Archive for May, 2011

Smart Spammer Move: BE CAUTIOUS!

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Here’s a new thing I’ve seen in spam recently:

1. This is the first email I’ve noticed where they CUSTOMIZE the dormant account holder. Normally it is a deceased general or president or something like that, and I’ll get millions of dollars.  This time, though, it’s a supposed relative!  I’m guessing this is just enough to get the unsuspecting to start the scam process :(

2. and 3. Why is someone from an “international bank” using a Yahoo account?  It doesn’t match up… red flag.

There are a few other red flags in this email – but I hate listing them all for fear the spammers will only use them to make their messages better.

Starting a New Blog: Blog Post Critique

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Monday I gave feedback to Brad Merrill about HOW he let others know about his blog… today I want to write about a blog post (his second post).

Brad titled the post What is Ethical Behavior?  It’s a good question which really came out after the Enron thing… as an accountant Brad should have some good thoughts.

First Thought

It is toooooooooo loooooooooooooooong.

This post has 1,535 words and would print of on almost four full pages!

I couldn’t read it.  It’s simply too long.

Here’s an idea, though: take this four page post and break it up into three or four posts.

Call it a series and make it easier to read for ME.

The beauty of this idea is it is now easier to write for Brad.  Why?  If he takes one “post” and breaks it down, he now has one to two weeks of blog posts already written!

Let me say this another way – if he spent an hour on that post, and then thought about spending an hour on every post, and wrote two to three times a week, he’d spend quite a bit of time writing blog posts.  Okay sometimes, but sometimes that hour just isn’t available.

What if he took this one hour and had all the writing for one or two weeks done?

That is more sustainable, over the long haul.

Second Thought

Give me more personal stuff.  The first page (above the fold) has two references to dictionary definitions… I have to scroll down before I see if there’s some Brad Merrill personality.

Instead of starting off with a page of sources, I would have liked to see him launch into a story from his past rich work history:

  • I was consulting a client when _______
  • I remember being faced with an ethical dilemma when my boss _______
  • My first major ethical conundrum came when my client _______

Wouldn’t a line like that be more interesting?  I’d want to read what an accountant has faced … not the bean counting boring stuff, but some conflict, how it was handled, what he had to think through, etc.

My point is, make it personal.  I want to read about BRAD MERRILL, not what the dictionary says.

So these are my thoughts as Brad Merrill starts his blogging journey.  Really, he has a great start… I’m excited to see him mature and evolve as a blogger :)

Starting a New Blog: Letting Others Know

Monday, May 9th, 2011

My friend Brad Merrill took the plunge and started a blog.

It has the potential to be an awesome personal branding tool for himself, and I applaud what he’s doing.

This is the first of two posts where I’m going to give feedback (with his permission) on his nascent strategy.  Today I’ll talk about how he let me (and hundreds of others) know about the blog.

It’s important to let others know you have a blog… not just once but frequently.  Be careful how you do it, however, because no one wants an email each time you write a new blog post (unless they opt in to a newsletter, or something like that).

Here’s Brad’s message I got last night:

There are a few things I like about this email, and perhaps a line or two I don’t care for.  Instead of critiquing the entire thing, I want to focus on TWO things:

The Length.

The length of this message is PERFECT.  If it were any longer I’d get lost, or not read it, or save it for later, or something like that.  If it were shorter I might feel like he’s just spamming me and a million others with “read my blog!”  It is sincere, concise, and very focuses.

The Question in Yellow.

This jumped out at me the most.  At first I thought “COOL, a professional blog” (as opposed to a personal blog).

But then, when I read the question “if you have some things you would like to (to) see me write about,” tell me.

That’s when I thought “where’s the focus?”

Indeed, reading through the email again I realized I had no idea what the theme, or topics, of the blog are. Is it a personal blog? Is it a professional blog?  What exactly does Brad do, or think about?

If Brad could help me understand this, even if it’s just a reminder (some people know, but a reminder doesn’t hurt), he would have used this email as a branding tool, and helped reinforce his personal brand to his contacts (whether they clicked over to the blog or not).

At a minimum he could have said:

I am going to write about ______ and ______.  My last post talks about ethical behavior.

To take it up a notch he could have said something like:

As a professional accountant I see a lot of interesting things.  I’ll write posts about my expertise (sales and use tax and financial accounting) and keep it interesting with stories and examples. I will probably write about my passions, including watch collecting) and try to always tie the posts back to business ideas. Whether you are an accountant or just interested in business, I hope to have relevant content for you.  If you have any ideas or questions, please let me know, as I begin this journey.

In the first email he reinforces his brand.  In the second email he drills down a bit more so people understand more of his breadth and depth… even if they don’t become blog readers they will know what some of his specialties and passions are.

“Where’s the focus” was my first thought, the second thought was: missed branding opportunity.

Next post I’ll critique his second blog post.