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Blog image April 18

The Generic Determination Rule

Sometimes in speech writing and marketing you can change the audience’s perception without changing the facts. One way to do this is by putting psychology to work with The Generic Determination Rule. Detailed by famed Direct Marketing/Copywriting Guru Herschel Gordon Lewis, the rule states:

“The generic determines reaction more than the number.”

This means that when you are indicating time, size, distance, or a number of other factors related to your product or service, the generic⏤months versus days, hours versus minutes, miles versus feet⏤is more important than the number attached to it.

Lewis gives a great example when he asks “What if McDonald’s Quarter Pounder were called McDonald’s Four Ouncer?”

Yes, a quarter pound IS four ounces.

But somehow, a quarter pound sounds significantly larger than four ounces, because pounds are heavier than ounces.

Depending on your intent, you could market the same burger two ways:

  1. For our weight conscious friends, this popular burger is just four ounces. Dressed up with your favorite low-cal toppings, it packs a wallop! OR
  2. Our all-around best selling burger⏤a full quarter pound of choice meat⏤with all your favorite toppings!
  • One month free trial is perceptually longer than a 30-day free trial.
  • One hour feels longer than 60 minutes.

If I were to tell you my office is five thousand, two hundred and eighty feet north of town, you might, for just a moment, think you’d have to pack a lunch to get there. But if I told you instead that I am just one mile north of town, well, that’s an easy trip, isn’t it? Putting the rule and the psychology behind it to use, you could drive a customer or prospect away from a competitor and right to your door.

Think of The Generic Determination Rule as you are creating your next advertisement, menu, or sales pitch. First determine how you want your prospects or customers to perceive the extent, usefulness, or appropriateness of your product or service. Then choose the generic that matches your intent – bigger/smaller, faster/slower, farther/closer, shorter/longer.

Blog image April 18

A Year of Silence

Image of a woman with her finger over her mouth for silence

I’d been blogging monthly for nine years when, in January 2016, I decided to put off the post for a week while I considered changes in my life and world. That week turned into a month, then six months of silence.

I questioned my interest in the business that supported me well for 17 years, challenged my ability to write motivational, practical blog posts, and disputed my willingness to participate in an increasingly disassociated and negative online world.

Lost in a world of meaningless chatter, something had to give.

Next thing I knew an entire year had passed and I hadn’t written a single blog post. I had grown comfortable in my silence.

Then came December, and the problem that caused me to move my website from one hosting company to another.  In the process, I had to copy all the page content and blog posts, paste them into the new site, and reformat everything.

It was time consuming.

And it was exhilarating.

Posts I had written in 2007 were still relevant today, and many were more powerful now than when they were first published. Among them, these:

Bob’s Brilliant Marketing Tool

The Core of All Things

The Law of Attraction: Carport #35

The process renewed my passion for solid, proven marketing communications, and my desire to be “in the thick of it” with my clients. Now, I use silence in a different way, internally and externally. It has become a solace rather than a wall.

Have you stepped away from some aspect of your life, only to discover it anew? What was it, what did you learn, how will you move forward?

Blog image April 18

10 Holiday Greetings for Business

Here we go again – the “Holiday Season” – no other time of celebration brings such anguish along with it, from what to buy to what to say. I can’t help you with the what to buy part, but can offer help in what to say in your greeting cards, or in everyday conversation.

When you live and work in the multi-cultural worlds of most major cities in America, the chances are pretty good that you have colleagues, neighbors, clients, and friends whose faith or culture is different from yours.

I’m a big believer in the sentiment that floats around Facebook every December that says:

Say What Has Meaning for You

We have no right to demand that others go along with our beliefs or behaviors. We do have, if we truly subscribe to any one of the major religions, a moral obligation to treat each other as we would want to be treated. Here are ten statements you can put in the cards you send  either personally or for business, adding or omitting the names of your holiday or the one of the person to whom the card is addressed:

  • May your holidays and New Year be filled with laughter, good food, and good friends.
  • Warm wishes we send to you, for happy holidays, and in the new year, too!
  • Enjoy the sweet moments this holiday season can bring.
  • Make memories that last through the new year, give thanks, give love, and be of good cheer!
  • Amazing people like you make the world brighter for people like us. Thank you, and Happy Holidays!
  • There’s no better time to tell you just how much your business means to us throughout the whole year. Happy Holidays!
  • Remembering you with warm wishes for a happy and peaceful holiday season.
  • Wishing you joy at the holidays and in the coming year.
  • May your holidays be merry, may it fill your hearts with cheer, and may all of you be happy throughout the bright new year!
  • Sending you warm wishes of gratitude this holiday season for your business, support, and referrals. Happy Holidays!

An added, personal message such as, “Dear Pete & Judy, hope your ski trip is great!” is a great way to let your contacts know they are special. One last tip: Hand address the envelopes. Yes, it takes a lot more time than printing and slapping on a label, but handwriting also tells the receiver you were thinking of them. Address a few at a time while you veg in front of the TV at night. If your penmanship is hard to read, hire one of your staff members or a friend to write them for you – and don’t forget to give them a bonus check!

Happy Holidays!

Blog image April 18

Defining Excellence

Dana LaMon

C’mon, admit it –  you believe the dictionary definition that states, “excellence is the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.”

You’ve believed it, and then pushed your belief beyond it, because somehow, being extremely good came to be equated with perfection, with being the best.

But do we do disservice to ourselves and our role models by insisting that equation is true? What if it’s NOT?

What if excellence is not so much a being as it is a doing?

I had the pleasure of hearing Dan LaMon – the 1992 World Champion of Public Speaking – at a Toastmaster’s Conference last weekend.  He had some  provocative things to say about excellence, starting with his belief that excellence is not perfection but rather, a process to reaching perfection. The first of his 104 Principles for Living and Working states:

“To excel is to do better today than you did yesterday.”

Compare your performance today with yesterday’s results.
If you improved or advanced, you excelled.
If you see room for more improvement, you are looking at tomorrow’s opportunity to excel.

Now, Dana LaMon knows a thing or two about doing better one day at a time.

He’s a retired Administrative Law Judge for the California Department of Social Services, a graduate of Yale University, and the author of four books for inspiration and personal development. He has given motivational speeches in Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Africa, and 31 states of the United States to audiences as diverse as corporate executives to kindergarten students and religious congregations to prison inmates.

Oh, one more thing – he’s been blind since he was four years old, and is very clear in stating that there were plenty of folks throughout his life who said, “But you are blind, you can’t…”  Thankfully for us, he knew better. A friend gave him the experience of driving a car, and he learned to hit a 3-point shot on the basketball court thanks to that same friend.

Yes, he knows a few things about doing better one day at a time.

Here are his 8 Points Regarding Excellence:

  • Improvement: Do you give each day and each task your very best effort?
  • Development: Are you using your talents and abilities to your greatest advantage?
  • Movement: Excellence welcomes change. Do you?
  • Tenacity: In the face of opposition, a commitment to excellence pushes you to work harder.
  • Adjustments: What excuses do you make? If you are committed to excellence, you make adjustments, not excuses.
  • Possibilities: (I think this is my favorite quote of all) The realm of possibility and the field of uncertainty occupy the same space.
  • Teamwork: Teams require a “what’s in it for US” mentality, not “what’s in it for ME.”
  • Love: Quality can be controlled, Time can be managed, but people need to be loved, and that is the connector.

So what do you think? Is excellence about being perfect, being the best, or as Dana LaMon says, being better today than you were yesterday?

 

Blog image April 18

Worst WordPress User Name Ever

In the space of seven overnight hours, there were more than 60 unsuccessful attempts to hack into one of the WordPress sites I manage, all originating in either Russia or China.  They failed to gain access into the site for one very simple reason.

What You Need to Know

If you are a WordPress user, you are certainly familiar with the login screen that asks for your User Name and Password.

WordPress uses “admin” as the default user name. You might think leaving it is the simple way to go, but in the end, you may pay dearly for not taking the time to create a unique name and password.

In each of the 60+ hacking attempts I mentioned, the hacker used either “admin” or “administrator” as the username.

How to Fix it

  1. Create a new user with the “Administrator” role, but don’t call it Admin or Administrator. Call it something unique, like “web.”
  2. Next, make sure that any posts or pages assigned to the original “admin” or “Administrator” username are reassigned to the user account you just created. If you don’t do this, they will be permanently deleted when you do step 5.
  3. Log out of the “admin” account.
  4. Log back in using the new user account.
  5. Go to “Users” in the menu and delete the “admin” account.

Your site will now be protected from hackers and hacker bots using “admin” or “administrator” as the username. To protect your site even further, consider purchasing  one of the WordPress Security plugins that allow you to block specific IP addresses and countries, as well as other options.

 

Blog image April 18

I had to say “No” to a prospective client today.

That hasn’t happened in a long time, and I wrestled with the decision for three full days.

As a business owner, I want to ensure a good relationship with clients.  I want to be a “yes” 100% of the time. But every now and then a project comes along that is just not a good fit for my expertise. In these instances, I believe it better to say “NO” and help them find a better fit than it is to say “YES” and not be able to do them justice in the final result.

Here are three tips for saying “NO” in a way that keeps the relationship positive:

Be Honest about your Reasons

Nobody likes rejection. Hearing “NO” is hard, especially when you’re up against a deadline or are completely frustrated with your own efforts. In my rejection today, I apologized to the prospect, who was asking for assistance in developing a grant proposal for a very technical manufacturing process. I let him know that while I have some experience in the industry, my technical skills were not sufficient to give him the level of assistance I felt he needed, after reviewing the initial proposal.

Find an Alternate Solution

We’ve all heard the statement, “If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” The prospect had been referred to me by a long-time associate, so both our reputations were on the line, and I’m committed to find WIN/WIN solutions for every issue. I can’t ethically take the project on knowing that I’m not well suited for it, but I certainly can help find someone for whom it is a perfect fit.

I hopped onto Linkedin and did a search for local freelance technical writers with experience in the prospect’s industry. Ten pages of results were returned! I reviewed the first few pages and gave the prospect names and contact info for three people who are far more qualified than me. Hopefully one of them will be available and excited to take on the project.

I had to say “NO,” but I still found a way to say “YES” to assisting the client.

Keep the Doors Open

You have a choice – after you give your “NO” and alternate solution, you have a choice. You can walk away forever, or you can follow up to make sure the solution you suggested was viable. If not, perhaps a second round of ideas will come to you. I just said “NO” this morning, and will follow up with the prospect later in the week to see if I can help in any other way. Stay in touch, and if you can, refer customers – that is one way to stay on the prospect’s radar, and establish a foundation for further conversation.

Summary

Saying “NO” is never easy, but when it is in the best interest of the prospect or client, it benefits everyone involved. Give your prospect the gift of integrity by being honest in your reasons for the rejection, finding an alternate solution if you can, and keeping the doors open.

 

Blog image April 18

In my email box this morning was a message from…myself. It looked like this:
I quickly hit “forward” and sent it to spoof@paypal.com, their designated mailbox for issues like this.

Obviously, it was sent from someone other than me. Let’s take a look at the most obvious clues, and one way to stop those messages from showing up in your mailbox.

The first sentence is fraught with spelling and grammatical errors.
If that’s not enough of a clue, the message is entirely vague and almost nonsensical.

They give you a link to click to “verify” your account. Don’t ever do that! If you click it, you will be taken to a ghosted PayPal site – a fraudulent site that looks like, but is not, PayPal. When you enter your account information on that fraudulent site, you are handing your PayPal account over to the criminals.

Sadly, you can’t stop these creeps from obtaining your email address and spoofing, but you can stop them from filling up your email box.

Check the Source Code

Every email program has an option to view the source code. In my program it is at the top right of the email screen and looks like this:

Sometimes you have to hunt to find the “view source” option. Don’t give up! I have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the list to click on the “View Source” option.

Once you do that, you will see the email message in its raw state, and you can determine where it originated.

In line three of the source code for this message, it was clear that it originated from “masterhost.ru.” Yup, it came from somewhere inside Russia. The actual account from which it was generated is masked, but now you know one place to start in order to block the spoofers.

Block the Domain

Every email program I’ve ever used has the option to block senders and block domains. You’ll have to hunt around in your email program to find it, but once you do, simply add “*@masterhost.ru” to the blocked list and you will no longer receive emails from any accounts related to that server.  The “*@” is shorthand for “any name at.” This means that if the sender is “Spoofer1” or “spoofer45” it won’t matter. All that counts is the “masterhost.ru” part.

It is up to each of us, individually, to keep the spoofers at bay, so that we can all enjoy email, social media, and electronic business without fear.  It can be time consuming to dig into the code and add email addresses to our blocked list, but the peace of mind it brings is worth the while.

 

Blog image April 18

The longer I participate in Social Media, the more aware I become of the negative impact it has on my time, my energy, and my emotions.

I’ve begun to unfollow those whose posts are consistently religious or political, and the sports fans who post their assessment of every play in the game.  Just eliminating those posts from my feed (but not from my “friends” list) made a difference.

Then I realized that to really live a mindful life, I had to change how and what I post on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

I began by asking myself prior to each post, share, or comment: Would I call my mother, my best friends, and my family members on the phone to share this information?

If the answer is “NO” or even a “Probably Not,” why would I put it out on social media for the world to see? What value would it impart?

If the answer is “YES,” I was OK with posting it with some restraint, such as marking some posts only for family or close friends.

Still, there was something nagging at me.

If the play-by-play sports posts, the religio-political posts and the “my kid just had breakfast and my dog is so cute” posts make me want to cancel all my social media accounts, what sort of reactions are my own posts eliciting from those who follow me?

That’s when I became fully aware that mindful social media was more about how and what I choose to post for others to see than what I choose to see from them, so I dug deeper into the “share” box at the bottom right of the Facebook “what’s on your mind” box:

 

 

 

When I click on the down arrow and on the “more options” option, I come to the “custom” link, which allows me to be very targeted in who can or cannot see a specific post:

 

 

If I know certain people will want to see a specific post, add them to the “share this with” list. If I know some who won’t, I put them in the “don’t share this with” box. I can create a group of those I know will appreciate my posts about marketing a small business, my philosophy of life, or my latest book of poetry and fiction.

Yes, I know that asking you to do the same causes you to put in a bit more effort and to exercise some restraint. I also know this is somewhat contrary to the tell-all-to-all culture of social media.

But on the upside, it causes all of us to be mindful of what we share, and in that regard, considerate of the people we call “friends.”  Perhaps we’ll even gain back a bit of the time, energy, or emotional satisfaction we’ve lost in endless, uninspired scrolling.

Mindful Social Media. Will you make it a practice today?

Blog image April 18

Many of you have followed this blog since the first post in May, 2007. You’ve cheered me through the good times, and helped me through the darker days. For that I am eternally grateful.

I’ve learned, recently, that a number of new subscribers to this blog like what I have to say and how I say it, but are a little confused about who I am, and why my blog is worth reading.

Who I Am

My name is Linda Anger. I’ve lived my entire life in the state of Michigan, and am proud to spring from a family that has deep roots in the City of Detroit. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs on my patriarchal side. My great-great-grandfather, Edward Stange, became president of The American Brewing Company in 1901. My grandfather, Russell Anger, owned a small manufacturing company once housed on Telegraph near Eight Mile. My dad, Robert Anger, was a self-employed tool-and-die maker. His office was on Grand River near Eight Mile.

With all that biological history, I think entrepreneurship is in my blood. I saw my dad’s day-to-day work ethic, I understood why he worked long hours. I reveled in the delight he took when things were going well. Perhaps the most important lesson was the one I learned at his funeral. Click Here To Read About it.

I determined to become a writer when I was nine years old, and today, after more than 30 years in the biz, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of it. I’ve had poems and stories published in magazines and journals since the early 1990s, and have supported myself as a marketing communications specialist and president of The Write Concept, Inc.  for the last 15 years, after being laid off from a Fortune 100 company.

Why You Should Read This Blog

    • I bring the wisdom of experience in corporate and small business communication to the table. I can tell you what has worked historically and why, and what new options are available for you to test out.
    • As a small business owner, I understand the challenges of working with a limited budget yet needing to expand awareness of the company.
    • As a communicator, I cut through the fluff and throw away the corporate and industry jargon, to get down to what really matters, in terms that are clear and succinct.
    • I am an avid member of two Toastmasters clubs, where I have honed my speech writing and leadership skills.
    • I am the current president of Detroit Working Writers, a 115-year-old organization of professional writers, founded on June 5, 1900, with archives housed in the Burton Collection at the Detroit Public Library.
    • I help business owners, non-profit organizations, and sales professionals move minds, generate sales, and drive results – with words that matter.

If that’s not enough, I’m also the proud mom of a college professor, have two awesome grandkids, play guitar and ukulele, lived through cancer surgery and almost a year of chemotherapy, and live by the mantra: “those who say a thing cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”

 

Blog image April 18
Image of Ali Luke, AliVentures, Copywriting Interview
Ali Luke of AliVentures

 

Wondering what it takes to start and sustain a copywriting and editing business?  I’ve been at it for 15 years and blogging about it for 7 years. I’ve worked hard to make it work for me. Can you do the same?

Ali Luke of AliVentures in Cambridge, England, (that’s her at left) interviewed me on this topic, and posted it in her private Writer’s Huddle group. She’s allowed me to share it with you.

Click to listen to the 45-minute interview on SoundCloud.

Click to download a PDF transcript of the interview.

Click to download a PDF of the accompanying WORKSHEET.

Thanks, Ali! You are an amazing woman, and a gift to the freelance writing community around the world!