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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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Blogging services

service

A great idea but poorly implemented

Smiling woman on the phone

great service makes us smile

Let me tell you a story of a great idea from a service provider…

Great service…

Today, I received a SMS from my daughter’s school telling me (and other parents on the list) that the kids  had arrived safely at camp.

I think it’s a great idea to give feedback like that; it builds trust and loyalty, reduces parental concern and therefore probably means fewer calls to the school to check all is good.

Many similar activities could do this same thing quite inexpensively. For me, it’s something like an emailed ‘your annual report has gone to the printer’ or ‘I submitted that guest blog post for you.’

Can you think of a way to use this idea in your business?

but details count.

The problem with today’s message, however, is that my daughter left yesterday so I would have hoped they arrived at camp about 24 hours before I got the safely arrived message.

Yesterday, the SMS was a great idea.

Today, not so much. At best, it makes them look a bit silly or slack. At worst, it worries parents about why it took 24 hours longer than expected to arrive at camp!

As they say in comedy, timing is everything!

* Image courtesy of 123RF

Cheap writing services

Pen writing on a blank pageI was just reviewing the Love Santa blog for my client, including cleaning up the spam folder. In amongst the other spam was one offering a writing service based on one cent per word ($5 for a 500 word article!) from (apparently) US residents.

It annoyed me on a number of levels:

  • who would think they will get quality results from a $5 article? Those prices are just cheap and nasty
  • implying that because someone lives in the USA they have good English and can write professionally is just ridiculous – what about immigrants for starters? And even those who speak and understand good English may not be any good at writing it
  • nobody should be paid such low wages and my conscience wouldn’t let me buy such work. A 500 word article on a topic I know well would take me at least 20 minutes – and I write fast. A topic that requires more thought and some research would obviously take longer. So at best, they are offering $15 an hour and not many would make that much is my belief.
As a business person, I also don’t think much of their marketing. If promoting your services to a blogger, why not offer blog writing instead of article writing? Promoting your service will generally do better if you give some benefit or value to your offering, not just listing a very cheap price.
How about you – would you grab such a cheap offer if it was presented to you as an unrelated comment in your blog?

Lest We Forget

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

I attended an Anzac Day service last weekend and it was very moving. It was also very interesting to learn more about the Lone Pine story and how it became such an important part of Australian folklore. The service was held beneath a Pine Tree seeded from the original Lone Pine (which was destroyed in thebattles in 1915); a seedling from the Melbourne tree was also planted so that the Lone Pine can always be represented in that park as part of our gratitude to those young men and women who fought for our way of life.

Doyou have a place near you that signifies history and remembrance?

Lest we forget.

Coddling the right clients

If you’ve been in business a while, the chances are you’ve had at least one annoying, energy-sapping client. So, like me you will probably appreciate the following comments from Seth Godin:

The challenge of winning more than your fair share of the market is that the best available strategy–providing remarkable service and an honest human connection–will be abused by a few people you work with.

You have three choices: put up with the whiners, write off everyone, or, deliberately exclude the ungrateful curs.

Firing the customers you can’t possibly please gives you the bandwidth and resources to coddle the ones that truly deserve your attention and repay you with referrals, applause and loyalty.

Next time you are having trouble with the idea of sacking a client, or refusing to take on a particular client, remember that doing so gives you more energy to do a great job for those clients who will truly appreciate it.

On the positive side, the time consuming clients I have had in the past have helped me better value my time and espertise, and taught me what to look for in people I want to work with.

Who would you prefer to coddle?

New services…

After a lot of thinking, planning and learning, I am pleased to say I will be introducing a new service in the new financial year. It is exciting to start something new, although I have been doing it quietly already, and I’m starting promotions this weekend at the Business Mums Conference.

The question now is – do I build anticipation and wait for 1 July to announce my new service, or do I tell you now? Which would you prefer?

My thoughts on such decisions:

  • building anticipation is a great way to develop curiosity and (for a blog) an effective way to encourage repeat visitors
  • there is no point in annoying people with part of a story so any ‘coming soon’ message needs to be intriguing and not mislead
  • what does a launch date signify? Is there a strong reason to delay something new? If there are legal or IP or technical reasons to not give details in advance, be very careful of how you present any teasers
  • don’t build up to a launch you aren’t sure of – it destroys your credibility and any excitement if your wesbite says “our new product will be in store on 10 June” and it’s now July.
  • building up to a launch can start the process of search engine optimisation  and getting some traffic and ranking for your webpages. This may be limited if you can’t use keywords in advance but it at least gives you a URL to use in preparing marketing and advertising

Launching a new product or service also raises questions such as using the same brand and business name or not, pricing the new item, packaging the new with the old, and where to focus future marketing.

As for my new service, I am not launching it until July because my website can’t be ready before then (preparing a conference presentation and client deadlines took priority.) And you’ll just have to wait a little longer to find out more…

Business integrity

As a writer and professional service provider, I consider my job as helping my clients. I write webcopy or documents for their business, of course, but more than that I use my skills and knowledge to help them. I consider that my clients want my expertise, not just some words on a piece of paper.

So for example, if a client asks me to write a media release on something that I know is not news worthy and is extremely unlikely to get published, I tell them so and might suggest another way I could help them more effectively.

Whenever I approach suppliers, for myself or on behalf of a client, I always make my request along the lines of “Please do x, y and z  – unless you can suggest a better alternative”. I trust suppliers to know more than me and hope we can work together to get the best result.

I hate seeing suppliers that are more concerned with making money than doing what is best for their clients. And let’s face it, it isn’t good business practice either – clients are less likely to come back or recommend you if you don’t do the right thing by them.

One of my clients has been approached by a marketing company with a lot of suggestions. Now, this company does produce some nice work and they are very friendly and helpful.

However, it concerns me that they are more interested in taking over the product marketing than in what is best for the product. For instance, they are suggesting changes to the website to make it more like x and z sites. I did a quick Google search – my client’s site shows on page one of a search for the appropriate term, the x site shows on page 2 and z doesn’t show before page 5. My client’s site get new visitors to the site everyday now, which is pretty good for a site less than 6 months old. And being so young, a branding change now would have limited benefit in my opinion.

To me, they would be servicing my client better to agree the site is doing well and here are some ways to promote it further rather than match it to less popular sites.

Do you have examples of businesses using good integrity in their dealings with clients? I’d love to hear them 🙂