7 Spam Filters

You know the sinking and anxiety-ridden feeling of waking up one day and finding 70 thousand comments waiting for approval in your inbox from your blog site.
After leafing through a few of them, you realize, you have been targeted for a major spam campaign. How are you going to go through them? The beads of sweat begin to form on your brow and the heart races.

While this is never pleasant, it helps you realize that there ARE ways to protect yourself and that IT’S TIME!

There are 7 filters available for your blog posts if you use wordpress:
1. Akismet: normally comes bundled with WordPress but you must activate it by signing up for an API key with WordPress.com
2. Simple CAPTCHA: adds a CAPTCHA code to the comment area where a person needs to enter the code displayed which is meant to eliminate the comments by bots
3. Defensio.com: this is a plugin that supports Open ID. The RSS feed is supplied for botgh good and bad comments
4. Bad Behavior: works PHP based websites to prevent automated systems from creating havoc on your sites on WordPress, MediaWiki, Drupal and others
5. Spam Karma 2: assigns a score based on the email address, age of post and their link. The higher the comment score, the better.
6. WP Spam Hitman: fights spam by defined criteria involving patterns and points
7. Simple Trackback Validation: tries to validate the trackbacks so only the legit ones appear on your site.

While you may not be able to blast away all the existing fodder, at least you can prevent future disasters.

Unfortunately, I am speaking from experience. The thought of the half a million comments in the inbox makes me nauseas every time.

Have you added protection for your site? What have you done?

If you have a way to destroy the old spam comments at once, so that one doesn’t have to go through them one-by-one which is an inhumanly long and impossible task, please let me know!

Call to Action

Because this is such an important part of your business, regardless of what business that is, I am sharing this article written by Dan Kennedy with you. Dan is the Ultimate marketer and now after making millions, helps others to emulate him and make millions as well.

What Makes Prospects Buy?
By Dan Kennedy

Let’s talk about what I believe is the single most important device that gets your customers or prospects to buy… the call to action!

The call-to-action in the form of a response device: In person-to-person professional selling one of the most common failings in sales people is the fear of closing the sale. Or in other words, the reluctance to ask for the order.
Master sales trainer Ziglar says that asking for the order is what separates the poorly paid professional visitor from the kingly compensated professional sales person.

Just as closing the sale is a vital skill in face-to-face marketing, asking for the desired action clearly is a vital skill in advertising. Incidentally experience in effectively closing sales in person is a valuable asset in creating effective advertising.

The same techniques, words, phrases and ideas used in personal selling can be used in print selling.

A strong direct call-to-action in direct mail is vital. Tell the reader exactly what you want them to do, how to do it and when to do it. If response to your offer is any way complicated you may want to number the instructions, one, two, and three.

The call-to-action may appear in several places in the typical direct marketing package, such as the letter, the main brochure, and most importantly in the response device. A response device is the coupon to be redeemed, the order form, or the reply card. Whatever your response device is it should restate the basic offer and bonus and present the call-to-action. You can learn to use these techniques to develop effective direct mail marketing materials for your businesses, products and services. Incidentally, all this transfers to online marketing; to web sites and to e-mail too.

5-Step Process For Follow-Up Phone Calls

This is a guest blog today, one that I find quite helpful.

By Robert Middleton
There is one marketing activity that strikes fear into the hearts of most independent professionals: making follow-up phone calls. Everyone avoids it, and no one is very good at it.

A follow-up call might be defined as a call you make to a prospect to explore if he may (or may not) be a good client for you. The purpose of this call is to ultimately set up a selling conversation where you’ll convert the prospect into a paying client.

There are many opportunities for follow-up calls.

You might call someone you met through a networking event. You might follow up with an individual referred by a client or associate. After giving a talk, you might have several people you can reach out to. And then there’s the “warm call” where you follow up with a past client to drum up some new business.

As author Napoleon Hill said, “It’s always your next move.” The reality is that very few of the people you connect with through networking, speaking engagements, and referrals are going to call you. That’s your job. And how you do that job can be the difference between success and failure as a self-employed professional.

Other than the familiar garden-variety fears that everyone experiences in making follow-up calls (I’ll be rejected, I’ll be seen as unprofessional, people don’t want to be bothered), we avoid making these calls because we just don’t know what to say.

Improve Prospecting Phone Calls
Cold Calling Scripts that Work

5 Steps to Overcoming Cold Call Telephobia

The purpose of marketing is to generate attention and interest in your services. Every business identity, website headline, article title, and verbal message needs to accomplish this. The same goes for follow-up calls.

Here’s a proven step-by-step process (with scripting) that will make these calls easier and more successful. They’ll get the attention of your prospects and make them want to take the next step in working with you.

1. The call introduction. You’re simply reminding the prospect who you are and giving the context of the call.

“Hi, Richard. This is Sara Harden. We met last night at the Chamber networking mixer. We talked about your teams at HighTech Co. Is this a good time to talk for a minute?”
It’s clear, simple, and considerate of their time.

2. Create a message designed to get attention and interest. What you want is an “Ultimate Outcome Statement,” which is a short marketing message that lets your prospect know how you can help them. An ultimate outcome has nothing to do with process and everything to do with results.

“Richard, I conduct a program for teams that has a track record of doubling productivity and results in less than a year. I thought you might like to know about it.”
That’s a bold, attention-getting statement. Of course, this outcome you’ve stated needs to be real, something you’ve done and can do again for other clients. Come up with the most powerful ultimate outcome that you can legitimately deliver.

Such a statement will pique their curiosity and usually get a response such as, “Hmm, sounds interesting. How do you do that?” or “Uh, sure. How does the program work?”

That’s all you need. Of course, you’d love an over-the-top positive reaction to your message, but mild interest works just fine. But the only way you’ll get this is to focus on results and avoid process like the plague.

3. Tell a little more about your program, but keep it in the language of results.

“This is a program I’ve done for two years with six different companies. Typically I’ll work with teams that are underperforming and help transform them into the most effective team in the company. A recent client was behind on every single metric. Now they are leading the most profitable initiatives in the company.

“I don’t know if this program is for you or not, but are there any teams in your company that aren’t performing at the level they could?”
Your example proves that your service produces a powerful result. Almost every prospect will be interested in knowing how they can produce similar results. It’s hard to ignore or brush off.

4. Transition this follow-up call into a selling conversation. If you’ve done the job of communicating your ultimate outcome and using a story or example, you will almost always engage the prospect in a conversation that can lead you to a selling conversation.

What you need to remember is that a follow-up call is not a selling conversation. It’s the warm-up for one.

The next part of the script is to make an offer for a selling conversation.

If you’ve caught the attention and interest of the prospect, you’ll know by the questions they ask. If they ask how the program works, who’s done it, what the specific results were, etc., it’s time to offer what I call a “Strategy Session.”

“Richard, from what you’ve told me, it sounds like you’d like to see some improvement in your teams, if not a breakthrough in their productivity.

“What I’d like to offer you is a Team Breakthrough Strategy Session. This is a 90-minute complimentary session where we explore your situation, goals, and challenges in more depth. And then at the end, I’ll let you know if I can help you or not. How does that sound?”
In my experience, this usually sounds very good to a prospect. You are offering your time for free to explore with them whether you can help their teams have a breakthrough. This isn’t seen as a sales pitch but as a valuable conversation that could make a huge impact to their success.

And that’s exactly what a strategy session is.

5. Give your prospect two assignments before the strategy session: information specific to their concerns and a questionnaire.

“OK, Richard, I really look forward to meeting with you next week. Before that meeting, I want to send you two things. The first is an article called “The Seven Deadly Sins of Teams.” It will give you some valuable insights into what derails teams and how to get them back on track.

“The second is a brief Team Questionnaire that I’d like you to fill out and send back to me before we meet. This will help me understand more about your situation, which will make the strategy session more productive.

“Will you be able to read the article and fill out the questionnaire before we meet?”
Many doubt that a busy businessperson will find the time to do either, but my experience has been just the opposite. Whether you are selling coaching services to a small business owner or an intensive one-year change program to the CEO of a multinational company, they appreciate that you have a process and the confidence to ask for what you need to help them produce results.

Most of us wait for the phone to ring with a qualified prospect on the other end. If only that happened more often! No, you need to make the phone ring. And by following the steps in this article, you’ll get a whole lot more appointments with qualified prospects eager to explore doing business with you.

3 Blunders to Avoid with QR Codes

A guest post by Paul Prisco of Dog Food Design.

Today’s consumer is quickly adapting to QR codes as smartphone usage explodes. According to Nielsen projections, there will be more smartphones in the United States than basic phones by year’s end. So, you need to start paying attention to QR codes—NOW!

Overall, time spent on smartphones is increasing rapidly. In Japan, for example, social media usage on mobile outnumbers desktop almost six to one. The convergence of social media, mobile devices, and search should be a key driver of your strategy, given your brand objectives. This merger leads to huge opportunities like advertising, mobile commerce, and gaming.

The strategic value of QR code marketing is often questioned, given the recent well-publicized mishaps. A few blunders that come to mind are:

Blunder #1: Placing QR Codes in Remote Areas

QR codes are useless if they can’t be scanned. If you’re placing QR codes in areas like subways, that’s not going to fly. Scout out the area first to make sure you’ll get service. Don’t forget to place in locations people can actually get to!

Consider placing inexpensive items like a postcard or sticker in those “No Service Zones” that can be scanned at a later date.

Blunder #2: Pointing QR Codes to Your Desktop Website

To achieve results, they first have to be measurable, right? You can’t measure anything in marketing without isolating the call to action. So, if you’re pointing folks from a print ad to a desktop site, you’re making measurement difficult. Ideally, you want a simple mobile site, which is effortless in terms of usability and has a support mechanism for a call to action. This will allow you to:

Tailor the user experience
Create relevant content
Measure the effort
To keep it simple, direct consumers to a YouTube video, map or a phone call—without a mobile site. You don’t have to develop a full-blown mobile site if it doesn’t align with your budget or marketing objectives. A landing page that coordinates with your call to action or offer will do the trick as well.

Blunder #3: Crafting QR Codes That Don’t Scan

There is room for creativity when creating QR codes but there are technical limitations. A QR code needs to be at least 1″ x 1″ and most you’ll find are 1.75″ x 1.75″ to be on the safe side.

Avoid placing on textiles, such as T-shirts, which in theory is a great idea but doesn’t work that well. QR codes will work on color backgrounds—but the message here is to test, test, test! Make sure they work on different phones, different angles and on different substrates, and keep testing!

All these marketing blunders reinforce the fact that marketing isn’t always executed with the consumer in mind. Placing your customer first and thinking of ways a QR code will add value to the process should be top of mind.

Paul Prisco is the founder and principal at Dog Food Design, a design and direct marketing agency for brands. He can be reached at 404.829.2704 or paul@dogfooddesign.com.

Facebook Ad Tip

When advertising on Facebook, send the clicks to a Facebook page
and not to your web site, advise Perry Marshall and Thomas
Meloche in their new book “The Ultimate Guide to Facebook
Advertising” (Entrepreneur Press).

Reason: If you send your clicks to a Facebook page, then the
visitors land in known and comfortable surroundings.

Says Marshall, “Their defenses are much lower than when they are
taken to a foreign web site for the first time, and they are
more likely to engage more frequently with your content.”

In addition, visitors don’t have to worry that you’re about to
install a virus on their computer, post offensive material, or
assault them with pop-ups and ads.

Secret Way to Explode Your Business

This article today is written by Dr. Timothy Lawler

As many of you know, I am a physician and involved in the network marketing industry. For some that read that line, you may gaff at those two words “network marketing”. “Oh, he is one of THOSE physicians” I can hear echoing through the air. But for others, (the more enlightened of you ), you all understand why it is the single best business model on the face of this earth. Regardless, this post is intended for both network marketers and non network marketers alike.

In today’s tough economic world, trying to create and keep new clients/prospects is a super tough job. Like, I mean really, really tough. However, most people want that instant gratification of new business the second that they snap their fingers. Well, it isn’t that easy. As I have talked about in the past and will continue to talk about in the future, consistency is key. You have to be willing to give value to others before even thinking about getting anything in return.

Below, I am going to give you a quick overview of a strategy that I use. It works well with any type of marketing, but in this case, I am going to talk about blogging. (If you want to know how to setup a blog from scratch, you can do it here.) So here we go…

1. Pick Your Audience

In ANY type of marketing that you need to do, you should most definitely imagine in your mind who you are trying to send your message to. It is often called your “avatar”, but in general, just think about who you want to help out. Is it someone within your field? Someone you are trying to get into your field? A competitor? This brainstorming helps you get laser focused in your message. The more targeted you are, the greater chance your message will be received.

2. Write To That Audience

Value is everything here. In the world of Internet blogging, information is everywhere. Unfortunately, there is a TON of really bad info out there. You do not want to be one of those people adding to the bad content. You need to dig down deep and think about questions/concerns that you first had when starting in your particular industry. How to get clients? How to market online? How to market offline? How to talk to customers? These are very broad questions, but I bet that these are ones that you asked. Answer them in daily posts on your blog. If you can’t post daily, try to do it at least 3 days per week. This point goes along with that consistency thing that I was talking about earlier.

3. Learn How To Get In Front Of That Audience

So now that you have posted on your blog and you are doing so on a daily basis, I want to first stop and say CONGRATS! You are doing more than 99% of the competition in your field. Period. I can absolutely guarantee it. Blogging daily is hard. It is doable, but it is hard. Life gets in the way. But if you are doing it daily, you are showing that your business is a priority in your life.

Now, we need to get your words and thoughts in front of others. It doesn’t do any good if nobody is reading your posts. How do you do that?

Moving Apology To You

The Write Treatment site would like to apologize to all my readers for the lack of recent posts.

The New York division of this site has moved to join the main branch in Florida. However, we will continue to supply updated information as it comes in from this point onward.

Happy and Healthy New Year to all my friends and readers,

Barbara