protecting your documents

I was reading one of Michel Fortin’s blog posts when he gave me a sudden shock. He explained how vulnerable the folders where we store our PDF downloads are on our servers. A simple solution can reduce the risk.

The post (you can read it at Mileage Emails) is interesting because it explores the challenges of getting emails delivered and opened.

But then he goes on to the subject of intellectual theft and copyright protection. His advice is crucial if you supply any information products that are delivered from your server. Whether that’s freebie PDFs (well, they not really free because the ‘payment’ you’re asking for is permission to keep in touch with your visitor, isn’t it?) or purchased e-products, you could be risking someone finding your server folder and just helping themselves.

I tested what Michel was saying and realised just how vulnerable my sites were.

Now I’m quite tech-savvy, but I wasn’t aware of this problem and – although it has nothing to do with copywriting (other than protecting the copyright of your material) – I decided to share this information because I thought there was a good chance others may not be aware of it.

I’ve taken at least one of Michel’s suggestions and adapted it to create a personalised index.htm file for my delivery folders (see an example).

A Gift For You

If this is something you were not aware of you’ll probably find this gift useful.

I’ve taken out my links and references to create a generic index.htm that you can adopt, if you wish, for your products folder. Simply add your email, website and business details and then upload it and the associated files to your server. If you are not familiar with html code pass it over to your webmaster and get them to do it for you.

This zip file is supplied ‘as-is’ – that means I am not including advice on how to change / upload the file to your server, but I hope it helps anyway.

Here it is:
download

Click to download the zip file and save it to your computer.

And Now… let me wish you

Merry Christmas & a Prosperous 2010

~ Carol Bentley

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Written by Carol Bentley | 5 Comments »

Reasons why

Give your prospects the reasons behind the deal you are making and you improve the chances of it being accepted; it’s a technique often suggested by savvy marketing experts. I’d like to share another aspect of ‘reasons why’ explanations that can also be very persuasive.

It’s connected to the ‘objections’ – or ‘reasons why’ your prospect may not buy. Answering the concerns your prospect has; reassuring them that purchasing from you is a wise decision is crucial to your sales letter campaign’s success.

Now, if you met your prospect face-to-face you could answer any and all the questions they might ask. But when you are writing your sales message you have to try to answer those potential ‘stop-them-buying’ questions in your description of the benefits and features of what you are offering.

Give Reasons Why They Won’t Buy…

There is another, more direct approach that may work for you – especially if you are giving a seemingly outrageous deal that is likely to make someone think “What’s the catch?

You start by telling your reader that your marketing experts do not expect a high take up of your offer – citing perhaps only a 10% or 12% response. And you then say that although that is OK from a business point of view, it worries you that someone may miss out because you haven’t explained the deal properly.

So you tell how you brainstormed with your people to think of reasons why someone may refuse the offer. And then tell them what you came up with and – of course – answer those objections.

Including supporting testimonials as you answer each objection makes it even more powerful and persuasive.

It’s a technique I discovered many years ago and have used in different letters.

Practical Example

In the example I’m giving you here I wrote the letter for an office equipment company who specialised in supplying equipment to estate agents. It was an ideal fit because the offer this company was making (a free colour, laser printer) was absolutely unbelievable, although a perfectly viable business proposition for them as well as a fantastic deal for their clients.

Download the ‘Reasons Why’ PDF example here (right click to download, left click to open in a new browser window).

I’ve extracted just the pages detailing the ‘reasons why’ and, for confidentiality, my client’s company name and their clients’ names have been removed. (These pages demonstrate the real, powerful reason for collecting good testimonials too… see The Heart of The Matter for more on testimonials).

So, next time you decide to make an incredible offer to your prospects or customers consider if this technique might work for you.

And if you use it, do let me know how you get on.

~ Carol Bentley

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Testing subheads…

Did you have a good summer break? I thought I’d have some quiet time to work on my new project – but I was inundated with work. That’s why the blog has been absent for a while too!

During my absence Jules Brown, who is a fund-raising copywriter, popped a comment on one of my earlier posts (Your copywriting subheads – powerhouses or weak as water. . . asking just how successful subheads are. Here’s Jules’ question…

Hi Carol,

“I’m a direct response fundraising copywriter and a big believer in the power of subheads. But here’s the thing. I’ve just come across a very successful creative director who won’t use subheads at all.

‘A letter should look like a letter’ He says. But prove me wrong. And that’s just it. I can’t find any split test results of a letter with subheads vs one without.

So that leaves those of us who don’t like them, and those of us who do, with just our gut feeling to go on. Any chance you’ve got some test results up your sleeve to confirm the efficacy of subheads?”

Jules

It’s not something I’ve tested. I’ve always, like Jules, gone with my professional gut-feeling that subheads break up a formidable-looking long letter and act as a magnet to skimmers.

But it is an interesting question, so I emailed some of my copywriting colleagues to find out if anyone had ever tested a letter without – versus a letter with – subheads.

And I got a reply from Steve King a long-time, direct response copywriter who lives in Devon.

Steve told me he had undertaken such a test, although it wasn’t a direct A/B split test.

His client, like Jules’ creative director, did not want subheads in his B2C sales letter. So the first letter was sent without subheads.

Steve then persuaded his client to test the same letter, with powerful subheads added, to the same database.

Steve revealed the second letter ‘bumped up response by 36%‘ So validating his advice to his client.

The only times I would not use subheads are:

1) In a lift letter that is recommending/endorsing the offer in the main letter (a lift letter is a shorter letter accompanying the main sales letter. It is usually from someone, either a satisfied customer or a professional within the industry, recommending the business making the offer. It is called a ‘lift letter’ because its purpose is to lift response to the main letter).

2) A one-page, quick letter to an existing, active customer base.

As I’ve said before, in copywriting, testing is a good philosophy to follow. I’m regret having to say I’ve never tested the subhead element of a letter – but feel rather relieved that a colleague’s test results has confirmed my instinct.

~ Carol Bentley

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Written by Carol Bentley | 5 Comments »

A gravatar picture paints…

If you’re trying to create a brand for yourself on the internet then this tip could be extremely useful for you.

Chris Knight of Ezine Articles gave the hint and – at the same time – cleared up a bit of a mystery for me.

Have you ever noticed on blogs or social network websites that some comments have a small picture against them and others haven’t?

I was curious as to how these pictures appeared, Chris answered that question… these people have a gravatar!

Gravatar!

What the heck is that?

Carol Bentley avatarWell, an avatar is a small pictorial image, whether that’s your picture or a graphical logo designed to represent your business, that you can use on the web.

A gravatar is a globally recognised avatar.

It is intended to save you time by having just one single graphical image (the avatar), associated with your email address. It means you don’t have to upload your graphical image to, what can seem like a hundred and one, different websites!

You can set up a free account at gravatar.com and upload your image. It is extremely easy to do and the point I really liked is you don’t have to worry about the picture content; for example it could be a group picture you want to use because it has a particularly good image of you. You simply upload the whole photo image and then trim the photo to the area you want to have displayed.

Whenever you add a comment that includes an avatar in the design (most WordPress blog designs do) your picture automatically appears.

Chris suggested trying it out – and I did.

Why not have a go – pop over to www.gravatar.com (if you use this link it opens up in a new browser window), set up your account and pop back to add a comment here. It will be nice to put ‘faces to names’ and to get to know you better.

Have fun.

~ Carol Bentley

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Wow factor lessons from a marketing giant

When I got an email from Rich Schefren about the passing of a well-known figure that had inspired and taught him so many marketing gems, I didn’t know who he was talking about (the guy is not well known outside the US).

In his farewell post (a 27-page insightful sharing) Rich reveals – and describes fully – no less than 5 incredibly effective sales process steps Billy Mays always used. Each of these is a huge eye-opener for anyone using direct response marketing to promote their products or service…

  • #1: Picking The Right Product – or more specifically, how to make it obvious yours is the right product
  • #2: Ballying The Tip – great phrase and no, I didn’t have a clue what it meant either until I read Rich’s description! But it is a strategy you will have come across many times both in posts on this blog and – I daresay – elsewhere.
  • #3: Nodding Them In – some great examples of how this process can be easily used in your sales letters or on your web page; taking part in the conversation
  • #4: The Chill Down – ramping up the excitement and compulsion to buy
  • #5: Test, Tweak, Abandon & Rollout – avoiding bank-breaking marketing decisions

You can head over to Rich’s post at www.strategicprofits.com/blog/billy-mays-marketing-magic/ or you can use the download link below to get the PDF of the post to print, read, mull over and make notes on at your leisure.

download Billy Mays Magic

I’m confident you’ll discover gems you can apply to your business – I’ve highlighted dozens of points in my copy.

~ Carol Bentley

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Written by Carol Bentley | 14 Comments »

closed for maintenance. . .

A little while ago I mentioned I was getting my blog theme updated. Well it’s finally ready to go live. The new layout will be uploaded on Sunday so we will be ‘closed for maintenance’.

Please avoid visiting between 11a.m. and 3p.m. UK time on Sunday 5th July. Thanks.

~ Carol Bentley

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Written by Carol Bentley | 2 Comments »

For my American readers. . .

Short and sweet. . . Happy 233rd Independence Day – yep, it’s 233 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Enjoy your holiday and celebrations tomorrow.

~ Carol Bentley

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