A missing hyphen can unravel your reputation

Occasionally we get a copy of a quote or specification from a prospect who says ‘quote me one of these’. Well, our version of that, anyway.

One such document I received yesterday yesterday, I combed first doing feature comparison with our products. And I noticed a couple English errors. First I thought maybe I just use a different vernacular to describe our equipment. Nope, found another definite grammatical error. And another.

This morning I picked it up again and started highlighting just the errors. It is full of them! Missing hyphens and periods. Odd capitalization. Periods for sentence fragments.

And there were language errors: pronouns without defined nouns; two sentences where one would suffice; poor use of passive voice.

Then I noticed the typographical errors: curly quote marks for noting inches; Bad word-wrapping; justified text.

You see how a few small errors suddenly makes the reader see every other error. And after all that, you start to notice how poorly worded much of the document is. It just completely unraveled.

The worst crime of this document is the lack of hyphenation. I recently helped my one son with a homework assignment on hyphens, so maybe I am being overly sensitive … or just that I’ve been doing this for 20 years. However, in technical documents, hyphens are pretty common to create specific terminology. “Non skidded” looks lame when your brain wants to put the hyphen in when you read it.

Like when I wrote about this same company last year in A competitor across the aisle, the lesson here is not about their equipment or terms-of-sale, but in their style and presentation. How many prospects read this document and react like I did? It can’t do their reputation any good, that’s for sure!

(And as much as I am ranting and nit-picking, there is one detail that came up that I will be fixing in my marketing materials.)

Email marketing a high priority? Really?

There was a day when I thought I was a progressive, internet-savvy industrial marketer.  Still today, among B2B marketers willing to fill out an online survey, I’d like to think I’m ahead of the curve.

But apparently the rest of the industrial/B2B marketers have moved on and decided that email marketing is the most important type of marketing they’ll be doing in 2011.

I was stunned to see blogger Chris Rand’s BMON’s response from 183 marketers “Where are you advertising next year?” survey:

What do we find? Firstly, there’s a clear winner. Email marketing is going to be the most important area of investment for industrial and scientific companies next year. Over 80% said it was going to be “high” or “medium” priority, and only 3% said they wouldn’t be using it at all.

I’ve got one niche mailing list I use a couple times a year, and email blasts culled from my CRM for the few shows we do. I don’t even count those as enough to get me out of the lowly 3%, let alone the bottom 20%.

I’ve always put us scientific/industrial/capital-equipment types as ‘demand driven’ marketing. Email should be a lower priority, while optimizing being ‘found’ would be the top goal.

All I’m going to do with email marketing is annoy the very same engineers who will sooner or later be shopping for our type of equipment. They remember what salespeople and companies annoy them. Trust me on this!

Both extremes:

I’ve seen the rise of ‘marketing automation’, and been confused by it all. But for certain marketers (technology/software marketers especially) where nurturing, educating, and creating demand are key tasks, I’m sure it makes sense. Slickly done, with a dedicated staffer running the program, it has to easily show value.

Then there are the really lame email blasts I get from companies that are going to try email marketing about once, half-heartedly. The messages are so bad, no one responds, and email marketing is declared a waste.

Somehow, I suspect there are a lot more than 3% of marketers who fall in the ‘really lame’ category. They certainly aren’t thoughtful enough to read a blog or respond to a survey, though.

Note: I hate surveys because benchmarks don’t always apply to what is right for me. This is certainly the case. But I’m just surprised to be so far in the minority!

Gizmos Week: PowerDesk

This week I am sharing some of my favorite software gizmos from my Web-marketing toolbox.

Today’s gizmo: PowerDesk from VCOM.com

Tasks: Manage your files
Cost: $39 (free shareware version, too)
Get it here: Power Desk Pro (aff)

I LOVE POWERDESK! There are a gazillion Windows shareware utilities, but they often do jobs that only need to be done once in a while, and that you can do yourself. You download them once and then forget it.

PowerDesk I use everyday. It is ‘Windows Explorer’ for the power user. I am constantly browsing for files and would be very frustrated if I didn’t have it.

Explorer sucks because:

  • It decides what ‘view’ each folder you open should be.
  • It’s favorites list is integrated with the IE bookmark list, making it useless.
  • Copying from one folder to another means opening two different windows.
  • You can’t quickly navigate to a different drive or folder, you have to go ‘up up up’.
  • You always start at the same place, usually My Documents.
  • You can’t print!!!!

Powerdesk, of course, solves all the above problems. Specifically, I like these features:

  • I have set it to show folders in ‘detail’ style and it remembers that. I usually have it also sorted by ‘last modified’ so my most recent files float to the top.
  • By pressing ctrl-3, I can bring up a second folder to browse right next to the current one.
  • The header has a short-cut bar, so you can quickly jump to you favorite places. I’ve changed the icons to help find certain important folders.
  • You can ‘copy’ the path to a file to the clipboard.
  • You can print the content of a folder or a directory tree.
  • Did I mention is Zips and unZips? And FTPs? And easy search by pressing F3? And has a list of recently opened folders?

Life is so much better with this tool. Get the shareware version and see what I mean!

(Once again, any affiliate commission will be redirected to Coverville.com. I’ve pondered the fact that I’m not donating to a charity, but my idea is that the internet culture should find a way to support each other. Brian has quit his day job and I believe in what he is doing, so I want to support him.)