Wednesday, May 31, 2006

How to Be More Convincing Part 2 - Resources I've Found

It's been a couple weeks since I posted about learning to Be More Convincing. I've spent considerable time in the past few days going through additional resources. What I find continually amazes me. Not only in terms of how much knowledge there is out there on the subject of persuasion, but how simple and downright HONEST it is! (Which is very refreshing.)

Let me go over some of the articles and websites I've found, and give an idea of what I learned from each. That way, if you're joining me on this quest to Be More Convincing, you'll get the same value out of my efforts.

1. MarketingProfs - Creating Content Streams for Web Watering Holes
(Note: You may need to be a member to view this. Sign up for free here.)
Jonathan Kranz wrote "Writing Copy for Dummies" last year. I've got it on my shelf. He's a great writer, who's not afraid to use humor and shoot-from-the-hip language to get his point across. This article talks about "content streams" - using planned-for, regularly-updated content channels to reach the big decision-makers in your market.

I learned two things from Kranz's article. One, I now know several key aspects of a powerful type of Web marketing campaign. Kranz talks about everything from audience awareness exercises (that don't involve heavy research) to how to refocus a single message through multiple online formats. Very handy for a quick reference when my brain's locked into one sales method and I need to break out.

Two, I learned that I enjoy the heck out of shoot-from-the-hip language when it's used in a business environment! I've written in a similar manner in the past, but always felt a little out of place offering such a tone to clients. Maybe it's the predominance of jargon and chatter out there that's got me intimidated. But hey, if Jonathan Kranz is firing straight-shot, no reason I can't either!

2a. Creating Passionate Users - Getting Someone to Decide
Proof of the nuances of psychology. I don't quite know if I'd call this a case study, but it has a similar effect - it gives the reader something specific to take away. In this case, in the form of two solid points about getting groups of people to take your recommended course of action. I already knew about "giving visitors something to take home" approach (what do you think all these links are for?), but I did learn something useful from the article's second point.

The students observed were asked to make a decision WHEN to attend, not IF. I recall a very old persuasion technique - the Choice Between Yes and Yes. The researchers' action here echoes of that technique. The choice between Yes and Yes can take many forms.

2b. Creating Passionate Users - You ARE a marketer. Deal with it.
Two from one! First, go to the page and click on the table. Then, hit the Print button. Go on, I'll wait. I did it already. The "Neo-Marketing Chart" is now stuck on my wall.

Why? Because it's a perfect reminder of where the power really lies on the Web. With the USERS.

What does that have to do with Being More Convincing? It reminds me that I must first get a clear image of what the customer wants to see and hear. The only thing I need to worry about for myself is, "Do I believe in what I'm talking about?" 9 times out of 10 the answer's yes (or I don't want to talk about it), so my side's already taken care of. I have to keep the customer firmly and clearly in mind if I want to do any Convincing.

I like the "Attractor" title, too. Goes well with "ferreting out" words.

I leaned into the monitor in awe when a Google search brought me to ChangingMinds. It's a website devoted to, as their heading says, "how we change what others think, believe, feel and do."

Over the past few years I've come to realize just how strongly what we believe and feel affect what we think and do. Entire countries have literally been made and broken based on one person's thoughts and actions. So a site devoted to this topic - not to mention one as gargantuan as ChangingMinds - is Shangri-La for anyone even close to marketing. (And remember, according to the last link, we're ALL marketers.)

I could get lost in ChangingMinds and love every minute of it. For instance, look at this: ChangingMinds: Closing Techniques. An entire section devoted to closing techniques! And to be fair, they also list Ways to Resist Persuasion too.

ChangingMinds is unique not only for being so comprehensive (I sometimes stop and wonder if I'm going to get charged for reading all this), but for including Manipulative and Non-Manipulative Language equally. Manipulative language - the kind of sales tactics that we associate with plaid-yellow blazers, dingy car lots and mounds of paperwork next to a biiiiiig grin - is easy to spot when set side-to-side with its counterpart.

That's the second value of ChangingMinds - you can learn to be persuasive without stepping on toes or trying to trick people. Great copywriters never even think about tricking people. I don't ever want to be associated with the "Trust me!" schmoozing vibe. I want to be more honestly, and genuinely, convincing.

It'll be a long time before I'm through (if ever) with Creating Passionate Users is a wonderful resource too. It's getting easier and easier to find nuts-and-bolts information on persuasion. I must be Convincing reality of my need for it!

Ignore the bad pun, and enjoy!


Monday, May 29, 2006

I Remember.

My grandfather fought in Korea.

My uncle served in the Air Force for 20 years.

My great-uncle fought in WWII was in the Army so long he was awarded general's stripes upon retirement.

Blue Ferret Communications honors and remembers our veterans, living and dead.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Are You Sending Out Communications With Holes In Them?

Sometimes I read communications that have holes in them.

Usually it's a marketing piece or article. Sometimes it's web content. The problem's the same - a hole is a place where my line of thinking is derailed. Nobody likes to be left hanging, yet I find these holes all over the place.

Time for the Blue Ferret to educate!

First off, how do you know when you've come across a hole? One of three things happens to me: a) I get gaps in my perception, b) I've suddenly lost track of the topic, and c) I find it's easier to misunderstand more easily than understand.

From thought and reading into these holes, I can determine four potential causes. Read these over and check your material very carefully. If you've got more than one hole in a piece, you're losing readership. Losing people. Losing business.

Using industry terminology is a requirement when you're talking with other industry colleagues. It's the only way you'll get any communication done. But using buzzwords with someone who doesn't know them does more than confuse them. It will frustrate them, because their thought process is disrupted. That will cause them to automatically devalue your message. This will in turn frustrate you - after all, you know what you said, right? Why can't they get it too?

The problem here is, it's a natural human instinct to be defensive of your work. I get it all the time. But using buzzwords liberally, or using even a few without defining them, is guaranteed to puzzle your reader, regardless of their expertise level.

Solution: Have a non-industry editor look over your material. Buzzwords are part of your language and psyche; you'll breeze right past them in any document. However, they'll stick out like flashing stop signs to someone who isn't familiar with them. A fellow employee in another, completely different department will work in a pinch.

Audience Mischaracterization
It's very easy to assume your audience knows more about your product than they actually do, because you're in the position of knowledge. You know what you're offering. (Or do you? A question for another day...) The reader, by definition, does not know as well as you. So you try to educate him. Unfortunately, since you're so familiar with the knowledge, it's easy to slip into the position of talking to yourself.

It goes something like this: "Do they know this? Well, I know this. It's very simple. Surely anyone can understand that. Yes, I don't need to reiterate what they must already know. Okay, I'll take that out."

You've just mischaracterized your audience by grafting part of yourself onto them. B-grade horror movies aside, that is a big problem. Mischaracterization can also occur from flat-out aiming at the wrong target market. Or the reverse of the above - assuming your audience knows less than they do. We've all read at least one marketing piece that talked to us like we were morons, haven't we?

DETECTION TIP: You're reading a marketing piece that was misdirected to you as an audience if you suddenly stop and think, "Wait, why am *I* reading this?"

Solution: Having someone in your target market read your material would be the ideal solution here, but that's not always possible or advisable. (If you can run A/B testing or contact prospects directly, by all means do so. It's worth the expense.)

Leaps in Logic
These are pretty easy to spot. It's when the author makes a huge assumption about the reader's thought process and relevant knowledge. (Anybody remember that lexical joke about 'assume?') Often it comes in by skipping a subtopic, the writing dipping into a buzzword-laden paragraph, or ignoring an implied question. You can almost hear the author saying, "And then I assume you know all about this little doohickey, so we'll skip that part," as he writes.

Whoosh. That was the brochure going into the nearest circular file.

(Note: Leaps in Logic could easily get confused with Audience Mischaracterization. The difference is that Leaps in Logic can apply to the author as well. Mischaracterization is making a presumption about a reader's overall position and knowledge. Leaps in Logic are omitting an entire point for the sake of brevity, reader presumptions, or simply forgetting to include it.)

Solution: Once again, a good editor can spot these. You might also try having several other people - one of them ideally being a member of your target market - proofreading and giving feedback. If their reports match up at one point and all indicate a problem, you've likely made a Leap in Logic.

The Road Less Traveled
There are even times when the writer just gets lost along the way. Writing takes focus. You're weaving a story. It's not easy to keep your mind on what you're writing about. Believe me, I know. It's a constant temptation to go off on tangents, inject too much personal experience, or use flowery language. When you do though, you're carrying the reader down a path they didn't ask for and don't want.

Solution: This one's best to, pardon the cliche, head off at the pass. Schedule a block of time for writing. Move any and all distractions aside. Ignore email. Turn the phone off. Write down what you want to say, in one sentence. Stare at that a while. Then put hands to keyboard and begin. By removing distractions and telling yourself you will focus on one coherent message, you take a big step toward doing exactly that.

And as always, have an editor or proofreader look it over.

Holes belong in cheese and old socks. Not in our communications material. It's very easy to irritate readers by dancing around your point, or yanking their attention back and forth. Every time I read a brochure or website that makes me blink and my mind blur out, I've encountered communications with holes. I'd say that occurs, on average, twice a week. It's a good average, with how much I read every week. But it's two times too much. Make sure your copy isn't next in my average.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Sorry Ferrety Blog Readers, No Tip Today...

Sorry everyone. I didn't have time to come up with a Blog Tip today, on account of my computer's hard drive once again giving me a hard time. (I stopped it from crashing, but it fought back.) I think I'm going to go out and buy a Maxtor tomorrow.

There WILL be an exceptionally-relevant article post later this week, though! I got the idea reading through a newsletter this morning. It's called, "Do Your Communications Have Holes?"

See you then!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

How to Dig Through Blogs for Knowledge

You've heard the marketing dictum, "know your audience," right? Nowadays, the audience is almost guaranteed to be online. They form their own groups, ask questions, offer feedback with services like RapLeaf.

What makes these activities so valuable is that you can tap these groups and feedback for insight into your audience's thinking. There are a lot of ways to do this (forums, mailing lists, portals), but today I'm going to focus on blogs.

For fast, current knowledge from & about your audience, blogs are incredible. One new blog opens every second now. Popular blogs can get literally millions of visits a day! People write about everything from their pets to their work schedules.

How does one acquire this knowledge? Well, you could subscribe to a hundred blogs, wait for new posts, immerse yourself for hours trying to find some insight...

Or you can dig through the entire "blogosphere."

Audience research via blogging is easy. And while you may wind up with hits & misses, I find it an excellent window into entire market segments in their own language.

(Caveat: Like all research, it may take some time to find what you want. Might seem counterintuitive, but the really good bloggers out there have tons of content to sort through.)

1. Define Your Topic.
Good things to look in blogs for are:
  • up-to-date industry news

  • customer experiences

  • competitor information

  • on-the-street perspectives

  • tips & tricks

Aim for a middle ground between grassy-field general and laser-beam specific with your keywords. I normally make a two-word specific request (like "AdBlock Tips") and add a more general term afterward to catch possibly-valuable stragglers (like "FireFox").

2. Define who you want knowledge from.
Here, be as specific as you can. Heavy bloggers often use an assortment of titles for themselves, since it's their playground. If you need to know what kind of Honda mid-30s married men prefer to drive to work on Fridays, use that for a search primer.

3. Choose Your Research Option - Search or Link-Hopping

Tried and True - Search
Google BlogSearch: Google's stake in blogs continues to grow. Whether they're paying so much attention because they foresaw the power of blogging, or saw the power and decided to pay attention is your call. In any case, this is Google's engine specifically geared toward blogs. It indexes like a regular Google engine, so all the same Google tricks you've picked up apply. A good place to start.

Google Trends: Personally, I preferred the Zeitgeist interface. But Google changed the app and made it into Google Trends. Trends shows you how many people are searching for the term you've entered. It's not blog-specific, but given that it's real-time and customizable to your own geographic area, it's a great tool for figuring out what local markets are looking for.

Sphere. It's new. It's fast. It searches only blogs. What else can I say? It even has Top Searches and Recommendations right on the home page!

Technorati and
The Big Dogs of tagging. Semantic bookmarking is right at home in the blog world; it's a powerful way to categorize posts and create blogging relationships. These two maintain huge databases of knowledge you can pick your way through like a hedge maze with lots of exits.

(If you're looking for the most recent news and trends all at once, try this link: Trendalicious. It shows popular terms & trends from "in near real-time," according to them.)

Tagging is ideal for transitioning to the other research option, since it helps Link-Hopping along so much.

Follow the Leader - Link-Hopping
Link-hopping is what you do when you go through a blog's posts or tags, find links to other blogs on the topic, read their posts, find more links...

I personally think Link-Hopping is more effective than searching. You're pre-qualifying links based on the blogger's authority (and piggybacking on their own research).

It's so simple, you've probably already done it. Just click, find a relevant link, follow it along, keep moving through blogs, and make notes along the way. Keep in mind who's talking, what they're saying, and how it relates to your audience concerns.

There's even a directory of blogs that makes Link-Hopping easy. It's called Boing Boing, and it's the blogosphere's answer to DMOZ. Input a search term, find articles submitted to Boing Boing by bloggers. Follow the article links back to their blogs. Hopping commences!

The best thing about Link-Hopping is that the thrill of discovery never fades. You're constantly finding more. When it comes to audience research, hearing truth from their own fingertips in environments rich in knowledge can't be beaten. Every time I go Link-Hopping, I get so into what the audience is saying that I start writing immediately after, and find that my work is coming out as an exact mirror of the audience's language.

If you do go Link-Hopping though, I recommend you stop to think about relevant tangents. The caveat of Link-Hopping is that it's easy to get sidetracked.

Ask yourself, either before starting or at random while reading, "Does this topic I'm reading about relate directly to the topic I began searching for?" If not, wander yourself back to the topic. Bookmark the current post if you'd like to read more on your own time later.

Blogs might not be the first thing you think about when it comes to market research. Most people tend to think they're all online journals for high schoolers and angsty college recluses. But I've seen everyone from waiters to Boeing executives with blogs. Imagine how many members of your market are blogging, or commenting on blogs they like. That's their own language and their own thoughts. Go out and find it.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Announcing, The Blue Ferret Blogletter (Blog posts in your email)!

After last Monday's link collection, I went to Zookoda to sign up. Took a little tweaking, but I'm happy to announce that the Blue Ferret Blogletter is now operational!

According to Brian at Copyblogger, asking for subscriptions is the most effective way to get your blog out there. Now, thanks to Zookoda, my blog posts can show up in your inbox!

I've configured Zookoda to only send out one notice a month (I don't like lots of notices either). But here's the kicker: I've set it to show only the last 6 posts. I make at least 8 posts a month. Two posts are going to float around in the blogosphere...

To see them, you'll have to check back and find them. Oooh, the Ferrety Marketing Force is strong with me today.

Please subscribe to my blog!

P.S. - I'm not sure which topic I should address in Thursday's post. So, why not ask my readers. Which do you prefer I address this week?

"How to Dig Through Blogs for Knowledge"


"Playing with SeaMonkey - Round 2: The Browser Extras"

I'll get to both eventually; no worries there. You can email me or leave a comment here. Thanks!


Friday, May 12, 2006

Sudden Updates! "Being More Convincing" Research and "Copywriter's Value" Article

By Cthulhu's work ethic! When you put something out, it DOES come back!

I've got a two-part special update today. Both are about happenings from yesterday.

First, it's been less than 48 hours. But I've already had resources on Being More Convincing flung at me from the Web's far reaches.

1. A friend I emailed over something unrelated recommended a book to me:
Mind Hacks - Tips & Tricks For Using Your Brain. I'm eagerly awaiting my copy.

2. A free report popped up in my RSS lexicon. "Think Like Your Customers" - Customer I'm reading it today. It winds a little, but its no-nonsense attitude about customer value more than makes up for it.

3. I'm a longtime subscriber to Kelle Campbell's newsletter, "The Public Relations Writer." Yesterday's issue is titled, "Use Monroe's Motivated Sequence to Persuade." How more relevant to Being More Convincing could you get?! Serendipity in action!

And this is just in one day! Now I know I'll be spending the weekend digging around the Web. My brain is going to go on strike by Monday.

Second, I'm insisting that everyone go read this article:
Web Copywriter or Virtual Assistant: Who Should You Hire?

This is some of the best language on the value of Web copywriting that I've come across. Yes, I have to include my own writing in that too.

Dina Giolitto of WordFeeder, a fellow Web copywriter from across the Purple Mountains Majesties, offers an unusually-vibrant comparison between virtual assistants and copywriters. I especially like her line, "Sales are lagging and traffic is down? Summon the copywriter." Truer words were never spoken. Bravo, Dina!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

How to Be More Convincing - Part 1

"Copywriting is salesmanship in print." - John E. Kennedy, 1905. (Thanks to Michel Fortin for the source.)

I send out copy that reads wonderfully. My clients rave. I know I'm a good copywriter.

But I still worry I'm not convincing enough to customers.

I'm sure you've felt the same way at some point. It's like a little gremlin sitting on top of my keyboard, taunting me. Even after hours of market research, after you've nailed together everything you can know about the customer you're going to be writing to...he snickers and dangles some tidbit I missed just out of reach.

No, I don't mean used-car-salesman tricky. Everybody hates that; that's not what I strive for. I'm always honest when it comes to marketing - fact is, if you're not, customers WILL spot it. Then you've lost all credibility. It's never worth it.

I mean convincing in that I can picture customers' eyes lighting up as they read. Skipping the last part of my copy so they can get to the Buy Now button. Clients emailing me to say their websites can't handle the order load (that would be VERY nice).

I don't get a lot of tracking results from clients (despite my urgings), so I don't have the knowledge I need to determine just how good some of my work is.

So to resolve this, I'm going on a little quest. I'm going to satisfy my desire to Be More Convincing.

The final determinant will be how customers react, of course. That's invariably the last word. What I'm aiming at is a whole new confidence that I'm giving clients copy which'll knock some socks off. Every time.

These How to Be More Convincing posts will document what I find and what I learn. In case you'd like to learn how to be more convincing too.

Along the way, I'll be tackling:

1. What the biggest human motivators are in business, and how to speak to them.

2. Ways to know your audience's thoughts and desires.

3. Things to avoid when writing to these thoughts and desires (hype, for example).

4. Approaches that work for specific audience types, or specific industries.

5. Methods of Personalization.

Not a writer? Don't worry, this can still be helpful. How to Be More Convincing will address writing, speaking, and networking - all forms of communication where words are the dominant medium.

Once I've reached the end of my quest (or if I get to a point where I think it's good to stop and collect), I will turn the corresponding posts into a white paper. That way you don't have to come back and read the posts whenever you need inspiration (but I'd like it if you did!).

Step #1 - Research

Obviously, I'm off to research as much about persuasion and audience awareness as I can. I'm going to start with this well-meaning article by Nick Usborne: How to Overcome Your Writing Inhibitions. Can't be any more convincing if you can't get started.

Wish me luck! I'll write more on this topic soon, with links I've found and tips I've formulated.

If you've run across something that you think made you better at persuasion - a book, website, white paper - email me and let me know! I'll post it in the next segment of How to Be More Convincing.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Links & Ferrety Commentary, 5-8-06

A few marketing/technology links for everyone today! Blue Ferret Communications, doing everything we can to help information overload.

Duct Tape Marketing - Should Small Businesses Care About Web 2.0 Marketing Tools?
John does it again. An info-packed article on Web 2.0 marketing tools. There's stuff in here I didn't know about at all!

I think Trend #3 is the one to pay attention to. Bloggers have been proven to have an impact on business. Any future online marketing must keep bloggers into mind, with tools for syndication, easy-to-link content, and respect for their growing market power.

Zookoda - Email Blog Posts to Readers
An alternative to FeedBurner, huh? Competition's good; it breeds innovation. Speaking of innovation, I'm tossing around the idea of melding a blog and a newsletter together. Easier to track, and more up-to-date. (Plus less work for me.) Maybe I could use a service like Zookoda to do that. Hmmm...thoughtness! Must make notes!

TechCrunch - RapLeaf Is Live
I don't recall signing up for an account with RapLeaf, only blogging about its individual-feedback service two weeks ago. Nonetheless, I received an email notice last week that gave me the inside scoop - RapLeaf would go live soon!
And so it did. Here she is, folks: RapLeaf - Portable Ratings for Buyers and Sellers
I'm planning on putting a "rating snippet" on here soon. Help me build up my rating when I do! (Please? I'll be good!)


Thursday, May 04, 2006

4 Problems Copywriters Get Rid Of For You

Any company serious about its marketing pays attention to the copy they're using. (And any company serious about staying in business pays attention to its marketing.)

But as we all know, copywriting is a skill all by itself.

Many small businesspeople would admit that it's not something they want to spend time messing with. Okay, some of us use that as an excuse because we know we write horribly, but I won't hold that against you.

Entrepreneurs would rather focus their time & effort on making their business successful, right? Coming from that frame of mind, copywriting is a drain! (It's honestly the farthest thing from, but that is a prevailing attitude.)

I've thought of many ways to get around or disprove this perception over the past few years. Some tend to work. Some tend to get weird looks. Highlighting the problems solved by bringing in a copywriter usually works best for explaining my value to prospects.

(Note: I'm referring to face-to-face interaction only at this point, because then you have a few extra moments to work with, under the guise of "the elevator speech.")

I also discovered that most people don't think this through...even fellow writers! Naturally, I had to correct that.

The 4 Problems, And How Copywriters Solve Them

1. Lack of time for producing copy.
The obvious and most persistent problem. 24 hours isn't enough for the work to get done in. But let's consider a different angle than the typical "TIME/PRODUCTIVITY" struggle. Copywriters also GIVE you time back that you wouldn't have later. Here's what I mean.
Imagine this exchange taking place at a meeting. A VP is telling the marketing director that he's going to give a presentation the next day. The VP says, "We'll need something to leave with the client." The marketing director panics. "After the presentation?"
"Of course."
"But we don't have anything for that!"
Now the marketing director has to scramble through the rest of the day and night to produce a leave-behind piece. (Believe it or not, this scenario IS pretty common.) He's lost time that he could devote to other projects. Like the website that nearly convinced a prospect to buy from them, but who decided not to at the last minute because a page wasn't working.
If a copywriter had been there before, to produce marketing material they'd have in their "arsenal," the marketing director would have that time back.

2. Indecision on what to say.
The thorniest problem, when it comes to writing, is writing about yourself. Even when you're writing for your company, it's still perceived as "you." The Reel of Distracting & Self-Esteem-Lowering Questions plays immediately when you're faced with this. "What do I say here? And here? Should I include the Simmons project? I didn't really do a whole lot there, maybe I should take that out..." Etc., etc.
A writer has outside perspective, industry knowledge, and awareness of how audiences think & feel. Most importantly, they're not you. The self-consciousness goes way down fast. Doesn't that feel better?

3. Wasted Money
There are TONS of ways to lose money when it comes to getting marketing done. Huge ad agencies that charge a fortune while promising nothing. Books on "writing fast" that have a disturbing habit of overpromising and underdelivering. Training seminars that give tips (as well as pitches for a much larger, more expensive seminar).

Goes back to the first problem - there's no time to waste all this money on!

Copywriters, particularly contractors & freelancers, are paid only for the time involved in researching, writing and editing the client's work. No overhead. Add in a designer and it's the most efficient (and most affordable) way to get marketing projects done, period.

4. The "Do You Have Any Material?" Question
Murphy's Law is in effect here. Every time that question is asked of you, you'll often be missing the piece that your prospect wants to see. Even if you do, it'll be on your desk and not in hand.

It's even worse if there's no material at all.

This is where I start to talk about being a Web copywriter. Putting marketing material on the Web not only covers the Web audience, it eliminates the above question as a concern. Instead of fumbling through the panicked thought of, "Where is that brochure?!" You can reply with, "Sure! Give me your email and I'll send you a link to our website."

(Plus, you end up with their email too. List-building my friends, list-building. They HAVE qualified themselves, just by being interested.)

It might seem like I'm rehashing some of the topics I frequently address here. Partially true in this case, but I felt it necessary so I could put together a short list of tips on beating prospect objections. In the process of talking through these objections, you can also get a good sense of what the prospect needs, and how best to give it to them.

And that's the biggest problem you'll be solving.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Blue Ferret Monday Tip - The Easy Way To Pry Testimonials Out of Stalling Clients

UPDATE 5-5-06: Duct Tape Marketing has posted a snappy bunch of tips on writing testimonials. What I said about writing them for your clients is right smack in the middle of the bunch, too. As always, John Jantsch gives us some great value.

I met with Alice, a longtime friend of mine, last Thursday for a coffee-shop chat. This woman makes my multitasking look like trudging through tar, so I always like hearing her stories. Oftentimes she's run into someone I might consider a prospect, and saved me the trouble of finding out they were a deadbeet.

The topic got onto testimonials. I related a call I'd received earlier that day from a potential client, who'd looked at the testimonials on my site and was interested in having me edit some of their work. Alice commented that she'd been trying to get testimonials from her customers for a while now, and never got anywhere. They kept stalling her.

I asked her if she'd offered to write them herself.

She was a bit confused. After all, the point of a testimonial is for it to come from the satisfied customer, right? Right. But if they're stalling on giving you a testimonial, you're not getting anything out of this, are you?

I don't remember who it was that told me this. But it's stuck, and helped me get testimonials from nearly half my clients when they were stalling.

The easiest way to get a testimonial is to offer to write it for the customer.

All they have to do is tweak it afterward to make it sound more like what they want to say. You're eliminating 90% of the work for them. They still get an accurate voice, and you get some of the most valuable sales copy known to the business world.

Got a client that would make a great testimonial (say, you were able to help them get a better return on 20% fewer expenses)? Send them an email and offer to do the testimonial for them. You'll write about the latest project you've worked on. All they'll have to do is make any changes they'd like and sign off on it. You win by lightening their load.

Isn't that why we're in business, after all?