Easy rules for making your B2B writing readable

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Published Jan 27, 2012 | Written by Jeremy Knight

Whats_on_smallSo you’ve decided to embrace content marketing as the way forward for your business. You’ve got plans for a newsletter, blogs, and all kinds of ideas for communicating about your business. You’re going to be informative, helpful and a thought leader. And the technology is all in place. So it’s full steam ahead, right?

Well, maybe.

You may have loads of ideas but if the words you use aren’t effective, you won’t get those ideas across and the whole effort will be wasted.

Content marketing is all about communicating. And communicating effectively in writing isn’t necessarily something that comes naturally. 

Writing for others, whether to explain or to entertain is a skill that often needs to be honed.  For B2B in particular, where you are aiming at business people with limited time, every word has to count.

Keep it simple. It’s commonly held in journalism that the average person reads at or below high school level. That’s not to say you should oversimplify. Obviously you know your audience, and if they happen to be brain surgeons or physicists you can write to their level. But for the most part, use simple, everyday and conversational words. If your readers have to keep a dictionary nearby to read your work, they probably won’t read it.

Be sparing. You have limited time and space so make every word count. Don’t use four words if you can use only one. There’s no need to “undertake a thorough examination of” something when you can “review” it.  

Be active. Use active voice to make your writing more compelling and less complicated.  Instead of “an investment of £16m was made on...” it is much more powerful to say “We invested £16m...”

Be picky. Punctuation, spelling and grammar are important. No matter how you speak, text or tweet with your friends, in your professional communications you must take the time to double check that everything is correct.    If you don’t appear to care enough to get the details right in your newsletter or on a webpage, why should customers think you would pay attention to the details of their business?

Clear, concise and simple are the things to focus on.  Keep those points in mind and your B2B writing will do what it should – inform, help and even possibly, inspire your readers.

Published by Jeremy Knight January 27, 2012
Jeremy Knight