The Dos and Don’ts of Copywriting

Writing good copy isn’t as simple as just putting pen to paper, otherwise everyone would be a fantastic copywriter.

Good copywriting can be hard to come by and takes an exceptional amount of skill and knowledge to learn.

At Fingertips we have a brilliant team of copywriters who produce great work, I asked them to tell me their list of what to do and what not to do when it comes to copywriting and this is what they came up with.

The Dos:

  1. Know Your Audience – You must know your audience so that you can talk directly to them, in their language and their voice. Never make assumptions that you know the audience ensure you do your research.
  2. Have a Clear Call to Action – While you are writing it is important to remember why you are doing it. Call to action is extremely important, what do you want your audience to do.If your call to action is not clear and noticeable, no one is going to do anything.
  3. Write for scanners – Writing for people online is different for writing for someone who is reading a book. Copy online is read vertically, not horizontally. Selecting the correct fonts, using headers, bold, italics, will create a trail for the eye to follow.
  4. Keep an eye on what your clients competitors are doing – If you have a new client,then before you even start writing, check out what their competitors are doing. After all you want to make sure that any ideas you come up with are unique.
  5. Remember proposition is everything – Differentiate your clients business, by making sure you create a distinctive brand and voice.

The don’ts

  1. Don’t forget to make a plan – Regardless of what you are writing it is important to make a plan. This will allow you to harness your ideas, highlight benefits and ensure that your copy is not jumping around all over the place.
  2. Don’t write for everyone – Not everyone is going to get you, it is a myth that having lots of likes on your Facebook page means you are successful. The best and most successful businesses write for a small subset of your entire audience, making it much more personal.
  3. Don’t create long sentences – This can be hard especially if you have something complicated to say. But long sentences will put off your readers. Ideally you should aim for no more than 10-15 words in a line.
  4. Don’t forget to spell check – A simple rule, I know, but you will be amazed as to how many people forget it. Spelling and grammatical errors make your work look lazy and unprofessional. So spend the few minutes it takes to run the spell checker!
  5. Don’t forget to proofread – Not only should you cast your eye over your text before submitting it, it is well worth getting someone else to have a look too, because sometimes you can be too close to the subject.

So all you need to do now is follow this list of dos and don’ts and you should notice that your copy improves and is more effective. Effective Copywriting is a skill that can be learned, but if you do not have time or do not want to write your copy, we can help you.
Fingertips Typing Services have a team of talented copywriters on hand to help create fantastic pieces of work, from adverts to brochures and websites. Contact us: info@fingertipstyping.co.uk

 

Five Foolproof Interview Techniques

Conducting an interview can be tough, you want to elicit as much information from a person as possible, whilst remaining as friendly and personable as possible. The more someone is at ease with you the more they are likely to open up and talk to you.

But, not everyone has this skill, which is why we have put together our five foolproof interview techniques which will help you get the most from your interviewee.

1. Location, location, location – It seems undos simple but you will be surprised how many interviews I have seen conducted in coffee shops! Find somewhere quiet where you can both talk openly without losing focus (and can actually hear something!).

The person you are interviewing needs to feel comfortable and probably doesn’t want every Tom, Dick or indeed Harry knowing their personal details.

If you haven’t got an office, then rent a space or room at a local hotel or business centre.

2. Know your ABCs of the person you are interviewing – I am sure you have all watched or heard a TV or Radio interview where the person interviewing has been misinformed by their researchers and asks a celebrity a question about something totally unrelated to them.

Know your stuff, don’t rely on someone else to give you the information go out there and look into it yourself. It shows respect to the person you are interviewing and allows you to ask specific questions about themselves.

3. Choose your questions wisely – Timing is everything after all depending on how long you have with the person you really only have minutes to gather all the information you needs.

So choose open question, ones that will give you more details and allow the person to elaborate more.

4. Take Notes – This is extremely important, after all you want to remember everything, but taking notes, listening and asking questions can be tricky. If you can have someone sit in on the interview and take notes, or even better use a recording device to ensure you don’t miss a thing.

5. Explain yourself – It is important that you explain yourself and the interview process, so that the person you are meeting with knows what to expect. This sets up the parameters of the interview and keeps you both focused.

These five foolproof interview techniques are just the tip of the iceberg, but if you follow them you will get the information you require and have a positive experience.

 

 

 

Do you need insurance to work from home?

This question crops up a lot, after all, home working is growing in popularity because it is flexible, allowing employees to work hours that suit their family and lifestyle.

Advancements in technology, such as broadband, home PCs and wi-fi, means that people can work just about anywhere.

But, you shouldn’t think that just because you operate your business from home that your home owners insurance will cover a mishap. You must run through your policies with a fine tooth comb.

If you are operating a business, even as a sole trader then you must have liability insurance, which covers its legal liability for personal injury to employees while acting in the course of their employment.

If you are an employee then you need to check that the company you work for has employee liability insurance and that the cover extends to where the employee is working home. Public Liability Insurance is also recommended, which covers the legal liability of the employer and its employees for injury and/or property damage to third parties, covers situations where the employee is working at or from home.

So what risks could you face?

As soon as a client enters your house then you could be liable if anything untoward happens to them. They might not even cross the threshold. If they trip and injure themselves on that cracked front step you’ve been meaning to get fixed for ages then they might have a claim against you.

The bottom line is, the only way to protect you, your business and clients is to ensure that you are properly insured. If you aren’t then you could risk your reputation and your livelihood.

 

 

Six Essential Copywriting Tips

Good copy doesn’t just happen, it takes time, effort and skill to write a great piece of text.

I have so much advice to share with you, but for this post I thought I would keep it short and snappy, giving you the bare essentials to get you started.

Here are my six top tips:

  1. Use plenty of paragraph breaks – No one wants to sift through a large block of text, so embrace white space.
  2. Select the right font – Choosing the right font is important, selecting the wrong one can turn off any potential readers immediately. For example; I cannot bear reading anything in comic sans, I think it looks amateur and unprofessional.
  3. Use everyday language – This will ensure that you engage with as wide an audience as possible. Don’t try to be clever and if you can’t think of an appropriate word, keep thinking or come back to it, never use a thesaurus!
  4. Be emotional – By adding emotion you will make your writing more personal, giving your audience an insight into you.
  5. Become ‘The Master’ in punctuation! – Good copy has good rhythm, make your words flow with the expert use of punctuation, but beware of over using commas and explanation marks.
  6. Use Headings and Sub-headings – These will focus your readers attention and break up the copy (remember point one). It will also point out sections of interest, as we all tend to skim read. In addition headings and subheadings will really help with your websites SEO, so make the most of them.

Keep these tips in mind when you write, great copywriting is within your reach. Following these tips will improve your copy and ultimately make it easier for your readers to understand and respond to your campaigns.

 

A Brief History of Subtitles

Most TV programs and films, now have the option for Subtitles, in fact it is now very rare not to have the option. But how have they become mainstream?

This blog post explores exactly what Subtitles are and how they came about.

What are Subtitles?

Subtitles are the overlay of text explaining the narrative of film or to that is being shown on the screen.

When were they first used?

According to Wikipedia they were first seen in 1903 as epic, descriptive titles in Edwin S. Porter’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. (The technique may have been invented by cartoonist and filmmaker J. Stuart Blackton.)

These were in fact Intertitles, which was descriptive text put in between scenes of silent films, to explain to the audience what is happening.

In 1927 the first sound film was produced, the audience could hear the actors, so the intertitles inserted between scenes disappeared. However many film producers found that making several language versions, or have the film post-synchronized (dubbed) in another language expensive, so still wanted to be able to overlay text onto the film. This became what we now call subtitles, since this technique is comparatively cheap.

On August 14, 1938, the BBC broadcast Arthur Robison’s Der Student von Prag in a subtitled version.

How were they created?

In 1930 a Norwegian inventor called Leif Eriksen, took out a patent for a method of stamping titles directly on to the images on the film strip, first moistening the emulsion layer to soften it.

Later, in 1935, a Hungarian inventor, O. Turchányi, registered a patent for a method whereby the plates were heated to a sufficiently high temperature to melt away the emulsion on the film without the need for a softening bath.

Both of these techniques produced erratic results, sometimes you were unable to see the letters.

In 1932 two separate inventors R. Hruska, in Budapest, and Oscar I. Ertnæs in Oslo took out patents on chemical processes.

It wasn’t until 1988 that a laser process was developed by Denis Auboyer in Paris and by Titra-Film in Paris and Brussels.

In the 1970s two systems were developed using a word processor. The first was based on teletext, the second used a computer-controlled character generator.

Why do we use Subtitles?

Subtitles are primarily used with the deaf and hard of hearing in mind, although many hearing film and television viewers choose to use them.

As well as allowing foreign films or TV programs to be shown in the native language.

 

What is the best way to deal with the media?

Dealing with the media can be a very daunting task. Say the right thing and your PR campaign will be hailed a massive success; say the wrong thing, like Gerald Ratner[1] and you can watch your stocks and shares plummet, your customers run to the hills and have a major PR and business disaster on your hands.

But exactly what can you do to ensure that you get the best press coverage and make you and your brand look outstanding.

Here is our list of dos and don’ts will assist when dealing with the media

Do:

  1. Have a well-organised media/press plan – To do this create an outline for whatever coverage you are planning, whether it’s a press conference, a product launch, or a corporate event.
  2. Aim, Shoot, Fire – It is important to know what your aim is. Are you looking for a feature story on a programme, an opinion or thought leadership piece or even a guest slot on a show.
  3. Have a designated media person within your organisation – This person is your go to girl or boy. They will be responsible for all media communications, they will work out who you need to connect with in the various media outlets and will make it easier for the media and press to connect with your organisation if there is just one point of call.
  4. Clear and concise messaging – It may sound clichéd, but it is important that every area of your business is singing from the same hymn sheet. The perfect way to communicate this to your wider organisation is to create an internal memo for employees to read. Make it as simple, clear and easy to understand as possible.
  5. Remain united – If you are having to deal with something unpleasant then it is always best to ensure that there is united front. Contrasting opinions can confuse and damage a company brand even more as your customers, potential customers and employees will not know who to believe.

Don’t

  1. Talk, unless you are comfortable – If you don’t know how to respond to a media question and you are not the main media contact then it is always better to politely decline their question and point them in the direction of your organisations media contact.
  2. Be surprised by misquotes – There are no guarantees in dealing with the media that what you say will be misinterpreted, so you may not get the results you were looking for.

Summary:

In order to move your business forward you will from time to time need to embrace the media and it can be a love/hate relationship sometimes, but ultimately you need to ensure a good working relationship with them in order to improve your brand exposure and trustworthiness.

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Ratner

Top Five Questions to Ask a Transcription Service

If you are new to the transcription industry and have never used a transcription service before, but find that you have the need to, here are our top questions you should ask before choosing a transcription provider

  1. Who will be transcribing of your work? – Some transcription companies use software, others use multiple transcriptionists with different skill sets. If you are looking for someone who is knowledgeable in your field then ask for it, after all who is better positioned to transcribe your work than someone who knows it. Be wary of transcription services that use transcription software as it can lead to inconsistencies and poor quality.
  2. How much do they charge? Are there any hidden fees? – As with most things, it is important to read the small print. If it appears to be cheap or too good to be true, then it probably is. Think, does the rate they quote include everything you need, or will there be additional charges? Some service providers charge extra for; timestamps, fast delivery, extra time to transcribe because of poor audio. Make sure you know exactly how you’ll be charged and for what.
  3. Confidentiality and Privacy – What’s their privacy policy when dealing with your documents? Are they willing to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).This is especially important if your audio contains personal/sensitive or confidential information. Legally you need to ensure that the appropriate measures are in place to ensure it stays safe, secure, private and confidential. Work with a service provider that is registered under the Data Protection Act.
  4. How soon is now? – What is their turnaround time? If your transcription requirement is urgent it is likely to cost more than the advertised rate.
  5. Accuracy – This is an extremely important factor, as you want your work to be highly accurate and proofed. What is their accuracy rate? Is proof reading included as standard? If you are looking for a specific type of transcription such as medical or legal, then is the transcriptionist experienced in this area, as if not this can greatly affect the accuracy of your transcription.

As with any service, it is recommended that you get a few quotes from different service providers, where possible ask for a testimonial or case study from someone who has used their service and is in the same industry as you. This will give you a good understanding of their strengths and indeed weaknesses.

Here at Fingertips Typing Services we offer a wide range of transcription services and have transcriptionists experienced in industries such as: Legal, Medical, Academic and Insurance. If you would like a quote please email info@fingertipstyping.co.uk

The Truth About Virtual PA Services

A Virtual PA service is a great way for your business to save money and increase productivity, however, there are a lot of myths out there about virtual PA services. This article tells you the truth about  what to expect and debunks the myths.

  1. Virtual PAs are fully trained and experienced

The myth out there is that all Virtual PA services are run from call centres and while for it can be true of some low-quality virtual PAs, if you do your checks thoroughly enough you will find that most services are extremely professional, with highly trained and skilled PAs. Fingertips Typing Services offers support from an expert team.

  1. What about our brand and culture?

The right Virtual PA provider should be able to think, act and behave like an employee,. At Fingertips Typing Services we act as an extension to your brand, our team will fit seamlessly into your business.

  1. Supported 24/7, Even with sickness and holidays.

Unlike in-house PAs, a virtual one will ensure that there is cover should there be sickness or holiday. At Fingertips Typing Services our team of PAs work around the clock ensuring that there is always someone there when you need us.

  1. Multi-skilled PAs

A high-quality service provider should be able to give you access to more than one PA’s skill set.  So if you need something out of the ordinary, for example you may need to translate a report or email to an overseas customer then you can pull on the resources of a multilingual PA. At Fingertips Typing Services we have a wide team of professionals from different backgrounds, skill sets and many are multilingual giving you the support you need.

  1. Reduce your costs

A virtual PA can offer you substantial cost savings: no holiday or sickness pay, no desk space, no PAYE to name but a few. Additionally, they are flexible so you only need to use them when you have a requirement for it, rather than paying a full-time salary.

If you are looking for a virtual PA or would like to know more about the services we offer please email info@fingertipstyping.co.uk

 

 

How to maintain a customer database?

Your customer database is extremely important after all your customers are the lifeblood of your business.

Keeping a customer database is a really helpful tool allowing you to; identify customer trends, create customer loyalty and increase their customer communication.

Failing to keep your information up to date, you could mean that you are throwing money down the drain by attempting to reach people whose details have changed.

Here are our top tips on how to create and maintain your database in order to get the most out of it.

  • Mandatory fields – Ensure that the most important information are set as mandatory: like name, email address, phone numbers, and address. This will ensure that you have complete information
  • Updating your Database – Under the Data Protection Act, you are legally responsible for ensuring that any data you store is accurate and up to date To keep your data up to date, regularly ask customers if their data has changed from that which you already have, the cleaner the data the more accurate it will be
  • Backup Your Information – Any computerised database needs to be backed up daily or twice weekly. Keep these backups in a safe place so that if your computer crashes the information can be easily reloaded.
  • Ensure your marketing campaigns are linked to your database – This is extremely important as any emails that bounce can be linked back to your customers data and help you cleanse it. It can also provide you with insight into what your customers are responding to, which email campaigns have worked and what they are interested in. All extremely useful information to help you maintain and good relationship with them
  • Avoid duplicate contacts– Email addresses are unique so one way to avoid entering duplicate contacts is by comparing the email addresses. If there is more than one entry for a particular contact there is the possibility that neither file contains complete info, yet contains info the other file may not.  It is good practice to always merge the duplicate files, rather than deleting one and not the other.  This will allow you to compare the information in both files and fill in the gaps, rather than potentially losing important information

Summary:

Now we have given you the basics to keeping your data updated and consistent. Maintaining a good quality database with accurate customer information in takes time, so it is worthwhile putting a great deal of time and effort into it as it will pay dividends in the end. If you follow our tips you will most definitely avoid running into problems, remember a little time and attention can go a long way!

If you would like support on maintaining your database then please speak to us here at Fingertips Typing Services on 0845 300 5245 or email us at info@fingertipstyping.co.uk

What skills should a focus group moderator have?

The skills of a focus group moderator are extremely important to getting valuable, unbiased data from your existing and potential customers.

There is much more to moderating a focus group than simply asking questions here are the skills that we feel an effective moderator should possess, in order to get the most out of your research.

  1. Effective Listening Skills – They must be able to asserting themselves, but also know the importance of letting the group express their opinions and feelings. Their role is to guide the group through the questions.
  2. Flexibility – The nature of a focus group means that members will often deviate from the main question or topic, often providing further insight. It is therefore important for the moderator to have a flexible attitude.
  3. Include a Variety of Exercises –Maintaining interest and enthusiastic engagement among the participants is key to a successful focus group. You could use: role-playing, word association and ratings.
  4. Pause and Probe – The group moderator will be skilled in asking clear questions and pausing to give the group members opportunity to open up.
  5. Have Knowledge of the Topic– basic information on the subject helps in probing areas for more in-depth discussion; demonstrate a degree of naïveté.
  6. Be Enthusiastic and Attentive– have a high energy level; pay attention to participants- recognise group dynamics.
  7. Understands Group Dynamics – The moderator needs to understand how groups work, is relatable and know how to help groups of people to fully interact, they can get the group to  feel like they are educating them.
  8. A little more conversation – A good group moderator will create conversation, adapting the flow of the conversation depending on where it takes them.  A moderator’s job is to encourage discussion.

The role of a focus group moderator can be a challenge, after all you are dealing with many different characters, but it is also a rewarding one as you are contributing to the development of a business or product.

For more information on the focus group services we offer here at Fingertips Typing email: info@fingertipstyping.co.uk