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Writing for Business 

During your college years, you were expecting to write papers, draft letters, and take part in all sorts of writing, right? Who knew that would be such an integral skill once you got to your “real” job later in life. Writing for business is a given nowadays with emails, reports, and presentations given on a daily basis no matter what field you are in. 

Don’t think you write often enough to worry about your writing skills? Think again. According to a study conducted by Carleton University, professionals spend one-third of their time at work reading and answering emails. You might spend more than this, or less, but chances are that a significant portion of your day is spent writing something.

Why Writing is Critical to Your Business 

Solid writing skills can mean the difference between being taken seriously in your position or being seen as less professional. Poor writing skills can lead to miscommunication, lost opportunities, and even a loss of business. Think of the number of times you have read an email or report that did not communicate the central message well. It is frustrating to decipher what the message really says. 

Let’s take a look at a few aspects of your writing that can help improve your reports, emails, or marketing materials. No matter what you are writing, it is a good idea to brush up on these areas as you progress in your career. 

Know Your Audience

As with anything in life, it is good to know who you are dealing with when you present, send an email, or write a report. Knowing who you are talking to can give your writing a sense of purpose and direction. For example, an in-office email could be short and informal, but a customer email or a PowerPoint presentation should follow the guidelines of courtesy, clarity, and conciseness. Your audience should be your compass; keeping in mind what the recipient seeks to learn narrows down the possible directions your writing should take (SkillsYouNeed 2019). Think about what they know already, especially as you determine the terminology to use. If you’re writing to a specific person or group of people, look for ways to personalize the document by considering their interests.

Think First 

Take a few minutes to mentally define the goals of the written piece. Do you know the main content: the who, what, when, where, and why of your writing? Think through it first before you even reach for the pen or keyboard. Thinking in broad terms first will help you to focus your message and make sure that you highlight all the important points you want to make. 

Be Brief 

Workplaces are busy places. Take the fluff out of your writing and get to the point. Be direct and short in your writing, unless the type of writing dictates added details and expansion on the topic. Readers will appreciate not having to sift through extraneous information to find the real message. 

Be Careful with Word Choice 

As just stated, it is important to be clear, concise, and direct in your business writings. It is also important not to use too many buzzwords or jargon that could turn off your reader. Jargon often makes you sound pretentious, and it can further alienate your reader. Instead, write the way you talk. Keep it natural and direct.

Edit, Edit, Edit 

It is always a good idea to have someone else read through your work whenever possible. Small mistakes can be easily missed by the original author. If you have no one to proofread for you, copy and paste your writing into Google Translate and have it read the document back to you. Usually, mistakes are obvious when you hear them aloud. Also, Google can usually catch flagrant typos or spelling errors. 

Need some help with your business writing? Join us at our workshop entitled Writing for Business and Grammar Skills on October 23, 2019. 

Perfecting Your Sales Pitch 

Making a sales pitch can be a balancing act that not many people can do with ease. You don’t want to come off as aggressive and you surely don’t want to be meek in your approach either. What is the right tone, pace, and level of authority that you should take when making your sales pitch?

Know Your Audience 

Obviously, you wouldn’t talk to an audience consisting of a panel of experts the same way you would talk to people who are just now entering the field. The same goes for your sales pitch. Always know to whom you are speaking. Research what their specific needs are and what they are hoping to get out of the pitch. Gear your level of information toward their level of need. The more you know about the group you are pitching to, the better. Include stories that may apply to them and their field as well as gear all slides or handouts in the same manner. 

Keep it Short, Simple, and To-the-Point 

Business people are inherently busy. The fact that they made time for your pitch is good, but you want to value that time as much as possible. Keep your message clear and to the point. Try to avoid straying off topic or relying on small talk once you have started your presentation. Keep all graphics or slides easy to read and direct. Your audience will appreciate that you value their time and will know immediately if you have a deep knowledge of your product or service rather quickly. 

Anticipated Questions Early 

If you have been in the marketing field for a while, you can probably anticipate the questions that inevitably come up at the end of your pitch. Instead of waiting to be asked, build the answer directly into your presentation. Your audience will appreciate that you have anticipated their concerns and that you have already considered a response or solution. 

Don’t Just Talk, Listen! 

Many salespeople have perfected their pitches within the first few months of working with a certain product or service. Make sure that your pitch doesn’t sound scripted. Change it up and use different stories or updated information whenever possible. In addition, don’t take up the allotted time by talking endlessly. Listen to what your audience has to say as well. You may have inadvertently missed some information or confused members of your audience. Take the time to hear their questions and follow up, even after you have completed your time by text, email, or voicemail. 

Be Yourself 

We all live busy lives and setting time aside to hear another marketing representative drone on can be painful. Try to be yourself and sprinkle your personality into your presentation. This may be the thing your audience remembers most about your presentation. It will also let the group learn about the human side of your business/product. 

Do you have questions about how to improve your sales pitch? Check out our workshop on Sept 12th called Pitch Panel Session.

Customer Service in a Digital Age

We live in a time where more and more consumers are shopping around for the best prices and they expect exceptional customer service or they can easily take their business elsewhere. Add to this the fact that many consumers are shopping with their mobile devices at anytime, anywhere, and it means that ecommerce is at a critical crossroads.

Let’s look back for a second at shopping just a few decades ago. Traditionally, consumers would drive to a store to shop, purchase, and have personal interactions with employees in said store as well as at the registers. Many people got to know the owners of stores and would be loyal to people they knew best. In addition, unless you had a lot of time on your hands, driving from store to store wasn’t economical.

Today, all it takes is a few keystrokes to find hundreds of products and services. Comparing prices has never been easier. Shipping costs have never been lower. Online coupons, or product codes can reduce prices even further. Shopping alerts can tell consumers when items they have been looking for are on sale. And all of this can be done while riding the train to work or curled up in your jammies in bed at night on your smartphone.

So what might make a difference to a consumer now that online shopping is so easy? The answer is customer service!

Now that the rules of engagement have changed, customer service needs to step up its game as well. The first thing to realize is that consumers are on many channels and many different types of devices. Make sure that your website is responsive and is easy to navigate, no matter what type of device is in the hands of the buyer.

Secondly, realize that consumers will be interacting with your business in many ways. They may leave a message on social media with a question, they may need an online live chat for more immediate concerns, or they may still want that personal connection over the phone without having to jump through hoops before they get to an actual human.

Finally, realize that the hours of interaction are no longer the hours that your store is open. Shoppers can find your website at anytime of the night or day that is most convenient to them. That means you may want to have a way of connecting with your customers at varying hours or the day.

With that being said, businesses also need to be aware and responsive to online reviews such as Google Review, Yelp or other sites. Consumers who do not have a positive experience will be very quick to leave a scathing review or call out errors on social media sites. Be sure that you have a customer service rep who can quickly and patiently deal with these types of incidences so you can show that you want to do what is right and help the customer in the best way possible.

Print Marketing To Increase Sales

We live in a digital world, with emails, newsletters, pop up ads, and a constant influx of marketing materials on a daily basis. It stands to figure that businesses would cash in on this method of marketing since it seems like everyone is constantly on their devices checking their inboxes and social media. Shouldn’t print marketing be a thing of the past? Not at all.

Check out some of these startling statistics regarding print media and how it is very much still alive in the world of marketing and sales.

  • 79% of households say they read or scan direct mail ads
  • Direct mail marketing yields a 13-to-1 return on investment ratio
  • 39% of customers report trying a business because of direct mail ads
  • 56% of customers find print marketing to be the most trustworthy

Wondering about the benefits of print marketing vs. digital? Here are several reasons why print marketing is still thriving.

Print is Tangible

Print ads are tangible. They can be held, put on a fridge, and carried until used. A digital ad is only seen and then, many times, completely forgotten. Americans are far too quick to scroll past a digital ad or coupon as compared to a print ad. Many customers say they like the fact that an ad, a postcard, business card, or coupon can be held onto as a reminder until it is used. It is also a great way to keep contact information as well.

Print Marketing and A High Response Rate

According to PrintIsBig.com, advertisers spent $167 per person on direct mail in 2015, and earned $2,095 — that’s a 1,255 percent return! The numbers are actually increasing each year. Deluxe Online reports that studies prove that combining print marketing with digital promotions drives higher response rates and conversions than using digital-only communications. Honestly, who has the time or inclination to remember all of the online ads they see?

Print Conveys a Message of Trust

Print ads are the most trustworthy ads there are. Too many of us are afraid to click on a digital ad for fear that it will lead us down the rabbit hole to inadvertently downloading a virus. A print ad induces no such fear.

Is your company using print advertising? Find out more about how this marketing tool can help boost your sales and create brand awareness for your business. Check out our seminar on, “Creating print Marketing Materials to Attract Customers” with local CEO Mike Sperling of Sperling Interactive. The seminar is on June 6 from 8:30 am – 10:30 am.

 

Email Marketing 101

Email may seem a bit old-fashioned but, for now, email marketing is still around and very effective.  According to experts at CopyBlogger and Constant Contact, the return on investment is amazingly cost effective. With an ROI of around 4,300%, email practically pays for itself and saves a tree or two. Email is a direct line of conversation with your consumers so use it wisely instead of the annoying sales pitches of the last generation of email newsletters. Here are some smart ideas to get you started on the right path of email marketing. 

  • Have  a Strategy – Instead of randomly sending out an email that will be one of millions in a readers “inbox” have a plan. Decide on the frequency of the emails whether it is weekly or monthly. Plan a newsletter that has interesting content and a call to action, possibly with a coupon or coupon to get consumers to act.
  • Use Visuals – We are a society that likes images and graphics. Avoid lengthy content and rather choose visuals that can catch the attention of the reader. Keep in mind that the images, logos and color palette should be in line with your brand. An interactive element such as a video or survey can keep readers on your newsletters longer.
  • Don’t Forget a Call to Action and Contact Info – Many readers scan emails and look for the bottom line so don’t forget your call to action and methods for readers to easily contact you. Calls to action action should include words such as: shop,  buy, click here, look, find out more etc.

 

BLS Provider CPR (1-day Initial or Renewal Course, multiple sessions available)

(Initial or Renewal Course based on the 2015 AHA Guidelines)
Basic Life Support (BLS) is the foundation for saving lives after cardiac arrest. This course teaches both single-rescuer and team basic life support skills for application in both in-facility and prehospital settings. This course is designed for healthcare professionals and other personnel who need to know how to perform CPR and other basic cardiovascular life support skills.

In addition, BLS training can be appropriate for first responders, such as police officers and firefighters, as well as for laypeople whose work brings them into contact with members of the public, such as school, fitness center, or hotel and restaurant employees.

Students must pass a written exam and skills test in order to qualify for a BLS Course Completion Card.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will receive a completion cad valid for 2 years.

Conveniently scheduled on Saturday, please choose the session that works best for you.

REGISTER NOW!

Best Practices for Email Marketing

Email marketing may not be the shiny new toy that marketing departments are always looking for to engage loyal customers and hook new ones, but it certainly is not dead, as some businesses claim. In fact, by the end of 2016, it’s predicted that there will be 4.6 billion email accounts. That is a huge audience that should not be ignored. Yes, we are all tired of our constantly filled email inboxes, but for many companies email marketing can be a secret weapon that drives most successful marketing campaigns today. With that in mind, we have compiled some of the best practices that should be followed when launching a new email campaign for your use.

 

  • Go Mobile – It is not overstating it to say that everyone uses their mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets to check and respond to emails. If your emails are not using responsive design and, therefore, are not mobile friendly then your business is missing out on a potentially large audience. Kissmetrics estimates that your company can double your click-through-rate just by changing to a responsive design.
  • Be Personable – Your email should open with a personalized greeting to lift your open rates. For example, Marketing Sherpa did a recent study that found that personalization increased open rates by 29.3 percent overall. Transaction rates and revenue per email was also much higher due to personalizing the greeting, subject line and topic.
  • Call to Action – Most marketers would agree that the call to action is the most important part of an email message. Therefore, the call to action should be clear, concise, and given ample visual attention. Therefore, it is best to keep the call to action above the fold.
  • Offer Promotions – Most customers like an incentive to read an email or newsletter. By offering incentives, your business can engage customers and increase revenue. For example, offer an incentive with each email such as, “20% off if you mention this email or print this coupon for extension to our sale.”
  • Branding with your LogoPut your logo in the upper left-hand side of the email. According to Hub Spot, eye tracking studies have found that people instinctively look for logos in the upper left-hand side of emails. Put your logo in the upper left-hand side to ensure it gets the most visibility.

 

 

Common Mistakes of Email Marketing

“To err is human, to really foul things up you need a computer.”  Paul R. Ehrlich

This old adage is so true and examples of it can be found daily in the business world.  This is no more true than in the perfect example of messing up an email marketing campaign.  Email marketing itself has become so much more complex since it’s inception. We have come such a long way from the days of AOL’s “You’ve got mail.” Now there are Tweets, Posts, Pins and a whole assortment of information assaulting consumers on a daily basis.  So, let’s look at some fairly common mistakes businesses make when conducting an email marketing campaign.

 

Mistakes with the “Recipient Lists” – There are numerous “rookie” mistakes that can be made when dealing with your receiving list. These include:

  • Make sure you have permission to send email to the people on your list. Did they enroll on your list online or in the office?  How did you get their name?  Make sure you properly acquired the name.  
  • Make a policy of not purchasing a list from a third party.  No one likes to get spammed or have unneeded email in their already crowded inbox.
  • Reconfirm email list.   People change emails quickly once one has been spammed enough.  After six months email is considered stale if the recipient has not heard from you.
Content Mistakes
  • Proofread all emails being sent to ensure there are no silly typos or glaring grammatical errors.
  • Create content that will be relevant, interesting, and useful to your subscriber base.
  • Be very careful with subject lines and leads.  It only takes a few second for readers to decide if they are going to continue reading or not.
  • Don’t use pushy sales copy or gimmicky catchphrases. Be human and use a voice that is true to your brand.
Analysis Mistakes
  • Using companies such as Constant Contact or MailChimp give you the benefit of measuring your results.  Don’t forget to analyze what worked and what didn’t.
  • Before you send a campaign to your entire list, make sure that you look at it in preview mode.  This is possible on the two programs mentioned above.
  • Use testing practices to see if you can improve your open rates, click rates, and, perhaps most importantly, conversions.