5 New Rules For Business Writing


Let’s be real.   People don’t read as much as they used to. 

They actually read more. 

It’s a texting crazy world.   It’s a blogging crazy world.  It’s a facebookin’ crazy world.  Just look at your kids or your spouse or even your Mom and tell me I’m wrong that we are reading and writing more than ever before. 

Who would have thought  that reading and writing would be so popular today?  Who would have thought 20 years ago that that personal email and the personal letter would still be so much alive when it came to communicating to customers and prospects?  

You’ve got to write to your customers.  Clients expect it now; they even prefer it sometimes.  But the world is changing and so are the writing rules.   Here are 5 you need to know:  

Quit Sounding Like Your Brochure.   A letter from a person (you), should sound like a letter from the person (you).  And a professional person mind you, not a buddy- chummy- BFF one.  In your emails or letters, lose the “The 3 major benefits of our product are….”  Change it to “I’ve noticed three ways customers use this service to get the most out of it…”  The easiest way to think about this is to bring the “I’s”, the “I’ves and the “me’s” back to customer correspondence.   Save the “We’s, the “Ours’” and “Us’s” for the brochure.  This letter or the email is from you isn’t it?  

Don’t Screw Up.   OK, so this one is not so new; but the pain you get is a new kind of pain. It’s quick and severe.  Mistakes in spelling or punctuation in the past might have been “cute” or could even make you look “human” (I remember in the early 90’s purposely indenting something too much so the prospect wouldn’t think this was a template letter!) Today, you make a spelling mistake and it’s a reason to delete or trash your email.  Why? Because all the customer has to do is click twice and she can find your competition who actually knows how to spell.   Don’t give her a reason to look.

Don’t Lose Your Sales Process.    This one drives me crazy.  If you weren’t betting on closing the sale on your first phone call or visit, why does your email or letter try to?  Why does it have the link to “sign up” or have the complete pricing listed?  Sales are like dating; you rarely marry the girl you meet 20 minutes after you meet them.  A (marriage) proposal inside of 2 minutes in a letter and you’ll rightly get slapped in the face (and deleted or trashed). Remember your prospect “hears” you as they read; stay with your trusted sales process, don’t change it from real life or a real phone call. 

Long Paragraphs Kill.    I love Jack Falvey (you can love him too if you go here http://www.falvey.org).  But jeepers criminy, every morning when I get his post I cringe.   It’s just a big ol’ block o’ words; One paragraph.  One looooonnnnggg paragraph.  Maybe it’s his brand or his style but I sigh, I shrug and then I ball up some energy, raise my head and bloody well decide if I want to read this thing.   And honestly, half the time I don’t.  We need the visual breaks; they are the eye candy of writing.  There is a reason Tweeting at no more than 140 characters is popular.  Break it up; think space.

Lose Your Pontificating Signature Quote.  I know you love Sartre or Brecht or Roosevelt or Einstein; good for you.  No one’s opinion but yours though belongs in a business letter or email to a customer.  You’ve messing with fire if you dangle a quote under your name or signature as your personality and your passion should have been in the content above the quote: not here under your name. You haven’t a clue if your reader cares or will be offended.   The worst of course are the people that write “Think twice about printing this email….”.  OK, I will.  I was going to print your awesome letter it and share it with my husband or my wife or my family or colleagues and consider you as a partner, but instead I’ll delete you.  How dare you preach to me, I don’t even know you!  Please don’t pontificate your views about green or blue or red or life or death or taxes in customer correspondence.  Save it for your blog 🙂

Till next time,

Grow The Business.



4 thoughts on “5 New Rules For Business Writing

  1. Well stated. When it comes to written communication, I always believe that less is more.. But that “less”- has to be compelling, valuable, relevant to grab audience attention.

    Related.. the other day I pulled into a parking lot and the women parked next to me approached her car and realized it was unlocked. She looked at me and said OMG out loud. We are not only texting, we are speaking the texting abbreviations.

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