Small details make big impressions

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While stopping to fill up on my way home from doing a job story for a client, I got a tip from a trucker for a “greasy spoon.” The little truck-stop diner was tucked out of site behind a one-strip airport, so it was also a popular cross-country waypoint for private pilots chasing “$100-hamburgers.” He’d just eaten there himself. He promised large portions of the best-tasting diner food I’d ever find.

After the waitress took my order, I realized the buzzing noise I heard wasn’t from the flickering lights. A fly was trapped inside my sugar shaker. I set it free to join some others that were buzzing around another table. I wouldn’t need sugar for a burger and some fries, thank goodness, but it had turned my attention to noticing stains on the broken-tile floor and hazy light of a dust-covered window.

The little distractions didn’t stop my mouth from watering when my order finally arrived: beautifully crisped home-cut fries piled high next to a giant burger overfilled with lettuce, cheese, grilled onion and tomato. A bite of each, and I agreed with the trucker. This diner was a hidden treasure – but then a large gray mat of dust flew off a ceiling fan’s blade slapped me on the head, exploding across my plate and table.

A satisfied trucker still recommended the restaurant. So, do these little details really matter to its brand? That depends entirely upon the promise of the brand.

When your brand represents the smartest, most innovative solutions for your customers’ challenges, you can’t afford any distracting mistakes – flies and dust bombs – in your marketing material. And you shouldn’t have to do it yourself. You can keep your focus on what you do best while letting content specialists like Ellcom (or a marketing communications expert on-staff) handle those tasks for you.

We immerse ourselves in the applications of the industry itself, not just the product line you offer. That’s why we so easily collaborate with sales reps, customers, product end-users, environmental scientists and engineers – we learn and speak their language. This kind of industry fluency tends to make us a fussier about details than those who can rely only on their Ethernet connections, repeating text they merely Googled.

The Web is a very handy source of information, but it’s missing the warning math teachers give their students: You must understand the problem, or your calculator will give you the wrong answer.

Take for example just how wrong basic metric conversions can be. These are tiny, tiny little details that, overlooked, betray ignorance of the concept. Specifications often come in metric values only. They can be copy-pasted straight from the monitor into a document. To get U.S. Customary (“standard”) equivalents that are more convenient for American customers, you could use the same Google browser you found them on to get a quick conversion. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll be putting flies in your sugar shaker.

The following online errors were unfortunately approved by someone else’s clients and published without correction. Our industry-fluent Ellcom editors would have cleaned up details like these in an instant.

– A machine part’s 87 mm diameter was converted to 3 3/7” (What ruler reads in 1/7th inches?)
– A 9 mm fitting was changed to 0.354331” (Why?)
– Nominal class sizes were converted to thousandths of a kilogram (1 kg = 0.035 oz.)
o < 0.6 tons (<544.311 kg)

One hard-copy brochure showed inches converted into metric “fractions” – 16” (41/100 m). That’s just funny! – unless, of course, you paid for that brochure.

Each little mistake above shows the writer had no clue what the figures represented. I bet your customers do. Will you lose a rig sale for a nonsense conversion on a sales sheet? Probably not. But don’t they have to wonder, if you permit your dining room to be this messy, what’s your kitchen like?

We offer you far more than just keeping your brand distraction-free. Our knowledge of your industry provides you with professional, full-spectrum content generation. We’ll take care of your social media management, ad copy, press releases and case studies for magazines, brochures and sales sheets, white papers and technical papers – all prepared and edited by our highly trained, professional staff with boots-on-the-ground industry experience.

The result? Content that is to the point. Professional. Distraction free. On-message.

Joe Bradfield is senior writer for Ellenbecker Communications

 

LinkedIn is my travel advisor

Matt Fueston is an Account Manager for Ellenbecker Communications, is responsible for new business development, and contributes as a staff writer.

Maybe that is a bit of an overstatement. But the LinkedIn Group that I joined back in March has provided me with a resource that I would hate to do without now that I know it exists.

“Jet: The Business Traveler Network, Powered by Capital One” has a community of business travelers that covers the spectrum from wide-eyed newbie (“Oh, boy, I’ll bet business travel is glamorous!”) to grizzled, unflappable veterans of the sky (“Just get me there and back with as little pain as possible.”) The former make me feel young again and the latter just make me feel like I’m not all alone out there.

I know that there are a lot of social networking sites as well as travel-specific sites, but I really don’t have the time to find them, or to stay current with them. I like the fact that LinkedIn, my go-to social network, can provide me with a daily dose of current chatter on topics that are of interest to a traveler. Of course, some topics don’t apply to me specifically—I’m not in the market for a new piece of luggage, for instance. But the recent discussion about problems with a popular brand of laptop backpacks was interesting; I bookmarked it and a few other luggage-related topics to go back and review the next time I am in the market for a new backpack or rollaboard. Nothing beats real-world feedback from people that you know are not internet trolls or spammers.

I also like the fact that every change in air travel regulation or hotel or airline loyalty programs is discussed, dissected and deciphered by experienced users of these services. They are businesspeople like me, their point of view is likely to march with mine, and they do not answer to the service providers. Like most business travelers, they tend to be good Samaritans, happy to share a tip or an insight that will save their peers a bit of aggravation.

Here are some of my favorite recent topics:

– U.S. airports with the worst signage and how to deal with them
– The worst airports for rental car pickups and returns]
– Do you plan to enroll in the TSA’s PreCheck now that it is expanding?
– What is an appropriate tip for the maid at a hotel?
– Best restaurants in various business destinations…

And the next time that I have a specific question to ask about a particular airport or airline or hotel or conference center, I know where I will go first to find the answer.

If you haven’t tried this group in LinkedIn yet, give it a shot! It is certainly worth a test-drive.

The Call of the Wild

Joe Bradfield is senior writer for Ellenbecker Communications.

Working a silver mine story near Juneau, Alaska, I was overwhelmed by how routine man’s co-existence with nature was there. Eden has not been lost after all. Here the human footprint has not squished aside nature like mud around a boot. The mine itself was on an island hosting the world’s densest concentration of brown bears. Deer lined up along the road to watch our bus come back down to the ferry. I saw glaciers, seals, whales, eagles, and spawning salmon. But most impressed upon my memory are the trees.

Juneau is surrounded by the United States’ largest protected woodland, the Tongass National Forest. I had known, of course, spruce grew that tall. But it was secondhand, cognitive fact. To be standing at the base of one of those evergreens looking up to the clouds through its limbs, nearly falling over backward to look for its top, is so much more than fact. And the density of that forest! Mendenhall Valley residents do not have yards: they insert a cabin or house beneath the trees that remains hidden until you are abreast its driveway.

In Juneau, skyscraper spruce look down upon lowly buildings six and seven stories tall. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder as mothers in a nursery, they protect its infants from low and heavy clouds bulging round them, monstrous gray caricatures crowding close, taunted by humanity’s bumptious intrusion. Moving colors and unsettled sounds lay in sacrilegious contrast to the pre-historic backdrop of moss-laden, ragged branches hanging tired against dark green eternity. And the clouds of Juneau demand silent reverence.

Reluctantly, I left Juneau as I found it, beneath its moist grey veil, promising a glimpse inside the treasure chest to any who’ll wait for the sun.