business writing ideas from Word Constructions      

 

 

welcome to the Word Constructions business ideas newsletter

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

School holidays are underway at our house which always means noise, strange working hours and more variety to my days for me. It also means term 4 is approaching, along with Christmas and summer holidays. I am already booking meetings for January to fit in with holidays and starting to help Santa with his letter duties at Love Santa.

Last month I finished the annual report for AvSuper, which included managing the content, design and printing of the actual report, associated stationery and 3 flyers with forms attached. It is a big project and requires a lot of coordination between various suppliers as well my client. The biggest issue we had this year was trying a new printer for the flyers. This printer provided a good price and could meet a tight time frame so we accepted their quote so our preferred printer (Greenridge Press) could concentrate on the report. Days after the expected delivery, the printer demanded a deposit to start printing. A week after delivery deadlines, they wanted the full payment to arrange delivery but it was another 4 days (and some firm phone calls) that actually got the boxes out the door. The printer obviously ignored the original delivery dates, failed to mention any payment terms (ie deposit before printing), expected payment without sending invoices and had poor internal communications so didn't deliver even after payment was received.

Needless to say, we won't be using that printer ever again, but they have demonstrated the importance of clear communications through terms and conditions, and establishing good processes. Some businesses have terms and conditions but they are so long or difficult to read that they may as well have none; some businesses have no terms and conditions written anywhere; some businesses have terms and conditions but put them on the back of invoices (rather than quotes) or just on their website. Obviously, the ideal is to have clear terms and conditions and ensure that customers are aware of them (especially critical points like deposits).

Until next time, use your words wisely,

Tash

PS Reply to this newsletter before 30 October and I will review your current terms and conditions for clarity (or help write some if you don't have any yet) at a 10% discount.

Recent blog posts you may find useful:

Reply comments on your blog
7 reasons to write efficientlyWord Constructions eBooks
Social media is not all good
Getting your website found
Moderating blog comments counts

I also did some more posts in the series about setting up a new website, including a discussion on keywords and making your website interactive (or not). You are welcome to pass that link onto any businesses currently without a website (or needing an update).


Communications is at the heart of e-commerce and community
~ Meg Whitman


business communications article by Tash Hughes

It's never about you
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

Whether it is a quick email to confirm delivery or a full blown marketing campaign, it must be aimed at your customers.

An email I received yesterday began "About Us..." which just amazed me. Many emails forget to use my name or launch straight into text about themselves a greeting, but never have I seen one that is actually addressed to the sender! While this is an extreme example, it is a good reminder that no one is reading your message for you - they have their own reasons for any interest.

So here are some quick tips to ensuring your email/letter message is aimed at the right people:

  • always include a greeting - and use the person's name whenever possible
  • make sure the first sentence is about what you are offering and never about you (for instance, "you could save money at our sale" is much better than "we are having a sale")
  • use 'you' more times than 'we', 'us' and 'I'
  • answer questions the customer may have rather than listing your features or giving too much background ("you can put thinggy in your pocket while you work" is more effective than "Our thinggy is 5 cm wide and 8cm high which is smaller than our old model because we used a whatsit instead of whatsat and ...")
  • use language and style that suits your perfect customer (think about the different way you'd write for a teenage girl compared to a senior accountant in a law firm, for example) even if it is not your personal preference
  • where possible, include a personal reference in the message as well. This could be as simple as a member number, a comment such as "hopefully you are enjoying life with our reclining massage chair", or including details of how you got their details ("thanks for visiting our stall at the expo", "Sally's workshop was really interesting, wasn't it?" or "As a loyal subscriber...").
  • try asking a leading question instead of just listing information - not only can it be an effective marketing technique, it also makes you focus on the customer's point of view. ("Did you know that you can have me write some of your blog posts?" has a very different feel than "My services include writing blog posts").


Writing procedures has many advantages for your business so this eBook makes it easy to understand their value and write procedures yourself

 


don't forget the basics

Avoid repeating yourself
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

There are many redundant words in common use, and they serve little purpose except take up space, distract from the key message and (in the worst cases) make the business look silly. So when writing business documents, actually look at the words and phrases you use and see which words are actually needed.

Here are is just a sample of phrases people forget are repetitions:

'at this moment in time' - a moment is of course 'in time' so just write 'at this moment'. An even better option is to write 'now'

'free gift' - by definition, a gift is given freely so just write 'gift'

'first priority' - priority means to make something first so 'priority' alone works best

'new innovation' - an innovation is something new so it doesn't need to be described as new

'forward planning' - it's a bit hard to plan the past so it must be planning for the future (forward time) by default

'added bonus' - a bonus is something extra or added on, so just write 'bonus'

"for example, red, blue, green, etc' - example and etc both mean it is only a partial list so both words are not necessary in one place

Do you have any similar phrases that annoy you or that you see frequently?


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An offline back up is great for accidental deletions, not just for computer failure or fire!

 


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.

I found today's example from a webpage - the whole page is full of hype and promises riches from someone who says he makes thousands every month.

Example:

This means, having a tool that would generate a stable income - "Set and Foreget"... That is, an "autopilot c-a-s-h online" system that would take the sweating and worries away from our lifes. A fully automated system!

Issues with this example:

Spelling, grammar and punctuation have all been abused in this paragraph! I'll list them one by one...

  • Foreget instead of forget and lifes instead of lives.
  • 'take the sweating and worries away' should be 'take the sweat and worries away'
  • 'This means' is completely unnecessary (just say it without saying you're saying it) and really shouldn't be followed by 'that is' - an explanation of previous comments should need a second explanation as well!
  • the generating a stable income does not lead to 'set and forget' (as implied by using - ...) - 'set and forget' is about what comes next
  • using " " around phrases is unnecessary and actually reduces trust in those words as quotation marks show a lack of credibility
  • instead of quotation marks and repetition, simpler sentences crafted to provide emphasis and font changes (ie bold or italics) would make the point more effectively

An improved version would be: (without changing the meaning)

Having a tool that generates a stable income and is fully automated simplifies life and removes anxiety and worry. An online system you can just set and forget!


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2011, Tash Hughes