Mark Puppe

Mark Puppe







No matter where or how hard we work, our income comes from other people. They can be clients, donors, members, taxpayers, and even someone who saved us money by doing us a favor. Those relationships drive our income. Sustaining active communication with these relationships ensures we profit. Tailoring our communications to the audience and personifying ourselves will help ensure that payment keeps coming in.

My dentist recently sent me a handwritten note with congratulations for paying attention to my teeth and a gift card for a premium car wash. I don’t know how much the car wash cost, but I bet it’s negligible relative to payments he received from me. Nonetheless, his commitment to communicating with me beyond the sale will keep me coming back.

Here are two simple steps that will keep your customers coming back to you:

Personalize the message. A brief, handwritten letter that not only thanks people or their business, but also shows admiration, makes a far better impression than silence or form letters. People want to be acknowledged. If you see a customer on the news or hear them on the radio, let them know. If you learn something unique about your customer during the sales process, incorporate it into future communications.

Follow up. Sure, it’s important to do this during the sales process, but critical to continue it after the sale has been made. You had to overcome their skepticism before making the initial sale. A simple email or telephone call inquiring about the effectiveness of what you sold them can perpetuate the trust required to secure future sales.

These are two among many other powerful and cost-effective communication strategies you can use to attract and win your audience. Do some research, and keep them coming back.

*Published by North Dakota Young Professionals, July 29, 2011.



Three people called me the same day for resume help in 2008. I was unemployed and re-re-writing my own resume at the time. Interestingly, there must not have been much wrong with mine, those calls were advised by staffing agencies that were helping me. I was just “overqualified.”

Being unemployed and contacted for resume help made those requests paradoxical to say the least, but they became clients nonetheless. Then, a light popped-on in my mind and in less than a week, I reentered the work force under the banner of my new strategic communications and writing firm: Master Manuscripts.

The company keeps me afloat by providing organization development, public relations, and writing services that attract and win audiences for clients. These clients come from coast-to-coast and throughout the economic spectrum so their interests, goals, and messages are profoundly diverse. Therefore, so are the strategies they hire me to create and enhance.

Whether you’re sending a message via newsletters, web site content, speeches, press releases, resumes, online social networks, special events, or any means in between, Master Manuscripts has made them audience magnets for clients. That’s what strategic communications is all about and exactly what traditional marketing ignores.

It’s now 2011 and that resume I was working on in 2008 has been replaced. But the time-tested strategic communications concepts and practices that Master Manuscripts applies remain overlooked by the marketing firms and people needing them most.

That doesn’t mean you’ve lost your chance to use them -- the need for high impact, audience-centered communication is inherent and eternal. It just means that Master Manuscripts is among the few firms that understands them and can actually help fulfill that need.



The audience already knows that we think our products, services, or ideas are the best.  However, happy audiences believe that what we promote actually fulfills their needs in ways that reflect their own interests.  Not until we know the audience's needs and interests can what we sell be sold, but when we do know, the things we sell can sell themselves.  Reaching that end can be challenging and very expensive, but cost-free steps do exist and taking this one will help us get there.

Two Ears.  One Mouth. People don’t like being told about their needs or suggestions that one exists.  When it happens, they instantly become skeptical of everything a seller asks and says.  That doesn’t help because audiences are often skeptical in the first place.  Sometimes, audiences don’t even recognize their own needs, but they’ll believe themselves before anyone else.  That means giving them the floor before putting our own products, services, or ideas on the table.  Think of it as interpersonal SEO.  When prospects talk, they share key terms we can use in our own messages as we Google for their interests.  When communicating face-to-face or over the phone, use the same words.  When writing, review the prospect’s web site or previous messages and then incorporate the key terms into yours.

Letting audiences create the map will identify the route they want our messages to follow.  Taking that route, rather than our own, enhances the leverage of our eventual response.  Yet keep in mind that we can’t respond until an initial message exists.  Allowing audiences to bump and set is our chance to spike.

*Published by North Dakota Young Professionals, May 20, 2011.



Resumes are black holes for time, opportunity and peace of mind.  Defective resumes can even drive job searches into the ground.  I’ve seen it thousands of times; job seekers (and even professional resume writers) neglecting what employers expect resumes to provide:  Proof.

Numbers gauge performance and leave little room for misinterpretation; they prove rather than purport your value.  In contrast, talking about your talents panders readers and stimulates speculation; the only merit here comes from the words.  Expecting words to prove your value on a resume can be costly, but incorporating numbers can prevent the resume from inflicting those costs upon you.

Quantify tasks to give positions context.  A position title is typically enough for hiring authorities to deduce previous position's duties.  For example, an advertising agency’s HR staff already knows what a “Sales Agent,” “Graphics Designer,” “Marketing Manager,” and other industry-related titles do.  If they don’t, you’ll probably better off not working somewhere else.  Trusting readers to have at least some grasp on reality gives you the opportunity to put your work history into perspective; to establish the extent of your tasks and convince employers that you blew expectations out of the water.  Specifying the number of people you managed, projects you completed, strategies you created, and other essentials will save resume real estate that your competitors waste trying to explain the obvious.

Quantify results to prove talent.  How many employers are impressed by a resume that alleges its own author has “Excellent” or “Superior” this or that skill?  None.  Worse yet, how many resumes make those claims?  Nearly every.  So, rather letting your resume ramble about how super duper your skills might be, distinguish them by featuring and substantiating your achievements.  That means providing data that prove your ability to perform; to apply and maximize the skills that other applicants merely assert.  Employers care about time and money so a resume that quantifies how much of each you can generate will strengthen your prospects for the “To Be Interviewed” list.  Sure, the numbers might be tricky to remember, but talking about them with a third party will help determine reasonable estimates.

Words remain critical to resumes and make very positive impressions when used correctly.  Doing so requires solid grammar, accurate spelling, appropriate tenses and strategic placement.  Yet it’s best in your interest to remember that numbers deliver what employers expect:  Proof.

There’s no better way to put it:  A job search sucks.  But taking the above steps can shorten the process.  They ensure that your resume proves, rather than babbles about your value.  They generate interviews for my clients and will help do the same for you.



Businesses need to sell products and services, but they often consider advertising to be the best way to boost sales. It might help from time to time, but loyalty is more reliable than split-second attention. This doesn’t mean all advertising and marketing equates to waste, but neglecting language strategy and audience values does mean unnecessary costs and opportunities lost. So, what should you do?

Give your message merit - An effective language strategy is essential. Tailoring your messages to audience values will make the materials relevant, credible, and more likely to cultivate the loyalty needed to repeatedly sell products and services.

Avoid the advertising addiction - As a society, we’ve overdosed on marketing materials, been sobered up by easily accessible information, and become highly skeptical of pretty much everything around us. Flashy marketing materials might catch your eye, but you’re smart enough to know that appearance doesn’t determine value and a witty slogan isn’t enough to win your trust.

Build audience trust - We’re people, and people tend to be skeptical of what they don’t trust, and to trust things that reflect their own values. Messages built upon an effective language strategy are the most effective means for us to articulate audience values and motivate an audience to act.

Think like the audience - Would you rather clip a coupon because it’s pretty or according to its value towards a purchase? Would you buy a cool car on first sight or when its performance during a test drive and the reviews you read impressed you, too? Would you consider comments from a salesperson or friend more credible? Would you want a written contract or handshake to seal a deal?

I’m going to stick my neck out and bet that you chose options that actually serve or protect your own interests, reduce your uncertainty, and come from information you or a trusted source discovered.

It’s tricky, but it works. Figure out who’s in the audience, where the message goes, when to send it, what tool will distribute it, how many to send, and why it’s being sent. It’s impressive to see message impact and influence soar when people match a message to the audience rather than themselves.. Doing it for your products and services just might render the same results.

*Published by North Dakota Young Professionals, January 28, 2011.