Category Archives: thinking out loud

How great communication can save your business

Communication is important in all business cycles but it’s even more important in a recession-type environment.

You need to inspire confidence

In a downturn people get nervous. They listen to the doom and gloom spouted by the so-called experts who never saw it coming but who now claim to know everything. Negative energy is contagious just as positive energy is. The more people talk of recession, the more they get nervous, the more they tighten their purse strings, the less business is done, the more people point to a slow down as evidence and so the cycle feeds on itself.

You can make a difference

As I said in my last post, business sentiment is what you think! So are you going to be part of the problem or part of the solution? To be part of the solution you need to communicate the positive aspects of your business to your customers in ways that will help them see how that will be a positive for their businesses.

Newsletters, e-Newsletters, positive advertising messages, upbeat web content and blogs

These are all ways you can start to turn around the negativity in the business community. And no, I don’t have my head in the sand. I know there is a problem with US and UK banks but there are many other ways to do business when cash is short and as long as you keep proper records for tax purposes and declare such transactions properly you’re unlikely to have problems – ask your accountant. There are even organisations that will help you do this e.g. Bartercard (and no they didn’t pay me to say that. I have no affiliation with them at all although I did use them and they were a client when I had a business in Tasmania years ago.)

Not sure what to say, how to frame these thoughts into your communications?

That’s where I come in. I know that’s a shameless plug but hey, it’s my blog and I do really believe I can help you bring the positive to the fore in your business communications. You know where I am. Have a good week.

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Don’t be “dagvertiser”

I was flipping through the colour magazine of a weekend newspaper and I was amazed at the number of ads using tortured words and misspellings. Here are three reason why I think advertisers just shouldn’t do it.

  1. I really think it’s counterproductive. They’re all so lame and amateurish. I mean Salebration! PLEASE! If there’s one thing worse than a bad spoken pun it’s a tortured written one. If you have to stoop to such depths what you’re saying is there isn’t much that the product or service has that’s worth writing about. I can’t even remember what this ad was for.
  2. Literacy among the whole population – not just young people – seems to be less than ideal. Partly this is a result of lacklustre education, partly because for some people English is a second language they’ve had to learn late in life and partly it’s because the written word – in papers, on billboards and websites – is tortured and misspelt. Why do we write LITE and TONITE? What was wrong with light and tonight? Written words in public spaces tend to have a de facto authority and people accept what they see as being correct usage. What a pity it isn’t!
  3. Professionalism. If you want people to take you and your products or services seriously then silly language gimmicks won’t do it. You can still be clever, amusing, eye-catching and thought provoking and use the language properly.
In the spirit of if you can’t beat them…

I’ve coined a new word to describe these horrible ads, which I think describes them perfectly and uses their own tortured logic – DAGVERTISING. (If you don’t know what a dag is check here)

Helping struggling entrepreneurs

I was reading another blog the other day and came across some information that really interested me. Like many people I like to contribute to charity from time to time to give back or “pass forward” some of the bounty I’ve been fortunate enough to have been given. Also, like many people, I hate giving to the telemarketed charities where I know so much of my donation will go to the sales person, the marketing company and the administration of the charity. That’s why when I read about Kiva I was really impressed.

What is Kiva and what does it do?

I guess the best way to describe Kiva is as an enabling organisation. It co-ordinates microfinance loans to entrepreneurs in third world countries. It partners with microfinance charities in these countries and passes on your donation to them. You get to choose which project you loan your money to and how much you give. There are details of who the money is being lent to and what they want to do with it.  And whenever you visit their website you can see how many loans have been paid back each week and more. When the loan is paid back you can opt to either get the money paid back to you; re-loan it to another project; or give it to Kiva to help defray their expenses. 100% of your money goes to the people who need it.

Re-usable charity

This is a fabulous charity and I love the idea that any money I give will keep on working as it is lent out multiple times to hard working people who are doing there best to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. If you’re interested to find out more then visit www.kiva.org and see how easy it is to make a real, measurable difference.

OK! You’re the best at what you do. Why isn’t your website?

People tend to assume that because they are acknowledged as the best in their field it doesn’t matter if their website isn’t the best it could be. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We’re a community of consumers that has come to rely on the web for information

I’ll give you an example without mentioning any names. I had heard about a world class hairdresser and wanted to know a bit more about him before I parted with my cash. So the first port of call was his salon website. It really didn’t do him justice.

The copy was full of business-speak

Who talks about “core-objectives” and “directional boutique environments” to people who want a great haircut? This site patently wasn’t written with the target audience in mind. It looks like it was written to impress a bank manager.

The colours were pale and washed out

Pale pink with white text reversed out is very, very hard to read. Why make it difficult for your customers? And, trust me on this, a paler pink text on pale pink is almost invisible. Why would a person do such a thing? Because they don’t know any better or because they don’t care? Either way it put me off.

If you’re good at what you do then your website must reflect it

If you have a cheap and nasty website you can’t expect people to pay $200+ for a haircut. It doesn’t look professional and it casts doubt on your professionalism too. Most people check businesses out on the web these days before they do business with them. This is your surrogate persona and it has to reflect who you are; how good you are and the standard of your services. Don’t sell yourself short.

What is good copy?

This is the question everyone would like to know the answer to. It seems to me there is no one right answer either. What is good copy for one audience or medium won’t necessarily work well for another.

Are there are any common factors?

I think that there are some “must have” qualities before something qualifies as good copy. Here’s my list. See what you think and feel free to post your list or additions you think are important.

  1. It must be written in a style that appeals to its target audience
  2. It should be clear what is being sold
  3. Benefits and unique selling propositions should be well articulated
  4. It should answer the implied question “Why this product and not another?”
  5. It should assist the reader to understand why they need the product or service
  6. It should be interesting and engaging and make the reader want to know more
  7. And it should contain a call to action

Protecting Australian jobs

I was saddened when I heard on the news that good old Westpac, despite making billions in record profits, was looking at moving jobs offshore. And I was wondering what, if anything, could be done to stop jobs being hived off to India and all points cheaper on the map? Then I had an idea. So here it is Mr Swan if you’re listening…

Put a payroll tax on offshore job positions

I don’t know if this would work but it seems to me that to stop losing Australian jobs without whittling away the pay and conditons of Australian workers, we need to make overseas positions more expensive. If we taxed companies per head of offshore employee then this would be a less attractive option. What’s more it would swell the Treasurer’s coffers so he can fix our health system!

Anybody got any thoughts?

Why I live in Oz and not the UK…

Simple really. The following picture says it all.

SNOW in April!

snow in april

snow in april