A look into the world of Wordsmithing – A series about crafting messages that engage and delight.

February 26, 2016

Simplicity: Use Small Words – Part I

“It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear” – Frank Luntz

When crafting a message for your business, it is important to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you were your own customer, how would you receive the message you are providing? People often craft a message in a way that *they* would like to read it, not taking into account their audience. In this series of blog posts, we will dive into what makes a message great, and look into the art of crafting messages.

Author Frank Luntz’s book, Words that Work outlines several core ideas in how to best make sure your message is heard, as you want it to be heard. Today, we are covering his first rule, “Simplicity.” and how you can use it in your day to day communications – with a focus on websites.

Using Buzzwords

When writing content for your website, don’t get bogged down by using jargon and complicated sounding “buzzwords”.  Simplicity is key.

To quote Luntz, “Using a long word when a short one would suffice tends to raise suspicions: What is this guy trying to sell me? Does he have an ulterior motive?” The most effective language clarifies rather than obscures.“

Remember, short words create credibility and are more memorable to the reader. Many words can be similar in “physical” length, but much shorter in “mental” length.

Consider the following terms:

  • Absolution
  • Audacious
  • Calisthenics
  • Clandestine
  • Prejudice
  • Miscellaneous

Now consider these alternatives for the above:

  • Forgiveness
  • Bold
  • Gymnastics
  • Secret
  • Bias
  • Mixed

Most people will agree that even some of the words in the second list are “physically” just as long, you identify much quicker with them and understand what they are trying to say without having to stop and think about the message. For example, for your e-Commerce site description, consider trying “A mixed selection” instead of “A miscellaneous assortment” when referring to a grab bag or mixed item product.

When writing copy, you might simply be unaware that a better word choice exists. We don’t expect every person to have memorized a Thesaurus. Luckily, several free resources exist online to aid you in crafting the right message. One of them is here. – where you can input the larger word and find a suitable smaller one.  This is another good resource (and where the previous examples come from) for when you run into a really complex sounding word and need to make it more accessible.

We hope this has been helpful in thinking about how you write about your company and products. The art of wordsmithing not only requires the ability to identify what words to use when, but also an understanding of human psychology and social context. Once the art is mastered, however, you will find it much easier to drive sales and acquire new customers.

Words that Work, can be found at any major retailer that sells books (ISBN 978-1401309299.)

Next post we will cover the second principle in Words that Work.

Using short sentences to craft a message.

Audience Participation is the new “Find Us on Facebook”

February 19, 2016

Perhaps you have asked your customers to LIKE your page on Facebook. Maybe you have even created some signage or printed it on your invoices?   Your Business Page gives them information about special offers and events in front of their eyes while they are on Facebook. Happy customers keep coming back because your business is great at what it does and they love how they are treated.

Reviews and Ratings3 stars

The impact of customer reviews of a product, a place or a service is huge. Almost every platform, Facebook, Google (Maps) Yelp etc. has the ability for a person to express their “love” for their favorite thing. Think of yourself, when you are in a new town, and you choose for a place for lunch, don’t you check out the Review?

Is the Old fashioned Testimonial Dead?

If you go to a business website and see the Testimonial tab – you probably are never shocked by the glowing reviews that the business itself posts. Trip Advisor, Travelocity, iTunes and Amazon are third party review sites where it is straight up customer comments without cajoling from the business, which one holds more value?

Take the Bull By The Horns

Right next to that “Like” us on Facebook sign ASK your customers to rate your services online.  Show them on “Google Maps” where they can do it at your counter.  If you are a professional office, like a medical practice, show them on your monitor which displays your happy patients where it would be helpful to post a review.  People are relying on reviews to make all ranges of decisions. From Pizza to Neonatal Care.

Talk to your fellow business owners at luncheons and breakfast meetings for a positive review and give their business one of your own.  It is a great way to build relationships within your business circle as well as provide some support for your community.


And guess what?  It didn’t cost you a dime.





Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) As a natural Community Builder, she loves to get people together, bring resources to the table and solve problems!

Getting AMP’ed Up

February 12, 2016

If you’re a web developer, you’ve probably heard about Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – the newest trend in lightweight pages for cleaner, faster mobile browsing. Perhaps you aren’t so familiar with them, though. What exactly is an AMP, and how do we make one? Furthermore, why is it important?
Google's Email Alert about AMP read more


Gary is a team member at Sephone, helping to design, build and maintain websites. He is also a web design student at the New England School of Communications of Husson University.

HTML – Put it all together

February 8, 2016

Over the past year we have put together a bit of an intro course for you on the basics of HTML and CSS.  We have reviewed browsers and text editors, setting up your file architecture and HTML document head, and some of the general HTML and HTML5 tags and CSS that you will see when editing an HTML document.  Now that we have completed this course, you should be able to create a basic HTML page for display in a web browser.

read more


Brady is the voice on the other end of the phone line when you call Sephone. He graduated from the New England School of Communications in 2009 and assists Sephone in building and maintaining our sites.

Crunching the Numbers – 5 Steps to Kicking 2016 Off Right

February 1, 2016

If we don’t know where we were, how do we know where we are going?

Computer Hands On KeyBoardSince 2015 is over and the holidays have ended, it is a great time to look at last year.  If you are or have done some efforts in social media let’s pull it together and see how we did.

  1. Make A List

    Make a list of the different sources that you used last year, your Facebook page, your newsletter, blog, twitter, pinterest whichever things you engaged in for your business,  make a list in a notebook, on a whiteboard on a spreadsheet.

  2. Count

    How much attention did each platform get in 2015?

    For example:

    • How many times did you posts on your blog were done?
    • How many Facebook posts?
    • How many Newsletters?
    • How many people are participating in our Instagram efforts?
    • etc.
  3. Goals are Helpful

    Did you have goals for each platform if you did, did you write them down and share them?  If you didn’t, you can change that for 2016, make goals now.  Clear and simple.  “We want to send out Newsletters quarterly.”  “We want to post weekly in our blog.”

  4. Do The Math

    Goal vs. Actual or just Actual if you didn’t have 2015 goals but set them for 2016.

  5. Plan for 2016

    We are well into 2016, but it isn’t too late.

    • Engage others in your efforts so it is “everyone” helping and “everyone’s” creativity along with everyone’s effort.
    • Track and Report numbers monthly or weekly to keep your social efforts top of mind and not in the rearview mirror.
    • Recognize people that help, encourage others that are squeamish.

Even though February starts next week – it’s not too late to look at last year and make adjustments or just start fresh on some goals for this year.


Kelly's been known as the Marketing Maven since before the term was hip. (That means she's old.) As a natural Community Builder, she loves to get people together, bring resources to the table and solve problems!

Hello from “The New Guy” @Sephone!

January 22, 2016

My name is Alexander Webster, but I prefer to go by Alex.  I graduated from the University of Maine at Augusta with a Bachelors of Science in Computer Information Systems in December 2014.  I am currently working toward my Masters in Computer Science from Sofia University.  In that program, I am learning about mobile application development and programming for the web.  Which lends itself hand and hand with my job here at Sephone.

Besides working at Sephone and going to Sofia, I am a firefighter for Searsport Fire Department in Searsport, Maine.  It will be 8 years in July, since I joined the fire department as a Junior Firefighter.  When I turned 18, I was able to do more training exercises, go on more types of calls and remove the word Junior from my job title.  I took an interior fire class and became interior certified.

When I am not at work, school, or with the fire department, I enjoy watching TV and movies, going to a local theater performance and playing video games.

Being only my third week at Sephone, I feel very welcomed into the company.  I enjoy being able to do custom development tasks and having fantastic coworkers.


Alex is a developer at Sephone

DoS Protection for Your Website

January 8, 2016

A little more than a week ago, one of the providers that we use for hosting was a target in a denial of service attack, commonly referred to as DoS or DDoS. When this happens, access to a website or server will become slow and possibly disrupt services bringing the website or server offline.

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John is a designer at Sephone.

Boosting Hosting in 2016

January 8, 2016

We cover a lot of topics on our blog, but we don’t usually talk about hosting. Hosting’s like water; as long as it’s coming out of your faucet (and clear), it’s usually taken for granted.

So first, a refresher: Every website lives on a server somewhere. When you type an address into your browser, it finds the server where the site you want to load lives, grabs it and shows it to you. Hosting is the space on the server where the site lives, and there’s a monthly or annual rate to rent or use that server space. (Want more info on how it all works? Read more here.)

Just like with tap water, though, there’s a lot of technology going on behind the scenes. The hosting rate covers not only the space for your site on the server but maintenance of the server itself, security against attacks, and more. And a lot has happened over the last few years: faster solid-state drives, newer and more secure operating systems, new versions of our coding languages with new features… it’s actually pretty exciting.

Because of our desire to offer the best in service, over the course of 2016, we’ll be doing an overhaul of our hosting at Sephone. Many of the sites we host will be moved to newer, faster servers with even more stable and reliable software under the hood. This will make the management part of our business easier for us, but it also improves reliability for your home on the web.

In most cases these enhancements will be automatic, and we won’t need anything from you. In some cases, we might alert you to a small window of downtime while we make a switch, and in a few cases, we may need you to change some settings for your site. We want to make these changes as smooth as possible – and that includes pricing. The vast majority of sites we move will be upgraded to newer, faster, more reliable servers without any increase in your monthly or annual hosting cost.

Since the founding of Sephone almost 15 years ago, we’ve always said we want to be your partner to create the best possible digital presence for your company. Whether it’s mobile sites and apps, search engine optimization, or just a better hosting environment for your site, we want to do whatever we can to make your business successful online.


Justin is a web and mobile developer at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.