On negative engagement

One of the benefits of running Bredemarket is that I can try out all sorts of things which may be of benefit to my clients in the future. For example, not only have I acquired SEVERAL ADDITIONAL HOURS of CRM administration experience, but I also took out a small Facebook ad this week. In retrospect, the ad was too dense with text, but it’s a start.

When you take out a Facebook ad, you can set parameters for the audience that you want to reach, and you can also specify your priority. In my case, I wanted to target small businesses in the Ontario, California area (a possible market for Bredemarket’s writing services), and I set a priority of engagement.

As of today the ad is still running on both Facebook and Instagram, and I’m getting some engagement on both platforms.

In fact, Facebook recently informed me that I received some comment engagement on Facebook. So I went to view the engagement.

Now I know that Facebook counts this as an engagement, but I made the decision to NOT pursue the commenter as a potential Bredemarket client.

By the way, the one like on that comment is from me.

3 ways Bredemarket can help your business, the mid-October 2020 edition

There are a number of ways that writers can grab readers’ attention, and one of those is via the list post. They’ve been around for over a decade, and they’re still popular. Why? Because they grab the reader’s attention.

So I thought I’d use the list post format to talk about Bredemarket’s current focuses in contracts, as well as in pitches and proposals to potential clients. Perhaps your business can use one of these three services, or perhaps you can use two or three of them. (I just wrote a proposal this week that included all three of the services listed below, as well as some other things.)

In preparation for this post, I reviewed Ali Hale’s 2008 ProBlogger post “10 Steps to the Perfect List Post.” (You see what Hale did there.)

One: Have Bredemarket write your 400 to 600 word text

I’ve previously talked about why you may want to have someone else write your blog post, your Facebook post, your LinkedIn post, or any other short text. (Advance warning: this “list post” is going to have some little lists in it…)

Regardless of the reason, Bredemarket can assist you in creating that content that you need. Via a collaborative process, Bredemarket will work with your business to craft the text that you need, and provide you with the final text at the end of the contract. The entire process can be completed in 15 calendar days or less, often much less (one of my clients and I completed one blog post in less than 3 days). Bredemarket’s goal is not to get the job done quickly, but to get the job done correctly.

For more details on the process, see the Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service.

Two: Have Bredemarket write your 2800 to 3200 word text

Longer text is used for deliverables such as white papers; longer thought pieces; detailed company, product or service descriptions; lengthy customer testimonials; or other items.

The reasons for having Bredemarket write your longer text are similar to the reasons for having Bredemarket write your shorter text, but the process is a little more detailed.

Because these deliverables are more complex, more work is needed at the beginning of the process, and more time is needed for the reviews. Therefore, the process for a longer text piece can take as long as 49 calendar days, although again it can often be completed much more quickly. Again, the goal is to deliver the correct text to the client.

For more details on the process, see the Bredemarket 2800 Medium Writing Service.

Three: Have Bredemarket examine your website and social media accounts

Perhaps you don’t need text for your website or social media accounts. Perhaps you need a checkup on these properties.

Ever since I started Bredemarket, I’ve been examining the web pages and social media accounts for a number of companies, including my own. And a number of times, I’ve run across some errors.

  • Perhaps the text on the site uses the wrong word to describe something.
  • Or perhaps a link doesn’t work.
  • Or perhaps one part of the site says one thing, while another part says a totally different thing.
  • Or perhaps the contents of the site are old. (A site that brags about Windows 7 compatibility, or a site with a 2019 copyright date, is not the site of a thought leader.)

Or perhaps the collection of sites doesn’t have any obvious errors, but exhibits missed opportunities. One company posted some excellent content on one of its social media channels, but failed to cross-post the content to its other social media channels, or to the website itself. Therefore, most potential customers were unaware of the great content from the company.

Bredemarket’s methodology for a website/social media checkup is simple, but thorough. The two major steps are

  • for Bredemarket and the client to agree on the scope of the checkup (for example, should the checkup include the personal LinkedIn page of the company CEO?), and then
  • for Bredemarket to examine six factors as part of the checkup.

While you’re waiting for me to write my list post about six critical items in a website/social media checkup, you can cheat and read the list yourself in my description of the Bredemarket 404 Web/Social Media Checkup.

Incidentally, I can’t quote the length of this service, because the length depends upon the number of pages to check, the percentage of those pages that require a more detailed (rather than cursory) check, and whether there are PDFs or other documents on those pages that also require examination.

Can your business use any of these services?

Now Bredemarket provides other services (you can say that I have a whole…um, list of them), but right now (mid-October) these three services seem to be the most popular. Like I said, I recently proposed all three of them to a single client.

If you could use one of these three services, you can fill out the “Request Information” form at the bottom of each service description (Bredemarket 400, Bredemarket 2800, or Bredemarket 404), or you can contact me in one of the following ways:

My plans for NASCAR sponsorship, with a comment about websites

Could Bredemarket (eventually) become an auto racing sponsor?

In case it’s not obvious, I’ve had a lot of fun coming up with the names for the various Bredemarket services that I offer, While Bredemarket 404 is my obvious favorite name (I’ll explain why later), I found myself thinking about Bredemarket 400 this afternoon. (That’s my Short Writing Service, if you need text for a blog post or something similar.) And the thought struck me:

“Bredemarket 400” sounds like an auto race.

Now auto racing is not confined to the Southeastern United States and various European locations. In fact, there’s a speedway not too far from Bredemarket, in Fontana, California.

View of Auto Club Speedway from center of the grandstand. By Lvi56 – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11463414

This particular speedway already has a sponsor, and I don’t think that Bredemarket can outbid the Auto Club to secure that sponsorship.

At least not today.

But if Bredemarket grows enough, and I decide to become a big name in the auto racing industry, I’d better start doing my research.

Bredemarket research into the auto racing industry, by looking at one website

So I decided to check the website of one of the big names in the auto racing industry. I won’t name the company whose website I checked, but I will mention in passing that I grew up in the Washington, DC area, and am a lifelong fan of the Washington Re- … I mean the Washington Football Team.

So I got to “website X,” and the first thing that I noticed on the website was…the logo of a corporate sponsor for website X. Not surprising, if you know anything about auto racing.

The next item was a special announcement that tours of the company’s facility were suspended due to COVID-19, and that requests for autographs from the owner of the company had also been suspended.

Now that the preliminaries were out of the way, I figured I’d get to the introductory text for website X—the text that explained what the company was about, and who this guy was whose name was prominently featured in the company name. Why would anyone want to get autographs from a company CEO? I, of course, knew WHY this person was so famous, but there are probably a number of racing fans who have never heard of the company owner. Obviously the website should explain this, right?

Um, no. The website X home page had a bunch of stuff, but nothing that explained what the company was.

So I checked the menu, figuring that there would be an “About” section, presumably as the first menu item.

“About” was the last menu item. I would have put it first, but at least it was there.

So I went to the “About” page, figuring that I would finally see the story of the company and of its famous owner.

The first thing on the “About” page was a button. If you clicked the button, you would find out the name of the owner of the company and a list of its championship years.

Thanks.

I scrolled down the “About” page, and the next thing that I saw was the address of the facility and the hours during which it could be visited.

Wait a minute, I thought to myself. The home page said that the facility could NOT be visited, and now this page is saying to go ahead and come on down?

The rest of the “About” page wasn’t much better. The Frequently Asked Questions are apparently infrequently updated, since they reference (again) the times that the facility is open, an announcement of an event that occurred a week ago, the ability to get autographs from the company owner at one of his personal appearances, and other outdated information.

How can a website be improved?

Some of you already know where this post is headed. For those who don’t, ask yourself the following question:

Isn’t there a way for a company to check its web site and its other social media outlets to make sure that everything is correct, up to date, and synchronized?

I’m glad you asked that question, because one of the services that Bredemarket provides is the aforementioned Bredemarket 404 Web/Social Media Checkup. The number 404, of course, comes from the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) code “404 Not Found,” although the Bredemarket service looks at much more than missing web pages.

As part of the Bredemarket 404 service, I agree with the client on the web pages, social media accounts, and (optionally) downloadable documents that Bredemarket will examine. The examination itself includes the following:

  • Broken links
  • Outdated information
  • Other text and image errors
  • Synchronization between the web page and the social media accounts
  • Content synchronization between the web page and the social media accounts
  • Hidden web pages that still exist
  • Other items desired by the client

It’s a useful checkup to see where your website and social media accounts stand, allowing your company to take action, fix problems, and improve your marketing outreach. If your company doesn’t have the time to perform the checkup yourself, let Bredemarket do it.

Contact Bredemarket and we can discuss next steps.

If your marketing channels lack content, your potential customers may not know that you exist

[Update, January 27, 2021: a July 2020 study from Demand Gen Report explains WHY up-to-date content is important. I addressed that study in this post.]

One of Bredemarket’s most popular services is the Short Writing Service. It can help small (or large) businesses solve the content problem.

You know what the content problem is. Your business has established one or more marketing channels: a website, blog, email list, Google My Business site, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter…or many others.

But the marketing channels are useless IF THEY HAVE NO CONTENT.

Or old content.

Or poorly-written content.

Maybe the information on the marketing channel is six months old, or a year old, or nine years old. (Trust me, this happens.) Or maybe there’s content on one marketing channel, but it’s never cross-posted to the other marketing channels for your business.

What are the ramifications of this? If your channels lack content, your potential customers may forget about you. And that’s NOT good for business.

I’ll use myself as a BAD example. In addition to my business blogs at Bredemarket (https://bredemarket.com/blog/) and JEBredCal (https://jebredcal.wordpress.com/blog/), I maintain several personal blogs. One of those personal blogs is Empoprise-NTN (https://empoprise-ntn.blogspot.com/), and that blog is obviously the ugly stepchild of the bunch. Between 2016 and 2019 I authored exactly ZERO posts on that blog. So if someone is looking for authoritative commentary on NTN Buzztime games, they’re obviously NOT going to look to me.

The obvious solution to the content problem is to CREATE CONTENT. Some people have no problem creating content, but others may need some help. They may not have the time (https://bredemarket.com/2020/09/25/when-you-dont-have-the-time-to-craft-your-own-text/), or they may need some help in selecting the right words to say.

Bredemarket can help you solve the content problem, one post at a time. The Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service (https://bredemarket.com/bredemarket-400-short-writing-service/) uses a collaborative process, in which you and Bredemarket agree on a topic, Bredemarket provides a draft of the text, and the text goes through two review cycles. At the end of the process, you have the text, you own the text (this is a “work for hire”), and you can post the text on your blog or Facebook or wherever you please. Your content problem is solved! And if the post includes a call for action, your potential customers can ACT, potentially providing you with new business.

Speaking of a call for action…

If you would like to talk to Bredemarket about ways to solve your business’ content problem, contact me!

Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service

(new text of approximately 400 to 600 words)

The Bredemarket 199 Entertainment Device Remote Juggling Service

As Bredemarket, and in my previous positions, I have written a number of technical pieces of varying lengths. Many of these were designed to communicate non-technical concepts to a technical audience.

I just completed such a piece on Saturday. And no, it wasn’t a blog post or white paper, or even a web page analysis.

It was a set of instructions on how to use three remotes to access three pieces of entertainment hardware.

A couple of years ago, lightning hit the home of one of my relatives. While the home was for the most part undamaged, her living room television set was fried. So for the past two years, she has had to go to her bedroom when she wanted to watch TV.

So on Friday, my wife and I trooped down to the store and purchased a smart TV, along with a newer DVD player, and a swivel mount to hold the smart TV on her cabinet.

Early Saturday afternoon, the mount, TV set, and DVD player needed to be set up. In true Bredemarket fashion, I did not get involved with the drilling or any of the other hardware installation; two friends took care of that part. (I know my limits.) They even took care of the cabling, so that both the cable box and the new DVD were connected to the new TV via the two HDMI ports.

Once that was done, it was time for the software guy (me) to go through the TV setup, and then to pair both of the new entertainment devices with the existing cable remote. If all had worked well, all three of the devices could have been controlled through the single cable remote, with some minimal instructions to my relative on how to switch between all the devices.

(It is relevant to note that my relative is a senior citizen, so the instructions needed to be easy-to-understand AND minimal.)

Sadly, all did NOT work well. I ran into two problems.

  • First, despite trying all of the suggested codes, I was unable to pair the DVD to the cable remote.
  • Second, even if I had successfully paired the DVD, the cable remote was lacking an all-essential “TV input” button, so the cable remote on its own could not switch between the TV’s HDMI1 input (cable) and the HDMI2 input (DVD). The cable company offers newer remote controls, but that didn’t help me on Saturday.

So that’s when the writer kicked in. Using my non-preferred word processing platform (Notes on my iPhone), I drafted a short document with four sections:

  • The introductory section: “When watching [cable system], the [cable system] remote can control [cable system] functions plus the TV volume (and turning the TV on and off)”
  • Five steps “(t)o switch from watching [cable system] to watching the [brand] DVD” (using both the TV remote and the DVD remote, but not the OTHER DVD remote that looks similar)
  • Five steps “(t)o switch from watching the [brand] DVD to watching the [cable system]” (using both the TV remote and the cable remote)
  • A fourth section, “John’s technical notes,” in case someone other than my relative wanted to figure out what was going on

I didn’t try to incorporate graphics into my Notes text, so I had to use textual descriptions such as “the circles control.” After initial testing (me) and a second test (my wife), the instructions were printed.

Technically the project is not complete because the document has not gone through the final testing stage (my relative), but this is probably the most important document that I’ve written this week.

Yes, the project that I completed for my client on Friday was also important, but you have to keep family happy.

And no, Bredemarket cannot offer this service to paying clients because I usually work…um, remotely.

When you don’t have the time to craft your own text

Businesses are pressed for time, juggling the important and the urgent tasks.

If the task is truly urgent, then the business must take care of it immediately.

But what about the important tasks—the ones that need to get done, but which always get delayed due to the urgent tasks?

Many of these tasks have to do crafting the text that your business communicates to your clients. These words can be distributed in many formats.

  • Perhaps you need to place content on your company LinkedIn feed.
  • Or perhaps your blog needs content.
  • Or maybe it’s some other channel, such as a Facebook post or an article for your company email newsletter.
  • Or perhaps there’s a document that needs content. Maybe you need to construct the text for your company’s latest white paper.

But you’ve never found the time to craft the text.

Bredemarket can help. Bredemarket’s “Short Writing Service” and “Medium Writing Service” processes are designed to provide your firm with the important words that you need, saving your firm time and letting the firm take care of the urgent stuff.

Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service

(new text of approximately 400 to 600 words)

Bredemarket 2800 Medium Writing Service

(new text of approximately 2800 to 3200 words)

On managing customer relationships as a sole proprietor

The intriguing part about running your own business is that you have to perform ALL of the business functions, including sales. Bredemarket does not have access to an expert commissioned sales staff; it just has access to me. (There is a separate third party service that looks up work for me, but even there I have to perform the sales function.)

When I developed my checklist of all of the things that I needed to do to start Bredemarket (latest checkoff – my City of Ontario business license has formally been approved), one of the items on the list was to obtain access to a customer relationship management (CRM) system. This would provide me with two benefits:

  • First, I could obviously track sales and marketing activities in the CRM.
  • Second, I could tell potential clients that I had SEVERAL HOURS of CRM administration experience. (Impressive, huh?)

Seriously, I I did have limited access to Salesforce and another CRM in one of my previous jobs, but never to the level of configuring the thing to meet my needs. Now I would have my chance, and learn a little bit in the process.

Actually, I had already been performing CRM in a not-so-elegant way. I’m using a Microsoft Excel workbook to track my contacts for my effort to gain full-time employment, and I was also listing contracting conversations in that same workbook. But when I decided to separate my efforts to obtain full-time employment from my contracting efforts, it also made sense to separate the contracting CRM data and move the Bredemarket tracking to a REAL CRM.

I ended up selecting the free version of HubSpot to use as Bredemarket’s CRM. (For those of you who have seen references to Mailchimp on my home page, that is for a separate mailing list not associated with the CRM.) I configured some essential items, linked to other services, entered a list of contacts with whom I had spoken over the last couple of months, and then prepared my “Announcing Bredemarket” email and the list of contacts who would receive it.

By the time I had prepared my list, and edited my email, it was already early afternoon Pacific Daylight Time. Now I had to start thinking about WHEN I would send the email. I seemed to recall that mornings were the recommended time to send emails, and I confirmed my understanding by reading this CoSchedule blog post. (10am appears to be the sweet spot.) But CoSchedule also linked to a WordStream post that included some of the same advice, but then said:

That’s the Advice. Now Ignore It.

-Megan Marrs

Two facts about the list for this mailing are relevant.

  • This was not an email list that I had purchased. This was a list of people whom I had interacted with personally over the last few months, often after they were finished with their work for the day. If they received the email at 10am, they might wait to read it until the evening anyway.
  • Many of these “recommended email times” studies do not account for the fact that emails are sent to multiple time zones. While I was sending my email from the Pacific Daylight Time zone, some recipients were in the Central Daylight Time and Eastern Daylight Time zones, and one recipient was in the Central European Summer Time zone.

So after some more re-edits of the email, I decided that there was no need to wait until tomorrow morning to send it. So I sent it at 4:45 pm Pacific Daylight Time. (For those keeping score, that’s 01h45 in Central Europe.) I figured that a few people might read the email that evening, and that the rest would see it when they opened their inbox the next morning.

As HubSpot send the email to the recipients, HubSpot started churning its data.

  • Most of the emails were delivered immediately (one remained in a “Sent” status for a while and wasn’t delivered for a few hours).
  • People started opening the emails.
  • People started clicking on the links to the emails.
  • People started sending email responses.

This is all old hat to people who HAVE been CRM administrators, but to me it was all novel.

Now I could get really fancy and look at advanced analytics, but for my purposes I just needed to know the basics. I’ll show you an example – I included one of my own email accounts on the mailing list, and here is the information that HubSpot provided for the delivery to that email address.

I had several clickable links in the email, and HubSpot told me which of those links my alter ego clicked, and the time that they were clicked.

In addition to viewing individual activity, you can view summary activity for all of the recipients. Even if you’re not performing complex Tableau analyses of the data, the summaries can show you some basic things. For me, one key metric is the Unsubscribe metric – the percentage of those people who never want to receive an email from Bredemarket again. The heat map of the email displays the percentage of clicks on various links, including the Unsubscribe link. I am happy to report that as of right now – 16 hours after I sent the email – my unsubscribe rate is 0%.

So I’ve gone from minimal exposure to a CRM to a basic understanding of what a CRM can do. Hopefully I can use this to serve my potential Bredemarket clients better.

Now I just wish that I had used a CRM for my full-time employment search from day one. Maybe I’d be off of COBRA by now.

But I need to be practical

On Tuesday evening, I was playing around on my smartphone when I ran across a QR code generator. I had performed a teeny bit of research into QR codes when I worked at MorphoTrak, so I had an idea of what QR codes could do (and what they couldn’t do). Choosing to pursue the former, I created a QR code for the home page of the Bredemarket.com website.

Excitedly, I posted this QR code to a few places, including the Bredemarket pages on Facebook and LinkedIn…

…until I began thinking about the impracticality of what I was doing.

When somebody is reading online content, they are usually…online. QR codes are best used on printed material. So, for example, if you see a wanted poster of me in a post office, and a QR code is printed on that poster, you can point your smartphone at that QR code on the printed sheet and your smartphone will take you to the appropriate website. DISPLAYING a QR code on a smartphone isn’t all that useful.

So what’s the point of placing the QR code in this post, which you are presumably reading online?

Well, I’d like you to do a favor for me. Print this post on your printer and stick it on your bulletin board or your coffee table. Then, when you have a sudden need to come directly to a marketing and writing services website, simply point your smartphone’s camera at the printed sheet and go to the link.

Maybe I should start putting up signs.