No.27/ June 22, 2007

The Corporate Muse


Dear Friends and Readers,

From the onset, it's been very important to us to be consistent in getting our newsletter out on the 19th of every month. As many of you may remember, we missed the deadline once before and promised it would not happen again. Guess it was a promise we could not keep. Please accept our apologies.

Let's start with why this issue is three days late. Suffice it to say, it involves a short trip to Wyoming and Colorado, bad Internet connections, a change in the program we use to publish the ezine and the delicate balance of mixing business with pleasure. There are other reasons and I had actually written them out in a very long explanation, but it started sounding too much like excuses and I decided not to go that route.

We hope you enjoy this month's offering. As always, we welcome your comments and input on how we might make The Corporate Muse more relevant to your needs. Write us:



Niche Marketing At Its Best

There's not much to see when traveling across Kansas, so for entertainment I like to read the billboards. I don't care a great deal for the giant road signs when they obscure pastoral or mountain views, but along the flatlands of I-70, they're a must.

On our recent trip, I discovered something interesting - inland Kansans are master niche marketers. They might not know what USP stands for, but they sure know how to put it into practice.

Take for example, Colby, KS. It bills itself as "The Oasis on the Plains." Wilson Lake boasts "The Cleanest Lake in Kansas." You can stop in Rexland and see the largest prairie dog in the world at Prairie Dog Village. Or encounter a colossal Van Gogh in Goodland.

With promises of such unique adventures, these specks on the map entice you to venture off the Interstate and enter their quaint little villages. Otherwise, we'd fly by them without a second look, perhaps missing the experience of a lifetime.

Then again, perhaps not. I've certainly seen enough prairie dogs to not care to see another. However, if my six-year-old granddaughter were along, it might be a different story - and that's the point. Marketing to the right audience at the right time. A lot of families with young children jet across Kansas on their way to more interesting places.

It works the same way for those of us who have set up shop on the Internet super-highway. We have an obligation to let others know what we have to offer. We need to position our "signs" along the expressway and lure potential customers to our sites.

Every day, new entrepreneurs open their doors on the World Wide Web, intensifying the competition. Which means that each of us must identify ourselves in some exceptional way - set ourselves apart from the crowd. The more specifically you brand yourself, the more business you will attract.

In some sense, my proposal seems antithetical to owning a business. It would appear to make more sense to offer your clientele a variety of products and services, give them plenty to choose from, and surely they'll want to purchase from you. But the opposite is true.

In fact, the narrower the playing field, the better. Among our copywriting colleagues, the ones who do best and make the most money are those who develop expertise on a particular subject - say chiropractics or software companies. Becoming the go-to guy or gal for a certain section of the marketplace will make you indispensable. As odd at it may sound, the more you specialize, the more you'll stand out and the bigger and better your business will become.

So endeavor to be the Colby, KS of your industry and you'll reap the rewards only niche marketing can produce. (SKC)

© QuickSilver Publishing, LLC 2007 -- Andy & Shawn Catsimanes;; mailto:; Sign up for The Corporate Muse:



It seems like we don't need each other like we used to.With cell phones and the Internet, we're always connected. Help is just as a push button away. We get stranded on the road we can easily call AAA, a friend or family member.

But it wasn't always like that.

I recall many times as a young wife when I had car troubles. In each instance, someone came by and rescued me. Had these kind souls not shown me mercy, I would have been forced to walk for miles with two small children to find help. Yes, I could have been hurt or worse, but these Good Samaritans never asked for anything in return except a polite thank you.

Conversely, one cold December day four years ago, my car died on I-435 in the middle of rush hour traffic. No one stopped. They zoomed past me at a high rate of speed. I saw my life flash before my eyes as I pushed the vehicle off the road by myself. Just as I about had my little Dodge Shadow up the hill onto the shoulder, a woman angled her car so people could not drive in the outside lane. And before I reached my destination, another man stopped, loaned me his cell phone to call my husband, and gave me a pair of gloves. You can imagine my gratitude.

I tell you this to illustrate how much things have changed in just a few short years. These days, we're more cautious (for good reason), but also less neighborly.

When my boys were little, we lived in a four-plex. I babysat for my downstairs neighbor. The four families held barbeques in our conjoined backyard. And I spent as much time in my across-the-hall neighbor's kitchen as I did in my own. We got together for holidays and birthdays and for no reason at all. We were more than neighbors and friends - we were family. And though in the five years we lived there, we saw several renters come and go, we welcomed each new family into our little circle of friendship.

Nowadays, I'm barely acquainted with my neighbors. I'm friendly. I wave and say Hi when I see them out in their yards. A few I even know by name, but I've never been in their houses and they've never been in mine.

This loss of community could be devastating, especially to those of us who work out of our homes. We need to surround ourselves with groups of like-minded people. Where they come from isn't as important as making sure we don't detach ourselves, which can be very easy to do when you sit in front of a computer all day.

If you happen to be someone who has recently joined the ranks of the millions of at-home workers in this country, be sure you frequently connect with others. Don't just subscribe to newsletters. Email the authors or join a forum. Find a way to stay in contact with other people, especially those who've traveled down the road where you're headed.

If you feel you've heard me say this before, it's because I've seen the danger that can come from isolation. When you start a business, it means putting in a lot of long, hard hours. You may have to discontinue many of the social events you used to enjoy, but don't cut yourself off from the world. Keep in touch, not only with the people who are most important to you, but also with others in your field of industry.

Taking time for brief moments of association will leave you refreshed and ready to dive back into the work you've chosen to do. (Too much connection can be just as bad none at all. But then that's another subject for another time.) Stay in touch.



Growing up, my mom used to make up words.My favorite (and the one I remember the most) was turdmuckletydun. (I can't be certain of the spelling, because it was, after all, made up.) It described a certain shade of brown and could also be used quite effectively as a swear word - such as the phrase, "Oh turdmuckletydun." My mother probably had other uses for the colorful word, but again, I'm sharing what I can recall.

On the other hand, my dad always told me that cursing was a sign of ignorance - an illustration of how poorly you understood the English language. Over the years, his admonishment stuck with me. Not that I never cussed - I did - but perhaps, along with my mother's imaginative wordplay, it helped propel me into my love affair with words.

It's not so much the words themselves, but the capacity to put them together well that gives me a thrill. Take for example: "On the roughest days, when the ship's hull pounded like a hammer on the anvil of the North Sea, they all lay groaning in their bunks, the sounds and smells of their wretchedness penetrating even the decks above." (From Harvest by Tess Gerritsen.) This sentence, without knowing what the novel is about, depicts a vivid scene anyone can appreciate, even though it's been excised from the interior of the book. You can easily picture individuals lying ill somewhere in the belly of a ship.

Words like - pounded, hammer, anvil, wretchedness and penetrating - create bold images in our minds. Along with the characters, we feel what they feel - experience what they experience.

And that's the point.

Anyone can write. It's true. Every American who's taken fourth grade English can put sentences together in an acceptable fashion. But the ability to make words come alive is a coveted skill - at least to my way of thinking.

You can accomplish this feat by utilizing strong words. Apply an abundance of nouns and verbs to every paragraph and refuse to overuse adjectives or adverbs.

Sounds simple, right?

But then writing is both an aptitude and an art. Loving words helps. But anyone can learn to write better by simply paying attention to well-constructed sentences in everything they read, watch or hear. By tuning your ears and eyes to the way good writers write, you'll see your writing improve.

And if that fails, just do what my mom does and make it up!

Thanks for reading. See you next month.

Andy & Shawn

© 2007 QuickSilver Publishing, LLC -- All Rights Reserved -- 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


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~ 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