Now that I quantified my proposal service accomplishments, it’s time for the content side

I won’t belabor you with the process of summing up Bredemarket’s content accomplishments for clients. Suffice it to say that I used Toggl Track and other sources, in a manner similar to the way in which I summed up Bredemarket’s proposal accomplishments for clients.

If you don’t want to be bothered with downloading a brochure, here’s a picture.

Or you can download the PDF.

Until I added everything up, I didn’t realize how many case studies I had written.

If you want to receive my 12th case study…

Shattering my assumptions by using LinkedIn for local marketing

At the same time that Bredemarket helps other firms to market themselves, Bredemarket has to market ITSELF, including social media marketing. And for the past year I’ve subscribed to the following formula:

  • Use LinkedIn for professional marketing to biometric/identity and technology clients.
  • Use Twitter as a supplement to this.
  • Use Facebook as a supplement to this, and also use Facebook as Bredemarket’s sole foray into “general business” marketing.

It sounded like a good formula at the time…but now I’m questioning the assumptions behind it. And I’m hoping that I can prove one of my assumptions wrong.

My initial assumptions about marketing to local businesses

As I write this, Bredemarket has no clients in my hometown of Ontario, California, or in any of the nearby cities. In fact, my closest clients are located in Orange County, where I worked for 25 years.

It’s no secret that I’ve been working to rectify that gap and drum up more local business.

So this was an opportune time for me to encounter Jay Clouse’s September 2021 New Client Challenge. (It’s similar to a challenge Clouse ran in August 2020. Repurposing is good.) Clouse’s first question to all participants asked which market we would be targeting, and in my case the local small business market seemed an obvious choice.

And this dialogue played in my mind…

So when I market to local businesses, I’ll want to do that via relevant Facebook Groups. Obviously I won’t market the local services via LinkedIn or Twitter, because those services are not tailored to local service marketing.

Questioning my assumptions

Then I realized that I was wrong, for two reasons.

  1. First, there are LinkedIn groups that concentrate on my local area, just as there are LinkedIn groups that concentrate on biometrics. I had already quit a number of the dormant Inland Empire LinkedIn groups, but I was still a member of two such groups and could (tastefully) market there.
  2. If LinkedIn doesn’t provide an opportunity for me to do something, why don’t I tailor my use of LinkedIn and provide myself the opportunity?

Specifically, some of you may recall that I only have two LinkedIn showcase pages, but I have three Facebook groups.

  • “Bredemarket Identity Firm Services” is present on both LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • “Bredemarket Technology Firm Services” is present on both LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • “Bredemarket General Business Services” is only present on Facebook.

I explained the rationale for the lack of a third LinkedIn showcase page in a nice neat summary:

Using myself as an example, I have segmented my customers into markets: the identity (biometrics / secure documents) specific market (my primary market), the general technology market, and the general business market. I don’t even target the general business market on LinkedIn (I do on Facebook), but I’ve created showcase pages for the other two.

If you consider that “local business services” is a subset of “general business services,” some of you can see where this is going.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

But it took a while for the thought to pound its way into my brain:

Why DON’T you target the (local) general business market on LinkedIn?

I could just create a new showcase page, a process that would only take a few minutes. I wouldn’t even have to create any new artwork, since I could simply repurpose the Facebook general business artwork and use it for a LinkedIn local business showcase page. (Repurposing is good.)

(As an aside, my approach to artwork for Bredemarket’s marketing segments was dictated by LinkedIn Stories. Which is now disappearing. Oh well.)

So anyway, LinkedIn is now the home of Bredemarket Local Firm Services.

Now I just have to populate the showcase page with content (and continue to do so), invite people to follow the new showcase page, and proceed on my plan for world domination, one loft at a time.

Call to action time

And if you’re a small business in the Ontario, California area, here’s some information on the services I can provide to you.

And if you want more detailed information, please visit https://bredemarket.com/local/. (Read to the end.)

And if you want even more detailed information, contact me.

So which assumption will I shatter next?

I’d like to prove THIS assumption wrong:

(Still waiting for that $10,000 per hour client.)

Callouts

I need an excuse to recycle my town crier image.

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

What did town criers do?

Town criers were actually a remarkable technological innovation at the time, allowing notification over a (relatively) wide area of a newsworthy event.

‘Oyez’ (pronounced ‘oh yay’) comes from the French ouïr (‘to listen’) and means “Hear ye”. The town crier would begin his cry with these words, accompanied by the ringing of a large hand bell to attract attention. It was the job of the crier or bellman to inform the townspeople of the latest news, proclamations, bylaws and any other important information, as at this time most folk were illiterate and could not read….

Having read out his message, the town crier would then attach it to the door post of the local inn, so ‘posting a notice’, the reason why newspapers are often called ‘The Post’.

So in essence the town crier was a rather loud announcement of something that was followed up (for the literate) with written material. Town criers did other things also, but you can read about them here if you’re interested.

From town criers to callouts

However, it turns out that the medieval town crier is NOT the origin of the term “callout.”

Although I think it should be.

(Brief aside: Microsoft advises “callout” for noun use, “call out” for verb use. Sounds good to me. Comment if you think otherwise.)

In reality, call out first appeared as a verb in the 15th century and as a noun in the 19th. But even then, it was used to refer to summoning into action (for example, calling out troops). The definition for “call out” or “callout” as I tend to use the term appeared some time later. That definition, of course, is:

2an often bordered inset in a printed article or illustration that usually includes a key excerpt or detail

Why call out?

Although I don’t use callouts in these blog posts (perhaps I should), I definitely use them in the case studies and white papers that Bredemarket authors in conjunction with clients. Big blocks of unending text are hard to read, so authors usually like to break up that text with textual callouts, alternative formatting (such as quotes and bullets), and images. Which reminds me:

(Yes, that’s the subtle reminder that I’m a biometric content marketing expert. But let’s continue.)

The hope of the callout-using author is that even if the reader does not read every single word of the text that is presented, including the mispelled word in this sentence, the reader will at least look at the callout and get the message from the callout.

Of course, there is an important question to answer when an author is selecting callouts:

Is there a reason you are highlighting the content that you are putting in the callout?

If you want the reader to look at that text, the callout had better be meaningful, and had better convey a benefit to the reader.

A blue example

Rather than use an example from an actual client, let’s return to my favorite widget manufacturer, Wendy’s Widget Company. You know, the company that used a contractor to market its new square blue widgets.

By Down10 at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3279986

Now when I previously discussed Wendy’s Widget Company in the context of ABC criteria, I never did get around to explaining exactly how the marketing consultant chose to market the square blue widgets. Of course, one person at the client’s company offered a helpful idea.

“Hey, I’ve seen the advertising for a phone manufacturer, and its advertising is really cool. I suggest that when you write that case study, you include a callout that says, “It’s blue!” And…get this…print the text of the callout in blue text! Isn’t that great?”

The marketing consultant turned to the person and offered these four words:

“It’s blue. So what?”

Then the marketing consultant offered a suggested callout, framed as a quote from one of the first companies to purchase the square blue widget.

“I like the fact that it doesn’t roll away.”

(But the consultant did print the callouts in blue text. That seemed like a good idea.)

Conclusion

When the final written product is created, everything has to work together to convey the client’s intended message, including the headings, subheadings, images, and callouts.

If that fails, then just get a person with a loud voice to hand out tangible copies of your collateral and yell out the important parts.

And if you need Bredemarket’s help with callouts for a white paper or case study, contact me. We will collaborate to ensure that your document’s callouts convey the appropriate benefits.

On marketing intangible products

These days, more and more of us are marketing products that are intangible. But most of the essentials of marketing intangible products don’t differ much from marketing tangible ones.

Many, many years ago, the phrase “intangible product” seemed like a lot of nonsense. How could something be a product if you couldn’t touch it? Could you grab a product out of thin air?

By Hoodedwarbler12 (talk) – I (Hoodedwarbler12 (talk)) created this work entirely by myself., Public Domain, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26933846

Obviously that is no longer the case.

I’m not even going to, um, touch the NFT world, but clearly things that we used to think of as tangible products are now moving to the intangible realm. I’ll give you two examples from my experience:

  • When I started selling automated fingerprint identification systems (AFIS) in the 1990s, a law enforcement agency’s AFIS consisted of a set of computer servers in the agency’s computer room, coupled with a set of some fairly expensive workstations in the agency’s work areas. But even then, there were several states that had minimal computer servers at the state agencies, with most of the servers located in the state of California. The Western Identification Network model was duplicated in later years by other agencies who would host their biometric server “products” at faraway Amazon or Microsoft locations.
  • Similarly, when I started attending trade shows in the mid 1980s, I would go by booths and pick up company case studies and white papers and stuff them into a bag. (Booths and sponsors that provided such bags were VERY important.) Today, some vendors don’t even have printed case studies and white papers in their booths any more; the attendees simply request electronic copies.
By Silverije – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63431852

Yet for the most part the marketing of these intangible products isn’t much different from the way that the old tangible versions were marketed. The differences are minor:

  • When Printrak sold AFIS servers, care was taken to place a Printrak logo prominently on the server, where it would compete with the Digital Equipment Corporation logo from the server manufacturer. The logo even appeared as a component on an extended Bill of Materials. Now, purchasers of cloud solutions from the biometric companies don’t need to worry about placing logos on physical servers.
  • In the old days of product marketing collateral, you could get into big discussions about the quality, weight, and finish of the paper that you used to print your collateral. Today, those discussions are for the most part irrelevant, since the recipients print the collateral on their own printers, if they print the collateral at all.

The important thing in each case is the content. Fewer and fewer law enforcement agencies care WHERE their biometric data is stored, as long as it meets certain security, accuracy, and response time requirements. Similarly, people who collect marketing collateral are much more concerned with WHAT the collateral says than the weight of the paper used to print it.

By Rick Dikeman at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=164188

I have been accused of preferring substance over style, and I plead guilty. While style is clearly important, the substance of the product must excel or the style is wasted.

Sometimes this requires the product creator to take a step back from the nitty gritty of collateral creation, and decide what the collateral is supposed to do, and why the customer should care. Rather than saying “give me a case study that tells how the widget is exactly 70 mm high,” my clients are now asking to “give me a case study that tells our customers why our product will let them sleep securely at night.”

If you would like to explore these topics for your next piece of collateral, whether it be a case study, white paper, proposal, or some other marketing written work, Bredemarket can help you explore. Bredemarket uses a collaborative process with its clients to ensure that the final written product communicates the client’s desired message. Often the client provides specific feedback at certain stages of the process to ensure that the messaging is on track. I combine the client’s desires with my communications expertise to create a final written product that pleases both of us.

Contact me and we can discuss how to work together to realize your goals.

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”?

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: