No.20/ October 19, 2006

 The Corporate Muse


We're happy to have you along for our October issue of The Corporate Muse.  This month we focus on clean copy; how to make better contacts at seminars and conferences; and how to come up with ideas for articles and blogs.  As always, we welcome suggestions and/or questions. 



   "Can You Count My Mistakes?"


I have a confession to make. But first, let me give you a little background. We recently updated our website (you can check it out at: http://www.quicksilvercopywriters.com/). 


Because our web host doesn't offer an archiving tool, I had to manually transfer all of our newsletter articles into the new site. In the long and drawn out process, I began to notice something that horrified me: Tons of typos and spelling errors. 


One month I even placed the wrong article under the wrong heading ... Gulp!


I'm a stickler when it comes to editing. As a copywriter, it's part of my job to present clean, mistake-free copy to my clients. It's a painstaking system that involves reading, rereading, and reading again, but one I can't afford to skip.


So how did I miss so many bloopers in my own work, even after reading it over and over?  


The problem starts when I get too close to the material. You see; I spend several hours a month composing my ezines articles, relying on Spell Check to correct my most basic faux pas.


Then I transmit the content into the newsletter creator, which, depending on the speed of my Internet connection and the reliability of the program, can take an hour or more. By this time, the text has become too familiar; I've spent so much time with it, my objectivity is skewed. When this happens, it's easy to overlook an error -- even an obvious one.


Once I have everything the way (I think) I want it, I send out a test letter and wait for it to hit my email queue. I scan it for mistakes. 


And here's my second blunder. Merely, skimming through the material and not thoroughly reading it, leaves a huge margin for error. If I paid more attention, I'd catch and correct no less than 98% of the slip-ups.    


My third misstep is failing to have somebody else read it before publishing. Another's eyes have a way of seeing mistakes I can't. Because they haven't invested anything, their vision is clearer. Letting someone else scrutinize my copy, could have saved me from my present embarrassment.


When writing fiction, I invariably spend a period of time reading what I've written out loud, but that's not always the case with my newsletter pieces. During my fictional oration, I'll add inflections in places where others might not, but still it gives me a good sense of how it will sound to my readers. And I'll hear any glaring editorial defects.


Finally, I get in a hurry. Busyness tends to take over now and again. A great excuse for not giving myself enough time to inspect my composition one last time ... or allowing for someone else to read it (and I have the perfect partner for that) or read it aloud myself.


When you disobey the rules, you pay the consequences.


It's just as true for me, a seasoned professional, as it is for someone just starting out.


No matter whether you write a little or a lot, if you communicate with pen and paper, typewriter, or keyboard, don't disperse your creation to the world without a thorough inspection. Use all the tools at your disposal to ensure your work is pristine. If not, you'll be like me looking back and saying, "If only...."


Save yourself the grief. Follow the rules of editing I've outline for you here and you won't have to apologize to your readers like I'm doing now.


(P.S. -- There is an exception to this rule: I've heard when composing long copy sales letters for a specific target market, typos actually increase sales. Go figure.)


  (SKC)   © QuickSilver Copywriters 2005 -- Andy & Shawn Catsimanes; http://www.quicksilvercopywriters.com/; mailto: andy_shawn@quicksilvercopywriters.com; Sign up for The Corporate Muse: admin@quicksilvercopywriters.com




When it comes to networking, the most frequent advice you'll receive is to listen.


In fact, all of the experts I interviewed considered it the number one characteristic you need to enlist when making contacts. 


As Mike Morgan of http://www.outsourcecopy.com/ says, it's important to "Really focus in on your prospect and what they need ... and listen well. There's no substitute for listening. You have to fully understand their needs before you can offer any solutions."


And he knows what he's talking about. He made a whopping $25,000 from a client he met at Big Seminar VI. 


So how did he know what he needed to say and when he needed to say it?


First, he lived up to his motto, "Be open at all times." If he'd failed to do so while riding in the elevator on the way to dinner one night, he would have missed that golden opportunity. 


Besides carefully listening to what his companion had to say, he employed what he calls his, "Salesman Radar."


To be fair, Mike has 25 years in sales under his belt, but he believes identifying these signs is a skill most people can learn.  


"One of the primary things I look for is -- we call them buying signals in selling," he told me, "Those can be questions your prospect may give you like...


·         What does your schedule look like over the next month?

·         When do you think you can fit me in?

·         When can we talk more?"


Look for sincere interest.


It isn't always easy to spot, especially if you're new at it, but learning to identify it can add hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to your bottom line.


Like anything, the more you practice, the better you become. "Once you get that good radar up," Mike says, "you pretty much know who is interested in you and who's not."


To know if someone is genuinely interested in your services, he recommends asking questions designed to gather information about:


·         Their situation;

·         What their problems are;

·         And especially, the implications of those problems.


Mike says, "Once you hit on the implications of those problems, your perceived value goes way up, because you're really hitting on the person's emotions, at that point."


Gaining experience in better listening, asking the right questions, and recognizing someone's interest level will open doors and increase your success at future networking events.



Where Do You Get Those Ideas?

If you're considering publishing a newsletter or blog or writing articles designed to drive traffic to your website, you'll need subject matter. You may be nervous about having enough material to sustain such an endeavor, but don't be. 

Start with what you know.


Most of us have plenty to talk about. Pick the right topic and we can go on and on for hours. This is the perfect place to start -- those areas you feel most comfortable discussing with other people. It could be your job, hobbies you enjoy, or your particular skill sets. 


I'm not suggesting you start a blog -- on say, auto mechanics -- and then write about how to propagate Dieffenbachia. But you can take interests you feel strongly about and incorporate them into your text.


Take for example, the fact that I'm a fiction writer at heart. Since starting our business, I haven't had much time to practice it. But I often mention my true passion in our newsletter. And I can, because there's an easy correlation between writing copy and writing fiction.


Another place to get ideas is from other writers. Read articles on websites such as:  http://ezinearticles.com; http://www.articlesfactory.com/; or http://www.free-journal-articles.com/. See what people are writing about and what categories carry the most popularity. It will give you a good indication as to what might intrigue your own readers.


I also find good fodder in newsletters I receive via email. Many of their authors encourage guest contributors. This gives me a broad range of subjects and styles to study. 


You can also survey your list and ask what kinds of things they'd like to see in your ezine. Strong feedback from them could keep you busy writing for months to come.


Just remember, wherever you get your inspiration, what's important is that you have thoughts to share. Things only you can say best. So when you write, write about those things closest to your heart. In that way, your efforts will be well received and well read.



Thanks for reading. See you next month!

Andy & Shawn Catsimanes


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"With Andy & Shawn's help, 'Snapshots from the Soul' became a reality. They demonstrated great sensitivity and compassion and we enjoyed working with them very much."

~Dennis E. Chapman, Associate Executive Director, City Union Mission, KC, MO


“Andy and Shawn are copywriters you can count on to understand your business and your customers. I couldn’t be more impressed with the copy they provided us. Their work is excellent. I look forward to working with them again soon.”

~Kevin Fryer www.overlap.com


"A book would not be enough room to compliment Shawn on her work. Her professionalism comes first even if it means staying up late at night to answer all your question. She works tirelessly to get the best results possible. Her attitude, caring, and devotion are unique and I'm thankful I had the chance to work with her."

~ Olga O'Mara


"Andy is a no fluff wordsmith with high direct response, long copy talent. His work will lift interest in your website. His ability to get up to speed on your unique business model is impressive. He is persistent to completing projects and takes personal pride in the quality of his work. He is honest and knows what drives sales. If you are lucky enough to get him, you will get above average copy for a fair price. I'd use Andy anytime."

~ Christopher Hebard
Pruett Media