Saturday, December 08, 2012

Sunday, September 09, 2012

How Do You Know if a Word is Real?

People say to me, ‘How do I know if a word is real?’ You know, anybody who’s read a children’s book knows that love makes things real. If you love a word, use it. That makes it real.” (Erin McKean)
Check out Erin McKean on The joy of lexicography!

Sally Bacchetta
Onwords™ column
My Google Profile+

Friday, August 17, 2012

Innovation is Not Innovative

Does the word "innovation" appear anywhere in your marketing? Is "innovate" in your company vision or mission? Well, word on the street is that there is nothing innovative about innovation, at least not the way most companies use the word.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article Leslie Kwoh writes, "Like the once ubiquitous buzzwords 'synergy' and 'optimization,' innovation is in danger of becoming a cliche - if it isn't one already."

How can you write compelling web copy and marketing collateral without using "innovate" or "innovation?" Try using one of these words instead:
  • Change
  • Create
  • Cutting edge
  • Development
  • Different
  • Distinct
  • Evolution
  • Invent
  • Novel or novelty
  • One-of-a-kind
  • Pioneer
  • Unique
  • ...or any variation of the good old-fashioned "New"
Whatever you're writing about, choose your words carefully. Plain honesty beats flowery hyperbole every time.

Sally Bacchetta
Onwords™ column
My Google Profile+

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

How to Write Web Copy That Sells

If you have a website, you’re trying to sell something. Whether you’re promoting a product, a service, a point of view, or a perception, the text on your website can indeed make or break your sale. If you want web readers to invest themselves in your site and your message, you have to give them what they want in the way they want it. If you don’t… click, skip, they’re gone and may never come back.

Here are five tips for writing web copy that sells:

Be relevant
People come to your site looking for information about a specific topic, and all of your website copy should support that topic. Personal anecdotes and tangential thinking are the stuff of blogs and social media. Your web copy should be creative, polished, and always on point.

Use web-friendly formatting
Web copy that is clear and well-organized will help readers connect to your message. Web readers rely on headers and sub-headers to find what they’re looking for. Headers like Freelance Services, Sales Training Workshops, and About, orient readers to my website so they can make the most of their time. Information is chunked in short paragraphs and bulleted lists for easy scanning, and I use intra-site links to direct readers to a deeper exploration of select topics.

Begin at the end
Visitors to your site want to know right away if they have found what they’re looking for, so present your main points at the beginning of a paragraph or page. This makes it easier for readers to assess the value of your site or page relative to their needs. “Welcome to, your single source for professional freelance writing services” pretty well sums up what you’ll find on my website.

Offer direction
Tell your readers what you want them to do. Subscribe to the newsletter. Purchase a book. Schedule a consultation. Request an estimate. Contact us. Use radio buttons and links to highlight a call to action, and make sure they are prominent on the page. If people have to look too hard, some of them will simply go elsewhere.

Proofread first for spelling and grammar. You need to demonstrate your professionalism and attention to detail in your web copy. Then proofread for writing quality. Strive for precision. Edit to ensure that every word does necessary work and that you have chosen words for their sound and feel as much as their meaning. Finally, readers may access your website from a laptop, desktop, smart phone, or tablet (e.g., iPad), and you need your web copy to look great on any device.

Sally Bacchetta
Onwords™ column
My Google Profile+

Thursday, March 29, 2012

How to Write Great Marketing Communications

For all that's changed about marketing communications, the essential truth has not. Good communication is purposeful, compelling, and clear.

Whether it is website content, an email marketing campaign, a blog, brochure, social networking post, or white paper, written communication is often the first impression you make on your target market. Your written communications tell people that you have something worthwhile to offer them. Or not.

Purposeful – Every written communication has a specific purpose - to inform, educate, inspire, or entice. You need to identify the specific purpose of your writing before you begin.

Compelling – Effective writing compels decisions and actions. Read and re-read your communications. Do they motivate you to act in a way that benefits your business?

Clear – The ever-increasing pace of business requires many of us to do more in less time. The clearer your writing, the easier it is for your readers to quickly understand and respond to your message. Whether you are writing for an internal or external market, clarity makes your writing more vibrant and memorable.

Should you do your own writing or hire a professional? Three questions to ask yourself:
Do I have the expertise to write the most effective communication?
Do I have the resources necessary for the results I need?
Do I have time to research, write, edit and rewrite the project?

An experienced professional freelance writer is uniquely qualified to maximize the impact of your written communication. Partnering with a freelance writer gives you the freedom to focus on other aspects of your business and ensures that the first impression you make is a good one.

Sally Bacchetta
Onwords™ column
My Google Profile+

Friday, March 16, 2012

Extend the Benefits of Training

Training is guided evolution. Or at least, it should be. If you treat training workshops as stand-alone events, you’re wasting opportunity and settling for less than you should. With a little bit of forethought and strategic communication, a stand-alone training event becomes one of many leverage points on a performance continuum. Considering the time and money you spend on employee training, don’t you want to extend the benefits 30, 60, 90+ days out?

You can, and here’s how:
• Hone your planning with a pre-event survey. Ask participants to weigh in on their first (and last) choice for venue, format, training exercises, menu, etc. By inviting their opinion in advance you set a tone and build rapport before the training begins. is a free tool for creating online surveys in minutes.
• Bolster participation by sharing workshop outlines in advance. Using email, batch text, or the company intranet, ask participants to "prepare to share" in order to ensure a productive session.
• Sharing a top-line overview of learning objectives and performance expectations is a great way to capture participant attention and build interest prior to the workshop.
• Tease upcoming training events in your company newsletter, with an email or text campaign, and on your website.
• Establish an event theme, and weave themed imagery into your writing to open attendees' minds and spark their creativity well before the training takes place.

After the workshop, improve retention of key learning and promote positive behavioral change with strategic follow up written communication:
• Survey participants to find out what aspect of the training was most (and least) challenging/relevant/helpful/interesting to them. Garner suggestions for future events.
• Conduct a post-training email campaign to reinforce key learning.
• Email or text success stories and best practices weekly, along with a specific strategy to execute in the week ahead.
• Use your company newsletter and web site to celebrate success stories. Write as specifically as possible about how the training workshop or strategy meeting contributed to the success.

Sally Bacchetta
Onwords™ column
My Google Profile+

Friday, March 02, 2012

Restaurants Re-Train for Customized Service

Ask any good instructional designer or training content writer what makes a training program successful, and chances are the word "customized" will be part of their answer. Business today is much more layered than even a few years ago, with sub-markets within markets, and niches within sub-markets, each requiring customized training solutions.

Interestingly, corporations aren't the only ones with an increased appetite for training ROI. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article, titled
"How Waiters Read Your Table", which highlights restaurants that are re-training wait staff to increase sales with a more customized dining experience.

Companies are moving away from standard training scripts to methods that will have customers eating out of their hands. Through personalized or more "situational selling", the best waiters know what type of service customers prefer before they tell them.

Great instructional design can only come from a designer who understands your learners and your business. Contact me for a free consultation on serving up original, interactive, skill-based instructional design that truly delivers winning results.

Sally Bacchetta
Onwords™ column
My Google Profile+

Friday, January 06, 2012

Finding Great Instructional Design

As I wrote in my column Why You Need Instructional Design, “Great instructional design attracts learners to the content, to the performance ideal, and to the change process. This attraction is essential for changing behavior.” If you’re looking for great instructional design, you need to find an instructional designer with these three qualifications:

You can likely get adequate ID from any qualified designer, but great instructional design can only come from a designer who understands your learners and your business. Sales representatives learn differently than managers. Physicians learn differently than writers. A great-for-you instructional designer is one who understands how to design training for learners and businesses like yours.

Every new project involves a ramp up. With an experienced designer, you can use your ramp up time to discuss deliverables, establish timelines, identify production protocols, and brainstorm concepts and themes. An inexperienced designer will need to be brought up to speed on your products or services, the state of your market, competitive analyses, training objectives, and learner profile before you can even begin to clarify the project scope. Read more

Sally Bacchetta
Onwords™ column
My Google Profile+

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Why You Need Instructional Design

Humans learn every minute of every day. We learn without overt effort or intention. We learn by existing, by seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting. As long as we are conscious, we are learning. We can’t stop ourselves.

So, why does anyone need instructional design? Why not just provide content and let people learn it?

If you read any articles about the importance of instructional design (ID) you will find them peppered with the words engage and process, and yes, basic requirements of instructional design are that it engage learners and help them process specific information. But that’s not why you need ID. I have completed countless ID projects for a variety of industries, and I have found only one reason for instructional design. That is to attract a learner. The value of instructional design is in its ability to attract, because attraction has the power to change behavior.

Read more

Sally Bacchetta
Onwords™ column
My Google Profile+