Donate Plasma to Save Lives!
Cure for COVID, Current Events

CURE FOR COVID

Hospitals Around the World Need Your Help to Save Lives

As many of you know, there’s a common treatment we’ve been using successfully since the 1800s against viruses like SARS, MERS, H1N1, and others: convalescent plasma. Convalescent is a word used to describe people who are recovering from an illness. Plasma extracted from the blood of post-convalescent COVID-19 patients has been used in experimental treatments around the world with shockingly positive results. This means if you recovered from the virus, we can take your blood and use it to save people who are fighting for their lives.

Before we dive in, here are a few notes to help you through the content:

DPOI = Days post-onset of illness

COVID-19 = The illness that’s killing people

SARS-CoV-2 = The virus that causes COVID-19

CP = Convalescent plasma

Results from the Study

(Scroll Down to Find Out How You Can Save Lives)

The Cases

In a recent study, 20 severe COVID-19 cases were monitored before and after 10 of the patients received CP treatment. Symptoms present at the outset of the trial included severe fever, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, and dangerously low oxygenation. Prior to treatment, three of the test group patients were receiving mechanical ventilation, three were receiving high-flow cannula oxygenation, and three were receiving low-flow nasal oxygenation. Simply put, these were patients in need of rescue.

Patient One

Patient One was a particularly impressive case supporting the use of CP treatment. At 10 DPOI, he was receiving mechanical ventilation in a critical care unit. He received the CP treatment at 11 DPOI. The next day, 12 DPOI, he tested negative for SARS-CoV-2. The day after that, he was weaned from the ventilator. Immunological and liver function was observed to be improved at 15 DPOI.

The Rest of the Test Group

In the test group, all symptoms in all patients either disappeared completely or were largely improved within one to three days of treatment. SARS-CoV-2 was undetectable in seven patients by day six. Three test group patients were discharged and seven were ready to be discharged. Seven out of the ten test patients showed increased lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell used to measure immune response.

The Control Group

In the control group, the group that did not receive the treatment, three patients died, six were stable, and one had improved. These patients were still receiving all of the antiviral and supportive care available and all available action was taken to save their lives, except CP.

Optimistic Results from the Test Group

  • Clinical symptoms and paraclinical criteria rapidly improved within three days (Chen, 2020)
  • Radiological exam showed varying degrees of absorption of lung lesions within seven days (Chen, 2020)
  • Results showed that one dose (200ml) of CP was well-tolerated and could significantly increase or maintain the neutralizing antibodies at a high level, leading to disappearance of viremia in seven days (Chen, 2020)

The CP treatment was used in addition to any supportive care and antiviral agents deemed necessary. The first priority of the study was to determine whether the treatment was safe. The second priority was to determine if the treatment was effective. Under ideal conditions, studies would be performed on a larger scale and would be repeated several times.

These are not ideal conditions, but the data we have is extremely promising. There are currently no approved specific antiviral agents for COVID-19. The safety and efficacy of remdesivir and corticosteroid treatments are still being evaluated. Results indicate that CP is a viable rescue option for severe COVID-19 cases.

We Need Your Blood!!!

The FDA has approved the use of convalescent plasma, or CP, in life-threatening cases of COVID-19. By actively recruiting former patients and previously SARS-CoV-2-positive community members, hospitals around the world are doing their best to stock up on this life-saving treatment, but many hospitals don’t have the resources to take the same action.

There is not enough CP to save all the lives that need saving. If the following applies to you, you are a potential donor and your community NEEDS you to register with your local blood bank. If you’ve had SARS-CoV-2, but you don’t fit these criteria, please contact your local blood bank to find out if you’re still a potential donor.

  • Normal temperature for more than three days
  • Resolution of respiratory tract symptoms
  • At least three weeks post-onset of illness and four days post-discharge
  • OR two consecutively negative SARS-CoV-2 tests

Check for a Vitalant Blood Bank in Your Area

Vitalant is seeking donations of CP. If there’s not a Vitalant Blood Bank in your area, please take two seconds to do a Google search and find out where you can donate. If you can’t donate or if you haven’t had SARS-CoV-2, spread the word.


References

Chen, Z. (2020, March 18). Effectiveness of convalescent plasma therapy in severe COVID-19 patients. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Retrieved from https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/04/02/2004168117

Don't let COVID kill your business.
Online Sales Are Up 25% from January, Website Optimization

eCommerce Booming as We Enter April 2020

Online Sales Are Up 25% from January

As COVID-19 continues to sweep the nation, shelter-in-place orders are being enforced with fines and jail time. These intense safeguards are forcing people to turn more and more to the internet to do their shopping. Even as we enter what promises to be a significant recession, online sales are up 25% from the beginning of the year.

In addition to the regular product trends, there’s been a massive increase in in-store pickup and delivery of fitness products, toilet paper, computers, food, hygiene products, and more. BOPIS has seen a 62% increase since the beginning of the year as businesses establish or utilize their online presence to maintain sales.

In today’s digital age, it was already a good idea to be online, even if it’s just a Google My Business listing. Businesses that underwent the digital transformation prior to the COVID-19 outbreak are now reaping massive benefits for their foresight. For those that are still solely brick and mortar, integrating online access with their physical storefront is now critical to survival, assuming we’re still looking at months of uncertainty, high infectivity, and mandatory social shutdown.

The takeaway from this experience for the physical commerce market is that an online presence isn’t just a marketing tool; it’s essential for maintaining a successful business in today’s largely digital economy. Purchasing power in the physical world continues to crash while online purchasing power experiences a surge due to necessity and generally preferable pricing.

Don’t Let COVID Kill Your Business

Get your business online now to minimize your losses, take advantage of the huge spike in digital sales that will be going on for at least the next several months, and facilitate sustained sales increases for the future.

Get Online With a Professional Website from an Award-Winning Designer

bar and line graphs showing increases
Copywriting, How to Increase Conversions on Your Website and Marketing Campaigns, Website Optimization

How to Increase Conversions on Your Website and Marketing Campaigns

Zig Ziglar’s Five Pillars of Sales in the Age of eCommerce

Usually, when I mention Zig Ziglar, I’m referencing the heavy priority he placed on trust as a key factor in sales, but there is a total of five obstacles on which he based the bulk of his philosophy. If you’re not familiar with Zig Ziglar, he was one of the most successful and celebrated salesmen of his time. His theory was that if a salesperson could overcome these five obstacles, the deal was done, and that theory is still just as successful in today’s internet era. As you work to increase conversions across your website and marketing campaigns, check that you’re addressing each of these issues that could be preventing your success.

Start with a Design That Works

This isn’t one of Ziglar’s famous sales obstacles, but it would have been if he’d lived in this digital age. How you present your content is just as important as the content itself. You need to make sure your web design is ready to convert your audience. It needs to be pleasing to their eyes and easy to read. Generally speaking, you’ll want to keep it simple. Direct your visitors to the desired action by limiting distractions and providing clear CTAs. If you have a page, email, or ad with a high bounce rate, start here.

I don’t need it.

When a potential customer thinks “I don’t need this,” it’s either because you haven’t adequately explained the utility and benefits of the product or this person is not in your target audience. Identifying, locating, and reaching your target audience is an ongoing and vital process in achieving success as an eCommerce business.

Who buys your product? Who is it made for? Imagine the ideal specimen for your business and figure out where he or she spends time, gets his or her news and information, and what influences his or her decisions. Then direct your marketing accordingly.

How to Show Your Audience They Need Your Product.

Your content needs to address a pain point. Remind the reader of the problem he or she has that will be solved by your product or service. And remember that there are a million other people out there doing what you’re doing (usually). Don’t just answer the question “Why do I need this?” Answer the question “Why is this the best solution to my problem?”

I don’t want it.

If the language and visuals you’re using to promote your product don’t make your target audience want it, they’re not going to buy it. Pretty simple concept. People don’t buy what they don’t want. The standard approach to this problem is to use descriptive language to tell the reader how his or her life would be improved by your product. Help people visualize themselves being happier, healthier, wealthier, more attractive, more successful, etc.

How to Make People Want Your Product

Imagine your ideal customer again. Now imagine your ideal customer has purchased your product or service. He or she couldn’t be happier. It’s so perfect, it creates a ripple effect that influences other parts of your customer’s life. He’s got more money, more confidence, more comfort. She’s happier, healthier, and enjoying more free time. Benefits, boss. Don’t tell me what your product can do. Tell me why I want it to do that for me.

I’ll just get it later.

This one is tough. What’s stopping all of your visitors from putting off that purchase until tomorrow, next week, or never? A sense of urgency is often necessary to pull a conversion because once they decide to wait a week, you no longer have any influence on their decision. They’ve closed the page, walked away, went to bed, and now they’ve decided they don’t really need it or want it and there’s nothing you can do about it.

How to Create a Sense of Urgency

The easiest way to do this is to offer a limited-time discount or promotion. Order now and get free shipping! Offer good till midnight! If you don’t buy it right now, you’ll end up paying more for the same thing! Don’t pass up this amazing opportunity! Act now before it’s too late! Deals like this don’t come around every day! Sound familiar? I’m channeling every car dealership commercial I’ve ever heard.

Other ways to create a sense of urgency involve a bit more effort. If your product or service will save people money, the sooner they buy it, the more money they save. If your product or service will make people happier, they shouldn’t wait another day being miserable. Think about the benefits of your product and then explain why the benefits are even better if they hurry.

It’s too expensive.

Money. The biggest hurdle there is. This one can’t always be won with words because your reader might really just not have enough to spend on things like your product. That’s why it’s important to maintain fair pricing from the start. Three customers paying ten dollars are not better than ten customers paying five. Set a decent price and then explain to your readers why your product is worth that.

How to Convey Value to Your Readers

Value is the ultimate key to conversion. Does your product or service have value? Can you convey its value to your readers? Start by describing what makes your product better than the cheaper guys. Why should someone spend more money just to buy from you? If you are the cheaper guy, what product details might convince someone your product has value? Being too cheap can be just as detrimental as being too expensive. Are you using quality materials and reliable craftsmanship? Are you properly trained to provide your service? Are you experienced? Tell me why I should buy from you.

I don’t know about this seller.

The reason I talk about this one all the time is that the ability to evoke trust is the difference between crappy copywriting and effective copywriting. It’s my job to address each of these obstacles in a way that makes the reader feel comfortable and confident in the purchase because it just doesn’t work otherwise.

How to Get People to Trust Your Brand

When a visitor comes to your site, they’re generally looking for more information. Even if they know what they want already, they need to know if it fits, if it works, how long it will last, what color it is. They want to know about your company and whether there’s any evidence that you know what you’re doing. Should they choose you or the other guy? Why? The information they’re looking for has to be presented effectively and accurately. If it’s not there at all, you lose the sale and if it’s there with bad delivery, (drumroll) you’re going to lose the sale.

Check out some best practices for writing the pages on your website or your marketing campaigns. Make sure you have all the pages or sections you need to satisfy your readers. If you want to make it really simple, buy a template for the content you need. If you suck at writing, hire a copywriter to boost your conversion rates with content that’s backed by consumer psychology.

How to Fit All of This on the Page

There’s some debate about whether it’s better to have a high word count for the SEO machines or keep things short and sweet so your audience doesn’t get bored and wander off. My humble opinion is that it’s much more important to have original, quality content than to have any specific word count on web pages. Google is getting better every day at figuring out who is plugging keywords and who is delivering valuable information. They decide who is an authority in each domain based on how the content is received, not how many words it has. Minimize the fluff and use quality copy.

On sales letters, marketing emails, and ads, you really want to hit the selling points and back off. I still don’t set word limits, but you want to be concise. Draw them into the next level of the marketing campaign by getting straight to the point. When you proofread (please proofread), remove unnecessary words. Use Grammarly (it’s free) to check spelling, grammar, and concision. Make the material skimmable with bullet points and headings. Hit these five points with concise, well-written copy and you’ll see a measurable increase in your conversion rate.

Copywriting, Current Events, How to Protect Yourself from Covid-19, Website Optimization

How to Protect Yourself from Covid-19

A Survival Guide for eCommerce Businesses in 2020

It’s pretty clear at this point that a recession is on its way. Businesses are being forced to close and a lot of them won’t survive the downtime. Layoffs are well underway. There’s not a single market in the United States or around the world that isn’t being affected by this heinous new strand of the coronavirus. If you haven’t prepared your business for this type of emergency, now is the time. Fortunately for eCommerce businesses, we’re uniquely positioned to not only avoid a lot of the devastation but possibly even thrive throughout this ordeal.

What is Covid-19?

This might seem like a silly question, but if we consider that the general public response has been to stockpile toilet paper, I think you can humor me while I address some of the idiocy we’ve been witnessing.

Covid-19 is a new strain of the coronavirus. It is not the common cold. I know some genius found out the common cold is also a type of coronavirus and decided to tell everyone the government is trying to steal your chickens or whatever… but this is not the same thing. Covid-19 is more infectious than the flu, is a novel virus with no vaccine, has a long incubation period, and causes severe respiratory symptoms that can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure.

The symptoms of Covid-19 are cough, fever, and shortness of breath. Not everyone who has it is going to show symptoms and not everyone showing symptoms will show these symptoms. Many confirmed cases don’t involve fever at all. Some have been experiencing chills, fatigue, and other flu-like symptoms. For everyone under 40, it’s a lot like a cold or flu and has a comparable fatality rate.

For those over 40, the death rate starts to climb from around .2% to more than 20%. The elderly are at high risk, which is why countries around the world are closing businesses, banning events and gatherings, and enforcing quarantines. These precautions, though necessary, are going to have a huge impact on the economy and we should all be getting ready yesterday.

Panic at the Costco

As recently as November 2019, USA Today was predicting a non-stop stock market climb up to election day, but on March 9th, 12th, and 16th, we experienced the three worst point drops in US history. The imminent recession, the looming plague, and the oil war that’s driving crude prices down to their lowest point since the early 2000s are triggering everyone’s flight response.

In preparation for martial law, quarantine, and job loss, many families are “panic-shopping” (hence the toilet paper shortage). The CDC recommends maintaining a one-month supply of food and essentials, but it seems to be human nature to lose your ever-loving mind and sell off all your stocks to buy enough hand sanitizer to last several years because we’re all still touching our faces.

The CDC has also recommended that we avoid crowds of more than 50 persons, which is getting mixed responses. While we shut down events, worship, and even school, we’re still flocking to the grocery store in droves. The psychological element of Covid-19 is so unpredictable and severe at this point, I’m hesitant to dismiss any fearful predictions about the coming months, no matter how unlikely.

Covid-19’s Effect on Your Business

Due to the international nature of eCommerce and the large reliance on China, we were one of the first industries to take a hit from Covid-19. The impact so far has been a bit scary, if I’m honest. At least once a day I think, “Will I still have a job in this recession?” But it looks like eCommerce might come out ahead in the end just by being the incredible network of convenience it always has been.

The most obvious issue for online retailers right now is restocking inventory. A lot of us have been cut off from our suppliers completely. Manufacturing plants have been sitting idle due to worker illness or quarantine in major epicenters of trade. Now that China is coming back online and Europe has become the focal point of the corona outbreak, the issue in reestablishing supplies is in transportation from factories to Chinese ports, which is expected to continue being an issue for the next several months.

But don’t fret, eCommerce entrepreneur. While your inventory may be shriveled, your audience is certainly growing. Quarantine, martial law, fear, and the shutting down of local businesses means people are staying home. Even 27% of the panic shoppers reported they would be avoiding shopping centers, and that figure climbs to more than 70% when the outbreak hits the respondents’ areas. That means you’re going to have an entire planet of consumers sitting at home glued to their electronic devices.

How to Take Advantage of Other People’s Misfortune

This year is going to be one for the record books, but you can keep yourself and your family afloat if you have -or can make- a decent online storefront.

1.    Diversify Your Suppliers

Step one is your inventory. There’s never been a better time to diversify your manufacturers and distributors. Have a backup, even if you don’t need it right now. If your products or materials don’t allow for such diversification, stockpile enough to get you through if something happens to your facilities or supply lines.

2.    Diversify Your Top Sellers

Make sure your revenue isn’t dependent on too few products. Take a look at your top three sellers. If those products were suddenly unavailable for several months, would your business survive? If not, you need to introduce new products or promote some existing products that are acquired through different suppliers, preferably in a different country if you purchase internationally. Not only will this protect you in case of an emergency, but it can significantly improve your bottom line in the meantime.

3.    Optimize Your Storefront

The competition is about to get pretty tough. Existing online retailers are going to buckle down and get serious for this recession and a lot of brick-and-mortar retailers are going to be forced to open up shop in your domain. Get your storefront looking good and converting well. Usability, clarity, and good copy are going to be your best friends here.

4.    Maintain Fair Pricing

For the love of dog, do not price-gouge. It might make you a quick buck during the panic phase, but it makes you look like a total POS and any customer you gain will not stick with you because you suck. Maintain fair pricing for what you’re selling. If you catch a break on shipping prices because of oil being so low, pass the savings on to your customer base. It’s a recession. You’re not the only one hurting. Be a decent person and your business will be rewarded. (Shoutout to HEB for donating $3 million to community support during this crisis.)

5.    Record Your Processes

If you’re the only one who can do your job, what happens if you can no longer do it? Anything you do repeatedly needs to be written down in the event you fall ill. Write it as if you’re writing instructions for a stranger to stand in for you. Write down each process separately and make the instructions as easy to follow as possible.

6.    Keep Your Employees

As much as is possible, avoid losing employees to layoffs and illness. Modify your policies to allow valued employees to stay home when they’re ill without being punished. Discuss pay cuts, scheduling, and other alternatives to corporate downsizing. This will allow you to bounce back faster and will save your employees from being jobless in the coming economy.

Live Happily Ever After

Okay, let’s be real. This year is going to be hard for everyone. If the effects are still lingering when the holiday season comes around, we’re in for a rough 2021, too. You can help your business survive by getting online or by optimizing your existing online presence. Take a break from social media and check the CDC’s recommendations for staying healthy, while you’re at it. And for f*ck’s sake, stop buying toilet paper. Good luck, everyone.  

Coding, Coding? Coding!

Coding? Coding!

This will be a short personal update. I’m trying to find the time to write more, but I probably don’t have to tell you about the severe shortage of hours in a day. As I’ve mentioned, writing for myself is kind of a nightmare and most days I just don’t have anything to say. When I do have something to say, I usually tell myself I’ll say it tomorrow. Bad habit, I know. I’m working on it.

Anyway…

As a copywriter, I work hand-in-hand with designers who build websites for bloggers, eCommerce stores, small businesses, etc. They make the site; I write the words. It’s been a great arrangement and I love my job, but I’ve suddenly become very excited about the possibility of doing the whole damn thing myself.

I was sitting at Starbucks the other day when a friend showed me a website that teaches coding for free. Totally comprehensive curriculum. The thought of learning this stuff had crossed my mind a time or two, but looking at this program, it started to seem less daunting and a lot more realistic.

Being able to create an entire website, content and all, without contracting would more than double my income, and I know you guys remember how awesome you felt when you went into the HTML on your Myspace page and changed your font colors or copy/pasted some awesome theme.

Also…

For those who don’t know, I paint and draw a bit. Designing websites feels like some kind of marriage between my job and my passion. I know all the best websites have some serious coding going on underneath and it won’t be easy to learn it all, but I know I would love the challenge of creating something awesome that works, just like I do with writing and [try to do with] art.

Of course there’s still the issue of time that I already struggle with. Will I sacrifice my painting, beach-going, and gym regimen to learn coding or will this be an opportunity I miss out on? Or will I take it slow and build my first website in 2027? Who knows? Not me. Keep ’em guessing; that’s my motto.

If I do happen to be successful, I plan on making a follow-up post to celebrate and to share the free coding program with you. I don’t want to share it now and then tarnish their rep by being a total failure. So here’s hoping there will be a post in the relatively near future to announce some new services at FMSkeen.

Cheers!