Advertising vs info on social media – the trolls rage on

If you have a local business group on one of the main social media platforms, you know you’re going to get people advertising their businesses no matter how you try to stop them.

Advertising or content on social media on HTWB

I would have told this troll precisely where to shove his business video.

It doesn’t matter how explicit you are in your “rules” section; the only way to stop the ads is to kick the advertisers out, or at least delete their blatant advertising posts until they get the message.

But not always…

Explaining the difference between advertising and social media content

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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

How to tweet on Twitter without strangling the birdie

Twitter,tweets,micro blogging,blogs,writing,Suzan St Maur,online marketing,social media

What are your favorite terrible tweets?

Anyone who spends time on Twitter will gradually see a pattern of different tweet styles emerging, not all of which contribute much to the greater good. Having only been a keen Twitterer for a year or two I can’t claim to be an expert, but speaking as a professional writer I cringe at the time and energy that’s wasted on what I think are bad or inappropriate tweets.

Of course, everyone has their own view of what constitutes good tweeting. Already large sums of money have been spent generating analyses that tell you your tweets should consist of XX percent personal and YY percent business content, they should go out at intervals of no more or less than ZZ minutes, they should contain no more than XX @ symbols and YY hashtags, and so-on. Who would have thought so much science could be found in a mere 140 characters, huh. And not surprisingly, few people seem to take any notice of it.

Before I launch into my attack on what I think are bad tweets, it’s only fair that I should reveal how I put my own together. And please feel free to critique this! They fall into one of these brackets:

  • Observations, articles, news stories etc. that interest me and/or make me laugh
  • Conversational posts with people I know, but out of courtesy to them and other readers I try to include a précis of the original topic, or respond via a retweet
  • Retweets of friends’ and followers’ posts when I feel they’re worth sharing
  • Posts about HowToWriteBetter.net and one or two of my own recent books

I try to create a good balance of all four. In every case my main criterion is to write something everyone can understand, either in the style of a newspaper headline, or as a short but self-contained thought. Here, now, are some of the stereotype tweets that irritate me. Do they irritate you?

THE ENGLISH EXPERT:  You need free artikles for the webbsite and we got some you want so clicks here go for free stuff you enjoy read. (If you can understand what this is all about, that is.)

THE STRONG, SILENT TYPE:  http://xxxxxxx.yyy (That’s it – no text. You are commanded to click on the link and I don’t need to tell you why. Now just f***ing well do it.) [Read more…]

Think you need a marketing expert? Think again.

It might interest you to know the following points, neither of which are very flattering to our current masses of “marketing gurus…”

The difference between marketing and marketing communications

One: they may believe what they do is marketing, but there’s a good chance it’s marketing communications, which is only part of the story.
Two: if they know that what they do is marketing communications but they tell people they do marketing, they’re telling a porkie**.

But in fairness, it’s not that simple.

What does “marketing” really mean?

So that you don’t have to take it from measly old moi, here are some very respectable definitions: [Read more…]

Storytelling in business: why it can be dangerous

Did you realise that business storytelling can be dangerous for innocent customers? UK based business coach Phil Morton shares some very useful tips on how to avoid being taken in by business stories which, despite being popular sledge hammers in the inbound marketing toolbox, can turn out to be fairy tales…

Business storytelling - why it can be dangerous

“Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.”

Most of us will know from our childhood what is coming next. We are about to be told a story, we are about to be entertained, for a period of time. The story may even hold some moral teaching, or life lesson to take away.

As adults we sometimes choose to spend money at the cinema or theatre to have a story played out before us, but even if we don’t, we are surrounded by stories. [Read more…]

Small business: how to write better training for your staff

Running or working in a small business and want to know how to make your words work better for you? Here’s a brand new series just for you.

This time we’re looking at how to write training that works better…

How to write better training for your staff

You may only have a few employees, but keeping them well trained is a key investment in the success of your business. And as many experts suggest, training your people is not an invitation for them to move on to better things.

On the contrary: there is an old joke which may be amusing, but holds true … [Read more…]

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