Want a quick way to increase professional credibility and gain higher sales?
A lot of business owners think expert level business writing doesn’t matter. And for those of you who fall into that category, I have one question:
Did you know that a single mistake in spelling or grammar can cut online sales in half and become a significant loss of credibility?
If your eyes glaze over and you hate the grammar police conversation, then read on because I’m about to show you how to make your business writing more professional and boost your credibility the easy way. And I promise you don’t have to memorize a single grammar rule.
BBQ and Business Writing
Grammar is a bit like the perfect barbecue recipe. While you create your masterpiece, there are some rules you can break—and some you can’t.
Every year you send out far more written business material than you probably realize. Here are just a few examples:
- Promo email
- Holiday wishes
- Blog posts
- Content for your site
I know it sounds tedious, but one of the quickest ways to lose credibility is to appear unprofessional in the content you share. The great news is, it’s an easy fix, even for those of you who hated high school English .
Grammar Police Versus Style Choice
So hold on. How do we know when it’s a style choice or just plain wrong? The kind of wrong that loses you credibility and potential sales. (See that sentence fragment is what keeps English teachers whipping out the red ink. But it’s a style choice.)
Is your company providing a free ebook, eBook or e-book? Or maybe the “e” should be capitalized?
Have you ever wondered whether to capitalize the first word in a bulleted list?
Did you know that you only use v. when talking about a legal case—the rest of the time you use vs?
There’s a lot to consider.
Do you need to memorize all of that? No! This isn’t high school English, remember? In just a minute I’ll give you some great resources that take seconds to use. But these are great examples of the kinds of situations that could call your credibility into question and make a substantial difference in your company profits.
Credibility has a direct correlation to lead generation and ultimately the amount of sales you make. So it’s important to get grammar and punctuation right.
Those are the kinds of rules you can’t break.
Style And Word Choice
There’s a difference between proper grammar and writing style. Your style is what keeps writing from being dull.
Writing style is just that—style. If you’re writing a novel, your word choice and even punctuation will be much different than the CEO of a company who is releasing a quarterly earnings report.
A novelist may have a character that, “…just ain’t no damn good!” The CEO may feel exactly the same way about his numbers, but the difference is, “his reported sales and earnings fell short of expectations.”
That’s a difference in style. Rules weren’t just broken , they were shattered, but it’s because they have very different readers.
What’s Your Style?
I’m a business writer, which makes me a bit of a chameleon. I have my personal writing style when I write for my blog or LinkedIn, but quite another when I write for clients.
When I blog, it’s serious business—but it’s conversational, and it even breaks a few rules that would make my English teacher cringe. Sorry Mrs. Oswald!
When I write to my audience, it’s a more intimate conversation. I’m talking with them, as opposed to if I were writing for them, which would be much more business-like, i.e. worthy of the CEO’s quarterly report.
Those are the rules you can break. Depending on your audience.
Identify your audience and write in a tone that’s appropriate without using jargon and trying to impress. There are still people who will disagree; the grammar police that will skim the article looking for a mistake. We all make them. But if you’re aware and making an effort to avoid them, the reward will be higher revenue and increased credibility.
The Cheat Sheet Your English Teacher Didn’t Assign
Here are four great resources that will help you polish your business writing and help increase your credibility in seconds! They can fix mistakes that could cost you almost half of your online sales.
And no memorizing!
The Associated Press Stylebook
Want to know how to provide proper attribution to a source? See page 315. Craft brewery or microbrewery for a small, independent beer producer? (The “What’s New” section) When can you use an em dash? Check out the punctuation section—page 301. How about using an ellipsis? I could tell you, but…
The AP Stylebook answers all those questions and so much more. It’s updated every year to reflect new areas like sports, social media, and even food writing.
There is a place of honor on my desk for my AP Stylebook. And in my humble opinion, no one who writes anything more serious than a grocery list should be without one.
Have you written the word report five times in two paragraphs? Maybe you looked at the guy next to you and asked, “What’s the word I’m looking for?”
The answer is Thesaurus.com. Both will tell you the answer may be summary, brief, outline or article.
We all get in a rut, using the same words over and over. No matter what industry you’re in, the buzz words can get irritating. Don’t even get me started on methodology. Methodology: method, mode, technique, approach, procedure.
Thesaurus.com will help you find the word you’re looking for by just typing in something similar. Try leaving the page open as you write and this tip alone will help your writing shine.
Whether your writing is business, technical, medical, creative or casual, Grammarly.com is essential. They tackle sentence structure, style, commonly misspelled words, punctuation and more.
There are both free and paid versions that take seconds to analyze your document and suggest solutions. And if you think you can run a quick spell checker, think again. Grammarly proudly boasts that it will, “Instantly fix over 250 types of errors, most of which Microsoft Word® can’t find.”
That’s right! A simple Google search when you can’t find an answer can usually get you back on track. If you know the word is a registered trademark, for example, how do you present that?
REALTOR® is commonly misrepresented. A REALTOR® is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. Not everyone who has a license to sell real estate is a member and therefore, not a REALTOR®.
And if you still hate the process, hire a professional. No matter what their personal style may be, a professional copywriter can either mimic your style or help you create a tone that reflects the business voice you want to convey.
Professional business writing matters. In fact, it can make the difference between making the sale and losing a customer. It takes a matter of a few seconds to improve your credibility and make sure they hear what you’re saying instead of how you say it.