Writing Tips


  • When writing consider the recipients. What do they know already? What can you tell them?
  • Outline your memos and letters before beginning to write.
  • When writing reports, summarize key points or conclusions on the first page and document them with more information on subsequent pages.
  • Write like you speak to make your writing as readable as possible.
  • Learn the writing style of your organization and follow it. Don’t use flowery language (many adjectives and verbs) when inappropriate.
  • Have your secretary or assistant edit and proofread your correspondence for sentence structure and grammatical errors.
  • Keep dictionary thesaurus on hand to check spelling and word usage.
  • Use variety of sentence structures—simple, complex, and compound—to add interest to your writing.
  • When writing for a non-ethical audience, have a non-technical person identify jargon. Then either eliminate it or include a glossary defining the terms.
  • Use charts and tables wherever possible to present numerical information.
  • Use “action verbs” to add punch to your message.
  • Eliminate weak words like “very,” “interesting,” “often,” and other bland adjectives or adverbs.
  • Keep paragraphs short. Make sure the content of a paragraph revolves around only one thought—the topic sentence.
  • If you do a large amount of routine correspondence, standardize it as much as possible.
  • If procrastination is a problem, start writing a rough draft early so you have time to reverse it at least once.
  • When allocating blocks of time for writing, set aside periods of one to one-and-a-half hours, rather than trying to do it in segments of 5 to 15 minutes.
  • Develop a flash card system to work in your own common misspellings.
  • Dictate correspondence, memos, and so forth, to save time.
  • Seek immediate and specific feedback on reports you write.
  • Take a second or third look at your memos before sending them.
  • Use a grammar checking software program on your computer to identify errors you frequently make, and use that feedback to focus your efforts to improve your writing.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Advertisements

Fear Appeals


Companies sometimes use fear appeals in attempting to motivate customers to action. The underlying logic when using fear appeals is that fear will stimulate audience involvement with a message and thereby promote acceptance of message arguments. The appeals may take the form of social disapproval or physical danger. For example, mouthwashes, deodorants, toothpastes, and other products make us aware of the social disapproval we may suffer if our breath is not fresh, if our underarms are not dry, or if our teeth are not white.

Aside from the basic ethical issue of whether fear should be used at all,  the fundamental issue for marketing communicators is determining how intense the fear presentation should be.

When using fear appeals, advertisers stand a greater chance of converting numerous of a product to its use than of convincing consumers to switch brands.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Building Business Pipeline


  1. Every week, select ten companies or organizations that meet your ‘target’ market profile. List these names, addresses and phone numbers. Select these carefully and include referrals.
  2. Make a research cell to each and identify the most appropriate initial contact. You do not need to speak to this person at this stage, talk to the receptionist or assistant instead.
  3. Send a one-page ‘success’ letter and a very brief overview of what benefits you can offer. Mail on a Thursday or Friday. Focus on your capabilities and how you can benefit the prospect.
  4. Telephone each ‘suspect’ that you mailed within 3-5 days. As 50 percent will be unavailable, log callbacks in your diary. Don’t be surprised if they don’t remember your letter, review it on the phone. Dropping names or using benefits by association can be useful.
  5. Have a prepared call sheet, questions and reasons for an appointment (your goal is a short initial meeting). Offer a benefit to your meeting: share ideas, examples, etc.
  6. Set aside time each week for research, mailing and planning – consistency is vital for this to work. You might find it better to aim for one hour a day rather than one whole day each week.
  7. Maintain accurate but brief reports to monitor your progress and to track activity.
  8. After approximately 10-12 weeks of containing new suspects, reduce the new contacts by between 50 percent and 80 percent and instead go back through all those people you contacted previously and re-contact them, i.e., stay in touch with suspects and prospects every three months. Things often change and if you have selected potential prospects well, it may only be a matter of time before you do business.
  9. Make sure that the subsequent 90 day contact contains something new, interesting or different, even if only very slightly. This also makes sure that you don’t appear too pushy.

10.  No matter how busy you get, always make time to keep in touch with new suspects and prospects in this way on a planned and consistent basis.

The rules:

  1. Do not allow any one customer to contribute more than 30 percent of you sales in any given quarter.
  2. Make sure that at least 30 percent of your sales pipelines is from new business, the rest should be from existing customers or referrals. Do not rely on existing customers to the exclusion of new customers.
  3. Always have a third more sales in the pipeline than you need.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Most Important Personal Asset


Obviously the real answer is common sense. But if you don’t have it already, you probably never will, and there’s nothing I can say here that’s going to change that.

Common sense aside, then, the most important asset in business is a sense of humor, an ability to laugh at yourself or the situation.

Laughter is the most potent, constructive force for diffusing business tension, and you want to be the one who controls it. If you can point out what is humorous or absurd about a situation or confrontation, can diffuse the tension by getting the other party to share your feeling, you will be guaranteed the upper hand. There are very few absolutes in business. This is one of them, and it will never fail.

A sense of humor creates one of the most favorable long-term impressions. A single humorous, self-effacing comment can immediately let someone know that you don’t take yourself too seriously, and that is the sort of thing that people remember.

It is also the best way to start a meeting. You don’t need to have them rolling in the aisles, but a mildly pleasant remark at the outset will create the right atmosphere for everything that follows. Humor is what brings back perspective, which, next to profits, is the easiest thing to lose in business.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Using Administrative Skills


  • Identify the three to five critical success factors that you and your group must accomplish to achieve your goals. Then develop plans to achieve them.
  • Set aside “quiet time” each day for reviewing plans and updating planning activities.
  • To balance attention to detail with broader planning, ask for feedback to ensure that you are not stressing on area over the other.
  • Build your annual department goals and objectives around the strategic plan. Then develop monthly, weekly, and daily plans to accomplish your strategic goals and objectives.
  • Have employees submit an annual work plan for your review. Ask them to include specific objectives, priorities, and time tables. Seek opportunities for assignments, requiring strategic planning.
  • Study the long-range plan for your company or division and  consider its implications for your department.
  • Break large projects into several smaller steps, with deadlines for each step. Ask for feedback regarding the adequacy of your project plan.
  • Set definite deadlines with your manager when taking on tasks.
  • Add more details to your plans.
  • Ask your manager to let you know of instances when your planning could be more effective.
  • Request assignments that require careful planning and attention to detail.
  • After your plan is developed, ask others to identify potential problems. Then determine your contingency plans.
  • Make it a habit to do an environmental scan when doing strategic planning.
  • If your specialty is strategy, use your team and peers to help develop tactics.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Shedding Light on Quality Awareness


An organization will not begin the transformation until it is aware that the quality of the product or service must be improved. Awareness comes about when an organization loses market share or realizes that quality and productivity go hand in hand. It also occurs if TQM is mandated by the customer or if management realizes that TQM is a better way to run business and compete in domestic and world markets.

Automation or other productivity enhancements might not help a corporation if it is unable to market its product or service because the quality is poor. The Japanese learned this fact from practical experience. They could sell their products only at ridiculously low prices, and even then it was difficult to secure repeat sales. Until recently, corporations have not recognized the importance of quality. However, a new attitude has emerged—quality first among the equals of cost and service—the customer wants value.

Quality and productivity are not mutually exclusive. Improvements in quality can lead directly to increased productivity and other benefits. The improved quality results in improvement in productivity, capacity, and profit. Many quality improvement projects are achieved with the same workforce, same overhead, and no investment in new equipment.

More and more corporations are recognizing the importance and necessity of quality improvement if they are to survive domestic and world-wide competition. Quality improvement is not limited to the conformance of the product or service to specifications; it also involves the inherent quality in the design of the system. The prevention of the product, service, and process problems is a more desirable objective than taking corrective action after the product is manufactured or a service rendered.

TQM does not occur overnight; there are no quick remedies. It takes a long time to build the appropriate emphasis and techniques into the culture. Over-emphasis on short term results and profits must be set aside so long-term planning and constancy of purpose will prevail.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Japanese Philosophy


Everyone is aware, to some degree, of the major inroads the Japanese have made and are continuing to make in US markets, including automobiles, electronics, cameras, computer hardware, machine tools, and aerospace. In automobiles, the United States has fought back strongly.

There are many examples where the Japanese have taken over an American plant, kept the same workers, laid off half of management, and doubled productivity! Some of the elements of Japanese philosophy include:

  1. 1. Worker Flexibility: Rather than being specialized, workers are trained to do many different tasks, making for a flexible process and reduced WIP.
  2. 2. Jidoka Quality at the Source: If a bad unit is made, it is not set aside. The entire process is stopped, and everyone looks to find the problem. This again reduces WIP and does not allow continued production a bad goods.
  3. 3. Just-in-Time Production: An item is produced exactly when it is needed. This works best for repetitive manufacturing, so all processes are designed to be repetitive manufacturing. Kanban control systems were developed for this situation.
  4. 4. Uniform Plant Loading: Confusion and shock waves from changing things are avoided by having exactly the same thing made every day. One way to do this is to establish a standard mix of products to be made every day.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight