Monday, July 16, 2007


Your customers don't have to like your ads

I still read Roy Williams' Monday Morning Memo religiously each week. Today Roy addressed four common mistakes made by advertisers, which focus on the lack of effective persuasion strategies in the market today.

A summary of his ideas are below, but I highly recommend listening to Roy talk about these strategies to get the full effect:

The 4 Biggest Mistakes made by advertisers

Mistake 1: Demanding “Polished and Professional” Ads
If you insist that your ads “sound right,” you force them to be predictable. Predictable ads do not surprise Broca’s Area of the brain. They do not open the door to conscious awareness. They fail to gain the attention of your prospective customer. This is bad.

Mistake 2: Informing without Persuading
Study journalism and you’ll create ads that present information without:

(A.) substantiating their claims, “Lowest prices guaranteed!” (Or what, you apologize?)
(B.) explaining the benefit to the customer. “We use the Synchro-static method!” (Which means…?)

“It’s Truck Month at Ramsey Ford!” (Come to the party, bring my truck?)

Mistake 3: Entertaining without Persuading
Study creative writing and you’ll draft ads that deliver entertainment without:

(A.) delivering a clear message. “Yo Quiero Taco Bell” (Dogs like our food, you will, too?)
(B.) causing the customer to imagine themselves taking the desired action.“Yo Quiero Taco Bell” (I should buy a taco for my Chihuahua?)

The best ads cause customers to see themselves taking the action you desire. These ads deliver:

INVOLVEMENT: Watch a dancing silhouette ad for the iPod and mirror neurons in your brain will cause part of you to dance, as well. This is good advertising.
CLARITY: The white earphone cords leading into the ears of the dancing silhouette make it clear that the white iPod is a personal music machine.

Mistake 4: Decorating without Persuading
Graphic artists will often create a visual style and call it “branding.” This is fine if your product is fashion, a fragrance, an attitude or a lifestyle, but God help you if you sell a service or a product that’s meant to perform.

“Do you like the ad?” asks the graphic artist.

“Yes, it’s perfect,” replies the client, “the colors create the right mood and the images feel exactly right. I think it represents us well.”

Sorry, but your banker disagrees.

Because you worry needlessly when people don't like your ads.Ninety-eight point nine percent of all the customers who hate your ads will still come to your store and buy from you when they need what you sell. These customers don’t cost you money; they just complain to the cashier as they’re handing over their cash.

Do you believe the public has to like an ad for the ad to be effective? You do?


Dealing with information overload

Every day, we're faced with far more information to consume than we can possible manage. Ignoring the stuff we don't care about is easy, but even the emails, blogs, magazines, newsletters and other information we do care about can pile up far faster than we can consume it.

This is an every day problem that's made worse after an extended period away from the office. I took a week off last week with my family - no email, no cell phone, no connection to the real world - and came back this morning to an avalanche of information. More than 1,000 emails to digest, more than 1,300 unread blog posts in my RSS feed, a large stack of magazines and mail, etc.

But we all know that the problem of information overload isn't confined to the day after a vacation. None of us can get through even the pre-filtered information that comes at us each day, and it's quite stressful to think we're "missing out" on something important buried in that stack.

The strategy I'm using this morning is really no different than what I do every day to manage that stack on incoming information. My simple strategy is as follows:

Know what information is required, and what's optional. The stack of information you must consume is likely quite small, and very manageable on a regular basis.

Don't worry about reading everything. If you're reading just some of the information in front of you, you're already doing far better than the vast majority of your colleagues and peers.

Read quickly. Skim headlines, flip pages of magazines quickly, and look only for content that piques your interest. Focus on just the first couple paragraphs of any piece that interests you. Continue reading if you're truly interested, otherwise move on quickly to the next piece. Chances are, those first couple paragraphs gave you the gist of what you needed to know anyway.

Don't worry about reading everything right away. If you find something you want to read but don't have time right away (a longer article, a White Paper, etc.), file it in a "reading" folder. I have one in my email inbox, as well as a physical "reading" folder that stays with me at office and home, so I can easily pick something out when the time is right.

Friday, July 06, 2007


Seattle Marketing Network - August Mixer

The first event was a success, and now it's back for an encore!

On Thursday, August 9th, join top marketers from around the Puget Sound area for an evening of drinks, appetizers and great networking at the Cypress Lounge at the new Bellevue Westin.

Senior marketing professionals from across the greater Seattle area will be there - representing companies such as Microsoft, Nintendo,, HouseValues and dozens more.

Don't miss this opportunity to meet other local marketers, make new connections, and build relationships!

Cost to attend is just $20 dollars, which covers our space in the lounge and a great spread of prepared appetizers.

Click here to RSVP. See you there!

Monday, July 02, 2007


Secrets of Direct Marketing with Howard Sewell

The world needs more marketers like Howard Sewell. Knowledgeable, practical, and focused on results.

I recently sat down with Howard to talk about marketing, direct response and innovation, and below is our transcript. More information about his company, Connect Direct, as well as his blog and email address follow.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in marketing over the past five years?
Search has revolutionized the direct marketing business. Marketing Sherpa just reported that 80 percent of technology decision-makers say their organization searched for and found technology solutions when making a purchase, not the other way around. The result is that marketers are focusing more and more of their efforts on “being in the right place at the right time” – with integrated marketing plans that include search-based media such as SEM and content syndication, complemented by systematic lead nurturing that keeps their brand top of mind with the prospect.

If you were building a marketing plan from scratch, what’s the first thing you would do?
Determine precisely what it is I wanted to achieve. Start with target revenue and back that out into the number of qualified opportunities and raw inquiries. So many companies base their marketing plans on producing a fixed number of campaigns, rather than tailoring those campaigns to meet a specific objective.

If you could only spend marketing dollars on one thing, what would it be?
This may be heresy for a dyed-in-the-wool direct marketer, but I’d say: search. You can waste an awful lot of money advertising on Google if you don’t have the resources to manage the program properly, but with the appropriate expertise and bandwidth, search is a very powerful tool that can work for just about any company. Plus there’s a myriad things you can learn – lessons that can impact your other campaigns for the better.

What do most marketers today do wrong?
They don’t pay enough attention to the back end of campaigns – whether it’s an effective landing page or microsite, or a lead nurturing program designed to convert leads into opportunities. There are plenty of companies out there, some with very sizable budgets, who either waste money driving clicks instead of leads, or else generate thousands of leads only to have the sales force ignore them. With the technology available today, there’s little excuse for either scenario.

What's the most important marketing lesson you've learned in the past year?
Always question your assumptions. It’s too easy to fall into a trap of doing something the same way, sometimes indefinitely, just because it worked once. In online marketing, the user experience changes rapidly, so it’s always wise to try something new. Always test head-to-head against the control, however – that way you can be certain what made the difference.

What's your one, most important piece of advice to fellow marketers?
The offer is everything. No-one cares how great your product or service is if they don’t want what it is you have to offer. An effective offer – be it a white paper, Webinar, free trial – should be the centerpiece of every campaign. And more campaigns fail for the lack of an effective offer than almost any other reason.

Howard J. Sewell is president of Connect Direct, Inc. (CDI) (, a full-service direct marketing agency with offices in Silicon Valley and Seattle that specializes in demand generation for high-technology companies. Howard writes about direct response marketing in his company’s blog, “Direct Connections” ( and can be reached via e-mail at

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