Poor business writing is an often overlooked problem. Most business leaders will agree that effective communication is a key driver of success. But budget constraints can be a stumbling block in improving communications within the organization.
A study by Grammarly revealed that poor communication costs U.S. companies an estimated $1.2 trillion in annual losses, or about $12,506 per employee each year. Workers spend more than 20 hours a week on business writing, so the ability to get their point across clearly and succinctly has become an essential skill.
What Is Effective Business Writing?
Good business writing follows correct sentence structure, grammar rules, and punctuation. A haphazardly written piece riddled with errors lacks professionalism and risks sending the wrong message.
Isn’t it infuriating to wade through rambling business emails? How about long winding reports that don’t connect the dots? Meandering sentences are a surefire way to lose your audience. Keep your messaging focused on one main idea instead of several competing ones.
A good rule of thumb is to write the way you speak. Use active voice to make your written communication more precise and direct. The passive voice sounds stiff and makes sentences wordier.
Do away with filler words. For example, instead of ‘due to the fact that,’ say ‘because.’ Make every word count. Ditch unnecessary jargon unless you are writing a technical document. Big fancy words impress no one. Consider the purpose of your content and what you want your audience to gain from it. It will determine the appropriate style and tone.
Poor Business Writing Hurts Your Business
Here are a few examples of how substandard writing can impact your organization:
- Low productivity and disengaged teams
- Poor customer retention and tarnished reputation
- Marketing campaigns that don’t convert to sales
Low Productivity and Disengaged Teams
As more companies shift to remote and hybrid work environments, teams rely more on collaborative software tools. Writing with clarity and brevity is more important than ever. The Holmes Report shows that companies with effective communication enjoy as much as 47% higher returns, more engaged employees, and lower attrition rates.
Workers are overwhelmed by the volume of information they digest daily. Leaders who can’t express themselves effectively won’t get desired outcomes. It results in confusion, wasted resources, and productivity loss.
Writing is a core skill not just for higher-ups but is essential for most white-collar employees. If business writing skills are lacking, team members will struggle to decode information. It can cause delays, increased costs, and lost opportunities.
Take the case of FedEx. The company wanted to assess how well employees understood their ground operations manuals. After hiring a consultant, they discovered that readability was low. On average, it took five minutes to find the correct information, and errors were spotted 50% of the time. Revamping their collaterals increased productivity and resulted in a savings of $400,000 in the first year.
Poor Customer Retention and Tarnished Reputation
High customer retention rates are a boon for businesses and are crucial for sustained revenue. Acquiring a new client costs more than keeping an existing one. According to Forbes, the probability of selling to new clients is only between 5% to 20% compared to 60% to 70% for current customers.
Loyalty rides on excellent after-sales support. Customer service agents who lack business writing training will negatively affect your brand. Problems arise when technical personnel hired for their knowledge take on customer-facing roles. They might have the expertise, but without business writing skills, they will struggle to communicate effectively, leading to a poor customer experience.
Marketing Campaigns that Don’t Convert to Sales
It only takes a few seconds for visitors to scan your website or collaterals and immediately form an impression about your brand. A typo or grammatical error can instantly kill your credibility.
Place your audience front and center, and the rest will follow. Aim for clarity and truth when building a company website, creating blogs, or sending out newsletters. False claims and misinformation can erode trust and even lead to lawsuits.
It’s tempting to hire content farms or depend on article spinners as part of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. The new Google updates can quickly recognize auto-generated or unhelpful content. Your website will be penalized, and your page ranking will suffer.
Develop a Culture of Clarity in Writing Communication
It is not always easy to measure the negative impact of poor business writing. But imagine the time saved from wading through fuzzy and confusing text or spending fewer marketing dollars on campaigns that deliver better ROI.
It’s time to cut through the noise and champion a culture of clarity. Invest in training and tools that can improve business writing. The productivity gains will be well worth it. Vague, incomplete, and stuffy communication is frustrating and will cost your business big time.
Seven Oaks Consulting is a unique content marketing agency that can help. We have a team of talented writers that produce quality SEO articles. The more content you have, the more internal links you can build! Visit our website to discover how our services can bring your business to the next level.
Janina Bernardo is a freelance B2B tech writer with a Marketing Management postgraduate degree from the Humber School of Business in Toronto. She has written for brands such as Microsoft, SAP, NetApp, and Rubrik. She has a keen interest in innovation and its impact on society. In her downtime, Janina enjoys going on food adventures, reading non-fiction, and watching the latest viral trends on Instagram Reels.