Archive for January, 2008

You Can Do Something about SPAM

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

I got the most obnoxious SPAM email this weekend. It wasn’t the product they were pushing that was so offensive. It was the statement at the end of the email that started with a claim that if I were getting this email, I signed up to receive it (which I most certainly did not because I couldn’t care less about another “make money at home opportunity”) and ended with “Any person who make a false report of alleged spam IS GUILTY OF BOTH FRAUD AND A CIVIL CRIME.” (The emphasis is theirs.)

That made me mad. Don’t send me SPAM and then make vague threats about being guilty of fraud and civil crime if I complain. So I decided to do something about it.

The email was supposedly from mybizathome@gmail.com. Hmmm. Sending an email from an address that is obviously not your regular email address. Now that doesn’t look spammy at all! When I looked at the email header information* I could tell that the spammer was spoofing this email address because it didn’t come from Google’s mail server but from an Earthlink mail server. (Spoofing is when a sender hides the real email address their sending the message from and makes it look like it’s coming from another and is a huge red flag that the email is spam.)

Fortunately, there are forces of good on the internet as well as bad. So, I went over to SpamCop.net, created an account and filed a complaint. Spamcop is a free service that figures out the origin of an email and sends a report to the relevant ISP. They sent my complaint to Earthlink’s network administrators and the whole thing only took a few minutes. Will this guy get shut down because of it? Probably not. But if enough people complain he might. At the very least I feel a lot better for having done something about it.

*Email Header Information

  1. Click on the email to highlight it but don’t open it.
    Then right click on the message.
    It will pull up a screen that should look something like this:


This information in the box I’ve highlighted is the information you will need when making a spam complaint.

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My Biggest Influencers

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

Tom Pick of Web Market Central tagged me to create a list of my biggest influencers. It was fun to write and made me cry. (Okay. That’s not exactly hard to do. I’m kinda leaky.) This list is in order of how long I’ve known the person, not in order of importance.

Grandma Ruby
I had a pretty chaotic childhood but my sister and I could always rely on Grandma Ruby to be there. She and grandpa would show up at our house every other Friday at 5:00 and take us for the weekend. Those visits were the one stable thing we could count on growing up. Grandma Ruby was born on a farm in Kansas and was a young adult during the depression. She’s always lived simply and enjoyed what she had. She’s also embraced aging. Because of her example, I couldn’t imagine doing all those silly things women do to “fight the aging process.” I’m too busy enjoying life to waste the mental energy on that stuff.

Pop (aka my step dad)
I am the first person in my biological family to graduate college and oddly enough, that’s because of my step dad. He graduated high school and got a scholarship to MIT when he was 16. He also did ABD (all but dissertation) PhD work at UC Berkeley. Fortunately he married my mom when I was pretty young and set the expectation that I would graduate from college. I don’t think he ever said “You HAVE TO graduate from college!” it was just a forgone conclusion. I doubt I would have graduated college if he hadn’t come into our lives.

My Pop’s also the most successful entrepreneur I’ve ever known. He’s worked incredibly hard for over 30 years to be successful and watching him made me feel like it was possible for me to do what I love and be successful too. Last but not least, he’s the most generous person I know. He spends his money on quality time with his family. I’ve seen the joy it’s brought him to help out deserving people and if I ever get rich, that’s what I want to do with my money too.

Master Lloyd Francis
I didn’t realize it at the time but studying a martial art in my early twenties was about the best thing I could have done to build the self confidence I would need as an adult. Master Francis literally taught me how to take a hit and not cry. As a result, I am a much less fearful person than I would have been otherwise. Also, starting out as white belt, then going through the various levels to black belt taught me not to get complacent. It taught me that if you want to make progress in life you have to get used to feeling like a beginner and getting your ass kicked for a while.

Carol Proudfoot-Edgar
I’ve been a student of Native American Shamanism for about 20 years now and Carol has been my teacher for most of those years. Shamanism is not something I talk much about because I don’t want people to assume I’m a “woo-woo” person and to me, a spiritual practice is a very personal thing not to be discussed lightly. But I have to mention it here because I can’t even begin to enumerate the lessons I’ve learned in my work with Carol that have made me a better person. Two major lessons come to mind. First, I now know that the answers I seek are within me. I don’t need external things or a mediary to have a connection and dialogue with God/Spirit. Second, I KNOW Spirit has my best interest at heart and is looking out for me. That doesn’t mean life is easy and pain free. It means that if I chose to access it, I have the strength to survive and thrive.

Arati Prabhakar, PhD
Arati (pronounced “Arthee”) was my last boss in the corporate world. I was her Executive Assistant when she was the CEO of Interval Research. She was an amazing example of how a woman could be extremely smart (She was appointed as the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology by President Clinton.), tough, compassionate and feminine all at the same time. She showed me that it is possible to balance a demanding career and a family. Arati was CEO at a very stressful and chaotic time but she never let them see her sweat and she never lost her cool.

Kathie Nelson, Connectworks
I met Kathie in the closing minutes of a Robert Middleton seminar. In hindsight, it was one of those things that at the time seem minor but turn out to be a touchstone event in your life. It’s not an overstatement to say I would not be in business if it weren’t for Kathie. She’s helped me more than anyone else to build my business. Heck, she even came up with the name eMarketing Strategist! Kathie is the most focused person I know. She has built a successful business while overcoming events that would have wiped out a weaker person. Kathie is also adept at seeing the positive in a potentially negative situation. She’s taught me that by asking myself “How do I want to see this?” I can take a potentially negative situation and turn it into a positive situation. I often find myself asking “What would Kathie do?”

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Okay. This is kind of funny…

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

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In Defense of eNewsletters

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

eNewsletters get a bum rap these days. As blogs have become more popular, I see more and more on the internet about how much better blogs are than eNewsletters. I hear things like “Anyone can add a blog post and you don’t have to know HTML to do it.” and “You can add a blog post whenever inspiration strikes.” But just because adding to a blog is easier than sending a eNewsletter doesn’t make them better. Here’s why I think the predicted demise of the eNewsletter is greatly exaggerated.

It all Boils Down to Your Target Market(s)
The debate between eNewsletters and blogs boils down to knowing your target market and what they are comfortable with. For example, my clients and prospects are corporate executives and small business owners. They tend to be service providers such as coaches, accountants and lawyers. Since it’s my job to help them connect with their clients via the internet, I have to know just as much about their target markets as they do.

One thing I can safely say about my clients and their clients is that they tend to use the internet in similar ways. They do not consider themselves to be “technology savvy.” They are not early adopters of technologies and don’t care to be. They’re too busy running their business to spend time diddling around on the internet. In general, they prefer to stick with what is currently working for them and email works for them. Signing up for an eNewsletter is a process they are comfortable with. They only have to make that decision one time and they are on your list until they unsubscribe.

Most of my clients find their clients by face-to-face networking, speaking engagements and professional conferences. It is a rare case when they get a client from the internet. The main benefit to them of having a website, blog and eNewsletter is to stay in front of prospects and build the perception of being an expert in their industry. As a result, I advise my clients when networking face-to-face to ask the person they are talking to if they would like to receive their eNewsletter. If they are asking the prospect questions about the issues they are facing instead of babbling on about what they do, it can seem very natural. I have several clients who have gotten the majority of their subscribers from doing this. Somehow, asking people to sign up for an RSS feed of your blog doesn’t seem like it would work nearly as well.

Multiple Target Markets
Another benefit of eNewsletters is that you can control who gets what content. For instance, I have a client who hosts local networking events in addition to selling informational products and teleclasses on her website. Obviously people outside her geographic area are not going to be interested in information about her face-to-face networking events. So, she has two lists on her eNewsletter sign up form to accommodate these different groups. She sends to networking events to the local people and her informational eNewsletter to everybody. You can’t break down content this way with a blog.

Push vs. Pull Technologies
The main difference between eNewsletters and blogs is how the recipient receives the information. An eNewsletters is a “push technology” while a blog is most commonly used as a “pull technology.” With an eNewsletter, you are in charge of when they receive it; while with a blog, they are in charge of when they read it. Yes, people can easily delete your newsletter email but it’s even easier not to visit your blog. Personally, I prefer to send people content than wait for them to find it

Sure, a blog can be a push technology too if your readers sign up for the blog’s RSS feed. However, few people know what an RSS feed is, how to sign up for it, how to use a blog aggregator and then remember to check the aggregator regularly. For my clients and their clients, it’s just too high a bar to jump over. It’s far easier to sign up for a eNewsletter. (I know. It is now possible to sign up to receive blog posts via email but in my experience far fewer choose this option than signing up for an eNewsletter.)

Internet User Does Not Equal Blogger
The proponents of blogs over eNewsletters tend to assume that everyone else is on the “Blog Bandwagon” too. They seem to think that everyone loves to spend hours poking around on the internet to see what others are saying. They don’t realize that while there are millions (if not billions) of people on the internet, only a fraction of those people care about blogs at all.

So What if Anyone Can write a Blog?
The #1 claim to fame for blogs is that anyone can set one up and add posts to it. So what? If all you do is write blog posts, you quickly realize that you’re talking to yourself. If the purpose of your blog is to make connections and ultimately get clients, this is a huge waste of time. What the Blog Gurus don’t tell you is that writing content is only half the battle. You also have to put just as much effort into attracting readers. Since most people have no idea how to do that, they have to hire someone to help them publicize their blog and build readership which kind of negates the benefit of being able to do it yourself. (Plus, how many of us have time to write a blog post twice a week?)

Beyond Information Overload
Another argument I see against eNewsletters is the claim that subscription rates are down. The Blog Bandwagon assumption is that as blogs become more popular, eNewsletters become less popular. This is an erroneous assumption about cause and effect. I think the decrease in subscription rates has more to do with the quality of eNewsletter content.

For the first time in human history we live in an age of too much information. Where the challenge used to be in finding information, today’s challenge is to sort through it all, figure out what’s important and what to do with it. In my experience, popular eNewsletters not only provide pertinent information, they also tell the reader why they should care and what to do with it. General trends about subscription rates are not your problem and should not deter you from having an eNewsletter. If you provide quality information, you will get more subscribers.

It’s Not an Either/Or Situation
I realize I sound like I’m coming down on blogs but I’m not. I really enjoy working on my blog and it has made me a better writer. Because of my blog, I have made professional connections I wouldn’t have made otherwise. I also find that writing for my blog generates ideas for eNewsletter articles and articles I can submit to other publications.

My purpose in writing this article is to help you make the decision that’s right for you when deciding whether to have an eNewsletter, blog or both. The most important criteria in this decision has to be who is your reader and what are they willing to do to get your content.

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