1. Know Your Audience
Are you writing to a group of scientists or to stay at home moms? This is the first question you should ask yourself before you get started. Think about how differently the brains of these two groups of people operate, and be sure to compose your content accordingly.
2. Be Clear and Concise
Nobody wants to wade through a bunch of embellished fluff to try to figure out what you mean. Say what you mean, and say it well, and then stop writing. Extra fluff doesn't sell. That's why it's called fluff.
3. Know Your Output
Are you writing a brochure or website copy? Are you writing instructions or a press release? How you format and write your content will vary widely depending on the final output. Take a look at a marketing brochure and then take a look at a press release for that same product, and you'll see the difference.
4. Watch Your Tone
Every business has a tone. An amusement park might have a whimsical tone while an IT company would have a professional one. Make sure you choose the right words and construct your sentences in a way that conveys the tone you're after. Do you want to say, "We bring top quality service straight to you!" or do you want to say, "We pride ourselves in providing the highest quality service to our customers." There's a difference, isn't there?
5. Don't Plagiarize!
Why risk your credibility or even a lawsuit? While it's easy to plagiarize these days, it's equally easy to sniff it out in seconds using free tools online. So just don't do it. Period.
6. Be Engaging
In an age of sound bites and tweets, you only have a few seconds to draw your audience in before they close their browser or trash your email. Make sure your content is engaging, especially in the first sentence or two, so that they'll stay for more.
Hint: Writing engaging content starts with Tip #1 (knowing your audience).
7. Write with Purpose
The worst thing you can do is put words on a page just to have words on a page (to somehow give the appearance of authority or knowledge without it really being there). Everything you write needs to have a purpose, both for SEO and for your marketing strategies. And don't forget that "be engaging" thing. You can have all the purpose in the world, but if it sounds terrible (or worse, is illegible) it won't sell.
8. Don't Inflate Content
Google's crawlers don't need you to artificially inflate your copy with keywords or links. In fact, they will punish you for it these days. So be smart, not superfluous. If you aren't sure how to properly use keywords for SEO, do some research or hire someone to help you.
9. Edit Your Work
If you want to almost guarantee a disaster, write something up quickly and just send it out the door. As a professional writer I will tell you that the first draft is never good, the second draft is often not good either, and the third draft usually still needs some work. And don't forget about grammar mistakes. Typos are a no-no! So be sure to take the time to read and re-read whatever you write. Maybe have someone else read it too.
10. If You Can't Write, Then Don't
Let's face it, not everyone was cut out to write. Some people are brilliant at math, others are brilliant at sales. If you aren't a writer please hire someone to do it for you. Your business will thank you for it, and you'll spare yourself a painful undertaking that will likely not produce any ROI.
What are your best tips for writing when it comes to business? Is there anything I left out? Please leave them in the comments below!