Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | August 31, 2010

Avoid Public Embarrassment; The Perils of Trusting Spell Check

Avoid Public Embarrassment; The Perils of Trusting Spell Check

I recently presented a grant-writing workshop at a national conference for amazing professionals serving unemployed residents of their communities. They frequently use the word “public” in their grant proposals and written communications. You see where I am going with this? It’s is easy to leave out the “L” and have an embarrassing word in their documents, but still a word spell check programs will approve and not flag. One good option to avoid these kinds of errors is to customize your program’s dictionary, removing words that you don’t want approved, or words that the program tries to substitute for your words (this often happens with a company or unusual name). You can find instructions for your specific program in the help section or on the internet.

Spell check is only the first step in making sure our emails and documents are correct. It has numerous limitations and relying on it can cause embarrassment and documents with spoiled by errors. Spell check programs can show you a word that is misspelled, catch repeated words, reversed letters, and other common errors. Spell check CANNOT determine if the word you have chosen is the correct one for your sentence. The #1 word choice error in business writing is “your” vs. “you’re,” followed by “accept” and “except”. Our language is full of words that sound alike and have similiar spelling. Spell check programs can correct the spelling of the word you choose, but cannot determine if you used the correct one. Here is a list of a few of the most common errors:

When our writing contains errors, our audience focuses on the errors and not the content. Careless business writing errors may lead the reader to believer there are also errors in the facts and we lose credibility. Business writing that has common word choice errors can make readers feel they were not worth our time and effort to send correct material. Errors don’t sell, whether we are selling a product, a service, our recommendation, an idea, or our expertise. If we can’t bother to ensure our writing is correct, our clients and customers wonder what else we can’t be bothered with and are likely to take their business elsewhere.

There are many ways to proofread and some of my favorites are:

1. Print it out. Most of us will see the material differently in print than do on a screen.
2. Customize your spell check dictionary.
3. Read from bottom to top. This will help us to focus on the individual words rather than the content.
4. Read from right to left. Another way to focus on each word.
5. Keep a list of the types of errors you commonly make and refer to it when you proofread. My common mistakes include typing “form” when I meant “from,” “out” when I wanted to write “our.” I know that I often make these mistakes and use the search feature of Word to find and highlight these words so I can make needed corrections.
6. Read your text out loud. You may hear a problem your eyes didn’t see.
7. Put it away for a while and proofread again later. This allows you to see your document with fresh eyes.
8. Ask someone else to proofread. This is my best tool for important documents and emails. Another person with fresh eyes can see what I cannot.

What are your most common errors. What is your best method for proofreading?

Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | August 9, 2010


We are fortunate to have a special guest-blogger today, the fabulous Author Success Coach, Deborah Riley-Magnus. Her advice is great for speakers and workshop trainers, as well as authors.

by Deborah Riley-Magnus, Author Success Coach

And the gods of publishing spoke.

The earth rumbled and the lightening struck. All the peoples of the writing land quivered with fear and aw. And the gods said …

“Stand all ye writers and be counted! I say unto thee one and all, those of the laptop and those of the desktop, those sparrows of the tiny Twitter and lurkers of the massive writers conferences, teachers and students of the word and mid-list authors everywhere I say unto you all … PROMOTE THYSELF!”

And when the word comes down what do we all do? We panic, we pull out our hair and tear our clothes and we whine. There’s nothing like a good whine, I always say. But soon enough, we’ve all had enough whine.

Like a garden of beautiful blossoms, fantastic advice has popped up everywhere to guide us. Magnificent, excellent advice. It abounds and the sea is swollen with suggestions for website designs, blogging opportunities, platform planks (and the nails to hold it all together). What non-fiction writers and self-published authors have known all along is suddenly the law of reality for all.


But, try real hard not to get lost in the raging pulse of great advice. Don’t drown. Take it little bits at a time; there are a million ways to cook a chicken. The key to a perfectly roasted bird is the same as the path to a perfectly executed promotional plan … patience, clarity, understanding the tools and using them well. Winging it just won’t work.

Don’t go off half-cocked (oh, another poultry pun) and blanket the world with unfocused press releases or emails to spam your (soon to be no longer) friends to death. Don’t sweat over seeking ill-defined speaking engagements or stapling posters on every telephone phone pole in sight. A photo of your face with the scrawled words, “Have you seen this writer? He/She is starving! Please buy his/her book!” won’t actually do it.


Do it carefully and unfortunately, in order to do it at all, you must first (yes, here it comes) … KNOW THYSELF … and (uh-huh) TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE.

Know yourself, know your skills, know your abilities and know your limitations. If you don’t have the time or energy to run all over asking if you can sign books at all the tri-state B&N locations, think about hiring an assistant to help make all the arrangements. If you can’t figure out how to reach every newspaper in the northeast, hire a company that does the press release flight for you. If you can’t figure out where to start, hire a publicist. If you can’t afford a publicist, there are a hundred books, classes, clubs and organizations to show you how to proceed. Being a writer is a business, and few businesses are successful just because they opened their doors.


If you’re not published yet, make your presence known. Who knows, the gods of publishing may reach down and touch you. Then where will you be? Unprepared, that’s where. Put together your Book Business Plan right now. Outline what makes you … the author … as valuable a product as the wonderful book you’ve written.


Now, I need to go baste the chicken.

Author Success Coaching

Publicity Marketing Promotions
Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | August 3, 2010

Hidden Interviews: Top 5 Tips to Make the Write Impression

Hidden Interviews: Top 5 Tips to Make the Write Impression

Hidden interview, what hidden interview? Are they legal? Why didn’t anyone tell me about them? You’re already great at getting ready for the big interview or an important meeting with the potential client. You know what to wear, the questions to ask, how to share your passion and expertise. But, how do you prepare for the hidden interview?

In the process of lining up an important interview or meeting, there is often a hidden interview being conducted. Whether you get the meeting with the potential new client or an interview for the great job opportunity may depend on how well you do on your hidden interviews.

During the course of sending emails, completing online forms, you are being interviewed. Does your writing give them confidence in your abilities? Does it support good business practices? Does it tell them you are the best person to work with? Do your writing skills match your expertise? Do your writing skills make a good impression?

If you don’t do well on the hidden interviews, most likely you will not have the opportunity to show off your expertise during an in person meeting or interview. Here are the top 5 tips to excel on your hidden interviews.

1. Keep It Short: The person you are communicating with is overloaded with messages and material to read. They have to navigate through a lot of poorly written material from long-winded senders. Making yours short, concise, and clear will make you stand out from the crowd. This is not the time to tell them everything you think they should know about you or your business. Get write to the point, and impress your reader with your ability to be clear and concise. You are more likely to move on to the next step of the process than a sender who has rambled, failed to make their main point clear, or confused the reader.

2. Familiar Words: Over the years business convinced us that we need to trot out the big words to impress people. That time has come and gone, readers respond better to familiar words. Unfamiliar words make our reader stumble as they think about what the word means, and distracts them from our main point. Acronyms and abbreviations have the same effect. If you must use them, define their first use, even if you are positive the reader knows what it means. Once we lose a reader’s attention, we rarely get it back. Keep it simple and your reader will keep reading.

3. GPS (Grammar, Punctuation, and Spelling): You won’t reach your destination without using your GPS. Slipshod attention to simple writing basics tells the reader that they, the job, or new business opportunity is not important to us and forces them to question our capabilities. Errors don’t sell. A few eighth-grade grammar blunders and our reader discounts everything we have written, and they quickly write us off.

4. Proofreading: Neglecting to proofread your email, an online form, or any other written material is a major error and you can instantly lose credibility. Would you want to work with a person who won’t take time to write well, who doesn’t think you are worth the time it takes to proofread? Readers will focus on errors, not the content. Careless writing errors may lead the reader to believe there are also errors in the facts. Remember spell check cannot correct word choice errors. It doesn’t know if you should use “your” or “you’re”, so make sure you know which word is the correct choice in each sentence. If what you are writing isn’t worth the time to proofread, maybe it isn’t worth sending.

5. Subject Line: A good subject line will make your email stand out from the crowd. Your recipient receives an endless stream of emails with subject lines like: resume, proposal, let’s meet, requested information, etc. Make your subject line specific and useful. Instead of “resume,” clearly identify it; Jane Dominguez Resume: CEO position. Clearly highlight the main purpose of your message. Instead of “business proposal”, use something like: ABC Co.’s Solution for Building Customer Loyalty. If you are writing to set up a meeting, or confirm one, make it clear in the subject line, adding dates and times if appropriate. Because everyone receives countless emails, it is imperative to create a subject line that makes it easy for the reader to find later. If a hiring manager is looking for the people who responded to a specific job opening, and yours is clearly identified, and easy to find, you are more likely to get the opportunity to move to the next step of the hiring process. Your potential client will appreciate being able to easily locate your message after receiving an avalanche of other emails. Make the write impression and increase the number positive responses you receive.

What makes the write impression on you? Please share your responses in the comment section.

Write Well – Write Results


Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | July 20, 2010

Do Readers Welcome Your Email Message?

Do Readers Welcome Your Email Message?

What reaction do recipients have when they see a message from you in their bulging inbox? Do they open it or let it slide to the bottom of the slush pile? Do you know what your readers want? Answer these five quick questions and find out if readers welcome your email messages.

1. Readers appreciate receiving the details of my topic.       T or F

2. Readers know my message is important and
read it carefully.                                                              T or F

3. It’s the content of the message that counts,
not the format.                                                              T or F

4. Expensive sounding words and industry jargon
highlight my expertise.                                                    T or F

5. I ensure readers fully understand
my perspective.                                                              T or F

1. False. Readers have an interest in what you say only insofar as it affects their working world, and have become accustomed to having information delivered in quick, easy to digest, bit-sized morsels. If the subject line and first two sentences of your message don’t capture the interest of your reader, they may not read the remainder of your email. A strong and clear beginning is the best way to encourage your reader to continue reading. Tell your reader what they need to know, not everything on the topic (unless they have asked for in-depth details), and not what you think they should know. When we write for the reader and from their perspective, they pay better attention and are more likely to respond favorably or complete requested action. Many readers view their email on small devices making the need clear and concise writing paramount for success.

2. False. Business readers don’t read, they scan. Your message is important to you, but it may not be a priority with your reader. It would be nice if our readers took the time to carefully read the email we thoughtfully composed, but they will do so only if they think it will benefit them. Most of our readers peek at the myriad of messages they receive each day, looking for the answer to their most important question, “what’s in it for me?” We have to answer that question in the first couple of sentences to keep them reading or they will move on to the next email.

3. False. The format of your email will either encourage or discourage your recipient to read it, and has a major impact on how they perceive the message. A well-formatted email tells your reader that they are important and that your message is worth their time to read. Well-formatted messages announce you as a professional, and readers are more likely to trust and act on your information. We have all opened an email that was one long, rambling paragraph, and either clicked delete or put off reading it as long as possible. Beginning with a proper greeting, using short paragraphs, breaking up longs blocks of information with bullet points, and paying attention to grammar and spelling make our messages more appealing to read, and add to our credentials.

4. False. When readers quickly skim our emails, long words, unfamiliar words, and technical jargon can disrupt their reading, and they often lose the purpose of our information. Once our reader shifts their attention away from our material they probably won’t come back. Their eyes may continue to glance over the material, but their attention is still focused on the word they stumbled on. It’s our job as professionals to share our expertise in a way that our reader can understand and use it.

5. False. It can be tempting to explain a topic from our own point of view, but our readers will digest the material better if we do it from their perspective. Consider your audience’s level of knowledge, expertise or understanding of the topic. When we are trying to convince them to accept our recommendation, respond to our request, or take action, we have to remember the #1 rule of persuasive writing; focus on the benefits to the reader, not the features.

These are only a few characteristics of well-written emails our readers welcome. What makes you react favorably to a business email? What makes you click delete as fast as possible?

Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | June 22, 2010

Three Things Your Reader Decides About You Before They Read Your Email

3 Things Your Reader Decides About You Before They Read Your Email


Stop. Before you send out yet another email, consider what your reader knows about you before they read your message. No, your email recipients don’t have a crystal ball, and they don’t need one. Business readers form an opinion of you and the content of your email before they read a word. Here are 3 things your reader decides about you before they read your message.

1. Are you a professional? Does your message follow the standard layout of a business block letter or does it look like a quick note you jotted to a friend? Style and format arrive first, and using the block letter format announces you as a professional. Often, you will not need to include an inside address, but the other business block letter components are valid for every email message. Be sure to start with a salutation. We wouldn’t attend a meeting with our client or associate and not greet them. If we didn’t at least say hello and just started talking about the first agenda topic, they would think we are rude. It is no different with emails, without a simple greeting we can be perceived as terse or demanding.

2. Do value and respect them? A well-formatted email also makes your reader feel valued and respected. Lack of style and format tells people feel they are not worth the time and effort of a better message. Concise emails with short paragraphs with a blank line between each one makes your message more inviting to read. When a reader sees long blocks of text, they may assume your material is not organized, and will require a lot of time to dig through. Most readers won’t put that much time and effort into reading a message, not even yours. Bullet points can be a great way to break up large amounts of information, and readers are attracted to them, knowing they can scan your main points quickly. Fancy fonts may seem innovative, but give an unprofessional look. Use standard fonts to generate the write impression.

3. Are you the best person to do business with? People won’t buy what doesn’t look good. Marketing professionals know the importance of good packaging, and spend large sums of money for the right look to entice buyers. Written information is important to the success of our businesses. It is often our only or best opportunity to sell our products, services, recommendations and ideas, and a well-crafted message is critical for success. When material for an existing or potential client is poorly presented, the client is unlikely to proceed with future endeavors and will find someone else to work with. The better formatted your emails are, the more you are perceived as knowledgeable and competent.

The ability to present you material well, in a clear and correct manner, is a key way to differentiate yourself from competitors and build strong business relationships. Let clients and associates know from the first glance of your next email message that you are a professional and the one they want to do business with.

Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | May 11, 2010

I Know What Technology Did to You

I Know What Technology Did to You


Technology made you a writer. It wasn’t long ago that we depended on the phone or in-person meetings to conduct our business. Now we accomplish about 74% of our business communication with emails and can add social media on top of that. Twenty or thirty years ago we did more talking than writing, but that has all changed. Like it or not, we are all writers now, and writing a lot.

Yes, we all write, but we are not all writers, and never aspired to be. Many of us are still haunted by memories of high school English, stumbling over required essays and compositions, learning to pad and fluff them to meet the minimum length requirements. We quickly forgot about the dreaded dangling participle, and wouldn’t recognize an antecedent if it was sitting next to us.

Our business image and success depend on our writing skills, but much of what we learned in school did not prepare us for the non-stop writing required by business today. We shoot out endless emails as quick as our fingers can type and hit send without a second thought. We’re accustomed to getting our information quickly, in easily digestible tidbits, and are loathe to trudge through an in-depth grammar book. We don’t want to spend our few minutes of free time studying a writing style guide. So what do we do? Here are a few tips to help you on the road to email writing success:

1. Write for your audience. Successful business professionals write from the reader’s perspective based on their existing knowledge of the topic, focusing on what they want to know. We are all selling something, it might be a product or service, but often it is our opinion, a recommendation, or a new idea. Overcome the temptation to tell them everything you think they should know and concentrate on information that will meet their need or level of interest. Your readers are constantly asking, “what’s in it for me?” When we write from our reader’s perspective, they pay better attention and we get the write results.

2. Keep it simple. Barraged with emails and other messages at an overwhelming rate, readers are attracted to the short ones. No matter how well we write, business readers don’t read, they scan our material looking for the main point or what they need from it. Familiar words keep our readers skimming our email, while unfamiliar terms make them pause, prompting them to move on to the next email. Keeping sentences concise and paragraphs short also keeps us from treading into the dark waters of complicated grammar. Keep it simple, and your reader will keep reading.

3. Put your main point at the top. Now that we know readers don’t read, it is critical to put our main point where they are most likely to see it. We have to make the first two sentences count; it is our best opportunity to get our reader’s attention. If we get their attention upfront, they are more likely to actually read what follows. Restate the main point at the bottom of your message, the one other place our readers are likely to notice it.

4. Don’t forget your GPS (grammar, punctuation, spelling). The use of proper grammar and punctuation demonstrates respect for our reader, and establishes our credibility. Remember that spell check cannot correct word choice errors. It does not know if “your” or “you’re” is the correct word for your sentence. If you have a question about grammar or punctuation, try one of the many, easy-to-use, online resources. One of my favorites is “The Purdue Online Writing Lab,” Their search engine makes it easy to find the answers to your questions.

5. Don’t ignore proofreading. We write and send countless messages and it is tempting to skip proofreading, but don’t. When our writing contains errors, the reader focuses on these and not the content. Careless errors may lead the reader to believe there are also errors in the facts. These blemishes immediately tarnish our image and dilute our credibility as a professional. If our business writing is not worth the time to proofread, our reader won’t think it is important enough to read or respond to requested action.

This is an expansive topic and these tips are only a start. How do you make sure your business writing makes the right impression for the write results? How can I help you succeed?

Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | April 27, 2010

Test Your Email Subject Line Savvy

Test Your Email Subject Line Savvy


1. No one pays attention to the subject line.                   T or F

2. It’s better to keep the same subject line for
continuing communications.                                           T or F

3. There is no need to change the subject line
of emails I forward to other people.                                T or F

4. “Urgent” or “priority” in the subject ensures that
my emails are read.                                                       T or F
5. Using text message style writing in the subject
line is an easy way to keep it short and concise.                                                                         T or F

My responses are below. Do you agree?
Please share your thoughts and comments.

1.  False. The subject line is the one item that a recipient is likely to read. It is important to make it useful and specific. A blank subject line tells your reader that your message isn’t important enough to warrant a title. Emails that get read and get results are the ones that tell the whole story in the subject line.

2. False. It is crucial to keep the subject line current as the email conversation evolves. Matching the subject line to the current purpose of the email discussion helps to keep the communication focused. A subject line that accurately reflects the current topic makes it easier to file and locate the message later.

3. False. Readers often do not make forwarded emails a priority. Use the subject line to tell your reader why you are forwarding the it to them. If your subject line does not explain why you are forwarding the message, they may not open it to find out.

4. False. Remember the little boy who cried wolf. Routinely using “urgent” or “priority” will cause your readers to ignore your alert notice, even when true. A well-crafted subject line clearly announcing the topic is the best way to encourage recipients to read your message.

5. False. Text message style writing tells your reader that you are not a professional. It  diminishes your image as an expert and undermines your credibility.

Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | March 9, 2010

Resuscitate Lifeless Business Email Requests with CPR

 Resuscitate Lifeless Business Email Requests with CPR


It is frustrating to send a business email with a clear request and get no response. Why aren’t people responding to your request, your invitation, your proposal or recommendation?

Let’s improve the odds of getting the responses we want. Business readers scan emails quickly to find out what’s in it for them, what they need to know, and instantly decide if something is important for them. Remember, it’s all about them. First, we have to get their attention with a good subject line. The best email subject lines tell the whole story. If your subject line is specific and useful telling your reader why you sent the message, they will be more likely to open it. The body of the message should be the details of the topic you announced in the subject line, not a new topic. Your reader’s attention fades with each sentence, and it is important to pack important information in the subject line and the first two sentences of the message.

There are more ways to help ensure your message gets read, and gets the right results. Try applying business email CPR to your next request or invitation.

CPR Procedures:

  • Clear Writing: Brevity is the key to the right results.  Keep the message short.
    • Don’t write 20 sentences when it can be said in 2 sentences.
    • The average sentence length should be 15-20 words.
    • Short paragraphs or bullet points will make it easy for the reader to scan your message.
    • Use familiar words to make your message clear and easily understood.
  • Courtesy: Please and thank you are always appropriate.
    • The absence of courtesy is a poor reflection of you.
    • Concise, well-written emails show respect the reader’s time.
    • Don’t forget to start with a personal salutation. Messages without a proper greeting are often perceived as terse and demanding.
    • A well-formatted message tells the reader they are important.
  • Provide Needed Details: Make it easy for your reader to say yes.
    • Requesting information: Vague requests don’t get results. Tell the reader specifically what you need. Explain why the information is important and how you will use it.  Remember your reader gets numerous requests each day; make sure yours is the one they give their attention to.
    • Invitation: When inviting your reader to your company’s event, to sign-up for your webinar, to arrange an in-person meeting, or schedule a conference call, providing all the necessary information upfront will increase the chances of them saying yes. Readers will not hunt for the information, and if it’s not clearly provided, they will quickly move on to the next thing. Focus on the reader and what’s in it for them. (Don’t forget to test hyperlinks before sending your email.)
  • Reasons for Reader to Act or Respond
    • Requesting Information:  ‘Because’ is a powerful word. People are more likely to comply with your request if they know why you need it.  As a financial executive for many years, requests for financial information sliced and diced in every which way filled my inbox. Knowing how they would use the information, and why it was important, made it much easier to fulfill their requests in a timely manner.
    • Invitation: Use your best persuasive writing strategies. Focus on the benefits for the reader, what it will do for them, and not the features of your program, recommendation or event. We all want to know, what’s in it for me? Is there a special incentive for them to respond quickly, like a reduced rate or a bonus? If there is, make sure you tell your reader upfront.

Still Not Getting a Response? You’ve sent a well-written email with all the right information, so why haven’t you gotten a response? 

  • Your topic is not a priority for the recipient
  • Your email landed in their spam folder
  • Their inbox is so cluttered, they haven’t even seen your message

It’s time to pick up the phone:

  • You need a critical piece of information to complete a report or other project from a co-worker or associate
  • It’s important to you
  • The request is time sensitive

You’ve sent a clear concise email. You couldn’t reach them by phone and left them a voicemail message, but they never returned the call.  Now what?  If your request is for information from someone within your own company, you will have to try another avenue for getting it. Putting together the financial reports for publicly-held companies required a lot of information from different departments. There always seemed to be one person who didn’t respond in a timely manner, or at all.  If they weren’t in the same building where I could get their attention by standing in their office door, I had to find another person in their department to help me, or sometimes talk to the person above them in the chain of command. 

If you are trying to set up a meeting with someone or include them in your event, there is one more thing you can try. We have forgotten the power of a hand-written note. We are inundated with emails and voicemails, but when a simple hand-written note appears, we respond. A hand-written note tells the recipient that they are important. They feel valued that you would take the time to send them a note. Try it and see, they are pretty hard to resist.

What do you do when you don’t get a response?

Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | January 14, 2010

Don’t Let Your Reader Stumble

Don’t Let Your Reader Stumble

Stumbling is the leading cause of lost readers. Once we lose a reader, we may not get a second chance to reach them.

Business readers struggle to sift through their barrage of daily emails and other material filling their electronic and snail-mail inboxes. They quickly skim their way through the never-ending torrent and stumble easily. What happens when a reader falters over something in our email message or other business writing? Some recover, but many do not and our information or request is lost. Readers will not put in a lot of time and effort to digest our material. Once they stagger, they will likely move on to the next thing and miss the main point, the request, or call to action.

5 Tips to Prevent Your Reader From Stumbling:

  1. Use Familiar Words: Most readers will not look up the meaning of unknown words and they disrupt the reading of your message. Use everyday words for the greatest impact, and prevent your message from being misinterpreted. Readers are already skimming our material, and when they hesitate over an unfamiliar word they will likely miss our main point. For example, replace: nonfunctional, cadre, tantamount, utilize, with: broken, group, this means, use.

  3. Lack of Format: Remember your reader sees the style and format of your material before they ever read a word. Well-formatted material encourages the recipient to read it, while a lack of format may only make them click the delete button or shove your material on the bottom of their slush file. An email message needs a useful subject line, proper greeting (be sure to spell names correctly) and your main point in the subject line then expanded and repeated in the first two sentences.  Emails that are short and concise are the ones that get read.  If you are writing a report, proposal, or other material, make sure it is easy to read.  Use headings, subheadings, bullet points and outlines to make longer material easy to scan and digest. Readers assume that well-presented (good format) material is accurate, and that is a good first step to establishing a good relationship with your reader.

  5. Business Speak: Business material pumped up with bureaucratic words, like therein, heretofore, below-listed, pursuant, and hereby to, only serve to direct the reader’s attention away from your message. Business-speak not only causes readers to readers to stumble, but completely give up reading your material. Business speak is often used to spin a negative situation, and readers are suspicious whenever they encounter it. Clear writing is more impressive than a string of $20 words. When unclear writing reaches clients and customers they lose confidence in us.

  7. Hiding the Main Point:  75% of your readers will miss your point if the bottom line is not at the top of the message or article. If your main point is hidden in a long paragraph or tacked on to the end of your message, it will be lost. If readers falter as they skim your message for why you sent it, they won’t keep trying. Readers will not hunt for the reason you sent the message, or wrote that report. When they don’t see the purpose immediately, they assume it is not important and move on. 

  9. Define Acronyms and Abbreviations: Spell out all acronyms and abbreviations, even if you are sure the reader knows their meaning. I can’t tell you how many times I have received a message with an acronym or abbreviation that I probably should know, but I’d been working on something else, and just can’t come up with the meaning of it.  Now, I am frustrated because I can’t remember the meaning of an abbreviation, and don’t pay attention to the rest of the message. Jargon and buzzwords in your business emails may prevent readers from understanding your message, and you won’t get the right response. 

Clients and associates see you as a professional, an expert in your field when you deliver your intent with power, clarity and precision and welcome opportunities to work with you.

What makes you stumble when reading an email?

Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | December 10, 2009

Every Email is Advertisement

Every Email is Advertisement


Every time we send an email or an employee sends one, it is an advertisement about our company, our products or services, and us. Intentional or unintentional, every business email is PR, a distinguishing commercial. It is vital for us to portray the right image. Do our emails make us stand out against the competition? Do they inspire confidence in our expertise? Do they entice people to buy our products and services? Do they encourage customer loyalty?

Advertisement is defined as a form of communication used to influence individuals to purchase products, services, or ideas. Advertising and marketing professionals know the importance of style and format. A sloppy, poorly written ad does not entice us to buy their products and services. Advertisers also know the impact of words and choose carefully.

Sending countless email messages is a part of our daily routine, and  it is easy to treat them as a mindless task, forgetting the impression each one makes. Bottom line, bad business writing is bad for business. Every email is an opportunity to impress or discourage our customers. A poorly written email tells customers that they are not important enough to warrant our time and effort to write well. The ability to write well, in a structured, clear and correct manner continues to be a key method for organizations to differentiate their brand from that of their competitors. Attention to simple email basics contributes to an enterprise’s success and profitability. The opposite is true too.

Every business email we send is a commercial and they are FREE! The best argument for good business writing is simple logic: People won’t buy what doesn’t look good and what they don’t understand. Let’s make the write impression and get the right results.

Subject line. Advertisers know they must immediately get the buyer’s attention. The subject line of a business email is the one item our recipient is likely to read, and it is important to make it specific and useful to get our reader’s attention. An effective business email can be stated in a one-line synopsis, while a blank subject line tells the reader your message isn’t important enough for a title. Emails that are read and get results are the ones that tell the whole story in the subject line.

Grammar. I know this is not everyone’s favorite topic, but grammatical errors don’t sell. A few eight-grade English blunders and the reader discounts the entire message. If you can’t bother to use basic grammar and punctuation in business emails, your clients and customers wonder what else you can’t be bothered with, and will take their business elsewhere.

Format. If it looks good, it must be right. Readers assume that well-presented (good format) material is accurate. The better formatted your material is, the more you are perceived as knowledgeable and competent. A well-formatted email announces that we are someone that they want to do business with.

Courtesy and Tone. In our haste, it’s easy to let our tone slip from professional to terse. Avoid the sentence fragments that we use in daily conversations, they appear abrupt and harsh in business writing. Courtesy is the right tone in all situations. “Please” and “thank you” never go out of style, and speak loudly when absent. Address the sender by name, and make sure you spell their name correctly. Use plain English and positive words for the best results. Include thoughtful compliments on recipient’s product, services, or website for great results.  

Persuasive. The whole point of advertising is to influence people to buy products, services, ideas. The most persuasive messages focus on the benefits to the reader. Watch those roving I’s. Excessive use of “I” in your message takes the focus off the reader.  Present quantifiable evidence and support of what you are selling, even when selling your opinion or idea. Make good use of statistics and published results. Give your readers several good reasons why they should engage your services or buy your product

Less is More. Short emails get the right results. 75% of your readers will miss your point if the bottom line is not at the top of the message or article. While written information becomes more important to the success of businesses, people are less willing to read. Business readers are drawn to emails that are fastest to answer. Readers scan emails quickly while asking, “what’s in it for me,” and are quick to delete long and unclear business messages.

Proofread. If your business email is not worth the time to proofread, maybe it isn’t worth sending. When written business emails contain errors, the audience focuses on the errors and not the content. Unlike talking in person, we do not have the opportunity to correct or clarify our statements, so unclear or incorrect writing makes the reader doubt our expertise and we may lose a new or valued customer.

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