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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Addicted Customers: Get 'em Hooked on Your Company

Why Authenticity and Why Now?

Authenticity. Sure, everyone knows it's the currency of the blogosphere. It's also become legal tender for any business striving to succeed in the 21st century.

So, “Why authenticity and why now?” Enter Addicted Customers, the
John I. Todor book, which serves as a manual for Book cover of Addicted Customers by John I. Todor, Ph. D. | CRM | Customer Relationship Marketing | B2B Copywriting
companies looking to build long-lasting, highly profitable relationships with
their customers.

It was my pleasure to see Professor Todor speak to the Northern California Chapter of the Business Marketing Association. He made the concepts in his book real for me in a personal way I explain below. Unintentionally, he converted me to the Mac!

First, a quick overview of this groundbreaking book followed by a closing thought for copywriters.

Addicted Customers Answers Both

With a bevy of research, Addicted Customers answers the “Why authenticity?” part by pointing out how our higher needs (e.g., friendship, family, self esteem, confidence, achievement, respect, morality, creativity, spontaneity, challenge, and acceptance of the transcendent aspects of life) outweigh the things we presumably have under control (i.e., biological needs like breathing, food, water, sleep, and digestion, plus the security concerns of person, property, health, and employment).

As for, “Why now,” Professor Todor gives Economics 101 a reality check. Consumers may still seek to “maximize their utility” from every transaction, but today, most physical goods are in abundance, information overload is the norm, and fulfillment of our higher needs is where scarcity hurts. Aggravating this scarcity is the common perception that most businesses are greedy, out to win in a zero sum game.

Value is in the Heart, not the Hands

For companies whose dealings with customers focus on efficiency and the transaction itself, it's time to “think different.” The new conditions that define value are not locked up in the product itself. Rather, they reside in the positive state of being the product helps the customer to experience.

Companies that “get it” enjoy loyal customers who will scrimp in other areas to splurge in theirs. These customers will evangelize the company to their family and friends. They'll even take the time to provide you valuable feedback.

Companies that continue business as usual will slip into commodity status in a never ending cycle of discounting and touting of advantages their rivals duplicate ever more quickly.

A Personal Example – What Won Me Over to a Mac

When I saw Professor Todor speak, unintentionally, he converted me to the Macintosh. Never having owned a Mac, I'd never set foot in an Apple store before. When Todor explained how every Apple store has a “Genius Bar” where an Apple employee will help you do anything you want on your Mac at no charge, I was stunned.

OK, don't laugh or ask, “Eric, have you been living under a rock?” Welcome me to the fold instead… ;)

In Summer 2004, I went to BestBuy, bought an HP laptop running Windows XP, and purchased a 3 year warranty from the Geek Squad. The warranty was restricted to hardware issues only. You're on your own for software. So, whom do you go to for software matters? Microsoft? HP? BestBuy? GeekSquad?

What does this say to me? Right or wrong, “No one in this quartet wants to step up to the plate, and help make my life easier – at my convenience, anyway.” Instead of converting me to a religion and future evangelism, I'm thrown into a state of guarded, resentful stinginess, even if no single party is at fault.

The very thought that I could take a short drive, pull up a chair, talk with a human face to face, and get to the heart of a software matter was an epiphany. You can bet my next laptop will be a Mac.

Coming Full Circle

It's not that a Mac will let me do something impossible with a PC. For me, the value is not in the Mac itself. It's in how much further along I can get in my business with smart help and no consulting fee holding me back and how that makes me feel . If I pay a hundred or two hundred dollars more for a Mac upfront, I know I'll make that back in one round at a Genius Bar.

It costs Apple to run the store and staff it with savvy people, but they win down the line. The store is more than a place for transactions. It's somewhere to hang out and learn. And more sales for Apple along the way.

This is relationship marketing above and beyond the transactional focus of “recency, frequency, and monetary value.” Each side gives up something in the short term to reap higher value in the future.

Beat a Path to Addicted Customers

Addicted Customers lays out a path companies large and small can follow to transform their appeal from product and transaction to experience and life-enhancement. It's packed with examples that range from mom and pop restaurants to enterprise software.

Timeless wisdom. Timely advice. Tap into it.

The Authenticity Economy: People don't Change, Circumstances Do

What's fascinating here is keeping sight of what's eternal and what changes. Human nature is a constant. Our needs may evolve from basic to higher order, but that's just our core adaptation mechanism at work. What drives that adaptation is changing – society and technology.

How this interplay of human nature, society, and Web 2.0 interact in what I term, the “Authenticity Economy,” is a theme I will explore in future posts and articles.

A Special Note for Copywriters

After drawing an analogy between product and copywriter as that of racehorse and jockey, copywriting legend, Gary Bencivenga writes:

“Remember that most businesses make real money only on repeat sales. While a good copywriter can make a prospect hopeful enough to try a product, he or she can't make that customer delighted enough to buy it again. Only you and your product can do that.”

The timeless upshot for copywriters is to align themselves with companies that are champion racehorses in their space. Addicted Customers gives copywriters a modern way to identify the right breed.

Your Turn to Howl

If you have any thoughts on:

  • Addicted Customers
  • the future of customer relationship marketing (CRM)
  • the future of copywriting, or
  • how both CRM and copywriting are changing,
please add your comments below.

To your marketing success,

Eric Rosen
Strategic Marketing Writer
Clear Crisp Communications
Easier to Read Means More Sales and Leads

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

How to Inject “Stealth Selling” into a Press Release


Writers often feel constrained by the strict journalistic conventions, which govern press releases. They cover the 5 W’s in the first paragraph with little or no flourish for fear the media will reject a press release as too “salesy.”

We, the readers, wind up with something all too dry. Worse still, it’s as if copy based on how the customer benefits is off-limits. This leaves many corporate press releases to focus on the company or product features instead. The net effect is a self-centeredness, which borders on hubris and what could be more boring?

The press release we tune up today is refreshingly free of excessive ego. It falls down on some of the basics of press release writing and we call attention to those in passing. What’s more interesting is how we can inject “stealth selling” into this press release, keep it engaging, and not trigger sales resistance.

No, this is not Neuro-Linguistic Programming and there are no “subliminable” messages either.

Get in a Groove with Gruuve

Gruuve provides the combination of a search engine for online music collecting with a social networking site. I met one of the company principals at a Silicon Valley mixer not too long ago and got a quick yet thorough summary of who’s who in this interesting market niche. Some time since then, they revamped their site and the press release I saved to my computer for future reference was removed. In the spirit of “all publicity is good publicity,” I hope they don’t mind my pointing to a cached Google listing.

Copywriting Tune-up



GRUUVE To Launch Web Music Engine

July 25, 2006

SANTA CLARA, CA. GRUUVE today announced the launch of the Gruuve Web Music Engine.

Gruuve provides users with tools and services to organize and manage their music, podcasts and audio files in one place. Users can upload their music to their Gruuve account, create playlists, plug and play into iTunes, get discography information for their music library. Gruuve has over 20,000,000 million song titles from over 1,500,000 albums for over 400,000 artists. Users can also create their on web page, invite friends, blog and much more.

Presently the music engine supports only MP3 files.

Gruuve also enables users to bookmark their favorite artists in their account to quickly access breaking news, get information on tours and new releases. This removes the frustration of signing up for multiple fan club web sites, creating multiple profiles and remembering multiple passwords.

Our goal at Gruuve is to connect everything music in one place.

For your free account please visit

For: GRUUVE Music Search & Syndication Street, City, State Zip

Contact: Person, Email / Phone


GRUUVE Launches Web Music Engine

Online Service Unites Fans, Music, and Events on Social Networking Platform

SANTA CLARA, CA., July 25, 2006 - Countless people worldwide collect music, label it, create it, publish it, promote it, and enjoy it with their friends. Such love of music brings them together at GRUUVE, an online social network focused on music. The new service makes available 20 million songs from more than 1.5 million albums and 400,000 artists. In addition, users create personal web pages, invite friends, and blog.

Music lovers use the tools and services of GRUUVE as a way to maintain their music, podcasts, and MP3 audio files. Users upload content to their GRUUVE account, create playlists, and obtain discography information for their music libraries. GRUUVE users take their music with them on their Apple iPods thanks to the plug and play capability of GRUUVE with Apple iTunes.

On GRUUVE, users bookmark their favorite artists to receive breaking news on upcoming tours and new releases. In addition, users enjoy the convenience of a single place to keep up with all their favorite acts. This eliminates the need to maintain profiles and passwords at separate fan club websites.

New users can setup free accounts at

Readability Statistics

To replicate these numbers, start with the first word of body copy onwards. This is where the Before and After versions are directly comparable. The After version is 29% more readable and shaves nearly 1.5 years off the grade level.

Thankfully, we don’t need lower readability, more SMOG, or a higher grade level as cover for our stealth selling component – more on this below.

Get Press Release Basics Squared Away

In the opening before the press release headline, it helps to include the “For:”, “Contact:”, and “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” elements. This eliminates ambiguity for whoever in the media mulls picking up your press release.

Moreover, in this post era, providing a physical address puts the issuer of the press release in a more stable light. Supplying a contact gives the media an individual to get in touch with if they have any questions. Specifying the release is for immediate use cues them that they’re free to run with the press release. Without these items, chances are, the press release will never run.

Slip a Benefit into the Headline or Sub-head

This isn’t the stealth part, but slipping a benefit into the headline or sub-head is advisable for the same reasons. The Before version offers a headline too generic and brief to convey a benefit. Also, by placing it in future tense, any benefits appear subject to doubt.

The After version places the headline firmly in the present. This removes lingering doubt and is valid to do given the network’s many participating artists, songs, and albums.

More importantly, the After version uses the sub-head to accomplish two things. One, it makes clear what Gruuve is. Two, it implicitly states that using Gruuve is fun.

Give Your Press Release a Pleasing Flow

The Before version has a fitful flow to it. There are 4 single sentence paragraphs and 2 lengthy ones. The first paragraph is a single sentence that simply restates the headline and therefore loses momentum. It does cover 4 W’s from a traditional journalistic standpoint. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a “why”, even an implicit one.

The After version recognizes that social networking and specialty search engines are still somewhat new on their own let alone together. The opening two sentences let us know that popular passions are fueling the rise of Gruuve.

This is essential to injecting stealth sales language into the press release, but let’s get back to flow. Overall, the paragraph elaborates on the headline and sub-head. The last two sentences of the paragraph flesh out the first two sentences.

The Before version dives too quickly into the low level particulars of what people can do on Gruuve. This would be better suited to a second paragraph detailing the first.

For some reason, the third paragraph is a single sentence. Its content detracts from the positive message of this press release. If there are music file formats poised to overtake MP3, I haven’t heard about them. Why call attention to it?

The After version uses its second paragraph to clarify how people use Gruuve day to day.

The fourth paragraph of the Before version and the third of the After version serve the same purpose. For some reason, the Before version includes another unexpected, single sentence as its fifth paragraph. This sentence comes across as a tagline and may raise sales resistance. More about this when we discuss “voice” in the next section.

One last point about flow in the After version. Each paragraph expands upon a noun found in the sub-head. The first paragraph addresses music as a basis for social networking. The second speaks to the music itself. The third is about fans and events. Coming out of the third paragraph, one gets the feeling there are no loose ends or areas of confusion.

Use a Consistent Voice to Keep Sales Resistance at Bay

In terms of voice, the Before version started out in third person and remained there until the second to last sentence. At that point, it entered first person. First person combined with what amounts to a tagline is bound to raise sales resistance.

The final sentence of the Before version then switches to second person voice. Sales resistance will be even higher for this sentence because it reads as a call to action in a sales piece.

The After version pre-empts sales resistance by respecting the basic journalistic requirement of maintaining third person voice unless quoting someone.

Speaking of which, adding quotes to this press release would increase credibility. For a press release to be distributed online, it might be SEO savvy to have the quote come from one of the more popular Gruuve network bloggers.

How to Inject Stealth Sales Language into a Press Release

Again, let’s be clear that we’re not talking about psychology or anything subliminal.

Everything revolves around how we handle the 5 W’s in the first paragraph. The Before version approaches this is in a conventional, journalistic way. The 5 W’s of the After version hinge around an implicit benefit to the user.

The table below compares the two on this basis:

5 W's





Music lovers


Music engine

Joining a music oriented online social network


Santa Clara

Implicitly, anywhere people want to socialize with others using music as a starting point


July 25, 2006




Implicitly, you can feed your love of music in the company of old friends and new and enjoy all the conveniences of a powerful online music management system

Wrap up

This tune up is about a philosophy of engaging the reader first so that self promotion takes care of itself. Like any sales literature, a press release must be held accountable to the same standard for justifying the reader’s continued attention. Either way, the reader’s first concern is W.I.I.F.M. – what’s in it for me.

By addressing this aspect of human nature in an objective way, using the third person voice, and keeping the text as readable as possible, a press release can have even greater selling power than an advertorial because it never blows its cover.

Do you want to raise the response rate of your collateral but feel unsure how to go about it? Contact Clear Crisp Communications for a free Q & A session.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

John Caples on Layout - for Enterprise Software Brochures?!?!

When Clayton Makepeace makes a list of books by the old masters and tells his subscribers to read them, I listen. On the list is, "Tested Advertising Methods" by John Caples, as revised in 1995 by Fred E. Hahn with a forward from David Oglivy.

This is pure gold. Be that as it may, so far, it appears to be entirely B2C oriented. Chances are, whatever it recommends is applicable to B2B either as-is or with slight modifications.

Looking for ways to apply this wisdom immediately, I thought about a debate going on at one of my clients regarding the layout of their brochures. This client develops software, which enables immigration attorneys, large corporations, and universities to:

  • process cases faster
  • balance their caseload and staff for optimum performance
  • provide their clients with self-service online.

Let's look at Caples' advice:

In choosing illustrations for your ads, you will usually get more sales if you cash in on the experience of mail-order advertisers and department stores whose experience depends on ads that produce direct, traceable sales.

Avoid weird, outlandish, or far-fetched pictures that have nothing to do with the product or service you are selling. Use pictures that attract buyers, not curiosity seekers. Here are some safe bets:

  • Pictures of the product

  • Pictures of the product in use

  • Pictures of people who use the product

  • Pictures showing the reward of using the product

What Caples says about layout was in a B2C context and more specifically, focuses on ads as opposed to brochures. Offhand, I don't think that will matter too much.

What's more important is how to adapt his advice to software. After all, software, enterprise or otherwise, is intangible and abstract by its very nature. This is the challenge.

Screenshots of an application are common in software brochures. This would dovetail with Caples' recommendation of providing "pictures of the product." Often, such images wind up as blurry representations of a complex user interface with little for the viewer to latch onto in terms of benefits - implied or explicit.

So, what do you think? How would you adapt Caples' recommendations for a software brochure?

Eric Rosen
Strategic Marketing Writer
Clear Crisp Communications
Easier to Read Means More Sales and Leads

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Awaken to a Jump of 1,000,000+ on Technorati

Returning from a Trip to Mars

90 days. A whole business quarter. In the blogosphere, this might as well be an eternity. And yet, this is how long it's been since my last post to Copywriting Tune-ups. Due to a raft of work that flooded in around Thanksgiving, yours truly has been away from this blog and blogs in general.

Have you ever returned to some place you'd been away from for a very long time? Did a lot change while you were gone?

Seeing all kinds of new widgets on people's blogs is like returning to one's old stomping grounds only to find buildings extended, traffic lights added to what used to be stop sign intersections, and more flashy signs everywhere.

More for you

And yet, this is no excuse for the dearth of posts in this time. If you subscribed to Copywriting Tune-ups, you came to expect thought-provoking makeovers of marketing literature and inspired marketing insights. Going forward, you will get this and more.

As a rule, I never use the words, "and more" without serious justification. But first, let's address the title of this post. Then, we'll talk about and more.

Catapulted by the Z-List

Believe it or not, at the time of the last post to Copywriting Tune-ups, its Technorati ranking was approximately 1,240,000. As of this writing, it's at 118,074!

If you've haven't heard of the Z-List, the idea started with Mark Collier's blog, Viral Garden. In an effort to turn Technorati's "authority ranking" on its ear, Mark created the Z-List. Designed to spread like a chain letter, the Z-List is a collection of links to other blogs that bloggers copy and paste into their own blogs. Each blogger adds links to their favorite under-noticed marketing and writing related blogs. With more inbound links, the receiving blogs increase their authority ranking on Technorati.

On December 21, 2006, Roberta Rosenberg, The Copywriting Maven, added Copywriting Tune-ups to the Z-List and many others have followed her lead. To Roberta, I am eternally grateful. And a huge thanks to those who have shown "link-love" to Copywriting Tune-ups since. I'll link to your blogs from the chrome of this blog. If you linked to Copywriting Tune-ups and you don't see yours in the chrome, contact me.

Check the Reality Check

I've always been amazed at the growth in subscribers to Copywriting Tune-ups - even before the Z-List. On the other hand, to date, it's not been the kind of blog where people comment very much. Since blog reading software makes subscribing to blogs as casual as email, I got to thinking, "It's hard to know if folks think they're getting value out of this blog. With new business coming from other sources, maybe it's best to focus my energies elsewhere."

Wake up and Smell the Signs

Perhaps, I should have known things were stirring. A well-known copywriter gets in touch and asks me to review his book on my blog (I don't review anything until I've fully consumed it and I'm almost done - it is a page-turner, so stay tuned).

The other day, AutoRoll recommends using their widget in this blog after telling me their search on Technorati turned up Copywriting Tune-ups on the first page. This rustled me out of my slumber. It took some quality time to learn of the Z-List and then pinpoint Roberta.

Well, if intrepid copywriters like Roberta Rosenberg and Richard Armstrong and vendors like AutoRoll see value in Copywriting Tune-ups, I need to get back on the stick!

Passing Along Good Karma

As inexcusable as it is, given client work took me away from the blogosphere for 90 days; I need to get up to speed on other worthy blogs who could use some link-love. If you have any suggestions to add to the Z-List, contact me. I can't guarantee I'll include every suggestion, but I will carefully consider every one that comes in.

And Now... Your And More

Even more overdue than a post to this blog is a free eZine from Clear Crisp Communications, my copywriting business. It'll be packed full of readability tips and tricks. It'll start out monthly and eventually go weekly. If you have suggestions for the name, please, get in touch. Also, if you're interested in contributing, speak up.

Also, Copywriting Tune-ups will expand it's coverage to selected B2C topics as well. Catalog copywriting, real estate, and direct mail will enter the mix. Ultimately, all of the B2B and B2C coverage will have the common thread of readability as a pivotal way to turn on readers' hot buttons for higher conversion rates.

Finally, the Clear Crisp Communications website will soon offer online tools for calculating Flesch Ease of Reading, Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level, SMOG, and something else I'm calling "The Ego-meter."

It's great to be back. Looking forward to a lively exchange.

Eric Rosen
Strategic Marketing Writer
Clear Crisp Communications
Easier to Read Means More Sales and Leads

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Turning Clicks Into Leads Through Search Engine Optimization: The New E-Book by Dianna Huff

The new e-book, "Turning Clicks Into Leads Through Search Engine Optimization," by Dianna Huff, fills a major void in the literature on this vital subject. Dianna characteristically over delivers without overwhelming the reader. In addition to learning what it takes to rank respectably on Google, you get clear guidance on the site design issues and copywriting necessary to convert your visitors into sales and leads.

If you're not technical but need to get up to speed, you've found your resource. I have enough technical experience to be dangerous and did some initial forays into SEO/SEM for my own site last summer. I got something out of it but felt like I was chasing tactics without enough of a strategic framework to tie it all together.

Turning Clicks Into Leads Through Search Engine Optimization E-Book CoverNow, thanks to this comprehensive primer, it's much easier to:

  • Formulate a strategy
  • Decide what to do myself
  • Farm out the rest to others


Dianna resolves those irksome micro issues like singular vs. plural keywords, the sequence of words in a phrase, where in the page to place these things, the value of meta tags, and anything else about our own sites we can change for the better immediately.

Then, there are the things we can do to improve our ranking which involve reaching out to others like writing articles for syndication, obtaining inbound links from other relevant and credible sites, and so much more. Dianna handles this with aplomb. Here, something about her writing style and approach reminds me of another writer I admire, Marcia Yudkin.

In short, if you're looking for something easy to read with plenty of examples and just enough theory to put things in context, purchase this book. Are you serious about:

  • Catapulting your site higher in the rankings,
  • Attracting qualified leads, and
  • Writing copy to increase the follow through on your call to action?
I thought so. Then, don't walk, RUN. Get Dianna Huff's e-book, " Turning Clicks Into Leads," today.

To your marketing success,

Eric Rosen
Strategic Marketing Writer
eric.rosen AT
Clear Crisp Communications
Easier to Read Means More Sales and Leads

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Writing MarCom for Collaboration Technologies

As mentioned in the first two posts to Copywriting Tune-ups, collaboration technology is an area I find inherently compelling.

This week and last, I've immersed myself in the SaaS sector (Software as a Service) reading analyst reports, blogs, and company websites. The rest of the time, I spent getting up to speed with a suite of collaborative office applications provided by an up-and-coming player in the emerging productivity segment of SaaS. It's all sinking in and I'll be writing a good chunk of MarCom for them as 2006 gives way to 2007.

Given my rants about the need for plain English in B2B marketing materials, I thought I'd share a sample published last week. The American Society for Training & Development came across a white paper I wrote last spring on collaborative storyboarding for e-learning design. They asked if they could adapt it for their online eZine, Learning Circuits. I was jazzed, to say the least.

I think the white paper and article would be a good deal simpler and snappier if I had known back then about the Flesch Reading Ease metric and the ability of Word to call out passive sentences. Still, it does a good job of agitating for a new way of doing things, and of this, I'm proud.

I hope you'll read it.

In the last post, The Virtuous Circle of Plain English MarCom, I made the argument for Plain English MarCom as a way to achieve market advantage without your competitors realizing what hit them until it's too late.

If you're seriously considering plain English MarCom as a component of your strategy to win market share, let's talk.

To your marketing success,

Eric Rosen
Strategic Marketing Writer
eric.rosen AT
Clear Crisp Communications
Easier to Read Means More Sales and Leads

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Virtuous Circle of Plain English MarCom

You vote with your subscription and I can't thank you enough. As of yesterday, Copywriting Tune-ups passed the 1,000 subscriber mark in fewer than 90 days.

I take this as a sign plain English marketing communications for B2B marketers is an idea whose time has come. By not bombarding our readers with jargon and corporate-speak, we can't help but to come across as warmer, more human. Speak from the customer's point of view and explain what's in it for them and you have a recipe for sales, leads and loyalty.

This is not only a matter of doing things right but doing the right thing and how the two form a virtuous circle.

Consider a dysfunctional example first. In many states around the country, insurance companies are compelled by law to offer their customers contracts written in plain English. What required the state to get involved? Widespread customer dissatisfaction.

Assaulted with phrases like, "Party of the second part waives its right to trial by jury in a court of competent jurisdiction provided the party of the first part...," how can a customer feel like a customer, let alone, "King?"

By the way, what metric do they use to gauge this? Our erstwhile friend, the Flesch Reading Ease! To be considered plain English, the contract must score 40 - 50. When I see a technology company's marketing literature score a 30, I'm in awe.

This may be over-simplifying, but high customer-satisfaction ultimately translates to shareholder satisfaction. By no means do I wish to elevate copy beyond its rightful place, but let's face it. B2B companies have access to the same offshore labor pools, the same technologies, the same capital sources, and comparable executive talent. And yes, any one of them can hire a top notch marketing writer, but how many of them do?

So, copy beckons as your competitors' Achilles heel. Exploit this opening and your gain in market share will leave them wondering what's missing from their technology mix. By the time they catch on, it's too late.

This new way of doing things right is the right thing to do because it's a win-win all around. Customers and prospects win because your copy treated them respectfully when no one else would - they understand your value proposition and follow your call-to-action thanks to your plain English literature free from jargon and corporate-speak. You win because your company strengthens its market position. Shareholders win because they earn a higher rate of return for practically no additional investment.

Too facile an argument? Maybe. Plausible? Definitely.

To your marketing success,

Eric Rosen
Strategic Marketing Writer
Clear Crisp Communications
Easier to Read Means More Sales and Leads

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