Lessons from a failure: Ghost writing pitch

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When I pitch myself for a freelance writing or editing job, I almost always win. Why? Because I am selective about the gigs I pursue, have sterling qualifications, and typically come recommended by someone the potential client trusts. But I just lost out on a job — a big one that I really wanted. I … Continued

Call center sinners should burn in hellfire

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I’m on hold right now waiting for a customer service rep — to investigate a serious problem that I neither caused nor asked for. I’d give up, except that resolving this is crucial to my future. And it’s hell. If the experience of calling your call center is a hellscape, your customer experience is terrible. … Continued

The client cascade

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In January of 2020, nearly two years ago, I got an email from an executive at a large streaming entertainment company. Would I consider conducting a business writing workshop for the company? Sure, I said. He asked for details and references. I sent the prospect — let’s call him Oliver — my one-page writeup for … Continued

Marketing in sheep’s clothing

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Marketing has such a poor reputation that it now has to pretend to be customer service. And it makes me hopping mad. For example . . . I got a letter from Spectrum, my internet provider, that said “Important information about your account.” Inside, a generic offer to upgrade my service. My doctor’s office used … Continued

The price of pushy

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One afternoon a couple years ago I was sitting peacefully in my den reading when I heard a loud buzzing sound. It got louder and softer, but never went away, and I’d never heard that particular sound in my house before. Like any other homeowner, I carefully looked around my house to determine if some … Continued

How the empathetic expert generates trust

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I was thinking about why I trust one particular doctor more than others. It comes down to two things: expertise and empathy. Neither, by itself, is sufficient. The doctor is Caroline Levine. She is a specialist who I visit at least twice a year, and who is protecting my health from serious jeopardy. She has … Continued

Annoying people at scale is profitable. It shouldn’t be.

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I was astounded to read a Twitter thread from a go-getter named John Plumstead, who harassed 58,408 people to get one or two deals. He can do this because there is no cost to harassing people. Let’s change that. Plumstead’s business is finding property owners in financial distress and buying their properties for less than … Continued

Why are brand identity statements so generic?

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In his latest cartoon, Tom Fishburne of Marketoonist expertly skewered those “brand promise” statements you often read (and retch at). He’s completely right that corporate values and “reasons to believe” are filled with cliches and buzzwords. But why? Why is so hard for brands to differentiate? Having helped several companies write these sorts of statements, … Continued