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Marketing / Business writing

Three tips for improving your business communication

Use these business communication techniques when writing your website copy and marketing materials to help engage your customers more effectively.

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1. It’s not about you

Humans are natural storytellers, and when we start to tell a story, we gravitate towards talking about the one thing we know and understand best – ourselves. But in order to appeal to your audience, especially when you’re asking them to do something (such as buy something from you), you need to avoid this urge and instead write about them. First, put yourself in the reader’s shoes: what do they want and need? Then explain what you can do for them. Why should they care about your product or service?

Speak to your audience in a way that they can relate to. There might be a million businesses just like yours out there, but communicate with your audience in a language they understand, and they will come to know and trust you over your competitors.

2. Don’t be too general

It’s natural to want to cast your net as wide as possible. The more people you can communicate with, the more chance you have of getting new customers, right? Not so fast, Tonto! By being too broad and trying to solve everyone’s problems, you risk barely scratching the surface of your audience. You also fail to really connect with that small group of customers who you can really help.

"By being too broad and trying to solve everyone’s problems, you risk barely scratching the surface of your audience."

Instead, take a niche approach and hone in on the segment of your audience who are most likely to take action. It doesn’t matter if you don’t engage the rest because chances are they weren’t very good prospects in the first place.

To cite an example: An accounting-firm client of mine was hosting a seminar and the pitch on their website was very broad. It promised: “You will learn how to get results,” and “You will learn how to manage your cash.” Does that inspire you to open your wallet and buy a ticket? What results? “Manage your cash”… I can ring my bank’s helpline to learn that, why should I pay you? They wanted to be everything to everybody, and as a result, they moved nobody to action.

By making these messages far more specific, describing exactly what results attendees would get, how they would get them, and what the outcome would be, the audience was more clearly defined and the business communication had greater impact. Sure, we ruled out some of the initial audience, but the people who the seminar is really meant for will realise it can help them and will be more inclined to book a ticket.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business writing section.

3. Turn features into benefits

Fact: people are lazy. Even the cleverest people don’t like to think too much if they can avoid it, especially when they are reading promotional stuff about a product or service. Don’t assume that your reader will make the connection between a feature of your product and a benefit. You need to actually spell it out for them.

Instead of saying, “Our new garden shears have a padded handle,” take it to the next degree by adding “… so you never have to worry about blisters again.” This not only spells out why it’s good, but it also triggers the emotional response in the reader of the pain they felt last time they had blisters from gardening all day. And emotion is what makes us take action.

Do the heavy lifting for your readers and make things as easy to digest as possible. This isn’t selling them short, it’s giving them what they want – bite-size information they don’t have to think too hard about.

Apply these methods to your own business communications and see how it changes the way your audience relates to you. You might find it opens the door to new ways of telling your story.

Do you use these techniques in your business communication, and do they help? 

Damien Elsing

is a freelance copywriter and communications advisor. He enjoys helping businesses find their unique voice and better connect with their audience.

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