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

[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

How to write a better business plan: 10 Quick Tips

There comes a time when most people starting or developing a business, even a small one, need to write a business plan to secure funding, to establish credibility with stakeholders, to guide the business along its journey, and more.

htwb-business-plan
My own experience here is limited (although I often get asked to help clients write the marketing section for their plan) so here is a short curation of authoritative (free to view) pieces on how to do it properly … and get that beloved bank loan, kudos and structure that you need. [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…]

Business writing reality check: it’s all about words. And a sparrow.

A sparrow joined us for our women’s business networking lunch yesterday in grizzly, drizzly south central England. Poor little guy was perched high up on the picture rail of our meeting room, watching us talk and eat our lunch.

Business writing reality check: it’s all about words. And a sparrow.

Go, little sparrow. We love you, your simplicity and what it can teach us about getting stuff right first time.

At one o’clock I thought, he’ll spring out and yell “Cuckoo!” But instead he took off along the lunch table (fortunately without dropping a bomb load) and landed on the floor near a doorway, just as one (fortunately) bird-loving guest was half-way through her 60-second elevator pitch. [Read more…]

Here come the Holidays, so who needs business writing? Ah, but…

As you’re reading this – especially if you’re in the UK – the last thing on your mind will be what you need to write for business in the coming two weeks.

HTWB Xmas biz writingYour to-do list will be heaving with everything from gift shopping to picking up the turkey to getting your tax return in order (well, you should, according to my accountant) to cleaning up after the office party to wondering how to stop your cat from shattering the Christmas tree all over your living room carpet.

Look on the bright side – you’ll soon be free to think about business writing 2016 (LOL!)

[Read more…]

css.php