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The 5 Laws of a Remarkable Corporate Video

[Tom Clifford is an award-winning filmmaker, interesting guy and a strong believer that companies – big, small or micro – are in the story making and storytelling business. Youtube and its imitators and lesser-known video sites are disrupting and reshaping what video means. Tom’s got some good advice here if you’re about to hit the

video superhighway, or just trying to add one good screencast to your micro-ISV site that tells your story. Thanks Tom!]

By Thomas R. Clifford
Corporate Documentary Filmmaker & Story Katalyst

Ever think about having your own marketing video?

Sure you have. You’ve probably wanted your own corporate video for the longest time.

With so many businesses producing their own marketing videos, not having your own video is like throwing money into your competition’s hands.

Heck…you might even own a fancy video camera with all the latest editing software. Oh, yeah…you even have your own free, worldwide broadcast network, remember? YouTube.

So you’re good to go, right? Nope. Not so fast. What will make your video stand out from the others? How will it be different so your potential customers will notice you?

Here are five ideas to move your audience into action using an authentic corporate video.

As a veteran documentary filmmaker, there are several natural “laws” I follow to produce a “remarkable” corporate video. They will work for anybody, including you. These ideas are an expanded view from my “10 Tips to Create Your Remarkable Corporate Video” post.

1. The Law of Story.

From my lens, tools do not a story make. They never have; they never will.

Do you know the secret DNA code for your video? It’s your story. Period.

Not the latest hi-tech gear. Not those cool, whiz-bang-eye-catching effects. Not that slick camera with all the tricks built-in. How about that wicked new software? Nope.

Story “makes” video. YOUR story is YOUR video.

So here is the formula: your remarkable story = your remarkable video.

How do you make your video “remarkable?” Remember, your story is unlike anybody else’s story. WHY you do what you do holds the key to your remarkable corporate video.

Think about this for a minute.

Why do you do what you do? Go back in time; to that “A-ha!” moment. In that instant, in that single moment, you realized you could change somebody’s life for the better. That is what your audience cares about the most. That is what has to be captured in your video. Your audience wants a story. So tell them a story. Beginning, middle, end. Simple.

  1. Tell them what you do.
  2. Why you do it.
  3. How it helps them, and
  4. What it means to them.

That’s it.

Then your audience will care about you. More importantly, they will care to tell someone else.

2. The Law of Caring.

“Why should my audience care about me?” “Why would they care about my product or service?” “Will they even care about my video?”

Caring means “concerned, compassionate, kind, considerate and sympathetic.”

Why the heck should your audience be concerned and sympathetic about what you do? They’re terribly busy. You are just one click away from your competition. Boom. Whose next? They’re outta here.

Tough stuff, indeed. But once you tell your audience why they should care about you, then you offer them meaning behind the product. Then they begin to care. When they care, you have their attention.

I care about filmmaking because it literally changes people’s lives. It changes careers. Filmmaking changes our thinking, our perceptions, and our consciousness.

Your remarkable corporate video should have the same passion. People care more about authentic stories than fancy features, statistics, comparisons, charts and graphs and drop-down menus.

So…get me to care about you and your story, then I will feel connected. Then I will get emotionally involved. Then I will tell others, too.

Now that you have my attention and I care…perhaps a sale is not too far away.

3. The Law of Different Points of View.

Who ever said a scripted voice-over with video is how to create a corporate video?

To jumpstart things, consider incorporating these different points of views in your video:

  • You.
  • Current customers.
  • Potential customers.
  • Sales people.
  • Primary audience.
  • Product/service.
  • Human Resource.
  • Purchasing Department.
  • The CEO.
  • Department heads.
  • Department teams.

Each one represents a point of view, a personality, beyond yours. Now that’s different!

4. The Law of Benefits.

It’s all about me and my world. That’s how your customers think. Come to think of it, it’s how you think, too.

Connect with your customers by showing your audience the benefits of your service over your features. Why?

Because consumers buy with their emotions and feelings. Think of it this way.

Your features are food for the “left brain.” Your benefits are food for the “right brain.”

Assume for a moment that the left brain is satisfied with the features you offer; the features work, they’re cool, they’re different, they’re unique. But your viewers are still hungry. That’s where the right brain comes in; where the emotions and feeling are stored.

Ultimately, we are motivated to purchase things by our feelings and emotions. We feel good buying your product. We feel enlightened using your service. Your customers don’t feel the features. They feel your benefits. Sell the benefits. It’s about them, not you.

5. The Law of Change.

Think 30. 30 seconds, that is.

Commercials have completely re-wired our brains to think in 30 second time slots.

Your corporate video should follow the same path. Think of your five minute video as a series of 8-10 commercials; change the music and ideas every 30 seconds.

This is the best-kept secret to make people think your video is shorter than it is. Changing the pace and rhythm every 30 to 45 seconds keeps things moving and keeps your audience engaged every moment along the way.

Think of these “5 Laws of Remarkable Corporate Videos” as the foundation for your video story. They can be applied by anyone with any product or service, and easily customizable.

So…whose telling your story?

[tags] micro-ISV, corporate video, screencasts[/tags]

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Bob WalshThe 5 Laws of a Remarkable Corporate Video

Advice for Web 2.0 micro-ISVs re free trials

A while ago I wrote on some of the ways of converting prospective customers into ex-prospective customers. Yesterday, I found this excellent post at Vitamin by Sam Nurmi on the same topic for pure online services: “Create an irresistible free trial for your app”.

His main points are:

  • Signing up for a trial account should be easy and painless,
  • Do not require trial users to enter their credit card information,
  • Do not cripple the trial,
  • Include a “highlight bonus.”

Sam does a really good job: if you’re an online kind of micro-ISV (a.k.a. a Web 2.0 company), read it.

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Bob WalshAdvice for Web 2.0 micro-ISVs re free trials

The Marketing 101 podcast for micro-ISVs

Our latest The MicroISV Show just got posted by my hardworking cohost, Michael Lehman, and if you are looking for a really good intro to marketing your micro-ISV and creating a useful marketing plan – look no further. We interviewed Kevin Epstein, author of Marketing Made Easy and proprietor of the Stupid Marketing site and blog. Kevin not only understands marketing high tech – he’s been the guiding hand at several major high tech companies including VMWare – and he’s been there and now is back doing it again in the startup world.

So, download it, cue it up and enjoy as Kevin helps you get the whole marketing thing. Enjoy!

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Bob WalshThe Marketing 101 podcast for micro-ISVs

When Google AdWords Fails

[Editor Note: Dave Collins, noted UK micro-ISV marketing expert, is sharing his considerable expertise on marketing, SEO, Google AdWords and more on Fridays at MyMicroISV. Thanks Dave!]

By Dave Collins
Founder, Shareware Promotions

I’ve now been working with Google AdWords for more years than I can remember. Literally.

Over the years I have helped setup, administer and maintain a variety of AdWords accounts. As well as being a qualified Google AdWords professional, I’m currently handling almost 30 different AdWords accounts, with a combined advertising budget in the region of $80,000 per month.

Generally speaking, the vast majority of the accounts that I have handled have seen good results. Some have proven to be reasonable, while others have been staggeringly effective.

However, in any form of advertising, there is no such thing as a 100% certainty. AdWords is no different. If it was, we’d all be taking out bank loans just to raise our budgets as high as humanly possible.

There are four main reasons that I have seen for a Google AdWords account to fail.

1) The AdWords account is not set up properly.

This is by far the most likely explanation for an AdWords account not performing as hoped for. And there are more possible ways of shooting yourself in the foot than I could possibly attempt to cover.

Some of the more common mistakes include using of the wrong keywords, overly-heavy use of broad matching, inexact (or none existent) negative keywords, poorly written ads, bad landing pages, bad products, running the AdWords campaigns with a “one size fits all” approach, spending too much, spending too little, not giving changes time to kick in and much more.

I would never point any fingers, but nine times out of ten when a person tells me that AdWords doesn’t work for them, their account has not been properly set up.

2) Account not managed continuously.

“Set it and forget it” is a bad, bad idea for Google AdWords. It is an approach that spells slow and certain death for any AdWords account.

As a general rule of thumb, you need to be logging into your Google AdWords account once a week. At an absolute minimum, once every two weeks.

If you’re not doing so, then at best you may be wasting potential opportunities. At worst you may be wasting your money as well as opportunities.

And it’s not enough just to log in every now and then and raise a bid or two.

You need to keep on top of monitoring performance, adjusting bids, writing more ads, purging dead ads and keywords, experimenting with new ideas, improving quality score and more.

Look at your Google AdWords accounts in the same way you might view a car. If you never paid attention to the oil, water, tyres or gas/petrol, you might well get into serious trouble quicker than you can shout help, skid off the road and hit something large and heavy. If or when your car starts acting strangely, topping up the gas and replacing the oil probably won’t help much either.

Don’t leave your Google AdWords account to run itself.

3) No demand for what you’re selling.

Anyone who has worked in marketing for a reasonable length of time can tell you that creating demand for a product where none exists is extremely difficult.

The same principle applies to Google AdWords. You can have the best keywords, perfect matching options, beautifully written ads and an immaculately set up series of ad groups and campaigns. But if there’s no-one out there who is actively searching for your product and keywords, then AdWords isn’t for you.

In the past four years or so, I have worked with two different products where this proved to be the case. Great products, well written ads, good landing pages, well-picked and targeted keywords and a well structured account. But no one bit the bait. No one was searching for what we were offering. And it’s a depressing thing to see a 25% CTR for an average of two impressions a day.

4) A saturated marketplace with high budgets.

If you have many AdWords competitors, and worse still they’re quite active, you may be in trouble.

Why? Dave’s rule of the marketplace:

If many people are involved in activities where skill and strength are equally important, guess which will be more prevalent?

Or in the case of Google AdWords, if your many competitors can get their ads higher than yours by either spending more money or using more skill, which do you think will be the more common approach?

In the past, Google leaned heavily towards use of skill. But nowadays, sadly, spending more is almost as effective as polishing your campaigns. Think of their “to activate this keyword either increase your bid or improve your quality score” approach. Anyone with more money than sense and/or skill may be able to beat you. At least in the short term, until their money runs out.

The million Euro question is: what can you do about it? Well, you can start by accepting the fact that Google AdWords is great for most products, but not all of them.

And if you’re not sure? My advice would be to dip your toes in cautiously.

Don’t spend weeks (or longer) carefully crafting twenty five campaigns, each with 3 ad groups, hundreds of keywords and a multi-level tracking system in place. Start with the ones most likely to produce the results. Setup a campaign or two, an ad group or two, and test the waters.

If it works, you can be reasonably confident in investing more time. If it doesn’t work, try to understand why it didn’t, consider alternative approaches or get in touch with me!

One other final point, while we’re on the subject of Google AdWords.

People sometimes ask whether it’s really worthwhile paying for Google AdWords if their regular Search Engine Rankings are doing well already. In other words why pay for the ads to be displayed when your company shows up in Google’s search results anyway?

The answer is simple. You’re not paying to have your ad displayed, you’re paying for it to be clicked. And if you choose not to do so, then those very same people will be clicking on your competitor’s ads instead.

Aside from that, AdWords give you more extensive and immediate control that goes infinitely beyond anything that you can consider applying to your regular search results. Also, don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re only paying when your ads are actually working.

Ask not what you can do for Google, but what Google can do for you.

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Dave Collins is the CEO of SharewarePromotions http://www.sharewarepromotions.com, a well established UK-based software marketing company. Dave specialises in Google AdWords, Log Analysis, Online Marketing and Delegation.

Technorati Tags: Dave Collins, micro-ISVs, AdWords

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Bob WalshWhen Google AdWords Fails
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Weekly Site Review – HandyRecovery

This week’s micro-ISV volunteer for my Weekly Site Review post is Sergey Petrov, founder of Russia-based SoftLogica.

SoftLogica has no less than 7 products, but this review is focusing on the one product site Sergey volunteered: HandyRecovery – a small application for recovering deleted Windows files. However, since the other 6 product pages/sites follow the same layout and have the same issues, this is really seven reviews in one!

Here’s how HandyRecovery scored out (1 is great, 5 means it really, really needs work):

What Score First Actionable Task
USP

5

Write one! – cut the logo and tagline to make room for it.
Benefits/Features

3.5

Rewrite the main text as features.
Visuals

5

Break up the main text with at least one good screenshot.
Testimonials

4

At least put an edited version of the one testimonial on the site on the home page.
Credibility Markers

2

Link to badge sites.
Tech Support

3

See post.
Blog

5

Start one at TypePad.
Overall Average: 3.9 Do critical fixes above, then rebuild site from scratch.

USP

(The USP – Unique Selling Proposition – is the most important part of your site. It’s your first foot forward, you first impression and the basis for all else on your micro-ISV product’s site rolled into one.)

There is no USP on this site, only features and features rehashed. The tagline at the very top, “Data Recovery Software. Undelete files. Partition Recovery.”, and the Stumbleupon.com button are cute, but not a USP. Given that there are many, many Windows file recovery apps out there, what does HandyRecovery put forth as its value in a nutshell? Nothing.

Which is a shame. This product has lots going for it:

  • It’s Certified for Windows Vista by Microsoft.
  • You’ll see what the odds are to recover on a file by file basis.
  • You can create a disk image of what you’ve deleted before attempting recovery.
  • It’s been around for a while.
  • It’s easy to use.

Sergey needs to put forth the HandyRecovery USP. For example, “HandyRecovery gives you the best chance to recover files deleted in Microsoft Vista and older versions of Windows. Unlike other file recovery utilities, HandyRecovery is robust, affordable, easy to use in an emergency and proven.”

People spend money on things they want and things they need; HandyRecovery is in the latter category, and the more compelling the need, the easier it is to sell. But, you have to put the product in terms of that need.

Benefits/Features

Sigh. HandyRecovery overhypes its features and completely misses the boat that these features in and by themselves are little floating bits of information, with nice little graphics, but unconnected to the prospective customer. One third of all pages at the site are surrendered without a fight to the same six features.

Here’s how meaningless features become compelling – or at least positive – benefits.

  • Feature: “FAT12/16/32,NTFS and NTFS5 + EFS file systems support.”
  • As a Benefit: “Whether you bought your Windows PC last week or last century, HandyRecovery can recover your files. It supports the four most common hard disk formats nearly all Windows PC use: FAT12/16/32,NTFS and NTFS5 + EFS file systems support.”
  • Feature: “Option to create disk images for deferred recovery”
  • As a Benefit: “Unlike other file recovery applications that demand you stop what you’re doing, HandyRecovery lets you defer recovering files by letting you create a special image file on another logical drive.”

Visuals

Again, missing and presumed lost. If there are screenshots, screencasts, or any images at all of the app, I can’t find them. This is bad. Prospective customers don’t want ugly app on their PC’s, especially on their Vista PCs. You’ve got to pass this sniff test with at least a few visuals; it’s a great opportunity to nail down the sale with a 2 minute screencast.

Here’s what HandyRecovery.com looks like:

On the left, “Key Features”, middle is solid text, right sidebar are download, order and various badges.

Frankly, I hate this layout because:

  • About 25 % of the above the fold site is taken up with a meaningless graphic. SoftLogica has a perfectly good – and small – logo in the right sidebar.
  • The top left area – the second most important part of the screen – is an out of context sidebar of features.
  • The main area is a block of unappealing text, written in unexciting prose.
  • The layout is fixed to 800 x 600; this is way out of date.

Testimonials

Wounded and left for dead. At first, I thought there were no testimonials. Then I found one – all 413 words of it – as a link lurking on the Download page. Huh? While one is better than none, burying it two clicks away from the home pages makes very little sense.

The more urgent the need, them more testimonials matter. If you’ve just accidently deleted your manuscript, you are completely freaked out. Seeing on the home page three short testimonials by people just as freaked out as you is a strong inducement to buy.

Credibility Markers

This is the site’s strong point, such as it is. HandyRecovery has badges from Microsoft, Tucows (5 cow rating), and something called Top Ten Reviews. That’s good. But the badges don’t link back to those pages, and that’s bad.

Other self inflicted wounds: No 30 day money back guarantee, yet they take credit cards so there’s one in effect anyway. The web site does have a decent Contact Us page with a physical address and telephone. But it’s missing a privacy policy and it should have one, given there are a number of Privacy Policy Generators out there, including this one.

Tech Support

Could – and should – be a lot better. There’s a minimal bit of online documentation. And there’s free tech support for customers in 2 days and prospective customers in five days. This approach to supporting your current and future customers practically guarantees a shortage of the latter. What message are you sending when you treat people with their credit cards in their hands worse than those who have already bought the product? Further, SoftLogica’s prominently displays their phone number right next to where it says 5 days email support for prospective customers:

I’d recommend working towards 1 business day email support for everyone, and reserving toll free support to registered paid-up customers. Two days is simply too long given the nature of the product and what need it serves.

Blog

None. There are a few white papers if you dig for them, but you should not have to. A blog – covering permissioned testimonials, file management techniques, storage and backup innovations (including some on SoftLogica’s other products) done on TypePad and posted to at least three times a week would do wonders for this product.

Overall

I get the strong feeling that the product and the company are were fitted into the web site template used for SoftLogica’s seven products years ago, much to the detriment of the product and the company. I realize that converting what are 7 different sites to a better layout, one that puts front and center a USP, a clear set of benefits and testimonials when prospective customers need them is a lot of work, but that’s what is called for.

As a first doable set of steps, see the First Actionable Tasks at the top of this post.

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The Weekly Site Review is a regular feature of MyMicroISV.com. Please add your comments, rebuttals and opinions! If you’d like to volunteer your micro-ISV’s web site for a free public review, please email bobw@safarisoftware.com. Micro-ISV’s only need apply!

[tags]Micro-ISV, Weekly Site Review[/tags]

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Bob WalshWeekly Site Review – HandyRecovery

See! I told you so.

By Bob Walsh

Yesterday I got taken to task because I suggested a micro-ISV could build a very profitable business around providing WordPress support, reviews of plugins, and perhaps their own WP plugins.

Today, FrSIRT lists this Security Advisory (Thanks cehwiedel, via Twitter):

“Multiple vulnerabilities have been identified in WordPress, which could be exploited by malicious users to bypass security restrictions or conduct SQL injection attacks.

The first issue is due to an input validation error in the “xmlrpc.php” script that does not validate user-supplied arguments before being used in SQL statements, which could be exploited by malicious users to execute arbitrary SQL queries.

The second issue is due to an access validation error in the “xmlrpc.php” script that does not validate user permissions, which could be exploited by malicious users with contributor privileges and without “publish_posts” permissions to publish certain posts.”

Who the hell has the time to spare to keep up with this crap? This may be a real stop everything, fix it or die, security alert or a vulnerability on par with me winning the lottery – e.g. exactly zero. I don’t know and I don’t have the time to find out. Hence the need for a micro-ISV who can deliver judgment, concise information, clear instructions and useful coding bits.

Online businesses like blogging are businesses with real needs and the money to fix them. Micro-ISVs should be jumping on this. Here’s three Micro-ISV business ideas, if you happen to be looking for the same:

  • WordPress Wizard – see this post and above. I’d pay 30$ a year, more, if I could get support when I need it. Yes, there are blogs, for example, http://weblogtoolscollection.com/ , but this is still too much information.
  • Screencast 2.0 – Kind of line InsideVisualStudio.com – a growing set of Web 2.0 screencasts to help the slightly behind the curve people get into and use the sites we all do (de.licio.us, bootcamp, flickr come to mind).
  • Subversion for Real People – How to install, config, and remotely backup stuff, not just code. Hook this to S3, show how non-programmers can use Subversion to protect their digital assets, offer really good information on how TSFITs (too small for IT departments) can setup, secure and maintain subversion.

Now if all these Micro-ISV ideas don’t sound like the desktop software you know and love from Windows 98 – you’re right. It’s software/knowledge as a service, with coding bits mixed in as secret sauce when and where needed. Most of all, it’s addressing unmet needs people have right now that did not exist even a few years ago.

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Bob WalshSee! I told you so.

Some good stuff re micro-ISV blogging…

If I did say so myself! Avangate (a European internet software distribution/ecommerce company) has kicked off a series of interviews with “Web VIPs” (I did not make this up) and for some bizarre reason started with me. The good stuff for micro-ISVs starts about half way regarding what to do and not do when it comes to blogging. Enjoy!

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Bob WalshSome good stuff re micro-ISV blogging…

Microsoft Expression Blend going into MSDN Premium

The powers that be at Microsoft – “Soma” Somasegar, corporate vice-president of Microsoft’s Developer Division – have heard the word from developers and relented yesterday from their bone-headed position that Expression Blend is too cool a tool for codemonkeys:

“Following the announcement we received a lot of questions about why we did not include some of these products, particularly Expression Web, within customers’ MSDN subscriptions….

Based on this feedback, I am pleased to say that we will be making Expression Web available starting today to all MSDN Premium subscribers. We will also make Expression Blend available to MSDN Premium subscribers shortly after the Expression Studio release later in Q2 2007.” (link)(mainstream story)

Bottom line: If you’re going to do WPF, you need Expression Web as much as you need Visual Studio. Microsoft woke up to the fact that WPF is perhaps their last, great hope to win back an entire generation of developers who think the desktop is dead before Adobe sews them up.

When people like Scott Hanselman and Carl Franklin and others said treating Web Expression as a non-programmer tool was the dumbest idea since Microsoft Bob, and they said it on their blogs and podcasts, and Microsoft bloggers heard it on their blogs and podcasts, Microsoft had no choice but to listen.

Of course, Microsoft still needs whacking around the head convincing that Expression Web (the web standards html editor [my mistake, now available to MSDN subscribers- thanks Charlie!] and Expression Design (the tool for making pretty WPF things) need to be brought home to MSDN as well. They still think all developers live in the enterprise world where the codemonkeys live in one building and the artiste’s live in another. Do they really think any IT shop of < 20 people has an actual designer fulltime, let alone us in the micro-ISV world?

Still, progress is progress, Soma gets a +1 and maybe the codemonkeys can start riding in the front of the bus as they should.

[tags]Expression Blend[/tags]

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Bob WalshMicrosoft Expression Blend going into MSDN Premium

A tiny WordPress victory

After Michael pointed it out this morning, I found indeed that WordPress was chopping my posts in my RSS feed from this site down to about 3 lines. Now my posts need to be shorter, but that’s ridiculous! What if I said something intelligent, witty, provocative and above all else useful in my second paragraph?

Since I use FeedBurner.com (and so should you), I assumed it was their issue. I went searching for answers there – no luck, no love, no joy. “All the answers to everything are in our forums!” says Feedburner’s site, but you have to know the right phrase to find them! This is the fatal flaw in tech support by forum, in my opinion. Even the most clueless New Guy tech support person will know about 80% of the answers most people need after a few weeks because the little dotted line between nasty person emailing the same damned question and simple answer the programmer rattled off as they were coming back from the Jolt! soda stack has been worn deep into their brains.

Using forums as your only tech support is like using an auger to clean your ears – it can be done, but you are going to make your customers feel great, everlasting pain. For Feedburner, in my opinion, it’s a great big flashing Kick Us in the Balls sign of competitive weakness. If any Feedburnerites are reading this post (and now they can get past the first 3 lines), please offer “premium” email support to the tens of thousands of customers who will shower you with money! before somebody comes along and steals your lunch.

Back to the problem – it was a WordPress issue, but I compounded it in FeedBurner.com by being overly cute and trying to set the “Summary Burner” to 20000 words. (Customers will game your system, every time). Upgrading to the latest version seems to have fixed the problem, once I fixed what I broke at FeedBurner. A lovely way to spend a morning, right?

By the way, if there’s a micro-ISV WordPress Guru out there, why not start a business that does nothing but:

1. Publish a monthly email newsletter with concise, accurate instructions of what plugins 3 typical bloggers need and need to update, where to get them and screen shots of what they do,

2. Charge $30 a year or $90 with two email tech support cases,

3. Live in Tahiti, sipping an adult beverage while swinging gently to and fro in a hammock, secure in the knowledge you are helping tens of thousands of people return to living productive lives.

Of course, WordPress ate my first attempt to post this posting. I give up for the day.

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Bob WalshA tiny WordPress victory