What is the difference between the showroom and the workroom?

When Arizonan Carl Hayden first joined the U.S. House of Representatives, a fellow Congressperson advised Hayden, “If you want to get ahead here, you have to be a work horse and not a show horse.” When Hayden became a U.S. Senator, he dispensed the same advice to incoming colleagues.

But it doesn’t just apply to U.S. Senators.

I thought of this “workhorse/showhorse” distinction last night. It was Valentine’s Day, and I was driving in the dark to pick up some pizza that we had ordered to mark the day. No, that wasn’t’ my Valentine’s Day present; my wife had already received chocolate-covered strawberries.

No, not THOSE chocolate covered strawberries. She got some REAL ones earlier in the day.

So anyway, I was driving back home in the dark after picking up the pizza and noticed something odd. Somewhere out there in the darkness, there were all these glittering tiny lights. I thought to myself, I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the tiny lights glitter.

It turns out that there was a guy, standing next to his van, holding glow-in-the-dark hearts that he was selling.

I didn’t stop, and I didn’t buy. (And I didn’t take a picture, because I knew it wouldn’t turn out well.) But as I was driving home I thought about the guy. And two things came to mind.

First, I doubt that the guy was out selling his products by his van earlier in the day. Why not? Because they wouldn’t look that good early in the day. They would look much better in the dark, in a parking space away from any store or street light. Buyers would then be attracted to his product, like moths to a flame. (Actually, moths probably aren’t attracted to flame. But I digress.)

Second, I realized what would have happened if I had succumbed to the urge to buy one of these glow-in-the-dark hearts from the guy, and if I had taken it home and brought it in the house.

  • Where it wouldn’t look so good, because we have lights all over the house that would diminish the effect of the present.
  • And if I tried to get my wife to go outside to see how the lights looked in the darkness, she would have refused to go out and would have returned to eating pizza.

The challenge that faces any provider is to provide a service that not only looks good when you buy it in the showroom, but also looks good when you put it to work in the workroom. Now there are certainly some providers who are more than happy to take the money and run, but most providers seek to provide long-term customer satisfaction, which is key to getting repeat business and references.

After all, if you go to a car showroom in California and buy a used car, you have the option to buy a contract that allows you to return the car within two days. So if that used car looks great in the showroom but is unsatisfactory when you drive it off the lot, the used car dealer loses that sale, and perhaps loses any future business from you and your friends. Many businesses, such as Amazon, offer similar policies that allow returns under certain circumstances.

Perhaps I’m making assumptions, but I’m guessing that the guy in the van in the dark didn’t have a return policy. It’s not economically feasible in his business.

And now I’m hungry for chocolate covered strawberries. But I’ll probably just get M&Ms and Welch’s fruit snacks.

I cried, I read, I (halfway) conquered

Remember my goal number two, “pursue multiple income streams”?

Well, I was updating my profile on one of my “intermediary services” today, and I thought that I’d list my Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service and my Bredemarket 2800 Medium Writing Service on that service’s profile.

It turns out that when you add services to your profile, you need to include images along with the listing.

Adding images to these service descriptions should be easy, I thought. After all, I don’t need to create the images myself, I just need to have a good (and royalty-free) concept. Piece of cake.

TL;DR: it wasn’t. So far I have only been partially successful. If you have any suggestions after reading my story, feel free to add them to the comments on this post.

The first attempt

For my Bredemarket 400 illustration, I didn’t have permission to cite any of the blog posts that I’ve written for my clients, so I posted an image from one of my own blog posts instead.

I already had a picture that I could use to illustrate the Bredemarket 2800 Medium Writing Service.

So I uploaded these pictures to the IS.

In this case, “IS” stands for “intermediary service.” It’s good to define your acronyms; otherwise, you might think that I was referring to the Input Station 2000. (OK, you probably wouldn’t think that.)

RTFM

The IS replied to both of my picture uploads with a message that indicated that I didn’t RTFM. I’m not going to define that acronym for you. If you don’t know what RTFM is, Google or Bing or DuckDuckGo it yourself.

You see, I thought it was a GREAT idea to illustrate my writing services with…well, with writing. But if I had RTFM, I would have realized that was the WORST thing I could have done.

Your project requires revisions before it can be approved because the images included do not adhere to our project guidelines. Specifically:

Image contains excessive text. For certain types of work, it is necessary and relevant to include images with text. However, this should be kept to a minimum and the images should be clear.

So I was trying to think of an image with minimal text that I could use to illustrate my writing services.

And that’s when a song popped into my head.

I sang

I wish that I could say that the song in my head was a profound and meaningful song, like Freur’s “Doot Doot.” But sadly, the song in my head didn’t convey the universal truths that Freur’s masterpiece did.

In fact, I couldn’t even remember all of the lyrics of the song that was now stuck in my head. All I could remember was the chorus.

All the people gonna come to Portland
All the people gonna come to Portland
All the people gonna come to Portland
All the people gonna come to Portland

And it’s probably just as well that I couldn’t remember the rest of the lyrics, because this was a song that I wrote myself many years ago, when I was in college in the city of…guess. (Hint: the town is not in the state of Maine.)

I could remember the title of the song, though: “Town Crier.”

I cried

The title caught my attention, because town criers catch attention, because they have to. The Wikipedia article on the town crier explains that a town crier “was used to make public announcements in the streets.”

Prior to widespread literacy, town criers were the means of communication with the people of the town since many people could not read or write. Proclamations, local bylaws, market days, adverts, were all proclaimed by a bellman or crier.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Town_crier

People are literate today for the most part, but there’s so much cacophony surrounding us that sometimes extraordinary means are required to deliver important messages. I’m not suggesting that it is a good marketing practice for people to SHOUT AND WEAR ELABORATE ATTIRE, but you need some mechanism to get people to read your message.

And that’s what Bredemarket strives to do.

So I began to think that the image of a town crier would be just the thing to submit to the IS. And as it turned out, that Wikipedia article included a public domain image of a town crier, taken from an old, old postcard.

By Unknown author – postcard, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7691878

So I submitted that image to the IS and waited for a response.

When the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing

And I got a response a few hours later, stating that my Medium Writing Service image had been…rejected.

Image is not related to the service being offered

I guess my “town crier” representation of my writing service was a little TOO subtle for the IS reviewer’s taste.

So I wondered if there were a better image to illustrate my writing services, since written text was apparently forbidden, and esoteric conceptual illustrations were also forbidden.

Unfortunately, the only idea that came to me was an image of two appropriately diverse people, smiling while looking at a piece of paper.

You know, something from the canned stock images that I detest so much. Note to the reader: using canned stock images to illustrate your marketing materials does NOT make you stand out from the competition.

And by this point I was married to my “town crier” idea anyway, and began thinking that if I actually referenced the words “town crier” in my description of my service, then the picture might become amazingly appropriate after all and would pass IS review.

I became more attracted to the “town crier” concept when I received a message a few hours later from the IS regarding my Short Writing Service.

Congratulations! Your project has been approved.

So, let’s recap.

  • Two similar writing service descriptions were submitted to the IS for approval, both using the same “town crier” image.
  • One was approved.
  • The other was not.

Obviously the descriptions were sent to two different approvers at the IS. Or perhaps the same approver saw both descriptions, and finally figured out my subliminal meaning when he or she read the description for the second submission.

So I decided that I would add a reference to the “town crier” to the unapproved description. And while I was at it, I figured that I’d add the same reference to the description that was already approved, in case another reviewer looked at the description later and didn’t like the image.

But I wasn’t going to do anything that evening. I decided I’d sleep on it.

I read

And as I was sleeping, a new idea popped into my head.

Since I had the opportunity to change my Medium Writing Service image anyway, perhaps I could select an image that was similarly themed to the “town crier” image. This would help distinguish the two services from each other a little bit., while emphasizing their commonality.

Ideally, the new image had to have an “old” feel to emphasize that commonality.

I wondered if a picture of (old) books from a library would do the trick. After all, if you post white papers and case studies on your business website, the documents serve as a “secret salesperson” to continue promoting your message, even when you’re not around.

So I found this image.

By Karl Thomas Moore – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58968347

This worked for me. So I proceeded as follows:

  • I added this image to my Medium Writing Service description, and added a textual reference to a library in the descriptive text, and resubmitted it to the IS.
  • While I was at it, I added a textual reference to a town crier to the descriptive text for my Short Writing Service, and resubmitted that to the IS.
  • Because repurposing is good, I added those same images and text descriptions to the Short and Medium writing service descriptions on the Bredemarket website. I went ahead and added the images and text to the appropriate entries on the Bredemarket “Services” page on Facebook. (As I am writing this post, I realize that I probably ought to update some of the other services at some point. I’m putting that on the “to do” list.)

And now I waited to see if the new, improved (WITH EXTRA WORDS!) description of my Medium Writing Service would be approved by the IS.

You won’t believe what happened next!

And…the new submission was rejected.

Project category chosen doesn’t match the description or images

Because the IS doesn’t have a “white paper” category, I listed my Medium Writing Service under the “case study” category. However, my guess is that it doesn’t matter whether I use “case study” or “white paper” as my product category.

So, how do I illustrate a case study if I can’t show a literal case study?

Do I need to explicitly talk about case studies more frequently in my textual description?

At this point, I’m just going to sleep on it some more. Although if you have any suggestions, feel free to add them to the comments on this post.

And the exercise wasn’t a complete failure. Even though the Medium Writing Service remains unapproved, my Short Writing Service is now listed on the IS website, and I’ve made improvements to my Bredemarket web page and my Facebook page. Multiple wins for me; I get a cookie.

I’ll provide an update if I revisit this.

Special postscript for Spotify users

If you love “Doot Doot,” there’s an extended six minute version.

And is it just me, or is the ending of the song a little reminiscent of “The Boxer”?

Four of my identity information sources that I have created over the years, including one that you can access in the next ten seconds

How many of us keep on doing the same thing, but just use different tools to do it?

For example, I am going to provide four examples of ways…I mean, for example, I am going to list four ways in which I have disseminated identity information to various internal and external audiences over the last fifteen years. Three of these methods had restricted access and some are no longer available, but the last one, Bredemarket Identity Firm Services, is publicly available to you TODAY.

You can get to this information source in ten seconds if you like. If you’re a TL;DR kind of person, click here.

For the rest of you, read on to see how I used COMPASS (most of you haven’t heard of COMPASS), SharePoint (you’ve heard of that), email (you’ve definitely heard of that), and LinkedIn (ditto) to share information.

Take One: Using Motorola Tools

For the first identity information source, let’s go back about fifteen years, when I was a product manager at Motorola (before The Bifurcation). Motorola had its own intranet, called COMPASS, which all of us Motorolans would use to store information except when we didn’t.

Using this intranet, I created a page entitled “Biometric Industry Information,” in which I pasted links and short descriptions of publicly-available news items. I’m not sure how useful this information source was to others, but I referred to it frequently.

Eventually Motorola sold our business unit to Safran, and “Biometric Industry Information” was lost in the transition. For all I know it may be available on some Motorola Solutions intranet page somewhere, though I doubt it.

Take Two: An Industry-Standard Tool and an Expanded Focus

The second identity information source was created a few years later, when I was an employee of MorphoTrak. Two things had changed since the Motorola days:

  • MorphoTrak’s parent company Safran didn’t use the Motorola intranet solution. Instead, it used an industry-standard intranet solution, SharePoint. This was tweaked at each of the individual Safran companies and regions, but it was pretty much a standard solution.
  • The second change was in the breadth of my interests, as I realized that biometrics was only part of an identity solution. Yes, an identity solution could use biometrics, but it could also used the driver’s licenses that MorphoTrak was slated to produce (but didn’t), and other security methods besides.

So when I recreated my Motorola information source, the new one at MorphoTrak was a Microsoft SharePoint list entitled “Identity Industry Information.”

Again, I’m not sure whether others benefited from this, but I certainly did.

Take Three: Taking Over an Email List

The third iteration of my information source wasn’t created by me, but was created about a decade ago at a company known as L-1 Identity Solutions. For those who know the company, L-1 was a conglomeration of multiple small acquisitions that provided multiple biometric solutions, secure document solutions, and other products and services. Someone back then decided that a daily newsletter covering all of L-1’s markets would be beneficial to the company. This newsletter began, and continued after Safran acquired L-1 Identity Solutions and renamed it MorphoTrust.

MorphoTrust and my company MorphoTrak remained separate entities (for security reasons) until Oberthur acquired some of Safran’s businesses and formed IDEMIA. In North America, this resulted in the de facto acquisition of MorphoTrak by MorphoTrust, and some significant shifting in organizational charts and responsibilities.

As a result of these changes, I ended up taking over the daily newsletter, tweaking its coverage to better meet the needs of today, and (in pursuit of a personal annual goal) expanding its readership. (This email was NOT automatically sent to everyone in the company; you had to opt in.)

Now some may believe that email is dead and that everyone should be on Volley or Clubhouse, but email does serve a valid purpose. As a push technology, emails are provided to you every day.

OK, every five seconds.

But modern email systems (including those from Microsoft and Google) provide helpful tools to help you manage your email. This allowed people to prioritize their reading of my daily newsletter, or perhaps de-prioritize it.

Two years later IDEMIA underwent another organizational change, and I was no longer responsible for the daily newsletter. Last I heard, the daily newsletter still continues.

Take Four: Market Me, Benefit You

Eventually I left IDEMIA and started Bredemarket, and the identity industry became one of the industries that I targeted for providing Bredemarket’s services. To build myself as an identity industry authority, and to provide benefits to identity industry firms, I needed to market specifically to that segment. While my online marketing outlets were primarily focused on my website, I was also marketing via LinkedIn and Facebook. My LinkedIn marketing was primarily though the Bredemarket LinkedIn company page.

In late November, I decided to create a LinkedIn Showcase page entitled Bredemarket Identity Firm Services. While the page was initially created for other reasons, I eventually settled into a routine of sharing identity industry information via the page.

Like I’ve done one thousand times before.

I’m trying to add new content to Bredemarket Identity Firm Services on a daily basis. It’s primarily content from other sources, but sometimes my own content (such as this post) will find its way in there also. And, as in the example above, I’ll occasionally include editorial comments on others’ posts.

So if you’re on LinkedIn and would find such content useful to you, go to the showcase page and click the “Follow” button.

P.S. I have a technology showcase page also.

Owning up to misteaks

I am forced to admit that I am not perfect.

Within the last two weeks alone, I have:

  • Sent an email to a client invoicing the client…but failed to attach the actual invoice.
  • Contacted an opportunity, and (due to an editing error) referred to a DIFFERENT company instead of the opportunity’s company.

Obviously I am not eating my own wildebeest food (yes, I’m burned out on iguanas). While these were short missives which would have been significantly delayed if I had literally “slept on it,” I could have caught these errors if I had read my communications just ONE MORE TIME.

In the first case, the client alerted me to my mistake before I realized that I had made it. I have a good relationship with the client, so I just re-sent the message WITH the attached invoice and thanked the client for alerting me. I WAS paid.

In the second case, I had no previous relationship with the opportunity, so I couldn’t draw upon any goodwill. Perhaps I would have lucked out and the opportunity wouldn’t have caught my mistake…but I doubt it. I could have remained silent and just chalked it up as a loss, but I proactively apologized for the mistake. Perhaps I’ve lost the opportunity anyway, or damaged my chances severely, but it was the right thing to do.

Sometimes mistakes are intentional

I guess I could have used the excuse that I made the wrong company name mistake intentionally.

  • For example, the title of this post is an example of an intentional “misteak,” designed to grab the attention of the discerning reader.
  • And phishers and scammers often embed intentional mistakes in their pitches, figuring that if the reader completely ignores the intentional mistake, the reader is more likely to fall for the scam. Although I’m sure that this product (advertised in a game app) is NOT a scam, but is a perfectly legitimate product.

Actually, this mistake may have been TOO MUCH of a mistake. It took me several readings to figure out what “bad stars” was supposed to mean. (If you’re similarly confused, it’s supposed to be “bed starts.”) Then again, I’m not the target audience.

But I can’t think of a way to claim that I INTENTIONALLY messed up the opportunity’s company name. There goes that excuse.

Why to proactively own up to mistakes

Some people may have legitimate reasons for not revealing a mistake to someone else. Perhaps the person is a secret agent, and doesn’t want to let the enemy agent know that the information is incorrect. Or perhaps revelation of a mistake to a competitor could allow the competitor to take advantage of it.

But in most cases, you’re not a secret agent, and you’re not talking directly to a competitor. Therefore, it’s best to admit the mistake and not let it fester.

Laura Click of Blue Kite Marketing described an instance in which the company sent out an email but didn’t format the email correctly. As a result, their subscribers received a message that began:

Morning, <name>!

This was especially embarrassing to Blue Kite because it is a marketing firm, helping clients to better market their products and services. An error like this seems to suggest that Blue Kite doesn’t eat its own wildebeest food.

So Blue Kite Marketing sent a follow-up email. If you read the post that described the episode and included the text of the follow-up email, you will see that Blue Kite did the following:

  • Admitted the mistake.
  • Described how the mistake happened (without making excuses for it).
  • Noted that these mistakes can happen, even to seasoned marketers.
  • Apologized profusely.
  • Thanked the people who pointed out the error.
  • Used the episode as an opportunity to have the recipients update their profiles (“if you want to make doubly sure we know your name”).

The recipients appreciated Blue Kite Marketing’s honesty, and that email admitting the mistake resulted in tremendous engagement. As Blue Kite noted, an episode like this “builds trust and loyalty.”

Of course, apologizing for a mistake is not a guarantee that things will be better. We’ll never know, but perhaps one recipient was so incensed by the error that the person resolved never to do business with the company again. And in my case, I very well could have blown my opportunity by using the wrong company name.

But I still maintain that sincerely apologizing for a mistake is better than doing nothing at all.

And it could have been worse

But if I think about the two mistakes that I know that I made over the last two weeks, and all the mistakes that I DIDN’T know that I made over the last two weeks, and all of my other mistakes over the past few decades, they all pale in comparison to a mistake that I made about 15 years ago.

I was working for Motorola (pre-split) at the time, and if you know anything about Motorola, you know that Motorola is very big on process. Our little division at Motorola was working on achieving a particular Software Engineering Institute – Capability Maturity Model (SEI-CMM) assessment, and I was one of two people responsible for the Requirements Management Key Process Area (KPA). Our team would revise the division’s processes at times, and would announce these changes in release notes.

When I wrote the notes for a particular release, my notes made a reference to “qualtiy.”

Yes, that’s “tiy,” not “ity.”

Even <name> criticized me for that one.

Postscript

After I drafted this post, but before I published it, someone sent me a “God job” message.

But the message came with money, so I didn’t quibble.

While the contractors test the service providers, the service providers also test the contractors

When I wrote Bredemarket’s goals for 2021 (latest version here), my second goal was to pursue multiple income streams. This requires me to sign up with various middlepersons that marry service providers (such as Bredemarket) to contractors.

Or to TRY to sign up to such middlepersons.

I signed up with one such middleperson a month and a half ago, and never heard back from them. I had occasion to ask someone from the middleperson how long signup takes, and the person indicated that the process should complete within 10 business days. So I contacted the middleperson to see where my application stood, and waited…and waited…and eventually re-read the signup process instructions and realized that the middleperson only contacted SUCCESSFUL applicants. Non-successful applicants receive no response.

Anyway, there’s another middleperson that’s much better at these sorts of things, and I’m trying to solicit work from that service. Essentially you bid on jobs by providing a rate and a text-based technical proposal. After that you either hear from the potential contractor…or you don’t.

I began wondering if there was a way to increase my chances of hearing from the potential contractor.

As I was bidding on a content and social media strategy opportunity, I hit upon an idea.

After describing the service that I would provide, but before my call to action, I included the following section in my text proposal. (If you read my goal 2, you already know why I talk about iguanas.) Pay special attention to the last paragraph.

REFERENCE WEBSITES

If you’re contracting with someone to manage your company’s social media, you’re probably asking if I eat my own iguana food. (Dog food is boring.) Please check out my Bredemarket and Bredemarket-related online channels:

Website: https://bredemarket.com/

Blog: https://bredemarket.com/blog/

LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/bredemarket/

LinkedIn identity showcase page: https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/bredemarket-identity-firm-services/

LinkedIn technology showcase page: https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/bredemarket-technology-firm-services/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Bredemarket/

Professional Twitter account: https://twitter.com/jebredcal

Personal Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/johnebredehoft/

I do not have Pinterest, Snapchat, or TikTok accounts, and I have not posted YouTube videos in years.

Incidentally, if you check out the links above, one of them will specify the color of the iguana. Let me know if you see it.

I have no idea who the potential contractor is, but I’m hoping that he/she is an ex-IDEMIA employee who exhibits curiosity. If so, the person may click on the links to discover the color of the iguana.

If so, I could be really cruel and wait to reveal the iguana’s color until the very last link (Instagram).

But I’m a nice guy. The color of the iguana is being revealed right here, in the second link (the Bredemarket blog). THE COLOR OF THE IGUANA IS PURPLE. (Color purple. Geddit?)

Then again…perhaps I’ll specify a DIFFERENT iguana color in one, or more, of my OTHER social media channels.

There may be an entire army of multicolored iguanas waiting to be discovered.

Obviously I’m wondering if my potential contractor is curious. And I might be wondering if others are curious.

Have fun. (Goal 5.)

Positioning a sole proprietorship

I shared something on the Bredemarket LinkedIn page, and I also shared it on the Bredemarket Facebook page, but there are billions of people who don’t subscribe to either, so I thought I’d share it here too to VASTLY increase its reach.

“It” is an Andrea Olson article published this morning entitled “Why Positioning Is More Important Than Ever.” Olson believes that company positioning is mostly a lost art, and that some attempts to establish a unique company marketing position don’t really work in practice. For example, a Company X claim that it is “customer-focused” will only be effective if Company Y says that it is “not customer-focused.” (This doesn’t happen.)

I’m going to advance the hypothesis that it’s easier for very large companies and very small companies to establish unique market positions, but harder for medium sized firms.

Medium sized firms often do not have an established presence in our minds. Let’s say that you’ve just moved to a new city and you’re deciding where you’re going to buy a car. How do you tell one car dealer from another? Does one of them have a better coffee machine in its customer lounge? Is one of them customer-focused?

The very large companies DO conjure images in our minds. On one level, there’s no huge difference between what Walmart sells, what Target sells, and what Kmart sells. But if you read the names “Walmart,” “Target,” and “Kmart,” positive and/or negative images immediately pop into your brain.

Which brings us to the very small companies, and the question that I asked on LinkedIn and Facebook—what is MY company’s unique market position?

This is something that I’m working on enunciating, both in public forums such as this one and in more private ones such as emails to potential clients. There are certain things about the Bredemarket offerings that are clearly NOT unique:

  • Many writing companies offer a specified number of review cycles to their clients.
  • Many writing companies offer experience in writing about biometric technology.
  • Many writing companies offer experience in writing proposals.

But there’s one advantage that very small companies (sole proprietorships) offer—the uniqueness of the sole proprietor. This uniqueness is sometimes difficult to convey, especially in the current pandemic environment. But it’s there.

Although it’s more difficult to convey if you’re one of a set of twins.

(Past illustrations) Standard text

(This past illustration describes something that I performed in my career, either for a Bredemarket client, for an employer, or as a volunteer. The entity for which I performed the work, or proposed to perform the work, is not listed for confidentiality reasons.)

PROBLEM

Companies need to respond to questions from their potential customers. Often the company crafts a specific response to each potential customer, even when multiple potential customers are asking the exact same questions.

SOLUTION

As many people already know, the solution is to create a database of standard text.

By John Willis Clark – http://www.ib.hu-berlin.de/~wumsta/Milkau/109-2.jpg: Fritz-Milkau-Dia-Sammlung, erstellt in der Photographischen Werkstatt der Preußischen Staatsbibliothek von 1926-1933originally from The Care of Books by John Willis Clark (Fig 94, p132), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=135286

In some cases, companies can create standard text by adapting previous text submitted to potential customers in the past. In other cases, new text must be written. Once developed, the standard text can be stored in a dedicated database designed for this purpose, or it can simply be stored in a Microsoft Word document of officially approved responses.

RESULTS

I have created (or tried to create) a lot of standard text over the years.

For two companies, I was one of the people responsible for gathering standard text from subject matter experts (SMEs), or for writing new standard text myself. This standard text had to be reviewed with SMEs at regular intervals, and any necessary updates had to be incorporated.

For a third company, I was the SME responsible for reviewing and updating the standard text.

For a fourth company, I suggested that the company create standard text, but the company chose not to act on my suggestion.

For a fifth company, I was asked to create a simple database of standard text, addressing multiple markets for a particular product line.

And, of course, I’ve created standard text for my own company, suitable for repurposing in multiple formats.

What type of content? As Nathan Ellering notes, you have choices.

There is one similarity between Bredemarket’s clients (and potential clients) and Bredemarket itself.

  • My clients and potential clients need to generate content to increase the visibility of their firms.
  • I need to generate content to increase the visibility of Bredemarket.

Once a content creator has determined its strategy, the creator then needs to decide upon the type of content to execute that strategy. While the answer is sometimes blindingly obvious, sometimes the content creator ends up staring at the wall, wondering what to do next.

Today I found a way to jump-start that thinking process, when I ran across Nathan Ellering’s article entitled “105 Types of Content to Fill Up Your Editorial Calendar.”

Yes, 105 types. Even Buzzfeed couldn’t handle a listicle that long.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/listicle – Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

But if you don’t have the time to read all 105 of Ellering’s suggestions (I confess I haven’t read them all myself), how about just looking at one of the 105 types? For purposes of this post, I decided to choose one at random by selecting a number between 1 and 105. Thinking of ketchup, I figured I’d see what Ellering’s type 57 was.

It turns out it was “News Releases and Pitches,” with the goal of using the news release “to get coverage in influential publications.” I’ve actually pitched my freelancing experience and been quoted in an article, and now may be one of the best-known freelancers in Austria.

Or possibly not.

But I’m sure that there are a ton of the 105 types of content that I haven’t created. At present I have no use for type 10, for example. But I plan to review Ellering’s article the next time that I’m stuck for ideas.

And perhaps you’ll find it helpful yourself.

(For those following along at home, this post itself is type 11, where the “product” is Ellering’s post itself.)

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.