Action can make writing more interesting

When proofreading a number of large corporate documents recently, I realised how dull the writing can be. Just because someone is a specialist in a subject, it doesn’t always follow that they are good at communicating enthusiasm about this to other people.

One of the main problems is when the writing style is ‘passive’; by this I mean the practice of saying “something was done” rather than “something happened”. The opposite style is ‘active’, e.g. “I run”, “they started”. This style is far more energetic and gives vitality to writing.

It is remarkable what a difference this can make to a document, especially if it is a long one. Look out for this next time you read a long corporate report, especially if you find your eyes drooping in boredom. Also, bear it in mind when you write such documents – your readers will thank you and your writing will probably be more effective.

Robert Zarywacz

Honesty in business writing

Let’s be honest: everything written in business aims to increase sales in some way, whether it’s a press release, white paper, job advert or report.

I don’t see a problem with that, as no business can exist without sales. What can be a problem is how honest the writing is.

For example, ‘new’ has long lost its credibility when used to describe soap powders or laundry products. Over-use has destroyed any impact the word once had.

Likewise, ‘enhanced’, ‘improved’, ‘bigger’ and ‘better’ – from bitter experience many consumers know that the only aim of re-packaging or re-launching some products is to get them to buy ‘more’.

Now there’s nothing wrong with wanting people to buy more, unless the consumer feels they are being tricked into buying something.

The best result for any business is for the consumer to buy a product and feel really pleased with their purchase, not conned out of their money.

This is where copywriting can help to develop a sales advantage. It is possible to attract people to buy without using the ‘new, bigger, better’ promises, but it requires thought and hard work.

If honest, effective writing can differentiate a product from its competitors, isn’t that worth the effort – for more sales?

Robert Zarywacz

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