Understanding the Different Business Writing Styles

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Business success depends on knowing your customer or target audience and understanding how to align your goals with their priorities. To connect with your customers on a meaningful level, your written communication must present your message in a meaningful way.

Connecting effectively also impacts your bottom line. Focusing on communication can prevent or mitigate a majority of office failures—86% of which are attributed to ineffective communication. It can also improve retention rates by up to 50%.

Naturally, there are a few different approaches to this, from using a style that’s informational to one that’s more persuasive. Understanding how and when to use different types of business writing styles will drastically improve business communication. We explain four approaches, plus how you can leverage them successfully.

The four business writing styles

Each of the four basic business writing styles has distinct characteristics and applications.

Informational

Informational business writing is used to educate your audience. Rather than inciting a specific action, informational writing should provide the reader with valuable knowledge and insight—and establish yourself or your brand as a voice of authority in the process.

Tips for writing informational pieces:

  • Be aware of your intended audience’s level of expertise.
  • Organize your information thoughtfully.
  • Avoid opinions; stick to the facts.
  • Include only relevant information.

Use the informational writing style when you want your reader to learn more about a topic relevant to your business. This style is ideal for: 

  • Internal reports, such as financial reports or quarterly reviews, and employee handbooks
  • White papers, webinars, and other educational materials shared with current or potential customers

Instructional

Instructional business writing is similar to informational writing in that both help the reader learn something new. The difference, however, is the end goal. Instructional writing should teach the reader how to do something—how to use one of your products or how to troubleshoot common issues, for example.

Instructional writing establishes you or your brand as a trustworthy source of valuable information while helping your readers or customers accomplish their goals.

Tips for writing instructional pieces:

  • Keep your audience’s level of expertise in mind.
  • Break your instructions down into clear, simple steps.
  • Include solutions for commonly encountered problems.
  • Let your audience know where to go if they need more help.

Use the instructional writing style when you want to teach your reader how to do something related to your products or services. This writing style is especially useful for HR communications and customer support. Here are some examples of when to use this style:

  • Customer-facing “how-to” articles and documents such as user manuals, onboarding instructions, and support text
  • Knowledge libraries for customer service
  • Internal resources for professional development, such as training materials

Persuasive

The persuasive business writing style should convince your audience of something—usually, to take a specific action, such as to buy a product or make an investment. 

Persuasive style may overlap with informational or instructional style because a good argument is always supported with evidence. However, a persuasive style seeks to inspire the audience to move past curiosity and make a decision.

Tips for writing persuasive pieces:

  • Use your intended audience’s priorities to shape your argument.
  • Support every claim with evidence.
  • Be efficient: Cut any content that does not support your argument.
  • Get creative and original—the most persuasive arguments are the ones that shed light on a different or new point of view.

Use the persuasive writing style when you want to inspire your reader to complete an action that supports your business goals. This writing style is best applied when writing the following:

  • Business proposals, in which the person you are hoping to convince is a colleague
  • Grant proposals, sales emails, and other individual marketing communications in which you are hoping to convert a prospective customer or client
  • Content marketing copy, product copy, and other marketing materials that target a broader audience of potential buyers or clients

Conversational

Conversational business writing encompasses the everyday communications that relate to your business operations. Traditionally, this was considered transactional writing, but businesses today recognize the need to maintain a friendly, human touch in all interactions. The purpose behind using this style varies, but generally, the goal is to ensure that the communication leads to progress and problem-solving. 

When using the conversational writing style, be sure to do the following:

  • Maintain a polite, approachable tone.
  • Respect your audience’s time: Keep your message as concise as possible.
  • Be especially sensitive when conveying bad news.

Use the conversational writing style when you need to communicate something that relates to everyday business operations. This style is almost exclusively used internally, though there are some external use cases as well. This writing style can be applied to a wide range of business communications not covered by the other styles:

  • Informal internal emails to colleagues, or formal acceptance and dismissal letters
  • Invoices or contracts
  • Pricing information or checkout sequences

Remember, a mismatch between the business writing style chosen and the writer’s intent will detract from the overall message and make it much less likely to achieve the desired outcome. Choosing the right style at the right time is key to success.

Better writing for better business

The best way to ensure you and your team always apply the right style and tone to any written communication is to develop and share an internal style guide.

AI-driven writing assistants like Grammarly Business make it as easy as possible to check every document against these internal guidelines. This will not only ensure consistent alignment but also improve your team’s business writing skills by up to 74% while speeding up the drafting process by as much as 50%.

Your team will perform better and generate better results while optimizing resources. 

Optimize your and your team’s use of these basic business writing styles with Grammarly Business. Our cutting-edge writing assistant can instantly proofread and analyze the tone and formatting of a variety of documents and provide insightful suggestions for revisions. To learn more, contact us today.



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