6 Reasons To Write Without Spell Check

Spell check, when properly used, can be a valuable tool. After all, terrible spelling can get in the way of conveying your message. That said, there are still sometimes very good reasons to not use it.

  1. Historical documents. It’s actually a fairly recent development that English spelling and grammar have been fully standardized. Even as recently as the early to mid 1800s, there was a good bit of variation in the way words were spelled. Most words were spelled based on their pronunciation. So when copying, quoting or excerpting from historical documents, or when writing in the style of a historical period, spelling will be nonstandard. This will really cause headaches for even the most sophisticated spell checking program.
  2. Mixed languages. When combining lots of words and phrases from more than one language in a single document, very likely all of the foreign words will end up getting caught up in the spell checker. This even goes when combining different versions of English, such as American and Australian or Canadian and South African.
  3. Highly specialized or technical jargon. Every field has its own acronyms and jargon but some are more specialized than others. Medical and scientific fields come readily to mind. If it’s a field for which you’ll be writing documents often, you may want to update your spell check dictionary. Sometimes specialized dictionaries can be downloaded and installed, other times you may have to perform the updates yourself to a custom dictionary.
  4. Science Fiction. When writing certain fictional works, especially science fiction, your document is likely to contain many made-up words that simply won’t be found in any spell check dictionary.
  5. Deliberate misspellings. There may actually be times when your writing will include deliberate misspellings. For example, say you were writing an article about abbreviations that teens use when text messaging. Or even an article about commonly misspelled words. It would be difficult to write such an article without deliberately misspelling words to illustrate the point.

In each of these first five cases, you may or may not want to actually turn off spell check, but you’ll almost certainly want to selectively ignore it. With passive spell checkers, you may feel fine looking past lots of highlighted words. Active spell checkers, which scan the document and stop when they find a misspelled word, may be better not used at all.

However you do it, you will definitely want to turn off the autocorrect feature to prevent spell check from “helping” you and changing your document in the process!

  1. Early drafts. Perhaps the most compelling time to avoid using spell check is when writing an early draft of a document that you will eventually spell check. During free writing, getting caught up in worries about spelling and grammar gets in the way of the flow of thoughts. It is much better to simply write what is in your mind, so long as you’ll be able to decipher your meaning and fix it all up later. Even passive spell checkers, which merely highlight misspelled words, will provide a distraction that could get in the way of the free flow of thoughts. Better to completely disable spell check until you are on the second or third draft and it’s time to clean things up for eyes other than your own.


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Warning: Torture Chamber Unsuitable for Wheelchair Users

Torture Chamber Unsuitable for Wheelchair UsersNot everyone thinks of it but knowing who would not make good customers is every bit as important as knowing who does make good customers.

Novice businesspeople and even beginning marketers would like to think that everyone’s a potential customer but that’s simply not true. In fact, although the end result is binary — people either buy from you or they don’t — there’s a whole continuum of how likely someone is to become a customer.

If you never spend time identifying who are not good prospects, you could waste a lot of time and money chasing down every conceivable lead, no matter how far-fetched.

By identifying several points along the continuum and creating a demographic profile for a hypothetical prospect at each point, you are better able to see where your time and resources should be spent.

Because it is a continuum, the attributes you list in the demographic profile are not necessarily opposites. For instance, just because your ideal customer is male doesn’t mean that all women are lousy prospects.

Some attributes don’t have an opposite. After all, what is the opposite of 40-45 years old?

So you can’t take shortcuts and simply say that your worst prospects are everything that your best prospects aren’t. It could very well be the case that a 43 year old male is a great prospect for your business but another 43 year old male is a terrible prospect.

In fact, even using the word “demographics” is doing a disservice to the process. A good customer profile goes much deeper than mere demographics.

A word that gets bandied about in certain circles is “psychographics”. This encompasses the interests, desires and other attributes that are missed by demographics. Your best prospects are interested in horses? That’s a psychographic. Prefer the beach over the mountains? Another psychographic.

If you augment your demographic profiles with psychographic data, and if you’re serious about the process, you can develop very detailed portraits of your customers and prospects.

Is this manipulative? Quite the contrary!

If you find out what deeply interests me and you just happen to offer something which satisfies that interest, I will be rather happy to hear from you. The flip side of that is, if what you offer does not interest me and you know that and don’t waste your time trying to sell me on it, you save a great deal of time, energy and money. All of those things can be better spent pursuing customers whose interests are more closely aligned with what you offer.


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Story As Sales Letter

Photo credit: Orin Zebest

A loud clang, a sickly-sounding whir and a faint waft of smoke.

That was what woke Jeannette Pearson from a sound sleep.

Snowflakes fluttered almost noiselessly outside. The intensely bright moon set the landscape aglow.

The whole scene should have been serene and peaceful but for that sickly whir and the musty, acrid, smoky smell. It gave her a dark chill that had nothing to do with the winter cold outside her cocoon of blankets.

Her heater had given up, possibly for good. Little Amy was probably already shivering in the next room.

It was 2am. What could she do?


For some reason, that phone number stuck out in Jeanette’s memory. Amy had seen it on a sign a few days earlier and asked why some phone numbers had letters.

Jeanette dialed and was relieved that someone answered….

The End of The Story

I have been playing around with the concept of creating an entire sales letter in the form of a dramatic story.

Using stories as part of the sales process is nothing new but what I have been experimenting with, as you can see above, is something slightly different.

As a pure story, it really isn’t bad. It wouldn’t win any prizes but it isn’t awful. As a sales letter, it really doesn’t seem to work at all.

Photo credit: mcfarlandmo, on Flickr

It’s possible that, with enough massaging, I could find a way to make it work. Maybe I just haven’t tried hard enough.

But the more time I put into it, the more I find myself writing a story versus selling a service. (This was not a piece for an actual client, but an intellectual exercise to keep my skills sharp.)

Instead I think it will be abandoned except as it appears in this article. It can serve as a reminder to me and others that storytelling has a rightful place in sales but it can never replace sales. Its purpose is just too different.


Adopt an Orphan App

Whether you already have a smartphone app for your business or not, you might consider “adopting” an existing app. LL Bean did this recently with the “Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder” app. This handy little app lists public parks and recreation areas within 100 miles of you (or any location you specify). It’s searchable and the list can be filtered.

But most relevant is that the app caters perfectly to the very same demographic as LL Bean’s customers. By adopting and co-sponsoring the app, both LL Bean and the app’s makers benefit. LL Bean benefits by being able to serve its customer’s interests better without incurring any cost for doing so. The makers of the ParkFinder app obviously benefit from exposure to LL Bean’s very large customer base.

So what existing apps can you partner with and just what might be involved in such a partnership? Let’s start with the easy part.

Forging A Partnership

The terms of the partnership you establish with the maker of an existing app will almost certainly be negotiated on a case-by-case basis. Having said that, here are some things you might consider offering or asking for:

  1. Promote or distribute the app to your customer list
  2. Ask for sponsorship mention within the app, such as on a splash screen
  3. Paid advertising placement within the app (provides income to the developer and advertises your business to the app’s users)
  4. Highlighting or priority placement of your products or locations in lists returned by the app
  5. Provide content for lists and/or information used by the app
  6. Offer to host all or part of the app’s online content on your web server(s)

A partnership could involve some form of financial transaction but doesn’t need to so long as both parties receive value from the arrangement.

Finding An App To Partner With

It’s much more difficult to generalize about finding apps to partner with. This is where personalized assistance would be beneficial. (Please contact us if you would like to have a professional marketer handle this for your business.)

So let’s just examine some hypothetical ideas to get a sense of what’s possible and what angles to take.

  • If you’re a veterinarian
    • A pet medical records app
    • Listing of pet-friendly hotels
    • Holistic pet food recipes
  • For dentists
    • A game where players extract teeth from a crocodile
    • Dental care alarm clock with alarms for brushing, flossing and even checkups
  • Auto Mechanic
    • Troubleshooting and diagnostic tool
    • App to find the best gas prices
    • Auto accident reporting checklist
    • Flashlight app
  • Hotel or Bed & Breakfast Owner
    • Vacation planner
    • App that makes restaurant recommendations
    • Calendar app
    • Road trip app (i.e. to help you find the world’s largest can of spinach)
  • Skating rink or skate shop owner
    • Roller derby apps (used by officials to run a derby bout)
    • An app that shows skate-friendly paths (similar to jogging or biking paths)

The connection between your business and the function or focus of the app you adopt needn’t be direct. The ParkFinder app has nothing to do with LL Bean’s business of selling clothing. There should just be some logical correlation in order for the partnership to benefit both parties.