Business Communication is not what you think it is

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Two business men shaking hands

Ironic photo

Business communication is the sharing of information between people within and outside the company that is performed for the commercial benefit of the company. 

It’s not just about the sharing of information, but how you do that. Due to the rise of social media and the wealth of information just a finger tap away, companies have had to become more approachable by nature; talking to people on numerous mediums at a time, including email, social media, SMS, websites, videos, presentations, phone calls, to name a few. Business communication has become somewhat fragmented.

The big question is: How can you become better at business communication? Besides choosing the best communication mediums to use—which should be multi-channelled for most businesses. Business communication is mostly how you write or speak to people. 

As Seth Godin once put it, “the simple way to get better at business writing: Don’t do business writing.”

Business writing is quite simply how you write as the voice of your business. 

The first thing you need to ensure is that you write to be understood. Or better yet, as Dr John Lund puts it, “communicate so as not to be misunderstood.” There is no use writing in jargon in an attempt to sound like you know what you’re talking about. A confused reader will quickly switch off.

As I previously wrote about, writing should be real and genuine if you want to establish a connection with your audience. That means stop worrying about writing killer copy and focus on writing copy that people understand and can quickly digest. Something they can relate to.

The next piece of advice is to talk like your customers. Find out how they speak to their customers or their own audiences, then try to use those findings to your advantage. If you can get on your customers’ level, you’ll have greater success in connecting with them.

How can you find how they talk? Here are a few tips:

Twitter

Firstly, search for your company name and look at the tweets of people talking about your company. What are they saying about you? How do they understand your business? How do they describe your products? You can spend so long in an industry that jargon no longer feels like jargon. New customers and prospects may not know half of what you take for granted.

You can also take a look at a sample of your customers. If you’re in the Business to Business (B2B) realm, look at the company’s account, but also try to find some of their personal accounts—remember you’re trying to communicate with real people.

If you’re Business to Consumer (B2C), look at your own followers and also try to find some of your customers’ accounts. Take note of how they talk, try to get a feel for it and make notes.

It might be relatively easy to spot patterns, especially if you have a clear demographic, however it might take a bit more work.

Quora

Quora, or Question or Answer, is a platform where people ask questions about anything and everything, and other people give their answers. It’s a great place for market research and finding out how people speak about a certain topic. There is little filter or need for “business writing.”

Look for the questions people are asking on a certain subject and how people answer those questions. For example if you sell pool cleaning systems, see what questions come up time and time again, and see which answers get the highest upvotes. These are the answers that people understand. 

Reviews (amazon, google, etc)

This is an amazing place to find out what people are saying about you and the products you sell. What’s best is that their reviews will be in their own unfiltered voice. If you don’t have reviews for your own product, firstly start collecting them, but secondly look at your competitors’ reviews. What are their customers saying about them, and the products they sell.

Sign up for their emails and read their blog posts

If you’re in the B2B world, you should be able to sign up for some of your customers’ email communications. Also spend some time reading their blog posts. How do they talk? How are they explaining their own product? What’s important to them?

Talk to your sales teams 

Your sales team will be talking to your customers on a daily basis. They will be full of a war stories and have experience dealing with the individuals that make up your customer base. Ask for them to breakdown the types of conversations they have.

 

With a bit of research and thought you will be able to tailor your writing style to connect with your customers and create real value for them. Business writing is writing in such a way that connects with your customers. Be that over SMS or any other medium.

Using SMS is a great medium to talk to your customers though, and by its very nature helps to encourage more conversational speech, simply because the messages are short and to the point. Take a free trial or call us on 1300 764 946.

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Andy

Marketing man at Esendex.