Posted tagged ‘word choice’

Let me hear your four seconds!

September 2, 2009

How many times have you answered the phone and some telemarketer spends the first 30 seconds not taking a breath or allowing you to get a word in edgewise? Chances are, more often than not.

Experts say that we, the business professionals of the world, have a total of four–count ’em–four seconds to entice someone into doing business with you or buying whatever product you happen to be hawking.

Did you get that? You have to say something in the first four seconds of your conversation which will make someone decide if they are going to work with you. If you haven’t got them in four seconds, it’s time to move on to someone else.

I know I need to work on my pitch, and I’m having a hard time finding others who really know how to effectively pitch to prospects. If you’ve got a good pitch, let me hear it. If your pitch needs a little work, let me hear that, too, and we can offer hints or ways to improve.

Remember, YOU only have FOUR free seconds before someone tunes you out and starts playing computer games, so make ’em good.

How ’bout it?

It’s Summertime! Less Time Than Before.

June 8, 2009

tre-coverFor the past couple of weeks and probably for the next couple, we have been out-of-pocket–traveling to graduations and other family-related events. For this reason (and others we will keep to ourselves) I have failed to post frequently to this blog. (That’s my confession.)

However, I have been quite busy out in the real world and on LinkedIn making connections to people who can potentially provide me business. So I’ve been active.

Feel free to contact us at On the Mark Writing if you or your company need a well-written press release, a carefully-crafted press kit, marketing collateral, or editing services.

In this down economy, if you are unsure of the process of writing news releases or marketing collateral (i.e. sales letters) why not get a professional writer to create them for you? News releases are an excellent way to get people to talk about your business and subsequently driving traffic to your website. The key is conversations. If you create a dialogue between your business and your customers or clients, ultimate those conversations will create revenue in your pocket.

How ’bout it?

The Communications Factors: Biz Writing Part 2

October 6, 2007

As stated yesterday in the post, the article titled “Six Types of Words That You Should Axe in Business Writing” provided excellent tips and perspectives about writing that business correspondence every professional, at one time or another, has to write.

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The first tip of the article was the avoidance of “unfamiliar” words, which we discussed in the previous post. The second tip was to stay away from “long words”because, the article claims, they can be very yawn-inducing. Shorter words are more easily digested and comprehended by the masses. As we stated with our thoughts regarding unfamiliar words, there is nothing wrong with having an extensive vocabulary with a multitude of multi-syllabic words, but as far as their usage in business emails and letters, that should be avoided. Remember, words, and letters for that matter, are expensive. Why use a word with seven letters when a word with only four or five will suffice just fine? Unless you are playing Scrabble, stay away from the longer words if a shorter one will convey the same meaning equally as well.

The third point is that the business writer should avoid using abstract words. Maybe it’s from my years working on the paper, but it seems that the story – or business letter/email/whatever, has more of an impact when you can say, “Membership jumped 40 percent,” rather than, “The membership increased substantially.” Using specifics not only gives your piece credibility and readability, but it also provides the writer with the reputation of being precise and not vague.

The fourth type of word to stay away from are passive words. I cannot completely agree with this tip. Sometimes, it is appropriate, or ever preferable, to use the passive voice. The idea is not to write the story to tell itself – like you would in a novel, replacing “it was raining hard” with “the sky opened and the rain completely obfuscated our view.” But if you’re writing for businesses or with business purposes, you will not need to paint the reader a picture using your words. Generally, short and sweet is best. Cut to the chase. Provide enough information, but then make your point.

The fifth type of word the business writer is advised to avoid is the Camouflaged Word, which is simply a verb changed into a noun-form by adding -tion, -ing, -ment, etc: Act becomes Action; Establish becomes Establishment. These words are usually used to bolster the writer’s self-esteem. For example, instead of writing, “This guy’s writings were filled with the tendency to provide easily-understood tips,” one should write “This guy wrote to provide easily-understood tips.” There, I cut the sentence by five words and didn’t lose any of the meaning.

The sixth type of word to avoid is the unnecessary word. Examples of these would be “consensus of opinion,” “usually always,” and “in my own mind.” (Whose mind would it be if it weren’t your own?) These words don’t add anything to the meaning of the sentence, and as I’ve explained before, words are expensive. Other instances are “basic fundamentals,” since the fundamentals are the basics, “just recently,” since something recent only just happened, and “unique individuals,” since all individuals are unique.

A quick disclaimer:

  • I do not write this blog to shoot holes in anyone’s theories or practices.
  • I have recently become aware that sometimes, when posting to my blog, I make mistakes, and the grammatical or spelling error gets published.
  • Others who are in the publishing industry also have these same problems; no one is perfect.

How ’bout it?

The Communications Factors: Biz Writing

October 5, 2007

I got an email this morning regarding the tips on writing for business. I agree with the majority of the article. The main point was that in order to write an effective business letter or email, the writer needs to keep it short and sweet. I will never forget what one of my journalism professors said: “Words are expensive.” He was referring to the importance of being able to take a story of 1000 words and edit it down to 800 without losing any of the meaning. I guess that’s why I strive for concise words which convey a powerful meaning.

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The first point of the article was that the writer should abstain from “unfamiliar” words. The examples given were ascertain, consummate, and peruse. Certainly one should shy away from those words in a business letter, but I don’t think they are necessarily “unfamiliar.” Remember, when writing to a group of businessmen or women, just because you don’t pull out all the stops of your command of the English language doesn’t mean that you are writing as though your audience is composed of idiots. In fact, my mentor, Jay Deragon, has a powerful presence in the Relationship Economy and is probably smarter than I am, but reading his blog posts is sometimes painful. My strength is being able to write clear and concise text; Jay’s strength is having the ability to grasp complex, abstract strategies and implement them into the emerging technologies of this world.

Many of those who commented on the article disagree. They said to refrain from “unfamiliar” and long words was to “dumb down” the English language. However, I believe there is a time and place for the display of your inherent sesquipedalian qualities. There is nothing which loses readers, thereby decreasing your “stickiness” on the ‘net, faster than having to find a dictionary to look up an unfamiliar word. The time to employ erudite, tedious loquacity is college entrance essays, not in business correspondence. Many of the MBAs of the world have excellent vocabularies but don’t use them because they are not out to impress anyone. It does, however, impress people when you are able to convey a complex subject without unnecessary use of commas, or words which might give pause to the reader.

If the writer doesn’t restrain himself from utilizing grandiose verbiage and punctuation, then, he is drawing attention to his inexperience or his over-elevated sense of self-importance. The most dire consequence is for the reader to think, “What a pompous ass!”

I will continue on this vein in future posts.

How ’bout it?

Communications Factors: How The Recent Posts Fit Together…

September 28, 2007

As I have written about the Communications Factors and their roles in the Relationship Economy this week, some truths became evident to me. The Communications Factors come together to form a synergistic effect on the ability of the world to convey information – whether we intend to send that message or not.

Gutenberg’s press of the 1400s created revolutions which took centuries to be fully realized and understood. Likewise, the effects of the shift in thinking, caused by the internet and the constant emerging technologies, only now has become the focus of the major players (companies) in business and not considered merely a fad which will gain momentum in the coming months and even years, but then will fizzle when the novelty of the technology has worn off.

 We can only begin to imagine what the world will be like in the next 25, 50 and 100 years with the vast advances in the communications industry which keep happening, day after day, month after month! It’s kind of like a snowball effect. It takes a little bit of effort to get it going, but as it rolls downhill, it gathers more snow and more inertia, causing opposing forces to be either sizeable or squashed in its path.

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In the Relationship Economy, the “currency” which will be of the greatest value will be the number and quality of the relationships a person has. Having over a thousand contacts on any one social network will not be as valuable as say having 200 quality relationships – if they are properly maintained. That point is key. Maintenance of the relationships will become (if they haven’t already) more important than the mere number of lower-quality acquaintances.

The “business contact” about whom I wrote in an earlier post failed to realize this fact. Because we didn’t have a relationship, what he said to me shut the door on the possibility of our doing business together in the future. If someone else – a friend, perhaps – had used the same words, I would have taken what was said as a painful, albeit accurate, truth. Because we didn’t have a relationship other than over the phone, the contact made his point, but in doing so, slammed the door on any future ventures or collaboration.

The same thing can be said about the employees at BestBuy. Because they don’t have a relationship with the customer, when they act like something is wrong with the person who doesn’t want to opt in for the extended warranty, they are ruining the chance to make a life-long customer. Sure, they may not use verbal communication to ask, “what’s wrong with you,” but it is in their tone of voice, body language and even facial expressions.

With the newest inventions enabling communication more cheaply and more easily, the message needs to be crystal-clear, or we will risk ruining the relationships we have painstakingly endeavored to create. It’s just like the physical relationships all of us have: When we are dating our significant other, we open doors, refrain from foul language, and actually talk over dinner at a restaurant while eating out; after marriage, or years of dating, the manners go out the window, and we can get away with it because of the value to the relationship we contribute.

How ’bout it?

The Communications Factors: What You Say Can Affect Your Customers!

September 27, 2007

As I read Dan Schawbel’s blog about branding, I was reminded that what you say, either verbally or non-verbally, can really affect the customer’s perception of you and your brand. Dan, whom I’m proud to call a friend, relates a story about his typical visit to BestBuy. The tone used by employees of the store can, and do, turn people off of the BestBuy brand. Click the above link to read his post.

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The same way that Dan is rather insulted when asked whether he wants to purchase the extended warrenty for whatever product, clients and customers are affected by our choice of words, the tone we use and other non-verbal clues.

Nixon learned the powerful effect of body language and appearance in the “Great Debates” of 1960 against a well-rested Kennedy. If you’re sweating profusely, scanning the room when you someone’s talking to you, it’s going to be difficult to gain that person’s trust.

The same thing is true when you go to a store to by something. If the salesperson is constantly checking his watch, you feel less important. If he comes up to you with his arms folded, you suspect him of trying to hide something. If HE STARTS YELLING AT YOU ABOUT THE INCREDIBLE DEAL THEY HAVE ON EXTENDED WARRENTIES, you just want to leave – without making a purchase.

The same can be said in the virtual world. If you type in all-caps, as I have just done, it appears that you are screaming at the person. If you begin typing and dont worry bout puntion an grammer and speelling it looks lik you just dont care whatt the persson owheo readss the psot thinksg.

That is not the case here! I do value my readers, and appreciate your taking the time to read my posts.

When so much of business is conducted over the internet, one cannot afford to be sloppy when trying to convey professionalism. What you say and do online can affect your customers’ confidence in you and your brand!

 How ’bout it?

The Communications Factors. A recap.

September 22, 2007

We’ve discussed the who, what, when, where and why of the Communications Factors as they relate to the Relationship Economy, so now let’s just hit some of the major points of the previous posts.

The who of Communications Factors is simply everyone. Communications affects us all in some fashion, but in the Relationship Economy, we become not only recipients of the news, but we become aggregators and distributors of the news, as well.

The what of Communications Factors refers to both the techniques for expressing ideas effectively and the technology which enables the expression of ideas. They must be considered together to fully understand their complete impact. Just like Gutenberg’s invention of movable type, the technology of the internet is a catalyst of change whose full effects can only be imagined by those who are the greatest visionaries.

The when is now, and the future – both the distant future and the not-so-distant. We are influenced by the factors of communications currently, and the more people who begin to open, or have their eyes opened for them, the faster and sooner the factors will be noticeable.

The where, as we said, is everywhere information needs to be transferred. The ease the internet provides information allows the entire global community to transfer knowledge about any subject matter it chooses. As we said, we will take on the roles of creators of the news, not just recipients. We will decide what is newsworthy and what is just “fluff.” We will decide whether Lindsay Lohan’s latest trip to rehab should be shared with the world. We will decide how much coverage should be given to the incident involving Andrew Meyer and a Taser.

The why of the Communications Factors is easily understood. Every moment of every day of our lives, we are bombarded with information. If we accept that we cannot escape information (stimuli) without taking extreme measures, we realize that without information and interaction with others, we die. Information is like the atmosphere: It’s all around us wherever we go, but we don’t realize it, but it is only when we remove the atmosphere (or information) that we realize that we can’t live without it. The Communications Factors have emerged through technology, and “there ain’t no stoppin’ ’em, now.”

To quote social networking strategist Jay Deragon, “The change is coming are you ready?” The Communications Factors will not, and cannot, be stopped. The only options for us are to either embrace them and try to “tame” them, or resist the change in futility.

How ’bout it?