Monday, October 31, 2005

Newsletter Marketing = Viral Sales

Newsletters are priceless for so many reasons - some obvious and some not. First, the obvious reasons.

When you sustain a valuable dialogue with your prospects and customers, you stay connected and available for whatever opportunity may materialize. Nobody knows where the next great business opportunity is going to come from. It could come from a partner, a friend, a business acquaintance, someone who was just forwarded your newsletter, an ancient customer, someone looking over the shoulder of the person reading your newsletter, a prospect. so many different possibilities. Newsletters keep you in the game and in the minds of whoever your audience may be.

Newsletters show your audience the mind-set, personality, needs and aspirations of your organization. In formal marketing communications, you may not have the flexibility to do this due to various creative and bureaucratic constraints. It's much easier to just come out and say things in a newsletter. When your customers and prospects know "where you're coming from" it brings their guard down a little and lets them feel like they're not engaging a big sterile corporation.

When you write newsletters that provide valuable information, the readers learn more about your business, and you do, too! No matter what business you're in, creating a newsletter is an exercise in understanding the value of your business and finding ways to communicate that to your audience. It's another way to get your marketing brain chugging along. Writing reinforces the things you learn.

I could go on, but I won't because I want to get to the not so obvious reasons for writing newsletters. I just read about these hot ideas in...you guessed it...another newsletter. When you write newsletters and archive them on your site, you raise your rank in search engines. The key words in each story you write are "spidered" by search engines and those pages contribute to your rank. If you write about things that are critical to your business, the page will show up when those key words are entered into Google, Yahoo, AlltheWeb, MSN, etc. Other sites will link to your newsletter archives, too, and that helps boost your overall ranking. And, since your site it constantly adding new information, you'll get another swift kick up the ladder. Search engines like "fresh" sites, and the ones that add content get spidered more frequently. I'm going to start making Web pages of my newsletters ASAP.

P.S. Amazon.com and Walmart.com have the lowest prices for "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005)

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Friday, October 28, 2005

Care and Feeding of Customers

"Be it furniture, clothes, or health care, many industries today are marketing nothing more than commodities -- no more, no less. What will make the difference in the long run is the care and feeding of customers."

-- Micheal Mescon

This is true in the brick and mortar marketing world as well as online. Customers need attention, sustained dialogue, service and respect.

P.S. Amazon.com and Walmart.com have the lowest prices for "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005)

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*Writing/Editing Checklist (10 good ones)*

1. Establish the audience right away and keep focused on them
2. Forgo 'style copy' and use 'selling copy'
3. Break complex sentences into shorter, clearer sentences
4. Arouse the curiosity of the reader (rather than satisfy it)
5. Provide readers smooth transitions so they don't look up and get distracted from the piece
6. Write compelling benefits into heads and subheads
7. Support ideas with vivid examples
8. Use real facts and numbers (i.e. '57 satisfied customers' vs. 'dozens of satisfied customers')
9. Go back and weed out excessive adjectives
10. Provide a compelling call to action at the end of every piece (or prominently in an ad)

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Peter Drucker Marketing Insight

The quote for the day...

"The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself."

Peter F. Drucker

When you're selling anything, you eventually learn that this is where the game is. This is where the big boys make the dough. This is about sourcing, advertising, customer service, visual presentation.. everything.

P.S. Amazon.com and Walmart.com have the lowest prices for "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005)

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Four Strategies That Reduce Buyer Risk

Today’s post comes from a great newsletter I receive, The Copywriter’s Roundtable. It’s John (Jack) Forde’s creation, and it’s superb. You can sign up here if you’re interested -- http://www.jackforde.com.

The post I pulled from is about reducing the risk a buyer perceives. It’s from a piece called “How to Sell When You Don’t Have the Lowest Price” by Dave Kahle.

4 Risk Reducing Selling Strategies:

1. Build solid, deep relationships with the key decision-makers. Relationships mitigate risk. The greater the relationship, the lower the perceived risk. That's why the salesman with the longer relationship almost always has the benefit of the doubt in a competitive situation. Its not the price - its the risk.

2. Make ample use of third party recommendations, customer lists, case studies and testimonials. All of these say to the customer that someone else, or lots of someone elses, have used the product or service. That means its less risk for your customer to buy it.

3. Try to get your customer as physically involved with the product as possible. For example, if you're selling a piece of equipment, try to get the customer to trial the equipment, or at least visit somewhere its being used. The more your customer can see and feel the actual thing, the less risk is it to them.

4. Finally, work with your company to create offers that reduce the risk. Trial periods, money-back guarantees, delayed billing, warranties, service desks - all of these reduce your customer's perception of risk.

The winners in the competitive selling arena of the Information Age are those who are the low risk providers, not the low price people.

From -- http://www.jackforde.com.

P.S. Amazon.com and Walmart.com have the lowest prices for "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005)

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

5 Sure-fire Selling Tips

1. Forget about “You” and write to “You.” Huh? Let me rephrase that. Don’t write copy that's centered around your company, your products, your achievements. Write it with the customer in mind. Use lots of “you” in the text so the customer or reader is the focus.

2. Make an offer. Presenting a product for sale is often not enough. Offer free shipping for the day. Cross promote another product that complements the one being sold. Give people a reason to click or say yes NOW.

3. Keep your layouts simple. If you’re selling online, don’t use too many bells and whistles from the HTML editor. Go clean and lean. Same goes for print layout.

4. Offer free information. Educate when you can. This will separate you from the competition.

5. Collect testimonials from satisfied customers and put them in your advertising and product descriptions.

P.S. Amazon.com and Walmart.com have the lowest prices for "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005)

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Monday, October 24, 2005

How to Compete On eBay - Word Is Spreading

Book Hits 18th on Amazon Last Week

Enthusiastic readers and word of mouth has helped push The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing into the top 20 eBay books on Amazon.com.

Readers are learning:


How and when to cross-sell and cross-promote specific items
When to make offers and how to improve the likelihood that they'll be pounced on
Why it makes sense to ship a freebie in your package (Hint: reciprocation-obligation factor)
What kinds of customer retention and customer satisfaction strategies are a must
The best techniques for consistent, clear and compelling visual design
How to write killer descriptions and form keyword lists that draw in the right audience
How to build a brand that sticks with customers
How to drive scarcity
Why your authority is oftentimes your best selling asset
How to use FAQs to close
When and how to develop testimonials
Storytelling and problem solving strategies
How to write case studies/success stories that sell
Up-selling and cross-selling strategies
How to boost traffic to your Store and auction listings
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques
Much more


The buzz is spreading with very little "corporate marketing" from the publisher. There's a real grass-roots push going on because of the quality of the product itself.


If you haven't read it yet, pick up a copy.


If you have, please post a review on Amazon and let everyone know which parts you found most valuable.


If you're in the media, please contact me and we'll have the publisher send you a free copy for review.


Thanks for all your support,
Phil, Amy & Janelle

P.S. Amazon.com and Walmart.com have the lowest prices for "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005)

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

3 Things You May Not Know - Marketing Advice from David Ogilvy

  • You can judge the vitality of a company by the number of new products it brings to market. 35% of supermarket sales come from products that did not exist 10 years ago.
  • Sales are a function of product value and advertising. Promotions cannot produce more than a temporary kink in the sales curve.
  • There is no correlation between quality and price (numerous scientific surveys have demonstrated this). The higher you price your product, the more desirable it becomes in the eyes of the consumer.

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Friday, October 21, 2005

Size Matters – The Point Size You Choose for Fonts

You may think that font point size is a trivial matter. People can adjust point sizes with their own browser settings or do it manually when they get to a page (I do this sometimes by using CTRL-[scroll wheel]) However, not all Web surfers know how to do this. You can’t assume that they do. And with printed materials, you only have one chance to pick a font.

Choose wisely. Size does matter. In Colin Wheildon’s excellent book on layout and design, Layout & Design: Are You Communicating or Just Making Pretty Shapes, the research data is clear – fonts sized 10pt to 14pt are preferred by most readers. 11pt and 12pt are most preferred out of those. Not surprising, but it’s something to consider when you want people to read what you have to say.

Whether it’s a post card you send in the mail, a flyer you stick in an eBay package, or the description you write on an ecommerce or eBay page, your main objective is to communicate. Why not make it easy on the reader and start off on the right foot? Readabilty and comprehension are key communication foundations. Build on those with compelling, benefit-oriented copy (or “what you stand to lose” copy), clearly worded offers, consistent closing, and transparent policies.

You will sell.

P.S. Amazon.com and Walmart.com have the lowest prices for "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005)

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Research Shows Product Naming Biases

This week, Dr. Robert Cialdini’s Inside Influence Report has some nifty things to say about naming products. Check out the article for a course on why certain crayons and sweaters are named the way they are. Here’s a taste:

“..unexpected descriptive and ambiguous color and flavor names are both likely to engender more positive feelings toward a given product to a greater extent..”

P.S. Amazon.com and Walmart.com have the lowest prices for "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005)

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

How to Drive Sales with Post Card Marketing

Bob Leduc has an nice article up on Home Biz Tools that explains why post card marketing is effective for all kinds of businesses (including eBay, and for driving traffic to sites/listing pages/eBay Stores).

I would just add a few points that will help you get your post cards read.

1) If the recipients know you by face, name, or company name include that prominently on the card. People like to see people and know people and hear from people. Leverage that, especially if you're sending cards to people who hear from you on a regular basis (as with email newsletters, regular business communications and so forth).

2) Write a headline for the card that speaks to or is about the recipient (not about you or your company or your product). Grab their attention, but make the recipient the focus. For example, "How Often Do You See Limited Edition Widgets for Less than $100?" speaks to the recipient. And, "The Top 10 Causes of Dry Skin" makes the recipient's problem or need the focus.

3) Put news in the title: "New Orthopedic Neck Brace Helps You Sleep More Soundly"

4) Make an offer in the headline. "Summer Sale Starts This Friday -- Free Shipping for Valued Customers Like You."

There are plenty of other strategies. I'll cover more of these in future posts. Remember, you can mix these up, too, and create layered messages. That includes mixing the photo concept with the headline.

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Priceless Newsletters That Sell

Newsletters are priceless for so many reasons - some obvious and some not. First, the obvious reasons.

When you sustain a valuable dialogue with your prospects and customers, you stay connected and available for whatever opportunity may materialize. Nobody knows where the next great business opportunity is going to come from. It could come from a partner, a friend, a business acquaintance, someone who was just forwarded your newsletter, an ancient customer, someone looking over the shoulder of the person reading your newsletter, a prospect. so many different possibilities. Newsletters keep you in the game and in the minds of whoever your audience may be.

Newsletters show your audience the mind-set, personality, needs and aspirations of your organization. In formal marketing communications, you may not have the flexibility to do this due to various creative and bureaucratic constraints. It's much easier to just come out and say things in a newsletter. When your customers and prospects know "where you're coming from" it brings their guard down a little and lets them feel like they're not engaging a big sterile corporation.

When you write newsletters that provide valuable information, the readers learn more about your business, and you do, too! No matter what business you're in, creating a newsletter is an exercise in understanding the value of your business and finding ways to communicate that to your audience. It's another way to get your marketing brain chugging along. Writing reinforces the things you learn.

I could go on, but I won't because I want to get to the not so obvious reasons for writing newsletters. I just read about these hot ideas in...you guessed it...another newsletter. When you write newsletters and archive them on your site, you raise your rank in search engines. The key words in each story you write are "spidered" by search engines and those pages contribute to your rank. If you write about things that are critical to your business, the page will show up when those key words are entered into Google, Yahoo, AlltheWeb, MSN, etc. Other sites will link to your newsletter archives, too, and that helps boost your overall ranking. And, since your site it constantly adding new information, you'll get another swift kick up the ladder. Search engines like "fresh" sites, and the ones that add content get spidered more frequently. I'm going to start making Web pages of my newsletters ASAP.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Promote Your Business – Publish Articles on the Web

This following post originated on my eBay Marketing Blog, but it's equally applicapable here:

As the Web, Tivo, Google AdWords/Adsense and subscription radio throw the advertising world into a funk, there's a tried and true method for promotion that's cheap, relatively easy and still highly effective when compared to "traditional" advertising... Some call it PR. Some call it editorial promotion. Most serious businesses deem it a critical component to their overall marketing plan. As an eBay seller, you should be utilizing editorial promotion to position yourself as an expert and position your products within the marketplace.

The basic idea is to get articles about your business, products or services published...anywhere. You can spend a lot of time and money dancing with print newspaper, magazine and trade publishers, however it's much easier to publish on the Web. Not only is it easier, but media trends show that people are consuming news differently on the Web, and they're going to the Web more often for news and product information. People look for targeted information on the Web. You don't need to be all over the nightly news for people to find you. What you're interested in are the people who are searching for exactly what you offer and are writing/editorializing about.

So, how do you do this? How do you publish articles about your products, services and business on the Web? Fortunately, Brett Krkosska, managing editor of Home Biz Tools, has written an excellent article on the subject. This article shows you how to syndicate your work so that multiple outlets will pick it up. This is basically free advertising for you and your eBay business. What's more, you have the opportunity to truly educate prospects when you publish journalistic articles about your business. That's important, because the more people know about your business, how it works and how it can benefit themselves or others, the better positioned your company becomes. This probably falls under that old adage, "The more you tell, the more you sell."

Take a little time to develop some story ideas about your business. Then, return to this blog tomorrow (or this afternoon - this subject has my fingers dancing on the keyboard). I'll post an article about the fundamentals of "attention-grabbing" topics and journalistically sound leads.

My book, The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing, has lots of info on how to craft stories, develop problem/solution studies (known as case studies or success stories), and market your business better. It also shows you how to write attention-grabbing headlines. All these pointers apply to both journalistic articles and your eBay listings. The strategy and positioning are a little different, but the fundamentals are the same. Also, check out the previous post on post card tips. It's got some good pointers on headline writing and other valuable information.

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Friday, October 07, 2005

4 Ways to Present Your Information - Dale Carnegie's Prescient Advice

"There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say, and how we say it."

- Dale Carnegie

Though Carnegie was actively presenting his self-help courses and books in the early half of the 20th century, you can certainly apply this little bit of wisdom to modern day marketing.

What we do: Are your customer service policies, follow through, and shipping practices consistent and helpful? Do you keep the marketing and sales promises you make?

How we look: What do your Web pages and marketing materials look like? Are they typographically legible? Do they use sound layout and design strategies? Do the photos look good and represent the products accurately?

What we say: Is your copy connecting with the needs and desires of customers? Is it simple, conversational and free of hyperventilating exaggeration?

How we say it: What is the tone of your description copy? Does it fit your audience? Are you closing throughout the copy?

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

How to Annoy Customers

The Associated Press published a story this morning about annoying quotes from sales clerks. Somebody took a poll, and they came up with the most annoying ones. You can probably guess some of them: “That’s not my department.” “The computer’s down..” etc.

These questions come at the most opportune of times – when customers are looking for information that will help them buy something. With direct mail and ecommerce sites, these kinds of questions show up, too, but in different forms. People may email asking for a specific product that you don’t carry. They might ask about a size you don’t carry or a particular model that hasn’t been made for some time.

Don’t treat them like those annoying sales clerks do. Provide information, be helpful, and make sure you’re offering accurate information. If you don’t know, that’s ok. Just tell them in a polite way and direct them to a site that can lead them in the right direction (preferably not Google). You’ve got a lot more resources at your disposal since your customers are on the Web. You can be very helpful when called upon.

These small un-annoying gestures tend to pile up and turn into a good reputation. Word of mouth spreads, and you’re soon known as an expert in your field and a provider of top-quality goods. That’s who you want to be.

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The Associated Press published a story this morning about annoying quotes from sales clerks. Somebody took a poll, and they came up with the most annoying ones. You can probably guess some of them: “That’s not my department.” “The computer’s down..” etc.

These questions come at the most opportune of times – when customers are looking for information that will help them buy something. With direct mail and ecommerce sites, these kinds of questions show up, too, but in different forms. People may email asking for a specific product that you don’t carry. They might ask about a size you don’t carry or a particular model that hasn’t been made for some time.

Don’t treat them like those annoying sales clerks do. Provide information, be helpful, and make sure you’re offering accurate information. If you don’t know, that’s ok. Just tell them in a polite way and direct them to a site that can lead them in the right direction (preferably not Google). You’ve got a lot more resources at your disposal since your customers are on the Web. You can be very helpful when called upon.

These small un-annoying gestures tend to pile up and turn into a good reputation. Word of mouth spreads, and you’re soon known as an expert in your field and a provider of top-quality goods. That’s who you want to be.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

It Takes More than Just Huevos to Sell with Words

Yesterday I put up a quote about believing in your product and having the “guts” to make your marketing plan work. There’s another side to that coin, of course. It’s about committing to customers, understanding their motivations, meeting their expectations and really wanting to make them happy. Hence today’s quote:

“You must have – in your heart – a commitment to customer service that goes beyond good sense and the desire for profits. It must be deep, and it must be strong, and it must endure.”

-- Michael Masterson of Early to Rise

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Monday, October 03, 2005

It Takes Huevos to Sell With Words

Marketing Plans Should Challenge the Marketers

“If you don't believe in your product, of if you're not consistent and regular in the way you promote it, the odds of succeeding go way down. The primary function of the marketing plan is to ensure that you have the resources and the wherewithal to do what it takes to make your product work.

Chapter 1 of The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing covers this in-depth, and it points out the unique areas you need to tend to as an eBay seller.

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SEO and Copywriting -- What to Believe?

Half the battle with selling online is exposure. You need Web pages that rise to the top of the search returns. That takes careful keyword selection and pages that are SEO (search engine optimized).

When considering SEO, there’s trade-off you need to consider…. conversion rates. Which pages are creating sales rates that are favorable (considering how many visitors have checked out the pages)? Good copywriting that includes compelling headlines and lead-in hooks, strong offers, and consistent closing language can boost conversion rates. However sometimes good copywriting doesn’t include enough keywords for the best SEO.

A conundrum.

Check out the comments in the following article by Bob Bly (Why I Don’t Believe in SEO Copywriting). There are some good tips and perspectives.

I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Where you write compelling copy first, then examine it to see where you can insert key words without upsetting the flow and flavor of the writing. It’s a little tricky but worth the effort.

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