Readers are the Best Writers!

November 30, 2010

If you're thinking about graduate school...

Now is the time to get a jump on the competition. When you think about your graduate school "Statement of Purpose" (Why, oh why, does this silly statement require passive voice?), think about what you have to offer that other students don't.

I always love to read and edit the latest finance, marketing or economics study the most, but as an accomplished editor, I am often chosen by business school and other graduate school candidates to help edit entrance essays. To be sure, in today's fast-paced, competitive world, your entrance essays must be polished, concise, and demonstrative of your higher-level thinking capabilities, but that's not enough to get you a letter of admittance.

If you want to get in to your chosen business school, you must also show why (notice I didn't say "tell" here, but that's the subject of another blog post...) you are uniquely qualified to attend your chosen school. And the answer isn't, "...because it's where I want to go." If that's the only reason you should get in to your chosen graduate program, then get in line and apply to night school at a local community college.

If you want to get in to a top-tier graduate program, take some time to think about why you're a unique candidate. Is it your personal qualities? Your professional experiences? If this were a job interview, what elements of your background or personality would you want to highlight for the interviewer? And why? To get in to graduate school, you'll need to stand out in a way that is beneficial to the admissions committee in the same way that you'd hope to stand out to a prospective employer. Think about how you might do that...

And then, think about how others have already done that. Google search "best business school essays" and read some of them. Notice any patterns? Great. Now try to make sure your essay doesn't fit into any of those predictable patterns and you're at least one step closer to a unique essay that will set you apart from other candidates.

October 29, 2010

Face it, your business can't afford the next 'Where's the Beef' campaign anyway...

When I first started marketing, I couldn't help but try to think of the next big idea. If I thought long and hard enough, I knew I could come up with that homerun campaign that would make us a household name overnight.

But since then, I've learned to redefine what great marketing means.

Of course, we all want the next Old Spice campaign. Who doesn't want to come up with the next hot guy on a horse to sends millions of housewives rushing out to buy your product or service? But as a marketing director for small companies, let's be real here. All the best campaigns throughout history have one thing in common: they were expensive. At least, they had budgets that looked a lot less like my salary and a lot more like what you might think a motion picture's budget would be! Anyway, chances are, my company couldn't support the kind of ramp up necessary even if I succeeded! My company is just too small for such quantum leaps.

Then how can I set my company apart using the same old strategies that I've always used? Doesn't that doom me to insanity? Here's the secret: Stop looking for the big winner. As arguably the world's most successful investor Warren Buffett said, don't focus on higher and higher hurdles to jump. Instead, look high and wide for small hurdles to step over.

For SMEs (small- to medium-sized enterprises), success lies in incremental growth. That means you need to strive to make your proven strategies better by constantly raising the bar. At my firm, I set real, measurable goals for each element of every campaign--improve open rates, fewer unsubscribers, capture more leads, improve conversions... And then I research how to improve that element of the campaign. And then I test it. And tweak it. And test it again until I see a (statistically significant) improvement. And then I move on to the next element.

This process of constant refinement may not lead to giant leaps in revenue growth or the kind of substantial profitability turnarounds like those that have the world singing your company's name while holding hands for the holidays, but for SMEs, it can offer not only a firm foundation in your proven strategies, but also constant, incremental successes that will eventually empower you to take the capitalize on the "next big thing" should you think of it. In other words, creating a solid growth platform ensures that you launch your next big campaign from a solid platform. It also means you won't have very far to fall if you miss the mark.

So before busting out that last bit of cash on hand for what you hope to be your big break, take a good hard look at what you're doing that's already working well for you--if nothing, then look at your competitors, surely he/she is doing something right--and then start doing that. Then focus on making it better and better.

Need help improving your marketing strategy? Email me today for a FREE quote.

October 11, 2010

Sweet Feeback!

I always enjoy receiving positive feedback from my clients; it reminds me why I love editing so much! But this rating I received today particularly made me smile, so I thought I'd share...

Query Letter, 5 out of 5 stars
magnificent job! Editor helped make improvements from start to finish of the document. thanks! cute photo too ha ha

October 7, 2010

Having trouble getting around?

While I aim to keep all the important content on the main page, do you find my new home on the Web difficult to navigate? Let me know how you like/dislike my new blog! I'd love to hear from you!

September 30, 2010

You know what I'm writing and editing, but what am I reading?

If you've known me for any length of time, you know I love Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas and Others Die. Yes, marketing and finance are my first loves, but psychology is a close second. The Heath brothers perfectly marry marketing and psychology by breaking down complex psychology and marketing concepts to produce simple, real-world action items for business leaders. I am such a fan, I received my very own, unedited version of their new book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. If you haven't read these and you work in marketing: shame on you. Go read them and then come back and tell me what you think.

If you have, you'll be glad to hear about my latest finds: Brains on Fire and UNMarketing, two books I hope will inspire me to turn my product (editing for marketing and finance) into a movement. Read them already? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Not going to bother to read them? I'll be back with my take (I hope they haven't made any typos, it's bad enough to use an entirely made up word as your book title...

September 24, 2010

Experimenting with Amazon Affiliation!

This should be fun! I've just signed up for Google Adsense & a relationship with Amazon. Soon you'll be able to find great reads on your favorite editing, marketing and finance topics and links to other complementary sites. Let me know what you think! :)

September 22, 2010

Some Things I Wish for My Sons

This is my first blog post not written entirely by me, but I had to share. This is a wonderful poem once read by the great Paul Harvey that always reminds me not to work so darned hard at working, but to spend more time working at being a great Mom. Enjoy!

These Things I Wish For You
| Lee Pitts
We've tried so hard to make things better for our kids that we've made them worse.
For my grandchildren, I'd like better. I'd really like for them to know about hand me down clothes and homemade ice cream and leftover meat loaf sandwiches. I really would.

I hope you learn humility by being humiliated, and that you learn honesty by being cheated. I hope you learn to make your own bed and mow the lawn and wash the car. And I really hope nobody gives you a brand new car when you are sixteen. It will be good if at least one time you can see puppies born and your old dog put to sleep.

I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you believe in. I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother. And it's all right if you have to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when he wants to crawl under the covers with you because he's scared, I hope you let him. When you want to see a movie and your little brother wants to tag along, I hope you'll let him.

I hope you have to walk uphill to school with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely. On rainy days, when you have to catch a ride, I hope you don't ask your driver to drop you two blocks away so you won't be seen riding with someone as uncool as your Mom.

If you want a slingshot, I hope your Dad teaches you how to make one instead of buying one. I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books. When you learn to use computers, I hope you also learn to add and subtract in your head.

I hope you get teased by your friends when you have your first crush on a girl, and when you talk back to your mother that you learn what ivory soap tastes like.

May you skin your knee climbing a mountain, burn your hand on a stove and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole. I don't care if you try a beer once, but I hope you don't like it. And if a friend offers you dope or a joint, I hope you realize he is not your friend.

I sure hope you make time to sit on a porch with your Grandpa and go fishing with your Uncle. May you feel sorrow at a funeral and joy during the holidays. I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through your neighbor's window and that she hugs you and kisses you at Christmas time when you give her a plaster mold of your hand.

These things I wish for you - tough times and disappointment, hard work and happiness. To me, it's the only way to appreciate life.

Written with a pen. Sealed with a kiss. I'm here for you. And if I die before you do, I'll go to heaven and wait for you.

This essay is attributed to Paul Harvey, as it has circled the Internet for some time now. But, Paul Harvey did not write it. The true author, Lee Pitts, published the nostalgic essay in 2000 in the book "Chicken Soup for the Golden Soul." Paul Harvey does use material written by Lee Pitts from time to time, and he did read this particular essay (crediting Pitts, of course) during his September 6, 1997 broadcast.

September 1, 2010

What else have I written?

Here are some oldies but goodies if you're interested in my first love: writing for financial audiences.

OTC Growth Stock Watch


ValueRich Magazine

Enjoy!

April 26, 2010

Read what I've written

http://callmets.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/5-un-common-grammar-mistakes-you-might-not-know-youre-making/

Laughably, this was re-posted with a grammar error that I cannot correct. (Thanks Julie for the catch!) See if you can find it! :)

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With 15+ years writing, researching and editing in marketing and financial communications, my expertise is in business, finance, marketing, economics and investor relations; having edited and written literally thousands of press releases, annual reports, business plans, Web text, direct mail copy and collateral marketing materials.

Chances are, you've already read my writing. My press releases are regularly picked up by the media, my Web text is driving traffic to Web sites as you read this and my marketing materials have been used by companies that are now household names (and some that will be)! Rest assured, I'll give your documents the same careful attention I do my own.

Whether you're looking to present your product or services to your target market in the best possible light; make complicated ideas easily accessible to the common reader; or polish your work for publication; let me help you re-write your masterpiece.

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