Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Xara Web Designer and Web Site Communicator

Greetings and good evening to all my friends and
subscribers, old and new. Steve Schneiderman here, live in
Tulsa, OK, with a variety of interesting marketing tidbits
and advice.

It's 5 pm and I really should be going home for dinner and
spending time with family, but I wanted to share a few items with
you I found of interest.

First, a few months ago I reviewed Xara Web Designer. I
explained the many features which were different from a
standard HTML web editor, and some people expressed
interest in seeing a real live site. Here's one I am
finishing up for a client:


The first step in creating this site was to establish the
look and feel. Originally, the client had a very different
look in mind with a logo he created himself. I convinced
the client to abandon his vision in favor of a more
professional and corporate look and feel.

Using a combination a client head shot and a blurred
royalty-free photo in the background, we created the
initial business setting and established the client with
the web site visitor. Using Killer Text 2 we rendered the
company name in gold and the slogan beneath it in a
contrasting color.

The rest of the look and feel of the site comes from Xara
Web Designer's built-in library of page and graphic element
designs. I pulled in a vertical navigation bar and added the
page names to the buttons.

Next I set the page background and borders, title color,
and body styles and fonts. I started laying the text in and
adjusted margins and font size so the text could be easily scanned.

Truth is, the site needs to be deeper, and as the client's
new business evolves we'll add more content and enhance the
navigation. The client wanted to write his own copy and we
"word-smithed" it in a few places. The client also wanted
to use some clip art to support his service description

Using the import feature, we added the client's clip art to
the pages in question, and used the repel text feature to
place the graphic where we wanted it, and to wrap the text
around it dynamically. This is a very cool feature. It's
like dragging your finger through water and watching the
ripples of text flow around the clip-art. Makes page layout
fun and cool.

We did run into a challenge with adding the form. While
Xara Web Designer does enable you to add META tags, page
names, and even embed tracking code from Google Analytics,
it does not have a built-in form designer. I contacted Xara
support and they suggested I use a third-party site to
create my form code. I know how to write form code, but I
couldn't figure out how to add the form code to the Contact Us

Xara sent me a link to a support document which explained I
could draw a rectangle where I wanted the form, and then
right click to substitute and embed the form code. I didn't
believe it would work until I previewed the page and sure
enough my form appeared! This was much easier than I

Of course, I use PHP to handle my forms on my server, so I
had to do a little hand-editing of the thank you page, but
all in all, I designed the site, added the copy and
artwork, added the form and tracking code in about 4 hours
time or less.

Making client changes was very easy in Xara Web Designer. I
just opened the project, went to the page in question, and
then made the change and previewed it to make sure it was
right. When I was done, I simply exported the site, zipped
up the files, and uploaded it to my server. Worked like a

I think Xara Web Designer is definitely worth its weight in
gold, and I highly recommend it to you for rapid application
of web sites.

You can learn more about it here:


If you want to see samples of Killer Text 2, check it out


Second thing I wanted to touch upon was Web Site Communicator.
This is a unique combination of services from another client
in Canada.

Web Site Communicator enables you to add a live video window
to your web site. People can interact with you through audio,
video or text chat without downloading any software. It has
many other neat features, and I have implemented it across
many of my web sites. Trouble is as business has picked up,
I'm rarely sitting in front of the PC these days.

Well, the folks at WSC have come up with a new feature that
is going to revolutionize social networking on FaceBook. Stop
whatever you are doing and go here right now to see how you
can add a live video window your FaceBook page for pennies
a day:


Until next time,


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Staying Focused

Good day to you. It's a sweltering 100 degrees in Tulsa
today, and I am hunkered down in my air conditioned office
packing the hours in to yet another day. No breakfast, no
lunch. You'd think I would lose weight, but I've learned
the hard way that not doing something does not mean you can
expect the opposite outcome. Not eating does not burn fat.
Not eating only makes you hungry.

It's the same in business. I watch companies trying to save
money by not investing in their marketing. Like not spending
money makes you money. Where did people ever get this idea
from in the first place? It amazes me. It's like business
owners have suddenly gotten "sales amnesia". Yeah, yeah,
that's the ticket. If I just stop spending money on
marketing, advertising and promotion, I'll save money and
actually make money. Yeah, yeah. Can I have a Jon Lovitz
amen, please?

What's your plan for improving your business? Make bigger,
better widgets? Ship'em faster than the competition? That
type of strategy may -- and that's a BIG may -- allow
business as usual for a while, but it sure does nothing for

Here's what I've been doing.

I made a client profile. I wrote down the common traits of
my best clients. That helped me see where I was wasting
time and money and effort with new prospects.

The perfect client for me is someone who has a vacuum in
marketing. There's no one really watching the marketing
bucket, there's no strategy or vision, no short or
long-term goals, no integrated sales-marketing effort, just
doin' the same old, same old and hopin' it don't break.

The perfect client is a visionary with a unique product or

The perfect client is a brilliant engineer with the ability
to see a need and fill it.

But they don't know how to do what I know how to do. And
that's the difference.

What do your clients know how to do really well, and where
do they fall apart? That's where you need to focus your
time and sell your products or services or knowledge.

Yes, I meet many individuals and companies who need my
services, but not all of them can afford my services. I
need to focus my energy on those who have a need for my
services and are compelled to make the investment without
question. If someone has to think twice about paying my fee
then they are not a candidate, no matter how badly they need
me or want me or how much I like them or want to help them.

Do you have a client profile? When was the last time you
really thought about it and re-focused on the best
opportunities? When was the last time you surgically
dissected your client base and analyzed the commonalities
and areas where your products or services help most? It's a
good exercise, people. Try it.

And it doesn't matter if you are an author trying to sell
an ebook or a consultant servicing other companies. It
doesn't matter whether you are consumer based, commercial
focused, a self-employed individual or a full-time
corporate employee. The exercise is equally important
whether you sell a product or service or you sell yourself
internally to the corporate machine.

Now what distracts us from being focused and pushes us into
areas which result in lost time and money?

Well, oddly enough, the answer can be found in James
1:13-18: "shifting shadows".

Shifting shadows are things which tempt us from going in
the direction we know we should be going in. It can come in
the form of "low hanging fruit" opportunities which have
nothing to do with our core products, core services or
career or life goals.

Shifting shadows present opportunities where there are
truly none. They make us think -- "yeah, I could do that"
-- when the reality is you may be able to do it but should

I know from past experience I have frequently gotten
involved in smaller projects because I thought I could help
someone only to discover that the person who came to me
really didn't want or need my help. They could probably
have solved their problem on their own over time. These
instances tend to distract me from larger opportunities
that are more in tune with the value I bring to the table.

So stay away from shifting shadows and stay focused.

OK, this week's tip for the week to get more traffic to
your web site is to write a press release and distribute it

This is a simple task requiring no more than an hour to
write a good story and another hour to post it online. Or
you can use PRWeb.com to do it for $300.00.

Why use this approach?

Simple: back links and improved organic search engine

Back links are other sites that link to yours. The more you
have, the higher in the search engines you go. The greater
your popularity, the higher your rank.

It's simple math.

Need a compelling press release? $150.00 gets it done plus
I will post it to a few sites for you at no extra cost. Or
you can submit it to PRWeb.com and see an increase in traffic

One press release I recently did helped a young man gain
prominence with AOL Health and become a featured writer for

Another press release sent over 800 unique visitors to a
valve manufacturer - talk about your niches - and the
release also got picked up by another national publication,

It works and I'd love to help you. Only have time for
three. First come, first served. PayPal $150.00 to

Watch out for shifting shadows and stay focused.

All my best,


Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Special Gift for My Loyal Blog Readers

I have a little gift for you today.

Do you want to know the secret to doubling or even tripling
your product sales?

It's your ebook cover, your special report cover, or your
software box cover.

While there are many tools available to help you create
a cover of your own, no one ever tells you *how* to design
a cover that will sell ... until now.

Download a free chapter from my best-selling ebook,
"Designing Ebook Covers" and learn the design process,
step by step, from a seasoned pro.


Until next time,


Friday, June 19, 2009

Lessons My Kids Taught Me

Good morning on this bright, steamy day in lovely Tulsa,
OK. I hope my email finds you and yours well. Life's been
keeping me and my family busy. My son just turned 10 last
Saturday and is on his way to becoming a tween. My, how the
years pass. I'm beginning to understand the sentiments of
the song "Sunrise, Sunset" from Fiddler on the Roof: "Is
this the little boy I carried? When did he grow to be so
tall?" Sniff-sniff.

My daughter's been busy trying to raise additional funds
for her trip to Washington, D.C. in August. New subscribers
may not know, but 12 year old Alex was nominated by her
school to attend the Junior National Young Leaders
Conference -- a pretty big deal where she earns school
credit for attending this week-long seminar and listens to
luminaries speak about the importance of leadership

Alex just launched her second business. It's called Awesome
Button Chokers and you can visit her new site here:


I give her a lot of credit. She's quite artistic and has an
eye for what sells. She created this new line of fun jewelry
towards the end of the school year, and her friends bought
up everything she made.

I'm trying to talk her into starting a third business. The
other day she walked into my office and showed me a dragon
she made out of wire and beads. It was amazing. So watch
out, another business is incubating.

My son is getting jealous of his older sister's ability to
sell anything she makes, so he is wanting to create a
business of his own. Last night he said he was creating a
recipe book and was anxious for me to try out his first creation.
I watched him carefully make chocolate milk and then add a
teaspoon of sugar. He proudly walked over to me and asked
me to taste it. I smiled and sipped the sweet chocolate
milk. He smiled back.

I'm not sure his recipe book is going to sell. When you
base your success on the success of a pre-existing product
(chocolate milk) by only adding a little value (sugar),
it's hard to build a successful business. How many of you
are doing the same thing?

Now my son does have a definitive talent for numbers and
shapes. He taught himself multiplication and division in
2nd grade and was doing 4th grade level math by the time
2nd grade ended. In fact, he placed 3rd in the country for
his grade level in Kumon math that year.

Chris will spend hours playing with Legos. I spent $49.00
on a new Star Wars Lego kit for his birthday last week. He
put together 500 pieces in less than an hour. Then he took
it apart and rebuilt a dozen different vehicles, devices
and weapons. He was much happier creating his own designs.
Is that you?

So I told Chris to port his Lego designs to the Net and
sell them for 50 cents each in downloadable format. I'm
waiting for him to show me the first one, and then I will
build up a site for him. Who knows? Maybe he can earn his
college tuition this way.

So enough about my kids.

How is your business coming along? Is there anything I can
do for you? Are you feeling the economic down turn? What
are you doing to combat lower revenue?

Talk to me. I am available.

Until next time,


Friday, June 12, 2009

Good and Bad Sales Letters

Soggy day in T-Town and my son's 10th birthday is tomorrow!
Hope it doesn't rain as he has a bunch of friends expecting
to go swimming. If you've ever been in a similar situation,
please give me some ideas for contingency plans.


Last I wrote I recommended a product called Flash Optins
which is a collection of really well-designed Flash
animated opt-in boxes for newsletter subscription. Trouble
is this guy's sales letter is full of errors. Out of about
1200 subscribers, 36 visited the site and no one made a

Was this guy's sales page that bad? Some wrote to
me -- hot on my discussion about the importance of good
sales copy -- and told me they found the page horrifying!
Do poorly written sales pages have a negative effect on
sales? I'd say so and that little experiment is proof.

Here's two more sales pages to look at:


This is a great collection of animated GIFs -
professionally designed - and you get the PhotoShop PSD
file to customize them. The sales page is neat, well
designed, offers sample graphics and a video demonstrating
how to use the tools. Does this sales letter work better
for you?


This is a collection of 15 videos - well produced and very
clear in their instruction - which teach you how to use all
of the fine features of the popular aWeber sequential
autoresponder system. The sales letter is a typical mini
site that doesn't waste a lot of time with sales copy. Does
it work for you as is or does it need something more?

Let me hear back from you with your comments. And if you
found a really bad sales letter somewhere, let me know!
We'll share it and discuss it next time.

All my best,


Friday, June 05, 2009

Top Ten Mistakes Web Sites Make: Summary

Good afternoon. I've been at the PC since 7:00 am and
decided it was time to take a break and gab with friends.

Last time I wrote to you, I touched upon the importance of
compelling sales copy, and the challenges most folks have
writing it. This week I want to summarize the top ten
mistakes most businesses make with their web sites and I
want to suggest a method to rate your own web site.


Over the past few weeks I have been invited to visit many
company's websites and to provide some constructive
feedback to them on ways to improve them.

I think you need to start off with the right frame of mind:
your web site is a critical part of your marketing and
promotion, and you need to treat it that way.

The Yellow Pages are dead (or dying depending upon the city
you live in). 95% of folks use Google to find what they are
looking for, and if you don't make it easy to find your
website, and if your website does a mediocre job of selling
you then you're doomed. Plain and simple.

Make your site is easy to read and navigate so people can find
the information they are looking for quickly and easily.

Always put your best foot forward when it comes to design
and copy – hire a professional whenever you can. It pays
dividends. You stick to your key strengths and let an
expert in design and copy handle your site for you.

Use your site to build loyalty and a sense of community
among your customers. Stay in touch with your subscribers
and never, never stop marketing to them.

Update your site frequently to keep the site compelling and
informative, and always maintain a watchful eye on your

The best way to self-rate your site is to list the categories
or criteria on one side, and then rate them honestly on a scale
of 1 to 10 -- the higher the score the better your site responds
in that category. Base your scores by comparing your site to
your competitors. It's hard to miss the truth this way. If you
want me to rate your site for you, email me. But don't get
defensive when I do.


I wanted to also share some successes with you. In addition
to churning out a bunch of new web sites, radio and TV
commercials, email series and sales letters, I've received
some great news from some of my clients.

Matt Lisk, author of The Burrito Diet, wrote to say that
the press release I wrote for him, attracted the attention
of America Online, and as a result he has become featured
on their Mens Fitness section!

Jennifer Jones, CEO of Seed Technologies, wrote to say a
press release I recently did for one of her clients got
picked up by a major industry publication in the valve
niche. Her client is very happy.

We're getting ready to launch a new web site for Breathe
Easy Duct Cleaning and Clean Dean's Chimney Sweep here in
Tulsa, and recently broke ground on Allied Marine's new web
site for their dock business. Elmers' Restaurant, a popular
Tulsa BBQ joint, is getting ready for us to start work on
their web site. We've completed out first truck wrap
design, and we're looking forward to seeing ESPO
Construction's new truck driving around the streets of
Tulsa. We're developing a web site and other marketing
materials for WayPoint Private Capital. And we're meeting
with a ton of other new strategic partners as a result of
our new relationship with SpiritBank. Things are busy and
we like'em that way.


I recently came across a very cool tool that I wanted to
share with you. I haven't had time to write an extensive
review, but if you want to boost your subscribers to your
newsletter then you need to strongly consider this very
slick but inexpensive tool to add some polish to your
subscription form on your web site:

Flash Optins

You will like what you see.

Until next time,