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Jonathan Gonzalez
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Jonathan Gonzalez is a senior writer at Editor Group. He’s worked in content publishing across a number of different industry sectors, including technology, banking and finance. Prior to joining Editor Group, he led the editorial team at DBS Bank publishing for their Asian Insights Office.

Editor Group

August 22, 2017

How Great Writing Can Give You a Competitive Advantage

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Well-written content is vital to succeeding in any field. Whether you’re working on a blog post for your website, updating your followers on LinkedIn or simply coming up with a catchy slogan, your writing will determine the way clients, partners and employees see your business.

This is especially true in Singapore, where almost 220,000 companies are competing to make their message heard. Below are seven business writing tips we’ve put together to help make the writing process as effective and effortless as possible.

If you have any questions, we’re just around the corner at Collective Works (Capital Tower)!

Plan things out

Failing to plan is planning to fail, as the saying goes. Writing doesn’t come naturally to most people, and for many the mere thought of committing something to virtual paper conjures the same dread as public speaking. Like most endeavours, the key to effective business writing is knowing what to do and the sequence in which to do it.

The best way to begin is to define the central idea of your piece, and the key messages and takeaways for the reader. Once you have set these, you can arrange them in order of importance, with a sentence or two connecting them to each other. The clearer your message is to you, the easier it will be to determine how to express it in writing.

This structured approach will turn a seemingly intimidating writing chore into an entertaining fill-in-the-gaps exercise.

Create a style guide

A style guide is like a map; if you don’t have one, you only realise you need it when it’s too late. It is a one-stop reference tool that should cover everything from spelling and grammar to style and tone of voice.

A style guide will help your team produce consistent written communications – from blog posts to annual reports. By building a thorough and easily navigable style guide, you will be helping your business get your message across clearly, with staff members speaking with one voice.

Inconsistencies don’t just look unprofessional, they can confuse or frustrate, creating an impression that your business has multiple personalities.

Keep it simple

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough,” said Albert Einstein. Indeed, the ultimate aim of any type of structured writing is to convey your meaning clearly, without ambiguity. Readers should be able to understand what you’re saying with minimum effort, lest they give up and move on.

If you make your readers work for the wisdom you are trying to impart, you risk losing their trust in your work. Use simple terms, provide explanations – don’t make assumptions about your audience’s level of knowledge on a subject, and don’t write for the experts. In fact, it’s best to write as if your audience knows nothing about your subject.

An old trick of the trade is to imagine that you are explaining something to a family member who has no knowledge of what you’re writing about. This method helps you break down even the most complex topic into its basic components, making it easier to discard unnecessary elements.

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Avoid jargon and clichés

Clichés – together with their evil twin, corporate-speak – are the bane of writers and editors alike. They can turn written communications into stodgy, uninspiring copy that doesn’t speak of innovation and dynamism, which most businesses want to be associated with.

You can minimise the use of clichés by developing a deep understanding of the subject you are writing about. This will allow you to draw unique analogies, make astute comparisons and choose precise words that will aid your readers understanding. Another way is to tell a story with a beginning, a middle and an end, each with distinct points that stand out.

Sure, some people don’t notice clichés. But many people can be turned off by their overuse or misuse, which makes them worth watching out for as you write or edit.

Stick to the facts

Supplementing carefully chosen words with meaningful facts and figures is a quick way to give your writing (and your business) extra credibility. It’s easy to make claims about how great your product or company is. But it’s much more effective if you use facts and figures to prove it.

But don’t get carried away and put in too much detail, which can do more harm than good. A reader overwhelmed by numbers probably won’t be a reader for long. And with such a wealth of data at our disposal, it can be easy to overdo it.

The solution? Carefully select the most relevant and compelling facts and figures, and use these judiciously throughout your document. This will help ensure that each one counts, making an impact on your audience.

Always proofread

Whether it’s a 500-word blog post or a 500-page report, it takes a lot of effort and focus to produce work that’s both insightful and compelling. No matter whether you have written a piece yourself or spent many hours briefing writers and monitoring progress, you still have one final step to take, even if you think the work is perfect. It’s a step a lot of people overlook, only to regret it later: proofreading.

No matter how good you think the work is, you can never assume it is free of typos and other errors. What’s more, a good proofreader will also point out logical or stylistic inconsistencies that may distract from your argument.

The biggest payoff from using a proofreader is peace of mind, knowing that you have produced a great document that is error-free, coherent and consistent. You can relax and enjoy the great feedback.

Get technical support

Thanks to deep learning and artificial intelligence, nothing seems to be off limits for machines these days. Not even writing. Many predict that it’s only a matter of time before algorithms replace writers, but we believe machines will never replace experienced writers – just like humans will never process data as quickly as computers.

What we see taking shape is a new form of collaborative authoring that will take writing to a new dimension. And we expect automation to add value to content rather than replace the vision and strategy that only a person can provide. A wide range of digital and online tools exist to help writers improve their spelling, grammar, syntax and even style.

Editor Group is already working with Acrolinx, an intuitive platform that uses advanced linguistic analytics to help writers cross-check content with an organisation’s preferred language, style and tone of voice. An invaluable asset for any company hoping to enhance the effectiveness of its content marketing, Acrolinx is already helping us deliver amazing content for global clients.

Our work with regional and global leaders has demonstrated time and time again the importance of crafting written materials that are as compelling as they are insightful.

Want to boost your business writing strategy? Visit www.editorgroup.com or get in touch with us at inboxsg@editorgroup.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jonathan Gonzalez is a senior writer at Editor Group. He’s worked in content publishing across a number of different industry sectors, including technology, banking and finance. Prior to joining Editor Group, he led the editorial team at DBS Bank publishing for their Asian Insights Office.

Visit his author bio page to connect with his social profiles.

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