Santhology: Writings of Lawrence San

Business Writing

If you’re in the business world, you might like to see a few of the many professional and business-to-business projects I’ve worked on over the years. Sometimes the work is straight copywriting, fulfilling a highly specific assignment. Other times it’s on a higher level, inventing (and sometimes producing) entirely new kinds of printed or online materials. Often these are solutions to a communications problem or need that the client feels strongly about, but can’t clearly define in advance.

In many cases, my assignments are broader than just business writing; they might also involve creative direction, design, and perhaps oversight of other freelancers. Sometimes they’re combined with training, or testing, or public speaking. In fact, my whole life has been pretty much mix-and-match although always centered around communication.

I’ve written corporate brochures, guidebooks, and entire websites; research reports and summaries for consulting companies; business-to-business direct mail packages; and letters “from” senior executives. (For reasons that should be obvious, I can’t put any of the latter on this site even ghostwriting has its ethics.) I’ve also written many headlines, “blurbs,” and other ancillary text (small descriptive, explanatory, or connecting material) for print and Web projects such as the text you’re reading right now.

There are currently eight samples of my business writing on this site, done for four different clients. I think that’s enough to show my approach, which I’m often told is unusually direct and clear. Click any title to go there:

 

The China Project
Graphic of 3 China Project sheets

I wrote and designed three sheets (folder inserts) for a consulting company describing their new business unit, which was focused on the challenges of doing business in China. The first sheet gives an overview of the business unit, called “The China Project”; the second, which reads almost like fiction, talks about the Tarim Basin oilfield; and the third sketches typical business scenarios for companies doing business in China.

Conservation Ad

I was sub-contracted by an ad agency to help promote an energy-conservation organization. This was a ‘pure creative’ assignment: my job was to provide concepts (headlines, body copy, and visual ideas), not to do the final work. This assignment was a little more consumerish than I usually get, but is still (in a general sense) professional-service oriented.

Consulting Company Main Brochure
Graphic of consulting company main brochure

I wrote, illustrated, and designed a rather elaborate 16-page brochure for a small, élite consulting company with Fortune 500 clients. In this sample I’ve excerpted text from the latter part of the brochure, which contains descriptions of their services, focused primarily on business strategy and IT consulting. I also show thumbnails (small images) of some of the brochure pages.

Brochure Copy for another consulting company:

An ad agency sent me into a well-known consulting company to conduct a series of interviews with some of their group (department) heads. The goal was either one main brochure, or a series of mini-brochures, about some of the different consulting groups within the main consulting firm.

Communications Consulting for M IT
Graphic of MIT brochure cover

The Mas sachusetts In stitute of Technology, in addition to being a world-famous university, is also one of the largest high-technology research centers, and a major incubator of hi-tech companies that get spun off. I helped their Administrative Systems Development (ASD) group, a branch of Information Systems, to write and design a folder and inserts that would explain clearly what they do.

Sometimes, instead of delivering a packaged result, a client wants me to adopt a very flexible approach, where I provide just the mix of advice and deliverables that their staff needs to complete the project themselves. Read about how I did this for one unit of M IT, and how it turned out.

Things I Can’t Show You
Say No Evil Monkey illus. by San
Click Seymour d’Monkey to see more about what you can’t see if you see what I mean.

There are certain kinds of business writing that I can’t show you or even describe in detail. This confidentiality is bad for my portfolio, but good for my clients and I take the agree­ments I sign very seriously. This page describes a few different types of confidential writing that I do.

In my experience, there are two main challenges I face as a business writer.

First, I need to take the diverse raw materials that the client typically provides, add my own research, make sure I understand everything and then boil down, simplify, and organize the results into something clear enough for the reader to absorb.

Next, I need to make the material entertaining enough so that a busy professional reader is likely to pay attention. This can be accom­plished by combining linguistic flair with a sense of drama while avoiding the trap of pretentiousness (which is what failed attempts at “flair” usually turn into) or other forms of insincerity. At the risk of sounding sappy, I believe that honesty is key: professionals and business managers are likely to spot attempts at manipulation and react swiftly against them. The need to be dramatic without being phony makes effective professional or B-to-B writing a very different challenge than consumer copywriting.

If your project requires outstanding business writing, take a look at the samples (linked above) and decide whether you’d like to get in touch with me.

I also have years of experience as a tech writer. This comes naturally to me because I’m quite geeky by nature. I was once Director of Technology for a small company so small, in fact, that I was the whole IT department! Then I became Director of Web Technology for a fairly large international company. Despite the fancy title, I spent most of my time writing technical guides and a column about Web development. Find out more about the tech writing I can do for you.

BBy the way, if you’d like to contact me for any reason, you’ll find a “Contact San” link in one of the side columns of just about every page on this site. It goes to a Photo of Sancontact page with several different methods for getting in touch, including a form you can type into. Check it out; people often tell me it’s more fun than other contact pages they’ve seen.

Best wishes,

Lawrence San

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Here and There

This is my writing site. You can find my Cartoon Stories for Thoughtful People over at my other site, Sanstudio.com.
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The Contact San page gives several ways to get in touch, including a quick text-message box. Who says a contact page can’t be fun!