Our Best Words Blog

 

It takes all of three seconds for someone to decide if your website is worthy of their time. Three seconds might seem like no time at all, but when it comes to catching someone’s eye or supplying needed information easily, that’s all it takes to decide the fate of your site.

Want to create a successful site? Here’s a few tips to help you along:

1. Keep the flash and bang to a minimum.
While the temptation is there to make text blink and scroll, all it does in the end is annoy your audience. It’s alright to do it here or there, but not in abundance.

2. Use complimentary colors.
Clashing colors will make your audience flinch away from your site, finding it unappealing and quickly moving on to a different site.

3. Keep the scrolling down to a minimum on the homepage.
The more information someone can take from your site from the initial click the better. In general, people are lazy and don’t want to have to scroll forever to find what they are looking for.

4. Easily understood navigation.
Your audience shouldn’t need instructions when trying to find their way around your site. Keep the fonts legible and make the navigation area standout. If it’s too difficult, then they lose interest and move on.

5. Make the point of your site clear.
Who you are and what you are selling/marketing/informing about should be instantly clear to your audience.

6. Make sure grammar and spelling are correct.
Nothing says unprofessional more than displaying a site, in whichever language you choose, riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes.

(Image courtesy of XKCD.com)

Is Twitter just for people who can’t shut up? Many tweets are irrelevant, and it takes some digging to get to the good stuff. That way, it’s not any different from looking for a good book. Between shelves of fluff, there are literary gems such as “The Perfume”, “Madame Bovary” and “To Kill A Mockingbird”.

Companies (and individuals) can of course choose never to send a tweet into cyberspace. But the problem is that companies will be left behind and their competitors will have the competitive edge.

Tweets are short (140 characters) and resemble sms-speak (not surprising, considering the original twitter concept) and have huge marketing potential.

Following is a short guide to tweeting (courtesy of www.ReputationManagementFor.com with some of my own additions).

1/ Tweeting
When you tweet, you’re sending a message to all of your followers (see 2/) and displaying the message on your Twitter Feed (a list of your tweets). Now, it’s extremely important that you bear a few things in mind when tweeting, as you can end up wasting a lot of time for zero productivity. Don’t over-tweet, but don’t tweet sparingly either. A Tweet a week does not an interest garner. These are some important things you’ll need to keep in mind while tweeting:

  • Don’t treat Twitter like an SEO exercise. Nobody cares for unexplained, uninteresting links, and if all you’re doing is linking back to your website, people will generally ignore you.
  • Don’t make ridiculous spelling mistakes. Tweets are only 140 characters long, and typos and other errors will reflect badly on your company. Spell it right; sell it right.
  • Try not to be too personal, or emotional. You’re marketing your brand, and while that doesn’t mean you should be robotic, attention-seeking will ultimately reflect badly.
  • Develop your own style, but unless you’re a professional comedian don’t make every post into a joke.
  • Make sure to hashtag important keywords in your tweet (see 4/).

Ideally, every time you tweet you want your followers to re-tweet (RT) your posts. That way, you are reaching the followers of your followers.

2/ Following
When you follow somebody on Twitter, it means that you’re going to automatically get updated with every tweet of that user. You can opt to get as many people to follow you as possible, or to expand your brand awareness and market influence to targeted users (journalists, institutes, bloggers, magazines, etc.).

The easiest and simplest way getting followers is to include obvious links to your Twitter account on your website, and any email correspondence you send out. If you don’t tell people to look for your Twitter account, you’re relying on people looking for you speculatively, and that can be a slow process. Also, you can enter your contact list from GMail, AOL, MSN, Hotmail and Yahoo! accounts to see if the people you already speak to use Twitter. Following people you know on Twitter will encourage them to follow you.

3/ @Mentions
If you have a look at your “homepage” on Twitter, you can see a few tabs below the Tweet box. One of these tabs says ‘@Mentions’. A @Mention is when somebody puts a ‘@’ sign, followed immediately by a username. When somebody @Mentions you in a Tweet, it’ll show up both on their Tweet Feed and on your @Mentions page (which your followers can’t see. A @Mention is useful:

  • To engage other users who are not in contact with yet. They’re then more likely to return the favor.
  • If you’re Tweeting their material. Their details do show up on a RT, but a @Mention will show gratitude and let the person know you’re passing on their content/posts.
  • When tweeting original content. Start the post with “RT” and end it with @yourtwittername. It makes it easier for people to find you and associate your Twitter account with the content being (re)tweeted.

4/ The #Hashtag
While we have already mentioned that this shouldn’t be an SEO exercise, that doesn’t mean that none of the same principles apply. The #hashtag is the king of Social Media Optimization – an opportunity to make use of ‘keywords’. People searching Twitter for posts on specific subjects will generally find #tagged posts first. Tips to use #hashtags:

  • If you want to talk about a #subject, #location or #person (without linking to their Twitter account), use the #hashtag.
  • A #hashtag can be used to emphasize a specific part of your tweet, and generally adds context to any content or comments you might be posting.

Twitter posts show up in Google search results. Although it is unlikely that a Twitter post will outperform a highly contested keyword by normal SEO standards, a clever campaign on a specific subject will get attention.

5/ Trending
Twitter keeps track of when a term (or #term) is being used a lot on Twitter. It records Trends that appear by geographical demographic, and a general worldwide tracker. Thus, if a #term (with or without the #hashtag) is popular in e.g., the US; users who’ve set up their “Trend Feed” to the US will automatically see a list of the “Trending Topics” for that country. Users can also click on a topic that is trending (e.g. budget cuts).

There are many innovative ways to turn social networking and social media profitable for business. On your Twitter homepage, you can link to your own website. You can also add Twitter to your website homepage. Your tweets will now automatically be displayed.

6/ Shortened Links
As mentioned before, tweets are limited to 140 characters. Most website links (e.g., to articles you RT) take up a lot of character space. To solve this problem, there are several free services around that automatically shorten your links. The most popular are tinyURL and bit.ly.

Wishing you Happy Tweeting!

(Cartoon courtesy of Johnny Ancich of Past Expiry)

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The Globalization-Group published an interesting article. It helps business owners and their employees to understand why their business cards might not be effective in some countries.
Although business cards may seem small and uncomplicated, there are some issues when it comes to using them in foreign markets (and languages). The article provides some excellent tips to help business go smoothly when working with international clients.
Size, non-translation of certain elements, and even the way a business card is presented differ depending on the country and situation. Before traveling, the business card must be translated quickly, smoothly, and without incident. Various preferences and reference materials must be provided to the translation supplier in order to have the business card translation process run smoothly.
Standard Business Card Dimensions by Country
Standard business card dimensions differ from country to country, and the business card must have the correct size. If the corporate headquarters are in the U.S., but the business card is printed in multiple languages, U.S. standard dimensions can be used. However, if business cards are printed for someone based in one of the international offices, then the designer (or the translator) and the printer will want to use the standard dimensions for that country.

  • United States, Canada: 88.9 × 50.8 cm / 3.5 × 2 inches;
  • United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland: 85 × 55 cm / 3.346 × 2.165 inches;
  • Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Sweden: 90 × 55cm / 3.54 × 2.165 inches
    Japan 91 × 55cm(or 90 x 55 cm) / 3.582 × 2.165 inches;
  • China, Hong Kong: 90 × 54 cm / 3.543 × 2.125 inches;
  • Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine, & Multiple Latin American Countries (Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and more): 90 × 50 cm /3.543 × 1.968 inches.

Culturally Appropriate Business Card Etiquette
Business cards hold differing importance in some countries. Know the appropriate way to give and receive business cards in each country. The most notable example is Japan. The book Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands includes the following recommendations for culturally appropriate exchange of business cards in Japanese business:

  • Cards are presented after the bow or handshake. The card must be presented with the Japanese side facing the business partner, so that it can be read immediately.
  • Read the card presented and memorize all the information. Ask for help in pronunciation and in comprehension of the title and make a relevant comment.
  • Handle cards very carefully. Do not put them in a pocket or in wallet, and never write on a person’s business card in his/her presence).
  • In Japanese culture, business cards are usually given and received using both hands, and Japanese business cards often contain additional details to emphasize qualifications.

Preferences for Business Card Translation
Indicate the following preferences where appropriate to ensure that the business card translation supplier provides what you need the first time:

  • Preferred terminology used on other company cards (i.e. preferred job titles, department names, taglines, or product names).
  • Existing name translations or whether to include names in both languages.
  • Exclusion of address from translation.
  • Preferred international contact information (i.e. non-toll-free phone number with country code that can be accessed outside the U.S.

Reference Materials for Business Card Translation
Provide the following optional reference materials to ensure that the business card translation supplier has everything needed for appropriate translation:

  • Existing company style guide, especially if related to translation and/or business cards.
  • Existing company glossary, especially if related to translation and/or business cards.
  • Existing translation history.
  • Example of an employee’s business card that has been translated or created in the target language.
  • Other reference material including existing translations for logos, slogans, names of products, names of people, etc.

by Ephraim King

I am sitting in a class with creative people from a potpourri of cultures and professional backgrounds. I am inspired to write again and ask … “Why not Tzfat”?

So many of us yearned for Tzfat while we were still abroad. I did. When I made Aliya it was elsewhere. I started in the South and moved to Jerusalem later. I maintained a connection while still abroad and frequently visit after Aliya.

Many like minded professionals have found their way here, drawn by the special spiritual and creative climate. Israel’s economic miracle has turned the Galilee into a powerhouse of hi tech

Until now – creative professionals with great experience and command of the English language and culture had to choose between professional fulfillment in the Center or spiritual and creative fulfillment in Tzfat.

The dichotomy is felt on Tzfat’s outer borders as you appear to cross between two worlds. The recent growth in hi tech surrounded Tzfat but has not hit Tzfat … until now …

A new medical school is opening in the fall. The Youth Center and Tzfat College, Tzfat Mayor’s office, Immigration Absorption Ministry, Nefesh BeNefesh Go North, and many hi tech, bio-tech and green/clean tech companies are bullish about the future of Israel’s Northern Frontier.

A beginning artist may have started as a child, learning to paint by numbers and connect the points. A child’s curiosity is encouraged and uninhibited by adults that tell the child what s/he can’t or shouldn’t do or be able to do or think.

The hi tech and Jewish world is all about connections. A point in physics actually has no mass at all, yet together we see something real. Now we have a dedicated team of lecturers and writers that will connect a veritable reserve of creative professionals with great opportunities in the area and without. We see the tremendous potential and are voting with our feet.

So come here and join us in our newest challenge in practical Zionism, not about land, but about space and time. Let’s transcend our restrictions and begin thinking outside the box … together … you and me … we …

Why Tzfat? Why not?

… To be continued …

clip_image002Maria Perez, director of news operations for ProfNet recently published 7 tips for better writing on her blog.

She starts by saying that good writing is not just about substance. It’s often style that is just as important. You might be the most expert of all experts, but nothing will undermine your credibility more than an email/business plan/blog post riddled with errors and typos.

To put your best foot forward and get readers to focus on the substance of your communications, follow these simple tips for improving your writing:

Pick a style, any style. It doesn’t matter if it’s the AP Stylebook, Chicago Manual of Style or The Elements of Style, pick a style and be consistent with it. I promise it will help your writing.

Write Like You Talk. Or, in the words of Paula Abdul, make it your own. After you’re finished writing the article, press release, blog post – whatever – read it out loud. If it sounds stilted, make changes.

Less is More. If you can say something in 10 words instead of 20, do it. That is all.

Use short paragraphs. James Patterson once said his use of short chapters is one of the reasons his books are so successful. You can apply this to your writing with short paragraphs. Long paragraphs make readers think they don’t have enough time to read the entire post.

Use bullet points. For the same reason you should write in short paragraphs – posts with long paragraphs could be daunting for many readers – you should consider using bullet points whenever possible. Not only will it make it easier for you to write (especially if you’re writing for an online outlet, which often means multiple posts each day), but it’s also easier on the reader.

Spllchek. If you wnt pepole to take you serriusly, run a spellchek on whatevr dockumint you write, wethur a private email or sumthing for publik consumpshion.

Check, and double-check, your facts. If you say your company is the only one making thingamajigs, make sure it’s true – especially because things can go viral so quickly nowadays.

Written by Maria Perez, director of news operations for ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. To read more from Maria, visit her blog on ProfNet Connect at http://www.profnetconnect.com/profnetmaria/blog/

clip_image002E-mail cold calling still works. If done correctly, it can be a highly effective marketing tool. However, the email must be compelling. Writing such an email is not easy.

Here are some tips on composing a good email:

1. Make each email personal.
Decisions makers want to receive an email that is tailored them. Generic emails with a standard offer are ignored. Explain why you sent the email in the first place (e.g., following an exhibition or a one-on-one meeting) and describe your offer as a one-time great opportunity especially for them. This is even more important when the decision maker is referred to you and you were therefore not in direct contact yet. Make sure to tie in the decision maker’s issues, concerns, problems or challenges.

2. Make it legit.
With the current strict regulations concerning unsolicited emails, any email you send as part of an email campaign must have an opt-out. Explain how you got the email details of the decision maker (e.g., after downloading a white paper, registered to receive your newsletter). Make the opt-out as user-friendly as possible; avoid asking for the reason.

3. Keep it short and to the point.
According to researchers, you have less than 20 seconds to capture the reader’s attention. This means that the first three lines (including the header!) are crucial. Once readers lose interest, they will delete your email – forever. If the email is to the point, chances are higher that there will be a follow-up.

4. Make it non-spam and readable in preview.

Decision makers are busy. They have spam filters to avoid their inbox from clogging up. The subject line of your email must explain in a concise way what the email is about. “Great Offer” and “Free Trial” are terms that immediately alert spam filters. Decision makers also scan their inbox in preview mode. The first paragraph of your email must entice the reader to open the email and read it in full.

5. Talk to your reader.

You want the reader to be in touch with you. This can be asking a question, a request for more information, downloading a white paper, an invitation for webinar or subscribing to your newsletter.

(Image courtesy of paythetroops.org)

clip_image001Ever heard of the Ebbinghaus Effect? Quite likely not. However, Ebbinghaus Curve of Forgetting is an essential tool whenever you are developing integrated marketing strategies or want to create messages with impact.

In order to know how effective your strategy or message will be, you need to understand the implications of the Ebbinghaus Curve of Forgetting.

Hermann Ebbinghaus received his doctor of philosophy degree in Germany in 1873 at the age of 23. While teaching at the University of Berlin, he pioneered research about human memory. In 1885, he published “Ebbinghaus’ Curve of Forgetting” showing that a given piece of learning is forgotten by more than half its audience in one hour. The share of the audience that retains the message is reduced to 33.7 percent after one day, to 27.8 percent after two days, and to 21.1 percent after 31 days.

Percentages apart, this fundamental research is the basis for two concepts that make marketing communications more focused, efficient and effective.

The first concept is reach and frequency.
In order to create awareness of a brand, you need a combination of reach (who is our target audience) and frequency (how often does your target audience need to be exposed to the same message).

But there are two major restraining factors: time and budget.
It takes a few weeks (for a known product) or months (for a new product) to stay on the radar of the target audience. Supporting a strategic mix of media requires a substantial budget with no ironclad guarantee of success.

The second concept is integrated messaging.
If the publications are perceived as different, the memory stores it as new messages of different products or brands each time. As a result, the marketer starts from scratch which each medium.

How can marketers avoid the Ebbinghaus Effect? By implementing an integrated marketing and communications campaign:

1) Define target audience
2) Carefully formulate the message
3) Choose appropriate media communications channel(s)
4) Communicate the message with sufficient frequency
5) Make sure to integrate the look, feel and messaging of all communications
6) Work within time and budget restrains
7) Use strong stimuli to support the recollection of the message
8 ) Check the short and long term recollection of the message

Done successfully, a company or brand can be in its audience’s memory for years, even generations. Levi’s and Coca-Cola are perfect examples.

clip_image002A request for a proposal is a crucial step in the sales cycle. It creates the change to get one step closer to a customer and a new project or deal.

But writing a proposal is not easy. Proposals come in many sizes and shapes, depending on the organization that asks for one. In some cases, it is better to avoid a formal proposal and opt for sending a letter outlining the products and services to be offered.

Seven tips for writing a proposal

  1. Create a powerful, but concise executive summary

In many cases, the customer just wants to see a short overview of deliverables with prices.

  1. Focus on results

Customers are far more interested in the deliverables than in methodologies or processes. Quite bluntly, they just want the job to be done; how it is done is of secondary importance.

  1. Showcase ideas

Customers want to cooperate with a business partner they can trust. To show that you are not only on the same wavelength, but also want to be their partner, share ideas that can help them.

  1. Make sure it has quality

As in many cases, it is the quality, not the quantity that counts. Limit the amount of pages, and make sure the proposal is about the customer. Focus on how you are going to solve the customer’s problems.

  1. Be careful with jargon

Terms such as “best practices”, “outstanding practices”, innovative solutions”, “and out-of-the-box thinking”,”top-notch and best-of-breed” are overused and are considered to be marketing hype. Try to use clear language and simple terms; it will avoid misunderstandings and future complications.

  1. Make sure its accurate

The proposal must be accurate, so make sure to validate and double-check all data before presenting it. Check every small proposal detail and watch for typos and style mistakes.

  1. Delivering your proposal

Make sure that the right people receive the proposal on time. You can submit it by email or hand it over in person. The latter guarantees you a higher change of closing the deal.

(Image courtesy of Geldlening Offerte)

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Almost every organization needs technical writing due to the need for user guides, instruction manuals, quick guides, user manuals, white papers, product documentation, training materials, etc.

Since technical writing has become essential part of today’s business and government, jobs can be found in almost any industry sector. The demand for technical writers is expected to grow, since enterprises need to communicate existing and new scientific and technical information to others.

Many technical writers prefer to specialize in a specific industry such as telecommunications, computers, biotech, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, health care, or manufacturing. This way, they can build expertise in e.g., software documentation, tutorials, white papers, or user guides.

Technical writing is as diverse and there is an overlap with marketing writing. Product instructions, reference and maintenance manuals, articles, project proposals, training materials, technical reports, catalogs, brochures, online documentation and help systems, Web pages, multimedia presentations, parts lists, assembly instructions, sales promotion materials, tenders, RFI and RFP, and tech blogs require the skills of technical writers.

Technical writers enable enterprises to tell their users how to use their products and services. Those users can be consumers, system integrators, resellers, scientists, engineers, plant executives, line workers, production managers, but also product reviewers, tech journalists, and tech bloggers.

Technical writing is different from marketing writing. Technical writing describes the current situation; marketing writing also covers what will be. The writing style between the two is therefore very different. Good technical writing is concise and easy-to-read. In many cases, technical writers are also expected to deal with the graphics, layout, and document design.

Thinking of becoming a technical writer? Looking for a technical writing course near you? Our Best Words offers technical & marketing writing courses in Be’er Sheva, Jerusalem, Tzfat, and Netanya.

Want to learn more? Contact Our Best Words for an interview and placement test at:

Our Best Words Main Office: 02-656-3369
US & Canada: 1-786-507-8206

Ephraim King, CEO: 050-529-0775
Tracey Shipley, Marketing Coordinator: 054-810-8918
Email: info@ourbestwords.com
Website: http://www.technicalwriting.co.il/training/tech-writing-course-tzfat/

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Technical writers translate complex subjects for users. They change technical jargon and turn it into understandable text for everybody. Regardless of the industry or field of expertise, there are three important tips for writing technical documentation.

Use plain English instead of complex phrases or buzz words

Every industry and market has its own buzz words. “Discussing it offline”, “working around it”, “streamlining operations”, “thinking outside the box”, “impacting the bottom line” belong in marketing materials, not in technical documentation such as user guides and manuals. Especially for tenders and RFPs and RFIs are buzz words and jargon the kiss of death – governmental agencies require that documents are easy to read and understand.

Understand the local lingo

A technical writer must understand the “local lingo” or jargon. For proper technical writing, the writer must fully understand what a certain phrase or term means to a customer and (end) users. Technology companies have the tendency to coin their own definitions. No online research will help the writer; only direct asking the source (content provider, product manager, software developer, etc.).

Recycle and reuse to avoid reinventing the wheel

Technical writing normally deals with similar documents within an organization over time. It is therefore not necessary for a technical writer to start from scratch for each project. Unless it is a nascent start-up, legacy templates, earlier technical writing documents such as reports, proposals, and user manuals are floating around in the organization. It is therefore a lot safer (and easier) to look for templates to tweak or to use as a starting point. For odd projects, there are normally examples that can be used as an outline.

These three tips will help you as a technical writer to be an asset to a team, to contribute user-friendly and customer-specific content that adds additional value to organizations.

Want to learn more about the difference between technical writing and marketing writing? Sign up for one of our courses! Email us at: info@ourbestwords.com

You can also call us at the Our Best Words Main Office: 02-656-3369
US & Canada: 1-786-507-8206

Ephraim King, CEO: 050-529-0775
Tracey Shipley, Marketing Coordinator: 054-810-8918

(Image courtesy of Susana Maria Rosende)