Influence people

Friday, November 24, 2017

This Will Shock You

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

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

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

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

And then there's this.

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

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

But good copywriting isn't always good writing.

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

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

Thursday, November 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Who’s Coining All this Lame Marketing Terminology?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Account-based marketing

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

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

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

Programmatic advertising

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

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

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

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

Content marketing

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

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

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

Native advertising

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

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

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

Big data

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Great Expectations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 20, 2017

Work of Art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 19, 2017


Client comes from the Latin cliens, which denoted a plebeian under a patrician's thumb—a minion.

A client in Ancient Rome wasn't quite a slave, but he was close to it.

Etymologists believe the Latin cliens stemmed either from cluens, meaning "to obey," or from clinare, meaning "to bend."

Client in English originally denoted a lawyer's customer; by the the 17th century, the meaning of the word was extended to denote any professional's customer.

Clients in the 17th century were obedient. (Obey also comes from Latin: obedire meant "to serve" or "to listen to" a superior.) They obeyed professionals' advice.

We've come a long way, baby.

Clients—the vast majority, in any case—have flipped the script.

Clients have quit taking professionals' advice

I date that event to 2002, the year the dot-com bubble burst.

Call me spineless, but I cave when a client dismisses my marketing advice. Not immediately, but almost.

While experts say you should stick to your guns and "do what's right." I do neither.

I do neither because I know clients don't actually want advice. 

They want what Roman patricians had.


I also know, as Dale Carnegie did, you can't win an argument:

You can’t because if you lose it, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. Why? Well, suppose you triumph over the other man and shoot his argument full of holes and prove that he is
non compos mentis. Then what? You will feel fine. But what about him? You have made him feel inferior. You have hurt his pride. He will resent your triumph.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Content for All Seasons

Learning never exhausts the mind. 

— Leonardo da Vinci

In terms of traffic, evergreen content pays like an annuity. Smart marketers know that instinctively.

While I'm often psyched about my voguish ramblings, my all-time five most popular posts are anything but:
Three are going on seven years old. None is newer than eight months old.

Besides staying power, what's nice about imperishable content? It generally takes no more effort to write than topical.

Blogger Aaron Orendorff says there are 20 kinds of evergreen content:

Original research. "Primary research is unique, exclusive, and—therefore—powerful," Orendorff says. He's right.

Stat pack. A collection of others' research. Adding commentary increases value.

Case study. A story, plain and simple. And proof of expertise.

Failure. A case study of a train wreck.

Shocking stat. The backstory behind a single statistic.

Beginners' how-to. "True beginner guides are few and far between," Orendorff says. That's why prospects like them.

Advanced how-to. High-level insights from thought leaders.

Checklist. Ideal for non-readers.

Long-term how-to. Strategic advice.

Product guide. Lessons in product selection. "Make your product tutorial about teaching: provide definitions, collect advice from industry experts, and present impartial reviews from third-party sites," Orendorff says.

Resources. A collection of how-to tips.

Best tools. A compendium of free and paid productivity tools for a niche. Including pros and cons and hacks increases value to readers.

Top influencers. A Who's Who in a niche.

Best books. A recommended reading list. Summaries add value. Asking influencers to name their picks adds even more.

Common mistakes. "Every industry has its seven deadly sins," Orendorff says. "Some have more like 10 or 20. Outlining these common mistakes—and providing tips on avoiding and overcoming them—is evergreen pay-dirt."

History of a topic. A timeline that answers, "How did we get here?" A great way to dispel myths.

Tip roundup. A collection of thought leaders' single-greatest tips.

Best—or worst—practices. A variation of the how-to guide: a procedural, but backed by examples. Worst practices can also grab readers' attention. "While best-practice lists are low-hanging evergreen fruit, worst-practice lists give you the opportunity to be just as valuable—and have a lot more fun," Orendorff says.

Glossary. A niche dictionary.

Everything you need to know. The “definitive” or “ultimate” guide to a topic. The encyclopedia entry.

Friday, November 17, 2017


This Thanksgiving I'm grateful for Lauren O’Conner.

She's Harvey Weinstein's original accuser, a kind of Rosa Parks. 

Her 2015 memo, leaked to The New York Times, was the basis of the paper's revelations last month. They led within 72 hours to Weinstein's dismissal.

We're going to see many, many executives topple in the coming year, thanks to O'Conner's action. Caddishness frequently accompanies power. And there are many old grievances.

The Weinstein Effect will break the glass ceiling.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Five Pillars of Lead Followup

Lead gen is only half the marketing battle. Marketers must enable salespeople to follow up.

But a lot of them don't know how, perhaps because business owners have conditioned them to turn all leads over to sales, as soon as they materialize.

Those marketers need to master the five pillars of lead followup:

Website. Your website needs to be lucid and mobile. Your About page must be clear, concise and compelling, because it's the only one most prospects will read. And you need to make it easy to contact your organization—in person.

Content. You need a world-class piece of "cornerstone content," such as a white paper, e-book, or cheat sheet you can share with prospects. It must be authoritative and educational, or prospects will conclude "they have nothing to teach me." Case studies also motivate prospects, because they provide "social proof."

Sales deck.Your sales deck arms your people with a structure for pitching prospects. It should be a scaffold, not an edifice. Avoid a lot of background and blue-sky baloney; lean on images to tell your story; and don't cram the deck with copy, or treat is like a script or book: it's an aid for online and face-to-face presentations, not an encyclopedia.

Playbook. Your in-house how-to sales manual should give salespeople enough guidance that they can close any deal that comes down the pike. Include talking points, target persona cheat sheets, industry data sheets, product data sheets, competitive analyses, a glossary of terms, and an inventory of current collateral.

Email. You need an outbound email drip-campaign that runs at a cadence that makes sense both to you and to prospects. Newsletters are a good place to start. Direct-marketing appeals can be sent in between your monthly newsletters. Each email should offer value and foster interest in talking to your salespeople.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Seven Pillars of Lead Gen

Businesses that depend on salespeople for lead generation cannot grow rapidly or steadily.

Salespeople aren't good at it. 

While slow, uncertain growth may be—in fact, is—just fine for most business owners, for the rest lead gen is the job of marketers.

I'm aghast at the number of marketers I encounter who don't grasp lead gen's fundamentals, perhaps because they've never had to do more for a business owner than "make us look pretty."

Those marketers need to master the seven pillars of lead gen, if they hope to avoid tomorrow's scrap heap of outmoded jobs.

The seven pillars are:
  • Email. Of all the pillars, email has the best ROI; but it's overdone and threatened with extinction on many fronts. And many marketers have no clue how to write compelling emails, or leverage prospect lists.
  • Events. Events are expensive, but unbeatable for generating leads and accelerating conversions. But many marketers don't grasp the importance of speaking at events, engaging attendees, or following up. They believe it's sufficient merely to show up.
  • Telemarketing. Outbound telemarketing. although not cheap, has the highest response rate. But many marketers shun it, due to its unfortunate association with "boiler rooms."
  • Direct mail. Out of favor for over a decade, postal mail is the Comeback Kid, because it delivers leads at high rates. But many marketers aren't even familiar with the basics.
  • Content. Content is marketing, the secret sauce the generates leads—and SEO. But too many marketers lack the imagination and discipline to produce and publish quality content—whether written, recorded, or illustrated—at a regular pace. And too many don't know how to syndicate content.
  • Advertising. With the targeting tools and niche websites available today, web ads have become solid sources of leads. But many marketers don't know what makes an ad click-worthy.
  • PR. PR isn't dead, it's just different than it used to be. It's still storytelling par excellence and a powerful lead-gen tactic when used correctly.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Finish Every Day

While Emerson’s daughter Ellen was away at school, she wrote her father to say she was haunted by a past mistake. He replied:

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities
no doubt have crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.

Tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely
and with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with
your old nonsense.

This day is all that is
good and fair.
It is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on yesterdays.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Who Attends B2B Events?

According to American Express' 2018 Global Meetings & Events Forecast, five kinds of folks show up at B2B events.

Knowledge Seekers. These attendees want to improve themselves. Content and speakers drive their decision to show up. To woo them:
  • Target your content to them
  • Invest in a high-profile speaker
  • Offer lots of choices
  • Provide for note-taking and session-materials archiving in your app
  • Offer creative meeting-space set-ups
  • Include sessions that feature attendee-speaker interaction
  • Provide great post-event information
Tech-Savvy Networkers. These attendees value relationships. The volume of opportunities to connect drives their decision to show up. To woo them:
  • Include features in your app that ease connection
  • Gamify your event
  • Provide tons of networking sessions
  • Offer speed networking sessions
  • Supply the attendee roster before the event
  • Keep conversations going post-event
Inspiration Seekers. These attendees crave purpose. The volume of experiences drives their decision to show up. To woo them:
  • Include motivational speakers and self-help and coaching sessions
  • Offer brainstorming and co-creation sessions
  • Offer chances to become immersed in the destination
  • Use alternate venues that remove them from the traditional one
  • Offer community outreach or CSR experiences
Social Butterflies. These attendees love meeting new people—and sharing the experience. The volume of meet-ups drives their decision to show up. To woo them, you should:
  • Offer tons of opportunities for interaction in breakout sessions
  • Offer informal meal settings, to encourage socializing
  • Pack your event with entertainment and leisure activities
  • Ask Social Butterflies to be your advisors
  • Give them opportunities to be influencers through your app
Reluctant Attendees. These attendees are introverts. Professional obligations—and nothing more—drive their decision to come. To woo them:
  • Make the professional benefits of attending clear in promotions
  • Offer ice-breakers early during the event
  • Include lots of breakout sessions
  • Point out content that is forward-thinking or research-based
  • Include ample free- or down-time
  • Include a recommendation engine in your app
  • Provide a virtual version of your event
Brand Fanatics. These attendees are devoted followers. Opportunities to get the "inside scoop" drive their decision to attend. To woo them:
  • Include plenty of gadgets
  • Provide access to key brand representatives
  • Offer chances to win exclusive merchandise and experiences
  • Provide product demonstrations and early access to new products
  • Hold focus groups to allow them to share their insights and ideas
  • Showcase the brand end to end

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Ross Macdonald Redux

Both sides of the tracks are the wrong side,
if you live close enough to them.
— Ross Macdonald

That the Coen Brothers plan to turn Ross Macdonald's Black Money into a film is reason to go on. 

Although only one of Macdonald's 18 "California noir" mystery novels, it's a ripper—as are nearly all the books forming the Lew Archer saga, the adventures of an LA detective who's more poet than policeman, more psychoanalyst than private eye.

I rarely let a year pass without rereading one or two of Macdonald's masterpieces. His observations of people trapped by undeserved wealth and poverty are ceaselessly humane—and as accurate as any you'll find in genre fiction.

As in life, no one in a Lew Archer mystery is without sin—neither the oligarchs nor the outcasts; the matriarchs nor the mobsters; the cops nor the con men; the hippies nor the hucksters; the surfers nor the starlets. And the prose is delicious—the key reason Library of America this year enshrined 11 Lew Archer novels in its collection.

"Macdonald matters because he’s one of the finest fiction writers in American literature, not just detective fiction," says biographer Tom Nolan.

Macdonald learned to write in graduate school from teachers like W.H. Auden and Cleanth Brooks, who taught him that not only every word, "but every line, every sentence, every little block is integrated into the whole, and everything should have equal weight to create a unified work of art and beauty," Nolan says.

"The things that are most interesting and appealing about him, and valuable to people still, are the beauty of the expression, of the language, the beauty of the prose, which has poetic qualities and is informed by a great lyric talent."

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Banking on Brevity

The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and
a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.

― George Burns

New-media company Axios, launched in January by former Politico staffers, intends to distinguish itself among the legions of online newsletters by "writing short."

There's a lesson in this for business bloggers, egged on by experts to blather for SEO's sake.

“Journalists are writing for journalists. That’s the biggest problem in media right now,” says Axios co-founder Jim VandeHei. “People don’t want the pieces we’re writing. They’re too damn long.”

Ad-free for now, Axios will generate revenue eventually through $10,000 subscriptions, the founders hope.

"Smart brevity" is the key to attracting those subscribers. The newsletter's website describes the idea:

If you think about your evolving habits for consuming news and information, you realize you have less time, and a shorter attention span. Our content, our ads and our platforms are designed specifically to adjust to these new habits and demands. We aim to make the experience more substantive and meaningful—and therefore more valuable. When we pull this off, it will free people up to spend time on content truly WORTHY of their time, on our platform or elsewhere.

Axios, you might guess, is Greek for "worthy." By writing short, VandeHei plans to steer clear of the "crap trap"―the dead end publishers turn onto when they forget readers come first.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Know the Best Sources of Product Info?

IBM asked 700 B2B buyers wielding $10,000 or more to name their preferred sources of product information, and sorted the answers by buyers' ages. The results are astonishing—or maybe not:
  • Boomers named tradeshows 
  • Gen Xers named online, third-party reviews 
  • Millennials named vendors' sales reps
What's up with that?
Boomers will never give up on shows. They haven't forgotten "the good old days," when companies timed their product launches around the industry-leading shows. Big events were vibrant and newsworthy and "must attend." Shows were the worldwide web.

Gen Xers are inexorable skeptics. Forget about face-to-face, content, direct, social media, or other forms of marketing with this cohort. All marketing is BS. Gen Xers only trust disinterested parties' informed evaluations.

Millennials prize speed and ease. "I want to know and I want to know now." What's the easiest route? A sales spiel. As IBM puts it, Millennials want a "hassle-free, personalized channel." Enter the sales rep.

Sure, generalizations about the generations have grown tiresome; but they explain IBM's findings.

Source of chart: Better Business Bureau

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Defaulting to Lies

I'm not upset that you lied to me,
I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.

― Friedrich Nietzsche

Why do some salespeople default to lies, no matter the stakes? When there are no stakes? When nobody's erred. When all that's requested is a straightforward reply.

Do they need that much to be loved?

I think so. I think, as well, they believe everyone else just fell off a turnip truck.

If your default mode is to lie, ask yourself: 
  • Am I playing to the stereotype of the salesperson as huckster?
  • Do my customers tell other customers I'm an inveterate liar? 
  • Is my default mode―lying―the reason my income is meager?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

No Thanks

Why does a publication subscriber quit? Why does an association member?

Lapse research always shows she quits for one or more of these five reasons:
  • Your product is irrelevant
  • Your price is too high
  • She's too busy to take advantage of your product
  • She gets what she needs on line
  • She had trouble renewing
Drunk on their own "look at all we offer" Kool-Aid, however, marketers forget a customer subscribes or joins for a specific reason―and quits for a specific reason. She does the former to fill a need; and the latter when that need is filled; is no longer filled; went unfulfilled; or no longer matters.

It's convenient to marketers just to shove a quitter into some segment like "medical device sales rep"as if that had a whit to do with the reason she became a customerand conclude, "Well, some medical device sales reps are quitters."

But that facile conclusion sheds little light on the difference between the quitter and the loyal customer, and none on the specific reason the quitter quit. To do that, you need to contact her on the phone and have a "frank and open" discussion with the goal of listening.

When you do, you'll discover, indeed, she quit for one of the above five reasons; but you'll also unearth a lot more―real-world intelligence you can use to improve your product:
  • How―specifically―did your product become irrelevant?
  • Why is your price objectionable?
  • Why can't she "make time" for you in her day?
  • What unique value do competitors provide her?
  • Why is renewal a source of friction?
You'd be amazed at what in-depth lapse research will tell you.

One large national association I assisted discovered, in fact, it wasn't bleeding thousands of members every year, as it believed. Members were mailing their renewal payments to the local chapters, because no reply envelope was included with the renewal invoice. The chapters were banking the dues incomewithout reporting its source.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tubs of Fun

Vicente Gonzalez, a congressman from Texas, told CNN this week Sam Hyde killed 26 churchgoers in his state.

Sam Hyde is not a mass murderer, but a comedian and meme, as The New York Times reports.

Gonzalez was recycling fake news a producer had shared, while the congressman had been waiting for a TV interview earlier the same day.

Fake news isn't new.

H.L. Mencken spread some in his own day, reporting in The New York Evening Mail on December 28, 1917, that President Millard Fillmore was responsible for introducing the bathtub to America.

"Bathtubs are so common today that it is almost impossible to imagine a world without them," Mencken wrote. "They are familiar to nearly everyone in all incorporated towns; in most of the large cities it is unlawful to build a dwelling house without putting them in; even on the farm they have begun to come into use."

But no one remembers who popularized the bathtub, Mencken wrote. Turns out, "it was the example of President Millard Fillmore that, even more than the grudging medical approval, gave the bathtub recognition and respectability in the United States." 

Fillmore was "an ardent advocate of the new invention, and on succeeding to the Presidency at Taylor's death, July 9, 1850, he instructed his secretary of war, General Charles M. Conrad, to invite tenders for the construction of a bathtub in the White House."

Within days of Mencken's New York Evening Mail article, Fillmore's introduction of the bathtub solidified into fact: it was cited in trade and professional journals; on the floor of Congress; and in Mencken's own newspaper. And it's still cited today, although Mencken's article was a gag.

"It never occurred to me it would be taken seriously,” he said.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Looks Like Gordon Gekko was Right

It’s not a principle until it costs you money.
― Bill Bernbach

Corporate Social Responsibility damps stock price, says a new study by two Florida Atlantic University business professors.

A company that champions the environment, human rights, diversity, product safety, or other causes shoulders costs which depress its Wall Street performance, according to the study, because a CSR initiative diverts resources from growing the core business.

While Fortune 500 companies spend over $15 billion a year on philanthropic and CSR activities, most of the money may be no more than a disguised PR spend.

A study published last year shows a CSR initiative will succeed or fail in direct proportion to the CEO's greed, as measured by his ownership of luxury assets like fancy cars, boats, and second homes.

The study found that companies led by greedy CEOs have low-scoring CSR initiatives, while those led by generous CEOs have high-scoring initiatives. It also found that greedy CEOs undertake CSR initiatives primarily to increase their own power and pay.

The findings reinforce those of psychology studies showing that people who worship possessions and pursue their acquisition are less sensitive to their effects on others; less willing to share their money and possessions with charities, friends, or family members; and less likely to engage in environmentally responsible behaviors.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Find Your Work

Your work is to find your work and attend to it with all your heart.

― Anne Bancroft

Marvel Comics editor Mark Gruenwald so loved his work he told his wife Catherine he wanted his ashes made into a comic book.

Catherine granted his wish when he died in 1996: Gruenwald's ashes were blended with the ink used to reprint Squadron Supreme, a comic book he wrote 10 years earlier.

People long to quit jobs that make them, as Adam Smith said, "as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become."

But fewer and fewer are willing, as Deloitte's 2017 study of Millennial workers shows.

According to the study (conducted annually), in 2016, 17% of workers worldwide said they'd quit their jobs immediately, given the choice; in 2017, only 7% said they'd do so.

Americans feel completely trapped, according to the study. In 2016, 7% said they'd quit their jobs immediately, given the choice; in 2017, none said they would.

Deloitte cites "a generally pessimistic outlook regarding economic and social progress" as the reason Millennials feel this way.

So, in a dicey world, how can you find your work?

In 101 Ways to Make Every Second Count, copywriter Bob Bly suggests these 10 ways:

Ask your boss for more work. Ask her to delegate tasks that will challenge you.

Take on different work. Volunteer to fill a need no one else can or will.

Learn something new. Enroll in a course.

Do something new. Join a local garden club, raise money for PETA, or go to Toastmasters.

Become active in your field. Join a professional association or teach at a local college.

Restructure your job. Make that extra work you took on the new core of your job.  

Confront greedy coworkers. Call out people who hog all the challenging tasks.

Switch departments. Apply for a transfer or promotion.

Change employers. Make the leap. 

Change fields. Do something else.

My advice goes a little farther.

First, don't be shocked if you find finding your work slow, arduous and low-wage. “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all," Michelangelo once said.

Second, you might also find finding your work dangerous. Career adviser Scott Dinsmore, while pursing his passion, was killed by a falling rock on Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Third, don't forget to consider the market. If you want a safe bet, go to coding camp; or become an altruist, as career adviser Benjamin Todd recommends.

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