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Have you ever heard of Traffic Geyser?

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Do you remember Wimpy, the character on the cartoon Popeye?

He was always mooching from the luncheonette where he ate, asking the proprietor, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a
hamburger today.”

Well, QN is the Wimpy on my subscriber list! A few weeks ago, he e-mailed me this message: “I hope this note finds you well. Thanks for your generous offer on ‘Writing for the Christian Market’. I want the product but I only have $20 at the moment [editor's note: the product costs $39].

‘I believe the product is a perfect fit for me and will help me land my first copywriting client (and more). How can you assist me sir?”

I immediately replied with an answer I think is both fair and sensible: “QN, when I want items I do not have the cash for, I save my money until I have enough to buy them. Why not do the same?”

Now, for about 5 seconds before I clicked to send this e-mail to QN, I considered just sending him the book for only $20…or even free…because it is an electronic file, and so my out of pocket cost to help QN would be zero.

But I decided against being soft and giving it to him…and instead took the hard line and refused his request…for 5 good reasons.

First, giving QN the book is not fair to all my other subscribers. They paid full price for it. Why should QN get a

Second, my experience is that people take things more seriously when they pay for them. When people get something for free, they usually value it based on what they paid for it: nothing.

Third, I frankly don’t believe that QN, if this is truly important to him, can’t come up with the nineteen bucks.

If he lives in a dwelling where he pays rent, utilities, or mortgage, then he is not bankrupt.

Unless he is starving, I assume he will have a few meals today. Whether you eat out or go to the grocery store, you need $20 to do that.

I wager that if I bumped into QN on the street right now and asked him to open his wallet, he would have at least twenty bucks in it.

I know some people do not have a lot of money. I was one of them once.

But even those folks who plead poverty are virtually never at zero.

Decades ago, I had a copywriting client who asked me to lower my $3,500 fee to write his company’s brochure because “we have no money”.

I made a good decision by not budging. Because when I left his building, the car parked in his reserved space was a new BMW!

Fourth, I am not selling dialysis treatment to kidney failure patients.

The stuff I sell is all “nice to have”, not “must have”.

No one goes hungry, gets sick, or is denied a basic human right if he cannot buy my little e-book.

Fifth, I am not cutting him off at the knees.

Both Terry Whalin, the author of the e-book QN wants, and I have a lot of how-to content on writing and publishing we give away free on our sites and elsewhere.

On my site, there is a separate section dedicated to resources for writers, some of them inexpensive, the rest free.

So if QN is on a budget, he can get a lot of what he wants by digging around a bit on our sites, or reading the free
e-newsletters Terry and I publish every week of the year.

Bottom line: I want to walk into the Rolls dealership, and when he quotes me $250,000 for the car I like, tell him, “I want the product but I only have $45,000 at the moment.

“I believe the product is a perfect fit for me and will help me enjoy driving more. How can you assist me sir?”

The day the Rolls dealer lets me drive away with the $250,000 car for $45,000 payment in full—no loans or leases—I will give QN my e-book for free.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

Recently copywriter AL complained to me that another copywriter we know, FH, was selling a course on how to become a successful six-figure copywriter in a particular niche market…for the eye-popping price of $4,000.

This raises the question: How high can you, or should you, price your info-products?

Some info-marketers believe the answer is: charge as much as the market will pay.

And I get that. After all, it’s a free market. No one is forcing the buyer to buy. So if the buyer doesn’t like your price, he doesn’t have to buy.

Consumers complain when drug companies charge outrageous prices for medications.

But the patient has to have the medication and in some cases, cannot live without it. So to price a drug out of reach of sick people seems unfair and even cruel.

Info-products, on the other hand, are “nice to have” products, not “must have” products. They are luxuries, not necessities. So it’s not equivalent to a heart medication.

That being said, what is the maximum price you should charge for your information product?

My colleague, Internet marketing master Fred Gleeck, has this rule: The product price should be such that the buyers, after reviewing it, feel it is worth 10X what they paid for it.

By that measure, if I charge $29 for an e-book, I have to believe it is worth at least $290.

Interestingly, buyers also want and expect more than their money’s worth and have for decades.

Recently a buyer who asked for a refund on one of my e-books complained, “It is worth the $29 you charge for it…but not more than that.”

By the same 10X yardstick, a $4,000 product should deliver a value of $40,000. And not many do.

FH says that his product is worth the 4 grand price, because what it teaches has helped him personally make far more than 40K in his career.

But AL objects. He says the price is only justified if actual buyers of the product have achieved the same results as the author by using what the course teaches and are willing to attest to it in a testimonial.

It’s not enough for the author of an info-product to say his product can help you do X simply because the author has done X.

That’s because the authors often possess personalities, skills, intelligence, guts, or other attributes the average buyer will likely not.

Only if past buyers have already achieved the results the author promises can he justify a price in the stratosphere.

At least that’s what AL and I think. FH, purveyor of the $4,000 training, likely disagrees.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

How to stand out at networking events

Posted April 7th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

If you belong to a group or organization for the networking, consider becoming an officer of the group.

For decades I have advised businesspeople that, if they are going to network in a group or organization, the worst way is to attend as an ordinary member. A much better strategy is to boost your visibility by volunteering to be an officer of the group or head a committee.

Marketing consultant Sandra Lee Schubert agrees. “If you belong to a group or organization, consider joining the leadership team,” she advises. Spearhead a committee, plan an event, donate your products, or volunteer your specialty services and time.

Be of service in the group, even if it means making the coffee or staffing the registration table. But be ready to step into a leadership position.

The more you get involved, the more impact you will make in the lives and business of others. The more you create stronger relationships, the more people get to know you and your business.

“Be the go to person for future business, by being the person your groups can count on. It also looks good on a resume,” Schubert advises.

We all use computers and mobile phones, so we’re all up to speed with technology, aren’t we? Surprisingly, a recent study indicated that most employees make better use of computers, mobiles and notepads when they use them at home for recreational purposes than they do at work. This is most certainly not promising news for the majority of workplaces which are clearly failing to tap into the potential offered by modern IT solutions.

Is your IT department operating efficiently?

Major organisations are in the fortunate position of having teams of experts on hand to deal with hardware and software throughout the company. Large departments tend to have a consistent turnover in staff meaning that new graduates and trainees are usually up to speed with the latest developments in Information Technology.

For SMEs the situation is not usually quite so straightforward. A small computing team does not necessarily possess the most current skillset which is so important in today’s fast-paced world. Technological developments are moving forward all the time and at such a pace that many computing skills are becoming increasingly redundant.

The message is clear: make sure that members of your computing team are constantly receiving training in order to keep their skills current. Outmoded hardware, software and skills will almost certainly hold your business back in the long run. Ask any company director who has experienced a server crash with the resulting loss of business, orders and customer goodwill and ask yourself, “Does my IT department have an emergency plan? Is all of my data backed up? Is my company’s technology working to optimum levels?”

Are you making full use of available technology?

The days of sitting at a desk working at a desktop computer are fading fast. Nowadays the emphasis is on cloud computing, business on the move and e-commerce. Most companies and businesses could benefit from giving their systems a complete overhaul and assessing whether they are really receiving value for money, not to mention economic credibility.

Arranging to have a digital assessment could be your first step towards a sleeker and more efficient future, particularly if your equipment includes outdated machines and clunky software. Nowadays more and more companies are benefiting from the advances in technology offered by mobile devices and cloud computing. Sophisticated options such as Sharepoint offer superb control over many aspects of your company from employee expenses to customer data.

Some companies find the experience of an IT overhaul so liberating that they go on to outsource their entire IT requirement. Not only does this trim the budget, often quite dramatically, but the results usually speak for themselves. It makes great business sense, as all computing functions are handed over to experts in their field who are all up-to-speed with cutting-edge technology and the necessary skills to adapt it to specific requirements.

In a world of instant access, every company needs to offer customers instant and easy access to the products, services and information they require in order to secure sales. A professional website, timely information and well-maintained systems are an absolute necessity for business success in the 21st century.

Subscriber WE asks, “If you were a somewhat green freelancer, how would you approach the client mentality of ‘I can get this for $5 somewhere.’

“Would you try and convince them otherwise or simply look elsewhere? And if you tried to convince them otherwise, what argument would you use?”

This is an easy one.

I told WE that it is pointless to spend time trying to get the $5 client to pay you $500 or even $50 for two reasons.

First, at that price the client can choose from one of a zillion hungry low-level writers clamoring for their crappy assignment. I picture those hack writers as the pile of warm bodies climbing up the wall in the movie World War Z.

Second, negotiating is worthless. Yes, you can haggle and maybe get the $5 client to pay you $6. But no way will they pay $500 or even $50.

By the way, I have the same experience in book publishing. If a publisher offers me a $5,000 advance, my literary agent might be able to get them up to $7,000…but not to $50,000.

The trick to making more money is to avoid cheap, low-paying markets, clients, publishers, editors, and assignments—and to work for high-paying markets, clients, publishers, editors and projects.

To get $1,000 per assignment, target clients that pay $1,000. Do not go after $10 clients and try to convince them to pay more. It won’t work.

What about raising your rates with current clients? When you are at the $500 per project level and up, you can raise your rates if you are in high demand at your current rates.

The best time to raise your rates is when you have much more business at your current rates than you can handle.

For example, if you have more $500 assignments than you can handle, you can start turning away clients that will only pay $100 and experiment with quoting $650 to new leads.

BTW, whenever you raise your rates, charge these rates to all new clients starting with the first assignment.

But when you communicate your new rates to current clients, tell them that the old rates they were paying will be in effect for them for the rest of the year.

That gives them advance notice they appreciate, prepares them for the rate increase, and enhances your relationship because they perceive you are giving them a special deal.

Just this week, GR, the marketing director from a lending bank, called me and asked if I would write 500-word blog posts on mortgages, real estate, and related topics for them.

He told me he found my name on a web site for mortgage marketers in a post listing five top copywriters in the mortgage industry. One was me. The others were biggies.

Then GR dropped the bomb: he wanted to pay five cents a word for the blog articles. For a 500-word article, that’s a staggering $25 per article.

Keep in mind that this is 2014. When I started freelancing in the early 1980s, the going rate for articles was a dollar a word. That’s 20X more than what GR thinks he should pay now.

My first impulse was to tell GR that if he would give me mortgages for investment properties at an interest rate of 0.1%, I would gladly write an article for him for a nickel a word.

Instead I suggested he contact the other copywriters recommended on the mortgage site and then let me know how many jumped at his 5 cents a word offer.

Of course, that was the last I heard from him.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

New Video: Accelerate Your Business

Posted March 26th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

Eben Pagan’s long-awaited Accelerate business training program finally goes ‘live’! In this new video, he shows you the proof of the system that you’ll learn in the all-new Accelerate trainings can help you grow your business.

That proof comes in 2 forms:

1) The track record he has now growing 11 businesses and brands from zero to over $1 million in sales (and four of them over $10 million).

2) The powerful case studies (and letters that people have sent me) to share their stories of how these systems have helped them grow their businesses.

He also gives you exclusive early access to his 3 new business-growth training programs, with a special tuition offer that’s only available for the next four days.

This is not the first time he has run Accelerate, and the testimonials are piling up. You will discover why skills like creativity and productivity are key to building a business—and what you must do differently as an entrepreneur who is building a profitable business. You will know what to do in order to shift your business into “high growth mode”. These are just a few of the many insights and techniques that helped him double his business…and double it again in exponential growth steps.

Watch the video today, and let Eben know if you can make it into the program with him!

The Awful Truth About Cold Calling by Bob Bly

Posted March 16th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

Is cold calling to get new copywriting clients a good, bad, or terrible idea?

EF writes: “I did have a question that I thought you might be able to answer. I’ve been receiving a lot of mail attempting to sell me credit cards from big names like Discover, Capital One, and Chase.

“But I’ve noticed the writing is rather poor—it’s a statement of features, sometimes of benefits, but with no real attempt at persuasion. I’ve done some brainstorming and believe I could rewrite these in such a way as to increase sales for these companies.

“My thought was to try cold-calling/e-mailing these companies and attempting to sell them on my idea of rewriting for greater persuasion. So I was wondering if you had any advice, ideas, or tips on the best way to go about this, or even if it’s a worthwhile idea!”

My bad news for EF is: cold calling to get copywriting clients is a terrible idea—probably the worst way to go about looking for copywriting clients ever devised.

There are 5 reasons why I urge freelance copywriters to avoid cold calling at all costs.

1) Clients want to work with vendors whom they perceive as busy and successful. By logical extension, if you have nothing better to do than sit at your desk dialing the phone and asking strangers to hire you, clients conclude you are not busy, successful, or in demand. So right away you cause the prospect to be repulsed by your seeming desperation rather than to be attracted to you and your services.

2) When you quote your fee, the client whom you find through cold calling will almost always try to beat you down. Why? Because they know you need the work. Otherwise, why would you have called them? Cold calling destroys your leverage.

3) If you tell them you are calling because you have received their marketing campaigns and believe them to be ineffective, you risk making a fool of yourself, because the marketing you say stinks may in fact be working like gangbusters. You don’t know.

4) Another problem with telling potential clients their copy stinks is that the person you are speaking with may be responsible for it and not agree with you. So you start off the relationship by arguing with and insulting her. Is that smart?

5) Cold calling is a form of telemarketing, a marketing technique that has slowly fallen out of favor over the years because it is overly intrusive and interruptive. Lots of people hate telemarketers, so for you to become one does not position you favorably with your potential clients.

The bottom line: cold calling is a bad idea because it violates the Silver Rule of Marketing, formulated by my colleague Pete Silver, who says: “It is always better to get them to come to you than for you go to them.”

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

Recently I promoted a free book offer from my colleague RR, a New York Times best-selling author, and my subscriber TM wasn’t happy about it.

“I tried to sign up for the free item you’re providing through RR,” says RM. “I clicked on ‘get your free subscription,’ then I filled in the required data and that obnoxious ‘Captcha’ asked me to repeat two words back.

“THE WORDS WERE NOT GIVEN! NOT SPECIFIED AT ALL!! VERY bad form! You need to debug your sign-up. Please send the reports by e-mail & sign me up. I DO NOT relish being asked to jump through hoops when the hoops don’t even work.”

You probably know I get irritated rather easily, and yes, TM’s all-caps shouting and scolding irritated the heck out of me.

Here’s why…

First, he says that I need to debug my sign-up. But the offer was from RR as it stated in my e-mail, not me. So it’s not “my” sign-up and I have no control over it.

Second, Captcha forms play a legitimate role in preventing spam, and any web site operator has a perfect right to put one on his web page.

Third, I know the words were in fact there, because many of my subscribers signed up for the offer. They could not do so without entering the Captcha words.

But my biggest irritation with TM is: this is a free offer.

He didn’t pay RR or me a dime for the free book he wanted to download.

So I think all the upper case letters and exclamation points and his complaint about jumping through hoops are way over the top.

He could have asked much more nicely, as almost all my subscribers do in these situations.

To be indignant about having a problem with something you aren’t paying for—a free gift—is in my book wildly inappropriate.

Here’s a universal event that virtually every Internet marketer I know has experienced:

A subscriber complains and berates you, often in a snide or insulting fashion.

You go to your shopping cart and look him up, and almost without exception, it is a subscriber who has never bought anything from you.

What is the dollar value to the Internet marketer of a subscriber who never buys anything?

You guessed it: zero.

Although if you read this e-newsletter and never buy anything, I still value you as a friend and reader.

The non-buying subscriber is essentially getting all the content in your e-newsletters free of charge, giving you nothing in return.

So when they complain rudely, I find it off-putting.

Ironically, paying customers are almost without exception pleasant and easy to deal with, and appreciative of what you give them.

TM overestimates his importance to RR and me. We don’t need him. What has he done for us? Nothing.

I hope he reads this and gets a reality check.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

Does the client have the budget to hire you?

Posted March 13th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

“When talking with a prospect, ask them if they have a budget in mind for the project,” says copywriter Charlotte Crockett. Often, copywriters will wait until their formal proposal to give any indication of their fees. If the prospect’s expectation is $100 and your fee is $2,500, it’s highly unlikely you’ll get hired. It’s much better to know that before you spend a lot of time preparing a proposal.

Source: AWAI B2B Success, 2/13/14

Making cold calling work

Posted March 12th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

There will be times when you will be the one making the cold call. You may be calling to discuss an affiliate arrangement, check out a reference, or other business not related to selling.

While you won’t be selling anything, you will be screened as if you were. Your call will be much more likely to be put through if you give your company and your name and title and state the reason for your call and add, “Please tell her that this is not a sales call.” But say this only if it is 100% true.

Source: Michael Dalton Johnson, Coffee With the Dog, 2/13/14

Sifting The Toads From The Frogs by Bob Bly

Posted February 27th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

Subscriber WG writes, “How do you sift the toads from the frogs with new client requests?”

In other words: How do you know whether a prospect will be a good client to work with or a bad client?

There is a formula for qualifying clients I have given before: MAD FU.

It stands for money, authority, desire, fit, and urgency.

1 – Money: does the client have a budget? And is it big enough to cover your fee?

How to find out: Ask the client, “Do you have a budget for this project?”

If they say yes, ask, “Would you mind sharing with me what it is?”

If they say no, ask, “Well, do you at least have a dollar figure in your mind of what you’d like it to cost?”

2 – Authority: can the client make the decision to hire you? Or does he have to get approval from others?

How to find out: Ask the client, “Who else is involved in making this decision?”

3 – Desire: if you are a copywriter, do they value good copy? Do they want better copy than they have? Or do they view copy as a commodity without any special value?

How to find out: When a prospect says “we are looking at many other copywriters,” that’s a sign to me that they view what I do as a commodity service, and it makes me lose interest in them.

4 – Fit: are they a good fit for you? Are they in an industry you are comfortable writing about? Are they the size company you like to work with?

5 – Urgency: if they need the service you provide now or by an upcoming deadline date, the chances are good they will hire you or someone else. If there is no urgency, your chances of getting hired decline geometrically. Prospects in a hurry are the best prospects.

How to find out: Ask: “What is your deadline for completing this project?”

Here are a few additional rules of thumb for client selection:

** Your instincts are right 95% of the time. Therefore, if you get an immediate negative vibe from a person, don’t take them on as a client.

Example: I got a call from a well known direct marketing entrepreneur who wanted, he said, a “killer” ad. He asked me “Can you write a killer ad?” five times in 5 minutes. And he sounded like a used car salesman. I passed.

** If you don’t like or believe in the product, pass.

Example: I got a call a few weeks ago from someone who wanted me to write a sales letter on using astrology to make business decisions. I passed because I think that is a load of B.S.

** It’s a negative to me if the first question the prospect asks me is “What will it cost?” That tells me they are looking for a low price. They ought to be asking to see samples of my work, a client list, and client testimonials and results.

** If they are poor speakers of English, this is a negative for me as a copywriter, because they must be able to recognize and appreciate well-written, conversational English prose when I submit it to them.

** Having a prospect ask if I will waive my fee in exchange for a percentage of sales gets an immediate “no” from me. From a serious direct marketer, I will accept my fee plus a percentage of sales as a bonus when such is offered.

** Also beware the prospect who asks you to lower your fee in exchange for the promise of a lot of work down the road. It’s an empty promise designed solely to get you to cut your price.

** I have had the occasional prospect tell me “You won’t be able to understand or write about my product because my product is different than anything else you have ever seen.” I agree and tell them they are right and therefore I cannot help them and wish them well.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

Last month, Fred Gleeck and I gave a 2-day weekend seminar in NYC on information marketing.

On the first day, Saturday, I woke up completely nauseous.

Turns out I had some sort of stomach bug—almost unbelievable to me, as I almost never get sick.

I was sweating and on the verge of puking the entire weekend. Despite that, I had to be on my feet teaching nearly 8 hours a day for 2 days.

It was physically one of the most difficult things I have ever done.

The attendees were extremely happy with the seminar, but I tipped the odds in my favor: I TOLD them I was sick early the first day.

I did so because I looked terrible and wanted them to know this wasn’t my normal condition or appearance.

What happened?

The attendees could not have been nicer, more sympathetic, or kinder.

Several came up to me suggesting things I could do to feel better.

One generous lady went to a pharmacy around the corner on a break and bought me anti-nausea pills, which helped somewhat.

My point—and I do have one—is that you should not be afraid to tell clients or customers if you have a problem that is temporarily affecting your ability to deliver your product or service.

In such situations, I am always afraid that the client or customer will not be understanding and will fire me.

But on the rare occasions it has happened—like the power outage during Hurricane Sandy—I find the opposite is true: the vast majority of people are sympathetic, and when they hear you have a serious problem—e.g., you or someone in your family is sick; your house was trashed by a hurricane—they will cut you every break and bend over backwards to help you.

For instance, I asked the audience if it would be OK if I sat while giving some of my presentations, and they kindly gave permission. I have never sat while giving a talk before in my life and don’t plan on doing it again.

Of course, you have to be fair to the clients and customers too.

For instance, if I had been unable to present the seminar, I would have had to refund the tuition to any student who requested it—although Fred is so good on the platform, I don’t think that would have happened.

If the client for any reason is not sympathetic, understand that they may be under pressure to meet a deadline or please a boss, and your problem, though not your fault, is causing them major headaches—to which you should be sympathetic, fair, and flexible.

Nobody likes being sick, but it’s the worst for one-person service businesses, because if you are sick, your business shuts down.

By comparison, a corporate employee can be out a week or two without disrupting the business of the company significantly in any way. When I took a day off at Westinghouse, the company ran without a hitch and even paid me. Today when I take a day off, I do not get paid and no work gets done.

This is why I tell solopreneurs that it’s very difficult to freelance or run a small business if you are not in good health. Yet admirably, the few I know who have health problems are somehow managing to do it anyway. My hat’s off to them.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

Managing A Mobile Workforce by Amanda Walters

Posted February 19th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

With modern technology making full use of wireless connectivity, the traditional way in which workforces operate is changing forever. Devices such as laptops, mobile phones and tablets make it possible for workers to negate the daily commute into work and instead work flexibly around their own schedule. This change raises a set new of issues for an employer to consider. Here are a few of them:


When it comes to solutions for new technology, technology itself normally has an answer for it; this is certainly true for mobile workforce management. Enterprise mobility apps are an expandable suite of applications that incorporate all the elements of mobile management, such as completing work reports or interaction between employees and the office. They can be designed to suit the specific needs of a particular business and run on all the major software platforms. Importantly, the apps are all designed to be able to work with each other so that a workforce can share data and information hassle free.

Synchronising The Workforce

A key consideration for a business in managing its mobile workforce are the devices their workforce is to use. One solution is for a company to provide their workers with equipment; this will ensure all employees are using devices that are compatible with each other. However, the obvious problem here is cost, as shelling out on electronic equipment can be expensive. An alternative solution is to allow employees to use their own devices. This negates the need for a company to buy new devices; however, staff should be made aware of company policy regarding those mobile operating systems.


With a mobile workforce, there can sometimes be issues with unstructured work hours.
To avoid this issue it is important to have open channels of communication and a well-organised schedule. This is an issue that requires advanced planning, the process of which can be helped with staff scheduling software.

Maintaining Performance

There are certain benefits associated with going mobile; these include a more motivated workforce and higher productivity. However, it can be difficult to keep track of workers, particularly when it comes to reaching goals and targets. To stop this from becoming a problem, a company should issue all mobile workers with goals based on quantifiable targets, rather than simply the hours that they work on a given project. This can make it far easier to determine how an employee is performing should they be working remotely.

Play Your Part

If a company is allowing their employees to work remotely, it is vital that it supports its workforce with the appropriate back up. This means giving a worker help as and when they need it. Emails and missed calls need to be responded to as soon as possible to avoid time being lost through latent channels of communication. It is also important to allow a mobile workforce access to an appropriate place of work should they need it.

This article was written by Amanda Walters, an experienced freelance writer and regular contributor to Huffington Post. Follow her here: @Amanda_W84

How To Create The Perfect Video Conferencing Space

Posted January 22nd, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

More and more of us in the modern age are telecommuting; going to work without even taking a step outside of our house. Others are attending meetings from hotel rooms in far-flung countries. Throughout all this, there is a secret art to video conferencing that we are all ignoring.

This article seeks to literally present you in the best light during your virtual meetings. With a little bit of effort you can look more professional than any of your colleagues, maybe even your bosses. Of course, this all starts with having a desktop or laptop from Lenovo that you can use to video chat from, so once you have one of those the show can go on.

No conferencing can happen if the Internet connection you have isn’t up to the job. If there are any applications or processes that are using the Internet in any way, closing them before your call will result in a stronger connection. Skype will require about 300kbps to begin a video call (and can use up to 1.5mbps for HD quality calls) so if your connection seems sluggish it’s always worth testing your connection with a speed test before you begin. Speaking of testing, don’t forget to test the audio and visual components of your computer—ensure that there aren’t any major malfunctions before you jump into anything. Most laptops and tablets will have a built-in microphone and camera but with desktops it’s always worth spending some time on getting the ideal setup so you can be seen and heard perfectly.

Lighting plays a huge part in making conference look better with relative ease. One simple step is to stop relying the light from your monitor, which will have an uneven colour balance. Instead, try to apply the principles of photography to your conferencing area. If possible, try to light the area from three different points off-camera, starting with some sort of desk lamp or small light behind the camera. Shining it at the wall behind the camera will lessen the glare on your eyes and lower the light on your face. If you conference frequently it may be worth investing in some high-end lighting to perfect your space: some photography lamps and diffusers will give you a professional look during your meetings.

Then there’s your environment to consider. Be conscious of your surroundings, especially if you’re at home. Mirrors and picture frames might cause some glare and remember to keep things tidy. The goal is to maintain focus on yourself, so keep distractions to a minimum. This also includes distractions on your person: any loud, rattily jewelry can and will be picked up on your microphone. Clothing is also something that should be taken into consideration. While it goes without saying that you should always be professional, be careful when it comes to pattern as smaller prints will put a strain on your connection. Lastly, simply sitting up straight can make a huge difference in your demeanor, so grab a comfy office chair, speak clearly and you’ll be sure to impress.

Why customers may not order again

Posted January 12th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

The late, great copywriter Ed McLean cites these reasons why customers who bought once from you may not favor you with repeat orders:

1. They have moved. One in five Americans moves each year. More than half of businesspeople change jobs each year.

2. They are deceased.

3. They are physically ill or going through an upsetting emotional crisis.

4. They are broke or strapped for cash.

5. They are no longer in the market for what you sell.

6. They have found a cheaper or more convenient way to buy what you sell.

7. They are mad at you because your product did not live up to the promises they think you made.

Source: Ed McLean, “The Basics of Copy,” pp. 22-23

The death of direct mail is greatly exaggerated.

Posted January 9th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

No matter how much multichannel/integrated marketing will be a constant theme and reality, expect direct mail to continue to be featured as the “tree” of a campaign from which all the other branches extend says Ethan Boldt, Director of the Who’s Mailing What Archive. Why?

“Well, as you probably can guess, it’s still the big money maker, and if a company’s integrative marketing cards are played right, it’ll continue to be the major driver of revenue along with e-mail, social media, mobile and telemarketing,” he says.

Source: Target Marketing, 11/22/13

When it comes to customer choice, less is more.

Posted January 7th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

Although it is counter-intuitive, you usually can increase sales by offering customers fewer choices rather than more choices.

Clare Florist, a U.K. company, knows if customers made previous purchases, they will buy again. Originally the florist thought a past purchaser might like to order different items. So, in addition to the product most recently ordered, the company provided two other additional items.

However, sometimes simple is better; too many choices may paralyze the consumer. The florist tested featuring just the product category of the past purchase. And the test won-by a wide margin.

Source: Reggie Brady, Today@TargetMarketing, 12/12/13

4 ways to make your brand stand out

Posted January 5th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

1. Go slow in a world of speed: Each Rolex takes a year to manufacture. The perception that a longer process is needed to build the world’s best timepiece also reinforces the value.

2. Use country of origin to your advantage: Brands from Switzerland are highly associated with precision and fine craftsmanship. Seek to build brand associations with countries that support your reputation for service, manufacturing, innovation etc.

3. Behave differently: Online shoe retailer Zappos has built its advantage on an iron-clad return policy and customer service that goes above and beyond, breaking down the perceived barriers of selling and buying shoes online.

4. Look different: Apple always looks like Apple. Diesel always looks like Diesel. Absolut Vodka always looks like Absolut. They’re in a sector but they don’t look like part of the sector.

Source: Branding Strategy Insider, Derrick Daye, “50 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand”

Do You Mistreat Your Customers This Way? by Bob Bly

Posted December 30th, 2013 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

I now can tell you what is wrong with America, because I saw it last week at Best Buy.

A few nights ago, my wife and I went to Best Buy to buy a microwave oven; we had moved to a new home a few weeks ago, and the new house didn’t have one.

Although the store was well staffed, we were ignored as we stood in the microwave oven aisle. So I went to a young woman sitting at a help desk and told her we wanted to buy a microwave. “No problem” she said. “I will send someone right over.”

Ten minutes later, no one came. Irritated, I marched back to the young woman sitting at the help desk and, to my amazement, saw 3 blue-shirted Best Buy salesmen standing around, next to her desk, shooting the breeze.

Americans have developed, in the words of writer Harlan Ellison, a “slacker mentality”.

In my observation, not everyone, but certainly a significant majority of workers, just don’t seem to give a crap about their job, their business, or their customers.

The incident at Best Buy reminded me of a business rule of thumb told to me years ago: When someone is trying to give you money, don’t make it difficult for them to do so. We were ready to make a $246 purchase (including a 4-year service plan), and no one seemed particularly interested in taking our cash.

After Best Buy, we stopped at a Chinese buffet restaurant for dinner—new to us because as I said we just moved here.

Here, we experienced the opposite of Best Buy: great customer service. My son took a hard-shell crab from the buffet and then couldn’t open it (I once lived in Baltimore where, when you ate hard-shell crabs, you did so with a wooden mallet in your hand. I never liked it).

Our nice waitress showed him how to open it with a fork and spoon, patiently waiting until the task was done and then showing him what parts were safe to eat and which were not.

Here’s another attitude adjustment you may need to make: increasingly, small business owners who work at home answer their phones in a tone that is wary (instead of open and friendly) at best and downright hostile at worst.

JH, a graphic designer, did this when I called her the other day to see if she could design a direct mail package for one of my clients. She answers in a flat, cold “hello?” She did not even give her name. When I asked her about doing the job, she answered in clipped monosyllables, as if I were annoying her.

The next day, I received this e-mail from her: “Bob, I want to apologize for my unwelcoming answer to your phone call the other day. I usually don’t answer a call when I don’t know who is calling, but I recognized your name, so I did answer this time. The phone rings a lot these days and most of the time it’s an 800 number selling something.”

I thanked JH, but told her: too little, too late. She has lots of competition, and I have more than enough graphic designers who will happily take on my client’s projects with an attitude of enthusiasm. Her disdain for telemarketers is simply not my problem, nor should it be.

It’s ironic. Business is more competitive than ever. The recession has made consumer and business customers alike tighter with a dollar. Your customers have more choices for the services and products they want to buy than at any time in recorded history. Yet when customers walk in the door or pick up the phone, so many entrepreneurs send them running, blowing the sale on the spot.

I am reminded of something billionaire insurance entrepreneur A.L. Williams once said: “You beat 90% of the competition just by showing up. The other 10% you must defeat in a vicious dogfight.”

With their counter-productive, anti-customer attitude and behavior, so many businesspeople I encounter today are losing right out of the gate. I hope you are not one of them.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

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