Tag Archives: advertising

Plop, plop, flush, flush. . .

Yeah, I said it: You’re WASTING some (or in some cases, all) of your advertising budget. Hundreds, thousands, or maybe even (gulp!) tens of thousands of dollars are just being flushed away every month, by companies large and small, and it’s all down to one reason:

The content sucks.

Spending money to drive customers and potential customers to content that just flat-out sucks is insane, but people do it every day. They buy online banners, direct emailers, pay-per-click ads. . .and then they link to content that is mis-targeted, jargony, poorly written, or painfully boring.

Back when Don Draper ruled Madison Avenue, advertisers had a better chance to win over customers because everything was static, linear—and delivered in hardcopy format. In the 21st century however, we only have a few seconds to capture a prospect’s attention with landing page copy before they click away. So it had better be good. And by good, I mean GREAT.

And how to get great copy? Well, part of it is (ahem) having a great writer at your disposal, of course. But another tool in your utility belt should be what I fondly call The Crap Device (CRPDVC). When your content can pass through The Crap Device unscathed, it’s just about customer-ready. Here are the parameters:

  • Crisp – Keep it simple; wordy is ugly and time-consuming!
  • Resonant – Is this something they will remember after they’ve read it—for the RIGHT reasons?
  • Provocative – It’s OK to make ‘em think a bit; challenge the industry standard!
  • Distinctive – Is your brand voice coming through loud and clear?
  • Valuable – Does it prove you understand and can solve their problem?
  • Compelling – Make it clear what you want them to do—and why they should do it!

So before you make your next ad buy, put your landing page copy through The Crap Device. If it comes out the other end smelling like the back of Heidi Klum’s neck on date night, you can bet that you’re gonna score—with your customers, that is.


No Solicitors

I just had the lovely experience of dealing with a very aggressive door-to-door window salesperson. She completely disregarded the very prominent “No Solicitors” sign next to the front door, and banged on it repeatedly. By the time I came up the stairs from my office, crated the large, wildly barking dog, and got the door open, I was really in no mood to hear what she wanted to say.

Words were exchanged.

So after I got back to my office and finished being irritated (well, sort of) at the obnoxious window woman, I started thinking about her marketing technique. If she goes all around the neighborhood, insisting on knocking at doors with “No Solicitors” signs near them, how much is she realistically gonna sell?

If you’re selling to people who don’t want to buy, you’re doomed.

The issue here, as it is for many companies, is target market. So many organizations, in their rush to market, completely forget to think strategically. Not about to whom they wish to sell (note classy and correct  use of “to whom.” Thanks, Mr. Georges!), but rather about who actually wants to buy their offering.

Messaging 101: Discover who wants what you’re selling, and determine which of their problems your product or service will solve. Figure out what they need to know about it.

Then speak specifically to those people, in places they congregate (Twitter, Facebook, industry conferences—or in the case of the hot-tub industry, the county fair). Sales are easy, if you’re selling to someone who wants to buy—and there are more of those folks out there than many realize. Big, broad campaigns can waste time and money, and completely overlook the highly targeted group of people standing by with their wallets open.

I just hope she’s not on straight commission.


Are you hosing your customers?

This week, I was asked to contribute a guest post to the C3Centricity blog, so I thought I’d also share it here. Enjoy!

Delivering a Campaign Win Amidst Online Saturation

Fifty years ago, the primary platforms used to communicate to customers were print media, TV commercials, and billboards. Given this, large-scale campaigns were pricey, and only a handful of major brands had the resources with which to execute them.

Now flash forward. These days, the results of corporate marketing initiatives are as ubiquitous as the air we breathe. As marketers, we still have the commercials, billboards, and print ads to content with, but now we also have to consider things like search engines, social media, and mobile computing. Beyond that, we must deal with the knowledge that just about anyone with a computer and an internet connection now has the capability to market a product or service online, quickly and inexpensively. >>READ MORE


The Write Tool for the Job

Do you know the difference between needing to hire a marketing writer, vs. needing to hire a tech writer? Unless you are deeply ingrained with a major player in the technology industry, such as Microsoft HP, Adobe, Apple, or Google, you’re probably getting it wrong.

There have been many occasions when I’ve been contacted by a potential client (who has presumably read my Web site and already done a bit of research on me) about a new project. Once we start chatting about their needs, however, it often bubbles up that they are looking for someone to develop a reviewer’s guide, user documentation, or possibly even a technical white paper.

Now, there is nothing at all on my Web site that would lead anyone to believe that I am a technical writer, yet this person somehow assumes that this is what I do for a living, simply because I write. And people just like this seem to land on my doorstep almost weekly, looking for my assistance.

A writer is not a writer is not a writer is not a. . .well, you get the drift.

Getting your tech writing project done correctly and on time is not merely a factor of “insert writer here.” You have to have the correct resource for the job. To help alleviate any further confusion, here’s a quick cheat sheet on these two types of writers, and the types of content can realistically expect them to produce for you:

Tech Writer

  • software documentation
  • operating instructions
  • assembly manuals
  • technical blogs
  • technical white papers
  • e-learning materials
  • online help files

Marketing Writer

  • case studies
  • Web sites
  • direct marketing
  • e-mailers
  • newsletters
  • slide presentations
  • banner ads
  • business white papers
  • demo scripts
  • brochures
  • advertisements
  • social media content
  • data sheets
  • SEO copy
  • messaging frameworks

This of course is not an exhaustive list, but it should at least give you a concrete idea of the kind of resource you need to get your job done. Got questions? Just ask!


Check Your Business Baggage at the Door?

We interrupt our discussion on stress for the following delightful blog post:

Every company, just like every person, had got some junk in its trunk―and I don’t mean that in a Jennifer Lopez sort of way. From financial missteps to ugly layoffs to product drama, even the stuff that goes on waaaaaay behind closed doors can splooge out under the door and affect your customers’ perceptions of your organization. And your bottom line.

But this post isn’t about crisis communications. No doubt there is plenty out there on the subject. When your “interim CEO” takes a hike with his personal assistant, using investor buckaroos to finance his mid-life stupidity, you do need some good, solid crisis comms. But this is different.

I’m talking about the quirks and meanderings that bought your company to where it is today. Maybe your journey would make an MBA candidate cringe, but that’s OK. Was every decision stellar? Probably not (Remember Microsoft Bob? What about New Coke?).

My point is that, unless your customers are as perfect as Oprah is purported to be (!), they can probably relate to a company that is as human as they are. Don’t beat yourself up over woulda-coulda-shoulda when it comes to a rocky past, when you can use the very issues that have shaped your organization to develop a deeper relationship with your customer.

Don’t shy away from your journey—your customer has had one, too. Acknowledge the rough-and-tumble as a valued part of the evolution of your business, and demonstrate how it will fuel your future. Show them your smarts, and they’ll give you their loyalty.


KIll Them with Blandness

Everyone knows that word-of-mouth is the best advertising out there. And smart marketers are taking advantage of the wealth of customer conversations taking place on the Web, and via various social media portals, to build third-party validation for their products and services. But as always, some are missing the mark.

I was editing some Web content recently, and came across the following customer verbatim: “It’s vital that our communications. . .are effective and efficient.”

Huh? Where’s the rave about how effective and efficient the company’s communications are―now that they are using XYZ product? How much time and money are they saving? How significant is the improvement over their previous solution, ABC product?

Bottom Line:  if you use a customer quote in your collateral and it does not reference your offering or the benefits thereof, you have completely wasted an opportunity.


Is Your Social Media Anti-Social?

It’s great that you’ve decided to take advantage of social media to market your company. Really, it is. But cranking out 140 Twitter characters and then cutting-and-pasting them everywhere from Facebook to your nephew’s MySpace page doesn’t cut it.

Wow. Turns out there’s more to social media than just 140 characters!

So look at the elements of your social media strategy–blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, whatever—and think about why people are following you there. One size does not fit all:

Blog – Your blog is prime real estate; it can position you as a subject matter expert, innovator, or industry leader. Don’t waste a golden opportunity to utilize your knowledge and experience to craft your professional image.

Facebook – This is where you can start an actual dialogue with your customers and engage your target market. Speak with them, not to them. Give them a way to share ideas, make suggestions, and yeah, complain if they need to. And act on those complaints to give your customers a better experience. If they know you’re listening, they’re more likely to be loyal to your brand.

Twitter – Share news, industry happenings, and pointers to your fabulous blog with your followers. You have to “write smart” for these: Grab attention with a snappy question or statement, and provide a link to a resource. And yes, use your hashtags!

LinkedIn – This is your business face. Get crisp about your background and accomplishments, and make sure that your company page does the same. Expand your network within your industry, and get involved with new markets to expand your reach.

Social media doesn’t have to be daunting, but it does need dedicated resources from time to time. If you want to get in the social media game, contact us today to find out how cost-effective it can be to get started!




There’s More to Marketing Than SEO

Lately, everything I see or hear about copywriting ultimately leads back to SEO. Yes (rolling eyes), that SEO: Search Engine Optimization. I think that marketers have gotten so caught up in the drama and sheer competition driven by the Internet that SEO has somehow become the be-all end-all of copywriting.

Not true.

For one thing, the explosion of the communications force of nature we know as Twitter doesn’t necessarily lend itself to SEO-heavy writing. I mean, 140 characters is 140 characters, and if you’re trying to cram in too many keywords, your Tweets are just going to look like Mike Tyson wrote them.

And then there are case studies. Lovely case studies demonstrate how happy your product or service makes your customers. Case studies actually develop a bit of a relationship with that browsing customer who is looking to read something that gives her the feeling of, “Hey, this guy had my problem, and look how he solved it!”

Friends, good copy is about more than just keywords. It’s crisp, focused, compelling, and persuasive. It engages and informs.

So next time you are reading about the Importance of SEO Copywriting, smile, nod, and give it its due. . .but also take time to remember the artistry of the writer whose copy actually resonates with your customers, long after they’ve read it.