Thursday, 9 December 2010

Colour of the year 2011

Pantone has announced 18-2120 Honeysuckle, ‘a dynamic reddish pink’, as its colour of the year for 2011.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Why simple language should mean lucrative profits

Good use of language should mean lucrative profits for companies, says Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

The presentation secrets of Steve Jobs

Like this: download the e-book.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Friday, 5 November 2010

Office jargon

(From BBC website)

50 office-speak phrases you love to hate 

Management speak - don't you just hate it? Emphatically yes, judging by readers' responses to BBC writer Lucy Kellaway's campaign against offcie jargon. Here, we list 50 of the best worst examples.
1. "When I worked for Verizon, I found the phrase going forward to be more sinister than annoying. When used by my boss - sorry, "team leader" - it was understood to mean that the topic of conversation was at an end and not be discussed again."
Nima Nassefat, Vancouver, Canada
2. "My employers (top half of FTSE 100) recently informed staff that we are no longer allowed to use the phrase brain storm because it might have negative connotations associated with fits. We must now take idea showers. I think that says it all really."
Anonymous, England
3. At my old company (a US multinational), anyone involved with a particular product was encouraged to be a product evangelist. And software users these days, so we hear, want to be platform atheists so that their computers will run programs from any manufacturer."
Philip Lattimore, Thailand
4. "Incentivise is the one that does it for me."
Karl Thomas, Perth, Scotland
5. "My favourite which I hear from the managers at the bank I work for is let's touch base about that offline. I think it means have a private chat but I am still not sure."
Gemma, Wolverhampton, England
6. "Have you ever heard the term loop back which means go back to an associate and deal with them?"
Scott Reed, Lakeland, Florida, US

7-8. "We used to collect the jargon used in a list and award the person with the most at the end of the year. The winner was a client manager with the classic you can't turn a tanker around with a speed boat change. What? Second was we need a holistic, cradle-to-grave approach, whatever that is."
Turner, Manchester

9. "Until recently I had to suffer working for a manager who used phrases such as the idiotic I've got you in my radar in her speech, letters and e-mails. Once, when I mentioned problems with the phone system, she screamed 'NO! You don't have problems, you have challenges'. At which point I almost lost the will to live."
Stephen Gradwick, Liverpool
10. "You can add challenge to the list. Problems are no longer considered problems, they have morphed into challenges."
Irene MacIntyre, Courtenay, B
11. "Business speak even supersedes itself and does so with silliness, the shorthand for quick win is now low hanging fruit."
Paul, Formby, UK
12. "And looking under the bonnet."
Eve Russell, Edinburgh
13-14. "The business-speak that I abhor is pre-prepare and forward planning. Is there any other kind of preparedness or planning?"
Edward Creswick, Exeter
15-16. "The one that really gets me is pre-plan - there is no such thing. Either you plan or you don't. The new one which has got my goat is conversate, widely used to describe a conversation. I just wish people could learn to 'think outside the box' although when they put us in cubes what do they expect?"
Malcolm, Houston
17. "I work in one of those humble call centres for a bank. Apparently, what we're doing at the moment is sprinkling our magic along the way. It's a call centre, not Hogwarts."
Caroline Garlick, Ayrshire
18. "A pet hate is the utterly pointless expression in this space. So instead of the perfectly adequate 'how can I help?' it's 'how can I help in this space?' Or the classic I heard on Friday, 'How can we help our customers in this space going forward?' I think I may have caught this expression at source, as I've yet to hear it said outside my own working environment. So I'm on a personal crusade to stamp it out before it starts infecting other City institutions. Wish me luck in this space."
Colin, London
19. "The one phrase that inspires a rage in me is from the get-go."
Andy, Herts
20. "'Going forward' is only half the phrase that gets up my nose - all politicians seem to use the phrase go forward together. 'We must... we shall... let us now... go forward together'. It gives me a terrible mental image of the whole country linking arms and goose-stepping in unison, with the politicians out in front doing a straight-armed salute. Is it just me?"
Frances Smith, Toronto, Canada
21. "I am a financial journalist and am on a mission to remove words and phrases such as 360-degree thinking from existence."
Richard, London
22. "The latest that's stuck in my head is we are still optimistic things will feed through the sales and delivery pipeline (ie: we actually haven't sold anything to anyone yet but maybe we will one day)."
Alexander, Southampton
23. "I worked in PR for many years and often heard the most ludicrous phrases uttered by CEOs and marketing managers. One of the best was, we'd better not let the grass grow too long on this one. To this day it still echoes in my ears and I giggle to myself whenever I think about it. I can't help but think insecure business people use such phrases to cover up their inability for proper articulation."
Leon Reilly, Ealing, London
24. "Need to get all my ducks in a row now - before the five-year-olds wake up."
Mark Dixon, Bridgend
25. "Australians have started to use auspice as a verb. Instead of saying, 'under the auspices of...', some people now say things like, it was auspiced by..."
Martin Pooley, Marrickville, Australia
26. "My favourite: we've got our fingers down the throat of the organisation of that nodule. Translation = Er, no, WE sorted out the problems to cover your backside."
Theo de Bray, Kettering, UK
27. "The health service in Wales is filled with managers who use this type of language as a substitute for original thought. At meetings we play health-speak bingo; counting the key words lightens the tedium of meetings - including, most recently, my door is open on this issue. What does that mean?"
Edwin Pottle, Llandudno
28-29. "The business phrase I find most irritating is close of play, which is only slightly worse than actioning something."
Ellie, London
30. "Here in the US we have the cringe-worthy and also in addition. Then there's the ever-eloquent 'where are we at?' So far, I haven't noticed the UK's at the end of the day prefacing much over here; thank heavens for small mercies."
Eithne B, Chicago, US
31. "The expression that drives me nuts is 110%, usually said to express passion/commitment/support by people who are not very good at maths. This has created something of a cliche-inflation, where people are now saying 120%, 200%, or if you are really REALLY committed, 500%. I remember once the then-chancellor Gordon Brown saying he was 101% behind Tony Blair, to which people reacted 'What? Only 101?'"
Ricardo Molina, London, UK
32. "My least favourite business-speak term is not enough bandwidth. When an employee used this term to refuse an additional assignment, I realised I was completely 'out of the loop'."
April, Berkeley, US

33. "I once had a boss who said, 'You can't have your cake and eat it, so you have to step up to the plate and face the music.' It was in that moment I knew I had to resign before somebody got badly hurt by a pencil."
Tim, Durban
34. "Capture your colleagues - make sure everyone attends that risk management workshop (compulsory common sense training for idiots)."
Anglowelsh, UK
35-37. "We too used to have daily paradigm shifts, now we have stakeholders who must come to the party or be left out, or whatever."
Barry Hicks, Cape Town, RSA
38. "I have taken to playing buzzword bingo when in meetings. It certainly makes it more entertaining when I am feeding it back (or should that be cascading) at work."
Ian Everett, Bolton
39. "In my work environment it's all cascading at the moment. What they really mean is to communicate or disseminate information, usually downwards. What they don't seem to appreciate is that it sounds like we're being wee'd on. Which we usually are."
LMD, London
40. "At a large media company where I once worked, the head of human resources - itself a weaselly neologism for personnel - told us that she would be cascading down new information to staff. What she meant was she was going to send them a memo. It was one of the reasons I resigned - that, and the fact that the chief exec persisted on referring to the company as a really cool train set."
Andrew, London
41. "Working for an American corporation, this year's favourite word seems to be granularity, meaning detail. As in 'down to that level of granularity'."
Chris Daniel, Anaco, Venezuela

42. "On the wall of our office we have a large signed certificate, signed by all the senior management team, in which they solemnly promise to leverage their talents, display and inspire 'unyielding integrity', and lots of other pretentious buzz-phrases like that. Clueless, the lot of them."
Chris K, Cheltenham UK
43. "After a reduction in workforce, my university department sent this notice out to confused campus customers: 'Thank you for your note. We are assessing and mitigating immediate impacts, and developing a high-level overview to help frame the conversation with our customers and key stakeholders. We intend to start that process within the week. In the meantime, please continue to raise specific concerns or questions about projects with my office via the Transition Support Center..."
Charles R, Seattle, Washington, US
44. "I was told I'd be living the values from now on by my employers at a conference the other week. Here's some modern language for them - meh. A shame as I strongly believe in much of what my employers aim to do. I refuse to adopt the voluntary sectors' client title of 'service user'. How is someone who won't so much as open the door to me using my service? Another case of using four syllables where one would do."
Upscaled Blue-Sky thinker, Cardiff
45. "Business talk 2.0 is maddening, meaningless, patronising and I despise it."
Doug, London
46. "Lately I've come across the strategic staircase. What on earth is this? I'll tell you; it's office speak for a bit of a plan for the future. It's not moving on but moving up. How strategic can a staircase really be? A lot I suppose, if you want to get to the top without climbing over all your colleagues."
Peter Walters, Cheadle Hulme, UK
47. "When a stock market is down why must we be told it is in negative territory?"
Phil Linehan, Mexico City, Mexico
48. "The particular phrase I love to hate is drill down, which handily can be used either as an adverb/verb combo or as a compound noun, ie: 'the next level drill-down', sometimes even in the same sentence - a nice bit of multi-tasking."
B, London
49. "Thanks for the impactful article; I especially appreciated the level of granularity. A high altitude view often misses the siloed thinking typical of most businesses. Absent any scheme for incentivitising clear speech, however, I'm afraid we're stuck with biz-speak."
Timothy Denton, New York
50. "It wouldn't do the pinstripers any harm to crack a smile and say what they really felt once in a while instead of trotting out such clinical platitudes. Of course a group of them may need to workshop it first: Wouldn't want to wrongside the demographic."
Trick Cyclist, Tripoli, Libya

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Guarrdian style tips

If the queen is the Queen, why is the pope not the Pope? And other questions

Q&A The Guardian style guide editors answer readers' queries – first in a series

he first in an occasional series of Mind Your Language blogposts attempting to answer some of them.

Big Society or big society?
Simon Hoggart rightly described this phrase as "surely the vaguest slogan ever coined by a political leader. Nobody knows what it means." Until they do, keep it in quotation marks, at least the first time you mention it in a story, and always lowercase – so it's "big society".

So it's "tea party" then?
If you're talking about cucumber sandwiches, scones and a pot of Earl Grey. If, however, you are referring to the Tea Party movement, use initial caps. The reference is, of course, to the Boston Tea Party of 1773, which did involve tea (though not sandwiches and scones).

Due to or owing to?
If you can substitute "caused by", due to is correct; if you can substitute "because of", owing to is correct: The train's late arrival was due to leaves on the line; the train was late owing to leaves on the line. This rule is so simple that it is astonishing how rarely people (including those who write in the Guardian) get it right.

..... and more

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Comic Sans

What's so wrong with Comic Sans?

Comic Sans typeface
Comic Sans, that unassuming jaunty typeface lurking inside millions of computers, has become the target of an online hate campaign. Simon Garfield explains why normally mild-mannered people are so enraged by its use.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Why are new biz people so bloody awful?

Loved this rant from Carl Hopkins aka Uncle Carl in Drum []

Q. Why are new biz people so bloody awful?

I have always had a nightmare every time I have appointed a so called new business development manager. To be brutal most of them have been bloody awful. They show very little imagination and all they seem to do is send endless letters and emails to clients and they seldom get results. What have you found to be the best business development tools over the years and would you advise hiring another so called business development expert?

I have said this before but obviously you were not listening so here we go again. The best New Business person in your agency is…drum roll… you. No one understands the capabilities of your business and its people better than you; no one knows the collective experience of your business better than you. No one has more chances of getting to see a prospect or a client of a competitor than the owner of the agency, that’s you. No one can listen to a client’s issues and reply in a manner that is believable and deliverable better than, you.

I am not saying other people cannot fulfil this role and have some success but no one can do it better than, you – are you getting the message? And if they can, I would suggest they would start their own business – which they do. There are many New Business ‘administrators’ out there; people who understand your strategies and can manage those strategies with you and for you but it’s not conversion! This is what they all do on arriving at your agency as big-dick-new-biz-bod: they say you need a new agency website and that you need a new email/DM campaign – all eats into your already overstretched creative department. They end up posting out balloons or fruit cakes or some other random idea – littered all over reception for days on end. They write half-hearted, badly targeted letters to anyone who ever spent a pound in an agency like yours – because you and your copywriters are far too busy. They ask for new magazines and expensive subscriptions and then write to every client they read who has just announced a pitch – it’s too late by then numb nuts. They suggest you join any agency register available and that you start advertising – more time and money and the creative end results divide the agency. Then they piss off to any two bit networking event or spend thousands on stands at exhibitions where you are surrounded by other totally inappropriate suppliers for days watching old ladies and students collecting stress toys emblazoned with phone numbers and taking all your glossy brochures which your creative teams have spent hours of time producing…oh and they will probably suggest you enter more awards and hire a PR agency….and a facebook site…and a twitter page.

Truth is the top new business people are safely hidden in agencies and you cannot get them or they run their own agencies. You need to drive your own strategy with some of the tactics I’ve mentioned and hire yourself someone on about £18k with a brain to help you out and not on £80k with a large ego and expense account. Remember this one fact: ‘new business people’ are great in first meetings; its what they do – hence they are good in interviews. It doesn’t mean they will ever win an account one their arse hits your faux leather executive ergonomically designed chair.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Missing words

Secret vault of words
One for the wordsmiths…A graphic design student doing a project for Kingston University, London, recently discovered a vault of words which have never made it into the dictionary. The vault is owned by Oxford University Press.
Examples of ‘words’ from the vault include

Furgle – to feel in a pocket or bag for a small object such as a coin or key
Nonversation – a worthless conversation, wherein nothing is explained or otherwise elaborated upon
Lexpionage – the sleuthing of words and phrases
Optotoxical – a look that could kill, normally from a parent or spouse
Polkadodge – the dance that occurs when two people attempt to pass each other but move in the same direction

After researching hundreds of the words, Luke Ngakane, 22, chose 39 to etch onto a metal press plate and print onto A4 paper for his graphic design degree.
Fiona McPherson, senior editor of the Oxford English Dictionary's new words group, said the words are not rejects and they may well be printed in the future.
She said: ''They are words which we haven't yet put in. I don't like calling them reject words because we will revisit them at some point and they may well go in.
''They are not yet considered suitable for the dictionary because there's not enough evidence that people are using them.”

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Tuesday, 27 April 2010


Sales Professinol / Marketing Professinol / Work From Home / Be Your Own Boss / Marketing / Sales
Polished professional to handle global sales. Flexible hours Team player Success implementing strategy.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Tips on writing

Ten tips for writing (fiction, mainly) from The Guardian 20 Feb 2010.

"Get an accountant, abstain from sex and similes, cut, rewrite, then cut and rewrite again – if all else fails, pray. Inspired by Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing, we asked authors for their personal dos and don'ts"

Monday, 22 February 2010


My brand new motto: Nomina Rutrum Rutrum
By Lucy Kellaway Financial Times: February 8 2010
Acouple of weeks ago I wrote what I thought was the definitive guide on how to sign off an e-mail and was confident that I had laid the matter to rest. Yet I've just received an e-mail that has given me pause. It was signed off " Audere est facere " - which is the motto of the Tottenham Hotspur football club and means "to dare is to do".
I don't like football. I don't like men who go on about their football teams. I don't like cheesy exhortations. I don't understand Latin. But there is something about this that appeals to me.
In fact, I find myself strangely drawn to other football mottos. I like Bury’s motto: Vincit Omnia Industria (Hard Work Overcomes Everything) and I like Blackburn Rovers' Arte et Labore (By Skill and Hard Work) even more.
Schools have some stirring mottos, too. A couple of years ago Gordon Brown was much mocked for quoting his motto: Usque Conabor (I Will Try Harder). Yet it seems to me that this is the best possible advice for every school child – and for every prime minister.
An even better motto is the startlingly honest Nous Maintiendrons - which is French for We Will Keep on Keeping on.
These mottos, though wonderful things in themselves, have a lot to answer for. The Victorians who thought them up were unwittingly laying the foundation stone for some of the most questionable practices in management. They are to blame for mission statements and were the beginning of the self-help industry.
My own school motto at Camden School for Girls was Onwards and Upwards (which as 14-year-olds we thought screamingly funny). Yet this sentiment is responsible for thousands of self-help books that say in about 50,000 words what the motto says in three.
Traditional mottos are good not merely because they are brief but because they come from an age that was pre-touchy-feely and pre-bullshit.
The newer ones show a shocking falling off. A primary school in north London has recently dreamt up the tiresomely wet slogan: Together Everyone Achieves More, which spells Team.
Traditional mottos are also strong enough to survive ridicule.
At William Ellis, the boys school over the road from the house where I grew up, the (excellent, in my view) motto - Rather Use than Fame - was subverted by the cool boys, who inked over some of the letters so that it read: "Rather U than me."
Latin is hugely helpful in giving a motto some oomph. This is partly because it lends an air of sophistication, learning and tradition. But it is also because most people don't have the first idea what it actually means and so have to go to the effort of finding out. Once they have done this, any banality in the actual meaning is camouflaged.
But the biggest advantage is that it is quite impossible to be naff, vague or moronic in Latin. Consider one of the most naff management exhortations: Walk the Talk. Translate it into Latin and you get Res non Verba , which is elegant and profound and is the motto of a private school in Yorkshire.
Companies should learn from these school mottos. It is no coincidence that the best company slogan of all time - Avis's We Try Harder - is almost exactly the same as Gordon Brown's school motto.
The motto of Eton College - Floreat Etona , or May Eton Flourish - might be sickeningly self-serving for a school in which boys still mince about in tail coats, but would do nicely in the corporate world, where making a company flourish is what the game is all about. Floreat FT , has rather a good ring to it.
This leads me to suggest that all mission statements should be translated into Latin, and any that proved impossible to translate should be scrapped. "We aim to add value to our external stakeholders" would have left a man in a toga scratching his head and, therefore, has no place in the modern world either.
I have decided that I need a motto for the top of this column and the bottom of my e-mails. I've been toying with Vox Clamantis in Deserto , which means a voice crying in the desert and is the motto of Dartmouth College in the US. But I think it's a bit self-important and not right anyway as I'm neither crying nor in a desert.
So instead I have created my own. In English it is To Call a Spade a Spade, but I have just got someone to translate it into Latin for me, and am quite delighted by the result: Nomina Rutrum Rutrum. To post comments online, go to

Friday, 12 February 2010

Kool Kulala

Love this South African airline: Kulala

The captain’s window is marked with the big cheese (”captain, my captain!”), the co-pilot’s window with co-captain (the other pilot on the PA system) and the jump seat is for wannabe pilots.

In addition, the following descriptions of plane parts can be found:

    * galley (cuppa anyone?)
    * avionics (fancy navigation stuff)
    * windows (best view in the world)
    * wing #1 and #2
    * engine #1 and #2 (26 000 pounds of thrust)
    * emergency exit = throne zone (more leg room baby!)
    * seats (better than taxi seats)
    * some windows = kulula fans (the coolest peeps in the world)
    * black box (which is actually orange)
    * landing gear (comes standard with supa-fly mags)
    * back door (no bribery/corruption here)
    * tail (featuring an awesome logo)
    * loo (or mile-high club initiation chamber)
    * rudder (the steering thingy)
    * stabiliser (the other steering thingy)
    * a.p.u. (extra power when you need it most)
    * galley (food, food, food, food…)
    * boot space
    * ZS-ZWP (OK-PIK) = secret agent code (aka plane’s registration)
    * overhead cabins (VIP seating for your hand luggage)
    * fuel tanks (the go-go juice)
    * cargo door
    * aircon ducts (not that kulula needs it… they’re already cool)
    * front door (our door is always open … unless we’re at 41 000 feet)
    * cockpit window = sun roof
    * nose cone (radar, antenna, and a really big dish inside)

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Written Voice

Came across this recent reference to ‘Developing a Written Voice’ by Dona J. Hickey.

She has an exercise for students in her writing classes, requiring them to use only single syllable words and sentences of fewer than ten words. This forces the writer to place the key words in the sentence close together, and makes the writing forceful.

‘The most powerful position in a sentence are the first and last words. The closer these words come together, the more forceful the message is.’

 ‘When monosyllabic words end in a hard consonant, they form a power unit in English. When monosyllabic, consonant-ended words are placed at the end of a sentence (the most powerful position), their force is doubled.’

She notes that a succession of monosyllabic words, especially those ending in consonants, make the message emphatic and forceful.

Multisyllabic words, on the other hand, soften the language. They can make it more tranquil, compassionate and tender.

Hmmm. Must try harder to use shorter words, simpler sentences.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Innocent bottoms up

Like innocent's competition for messages of 40 characters or less, to go on the bottom of their bottles. Here are a few...

wrong way up mate

.. -. -. --- -.-. . -. - love morse code

I'm feeling fruity! Take my top off... 

You've got the lid on, right?

First time, right?

I can never find the sell by date either     

Fairer National Insurance for freelancers

A freelance writer’s is petitioning the governement to make the National Insurance system fairer for self-employed workers. Journalist and copywriter Anne Wollenberg says the NI system as it stands “is stacked against freelancers”. She points out that: “An employee earning millions loses their job after 2 years and gets 6 months’ contributory (non-means-tested) JSA. A freelancer signs on as their business fails. They can’t get contributory JSA and must apply for means-tested benefit, which they probably won’t get if their spouse or partner works.”

She also highlights the problem of freelancers being forced onto PAYE for casual work and having to pay Class 1 NI even though these sporadic payments don’t count but can’t be reclaimed.

She is calling for:

· Freelance NI to count towards contributory JSA or Class 3 top-ups to be eligible

· Better explanation of current rules to people registering as self-employed

· Those paying Class 1 NI for 2 years to retain eligibility for contributory JSA if they then go freelance

· A higher threshold for freelancers before paying Class 1 or a Class 1 exemption system

Friday, 29 January 2010

What qualifications do you need to be a good writer?

This from Prospect Solutions: " is our company’s policy to accept writers with at least a 2:1 degree. This is not to belittle your capacity in writing, Prospect Solution is just committed to delivery excellent services to our clients, which is why we require our writers to provide us with a degree certificate in their specified subject area."

(I think they meant to say 'delivery of excellent services'.)

Surely having a degree in a particular subject doesn't itself make anyone a good writer; just as it would not necessarily make them a good teacher. Doesn't 20-odd years' experience count for anything? Aaargh!

Friday, 22 January 2010


[From 26 website)



Children who are heavy users of mobile phone text abbreviations such as LOL (laughing out loud), plz (please), l8ter (later) and xxx (kisses), are unlikely to be problem spellers and readers, a new study funded by the British Academy has found.
The research*, carried out on a sample of 8-12 year olds over an academic year, revealed that levels of “textism” use could even be used to predict reading ability and phonological awareness in each pupil by the end of the year.
Moreover, the proportion of textisms used was observed to increase with age, from just 21% of Year 4 pupils to 47% in Year 6, revealing that more sophisticated literacy skills are needed for textism use.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Wally Olins wins London branding project

This looks interesting ...

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Dark Star Safari

This week I have been mostly reading Paul Theroux's Dark Star Safari. Excellent observation of Africa in the raw, by someone who used to live and work there, so has an insight beyond the tourist/traveller. Reminding me of when I lived there as a child. Rather impressive literary references throughout, as you would expect from such an author;certainly making me feel poorly read. Though I confess some sad pleasure at spotting a literary mistake. At one point (halfway through Chapter 8: Figawi Safari on the Bandit Road) he says, "In Thomas Hardy's novel Jude the Obscure, the doomed and starving village children leave a note, Because we are too menny ".  My recollection of the story is that this is not described as some common practice by a number of children, but that Jude's young son kills his younger siblings, and then himself, leaving a note: "Done because we are too menny". But I don't suppose PT will be rushing to ask me to edit his books in future.

Friday, 15 January 2010

A writer's job...

Design Week 14.01.10

Richard Owsley: " A writer's main job is actually to do the strategic thinking about the communication, the form of wording is really just the final touch."

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Enbiggen? EMBIGGEN?!

Ever seen the word embiggen anywhere else? This was on a Flikr site. I guess the meaning is clear, but is this a real word? says "Sorry, there are no results for that search."

Monday, 11 January 2010

Dleiberate misspellings?

Todays post was contributed by Joey Bridges
Have you ever thought of using misspelled words in your paid advertising? It is one of the most overlooked and underutilized advertising methods in the paid advertising world. Thanks to many great word processing programs (and maybe just not paying attention) that auto correct typing many of us (myself included) misspell words when we are searching for something on the Internet. Our real estate customers are no different and often misspell city names, property addresses, general real estate questions. Let's look at some great reasons to advertise on misspelled words.
  1. Your competitors aren't doing it - that's right many advertisers only use the correct spelling of the words they are targeting but customers misspell and their are opportunities here.
  2. Your customers misspell things - Wouldn't it be great if when a word was typed you were the only advertiser to appear? That is what can happen with misspelled advertising.
  3. There are more ways to misspell words then spell them correctly - Think about this. There is only 1 correct way to misspell a word but there are maybe dozens of different ways to come up with misspellings.
  4. They are pretty easy to come up with - you can jumble a word around and come up with misspellings that you have done in the past and others are probably doing the same.
  5. The bid prices are cheaper - since there is generally less competition on misspelled words you can have your ad place higher and for cheaper as a result. This is a great reason to start adding some misspelled words to your Google Adwords campaigns.
I recommend adding the misspelled words in separate ad groups so you can keep track of them and not get confused by the misspellings with your regular adgroups. If you have an ad that is working great with your correctly spell words use it with your misspelled words and see how it does.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Elephant words

Just happened across this. Might be interesting ....

Menu psychology

New York Times: December 23, 2009

Using Menu Psychology to Entice Diners

CHICKEN liver is what the restaurateur Danny Meyer calls a torpedo.
Left to its own devices, it may be unappetizing and unpopular, but when paired with what he calls an enhancer — applewood smoked bacon in the case of the chicken liver on the menu at Tabla, Mr. Meyer’s Indian fusion restaurant in the Flatiron District — it not only excites the taste buds but goes to work on the mind.
And the name of the Tabla appetizer, Boodie’s Chicken Liver Masala, draws even deeper from the growing field of menu psychology because Boodie is the mother of Floyd Cardoz, Tabla’s executive chef. People like the names of mothers, grandmothers and other relatives on their menus, and research shows they are much more likely to buy, say, Grandma’s zucchini cookies, burgers freshly ground at Uncle Sol’s butcher shop this morning and Aunt Phyllis’s famous wedge salad.
After Tabla merged with its downstairs sibling, the Bread Bar at Tabla, in October, Mr. Meyer and his team spent months pondering such matters before unveiling a new menu earlier this month. The price of Boodie’s chicken livers, for example, is $9, written simply as 9. This is a friendly and manageable number at a time when numbers really need to be friendly and manageable. Besides, it has no dollar sign. In the world of menu engineering and pricing, a dollar sign is pretty much the worst thing you can put on a menu, particularly at a high-end restaurant. Not only will it scream “Hello, you are about to spend money!” into a diner’s tender psyche, but it can feel aggressive and look tacky. So can price formats that end in the numeral 9, as in $9.99, which tend to signify value but not quality, menu consultants and researchers say.
Tabla is just one of the many restaurants around the country that are feverishly revising their menus. Pounded by the recession, they are hoping that some magic combination of prices, adjectives, fonts, type sizes, ink colors and placement on the page can coax diners into spending a little more money.
“There is constant tinkering going on right now with menus and menu pricing,” said Sheryl E. Kimes, a professor of hospitality management at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. “A lot of creative things are going on because the restaurants are trying to hold on for dear life to make sure they get through this.”
For the operators of most high-end restaurants, the menu psychology is usually drawn from instinct and experience. Mr. Meyer, for example, said he had developed most of his theories through trial and error.
“We thought long and hard about the psychology because this is a complete relaunch of a restaurant entirely through its menu and through the psychology of the menu,” Mr. Meyer said. “The chefs write the music and the menu becomes the lyrics, and sometimes the music is gorgeous and it’s got the wrong lyrics and the lyrics can torpedo the music.”
The use of menu engineers and consultants is exploding in the casual dining arena and among national chains, a sector of the business that has been especially pinched by the economy. In response, they are tapping into a growing body of research into the science of menu pricing and writing, hoping the way to a diner’s heart is not only through the stomach, but through the unconscious.
Huddle House, the family-dining chain with more than 400 restaurants in 17 states, is rolling out a test menu at 20 restaurants next week. The company hired Gregg Rapp, a menu engineer and consultant who holds “menu boot camps” for restaurants around the country. He said he had been “taking dollar signs off menus for 25 years,”
Susan Franck, vice president of marketing for the chain, said she was intrigued about the four types of diners Mr. Rapp had identified. The customers he calls “Entrees” do not want a lot of description, just the bottom line on what the dish is and how much it is going to cost. “Recipes,” on the other hand, ask many questions and want to know as much as they can about the ingredients. “Barbecues” share food and like chatty servers who wear name tags. “Desserts” are trendy people who want to order trendy things.
“We can’t do much of a price increase, yet we’re searching for ways to increase our profit for the franchises,” Ms. Franck said. “If you have a signature item, make a logo for it, put more copy to it, romance the description with smokehouse bacon, country ham or farm fresh eggs.”
She said the chain took dollar signs off the menu in 2007, and now on the test menu, instead of an omelet and orange juice, there is “the light and fluffy Heavenly Omelet” and “Minute Maid orange juice.”
In the “Ten Commandments for Menu Success,” an article published in Restaurant Hospitality magazine in 1994, Allen H. Kelson, a restaurant consultant, wrote, “If admen had souls, many would probably trade them for an opportunity every restaurateur already has: the ability to place an advertisement in every customer’s hand before they part with their money.”
And like advertisements, menus contain plenty of subliminal messages.
Some restaurants use what researchers call decoys. For example, they may place a really expensive item at the top of the menu, so that other dishes look more reasonably priced; research shows that diners tend to order neither the most nor least expensive items, drifting toward the middle. Or restaurants might play up a profitable dish by using more appetizing adjectives and placing it next to a less profitable dish with less description so the contrast entices the diner to order the profitable dish.
Research by Brian Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University and the author of “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think,” suggests that the average person makes more than 200 decisions about food every day, many of them unconsciously, including the choices made from reading menus.
Menu design draws some of its inspiration from newspaper layout, which puts the most important articles at the top right of the front page, where the eyes tend to be drawn. Some restaurants will place their most profitable items, or their specials, in that spot. Or they place a dotted outline or a box around the item, put more white space around it to make the dish stand out or, in what menu researchers say is one of the most effective tools, add a photograph of the item or an icon like a chili pepper.
(Photos of foie gras on the menus of white-tablecloth restaurants would be surprising, however. Menu consultants say those establishments should never use pictures.)
Unless a restaurant wants to frighten its customers, the price should always be at the very end of a menu description and should not be in any way highlighted.
A study published in the spring by Dr. Kimes and other researchers at Cornell found that when the prices were given with dollar signs, customers — the research subjects dined at St. Andrew’s Cafe at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. — spent less than when no dollar signs appeared. The study, published in the Cornell Hospitality Report, also found that customers spent significantly more when the price was listed in numerals without dollar signs, as in “14.00” or “14,” than when it included the word “dollar,” as in “Fourteen dollars.” Apparently even the word “dollar” can trigger what is known as “the pain of paying.”
Mr. Rapp, of Palm Springs, Calif., also says that if a restaurant wants to use prices that include cents, like $9.99 or $9.95 (without the dollar sign, of course), he strongly recommends .95, which he said “is a friendlier price,” whereas .99 is “cornier.” On the other hand, 10, or “10 dollars,” has attitude, which is what restaurants using those price formats are selling.
A dash or a period after the number appears to be more of an aesthetic choice than a psychological tool, according to one of the authors of the menu pricing study, Sybil S. Yang, a doctoral student at Cornell. Numbers followed by neither a dash nor a period are most common.
Mr. Meyer said that in his view, adding zeros to the price, as in 14.00, is not a good idea because “there’s no reason to have pennies if you’re not using pennies, and it takes the price from being two digits into four digits, even if the two last digits are zeros. It’s irrelevant, and the number could feel more important, which is not a menu writer’s goal.”
(Some prices at his restaurants do end in .50, and at Mr. Meyer’s Shake Shack burger joints, his foray into retro-casual dining, some end with .25 or .75 — but the prices are always rounded to the quarter. The Shake Shacks are the only of Mr. Meyer’s restaurants with menu prices preceded by dollar signs.)
Other research by Dr. Wansink found that descriptive menu labels increased sales by as much as 27 percent. He has divided descriptions into four categories: geographic labels like “Southwestern Tex-Mex salad,” nostalgia labels like “ye old potato bread,” sensory labels like “buttery plump pasta” and brand names. Finding that brand names help sales, chains are increasingly using what is known as co-branding on their menus, like the Jack Daniel’s sauce at T.G.I. Friday’s and the Minute Maid orange juice on the Huddle House menu, Dr. Wansink said.
Dr. Wansink said that vivid adjectives can not only sway a customer’s choice but can also leave them more satisfied at the end of the meal than if they had eaten the same item without the descriptive labeling.
Indeed, restaurants like Huddle House and Applebee’s are adding language that suggests a rush of intense satisfaction. At Applebee’s, dishes are described as “handcrafted,” “triple-basted,” “slow-cooked,” “grilled” and “slammed with flavor.”
BUT many higher-end restaurateurs say they are paring the menu by using cleaner and simpler copy. In those cases, many of the items are inherently descriptive, like the Roasted and Braised Suckling Pig at Craft in Manhattan. There, the left side of the menu lists the farms and other sources of its ingredients. Those names were removed from the individual item descriptions in a streamlining effort, and the serving staff is required to explain many of the accompanying ingredients, including sauces, so the copy is spare.
In contemplating the Tabla menu, Mr. Cardoz said he and Mr. Meyer decided there were too many unusual Indian terms that were alienating customers, so they kept only the most recognizable words, like tandoori, paneer and tikka.
Tabla experimented with several different fonts and colors before settling on the final version. At one point, the cost of the liver and other prices were shaded navy blue, and some menu headings were orange. While the final version is in black and white, Mr. Meyer said he was thinking about adding orange and red. He remembers, from a hospitality management class he took years ago, what he learned about the gospel on color: red and blue stimulate appetite, while gray and purple stimulate satiation. You will not find a shade of gray or purple on any of the menus at his 11 restaurants, he said.
Mr. Cardoz, who is also a partner at Tabla, said he considered the menu to be an important tool for communicating with his customers.
“I feel most guests want to know what my inspiration was for any dish, and when they realize there is a connection for me doing something, they want to try it and they want to know it,” he said.
And there was one connection he was definitely not going to take off the menu, whether it was on the chicken liver or the onion rings, which come with “Boodie’s Ketchup”: his mother.
Even brief descriptions on menus like Tabla’s and Craft’s seem verbose compared with those on the menu at Alinea in Chicago, which on a recent night featured esoteric dishes called Peanut Butter and Bubble Gum, with a few more words that did not provide much more illumination. Next to Lemon Soda, the menu simply said: “one bite.”
Alinea offers no à la carte choices, only predetermined tastings, so the menu is not a sales pitch. Instead, it is “a language tool, so we’re trying to uphold the philosophy of the entire restaurant with every component — the sense of nostalgia, the sense of humor,” Alinea’s executive chef, Grant Achatz, said. “With Bubble Gum, there is a kind of mystique to the lack of description. I came from the French Laundry, and each dish came with a paragraph-long description. We want it to be more mysterious as a clean, crisp, graphically laid out object.”
He said he wanted the menu to resemble sheet music, so it has a line of bubbles snaking through the copy. The bigger the bubble, the more bites it takes to consume that dish.
When Alinea opened in 2005 it gave out menus at the start of the meal, like other restaurants. But they were of limited use to diners, Mr. Achatz said, because “our food is so manipulated that even if I wrote ‘venison, cranberries, lentils and beets,’ it’s not going to look like they think it’s going to look anyway.”
Now Mr. Achatz has adopted a practice that turns the world of menu psychology upside down: his customers do not get them until after they eat.