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Is correct English important?

red pen correcting typed text

Even a cursory glance at any of the commonly used social media sites suggests that correct English, spelling and grammar are no longer important to most people. In one brief visit to Facebook yesterday I found the following:

  • giving something what everybody needs
  • make the most of each channel without pulling your your hair
  • you’ve always loved stationary

It wouldn’t have been so bad if these were posts by ordinary folk (though it would be a sad reflection of modern education) but all three were in promoted adverts. One was even from a company advertising public relations services.

Surely anyone who pays for an online advertisement should take the time to ensure it is correct, or risk wasting their money. To my mind, a slapdash advert implies slapdash service from the company involved, but perhaps I am in the minority. What do you think?

Have your say

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Are you ready for Black Friday?

Next week is Black Friday – reputedly the busiest retail day of the year.
The event began in the USA and was originally the day after Thanksgiving.  Although the Friday is not a public holiday,  many Americans make a long weekend of it and do their Christmas shopping while they have spare time.
It’s a massive spending spree. There have been many tales of hysteria as shoppers fight in the aisles to grab the biggest bargains.
In recent years the Black Friday phenomenon has travelled across the Atlantic and businesses in the UK have been swamped by eager customers, both in person and online. However you offer your goods and services, make sure your business is ready for the rush.

  • Shoppers start early, so offer longer hours if you can.
  • Take advantage of increased demand by offering one-day bargains.
  • Promote your business on social media.
  • Don’t forget to use a #BlackFriday hashtag.
  • Ask customers to share their experience through your social media sites.
  • Create a hashtag for customers to use.  e.g. #AJ-PRoffer
  • Offer discount vouchers to those who follow or ‘like’ you and use the hashtag.
  • Eight out of 10 Christmas shoppers buy gift vouchers as presents. Why not offer them through your shop?

Is it too early to mention the ‘C’ word?

It might seem like summer is hardly finished but there are only 12 more Fridays before Christmas. So should you be adding a seasonal theme to your marketing? You should certainly be thinking about it.

Your clients need to have Christmas sorted by December 24, so you have to be sure you can meet their demands in good time. If your goods or services have a long lead time you should probably start your Seasons Greetings now. If not, it can probably wait till after Hallowe’en – but plan your campaign soon.

It won’t be the first mention of the holidays that your customers have seen this year. After all, supermarkets already have stollen and mince pies on the shelves, and garden centres have launched their winter wonderland sections with decorations and poinsettias.

So what should you be doing now?

Compose your holiday-themed emails and keep them on file; design your festive web and hold it as hidden pages; source images of snow, holly, baubles and Santa; write your Christmas cards and store them ready to send; check last posting dates for your delivery areas. Then, when the festivities begin, you can relax and enjoy them.

May I be the first to wish you the compliments of the season?

Do you do your own car service?

a VW beetle with its bonnet open

Suppose your car needs a service. You probably know how to top up the oil and maybe even change spark plugs, but are you sure enough about the rest of it? Would you rely on your own basic skills to maintain your brakes?

Now suppose you are doing an end of year tax return for your business. You can do mathematics and you’re reasonably accurate with numbers. Do you decide to ‘wing it’ and complete your own accounts?

It’s likely that you answered ‘no’ to both of those hypothetical situations – most people would call in a professional – and yet every day business owners decide to do their own publicity. They write their own press releases, do their own social media and draw up their own adverts – aand often make a lot of mistakes in the process.

When you hire a PR professional you can take advantage of their expertise. They have probably spent years learning and honing their skills. They know what is newsworthy and what will just annoy journalists. They know the tricks that will get you noticed and they know how to keep negative points out of the glare of publicity. Above all they have the time to concentrate on raising your profile while you get on with what you do best.

Your business is every bit as important as ensuring you have a working and safe car. And your public relations strategy is just as important as getting your accounts right. Don’t try to muddle through alone.

Talk to an expert.

The t rubble with spell cheque

Spell check has its uses but it is not infallible. For example, such apps don’t know the difference between their and there, check and cheque, or bread and bred.

It’s disturbing to see the expression “As Much As We Are Lead To Believe” in the headline of an advertising post. Someone obviously thought it must be right, because the word processing program didn’t correct it.

Poor spelling affects your business. Take the time to get it right before you send it out.

And if you are less than confident about your spelling, call in a professional to make sure you get it right.

Are you neglecting your website?

Your website is your shop window. Imagine you are indulging in a little retail therapy: what would attract you inside a store and what would make you walk straight past? Now try to think of your website the same way.

When did you last update your site? Would you be impressed if your favourite store never altered its window display? Well, your customers will react the same way if, every time they visit your site, they read exactly the same information. You should update at least your front page regularly and, if you want to stay high on search engine listings, you should change other pages too. Sites that stagnate tend to slip down the ranking. Adding and rewriting text on your site will keep it fresh and help your search engine optimisation.

Now imagine you fancy a coffee and you see an attractive tea shop – but you notice it has dead flies in the window. If your website has spelling and grammatical errors they will give exactly the same impression as those dead flies: they suggest to potential customers that you and your business are careless – and people want to be treated with care. If you have the slightest doubt about your language skills get your site checked now. There have been numerous studies that show how poor spelling and grammar on websites links to poor sales performance.

A picture is worth a thousand words, or so they say. Do you have thousands of words on your site when a picture would be more helpful? Don’t tell people what you do – SHOW them! It doesn’t matter how good your product is, or how well you describe it, a photo will sell it better. Just remember not to use high resolution, large images that slow down page loading times. Not everyone has superfast broadband, and people will get bored with waiting if your site takes too long to give them information they want. The average web site visitor spends just 15 seconds deciding whether or not they want to read on.

So there are a few ways to make your website work for you, rather than against you. Perhaps you have other ideas. Why not share them on our Facebook page? (