FTC Issues Scam Alert for Churches

Linked HandsOn June 19, 2009, the Federal Trade Commission, (FTC) issued an alert to warn churches about a  Bogus Opportunity Scam.  According to the FTC, con artists are hawking what they claim is a golden opportunity for churches: Free equipment or services. Often targeting African American churches, these scammers may profess a shared faith, culture, or concern for the community to gain the trust of the church staff.

In a common scheme, scammers may offer computer equipment to the staff of a church, claiming the cost will be covered by a “sponsor,” who later turns out to be phony. In the meantime, the staff simply has to sign an agreement to lease the equipment, make a regular payment, and deposit checks from the “sponsor” to cover the checks written by the church. While this is going on, the scammers can gain access to the church’s bank accounts and withdraw funds.

The  following link provides more on how to steer clear of this scam  http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt138.shtm.

Advertisements

How to Write Compelling White Papers with Essentials of Winning Business Proposals

green-candle

When I was a corporate consultant, I participated in the preparation of responses to numerous Requests for Proposals (RFPs).  Anyone who’s gone through that process knows that you can’t take anything for granted – if you are competing to win.  The more intense the competition, the greater the pressure to deliver a winning proposal.

Looking back, I see a clear pattern to the outcomes of my team’s proposal writing efforts.  Without a doubt, all of the projects we won through the RFP process resulted from proposals that satisfactorily answered the questions of interest to the clients.  While anxious to demonstrate our qualifications, we ensured that our primary focus was on the clients’ needs and expectations.  By contrast, we lost projects through the RFP process when we failed to address the clients’ concerns or when we misread their expectations.

Writing a persuasive and effective business white paper is not so different from writing a winning proposal in the RFP process.  In both cases, you are asking prospects to buy your idea, product, or service.  Success in both endeavors involves the ability to deliver on a set of criteria.  In this article, we identify three essentials of successful proposals, which can be used to develop compelling business white papers.

1.  Understand what the client wants.  This requires reading and re-reading the RFP documents.  Even if the project is on a familiar topic and your area of expertise, it is crucial that you “see it” (as it were) from the prospective client’s point of view.  Failure to do so might lead to a misplaced focus in the proposal or misinterpretation of the client’s expectation.  The equivalent of this essential in the arena of white paper writing is a thorough market research of the target market and an in-depth needs assessment of the client.

  • The market research provides the crucial information on the sponsoring company’s intended use of the white paper, including  characteristics of the target market and clear reader profile.
  • The needs assessment provides crucial information of what the sponsoring company hopes to achieve with the marketing strategy.

Both types of information will help you write the white paper specific to the objective.  It allows you to differentiate market drivers and solutions in ways that fit business segments and problems.

2.  Watch the language.  One of the unspoken rules of responding to RFPs is the one  about the right language.  The problem is what is the right language?  Based on my experience, there is no universally right language.  It is safe to say that the prospective client defines the right language.  Factors, such as the client’s subject-matter expertise, the technicality of the project, and the intended use of the final report, help define the language of a proposal.

In the arena of white paper writing, determining the appropriate tone has all of the same considerations.  A persuasive business white paper uses the tone that matches the subject-matter expertise of the target reader, the phase of the complex sales cycle, and the expectations of the ultimate decision-maker.  It is a tall order, but one that can be greatly facilitated by good market research and competitive intelligence.

3.  Credibility counts.  This essential is important because a proposal is only one aspect of the winning game.  The credentials and performance of the project team must match the requirements of the job.  It is ill advised to exaggerate claims or inflate qualifications in proposals.  The same holds true for business white papers.  As lead generation tools, these special reports are essentially door openers in complex sale processes that typically last many months.  The credibility of the sponsoring company is vital from the initiation of the lead to the conclusion of the sale and beyond.  The company must deliver on the claims and promises made in the white paper.

Conclusion

Companies develop white papers because they are powerful tools for generating leads.  Success in achieving the marketing objective is significantly enhanced by adopting a few winning essentials, including an undivided focus on the target reader’s interests, an appropriate tone, and the credibility of the sponsoring company.

 

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009.

Planning your business growth strategically

Bulb

I’m still essentially old school when it comes to information gathering and processing.

I like to take my time with the process, assess the sources, and drill down on leads.  But my process seems to be at odds with the speed, multiplicity of expert opinions, and the vast amount of information transmitted daily in the various social media.  It is like a race constantly gearing up momentum.

Books are different.  I like books.

You don’t have to chase constantly after the latest and the best because a good book represents an authoritative and consolidated information source.  It is a focal point.  You can take your time to absorb the information and selectively assess and acquire the knowledge therein.

My current subject of interest is how to develop effective strategies for marketing in the B2B arena.  I am looking for proven and adaptable plans that have solid long-term perspectives.  I am looking  for practical tips, which I can put to good use as I grow my business.

The good news is that there are several reputable authors, who have first hand, time tested wisdom to impact on seekers like me.  In this article, I would like to recommend Sun Tzu: Strategies for Marketing – 12 Essential Principles for Winning the War for Customers by Gerald Michaelson and Steven Michaelson.

This book is gold.  It is intelligent without being arrogant.  The authors clearly understand that in marketing, we deal in “probabilities rather than certainties”.  This point seems to be lost in most of the popular declarations we read about in social media these days.  The truth is nothing is really as certain as some “experts” will have us believe.

Based on ancient military wisdom crystallized in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Michaelson & Michaelson lay out 12 vital principles of marketing, which have solid basis in fact and experience.  Here are three of my favorite principles:

  1. Honor the customer:   This should come as no surprise to successful sellers.  The operative mantra is that selling is not about you, it is about the customer.  Focus on the customer’s needs.  Here’s how the authors put it:

You grow your margins over time by finding a group of customers whom you want to serve, and who want to be served by you.  If you are loyal in serving their needs, they will be loyal to you.  And you will be able to charge a fair price in any economic climate.  The act of buying starts with a customer need.  The customer is the force that drives your business

 

2.  Organize intelligence:  Good information drives good business decisions.  There is no substitute for thorough and ongoing market research.  Cohesive knowledge is developed through understanding trends and projections.  To quote the authors:

 The antidote for uncertainty is relevant information.  The problem is sifting through the data prior to an incident to determine which information is critical for taking the correct preventive course of action.

 

 3.  Concentration of resources:  As any economist will tell you, productive resources are scarce.  Consequently, they should be allocated with the best outcome in mind.  This applies to tangible resources (like people, tools, and credit) and intangibles like time, strategies, and reputation.  Specialization is economical – in the best possible way.  According to the authors:

 Two simple rules govern concentration of resources: 1) it is an error to attempt to concentrate everywhere; the result is no concentration.  2) the more tightly focused your concentration, the more sure you are to have winning superiority.

 Read all about these time-tested principles in this well-written book.  You’ll be glad you did.

 

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009.

Market strategy poll

Please participate in this poll on your current approach to marketing. THANKS!