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Archive for May, 2009

A while back, in the post “Putting the Grrr! in Facebook,” I saved a few lines for the FB offender known as Twitter Newbie. He is a guy or gal who just got their iPhone, or what have you,  and has figured out the thing will pay for itself in just three years if they tweet 200 times a day, regardless if they have anything to say.  So, you get updates like “ugh! going 2 work!…ugh! at work!…snack: cool ranch doritos yum!…ugh! meetings!….yay! 4day weekend!”

Get a grip, you say? Well, I just realized that little Tweeters grow up, and it’s not pretty.  Eventually Twitter Newbie, sort of like the machines in Terminator, will become self aware and begin to annihilate us–not with cool liquid metal robots from the future, but with the sheer power of his smug self-satisfaction.

Some prime examples of this phenomenon have been immortalized in the blogsite ” Tweeting too Hard,” and they are a howl. I will give you the link in moment, but here are some highlights of actual tweets disbelieving recipients have submitted:

OMG i was saying how i couldn’t afford the gas to fly daddy’s jet to the riviera this summer, and this barista totally rolled her eyes at me!

Everywhere I go people are telling me that I should start modeling. I guess I am really that good looking. lol

I’m about to go save up to 3 lives. What are YOU doing today?

A woman ordered a breakfast sandwich with sausage and bacon, while I had a whole-grain blueberry muffin. Am I justified in feeling superior?

Watching a LOT of fashion mistakes go past whilst waiting for the bus. This is why I don’t use public transport.

Damn these Google AdWords… Too many potential new business enquries to deal with. Sometimes I’m too good at online marketing. *Sigh*

OK, that last one was me. Anyway, if judging others is your thing, head on over to Tweeting too Hard and settle in. If irony is your thing, keep track of how much time you are wasting at this site while judging harshly the people wasting their time on Twitter.  It’s a win-win!

Have a good weekend, and remember our Honored Dead!


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A while back, I wrote something called “A Mile Wide, an Inch Deep” that described my approach to research. It’s tricky learning just enough to get the copywriting job done, but not so much that the budget is drained just on research.  Simply put, the client is not paying me to become an expert on his topic and, honestly, I don’t want to learn that badly.

Besides, I discovered long ago that there is a finite amount of space in this writer’s brain. Now at age (coughs, muffles words,) every time some new knowledge is added, it seems that an older bit goes away, just like the memory card in mom’s camera.

So, I need to absorb what I can, write the copy, and git! As they told Matt Damon in Ocean’s 11: You want to capture his attention, and then make him forget about you the moment you walk away.  I think I am remembering that line incorrectly, which proves my point. I have also forgotten my point. Sigh.

To illustrate, here is a website I wrote for regarding home appraisal reform, and new software for mortgage lenders.  I alluded to it last time, but wasn’t sure I have clearance to discuss it. Now, having read an announcement about it on LinkedIn, I am guessing it’s OK.

At any rate, I know next to nothing about mortgage lending, home appraisals or, for that matter, software. With that king-sized caveat in mind, take a look. See if you think I captured the essence.
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Captain’s log, supplemental:
Whenever I am thinking that things seem a little too quiet, I like to do a post listing all the projects I have going on. It’s therapeutic, I suppose. And it’s easier than coming up with a real topic in time to make the 10:45am showing of Star Trek at the local IMAX. (see gay illustration.)

beam me up, and whatnot

beam me up, and whatnot

Anyway, the week began with a lunch meeting that, if I could only tell you about it, would neatly illustrate why lunch meetings are deader than disco. I promise full scoopage when the check clears!

Then, I revisited a web project that I update from time to time…biographies for a commercial real estate firm. People come and go, and so do their life stories. Check it out!

I finished up work on the cold-call success story from last week: a website for a Luxury Boutique Hotel located on a nude beach in Miami. I will post a link as soon as I get clearance. (Sorry, I have no photos! And besides, if I did, it would probably be of some fat German tourist wearing nothing but sandals and black socks.)

I finished web copy for a service that hopes to help restore public faith in the integrity of collateral valuations…what regular folks would call “home appraisals.” Shenanigans in this business were a big cause of the mortgage lending collapse, according to my 5.25 hours of research.  Again, link when available.

And, though I haven’t whined about it in a while, my architectural web and print brochure project continues. It’s coming up on its first birthday! We’re going to have cake in the break room. And bourbon, straight.

pathetic, yes?

pathetic, yes?

Well, looking at my WATCH, that seems to be all the TIME I have. Have a great weekend!


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Cold calling: waste of time or complete waste of time? Honestly, I think it’s a matter of managing your expectations.

Out of a dozen or so clients I work with regularly, I have met 8 of them by way of the unsolicited cold-call email.  I think there are two keys here: first, you have to write a good letter. Second, what do they do once they have read it? How do you make the information stick?

I have said it before, but I think having this website is key.  If you are somehow able to lure a potential client somewhere, there should be something to see once they get there. So, once I got this site up and running and fully stocked with my resume, samples and client feedback, I started carpet-bombing the area.

How accurate is this method? Well, remember those Gulf War videos where the smart bomb would fly down the street, make a left turn and then drop straight down somebody’s chimney? Well, it’s not like that at all! More like when the 8th air Force would level an entire German city to knock out a ball-bearing factory.  It might take 300 bombs, but damn it, that factory was going down…the parking lot and the cafeteria, anyway.

But that’s life on the zero-budget marketing plan. This is how you roll when you have more time than ad dollars.  The reality that you MUST accept is this: you WILL send out 50 emails, and you MIGHT get 2 responses.

For example, last week’s campaign garnered 2 responses, which neatly represent both sides of the “timing is everything” coin:

First, the negative side, from a place I have harassed repeatedly: Three months ago, they were dead DEAD DEAD in the water but, of course, they would hold on to my information. This time, they had just hired a full-time writer! Obviously, if they kept my information, they kept it in a super-secret location where it wouldn’t be contaminated by work.

And finally, the one that makes it all worth the trouble… “Really? Awesome timing! I need a writer, like, right now!”  A small gig, for sure…as in, “the thing we are marketing is so fancy and so exclusive that you would think that his client would want to pay for some decent copywriting but apparently not.” Hopefully, though, it’s the beginning of a profitable relationship. We shall see.

Bottom line, grown-up, realistic word on cold-call emails: certainly not the most EFFICIENT use of your time, but never a WASTE of time.


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I have been blessed with pretty decent clients. For the most part, they “get me,” and they “get it.” They understand the process, what works, what doesn’t, etc. And they are usually pretty good at explaining the process to their clients, and managing their expectations.

But sometimes, you get a client who refuses to be managed. I think they don’t want to look like they don’t know what they are doing. Which ends up being pretty ironic.

Here are some warning signs that you hopefully won’t need, but probably will.  Note: these aren’t a collection of examples compiled over the years. These all came from a single phone call!

Mission Uncertainty:
Client: “Who are we? What’s our mission? We don’t know. Really, it’s all over the place. We will be looking to you to help us figure that out.”
Me: “So, you want me to brand your company in the course of writing your About Us page? That could get expensive if you really don’t know what your mission is.”
Client: “Huh? Oh, we know what our mission is. We have it pretty well figured out.”
Me: “Respectfully, WTF?” Which brings up the next warning sign:

Downplaying the Complexity of the Job:
…even if that contradicts the thing they said 5 seconds ago.  The point here is to get me to lowball the estimate, and somehow hold me to it when the complexity triples. Which leads to…

Poor Mouthing:
Even though this is a totally revolutionary concept, certain to corner the market, sure to be bigger than Cool Ranch Doritos AND cure cancer too, right now we’re just a poor, struggling startup. Keep this in mind as you write stirring, evocative marketing copy for the most awesome website ever.  Interestingly, they usually say this right after they say, “Money is not an object—we just have to get it right!”

Expecting Me to Beg for It:
Me: “OK, I get it, super important gig, no money, prestige project, no money, cure for cancer, no money…oh, what the heck, I’ll do it.”
Client: “Whoa, slow down, tiger! I will be disrespecting interviewing several writers, openly doubting their experience, methods and cost estimates and whether or not I will be their top priority for the next 11 weeks of this supposedly 4-week gig!”
Me: “Yes, well, good luck with that.”

So, no, I did not take the gig—and you know how I feel about saying “no!
Looking back, I should have seen where this was going. The first thing this potential client said was that he had “a deep respect for writers and the job that they do!”

Nobody has that much respect for writers. Not even me.

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