Pockets of Information, Part I: Empty Yours by Speaking Up

Yesterday, I enjoyed a brief respite from work to play softball for my Broadway Show League team. During a post-victory conversation with a teammate, I mentioned I was on my way to a meeting with my writing partners for a new children's musical project. My teammate just happened to know a higher-up in the children's musical world, and thus, smack dab in Central Park, a connection — or the promise of one — was made.

The lesson here? My teammate had NO IDEA that in addition to being a freelance business writer, I am also a songwriter, let alone that I have children's songs in my repertoire.

This is a perfect example of what I call Pockets of Information. And they need to be emptied.

SPEAK UP

Don't assume that answering the question "What do you do?" (WDYD) with a job title is enough to spark a connection in the mind of the person to whom you are speaking, especially if you are in business for yourself. In fact, if you answer that initial question confidently (which you always should), then that person may assume that you are all set in your profession and aren't seeking new clients. You also should share more about your other interests, but I'll say more on that in a couple paragraphs.

I'd say a better way to answer the WDYD question (using myself as an example) is, "I'm a freelancer writer and consultant for Web and print, and I'm always seeking new clients in small businesses, corporate clients, even individuals."

As the conversation continues, you should then try to work in any other passions you are pursuing (in my case, this would be my songwriting). Side jobs or businesses, even extracurriculars, can lead to tangental conversations, which are great breeding grounds for expanding your network.

If you own a business with a storefront, that's one thing, because people can see what you do. But if you have additional businesses or are an independent contractor of any kind who keeps the other sides of you deep in your pockets, few people will be able to guess them. By opening your mouth, you open your work and your interests to a new world of possibilities.

So get out there and get talking! Get on Twitter, on Facebook and LinkedIn to share your likes and dislikes, your passions and your strengths. You'll be stronger for it.

In Part II, I'll discuss how Pockets of Information affect business teams.

Thanks for reading,

Carla

Want more tips? Find me on Twitter, on Facebook and/or LinkedIn.

Want to hear my music?

Saidandsung Returns to WGCH … Listen Live!

Business coach Carmen Carrozza and I had such a great time discussing business marketing on his radio show back in May that he's invited me back! Tune into tomorrow to "Forward Motion" on AM 1490 WCGH, from 4-4:30 p.m. Stream it online by visiting WGCH.com and clicking 'Listen Live' at the top left of the show's site.

Carmen and I will be discussing how I've helped his marketing efforts as well as defining which marketing works best for small businesses, large companies, B2B, mom-and-pop shops, retail and professional services. Call in at 203-661-5051 to ask your marketing questions!

You can read more about Carmen on his Web site.

Thanks for reading,

Carla

saidandsung.com

WGCH extends to the Bronx, parts of NYC, the North Shore of Long Island, Brewster and all of Westchester.

Saidandsung Is All Talk … Radio, That Is.

Tomorrow, I'll have the pleasure of being a guest on business coach/life coach Carmen Carrozza's radio show, Forward Motion (named by yours truly). The show will be broadcast on News Talk AM 1490 WCGH, out of Greenwich, Conn., from 4-4:30 p.m.

You can stream it live online or tune in old-school — the reach extends to the Bronx, parts of NYC, the North Shore of Long Island, Brewster and all of Westchester.

This is a thrill for me because it gives me a chance to discuss how I got started with Saidandsung.com and what sort of challenges I've experienced, as well as how awesome my clients are. Plus, it's really great of Carmen to want to promote my business!

You can read more about Carmen on his Web site.

Listen if you can, and thanks for reading,

Carla

From Sophisticated to Snarky: Saying It Just Right, Part II

The tone of any copy you print or publish speaks volumes about your company. So what's the best voice for your Web site copy, press release or brochure? In other words, how do you want your message to come across, in terms of attitude, and how do you think your target market wants you to speak to them?

Maybe you want your potential customers to know that your company is a hip assortment of idea people and creative thinkers who will bring a sense of urban wit to their work. Or perhaps you're a multi-generational family business whose customers share the same tried-and-true conservative values that you espouse?

Refer to the examples below (and those in Part I) to help differentiate between casual and conservative, hip and snarky, and so much more.

A note about the FAQs category: The Frequently Asked Questions section of your Web site or brochure is a great opportunity to showcase your personality. For example, if you are a fun-loving but get-the-job-done kind of company, then your FAQs should reflect that balance, providing useful to-the-point information, sprinkled with fun, feel-good phrases.

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Saidandsung.com’s At-a-Glance Guide | Copy Tone Comparison

TYPE OF COPY: PLAN DESCRIPTIONS

TONE: Conservative

1) from asmallorange.com

Powerful and Secure Hosting Plans

Service designed for high-traffic sites and online business

• Essentials

• Plus

• Premium

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from mailchimp.com

Forever Free Pricing Plan

Loved by more than 225,000 people.

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TYPE OF COPY: FAQS  (see the note above about FAQs)

TONE: Conservative

1) from ping.com

Below is a list of our most frequently asked questions.

TONE: Sophisticatedly Hip

1) from beezag.com

Get answers.

TONE: Casual and Clever

1) from wufoo.com

A collection of answers, replies and clarifications to our users’ favorite questions. It’s like a quiz, but with the answer sheet.

2) from vimeo.com

I don't know how to make videos. Where do I even start?

You don't need to be a Steven Speilberg to make videos. All you just need is a camera, and a little motivation.  [cont'd …]

3) from wufoo.com

How can I get at the data collected by my form?

In so many sweet ways, my friend. In addition to giving you the ability to design your own awesome reports, you can access your data within the admin interface, have Wufoo email you new entries, subscribe to them as via RSS feed or export them as an Excel document.

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TYPE OF COPY: REPORTS/STATS

TONE: Conservative

1) sample copy (no source)

You have no reports created. Click here to create one.

TONE: Sophisticatedly Hip

1) from beezag.com

Accurate, Real-Time Monitoring

2) from wordpress.com

Stats to obsess over

Our stats are designed to give you up-to-the-minute data about your visitors: how many there are, where they’re coming from, which posts are most popular, and which search engine terms are sending visitors to your blog.

TONE: Snarky

1) from wufoo.com

Oh no. Buddy! You don’t have any reports! Let’s go make one!

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NOTE: Creating perfect copy isn’t an assembly-line process. Saidandsung will customize your information in the exact tone your target audience expects, even demands.

Missed Part I? Get up to speed.

Send Tidings of Comfort and Poise

If you're a business owner, one of your annual decisions is whether to send holiday cards. Sure, in this economy, some people may choose to hold off till next year, but many companies will still send them because a well-written greeting is an excellent way to solidify a business relationship. It's an easy way to let your customers, partners and vendors know you are thinking of them, and to ensure that they will think of you, even if only at the moment they receive your card. With a classy greeting, your company is perceived as poised and thoughtful.

Having worked at American Greetings Corporation, I was schooled long ago in the DOs and DON'Ts of sentiment writing. Here are a few:

1) Talk with the hand. Handwrite your greetings as much as you can. This old-fashioned gesture will show those on your list that you went the extra mile to reach out to them. Handwrite your signature on page 3 (inside right) of the card, and, if possible, also write your recipient's address by hand on the envelope. I know, I know ... with mail merges and label makers — not to mention our hectic schedules — you will be tempted to print off some labels. Many companies try to get away with Lucinda fonts that appear to be handwritten, but your customer will know, and appreciate, the difference.

On the other hand, block-stencil fonts and other fun ones can add whimsy to your envelope, and isn't that one of the big bonuses of the holidays, to have evoked in us a sense of nostalgia?

2) You don't need 37 pieces of flair. An effective holiday card needs one of two things: a great photo or a great message. Attaching a tiny felt Santa hat on the envelope is charming, but don't feel as though you have to fill the inside with stickers and glitter and confetti. Choose one feature to set apart the envelope (from the dozens of others they'll receive), and one feature for the inside. But again, a simply stated yet sweet message or a stunning photo will render any sleigh bells and whistles unnecessary.

3) Proofread. In the grand scheme of things, a typo will not diminish the "thought that counts" quality of your effort, but it may instill giggles in your recipient that you didn't intend. Ones I've seen recently: DEAR FIEND, TIME TOGEATHER and ITS CHRISTMAS! Two of those typos are the kind that spellcheck doesn't catch, so ask a FRIEND to take a look for you.

What are your thoughts on holiday cards? Will you send them this year? Will you go green or use snail mail? Comment below and share what you or your company does.

Season's greetings,

Carla

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