business writing ideas from Word Constructions      

 

 

welcome to the Word Constructions business ideas newsletter for March 2011

Hello {name}! Welcome to the March edition of business writing ideas from Word Constructions!

I have just discovered that this didn't go out as scheduled so my apologies for the delay in getting my newsletter this month.

Autumn has arrived and the nights are certainly cooler. Is that significant for your business? How about the approach of Easter (a very late Easter this year), is that something you need to prepare for? My business isn't really seasonable (effective writing is needed all year!) but I am affected by other's cycles such as being busier at the start of a new financial year when annual reports are being written and new budgets allow for website refreshes and the like.

Will you be celebrating International Women's Day next week? It is 100 years old this year. I am conscious of it this year as I have been preparing some women-centric material for a client - did you know that women have about half as much super as men on average when they retire? I think that's really sad and it has inspired me to put more super aside this year. When's the lat time you thought about your super?

I am also going to donate part of my proceeds this year to a group that helps third world families start a business to support themselves - I'm looking at Kiva and Opportunity International but if you know of another similar group you can recommend, please let me know. In the past, I have given to help literacy in other places but this year I want to give more direct help for these people to generate an income. Does your business give donations?

Tash

Recent blog posts you may find useful:

Choosing valuable business partners
Make it clear what you do
Providing information in the right order
Online forms are part of your image

P.S. What communications and writing tips would you like to learn? I'm always interested to hear suggestions for my newsletter and blog, so let me know what you need to know!

 


Almost all quality improvement comes via simplification of design, manufacturing... layout, processes, and procedures.
~ Tom Peters


latest article

Less is definitely more
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

From working with many businesses, and seeing other materials in the marketplace, I know that many people find it hard to give just the necessary information in brochures, webpages, emails and the like. Often, people are so passionate about their topic they assume everyone else wants to know as much as they do, other times people worry that leaving something out will be the deciding factor for a customer making a purchasing decision.

However, people generally don't want a great level of detail, especially in the marketing stages, and are likely to get overwhelmed or bored if you tell them too much too soon. The inclusion of many technical details can also confuse people who want to know the features rather than the specifics.

By all means have the details available but don't include them in all your materials. A brochure and the main pages of your site are meant to gather people's interest and let them know about what you are selling; specific details are the next phase and interested people will ask or look for them.

So when you are writing, know the purpose of the document and keep asking yourself "Is this information really necessary? Does it suit the purpose or fulfil any real need?" If the answer is no, leave the information out.

P.S. Cutting out extra details is something an extra pair of eyes often finds easier than someone involved in the business or project. If you have some feature-based materials that may have too much detail let me know - I'll take 10% off my usual rates if you request this service before the end of Aprl.
 


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Reading will improve your writing by default so a good book shop is a must!
 


don't forget the basics

Use your own words
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

With the ease of access through the internet and the ability to cut and paste in our software, it is probably easier than ever to find someone else's work and copy it. Apart from the obvious legal issues with doing this (copyright is a serious issue and don't assume you will never be caught or penalised for it), there are good reasons for preparing your own words:

  • you get to show your expertise, ideas and personality if you write it yourself (or have it written for you)
  • it is lazy and morally weak to copy another's work - do you want someone taking your effort without any gain for you?
  • anybody who notices the plagiarism will be disappointed and your credibility automatically is decreased
  • it is easier to match the style when you add to or change the text

Just for clarity, here are a few tips about copyright, too:

  • anything I write has copyright even if I don't add a copyright symbol or say it - that even includes that shopping list I wrote the other day or the email asking a designer for a quote
  • ideas and concepts are not protected by copyright (but possibly by other laws)
  • forget the 10% rule so many people associate with copyright - if you took my 500 word article, changed the last 50 words or changed every 5th sentence and called it your own it would still be copyright. There have to be significant changes to call it your work rather than mine
  • using someone's name with their work doesn't necessarily mean you are not breaching copyright - you still need their permission to use their work
  • I can give or sell my copyright if I wish - and generally include copyright as part of my writing services

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poor examples

Sometimes, the easiest way to learn the correct way to do something is to see it done poorly so in this section of my newsletter, I show you some real-life examples of writing that need a little help.

This is the content of an email I received...

Example:

Lazy to attend exam or classes?

We have Diplomas, Degrees, Masters' or Doctorate to choose from any field of your interest.

Only 2 weeks require to delivers the prestigious non-accredited universities paper to your doorstep.

Issues with this example:

Fairly obviously it is in clumsy English and does not give a professional or impressive feel for the business - that's without counting the spam issue in the first place!

The first sentence is incomplete and is not very flattering to your potential customers. Too me, the writer is being lazy rather than the students! It would be much better to suggest the person is too busy than lazy...

A number of basic grammar rules are missing from the remaining sentences:

  • do they only one type of degree available? If not, it should be 'and' not 'or' in the list

  • 'only two weeks are required', unless they truly mean the two weeks have a requirement for something (compare "they require two forms of identification")

  • I deliver, you deliver, he/she delivers, they deliver, we deliver, it delivers - verbs must match the noun they relate to

  • Is it from one university or many universities? One would be more believable

  • the paper (presumably the degree certificate?) is form the university so add possession with an apostrophe "universities' paper"

From a marketing perspective, this would be more effective if they concentrated on the reader rather than themselves (for example, use "you" instead of "we" whenever possible) and gave us some idea of how to access these "degrees".

I am ignoring the ridiculous idea they can cover any field of interest and the whole concept of non-accredited degrees - the English I can help with, their "business model" is not one I'd be comfortable dealing with, frankly.

 An improved version would be: (without changing the meaning, although the purple text is additional information for marketability)

Too busy to attend classes and exams?

You can choose from diplomas, degrees, masters degrees and doctorates across a wide range of fields by visiting our website. Within two weeks, we will deliver a prestigious, non-accredited University certificate to you.


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2011, Tash Hughes