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Attention to Detail or Learning How to Hate Humble Pie

By Tom Cornwell
Posted Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Having been in the printing & graphics business for the past 25 years, I can attest to the importance of attending to details, both in work quality and customer satisfaction. E-commerce is not so much different, especially in principle.

A typing error can not only be embarrassing, but also cost the printer a lot of money, considering the waste in paper, time and labor. On the Internet, the fix is cheap - sometimes - unless that typing error alters data such as pricing, in which case it can create an expensive mess, or nothing at all - such as 'no sales'.

Last week a fellow wrote to tell me that the links on my pages didn't work! I thought he was out of his mind, but decided to go through and check them out - just in case he wasn't. After wading through a half-dozen pages, finding no problems, I finally arrived to a group I'd put up about a year ago. The links at the bottom of the pages surely did not work!

When I originally composed the pages, I did a quick 'cut & paste' of the hyperlinks at the bottom so I would not have to retype the same information over and over. Unfortunately, I copied a bad link; all my hyperlinks were now calling for files in my 'A-drive' rather than those within the directory on my server. I unwittingly pasted them on each of the new pages I'd composed that afternoon and loaded them up to the server. It probably wouldn't have been much of a big deal, but those pages were describing a couple of books I am marketing and the reader simply could not get to the order pages from those pages - after, of course, they were very interested in doing so!

Now, you would think I'd have double-checked those links at some point soon after, but I was in a hurry to finish and confident that I had done a good job, besides, sales were coming in, so why worry?

The sales were coming in, however, from readers determined to circumvent the worthless links and buy the books any- way. How many sales did I lose from those that gave up after hitting my 'problem' hyperlinks?

I was sick when I realized it!

Since then I've been a little more particular when I compose pages, with what goes out in my newsletter (and I still slip up), and the contents of articles that I submit to other newsletters.

Yesterday, I received an emailed 'proof' from a newsletter editor publishing one of my articles later in the week. Normally, I'd have simply acknowledged the editor and got on with my mail. I decided to read it through though and, sure enough, the hyperlinks in the credits at the end were missing and contained error messages in their places! I wrote back, explained the problem, provided the corrections and thanked him VERY much for the 'proof'! He replied within hours with the correction and we were happy campers again.

I thought it was interesting that I took the time I didn't THINK I had and checked it over. That's all it took.

I will investigate unsolicited email that sparks my interest but it is so frustrating to get fired up over a message and want to get to the advertised web site, only to find that the site is not up, 'under construction', or otherwise unavailable. I think to myself that the author of that email might just as well have flushed his investment in his time and money down the toilet for all it did for him, and it all could have been avoided by checking the little things like 'details'... "Is the site finished? Is it up on the server yet? Good, send the broadcast!"

I once read that most millionaires share a common characteristic: they can account for practically every cent they save, spend, invest, etc. They pay attention to details.

Do I still have errors out there? Probably, but less so...

...I'm selling more books now, anyway.

About the Author
Tom Cornwell is the publisher of the OraMedia site on Dental Self Sufficiency ( and the OraMedia Newsletter. Tom also handles printing and graphics services in New York. Direct any correspondence to: or phone 607-739-5290.


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