No.24/ February 19, 2007

 The Corporate Muse

Welcome to the February issue of The Corporate Muse. This month, we focus on trust. Can you believe others and can others believe you? Due to unforeseen circumstances, we are unable to bring you our "Recognition" section this month, but look for it to return in March. As always, we welcome suggestions and/or questions. 


How To identify A Legitimate Offer


You see them all the time - the emails, the auto-responders, the long-copy sales letters - ending with these or similar word, "This is our final offer!" I often read such statements with skepticism. After all, I've either seen the offer or something like it before.


Employing scarcity is an essential ingredient in sales. Otherwise, there would be no urgency to buy the product and it could remain unsold indefinitely.


Grocery stores lower prices on perishables when they have surplus. Retail shops clear out seasonal items by putting them on clearance. And your whatchamacallit might sit on the shelf for years without a clear reason to purchase it now.


It's how we move merchandise. There's nothing wrong with using scarcity as long as it's justified. But too often, we get the feeling that scarcity is just a tactic intended to manipulate or blackmail us into buying the product. 


So how do we protect ourselves from faulty offers?  Try asking yourself these five questions:


  1. Do you trust the source? If you're like us, you're bombarded with hundreds of sales pitches a day. You probably signed up for a free report and now you're the target for some of the best online marketing out there. But before you purchase their one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime, never-happen-again whichamajig, do a thorough investigation of the seller. Check out her website. Read the testimonials. Decide prior to buying if you can trust this person and his offer.  
  2. Have you heard it all before?If it sounds familiar, it just might be. It could be a brand new offer that has similarities to a previous one. But beware of those that are simply reworded and recycled. If you're considering investing in the product, save several offers and then read them over carefully. Once you're certain the seller's not trying to pull the wool over your eyes, you can purchase with confidence.
  3. Is the wording obscure?Internet marketers are clever. They know how to push your "buy buttons." While most are reputable, many unsavory sorts lurk on the fringes. They'll happily take your money and not think a thing about it. And they'll use anything necessary to do it - including deceptive phrasing. So if an offer grabs you by the throat and makes you want to empty your wallet, reread it with scrutiny. Study the way it's worded. If it appears on the up-and-up, you can make your purchase. If not, send the scallywag and his offer to the trash bin.
  4. Do you know anyone who's bought the product? Ask around and find out if any of your friends or colleagues has purchased the item of interest. A positive review from a trusted individual will help you make a good decision. If you hear a lot of complaints, it should be an immediate deal-breaker. Contrary to popular belief, we can learn from others mistakes.
  5. Can the finality of the offer be documented? Some marketers use this system to signify the end of their offer: You have 24 hours to take advantage of this offer. At the top of the page sits a clock counting down to the moment the offer will disappear forever. If you go back to the site the next day, is the offer gone? If not, I'd hesitate to trust the offer or the seller.

You'll never regret taking time to check out the authenticity of an offer. It's a genuine case of better safe than sorry.(SKC)  

© QuickSilver Copywriters 2007 -- Andy & Shawn Catsimanes; http://www.quicksilvercopywriters.com/; mailto: andy_shawn@quicksilvercopywriters.com; Sign up for The Corporate Muse: admin@quicksilvercopywriters.com


The Value of Networking


"People do business with those they know, like and trust." No doubt you've heard it said before, but the oft-used adage still rings true. 


Think about it for a moment - where do you spend your money and why?


When I was a kid growing up in a small town, instead of driving down to the supermarket, my family often shopped at a "Mom and Pop" store near our house. It offered convenience to those of us living on the hill, but since nothing in my hometown was farther than ten minutes away, closeness wasn't the big draw.


What kept customers coming back were the "extras" the owners provided. They created an atmosphere of generosity, good will ... and safety. Their "marketing" techniques included: knowing their patrons by name, weekly specials and free candy for all the children. The last one worked particularly well. Where did we beg to go when Mom had to pick up a few things? You guessed it.


My parents occasionally allowed my brothers, sister and I to go into the store alone to select a treat. Granted, times were different back then. One didn't have to keep a watchful eye on a child every minute of the day. Still, my parents trusted the owners to take care of us during the few minutes we searched for our goodie. And even though the owners maintained a limited selection and sold at higher prices than the big guys, like many of our neighbors, we frequented the little store on the corner.


It's a very different world than that of my childhood. I recently read an article that said with all the new technology in the world, we're less connected than ever. That's why networking is vital to your entrepreneurial success. It gives others the chance to know, like and trust you.


I can speak from experience here. As newbies, Andy and I treaded slowly into the marketing waters. But the more we ventured, the stronger our credibility grew. Now in just two years, we have a decent presence in the copywriting community. And through Andy's participation on forums, we've joint ventured with one of the biggest names in the business.


As people have gotten to know us and become comfortable around us, they’ve trusted us enough to seek our services. In some cases, they wanted only us to write for them. While their insistence makes us feel good, it also illustrates the power of building strong professional relationships. The more others understand who you are, how you do business, and what values you uphold, the more likely they are to look you up when they're in the market for something you sell.


We have friends who can show you paychecks they've made as the direct result of attending seminars. It happens that way sometimes. Most of the time, you won't be able to point to an absolute cause and effect. Even if your attempts to connect seem to be getting you nowhere - keep at them. One day you'll take an assessment of your business and see how it's changed over the last few months or years and then you'll truly understand the value of networking. 




Is good grammar a thing of the past? Most copywriting instructors stress that the rules of written language don't necessarily apply to Web copy or Direct Mail letters. Fragments are okay. Slang? Sure, if it's applied in just the right way to just the right audience. Even made up words or phrases are allowed under certain conditions. In other words - it's okay to utilize whatever gets the most attention.


So maybe when writing copy, one doesn't have to be as careful about staying grammatically correct, but what about other mediums?


Here's the problem. It occurred while watching a movie based on feuding newspaper columnists that ultimately fall in love.


The male wrote for a big city paper, while the female held a job at a small regional rag. At one point in the movie, the man turned to the woman and said something that included the phrase, "her and I."  Honestly, I don't remember whether the two pronouns were meant as subject or object. Doesn't matter. The usage is wrong on both counts.


What difference does it make? Lots of people talk that way. True, it would be perfectly fine if the future lovers were from the backwoods of Missouri and had only attended school through the fifth grade. But presumably these two individuals are college-educated writers and should know better. Even more to the point, the scriptwriter should have known better.


Identifying who you're writing to, for and about is one of the first rules of composition. Whether you pen hyped-up copy or popular fiction, you need to understand this fundamental principle. If trying to sell a duck call to hunters in northern Michigan, you wouldn't write as if compiling a report for the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. A child from rural Georgia will probably say, "ain't." The snooty boss of a plantation will know when to use "whom" instead of "who." It's all a matter of context.


Not every grammar faux pas is bad. But identifying when it's acceptable is key. Make your grammatical errors count or risk ruining a perfectly good afternoon of TV viewing like the author of the silly chick flick did for me.    


Thanks for reading. See you next month! And check us out on the Copywriters Blog (http://www.copywritersblog.com/). 

Andy & Shawn Catsimanes


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"With Andy & Shawn's help, 'Snapshots from the Soul' became a reality. They demonstrated great sensitivity and compassion and we enjoyed working with them very much."

~Dennis E. Chapman, Associate Executive Director, City Union Mission, KC, MO


“Andy and Shawn are copywriters you can count on to understand your business and your customers. I couldn’t be more impressed with the copy they provided us. Their work is excellent. I look forward to working with them again soon.”

~Kevin Fryer www.overlap.com


"A book would not be enough room to compliment Shawn on her work. Her professionalism comes first even if it means staying up late at night to answer all your question. She works tirelessly to get the best results possible. Her attitude, caring, and devotion are unique and I'm thankful I had the chance to work with her."

~ Olga O'Mara


"Andy is a no fluff wordsmith with high direct response, long copy talent. His work will lift interest in your website. His ability to get up to speed on your unique business model is impressive. He is persistent to completing projects and takes personal pride in the quality of his work. He is honest and knows what drives sales. If you are lucky enough to get him, you will get above average copy for a fair price. I'd use Andy anytime."

~ Christopher Hebard
Pruett Media