Sunday, December 18, 2005

"Does Your Company Belong in the Blogosphere?"

"Does Your Company Belong in the Blogosphere" from Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge e-newsletter suggests three reasons your company should have a blog:
  • "Influence the public conversation about your company"
  • "Enhance brand visibility and credibility"
  • "Achieve customer intimacy"
I liked this quote by a Sun Microsystems employee: "Blogs allow us to get our message out to the world in a direct, unmediated, and unfiltered way."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Leverage the power of lists to grow your business

If you're interested in ghostwriting, you're probably interested in broader issues of how to make your name known to a broader audience.

I enjoyed reading "Making Your List," the article I've copied below. I'm a big believer in the techniques that Chris advocates. She stresses the role that newsletters can play. I've found that my newsletter has brought me business. I can make a direct connection between sending the newsletter and getting phone calls -- and writing projects -- from clients and prospects.

"Making Your List" was written by Chris Vasiliadis of Signature Faces, Inc. Please visit Chris's web site at for her eNewsletter and resources for helping people create a signature presence.

Making Your List
One of the biggest mistakes is see business owners make is not creating, continuously growing and nurturing a list. By a list, I mean the amalgamation of all the people and businesses necessary to your future success: your contacts, your fan club. I heard a related great quote at a conference this summer. It was attributed to John Lennon who said, "I think I'll write myself a swimming pool today." He and The Beatles had achieved a place where their fan club list was so huge and so devoted, when he wanted a new "toy," he just needed to write a song, tell their list about it, and soon he'd have his new "prize."

Ultimately, your list is your revenue-generating machine.

Granted, generating a massive list doesn't happen immediately, but done with integrity and persistence, you too can create a strong list over time. To start out and make this venture as productive as possible, consider the following list categories:

  • Your customer list: people who have purchased products and services from you in the past. Track what they purchased and when, and all communication before and after. By what methods and how often do they prefer to hear from you?
  • Your prospect list: people who have expressed interest in a product or service, haven't made a purchase, but haven't said no.
  • Your eNewsletter or eZine list: people who subscribe to your newsletter. This could include customers, prospects, people who heard you speak or read an article you published, colleagues, strategic partners, friends, family, the media: basically, your fan club who like what you have to say and want to keep hearing from you!
  • Other important contacts in your network with whom you want to keep in touch, but who don't necessarily fall on any of the above lists. Again, consider these folks also in your fan club.

    First, it's critical to have these lists: they're like gold. I'll take that statement once step further: they're platinum once you put them to use for keeping in touch and growing your business. That's accomplished by both providing value each time you communicate with them, and having a scheduled system for follow-up. (The latter scenario is one where many business owners fall short.)

    Build It with Integrity
    Building your list with integrity is key. How do you do that? By asking for permission and requesting action in every customer and prospect conversation and through:

    • Networking. When you meet people in 1 on 1 networking conversations and they express an interest in your services, ask if they'd like to receive your newsletter (and whatever they say, respect their response). Offer your products and services at silent auctions as a promotional activity and to canvas for prospects. Sponsor a table or meeting.
    • Speaking. Offer your newsletter at the end of a talk you give, both verbally (combine with additional articles or give-aways) and in your feedback forms. If you sell tangible information products or other products (e.g., audio CDs, home study courses, product-based businesses), collect attendee business cards for a door prize drawing. Hold up a sample item at the end of your talk as a giveaway for someone who turned in their card. (Then take orders for a special 1 day only price for people who want to buy the item right then and there.) Keep the cards afterwards and follow-up to get feedback on your talk and determine interest in your newsletter or other services/products.
    • Publishing. When you publish articles on and off-line, in your byline at the end of the article, mention your newsletter, include a brief description with reader benefit, and invite people to subscribe on your website.
    • Writing "keep-" and "forward-worthy" eZines and eNewsletters. I've said it before and it bears repeating: content is king. What's king? Content that your audience needs to succeed. Include such content in your newsletters and your subscribers will both keep your newsletters, continue to subscribe, republish in other venues and forward it to their friends and colleagues.
    • Strategic alliances (endorsements and teleconferences). A huge point of leverage is to get in front of the list of your strategic alliances. The operative phrase here is "get in front of the list." I'm not advocating buying the list of your alliances, but building alliances with those who promote you to their list. Examples of this in work? Conduct a teleconference on a topic that interests clients of a complementary strategic partner. (Clearly, such clients would match your target audience.) Have your strategic partner promote your teleconference to their list, offering a free preview seminar. Anyone from their list who registers for your teleconference, your strategic partner gets a percentage of the registration fee. (Don't fret: there's software available that tracks and calculates this information for you.) Your alliance is a hero to their list for bringing your value to them, and your contact gets a "kick back" for making sales for you. A more low-tech solution: have your top clients or strategic partners write snail mail endorsement letters to their top 5-10 contacts, endorsing your products or services. Make it easy by writing the letter for them, get their blessing and signature, you stamp the envelopes, and they mail the letters.
    • Implementing a keep in touch schedule. Sending an article to someone when you think it will interest them. Mailing a congrats email to a friend or colleage when you see them featured in the media. All great traits which you should continue. But they're haphazard and done by chance. Do you have a specific plan in place to methodically follow up with your most important contacts on a regular basis? Here, please let me emphasize: the objective is not to sell -- it's simply to keep in touch and catch up on their priorities and plans, and see if you can help them succeed, directly or indirectly, via your contacts.

      Phew! That's a lot of food for thought for this month. Next month I'll share some tools and resources you can use to build and maintain your lists and keep in touch. In the meantime, start collecting names! (and if you'd like to share your favorite tools or resources with me, please email me by December 15th: if I like your suggestion, you may get a mention in next month's issue.)

  • Monday, December 05, 2005

    The "Phat Farm effect" in writing

    Do you give a darn about "Imperial Costumes of Ottoman Turkey"?
    Are you somewhat more intrigued by the fashion described as follows?

    I guess you could call it the Phat Farm effect, the fashion for oversized, overstuffed outerwear. It turns a person of average build into a walking sport utility vehicle, and - this is the point - makes him or her look bigger than anyone else around.

    This quote shows the value of taking your esoteric article topic and relating it to something more familiar in your reader's life.

    That connection makes the reader more disposed to read on, to learn that:
    Every age and culture has a version of this. So, imagine it expressed, not with down parkas, but with parchment-stiff silk robes woven from threads of gold; with thick brocade coats sprinkled with tulips and roses; with flared kaftans washed by ocean waves and bright with crescent moons.

    Analogies and colorful language can hook a reader on a topic that might otherwise escape her notice.

    If you're interested, you can read the entire article article, "Dressing for Ottoman Success in a Blaze of Silk and Gold," by Holland Cotter on page D1 of the New York Times (Dec. 5, 2005)