Saturday, September 30, 2017

How to Name Your Event

My business partner and I are at work on a new name for an event. The conference has outgrown its birth name (as every conference should). It's time for something different.

My standards for a good event name are few:
  • It should be descriptive ("The Builder's Show") or evocative ("Magic"), or both ("Dreamforce")
  • It should be short ("CES")
  • It should be enunciable ("TED")
Event marketer Tony Patete has more complex standards:
  • It should be straightforward ("The Startup Conference")
  • It should be a keyword ("INBOUND")
  • If an acronym, it should not spell anything unseemly ("TURD")
  • It should avoid braggadocio ("The Best Conference Ever")
  • It can be a portmanteau ("ComicCon")
  • It can both evoke and amuse ("Brand Camp")
  • It should not already be in use ("Apple")
Naming or renaming an event need not be hard. I once renamed a puny conference with the laughable name SCUC (Satellite Communications Users Conference) using only my delete key. Today "Satellite" attracts over 13,000 attendees.

When your event's name doesn't cut it, a tagline can help. While no cheerleader for taglines, B2B marketer Gary Slack agrees:
  • A tagline can help explain what is new, unknown, or poorly named
  • A tagline can help communicate purpose, difference and value
  • A tagline can foster esprit de corps
Slack has his own simple set of standards for a tagline:
  • It should be necessary in the first place; otherwise, it's clutter
  • It should clearly communicate a strong promise
  • It should avoid corporate speak and pedestrian "happy words"
One of the better taglines I ever wrote was for CES: "What the World's Coming To."

Although lots of folks liked the slogan, it lasted only a year.

A newly appointed marketing director killed it, telling me, "Taglines are stupid."

He lasted much less than a year. But the tagline never resurfaced.

Friday, September 29, 2017

How Do You Reach C-Level Buyers?

A C-level buyer, Trisha Winter plays hard to get.

"Speaking as a B2B buyer, I don’t answer my phone anymore," she writes in Business to Community. "I don’t read cold emails—in fact, thanks to overcoming 'inbox zero' tendencies, I don’t even take the time to open/delete them anymore. I used to, but with the insane influx of new technologies geared toward marketing, too many people were trying to reach me pushing their 'life-changing' solutions. It was too much noise, and it wasn’t sustainable if I wanted to get my job done."

Winter wonders if any marketing tactic works with C-level buyers—executives who are so brutally busy, they're "forced to completely ignore the noise."

She rules out the top two contenders.

Content. Content marketing doesn't work, Winter says. Although it could be effective, most content is "fluff" no one ever sees. "Even if you create the perfect piece of content, you are still just crossing your fingers that it reaches me," she says. "For content marketing to work, it has to be combined with influencer marketing to have a hope of getting in front of the intended audience."

Trade shows. Exhibit marketing doesn't work, either, Winter says. "I do attend some trade shows, but I won’t stop by your booth unless I’ve heard of you and have identified that you meet a need or solve a problem I have," she says. "Which means trade shows don’t work for top-of-the-funnel lead generation. And let’s face it, TOFU leads are way better than BOFU leads because you can shape the deal without competitors."

So what works?

Account-Based Marketing. "If a seller is researching me, engaging with me in social media, learning about my business and personalizing their approach, there is a much greater chance they’ll get my attention," Winter says. "But remember, I don’t read emails nor answer my phone, so direct mail and social media are the only options here."

Referral Marketing. "As a buyer, there is no question that this is the most effective way to get my attention," Winter says. "If I’m approached by a former colleague or a trusted adviser (like a salesperson from a vendor I have a good relationship with), I pay attention. If they tell me there is a solution out there that could solve my problems, I’m clearing my calendar to take a meeting."

Winter recommends combing both tactics.

But what if you could combine all four?

That's the philosophy behind PLAYBOOK, a lead-gen system my business partner and I have created.

PLAYBOOKusing a combination of direct mail, email, telemarketing, and an appallows marketers to target trade show attendees with offers compelling enough to attract them to an exhibit. It also helps them motivate salespeople to chase and close deals immediately after the event—the Achilles Heel of exhibit marketing.

We're ready to assist any marketer eager to reach those hard-to-get buyers like Trisha Winter.

Just give us a call.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The 3-Minute Guide to List Segmentation

I used to sell health insurance to letter carriers by direct mail (ironic, no?).

I targeted 27 segments within a list of 300,000 prospects, mailing each segment different creative. 
The individualized sales arguments made in the copy paid off, and more than offset the extra production costs.

So there's nothing new about list segmentation. 

It's high time to stop thinking of your mailings as "broadcasts" and segment your list.

But how?

Here are six tips (they apply equally to postal and e-mail lists):

Scrub your list. Seven in 10 names on a B2B list become outdated within a year, so don't dirty your hands with something unwashed. Send your list outside for a good cleaning.

Slice up the list. Comb through your newly cleaned list and identify commonalities. Slice up the list accordingly. I divided the letter carriers according to the health insurance policies they owned in the past.

Introduce triggers. Identify key events and add fields for them to every record. For example, how many mailings have they received? Have they bought anything? Have they changed jobs or companies?

Create niche content. Tailor sales arguments for each segment. Someone who's bought from you may jump at the chance to save with a "loyal customer discount," while someone who's never bought from you, but has recently been promoted, may be ready to save with a "first-time customer discount."

Keep it simple. Create a manageable number of segments and work with them for a while. Don't invent new segments or second guess yourself every month. Remember, if it isn't simple, it isn't scalable.

Grow your list. Rent highly-targeted prospect names from third parties, to protect your list from "list rot." B2B lists are volatile and decay at a rapid rate.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

La Comédie Américaine

Sorry, I can't take a knee.

In fact, I can't take anything, anymore.

Our president is a failed reality TV star; our first lady, a Slovenian call girl.

Our cabinet secretaries oppose the missions of the departments they run.

The secretary running the largest one (Health & Human Services) flies at our expense on luxury planes every week to stay at his vacation homes.

The Secretary of Education encourages serial rapists.

Nincompoops (a shock jock, a wedding planner, a fashion model, a golf caddie, a shoe importer) run key federal organizations.

Our lawmakers believe nonsense (the earth is 6,000 years old, global warming is a hoax, contraception causes cancer, all Muslims are terrorists).

They also hope to deny you government-backed healthcare insurance, while they enjoy the same.

You're expected to honor both the flag and the rights of Nazis.

Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and the Roosevelt cousins may be rolling in their graves. But not me. I'm laughing at the comedy.

The calendar's no longer a calendar. It's the almanac of American decline.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Names should be as much like things as possible.

— Socrates

Corporate logos and road signs often demonstrate iconicity. But words?

A new study suggests they do.

While linguists like Noam Chomsky insist any link between a word and its meaning is a man-made convention, two research scientists, Nora Turoman and Susy Styles, say the link may be a natural occurrence.

That link may be iconic. An iconic word would be one whose form resembles its meaning.

Turoman and Styles found that ordinary speakers, when presented with pairs of ancient glyphs, can correctly guess which letter was used to represent the sound "oo" (as in "shoe") and which was used to represent the sound "ee" (as in "feet").

Their experiments further suggest some glyphs better represent the sound "oo," and some better represent "ee"—regardless of where or when they originated.

The glyphs that represent "oo" are more likely to be complex (i.e., use more ink); the ones that represent "ee," more likely to be simple (i.e., use less ink). The "guess-ability" of a glyph is higher for those that use more ink to represent "oo" and less ink to represent "ee."

But what's the link to nature?

Turoman and Styles claim it's acoustics.

The sounds "oo" and "ee" differ in their acoustic frequencies (we pronounce "oo" at a lower frequency than "ee"). So "oo" fits with big, inky glyphs for the same reason low-frequency sounds are produced by big bells; and "ee" fits with less small, less inky glyphs, for the same reason high-frequency sounds are produced by small bells.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Capital Mistake

You can dress up greed, but you can’t stop the stench.

Craig D. Lounsbrough

This weekend, I "worked the booth" at the Capital Home Show on behalf of a remodeler, greeting visitors and cultivating leads.

While discussing a deal with another exhibitor, an overly dressed exhibit salesperson (the show manager, nonetheless) appeared suddenly and broke into our conversation, demanding to know why the exhibitor hadn't re-signed for next year's show.

When he said he was undecided, she proceeded to twist his arm.

I quietly left the booth, after a few minutes of the spectacle.

When I next saw the salesperson, I mentioned that she'd interrupted a deal.

"I thought you were just one of their staff," she replied, without apology.

If you sell anything—whether booths, biotech, or blockchain—putting your aims ahead of customers' is a capital mistake.

It may, in fact, be the chief reason most customers detest salespeople.

DiscoverOrg recently asked 230 customers how they feel about B2B salespeople. The answers are chilling:
  • Only 18% think B2B salespeople are trustworthy
  • Only 35% think they are likable
Chew on that, salespeople. Eight in 10 customers think you're dishonest; two in three, you're despicable.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Ghost Signs

Preservationists call those faded 19th century ads on buildings ghost signs.

They evoke more civil times.

No matter its power, marketers would never have sought to shock 19th century audiences with tasteless imagery (such as this in an outdoor ad for the film Kill Bill):

A child psychologist might argue we should return to 19th century civility.

Not a ghost of a chance.

Saturday, September 23, 2017


Politico has outed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price for using high-priced charter flights at taxpayers' expense.

His flacks say Price is entitled to use private luxury planes, because he has to "meet with the American people."

I just hope he schedules me in, so I can share with him my thoughts on the morality of using public office to enrich yourself.

Entitled is a storied word.

Its Latin root intitulare meant "to give a title to." 

English first adopted the word to mean "to bestow a rank on;" and then, in the 15th century, to mean "to award a property title to."

Philosopher Robert Nozick was the first person to associate the word with welfare, in 1974.

A Libertarian, Nozick thought you were only "entitled" to things you made with your own tools and materials.

Anything else—like your public schooling, your polio shots, and your pension—you receive as the result of wealth redistribution, a kind of "forced labor." You don't really deserve those things, Nozick said, because you didn't create them; but you tell yourself they're entitlements, to feel better about robbing the rich.

The same year Nozick's book appeared, Richard Nixon used the word entitlements in his federal budget to mean "government payments."

Eight years later, Ronald Reagan used entitlements in a speech to mean "Social Security"—and the name stuck.

So, if Nozick is right, please tell me: why should Tom Price get welfare?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Guaranteed Cure for Writer's Block

Writing about a writer's block is better than not writing at all.

Charles Bukowski

A Freudian psychoanalyst, Edmund Bergler, dreamed up the term "writer's block" in the late 1940s. His remedy, naturally, was the "talking cure." At today's prices, that costs $300 a session.

Fine, if you can afford it.

A fiction writer like Stephen King cures writer's block less expensively.

King simply goes for a three-mile stroll, and conjures up another unhinged politico, demonic pet, or zombie retiree, to move a gridlocked story forward.

B2B writers can't use that trick (although walking is good for everyone).

You'll find lots of nutty advice (climb into a sleeping bag, or listen to pink noise, or down a martini), but the best cure for writer's block, in my experience, is a three-step technique I learned from copywriter Bob Bly:
  • Locate a project you wrote that's similar to the current project
  • Make a copy of the file and open it
  • Start rewriting your own copy
You'll not only avoid writer's block, you'll quick-start the new project. Don't have a similar project? Then swipe another writer's and start to rewrite that.

Try it. Don't wait til writer's block besets you.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

7 Signs You're Mediocre

The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.

— John Stuart Mill

Nobody dazzles safely.

Nobody dazzles accidentally.

Nobody dazzles lackadaisically.

Nobody dazzles cost-efficiently.

Nobody dazzles by copying.

Nobody dazzles by committee.

Nobody dazzles by appeasement.

So why keep claiming you do?

Maybe you weren't designed to dazzle.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Sure-Fire, Can't-Lose, 100% Guaranteed Way to Troubleshoot Every Computer Problem You'll Ever Encounter

Computer problems are maddening; troubleshooting them, more so.

Googling for solutions merely heightens your frustration, spewing masses of inscrutable and useless results.

But my hack lets you cut through the palaver straightaway, to get to the answer you need.

Here it is:

Type a description of the problem—no matter what—and add to it, inside quotation marks, the phrase "piece of shit."

I assure you the solution to your problem will appear in the top one, two or three Google results.

For example:

Excel will not print odd-numbered pages "piece of shit"


Lightroom freezes when I save file "piece of shit"

I guarantee my hack works, every time.

By the way, where does hack come from?

The word, meaning "a tool for chopping," dates back to the 14th century and derives from the German Hacke, meaning "hatchet."

But the sense in which we now use the word originated at MIT in the 1950s. Students called any practical joke that employed technology (like welding a public trolley car to the tracks) a hack.

Monday, September 18, 2017

How to Make Moments Customers Remember

How do you create an experience customers will remember?

That's the question Chip and Dan Heath answer in their forthcoming book, The Power of Moments.

You'll recall the brothers' skills in science-based storytelling from their previous best sellers, Made to Stick and Switch.

The Power of Moments repeats those performances.

The Heaths call memorable experiences "flagship moments" and claim they're made from four ingredients:
  • Elevation (flagship moments clearly rise above the rest)
  • Insight (they rewire our thinking)
  • Pride (they catch us at our best) and
  • Connection (they bring us together)

It isn't easy to engineer a flagship moment, else every marketer would do it. Few do.

If you want to acquire the skill, the Heath Brothers advise you to "think in moments" and pay particular attention to three:
  • Milestones (regular occasions like holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, etc.)
  • Transitions (ritualistic events like bar mitzvahs, graduations, weddings, etc.) and
  • Pits (moments of downtime like waiting in a line, undergoing a medical procedure, etc.)
The astute marketer not only spots these moments, the Heaths say, but shapes them, by blending some or all of the four ingredients that yield a flagship moment.

And their recipe is simple: "Transitions should be marked, milestones commemorated, and pits filled."

The Power of Moments' 300 pages are packed with examples of moment-making artistry, and make the book worth reading.

You probably know Disney distracts you while you wait in long lines, Southwest clowns around during the flight-safety announcements, and Starbucks honors your birthdays with a free-drink coupon.

But you might not know that all Pret a Manger employees can give away free food, based on how much they like a customer's looks; that Sharp Healthcare, by bringing all of its 12,000 employees to a convention center for an annual pep talk, keeps patient satisfaction in the ninetieth percentile (unheard of); and that John Deere welcomes all new employees on their first day with banners, gifts, lunches, and personalized videos.

The Power of Moments will give you plenty of ideas for "turning up the volume on reality" and delivering experiences your customers will remember. And you don't have to settle for only the examples in the book. The Heaths will soon offer free podcasts featuring more.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Why Event Organizers May Lose Their Shirts

An old joke goes:

Two partners are arguing over their shirt-retailing business.

"Sol, how can we go on buying shirts for $4 and selling them for $2?" one asks.

"Mort, don't worry!" the other answers. "We make it up in volume."

B2B marketing has long resembled Mort's approach.

But a trendy new form of B2B marketing, account-based marketing (ABM), throws out the "volume-based" approach to lead-gen, concentrating the marketing spend instead on a finite set of prospects.

And—unless they begin to help ABM practitioners—event organizers will soon find themselves losing out to digital channels.

Why so?

Because, for decades, events have always been, more or less, about volume.

Set up an exhibit. Wait for a ton of traffic. Meet and mingle. Rinse and repeat.

But ABM represents different thinking.

ABM means a "shift from volume to engagement," says Cindy Zhou, an analyst with Constellation Research and author of the white paper Why B2B Sales Success Requires a Holistic Account-Based Strategy.

By "engagement," Zhou means targeting "ideal buyers" with "personalized content."

At events, she says, ABM practitioners need to attract specifically targeted accounts to their booths, and present them content designed to convert them—quickly—into customers.

Tirekickers need not apply.

"Organizations adopting an ABM approach see higher conversion rates and deal sizes and an increase in cross-sell and upsell opportunities," Zhou says.

Zhou also say that 9 out of 10 B2B marketers she's in touch with have adopted ABM.

Yet event organizers remain clueless, refusing to provide the data exhibitors need to zero in on ideal buyers.

Case in point.

I recently asked the organizer of a large manufacturing show to allow my client to target accounts on his registration list with pre-show phone calls designed to attract them to the client's booth. Not his whole list (that would have been foolish); merely a select group of attendees.

His answer was a resounding, "No!"

"If I did it for them, I'd have to do it for every exhibitor."

Duh. What's wrong with this picture?

Event organizers are sitting on a mountain of data. Exhibit marketers—9 out of 10, if Zhou's followers are representative—need a bit of it. Why not help them?

If you won't, they may abandon events in favor of digital channels, which provide more data than they need.

What, you expect to make it up in volume?

HAT TIP: Thanks to Cindy Zhou for inspiring this post and providing a free copy of her white paper.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Doctor, Doctor

Why do 7 in 10 B2B marketers say events are the very best marketing channel?

The answer's simple: ROI.

Events routinely deliver big brands 5X ROI; small ones, 3X to 5X ROI.

"In-person events simply have more impact than all the social media posts and email newsletters in the world," says
Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group.

Events allow you to generate leads and close sales; connect with buyers' emotions; expand your community; drive social media engagement and website traffic; and create months' of newsworthy marketing content.

But as importantly, Brenner says, events let you diagnose the cause of buyers' pain.

For inquisitive marketers, chatting with buyers over coffee, recording their comments at conference sessions, or conducting surveys through your event app may be just what the doctor ordered.

"You may discover a problem with your product or service that is the root of unexplained customer churn," Brenner says. Just as likely, "You could uncover strengths you didn’t realize you had."

Friday, September 15, 2017

Bad Apple

Why does Apple seem bent on sinking your event?

In the past 13 months, the tech giant has taken shots at three activities vital to your event's well-being:

  • In August 2016, Apple released Version 10 of iOS, which lays siege to your email marketing program. Version 10 begs users to opt out of senders' lists by displaying a mammoth unsubscribe banner above each incoming email. Opt-outs have soared ever since.
  • In June 2017, the company announced its next version of Safari will block retargeting, so your ads won’t stalk prospects any longer. Safari will "sandbox" any third-party cookie after a day; and if the prospect doesn't revisit the site that dropped the cookie within that period, Safari will prevent it from dropping another, should she later return. Ad agencies are in a lather over Apple's move.

  • In July 2017, Apple triggered "Appageddon" by prohibiting "white label" apps (built from templates) from its App Store. That includes the vast majority of event apps. Marketers must forfeit event branding in favor of the app developer's branding, or resort to paying for custom event apps.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fight of the Century

Tradeshow versus Digital is going to be a slugfest, says event-industry consultant Francis Friedman in his new, 287-page book, The Modern Digital Tradeshow.

Nimble contender Digital could handily clobber the out-of-shape champion.

Digital has already driven Tradeshow from marketing's "center stage" onto a "specialized side stage," Friedman says; and, unless the latter regains its magic, Digital could win by a knockout.

Friedman prescribes a rigorous, three-legged regimen to help Tradeshow get back in trim:
  • Redefinition. The tradeshow industry's "analog" business model is passé. "Our industry must change from its static 'show' industry self-concept," Friedman says. "We must view our future as a branded content and experience provider, and integral omni-channel member of a target community." Unless the industry rediscovers a purpose—its raison d'être—it will be excluded from the b-to-b marketers' club.

  • Transformation. Organizers need to embrace event tech—now. There's simply no more time to debate the topic. "The tradeshow industry must now play catch-up to the changing digital marketing landscape through a fundamental shift in its historical business model and product configurations," Friedman says. Event tech that "animates" events and enables exhibitors to verify ROI will matter most—gizmos like VR, AR, AI, beacons, bots, holograms, and drones.

  • Rebranding. The event industry needs to discover and express a new and dynamic "personality," or its transformation into a digital player will go unnoticed. "In the current tradeshow organizer model, 'the show' is inanimate, occupying a specific date and time on the calendar of its marketplace and unable to 'act.'" Friedman says. "'The show' per se has no arms or legs, no voice and no ability to act or interact with its market. 'The show' is just booths on a tradeshow floor at a given time and in each place."
Friedman for years—via keynotes, articles, books and white papers—has been prepping tradeshow organizers for the coming match. With The Modern Digital Tradeshowhe's provided the playbook they need to go the distance.

NOTE: The Modern Digital Tradeshow is available free on the author's website.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Uncle Sam Should Damn Spam

US anti-spam law hampers marketers, says email marketing expert Chad White.

The feds agree, and are moving to reform CAN-SPAM.

The problem with the law?

It's lax.

That laxity makes "deliverability overly difficult for legitimate senders," White says, because email providers have to police inboxes.

"If a brand only clears the low bar set by CAN-SPAM, they are pretty much guaranteed to be blacklisted and blocked by inbox providers," White says.

"While on the surface, lax regulations look like an advantage to American brands, it’s really setting them up for failure."

White urges these seven reforms:
  • Tighten the deadline for honoring opt-out requests. Marketers, by law, can now stall for 10. But customers want them to honor opt-outs immediately.

  • Dictate how unsubscribe works. Customers struggle with marketers' inconsistent practices; as a result, one in two resorts to clicking the “Report Spam” button.

  • Loosen the definition of "transactional" emails. Marketers should be allowed to send post-purchase emails (such as receipts, thank-you notes, and renewal notices) without be being flagged as spammers.

  • Require CAPTCHA on signup forms. "Unprotected open email signup forms allow spammers, hackers, and other bad actors to use bots to weaponize email," White says. Only 3% of marketers use CAPTCHA on their forms today.

  • Mandate authentication and encryption. Email personalization makes customers vulnerable to phishing. CAN-SPAM could protect them by mandating that senders authenticate and encrypt emails.

  • Require permission. That requirement would harmonize CAN-SPAM with other countries' tougher laws, and keep US marketers out of hot water. Permission is defined as "an expressed or implied consent or existing business relationship."

  • Stipulate that inactivity equals opting out. " CAN-SPAM should recognize that permission expires," White says. "CAN-SPAM should require senders to stop emailing subscribers when they haven’t opened or clicked an email in the past two years."

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


In a recent op-ed in The New York Times, Disrupted author Dan Lyons slammed Silicon Valley's work ethic.

Under the rubric "hustle," Lyons says, the Valley worships workaholism.

"You hear it everywhere," he writes. "You can buy hustle-themed T-shirts and coffee mugs, with slogans like 'Dream, hustle, profit, repeat' and 'Outgrind, outhustle, outwork everyone.' You can go to an eight-week 'start-up hustle' boot camp. You can also attend Hustle Con, a one-day conference where successful 'hustlers' share their secrets

Angel and hero Gary Vee (Vaynerchuk) tells hustlers to work 18-hour days, seven days a week, according to Lyons. So do employers like Uber and Lyft. They've fetishized hustle, and made hardship a mandate.

While too busy to read books, Valley dwellers would do well, in my opinion, to read the last pages of Steve Jobs, the entrepreneur's authorized biography. They recount Jobs' deathbed interview.

Jobs tells his biographer he permitted the posthumous book not for the public's sake, but as a memento for his children. "I wanted my kids to know me," he said. "I wasn't always there for them, and I wanted them to know why, and to understand what I did."

Asked whether he cared much for children he never knew, the multi-billionaire said they were "10,000 times better than anything I've ever done."

The More You Lie, the Less We Buy

After 10 years as a user of Kaspersky anti-virus software, I'm switching brands, due to the treatment I received by an offshore sales rep.

My credit card was stolen a few months ago, so to allow my subscription to auto-renew, I contacted Kaspersky (which doesn't permit users to change the credit card numbers it keeps on file).

The rep who finally took my call refused to stop reading from a script of "security" questions that were blatantly meant to upsell me. 

Each time I asked her what her questions had to do with security, she insisted they were for my own good.

None of them were.

After 10 minutes of this, I told her I'd switch to the leading competitor, unless she helped me update my credit card info.

She wasted another 15 minutes of my time bumbling around with this process, to no avail.

I politely thanked her for the help and hung up. Now I'm moving on to the competitor.

Walk a mile in your customers' shoes, CEOs. Try a quarter-mile, if you have no time for customers.

The more you lie, the less we buy.

Monday, September 11, 2017


"It turns out that copy really matters,"
a CEO recently confessed on LinkedIn.

Until he was forced by circumstance to roll up his sleeves and execute, Adam Schoenfeld had been only strategy-minded.

"I didn't get it before," Schoenfeld says. "Now I've come to believe that the best marketing teams nail the details. They get the big picture for sure. But their magic is in the details!"


Why don't more executives realize execution matters? Particularly in copywriting.

The late, great marketer Herschell Gordon Lewis said, "The picking of nits is what copywriting that sells is all about."

Lewis was right, of course: nit-picking's the activity distinguishing copy that sells from copy that fails.

To wit, the following example.

The copywriter here indeed fails—big time. Perhaps he's too self-absorbed to "walk in prospects' shoes" (in this case, members of the military). Or maybe he's green. Or maybe he's just lazy, content to copy and paste from an internal brief. In any event, he isn't picky.

Association Members are entitled to specially negotiated Group Discounts not available to the general public. We continue to leverage the vast purchasing power of hundreds of thousands of Association Members to negotiate exclusive Group Discounts. You’ll save big on select Apple and Dell computers, hotel stays, car rentals, active-lifestyle apparel, outdoor products, and more. Association Members also save with FREE access to “concierge-style” travel services.

What's wrong with this copy?

Association Members are entitled...

"Entitled" is a politically-loaded word, particularly among right-leaning folks. (How many members of the military do you know who lean left?)

Members receive would remove the connotation. specially negotiated Group Discounts...

"Specially negotiated" is redundant. "Group Discounts" is shop talk.

Members receive savings not available to the general public would work better.

We continue to leverage the vast purchasing power of hundreds of thousands of Association Members...

More shop talk, plus a self-centered standpoint—and an awfully vague claim.

More than 370,000 members take advantage of these savings every year would work better.

You’ll save big on select Apple and Dell computers, hotel stays, car rentals, active-lifestyle apparel, outdoor products, and more...

Even more shop talk, plus erratic name-dropping. Consumers don't know what "hotel stays," "active-lifestyle apparel," or "outdoor products" are. And why aren't brands named for any of those product categories, as they are for computers? Are those offerings crap?

You’ll save big on computers, hotel rooms, rental cars, clothing, outdoor and sports goods, and more... would work better.
Association Members also save with FREE access to “concierge-style” travel services...

Shop talk. And what does "concierge-style" mean, anyway?

Members can also use our free travel service would work better.

Now, our perhaps-lazy copywriter would string together the revised sentences and call it quits.

Members receive savings not available to the general public. More than 370,000 of them take advantage of these savings every year. Members save big on computers, hotel rooms, rental cars, clothing, outdoor and sports goods, and more. Members can also use our free travel service.

But why settle for pedestrian copy? Why not tighten it and—more importantly—put to work the indisputable power of the word "you?"

Membership lets you take full advantage of deep, member-only discounts on purchases of things like clothing, computers, outdoor and sports goods, hotel rooms, rental cars, and more. You also get to use our concierge service to plan trips. It’s like having your own personal travel agent.

Stay picky, my friend. Execution matters.

Sunday, September 10, 2017


The only cure for contempt is counter-contempt.

— H. L. Menken

I'm keen about Alan's Blog, not only because its creator Alan Weiss serves up highly original business tips, but because he routinely skewers the arrogant, the hypocritical, the timid, and the incompetent.

No one—from the lowly cashier to the mighty CEO—is spared his delicious scorn.

Indeed, the blog might be better named Alan's Barbs.

I just introduced my wife to Alan's Blog and she hates it.

That's because she's the kind of person the philosopher Aristotle calls "good-tempered."

Anger for Aristotle occupies a spectrum.

Angry people—occupying one side of the spectrum—Aristotle calls "irascible." Irascible people "get angry quickly and with the wrong persons and at the wrong things, and more than is right. They do not restrain their anger, but retaliate openly, owing to their quickness of temper."

Too-cool people—occupying the opposite side of the spectrum—he calls "fools." Fools never give way to anger, and are "thought not to feel things nor to be pained by them." Fools never defend themselves, and "endure being insulted and put up with insult."

Tolerant people—occupying the mid-point of the spectrum—Aristotle calls "good-tempered." "Good temper is a mean with respect to anger," he says. "The person who is angry at the right things and with the right people, and, further, as he ought, when he ought, and as long as he ought, is praised. This will be the good-tempered person."

Aristotle's analysis of anger leaves me worried that, like Alan, I'm on the "angry" side of the spectrum.

But, thankfully, the philosopher comes to my rescue.

I'm merely, like Alan, "hot-tempered."

"Hot-tempered people get angry quickly," Aristotle says. "But their anger ceases quickly—which is the best point about them. This happens to them because they do not restrain their anger, but retaliate openly owing to their quickness of temper, and then their anger ceases."

That sure beats being "irascible"—or, just as bad, being the kind of person Aristotle calls "sulky."

"Sulky people are hard to appease, and retain their anger long; for they repress their passion. But it ceases when they retaliate; for revenge relieves them of their anger, producing in them pleasure, instead of pain."

When sulky people can't avenge themselves, Aristotle says, watch out!

Unavenged, sulky people "retain their burden; for, owing to its not being obvious, no one reasons with them, and to digest one's anger in oneself takes time. Such people are most troublesome to themselves and their dearest friends."

Saturday, September 9, 2017


It takes 15,000 casualties to train a major general.

— Ferdinand Foch

Global warming's mean tricks have a silver lining.

The beatings Mother Nature is inflicting will mount the casualties needed to teach our leaders how to address greenhouse gases.

If they fail, they'll be swept from office in a flood of anger.

How's that for a climate change?

Mother Nature is making the senile fool in the White House (and his ilk) seem more passé by the hour.

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Where Should a B2B Marketer Spend Her Money?

It's September. You're being bugged for next year's marketing budget.

Spending is an art form. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Sure, year-over-year analytics tell you which channels have produced, but—like any investment—"past performance is no guarantee of future results." We'd all still be buying full-page ads in trade magazines, if that were so.

For my money, your mix next year (ranked by percent of total spend) should look like this:
  1. Events
  2. Telemarketing
  3. Direct mail
  4. Retargeting
  5. Email
  6. SEO
  7. PPC
  8. Social
Too many channels for your paltry budget? Then work the list from the top down. You can't go wrong.

Don't be tempted to lay all your money on low-cost channels (like email and social), just because they're low cost.

A handful of proprietary events or an exhibit in a couple trade shows, done well, can generate enough leads to keep you in the black for 12 months. A well-conceived telemarketing campaign can do the same. Even a regular stream of pretty postcards can.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Is Your Event Profit Proof?

What's the "inconvenient truth" about selling online?

You'll go broke, says blogger Steven Dennis.

"Only a handful of venture capital-funded “pure-plays” have (or will ever) make money," Dennis says.

The rest (including Amazon) operate at below-average margins for the retail industry, amassing huge financial losses year upon year.

Of themselves, free shipping and liberal return policies guarantee these companies will remain "profit proof," Dennis says.

Worse yet: the cost to acquire a customer. When it comes to customer acquisition, web retailers suffer "diseconomies of scale," Dennis says.

"Many online brands attract their first tranche of customers relatively inexpensively, through word of mouth or other low cost strategies," he says.

But then, marketing costs start to escalate.

"As brands seeking growth need to reach a broader audience, they typically start to pay more and more to Facebook, Google and others to grab the customer’s attention and force their way into the customer’s consideration set," he says.

"Early on customers were acquired for next to nothing; now acquisition costs can easily exceed more than $100 per customer."

The higher the acquisition costs, the lower the gross margin on the resulting incremental sales, a dynamic that eventually lands the business in hardship.

Whenever I plan an attendee acquisition campaign for an event producer, I budget the marketing efforts using, give or take a few bucks, the same amount of money Dennis mentions—$100 per attendee.

Want 500 attendees? Plan to spend at least $50,000.

Some event producers balk—How can it cost so much?

But after more than three decades in the event-promotion business, working on events large and small and in a variety of industries and professions, I've found it a real-world rule-of-thumb.

And most producers who spend that kind of money on marketing can, in fact, run a successful event and go home with a tidy profit.

The "diseconomies of scale" only enter the picture when registration fees are low ; or when producers discount and give away registrations; or—the worst case—when admission to the event is free.

Of course, attendees are a necessary evil: without any, exhibitors have been known to complain. But they need not have "negative value" when registration fees are low (or nonexistent).

Attendees can be little ambling profit centers.


Sell attendees livestreaming.

Events are cornucopias of content. When you capture that content on video, you can sell it to attendees for post-event consumption. None of them can be in two places at once, so none can possibly imbibe all the content you offer. What's more, every attendee loves to share good content with colleagues "back at the ranch." Why deny them that pleasure?

And why make your event "profit proof," when it can be enormously the opposite?  "Back-of-the-room" sales of livestreaming come cheaply, because attendees are already in your "store." The gross margin on the incremental sales you make will come at an extremely low rate—almost for free, if you already videotape content for projection purposes, as most producers do.

Want more food for thought? Check out my posts "Conference Planners: There's No Sin in Syndication" and "Just be Willing to Believe."

NOTE: CEIR reports that average attendee-acquisition costs currently range from $14 to $20 per person. But I don't believe the figures are reliable. My own past research, done in the 2000s, showed acquisition costs to range from $68 to $80 per person. CEIR's report, nonetheless, can help any producer get a grip on event-industry spending trends, and is worth studying.
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