Business emails 101 – or SOS?

Grabbing email readers’ attention via email – even when you’re not selling anything – gets harder and harder as every year goes by, as you know. Here are some ideas to convert from what may be your concerns as SOSs, into 101s.

business emails on HTWB

Don’t forget that not all email clients show your email in monochrome.

Below are some tips on how to get that attention you need now in the present climate of 2017, without lifting readers out of their very short, sharp comfort zones … then making your points effectively … so you have the best possible chance of getting the reaction you want/need.

Business emails #1: one point at a time

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Need some help with your creative writing? Grab these tools now

Writing creative material that’s good enough to grab publishers by the short hairs is always big challenge. Here, guest contributor Gloria Kopp shares her top tips on the tools she finds invaluable for getting manuscripts ready to, er, grab prospective publishers by the short hairs and with luck, lead to a publishing contract. (And best of all, these tools work for most other types of writing, too – for business, blogging, web content, and more.) Go, Gloria …

Essential proofreading and editing toolkit for creative writers

book writing help on HTWB

Writing a book, or thinking about it? Here are some tools you may find very helpful.

Everyone has always got that secret weapon hidden in their back pocket – that trick that helps them get the job done easily, quickly and properly. For creative writers, your secret weapon is right here; a cache of essential proofreading and editing tools to improve the quality of your writing, and turn it from something good to something spectacular. [Read more…]

Why you must, er, syllablervize your writing

Surely you’re up to speed on the current need to add syllables to words in your writing wherever you possibly can? Like, “conversate” – previously “converse“?

New long words on How To Write Better

Little Red Equi-apparel Hood took off her vestimentations and got into bed. (NB: this is a kids’ story, not porn.)

Or numerous others? If you don’t you are just toooo last year. But let’s be hardliners here and take a sharp look at this phenomenon.

New words in writing are great, if we need them. But do we?

Of course there is that scientific term, “ideation” previously “brainstorming” or even “head banging” or worse still “brain farting” which as all of us Grammar Police know is about generating ideas without their being aimed at, er, much. Oh, sorry: it should be “the process of generating a broad set of ideas on a given topic, with no attempt to judge or evaluate them.[Read more…]

How to write fluent Snobbish

English language,snobbish,snob,aristocracy,upper class,royalty,class system,humor,funny jokes

Are you fluent in Snobbish? Here’s some help…

Only a few years ago, if you wanted to be “posh” in England, you needed more than just a cut-glass accent: you needed (and still do need) to know Snobbish … the secret language that tells people you really are from the “top drawer.” [Read more…]

Business and marketing messages: think first, write later

There’s no doubt about it, clear
Business and marketing messages: think first, write laterthinking is the most important part of getting a business or marketing message right, before you even attempt to write anything down. Sure, you’ve got all your background information together. But without the benefit of your creative little grey cells, as Hercule Poirot called them, that information isn’t worth much.

To make that information morph into a powerful message, it needs to be brought alive by a clear, unobstructed thought process on your part.

Trouble is, that isn’t always easy with the pressures of modern business to contend with.  Here are some of the obstacles that can get in your way, and some ideas on how to overcome them.

We’ve got to respond NOW or lose the opportunity

Not really. There aren’t many opportunities that can’t wait five minutes, even if it means saying you’ll call right back or email them immediately with a fast message to help close a sale. You’ll benefit enormously from those five minutes even if all you do is walk over to the water cooler and back before responding.

Business and marketing messages: think first, write laterPeople prone to temper tantrums are told to count to ten before they say anything, and the theory behind that works here too.

To react with a knee-jerk can make you look like one, so don’t take a chance on it unless a snap decision really is unavoidable.

The deadline isn’t for another week

This is the other side of the same coin. Because you’ve got other things you have to finish before that week’s up, your deadline keeps getting shuffled to the bottom of the deck.  Before you know it, it IS another week.

Of course, long lead times can be demotivating, and often if you start working on a message too early you then spend the rest of the time tinkering with it. The result is the message loses all its momentum and has about as much energy and spontaneity as a mouldy tomato.

Don’t let deadlines drive you. Take the wheel and drive them, without rushing, but with just enough time pressure to focus your mind sharply on getting your message right.

I know this subject matter backwards

Yes, and that’s the trouble. Familiarity breeds contempt. It also breeds tired, worn-out marketing messages. Don’t reach up to the top shelf in your brain and pull down last month’s solution, no matter how well it worked that time.

By all means add your past experience into the message. But remember to keep experience in its proper place – the past. No matter how many similarities there are in surrounding circumstances, never assume you can get away with producing a clone.

It’s fresh, original thinking that makes business/marketing messages work, and most things in life are only fresh and original once.

I know what the audience wants to read/see/hear

Not necessarily. Just because a message got them clicking or calling or buying in their droves last time it doesn’t mean they’ll respond the same way now. A couple of weeks or even a couple of hours can make an enormous difference to the way an audience will perceive you and receive your message.

A workforce before and after the announcement of a plant closure? Consumers before and after a media exposé about the dangers of a chemical sweetener in your chocolate bars?  Shareholders before and after a market crash?

Always, always take a fresh look at the circumstances of your audience, and ensure your message takes those into account.

I’d love to do something new, but it’ll never get approval

Oh, those corporate politics again. Yes, approval can be hard to obtain, especially when it involves getting through a committee of umpteen experts all with their own agendas and axes to grind. Well, no-one said being creative and original is easy. I’ll bet even the person who invented the wheel got a hard time from his or her committee to start with.

Provided you can justify your marketing message with solid evidence and common sense, most superior beings (even committees) will see the logic and give you the go-ahead. It never hurts to try, anyway, and once your message gets out there and proves itself successfully, the next time should be easier.

I can’t think straight with all this racket in here

Clear thinking is relatively easy if you happen to work in a cozy log cabin set in a verdant pasture or forest or whatever with not a single soul, cell, or cellphone for that matter, to mar the magnificence.

Business and marketing messages: think first, write laterGiven that large offices are to log cabins what express trains are to bicycles, clear thinking in this environment can be more of a challenge.

Here’s a trick. Go and sit quietly somewhere other than at your desk. At the risk of offending some of you, the toilet is a good choice. Yes, in a cubicle, sitting down. I’ve done some of my best thinking and got some of my most useful ideas in precisely these surroundings. (And I’ve heard all the jokes about it, too.) I think it’s because you’re cocooned in a small, plain space with absolutely no external mental stimulation. That frees your mind to focus on what you want it to focus on.

If the restroom doesn’t appeal to you, then go sit quietly somewhere else – like your car, or the staff restaurant outside of meal times, and close your eyes. Discard irrelevant thoughts one by one as they occur, and keep nudging yourself back to the project. Don’t “rack” your brain; just let it work by itself. Soon you’ll find things settling into place and you’ll be able to prioritize and organize your thoughts.

Happy thinking!

An earlier version of this article first appeared on the USA marketing site, MarketingProfs.com

More good thinking for your business and marketing messages:

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

“English to English: the A to Z of British-American translations”…more than 2,000 business and social terms from the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand

photo credit: Humphrey King via photopin cc

Email clichés we love to hate. And why.

Do you sometimes groan when you open an email and find it starting or finishing with a cliché that may be well-meant, but comes across as being as genuine / friendly as a cornered rat? And that’s just in your day-to-day eCorrespondence. It gets even better when it’s spam.

Email cliches we love to hate. And why.

Friend, foe, or someone trying to sort out my penile erectile dysfunction

In this run up to the Holiday Season when we’re focusing less on hard-nosed business and more on its lighter (but nonetheless important) aspects…do you agree with the following? [Read more…]

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