To emoticon or not to emoticon – that is the question.

EmoticonYesterday I came home, checked my mail and was jazzed to see my March copy of Inc. Magazine in the mailbox. On the last page was the section of The Office by Leigh Buchanan where she expressed her extreme displeasure in the use of emoticons in business correspondence.

I’m guessing that my March issue is so hot-off-the-press and that’s why I have yet to find the link to the article from Inc’s website. Once it’s up, I’ll link it here.

So what is the role of emoticons? I agree, in a business correspondence it’s an understudy at best. Yet, I find that in the absence of any other form of expression with someone who you have had a long standing relationship with, a simple smiley can be good.

I’m thinking specifically of a client that I’ve had for about 6 months. We are in completely different time zones – she’s in California, I’m on the East Coast near Washington DC. 99% of our correspondence is via e-mail. When I submit an idea, her emoticon at the end of the “looks great” makes a big difference. It actually reminds me that I am dealing with a human who has feelings and it helps me picture her on the other end of cyberspace and the emotions she’s expressing. To me, this is important, because I can gauge whether or not a project is on the right track.

Ms. Buchanan also suggests the complete eradication of emoticons – and puts the idea to her readers that they replace the simple 🙂 with a long, drawn-out description such as:

“Picture if you will a colon: one tiny, perfect dot poised above its brother. Now imagine that colon transformed into a pair of eyes, bright and sparkling with mischief. From between those dots extends a hyphen. Yet screw up your eyes and…do you see it? A nose! Yes, a nose! Patrician in its straightness it dips toward the generous curve of a closing parenthesis. That parenthesis is a mouth, corners up-tilted in mirth. Viewed in a sum, these marks compose a face whose expression of gentle amusement suggests the good humor intended in the previous remark”

Are you serious!?

I’m all for literary masterpieces, yet if you don’t have time for a 🙂 how the heck do you have time for THAT?

I find this as a classic symptom of the literary superiority syndrome. There are just some cases where a simple graphic can capture the feelings that are too complex for words (remember “a picture is worth a thousand words”) Finding the balance between graphics and words is the real aim of the game.

I wonder if people had the same reaction when contractions entered the picture? I think emoticons will eventually fall into the same category as don’t, won’t, etc.

You won’t use them in business correspondence, but they do have their place.

🙂

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Internet Slang

So I was using one of my favorite reference books, Slang, by Paul Dickson and I ran accross some pretty interesting Internet terms.slang-thumbnail.jpg

Angry Fruit Salad – a website with too many bright colors

Bandwith Hugger – Someone who fights spam. According a junk e-mail glossary in the October 2005 issue of Inc. magazine, “So called because he won’t yield any system capacity [bandwidth] to junk e-mail.”

Bit Barfing – Overwhelming web visitors with extensive information

Cobweb – a Web site that is never updated

GMTA – Great minds think alike

Ham – good e-mail. Not Spam

LSHITIWMP – Laughing so hard I think I wet my pants

Netiquette – Online etiquette. One basic rule: All caps are rude. YOU DON’T HAVE TO SHOUT, SO DON’T DO IT, OK?

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Is your marketing message sticky?

In this month’s Inc. Magazine, Editor Mike Hofman sits down with authors (and brothers) Chip and Dan Heath to discuss their views on what makes a marketing message “stick.”

The Heath brothers’ new book, Made to Stick (view their blog at www.madetostick.com) suggests that in order for a message to make an impact, it possesses most of the following characteristics:Made to Stick

1. It is simple – How true. How many times have you been told to K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, silly) when in debate of which path to choose? My personal opinion is that in order for a message to be effective, a 4th grader should have no problem “getting it.”

2. It’s a core message – Messages that really get to the heart of what someone in your target market deams important. Otherwise – “NEXT!”

3. It’s unexpected – Here’s where we as marketers get to be creative and why I love this business. Looking to build a buzz around your brand? Focus here (while making an extra effort to ensure you are subscribing to all other “sticky” suggestions).

4. It’s concrete, credible, and emotional – yes, yes, and yes.

5. It’s a story – we as a species (yes, this does transcend race, gender and creed and goes straight to humanity) love stories. Just watch the Discovery Channel and you’ll learn how modern humans survived because of our immagination and the ability to communicate. Stories are vital. Stories sell.

According to the Heath brothers, their favorite modern day example of these sticky suggestions is Subway’s Jared (the guy who put himself on the “Subway diet” and lost lots and lots and lots of weight). And the proof is in the pudding – this ad campaign “stuck”

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com