Writing Tips

Writing Strategies: Part I

Everyday I’m cc’ed on ezines and emails from salespeople who are delivering value to their customers with Ace of Sales. They’re answering customer questions and delivering ideas, updates, and success strategies. They’re experts in their industry, just like you. However, there’s a big difference between them and you. Their customers are aware of their expertise and are repaying them with their loyalty.

Are you writing to your customers?

If you think you don’t have enough time to write, allocate more.

If you feel you have nothing to write about, switch to an industry that ignites your passion. If you don’t think you’re a good writer, you just need confidence and some pointers.

Here’s the winning hand of tips to improve your writing:

Ace of Hearts: Follow great content creators. To see how bloggers and expert article writers do it, use www.alltop.com to find popular blogs regarding topics you’re passionate about. Or, find your favorite magazine’s online version. Digest and examine their free content to grow your writing skills. I frequent wired.com and dwell.com.

King of Hearts: Improve your diction. Remember vocabulary tests from grade school? For most people, learning new words stopped about the same time. If you have a smart phone, get Dictionary.com’s app and turn on the “Word of the Day" feature. Each day, you’ll learn a new word like, “perspicacious." To retain the word, force yourself to use it that day in conversation.

Queen of Hearts: Use more precise words. No one is expected to speak with Elizabethan eloquence, but it would behoove you to swap more general, common words with more fitting synonyms. The word “discover" is better than “find" and the term “aesthetically captivating" is more informative than “interesting." Using a more accurate word makes you appear more educated while improving your customers’ engagement and comprehension.

Jack of Hearts: Break your sentences down. If your paragraph feels awkward, chances are you’re trying to cram too much into one sentence. Split unwieldy sentences into two or three and you’ll find your words and ideas will work themselves out into a more flowing arrangement.

Ten of Hearts: Don’t reuse words too often. A quick way to sound pedestrian is to recycle the same words over and over again. Everyone has pet words, but when they appear too often in your writing, your readers may view them as a crutch for your inability to communicate clearly.

Ebook Excerpt - Killer Personal Brand

The third ebook in our series steps away from the mechanics of a successful email to help you build a successful personal brand. It’s all about your expertise and how you translate it and it’s all right there in the ebook. Here’s an excerpt from this one of a kind resource:

I think I may be sitting in the most perfect place to write this ebook: the main event space for Internet Week in New York City. I mean, really, is there a better place to think about a personal brand than a conference full of people displaying their own personal brands whether they know it or not?

Looking around the room of folks trying to network with each other, three types of people are obvious. First there are the Wallflowers. They come in, hit the buffet, don’t talk to anyone, then go home without one new prospect.

Then there are the guys who think “Always Be Closing" is still the order of the day. They’re the ones using sales lines and pitching people as they “work" the room. They’re completely unaware how foolish they appear in today’s world where authenticity, candor, transparency, and talent are all in vogue.

But then there’s The Natural.

You know who I’m talking about. The guy or girl who always seems to have the perfect, most relevant comment or question at the ready. The Natural chats it up with anyone and everyone. He or she always seems to be in the right place at the right time. This person only appears to work for about the first 10-20% of any event. After that, everyone in the room is seeking out the Natural for a conversation. When he or she leaves, his fist is full of new business opportunities.

We’ve all been to events and seen a Natural at work. But I’ve got a secret for you:

The Natural is a figment of your imagination.

More often than not, Naturals are the living embodiment of our own insecurities. We see something in The Natural that we think we lack and so we assume that person must be naturally awesome at everything they do. They were born that way.

But the truth is Naturals have simply been more courageous and worked harder than you. Rather than being born a Natural, what they’re good at has simply become natural. When what you excel at becomes natural to you, your attraction and brand will grow.

So, what does it take?

That you Know Yourself, that you Be Yourself, and that you Express Yourself.

Sound hokey?

Careful, some of life’s greatest truths are dismissed as corny or contrived.

As we dissect these truths you’ll see how fundamental they are, how invaluable they will be to you, how much room you have for improvement, and how much success awaits you in your journey to become a Natural.

Defining your personal brand.

Make no mistake; your personal brand is not just about your physical appearance, a personal logo, or your gift of gab. The Natural has realized that the only things that will build his brand are his level of expertise within his niche or specialty, how he communicates it, and how he expresses himself.

The Natural knows that his personal brand is everything that his customers or clients think about or associate with him. He knows that the only thing that will sustain his personal brand is maintaining consistency with every single prospect and customer he meets.

Building your brand expertise, your brand personality, and your brand identity are three very different things. The good news is that all three can be cultivated over time into something that is uniquely – and profitably – yours. And when all three components are working together harmoniously, nothing will stop the momentum of your killer personal brand!

It all begins with self-knowledge.

Customer Testimonial

"Hello Andy,

Thank you for the 3 e-books.  Your Ace of Sales materials give me some food for thought - of which I would never had on my own.  I think Ace of Sales is Great.

Best regards,

Richard"

Hopefully, we picked the appropriate cliffhanger moment to end this excerpt and you’re left wanting to know more about the key elements of building your personal brand. If so, you should definitely download and read the rest of the ebook. If you’re not a customer yet, sign up for a new account, use the code EBOOKS and we’ll send you a link where you can download all three. Current customers - check your email, or shoot us a message at support@aceofsales.com for the links.

Never Struggle with Letter Writing Again

Few business pros are the Ernest Hemingways of letter writing. Nor do they rip out their hair, grind their teeth or wait for their heads to explode just to compose a decent letter.

For every garden variety English major with a vocabulary that includes “patois,” “milieu” or “asset leverage implementation,” there are plenty of shirtsleeves small business owners out there who find that speaking plainly and clearly works just fine. But why reinvent the wheel with every single communication you send out?

The experts over at Duct Tape Marketing suggest hanging on to your favorite letters as you come across them. DTM says the letter must have a headline, demonstrate a clear benefit, and include a call to action.

“Studying free sales letters can be your ticket to a sales explosion,” says John Jantsch of DTM. “Studying your sales letters is like getting a free sales course everyday.”

Ebook Excerpt - 10 Tips to an Irresistible Email

Last week, we released three new ebooks designed to help you create effective emails and build a successful personal brand. We’ve already started hearing from some of the great members of our community about how valuable they believe the books to be. If you haven’t had a chance to grab the downloads yet, we thought we’d give you a little motivation. Here’s an excerpt from the first book:

“If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter." 

Depending on which website you’re on, this quote has been attributed to Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, T.S. Eliot, and even some random speaker at a conference in 2002. While it’s not clear who said it, there’s no doubt about the point.

Writing an effective letter is not a quick task. It takes planning, a sharp eye, and practice. In our ADHD age of 30 second meals, 1 minute YouTube videos, and quick-cup coffee brewers, it’s even more essential to slow down and spend the time to write a stellar email message that’s easy to read and prompts a reply.

A Great Email Depends on Which Side of the Email You’re On

Before you send another email, consider the mindset of the recipient. They’re busy - just like you. Think about how much email they get. Their inbox looks a lot like your inbox - bursting at the seams. How much of that do you actually read?

When people are in email-mode, they’re scanning, not reading. And this isn’t a relaxed and careful scan. It’s a frenzied, “is this important?," get-this-done-and-on-to-the-next-thing kind of scanning. In other words, their finger is hovering above the delete key.

Before you hit Send, consider how much of your recipient’s email looks exactly like the email you’re getting ready to transmit. Black text. White background. Business words surrounded by “corporate speak."

But hang on, this is the most epic email ever! It took you 30 minutes to get all that written! It’s a veritable treatise that touts all the wonderful benefits of your product, how amazing your customer service is, and the incredible prices, discounts, and value you offer. It’s chock full of awesomeness! They’ll read every word, right?

You may deserve a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records for the greatest, most informative, most clever, most helpful email of all time, but when your recipient opens your email and sees your big block of text, they most often (19 times out of 20) take one glance and think “Ugh, I don’t have time for this. Maybe later."  They move on to the next email, never to return.

Customer testimonial:

"Andy- I now know why are the CHIEF ARCHITECT of ACE OF SALES- your EBooks are amazing.

I have only read one of them so far this morning- Get Responses and it is so clear and concise.

I makes me want to take action and write better emails.

Hollering back a BIG thank you…"

Luann Flanagan

Thinking Maps

The rest of this book dives into the 10 tips for planning and writing effective emails that get the attention and a response from your audience. It covers topics like:

  • knowing your audience,
  • the importance of brevity, and
  • getting to the point.

If you’re already a customer, you can download the ebooks in the email we sent you on Friday.

If you’re not yet an Ace of Sales user, sign up for a new account using the code EBOOKS before Friday, and we’ll send you a link to download them right away.

10 Tips for Writing Proper Emails to Prospects

Take a moment to examine the everyday volley of emails between you and your customers, coworkers, and colleagues. What you'll find is uglier than the texting of teens. It's a sloppy mess of fragments and misspellings. It's an endless crime against punctuation and capitalization. But somehow...it's OK!

Why? Because such emails are between friends who share an established respect. In the day-to-day mode of getting work done, what matters is communicating as rapidly as possible.

The emails between you and your prospect, however, require a higher level of writing. When a fledgling relationship hangs in the balance, sloppiness can motivate your prospect to award the sale to a more eloquent competitor. Do your prospect emails communicate that you're professional, articulate, and intelligent? Or do you leave your recipient wondering if you're smarter than a fifth grader?

Email writing tips

Consider these ten guidelines before composing your next prospect email:

1. Triple check spelling and grammar.

If your email or proposal contains typos, you're dead. Many say "write once, read twice." It should be, "read thrice." If you struggle in these areas, you may need an online service like grammarly.com. It's an automated service ($100/year) that will instantly evaluate your text for many forms of grammar, punctuation, spelling, and even plagiarism violations.

2. Use commas correctly.

Even grammar checkers can't tell you how to use commas and other forms of punctuation correctly. If you slept through English class, use lousywriter.com as your righthand reference aid.

3. Use a proofreader.

Enlist a receptionist, assistant, friend, coworker, or your spouse to help you by proofreading your mission-critical emails and proposals. They'll be well worth the Mocha Frappuccino you'll buy to thank them.

4. Use words accurately.

For most smart people, hearing others use words improperly is like fingernails scraping a chalk board. If you're not sure how to use a particular word, use dictionary.com to look up its meaning and thesaurus.com to find a better fit.

5. Write in full sentences.

Sentence fragments like, "Is a requirement" appear as though you're rushing or a poor writer. Always write in complete sentences with prospective customers by including a subject and verb. "It is a requirement."

6. Title long paragraphs.

Your recipient will scan your email first. Paragraphs with more than three of four sentences may overwhelm and prevent them from reading your message. For longer paragraphs add a short, bolded title to give them a hint about the paragraph content. If it's relevant to your prospect, they'll read it.

7. Use emoticons.

The smiley ":)" and wink ";)" emoticons work wonders to represent your intended inflection in an email. Be careful though. Less common emoticons like ":P" can appear adolescent.

8. Don't capitalize full words.

It looks like you're SCREAMING! Don't do it.

9. Don’t indent paragraphs.

In email, indentations can cause odd breaks between paragraphs. They’re not as easy to control as they are in print. Separate paragraphs with a double return.

10. Use proper formatting.

Avoid running your salutation, body message, valediction, and signature all together.

Here's an example:

"Susan - Please find my proposal attached. I look forward to hearing from you! Cheers - Tom."

Instead, format your email like this:

"Susan,

Please find my proposal attached. I look forward to hearing from you!

Cheers,

Tom"

Follow these guidelines and you'll see that the value of a proper email is more sales and signed proposals. Ignore them and you may actually find yourself as a contestant on "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?"

Ebook Excerpt - Subject Line Magic

The responses to the 3 new ebooks we released last week continue to pour in. We’re very excited that so many members of our community are seeing the value in them. But we want to make sure that everyone takes advantage of the information so this week we’re highlighting them on the blog. Keep reading for an excerpt from the second ebook in the series:

Konnichiwa! Hello! Have you ever tried to open a Japanese puzzle box? It's more difficult than it looks.

Well-made boxes have no visible seams, pulls, lids, or keyholes. They can only be opened by a series of clever tile shifts, slat slides, and drawer pulls. These tabletop conundrums have been used for centuries to hold coins, jewelry, and important messages.

Your email can be quite beautiful and contain great value too. But if it's not constructed to be opened effortlessly, your message inside may remain locked away like the secrets insidea Japanese puzzle box.

The key to getting your emails opened is a well written subject line. But like the solution to a puzzle box, devising the perfect subject line can be a brainteaser.

10 Lessons to Master Email Subject Line Magic:

1. Avoid Words That Trigger Spam Filters

First, you must dodge the dreaded spam filters built in to your recipients' firewalls and email programs.

Ever vigilant, spam filters scan each email subject line and compare it to a database of characters, phrases, and words (even combinations of words) on their spammer tag and trash list. If your subject line breaks a spam filter rule, your email is toast.

Check out Hubspot's ultimate list of spam trigger words and phrases. Most of the listed terms are obvious, but you wouldn’t use those anyway, right? Some terms on the list, however, are less obvious...

2. Avoid Other Violations That Trigger Spam Filters

Besides using no-no words and phrases, there are other infractions that can get your email sliced and diced by spam filters:

  • Repetitive characters: $$, !!!, …, ???, www
  • Words in all caps: NICE TO MEET YOU
  • Capitalized abbreviations and acronyms: LOL, RSVP, OMG, SPCA, BBB, ESPN
  • Sending the same subject line to a recipient over and over again
  • Anything price related: $199, half off, buy one get one free
  • Anything product spec related: Samsung LCD Monitor 42", iPad 3 64GB
  • Typos, spelling errors, and incorrect grammar

Customer Testimonial:

“Wow Andy...I've been doing it all wrong for 30 years!  Suppressing my irreverence as a sacrifice to professionalism I've blah blah'ed myself into irrelevance.

Can't wait to make my move.

You just saved a life!

Pam"

There’s much more where this came from, but you have to download the rest of the ebook to get it. While you’re at it, why not get all three? If you’re not a customer yet, you can still get them by signing up for an account and using the code EBOOKS.