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Unwritten etiquette rules in business writing

Communicating on behalf of your business requires professionalism and a clear understanding of writing etiquette. For many reasons, you need to pay attention to detail when writing for business as writing does not always portray the tone and humour you hoped for a client to read. Keep your writing clear and to the point. After all, you want to be taken seriously with whatever you say to a client or customer.

Not everyone is capable of writing beautiful emails and lengthy business strategies in a professional manner. If that is the case for you or one of your staff members, consider looking into business writing skills courses. Skills development in the workplace is always valuable for any position, giving employees the tools they need to succeed in many different environments, and on a professional level. 

Here are a few important tips to consider when writing for your business:

  • Avoid slang and jargon in your writing

So, you might be a jolly employee or content writer who is used to writing humorous blog articles and so forth, but when you’re writing to a professional in the industry, you need to keep your approach standard and neutral. If you don’t know the person, you might not know what type of mood they’re going to receive your email in or what their personality is like, so this could lead to a very bad experience. Another tip is that you might not be contacting someone in your field of work, therefore they will not be familiar with your jargon. Stick to formal writing that is free of slang and any complex words that might make it difficult for the person reading the email to understand. After all, the wrong approach can cause a major misunderstanding which could have been prevented by keeping to the topic and being clear.

  • Keep business emails conversational

As much as you want to keep it formal and professional, try to steer away from having your business writing sound like a sales pitch. You need to speak in a conversational manner, without overstuffing the content with fluffy information that doesn’t add any value. Keep things to the point, but write according to the way that you speak. Always remember that an email is a business conversation through a different medium, so should you be meeting up with your colleague, client or customer thereafter, you will need to continue your conversation in such a way that complements your business writing on paper.

  • Consider cultural differences

When speaking on behalf of your business or the company which you work for, it’s important to consider cultural differences. You might not know the person who you will be communicating with, therefore a standard universal communication approach is best. Always avoid political encounters and respect the cultural differences the person might have. Everyone has different attitudes and beliefs on certain topics, therefore you need to think carefully about your words and try your best not to offend the reader in any way. The same goes for blog writing and general business communications, offline and online.

  • General know-how

Once you’ve considered the above, think about the time in which you send and respond to emails as this could negatively affect your relationship with the person on the other side. Speak with courtesy and address people in the right manner. If you’ve received an email from someone with other people copied into the email, be sure to think wisely about replying to “all”. Business communication is restrictive in the sense that you should only show others what they need to know. It could look petty if you copy everyone in everytime you receive an email, and it could give away confidential information to the wrong people. As minor as you might think the need for business writing skills and courses can be, always remember that the first encounter over email can leave a good or bad impression. You choose what you’d like to portray.

Proofread the copy before you press send and make sure that you spell everyone’s names properly.

Final thoughts

Staff training in Cape Town and elsewhere in South Africa is something businesses should always consider when looking to make a good impression. People who deal with clients and projects on a daily basis will have a knack for good business writing skills. However, if you’re not familiar with how to communicate with your customers, you need to learn how to speak professionally for your own good and the sake of your company.

The above-mentioned tips are four simple, yet very important rules of email and writing etiquette you should keep in mind if you want to impress the next person you communicate with. Creating new relationships with clients will depend on the type of impression you’ve made. Successful partnerships have strong communication as their foundation, so be respectful in your choice of words and always be courteous. You’ll be able to avoid several awkward encounters or miscommunications simply by following these tips.

What to look for in a BPO service for your business

Business process outsourcing (BPO) is a popular service that businesses choose to make use of. By outsourcing some of the more mundane and non-directly-business-related tasks, they can focus on core business processes and reduce operating costs. These, amongst other benefits, have created a demand for BPO companies which has been catered for. The issue, now, is to try and choose the correct outsourcing centre for your business.

You need to know what to look for in a BPO company, whether it’s for human resources, a contact centre company or financial outsourcing. Each outsourced operation concerns the wellbeing of your business, so you cannot afford to hire a BPO service company which won’t do your business justice.

Understands business goals

 

Your BPO company needs to understand your business goals in order to approach and perform their processes the same way you would if you had decided to undertake those tasks. More importantly, you need to establish what your outsourcing goals are with the company you’re considering.

Knowing exactly what you want out of an outsourcing centre will make it easier to find one that can accommodate most, if not all, of those goals. If you’re looking to reduce operations costs, provide a contact centre as a service, enhance your customers’ experience or see a return on investment through outsourcing, you need to find a company that is willing to help you achieve that.    

Industry proficiency

 

When browsing for a contact centre company, for example, you need to think beyond the service offering of handling your customer service department. You need to know that they are at least knowledgeable in your industry.

It’s important to your customers that they are able to communicate their issue and have the consultant on the other end understand and know exactly how to help them. When you look for a BPO service, make sure they have trained employees with an industry background that covers your type of work.

You find this out by asking about previous clients and industries that they’ve dealt with. The idea is to have it be an in-house level of service from an outsourced centre. And if you’re confident that the company you choose can deliver that, then they’re likely a good fit for your business.

Turnover rate

 

If you’re spending money on a company in return for a service, you want to know that the employees of that company are treated well. Take a look at a BPO company’s turnover rate before you make a final decision.

An outsourcing centres’ greatest asset is their people and their people become your concern when you entrust the wellness of your business processes in their hands. Employee morale and satisfaction in your BPO company is indirectly your concern as it can have an effect on the quality of service they give your customers on your behalf.

Not to mention that employees at outsourcing centres need to be trained and the higher the turnover rate, the more new employees need to be trained which could increase the rates you were initially offered.

Range of technology

One of the advantages of using a business process outsource service is that you don’t need to find a way to finance the latest technology and equipment for those services in-office. You simply pay for the service from an outsourcing company which already has these assets available to them. Well, that’s the idea anyway.

When you’re in the process of finding a BPO service, find out about the technology and systems they use to do their outsourcing tasks. This is an opportunity for you to invest in a range of technologies at an affordable price and use it for the benefit of your business. And just like that, you have an opportunity to compete with larger businesses and be considered an industry-forward business.

Clear communication

Another thing you need to look for in a BPO company is clear communication. Especially if it’s a contact centre company (for obvious reasons). You need to be able to trust this company to take care of your customers and to keep you informed.

Developing a relationship with your outsource centre is important to ensure that there’s transparency in your conversations. You need to be clear about what you want and they need to be clear about how they are implementing that. More so, they need to be able to provide detailed reports that can show you where you’re getting a return on your investment (ROI) and how it’s working for your business.

It should be easy to negotiate, set terms and collaborate with your BPO partner. You both have the same goals for your business so there needs to be trust in this partnership – together you will make your business better.

No one can tell you which outsourcing company to use. It’s up to you to do your research, match your goals to their offerings and find a company that you’re comfortable with. It might take time, but it’s not a process you can afford to rush.

Secrets to starting your own successful beauty salon

Starting your own beauty salon requires more than a Pinterest board of what you wish to achieve. There is plenty of planning and preparation that goes into the business aspect of your salon before you can think about the decor and detail you want to add to give your new business the sparkle it needs.

Before you can reap the “fun” benefits of owning and running a beauty salon, you need to start your business on the right foot. Be forward-thinking and approach your new venture as a business deal. While it might be unusual in the sense that you don’t work a regular 9am to 5pm job, you certainly need to have the mindset as if it were. You need to have a structured management plan in place and lean on the correct people for help. You might “think” that you can do it alone, but you simply cannot. Maximise your budget by incorporating everything you need to run your dream business and make a living.

Here are a few tips to consider when starting your first salon business:

  • Finalise your business plan

Just because you don’t perceive your business to be a corporate or similarly structured business, you still need a business plan to execute your goals and work towards your business objectives. It’s pointless diving head-first into a business concept if you haven’t planned for it. There are plenty of factors that play a role in a business environment that you will need to consider. You will need to have a proper plan in place of where you want your business to grow to. Your business plan will need to be updated and tweaked every couple of years in order to document your growth and to see how far you’ve come.

  • Secure your finances and budget accordingly

In your business plan, you will need to draw up a costing of what it will take to start and grow your business. If you do not have access to the capital amount that you need, you will need to look at alternative financing options. From equipment to cash flow, salaries and more, you will need to have the correct finances to successfully start your own business. Take a personal loan, for example. Fill in a loan application to apply for any outstanding amount. During this process, make sure you have a clear understanding of what the terms and conditions are of your loan and how long it will take to pay back the money. You can view the amount that you might qualify for beforehand by searching for a personal loan calculator, as well as the repayment amount through a loan repayment calculator.

  • Choose the correct salon staff for your business

Anyone starting a business knows that the correct staff can make or break your name and reputation. Beauty therapists and employees need to be bubbly and engaging with your customers. Make sure that you choose staff members who will go the extra mile to create long-term relationships with your customers and keep them coming back for more. When your salon grows, you will need to hire more people, but the best advice is to start small and lower your overheads until your business really starts to take off. Once you’ve shown the public who you are and how much you pride yourself in good customer service, the easier it will be to employ more people based on your increase in profitability.

  • Invest in insurance for startups

As you know, insurance is something that cannot be compromised on. If not in your personal life, then not in your business either. Because you’re working in an industry that requires thousands of Rands worth of equipment, it’s vital to insure your equipment and assets. Not only will insurance protect your business and employees, but also your customers. Before you employ anyone, ensure you’ve done your research and consulted with a professional company which can guide you and help you with this process.

  • Think about your services, pricing and products

Your prices should be directly related to your target audience. If you are based in a middle to lower LSM area, you cannot charge luxury rates because your customers are unlikely to afford it. So, you need to be extremely careful with your products and services pricing. Salon treatment products are extremely costly, so it is advised that you stick to a small menu before branching out and offering more than you can afford to maintain. Do your research and speak to other professionals in the industry to learn more about the market. At the end of the day, you need to analyse your expenses and set your prices accordingly.

  • Don’t forget to market your business

Lastly, make absolutely sure that you can set aside a budget to pay for your marketing fees. When starting out, you need to advertise your business to the public if you want to create awareness and become known in the industry. Print is expensive and cannot always guarantee the return on investment that you had hoped for, therefore you should focus on social media. Digital is the way to go. If you create engaging content and advertisements that are shareable, you’ll be able to reach your targeted audience in no time. These platforms will help you to create and boost your brand’s awareness.

How to grow your career in content marketing

In the digital age, content marketing plays a vital role in a successful communications strategy. The internet is filled with thousands of content sources, so if you want to create awareness around your brand, you need to work extra hard to have your content recognised above your competitors. The key is to create engaging content so that you can boost your traffic which leads to conversions, and grow your bottom line.

Without the right content, your campaign won’t work. And this is where content marketers become important. To be a content marketer, you need to have a specific skill set to be able to excel in the digital world. Here are a few of the most important content marketing skills needed to grow your career:

  • Build your writing knowledge

If you’re dealing with content and words on a daily basis, you need to be skilled in this department. You need to be comfortable with writing and have a deep understanding of the English language. On that note, it’s important to understand the difference between print writing and writing for a digital website.

A good place to start improving your skills is to start off as a copywriter or in a content producer position and familiarise yourself with marketing through the various digital marketing courses. This will prepare you for marketing management and wrap your head around the various writing tones, phrases and words used to deliver content on behalf of brands. Writing for companies will teach you how to market their products or services, and monitor the performance of each piece of writing. If you see that something is not generating traffic or awareness, learn from your approach. Digital writing is different to print as you need to incorporate various keywords into your writing, in order for Google to promote your content.

Content writing changes by the day, much like the digital space. You need to keep educating yourself about the internet and follow your competitors online. This will give you an indication of what works and what doesn’t. And that will teach you how to improve your writing according to a specific market.

  • Develop your technological skills

As mentioned, digital writing is a completely new ballgame. You will need to be familiar with working on a computer and the various digital marketing tools used to steer your content ideas. Most content marketers create content for different websites, therefore you need to be skilled in content management systems such as WordPress. Technical skills such as this as well as search engine optimisation (SEO) and a brief understanding of coding, will help to boost your career opportunities as many companies are looking for people who are already skilled and trained in these tools. Before you consider pursuing this career path, make sure you do your research on these applications to help better your knowledge of the online world.

  • Connect with your creative side

Creativity is a skill that you need to learn. Of course, there are some people who are certainly more creative than others, but you need to cultivate your own creativity. This can be achieved through creative activities such as reading, painting, drawing, poetry and more. If you have an eye for design, it’s a bonus. Having these creative abilities will ensure that you write better and deliver impressive results.

  • Learn how to research properly and efficiently

As mentioned, the digital space allows you access to thousands of content sources. In order to keep up with the industry and the latest trends, you need to educate yourself and keep informed about the latest news. Google allows you to research absolutely anything about the industry, and learn from it.

When you are writing fresh, new content, you need to stick to the latest sources and ensure your content is up to date. Poor researching skills and information can give you a bad reputation as a writer. The internet is particularly useful when researching about customer behaviour and trends. You will learn more about the type of content they like or dislike, and based on their actions, you will be able to adjust your approach to suit their needs. The same goes for a brand’s competitors. You will be able to leverage the internet to create unique and creative campaigns for your client, based on research and current trends.

  • Focus on developing your own personal brand

Lastly, the most important way to showcase your skills and jumpstart your career is by utilising social media platforms and creating your own online portfolio to generate awareness for you and your talents. You need to learn how to sell yourself to others, and this can be learned through sales and marketing courses. Find your position in the market and make sure that you keep your personal brand fresh.

These platforms are ideal when looking for a job in content marketing or even freelance work as people will be able to learn more about you. Take advantage of the digital world and connect with influential leaders in the field or network with professionals who can guide you in your career.

How to make the most of your video wall display

Wherever you go, you’re likely to see a video display wall controller. Companies, shopping malls and retail stores are investing in video wall technology to boost their brand, engage with their audiences and make their presence known.

Digital screens as a video wall display are easy to use, maintain and update as swiftly as trends change and, therefore, makes it an accessible technological advancement to have in your business for marketing or informative purposes. You just need to know how to make the most of your video wall display for you and your business.

Decide on its function

The first thing you’ll need to do is decide on its function. One of the great things about wall controllers is that they can be used to fulfil a variety of functions. Their main purpose, however, is to engage and interact with people.

  • Digital billboards: Digital signage is an easy way to catch consumers’ attention, making it a perfect addition to your retail store. There are so many ways to incorporate video wall displays in-store to enhance and promote the products on offer and draw customers through the doors.
  • Data visualisation: A popular integration of video wall display controllers in a business are for data screens. This allows for companies to set up a data control room with incoming, business-related, statistics and insights that can help them improve and make informed business decisions on the spot.
  • Security control: What better way to see everything that’s happening in your business building or retail store than by viewing all the camera feed, from every angle, in a security control room with a video wall display controller unit? Security control rooms need wall controllers to be able to successfully monitor and implement security protocols to ensure the safety of the business, its assets and its people.

These are but a few examples of how you can decide to use your video display wall, but it will always be tailored to your business’ needs.

Use high-quality screens

For a wall display that people will be looking at and interacting with, you’re going to need high-quality screens to do the job. The size and quantity of the screens that will make up your video display wall will depend on what you need it for. Either way, people will be looking at it and need to be able to clearly read and consume the content that it displays.

There are a few screen qualities you need to ensure are top-notch. Namely:

  • Brightness: Brightness plays a large role in the impact-value of your video wall. If a screen is blindingly bright or not bright enough as a result of the environmental elements (being outdoors in direct sunlight, for example), it’s not going to have the captivating effect you want it to have.
  • Resolution: You also need to make sure that your screens are operating with a high resolution that will keep your content clear and crisp on the screen from all viewing distances. For this, you will need to refer to the screen pixel pitch and make sure the resolution will be adequate for your wall controller use.
  • Colour quality: Both the brightness and resolution will affect the colour quality of your display. And the colour will be the element that catches a person’s attention so you need to make sure that red is clearly red and distinguishable from orange and pink, for example.

Choose an appropriate layout, location and mounting method

The next step is to choose an appropriate layout and location for your video wall, which will depend on what you’re going to be using it for. If you’re using it to lure customers in and draw attention, you might choose the display windows of your retail store as the perfect location for your video wall. In-store, you might also choose to arrange your display wall in an unconventional pattern to draw in extra attention.  

And if you’re using it for office purposes, you would likely stick to the conventional grid layout. Especially when it comes to security and data displays as it makes it easier to read and follow the information. These screens would generally be located in separate rooms as they can be distracting to other employees and may also contain sensitive business information.

With regards to the mounting method, you can mount it directly to the wall or install it as a recessed display. A direct wall-mount is easier to control the space, allowing the heated air generated to flow away from the screens and not cause them to overheat. With recessed displays, you will need to invest in a cooling vent system on top of the video display wall.

It’s nothing without great content

 

Once you have the necessary tools to create an amazing video wall display, you need to have great content to make it worth all of the effort. Without quality, relevant and interesting content, your video display will just be a few dull screens on the wall.