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How much is bad writing costing you?

write on the money:WITH NATSAI MUSARURWA

There’s a general under-appreciation for effective writing. I’m not saying this because I run a company that specialises in business writing (called Amras Communications), this is based on real experiences and observations. People often take an “as long as they get what I’m trying to say” approach to writing and in some cases you can get away with it, but as a corporate do you really want to risk potentially coming across as incompetent because you couldn’t invest a bit more time to ensure your sentence structure was correct? Besides how your written communication can shape stakeholders’ perception of you, ineffective writing can actually cost you money; it’s estimated that bad writing costs US companies alone close to US$400 billion a year, so this article is not a way to try to justify the value that companies such as Amras bring, these are facts.

Bad writing can have a lot of negative consequences such as diminishing your company’s image because sloppy grammar makes you appear unprofessional, or losing out on customers or investors. The cost of bad writing is much higher than most people think and you can lose money in ways you may not have considered.

One rather obvious cost of bad writing is losing investors, particularly for start-ups which often don’t have the inhouse resources to put together an effectively written business plan. Your business plan is your sales document and if it doesn’t do its job of convincing potential investors because its structure is all over the place or it’s too long and doesn’t properly communicate the right message, then that’s money out the window. Not because you don’t have a good idea, but because all the words that you put to paper did not effectively communicate the potential.

Another cost of bad writing that’s a little less obvious is the cost of productivity, this is an issue in companies of all sizes. Within an organisation emails are exchanged, employees have to follow manuals, reports are compiled, etc. Where writing skills are below the desired level a lot of time is wasted reading lengthy documents that could be condensed to a single page and going back and forth for clarification on meeting minutes or reports. While this may come to a small amount of time for each individual case, if you have to spend 10 minutes a day reading, trying to interpret and asking for clarification on emails or reports, that adds up to almost an hour a week, 25 hours a month and 300 hours a year that you could have spent doing something more productive.

Sales and marketing is another area where surprisingly a lot of people still get their content wrong. Whether it’s a cold email, flyer or brochure, you have a few seconds to get the reader’s attention and keep it, so get to the point and make sure you say everything that needs to be said. I’m emphasising “needs” because in many cases either sales content says way too much and loses a potential customer’s attention or says too little and leaves the customer confused causing them to lose interest; and if your customers are anything like me once they encounter bad grammar they just become outright annoyed and move on to something else. This means lower conversion to sales and, therefore, less revenue.

Directly or indirectly bad writing can either save your company money, like FedEx which cut costs by US$400 000 by simply rewriting their manuals, or it can cost you money. Even if you choose not to use professional writing services it’s worthwhile to invest in training yourself and your employees and improving written communications within your organisation. Read books, research online or call us in to host a writing workshop. There are numerous options available so take advantage of them and bring your business one step closer to realising its full potential.

In today’s highly competitive environment it’s no longer enough if people just get what you are trying to say, say exactly what you mean and make sure the intended reader understands it clearly with no room for ambiguity. You usually only have one chance to get your message across so make sure you get it right.

l At Amras Communications we do our small part to contribute to our clients’ success through our business writing services. We always ensure that every client is putting their best foot forward whether it’s through a business plan, proposal or annual report. If you are interested in seeking professional writing help for your organisation, we are always happy to assist. You can contact us on +263787722016 or at info@amrascoms.com. We are committed to your success.

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