Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Laws of Persuasion: Likability Outweighs Credibility

Part 1 of a 5-part series

If you want to change customers' beliefs, remember that likability outweighs credibility.

So said French philosopher Blaise Pascal in his 1658 essay The Art of Persuasion.

"People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive," Pascal wrote.

Because attraction holds more sway than evidence, Pascal says, you need to understand both "the mind and heart" of your customer, "what principles he acknowledges, what things he loves."

Pascal doesn't advocate sweet talk alone, but an artful blend of reasoned argument and adorableness.

"The art of persuasion consists as much in that of pleasing as in that of convincing, so much more are men governed by caprice than by reason."

Saturday, March 30, 2013

10 Steps to Better Media Coverage for Your Association

Association executive Edward Segal, CAE, wrote today's guest post. He is CEO of the Marin Association of Realtors and the author of several exceptional books on public relations.
Associations face two important challenges in generating the publicity they want. First, it's impossible to know what stories every reporter, editor, or blogger is working on or may be planning. Second, if journalists don't know your organization exists, they'll never think to contact you for quotes or information for their stories.
Your association can quickly overcome these hurdles by becoming a resource to as many news outlets as possible. Here are 10 steps to help make that happen:
1.   Take stock and cast a wide net. Make a list of all the topics and issues in which your organization has knowledge, expertise, or information. With this list in hand, identify the news organizations, as well as Websites and blogs, that follow or might have an interest in these matters. To ensure you haven't missed anyone, conduct a search of relevant keywords and phrases in Google's Web, blog, and news categories.
2.    Initiate contact. Send emails to appropriate contacts at these outlets to tell them about the topics and issues in which your organization has expertise. Explain that your association wants to be a resource for their stories in these areas, and ask how you can be of help in upcoming articles.
3.    Stay in touch. Reach out to these reporters on a regular basis. By staying on their radar, journalists are more likely to think of you when they need you. But don't become a pest.
4.    Alert yourself. Set up Google Alert for the topics and issues for which you'd like to generate additional publicity for your organization. Evaluate the results and, as appropriate, contact the editors, reporters, and bloggers to offer your organization as a resource on future stories. If you contact them quickly enough and have something to contribute, they might include you in updates to those stories.
5.    Cast an even wider net. Join one or more online services that provide subscribers with inquiries from journalists, or help link experts with reporters. These sites include Help a Reporter Out, Muck Rack, PR Newswire's ProfNet, The Yearbook of Experts, and Radio-TV Interview Report.
6.    Don't wait. Respond immediately to all media inquiries. Whether reporters are on deadline or not, the sooner you get back to them, the more likely it is that you will have an opportunity to be a resource. Given the competition organizations face for publicity and the deadlines under which reporters work, the expiration dates of these opportunities may be very short.  
7.    Give good quotes. Journalists can be inclined to interview people who have demonstrated that they can give good quotes. When reporters see you've been interviewed by other news organizations, they may seek to contact you for interviews for their own stories. Consider your sound bites to be auditions that can lead to additional publicity opportunities.  
8.   Get a room. Establish a "press room" page on your Website. Make it as easy as possible for visiting journalists and bloggers to immediately see your association's areas of knowledge and expertise and how to contact designated spokespeople. Keep press materials current and ensure that links to news stories where your organization is mentioned are working.
9.    Plan ahead. News organizations may post editorial calendars on their Websites, or will be glad to send them to you on request. The calendars can be an early warning system about future stories: armed with this advance notice, you might be able to position your organization as a resource to the reporter or editor and wind up with more coverage for your association.
10.  Be patient. Providing journalists with whom you've had no prior dealings with tips and information for their stories can be an investment in time and resources. Sometimes the payoff will be immediate, such as a quote, attribution, or profile. At other times, your efforts may take some time to bear fruit. But if you don't try, the payoff will be zero.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Did You Know F. Scott Fitzgerald was Once a Copywriter?

Part 5 of a 5-part series

The year was 1918. The Great War had ended. And 22-year-old F. Scott Fitzgerald wanted nothing more than to marry the belle of Montgomery, Alabama, Zelda Sayre.

But, as Sayre made clear, there'd be no union until he could support them.

So the Princeton-educated Fitzgerald moved to New York, to try out journalism.

The venture came to little.

At a friend's urging, Fitzgerald took a $35-per-week job as a copywriter at the ad agency Barron Collier.

Things began to look up. Fitzgerald received a $5-per-week raise, when he wrote a client-pleasing slogan for the Muscatine, Iowa-based Muscatine Steam Laundry Company, "We keep you clean in Muscatine."

"'It's perhaps a bit imaginative," the agency head told him. "But still it's plain that there's a future for you in this business."

But copywriting didn't earn Fitzgerald enough to satisfy Sayre.

He quit the job and moved back into his parents' home in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Two more years and the appearance of his first best-seller would pass before the couple wed.

Did You Know Danielle Steel was Once a Copywriter?

Part 4 of a 5-part series

In 1972, while researching an article about conscientious objectors imprisoned during the Vietnam War, freelance writer and millionaire heiress Danielle Steel met inmate Danny Zugelder in a California penitentiary.

Zugelder, serving time for bank robbery, became instantly smitten with the high-born Steel. Within months, Steel moved from New York to San Francisco, so she could visit Zugelder every week. The couple would have lengthy picnics on the prison lawn and liaisons in a bathroom in the visitors' center.

Zugelder moved in with Steel after his parole the following year. To support their new household, Steel took as job as a 
copywriter for Grey Advertising, while working nights on a novel.

The couple's bliss lasted less than a year. In 1974, Zugelder was convicted of robbing and sexually assaulting a woman, and sentenced to seven years in a state prison.

In 1975, Steel married Zugelder in the prison’s canteen. But the marriage lasted only two years.

Zugelder later reflected that Steel had been using him as grist for her novel, which depicted the romance between a socialite writer and a poor ex-con.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Did You Know Terry Gilliam was Once a Copywriter?

Part 3 of a 5-part series

In the mid-1960s, Terry Gilliam found himself unable to earn money as a cartoonist, so took a job as a copywriter in a Los Angeles ad agency.
The long-haired Gilliam didn't mind the salary, but hated agency life. Each day, he would arrive late, take long lunches and leave early.
Clients particularly troubled him.
When one, Anderson Split Pea Soup, asked for a new campaign to promote its namesake product, Gilliam produced a series of clever newspaper and radio ads. But the ads failed to increase sales in the test-market chosen by the client, and were immediately scrapped. Soon after, Gilliam learned that Anderson Split Pea Soup didn't stock its product in any stores in the test market it had selected.
After only 18 months on the job, Gilliam quit the ad agency and moved to England. That same year, he found a gig with a new BBC show, Monty Python's Flying Circus.
Though Gilliam would never again produce ads, memories of agency life haunted him and would influence his dystopian film Brazil.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Did You Know Alec Guinness was Once a Copywriter?

Part 2 of a 5-part series

In 1932, fresh out of school, Alec Guinness became a copywriter for London-based Arks Publicity, where he wrote ads for Rose’s Lime Juice.

Earning only 20 shillings a week (the equivalent of about 70 US dollars today), Guinness quit his copywriters' job to try acting.

To break onto the stage, Guinness cold-called "the greatest Hamlet of his generation," John Gielgud. Gielgud advised Guinness to take lessons from actress Martita Hunt. 

After the second lesson, Hunt told Guinness, "You'll never be an actor. You've got no talent at all." But he stuck out the lessons and in a year won a scholarship to drama school. 

In 1934, Guinness landed a minor role in Gielgud's second production of Hamlet and his acting career took flight.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Did You Know Bob Newhart was Once a Copywriter?

Part 1 of a 5-part series

In the late 1950s, Bob Newhart left a job in accounting to become a copywriter for a Chicago-based film and TV production company.

During idle hours, Newhart and a coworker would entertain one another by pretending to make long phone calls about absurd topics.

They began to tape-record the calls and send the tapes to local radio stations, hoping for a gig.

After the coworker left the firm, Newhart continued to make the recordings on his own. He would portray only one end of the phone conversation, playing the "straight man" while implying what the "funny man" was saying.

Within a year, Newhart was discovered by Warner Brothers Records and his career in professional comedy was underway.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Where Did We Get the Phrase "Don't Miss the Deadline?"

Part 5 of a 5-part series on the origin of popular phrases

When your boss insists you finish a project on time, she says, "Don't miss the deadline."

The phrase originated in Civil War prison camps.

The camps were often makeshift, without fences or walls. So to define a camp's boundaries, the commander would surround it with wooden rails laid on the ground.

If a prisoner of war stepped past the rails, he would be shot on sight.

The rails became known as the "deadline."

The phrase "Don't miss the deadline" was adopted after the war by American newspaper publishers; in the 20th century, by all business people.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Where Did We Get the Phrase "Push the Envelope"

Part 4 of a 5-part series on the origin of popular phrases

When you're innovative, we say you're trying to "push the envelope."

The phrase originates from the go-go days of aviation.

The "flight envelope" is a math formula that describes the upper and lower limits of the factors affecting safe flight, such as a plane's speed and altitude.

Daredevil pilots spoke of their urge to "push the envelope" by testing those limits.

The phrase moved into popular use after novelist Tom Wolfe included it in his 1979 book, The Right Stuff.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Where Did We Get the Phrase "Have All Your Ducks in a Row?"

Part 3 of a 5-part series on the origin of popular phrases

When you're ready, we say you "have all your ducks in a row."

American bowlers originated the phrase in the mid-19th century.

Gambling among bowlers was taking such a toll on family finances at the time that governments began to pass laws prohibiting the game.

Bowling alley operators skirted the laws by changing the rules of the game, increasing the number of pins (from nine to ten) and modifying their shape. The new-fangled pins quickly became known as "ducks."

Bowling alley operators at the time also employed "pin boys," whose job was to set up your ducks before each frame.

When the pin boy's work was complete, you were readybecause you would "have all your ducks in a row."

NOTE: Special thanks to Ann Ramsey, writer, producer and historiographer of all things cryptic, for nominating the phrases in this series.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Where Did We Get the Phrase "Touch and Go?"

Part 2 of a 5-part series on the origin of popular phrases

When a situation looks precarious, we say it's "touch and go."

Seafarers originated the phrase in the 18th century.

When a ship scraped bottom, but escaped running aground, sailors would say that passage through the dangerous waters was "touch and go."

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Where Did We Get the Phrase "Make the Grade?"

Part 1 of a 5-part series on the origin of popular phrases

When you succeed or measure up, we often say you "make the grade."

Engineers who built the railroads that crisscross the US originated the phrase in the 19th century.

When constructing routes through mountainous areas, they had to be sure to design gradients locomotives could handle.

Otherwise, the trains couldn't "make the grade."

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Nonprofits and Noble Cause Corruption

Washington, DC (where I live and work) is the cradle of cause-related nonprofits.
The majority do great things, no doubt.
But I've also seen the dark side of a few of these organizations.
Some never pay their bills and don't think twice about stiffing honest, hard-working suppliers.
In fact, I've seen so many defaults by cause-related nonprofits, I won't take work from them.
Call it holier-than-thou zeal, if you want. 
I think the better term is noble cause corruption.
Noble cause corruption is a form of "police crime" in which cops break the law in pursuit of a goal they believe will benefit society at large.
A common example: fabricating evidence to ensure a conviction.
Noble cause corruption may serve society. 
But it can just as easily lead to the punishment of innocents.
Do you work for a cause-related non-profit? 
If so, have you checked your accounts payable lately?
With apologies to Eldridge Cleaver, if you're part of a solution, you may be part of a problem.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Should Your Content Respect Age Differences?

In MarketingProfs, copywriter Sid Smith asks, “Do all demographics respond well to lead nurturing?” They do, if you use the right content, Smith says.
  • Younger buyers have shorter attention spans than older buyers, who tend to delve more deeply into subjects. Videos and snippets work best for younger buyers.
  • Younger buyers are persuaded by statistics; older buyers by experience. Use lots of data to persuade younger buyers.
  • Corporate buyers respond to value propositions that address their need to be rightBe sure to "start with truth" and don't vary from it.  
  • Consumers respond to value propositions that address their need to be safe. They also place a lot of credence in social proof. Be sure to use numerous testimonials.
  • Buyers of every age aren't rational. Feelings always trump facts.
  • Buyers of every age will buy if they trust you; and all need to feel appreciated.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Is Your Sales Presentation Dangerous to Your Health?

Most sales presentations backfire, says Tim Riesterer, coauthor of Conversations that Win the Complex Sale. That's because most salespeople are:

Blabbermouths. They over-pack presentations, believing customers want to know everything. "In reality, the more information you insist on giving your prospects, the worse you can make it for yourself," Riesterer says.

Self-absorbed. Customers want to know what you've learned from other customers. But sales presentations always begin elsewhere. "You will tell them all about you and your company and why your products are best," Riesterer says. "You will also include the obligatory map of the world with your locations; the entire range of the products and services you provide; and the logo slide showing all of your clients."

Bland. Most salespeople fail to contrast their offerings with competitors'. As a result, customers zero in on price. If you don't offer a unique viewpoint, Riesterer says, "you've fallen into a bake-off where everyone is presumed to be exactly the same."

To avoid these pitfalls, Riesterer recommends:

Focusing your presentation on issues and trends. Couch your presentation in terms of the things that worry customers and threaten the status quo.

Differentiating your products and services from competitors'. "Prospects want to hear your distinct point of view on the potential challenges, threats, obligations, or opportunities that put their objectives at risk," Riesterer says. "And, to reach a decision, they want to clearly see a difference between what you offer and the competitive alternatives."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Marketing Spend Increases

Marketers are spending more, according to research firm Warc.

The company's Global Marketing Index, which tracks monthly trends in spending, staffing and trading, has climbed for three consecutive months, and stands at its highest point since last April.

The climb is due to ever-greater spending on mobile and digital marketing.

Spending on TV and radio is shrinking.

Marketers in the Americas exhibited the greatest confidence, followed by Asia Pacific and Europe.

Warc's Global Marketing Index is based on a survey of 1,225 marketing executives.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Rule #1: Think before You Link

With 200 million subscribers and climbing, in mercenary hands LinkedIn can be a weapon of self-destruction.

We’ve all connected with people whose self-serving discharge leaves us hoping LinkedIn will introduce a “hate” button.

But one comment arrived in my inbox last week that should earn for its author the LinkedIn Lummox of the Year Award.

She attached her tone-deaf comment to a 100-day old post by the manager of an interest group I follow.

The manager’s post asked readers to remember a beloved colleague and group member who’d died, suddenly and prematurely, two weeks earlier.
The self-promoter's comment read:
Sorry for your loss. I help companies with their tradeshows and events. Give me your marketing list and I will turn it into $$. Call 800-523-4635.
Clearly she hasn’t learned LinkedIn Rule #1.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

It's All in the Name

Your product's name is arguably the most important aspect of its brand.

That's because names connote.

Apple once considered naming the iPhone the Mobi, according to adman Ken Segall.

My parents once considered naming me Adolph (after my mom's dad).

Be careful about the name you choose.

Brand Strategy Insider suggests there are ten possibilities for product names:

People’s names. Names that are both real and fictional. Examples include Bing and Peter Pan.

Real words. Words that have been re-purposed. Examples include Amazon and Vox.

Tweaked words. Names derived from words that have been altered. Examples include eBay and iTunes.

Affixed words. Unique names derived by adding a prefix or suffix to a real word. Examples include Friendster and Omnidrive.

Made-up words. Fabrications. Examples include Bebo and Plaxo.

Compounds. Names comprising two words. Examples include Facebook and LightScribe.

Blends. Names comprising real and partial or made-up words. Examples include Farmville and Wikipedia.

Phrases. Compounds that are phrase-like. Examples include GoToMeeting and StumbleUpon. 

Puns. Word-twists that suggest a double meaning. Examples include Farecast and Writely.

AcronymsNames derived from the official name. Examples include AOL and M&Ms.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Always Be Opening

Drive author Daniel Pink's new book draws on a decade of social-science research to topple worn-out beliefs about sales.

The books is a must-read for every marketer.

To Sell is Human makes the case for moving beyond used-car "hoodwinkery" to embrace a kinder, gentler form of persuasion.

Pink argues that we should replace the A-B-C made famous by Glengarry Glen Ross, "Always be closing," with an up-to-the-minute mantra he calls "Attunement-Bouyancy-Clarity."
While I can't imagine Alec Baldwin barking this to the troops, the formula works.

By Attunement, Pink means ceding power to prospects, to a degree that would make Baldwin-esque closers quiver.

By Bouyancy, he means remaining upbeat despite rejection, not with Tony Robbins CDs, but through "interrogative self-talk."
By Clarity, Pink means identifying problems instead of "selling solutions."
Pink expertly supports his ideas with experimental results and salespeople's anecdotes, offering throughout the book tons of tips for putting them into action.
The third and last part of To Sell is Human rocks.
In it, Pink explains how to pitch, both in person and in writing. His instructions for pitching are clever, simple and exceedingly original.

PS: Don't miss Dan Pink's guest post on writing effective emails

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why Event Planners Should Use Distinctive Imagery

Part 5 of a 5-part series on event design

Want your event to be memorable?

Use distinctive imagery.

According to neuroscience research, we pay attention to imagery that's novel and surprising.

Moreover, we recall images that are salient; we forget images that are common.

Thanks to Ron Graham of Freeman for providing this event-deisgn tip.

NOTE: I wrote this post in 2013, not imagining that two years later I'd be employed by Freeman. Wonders never cease. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Why Event Planners Should Still Embrace Print

Part 4 of a 5-part series on event design

Like most forward-thinking businesspeople, event planners are going green.

They're systematically eliminating printed handoutsprograms, floorplans, directories, catalogs, flyers, brochures and bookletsin favor of digital publications.

But planners should think twice.

According to neuroscience research, publications printed on paper strike a deeper emotional chord than digital publications, because they engage the brain's spatial memory.

So if you want a handout to create impact, print it on paper.

Digital does have one big advantage over print, however, when it comes to stirring emotions.

It can incorporate audio and video.

Thanks to Ron Graham of Freeman for providing this event-design tip.

NOTE: I wrote this post in 2013, not imagining that two years later I'd be employed by Freeman. Wonders never cease. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Bringing Sexual Offenders to Justice Captures CINE

I'm honored to share a CINE Golden Eagle Award, won by the talented independent producer and writer Ann Ramsey, for the training video Bringing Sexual Offenders to Justice.

The video was produced last year for the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Funding for the production was provided by the US Department of Justice.

"Beginning with a simple, three-act structure and a clear end in mind made writing the script easy," says Ann Ramsey. 

"Seeing the whole piece in my head allowed me to get the interviews needed to advance a complex story quickly."

I served as associate producera role far different from the ones I customarily perform for clients, but satisfying nonetheless.

As the video illustrates, well-run sexual assault investigations help assure that perpetrators are punished for their crimes.

Tens of thousands of police officers have learned from it how to run successful investigations.

Watch a brief clip from the video on the CINE Website.

Postscript: I'm also honored to announce that Copy Points is now a feature of Guy Kawasaki's online magazine rack, AlltopAll the cool kids (and me).
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