Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Here's a news flash. 

The Mighty Copywriter has become the nation’s first independent copywriting firm to provide clients ReadSmart®.

ReadSmart® blends IT with neuroscience and applies its formula to marketing.

The technology is a copywriter’s dream come true.

ReadSmart® makes thousands of minor adjustments to copy that result in more memorable messages.  It can be applied to direct mail, collateral, books and other documents to boost comprehension, retention and response. 

ReadSmart® increases reading comprehension by 24 percent; reading speed by 23 percent; reading enjoyment by 38 percent; and—best of all—persuasiveness by 39 percent.

You still need me to write the copy, however.  So I'm not worried about being replaced by a computer.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Ready, Fire, Aim

Ubiquitous marketing guru David Meerman Scott, author of 2007's instant classic, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, has hit it out of the ballpark again with his smart new book, Real-Time Marketing and PR.

I cannot say enough praiseworthy things about Scott's 200-page treatise.

In it, he makes an iron-clad case for why today's marketersif they want a fighting chance of staying competitivehave to go real-time.

"Scale and media buying power are no longer a decisive advantage," he writes in the opening chapter.  "What counts today is speed and agility."  (If we were taking things a tad slower and checking grammar, that last sentence would read, "What count today are speed and agility."  But I nitpick.)

Readers will find much more in Real-Time Marketing and PR than clever arguments favoring the wider use of social media. 

Between the covers are important lessons in how to:
  • Profit from the public's curiousity
  • Grab more mainstream media attention
  • Interact with customers the way they want you to
  • Engage friends and enemiesand win the hearts of both
  • Analyze your online reputation
  • Tap the "wisdom of crowds"
  • Come out ahead after a "PR crisis"
  • Transform your organization, so it can begin marketing in real-time
Much of the advice in Scott's book is anathema to die-hard fans of strategic planning, risk management, and command and control. 

That doesn't make the advice wrong-headed.  In fact, the many examples of real-time marketing successesand blundersScott offers should convince you he's onto something.

We mustn't let overplanning, caution and bureaucracy stand in the way of connecting.  "We need to unlearn what we've learned in the last half century about communication,' Scott writes.

Pick up Real-Time Marketing and PR.  Let the unlearning begin.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What's Up with That, Eh?

Twice in a two-week span, I've witnessed a conference producer slight Canadians in the course of introducing the keynote speaker.

First incident.  The conference producer said, "Our keynote speaker has a strange last name.  But, then, he's Canadian."

Second incident.  The conference producer said, "I want to thank a first-time sponsor.  They come from Montreal.  Their participation today proves even Canadians can be innovative."

Do both these guys share the same public-speaking coach?  What does the coach have against Canadians?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Are You Authentic?

"We tend to think of effectiveness as something we 'do' to people.  But in  fact it is who we 'are,' not what we do, that changes the world and the people around us." 
                                                                       —Lance Secretan

"Authentic" is derived from the Greek word for "original."

Pretending to be "authentic" by looking edgy or sounding sincere doesn’t mean your brand will be trusted.

You could be an original jerk.

By the standards of Q4 2010, being authentic means you stand for more than just profits. 

Do you?

The truth of the matter: customers are more authentic—and more intelligent—than 99 percent of the marketers who target them. 

So lying about your organization's values in your marketing messages doesn't help.  It only worsens things. 

You're not only a profiteer, you're a phoney profiteer.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giveback 2010

Today I'm announcing Giveback 2010.

Under Giveback 2010, I’ll donate $2,010 in marketing services to any registered nonprofit devoted to increasing literacy, anywhere in the United States.

To claim the donation, an official of the nonprofit need only contact me and explain the nature of the project or projects wanted.

I can be reached at 202.537.1169 or bob@themightycopywriter.com.

Only one organization will receive the in-kind donation.

Giveback 2010 is my way of "giving back" and aiding the important cause of increased literacy in our nation.

The donation is restricted to the marketing services that I provide, which are described on my Website.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Are You Marketing Like It's 1977?

The mainstream media has surrendered all claims to serious journalism, as I noted in a recent post(Coincidentally, that's the theme of a new movie, Morning Glory, which I highly recommend.)

Today's mainstream media news programs are entertainment vehicles.

Thirty years ago, the story was different.  One example makes that clear.

  • On August 16, 1977the day Elvis Presley diedCBS Evening News opened with a seven-minute story about the Panama Canal, followed by a one-minute story about the King of Rock 'n Roll's death.
  • On June 25, 2009the day Michael Jackson diedCBS Evening News opened with an eight-minute story about the King of Pop's death.  And for the next 13 days, CBS Evening News devoted more than two minutes of each broadcast to Jackson's demise.
The question for marketers: are you providing customers an entertainment vehicle?

Or are you marketing like it's 1977?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lincoln Would Have Loved Twitter

One-time association executive and part-time historian Tom Wheeler wrote a cool book a few years ago titled Mr. Lincoln's T-Mails: The Untold Story of How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War.

It attributes the North's victory over the South to Lincoln's embrace of the telegraph, the "killer app" of the 1860s.

Lincoln, as history shows, was a super-skilled telegraph user, while his Rebel foes were, well, late adopters.  (They were also late adopters of civil rights, but that's another story.) 

Lincoln, Wheeler contends, took advantage of the real-time nature of the telegraph to direct the Yankees on the battlefield, enabling them to run circles around the Johnnies.

When Mr. Lincoln's T-Mails first hit the shelves, Twitter was only three months old, with hardly any users.  But, had he foreseen its surge in popularity, I'm sure Wheeler would have agreed: Lincoln would have loved Twitter.

Of course, Lincoln couldn't have Tweeted top secret orders to his generals.  But he could have used Twitter to rouse the troops who followed them.

It's easy to imagine some of the momentous microbursts that might have come from our most articulate president:

During the massive Union rout at First Bull Run.  "Stop running!  The Marine Corps Marathon is next week, you morons."  

After the Union triumph at Gettysburg.  "Rebs in full retreat.  Stay tuned.  Speech to follow."

After Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox.  "Mission accomplished.  Ulysses, you're doing a heck of a job!"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kiwi Outs Mainstream Media

New Zealand-based writer and publicist Peter Heath has a compelling opinion piece in the new edition of IABC Communication World. 

Heath argues that "serious-issue journalism" within the British Commonwealth's mainstream media has all but surrendered to "populism."  TV news programs focus exclusively on trivia, while London’s The Times now resembles The Daily Mail.

What happened?  Heath lays the blames on two doorsteps.

The rise of alternate news sources.  "Serious-issue journalism (or at least detailed analysis and interpretation of the issues) is increasingly becoming the preserve of specialist outlets, driving mainstream media (print and broadcast) down the populist route."

The rise of "corporatespeak."  In recent years, there's been "too little real and meaningful (for this, read “two-way”) engagement between organizations and the people important to them," according to Heath.

"We as communication practitioners need to be on top of these developments, not surprised by them," Heath warns.  In fact, these two trends "should inform and shape the integrated communication programs we should be developing and managing for our employers and clients."

From a practical standpoint, what does Heath's advice mean for most marketers?  I think it means:

  • Forget the mainstream media.  Unless you're promoting a luxury, a celebrity, a movie, an amusement ride or a sporting event, you won't earn coverage.  Target your messages at the "specialists."
  • Quit letting lawyers craft your messages.  Unless you do, you'll never be "authentic."  So you'll never be heard.  Much less believed.

Monday, November 15, 2010

To Be or Not

The masterful Brian Clark of Copyblogger has launched a nifty Podcast series called Internet Marketing for Smart People Radio.

In last week's episode, Brian stressed the importance of knowing who you're striving to be in the eyes of your social media audience. 

Brian, for example, hopes to be seen by his followers as a "likeable teacher."

The Podcast spurred me to think about who I'd like to be perceived as. 

Unfortunately, I can't decide at the moment, because of my dual personality.

On the one hand, I'd like to be perceived as social media marketing's David Ogilvy

On the other, social media marketing's Lewis Black comes to mind.

How about you?  Who do you want to be?


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Why Live is Often Dead

Seth Godin's blog post today suggests "Why we prefer live."
  • It's magical to be surrounded by "fellow travelers."
  • The chance something could go wrong in a live performance adds excitement.
  • The chance something could go amazingly right adds even more excitement.
Regrettably, most people in the "'live' business" (such as restaurateurs, hoteliers and speakers) "work hard to avoid getting anywhere near any of the three," Godin writes.

Why do most producers of tradeshows and professional meetings work so hard to avoid these preferences?

I spoke last evening about this very topic with event designer Bob Hughes. We concluded:

  • Most producers don't really understand their audiences.
  • Most don't design their events from end to end; they merely "organize" them.
  • Most don't report to executives who care whether the audiences have a satifactory experience.  (The execs merely want to extract money from the audiences.)
Sound right to you?

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Mother of All Marketers

I was a mere seven when Psycho was first released in movie theaters.

Fifty years later, the film's marketing campaign is still as vivid to me as it was in 1960.

As the grownups lined up in front of our local movie house, Alfred Hitchcock's voice played through a crackly outdoor speaker, advising them to keep the end of Psycho a secret. 

Just inside the glass doors loomed a life-size cardboard cutout of the director with a sign that said, "The manager of this theater has been instructed not to admit to the theatre any persons after the picture starts."

Both warnings were echoed on the marquee and the outdoor posters wrapped around the building.

Before the release of Psycho, a lot of people thought it was okay to stroll into a theater at any point in the showing of a film.

Not after 1960.  Hitchcock changed the way people went to movies.  Theaters playing Psycho actually had to close the box office once the picture started.

Word-of-mouth turned Hitchcock's $800,000 production into a $15 million blockbuster.

What lessons can "the master of suspense" teach?

  • Are you offering customers a new experience?
  • Are you asking customers to talk about you?
  • Are you surrounding yourself with a bit of mystery?
  • Are you insisting on time limits?

Monday, November 8, 2010

See Spot Stay

Harrah's is making big news by pioneering PetStay, a program that allows dogs in three of its properties in Las Vegas. 

Canine guests will enjoy many in-room amenities, including a sleeping mat, food and water dishes, and treats. 

At check-in, dogs will receive welcome packets that include directions to essential services providers, including groomers, walkers and veterinarians.

Dog owners will be furnished disposable waste bags.

This may be the only time a visitor ever cleans up in Las Vegas.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Funnel Vision

It's time to take a fresh look at your sales "funnel."

Only executivescomfortably behind the lines in the daily battle for market sharestill believe customers are gullible.

Direct-accountability salespeople know they're anything but.

Today's customers are self-educated.  And then some.

That's why Joseph Jaffe, in his recent book Flip the Funnel, insists the traditional metaphor of a sales funnel is passe.

Today's customers are "indefatigable researchers," Jaffe writes, who "will do what they can to make informed decisions that disintermediate marketing misdirection, hyperbole, overpromise and hype."

If customers are smarter than ever, what should marketers do?

In a 2009 article, "The Consumer Decision Journey," consultants at McKinsey & Company recommend marketers "look beyond funnel-inspired push marketing" and begin to cultivate customers while they're conducting their research.

"The epicenter of consumer-driven marketing is the Internet, crucial during the active-evaluation phase as consumers seek information, reviews, and recommendations," the authors state.

Wooing customers during the "decision journey" demands that marketers forego old-fashioned media advertising, according to the authors.

They must focus instead on building content-rich Websites and word-of-mouth advertising.

If you want your customer base to grow, Seth Godin famously says, you should turn the funnel sideways

Let customers use your funnel like a megaphone.  They'll broadcast their satisfaction to others.

That would take care of your word-of-mouth advertising.  

But what about your content?

That's where you need to turn the funnel upside down. 

You need to flip your funnel and fill it with tons of great content.  And make the content free and accessible.

So when customers on the decision journey find you, they'll find not a hypester, but a helpful, trusted advisor.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tone Deaf

In her recent article for International Association of Business Communicators, Natalie Canavor laments the fact that Millenials' business writing is "tone deaf."

"Beyond having trouble with basic content and writing mechanics," Canavor says, "many younger people appear to be tone deaf: They may get their point across concisely, but with an abruptness that can offend older folks. And since many clients, board members, major donors and other influentials tend to be older folks, this is risky business indeed."

The disappearance of courtesy in business writing stems from four sources, according to Canavor.

First, busy Millenials have no time for tact, she says. According to a recent survey, they lack all patience for "small talk." For Millenials, communication is about passing along facts.

Second, Millenials are wedded to texting, "which more or less demands an absence of niceties and builds a telegraphic habit."

Third, Millenials are the victims of poor schooling. Canavor cites a conversation with Chicago adman Bob Killian, who blames college deans. The professors spot students' writing errors but are forced to let them stand, Killian claims. "They say the students complain and then the dean tells them that it’s not their job to correct grammar and punctuation—and those students are future donors!”

Finally, Millenials are "skeptical of authority." So courtesy just doesn't come naturally.

Ironically, that makes their writing sound (to me, anyway) pretty darn authoritarian.

Monday, November 1, 2010


The New York Times reports that major retailers, spooked by the soft economy, launched their Christmas shopping season ad campaigns a week before Halloween.

"Some retailers and marketers, worried that uncertainty among shoppers might increase as the weeks go by, hope to pull demand forward by moving up the start of their pitches," according to reporter Stuart Elliott.

Retailers who jumped the Yuletide gate are taking a big chance, however.

"The profusion of Christmas campaigns runs the risk of wearing out shoppers who may at some point tire of all the Santas and candy canes," Elliott notes.

I'm feeling worn out already.  How about you?
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