How to make people EAT YOUR WORDS

October 07, 2009 | Writing

Words have the power to whet appetites and motivate people. They might even be the determining factor in whether a restaurant succeeds or fails.

Just ask Dr. Brian Wansink, who has researched the psychology of food for years at the University of Illinois and Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab. He found restaurants that named dishes using geographic, sensory or nostalgic labels (e.g. “traditional Cajun red beans with rice,” “satin chocolate pudding,” “grandma’s zucchini cookies”), saw sales rise 27 percent compared to the same items with plain names (“red beans and rice,” “chocolate pudding” and “zucchini cookies”).

But when “succulent Italian seafood filet” was truncated to just “seafood filet” on a university cafeteria menu and offered at the same price, sales dropped.

Use the right adjectives and modifiers and menu items become mouthwatering. Serve up milquetoast terminology and salivary glands dry up.

When interviewed by food and wine journalist Deborah Grossman for her article in Flavor & The Menu magazine, Wansink said: “When faced with food choices, what we taste is influenced by what we read. What is more appealing, calf thymus or sweetbreads? Fish eggs or caviar?”

Grossman also interviewed Jeff Tenner, executive director of culinary operations at Legal Sea Foods, the fabulously successful Boston-based restaurant chain. Tenner said the use of commonly understood words on the menu made items more accessible to diners.

For example, when “roasted ancho chile chicken” undersold at Legal Sea Foods, Tenner changed the name to “apricot-glazed chicken.” The result was a dramatic rise in sales of that food item. Tenner found that diners assumed that “ancho” meant spicy-hot rather than smoky-mild.

It’s yet another example of the power of language. Choose the right words and you can activate the human senses and motivate buying decisions.

10 keys to an effective website

October 05, 2009 | Websites

Lots of companies are redesigning their websites these days. But before handing off this critical component of your corporate identity to a web design firm, make sure you understand what makes a website work effectively. Here are 10 keys…

The long and short of business writing

September 28, 2009 | Writing

Tired of people telling you that length counts?

Well … not to keep pressing a sore point … but they’re right when it comes to writing. Then again, they almost certainly have the virtues of length backward in many instances.

When it comes to particular types of writing, length counts for plenty – and there are years of research to prove it. Before you continue operating from the premise that everything you write should be as short as possible, click on the headline to check out today’s blog post. You will be surprised by what you find.

The 10 most beautiful words in the English language

September 21, 2009 | Writing

Words have power. The British Council discovered some of the most power when it launched a project titled the Most Beautiful Words in the English Language.

Find out what they are in this post, and read examples of how they can be used to strengthen business writing.

Hot new numbers for Web 2.0

September 09, 2009 | Web 2.0

Web 2.0 technologies are hot worldwide, according to a new research project by management consulting legend McKinsey & Co.

The percentage of companies that plan to maintain or increase spending on blogs, podcasts, video, RSS feeds, wiki content creation, etc., is very high – despite the flaccid economy.

The numbers and analysis tell the story in this blog post.

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