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E-Book Testimonials

"Thomas Clifford has made something useful here. This report will give you some really catchy, useful ideas.

It made me reconsider how I do what I do, so you might give it a look-see, too!" 

Chris Brogan, President, Human Business Works 

"Tom Clifford is by trade a filmmaker. For most of his life, he rarely wrote anything longer than a brief comment in the margin of a script. 

Now, though, he's producing tens of thousands of words a year, first as a Fast Company "Expert Blogger," and then as a writer for the Content Marketing Institute. 

How did Tom go from a non-writer to a prolific and much-read one? His eBook, '5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways . . . , ' holds some of his secrets."

Mark Levy, Author of "Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content"

“Tom is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet—if you have the privilege to meet him. And he does sterling work as well. But don’t just take my word for it.

Read this free report and you’ll not just love its tone and content, but learn a lot as well.”

Sean D’Souza, Psychotactics.com

“Anyone who wants to improve their writing needs this e-book. A lot of ebooks are short because they just don’t have much substance to offer. They’re not worth your time (and so are many of the long ones, too, for that matter). Tom’s is short because he’s so good at giving you only what you need to know. 

‘5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways to Write Faster, Better, Easier’ lives up to its promise by example as well as in the words themselves. Tom used the very same techniques he teaches you to write this book. 

And what’s in here is not just a rehash of the same tired ideas you find coming from people who have suddenly fancied themselves as writing gurus. There are tricks in here I never heard of (like the Writing Funnel) and some I had forgotten about and was glad to be reminded of (like Sporadic Writing).” 

Michael Martine, Blog Alchemist, Remarkablogger.com 

Entries by Thomas Clifford (309)


Mark Levy Interview (Part 1): Crafting Compelling Messages 

This is a special interview I did with Mark Levy, creative genius and extraordinary writer. Mark guest posted the popular article, "The Fascination Method." Be sure to stop by Mark Levy's blog- it's filled with wonderful tips to boost your writing and creativity levels several notches!

For those new to the world of Mark Levy, what would your tweetable bio look like?
I run the marketing strategy firm, Levy Innovation. Consultants & entrepreneurial companies hire me to increase their fees by up to 2,000%.

Mark, you have an amazing knack for crafting compelling messages. Do you have a tip you can teach our readers to strengthen their own skills?
Thanks for the kind words, Tom. I do have a tip about messaging.

When you’re writing a message, don’t try too hard making it larger than life. Focus instead on making it clear. Clarity persuades. Strip away the abstraction and hyperbole, and get to the core of what you need to say.

If you find getting to the core difficult, try a roundabout approach: Start by listing obvious facts about the situation you want to write about.

What do I mean by obvious facts? Things like who’s involved, what they want, what they’ve tried, what you propose on doing. Simple stuff like that. Stuff that’s right in front of your nose.

Just start piling up obvious facts, figures, and stories on paper. Pages and pages of them.

When you do that, you’ll relax and your big messages will likely stick their heads up without much coaxing from you.

That’s a great tip! Can you give us one more?
Sure. Here it is: If you want to figure out what to say to prospects in your sales messages, ask your clients.

After all, your clients are your clients for a reason. They’ve already said yes to your offering. Something you did or said persuaded them. Ask them about it.

Call your best clients and say, “I consider you a dream client. I’d love to do business with other people like you. Tell me, what exactly did I do right? What did I say and do that got you to ‘Yes.’ I want to understand what that was, so I can attract other dream clients.”

Listen to what they have to say, and let it inspire and guide you as you write your sales messages.

In July, you’re releasing a revised and expanded edition of your wonderful book, “Accidental Genius.” It teaches businesspeople and social media people how to freewrite. What is freewriting and why do it?
Freewriting is a fast, freestyle form of thinking onto paper that does two things for you:

On the one hand, it acts as a problem-solving and ideation tool. You can use it to think through any kind of business problem whatsoever.

On the other hand, it also acts as a tool of thought leadership. You can use the same technique to help you create one-of-a-kind books, posts, white papers, speeches, and the like.

When you’re freewriting, you’re using fast, effortless writing as a way of generating thought.

By following a few simple rules, you’re able to push your internal editor out of the way, so you can produce ideas and prose that you never would have produced any other way.

Much of what you produce, of course, will be lousy. That’s the nature of the beast. But some of what you produce will be the best stuff you’ve ever done.

I learned freewriting fifteen years ago. It’s probably the most useful thinking and productivity tool I’ve ever come across.

Thanks, Mark, for sharing your insights on messaging!
Stay tuned for part two of Mark's interview.


How to Detect Gobbledygook in Your Content  

Imagine reading this:

“We are pleased to announce our new, easy to use and improved cutting-edge technology leverages innovative, robust and high-performance outcomes while uniquely positioning us to focus on world-class partnerships. Next generation outcomes are easily scalable and flexible up to 120 percent.”

Huh? Say that again?

That makes absolutely no sense at all

That’s right.

That’s because you’ve just been clobbered by a bunch of “gobbledygook.”

What is gobbledygook?
Gobbledygook is text or jargon in the English language that is filled with clichés and words that are over-used. Gobbledygook are words that are hard to understand or impossible to understand.

The name “gobbledygook” was coined by U.S. Representative Maverick in 1944 as a reaction to his frustration in the language often used by his fellow bureaucrats– a language that was convoluted and confusing to others. Maverick thought “gobbledygook,” a play on words from the sound of a turkey’s gobble, would accurately describe the nonsensical language his colleagues were using.

Who uses gobbledygook?
Just about everyone slips in some gobbledygook when they communicate. The worst part of it all? We usually don’t even realize we’re using these over-used words.

Why do people use gobbledygook?
People use gobbledygook language for several main reasons:
• We assume the audience understands our jargon
• We deliberately try to confuse the audience
• We know what we want to say but can’t say it clearly
• We want to impress others

What’s wrong with using gobbledygook?
Using gobbledygook language prevents your ideas from connecting with your audience. Connecting with your audience so they understand what you are communicating is the goal in all communications. If your audience sees gobbledygook in your communications– they’ve just hit the “gobbledygook wall.”

How can you remove the “gobbledygook wall?”
Removing the “gobbledygook wall” is incredibly easy.

HubSpot and marketing strategist David Meerman Scott joined forces to develop the Gobbledygook Grader. The Gobbledygook Grader analyzes and identifies the most over-used, meaningless and clichéd words in your content.

All you need to do is copy your content into the Gobbledygook Grader. Then– shazam! You get an instant analysis of the words that are considered gobbledygook.

Gobbledygook Grader also grades your content; 100 being the best score. And, yes, the grader is free to use.

Here’s an example
When I entered the content from one of my recent articles, the grader graded my content 88. Not bad, but it found the following words as gobbledygook: flexible, optimize, relationship management, unique. Knowing these words are over-used, I can go back to my article and revise it to make it more word-friendly for readers.

The example at the beginning of this article was graded 55. Oops. Too much gobbledygook, don’t you think?

What if your industry or company regularly uses gobbledygook?
If your industry or company regularly uses clichés, try doing this simple test.

Use the Gobbledygook Grader to grade your upcoming article or content. Rewrite your content without the clichés and over-used phrases. Share the two articles with a few potential readers. See which one they prefer.

It’s easy to get rid of gobbledygook
If you think clichés and meaningless words are sneaking their way into your content, take a second and run your copy through the Gobbledygook Grader.

Got to HubSpot's Gobbledygook Grader. Enter the text of your article, speech, email or whatever you’d like to check for gobbledygook. The closer you score to 100, the less gobbledygook you have in your content. Go ahead and de-gobbledygook your content– your audience will thank you for it.

Want to learn more?
Read David’s free “Gobbledygook Manifesto.”


How Bringing Up Objections Reduces Email Ping-Pong  

Ever feel like your emails are endlessly going back and forth?

You send your email.

It comes back over to you.

Over to them.
Over to you.
Over to them.
Over to you.
To them.
To you.
To them.
To you.

Ever wish you could put an end to this email ping-pong madness?

Email ping-pong? What the heck is that?
Email ping-pong is when your email with someone keeps going back and forth.
Kinda like how those champion ping-pong players who keep smashing that ball back and forth over the net.

Back and forth
Back and forth.

Email ping-pong is unnecessary communication. And yes, email ping-pong eats up big chunks of your time.

What causes all this ridiculous ping-ponging?
Two things:
1. Thinking of only one side of the story: yours.
2. Lacking specifics.

What’s a typical email look like?
Let’s say you email your teammate to get together to review a document. Here’s how your email exchange might go:

You: Want to get together soon about that project?
Colleague: Sure; sounds great.
You: Super. How’s next week look?
Colleague: Looking good, actually. How about Tuesday at 10am?
You: Rats. Out of town that day. How’s Wednesday?
Colleague: Sorry- my turn to be out of town. Monday’s wide open.
You: Great- how’s lunch sound?
Colleague: Phew- that’ll be tough. Have a lunch meeting with my boss. Rest of the day looks good, though.

That, my friend, is “email ping-pong.”

What caused “email ping-pong?”
1. One side of the story.
2. Specifics were missing right from the start.

All this crazy pong-pong stuff can easily be avoided by integrating an objection
What do you mean, “objection?”

An objection is when you get that feeling of opposing something. Objections come in all shapes and sizes. Here are what a few look like:
• It costs too much.
• I don’t have time.
• I’m busy that week.
• My team won’t go for it.
• My kids won’t like it, etc.

How does using objections reduce email ping-pong?
Because bringing up an objection helps reduce friction. Instead of only sending what you’re required to send, you explain something that someone might object to ahead of time. You add a piece of information they might ask themselves.

You beat them to the punch
Why do that? Because when you communicate something, chances are pretty darn good the other side will react with a question to what you’re saying.

What would our example look like with an objection in it?
Let’s slip in the times when you can meet with your teammate. Here’s what would your email exchange might possibly look like:

You: Want to get together soon? If so, I’m free:
• Mon 10am -12pm.
• Tues 8am - 11am and 4pm – 6pm.
• Fri 2pm – to 5pm.
Any of these dates work for you?

Colleague: Friday 3pm – 4pm is perfect.

See how easy that was?

So why doesn’t everyone slip in an objection?
Because people are soooooo busy processing sooooooo much information they don’t have time to think about the other person. They don’t take the few extra minutes to imagine who they are communicating to and how they might respond to what is being said.

How do you go about adding objections to your emails?
1. Review your email.
2. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
3. What questions could they ask?
4. List or think through those questions or those objections.
5. Answer them in the initial email.

Won’t people feel weird if you bring up an objection?
Actually, your readers may think you’re a mind reader. They’ll think you’re one step ahead of the game. Why? Because you’re answering their questions as they are thinking about them. There’s also a bonus point for raising objections: your reader will also agree with you quicker than you ever imagined.

What did we learn about email ping-pong?
• Email ping-pong can go on for what seems like forever.
• Email ping-pong happens for two reasons:
1. You failed to anticipate how the reader will receive your message.
2. You forgot to add specifics to clarify obvious questions someone will have.
• Excessive emails can easily be reduced by adding an objection or two.
• Pretend you’re the reader getting your email.
• What questions would you have while reading it?
• Answer those questions.

Now you know how to save a chunk of time and feel less frustrated by smashing email ping-pong.

Just do me a favor, ok?

Leave the real ping-pong smashing to the pros.


Age of Conversation 3 is Now Available!

Well, if finally, really, really here.

"Age of Conversation 3: It's Time to Get Busy" is now available on Amazon.

This is my third chapter contribution to the book series, starting off three years ago when the first book was published.

I'm not sure Drew McClellan and Gavin Heaton knew at the time that the first book would turn into a series, but hey, leave it to Drew and Gavin to create a remarkable product with a life of its own.

With 171 authors covering the how's, why's, when's and where's of social media, there's something for everyone here. Looking for another reason to buy the book? Here's a bonus: the proceeds benefit a non-proft charity.

So, yeah, speaking of busy, it's, um, time for me to get busy...

Reading! =)


Tom's SpeedLink #17

Here are some neat and, yes, long overdue speedlinks! Enjoy.

1. Creative Block #7 – ”I Don’t Know What I Want to Say”
Mark McGuinness continues his awesome series on breaking through our creative blocks.

2. Ebook: 10 Steps to Powerful Online Self Promotion for Creatives
I haven't read this yet but Alex Mathers has put together a neat looking ebook on promoting yourself online. BTW: consider grabbing his rss feed; it's great stuff!

3. Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation
Sally Hogshead, author of Radical Careering, bring us a new book on how seven "triggers" can captivate our audiences.

4. Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision & Reality
Behance CEO & Founder, Scott Belsky, has a new book coming out next month. From the book's site: "In about 250 pages, the book collects a series of pragmatic tips, tools, and anecdotes about the art (and science) of making ideas happen."

5. Scott Belsky: Don't Let Your Genius Go Unnoticed
Speaking of Scott Belsky, here's a three minute video of Scott talking about the importance of marketing ourselves, understanding our strengths and getting the recognition our strengths deserve.


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