Banish the Bullshit – Business Writing Tips for Simpler Copy

Writing clear simple business copy is hard.

Even when we try not to, we can fill our business writing with jargon, management speak and complexity.

Excusable, just, in internal documents where everyone understands the language, such copy has no place in front of customers.

But if we feel its acceptable inside then inevitably it will find its way outside.

Why do companies communicate like this?

  • Perhaps they think that more complex language sounds more professional?
  • Maybe they think big words offer more legal protection?
  • Could be that they write their communications by committee and by the time everyone has had their say, the result is a confused mess?

Have a look at some business copy. Any industry. Any company. As a customer would you be happy to read it? Is it engaging? Can you understand it?

But it’s time to change. It’s time to fight back and banish the bullshit. Let’s talk in plain English. That’s how most people like to communicate. Verbally and in writing.

I’m still astonished by some of the complex language and mumbo jumbo some companies put in their communications.

I’ve always been a stickler for simple language in marketing communications. I’ve always tried to avoid jargon, gobbledygook and most of all long passive sentences. It’s been hard fighting against the “system” though, and I find I lapse from time to time.

That’s why I’ve written this eBook which is yours for free when you sign up for my updates.

Business Writing Tips for Simpler Copy – 7 Tips for Transforming Jargon and Complexity into Clear Simple and Engaging Text.

When you work in an industry of complex products and processes you owe it to your clients and each other to make communications simple. Resist the people who comment on your copy and want to reintroduce complex language unless there is a legal reason for doing so. The fact that they “wouldn’t have written it that way” is not good enough.

In this eBook you’ll find 7 tips for writing simpler business copy. And lots of examples too. Covering active not passive sentences, jargon and management speak, the eBook is your guide to banishing the bullshit.

Get your free eBook right here!

I hope you enjoy the tips and can introduce them into your own writing.

Now It’s Your Turn:

Please let me know what you think of the eBook. If you want more help with your business writing please get in touch.

Chris Daems on How to Write Blogs and Articles that bring in Clients – MPAF64

In this episode, I talk to one of the most prolific bloggers and article writers in UK financial services.

Chris Daems, widely known for his Auto Enrolment software, AE in a Box, puts out three or more pieces a week.

Consistency combined with engaging subjects means his writing generates a significant percentage of his business.

Full of great tips this interview is a must for anyone who already writes, or wants to take up writing for their business.

That’s all right here in Episode 64 of the Marketing Protection and Finance Podcast.

Chris Daems on How to Write Blogs and Articles that bring in Clients

Who is Chris Daems?

Chris is well known for his Auto Enrolment software, AE in a Box, and works for Cervello Financial Planning.

A prolific blogger and writer of press articles, Chris is about to publish his book on Auto Enrolment, The Three Circles.

Chris’s links:

If you enjoyed this episode – Chris Daems on How to Write Blogs and Articles that bring in Clients – please leave a comment or a review on iTunes. And if you know anyone who would enjoy the show – please share it with them. You can use the buttons below to share on social media.

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One Crucial Tip to Make Your Business Writing Stand Out: Get Active

Why is so much business copy so dull?

Long sentences, jargon and clichés don’t help make it engaging. But it’s passive language which blights business writing.

Business Writing Stand Out

Which of these sentences reads better to you?

“The brochure was drafted by the marketing department and was sent out by the fulfilment house.”

or

“The marketing department drafted the brochure and the fulfilment house sent it out.”

The first sentence uses the “passive voice”. The second the “active voice”.  Businesses, especially big corporates, love passive language.

With the active voice, the subject and verb relationship is straightforward. The subject does the work and the verb moves the sentence along.

With the passive voice, the subject of the sentence doesn’t do anything.  Some other “agent” or something unnamed does the work. The result is weak writing.

Perhaps this is why Corporates like passive so much. It masks responsibility for example:

  • “Sorry but your cheque wasn’t processed on time by the accounts team,” sounds like buck passing.
  • “Sorry the accounts team didn’t process your cheque on time,” is better.
  • “Sorry we didn’t process your cheque on time,” admits responsibility and is the best of the lot.

So the one tip to make your business copy stand out is to get active. That’s all.

When I was a Marketing Director for a big corporate my policy was zero tolerance for passive language. People used to cringe when I wielded my red pen. But eventually passive became active. Copy went from tiresome to engaging. Dull to bright.

Here’s another example:

Passive: “There is a wealth of expertise shown by financial advisers when talking to their clients.”

Active: “Financial Advisers show a wealth of expertise when talking to their clients.”

And another example:

Passive: “The compliance computer based training must be completed each year by all members of staff”.

Active: “Each year, all members of staff must complete the compliance computer based training.”

You don’t have to seek out and cut all passive language. But in business copy, where most writing is passive, someone who takes time to get active will stand out from the pack.

If you need help with your business copy, or would like more tips like this, please get in touch.

A Question for you: What’s your best example of awful passive language? Please share your thoughts on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn.