Is using the right words that will engage and persuade your readers.
Copy for business projects (such as e-mails, reports, white papers, etc.) can only be deemed successful if your readers read the copy and then walk away from the copy having learned something new or having been persuaded to do something new.
Study Successful Examples. Look at copy that succeeded within a similar business context. Look at emails that generated a high response or a brochure that your colleagues still talk about. Study them closely to determine why this copy works so well. Do the sentences tend to be shorter in length? Is the tone motivational, direct, or conversational? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when you study great past examples.
Listen Well. Before writing a single word of your copy, listen carefully to your readers’ beliefs, desires, and concerns. Listen to what your colleagues and supervisors want the copy to accomplish. Only by listening well—and strategically analyzing what you learn—will you be able to craft the perfect words, phrases, and tone to achieve your goals.
Always Use the Active Voice. Great business copy should be action-orientated to engage and motivate your colleagues. As a rule of thumb, use the passive voice as infrequently as possible within your business writing projects, or avoid it all together.
(This post was first published on August 16, 2011.)