Keeping up with WordPress 2.6.5

WordPress 2.6.5 was announced today — bypassing the 2.6.4 designator which was used for a fake version. The official advice is “There is not and never will be a version 2.6.4.”.

This patches a minor security issue (always a worthwhile reason to upgrade) as well as 3 bugs. Personally, I’m waiting for 2.7.x for my next major site code update — preferably 2.7.1 or later, as I try and avoid a major “point” upgrade to avoid any coding bugs that slipped by. But in the meantime I’ll keep an eye on security updates — they’re often worth it!

After several years on FreeBSD/Apache, I can use SSH/Telnet nowadays to do my big upgrades — saves unzipping the files locally and updating files via FTP — that takes about four times as long! Took me a while to figure that one out!

A new copywriting forum

In the past, one of the big copywriting forums was run by Michel Fortin — one I was a member of for the past couple of years. Pete Godfrey jokingly refers to my time on the boards as “lurking” — although I posted much more than I lurked! It was a great resource to learn from and share, and meet some nice copy folk from around the world.

However, it did have some rather hot debates at times about politics and religion, which I usually kept well away from. Those debates, and some other discussions, really caused the board to become a hassle to Michel — and for many reasons, he’s put the board on ice.

In many ways, running a resource like that brings benefits to the board owner. A targeted list of members to communicate with via email (to bring traffic to your other sites); advertising on the board to help cover costs and “eyeballs” that can bring traffic to your other sites are benefits to the board owner and to active participants. So for many reasons it was sad to see Michel’s forum go by the wayside: hopefully that will work out well for Michel — I know I’ll still be keeping up with his great blog.

I only found out while at a Platinum meeting in Perth last week, when a friend (and excellent copywriter) Bill Dimitrovski told me at the bar that the board had shut down. Buried in Platinum for several days, I had no idea!

However, after jumping onto the copywriting forums at Digital Point and Warriors Forum, I found that one of the long time members of Michel’s board — Bruce Wedding — has started up a new forum: the Copywriting Board.

The Copywriting Board screenshot

Hopefully the active members of Michel’s forum, along with new members, will get the new board up and going quickly — it already appears to be happening, with plenty of activity in the first few days of the Copywriting Board.

I was pretty chuffed too when Bruce gave me 10 karma for creating the new board’s favicon image!

Anyway — it’s a great place for all levels of copywriting discussion, from rookie to advanced, whether on marketing, copywriting and even related design, and of course for critiques. I think this new “hangout” will grow quickly into a great resource, not unlike Michel’s forum but hopefully without the heated debates (different rules should help fix that!).

The forums are a great place to exchange ideas, meet other copywriters, get some input into your work, have a bit of fun and keep on learning. Whilst there are forums on copywriting within the Warriors Forum, at Digital Point forums and via Clayton Makepeace’s Total Package, there is certainly room for the Copywriting Board.

Long may it stay active!

Rhythm of Three

At the Copywriting Masterclass last week in Brisbane, Pete Godfrey revealed how he often grouped three benefits together in a headline as there was quite a rhythm to this combination and was useful in grabbing attention.

I’ve since discovered — thanks to a link to an article on About.com by GrammarGirl on Twitter — that these series of three parallel words, phrases, or clauses are called tricolons.

The article, by Richard Nordquist — an About.com Guide to Grammar and Composition — reveals Obama’s powerful use of rhetoric in the victory speech he gave after last week’s US Presidential win: have a look for yourself at:

Barack Obama’s Secret for Stirring a Crowd

It’s a very easy to follow example of the persuasive power of tricolons in action.

Reflecting on the Masterclass

Well we’ve been home about a week now and back into the swing of work (although I have a terrible cold, but that’s another thing — hopefully to be fixed very quickly by Jim Humble’s Miracle Mineral Supplement).

One of the great parts about any event of course is the other participants, and the chance to catch up, swap resources and stories, chat and network.

It was great to catch up again with copywriter Kevin Francis, hear about the work he’s been successfully doing and find out a bit more about him. But it wasn’t until I looked at Kevin’s Maximum Results Copywriting blog that I realise that Kevin has also completed Tony Robbins’ Mastery University program, and also was at one of David Garfinkel’s workshops where he met well-known top copywriters like Michel Fortin, Peter Stone, Carl Galletti, Brian Keith Voiles (one of my heroes that I love to study), Craig Perrine and a host of others.

Pete Godfrey (left) and Kevin Francis at the Copywriting Masterclass
Pete Godfrey (left) and Kevin Francis at the Copywriting Masterclass

Sometimes the best discussions at a live event are in the bar, on the break or even at the airport on the way home! That’s really one of the great bonuses of the live “immersive” environment — just as much value can come from the stage as well as from everyone else attending.

Like Pete Godfrey said at the event, and I’ve heard before, you never want to be too smart for the room and think you don’t need to be at these types of events!

Markets Won’t Die

I was filling myself with brain juice today at trendwatching.com with the November trend briefing and noticed a link to this story: Luxury market to contract in 2009.

Scary, huh?

Or not really?

Well, it seems like a “captain obvious” headline to me … based on the current economic environment, this type of headline is not really surprising. Media sensationalism that attracts eyeballs and sells ads.

You could, of course, act like a wailing worker sheep drone and moan about more of the “bad news” that’s bringing down civilisation.

Or, you could read the story about more closely and find opportunity where it might not have otherwise obviously appeared.

Here’s what you’ll find in the story:

The (personal) luxury goods market — which has steadily expanded for more than a decade — is expected to slip between 3 percent and 7 percent in 2009, to between €163 billion (US$214.9 billion) and €170 billion (US$224.13 billion) in sales, according to a new study by consultants Bain & Co. presented at a conference of more than 50 top Italian luxury goods producers.

So the market is still ONLY somewhere between US$214.9 and $224.13 BILLION.

They even report that next year’s result “won’t impact the long-term business outlook”.

Of course, if you’re Chicken Little, then you’ll read the headline and believe the sky is falling in. But if you’re a smart cookie, you’ll see well beyond the gloomy headlines and realise there’s still a mass of opportunity that may fluctuate, but certainly won’t vanish. Clever marketers will capitalise on this outlook and make it work for them.

How? Firstly, by making sure you at least keep up your regular “touches” with your best customers. Don’t let them forget who you are.

I recently created a small mailout (of just 300 postcards for a specific travel destination) for one of our travel agent clients, and they’ve already got a 5.3% response (that’s holiday bookings, not just enquiries) — translating into tens of thousands in extra business.

It doesn’t take rocket science to do that. While others are worried about what’s going on, smart marketers are doing what they need to do to stand out against their opposition. Marketing stands out even more when your competitors slow down their activities! And like the example above, it doesn’t need to cost a fortune.

As I’ve heard from both Tony Robbins and Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars Episode I, your focus determines your reality!