business writing ideas from Word Constructions      



welcome to the Word Constructions business ideas newsletter

Hello {name}! Welcome to the November edition of business writing ideas from Word Constructions!

It seems strange to not mention the Cup and Qantas as big recent news, so I will just say that I spent part of Cup Day doing some business admin - I was closed for clients but made use of a quiet day which feels great. For Qantas, I'm glad they are back in the air and hope people are getting back in control after their travel was interrupted. From a business perspective, I don't understand the grounding at all - industrial action was hurting their brand so they stopped services all together just doesn't make sense to me. If your brand is being battered, I would think it is time to work on improving service and giving extra to customers, not less.

I've had two experiences recently to remind me that there is often another way to do things - either a better way or just a way that will add new life because it is new. One example can easily be related to business - as a cub leader, I sometimes struggle for time to create fantastic programs for the cubs and this where I wanted more support. However, someone has offered to do some of the preparation work if I do the programming - this is great for me as I love the programming and the preparation is often what takes more time so this is a win win for me.

In business, we often get caught up in what has to be done and see traditional ways of dividing labour - for example, the accountant does all money tasks, the sales person answers all phone calls, and the communications person manages the blog. However, it may be more effective (and allow outsourcing for a sole trader) to look at specific tasks rather than entire jobs - for example, one admin person could do accounting data entry and put the content into the blog. Or maybe there is more scope for project sharing so more skills and ideas can be used - for example, a sales person working with me will produce a better sales letter than either of us may do alone.

Have you looked at your business tasks lately and considered other ways of doing things? Or perhaps thought of ways to build your brand strength, now or in times of trouble?

Until next time, use your words wisely,


PS Getting busy in the lead up to Christmas? If you would like some help with your blog, I am offering five subscribers a list of topic ideas for $50 or 4 blog posts written for $85 until 5 December - just reply to this newsletter to grab your booking!

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A gem is not polished without rubbing, nor a man perfected without trials
~ Chinese proverb

business communications article by Tash Hughes

Using customer feedback
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

Whether it is given voluntarily or you have requested, customer feedback can be a very valuable business tool.

Positive feedback (often known as testimonials) is obviously used to give credibility to a business and as part of marketing, and it can make you feel good. Yet negative feedback can sometimes be the more powerful and useful tool, even if receiving it doesn't feel so good - introducing a complaints system or process for reviewing negative feedback can help your business serve customers and grow.

Here are some constructive ways to use any negative feedback you receive:

  • review that area of your business and look for improvements. For example, if people say you are slow in returning messages, set a rule to reply within 48 hours or if feedback says your packaging is always ripped, look at how it is treated or for an alternative packaging material
  • use the feedback to generate ideas for your blog or promotional articles. Maybe feedback about poor packaging leads to posts about green packaging research, comparison of price and quality in packaging, the value of packaging and how you are minimising packaging for environmental reasons - these posts are not excuses for the problem but show you are considering improvements and sharing what you learn
  • update or write procedures for that area of your business to ensure consistency, especially while changes are being made (its easy to follow old patterns)
  • include the feedback in your social media then point out how you are fixing or reviewing the issue. For example, someone tweets "your delivery fees are too high" so you reply "we only pass on courier charges but we are now looking at alternative companies" or "you're right. We're looking at introducing a sliding scale soon". This not only shows you have listened and are fixing it, it also builds trust and may influence others who didn't like that fault in the past
  • for large enough issues, the improvements you make can turn into announcements and marketing opportunities. Looking back at the courier example, if you find a new courier that is cheaper and greener you can announce that on your website, in social media, in your newsletter and possibly even as a media release.

Love Santa personalised letters
Every year I am honoured to help Santa write to Australian children - each personalised letter includes a small gift and some activity ideas

don't forget the basics

Writing lists
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

We often need to write a list of items within business writing. A list can give a lot of information which is both useful and potentially boring so presenting a list correctly is a good start to being effective.

Use the following tips when writing lists:

  1. spacing out a list as bullet points is visually more appealing than a long sentence including a list
  2. using a numbered list makes it easier for people to single out a specific point for discussion or query
  3. if putting a list in a sentence,
    1. separate each item by a comma or the word 'and' so it looks like 'red, blue, green, yellow and pink'.
    2. avoid a two part item just before 'and' - so 'accounting, research and development, sales and marketing departments' is better than 'accounting, sales, research and development and marketing departments'. If it can't be avoided, this is the only time you place a comma before 'and'
    3. semi colons (;) are rarely needed for lists - use them only if each item is long and complex, and you'd probably find a bullet list more effective anyway
  4. keep each point consistent with the opening words - use the same tense and make sure it reads as only that point was with the start text
  5. in a bulleted list, use minimal punctuation - that is, you generally don't add a comma of full stop after every point unless each point is a complete sentence

Dress for success at business meetings and Christmas functions - with a 90 day 'no quibbles' guarantee


poor examples

Sometimes, the easiest way to learn the correct way to do something is to see it done poorly so in this section of my newsletter, I show you some real-life examples of writing that need a little help.

Today's example is from the homepage of a website a client pointed out to me as needing some content help - note that I replaced an identifying word with~~~ to minimise recognition of this site as I don't want to embarrass anyone. With the standard of this sentence (and it is not alone in these types of errors on their site and Facebook page), my opinion of them was reduced and therefore did not develop any confidence in their marketing skills.


Supporting ~~~ businesses with our marketing knowledge services & promotions we pride ourselves in our valued work we provide giving our clients the best service possible to succeed to engage and   move forward with there ~~~ business with our marketing services on our website & Facebook page

Issues with this example:

Unfortunately, there are a number of issues with this sentence but most are easily fixed. I'll do them as a list for simplicity:

  • 'there' relates to a place, 'their' show they own something so it needs to be 'their ~~~ business'
  • using an ampersand (&) looks lazy and unprofessional in a full sentence - it really doesn't take much more effort or space to write 'and'
  • it is to long to not have any punctuation in it - the basic rule about adding punctuation is that if you can't read it out loud without pausing then it needs some form of punctuation added
  • there are too many ideas mixed together which is confusing and often doesn't make sense. In short, it says "supporting with our knowledge we're proud of our work giving clients service to move ahead with their business with our services on our website". Short sentences are not just for the reader - it is easier to avoid such errors if you write short sentences!
  • inconsistency in a list is jarring to read and can affect the meaning, so it should have been "best service possible to succeed, to engage and to move forward"
  • 'in our valued work' is not a good choice of words. Who values the work? Are they trying to say that they place importance and value on work they do for clients? Or just that their work provides value to clients?
  • there are too many spaces in 'and   move forward'
  • 'best service possible' is a risky phrase to use - obviously the intent is that they will give great service but adding possible opens doubt (maybe what they consider possible is a lower standard than I would accept? Does what is possible change from day to day?) I also dislike a definable word like 'best' as if it is proven to be wrong, all credibility is lost - and it raises questions about who said it was best anyway. Excellent, personalised, good, great and caring would be better choices

An improved version would be: (without changing the apparent intent or style)

Supporting ~~~ businesses with our marketing knowledge, services and promotions, we pride ourselves in providing high-value results. We give our clients excellent service so they can succeed, engage and move forward. Please view our website and Facebook page for details of our marketing services.

A good version would be: (without changing the apparent intent or style)

Supporting ~~~ businesses to engage, succeed and move forward by applying our marketing knowledge. We take pride in providing excellent, personalised service that adds value to our clients' businesses.

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2011, Tash Hughes