My Top Five Proofreading Edits

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Cheryl Sucharski, guest blogger

ProoreadersProofreading is one of my favorite tasks. I’m not sure why I love it. Perhaps because it feels like finding Waldo, I don’t know. But I do a lot of it. I have found that no matter the client, I seem to see the same five errors more than any others.

  1. Incorrect name spelling – Spelling a name wrong is a big, bad error. Always look up the proper spelling of names. Company names can be especially tricky; sometimes they have capital letters in the middle, they may be two words joined with or without a space or hyphen, and they may be all lowercase or a combination of upper and lowercase. Never, ever assume you have it correct (or someone has given it to you correctly) and remember — spell check won’t save you on this.
  2. Capitalization – There are basic rules for capitalization and if you follow them, you’ll do just fine (generally, proper nouns and the first word in a sentence). I see a lot of overcapitalization and the incorrect capitalization of job titles (more on this in a minute). Capitalizing words won’t automatically give them more power or emphasis. If you need to add emphasis, you can use italics or underlining — and that should be done sparingly. Stick to the rules. Job titles should be capitalized when they are used as a form of address and precede a name, but not when they follow a name or when they appear on their own in a sentence.
  3. Punctuation with quotation marks – The rule here is simple, place commas and periods inside the quotation mark and place colons and semicolons on the outside.
  4. Number representation – When using numbers, spell out numbers one through nine and use digits for anything higher.
  5. Using two spaces in between sentences – Double spacing in between sentences goes back to the days of using typewriters, when every character occupied the same amount of space and that extra separation was needed. Simply said, it’s outdated. And if you use two spaces in between sentences in certain justifications, you may end up with an errant space at the beginning of a line.

There are always exceptions, but if you follow the basic rules, most people won’t notice those rare exceptions. And it only takes a moment to look up the rule if you aren’t sure (and you’ll benefit by learning something new in the process). And another tip — it’s difficult to proofread your own work. Even the best of us will miss something (the mind does tend to skim) so if you have a friend who can give the piece a quick once over, it’s worth it.

Cheryl Sucharski provides professional marketing services and project assistance to Why Not Marketing and other agencies and organizations.

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What’s your thing?

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Cheryl Sucharski, guest blogger

We often find that it’s difficult for businesses to determine what their ‘thing’ is. We always ask — what makes you unique? What do you want people to know you for? The answers to these questions are critical for branding.

Sock ManNow, if you haven’t known Marc Adler for long, you might think he is known for a few things, his quirky socks for one. If you have known him for a while, you might say it’s his ties — he must own hundreds of them. But they aren’t his brand, they are just his style — there to express a little of his creative side.

Marc Adler is known for his customer service — hands down. And as far as Why Not Marketing is concerned, he is the brand. Knowing and developing a solid relationship with each client and making use of a well-developed network, are the keys to his modus operandi for customer service.

Relationships. Why Not Marketing clients are visited on a regular basis. We make it a point to know our clients and their businesses inside and out. The most direct route to this knowledge is through listening and talking to clients regularly — and we prefer to do this in person, face-to-face. The more important word here, is listening. Through astute listening, we learn about clients, and that helps us determine what each client wants or needs. And this regular contact, coupled with the developed knowledge and understanding, helps us build and strengthen client relationships.

Networks. Building a network doesn’t happen overnight, it takes years. Every person you connect with can become part of your network. You just need to take the time to listen (there’s that word again) and learn about them, and then take it just one step further. Think about how you can connect that person to someone else. Networking isn’t just about knowing people; it’s also about connecting them to someone else, who can provide value. Every client becomes part of the Why Not Marketing network, which means they can be connected with other businesses that may be in need of their products and services. Networking is key; it’s about people connecting with people, and it’s part of Why Not Marketing’s client services.

Companies aren’t the only ones in need of branding or rebranding; that also extends to people. Everyone should create his or her own brand. Why are you special? What do you want people to know you for? The answers to those questions aren’t always easy to find. However, they are important. So, what’s your thing?

Cheryl Sucharski provides professional marketing services and project assistance to Why Not Marketing and other agencies and organizations. 

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My Dog the Marketer

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In control and loving it!

Until now I’ve just focused on people as marketers, even when they are reluctant to accept that role.  But, during a run of errands with my wife, and my dog, Murphy, I realized that even he has got this Marketing thing down like an expert.

At the outset, I looked at dog training as an exercise to make sure our efforts conveyed particular messages aimed at a target market (him) just like any other marketing campaign.  It was not long thereafter that I realized he was actually training us.

For instance, he wants to go out so he rings a bell and/or stands at the door staring at us.  Or, he wants water so he drags his dish around noisily until one of us fills it up.  Something, or more likely someone comes near (whom he does not recognize) and he growls or barks (which has the effect of delivering two different messages, each aimed at its own target market).  The growl is telling the ‘intruder’ to get lost, the bark is to alert us to some possible danger.  When he wants to play he’ll bring a ball and drop it in a lap.  In all of these cases Murphy did not have to read a book to figure it out.

Of course Murphy has never taken a marketing course, certainly does not have a textbook to follow, and is limited in his budget.  But none of these shortcomings have served to stop him from accomplishing his goals.  In fact, he thrives on his ability to use whatever is most readily available to improve his chances for success.

If Murphy can determine the best tools to communicate messages to his target market why can’t people do the same?  We, of course, think too much.  He tries a method, gets a response, and then keeps doing it.  People want to focus on exhaustive research rather than rely on their instincts to get things done.  There is no book that has the answers.  In fact, Marketing is an art (not a science).  Books, in many cases, are just a repository of jargon that is meant to convey that positive results will occur if you take specific actions in a language that only the author understands. Murphy has reinforced the point that marketing is an art, not a science, and that every situation requires unique thoughts and actions based upon the conditions present at that moment.  Books can’t prepare you for anything close to what you will face in the marketing world.  Instead, experience is the best teacher.

And, according to Murphy’s ‘Law’ of Marketing, the book is meant to be chewed on and spit out.

Best regards,

Why Not Marc(keting)

 

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Making an Impression

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How’s that handshake?  Firm or limp? Do you look the person you’re greeting in the eyes, or do you gaze off to those in the periphery?  When do you hand them your business card (if you remember to even have some with you)? And, does the business card create a lasting impression on the recipient?

EVERYTHING YOU DO

How ready are you for the next moment in your professional life?  If Marketing is anything you do to help sell a product or service (thanks Jay David Levinson — Guerrilla Marketing — for this easy to remember and completely understandable definition), shouldn’t you always be prepared for the initial impact of a meeting?

And, is your knowledge of topics so limited that you can’t hold a conversation on anything other than what you know nor can you think of questions to ask about the things you don’t know?

WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CAN HURT YOU

In my classes (either Marketing or Advertising focused) I always start out the semester by making the students ‘suffer’ through an extended attendance taking session.  I tend to ask where they are from, maybe why they decided to take the class, and what they are hoping to do.  Early on in the process I will invariably get the response “I’m from The City” or “I’m from Rochester” or some generic response based upon the assumption that I would never know what community they are really from and I wouldn’t be interested even if they told me. And, some students get up and leave because they don’t think that this exercise has anything to do with Marketing.

My point is more about marketing them as products – that’s not meant to de-personalize them, but rather to get each individual to understand what it is going to take to be more successful as they go through the stages of their lives.  You need to make impressions (hopefully positive) rather than be invisible.  This is relevant for more than just students. I’ve spoken to plenty of ‘established’ professionals who have no clue how to effectively market themselves.

BE DIFFERENT

You need to differentiate yourself — rather than be one of the crowd.  You need to be PRESENT — which means show up, stand up, and stand out in every situation.  Ask questions, give real answers, show enthusiasm and be interesting.  When someone asks where you’re from don’t say Rochester if you’re from Webster.  Don’t say The City when you’re from New City (not New York City). Don’t let your ‘friends’ hold you back from being more than they are.  Shake hands, look people in the eye, and demonstrate a passion for learning more.

If I’m asking a question there is a reason for it.  Don’t assume I don’t know what you are talking about.  And, even if I don’t know, I’m more likely to ask for details because I like to learn.  The question is though…do you?

 

Why Not Marc(keting)

 

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Business Cards and Thank You Cards

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If you are in business for yourself there are at least 2 cards you must have — business and thank you.

WHY?

How many times have you been introduced to someone who might be a prospective client or might be able to connect you to one and you don’t have any business cards to hand them when they look to exchange information?  It can be both embarrassing for you and leave a negative impression with the contact when you are not prepared to promote yourself and your business.  And, when someone is willing to help you, or just get together at your request how impersonal is the obligatory thank you email?!  A handwritten note on stationary (hopefully with the company logo) always inspires a more positive reaction and leaves a lasting impression.

Good, Better, Best

Of course, the excuses range from ‘I have lousy handwriting’ to ‘email is so much faster’, but neither of these stand up to the effort test.  This test measures how hard you are willing to work to prove that you truly believe in personal service (especially since you always blather on how your service is better than the competition).  Does this mean that you only reach far enough to be better, or you always strive to be the best?  And, if you strive to be the best does that mean the best in your industry, or the BEST amongst all the best?

The Bottom Line

The little things like always having a business card in your pocket, or sending handwritten thank you notes after a meeting demonstrate that you are committing to those efforts that can set you apart.  Being good enough is not being great.  Wanting to be the best will be the motivation that helps you get there.  And that’s a message you can use in all your communications — if you live it everyday!

Best regards,

Why Not Marc(keting)

 

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Branding — Is it an overused word?

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One of the most overused words and, for many, misunderstood ones is Brand. Educators and Agency folks work hard to coin phrases which incorporate the word Brand — see thefinancialbrand.com/glossary-of-branding-terminology — in an effort to distinguish all the ways to explain brands to the rest of the world.  For the general businessperson this only makes things more confusing.

Simplify

What do people think of when they see the McDonald’s arches? Or hear the name Tom Cruise? Or see the color robin eggshell blue?  Or why they choose Wegmans over Tops?  Ask yourself these questions and what comes to mind?  It is with these thoughts in mind that you have the core concept of what Brand means.  What comes to mind when you see a logo, hear someone’s name, or see a particular color?  Are your thoughts the same as those of others? Of the majority of others? Of what is intended by the company or individual?  Companies and celebrities (they are companies, too, in reality) try to deliver or live a certain way so as to establish an image that they want others to think about when hearing (or seeing) their name. Delivering on that Brand (brand promise) is critical to them.

Personal Brand

You don’t have to be a celebrity or a big company to be concerned about your Brand.  What do others think of you when they hear your name? (Expert?, Thief?, Reliable?, Fun?)  What distinguishes you from others, in your mind?  Do you do enough to make people know enough about you so that they think what you want them to think? (Do you live your brand attributes?)  Is it possible to deliver a consistent message all the time? (probably not!)

I ask students in my classes about their attributes and many of them invariably say hard worker.  I suggest they live that way, if they want to be thought of that way.  (Of course, many of those same individuals show up late for class, spend most of the time texting, never ask questions, and run out the moment class is over.)

Marketers ‘r Us

Bottom line is that we are all marketers, whether we want to be, or not. Consider how you want people to remember you while you are alive, as well as dead (somebody is going to deliver that eulogy).  It is going to help in you in the short and long run.

 

Happy Branding!

Why Not Marc(keting)

 

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Spelling my name correctly part 2

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A week ago I wrote about issues I have with people who spell my name wrong, despite the fact that it is staring them in the face when they write me through LinkedIn or via email.  I forgot to mention that there is an exception to the rule — in particular when you are particularly close (as in married or related) to someone named Mark with K.

I understand that the spelling you might think of would automatically take you to that person near and dear to you, even though you know my name is Marc with a C.  I certainly have been guilty of the same — was that Patti with an I or Patty with a Y.  Of course, my sensitivity to names makes me think twice about the choice, but I have been known to choose the wrong version.  And, if I am writing from a source that is prompting me then the mistake is far less likely to occur.

The bottom line is that sensitivity to the fact that people might spell, or even pronounce a name differently, should always keep you on your toes.  And, employing that sensitivity will set you apart from those that assume they have made the right choice.  It could make a difference if the person might be interviewing you for a job, or is hoping to build a personal relationship with you.  That differentiation in your style will certainly help you be a better marketer.

 

As always,

 

Why Not Marc(keting)

 

 

http://lnkd.in/VwSSiH

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LinkedIn for marketers

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I have spoken to many individuals about the value of LinkedIn as a networking tool, a communication tool, an educational tool, and a marketing tool.  Bottom line is that if you are marketing (yourself, your company, or some type of product or service — that covers everybody I know) then LinkedIn is a tool you need to learn how to use.

Be 100% Complete

If you are not 100% complete with your profile you’re not getting all you can out of this fabulous ‘social’ media.  To know whether you are all you have to do is go into edit profile and towards the top right hand corner of the page it tells you how complete you are.  Two common items that might be holding you back are recommendations (you need 3) and a photo (professional head shot rather than a mug shot would be ideal). The latter is inexcusable, the former can be a bit more uncomfortable (many of us are afraid to request a recommendation as it might not be as glowing as we’d like).

The Photo

I just don’t understand why a person does not include a photo with their profile.  This is a professional networking site and a great opportunity to make a positive impression. Many times I review who is looking at my profile and the name of the viewer is present, but no photo.  If you are not going to be totally anonymous, show me your face.  And, if it is because you don’t like any photos you have of yourself then go and spend a few hundred dollars for a professional head shot.

The Recommendation(s)

Many times it can be uncomfortable for people to ask others to write a recommendation, something I truly understand.  One way to overcome this is to write an unsolicited recommendation for someone you think has done a great job (and it does not have to be on their job, but could be as a teacher, a volunteer, or any other way you might know them).  In return, that individual might be willing to do the same for you. Or someone who (it could be a trusted friend) to write something about you as a community volunteer.  All you need is 3 of them to complete this task.

The Online Resume

Your LinkedIn profile can be the most thorough resume you ever put together so make sure you do a great job with it.  Keep it as current as you can, review the contents for accuracy, make updates to it (it then notifies your connections which makes it a nice marketing tool), read the articles it posts to your home page, skim the people you may know section (you never know when someone you know might join), and look at the job postings (the perfect one is not always going to be on Craig’s List).

Using LinkedIn well will absolutely help you — it has certainly done so for me (happy to share my stories with you).  If you are not going to use it well then don’t use it at all.  If you are ever in the job market you can be sure that recruiters and HR people will be looking over your online presence.

Effective networking is critical.  LinkedIn is a fabulous tool if you want to effectively grow your network and open more doors.

Best regards,

 

Marc(keting) — Why Not!

 

 

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Spelling my name wrong

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My Name is Marc (that’s with a C)!  I understand that mistakes can be made, but when someone writes me a message on LinkedIn, or in response to an email of mine, how do they start out by spelling my name with a K?!

Is it careless, or just a sign that the person pays no attention to detail? So I receive a LinkedIn message from a media rep who starts out by writing Hi Mark! Then proceeds to try and convince me I should buy space for one of my clients in the publication she represents.  Of course, I can’t hold back my annoyance and in my last sentence of response I admonish her for spelling my name wrong.  To me it is a marketing issue, too.  How can I trust the level of service I might receive when the simplest (and maybe most important) thing to check — my name — is wrong.

How do you do it more than once? A high ranking administrator at a local university would consistently spell my name wrong in the greetings of the emails she sent me.  This showed me that it was not careless, but rather an I don’t care attitude. And even though I knew that this person was highly successful and bright, the thing that left the the greatest impression is that she couldn’t spell my name correctly.

Marketing is more than the ads that you see on tv or hear on radio! The emails we send, the letters we write, and the words we speak are likely to provide a great insight into our character.  As so many people choose to present themselves in a lazy or uninspired manner it is easy to see why individuals find it so hard to get the job they want.  Whether the message deliverer is careless, or uncaring, the reader (or listener) will quickly form an impression as to the individual’s personality.  We are all marketers, but some of us do it better than others.  For those who don’t understand this they will likely find themselves failing far more often than they succeed.

So the salesperson will not get the sale, at least not with me.  And, I’d probably be doing her a favor by calling her boss to suggest more effective training for the sales team if they ever hope to have a better chance of turning me into a customer.

 

Best regards,

Why Not Mar(c)keting

 

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Marketing as an investment, rather than an expense

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There are those of you, or amongst your colleagues, who classify everything marketing as an expense as if it was a necessary evil (with the emphasis on evil).  But that could not be further from reality.

Simplify the Definition

If we consider marketing as anything you do to help sell a product or service (thank you Jay Conrad Levinson), and by extension realize that any effort to convey a message  — personally or professionally — is then marketing, we would realize that the more efficient and effective we are at marketing the more opportunity we would have for success (read that as make more money).  In essence, we are all marketers and we can not forsake our responsibilities to communicate messages to our best abilities.

Investing in Marketing

Just like any other educational effort, the more we put into it on a regular basis (both through practice and learning) the better we will become at it.  And, you can never stop marketing in one way or another, as you can never be totally sure as to when a message will actually sink in to all members of your target market.

In this way, it is very much like investing in the Stock Market.  Honest Financial Advisors will tell you that you can not hope to time the market with any consistency so you are better off putting money away every week rather than once in a while. Putting effort into your marketing on a consistent basis provides you a better chance of being successful long term than if you throw your budget into one massive effort (hoping that some catastrophe does not interfere with your plans).

Yeah, but what Marketing Tools should I use?

Planning is key, but it also takes some thought and time before you can put a plan to paper (or electronic file).  There is no specific text book guide to follow when creating a plan, but there are some important questions that will need to be answered in the process.  As those answers are completed, then decisions can be made that will guide the development of the appropriate tools.  This blog site will explore those questions over the next few weeks…so stay tuned.

Until then,

Marc(keting)

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