By Ted Janusz, MBA, CSP. Ted is a Certified Speaking Professional who has delighted audiences for more than 5,000 hours, in 49 of the 50 United States, in Canada from Halifax to Vancouver, in Australia, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Learn more at www.januspresentations.com.
Do you need to write copy for a brochure or sales letter? I teach a copywriting workshop, so just for fun, I signed on to edit and write brochures and sales letters as a freelancer on Fiverr.com.
And it has been a blast! I have had the enjoyable opportunity to work with fun individuals all over the world, from a health and wellness practitioner in Ireland to a tour operator in Russia.
These professionals know their business, as I am sure that you do, too. But, as we shall soon see, that might actually be a detriment when trying to explain to others what you do. When composing a brochure or sales letter to describe your organization, avoid these four mistakes:
- Being “you” focused rather than “they” focused. Of course, you understand your business, and are anxious to tell others everything about what you do. Guess what? They don’t care! (At least, not yet.) The first thing you need to do is to write text that relates to them. (Notice how I did that from the first sentence in this article.)
- Providing too much detail. With a brochure, provide just enough information so that the future customer will want to contact you to get more details. One of the best ways to do this is to start with a story. And make the story be about them, such as structuring the brochure or sales letter with: Is this happening to you? If so, here is the solution.
- The curse of knowledge. You can be too close to your operation, so you cannot unlearn what you already know. Or the only way you can explain what you do is through the use of intimidating jargon. Use simple English instead. Adults do not like to admit when they do not understand. And a confused mind will never buy.
- Not “chunking” the information. 79% of your prospects and customers, when they go to the Internet, do not read; they scan instead. So for a brochure or sales letter, do not write lengthy prose; use short paragraphs, bullet points, and lots of white space. One of the exercises I have the class participate in is to write a random nine-digit number. Then I ask the class members if they could remember that number a week from now. Most say they could not. But then I ask them to insert a hyphen after the third and the fifth digit. Now, rather than a nine-digit number, they have a Social Security number which only has three “chunks” of information, making it far easier to remember.
If you avoid these four mistakes when composing your brochure or sales letter, you can and will get the results you desire.
We’ve all heard stories about the employee who embarrassed herself at the company’s holiday work party — or acted so inappropriately that later, she was fired. To avoid those kinds of missteps that negatively impact your reputation, consider the following suggestions at your employer’s holiday soiree this year.
- Go easy on the libations. Yes, free drinks are nice, but your holiday work party is not the time to let your hair down and get tipsy. Limit yourself to one or two drinks so you don’t accidentally lose your inhibitions and say or do something you’ll regret later.
- Dress appropriately. Ask HR about the party dress code, then stick to it. Be cautious if evening wear is encouraged; it’s seldom (if ever) OK to wear revealing clothing around co-workers.
- Participate. You’re not alone if you’re not exactly enthused about showing up to your holiday work party; one survey last year found 90 percent of U.S. employees would prefer a bonus or extra vacation days. In most cases, however, you should consider company parties to be part of your job if you wish to be considered the ever-important “team player.”
- Mix and mingle. Rather than clinging to chums, take the opportunity to get to know co-workers with whom you’re somewhat unfamiliar. You may be pleasantly surprised, and it will make your workplace interactions that much more comfortable.
- Be a great conversationalist. Avoid controversial subjects but do come equipped with a few other ideas of what to discuss — holiday plans, progress on gift shopping, favorite holiday memories, and favorite recipes, etc. Remember most people are flattered when you ask them about themselves, their backgrounds, their families and their outside interests.
- Use your best manners. The way you act in mixed company is part of the persona company execs may evaluate when considering you for a promotion. At any company party, it’s important to thank waitstaff, avoid taking more than your share of refreshments, use napkins, avoid chewing with your mouth open, etc.
- Have an attitude of gratitude. Instead of taking your holiday work party for granted, remember to thank both the planners and the execs who approved the expense. Such events can be time-consuming, stressful and costly to plan.
- Hide your inner Grinch. Politely clap and cheer for anyone else who wins an award, even if you secretly believe it to be undeserved.
The life of an entrepreneur – or at least the idea behind that life – can seem enticing to just about everyone. You launch a new enterprise that makes millions – and maybe even changes the way people lead their lives. But why do some people follow through on such visions with great fanfare and success, while others fail miserably – or never follow through at all?
“There’s just this mindset that the very best entrepreneurs have that positions them for success when others around them are struggling and unable to stay the course,” says Peter J. Strauss (www.peterjstrauss.com), an attorney, entrepreneur and author of the upcoming book The Accidental Life.
Strauss says that anyone who is feeling the entrepreneurial tug, and wants to mimic the most successful entrepreneurs, would do well to consider these three points:
- Remember that fortune favors the bold. On the outside entrepreneurs may appear confident and assured in their actions, ready to take the steps needed to achieve success without hesitation. In reality, Strauss says, most successful entrepreneurs have a voice inside them imploring them to wait, to not take that chance. The difference between them and others is they ignore that inner voice. “In my career, I tried to prepare myself as best I could for my next step, but I always had to take a leap of faith to some degree,” Strauss says. “There’s never going to be perfect time or situation that is a guaranteed win. For any significant opportunity, there is always a risk.”
- Take the “life gives you lemons” approach. Things don’t always work out the way we hope, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept defeat. Strauss points out that Steve Jobs was once fired by the board of the company he founded. “Steve Jobs easily could have decided that his life as an entrepreneur was not meant to be,” Strauss says. “Instead, he built another company and eventually found himself back at the helm of Apple. Jobs knew that whatever happened, his was not going to be a story of failure.” It’s inevitable that life will throw you curveballs, he says, so learn to hit them. “The good news is that adaptability can be learned,” Strauss says. “The more you train yourself to see possibility in the curveballs, the more you will adapt to hitting singles, doubles and even home runs.”
- Understand the “family” connection. Businesses often describe their organizations as “family.” Sometimes that’s just lip service, Strauss says, but in the best corporate cultures the team respects one another and holds each other accountable – much like a family. “If you are in a leadership position, it’s up to you to instill this mindset and to be the role model for it in your company,” he says. He even discovered that the business family he created as an entrepreneur helped make him a better parent. “If I don’t set clear goals and expectations at work, I can’t be disappointed or surprised when my team falls short,” he says. “The same holds true at home. Framing expectations as a dialogue will make your family and your team feel valued.”
“Ultimately, no matter the obstacles, entrepreneurs just find a way to persevere and get the job done,” Strauss says. “But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. There are real risks involved. People rarely see all the ins and outs and ups and downs of what it takes to reach a place where you feel real success.”
About Peter J. Strauss
Peter J. Strauss (www.peterjstrauss.com) is an attorney, entrepreneur and author of several books, including the soon-to-be-released The Accidental Life. He is the founder and managing member of The Strauss Law Firm, LLC, on Hilton Head Island, S.C, and also the founder and CEO of Hamilton Captive Management, LLC. He is a graduate of the New England School of Law and of Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management program.
With 2019 just a few weeks away, managers and business owners are charged with writing a business plan. Shared by experts, here are 10 tips for jump starting your planning process:
- Know your competition, and be willing to capitalize on your competitive differences in the delivery of your packaging, pricing, products and services.
- Take time to identify your target customers and research industry trends that could impact your business performance.
- Use your past performance as a guide post when setting your business goals versus relying on your intuition.
- Identify variables that positively or negatively impacted your performance this year, and identify any potential threats that will impact your performance next year.
- Be conservative when it comes to your financial projections, and always build in a financial cushion in the event of lag performance or market variations. Cash flow is still king (or queen in case of the women business owner/executive)!
- Present your financial projections in a standard business format.
- Be realistic about your team’s competencies and capabilities when defining your business goals.
- Think like a journalist and avoid superlative adjectives like “amazing” and “outstanding.” Instead, aim for clarity and brevity without being needlessly wordy.
- Be prepared to support your business assumptions when presenting your plan to vested parties by answering the questions you think are likely to be asked during your presentation and,
- Finally, commit to your plan by monitoring and measuring your performance regularly.
These 10 tips should help when it comes to jump starting your planning process for 2019. For more support writing a business plan for your business, click here to join the American Business Women’s Association.