Maybe you always had a knack for writing. Or, English was your best class in high school and college. Maybe you had a flair for creative writing, or a knack for journalism.

Now that you’re running a business you want to give the copy a try. Before you get too far, you need to realize something.

It’s the message, not the prose.

That’s right. I bolded it for the benefit of those keeping score at home. You may be one heck of a writer, but in the realm of writing about your business, you need to understand that function is the most important part.

Novels are for flowery prose. Business writing provides a purpose. It incites a response. 

What does this mean?

  • Nobody likes a smarty-The best way to persuade people to do what you want them to do is not by trying to prove you’re smarter than them. If you send them to the dictionary, they may not come back.
  • Just the facts, Jack-You better get to the point, and fast. Readers who stumble on your website aren’t going to stick with you for longer than a few quick seconds unless you tell them what to expect and provide it quickly.
  • Looks matter-I’m not one to be shallow, but the way your website looks factors into a reader’s quick decision making process. Sure, design is part of that, but consider your headlines and the structure of your website. Are you making it easy for them?
  • Getting down to business-Your readers may not always know what you want from them. State your point in a clear and concise manner, and don’t be afraid to include a blunt call to action.

In business writing it’s not enough to just spew information. While it’s true you don’t want to be self-absorbed and miss the point of your marketing materials, you do need to stand out from the Google selections that come before you and come after you.

How do you do that?

You have to put your stamp on it. Provide new ideas, or give old ideas new life. Your readers can get the five most important things to consider from any blog in your industry, but if you truly want to stand out, tell them what you think about the five most important things.

Maybe two of them are B.S. Reading why you disagree with those two would be more interesting than reading the same thing everyone else is writing about the other three. Every time.

In other words, it’s a fine line. Don’t become so self absorbed, that nobody cares what you actually have to say. At the same time, show us enough personality to make us want to invest more time in your content. In the end it’s really about providing your readers with quality information in a unique package. Do this the right way, and you’ll have no trouble finding readers.

Matt Brennan is a Chicago-area marketing writer and copy editor. He is also the author of Write Right-Sell Now.

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