Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Can Customers Find You?

"Blogging is my front door," says marketing maestro David Meerman Scott.

Replete with posts as much as 12 years old, Scott's blog is the power magnet that attracts him new business.

"I'm always surprised at how effectively this tool helps me accomplish my goals," he says.

"There are many posts I wrote a decade ago, back when George W. Bush was President, that are still indexed highly by the search engines and are still driving people who do not know me into my content."

A new study by Mattermark of the 50 fastest growing B2B companies in the country shows 80% of them blog.

If you're among the B2B marketers who don't, please, check your excuses at the door.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Due to Lack of Interest, the Future Has Been Canceled

Almost a score of years before the Allies were deadlocked on the western front, a Polish banker foresaw with uncanny accuracy the coming of trench fighting. But the war offices and the general staffs paid no attention to his predictions. As always, they were preparing for the last war.

The Washington Post, November 1936

Are there grim signposts among all the green shoots?

Just days before its doors were to open, Future of Events, a first-time trade show slated for late August in Amsterdam, was canceled due to lack of interest. The organizer has filed for bankruptcy.

Grim predictions of irrelevancy surround the producers of large trade shows, but most—like the war offices and general staffs—pay no heed. They're too busy preparing for the last war.

The new war is being waged to win over GenXers and Millennials.

Boomers' tactics won’t work.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Cash Cow

Event producers are gaga over a cash cow who never stops lactating.

It's the broadcast technology known as live-streaming.

American Association of Occupational Health Nurses exemplifies those bullish producers.

AAOHN wanted to engage the 80% of members unable to travel to its 2016 annual conference, says David McMillan of PCMA. So it live-streamed the content, charging the same price for the virtual as the face-to-face experience. Sixty members ponied up the $500. Better yet, a sponsor paid $25,000 for the right to hand out free tickets to customers.

With more footage in the can, AAOHN is "sitting on a stockpile of additional educational content and potential revenue," McMillan says.

But live-streaming does more than immediately monetize events; it publicizes them.

Live-streaming "operates far beyond the traditional broadcasting model," says Tom Owlerton on

"At its best, live-streaming helps brands go from storytelling to storyliving; they can broadcast behind-the-scenes at big, topical events to share footage that people wouldn’t otherwise get to experience first-hand."

Live-streaming from events, due to the buzz it creates through social media and word of mouth, "can create a huge impact."

The kind that converts to moo-lah.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Slip Slidin' Away

Although "Death by PowerPoint" is universally dreaded, B2B marketers continue to create overstuffed "megadecks."

"Decks have hundreds of company- and product-centric slides," says Christina McKeon on SiriusDecisions' blog. By stupefying audiences with unwelcome information, "sales reps are missing out on a small window of opportunity to establish credibility with the buyer."

Marketers should instead create decks driven by the buyer's questions.

"Winning sales presentations are buyer-centric," McKeon says. Decks should deliver only what the buyer needs to know at the moment, and omit slides focused on "internal processes and constructs."

Decks should also be designed to prompt a specific action by the buyer. Early in a relationship, that might mean validating her organization's needs; later, it might mean preparing to onboard her organization as a customer.

Marketers also need to "think beyond slideware," McKeon says. Content can be delivered through media other than slide decks, such as leave-behinds or a sales proposal.

Lastly, marketers should confirm their decks actually work. "Marketers should ride along on client calls to get live feedback on how the material is working, so necessary adjustments can be made," McKeon says.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Why Face-to-Face Works

As we all know from Star Trek, the strongest force in the universe is gravity.

The second strongest may be mimicry.

Mimicry is the reason face-to-face works—better than broadcast, direct, email, mobile, outdoor, packaging, print, PR, social, sponsorships, telephone, web, wearables, word-of-mouth, or any other marketing channel.

Like gravity, mimicry is an inborn and inescapable "hidden force" compelling us to behave in predictable ways. 

Mimicry makes us automatically imitate the expressions, gestures, postures, actions and language of people around us.

And mimicry generates trust between parties. It's why couples who share the same manner of speech are 50% more likely to date; why servers who repeat their customers' orders get 70% bigger tips; and why negotiators who imitate their opponents' postures are 500% more likely to win.

Because it builds trust, mimicry "shapes professional success," says Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger in Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior

"Mimicry facilitates social interaction because it generates rapport," Berger says. "Like a social glue, mimicry binds us and bonds us together. Rather than 'us versus them,' when someone behaves the same way we do, we start to see ourselves as more interconnected. closer and more interdependent. All without even realizing it."

So it's just natural this vast hidden persuader works its black magic at conferences and trade shows, deleting distrust and making us all members of one federation.

CAPTAIN'S LOG: Happy 50th, Star Trek. Live long and prosper.

Friday, August 26, 2016

How to Get Your Emails Read Every Time

Part with a buck, pull in thirty-eight.

Email's ROI is remarkable, according to the Direct Marketing Association.

But you'll never hit that average, if your emails go unread.

"There are many reasons for failure and many relate to design," says Tanya McGinnity, brand journalist for Onboardly

She offers 10 rules to get your emails read:

1. Stay consistent. Discover a look and stick to it. "When recipients hear from you, they shouldn’t have any doubt that it’s you," McGinnty says. Where to start? Mimic the look of your website.

2. Choose a tailor-made template. "Just grabbing the first template you see and slapping some branding and copy in there isn’t going to make you any fans," McGinnty says. Choose the template suited for the job (newsletters aren't product pitches; event invitations aren't customer surveys; new-product announcements aren't time-limited offers; and so forth).

3. Leverage graphics. "Some of the best emails are simply visuals with a simple call out," McGinnty says. 

4. Leverage copy. Smart, well presented copy can grab more readers than graphics.

5. Keep it brief. Don't be the guy at the party who won't shut up. Remember, you can always blast the same readers another day.

6. Think small. Don't go overboard on big images. Big images will send your emails to the spam folder, or blow up a reader's inbox.

7. Optimize the size. Readers use a variety of devices. Make sure your emails are viewable on them all.

8. Trust the inverted pyramid. McGinnty urges you to think like a journalist about your emails. "At the top, a snappy headline that highlights the core message, supported by information and visuals that help persuade readers to click through. Then a no BS call to action button that gives no room for confusion on what to do."

9. Use one call to action. Ask readers to take just one action at a time, because that’s all they can take. "An infinite series of calls to action only confuse the recipient," McGinnty says. Philips Sonicare split-tested two different emails, one with a single call to action and one with four. The email with one call to action produced 371% more clicks and 1,617% more sales.

10. Edit, edit, edit.  Strive for clarity by cutting anything that can distract readers or go into another day's email. "Be tactical and review your email marketing piece like a chef eyes a plate before serving it up to a popular food critic," McGinnty says.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Top 10 Worst Marketing Problems and How to Fix Every One of Them!

Clickbait, "just another name for language editors have always used to try to get readers to pay attention," has a long and checkered history, says renowned editor Terry McDonell.

Ever since Joseph Pulitzer moved to outsell William Randolph Hearst, clickbait has assured editors fat readerships—and the fat bonuses traditionally tied to newsstand sales.

"If you were good at writing smart, selling cover lines, it was like a gift," McDonell says. "Some of the best editors I worked with were lousy at it, in the way some people can’t tell a joke."

But if you lacked the comedian's gift, you could turn to tabloid tricks like "Garden of Eden Found!” and “Hillary Clinton Adopts Alien Baby.”

Today's hacks use slightly—but only slightly—different gimmicks.

"If you want a clickbait mantra to use this afternoon," McDonell says, "it helps to think like a behavioral scientist and not forget about the pull of upworthy motivation, information gaps, exclaimated questions (?!), pre-programmed cute-seekers, listicles and, of course, why everything works better if you include odd numbers."

But while clickbait builds readerships, it doesn't build trust; in fact, it diminishes it. That's why it's bad for your brand.

Trust comes from standing for something—from owning a viewpoint and covering a subject avidly, reliably and without compromise. And trust is prerequisite to any purchase.

As content marketing expert Tom Webster says, "When you continue to write "20 Ways to Write 15 Great Lists of 10," you're not standing for something other than traffic."

POSTSCRIPT: I initially considered headlining this post "Crap Content is Destroying the Ozone!" But headlines that start with "The Top 10" anything attract more eyeballs.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Without Wallander, We Don't Care

Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.

Robert McKee 

Henning Mankell, the creator of Wallander, said his crime novels—like your company's products—took root in an idea.

Returning to his native Sweden from a stay in Africa in the spring of 1990, Mankell noticed racism had taken a stranglehold on the nation.

"It soon dawned on me that the natural path to follow was to write a crime novel," Mankell said. "This was obvious because in my world racist acts are criminal outrages."

Writers like Mankell understand: while ideas alone don't compel audiences, stories do.

But what makes a story a story? How do you tell one? 

You have to find a hero. Forget about Citizens United v. FEC. Corporations aren't people. Your story can't be about your damn company. It has to offer us a flesh-and-blood hero who struggles to overcome a cruel world. Without Wallendar, we don't care.

You have to create suspense. Page-turners, plays, movies and TV shows grip audiences because of suspense. The setup teases and you want to know, What happens next? No tease, no story. Right away, you have to put Wallander in a mysterious jam.

You have to appeal to emotions. Most facts are unmemorable. And most people aren't fact-minded. Stories tug at emotions. Fear. Uncertainty. Confusion. Ambition. Greed. Admiration. Wonder. The soft stuff.

You have to personify. An idea like "racism" is intangible, difficult to understand, and not especially gripping. Not so Wallander combatting victimizers of people on the margins. Convert ideas into characters and storylines.

You have to paint pictures. "Show, don't tell." Lightly sketch each scenario as your story unfolds and let your audience connect the dots. Don't feel compelled to lecture. You're a storyteller, not a preacher or teacher.

You have to find a niche. Long-term success comes when you find a niche you can own. Wallander tapped the popular niche known as "Nordic Noir." Every novel in Mankell's series is propelled by a backdrop where mean streets are walked by morose Swedes who themselves are neither mean, nor tarnished, nor afraid. You can tell stories—endlessly—when you find a niche that appeals to your audience.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Preaching to the Choir

Today's post was contributed by Michael J. Hatch. Mike is managing director of DARE, a one-day conference that helps CMOs leverage the spend on B2B events.

So often we hear from event-industry leaders and organizations how powerful and important face-to-face is. 

More often than not, though, they are preaching to the choir.

While attending a family wedding in Detroit recently, I heard that message delivered loud and clear in a most unexpected setting—a Sunday morning church service.

Here's an excerpt from the sermon delivered by Rick Barry, Middle School Pastor, on August 7 to the congregation of Oak Pointe Church in Plymouth, Michigan:

"I want to pause and talk directly to my middle schoolers and millennials here this morning about my sixth and final point about communications and relationships. 

"Put down your electronics! Face to face is the best way to communicate. 

"In our technology-driven world, with texting, phones and emailing so prevalent, we need to make sure we are committing to communicating face to face.

"Hands down, face to face is by far the best and most effective way to communicate with anyone. Because in face-to-face communication, we see all of the non-verbals that are missed in digital communication: we see a person's eyes; see their smile and facial expressions; hear the tone of their voice; see different emotions that are being felt; and the body language that you never see, hear or feel when texting or emailing. 

"If you find yourself hiding behind a text or email, fight that urge and try to go face to face with the person you want and need to communicate with."

After hearing this message from the pulpit it occurred to me that the event industry does not need a big-budget ad campaign to get our "power of face to face" message to mainstream America. 

Rather, we should adopt a completely new guerilla marketing strategy.

All we need to do is rally the preachers of America to deliver the message about the power of face-to-face communication and relationship-building to the millennials in church every Sunday—allowing our message to take root and rise throughout the land, and into the halls of Congress and the board rooms of Corporate America.

Event-industry Brothers and Sisters, can I get an Amen?

POSTSCRIPT BY BOB JAMES: With a little push, Mike's idea is could catch fire. Clergy often turn to online sources for sermons. Were the event industry to submit a sermon like Rick Barry's to these websites, who knows how quickly the message might spread? Influencer marketing worked wonders for the gas industry. Why not the event industry? Now you're cooking with gas!

DISCLOSURE: I am a part owner of DARE.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Businesses Need to Avoid Schlocky Content

Erik Deckers contributed today's post. Eric is the president of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing agency with clients throughout the US. He is also the co-author of Branding Yourself and No Bullshit Social Media. He has been blogging since 1997, and has been a newspaper humor columnist for over 20 years. Erik was recently writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando.

A couple years ago, when Buzzfeed and Upworthy first started making a digital splash, we all saw the headlines on Facebook.

17 Life-Changing Travel Hacks: #14 Will Take Your Breath Away

12 Super Foods That Will Make Your Jaw Drop 

87 Photos of Cute Baby Pets That Will Give You All The Feels. #63 Will MELT YOUR FACE OFF! (Slideshow) 

Most people soon blocked the two "news" sites from their Facebook streams, and now Facebook has even begun looking for ways to block all Buzzfeed-like headlines from their news feeds.

Can I get a 'hallelujah?'

But that doesn't mean you can escape them completely. There's still Twitter and even LinkedIn, where some people share this dreck.

The problem with it is, it's still popular, and still gets traffic, which means people think it's okay to do. And if people think it's okay to do, I'm worried businesses will begin to adopt this kind of writing. They're already well on their way with schlocky content and Buzzfeed-like headlines.

It's Some of the Worst Writing Ever

I've read some pretty bad writing in my day, but Buzzfeed and Upworthy have been some of the worst-written content I've ever had the misfortune of looking at.

And I say that as someone who read the Star Trek/X-Men crossover book.

Imagine an article composed entirely of 18 full-motion GIFs and their 5-word captions, and you have an idea for some of the things that pass as "writing" on these websites.

I had never actually seen someone use "(lol)" in journalistic writing until I read some Buzzfeed articles while researching this post. I'm waiting for them to punctuate their sentences with some damn emojis!

Now I'm sure your business' blog is not going to have anything as terrible and soul-crushing as a Buzzfeed "18 Times 'The Walking Dead' Referenced 'Saved By The Bell'" (not a real article), but that doesn't mean businesses haven't put out schlocky business writing before.

Here are a few ways you can avoid schlocky content for your own writing.

Get GOOD writers. Writing may be a skill we all learned in school, but don't assume everyone can write. Everyone who played a recorder in middle school music isn't in the symphony. Everyone who played softball in gym class isn't a professional ball player. So don't assume that everyone who can string two sentences together is magically a good writer.

If you want good content on your website, get good writers. Get people who are passionate about the written language. Get people who understand the importance and gravitas of language, and would never add "(lol)" to a professional article. Find employees who love to write as a hobby. Better yet, hire or outsource to a professional writer. These are the people who will make your content amazing, and attract people's attention.

Keep list posts to a minimum. I'm a big fan of list posts, because I know it brings in readers, often more readers than my "normal headline" posts. But that doesn't mean I'm going to make every article I write a list post. If I limit those to only once every 8, 10 or 12 blog posts, they have a more dramatic impact.

Remember, "if everyone is special, then nobody is special." So don't overdo it on the special content that people clamor for, or you'll dilute its effectiveness.

Avoid 101-level content. Content marketing has been around for many years, but I'm still seeing basic "Five Secrets to Content Marketing" articles that still include "write good content" as a "secret." You can find the same five secrets on thousands of marketing blogs, and they all say the same damn thing. No one has said anything new on this subject in years.

You're going to run into the same thing in your industry. So many companies will try to be thought leaders that they'll publish the same basic content as everyone else. That means everyone will only cover the basics and never really say anything new or of any consequence. Talk about new regulations. Respond to other blogs or trade media articles. Tell success stories about your clients. Just don't try to educate people like it's their first day at work. That's been done to death.

Dive deep into a subject. I've often said, if you want to blog about a large, generic topic like "marketing," you'll run out of things to say in three weeks. But if you write about something specific like "content marketing for the manufacturing industry," you'll never run out of things to talk about.

Use your blog to explore your industry and your specific niche. Your blog is an opportunity to establish you and/or your company as an industry expert and a thought leader. You're not going to do that by only scratching the surface of your field and writing 101-level content. Get deep into your subject, explore the nuances, and talk a lot of inside baseball.

Businesses that truly want to have an impact on their industry, and want to reach their customers effectively, need to avoid being a Buzzfeed-like source of information. Skip the easy, low-hanging fruit of list posts and animated GIF stories; there are hundreds of other writers already plucking at it. Hire some real writers who have a respect for language, as well as their readers. And sink your teeth into your topics and explore them the way the schlock writers would never dream of doing.

This is the best way to make your blog and your content marketing campaign be a true success. And you can do it all without a single cat GIF.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Trust Issues

Where have all the flowers gone?
                                                                                 — Pete Seeger

Prerequisite to any purchase is trust. 

Yet, hour after hour, high-handed CEOs, white collar bandits and 
cagey politicos destroy customers' trust. Joining them are hordes of con artists, jackleg manufacturers, self-dealing bloggers and unsavory street marketers.

It’s no wonder companies face a trust deficit of Biblical proportions. And no wonder 8 in 10 customers turn to family and friends, not companies, to sanction their planned purchases.

To build trust, you first need to establish a comfort zone where customer engagement and conversation can begin; inside that zone, you earn trust. (The English word "trust" in fact comes from the German "Trost," which means “comfort.”)

The age-old way to establish a comfort zone was to use symbols. But, thanks to the relentless pursuit of margins, that practice has largely vanished. 

Hotels used to display fresh-cut flowers in the lobby. Banks used to build with a lot of granite and marble. Department stores used to welcome you at the door and serve tea and biscuits. And gas stations used to be staffed by attendants dressed like hospital workers.

Today, businesses no longer use symbols to build comfort zones, but rely instead on "transparency" (a notion that only surfaced with the arrival of e-commerce).

There's a huge problem with that. 

Transparency can't be the bedrock on which to found a comfort zone, because customers care about what you symbolize, not what you divulge. (Don't believe me? Think about our two major presidential candidates.)

If your business hasn't embraced symbols, hoping instead to gain trust by appearing "transparent," it's urgent to do so. And if it has abandoned symbols, it's time to go back to them.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Judge. Jury. Executioner.

A critic is a eunuch working in a harem. He watches it, but he knows he can't do it.

Howard Fast

In the moment we forget, the critic always has an agenda far different from the creative's.

When it appeared in 1929, critics trashed William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. 

Clifton Fadiman headlined his review in Nation, "Hardly Worth While," and wrote, "The themes and the characters are trivial, unworthy of the enormous and complex craftsmanship expended on them."

Twenty years later, the novel was a chief reason Faulkner won the Nobel Prize; and today it's considered the apotheosis of modernist fiction.

Criticswithout qualifications or qualmact as judge, jury and executioner. (Fadiman wrote a lot of criticism in his lifetime; but never a single novel.)

Critics who can't do what you do aren't worthy. 

They're bystanders. Peeping Toms. Eunuchs in a harem.

So fuggedaboutem, whatever you create.

Let a real jury (the market) decide.

Coda: Seth Godin says, "If a critic tells you that, 'I don’t like it,' or 'this is disappointing,' he’s done no good at all. In fact, quite the opposite is true. He’s used his power to injure without giving you any information to help you to do better next time. Worse, he hasn’t given those listening any data to make a thoughtful decision on their own. Not only that, but by refusing to reveal the basis for his criticism, he’s being a coward, because there’s no way to challenge his opinion."


Friday, August 19, 2016

Rebel, Rebel

"Don Draper with a conscience," copywriter Howard Luck Gossage created ads in the 1960s for airlines, breweries and oil companies.

But his favorite and finest work was extracurricular.

Nicknamed "The Socrates of San Francisco," evenings Gossage turned his agency, headquartered in an abandoned Barbary Coast firehouse, into a salon where iconoclasts like Tom Wolfe, John Steinbeck, Marshall McLuhan and Bucky Fuller met regularly to booze it up and brainstorm.

Gossage was the first marketer to see advertising as a "conversation," coining the word "interactive" to describe the ads he created. Their goal, he said, was to get audiences to opt in, join communities and converse with brands. "Our first duty is not to the old sales curve, it is to the audience," he said.

Gossage also dreamed up "pay per view" (30 years before we could access the Web) and was the first marketer to integrate advertising and PR.

In 1966, Gossage took on the fledgling Sierra Club as a client, creating ads to protest the damming of the Grand Canyon. The ads galvanized activists everywhere, halted the government's project, made Gossage's client a household name, and spawned yet another group, Friends of the Earth, which was kickstarted in a rent-free back office in Gossage's agency. Friends of the Earth today is the largest grassroots environmental organization in the world.

David Ogilvy once called Gossage, "The most articulate rebel in the advertising business."

Rory Sutherland, vice chair of OgilvyOne, calls him a forgotten hero of advertising's Creative Revolution.

"Gossage is the Velvet Underground to Ogilvy’s Beatles and Bernbach’s Stones," Sutherland says. "Never a household name but, to the cognoscenti, a lot more inspirational and influential."

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Marketers Haven't Learned the World's Oldest Lessons

How does storytelling (new school) differ from arguing (old school)?

Let's look back—to 350 BC.

In Poetics, Aristotle taught that stories have three acts:

1. An inciting moment
2. A climactic struggle, and
3. A resolution.

In Rhetoric, he taught that arguments have two:

1. The statement
2. The proof.

Three acts versus two. That's the difference.

While marketers crow on and on about storytelling, most default to arguing. Benefit-laden bullets are safer than heroes in a bind.

"Eighty to 90 percent of all commercials are not story-based; they are premise-based," says brand consultant Richard Krevolin in The Hook. "There is a much greater comfort level wth TV spots that convey specific product benefits to the consumer and do not tell stories."

Krevolin cites Tabasco's TV spot "Mosquito" as a case in point. It dramatizes the statement Tabasco wants you to remember: its sauce is hot.

But "Mosquito" isn't storytelling. All we see is a guy who relishes eating a meal doused with hot, hot, hot sauce. Cute, but not buzz-worthy.

"If we rewrote the spot so that at the beginning we see that he is plagued by mosquitos biting him and terrorizing him all day and night, we would feel for him and understand his dilemma," Krevolin says. "Then, when he fails to defeat the mosquitos with conventional means and decides to use Tobasco sauce instead, we would cheer for him when he achieves victory."

Storytelling always takes three acts.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Complaining isn't a Strategy

When the world changes around you and when it changes against you—what used to be a tail wind is now a head wind—you have to lean into that and figure out what to do because complaining isn't a strategy.
Jeff Bezos

A new survey by Sydney-based The Exhibit Company shows 
91% of trade show exhibitors "struggle with leads." Respondents identified six component challenges:
  • Attracting visitors to their booths
  • Attracting the right ones
  • Engaging them
  • Qualifying them
  • Tracking them
  • Following up
While they grouse mightily, many exhibitors hold onto the very practices that assure failureMost:
  • Pick shows wrong for their products 
  • Set no objectives, or unmeasurable ones
  • Fail to promote their presence
  • Mount unwelcoming exhibits
  • Muddle their message
  • Assign booth duty to novice salespeople
  • Forget to turn the salespeople into a team
  • Turn off or simply ignore passers-by
  • Produce distracting stunts
  • Make giveaways a focal point
  • Annoy visitors with stupid questions
  • Neglect to ask strategic questions
  • Refuse to automate lead capture
  • Dump leads on salespeople after the event
  • Allow leads to go un-nurtured
Exhibitors who bungle their part are like the substance abuser. 

Each one of the bad habits is easy to kick, but the abuser's addicted to her self-pity.

Complaining isn't a strategy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Buckshot's Back: P&G Bails on Ad Targeting

The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.
Howard Luck Gossage

In his blog {grow}, marketing maestro Mark Schaefer asks, "Has there ever been a question that targeted ads are going to perform better than shooting a bunch of buckshot ads out there?"

Schaefer asks the question in light of P&G's announcement that it will abandon Facebook ad targeting, due to the strategy's failure.

“We targeted too much, and we went too narrow,” P&G's CMO told The Wall Street Journal, “and now we’re looking at: What is the best way to get the most reach but also the right precision?”

Schaefer wonders aloud whether every advertiser might close more sales with buckshot ads, for no increase in spend (targeted ads cost more than buckshot ones).

He's firmly undecided.

"On the one hand, the P&G revelation shakes long-held assumptions, but on the other hand, I don’t think we necessarily need to make wholesale changes to strategy," Schaefer says. 

"If you’re a wedding photographer, targeting couples who have changed their status to 'engaged' probably still makes sense, right?"

My direct marketing experience has taught me buckshot advertising's okay; and that frequency's the real key to closing more sales.

From what I've seen, precision-targeting works when a product-related life-event takes place in proximity to the arrival of your offer in the prospect's mailbox. Absent that life-event, your offer is simply more noise ("mailbox clutter").

Targeting based on demographics cuts waste; but it doesn't capture sales. Frequency does that.

A case in point. My client, an insurance company, noticed each time it mailed an offer for term life the bulk of policies were bought by 33-year-old men. Curious about the trend, I called a sample of the men to find out why they'd acted. The resounding answer: a newborn had recently arrived, and dad was interested in baby's wellbeing. So we took two steps: We narrowed the list from a wide range of men and women to men ages 33-35; and, with the money saved, increased the frequency of mailings. Policy purchases skyrocketed.

Frequency rules because you just never know when a prospect is interested. For all its fancy algorithms, even Facebook doesn't know that.

If you can believe sales growth strategist Chet Holmes' research, at any moment only 3% of any population represents interested buyers of your product. If your offer reaches that 3% with enough frequency, you increase your chances to close.

Wait, you shout, I'm wasting big bucks on the other 97%! Not so, Holmes claims:
  • 7% of the population at any moment is at least open to your offer
  • 30% at any moment isn't thinking about your offer
  • 30% at any moment would say it's uninterested
  • Only 30% is really, truly uninterested
The upshot of all this?

A little buckshot never hurt anyone.

Unless you hunt with Dick Cheney.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Finnegans Wake

Once Restack's founder decided his firm would provide tech support instead of software, a new company name became mandatory. He turned for help to San Francisco's maven of monikers, Nancy Freidman.

The new name, he said, should should "excite, inspire, and rally."

But what's in a name? 

Friedman describes the ingredients in her blog:
  • First, she wrote the naming brief, deciding the new name had to to appeal to two similar audiences: software engineers (the talent) and IT managers (the clients).
  • She identified the company's core attributes: intelligence, creativity, maturity, eagerness, and "a pinch of nerdiness and gamer enthusiasm."
  • She listed naming objectives: power, grace, speed, virtuosity, skill, unobstructed flow, hitting the core of what matters, freedom/no constraints, on demand, gaming/competitive fun, and essence (software, not hardware). Excluded from the list: freelancer, inexpensive, and temporary.
  • She listed naming criteria: the new name could be real or invented; English or not; work with a .com extension or not; and be available in international trademark classes 35 (business functions) and 42 (scientific and technological services).
  • She brainstormed names and, after three rounds, Dorsal surfaced. "A dorsal fin provides direction, stability and purpose, but is also essential for making fast turns or changes in direction," Friedman says. "Dorsal is also associated with the backbone and ideas of strength, durability, flexibility and so on."
  • She confirmed Dorsal wasn't trademarked; it wasn't.
  • She confirmed wasn't reserved; it was. Her client chose instead, a URL that "adds the energy of an active verb to the name."
  • Last, but not least, she tapped a graphic designer to create a logo. "Early on I drew in pencil the letter A in Dorsal larger than the others and the immediate impression was that the point of the A was the dorsal fin," Friedman says. That idea survived in the final version of the mark. "The change from Restack to Dorsal represents a shift from descriptive to suggestive," Friedman says. "That shift is mirrored in the visual brand, which rejects literal representation in favor of evocative suggestion."

Brand Museums: Must See Ums

Every crowd has a silver lining.
                                                                 — P. T. Barnum

Glade, Land O'Lakes, Hulu and Dove are among the brands offering customers "immersive experiences" via brand museums, Kristina Monllos reports in Adweek.
  • Glade's Museum of Feelings, which drew over 56,000 customers last fall in New York, "gave the world a whole new way to look at Glade," according to the company's CMO.
  • Land O'Lakes' WinField Crop Adventure at Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana teaches customers about agriculture—brand-reinforcing because Land O'Lakes is a farmer-owned company. 
  • Hulu's exhibitions of exact replicas of the Seinfeld apartment in New York and Los Angeles promoted the addition of the show to the company's streaming service.
  • Dove's Museum of Ice Cream in New York offers customers not only displays of frozen treats, but hundreds of "Instagrammable moments," according the museum's social media director.
Crowds, in fact, aren't the justification for brand museums. 

Social media is.

"With the ubiquity of social, I think it makes sense to do museum pop-ups now more than ever," says Marie Chan, senior director of employee engagement at branding firm Siegel + Gale.

Companies shouldn't expect a brand museum to "draw millions or go viral by itself—because it won't," says Chan. "You have to think about the pop-up museum as a touch point, or content, and you have to use whatever means necessary to distribute that experience."

Sunday, August 14, 2016

10 Sleaze-filled Moments in Presidential Politics

There must be decency and respect and veneration introduced for persons of authority of every rank or we are undone.

John Adams

Between veneration and mudslinging, I'll take mudslinging.

Just think how flavorless presidential races would be without it.

Thankfully, our nation's history runs rife with delectable cheap-shot moments:

  • Thomas Jefferson called his opponent John Adams “a hideous hermaphroditical character."
  • Andrew Jackson's opponent said Jackson was “a gambler, a cock fighter, a slave trader and the husband of a really fat wife.”
  • Martin Van Buren was accused by his opponent of secretly dressing in women’s undergarments and strutting in front of expensive mirrors.
  • Zachary Taylor called his opponent a "pot-bellied, mutton-headed cucumber."
  • Abraham Lincoln's opponent called him a "horrid-looking wretch, sooty and scoundrelly in aspect," and the "leanest, lankest, most ungainly mass of legs and arms and hatchet face ever strung on a single frame."
  • Rutherford B. Hayes' opponent claimed Hayes had shot his own mother in a fit of rage.
  • Grover Cleveland's opponent insisted Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child while lawyering in Buffalo.
  • Woodrow Wilson's opponent accused him of having an extramarital affair with an attractive widow, Edith Galt, while his wife lay on her deathbed. Wilson wasn't helped any by a typo in The Washington Post. The paper reported the couple was seen attending a play, during which "the President spent most of his time entertaining Mrs. Galt." "Entertaining" was spelled "entering."
  • Herbert Hoover insisted his opponent, a Catholic from New York, had commissioned a secret, 3,500 mile-long tunnel connecting New York City and the Vatican. The tunnel would allow the Pope to control the US government's policies, were Hoover to lose the election.
  • Lyndon Johnson used a TV ad, “Peace, Little Girl,” to portray his opponent as a trigger-happy, hydrogen bomb-loving lunatic.

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