Check out this fantastic new feature in the shop! Apple Pay and Android Pay options have gone live and you can now use the mobile wallet of your phone to pay for my services. I call that a very nifty feature. What do you say?
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An meine geschätzen deutschsprachigen Gäste:
Schreiben Sie mir ruhig auf Deutsch. Ich freue mich auf Ihre Rückmeldung!
...to look more professional on paper.
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Four Steps to Writing a Killer Business Proposal
A business proposal is an important way of selling your company’s goods or services to a client—either a company or an individual. Sometimes you may send a business proposal to a potential client unsolicited; other times a business will send you an RFP (request for proposal) (1). Whatever the situation, knowing how to write a precise, informative, and effective business proposal is imperative. Here I lay out four steps to make your business proposals shine:
1. Make sure the job is doable: Before you start writing a business proposal, you need to make sure that your business will be able to meet the client’s needs. You need to make sure that you understand exactly what the client is asking for. Often clients don’t know exactly what the job they’re asking for entails, so make sure that you do. Writing a proposal for a job that your company can’t do will end in embarrassment and will be bad for your company’s reputation.
2. Evaluate how your business will meet the client’s needs: Once you’ve decided that your business is capable of meeting the client’s needs, figure out exactly how your business will do the job. Decide how much money you will charge to your client and decide all of the steps your business will take to complete the job. The more information you give the client, the more comfortable they will feel accepting your proposal.
3. Decide how you will outshine your competitors: You will almost always have competitors who are also proposing their services to your potential client. You need to decide what your company can do that its competitors cannot. Ask yourself why the client would choose your services over those of other companies.
4. Write a well-written proposal: Shervin Freed, coauthor of Writing Winning Business Proposals (McGraw-Hill) said: "To me, good writing is symptomatic of your basic abilities. Poor writing and poor grammar would make me ask, 'How good can these people be if they can't even express themselves intelligently?'" (1). Not only does the information in your proposal need to be adequate and precise, it needs to be presented in writing without grammatical or structural errors. Take great pains to make your business proposal fantastic. Write it meticulously and then proofread it several times over. After you’ve finished proofreading it, have at least two other people proofread it several times.
To summarize: first make sure that your business can accomplish the job the client needs done, then decide how your company will do the job, next decide how you will stand out among your competitors, then finally present all of this information in a crystal-clear, cleanly written business proposal. Follow this four-step formula and your business will attract loyal, long-term clients.
Why People Buy What They Buy
by Matthieu M.
Whatever your role in the business world, you’re going to have to sell something at one point or another. Whether you are selling your skill set to a potential employer, selling your business’s services to a client, or selling products to customers, the skill of selling is essential. Many books and articles have been written about how to sell effectively, but the most important selling technique lies in the buyer’s decision making process.
What is it that motivates us to buy something? I try to eat as healthy as possible. When I shop for food, I buy a brand of butter that is grass-fed and imported from Ireland. The packaging is simple and straightforward. While there are brands whose packaging is covered in elaborate lists of reasons why their butter is better than that of other brands, I feel like the Irish butter I buy is the best. The reason for this is that the company packages its product in such a way that I feel that the brand’s mission is to produce simple, healthy butter.
Notice my use of the word “feel.” I didn’t analyze the brand’s specifications and production methods to decide whether or not to buy this butter; I could have, but I didn’t. I bought the product because of the company’s mission, not because of the product’s qualifications. When it comes down to final buying decisions, we don’t buy a product based on its features and specifications, we buy a product because it feels like it’s the right choice. A product may have all of the features that we could dream of, but if it doesn’t feel right, we won’t buy it.
So, next time you sell something, try to make your potential client, customer, or employer feel like they should choose you or your product over other choices. Make them feel like you or your company has a mission to accomplish, and make them feel that your mission is theirs. For example, if you’re selling advertising consultation services, don’t start by telling your potential client all of the things your company will do for them, first, emphasize to him/her that your company’s mission is to help all of its clients rise to the top of any competitive market. After he/she understands that that is your mission, you can tell him/her about the services you provide.
Use this method whenever you write business proposals, cover letters, or sales copies; you will see great results.
The inspiration for this article came from a TED talk that I watched several months ago, I encourage you to watch it here: https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?language=en
Continuing in my series on effective business communication, I would like to share with you this month some more ideas -- succinctly expressed by a fellow freelancer -- on how to make your business a success. (Feel free to comment!)
How to Not Be Boring
Throughout my career, I’ve read a lot of business’s proposals trying to sell me their services. To be honest, I delete most of these proposals after reading the first two sentences. Perhaps I’m too harsh, but if the first sentence reads, “We are an SEO company who has been in the industry for over five years, our team uses the best SEO techniques in the market…” I’m instantly bored.
There is an innate reason why we enjoy working with exciting, entertaining people. Everybody, deep down inside, is unique and exciting. We all have interesting personalities. We all have fresh opinions and ideas to bring to the table, but so often we repress our true feelings and our best ideas because we are afraid of what people will think of us. If we don’t put our true self out there, people won’t be able to judge us for who we really are. We admire those who don’t care what people think of them, because we wish that we could be like them.
Those who do not let other people’s opinions limit what they do and say are able to achieve their full potential. This makes them not only fun and interesting to work with, but also makes them far better contractors, employees, and clients.
Now, in the context of business writing, though a certain level of formality needs to be maintained, you can and should let your personality shine through. Rather than writing, “We are an SEO company who has been in the industry for over five years, our team uses the best SEO techniques in the market…” try opening your proposal with, “Our experts are dedicated to getting your website to the #1 position in Google as fast as possible.” Opening your proposal like this shows that you are both confident in your business’s capabilities and passionate about your SEO work. Why would I want to buy your services if they weren’t your passion?
Whatever you do, whether you’re writing business proposals, making corporate presentations, or spending time with your family, be yourself. Let your true personality shine regardless of other’s opinions or societal norms. Few people do this; if you do it, people will notice. If you are your true self, people will respect you; nothing will stop you from reaching your true potential.
Less is More
“When you are writing complicated papers or business proposals or business letters for the business that employs you or for your personal business purposes or for any other purpose it is necessary and very important to make sure that you don’t write too many words such as and, but, or, that, thing, and other words like that or else the person reading your paper or letter or proposal will get bored and won’t be able to understand what you want to say and will get lost and confused.”
Whew! That was a mouthful, wasn’t it? This veritable paragraph of a sentence could be written as follows while still maintaining its meaning:
“When you write, it’s important not to use more words than needed.”
Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking that I will look more credible if I write more words. I think this instinct stems from high school, where my English teacher would tell l me that I had to write a 500 word essay; naturally, I would express my ideas using as many words as possible. However, now that I’m in the real world, it’s different.
When you write something for business purposes, remember that whoever reads what you write is probably very busy. The last thing a busy person wants to do is read through a super-wordy, 10 page proposal. As I demonstrated above, often we use far more words than are necessary to convey our point. If you eliminate unnecessary words from your writing, not only will it be more enjoyable to read, but much easier to understand.
Note that I said to eliminate unnecessary words, not necessary words. You will certainly need to write a certain amount to convey your point; however, if you use only the words necessary, your writing will be much more effective. For example, the phrase “I will look it up on my iPhone after dinner” could be condensed into “I will look it up after dinner,” unless the fact that you are using your iPhone is crucial to the meaning of the sentence.
Eliminating unnecessary words also often eliminates grammatical errors. For example, the sentence “I looked up the stock prices who the major investors are the subcontractors that the company uses” is a run-on sentence; however, if I eliminate unnecessary words, the problem virtually solves itself: “I looked up the company’s stock prices, major investors, and subcontractors” a grammatically correct and easy-to-understand sentence!
When I finish writing this article, I am going to re-read it several times, each time trying to make each sentence as short as possible while still maintaining its meaning. I encourage you to do the same. The more unnecessary words you eliminate, the more fun it will be to read your writing, and the better you will get your point across.
Having trouble with your superiors or colleagues? Here's some very sensible advice from Matthieu M. on how to make communication run smoothly.
3 Steps for Dealing with Difficult People in Business
I was sitting on the train the other day speaking with an ex-military-entrepreneur-business-student (yeah he’s done a lot of stuff) friend of mine. He had taken some business courses, then joined the military, and is now out of the military studying business again and doing some business of his own. We talked about lots of stuff: life, family, business, and politics, but one thing he said stood out to me.
My friend said that back when he was in the military he was supposed to report to guard duty, but suddenly came down with a nasty case of bronchitis. He told his supervising officer that he was so sick he couldn’t even leave his bed. This officer was supposed to report to the guy in charge of guard duty that my friend wouldn’t be there, but he didn’t.
Because the officer didn’t tell the guy in charge of guard duty that my friend wasn’t going to show up, the guy in charge of guard duty got in big trouble for being one guy short. As far as he was concerned, my friend was missing-in-action. He then called my friend, furious, and yelled at him for not being at guard duty. My friend’s first impulse was to react and yell back, but then he remembered a business communications course that he had taken before joining the military.
In his business communications course he had learned that the most effective way to deal with difficult people is to be rational. He ended the phone call, then waited a couple of days so that his emotions wouldn’t influence his reaction, then he wrote an email. In the email he started out by telling the guy in charge of guard duty that he was very sorry that his not showing up had gotten him into hot water. He then explained coolly that he had been so sick with bronchitis that he couldn’t leave his bed and that he had told the officer directly above him that he wouldn’t be at guard duty. He explained that it was not his fault that his supervising officer hadn’t passed along the information.
My friend sent the email and received no response. However, a couple of weeks later, he saw the guy again. The guy, who had been so angry at him before, came and shook his hand, apologized for being angry, and told him not to worry about it.
My friend’s rational approach to dealing with a difficult officer works in any situation. This approach works in dealing with difficult colleagues, difficult clients, family members, and other people with whom we associate. Let’s take a look at the important steps my friend took when he dealt with this officer:
It's carnival time in Germany! Prepare to meet dangerous pirates and dashing musketeers wherever you go. Elaborate masks are more the Venetian style, although masks are always popular both on and off the theatre stage, not just in ancient Greek drama, where they used to be an integral part of performances. Which brings me to this month's special topic in our series on effective business communication: From a Greek Philosopher - 3 Lessons in Persuasive Writing. Let Aristotle remind you of how to write with persuasion and conviction. Have fun!
From a Greek Philosopher: 3 Lessons on Persuasive Writing
In business, when we write, it is often to convince somebody of something. We may be trying to convince a customer to buy a product, trying to convince a client to buy our service, trying to convince a supplier to sell us product, or trying to convince somebody to hire us. The Greek philosopher Aristotle understood that we often need to persuade people to our side, so he fathered what he called rhetoric.
Rhetoric is the art of using words to convince people to agree with us. Rhetoric consists of three tools: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. We can use these three methods of persuasion in either writing or speech.
So there they are, straight from one of history’s greatest thinkers. These three rhetorical tools have lasted thousands of years and are still applicable today. If you use them, your writing will carry a powerful persuasive punch.
Look in again next month, when the topic will be "How to deal with difficult people".
Best of luck in all your endeavours!
Talking to customers and companies is fun.
No, really. When you know how it's done, it's just like cycling or swimming or... Ah, but you had to learn and practise those, didn't you? Well, for those of you still looking for a little guidance on what constitutes effective business communication, here it is: the first in a series of guest posts I'll be posting throughout the coming months.
For this series of articles, expert writer Matthieu M. has kindly agreed to put together for us some thoughts on what works and what doesn't. And because January is a busy time for most of us, part 1 looks at how to get straight to the point in your letters and emails. So simple, really...
3 Steps to Writing an Effective Business Letter
Say you’re contacting new suppliers to work with your business, or contacting anybody for a business matter. You want to get fast responses and good results. This article will explain three key steps to write a killer business letter, poignantly draw the attention of its recipient, and incite a rapid response.
Please visit after the holidays to find two wonderful new additions to the site: a close look at what makes business communication effective and a first look at the new store!
We may have a few tips on how you can reach the parts that others can't with what you say and how you say it. Or you could take a walk around the first Witinall online shop.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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Whether you were lucky enough to find this page by chance or whether you followed my directions to get to this website, you are now
THE LUCKY WINNER of a free translation !!!
Send me a text* of up to 500 words in length to be translated from English to German or in the opposite direction, from German to English -- and PAY NOTHING!
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New today on this page is the widget/link to the Collins dictionary and thesaurus. One of the most useful dictionaries for language learners to have is a THESAURUS, because it teaches you about the web of words of similar meaning and helps you discover the difference in use and collocation.
Many years ago I came across the small "Collins Gem" English Dictionary & Thesaurus (1990, HarperCollins) in a London Dillon's bookshop (Goodge Street, I think) and I still find it absolutely indispensable. It really is a "gem" -- full of useful definitions, succinct and informative on a reasonably large selection of words, yet small enough to fit in your pocket. Let's see if the website can live up to the excellent reputation of that handy little reference book. (On the Collins website you can also find a German<>English dictionary.)
From today there is a new link on this website. It's to the bookmarking website Delicious and my collection of useful or interesting language-related websites. Not much there yet, I'm afraid, but as we say in Austrian German: "Gut Ding braucht Weile." (~"No haste, no waste" or rather: "Help! I need more time!") I hope to be able to fill the list with lots of interesting language/linguistics or translation websites worth looking at, for you to peruse and for me to keep track of. Ideas and suggestions also welcome.
Dear valued visitor, dear cherished customer!
It's been six months since I started this website (with the help of wonderful Weebly - thanks again, you guys and gals!) and it's high time I started posting something. First of all, I would like to wish you all a prosperous 2014 and many interesting discoveries on the web (such as this page). I would love to thrill you all with witty comments and wonderful news from the world of language studies, but I'm afraid that will have to wait until I find the TIME! I've been very busy lately working for some truly wonderful people, who made me feel that starting my own business was the right step to take at this time in my working career. Of course, I'd also be happy for you to post your observations, comments or queries here on this site if you like -- I promise to reply in a timely manner. Which brings me back to the question of 'time' and another reason for why I seem to be having so little of it to spare lately: I'm trying to keep up with the news and developments in the world outside my window. Not an easy task but absolutely crucial in my line of work. There is nothing worse (or more embarrassing) than not knowing how to spell a person's name or what that new hype or latest fad is all about -- especially if everybody has been talking about it! It's check, check and check again in my line of work. It's time-consuming, but so much better than letting machines do it, don't you think?