Recently we seem to have had a spate of marketing emails from people without any regard for the rules on privacy!
We all make mistakes but a lack of knowledge of the rules puts their business reputation at risk and exposes them to a substantial fine.
If you provide unsolicited marketing material, the Information Commissioner’s Office produces a handy Direct Marketing Checklist which includes a guide to the marketing rules. You can download it here.
If you are going to telephone a business for unsolicited sales and marketing purposes you are legally required to make sure that they are not on the Corporate TPS.
The Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) is the central opt out register for corporate subscribers to register their wish not to receive unsolicited sales and marketing telephone calls.
To make sure you don’t break the law and potentially damage your reputation you can check if a number is registered using the online TPS Checker.
You have to register, but then its free to check up to a certain number of phone numbers per day – it’s a simple and quick way to check rather than making a costly mistake that could also harm your reputation.
As business owners we know that a positive online endorsement can help sell our products and services.
Checking out blogs, vlogs and other online endorsements is an increasingly common way for people to decide what particular product or service to buy.
It is not illegal for businesses to pay people or publications to promote their products in online articles.
BUT the people that publish such content, both the businesses that want to get their products endorsed and any media agencies that place endorsements all need to make sure that the consumer knows that the endorsement has been paid for.
Misleading consumers may breach consumer protection law. Also the UK Advertising Codes, published by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), contain rules to ensure marketing communications are easily identifiable.
I don’t know about you but it really bugs me when I see an apostrophe being used incorrectly. If you have a reputation to uphold then the last thing you want to do is damage it by sending out written material that contains errors.
You wouldn’t believe the problems this tiny little punctuation mark can cause. It’s so insignificant you probably don’t even notice it when you’re reading at normal speed….
….and that’s the nub of the issue. People either don’t notice it’s there (or not) or they don’t notice whether it’s correct (or not), but for pedants like me, I do notice it!
So, let’s have a quick look at the only two instances when an apostrophe should be used.
To show that something belongs to someone, e.g.
Singular nouns and personal names:
The dog’s tail – says that the tail belongs to the dog.
John’s car – says that the car belongs to John.
Personal names that end in –s:
Charles’s ball – says that the ball belongs to Charles.
BUT some place names are an exception to this rule, e.g. St Thomas’ Hospital
Plural nouns that end in –s:
The dogs’ bowls – says that the bowls belong to some dogs.
Employees’ workplace – says that the workplace belongs to the employees.
Plural nouns not ending in –s:
The men’s hats – says that the hats belong to the men.
The children’s toys – says that the toys belong to the children.
The women’s coats – says the coats belong to the women.
To show that letters have been left out, e.g.
I’m – short for ‘I am’
They’re – short for ‘they are’
Didn’t – short for ‘did not’
He’ll – short for ‘he will’
It’s – short for ‘it is’
The apostrophe goes where the letters have been missed out and are used this way in informal writing. You should not shorten words when you are writing formal letters or emails.
One of the commonest mistakes I see is where people use an apostrophe to express a plural, especially when figures are involved, e.g.
In the 1980’s…
This is incorrect because it’s talking about the decade from 1980 to 1989 so it’s a plural and should be written ‘1980s’.
As a proofreader this kind of mistake is the sort of thing that I’m on the lookout for, not just because I’m a pedant, but to ensure that your writing is accurate, looks professional and is error-free. This gives you peace of mind safe in the knowledge that whatever you’re publishing will mean your readers will focus on your message or the meaning of your content and not looking for the next mistake.
If you would like me to help you to ‘get it right first time’, then please contact me on:
The legal name of a business is the name of the person or entity that owns it. This is the legal trading entity.
If the business is a sole trader then the legal name is the last name with or without initials or forenames of the owner.
For unincorporated partnership, the legal name is the last names with or without initials or forenames of all of the partners.
For limited liability companies, partnerships and corporations, the business’ legal name is the one that was registered with Companies House including Ltd, LLP, PLC etc.
A trade or business name is the name a business uses for advertising and sales purposes that is different from the legal name described above.
Although a trade name may sometimes also be a trademark, a trade name is not, in itself, a form of intellectual property.
It is a requirement that businesses do not hide behind a trading name so whenever one is used there is a requirement to disclose the legal name and an address at which documents can be served on the business (for registered entities there are other disclosure requirements as well).
If you are unable to easily find out the name and address of a trader I would strongly recommend not doing business with them.
When promoting services it is easy to forget that there are rules about how you use photographs of individuals.
A photograph of someone is personal data and should only be used with consent.
The terms of business of the Care home may attempt to cover this. However, it does depend on who signs the agreement:
If it is not the data subject then their consent will not have been given.
If the data subject signs, but does not have capacity then again consent will not have been given.
The Data Protection Act gives a right to the data subject to object to processing that is likely to cause or is causing damage or distress. In addition Facebook’s terms say that nothing should be done to infringe someone’s rights, (Facebook terms of service clause 5.1).
In practice it is worth remembering that:
any consent can be withdrawn in writing;
a complaint could be registered with the Information Commissioners Office, ICO who can impose monetary penalties of up to £500,000; and
a complaint could be made to Facebook, which if upheld could compromise that marketing channel.
In addition the Care Quality Commission (CQC), who inspect all care homes, look to see that the fundamental standards are maintained.
To this end clients must be treated with dignity and respect at all times while they are receiving care and treatment. This includes making sure that they have privacy when they need and want it.
They must also be able to complain about their care and treatment. The care provider must have a system in place so they can handle and respond to complaints. They must investigate them thoroughly and take action if problems are identified.
Failure to meet the fundamental standard may result in various sanctions and can affect the care homes rating which has to be displayed in the places where they provide care and on their website, if they have one.
Life is all about first impressions, Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov.
Forming a first impression takes 1/10th of a second.
In 1/10th of a second we decide someone’s Competence, Likeability and Influence by possibly viewing a profile photo of them.
How does this relate to Business?
“People buy from people they like know and trust”
If you don’t have a picture, how can you start the process?
More importantly how do you go about getting a good profile image?
A couple of years ago “Photofeeler” carried out some research using 800 profile images. Viewers were asked to rate the images against Competence, Likeability and Influence. The research did not include the characteristics like gender, age, and physical traits.
The following were considered the important areas discovered by the research, are you surprised?
When viewing images of someone, people like to see the full facial features of who they are looking at. Obstructions such as hats, sunglasses or poor lighting can hide features and this reduces the likeability of what the viewer is seeing. Look into the camera, don’t hide.
Ensure that you squint slightly when looking into the lens. Having wide open eyes gives the impression of the rabbit in the headlights, it denotes fear.
Having a slight squint, increases the perception of your
competence, influence, likeability and feels more comfortable for the viewer.
Profile photos that show a defined Jawline increase your perception of competence, influence, and likeability.
I know we have all made excuses, “I don’t like smiling”, “my teeth aren’t white”, “I’ll crack the lens” but that’s what they are excuses.
Want to increase the perception of people viewing you? Then an open smile is a good way of doing so. By smiling you appear friendlier, happier, healthier, and more relaxed.
If your smile is a closed smile (no teeth showing) then your perception of competence, influence, and likeability is likely to drop by half of that with an open smile.
Be careful though don’t turn the smile into a laugh, although this was found more likeable the competence and influence was shown to have dropped. So keep the smile controlled.
The way you dress in a photo says a lot of who you are. Think it’s not important and anything will do?
The research showed that formal dress gained the greatest
perceived Competence and
Influence. That is a dark suit over a light coloured shirt/blouse, and men you need a tie.
By all means dress down for your photo but this will lose viewers perception of how credible you are. Also beware of stripes and bold colours.
Body Area Shown
How much of the body should be shown:
Close-up of the face?
Head and face?
Head and shoulders?
Head to waist?
The research showed that head and shoulders or head to waist shots fared better than face only close-ups.
Those people that used a full body shot negatively affected competence and influence.
The research never came up with an answer to this. However as a personal opinion the background needs to be plain or out of focus. The important thing is that the subject stands out.
Maybe you can experiment with different colours. Have your head-shot taken against a green screen and have a series of different background (colours or out of focus) being used.
Avoid direct sunlight images as you will either be squinting with the sun in your face or to dark (unless flash is used) with the sun at your back. Both of these viewers will lose confidence in you.
The key here is moderation; all digital photos benefit from some editing: