Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ferreting Onward

I don't really want to do this. But I feel I have to.

Effective today, I'm ceasing activity on this blog. It's possible I may resume posting at a later date, but I doubt it. Right now, I want to spend the time on other marketing pursuits. These are the ideas I'm tossing around:

--A new marketing strategy, based off my website. A full site rework is in progress anyway - new CMS, new content and everything.

--Speaking of new content, I'll add ebooks and special reports to the site soon. At least one ebook will be some reproduced/revised content from this blog.

--I'm also debating a change in my newsletter. I may start sending it more frequently, or modify the format to work more closely with the new site. (Signup box is on the right!)

Please bookmark I'll post my updates there from now on.

To my readers, thank you very much for coming to read my work. I promise, you will get the chance to read more of it very soon!

Until then, this copywriter/blogger is signing off.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Where to Find Free Wi-Fi - Blue Ferret BlogTip 2-26-07

I checked this morning's RSS feeds and found this little feature on Lifehacker:'s Wifi Hotspot Locator.
Looks fairly complete (San Francisco's ranked #1! Yay!), and the mashup interface is dead simple.

I added it to my wireless bookmarks. Then I thought about what to BlogTip on today. Hmm....

Wi-Fi use is growing, although most of what I come across requires me to pay for time. If I need access, I pay for it. But c'mon, we all know we'd prefer free.

So, in addition to Hotspotr, here are the other places I check for free wi-fi spots:

The Wi-Fi Free Spot
JiWire's Wi-Fi Directory

Between these three sites, I think you've got 90% of the available public wi-fi hotspots covered. (And us Web Workers will probably find and add the rest of them.)

If your area's not covered, and you can't find any hotspots on your own - throw up an access point! Let's blanket the entire US with free wi-fi!

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Good Customer Service, In Lieu of Today's Article

Sadly, there will be no BFC blog article today. I know, I know. I'm spending today working on my newsletter for February. (The signup link's to your right, all bright and blue.)

Normally I do this on Thursdays and Fridays, but I'll be traveling tomorrow for a court hearing on Friday. (Family member hit by SUV; I'm speaking at the sentencing. I didn't go commit assault and battery with a Webster's on bad spellers - yet.)

As such, I suspect the proceedings will take up most of the day. So I'm blitzing on current projects while I still have time.

In the meantime, I encourage everyone to read this: Seven Steps to Remarkable Customer Service - A link I found yesterday.

"Joel on Software" lays out the essentials of customer service. Clear, well-written; an all-around enjoyable read. If you ever feel like giving your customer service people a "gentle reminder," send them this link.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Find More Clients with Jigsaw - Blue Ferret BlogTip 2-19-07

As we all know, one of the biggest problems in lead generation is finding names. Rented lists only go so far, and networking wears on us after a while. In the past I've blogged about using Web services like Google Local to find valuable contacts. Now I'm adding another such service to the self-promo arsenal. is a website with the slogan, "Buy and Trade Business Contacts." The idea of trading your contacts for others you might need seems novel, and quite possibly very successful. But I took the most notice of the free Find Contacts page.

If you want a series of names by industry or region, just click Find Contacts and enter some criteria. Very straightforward. My initial search, with 5 criteria governing specific industries and my state, sent back over 125 contacts!

Jigsaw has free and pay memberships. $25/month seems a bit high to me, but I suppose that's balanced out from the large contacts database Jigsaw makes available. (Beats renting a big non-relevant list, too.)

Try adding to your lead generation efforts. One more source of leads for your business can't hurt, now can it?

UPDATE: Jim Fowler, CEO of Jigsaw, emailed me this morning to thank me for the mention. Jim, you're very welcome! I'm always glad to mention sites I think will make a difference in the Web business world.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

3 Things Your Website Should NEVER Say

Despite the wild, unrestrained nature of the Web, there are some things you really shouldn't say. Especially on a business website. I'm talking about language which causes a noticeable, but hard-to-pinpoint dent in your response factor.

I'm listing below three things I've come across in the past few years. Each of these language gaffes either irritated, confused or amused me. (You'll have to guess which is which.)

I want to be clear - the 3 things I'll mention are content-based. There are design taboos too, but i'm no designer, so I've no leg to stand on there. May I humbly suggest Webpages That Suck.

These 3 things address both product- and service-based companies. However, service-based companies have a bit more flexibility, since customers should recognize they're dealing with people, not products.

Don't Say: "Yes, we do that (when you don't, but want more customers)."
Where: Homepage
Why Not: You could be planning on subcontracting, or partnering with a specialist to handle the request. That's fine. But if you don't clarify this right away, and there's a mishap down the line that allows the customer to learn the true relationship, you've poisoned your chances of repeat business. The customer will wonder if you're being honest.
What to Do Instead: Lay it all on the line. "We also partner with CDR & Associates for managing our client projects." Simple, straightforward - and honest.

Don't Say: "We don't accept..."
Where: Payment Area/Shopping Cart
Why Not: It starts a chain reaction in the customer's mind. Not the payment options, but the "Don't." The customer could easily start thinking, "If they can't accept a credit card/PayPal/check, what else can't they do? Get customer service together? Replace faulty products? I'm not buying from them."
What to Do Instead: If you can't accept something, don't mention it. Talk only about the payment options you DO accept. And beware of this "negative-thinking language" elsewhere in your copy.

Don't Say: "We do everything/We have everything you need!"
Where: Anywhere!
Why Not: It's a hard, but necessary business lesson - you cannot be everything to everyone. No way. You'll kill yourself and your business in no time. If you catch yourself with content that has phrases like "All your XYZ needs," call an editor.
What to Do Instead: Resist the temptation to leap at customers like a dog with muddy paws. Provide as much detail as you want about your company, but leave it at that. Chances are, if a customer's reading your website, they're looking for a specific product/service anyway.

Still amazes me how much effect a word or two can have out there on the Web. I believe it's because there's no nonverbal communication online. The copy's all a customer has in front of them. And if it says something they don't want to hear -- bye.

Check your content!


Monday, February 12, 2007

Blue Ferret BlogTip 2-12-07 - Want More Traffic? Use These Social Sites

As you can see, I'm running a new template. I began to suspect a few readers didn't like the hard-to-read dark blue of the last one (partially because my eyes were hurting too). Drop me a comment if you like it.

I'm also happy to report that new submittal efforts, to Reddit and Sphere are bringing in a surprising amount of traffic. Thanks, to all of you!

Afraid that's all I have for right now. I'm moving my blog posts and business notes to a new wiki -, so I don't have a lot of time to spare today. Check back Wednesday for a big one - "3 Things Your Website Should NEVER Say."


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Update Your Small-Business Website Content Today

A lot of small business websites don't get updated.

The company puts the site up, breathes a sigh of relief now that it's "out there," and goes back to work. Thinking the site will magically know to inform visitors if anything changes.

Sound old hat? Sound Web 1.0 (not to be overly cliche)? It is, but it's common. I've even seen companies who regularly blog, or issue a newsletter forget to update their main site.

Why? It's a chore. It's not seen as a value point in marketing strategies, even though it should be. Here's why.

1. Updates refresh the copy. This helps get a better search engine ranking. Google likes tasty new content.

2. New information may change your target market. Consider these situations:
···a. New company direction (a whole new market)
···b. New management (they may bring clients along)
···c. Buyout/merger/partnership (Adding to your existing market).

3. And of course, the strongest reason - it helps you keep the clients you have. They know to come back every X days, because you'll have something more for them. You stay fresh in their minds the rest of the time.

Obviously, everyone should update their Home page first. That is the first place visitors see. But other pages would benefit from updates too, in ways you might not initially consider. These include the following.

Autoresponder Emails - Anytime there's a new campaign, check your autoresponders. Even the basic "thanks for subscribing" ones. You never know if you slipped some copy in that's no longer relevant, or might clash with the current message.

About Us - Don't let phone calls like this happen to you. "Oh, that employee isn't with us anymore." "Er, but she's still on the website." "Yeah." "So why hasn't anyone taken her off? Then you wouldn't get calls like this." "Uhm..."

Privacy/Shipping/TOS Pages - These don't get read much. But if someone has a need to read them (like, say, an attorney), you'd better be sure they're up-to-date. Case in point: new legal requirements, contract amendments, partnerships, etc.

Shopping Cart - The copy in and around your shopping cart should be checked now and then. Especially if customers abandon your site there. (Means something in the copy tipped them off the fence.)

Media Kit/News - There's no such thing as "nothing happened this past week/month/quarter." Yet companies sometimes leave news pages unchanged for years!

FAQ - Many companies with FAQ pages add new questions as they come along. But they don't usually check the original questions to make sure they're still relevant. This creates discontinuity in your content, which can confuse readers.

Sales/Customer Service Scripts - Staff still reading off a script made in 2004? Even if it's working, there's always a tweak which would boost response. Besides, would you want long-term clients hearing the same thing when they call back next time?

New content is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to promote a small business. And since relatively few update regularly, it becomes an automatic leap forward in your market's mind. Don't forget the website when change rolls around!


Monday, February 05, 2007

Blue Ferret BlogTip 2-5-07 - Why You Should Use 2+ Web Stats Providers

I've used StatCounter and Performancing to track both my blog and my website for a while now. Both have excellent detail. But recently, Performancing's RSS feed showing my stats went kaput. I don't know why, but I suspect it has something to do with their recent troubles.

I've been very grateful for having StatCounter as a backup. It's made me consider the wisdom of having more than one provider for site statistics. But why add a second or third stats provider if you've already got one? Given what's happened with Performancing, I can think of a couple reasons:
  • If one hiccups, fails or goes under you still have records from the other (like the Performancing issue).

  • One can catch what the other misses.

  • If you look at the same statistics from two different perspectives, you might find a surprising new market to focus on.
These are just a couple reasons. Any more? Post them!

(P.S. - I mean no disrespect to Performancing in this example. For the time I was able to get stats from them, I found them detailed and prompt. If anything, I'm saddened by the disruption.)