Shipping containers on a dockIt’s time we had a little … talk.

About that “s”-word.

No, not that one.

Ship. THAT one.

Now, don’t get me wrong. “Ship” is a perfectly acceptable word.

IF YOU ARE ACTUALLY SHIPPING THINGS.

See these big containers up above? The ones that look like railroad cars without the wheels? Yeah, those are what we call shipping containers.

And unless the thing you’re ostensibly “shipping” could, conceivably, at some point between you/your place of business and the home/office/yurt/whatever of your end purchaser, travel INSIDE ONE OF THESE, you are NOT shipping.

You are finishing something. Something even maybe huge for you, in which case – yay! Congrats! I am SUPER proud of you!

(But you’re still not shipping.)

You are getting ready to launch a new service, maybe. Or maybe you’ve completed your awesome writing project and are about to upload it to Amazon for sale as a Kindle ebook.

(You, too, are still not shipping.)

“OK, OK,” you may be saying right about now, “but ANNIE, language evolves, and words come to mean new things!”

Yes, pumpkin. You are absolutely 100% correct on that point. You’re still not shipping.

“But, but ANNIE,” you may sputter, “I kinda AM shipping ’cause it’s similar!”

Touché, my lamb. Totally solid point. And yet, similar isn’t shipping, either.

ANNIE!” you fairly roar. “It’s just a … a … METAPHOR! Or something!”

“Something” is thoroughly correct, my poppet. But what it ain’t? Is an accurate use of the word “shipping.”

“Well so what?” you mumble. “Who’s it hurting?”

You mean besides me?

Excellent question, you rock star, you. (Still not shipping.)

OK, all joking aside, here’s where I’m coming from:

  1. Words are important. They mean stuff. They mean specific stuff. When we use them to mean other stuff, we weaken their impact, both individually and as a whole. (Do I need to remind you here that literally literally doesn’t mean literally anymore?!)
  2. You don’t want to sound like That Guy. You know what I mean. You know WHO I mean. That. Guy. The one (because That Guy can be either male or female) who sounds like a reject extra from an early ’90’s movie about day traders.

Ditch the ship. Unless you’re talking about ‘shipping. In which case, I TOTALLY ‘ship Caskett.

Which is a completely different thing than shipping caskets.

P.T. Barnum was a man of many words, which he used to promote hoaxes and circus acts. These days, a whole cadre of words belong to a genre known as jargon. These jibber-jabber nonsense words have come to be a nuisance for legitimate businesspeople and the elixir of life for the more unscrupulous snake oil salesmen in our midst. This month’s Word Carnival explores jargon in depth across a variety of industries, but one thing’s for certain: there’s no double-speak here, just on-the-money advice for anyone tired of flim-flam. Find all the awesome posts from our Word Carnies here!

Photo credit: Tristan Taussac via photopin cc

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. (Ask any parent.) (Or Alice Cooper.)

It’s also time for SPM blogging to kick back into high gear.

But as I sat before the Almighty Whiteboard, multi-colored markers in hand, ready to create the editorial calendar for the next few months, a thought occurred to me …

Why am I not asking you guys what you want to see here?

So. That’s EXACTLY what I’m doing. Right here, right now.  (Or, right here, right now. As you prefer.)

My biggest small business marketing challenge is _____.

I want to know: What’s troubling you these days? What are you struggling most with in terms of marketing your small or solo business? What do you need more information on?

And how can I help?

SO: Go to the comments section below and let me know! I’ll use any and all suggestions (as long as they’re relevant to digital marketing for small/solo businesses) in planning upcoming content.

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Happy Independence Day!

To all our readers in the U.S., Happy Fourth of July! Be safe, don’t let the fireworks get out of control, and keep an eye on your pets. And in between festivities, check out this infographic from our friends at Visual.ly, all about this most patriotic of holidays: Independence Day infographic  

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