Fads and Fancies

February 24, 2015 in Marketing, Small Business Advice, Social Media

by Marcia MacLeod

Have you got the latest smartphone? Do you read all the fashion press? Are you eating your goji berries? (Or is it now avocado smoothies, ugly fruit and yak’s milk cheese?) Is your web site the most stylish on the planet – complete with lots of photos, a list of Facebook ‘likes’, references to other social media and ‘sharing’ your business routine with anyone who cares to look?

In short, are you hip, cool, wicked or whatever the youngsters call it today? Read the rest of this entry →

Online Communication for Small Businesses

March 6, 2013 in Online Marketing, Small Business Advice, Social Media

Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves, isn’t the only one who despairs at the damage texting is doing to our grasp of grammar and punctuation. C U Wed is pretty easy to understand, but what do you do when faced with something like PT t brg X bz?*

Writing to friends doesn’t have to be formal, but when text-speak spills over into business communication, you are looking at a completely different ballgame. Be honest: would you want to do business with someone who could not communicate clearly? Would you want to hire someone who couldn’t write a proper sentence?

But text-speak isn’t the only problem small business owners face. With the growth of email, web sites and social media, we are under increasing pressure to join the cyber race – and that means Tweets, Facebook messages, blogs, and so on. For those lacking natural writing skills, the prospect of turning out Internet copy can be daunting, whatever form it takes. Can I use text-speak in a Tweet? How personal should I be? Do I have to use proper English, proper grammar?  Can’t I be much less formal when I write for the Internet than when producing printed documents?

Yes, the Internet is less formal  – but writing Tweets and blogs carry their own rules. Tweets have to be short, of course, so you need to understand how to get the message across in just 140 characters. No padding there, then. What is it you want to tell people? Say you are promoting a special offer. No point in using the term special offer: it wastes 13 characters. Instead, just put the offer in the Tweet, e.g.: Reiki sessions three for price of two, XX Healing Today (or whatever your business is called) – just 54 characters – and/or your web site.

Facebook page? Keep that short, too, but as there are no length restrictions, you can get a little more descriptive, such as: Reiki transfers universal energy through the healer’s palms to create a state of equilibrium. Ideal for the stressed out modern world Try three taster sessions for the price of two at XX Healing Today.

Blogs can be any length, but the shorter the better. If it’s too long, unless you are another Danielle Steele or Lee Child, readers won’t make it to the end. Don’t ramble. Decide what you want to say before you start, and make sure there’s a beginning, a middle and an end. If you’re not sure how to do that, look at this one and try to determine which is the beginning – and why; how it moves into the middle (the main message); and how it finishes up.

Blogs are not actually that different from printed material. You’ve got room to play around, room to include more information, thoughts, ideas, advice. But make sure you actually do have information, thoughts, ideas, advice; don’t waffle.

Whatever you write, avoid superlatives: you are probably not the only whatever you do in north London, and possibly not the best, either; if you say you are, you had better be able to prove it. Be concrete. Everything you put out there should be easy to read and understand – and that means an ability to explain things clearly, a reasonable grasp of grammar and punctuation – and no text speak, ever.

*Party tomorrow, bring extra booze.

Small Business Network – Muswell Hill Meeting Report May 2012

June 5, 2012 in Muswell Hill Meetings, Online Marketing, Social Media, Twitter

21 attendees: 15 SBN members, 6 visitors

Here is a small sampling of who was at the meeting:

Firstly, a warm welcome to new member Nicky Grace of Vintage Fabric And Gorgeous Things. Nicky holds open weekends every couple of months in her Muswell Hill home. I went the other week and her house is as gorgeous and deliciously retro as her fabrics. When you add to that all the beautiful things you can buy there,  I would definitely put the next date in your calendar – 14th and 15th July – and pop along – you’ll have a lovely time! It’s literally just off Muswell Hill Broadway on Tetherdown, so you can combine it with the shopping. Talking of shopping – Nicky’s online shop has just launched – perfect for gifts!

Read the rest of this entry →