Archive for June, 2009

What defines a “longstanding” business relationship? And, what is it before it officially becomes longstanding…is it merely standing?

Obviously, defining a long-standing relationship in the web marketing business is a subjective thing. However, a year seems quite a while… especially when you work with the speed and efficiency of Revenflo.

Previously (and repeatedly)  lauded as “hardcore Web 2.0 perpetrators who get all up in yo’ strategery and whatnot,” Revenflo is located in the Charlotte exurb of Rock Hill SC. They provide expert web solutions to midsize and small businesses of all stripes. Services include:

  • Web Team: Consultants, Designers, Developers, Writers (that’s ME!) and SEO jockeys.
  • Content Management Systems (CMS): Design, Build, Customize, Implement and maintain Open Source CMS websites.
  • Leads Management: Manage web traffic and lead generation systems.

I have to say, one of my favorite things about working with these guys is that I am always is as close to the ground floor as the project allows.  I work with a few shops that closely guard the client contact, do all of the discovery behind closed doors, then toss the raw material over the transom* and tell me to figure it out.  So, my raw info is stale and any questions I have for the client must be filtered through the shop. Time-consuming and definitely NOT value added.

Well, Revenflo doesn’t do it that way.  My Revenflo info is so fresh it’s…it’s APRIL fresh! Sometimes I just hold it up to my face and take deep breaths! But first I unplug the phone…that’s ME time.

Anyway, it just so happens that the thing that I like most about working with Revenflo (the freshness thing, pay attention) is also something that adds real value to the client.

So, it’s been a very productive year, with more projects and satisfied clients than I can count because I just woke up. But thanks for having me guys. Let’s keep adding that value-added value!

Transom: Architectural reference. Obscure? Yes. Descriptive? You bet. Particularly funny? No.

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famousFrom the comix blog “Pictures for Sad Children.” Go there!!

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Padre Game1aJust a quick note from San Diego. Went to the ball game last night with video editor extraordinaire Mike Bugera. Unfortunately, the Pads lost to Oakland, 6-3.

At the park, roaming photographers take pictures to post on the fan site. It was hat night, so I asked the very young girl if I had to switch hats. She said, “No, the Cardinals are cool.” So I punched her in the throat and, with my best action-hero tagline delivery said, “Greetings from Cincinnati Mike, baby.”

See you soon, and remember: unauthorized duplication of this blog without the expressed, written consent of Major Leage Baseball* is strictly forbidden.

(as opposed to the implied, oral consent.)

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Remember what I said last time about just trying to keep a lid on things until my Cali trip? Ha!! So far this week…

  • I transcribed an interview for a new HVAC website.
  • I wrote some copy for the commercial custodial website.
  • I met a potential client by way of a Google hit. I’m not sure that has happened before!
  • I wrote another quote, this time for SEO article writing services.
  • It has been one of the heaviest weeks in the corporate newsletter in many months.
  • I have written several recommendations for colleagues on LinkedIn…because I questioned their value last time, and I think LinkedIn heard me!
  • I have been doing preliminary research for another round of technology blogging that I will have to hit HARD next week.
  • I got a travel and tourism site dropped on me first thing yesterday…and which has to be first draft by end of day today.

So, why am I taking time to blog? Because I am out the door to California for a few days. I don’t want to be responsible for the Disturbance in the Force that will result from my absence in the blogosphere (like 5 or 6 voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.)

So that’s the news. Until next time, think of me when the sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard.

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Here are a few random happenings at LivelyExchange Shadowy International Writing Cartel, a division of SarcastiCo.

  • A commercial janitorial website is turning the corner to complete-a-tude.
  • An HVAC contractor website is just beginning. I am interviewing the principals later today.
  • The healthcare sales newsletter rolls along, as always. Did I tell you that after three years, I have still never seen it live? It’s internal, obviously. Someone once sent me a frame grab once, that ‘s the only way I know that the thing actually exists.
  • Of course, the architectural brochure project creeps along.
  • I just picked up a regular (and much appreciated) writing gig, contributing to  a web marketing firm’s News page.
  • I have been ghost-blogging for a Charleston realtor. Lots of fun. She is all about the selling the charm of Charleston and, as I am still pretty new in town, I am learning a lot about my new home.
  • I have also been ghost-blogging for a mobile marketing firm. I am totally at sea on the high-tech subject matter, but I am slowly getting a grasp. Hopefully, not at straws.

From the “your guess is as good as mine” file:

  • I keep expecting the Business Courier article I wrote in April to pop up, either in Dayton or in Sarasota.  It was a 1200-word article about off-site data loss prevention as it pertains to natural disasters. I don’t know the status of the Midwest tornado season, but I do know that hurricane season has just begun.
  • Also, do you recall the biotechnology website from way back when? I do, sort of. It’s been completed for a while now, but has yet to go live. It should be a nice piece…I will definitely keep you posted.

In LivelyExchange news:

  • I have updated web writing Samples page with a few new links.
  • I added a couple of new recommendations on the Rave Reviews page. The newest entries are always at the top.

Speaking of which…Is it me, or are the recommendations on LinkedIn getting less valuable? I know people mean well, but recommendations are becoming yet another by-product of “friending,” and it’s getting pretty obvious.  “Dude! I haven’t seen you in 15 years and we only worked together for a month. Let’s swap recs!”

Overall, I am trying to even the pace, keep a lid on things, hold down the fort, keep my head above water and mix my metaphors for the next week or so,
until my California trip. We shall see…

Have a great weekend!

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It’s a bittersweet moment when a project is old enough to get its first teeth, eat solid foods and wear big boy underpants.

Last time I began an extensive (two parts!) series looking at the range of experiences in the web copywriting business.  We looked at the bada-bing, bada-boom, in and out and done quickie. This time we discuss the perfect gift for a project’s first birthday that will make all the other moms jealous.

I have teased this institutional-architecture-but-don’t-call-it-that project many times here in the blog, but never given you the URL. Now that the website is done, I thought I might send you there… Yes, you read correctly, I did say “done.” It took 9 months, but it’s done. However, the print materials still are not. Billing is ongoing, and the final checks have not been drafted. So, ID’ing the culprits will have to wait.

At any rate, you have GOT to be wondering what is taking so long. I can tell you that every web page and every piece of brochure copy has gone through about 8 drafts before it’s considered finished.

Right up front,  let me state that they didn’t take 8 drafts because I suck. Not this time, anyway. In this case, they took 8 drafts because there were SO many cooks. I really don’t know how many people were on the other end…like most of my clients, I have never met them face to face. On the conference call, it sounded like the New York Stock Exchange on the other end.

The back and forth goes something like this. I write a first draft, and submit it. It is then passed around the big table, or the distribution list, or something, picking up literary baggage and shedding value as it goes. To wit:

  • Mike: Simplicity is key.
  • Client 1: Simplicity is an important key.
  • Client 2: Simplicity is an important key factor.
  • Client 3: Simplicity is the most important key factor.
  • Client 4: A dedication to simplicity is the most important key factor.
  • Client 5: A dedication to simplicity, borne of a true desire to make concepts easy to understand, is the most important key factor.

Ten points if you caught the subtle(!) irony there. Anyway, this process absolutely brings to mind the “Spanish Inquisition” sketch from Monty Python. (Start at 40 seconds.)

It is a real ethical dilemma. I stopped adding value long ago, but I have a contract, and the meter keeps running and running and running. And that is the oddest thing…they don’t seem to care. You know how clients like to tell the lie that “it doesn’t matter what it costs…we just have to get it right”? Well, these guys mean it.

Ethical dilemma solved!

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The range of experiences one gets to, you know, experience in this business can be sort of entertaining. This assumes you get a moment to look back on jobs when they’re finished. This also assumes that you ever get to actually finish jobs, so that you can officially reflect on them instead of searching for the light at the end of the tunnel.

I have a couple of recent website projects that illustrate this range of experiences. What they have in common is that  a) they are on the web and, b) they were the result of cold-calling. Other than that, they couldn’t be more different.

Today, let’s look at Sense South Beach Hotel.  A “luxury boutique hotel located on sizzling Brazilian Beach” near Miami. And yes, “sizzling” means topless.

I contacted the agency in Myrtle Beach on a Wednesday. Truly, my target demo…a shop that does kickass graphics and interactive, but not much writing. I happened to hit them at the precise moment they needed me, Praise Be.  Anyway, I got an immediate response, submitted a quote, and then got the gig.  Basically, I wrote four pages of copy: Home (scroll down,) Beaches, Shopping and Nightlife.  It took a bit of research, and a few hours of writing, but I was done by the weekend and collected a couple of bills.

It’s a fun project to look back on because, what do I know about South Beach? I’ve been to Miami enough times to have an entire cargo van full of video production equipment stolen from me (that was a fun phone call to make the next morning) but never South Beach. I wasn’t even aware that they had topless beaches, and that seems like the kind of thing I would know.

Despite this handicap, I feel like I captured the vibe pretty well. And hopefully, the speed and quality of the finished product will lead to more work with this agency down the line. Hey, maybe some on-location fact finding research to sizzling Brazilian Beach! (sound of frying pan hitting head, writer collapsing unconscious.)

Next time: the OTHER end of the web production spectrum!
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