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I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy! Tash

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Keep up to date when you write

calendar of datesIt is important to keep track of the date and what is happening if you want your writing content (and other communications) to be credible and respected.

I heard a perfect example of this morning. As part of a news item in the 10 am radio news, the newscaster said “… will be announced later this month.” Of course, at 10am on the 29th February, there really isn’t much of the month left for things to happen in! It was probably a simple mistake (perhaps it should have been “… later next month…”),  but it stood out more than the actual news itself.

While people can allow for small mistakes, and sometimes won’t even notice them, mistakes can change the impact of what you write (or say) and that can be costly. So remember to check:

  • you have the correct dates
  • you refer to the appropriate season (for example, today is summer and tomorrow is autumn in Australia, but not in the northern hemisphere)
  • when unusual, but important, changes occur, such as leap years, daylight savings starts/ends and when Easter is

Take particular care when you are writing something in advance. For example, if you write blog or newsletter posts weeks or even months ahead of publishing them, it can be easy to refer to current details instead of the relevant future ones.

Grabbing attention

When writing for your business, it is critical that you grab people’s attention quickly – there are too many websites, blogs, newsletters, direct mail letters and emails for any of us to read them all just in case they hold something good further down the page.

Having said that, you need to grab their attention in the right way or it can actually be damaging rather than a marketing opportunity.

What is the right way? Well, it varies according to the situation of course, but when preparing an opening to a document/webpage/newsletter consider:

  • make it relevant – no point grabbing the attention of people interested in retirement villages if you sell motor bikes
  • keep it honest – don’t promise a discount unless one is really on offer
  • keep it appropriate – swearing, sexual references, hateful comments and so on are not necessary and are unlikely to win you good customers
  • keep it as short and/or visual as possible – a half page paragraph is not going to grab like a 6 word word heading
  • aim it at what your customers want to hear, not what you want to say – I recently read an email which started by saying how great their two organisations were – the final paragraph was about a competition they were running. It would have been much more effective to start with the competition to grab my attention.
  • be realistic – or so far over the top that is obviously humour. An almost believable claim probably won’t build trust so people will move on
  • be sparing with bad (or gimicky) spelling – preferably stick to good spelling altogether and be as grammatically correct as possible
  • make it interesting or ask a question – or ask an interesting question!

A copyrighting expert?

Back in November, I wrote a post about the difference between copyright and copywrite. If you think about the actual words, it isn’t hard to tell them apart either (copyright is about rights for instance.)

Yet I have just come across a website with the following sentence:

we have combined many years of copyrighting skills to create magical letters for every occasion.

As much as the misuse of copyrighting annoys me, it being misused in a sentence where the writer claims to be an expert writer  is shocking. Of course, I am also curious as how to someone combines years to create anything.

Before I get on my soap box about people posing as experts and (in my opinion) trying to fool people*, let me give you a much better version of the above sentence:

Together, we have many years of copywriting experience which we use to create magical letters for every occasion.

* I don’t know anything else about the writing skills of the site using the above sentence so I am not commenting on their level of expertise or claiming they are unethical. It is just a general comment that I hate people presenting themselves as more than they are and errors such as this are sometimes an indicator of such behaviour.

Be careful with satire

Writing satire can be difficult but can produce some very funny work. However, you need to match the satire to an appropriate audience.

Some time ago, I wrote a satirical piece about being a year 12 student – I referred to the wonderful social life (visiting a newsagent, a library, seeing movies of books under study, etc) and the joy of always having something to do (hmm, now I think of it, it is pretty similar to running your own business!)

I know it worked as various friends and teachers at my writing course read it and laughed. Yet I gave it to another person once and she took it very seriously. Her comment was along the lines of “That’s an interesting piece, but I’m not sure how many other year 12 students would agree with you about the highlight of the year”

Personally, I found her response funnier than the original story! However, it does prove a point – if you are writing in a style that is not mainstream or is perhaps different to the norm in a particular context, then take care that your piece will not be misinterpreted in a way that it becomes meaningless.

Learn about your target audience and preferably test your work on a couple of them. You don’t want to waste your best writing on an unappreciative audience!

Blogging endings

Writing a business blog may have the purpose of promoting your products or services, and that’s fine.

But making a blatant sales pitch in every post isn’t going to win you any friends, or many sales.

I have seen more than one blog which ends every post with something like “Did you like this tip? Why not buy my book/enrol in my course to learn more? Here are 3 features of my wonderful book/course” BORING!

Sales pitch after sales pitch means people will either stop coming to your blog or (if your tips are good) stop them reading the end of each post.

Much more effective is to build a relationship, give some great content and have links to your products/services in the static parts of your blog. If a product or service some up naturally in the course of posting, by all means mention it and add a link – just don’t make a habit of it if you want your blog to be well regarded and seen as credible.

So what ending should you use? In short, use a natural ending to the topic or use a friendly good-bye message. That’s it!

Happy writing!