The Marketing Word | Differentiation Marketing

Archive for January 2010

Plagiarism

This is actually one of my tips of the week, but it bears repeating.  OK.  Really, it's just working my last nerve this week.  (If you're not getting my tip of the week, look to your right ---> and sign up there.)

It has come to my attention that people have no concept of plagiarism.  At first I thought they just had no conscience – stealing other people’s materials was just their way of doing business.  I realized that the average plagiarist is not malicious – they REALLY DON’T KNOW WHAT PLAGIARISM IS.

As a writer, this freaks me out a bit.  I spend a lot of time carefully choosing words (OK, most of the time I am choosy – sometimes I just rant), so my writing is concise, specific and clear.  To have someone just walk in and pass my words off as their own – well, it really cheeses me off.

So, let’s go over a few basics.

Anytime you use someone’s words verbatim, you should give credit.  Reference the person and the source.  For example, “All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like and trust.”  Bob Burg, Endless Referrals.   I use that quote a lot.  And every time I do, I go to Bob’s website (http://www.bobburg.com) to make sure I have it right.

Anytime you paraphrase, you should give the person credit and mention that you are paraphrasing.

If you use an article distribution service such as Ezine.com to find articles to use for your website, blog, newsletter, etc., you must give the author of the article credit by including the author’s resource box with their bio and their links.  That’s your part of the agreement under the Terms of Service.

If you hire a freelancer to write articles for you, you are buying the exclusive rights to those articles and you may put those under your own name.  You will want to have an agreement with the freelancer that those articles will not be re-sold to anyone else.

If you are using PLR articles, ebooks or courses, you don’t have to change a word.  Just put your name on them. The author sold his rights to you.  You bought the rights to pass this material off as your own.  That being said, most article submission sites will kick your PLR articles right back to you.  They know what’s on the market and put articles through filters to weed out duplicate PLR material.  If you have bought PLR articles that you want to submit to article distributors you will need to re-write substantially – at least 40% is the number I have heard and I would go with 50% - 60% to be safe.

If an article appears on someone’s website, in a newspaper or magazine, it does NOT mean anyone can grab it and use it.  I actually had a client say to me, “Well, it was on their website so we can use it.”  No, we can’t.  A WEBSITE IS COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL!!!!  Sorry.  Sometimes I have to scream.  Just because you find a book in a public library doesn’t mean you can copy the whole damn thing and put your name on it as the author.

Deep breath…  OK.  Here’s what it comes down to.  If you didn’t write it yourself, hire someone to write it for you, or buy the Private Label Rights, you must give credit to the proper person.  If you want to reprint someone’s work or reprint the majority of a work, whether it’s an article, term paper or book, you must seek permission from the person who holds the copyright, either the author or the publisher.

So, hope this clears up a few questions for you.  I just feel better getting it off my chest.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect.  But it should be your own work.

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VistaPrint. Really? Really?

Are you committed to your business? If your card is from VistaPrint, you're not.

I was in a Borders book store looking through the business section.  In one of the more popular business books, I found a business card.  This is one of those "clever" marketing tactics that people pick up - God knows where.  Let's address this first.

If your marketing model depends upon leaving your business card in books, bathrooms or on gas pumps, STOPNOW.  It's stupid and unprofessional.

Now, onto the really fun part.  The card was for a Multi-Level Marketing company, but of course the name of the actual company wasn't on the card.  (There's another business red flag.  If you are told to withhold the name of your company when inviting people to meetings or making appointments, you need to change companies.)  It said, "Would $10,000 a month change your life? It changed mine" with a number for a recorded call.  Well, that's an enticing hook.  Money is always a great motivator.  And a recorded call is a low-barrier (non-threatening) way for people to learn more about something.  But here's where it gets good.

I flipped the card over and on the back was that lovely little line that you find on the back of way too many cards:  "Get Your Free Business Cards From VistaPrint."
Now, if someone is using free cards from VistaPrint, I suspect that they are not really making $10,000 a month.  In fact, I am going to suspect that they are too broke to buy cards. 

Business cards cost, on average, $25 - $50.  If you won't spend thirty bucks on business cards, what does that tell people about your commitment to your business?  The same goes for those cards you print up on your computer at home. 

What does your business card say about you and your commitment to your business?

Invest in quality business cards, printed on heavy stock and at the very least, spring for something a little extra on it - a color graphic, gold or silver detailing, embossing.  A little money goes a long way with business cards.  Don't be penny-wise and pound foolish on this one.

And that's the marketing word.

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Has Anyone Heard of the Internet?

Or the state of local advertising...

I picked up the local Dollar Saver magazine - a color booklet advertising local businesses distributed free around town. It had 44 ads, not counting several for the Dollar Saver itself. Out of those 44 ads, only nine or 20% had a website URL. Of those nine, two were for computer service companies, two were for online businesses and two were templated sites from national companies. One other ad deserves an honorable mention: it contained an email address.

Then I went a bit deeper (I know, I have no life). Twenty-three of the businesses had no website. But here's what is most striking: Twelve companies have websites and didn't include their URL in the ad!

Why would any business advertise without including their website URL? That's like not putting your phone number in an ad or the name of your business. Why would someone take an ad order without asking for a website address?

If this were 1999, I would understand the dearth of web addresses. Back then, online businesses were looked upon as something faddish, not solid. Now it's the opposite. If you have a business and DON'T have a website, people wonder if your business is solid.

This is a simple fix for these businesses. And it won't cost a dime. Add your website URL to all your advertising. Add it to your stationary. Add it to every piece of marketing material you have. Such a simple thing and yet it was overlooked by both the ad salesperson and the business owners. Sometimes we miss the obvious. Don't let it happen to you.

And that's the marketing word.

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