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.