Saturday, May 03, 2008

Does your website's sign-up page cut the mustard?

Will your website's sign-up page attract readers into a relationship with you?

Read Guy Kawasaki's "The Art of the Signup Page" for a list of the essential elements. Then, click through to read Tim Bednar's blog post that inspired Kawasaki.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Top four email mistakes to avoid when you've got a referral

You've probably used a referral to ask a stranger for an informational interview or a chance to talk about your business. If you make your initial contact by email, please avoid these common mistakes:
  • Burying the name of your mutual acquaintance in the body of your email
  • Not making it clear immediately what you're seeking
  • Not identifying yourself clearly and succinctly
  • Putting the burden on the other party to follow up

When I've got a referral, I often put the referrer's name into my subject line. For example, "Allan Loomis referred me" or "Allan Loomis suggested I talk with you." The familiarity of that person's name raises the odds that the recipient will open your message.

People are busy. They don't want to read a long email to figure out what you want from them. Back in my job hunting days, I would have led with "Allan Loomis suggested I contact you for a brief informational interview about how you manage your investment-related writing needs." Only then would I give a brief blurb about my combination of investment knowledge and journalism experience.

You can write "I look forward to hearing from you." But don't expect your recipient to follow up. The burden is on you because you're the person requesting the favor. I increasingly find myself writing "I will call you follow up."

Pay attention to these tips and you'll increase your odds of success.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Can you help a reporter and get quoted in an article?

There's a free and easy way to learn about opportunities to be quoted in an article. It's Peter Shankman's "If I can help a reporter out" email list.

Sign up and you'll get several emails daily listing what reporters are looking for. The emails also give the reporter's contact information.

It's up to you to winnow out appropriate opportunities and contact the reporter. Please don't reply if you don't fit the reporter's needs. There's nothing more annoying to a reporter. Plus, you almost guarantee that reporter won't look to you as a source in the future.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

"A 30 Second Commercial: How to Showcase Your Business in 30 Seconds or Less"

Most people have heard that you need an elevator speech, also known as a 30 second commercial, to sell your business. But crafting an elevator speech is easier said than done.

Common mistakes

"A 30 Second Commercial: How to Showcase Your Business in 30 Seconds or Less"
does a nice job highlighting people's biggest mistakes in creating their elevator speeches. It hits the target when it says that people focus too much on themselves and not enough on benefits to the client. That's a problem that runs throughout marketing communications that I hear and read.

How to

As I'd expect, the "how to" section of this article suggests highlighting your benefits to clients. It also suggests that you:
  • "Define Your Target Market -- Your 'Ideal' Client," which will make it easier for people to refer clients to you
  • "Understand and List the Problems or Frustrations Your Ideal Clients Face that You, Your Products or Services Solve" -- This is because you're more likely to make a sale when you can tap your prospects' emotions

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Use a tip sheet to get PR for your business

"Tip Sheets: One of the Most Effective Publicity Tools You’ve Never Heard Of" tells you how to use this PR tool to get exposure for your business.

I like that the author quotes PR maven Sandy Beckwith who taught me everything I know about tip sheets. You can go to Sandy's website to read more detailed instructions on how to write a tip sheet.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

A tip that'll make your white paper more effective

Your white paper should include a "carefully crafted list of requirements that the reader must consider when looking for a solution," suggests Michael Stelzner in "The ‘White Paper’ Secret Weapon (Don’t Share This!)."

In other words, he says, you're providing a "what to look for list" that readers may use as their buying guide. Of course, there's a hidden agenda: "The idea is to fabricate a list that ONLY one company can possibly meet–yours!"

I have qualms about creating a list that only your company can satisfy. That may undercut the apparent objectivity that's one of a white paper's strengths.

By the way, Michael came up with a nice title for his blog post. I like the use of "secret weapon" and "don't share this!"

Monday, January 14, 2008

Use "myself" more

If you're a typical American, you sometimes say "myself" when you should say "me" or "I."

"Me, Myself and I," an opinion essay by Collin Levy in
The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 14, 2008), hones in on how presidential candidates are over-using "myself." Misuse can change the meaning of a sentence.

The right way to use "myself"? "...the classically-approved usage of 'myself' is as an intensive ('I myself feel that way') or reflexive ('I hurt myself')."

Proper usage will enhance your credibility with members of your audience who care about grammar.

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