Thursday, April 21, 2016

How Good is Your Grammar?

Do you have grammar challenges - a mental blank and can't remember whether it's affect or effect? Most of us do.

Jennifer Frost has created a great infographic here that discusses the 33 most commonly misunderstood words and phrases. It's excellent and should be printed and stuck on your wall near wherever it is you do your writing.

Visit it here. Tell us what you think? Is it helpful?



Friday, March 25, 2016

Why Promotional Products Are More Important Than Ever

These days most business communication and contact is via email, messaging and the internet. And while business is about relationships, modern communications and ordering platforms have reduced the level of personal contact in most people's business days.Long gone are the times when sales reps regularly visited their buyers and even traditional retail patterns are changing so rapidly that now many people find their purchases sitting on the front porch when they get home without having ever spoken with a sales assistant or met face-to-face with another human being.

The need to maintain a level of personal involvement and build a personal relationship with business associates is still important to the long term success of any brand. The opportunity for marketers in the modern business environment, with many people physically disconnected from their business contacts, results in the cost-effectiveness of traditional relationship building techniques like the use of promotional products to be greater than ever before. Because promotional products fit naturally with the other elements of a marketing program, selecting the right item which represents brand values and engages at an emotional level with people is not just an investment in making people like you by handing them a free gift, it can enhance the emotional aspects of business interdependence while highlighting your mainstream brand advertising message.

It might be that you have been taking orders from a client for many years which nobody in your company has ever met with or even spoken with on the phone. This would have been unheard of a decade ago but now with more and more efficient means of electronic communications available and fewer staff on the road it's quite a common occurrence. It's a fact of human psychology that such a business relationship is more tenuous that one built on personal contact even though on paper orders appearing to come through without any investment is an accountant's dream come true. With the ability to find a long list of potential competitive suppliers only as far away as the use of a search engine it's only a matter of a simple mistake or a forgotten email reply for this customer to be lost to a competitor as the personal involvement which often causes errors to be forgiven and forgotten does not underly the business relationship.

To offset this growing problem in a disconnected business world many companies are increasing their investment in promotional products. It may sound counter intuitive that a tangible good is finding favour over a further investment in electronic communication but part of the reason for this surge in interest is the realisation amongst successful online marketers that their business can never be solid and reliable without work on the personal relationships which underpin the process of brand selection and repeat ordering. In a world of bits and bytes the sudden appearance of a real item which engages and entertains cuts through the endless electronic clutter and is all the more powerful because it is real and unavoidable. And all the better if that promotional product says something about your relationship and the product you supply.

It's even unusual these days for companies to order Christmas gifts and hand them out to their clients where this was a mainstay of business marketing for generations. The advantage here for promotional marketers is that in such a case the cost-effectiveness of an investment in relationship enhancing gifts increases accordingly with the lack of competitor activity. Whether it's by shipping a bonus branded item to customers with their order or by simply sending a "thank you" gift to those who are loyal and pay promptly you will find that a well targeted promotional item is more appreciated and effective than it has ever been before.

Post by guest author Bill McGrath

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Business Names that Fail

When you visit the telephone directory Yellow Pages and you look under "Plumbers", everyone whose name is listed you assume is a plumber. You don't care what they call themselves.

In the real world, if you drive by and see a nice sign saying, "Jones", what are you to make of it?

Jones isn't like Apple or Nike that are brand names everyone on the planet recognises, especially when accompanied by their apple or check mark logos.

So, it's probable that many people look at it and think, "Who the hell is Jones?"

Recently I was looking for a stationery shop and the location that had previously been "Corporate Express" a well known stationery firm, now had a sign saying, "Staples." I've never heard of Staples and had no idea what type of business they are in. Rather than waste my time driving into their parking lot and walking to the door only find they sell tools and bearings, I simply continued across the road to Office National, a firm I know sells stationery.

The use of a non-descriptive name is a fail for any business unless it has a nationally recognisable brand name. At least in the early years until they develop a well known brand name, non-descriptive business names need to be accompanied with a statement saying what they do; "Staples - The Best Stationery Shop in Central Australia" would be much more use to passers-by like me.

Staples, I found out later is a stationery shop so I would not have been disappointed had I visited. And they would have taken my money and not Office National.

It could be argued in Staples' favour that I'm the only person in Central Australia who doesn't know what they do, but I'm betting there are many more.

As a principle, a business name should either be accompanied by a description of what the firm does, or be self-explanatory.

Look at my site as an example: "Desert Wave Enterprises - Business Documentation that Works."


PS: What examples have you seen of business names that mean nothing to you?