Business Communications 101

For truly effective business writing, your message should be formed with clear and simple words that can be understood immediately by as broad an audience as possible. So for those of you currently working on a sales letter or some other marketing piece, I’ve listed a few basic rules you can follow to improve any business-to-business or business-to-consumer communication.

Keep it brief: Try not to use more words (and sentences) than are necessary to convey your message.

Use familiar words: Avoid using cryptic jargon with which your audience may not be familiar. Sure, when you know that everyone who will read your message will understand the term(s), jargon can help you come across as someone who understands the readers’ industry. But it’s still a good idea to explain the term as, many times, messages are forwarded to others who may have input on buying decisions, but who may not be as familiar with your terminology as the original addressee.

Be definitive. The use of definitive words (e.g., bank, chair, telephone, etc.) can help form a clear, sharp image in any reader’s mind. Meanwhile, abstract words such as “performance” and “inconsistency” can leave readers needing more information (in a bad way).

Avoid long sentences: Longer sentences create room for misunderstanding. Especially when rushed, readers can easily lose a long sentence’s intended point by the time he or she comes to its end.

Use strong (“power”) words: Strong words not only drive sentences forward but also grab the reader’s attention and help to create interest.

Use active verbs: Active verbs make your business writing more direct and informative, as well as easier to understand.

Avoid idioms or “figures of speech.” While idioms such as “back seat driver,” “feeding frenzy” and “right off the bat” are in common use, they typically are not specific to the situation and can make your marketing message come across as cliché and untrustworthy. (Extreme case in point: A marketing firm I once worked with created a football theme for a campaign based on the idiom “the whole nine yards.” What’s wrong with this picture?)

The above list includes a few good practices to help ensure the message you need to convey is clear and captivating. However, if you feel you could use some assistance in writing a brochure, web site or any other marketing piece, give us a call. Working together, we can put power behind your communications and maximize your lead potential.



Bonnie has two loves: some guy named Dennis and writing. Bonnie is focused on client communications initiatives, including strategic messaging, brand development and communications planning for our clients. She has more than 30 years of experience developing creative content that resonates with readers.