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
"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
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
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
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
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
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...."
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.)
© QuickSilver Copywriters 2005 -- Andy & Shawn Catsimanes; http://www.quicksilvercopywriters.com/; mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org; Sign up for The Corporate Muse:
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.
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
· When do you think you can fit me in?
· When can we talk more?"
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
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
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."
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
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
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
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
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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