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Petey's Pipeline E-zine

Issue #2

July 1, 2003


Contents

Business First Editorial Strategies for Better Newsletters and E-zines—Part I
Center Stage with Tom LeBlanc, Home Entrepreneur's home entrepreneur
Guest Writer, Not Ghostwriter Diane Hughes shatters the branding myths
Random Ramblings and Miscellaneous Musings Readers Respond
Write Thinking A Dozen Common Writing Errors
Preview of Coming Distractions A glimpse into the future

Business First (Editorial)

Strategies for Better Newsletters and E-zines—Part I
Put Your Newsletter or E-zine on the Path of Least Resistance
by Phil Hanson

As newsletters and e-zines proliferate across the Web one can't help but notice the all too predictable sameness that permeates the contents of many on-line publications. Never has the phrase "if you've seen one, you've seen them all" been truer than when it is spoken (or written) in reference to on-line periodicals.

A typical newsletter, with the help of an autoresponder, arrives as e-mail in plain text format with absolutely nothing in its appearance or its content to distinguish it from the competition. A disproportionate number of e-zines and newsletters lack readability, originality and valuable content.

Does it make sense to spend time, money and effort building name recognition for yourself, branding your products or services and creating a Web identity that's uniquely yours and then to promote your creations using a generic newsletter or e-zine? I don't think so.

Readability is critical to getting your message to your subscribers; your information won't be acted upon if it isn't read. What are some of the things that might prevent subscribers from reading your message? In no particular order they are:

1. Spam filters, which block your e-mail newsletter from getting to your subscribers' "in" boxes. If the people on your mailing list never receive your newsletter, they'll never read it.

2. Typography tricks publishers use to fool the spam filters. The char*acter ins;ertio*ns many on^line pub**lis^hers use to get their mat;^erial past the spam fil;ters is re*ally anno^ying to most rea<ders, and more than a few of them lo^se their pati*ence and si^;mply give up. If people have to struggle to read your message, lots of them won't.

3. Spelling errors that cause writers and publishers to lose credibility. If you haven't taken the time to run a spelling check on your written material, why would anyone think you have taken the time to check the facts that you presented in that material? If you don't have credibility, you won't have readers.

4. Poor writing skills, which suggest to readers that the writer is not very professional and, therefore, not very competent. Clumsy wording, misused words and incomprehensible sentences kill your message's impact. If your writing appears amateurish, many of your readers won't take you seriously. When it comes to getting and retaining readers, appearances count.

5. Outdated information and bad advice that lingers like skunk scent. A majority of on-line writers and publishers find it easier to use obsolete material rather than relevant, fresh or original content in their publications. They don't understand that a little creativity will go a long way toward building their subscriber lists and generating more sales.

6. Plain text format that's both uninspiring and difficult to read. More people may receive your publication if it's delivered in plain text format but the important question is will more people read it?

Fortunately, there are workable solutions to help you overcome the problems commonly associated with on-line e-zine and newsletter publishing. In Part II we'll examine how some publishers of really great e-zines are turning publishing negatives into publishing positives.


Copyright © 2003 by Phil Hanson
All rights reserved.

Center Stage with Tom LeBlanc

If you need logos and/or buttons for your Web pages, you can make them yourself, for free, on a cool little Web site called CoolText. It's so easy to do, even the editor/publisher of this e-zine was able to create an attractive logo, in about 20 minutes, using the menu- driven features of this on-line graphics generator (as evidenced by the Perfect Text logo at the bottom of this page).

CoolText is a popular site (it claims to have generated more than 13 million logos), so don't be surprised if you have to wait for a turn at editing your masterpiece. However, once you achieve the desired result simply save your creation to your hard drive, then use it as you wish. Check 'em out at http://www.cooltext.com.

Tom LeBlanc is a licensed physical therapist, published author, home entrepreneur and 'Netrepreneur. His Web sites include Home-Entrepreneurs.com and Transition-Home.com.

Guest Writer, Not Ghostwriter

Shattering the Branding Myths
by Diane Hughes

If you've been on-line long, you're sure to have seen many "gurus" give their ideas about branding. However, much of what you read simply isn't true. Over the years, many myths about branding have taken hold in the on-line world and spread like wildfire. The fact is, they are doing you more harm than good.

Branding is not one aspect of your marketing campaign, it is the combination of everything your business stands for. Branding is not created with a single, stand-alone event. Rather, it is created over time through a series of strategically thought-out actions.

Let's take a few minutes to shatter a few common myths about branding and to introduce constructive, proactive branding principles that you can build on.

Branding Myth #1: Your USP is your brand.

Absolutely not! While your USP (Unique Selling Position) might be used to help convey your brand it is not, in and of itself, your complete branding strategy.

Branding Principle #1: Your brand is all encompassing.

Your brand is built, and conveyed, with every action you take, with every product/service you offer, with every piece of communication you send and with every contact you make with your customers.

Branding Myth #2: To be remembered, you must have a logo.

Also not true. Look at companies like Marlboro (cigarettes), Puffs (tissue), and Ziploc (plastic bags). They simply use a specialized font with the product name. No swirls, no images, no logo. While logos certainly are not bad, they are also not mandatory.

Branding Principle #2: Customers remember you primarily by how they are treated.

The most innovative logo, the most attractive colors and the world's best logo designer will do you no good if you don't offer excellent service. Customers remember you and your company by the way they are treated. Was their shopping experience good? Were all their questions answered? Were their problems solved to their satisfaction? These things go way farther to help customers remember you than any logo could ever hope to.

Branding Myth #3: Once your branding strategy is in place, you need do nothing more.

This is probably the biggest myth of them all! So many on-line businesses are led to believe that once they have an amazing USP and a snappy logo they have accomplished everything in the realm of branding.

However, just the opposite is true. Your branding strategy is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Defining your strategy is just one part of that process.

Here are some basic tips to help you define and implement your brand.

1. Decide how you want to be perceived by your customers. Do you want to portray an image of trust? Loyalty? Dependability? Innovation? Wide selection? Speedy service & delivery?

2. What makes you perceive other companies that way when you shop? Is it their selection? Customer service? Pricing? All of the above?

3. Make a list of the qualities you and your employees must display to customers in order to portray your desired brand.

4. Share the list with everyone in your organization. Ask them to develop specific ways they can support the brand.

5. Compile a final branding strategy and share it with everyone in your organization.

Successful brands are those which are well defined and that have the support of the entire organization. Brands based on myths are those that simply have a spiffy logo, a "killer" USP and the hope that customers will "get it."

Would you rather base your brand on sound principles or on myths?

That's what I thought!


Copyright © 2003 by Diane Hughes
Used by permission.

================================================================
Diane Hughes is an accomplished Internet entrepreneur and editor of the popular ProBizTips Newsletter. Subscribe to her newsletter for more tips, tricks, and secrets of the trade -- plus get HUNDREDS of e-books, software and tools just for subscribing! http://www.ProBizTips.com
================================================================

Random Ramblings & Miscellaneous Musings

Readers Respond

Or not!

Next, in issue #3, we'll continue our probe into the reasons behind business "shakeouts" to get a better sense of what the future holds in store for Internet entrepreneurs. In the meantime, if you have ideas, opinions or commentary of your own regarding this subject, why not share them with Petey's Pipeline readers?

Submit your thoughtful, thought-provoking comments to editor@perfecttext.com.

Write Thinking

A Dozen Common Writing Errors
by Phil Hanson

The one thing word processor/spelling check software is not yet able to do is check for context. Many sound-alike words are spelled differently and their meanings aren't the same. Software doesn't recognize that correctly spelled words used out of context are actually misspelled or, more accurately, misused words and therefore it doesn't catch these kinds of errors.

It takes a critical eye to spot contextual errors. Many writers will skip right over them when they do a casual proofreading of their own material and most readers will miss them, too, although they may sense that something's not quite right.

Surprisingly, some of the most commonly misused words are also among the most commonly used words in the English language. Below are four groups of sound-alike words whose meanings or spellings are frequently mistaken. The words from each group are used correctly in single sentences.

1. to, prep. in the direction of; used to indicate certain things or conditions; numerous other applications; adv. fastened or fixed
2. too, adv. also, excessive
3. two, adv. an amount one more than one; n. a cardinal number

To
be honest, the two executives, to their wives' dismay, drove too fast to the last seminar, too.

4. capital, adj. pertaining to forfeiture of life; very good; very great; pertaining to wealth; n. the city where resides the seat of government of a country or state; other definitions
5. capitol, n. the building in which a state legislature meets

Roger thought it was a capital idea to raise some capital to finance his trip to the capitol building at the state capital.

6. there, a place not here; in, at or towards that place; numerous other applications. Can be used as adv., pron., n. or interj.
7. their, possessive adj. belonging to them
8. theirs, possessive pron. belonging to them
9. they're, contraction of they are
10. there's, (contraction) adv. in those circumstances

There's
a high probability that theirs is an urgent trip to Seattle, since they're traveling there in their new Porsche.

11. it's contraction of it is or it has
12. its possessive adj. belonging to it

It's an exclusive secret society and its members know it's important to never violate its rules.

The words may be simple but their usage is not. For more precise definitions, look up the words in your dictionary. When you recognize and understand their differences, you can easily avoid contextual mistakes when using these common words in your writing.


Copyright © 2003 by Phil Hanson

All rights reserved.

Preview of Coming Distractions

The next issue of Petey's Pipeline brings you some possible solutions to the publishing problems posed in this issue's editorial, and a mystery interview (we'd tell you but, at this point, it's a mystery to us, too). Part two of our series on the e-business shakeout now in progress and more writing tips round out issue #3. See you in two weeks.

Disclaimer

The articles appearing in Petey's Pipeline E-zine are based on information believed to be true at the time of publication. Neither Perfecttext.com, Petey's Pipeline E-zine nor their publisher assume any liability or responsibility as to the accuracy or efficacy of any information, products or services that are submitted, advertised or rendered by contributors to Petey's Pipeline E-zine. While we make every effort to screen out scam artists and bogus offers, you should still do your homework. Caveat emptor!

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