Archive | January, 2013
31 Jan

Let’s keep on blogging…

sjc copywriting solutions

16797975_mRegular blog posting is a key component to creating a successful online business. If you are wanting to make money as an online entrepreneur, dedicating the time and energy to regular blog posting will be well worth the effort. It doesn’t have to bog down your day by uploading dozens of blogs. Instead, try to allocate an hour or so to one or two quality postings. This not only keeps your site fresh and up to date, but it gives readers something to look forward to. It can also transpire into regular traffic which equals dollar signs.

There are a couple of tips in this article from Your Article Writing Service that can help with regular blog postings to impact the success of your online business. For one, it is important to be unique. Make sure all of your articles can pass any plagiarism test. You want them to be…

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Is Customer Relationship Management important?

30 Jan

In one word…absolutely!

But what is CRM? It is actually about looking after and recognising your customers as individuals, in it’s most simple form.

Think about it this way – as a person in the working world, do you like praise, appreciation and thanks? Do you like to be treated as an individual? If you’re a regular customer at a coffee shop or a bar, do you like the fact that your host recognises you and gives you a bit of extra attention? I bet most people would answer yes to those questions. Why? Because it makes you feel valued. I know for me, tell me I’ve done a great job (only if it’s deserved obviously!) and I will move heaven and earth for you. We all love to feel special at times. Now, if you like it, how do you think your customers would like it?

As a paying consumer I am often amazed at what a brand promises and what a brand delivers on the ground. How many of my friends and colleagues, as well as me, just get mediocre service at best. It is all too often the case that we are sent from pillar to post just to try to get an answer, and half the time we don’t get an answer at all. We give up, and you know what, will probably just take our business elsewhere without airing our grievances to those who really should know – the company that we’re dealing with. We do however tell all our friends about the shocking service we received, and this as we know can be harmful. Don’t get me wrong, it is impossible to please everyone, but it’s how you as a business are geared to deal with unhappy campers that makes all the difference. Customers often feel like a little number in a huge pool of big numbers…quite frankly they shouldn’t.

Now think of the flip side – you walk into your local coffee shop, which is a small business. The owner comes over and greets you and says would you like your normal? Wow, you feel quite delighted! I remember in my youth in London, without giving too much away about my age, we were regulars at a particular pub. They would see us coming down the street and as we walked in our drink was ready and waiting, whilst all the other customers were waiting in line. We felt special, so we kept going back, over and over again.

In my opinion, big businesses have a lot to learn from small businesses in most instances. The difference lies in the fact that small businesses are fighting for survival and are always engaging with their target audience on a much more personal level.

But there are some corporates doing it really well. Take www.kulula.com as an example. At each and every point I engage with them, on their website, on a plane, their call centre…the message about who they are is very clear and they live and breathe it. The cabin crew especially are amazing and to me they completely and utterly are a true representation of their brand.

So, hopefully you can see where I’m going…to keep your customers delighted, engage with them and treat them as individuals. In my years of experience with big corporates in London and in South Africa, it forever has, and always will amaze me at the reluctance of big companies to implement a truly world-class CRM strategy. In so many instances, businesses focus on chasing the numbers for new customers, tend to forget a bit about their existing customers, and don’t really have a plan on how to keep the new customers that they’re getting. Bad idea!

I believe that CRM is an absolutely critical element of any marketing plan and should not be ignored. It comes at a cost, which is often the stumbling block for companies…your software, your database, your infrastructure and your staff all cost money but are important elements in getting it right.

As a customer does it frustrate you when a company gets information wrong…your name, your address, your title or what you’ve bought? I get frustrated and that’s why the investment into your database has to be done, and it has to be done properly. Data cleansing, de-duping, unsubscribes are critical. You might even need to conduct a telephone drive to make sure your database is up to date, but the investment is well worth it.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, there are a lot of companies out there that are realising the value of CRM Strategies…and are investing into world-class CRM programmes. They will do well. Of course to do well, they will have to get it right! But that’s part of the challenge and that’s what makes it more exciting…it has got to be a fundamental part of your marketing plan.

I would love to hear your thoughts on your experiences of CRM…look forward to your comments.

Online proofreading programmes put to the test. Can they replace the human kind?

28 Jan

By the human kind I mean someone like me of course. I’m sure you can already guess that I am going to fight for my little place in humanity as a proofreader and editor, but as they say ‘the proof is in the pudding’. So let’s see if online programmes can replace us humans! With proofreading being such a critical element of business communications, I wanted to put some online programmes to the test and see the results. As you can see from the image below, getting the details right are so important.

I think an online programme may not have picked up this error...

I think an online programme may not have picked up this error…

Although I was highly doubtful that these programmes could replace us human proofreaders, there was a slight moment of trepidation before I embarked on my test!

Which programmes were tested?

I tried a variety of different programmes, which all claim to be able to highlight spelling and grammatical errors amongst others. I won’t mention names, but most of the bigger online proofreading services were tested. I also included Word, for a more complete picture, although from experience I knew that not all errors could be detected.

How did I approach the test?

I used an article that I had recently written for a parenting website and littered it with errors. I’ve included the test article below for you to take a look at…I think the errors are quite plain to see.

The importance of art…can it help ADHD children

What the benefits of art?

I have always been very interested in art and drawing, and when I had my little boy for some he was just not interested in art at all – that’s all changed but more on that later!

Art is an incredibly powerful for children and has heeps of benefits, here are some:

  • It develops their fine motor skills as well as muscle tone in the upper body;
  • They can express themselves creativly and there is lods of research that shows the art helps stimulate language – it is a type of language which helps them to talk about their world;
  • Art helps children to discover and learn – think about colours, shapes, textures and cognitive thinking to name a few;
  • Art is a great emotion release;
  • The physical movement of art can bee very calming.

There has also been a lot of research in to the other benefit of art…

  • Early exposure too visual art, music or drama stimulates brain activity;
  • Art helps children understand other subjects more easier;
  • It encourages inventiveness, helps with development of selfesteem, selfdiscipline, co-operation and self motivation;
  • It help them to creatively problem solve.

Art and ADHD

Very often children who are active minded, for example an ADD or ADHD child, struggle to concentrate or sit still for drawing, but there are ways to encourage art.

Art can help a child to concentrate, slow down and stabilise. As weve mentioned earlier it is a good emotion outlet and helps with stabilising mood and building self-esteem. My little boy is active minded and did not like art for the first 5 years his life…and I didn’t know how to encourage it. What often happens is once they realise they can draw, and feel proud of themself, they are off like rockets. It was amazing to see ny little boy going from zero to hero…he is now proud of his art that he carries his art books everywhere with him. With these active little minds they really need a non-competitive area of master, and art is often the answer. Art is used for so many therapies and has a very calming effect.

10 Tips to encourage your little artist…

If your children are not interested in art, here are a few tips to encourage them to get drawing!

  1. First start small and simple and make sure you work with child;
  2. You might find that initially, especially if they are quite active, that they are disinterested, restless and questioning the time. If this is the case make sure you give lots of attention and sit with them while they drawing;
  3. Find what interests your child – often children have particular interests…start with a particular and let them colouring in first and then you can move to drawing. For example boys might love pirates or cars and girls might like Barbie! Work with what you no;
  4. Children love to work with new things…so if you have new materials the time this will often spark a creative interest. I use egg boxes, cereal boxes, lids of wipes, leaves, foil…anything that I can lay my hand on;
  5. You can let them stand, lie on the floor or neel if they struggle to sit still and make sure they can have break if they need to;
  6. Compliment, compliment, compliment and build pride – praise is fantastic for a child’s self-esteem. Tell them how great the drawing and if they are old enough get them to talk about it with you. Try not to ask what it is as this can sometimes leave them feels like they haven’t accomplished anything.
  7. If  your child has just done a pencil drawing, try and encourage them to add extra for example colours.
  8. Build pride in their work – once it is completed, hang it up somewhere and make fuss about the art. This will encourage them to do it mor.
  9. NEVER throw their art away – if you do this, you can be guaranteed that they won’t want to do it again!

Good luck!

What were the results?

  • All the programmes highlighted the glaring spelling errors;
  • None of them, besides Word, picked up the spelling errors that were grammatically incorrect, for example where I have used ‘too’ instead of ‘to’;
  • None of the programmes picked up the fact that there are only 9 bullet points.  At the beginning of the list I clearly state ’10 Tips…’;
  • None of them picked up ‘…it is a good emotion outlet’, where it should quite obviously be ‘…it is a good emotional outlet’;
  • Some, but not all, highlighted the punctuation errors.

Although this list may seem small and inconsequential, these are the absolute basics of proofreading and editing – spelling, grammar, punctuation and consistency. Get these wrong and you have wasted your time and effort. I have only highlighted some of the results to give you an idea of the general theme of the tests.

So, can these programmes replace us?

Happily no, no, no, no!!!! Yes humans, we still have a very important role to play. Proofreaders and editors – 1. Technology – 0!

If you need any help with proofreading or editing, please feel free to contact me at anytime.

Fifty Shades Trilogy…well written or not?

22 Jan

I have heard many grumblings and rumblings surrounding the Fifty Shades Trilogy and the fact that they are badly written. So today, with the banning of the books in Brazil, I’ve decided to tackle the question full on…are these books well written or not?

Here I give you my little Fifty Shades journey…what was your journey like, should you have succumbed to the Fifty Shades phenomenon?

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Secret agent antics

I am one of those people that shamelessly needs to read any book if there is a hype – raunchy or not. Admittedly it took me a while to build up the courage to read them and this is where my journey starts. One fine day I sported my dark sunglasses and entered the ‘quite far from home’ book shop…all the time watching over my shoulder to make sure no secret agents were hot on my tail. Racing thoughts…people will think I’m kinky, I’m deprived, I’m weird and watch raunchy movies. By the way, just to set the record straight, I am none of these (just incase you were wondering). I approached the check out of the book shop mumbling, fumbling and blushing cheeks to match. Never have I charged out of a shop so quickly feeling like a criminal being watched for indescribable crimes. However, one and a half books down, here I am talking openly about it. I’ve clearly come to terms with myself since then!

Dreaming of what Christian Grey looks like…

Secretly I opened the first book and launched into the dark world of ‘Fifty Shades’. I was a bit taken by surprise that I was actually enjoying it…not too sure about the raunchy parts, but nonetheless I was completely engrossed in the story line. Quite aside, I would very much like to meet this Christian Grey character, and feast my eyes on what seems to be the most good looking man ever described! Mind wondering…oops, ok back to the point of this piece. In all seriousness, I was hooked – drawn into the intrigue of Christian Grey’s dark past and the charming, feisty and innocent Anastasia Steele. The combination fascinated me.

I breezed through the book and was still a little shocked that I’d enjoyed it…oh dear maybe I am kinky, deprived and weird? Quick mental assessment of myself…outcome of assessment…no, I am still none of those things…phew! As I had enjoyed the story line so much, I paid absolutely no attention to the finer points of writing style. At this point in the journey I wouldn’t be able to answer my question posed of whether they are well written or not.

Once the last word had been read, I was left completely frustrated. To put you in the picture, I NEED to know what happens next…until there is a final conclusion. Take one of my favourite TV shows for example…when it ends on a cliffhanger I am not a happy camper.  I was so intrigued and frustrated that I just had to read the next one.

Secret agent antics – Round 2

Secret agent antics for Fifty Shades continued. Play it again Sam…back to book store, shades on, bright red cheeks and lightning speed exit.

I darted home, opened the book (secretly of course!) and started frantically diving into Fifty Shades Darker. Initial thoughts…I just wanted to get it over and done and get to the point of knowing the outcome. I carried on frantically reading.

Time to answer the question…is this trilogy well written or not?

I don’t claim to be any literary super power, but my frantic reading of Fifty Shades Darker has come to a complete and utter halt. I have only read one and a half books, so I’m not really in a position to be answering the question, or am I? This is still my experience and I look forward to someone convincing  me otherwise or supporting my experience of the book/s.  The reason my frantic reading has come to a complete halt is the simple fact…I am bored stiff. The intrigue surrounding Christian Grey has completely been removed for me and to be honest, he has turned into a bit of a good boy – somehow a mystery man is a bit more intriguing. In my honest opinion the books I’ve read have left me a bit cold…they read a bit like a Mills and Boon story. So, in summary, I don’t think they are very well written. What do you think (if of course you are happy to admit that you’ve read them)? Have I got it wrong? Have I got it right? Or, do I need to give it a bit more of a chance?

Over to you lovely readers…

Picture credits: Random House UK

22 Jan

Brilliant…these are the briefs we all want…ha ha

john smart copywriter

We’re all doomed…

Blah blah

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A simple guide to the difference between proofreading and editing

20 Jan

The words proofreading and editing are often confused as the same thing, but in fact they are quite different. Take a look at the checklist so that you’re easily able to identify which service you would need.

A simple guide to the difference between proofreading and editing

A simple guide to the difference between proofreading and editing

20 more weird and wonderful words…

17 Jan

I know I did a similar post a couple of days ago (although these are of course different), but I just can’t help myself in my mission to find the weird and wonderful words out there. I challenge you to use at least one of these in a conversation over the next couple of days and see the response you get…I’m certainly going to try. I do however see myself hidden in the bathroom with my cheat sheet of words, scheming how to randomly drop them into sentences and then forgetting what they mean in the first place! Take a look and share your own…

More weird and wonderful words

More weird and wonderful words

  1. Risorial – something that causes you to laugh. Yes, I do want a risorial moment.
  2. Misopediayou hate children, but worse even is that this specifically means to hate your own! I do hope I never experience misopedia.
  3. Zateticto question or ponder upon something.
  4. Wheepleto try and whistle loudly, but monumentally failing! I definitely wheeple a lot…I just cannot whistle!
  5. Antingantinga lucky charm.
  6. Aposiopesisstopping an idea in mid-sentence. Um, yes, I can definitely relate to this!
  7. Aeolistic a person who is very long-winded and boring. I have come across many in my time…in fact one of our friends was only allowed to say five words, otherwise we’d all fall asleep.
  8. Limosisa strong urge to eat chalk. Well, maybe it’s tasty.
  9. Discalceateto take your shoes off. I think my family would think I was rather strange if I called from the bedroom “I’m just discalceating”.
  10. Carwitchet a funny pun.
  11. Novercaphobiaan abnormal fear of your step-mother. Is this not normal?
  12. Thibblea stick for stirring porridge.
  13. Acclumsidclumsy, numbed or paralysed.
  14. Abliguritionspending an abnormally high amount of money on food. I suspect I might have this problem…don’t we all?
  15. Calamistrateto curl your hair.
  16. Dactylonomycounting on your fingers.
  17. Fludgshurry up! I would love to confuse the morning chaos with “Come, fludgs”. Perhaps then the family would hear me?
  18. Gangrelwhen a child is just starting to walk. Perhaps toddler is a bit more user-friendly?
  19. Hautainto be proud or arrogant. I will definitely throw this word into my next meeting with an arrogant person – that could put them off.
  20. Infucateto use make-up. “Hold on darling, I’m just infucating.”

You might know some of these, you might not…but please bring on the weird and wonderful!

I used a couple of sources to bring all these together, so thanks to www.fictionpress.com, www.squidoo.com and www.brownielocks.com.

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