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THE SMART GUIDE TO BUSINESS WRITING is a hands-on, easy guide to writing all the different business materials that may be required in the course of a career.
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About the book
THE SMART GUIDE TO BUSINESS WRITING is a hands-on, easy guide to writing all the different business materials that may be required in the course of a career. You will find tips on writing everything from business emails to power points to performance reviews to sales reports to business letters (yes, they still exist). The book is a quick and simplified guide to writing business materials you can be proud of, business writing where you will shine. There’s even a bit of humour along the way.
I wonder why I am telling you that when I don’t know if I would call the Bible succinct. But interestingly, now that we think about it, the Bible has chapters with long (boring) lists (of families), as do many business documents have long boring lists (of product variations, for example). The Bible has its own set of guidelines plainly stated (see Ecclesiastes), just as the employee hiring manual does.
But I clearly digress.
Maybe not. Many business documents are called the business’ bible: be it the branding manual, the bylaws forming the business, the launch plan, and so on. These documents reflect the essence of the business. Each business document represents the heart and soul of your business. Words are powerful and to continue in this risky metaphor, In the beginning was the word.
Even in business.
In the last chapter we counted the many ways that can ensure succinctness but one way we did not discuss and is the key to succinctness is knowing your thoughts before you turn to (electronic) paper. Words express your thoughts and if your thoughts are muddled, there is no way you can obfuscate that. It will show.
How do you get to clarity and succinctness? By being totally conversant in your subject matter. And how do you do that? By learning. Researching your topic. Questioning your peers and gaining information from them to enhance your own knowledge base. Seeing how other business documents have been created on similar subject matter. Look to what has been done before you and imitate its form.
Invention is good in product development. Not so much in business writing (save that for your novel.) In business writing, convention is better.
Look into how other people prepared corporate power points before. Get the corporate typeface. See what words your managers use to refer to financial, product development, advertising issues. If managers are too verbose, don’t imitate that trait, but see what the language of your business is. If you are preparing a white paper, does your company like a very academic approach or a marketing approach? Find out and save yourself a lot of trouble. You won’t have to rewrite what you are writing if you see how your company likes their documents to read.
Great writers tend to be succinct. (There are exceptions: Faulkner, Jacques Lacan, Levinas,and yes the un-succinct can often be French.) But most great writers – Hemingway, Nietzsche, Gershwin – are succinct. Less is more. Less, interestingly, is more emotional, more persuasive. You are not protesting too much.
Here are some examples of clearly written documents:
From IPG to Media 3.0
IPG (Interpublic Group) , our owner, was founded in the 1960s, but our direct lineage goes back over 100 years. UM was the media planning and buying arm of the legendary McCann Erickson, the creative agency founded in 1930. In 1997, UM ‘s expertise and specific capabilities became a standalone entity within Mediabrands, one of IPG’s agencies.
UM is a full service global media planning and buying agency which keeps transforming and revitalizing the media marketplace over the past 15 years. We do it by keeping ahead of the curve of the ever-increasingly changing media landscape. UM services accounts across all industry segments, ranging from Automotives to Retail to Telecommunications. Our media executions are targeted nationally or hyper-locally, as needed. Each member of our curious, hyper-minded media professional team brings a depth of specific media knowledge which is then integrated into a tailored solution to serve each client.
UM employees number 3,600 globally, 1,010 in the U.S., and 140 in San Francisco, where we propose your business will be serviced from. Our West coast presence is currently focused around clients who have a significant West coast footprint and sensibility. Our San Francisco accounts are Charles Schwab, Wells Fargo, Microsoft International, and Cathay Pacific Airlines. We also service many clients headquartered in other cities, including Chrysler, Johnson & Johnson and Verizon Wireless.
As such, our San Francisco office, by nature of its high tech proximity, keeps reinventing the definition of “media.” Their specific approach to campaigns are no longer ad campaigns in the sense that we all once knew them. The ones that succeed today are the ones that become movements. From our perspective, these movements are only truly successful if they drive the right business outcomes. The job of media in this context is to move from buying impressions to connecting brands with consumers to nurture these movements, optimizing the most effective combination of media assets across the new age landscape of paid, owned and earned. Today’s media environment places a premium on aggregation of knowledge, collaboration, and rapid response to deliver exceptional results. And so, our days of buying purely against reach and frequency are over. The San Francisco office is well honed in creating integrated marketing and media solutions which deliver the right business outcomes on behalf of our clients.
We (and they) call this practice Media 3.0.
Our earlier blog this week talked about the benefits of unified voice communications. And there are many – instant access to people as you need them, increased security with fail-safe communication checks and balances, just to name a few. But, as with technology, nothing stays the same and you can see from the attached article that unified communications is moving now to include the social networking platforms. There are various companies making headway in these areas and, of course, Easylink is right along with them, ready to use what is valuable to our clients and not use what is not. (See future blogs for our strategies in this area.) But unified communications is now de riguer, and probably within a few years, or less, social networking platforms will be an integral part of the strategy. Take a look and see how it’s all shaping up. Enjoy!
This is a long proposal but you can see the succinctness of the writer as he covers different aspects of his proposed business model:
Three Muses Films (TMF) is a new film production and distribution company located in the San Francisco Bay Area.
TMF specializes in creating films for the underserved market of sophisticated, educated adults, especially those in the 35-70 age group. TMF identifies and nurtures talented writers who have been frustrated by both the Hollywood system of homogenized product and the so-called ‘indie’ world. TMF writers create screenplays that address themes and stories of interest to educated adults: life passages, relationships, and the comedy and tragedy of life. TMF’s films will be both popular entertainment and works of cinematic art.
TMF films are produced using the most sophisticated and modern methods of digital production. By carefully selecting talent that can be engaged for relatively low cost, TMF can create high-quality films for under $1 million. TMF distributes its films using streaming technology over the Internet in partnership with large-scale infrastructure operators. TMF will also produce on-demand DVDs.
The principals of TMF have extensive experience in management, business development, media production and operations. It is anticipated that in the first year of operation TMF will produce at least four films rising to eight films a year.
TMF is seeking a seed round of $100,000 to start up the operations of the company, complete its business plan and fill out its management team.
TMF expects to be profitable within two years of operation.
The evolution of the film business in the last ten years can best be described as the bifurcation between high-cost Hollywood product characterized by computer-generated special effects typically aimed at the 14-25 age group and a market of so-called ‘indie’ films aimed at the 23-40 age group. With a handful of exceptions, the film industry relegates product for sophisticated adults almost exclusively in the television series genre (Mad Men, Damages,…). These exist contemporaneously with specialized markets for children’s films, especially animation. Documentaries are also increasing their visibility. Christian films are also a growing niche market.
The one film market that has been ignored encompasses the intelligent, sophisticated adult, aged 35-70, who are partial to actual film, not television. Ironically, this cohort has the financial wherewithal to afford purchasing film product, yet the market is nearly bereft of films that can pull them into theaters. Increasingly, this adult market is turning towards Internet streaming in the search for compelling product. Netflix is capturing a large share of this market. However, a search of the product available on Netflix shows that most of the so-called adult films are older, classic films. There is no brand that is identified with this niche, no brand that adults can trust to produce films that do not either insult their intelligence or are exercises in self-indulgence on the part of the filmmakers.
The core market for TMF ‘s product has the following characteristics:
College educated, many with graduate degrees
Readers (at least one book per month)
High disposable income
Technically sophisticated, Internet users
The market, of course will extend down in age to individuals in their late 20’s, but the most significant sub-group will most likely be women in their late 30’s to mid-50’s. TMF’s films will appeal to men and women, but their eschewing of special effects and comic-book level stories will tend to engage a more female audience. Census figures from 2010 indicate that the approximate size of this market is 25 million adults.
Examples of films that have appealed to this audience are: Body Heat, Up at the Villa, Blue, Carlos Saures’ Carmen and others.
A key part of TMF’s marketing strategy will be to create a brand that is identified with superior films aimed at sophisticated adults. TMF will employ an entire range of marketing strategies to achieve this: viral marketing and social networking will be key. However, staged events, media exposure and an on-line festival will also serve to build brand awareness.
The key to the success of TMF will be the combination of a superior product aimed at the heart of its market and an awareness campaign that results in converting a significant part of our market into becoming TMF customers.
The importance of brand identification cannot be overstated. Today, with the exceptions of Pixar, Disney and possibly Bad Robot, no film production company has established a brand identity that can be an effective tool for generating sales. One reason is the fragmentation of the film business into a plethora of different companies and organizations none of which is identified with a particular type of film.
TMF’s marketing message will be crafted to build a sense that it is a company that can be relied upon to meet the expectations of its market. This reinforcement will only be possible because TMF will execute its plan of creating films that resonate strongly with viewers. TMF will utilize testing methods aimed at a representative sample of customers before green-lighting any production.
Another key to the success of TMF will be that the films it produces will be popular entertainment and not heady art films. TMF believes that creating films that can be both highly popular in theme and execution can go hand-in-hand with creating a superior work of cinematic art -that is the yardstick we will use to choose a script for production. Before a single scene has been blocked and shot, we will know that we have a film that will excite and please our audience.
The revolution in film production has yet to be fully realized. With some notable exceptions, films normally cost between $5 - $40 million to produce. Added to that are marketing and distribution costs which can double the production costs themselves. Most of the production cost is found in the on-screen talent, union guilds and special effect houses. The use of rapid-cut editing also requires many set-ups, shooting angles and equipment. While digital production has become more common, the entire process is still burdened by high fixed and variable costs.
TMF takes a radical view of production. By analyzing each element of the production process and by ruthlessly eliminating costs we can produce high quality films for dramatically low costs.
We believe that by using talent that is just at the start of their acting career (or at the other end) and also by judiciously searching for non-professional talent, the on-screen costs can be dramatically reduced. We will use the appeal of breaking into the business and obtaining the experience of working on a film to induce students at film schools and recent graduates into working for us at the lowest possible cost. We will use ‘mission appeal’ as a way of capturing talent that deeply desires making superior product.
TMF will scrupulously avoid the Hollywood system and its related cousins for two reasons. First, the costs are prohibitive; second, the mindset of that system is not attuned to the mission driving TMF.
TMF will work with young production people with deep wells of energy and commitment. These people are also conversant with the latest technologies and techniques of digital film production.
TMF will organize production on the team approach, not the silo approach. The team is responsible for meeting production goals. How the team divides the work and executes is up to them. Every production will have a carefully crafted production budget including shooting schedule and post-production. Management will closely monitor the work of each production team and identify any problems or issues as they arise.
Distribution & Licensing
TMF films will be distributed via Internet-based streaming. TMF will develop a website and work closely with an infrastructure provider to guarantee peak demand capacity as well as expansion capacity for growth.
One strategy that TMF will explore will be to develop a branded delivery system in conjunction with Netflix (or one of its competitors). We will follow new direct-to-TV streaming options very carefully including IPTV and new systems that are rumored to be under development from Apple and Microsoft. TMF expects that the competition in this space will be very intense in the coming years and that the options of reaching consumers with direct-to-TV streaming will grow dramatically.
The sine quo non of our distribution strategy will be to maintain our brand equity. TMF films will not be merged into a general mass of other films, but instead will only be available under our brand.
We anticipate that there will be demand for DVD versions of our films and will we of course provide a method for customers to obtain them.
In addition to streaming and DVDs, we anticipate that there will be large opportunities for foreign distribution, since our films will, in some sense, represent the best of America. Again, our criteria will be that licensing of TMF products will be done in strict accordance with our marketing and brand identification policies.
Over the Internet, TMF will realize most of its revenue from subscription and pay-per-view. The basic subscription model will be $30/year for unlimited viewing of all TMF films. TMF’s subscriber goal is 500,000 after a full year of operation and 1,000,000 after two years.
Arrangements with infrastructure providers will entail a revenue model with splits and shares. TMF will carefully negotiate these arrangements so that reaching high growth numbers will not penalize the company for its success.
Both DVD and licensing revenue will augment the revenue from streaming.
TMF also anticipates that revenue will be made available from licensing for publication and for other back-end licensing arrangements. As TMF develops characters and series, merchandising revenue becomes a possibility.
About the Author
Gay Walley is a writer in New York. She is a writing coach (nycwritingcoach.com) and ghostwriter for people’s memoirs. She has worked in advertising and marketing as a writer for much of her career.
Not only has she published on bookboon.com, but you can also find her published novels on Amazon:
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Justina Chirwa ★★★★★
I think its the best guide in business writing as it gives all needy steps in how to write a business write-up. In life you have to be smart in all stages. I thank you for this guide
Annie C. Cooper ★★★★★
Very smart in terms of approach. Author was able to choose words that can easily be grasped by its readers. Impressive content, great job!