Written business communication has several purposes. In most business settings, there are four types of written communication: transactional, persuasive, informational and instructional. Regardless of what kind of written communication you are using, be sure to write clearly and succinctly while using the proper level of formality required. Address the key points your audience wants to know and ensure the tone of your writing is in line with your company brand.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Types of written communication in business include transactional, persuasive, informational and instructional.
Transactional Forms of Written Communication
Examples of written communication that is transactional include:
- instant messages
- short memos
This kind of business communication is for day-to-day use and is generally short and direct and requires action from the reader.
Persuasive Business Writing
Written communication in business also includes persuasive content. The goal of this kind of material is to provide the reader with a unique value proposition about your business and encourage them to respond. Depending on the kinds of written materials used, the responses can be to make a sale or further a relationship.
Examples of persuasive business writing include marketing and promotional content such as ads, brochures, press releases, emails, newsletters and direct mail campaigns. Sales decks and proposals to prospects are also persuasive business writing, as are cover letters and resumes.
One of the key elements to consider when writing persuasively is to not focus on the business too much. Instead, it’s important to focus on what the audience wants and the kinds of problems they are trying to solve.
Informational Business Documents
One of the most common forms of written communication in business is informational material. The goal of this kind of written communication is to provide a reference or a record of specific areas of the business. Informational writing doesn’t necessarily require an action from the reader, unlike transactional and persuasive content.
Examples of informational business communication include quarterly financial reports, meeting minutes, employee handbooks and annual departmental overviews. An FAQ page on a website is also an example of informational content. This kind of writing is direct and thorough, covering a wide range of content with the goal of keeping the reader up to date on specific aspects of the business.
Informational business communication enables the company to predict future performance, record previous performance and meet legal or regulatory obligations.
Instructional Business Materials
Written communication in business also includes instructional business writing. The goal of this kind of material is to provide step-by-step details on how to complete a specific task. Similar to transactional and persuasive content, instructional content usually requires the reader to take some kind of action either now or in the future.
Examples of instructional communication in business include user manuals, job description handbooks, technical specifications and instructional memos. This kind of writing is clear and direct, often written in short sentences that follow a chronological order.
Instructional content needs to take into account how much the reader knows about the topic at hand and provide the missing information. If the instructional content is for multiple people with varying levels of understanding, then the material needs to first cover the basics and then move on to the specific tasks that need to be completed.
Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.