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November 2009

Dear SuccessTrack, a freebie from me

Dear SuccesTrack

Why, if you invite me (twice, received two separate envelops in today's mail) for a Free one-day seminar to

"Discover £12,000 worth of (Confidential) business, marketing and intern secrets used by our Platinum Clients that will make 2010 your most profitable year ever"

and on the 8 page invite (no doubt written with the greatest attention to detail) you add a little post-it note stating:

"I think this will be right up your street. See you there?
J."

and all I have to do to get this freebie is donate £ 10.00 to your Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity Appeal, allow me to give you a great business/marketing tip that will never ever fail:

Make sure you've got the name of the person you're inviting right, specially if they already ordered something from you!

Two envelops, and on not one of them they got my name right. I'm not Yakir Hermans and I'm not May Hermins.

My name is Karin Hermans and I will not be attending your freebie, thank you very much.


From Seth's Blog: Thirsty (- but I beg to differ)

Thirsty

I've noticed that people who read a lot of blogs and a lot of books also tend to be intellectually curious, thirsty for knowledge, quicker to adopt new ideas and more likely to do important work.

I wonder which comes first, the curiosity or the success?

via sethgodin.typepad.com

One step missing here IMHO: curiosity - IMPLEMENTATION - success.

I know people who read a lot of blogs and a lot of books do nothing else than read. Once they have the "guts" to implement what they read they start to see the results and the success. Curiosity is not enough.

What do you think?


ScreenSteps 2.7 prelaunch news = sale

ScreenSteps 2.7 Preview

We wanted to show you a bit of what is coming in ScreenSteps 2.7. We are always trying to make it easier for our users to communicate visually and ScreenSteps 2.7 is going to make a major improvement in that area.


Starting Today! The Sale that Goes Stale

Last month we had our biggest sales month ever and two weeks ago we had our biggest single sales day ever. Thank you so much to all of you who are using ScreenSteps and especially all of you who are telling your friends and colleagues about it.

To thank everyone for their support and to celebrate Thanksgiving we are having a Thanksgiving sale. But this isn’t your standard sale. It’s the “sale that goes stale”.

Monday and Tuesday – Fresh – 40% off of all Blue Mango Products

Wednesday – Like day old bread – 30% off

Thursday – Why are you shopping anyways? You should be eating turkey (in the USA, UK will just eat normal dinner ;-))  – 20% off

Friday – stale – 10% off

The sale begins now (Monday, November 23, 2009) and isn’t combinable with any other offers. The percentage off can be applied to ScreenSteps Standard, ScreenSteps Pro, or to the first three months of a ScreenSteps Live account.

All you need to do to take advantage of the sale is use the coupon code THANKS.

via bluemangolearning.com

Most of you know I'm always recommending ScreenSteps left, right and center - it truly comes with my highest recommendations and almost every week I discover more options and ways to use one or more feature of the program for our business and especially our marketing.

Take advantage of this superb offer of this superb program - that includes superb customer service! No more excuses, go here - and I would opt for the Pro version - and don't forget to use the coupon code THANKS


Seth's Blog: Can't top this = incentive to read: Collapse of Distinction

For weeks now I'm trying to find time to write another book review, but other - more pressing - business tasks keep coming up (good ones though, don't take me wrong).

But today Seth Godin made this task a little easier by posting this:

Can't top this

Getting someone to switch is really difficult.

Getting someone to switch because you offer more of what they were looking for when they choose the one they have now is essentially impossible. For starters, they're probably not looking for more. And beyond that, they'd need to admit that they were wrong for not choosing you in the first place.

So, you don't get someone to switch because you're cheaper than Walmart. You don't get someone to switch because you serve bigger portions than the big-portion steakhouse down the street. You don't get someone to switch because your hospital is more famous than the Mayo Clinic.

The chances that you can top a trusted provider on the very thing the provider is trusted for are slim indeed.

Instead, you gain converts by winning at something the existing provider didn't think was so important.

via sethgodin.typepad.com

And that is exactly what "The Collapse of Distinction: Overcoming the Stifling Sameness of Today's Marketplace " is all about: don't try to add incremental differences between you and your competitor - it is a waste of money, effort and time.

Scott McKain starts his excellent book by remembering his childhood in a little town in the US where two local diners suddenly experienced the "fast-food" chains. One business didn't take long to fold, the other survived as if the fast-food giants weren't even there.

Collapse of Distinction contains many more examples and steps to take yourself to "Stand out from the crowd" - beginning with the three dangers every business faces when competing:

  1. incremental differences,
  2. new competition and
  3. familiarity does not bread contempt it breads complacency

Scott answers these dangers with 4 pieces of advice you should implement in that order:

  • Clarity,
  • Creativity,
  • Communication and
  • Customer Service

It is a great read - the only thing I did not like is Scott's dislike of the IMHO greatest book of all: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't by Jim Collins and co, but then I'm biased on this subject. I can't see the difference between Scot's "Clarity" advice and Jim's "Hedge Hog Concept" advice. But I leave that for you to decide for yourselves.

Thanks again to my personal librarian Drew McLellan for recommending this book to me.


ScreenSteps for instant personalised leaflets

Saturday we had the pleasure of welcoming returning clients in our showroom - we, like every business no doubt, love returning clients - specially when you sell high value goods like wooden flooring.

We installed a natural wooden floor for them 6 years ago - they were one of our first Wood You Like clients so we remembered many details - but one year later they had sold-up and moved to another town in Kent. They were kept in the picture of our business through our monthly newsletter and when the time came to finally get rid of the existing carpet in their "new" home they didn't go anywhere else but back to Charing.

In our showroom we display many large sample boards because wood comes in plenty of options in species, finishes, colours and floor-types (from veneer to design parquet). It happens frequently the floor area is covered with 3 to even 7 large sample boards so all can show off their own characteristics perfectly. Our main manufacturer/supplier provides us with product information leaflets, but a printed sample doesn't always give the right impression in regards of the true colour. So seeing a "live" large sample works best, specially when our prospect/client is in dubio of what would suit his/her design style best.

In our cupboard we keep a stack of small off-cuts from floors installed, but there is a small problem with this: it only shows part of all the characteristics a floor can have. It is in fact almost an "art" to make a correct sample board - it should really display most of the things you will find in the whole floor, warts and all! (Or in this case: knots, filler and variation in colours).

Our returning clients couldn't really make up their minds on the three most preferred floors. Did we have samples of all three so they could compare the colours etc with their existing furniture and design. I came up with a better idea, or so I hoped.
Why didn't I take high resolution pictures of the sample boards and email them together with our written specified quote on all three floor types? That idea was appreciated and after they took their farewells I took to work - only to discover the battery of our camera was empty! Waiting for the re-charge to complete I pondered on the format I would email the images - I had to make sure the images were named correctly and all of a sudden I realised the best way to do this - including adding important information - was to create a document using ScreenSteps.

So I took the overview picture and all individual close-ups of the sample boards, downloaded them into my pc and viewed them in the standard viewer (large). Normally I would crop and reduce seize of the "raw" images to make the file smaller - especially when you do not know if the prospect can receive large files without problems or might have problems opening the format in which I turn the images. But almost everyone can open a PDF file without any problems!

Using the CapturePalette of ScreenSteps Desktop very quickly all four images were automagically transferred into one document where I only needed to write the extra information and could now also use the annotation option to number the boards to correspond with the specific information.

Floor Options

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When this was done I exported the document as PDF file, attached it to my email and away it was! (If you're interested you can download/view it here to see exactly how effective it shows the sample boards in their full glory.)

In 5 minutes time I had created an instant, personal and relevant product information leaflet, showing our clients exactly what they had seen in our showroom to assist in their decision making.

Their reply after receiving the quotations and the personal leaflet:

"Thank you that is really helpful as we could put them against the floor boards in the hall, and our decor in the room to get some idea what they will look like."

Our next follow up is an on-site survey to check measurements and discuss further installation matters.

This must be the 7th possibility I can use ScreenSteps Desktop for (one of the other possibilities is writing this article in it and uploading it automagically into my blog), such a multifunctional simple program. It makes effective and relevant communication with our prospects and clients so much easier and quicker without compromising on quality.


Despicable Social Media Practices: Cheesers and Cheaters

Using Twitter-search (with RSS feed to my "blog" reader) I can follow, read and interact on questions/news about some software programs I use myself and of which I'm a big fan: Typepad, ScreenSteps and of course AWeber.
So once a day I go to my reader and read all the relevant tweets.

Strange and weird things can appear - or so I thought the first time when I kept reading the same tweets over and over again but by different "people":

Cheesers

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You notice something?

And this one comes up frequently too:

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You notice something?

Besides the exact same tweeted text they all seem to have numbers in their twitter profile name. When you check their profile 9 times out of 10 you will see something likes this:

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I've started to call them "Cheesers" - because what they do IMHO is rather cheesy:
"Trying too hard, unsubtle, and inauthentic.
Specifically that which is unsubtle or inauthentic in its way of trying to elicit a certain response from a viewer, listener, audience, etc."

What's the use of this? Why would you 'hackle' a excellent software program which has an excellent customer support this way? I "smell" a competitor, do you?

Then there is a whole different group of twitters:

Cheaters

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Again the twitter profile name is a combination of name and numbers (and none of them follow anyone - only have a number of no doubt automated followers).
These tweets seem to direct you to a tutorial on how to build/utilise an AWeber web form to grow your email list.

Only, when you follow the link you always end up on the same website which promotes completely the opposite practice of permission marketing AWeber is so well known for: Blasting - in this case not email blasting but blasting links and content on twitter, facebook and many more social media platforms.

SocialBlaster

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If this company is so successful, why do they need to "piggyback" on the fame of another company that promotes exactly the opposite?

Shame on them. We can do without cheesers and cheaters - what on earth is Social about them?

(Rant over)