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Proofing Your Proof

Despite being a self-confessed grammar-phile, there is nothing that I find more tedious than editing. Needless to say, it is a necessary evil. So, here is a collection of tips and tricks that I have picked up during my time in the field and also some tips that I have picked up from others along the way. I hope they help you as much as they have me.

1. Question everything
Is that really how you spell Schwarzenegger, or does it need another ‘z’? Was it 1992 or 1993 that Terminator 2 won the Oscar for Visual Effects? Go back to the beginning and question all the facts, names, and statistics; it’s the only way to be sure.

2. Be consistent
Grammar can be highly subjective at times. My favourite example of this is the Oxford/serial comma. No matter your preference, always be consistent.

3. Less is more – within limits
If you’re like me, then chances are that high school got you into the habit of word-stuffing (using many words when one will suffice) to get your word count up. Be economical with your word choices, but also be sensible; if a reader has to use a dictionary, then you may want to think about a redraft.

4. Take a break
When it comes time to proofing your own work, it’s crucial that you separate yourself from your writing. Take a day or two before proofing, this will give you the emotional and mental space required to make the necessary cuts.

5. Prioritise your edits
Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation (SG&P) should be the last section of editing that you do. Look at the big picture first, by looking at the structure and content. This will make editing SG&P easier, but it will also make the entire editing and proofing process more efficient.

6. Don’t rely on spell-check
Running your work through a spell-check is always a good idea, but don’t count on it; too many times have I had errors slip through (my favourite being: art instead of are – grammatically, it is technically correct despite being in the wrong voice for the piece).

7. Keep a dictionary nearby
If something does not look right or you’re not sure, look it up.

For the Love of Marketing

If you’re like me and work as a Marketing advisor, you will know that half the job is educating the client.

Here is a list of the top 5 marketing misconceptions that I have come across during my career:

Marketing is about making people want things

While this could be considered true in some light, I personally don’t believe this. For me, marketing at its core is about 2 things: brand awareness and nurturing potential customers.

The key for many of the successful campaigns that I have run (trust me there have been just as many bad ones) is nurturing the customer, not necessarily with the intent of selling them something, but by giving them just the right amount of content when and where they want it.

A crude example of this in action would be a vendor of hats providing information about sun safety to one segment of its target audience while also supplying fashion information or information about hat-making workshops to another segment (I told you it was a crude example). Try developing campaigns while keeping the bigger picture in mind; it’s not always about instant gratification.

You have to be willing to spend money

I am a self-confessed spend-thrift. If I can find a way to achieve something without having to spend money then I will find it. That being said – and this is the exception – there are times when spending the money and investing in something is the more sensible option. Websites are the big one here. Not sure what I mean? Check out Web Pages That Suck and you’ll see where the dollar really could have come in handy here.

Digital Marketing is all Social Media

With Google ever improving their search algorithms, yes, Social Media should play an integral part of your online strategy. However, Social Media is only one strand in the Digital Marketing web. Further to this, your digital strategy should help support your offline activities and vice-versa.

Success is in the Likes

What is the point of 500 likes while you have only had 2 conversions. While this may seem to go directly against my first point “Marketing is about making people want things”, keep in mind that you are marketing a business that has the intent of making money. To quote a famous tagline “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen”.

You Can’t Measure It

This may have been true in the good ol’ days, but with all the digital resources that we have available today, this is now a thing of the past. You just need to take the time to set up proper tracking and landing pages when developing campaigns.

Marketers Make Words with their Hands

I have a friend who is an English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher who describes her job as “Helping people make English with their mouths”.

Not only did this job description make me laugh, but it also got me thinking about language. For some, learning languages comes naturally, for others it’s a little bit harder. Writing is much the same.

In jobs like ours, writing is an essential part of our day. And if like me, writing doesn’t come naturally to you, you may be interested in these little gems that I have found in my time on the webs:

Here is my list of websites to help improve your writing:

  1. Twords
    Twords is an app that “nudges you to write”. It has a great function of sending notifications while also tracking your progress.  It also has a library of great writing resources.
  2. Daily Page
    Similar to Twords, Daily Page is great for its structure. It gives you daily writing exercises and allows you to share your writing publically. Like Twords, it also has a great library full of writing resources.
  3. Blog Topic Generator
    The hardest part for me when it comes to writing is topic. This nifty site from Hubspot has saved my bacon on numerous occasions and probably will continue to do in the future
  4. Cliché Finder
    It is what it sounds like. Paste your prose into the text box and Cliché finder will find your clichés
  5. Grammarly
    Works in a similar way to Cliché Finder but highlights grammatical errors. It boasts the ability to provide context-optimised vocabulary options, able to detect plagiarism against 8 billion web pages, and can process up to 10 x more mistakes than a standard word processor. All in all, it is spiffy.
  6. Correctica
    Every marketing perfectionist’s dream. Give Correctica a website and it will comb through all of the site’s indexed pages searching for spelling errors.
  7. Dictionary
    If you’re not sure, look it up!

These are just a few of my favourite and most used online resources. For more check out Hubspot’s The 31 Best Tools for Improving Your Writing Skills.

Happy writing!