That’s Past Its Use-By Date

When writing information that needs to be used for several months or years on a website or in print, describe the time that you started as a date when explaining a length of time.

For example

  • “Our company has been providing manufacturing consulting since 1992.”

has a better shelf-life than

  • “We’ve been providing manufacturing consulting for 20 years.”
  • “We’ve been providing manufacturing consulting for over 20 years.”

Often we expect to update a web page or have new print materials written up for our business, but find that 6 or 7 years have passed and we forgot about the web page or our sales rep is still using the 10,000 brochures we had printed.

Why Mention Time?

The trade off is that you wanted to say, “We have longevity,” or “We have years of experience.” Don’t assume your reader will extrapolate those statements from your sentence. Add the simple statement, “We have years of experience,” at the beginning of the paragraph. Your reader will be happier to know what he or she is about to read.

The consequences of a brochure or page that looks outdated, is your company loses credibility. When a customer is serious about their due diligence, they may research your marketing materials. If your company details look forgotten and unkempt or your paper sales materials look old, your company may be discounted.

What’s the exception? When you are writing a dated article in a blog or magazine, you can say, “Twenty years ago, we started providing manufacturing consulting.” The publication or media is dated and the reader enters the publication or site with the date in mind. Using the duration of time in a dated article gives the writer more options for a flowing story, when the media or blog has a large number of readers.

If you update the blog infrequently or have less than 100 readers, you might consider treating the blog like a static reference and state the starting date.

Now or Later

When writing about time, such as years of experience, state the date you started or initiated an activity. Avoid calculating the time.

The next article is in the queue! Look for more tips on how to identify your audience and what to write on your website for your customer on 14 April 2011.