Making a first impression with words
Monday, February 17, 2014
How do you interact with your customers, prospects and partners? Chances are, you are sending emails and letters, or posting to a blog or website. Perhaps you maintain a LinkedIn profile or corporate Facebook page.
Each one of these platforms provides a way to interact with your professional network, so it's critical that your materials are both well written and effective.
Such correspondence is often the first — and perhaps only — impression you will make with prospective clients. To ensure they reflect well on you and your business, the following tips provide an important checklist before hitting "send" or pressing "publish":
1. Get organized: Decide what your primary objective will be and stick to your main point.
2. Be brief: Customers are bombarded with incoming messages via email, Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere. You have a narrow window to capture their attention. Keep it brief. Be concise and stick to your message. After you write a "first" draft, reread and eliminate unnecessary words. Don't overuse words like "very" and "extremely."
3. Get to the point: Make your point as early as possible in your correspondence. Capture your reader's attention at the beginning so they keep reading.
4. Check your grammar: If you're not sure, look it up. With access to online reference guides, there's no excuse for mistakes that can be easily avoided. "Then" and "than" have different meanings. As do "effect" and "affect." Be sure you are using the right word. If you don't take the time to check your wording, the customer may think you lack attention to detail when it comes to your product or service.
5. Watch your tone: Use a tone that reflects the spirit of you and your company. Don't inject humor unless it works for your message and reader. When in doubt, stick to a professional, straightforward tone.
6. Use punctuation: Unless you are planning to send notes at an elementary school, stay clear of excess exclamation points, bubble fonts OR ALL CAPS.
7. Avoid abbreviations: Text abbreviations are not "LOL" in professional correspondence. Also, avoid technical abbreviations or jargon that may not make sense to your reader.
8. Courtesy is always in style: It never hurts to say "please" and "thank you."
9. Timing is everything: Respond to any written inquiries quickly. If someone takes the time to read and reply to you, show him/her the courtesy of a prompt response.
10. Find your style and stick to it: Quotations inside the period. Quotations outside the period. Comma or no comma? AP Style or Chicago Manual? Know which style of writing your business will follow and be consistent.
11. Check and check again: Always double- and even triple-check your work. And if you can get a second set of eyes to review what you've written, all the better. Often your eyes see what you believe you've written vs. what you may have mistakenly typed.
Making an investment in a set of marketing materials that are professionally written or edited can make all the difference in how your business is perceived in the marketplace. It can also prove invaluable in setting a consistent tone for all communications.
An editing service can take your own words and fine-tune them, without paying the higher fees for a freelance copywriter to originate the materials. It serves as an inexpensive way to transform your writing to best represent your business.
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