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Friday, November 24, 2017

This Will Shock You


According to research by two Norwegian business professors, "self-referencing" headlines—those with you in them—drive more clicks.

Specifically, the professors discovered the highest-performing of these four headlines was the last:
  • For sale: iPhone
  • Anyone need a new iPhone?
  • Do we agree iPhone is the best phone available?
  • Is this your new iPhone?
Maybe you are not shocked. Of course you matters! 

As every marketer knows, along with new, nowfree and save, you is one of the Top 5 "power words." You addresses the reader, assuring he'll read the ad

As the late Herschell Gordon Lewis says in The Art of Writing Copy, “Unless the reader regards himself as the target of your message, benefit can’t exist." You guarantees this.

And then there's this.

This will shock you (the title of this post) is a click-bait headline that introduces a subject without introducing it.

Good writing forbids the use of this as a subject: its use is considered sloppy, because this is an ambiguous "empty suitcase."

But good copywriting isn't always good writing.

This as a subject intrigues readers enough to click, in order to get the whole story. It exploits their curiosity, relying on a rhetorical trick researchers call "forward referencing."

This will shock you creates suspense readers can only relieve by... clicking.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Do Your Ads Have a Point... of Impact?


Seventy years ago, direct-response copywriter Victor Schwab ran an absurdly long ad for his agency titled “100 Good Advertising Headlines."

Though as corny as Kansas, the 7,500-word treatise is still remembered today because Schwab used it to reveal his "secret sauce" for headlines.

Good headlines entice readers, just as bad ones repel them; and always display two attributes, according to Schwab. 

Good headlines "select, from the total readership of the publication, those readers who are (or can be induced to be) interested in the subject of the advertisement, and promise them a worthwhile reward for reading it.”

Today we might say good headlines aim at your 1,000 true fans and deliver irresistibly clickable content; but Schwab's two principles still apply: targeting buyers and offering value are the only way to guarantee an ad has impact.

It's no surprise recent research by Conductor shows customers respond to "reader addressed" headlines; or that research by Demand Gen Report shows "content-enabled" campaigns—where content, rather than a product, is the value offered—produce high open and click rates.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Who’s Coining All this Lame Marketing Terminology?



Gary Slack provided today's post. He is chief experience officer of Slack and Company, LLC, a leading global b2b marketing strategy and services provider based in Chicago.

It must either be technology vendors or some mysterious cabal laughing up a storm as we compliantly adopt their subpar terms.

Do you ever wonder who coins all the imprecise and often confusing marketing jargon and industry terms we toss around like stationary lemmings every day?

I'm referring to terms like “account-based marketing,” “programmatic advertising,” “native advertising,” “content marketing,” “big data” and more.

A few years ago, at BMA15, the seventh of seven consecutive annual global conferences I organized for the Business Marketing Association, we had Second City actors do a hilarious sketch about a very secretive “Committee on Marketing Terminology,” whose job was to coin such terms and then laugh uproariously when they somehow caught on with their victims—us.

In so many cases, the new terms being promulgated by software vendors, marketing consultants, academics and who knows who else are just new fancy-pants names for existing and well-understood and widely used techniques.

Account-based marketing

For starters, take “account-based marketing.” Marketers in the b2b space have been doing ABM for decades, if not longer. We certainly have been—for virtually all of our 30 years. Better known as “key account marketing” or as “whale hunting” by the politically incorrect among us, ABM simply means sales and marketing working extremely closely together to target and land often very large prospects through individualized efforts.

ABM is the antithesis of mass b2b marketing, where you’re targeting hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands or, if your target is small businesses, millions of business buyers—at generally a very low cost per impression. In contrast, a company could spend thousands—even tens of thousand—of dollars via ABM-style targeting of single prospects.

Yes, ABM is account-based, but targeting down to audiences of one or 10 or 20 is the key to the technique. “Account-based marketing,” as a term, is sloppy, imprecise and confusing. “Key account marketing” is much better.

Programmatic advertising

A newbie term within the past five years, “programmatic advertising” is a problematic term because no one really knows what “programmatic” means.

Here again, what’s at the heart of the term—and the capability it describes—is targeting. As in, “targeted messaging.” Of course, because technology is behind it, what is even more definitive is “targeted one-to-one messaging.”

“Programmatic,” in conjunction with the term “advertising,” is a relatively new marketing capability that lets us b2b marketers target messaging to just the 1,952 or 345 or 672 decision-makers and influencers that we want to reach through advertising instead of just, for example, email.

Maybe “programmatic advertising” ought to be called “no-waste advertising.”

Content marketing

Well, you may regret you got this far with me, because my biggest peeve is with this term, for which even Joe Pulizzi, popularizer of the term and founder of the Content Marketing Institute, denies any paternity.

Of course, as with the above capabilities and a few more to follow, we’ve all been doing “content marketing” for years. It’s just that it used to be called “marketing” or “marketing communications.” Putting high-quality, value-drenched, captivating information in front of buying audiences at every major stage of the buy cycle is most definitely nothing new.

Unfortunately, “content marketing” does not conjure up quality. It conjures up, at least for me, an image of just plain stuff ... or stuffing. As in what goes into a sofa, a turkey or even a landfill. Content can be good, bad or indifferent—a thought that led me two years ago to do some coining of my own: “brandfill,” for boring, bland or bad content marketing.

Native advertising

Native advertising is just “whored media,” the replacement term the Second City actors behind the Committee on Marketing Terminology coined in their BMA15 sketch.

More seriously, it’s just a newfangled term for “advertorial,” a long-lived term for advertiser-sponsored material pretending to look, feel and read like independent news content.

Damn, there I go using that word “content” indiscriminately.

Big data

We’ll end today’s rant or diatribe with “big data.”

The Second City players coined a replacement term—“obese data”—and, yes, it got guffaws. In reaction to the term, I actually had another BMA15 speaker give a presentation about “little data.”

Just as “preventative” is not a word (but “preventive” is) and “very” is used way too often as a modifier, why don’t we just call data by its real and best name—“data”?

How new marketing terminology and jargon come to be—first use, spreading to others and then adopted by all of us, no questions asked—is a great puzzle to me. When I figure it out and have a plan to “sunset” the coiner cabal, I’ll let you know.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Great Expectations


No changes in the expectations of those better off can improve the situation of those worst off.
— John Rawls

Political “talking points” are preventing us from seeing that the GOP’s tax proposals are thoroughly undemocratic. We should consider the bills in more basic terms.

For those, I’d turn to A Theory of Justice, the best-known work of the late philosopher John Rawls.

From a moral viewpoint, Rawls says, accidents of birth—inherited wealth, social advantage, and inborn talent—are unjust. Society’s winners and losers are chosen by a “natural lottery,” not by divine decree. Almost everyone accepts the fact. But how to correct the injustice?

Aristocrats think the way to correct the injustice is to increase their own wealth. The more they have, they greater their opportunities to practice noblesse oblige. Hell, it worked in feudal times, right?

Liberals
try to correct the injustice with education, which in theory gives a fair shake to people of equal talent. But there’s still a problem, even then, because education favors only the talented; incompetent people—and talented people raised in dysfunctional families—remain stuck with lousy lottery numbers. So, some forms of income redistribution must come into play. Once we’re troubled by the effects of chance on people’s lives, Rawls says, it’s inevitable we insist that the social order doesn’t exist to secure greater expectations for those better off “unless doing so is to the advantage of those less fortunate.”

Conservatives—would-be aristocrats—put their faith in piggy schemes to increase the expectations of the already wealthy. If the schemes are enacted, some of that wealth, they believe, will “trickle down” to the rest of society; so, they’re quite willing to live with rampant inequality—and injustice. That injustice grows, the more piggy the schemes become. “A scheme is unjust when the higher expectations are excessive,” Rawls says. “If these expectations are decreased, the situation of the least favored would be improved. How unjust an arrangement is depends on how excessive the higher expectations are and to what extent they depend upon the violation of other principles of justice, for example, fair equality of opportunity.”

Avoiding injustice is why we embrace democracy, Rawls says. And in a democracy, those who are best off should not have a veto over the benefits available to the worst off.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Work of Art

You probably know that, for 25 years, Absolut used the commissioned work of renowned artists to sell vodka through "the best print campaign in the history of advertising."

But did you know many renowned artists first worked in advertising?


Rene Magritte left studies at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels in 1918 to work as a graphic artist in a wallpaper factory, and as a freelance designer of posters, ads, brochures and store catalogs. One day he spotted a painting by Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico and decided surrealistic painting was for him.


Charles Burchfield, after graduating from the Cleveland School of Art, worked as a wallpaper designer for M. H. Birge & Sons Company, in Buffalo. He married and raised five children on his salary. When he was discovered by Edward Hopper and picked up by a New York gallery in 1929, he resigned the job to paint full time.


Willem de Kooning quit school at age 12 to work in merchandising, studying at night at the Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Techniques. At 16, he became the assistant art director for a department store. He continued working in the field to help pay for painting classes at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts. After stowing away on the SS Shelly, bound for the US, he found odd jobs around New York as a sign painter, carpenter and window dresser. In 1928, he began to paint figures in the style of  Picasso.


Andy Warhol graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 1945 with a degree in fine arts. He moved to New York to work for Glamour and quickly became known for his "blotted line" drawings. He also produced over 300 ads for I. Miller Shoes that would run on Sundays in The New York TimesIn 1962, Warhol caused a national stir when he debuted his paintings of Campbell's soup cans.


Wayne Thiebaud became a cartoonist as a teenager, working briefly as a Disney animator and a freelance designer of posters and ads. He studied art at California State University in Sacramento, then moved to New York in 1956, where he fell under the spell of Abstract Expressionists like de Kooning. But he soon returned to California and begin to paint pictures of pies, cakes, sandwiches, ice cream sundaes and gumball machines.


Gene Davis worked as a journalist for 35 years (including 6 as editor of the American Automobile Association's monthly magazine), before turning to art full time in 1968. His paintings of brightly colored stripes made him the leader overnight of the Washington Color School; but it was never beneath Davis to take freelance commercial assignments. He created book and magazine covers for DC-area ad agencies until his death in 1985 (he did magazine illustrations for the agency where I worked during the 1980s).

“I hate the decorative arts and advertising,” Magritte said in 1946. 

But many first-rate artists besides Magritte and the others above have worked in them, including N.C. Wyeth, Norman Rockwell, Salvador Dali, Helen Frankenthaler, Keith Haring and Damien Hirst.
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