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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Their names are precious

Did you know that someone’s name is one of the most precious words to them?

If you don’t believe me, think about how you feel when you are ‘treated like a number’, someone pronounces your name poorly and you get a letter with your name wrong in some way.

I once got a letter that referred to Mr T Hughes, opened with Tash and had Mrs Hughes on the envelope. I didn’t like being called Mr but the lack of care shown by the inconsistency was very poor.

Getting people’s names right is a sign of respect, and in business it also shows attention to detail matters to you. So consider the following tips:

  • check the spelling of someone’s name before you send a letter or email – and use their spelling even if you don’t like it
  • personalise where possible – if sending a letter or email, consider adding their name to the subject and/or body as well as in the opening line
  • think about what form to use – title and surname or just first name for instance will depend on your audience and your business style. Note if they have shown a preference for one style then make sure you use that style.
  • if you are not sure of gender from the name, avoid using terms that indicate gender as getting it wrong can be offensive
  • never make fun or joke about someone’s name, even if you think you have a friendship, unless they have done so first – even then I would hesitate before joking about their name
  • wait to be invited to use a nickname or abbreviation. So many people meet a Michael or Jonathon and start saying Mike and Jon, but if Michael hates Mike it will not impress him at all. Besides, nicknames are personal and often reserved for friends
  • ask how to pronounce their name if you are not sure – people don’t mind helping but may resent errors
  • do your best to remember names, especially at networking events or if a client introduces you. There are many techniques for improving your name memory and it is a valuable skill to have

PS On a humorous note, I received a phone call a few days ago where the person asked “Is that Mr Tash Hughes” (badly pronounced)
I answered “No” thinking – do I really sound like a Mr?
Next question “Can I speak to Tash Hughes?”
My answer “You are – I am Tash but I’m not Mr.”
“Oh, I thought you were a boy, Goodbye” and hung up!

Unique content

Do you have the time or inclination to read the same information presented the same way over and over?

I’m pretty sure your answer is no – when we want to find something out we don’t want to read the same article we found last week. In itself, that’s enough reason to provide unique content on your website, in your blog and so on.

Unique content that is obviously yours (not just a PLR article copied across, an RSS feed or worst of all plagiarism) shows your knowledge, your generosity in sharing information and helps your search engine results. People will learn to visit your site/blog/newsletter for a fresh perspective on relevant topics; many copied articles and they have no real reason to bookmark you rather than the others posting the same writing.

Private Lable Rights (PLR) articles can be useful for filling a site quickly but they are not truly showcasing you or your business. Some people edit their PLR articles to make them a bit different to others’ versions of the articles, which is useful, but if you are going to so much effort why not just write your own to start with? Or get someone else to write it for you (given the editing time you may be surprised at which is cheaper in the long run).

When you do use PLR articles (edited or not), add something to it. For example, if the article is on travel insurance and you cancelled a holiday last year, add in a story about how travel insurance saved you $1,000. It will personalise the article, build your credibility and offer something new.

Likewise, openly using other people’s articles can be a valuable addition to your own content, but it works best when you introduce it appropriately to make it relevant.

What success have you had with PLR articles? Did you make them ‘yours’ before using them or not?