of November, in consideration of, or at this point in time, when you really mean November, considering, and now. Have the confidence to say what you need to say, simply and clearly.
2. Control your capitals.
I am an avid culler of capitals. These little devils pop up in the strangest places, for mystifying reasons. Capitals act as speed bumps in your sentences—they make your reader pause so they can understand why that particular word is so important. A sentence such as--A range of Activities is available at the Resort, including Bike Riding, Swimming and Crocodile Wrestling--is just going to give your readers a headache. In general, capitals belong at the beginning of sentences (including titles and headings) and as the first letter of proper nouns and proper names. Otherwise, you can pretty much leave them alone. There are some notable exceptions, but this is a good general rule to follow.
3. Put yourself on an adjective budget.
Overly descriptive writing is exhausting to read. Your meaning is lost in all the superlatives (Take a soothing, relaxing swim in the calm, crystal clear, turquoise ocean after your delicious, gourmet dinner.) and your message becomes less believable and accessible for your reader. Limit adjectives and adverbs and avoid jargon and overused terms (e.g. pristine, unique...just kill me now...). When you've written your copy, go back over it with a red pen and take out any descriptors that don't really need to be there.
4. Say what you mean.
To be effective, your writing should be believable. Audiences are exposed to endless amounts of content online and this makes them highly sensitive to exaggeration. Don't fall into the trap of using cliches (jewel in the crown leaps instantly to mind), claims that you can't substantiate (best in the state, finest in the world), or worn out marketing speak to get your message across. You have a unique story. Tell that story from your heart and you're well on the way to making readers very happy.
5. Check and check again!
Nothing undermines your message as swiftly as spelling mistakes, poor punctuation and typos. Proofread everything. Then ask a friend to proofread it. Then proofread it again! If you have read it so many times you can't make sense of it anymore, then pay a professional to check it for you. It will be money very well spent.