Chicago ACT! USER GROUP
September 12 1995
News You Can Use:
Symantec recently announced an update for ACT! for Windows.
ACT! 2.0.5. is available from Symantec (800) 441-7234, the Symantec
bulletin board (via Compuserve or America Online), from or from E
Tech Systems at (708) 352-4770. The main benefits of the update are
improved envelope and label printing.
While we are on the topic of updates, one ACT! user at our
most recent User Group meeting commented that macros he had once
written were no longer working properly. It is not unusual for macros
written in one version of ACT! to be unstable when the software is
updated. The best bet is to rewrite your macros after you update
ACT!. (For those of you who are novices, macros are useful for
executing any series of commands that you perform
Here's a helpful tip for writing reliable macros. Just prior
to recording, click on the down arrow outside the line labelled
"Mouse" in the Record Macro dialog box so that the entry reads
"Ignore Mouse". When recording your macro, enter all instructions
using just the keyboard. To end the recording, execute the command:
EDIT MACRO, STOP, MACRO with the mouse.
One ACT! user wondered if it was possible to have a calendar
pop up and automatically remind him of his daily appointments. One
way to do this is to write a macro to bring up your daily calendar
and to specify that ACT! run this macro upon start up. Once your
macro is written, tell ACT! to run it upon startup by executing the
commands: EDIT, PREFERENCES, MODIFY STARTUP. Enter the name of your
macro in the space provided for the startup macro "name".
While we're on the subject of calendars and appointments, it
is worth mentioning ACT!'s auto-rollover capabilities. If you desire,
ACT! will rollover any uncompleted calls, meetings, or to-dos to the
next day. To activate this feature, use the command: EDIT,
PREFERENCES, SCHEDULING. You simply need to check off which
activities you would like to be rolled over. It usually makes most
sense to roll over calls and to-dos, but not meetings.
Once in a while it is necessary to make one field in a
contact record the same for a whole group of contacts (or even an
entire database). Assuming the name of the sales rep handling a
particular contact is in one of the user fields, an example might be
assigning a group of contacts to a new sales rep. One way to do this
is to use the EDIT, CURRENT LOOKUP command after first selecting all
the contacts to be modified. Enter the new information in the
appropriate field and click "OK". It is best to backup the lookup
before making this sort of change as insurance against
unintentionally overwriting contact data. (You can do this by using
the FILE, SAVE AS command thereby creating a new
If you just need to temporarily change a field such as
changing all contacts' names to "occupant" in a form letter, simply
type the word "occupant" in the appropriate place in the letter
MEETING FEATURE: Creating Marketing Letters With
Writing form letters is one of ACT!'s most used features. We
will explore ways to easily personalize form letters and tell you how
to customize the ACT! menu to include your own "standard" letters,
how to use outside databases, and give you some tips for writing
The first step in writing a form letter is to create what is
known as a letter template. This is done using the command: FILE,
NEW, LETTER TEMPLATE. You can use the "insert" dialog box to input
the various variable fields such as name, address, etc. Next type the
body of your letter. An easier way of getting started is to begin
with a pre-existing letter template - such as "american.tpl". Access
the template using the command: WRITE, EDIT TEMPLATE. Change whatever
is necessary, type the body of the letter, and SAVE AS a letter
template using an alternate name so as to avoid overwriting the
One way you can customize your form letter is to insert a
variable such as the contact's name or the company name in a
sentence. For example, you might write: "It was a pleasure to see
someone from <0Company> at our recent seminar". ACT! will also
accept any graphics that can be created with or pasted into the
Windows Paintbrush program. This can include a signature or
letterhead graphics. Use the Windows clipboard commands (COPY and
PASTE) to transfer any graphics to your ACT! letter
Once a form letter template has been created, form letters
can be compiled by selecting the contacts of interest and using the
WRITE, FORM LETTER command.
If you use standard letters such as thank-yous or quotes,
you can save time by creating a letter template for these letters and
adding the letter to the WRITE pull-down menu. Use the WRITE, MODIFY
MENU, ADD command to customize the menu.
Numerous list brokers such as American Business Lists
(Omaha, Nebraska) compile mailing lists. After the search criteria
for a list are established (say auto dealers in California), a
diskette is delivered with information that can be imported by ACT!
and mapped to appropriate contact fields. Form letters and mailing
labels can then be written to these contacts.
Now that we've discussed the mechanics of writing form
letters, it is worth spending a little time addressing the content of
a good marketing letter. The first rule of writing copy that sells is
to think before writing. This means listing every feature of your
product or service and translating each into a benefit. Next, arrange
these benefits in the order of their importance to your prospect.
Select the most important benefit. Use this benefit in a
In general, use more headlines, more paragraphs, and fewer
words to maintain interest. Keep the letter lighthearted and the
message positive. Demonstrate your experience, authority, and
expertise. Tell your prospects what to do and how to do
Finally, keep the letters coming. It will take repeated
mailings for your message to get through.
User Group meetings are free and open to all CCS members.
They are held on the second Tuesday of each month 8 times a year at
the Midway Motor Lodge in Elk Grove Village. Call E Tech Systems at
(708) 352-4770 for details.
Copyright 1995 by Alan M. Lee, all rights reserved. Other
nonprofit computer user's groups may reprint this material providing
credit is given the author and C.C.S. Future rights for publication
reserved by Alan M. Lee. ACT! is a registered trademark of Symantec