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Buzz from ActiveWords emailed me a few weeks ago offering me a free copy of ActiveWords if I tried it out and blogged about it. This is a clever marketing tactic. It doesn’t cost him anything, but my write-up might win him a few customers. This is a different use of weblogs in business. Find people with an audience that matches your target demographic and get them to try your product. Offer them an incentive, like a free or reduced cost version of the product, and ask them to write about it. But before you run out and do this, plan your approach carefully.

Buzz got my attention because he didn’t just send a blatent promotional message. He could have sent a long email explaining the benefits of the product and asked me to write a review. But instead he sent me a comment on something I had written on my blog and followed it up with…

Try our stuff, blog about it and I would be honored to give you a copy.,3048,a=40154,00.asp,4149,1023757,00.asp

It’s a simple, to the point message that gave me a few links to get more information. No pressure to reply, publish a review, or even say anything favorable about the product. Buzz had confidence in his software and knew that once I tried ActiveWords, there was no way I was going to say anything bad about it. Simply put, ActiveWords is amazing.

The basic premise is that ActiveWords watches what you type, in any application, and performs actions based on what you’ve typed. The most obvious use is for simple text replacement. Type name followed by F8 and you get your name. Type eml and ActiveWords will insert your email address. That’s an interesting idea, but ActiveWords does a lot more. An ActiveWord can launch a program, or a URL. If I type edit followed by the trigger key, EditPlus opens up. The ActiveWord analog opens my stats page in my browser.

An ActiveWord action can be triggered by pressing a confirmation key after typing the word or by simply typing something and hitting the space bar. I’m not likely to ever type the wordiexplore so I’ve set that to open Internet Explorer for me. No more navigating through menus so I can launch IE for testing.

Activation without the confirmation key can also help you automatically correct your spelling. I often type hte instead of the. Now when I do that in any application, ActiveWords corrects it for me. You can even download a dictionary of 1800 common English autocorrections.

The more I use the product, the more useful it gets. And I haven’t even started to play with it’s scripting abilities yet.

So here’s what Buzz did right. He sent a low-key message offering me a copy of his product. The message didn’t feel like spam because he started with a comment on something I had already said and laid off the promotional text. His product is useful and well-built, so he knew that once I tried it, I’d probably like it. By reading my blog, he could tell that my readers would be the type of people who were likely to try his product out.

If you are a Windows user, you need to try ActiveWords. If you are a marketer, you need to try marketing by blog like Buzz does.

Joost Schuur
June 17, 2003 12:46 AM

Sounds a lot like Perfect Keyboard: I've used that on and off a few times, but somehow it never quite stuck with me.

Harald Koch
June 17, 2003 7:38 AM

Based on this article, I tried it out. Pretty cool program; I'm not sure if it'll take, since I'm already a pretty heavy keyboard shortcut user. However, I did find one major issue (which I will report to them as well): When the AWMonitor bar is active, every word you type appears in the little text window. This includes words that you type into password fields!!! If you happen to forget to disable the Monitor bar when someone is looking over your shoulder, say adios to that password...

Adam Kalsey
June 17, 2003 8:37 AM

I hadn't thought about the password issue. I turned the ActiveWords bar off within minutes of installing it.

James Daniel
April 15, 2005 11:28 AM

Passwords! Perhaps there is a strength in this weakness? I haven't downloaded or tried ActiveWords yet, but from reading the reviews it seems to me that I could use it to overcome a problem I have with passwords for web-based services. The problem is (1) there are dozens of these passwords (2) I want to use a different password with each of them and change them all from time to time (4) I don't expect to be able to remember that many volatile pieces of info and (5) I don't want the Windows auto-complete to do it for me. I imagine that I could use AW to "virtualise" each password - eg instead of typing the password itself, I type "pswdfoo" and AW enters the password I have currently set up to access the FOO website, and so on. At least that's easy to remember, and stable with respect to time and password changes. The only problem I can foresee is that the AW wordbase may not be secure so if someone hacked my machine they might get the lot. The good news is that if someone looks over my shoulder while I am typing "pswdif" (which is more likely than someone hacking my machine) I don't really care whether they see or not - they won't get anything they can use on any machine that doesn't have my AW wordbase on it, and to get at my wordbase they'll need to know my Windows password. Presumably AW is not running at Windows-password time, so that's one I'll just have to remember for myself. Just as well, really.

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