Today, a friend of mind asked me to list some of the most common business communication mistakes. Here are the four that I see most often:
No structure/organization: You don’t have to get it exactly right on the first draft, but you should consider the overall purpose of the memo or communication (PPT/etc.) before you even start writing. If you need them to act, you have to tell them why or WIIFM (what’s in it for me) early in the communication. If you are giving them information, you have to put the most important material first. Regardless, you should have an outline before you get started!
“Buried” or “soft” call to action: People are busy, if you want them to act you have to lead with the call to action and make it very clear what you expect them to do. If needed, tell them twice!
Not writing for the audience: Understand who the audience is and what their interests are before you start writing. Sales people don’t need a 3-page memo on an operational process and how it makes the operation more efficient. They need to know how it will impact their sales, and more importantly, their customers.
Selling the features instead of the benefits: Don’t tell mortgage underwriting about how the new system can automatically populate fields on the screen by using a new software called fast pop. Tell them how it will cut the amount of time they spend on busy work and give them more time to make important underwriting decisions.
Bryn is co-founder of Hallett Peak Copywriting, a Central Illinois based freelance copywriting business. For more information on Hallett Peak Copywriting, visit hpcink.com. Follow Hallett Peak Copywriting on Twitter @HPC_Ink for updates on our business and our blog.