Simplistic Utilization of Language

Posted by Robin on Jul 14th, 2008

Sometimes, in their desire to “sound good” people fall into the linguistic tiger trap of not saying what they actually mean. For example:

“A simplistic black dress is the answer to all of your fashion problems.”
A simple black dress might very well be the answer to one’s fashion problems, depending on the degree of sartorial challenge. However, a simplistic black dress would add to one’s difficulties with style; I’m not sure what such a dress would actually look like, but simplistic actually means “overly simple” in a negative sense, as in “His simplistic response didn’t even come close to answering her question.”

Another example is “utilize” vs. “use.” This is a regular occurrence in business-speak: “Company X utilizes special software for tracking inventory and managing costs, resulting in increased savings for consumers.” The trap here is the same as with “simplistic.” “Utilize” sounds like “use” but fancier; therefore, it must be better, right?

However, “utilize” means “to make useful” or “to turn to good use” as opposed to just using a tool for its intended purpose. Company X is using special software intended specifically for inventory management, so “use” is the appropriate choice here.

Now, if Company X repurposed robotic bumblebees originally intended for espionage to keep track of inventory, the company would indeed be utilizing the bumblebees, as inventory control was not their original raison d’être.

Why I Love Small Business Copywriting

Posted by Robin on Jul 10th, 2008

Why do I focus on working with smaller businesses? Working with larger companies is great (and I enjoy the work), but for a few reasons, I find small to midsize businesses, as well as nonprofit organizations, even more fun to work with when it comes to copywriting and web content development. Here’s why:

  • Talking directly to the decision-maker means that projects get done faster and have a more immediate impact on the business. I find the collaboration exciting and it’s great to see positive results without waiting for the layers of bureaucracy to catch up.
  • In my experience, small business websites often have lots of exciting potential that isn’t being tapped. I find this tremendously stimulating because I know my work can make a significant difference.
  • The bottom line is even more critical to these organizations than it is to large corporations, and I feel like I bring good value to the table
  • While it’s true that doing work for larger companies can offer more financial stability, smaller organizations offer a great deal of project diversity. I like working with a church one week and a whitewater rafting business the next week and a jewelry affiliate site the week after that. I get to learn about a lot of new industries, products, and services along the way.

7 Crucial Web Content Development Questions

Posted by Robin on Jul 8th, 2008

When I work with a client to determine the best strategy for web content development, I spend a lot of time researching the client’s industry, competition, and associated search terms, as well as gaining a deep understanding of the target audience and goals. Once all of that preliminary work is in place, it becomes a matter of creative idea generation and, of course, the copywriting itself.

If you’re developing a content plan on your own and aren’t sure what your website needs, here are a few key questions to ask yourself:

  • What are my current goals for my website? (To increase traffic, to increase conversions, to reach out to a new consumer market, etc.)
  • What are my competitors doing? How can I do better?
  • What do my customers want? (Ask them for feedback.)
  • What is unique about my product or service?
  • What keywords or phrases will help people find my products? Do I appear in the search engine results for those keywords?
  • Who is my target audience? Do I need different copy for different audience segments?
  • Does any of my current content need reworking?

And, a bonus question:

  • If I meet my goals (say, traffic and conversions increase significantly) what changes, if any, will I need to make to my way of doing business?

I raise this last question because recently, as a consumer, I visited a custom woodworking site for a specific product. The product was just what I wanted, at a great price…but in looking around the website and trying to order, I discovered that turnaround time for the product had gone from eight days to five weeks. This was enough of a deterrent that instead I found and purchased a similar product from a competitor at a higher price but with a shorter turnaround.

In other words…be prepared for success!

Hello world!

Posted by Robin on Jun 27th, 2008

Hello, world, as they say, and welcome to my blog, where I’ll be writing about the finer points of web content development. And sometimes the not-so-fine points.

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