business writing ideas from Word Constructions      

 

 

welcome to the Word Constructions business ideas newsletter

Hello {name}! Welcome to the June 2012 edition of business writing ideas from Word Constructions!

Yet again we are nearing the end of financial year - I think I am prepared with my accounts and so on. How are you going?

June always feels like a good time to plan for the next financial year, to answer questions such as' what will I do differently?', 'what do I want my website and blog traffic and conversion rates to look like next June?' 'does my website need a refresh?' and 'how can I streamline my business to be more efficient?'. Having recently read a blog post about making time for planning and extra projects, I would also think this is a good time to consider changes to how you run your business, too.

If you're in Melbourne, you'll know that we had an incredible amount of rain last Friday - it just didn't stop all day. Not surprisingly, the rain and wind resulted in various activities being cancelled, postponed or changed. Two of my daughters were excited about going on a hike for the weekend - and upset when it was cancelled late on Friday afternoon as they finished packing for it. We were told of the cancellation via SMS and a follow up phone call so we got the message in time and adjusted our weekend plans.

What was impressive, in my mind, was the communication system that went into effect as soon as the decision was made to cancel the event. 650 scouts and many venturers and leaders were going on the weekend so there were a lot of people to notify. Immediate phone calls were made to groups out of Melbourne who needed more travelling time, then they called the people who were marshalling at the bus stops so they could inform anybody who turned up. The third stage was mass communication to everyone - emails, SMSs, tweets and Facebook updates were all implemented before phone calls were made to strategic people who could filter the message through to all involved.

I mention that story to ask what communication strategies you have in place for when things go wrong or have to be changed? It may be something as big as cancelling or changing an event, or it may be as small as someone is sick so a client meeting or deadline is postponed. Have you thought about it so you can quickly spread the necessary message instead of wasting time wondering what to do?

Until next time, use your words wisely,

Tash                             Tash & Word Constructions on Twitter          Word Constructions on LinkedIn             Tash & Word Constructions on Facebook             Word Constructions eBooks

Recent blog posts you may find useful:

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Factoring in the Carbon Tax
Headings to attract more readers
Repeat annual report content?
Blog editing policies
How you communicate is important
Tell others about you

PS To help you prepare for a great 2012-13, I have two offers for you for any work you book in June. For every five blog posts you request, I will write six posts for your blog; or I will take 7% off the price of a writing or editing project in return for a testimonial. Either way, you get some professionally written content at even better value than usual!


The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.
~ Tony Robbins


business communications article by Tash Hughes

Update the big picture
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

At times, every business will have to deal with some updates. You might update your logo and brand, you might update your pricing structure or you might have to update some information because of external factors (eg new legislation).

When doing an update, it is important to keep the big picture in mind so here are some tips from me:

  1. review everything before making any changes - have you found every instance that has the old and needs updating? It is easy to just focus on the areas specific to the change but often we link to or refer to that area elsewhere and have to update those other places too.
  2. if there are a number of places needing updates, I recommend establishing a list of required changes. Your list may include 20 web pages, 3 marketing flyers and your letterhead template - make it as long as necessary so nothing is forgotten (writing 'webpages' is too vague and a page or two is likely to be skipped). I usually add columns to tick off when changes are made.
  3. prepare each update sequentially, but don't publish those changes until all the updates are ready. It looks strange to see different branding on different webpages for example and is confusing if one page says "$50 per blog post" and another says "$30 per blog post". For consistency, prepare all the changes and implement them at one time - where feasible, make use of scheduling so you don't have to manually implement all changes on the same day.
    The exception is correcting something wrong or misleading - this needs to be rectified fast so you may implement each change as you make it so the damage is minimised.
  4. assess the required changes and prioritise. While your website may be more important than your flyer, remember that the flyer will take longer because you need to allow for printing and distribution.
  5. once the change in implemented, instead of going through your list and checking you ticked everything off, review your materials again from scratch. Not only does this check you made all the changes, it will act as a double check everything was accounted for in the initial review and that everything is still working together properly.
  6. remember to let your team know when the changes have been implemented - if they have a stock of flyers in their car or on their desk, or have saved pdfs or offline versions of webpages, you want them to know to swap to the new versions.


A green web host is appealing but their great service and reliability keep my website with Digital Pacific


don't forget the basics of good writing and communications

Get another opinion
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

Whenever you write something important, be it your web copy, a marketing campaign or a proposal, you want it to represent you and your brand well. Which means you don't want to ruin your hard work by including silly errors (typos, spell check corrections that are wrong, misplaced commas and apostrophes, etc).

Nor do you want content that makes no sense, has hidden meanings or could be offensive - all of which are possible when you get so caught up in the details that you miss the obvious.

The answer of course is to proof read your work. Proof read it as long afterwards as possible - five minutes usually isn't long enough to see it with fresh eyes.

Even better, ask someone else to read your work and point out any errors and any content that isn't quite right. Another person will spot things you missed because it is new to them and because we all tend to notice different things anyway. Someone else doesn't know your thoughts as you wrote the material so will not make the same assumptions and therefore will see flaws in the flow or logic.

Not sure who to ask?

Don't assume it has to be someone who understands what you do - a non technical expert may well spot overuse of jargon and the like better than an expert anyway. So ask your partner or a friend, a colleague or employee, swap editing work with a business associate, or get a writing/editing expert to look at it for you.

Keep in mind who is giving you feedback. Someone with poor writing skills may not help with grammar or spelling errors but can still spot hidden meanings or poor flow - take each person's feedback based on their skills, even if that means you get two or three people to read over your work.

It is much better to get a few proof readers than deal with the embarrassment of avoidable errors in important materials. How would you feel if you got your business name wrong, added profanities or publicised the wrong phone number? Avoiding that feeling is why we proof read more than once.


Antmart B2B Deals
Business related business deals it looks like you can get some real bargains there and now is a good time to get some tax deductions!


poor writing 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. It may just show you how easy it is to make mistakes, too.

I received a fax a little while ago which contained the text below, as well as the statement "Attn: Word Constructions Social Club Dude". I've never thought of myself as any sort of dude so that form of address was never likely to impress me - but it got worse! It's such a pity that there are fewer rules about sending faxes witohut permision...

Example:

Official Looking Facsmile
...
What is a punter club?
If you're reading this, you may have lived a very sheltered life, or be a very recent arrival in Australia. Punter clubs are famous the world over for turning betting into a social event…

Issues with this example:

The heading of this fax absolutely amazed me, I have to be honest. 'Official looking facsimile' is something you may say but why would anyone include it in a marketing fax? Telling me it is official looking instantly make me think it only looks official but actually isn't, and that they are trying to look more important and credible than they really are. So it destroyed their credibility before I even knew what they were after.

And that's without consdiering the spelling error of facsimile...

The fax went on to discuss joining their punter club before adding in the explanation copied above. Adding the definition is a good idea - there's no point trying to sell something if people don't know what it is. The definition they used is not such a good idea because:

  1. it is insulting - to me it comes across as 'we think you're stupid for not knowing this but we'll tell you anyway in case it helps us make a sale'. I am not newly arrived in Australia, don't think I've had a particularly sheltered life and yet I didn't know what a punter club was prior to this fax. Did you know the term?
  2. it continues to point out your ignorance - 'famous around the world but you're still too stupid to know about it'
  3. it is world famous yet newly arrived immigrants may not know it - seems a bit contradictory to me

How would you react if someone sends you something which destroys their credibility and then insults you? Neither step is helping them win sales, together I think they'd have found their campaign a waste of money.

If you look at how many words in this example would be caught by an email spam filter, it becomes obvious why these people choose the less regulated and more expensive option of sending faxes instead of emails.

An improved version would be: (with minimal adjustments of words and meaning)

Not sure about punter clubs?
Punter clubs are used around the world to turn betting into a social activity.


 

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2012, Tash Hughes