PA RT T W O O F T H E COMMONSENSE MARKETING SERIES®
T H E M IS S I N G 51 H E L P F U L MA R K E T I N G I D E A S More simple, tested, yet often neglected ideas guaranteed to improve results
D R AY T O N B I R D ★★★★★ “ Drayton Bird kn ows more ab out marketing th an anyon e in th e world.” Dav id Ogilv y Foun der, Ogilvy & Mather
★★★★★ “Dray ton B ird is a w ise an d wily direct marketer. People all over the world have been lu cky en ough to learn from him.” Sir Mar tin Sorrell, Founder, WPP 1 00% MONEY-B ACK GUARANTE E: “PUT TH ESE IDE AS TO THE TEST. IF YOUR PROFITS DON’T INCREASE BY 10 0 TIMES WHAT YOU PAID FOR THIS BOOK , I’L L GIVE YOU YOUR MONEY B ACK - GLADLY, IF A LIT TLE PUZZLE D.”
DRAYTON BIRD is an internationally-applauded author, copywriter, teacher, lecturer and consultant. The Chartered Institute of Marketing named Drayton, with others such as Tom Peters, Ted Levitt and Philip Kotler, as one of the 50 individuals who have shaped modern marketing. His best-known books include Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing (currently in its 28th year and 5th edition), Sales Letters that Sell and Marketing Insights and Outrages. Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing was described by David Ogilvy as “Pure gold. Read it and re-read it. It contains the knowledge of a lifetime” and has sold more than 200,000 copies in 17 languages. Drayton has written over 1,000 columns for international magazines, spoken in 50 countries and worked with many leading brands, among them American Express, BA, Deutsche Post, Ford, Microsoft, Nestle, Proctor & Gamble, Philips, The Royal Mail, Unilever and Visa. He now runs the London marketing consultancy Drayton Bird Associates, the online Commonsense Marketing programme (www.draytonbirdcommonsense.com) and the European Academy of Direct & Interactive Marketing Studies.
PRAISE FOR DRAYTON BIRD “Here is a man who has lived it, studied it and done it. When it comes to direct marketing there is no-one better than Drayton Bird.” Director of the First US Trade Mission for Direct Marketing “People toss the phrase “living legend” around far too casually. Drayton Bird really is such a person. he knows direct marketing from the inside out, and the crucial details necessary to turn concepts, strategies, and words themselves into sales, empires, and fortunes. David Garfinkel, Publisher,World Copywriting Blog
“Your books are among my most valued possessions, and easily among the greatest ever written on advertising, right up there with those by Caples, Ogilvy, Schwab, Reeves and Hopkins.” Gary Bencivenga, “Hall of Fame” copywriter
ALSO BY DRAYTON BIRD: Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing Kogan Page, 2007 How to Write Sales Letters that Sell Kogan Page, 1997 Marketing Insights and Outrages Kogan Page, 2000 The Master Marketer: How to Combine Tried and Tested Techniques with the Latest Ideas to Achieve Spectacular Marketing Success (with Christopher Ryan) Kogan Page, 1994 Open for Business! How to Write Letters that Get Results (with Courtney Ferguson) McGraw-Hill 2001 Some Rats Run Faster Secker & Warburg, 1964 The Drayton Bird Commonsense Marketing Online Seminars: www.draytonbirdcommonsense.com
© Drayton Bird 2013 The right of Drayton Bird to be identified as the author of this book has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988. Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988, this publication may only be reproduced, stored or transmitted, in any form or by any means, with the prior permission in writing of the author, or in the case of reprographic reproduction in accordance with the terms and licences issued by the CLA. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the author at the under mentioned address: Drayton Bird Associates Moyle House, Fleet Hill, Finchampstead, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 4LJ. Tel: +44 (0) 845 3700 121 www.draytonbirdcommonsense.com
THE MISSI NG 51 HELPFUL MARKETING IDEAS More simple, tested, yet often neglected ideas guaranteed to improve results DRAYTON BIRD
Foreword by Brian Featherstonhaugh, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, OgilvyOne Worldwide??????
D R AY TO N B I R D A S S O C I AT E S LT D 2013
CONTENTS INTRODUCTION “Oil discovered in hell.” HOW YOU CAN GET MOST OUT OF THIS (AND ANY) BOOK Please read these instructions completely before you begin.You’ll save time and learn more. 1. BATTLE TESTED RECESSION SURVIVAL STRATEGY FOR THE REST OF US Force your mar keting to make money – by measur ing. 2. CRM CHECKLIST. OR A TEST: ARE YOU SOBER? CRM systems can help or hur t you. 3. HOW NOT TO CHOOSE AN AGENCY If you want to waste your money and time, have beauty parades of prospective agencies . If you want results , do what smar t marketers do: test. 4. WHAT A DEAD DICTATOR CAN TEACH YOU ABOUT MARKETING Fame may help sales , but it’s not ever ything. You need proof. 5. IF YOU WRITE WELL AS THIS CHARMING MAN, CALL ME, YOU ARE HIRED Read it and weep – then copy. 6. SUSHI AND THE FUTURE OF BRANDS Building your brand is wor k. It doesn’t end with a wr itten strategy, it star ts there. 7. ONE OF THESE 99 WORDS COULD SLAUGHTER YOUR EMAILS Know the words that could stop you from making money you deser ve. 8. HOW TO SELL TO BUSINESSES (PLUS A TIP ON DEALING WITH GEEKS) If you treat people as people, you’ll do well.
9. WHY THE PROFIT IS SELDOM IN THE FIRST SALE To understand the life time value of your customer is magic . To ignore it is a sin. 10. NEVER FORGET WHY IT IS CALLED DIRECT RESPONSE Take advantage of per sonal direct media. 11. A BUSINESS LESSON FROM A FREE BIRD Don’t lock your self into long difficult contracts. 12. DO NOT LET NEW MEDIA FOOL YOU Not ever ything that clicks is gold. 13. STATISTICS TO MAKE YOU THINK... "If your head is in the refr igerator and your feet are in the oven, on average your temperature is nor mal." 14. GUT CHECK Gut instinct is an expensive commodity. 15. COULD THESE TIPS IMPROVE YOUR NEWSLETTER? The best newsletter is personal - almost like a secret whispered only to you. 16. 26 REASONS WHY A PROMISING AD FAILED Nothing fails like success . 17. STRATEGY VERSUS TACTICS “The best long-term profits are made up of a succession of shor t-term profits .” 18. MORE ON LAYOUT – MAGIC COLORS AND PICTURES THAT LIFT RESPONSE Design is not always common sense. 19. THE ONLY WAY TO RESOLVE EVERY MARKETING QUESTION If you don’t ask people to reply you will never know how good the ad is . But many people are scared of being put to the test in the only way that matter s – through measurement.
20. GETTING A JOB CALLS FOR GOOD OLD FASHIONED MARKETING. This is the most popular post I have ever put up. Getting a job is an old fashioned mar keting job. 21. HOW NOT TO GO BROKE The road to failure is paved with success . 22. YOU HAVE A BRAND – WHY THROW IT AWAY? There are two things mar keters love to do: build their brands - and kill them. 23. HOW YOU MIGHT BEAT FAT BLUE CHIP FIRMS Do not forget to tell people what you're selling, big boy. 24. MAYBE YOU SHOULD IGNORE DIRECT MARKETING PR could get you there faster and cheaper. 25. HOW TO CREATE A GOOD SLOGAN – A GUIDE TO MASOCHISTS You don’t always need a slogan. Many would be better off without. 26. NEVER ASSUME IN BUSINESS Show your wor k to a stranger ; you’d be surpr ised how that could improve it. 27. DON’T BE VAGUE – AN USUAL ADVERTISING LESSON FROM INDIA Precision matters more than you may think: this example brought in 7 ideal marr iage candidates . 28. BEWARE CHEAP DEALS ON BIG NUMBERS If you are not careful, you could lose your shirt on “must-do deals .” 29. DO YOU HAVE STRIPPERS BEHIND COUNTERS? Is your business exciting, fabulous and fantastic? Really? 30. ON FASHION “Fashion is a for m of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it ever y six months.” –Oscar Wilde
31. TO LIMIT YOURSELF, IS TO LIMIT YOUR PROFITS Don’t get trapped in one medium or form of mar keting. 32. TRY SOME DONKEY (OR SCHNAUZER) BUSINESS There are no small par ts in theatre, only small actor s. The same is tr ue in adver tising. 33. “EVERY TIME WE GET CREATIVE WE LOSE MONEY.” Fight to rein in your brilliant creative flair. 34. UNDERSTAND DIRECT BRAND-BUILDING Building your brand with direct mar keting could be more powerful (and cheaper) than conventional image adver tising. 35. HOW QUESTIONNAIRES COULD INCREASE YOUR SALES People love to give their opinions. You will love the profit you get from asking them. 36. WHERE TO FIND YOUR MISSING PROFITS (AGAIN) Regain your lost millions. 37. HOW NOT TO CHOOSE AN AGENCY The way some people to choose ad agencies is more destructive than you may think. 38. GO SMALL. IT COULD PAY OFF BIG A large adver t may please your ego – not your bottom line. 39. LESSONS FROM SELLING EXPENSIVE COMPLEX PRODUCTS AND SERVICES LIKE AIR PLANES, REAL ESTATE, SEMINARS AND LEGAL ADVICE Don’t let high pr ice dismay you. It’s just salesmanship. 40. WRITING THAT WORKS Make your wr iting – not your reader s – do the wor k. 41. “GO FOR THE KILL!” – A SIMPLE BUSINESS LESSON FROM THE GREAT DEPRESSION Your compelling headline is wasted if you don't go all out for a sale.
42. IS DISCOUNTING FATAL? The mistake that almost killed some of the wor ld's biggest brands 43. UPSIDE-DOWN MARKETING Why is upside-down mar keting so popular? And is it killing your business? 44. THE ETERNAL BATTLE BETWEEN SALES AND MARKETING Bad results – whose fault? 45. HOW CLAIRE, JOSE AND I NEARLY SOLD THE UNSELLABLE Ignore the experts. It could be the most profitable move you make this year. 46. WHAT SOME FAMOUS COPYWRITERS TAUGHT ME Str ictly for those interested in copy. 47. WHERE THE MONEY LEAKS AWAY Beware or ganised briber y. 48. “I WOULDN’T DO THAT IF I WERE YOU” And 21 other common ways to sink your fir m. 49. RECIPE FOR EXPLOSIVE RESULTS? Questions , questions, questions . 50. WHAT LITTLE I KNOW ABOUT MANAGEMENT Avoid managing by fear. 51. ADVICE ON BRANDS Back by popular request. BONUS IDEA: DISCOVER THE HIDDEN MARKETING POWER OF EASY TO MAKE VIDEOS
I N T RO D U C T I O N “Oil discovered in hell.” DO YOU LIKE TO THINK FOR YOURSELF? Or do you prefer to follow the crowd? Why should you want to think for yourself? Why not do what everyone else does? Benjamin Graham, who trained the world’s greatest investor Warren Buffett, told a story over 40 years ago that illustrates why it’s not always a good idea: An oil prospector, moving to his heavenly reward, was met by St. Peter with bad news. “You’re qualified for residence,” said St. Peter, “but, as you can see, the compound reserved for oil men is reserved. There’s no way to squeeze you in.” After thinking a moment, the prospector asked if he might say just four words to the present occupants. That seemed harmless to St. Peter, so the prospector cupped his hands and yelled: “Oil discovered in hell.” Immediately the gate to the compound opened and all the oil men marched out to head for the nether regions. Impressed, St. Peter invited the prospector to move in and make himself comfortable. The prospector paused. “No,” he said, “I think I’ll go along with the rest of the boys. There might be some truth to that rumour after all.” 12
You see, the temptation to follow the crowd is almost overwhelming. It removes the need for hard work and study. But only through studying what has happened in the past can you start to think properly - for all sound decisions derive from relevant knowledge That is what these marketing ideas give you. I hope you find them helpful and applicable They are based on practice, not theory. Often in difficult situations, in small and large markets across the world. They have cost millions to uncover and took me five decades to gather. I’ve often said I wished I had known about them sooner. I mean it. I would have been spared many sleepless nights. And a depressingly vast amount of money. You have my unconditional money back guarantee: if you put them in action they will work. And I hope you do, because this book is an action book. There are enough lemmings happily following any new fad or trend over the nearest cliff. The current one is social media. Why not join those who are guided by what works?
Drayton Bird P.S. This is the second of these books. You can get the first here: http://draytonbird.net/51ideas/
H O W YO U C A N G E T M O S T O U T OF THIS (AND ANY) BOOK Please read these instructions carefully before you begin. You’ll save time and learn more. “There are two motives for reading a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.” - philosopher Bertrand Russell DID YOU KNOW that according to a University of Waterloo study you forget 80% of what you read after 24 hours? For example if you read a 200 page book today, you can recall only about 40 pages of it tomorrow. But it doesn’t stop there. It gets worse. After a month you may remember only 2% - 3% of what you have read – less than 9 pages out of 200. Imagine how much time and money you waste! But luckily you can improve your comprehension and even save time with few simple learning tricks. Please read these instructions completely before you continue. How to extract the most out of what you read in the least time: 1. Skim the book through quickly: “flirt” with it; see how it’s written. 2. Preview every page, a second or two per page – no more. 14
3. Read the book from beginning to end. Accelerate on familiar parts. Slow down on important parts. (Don’t do any heavy note taking at this point. That’s for later.) 4. Briefly review what you read. Just as you previewed the material earlier. 5. Now complete your notes. You can’t make intelligent notes until you have read the book completely, because how could you know in advance what really is going to be important to you?
Relax! Simply follow these study tips to get a maximum return on your investment in this book.
6. Review. You’d be surprised how much you have already forgotten. Even a 5 minute review could be enough lift your recall back to 70% to 80%. Reviewing is the key to a strong memory.
If you follow these steps, you will be able to cut your reading time and improve your comprehension and recall. Why? Because just as in advertising, repetition pays. Now you have hammered the information into your head several times, so it will stay there longer. But this process doesn’t take you much longer than reading the “old” way. It may take less. Here’s why. When you do a little warm ups with the text, your brain adjusts to what you are studying. Just as you warm up your muscles before sports. Makes sense? You will read faster because you are now more familiar with the text. And by previewing, reviewing and intelligent note taking you will remember more of what you have read. 15
What’s more you can now quickly review your notes, so your investment keeps paying off in the future – instead of vanishing from your mind like a shadow in the night. And if you really want to boost your learning, write answers to these two questions before you begin: 1. Why am I reading this? 2. What do I want to get out of it? By doing that you are giving your mind a sense of direction and purpose Please begin now and remember: to get the best results studying should be fun – not a chore. So I hope you find what follows not just helpful but entertaining.
MY RATHER EXTRAVAGANT 100% MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE Some of these ideas may seem almost laughably simple. Some may relate to you and your plans; some may not. You probably already know a few – yet one of the most common comments I have received about them is, “I knew that, and we should be doing it, but we’re not.” It’s so easy to overlook even the most obvious things, isn’t it? I do all the time. The important thing is that every one of the Helpful Ideas in this book is based on experience, not theory. One of the world’s most successful direct marketers told me that not knowing about one of the ideas in the first of these books cost him at least a million dollars. Put them to the test for yourself. If your profits don’t increase by 100 times what you paid for the book, I’ll give you your money back – gladly, if a little puzzled.
HELPFUL IDEA 1: Battle tested recession survival strategy for the rest of us Force your marketing to make money – by measuring. Marketing is one of the first things to feel the axe when times get tough – and no wonder if you have no idea what it's doing for you. DO THE FOLLOWING FIGURES interest you? ● By moving nine words from the bottom to the top of a form, a loan firm increased the number of applications by 240% ● Adding two words in an email subject line doubled the number of enquiries about a telephone service ● Putting someone's face in a letter about investment increased sales by 20% ● Removing one piece from a direct mail piece for a bank increased return on investment by 92% ● If those figures don't interest you, stop reading now. If they do, keep going. Why managers cut marketing When recession strikes, where do managers save money? Well, very logically they cut out things that don't seem essential. Often that means marketing ... a rather vague discipline which often seems to ask you to spend a lot of money for an unquantifiable return. This is because very little marketing is conducted in a measurable 17
way. Yet all the really successful marketers - Procter & Gamble for instance - measure everything. What is more on today's dominant medium, the internet, everything can be measured. If you look at some of the world's most successful firms Amazon, eBay or American Express, for example - they rely entirely or almost entirely on direct marketing. Moreover, all internet marketing is direct marketing. That is, messages reach people directly via email, or they go directly to it when they go to a web page. There are many other kinds of direct marketing - direct mail, mail order advertising, SMS messages for instance. And today the overwhelming majority of selling messages direct you to a website, giving you the chance to build a direct relationship. But what they all have in common is they make it easy to gauge what you get for your money. Until you force every single message or action to prove, as far as possible, its value as an investment, you are conducting what I call kindergarten marketing. Why it makes sense There are three reasons, all simple, why direct marketing makes sense. ● First, as I have explained, by coding all your messages you can measure your results, and when times are tough you need to know what results your investment is producing. ● Second, it is an ideal way to target and acquire the right kind of customers - the ones most likely to spend the most money. ● And third, it is the perfect way to retain those customers for longer - and the customer you have got is from 3 to 8 times more profitable than an identical person who is not a customer. In short, direct marketing, whether online or in traditional 18
media allows you to spend your money where you will get the greatest return on investment. But there is another reason which I first pointed out to an audience in India in 1987. Direct marketing is the closest thing yet to perfect marketing. Quite a claim, so let me explain. What is marketing? Marketing is defined by the British Chartered Institute of Marketing as: "Identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably". There is another, simpler definition given by an American millionaire many years ago who said: "Find out what people want and need, and give it to them - and you'll get rich". Peter Drucker wrote that the aim of marketing is to "know and understand the customer so well that the product fits him and sells itself." This is, if you agree with him, perfect marketing. And it is what direct marketing does better than any other method. To give a simple approach, first through the use of postal, telephone and internet questionnaires it can establish very cheaply what people say they want. But as we all know, what people think they want or say they are often not what they really want and not a good guide to what they will actually do. That is why a lot of research is very misleading. Direct marketing solves that problem by clearly answering the BIG question: will they buy it? It does so by asking them to do so. As my old boss David Ogilvy put it, "General advertisers can only guess. Direct marketers know." By testing different messages you can see what works and what doesn't. 19
Why guess when you can know? As a result I can tell you the answers to all sorts of interesting questions. Like what usually happens if you run long copy rather than short copy. How long you should have a phone number on the TV screen if you want to get the most replies. Where your headline is most likely to get read - and so on. Peter Drucker also said, "The perfect advertisement is one of which the reader can say, 'This is for me, and me alone.'" By definition no mass advertisement can be perfect; but one which is addressed to individuals via direct mail or e-mail can be. So it is worth reflecting that the light at the end of the advertising tunnel may be that of an oncoming train called direct marketing. You can get run over, get out of the way, or get on board: but whatever you do, don't ignore it. It is already much bigger than traditional advertising. And almost all traditional advertising incorporates some means of response. So if you’re not fluent in this discipline, you really should be.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
Direct marketing is an ideal way to target and acquire the right kind of customers – the ones most likely to spend the most money. The customer you have got is from 3 to 8 times more profitable than an identical person who is not a customer. Spend your time and money where it does most good. Remember to key your every message in every media to track your results. There is no excuse for NOT measuring – especially online where it’s so easy.
HELPFUL IDEA 2: A CRM checklist. Or a test: are you sober? CRM systems can help or hurt you. Don’t fall for marketing automation mania. Many have lost a fortune trying to make computers do all the work. But computers can only do what you tell them. Not the opposite. And no system can think for you. DO YOU BELIEVE in magic? Marketers tend to. They are suckers for miracle cures - and here's why. We all know our customers are lazy. That's why the words "quick" and "easy" always increase readership of any headline. Show them how they can do something - lose weight, learn a language - with less effort, and you probably have a winning proposition. You must package it well, though - preferably with an impressive name. So it's not listening to and repeating words and phrases; it's "programmed learning". That makes you feel you're doing something important, doesn't it? Why smart people do dumb things Guess what? Marketers are just as lazy as customers - hardly surprising, as they are customers every day. Most (as I learned from asking them to define it in many countries) are too lazy to 21
even learn what marketing is - let alone what "direct marketing" means. Anyhow, that word "direct" ... doesn't it sound distressingly close to direct mail? And we all know what that means, don't we? Junk. Ugh. That certainly doesn't sound very flattering, does it? CRM sounds much better. People love it. Though I cannot for the life of me see how it differs from what I've always done. Mind you, it took me about nine years to get any good at what I do, whereas a few years ago Oracle's ads said: "Start today and have global customer relationship management in 60 days." Sounds a lot better than hard work, doesn't it? Mr. Super CRM would whiz into your office and take care of everything for you! No wonder it took off. Many firms started CRM divisions before even knowing what the heck it really was - or meant to their business. No wonder that a few years after it first came into fashion, the US magazine Advertising Age reported that over 70% of firms who tried it said it didn't work. I shall discuss why in a moment, with some good, practical advice you can act on from somebody who has specialised in this field.
A little reminder that miracles only happen in the movies.
The word 'loyalty' is often used about CRM. But as a former chairman of Marks & Spencer observed, "Customers are not loyal 22
nor should they be. We have to earn their loyalty every day". His firm forgot that and it nearly ruined them. Sober people know the obvious: nobody sane wants a relationship with their bank or supermarket. They have enough trouble getting on with their families. And a "programme" won't cure any dodgy relationship.
The intelligent use of data does pay. Here is a good example. Ocado sent my partner Marta this, based on things she had bought before.
CRM schemes fail above all because your business lives or dies on its attitude to customers. And a quick fix doesn't change attitudes. So here is check list for you. It was put together by my associate Peter Hardingham, who worked with me on and off for 20 years, and revised by me because I interfere with everything that leaves my office.
Is CRM right for you? A 15-minute quiz Step 1 Unless you have answered these four questions, there is absolutely NO point in boarding the good ship CRM. ● Do you really know what your customers want? ● Do you know what they think you promise them? Are they the same things? ● Can you clearly identify these desires and beliefs, before and after they have become customers? ● How will you find out? Do so before anything else! Step 2 Set realistic expectations, and deliver what you promise or you can end up worse off than if you never started. ● Can you deliver what your customers want - and, just as important, what they think you promise? ● If not, what can you deliver now, and in the future? ● If it is in the future, how quickly? And how will you keep them happy in the interim? Step 3 A customer in the dark is an angry customer. A customer in the know can end up buying more. ● At what points in the buying process will you tell your customers what they want to know? ● About their order? ● To reassure them? Step 4 ● Can you identify the points from step 3 in every customer transaction? 24
Are you sure your IT team can deliver? If you have retail outlets, can the staff get this information - quickly and easily?
Step 5 Many firms still have separate databases for customer and transactional information If your marketing database can't access both, you're in trouble. ● Can you record what happens at all every point in the transaction? ● On a database all those who may need to know can access? The moment of truth. Did you answer the first 5 steps mostly 'yes'? If so, you stand a chance of CRM working for you. If you said mostly 'no', stop right now and get it right. If you're talking to CRM consultants politely ask them to leave. Their time is expensive, and you'll lose your shirt. Step 6 - start the ball rolling ● Tell your customers what you plan to do ● Manage their expectations ● Involve, motivate and train all your staff ● Make sure everyone - particularly retail staff - gets the same respect Step 7 - attend to detail Remind yourself what you've promised, and deliver it. Often, essential processes are not part of firms' structures. They don't appreciate what skills and structures you need. ●
If this is an incentivised scheme, how will points, miles or 25
other benefits be allocated, captured, and communicated to the customer? How will redemptions be handled?
Step 8 Most customers won't tell you they are unhappy. They tell their friends - and walk away. ● Set up a monitoring process in your company ● Make sure you identify any weak links that appear in the chain Step 9 ● Ask your customers how they think you're doing ● Loyalty can improve just by making it easy for them to tell you what they think ● Allow your customers to suggest improvements. It's the best research you'll ever get Step 10 - it doesn't stop Don't imagine this is something you just "put in place". ● Keep listening to your customers ● Keep learning from your customers ● Keep refining your system ● Keep training and re-training your people When should you refer to these questions? When your IT director says, "We've got this wonderful CRM software..." When the board says, "That's a brave move you're making there, this CRM stuff..." Just take out this quiz, and re-read it. You'll know more 26
than many CRM consultants. You might even keep your job. P. S. I quoted Ocado earlier. They fail to do one essential, very simple thing with their database. I believe it is costing them millions. P.P.S. If, like many, you have fallen in love with social media, you might end up making the same mistake as the CRM groupies.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
CRM is a diary of customer’s life with you – and only useful if you use it to help them. It is not something you set up overnight. If you think CRM is right for you, get going.
HELPFUL IDEA 3: How NOT to choose an agency If you want to waste your money and time have a beauty parade of prospective agencies. If you want results, do what smart marketers do: test. There’s a much quicker and smarter way to choose the right agency than going for the people you like. Test your candidates. With real work. ONCE UPON A TIME, I used to bang out 6 or 7 articles a month for sundry marketing magazines around the world. Now I write two or three times as many, only most are called blogs. Someone once asked me how I managed to find things to write about. "No problem," I replied. "I just have to flick through any marketing publication and I'm bound to find something absurd or stupid to comment on within minutes." This came back to me when a while ago day I read with some amusement how a man who worked for me years ago had chosen a new agency for his big account. Here's what made me laugh. 1. The whole process took over six months. 2. It was a "five-way pitch". 3. The agency he chose was staffed entirely by people he had worked with before. Dr. Johnson said of sex: "the expense is damnable, the position ridiculous, and the pleasure fleeting." This came to mind when considering this pitch, with three other thoughts. 28
First I wondered on what criteria the agency was selected. It was hard to tell from what I read. It seemed that the winners had "the right mix of planning and creative skills" - and I should hope so. I was at least glad that the usual reason - "personal chemistry" - didn't creep in; after all, if you've worked with people already that should be no problem. I also wondered: how did the people feel in the agencies that weren't stuffed with this chap's pals? (By the way, don't go running away with the idea that this is one of those sad sour grapes pieces – for seven years my colleagues and I worked for this firm's chief competitors, so my interest is purely professional). The third thing I wondered was: how did this tortuous process affect what was going on in terms of marketing? Just imagine all the meetings, the jargon-crammed documents written and read, the time spent seeing and discussing all the initial list of likely agencies before winnowing them down to a short list. Then think of all the interminable presentations - which merge into one big blur of smiling faces and PowerPoint shows, believe me. I imagine, too, that the people who tell you which agencies to see got paid handsomely for their time. Anyhow, in the end, what happened? An agency was chosen on the basis of people knowing each other and an idea that seemed plausible enough to make them all think or hope will work. What might all this money, time and energy have produced if devoted to marketing? I’ll explain what I mean by that in a moment. Think about it. STOP THE INSANITY The one thing I'll wager did not happen is the one thing that should have. The one thing - and the only thing - that matters. 29
They should have conducted tests. It is insane to choose an agency for any other reason than results in a business where you live or die on them - which this one does. For a lot less, and a lot quicker the client could have asked a few agencies to create some material to test - and paid them, too. By now he would have an agency - and something that worked. But what did actually happen? There was probably another few months spent while they did all this with the chosen agency - without doing the intelligent thing - testing their work against others. Since the guy used to work for me I hoped (though not too earnestly) it worked out for them all - because if not, the pleasure would indeed be fleeting - just like the tenure of the average marketing director.* And I have just explained the chief reason why. What's more, what I'm talking about can be adapted to any kind of marketing, not just the direct kind. An old friend once worked for Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon. I asked him what Revson was like to work for. "He was a nightmare" said my friend. "They used to drag marketing guys out on stretchers with bleeding ulcers after working with him for three months. But I'll tell you one thing. He tested everything - even the price." * Since I first drafted this the firm in question has staggered along, with a lot of financial woe. So how SHOULD you choose an agency? Having got that bit of spleen about pitching off my teeny little concave chest, you may wonder how you should choose an agency. This is what I think. Do your research. Look out for work you like that has got measurable results - and only talk to agencies who get results. Ignore those that just win awards unrelated to measurable 30
results. And be damn careful to look into the basis on which they say they got those results. Look at agency websites. Try to find good ones (not easy most try to be too bloody clever for their own good - or yours). Look at who their clients are. Look at their work, if any, results if any - and client testimonials. Ring up their clients and ask what they think Make a short list, no more than 5, preferably less. Go to their offices. You won't learn a damn thing sitting in yours. Ask them to take you through one or two success stories and a failure. Get them to explain what went right and why - and vice versa. Don't let them get away with vague waffle; make them be precise. If they say they don't have any failures, walk out. Explain what you want. See what they say. Does it make sense? Do you like them? Yes: it is best to do business with people you like. Ask them who precisely will work on your business and what they will do. Make sure you meet them, not just some flash bullshitters with fancy titles. Now, choose the two or at most the three agencies you like best, and ask them to create something to test. Pay them. Do you work for nothing? Doesn't that make more sense than having a committee of noddies making the decision?
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
● ● ●
Buying advertising services is like buying anything else. First, you test. Don’t fall for hip offices or sexy account handlers. Buy brains, not looks. If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
HELPFUL IDEA 4: What a dead dictator can teach you about marketing Fame may help sales, but it’s not everything. You need proof. Perhaps the easiest way to increase your advertising’s selling power is simply to add more proof: testimonials, as seen on TV, mentions in press, experts’ statements, associations’ favorite. Research. Specific sources. Faces of happy customers... DO YOU RECOGNISE this man?
I only ask because one of my colleagues didn't recognise him. So in case you didn't, look at this.
Yes. It's the late glorious leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein. 32
Where did he go wrong? Why is he dead? Above all, because he made one fatal mistake. He told the truth. But nobody believed him, because he didn't prove it was true. He said "I have no deadly weapons" - which was true. Nobody believed him because he wouldn't let UN weapons inspectors look everywhere they wanted to - which would have shown he was not lying. Whereas Bush and Blair lied. But they got away with it because Saddam never proved they were lying. I weep to think of the countless innocents slaughtered as a result - I spent quite a while worrying because my stepson did two tours in Iraq as a U.S. marine. Now, your response rates may not be a matter of life and death. But your business or your career may depend on them. So don't imagine that people will believe what you say just because you know it's true. As David Ogilvy remarked, "Why should anyone take the word of an anonymous copywriter? I sometimes think the most underrated weapons of all in our business are testimonials, guarantees, independent verification proof. Are you using them enough?
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ● ●
The more proof you have, the better you do. Truth isn’t enough. Prove it. If a well known name is all you needed to get rich, wouldn’t Hitler be the world’s most profitable brand?
HELPFUL IDEA 5: If you write well as this charming man, call me, you are hired Read it and weep – then copy. It’s surprising how much better your copy will be if you try to be a little more human. Sounds elementary? The most powerful things usually are. Here’s a superb piece of personal communication that sells. SOME TIME AGO I did a seminar for 11 Virgin Wines people. They said they learned a lot (8 "fabulous" ratings, 3 "very good") but I learned a lot, too. I always do from one man who was there, and who is just brilliant. Not surprising, because he founded the business - and before that ran Virgin Finance. Now he has started another business, Naked Wines which is going through the roof. After the seminar, he sent me this e-mail. Read it and weep, as I did. Why is so little of my stuff as good as his? But when I read something this good, I wonder what I can learn - and copy From: Rowan Gormley [mailto: [email protected]
] Sent: 12 July 2007 10:03 To: Drayton Bird Subject: Help me keep my job. Please Dear Drayton, I would like to offer you a case of sensational, very hard to find wines, 34
at half-price, a ludicrously low £3.17 a bottle. Why? Well, some unkind people think that I spend all my time drinking great wines, in gorgeous places, with delightful people. And I resent that. Probably because it is so true. The only bad thing, is that the best winemakers are the worst salesman - and the best salesman are lousy winemakers. And so to do my job (which is to find you wines that are better than you can buy at your local supermarket, for less money, by the way) I have to ignore the slick salesman with their massive marketing budgets. To do my job properly, I have to discover the little guys. The winemakers who are too passionate about making brilliant wine to worry about how they are going to sell it. The kind of people who will get up at 2am to pick grapes by the full moon, to get the extra ounce of freshness. But won't get out of bed to see me when I come knocking on the door. To get their attention (and therefore their wine) we decided to invite a group of our "in the know" customers to club together. After all a few thousand people knocking on the door are going to get a lot more attention than little old me. That initial band of 2000 customers has now grown to 30,000 members. Here is what they have to say about being a member of our Club. "I had no idea there were so many delicious wines that I had never tried" "I am blown away. Just a fantastic service" So what is in it for you? 35
Well to start with, we would like to offer you a welcome case at half the normal price. A saving of £40. Why? The more members we have, the better we can buy, the better we buy the more members we can have. And then every quarter, after tasting our way through literally thousands of wines, and we will pick out the absolute best for our members. We will write to you to tell you about the wines we have selected. You can then change the case in any way you want (more of this, less of that, or even no case at all). OR sit back and relax, and we will ship them to you. And the best bit...after you have tried the wines, members get a minimum of15% the price that the general public pay. So you get the lowest possible prices, on the wines you have chosen, out of the wines we have chosen, out of the 1000's that we have tasted. Is there a catch? Let me think....er....no. This is not one of those ghastly book clubs. If you don't want the wines, all yo u have to do is say so. We will refund your money instantly, without fuss, if you are not happy with the wine, the service or anything else. We will even come and collect the wines off your doorstep if you want us to. So what makes this so good? 1. Great subject line. Surprising, makes you want to know more. And everyone likes to help. 2. Starts with an irresistible offer. 3. Bags of charm - makes you laugh. 4. Relevant surprise: the contrast between those who sell and those who make is so clever and appropriate. 5. That theme is carried through. 36
6. Convincing when you read about the growth of the number of customers plus the testimonials. 7. Then a wonderful wrap up that explains what a great deal it is. 8. And a great guarantee. Marvellous stuff! If you study his approach, you'll do well, I promise. PS A confession: "I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was" is a joke I once had on my business cards. The truth is that my seminars always get very good ratings - but the Virgin rating was unusually high. I'll have to work hard to beat it. But if you want an intimate seminar like that, which was in our rather cramped offices, let me know at: [email protected]
, give me time to prepare something special for you, and I'll try and improve. P.P.S. The copy I just quoted was in text with no pictures. Later they tested the same approach in HTML with pictures. It didn’t work as well. Text usually does better than fancy visuals in emails to prospects.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ● ●
To improve your ad, try to improve your offer first. You can be charming without being a comedian. The most effective communication is personal: from me to you.
HELPFUL IDEA 6: Sushi and the future of brands Building your brand is work. It doesn’t end with a written strategy, it starts there. Here’s what you can learn about marketing from eating sushi. WHAT CAN A BOX OF SUSHI teach you about the future of brands? A lot of people think I lunch every day in smart restaurants, me being a "guru" and all. Alas, not true - though I used to, and don't regret a drunken moment of it. The other day, I had sushi from Pret a Manger. Years ago one of their founders came to a seminar I ran for the Institute of Direct Marketing, so I would love to say their astounding success owes something to me. But I doubt it. Because what they do well besides bloody good food is attend to detail - and they do a complete selling job, especially to the most important people. Who are these important people? They are, as I'm sure you know, their customers. Not their prospects. And not just any customers. The ones who just bought and carried their food to the table, or in my case to the office. If you could read the little black and gold messages on my lunch, you would see that one tells why their wasabi - the ginger mustard you eat with sushi - is a rather muddy colour, unlike the bright green you get with most sushi. It's because they don't use, as they say, "a colouring called Brilliant Blue E133. Yuk!" - and how right they are to tell that 38
to their customers, many of whom care more than average about their health. The other message is all about the ingredients and even the fact that the boxes are Japanese. So here's my helpful idea – with a rider: It is the piling on of convincing detail at the right time to the most important people that builds a great brand. It is also what leads to copy that works. Every reason you can give to someone to buy your product is a sales made that you wouldn’t have made otherwise. But when those reasons are given to people who have already bought – and who therefore are your best future prospects – they are a powerful weapon indeed.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
When you have figured your brand’s positioning on paper, don’t assume your job is done. Why not go and buy an Innocent smoothie, read the copy on their bottle, and think about it.
HELPFUL IDEA 7: One of these 99 words could slaughter your emails Know the words that could stop you from making money you deserve. Things that work in direct mail usually work on email - but there are exceptions. Unfortunately some of the most powerful sales words like FREE may sometimes get you in trouble. PROBABLY THE MOST SUCCESSFUL creative formula in any medium is 'problem-solution.' In most thrillers, the plot revolves around problems being solved - e.g., the hero is falsely accused of a crime and will be executed if he doesn't find the real murderer. In classical music, the fulfillment comes when the music moves from an unsatisfying dissonance to a final consonance where everything seems to come together. In marketing messages you have the before and after too: lined face, smooth skin; dirty floor, clean floor; poor, rich - and so on. You see it all the time in headlines and TV commercials. Generations of copywriters (like me) have worked like mad to devise good problem solution headlines. And they worked very well in internet subject lines - to start with. But spam has killed many of them. Here are 99 words or phrases that can stop your messages getting through, compiled by Jordan Ayan of SubscriberMail. Jordan is a Guru, just like people keep telling me I am - but at least he has the right kind of name for the job. 1. 100% free 40
2. 50% off 3. act now 4. all words that relate to sex or pornography 5. all words that related to cures or medication 6. amazing 7. anything that looks like you are YELLING 8. apply now 9. as seen 10. as seen on Oprah 11. as seen on TV 12. avoid 13. be your own boss 14. buy 15. call now 16. cash bonus 17. cialis 18. click here 19. collect 20. compare 21. consolidate 22. contains $$$ 23. contains word "ad" 24. credit 25. Dear Friend 26. discount 27. don't delete 28. double your anything 29. double your income 30. e.x.t.r.a. Punctuation 31. earn 32. earn $ 33. earn extra cash 34. easy terms 35. eliminate debt 36. extra income 41
37. fast cash 38. financial freedom 39. for only 40. for you 41. FREE 42. free 43. free access 44. free gift 45. free info 46. free instant 47. free offer 48. free samples! 49. friend 50. g a p p y t e x t 51. get 52. get out of debt 53. hello 54. herbal 55. hidden 56. home based 57. hot 58. information you requested 59. instant 60. levitra 61. life insurance 62. limited time 63. loans 64. lose 65. lose weight 66. lower your mortgage rate 67. lowest insurance rates 68. make money 69. medicine 70. mortgage 71. multi level marketing 42
72. notspam 73. now only 74. numerical digits at the end 75. offer 76. online degree 77. online marketing 78. online pharmacy 79. only 80. open 81. opportunity 82. promised you 83. refinance 84. removes 85. reverses 86. satisfaction 87. search engine listings 88. serious cash 89. starting with a dollar amount 90. stop or stops 91. teen 92. you're a winner! 93. undisclosed recipient 94. valium 95. vicodin 96. winner 97. work from home 98. xanax 99. your family
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
This list could be obsolete by the time you read this, because technology changes every day. Test, test, test.
HELPFUL IDEA 8: How to sell to businesses (plus a tip on dealing with geeks) If you treat people as people, you’ll do well. If you struggle to sell to businesses, you could making this common – almost universal – mistake. I DON'T KNOW IF YOU READ the agony column in papers and magazines but I have my own. I get lots of questions from people, and just occasionally I come up with an intelligent answer. One is quite common, in one guise or another. So when a reader from IBM in Slovakia asked me it, I thought I'd show you what I said. Here's her e-mail: What do you think about being emotional regarding IT people in B2B - managers/geeks, etc. I wrote an e-mail and asked around what people thought ...I tried to use emotional words balanced with dry technical "must be there" descriptions.... And many of the comments were a bit like: "Don't assume that IT people are stupid...they hate such words... So as an expert what do you say? I replied: IT people are (as far as we can see) quite human. 44
They love, hate, laugh, fear, hope, have ambitions - and so on. We've done a fair amount of work for a very big firm called Tekronix on their copy. I actually did a seminar for them in Oregon. They sell highly sophisticated testing and measuring equipment - similar types to the IT folk - and what we suggested seemed to work very well. We find that combining emotional and practical benefits works, and it pays to speak in plain English, not techno-gloop - but you must be very clear and strong on the practical features. In fact that excellent US expert Bob Bly states that he has found this is one kind of business where features matter more than benefits. As to whether IT - or any other people - are stupid or clever, here is one fact and one golden rule. 1. Some are stupid, some are clever but you need to persuade all of them. 2. Therefore, write so clearly that even the stupid ones understand because the clever ones will too. Also, do what you would in normal life when talking to someone. Be polite. Don't make it obvious that you think someone may be stupid. In copy the magic phrase is, "As you know" at the start of a sentence where you say something everyone should know - but perhaps many don't. What about jargon? Use enough to let people know that you’re on their wavelength, or they won’t respect you. Just to end this on a suitable note, here's an IT joke you may like. 45
A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts: "Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?" The man below says: "Yes, you're in a hot air balloon, hovering 30 feet above this field." "You must work in IT," says the balloonist. "I do," replies the man. "How did you know?" "Well," says the balloonist, "everything you have told me is technically correct, but it's no use to anyone." The man below says, "You must work in management." "I do," replies the balloonist, "but how did you know?" "Well," says the man, "you don't know where you are, or where you're going, but you expect me to be able to help. You're in the same position you were before we met, but now it's my fault."
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
Even geeks are people, although it could be sometimes hard to believe. Even bosses are people, although it could be sometimes harder to believe. Write so clearly that even the stupid will understand - because the clever will too. A common mistake in selling to businesses is to use too much jargon, not too little.
HELPFUL IDEA 9: Why the profit is seldom in the first sale To understand the lifetime value of your customer is magic. To ignore it is a sin. How one man went to jail before he understood this secret of success. "THE DEVIL HAS ALL the best tunes" - old saying. I hope this isn't going to shock or surprise you, but you probably know already that if you want to know how to sell online, the people who know most are those who sell 'adult' material. However, I'm not talking about that today. I'm talking about this ad, or rather the business that ran it, from which you can take note of something simple but important. This ad was sent to me by Lawrence Bernstein whom you can reach at http://www.infomarketingblog.com Lawrence runs a service any serious creative person can benefit from - he has a file of great ads going back 80 years, all of which teach important lessons. The man in the ad, Ralph Ginzburg, He went to jail but came back as a financial newsletter publisher was - back in the Swinging '60's - a who understood the value of a long pioneer in two wildly different fields term customer. 'adult material' and investment advice. I suspect his lewd offerings were far milder that what you see in the Daily Sport every day, but after he got out of jail, he 47
started Moneysworth, which offered investment and financial advice.. In this case, the lesson is not so much about the ad, but about three facts: 1. His recruitment advertising never made any money 2. His newsletter never made any money 3. He made his money out of the things he sold to his subscribers This means he knew how much money he could afford to lose on getting customer, because he knew what they would buy eventually and what their purchases would make him. If you’re curious about such things, I can tell you that each person who gets my helpful ideas is (at the time of writing) likely to give me about £8 of profit over the next year. Some never buy anything for four years and then do – there is a lesson in that, too. The moral, and the helpful idea being: focus on the longterm value of a customer, not the profit from a sale.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ●
Think long term success, not one shot sales. Try to build your business around this principle.
HELPFUL IDEA 10: Never forget why it is called direct response Take advantage of personal direct media. (Oh, and don't be so damned idle). SOME TIME AGO, I GOT A MESSAGE from somebody called Marcus Noreply. He (or it, if it was a machine that was talking to me) was promising me that I would Start Generating New Sales Today. Here's the message: Dear Drayton Bird As you may the new buzz term in direct marketing is "Pay Per Action", a markerting service that give your business the opportunity to enter into 24/7 bespoke targeted marketing campaigns Without the Risk. How does it work? A Pay Per Action Marketing account through C8W will allow your organisation to enter into regular scheduled marketing campaigns boosting both your brand and more importantly your sales. OK so whats the difference? the difference being that unlike more traditional methods where you pay for everything regardless of the result, with a Pay Per Action account you pay only for the acitivity generated and not the marketing itself. Therefore if for whatever reason the campaign was unsuccessful 49
then it would cost you nothing. What types of campaigns are included? As a C8W Pay Per Action customer you will be assigned a dedicated Marketing Consultant to assist you in building well presented and targeted direct mail campaigns that when delivered through the techniques detailed below will instantly start to generate new potential customers for your business. Services include: Traditional Direct Mail Telemarketing Email Marketing Fax Marketing Search Marketing Contact C8W UK today to find out how your business can start to benefit from Marketing Without The Risk! Please use the "Make Contact" link below to make contact with a C8W UK representative and begin the process of taking your sales and marketing programme to the next level. Yours sincerely, The Business Development Team C8W UK 0870 922 0584 Frankly, I would be very unlikely to do business with Marcus Noreply, for a number of reasons. The first is that these machines that spew out messages but give no name you can reply to irritate the hell out of me. The 50
whole point of direct response is that it gives you chance to build a relationship with people. And by people, I mean individuals. If I wish to talk to someone, I want to know who they are not a team, not an anonymous UK representative: a real live human being with a real name. I am not an eccentric in this; everyone is like that. A name increases response; it's that simple. A face will increase it further. A signature, further still. Next, if anyone wants me to use their services, they should show some slight dawning glimmers of competence. Consider the fact that the copy itself is very poor, full of jargon and clichés and makes neither a complete nor a persuasive argument. On top of that there are two literals, three grammatical errors and one missing word in it. Quite an achievement in 237 words. Even schoolchildren have heard of spell-check and know they should read their work before submitting it. Damned idle. And the shame of it all is that they have a very interesting promise. But why should I imagine they can sell for me if they can't sell themselves? Actually I've decided that illiteracy and sloppiness rule among these firms. Here's another one. Four mistakes in the first three paragraphs. Way to go, bozo! att: Drayton Bird Partnership Hi, Emedia produce Email Stationery for Companies, and we are interested in quoting for producing yours? The Email Stationery Emedia produce does not contain the images as all the image content of your template is embedded preventing any rejection from the recipients server and ensuring high speed travel. 51
The Email stationery we produce for companies, are the same e-letterheads that the large blue chips companies are now implementing (see examples http://emedia-solutions.co.uk/emailexample.htm ) providing a professional letterhead for your email correspondence to be sent out on while ensuring reliability in transit. We can also animate your existing logo to give that cutting edge presentation. (See samples http://www.emedia-solutions.co.uk/logo.htm ) You wouldn't dream of sending hard copy correspondence out without using your company's pre printed stationery, you can now send your emails out on your company's stationery 100% reliably and for a negligible cost. You provide us with your artwork, either in hard copy or an emailable version (We can lift artwork from your website if you like), we send you a proof, once approved, we provide a personal self installing download which will incorporate your letterhead into your emails, giving all your staffs correspondence a professional identity. If you would like to know more information or to place your order then use the website links below. If it is someone else within your organisation who would decide on this then please forward them this email. Email letterheads are compatible with Outlook and Outlook Express, the most widely used email software. You can select to use your E-letterhead or de-select whenever appropriate, once installed your E-letterhead can be used whenever you want. To find out more about this service use our website link below or give us a call on 01782 444821. At Emedia we also provide a whole host of other Web related services, 52
bespoke online ordering systems, Online Web traffic control systems, Online Training Systems, Online Contact database Management with automated emailing, if you would like us to explore how we can help your entire online presence then give us a call, and allow us to explore how we can help your business. Regards Adam Ward-Best So, having warned me they are sloppy by not writing decent English, they never really tell me the benefits of their services – and try to sell too many things anyhow. Any one of those mistakes can kill sales.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ●
Stand out by being personal. If you can't write decent English why should people think you can do anything else well? Tell people exactly what you offer. You may know but they don't. Many companies go great lengths to avoid any direct contact with their customers. Take advantage of their stupidity.
HELPFUL IDEA 11: A business lesson from Dumbledore Don’t lock yourself into long binding contracts. Procurement experts will hate me for this. The big agencies can’t imagine a world without them. But I recommend relationships with your business partners based on competence, not exclusive contracts. WHAT MATTERS MOST to your business? Tidy arrangements? Or a few extra million profit? A while ago I got myself up in fancy dress to do a seminar for a client who was holding a training programme in an old castle. You can see the result below; and before you ask, no, I'm not supposed to be an old ruined castle; the theme was Harry Potter, and I went as Professor Dumbledore. Afterwards I had a most revealing chat with someone there for whom we were working. I wanted to know the answer to something that had long puzzled me. The firm she works for is huge - a household name. Eight years ago I did some copy for them that saved one of their divisions from closing down. I was pleased as punch - in fact I may even have mentioned this vaguely in one Who's behind the of these messages. And naturally I beard? thought they would start sending us a torrent of highly paid work. 54
But no. It never happened. Why? They only call on me when they’re in a desperate hurry. The reason is simple. They have a mandate from their bosses that they are only to deal with a particular agency. God alone knows what it's cost them, as she said getting good selling stuff from that firm is like pulling teeth. She thought it was a bit stupid - and so do I. Bean-counters imagine that giving all your business to one firm creates economies of scale. What is often produces is bland stuff and what I can only call economies of quality Now, before you say, "God, Drayton's just having a good moan" - which I am - let me tell you how one of my former clients managed this. I hated it, but it's hugely sensible. They had continuing relationships with various suppliers. But they were never exclusive. When we started working for them ago we managed to come up with something that became their control mailing and door-to-door piece. I didn't write it - wish I had - one of my colleagues did, with a bit of interference from me. Every three months we tried to beat it. And every three months they commissioned someone else - sometimes two or three agencies - to try and beat it. Nobody ever did, for seven years. I hated this regular challenge. I wished they would do what the first client I mentioned does: give us all the jobs. But my goodness, it made us work hard! One of the keys is not just that you feel challenged. It is that once you have proved yourself, they keep using you. You don't have to win every time. But you are under pressure to try hard. Makes sense to me. Especially when you think carefully about the alternative, which means locking yourself out of who knows how many millions of profit - just for the sake of having tidy arrangements. P.S. Here’s the laugh. Since I wrote this that client decided to give all their business to one agency. That agency didn’t know 55
how to write letters – which are the crucial element in direct mail or door-to-door packages. The client relied on those media for most of their business. They have since gone broke, and the managing director has been fired.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
Exclusive deals could be more expensive than you think. Why not take a few grand and ask one or two new agencies to create you something to be tested? If they win, give them more business. Why should a tidy arrangement stand between you and your profits?
HELPFUL IDEA 12: Do not let new media fool you Not everything that clicks is gold. Will you fall for this? There’s always a revolution going on in the marketing industry. Now it’s the internet. That is why many say the principles of selling have changed. Where do you stand? HERE IS SOMETHING YOU and I have in common. We both love new things. Everyone does. One proof is that when John Caples tested which headlines work best 80 years ago, news headlines came in second after benefit headlines. And we're right to welcome new things. They can utterly transform your marketing. Radio and then TV did. Databases did. The computer did. Personalisation did. And now, on-line, or digital (choose which fancy expression you prefer) has done it. In the UK, on-line sales are growing year-on-year by 50 - 70 percent. Networks like Facebook and YouTube are only few years old - yet already valued in billions. By the way, when I first wrote this I confidently predicted such valuations were crazy. Facebook’s share offering proved it. But our love doesn't just lead to silly commercial decisions. It blinds us to an important truth. We assume that something new changes the rules. Nowhere is this more common than among people who are trying out online marketing. Two days before I drafted this I was chairing a conference about e-mail marketing. There were many examples shown. But the overwhelming majority ignored something very important. The power of a genuinely personal message. 57
Most examples shown were what I call "internet leaflets". Dell's stuff is typical, but there are many others. They are not personal. They really are like something someone hands you in the street or sticks through your letterbox. Silly. The internet is an intensely personal medium. There you are, sitting on your own with your own little, intimate screen. It is even more personal, I sometimes think, than the post. We have found that what works in this medium is exactly what works in direct mail. Messages that seem like letters from me to you. Advice from American expert Interestingly, though, as my friend Denny Hatch said in a note to me the morning I wrote this: "Nobody knows how to write a letter any more. Nobody dares be emotional and let emotions hang out. Maybe it's not politically correct to be emotional. But non-emotional letters do not work. The rational, analytical approach is what goes into the circular or flier. So if people write rational, analytical letters and the letters do not work, the logical extension of that thinking is that all letters do not work. An old direct mail rule: A mailing with a letter will always outpull a mailing without a letter. Certainly a premise worth testing in e-commerce. Betcha the old rule works." He's right - and no wonder. He is one of the great authorities in this business, with an excellent blog - www.infomarketingblog.com
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ●
Not everything that clicks, beeps, blinks or tweets is gold. People are the most interested in benefits, then news. If you master marketing, it doesn’t matter what the tools are. 58
HELPFUL IDEA 13: Statistics to make you think... "If your head is in the refrigerator and your feet in the oven, on average your temperature is normal." The internet has impressive numbers. And since it’s an engineer’s invention, you can be sure there will be lots of them. Useful - and also useless. STATISTICS ARE NOT THE BEST LOVED - or even trusted types of information. Politicians massage them, which sounds rather unsexy, and fittingly, a politician - the great Prime Minister Disraeli damned them most memorably. "There are three kinds of lies. Lies, damned lies - and statistics," he proclaimed. Most marketing fails, as far as I can see, because people (like customers) make their decisions on emotional grounds. That is why there are currently two dangerous, linked, trends. 1. People are pouring tons of money into on-line marketing – especially “social media” - without looking at either the context or the results because they feel it's the wave of the future. 2. They are neglecting "off-line" because they feel it is passé and unsexy. In a very perceptive piece, Clayton Makepeace pointed out why this is foolish - and his analysis starts with the numbers. 59
Here are some particularly relevant extracts. In 2007 Americans spend $98 billion (ninety-eight thousand million dollars) a year to buy things on the Web. But let's take a moment to put some of those numbers into perspective... First, divide the total amount of online retail sales by the number of U.S. web users and you'll see: The average web denizen spends only $38.71 online per month - less than the cost of a single tank of gas. And that money is being spread out over millions of websites. For every retail dollar, only about two-and-one-half cents is spent online. The other 97.5 cents is spent in the real world. While the value of retail purchases online is rising by 22.5 percent a year ... Internet companies are increasing their online budgets more than twice that fast; by a whopping 46.5 percent per year. (And that doesn't begin to include all the money that's spent offline to advertise websites on TV, radio and the other media.) Last year for example, online marketers spent about $13 billion on banner ads, float-ins, pop-ups and -unders, pay-per-click, AdSense and to rent e-mail lists. This year, they spent an estimated $19 billion - a $6 billion increase. But that extra $6 billion yielded only $22 billion in additional revenues. Deduct product and operating costs and, for many companies, that's pretty much a wash. In most cases, worse. These figures are out of date, and the volume of trade going on line is far greater. But one point Clayton made remains utterly relevant. Most online advertising is rubbish, which represents a huge opportunity for talented people who know what they're doing. 60
Yet here's the rub: marketers are almost all going to on-line experts for their creative. And what do they know about selling? Not nearly enough. But, as I have been pointing out to audiences all over the world for 12 years now, the medium may have changed, but the customers haven't - and they respond to the same old stimuli. In fact here's a fact you might like to think about. I use almost identical copy for e-mails as for direct mail, just as I use almost identical copy for door to door as for direct mail - and in both cases it works just as well. And I write the same way in my blog as I do in my printed articles. You might like to think about the implications of that. You might also like to read anything written by Clayton Makepeace. He was the highest paid copywriter in the world until he semi-retired. No wonder: around the time I first wrote this one of his little pieces pulled in $60,000 in four hours. Not to be sneezed at.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
Don’t be fooled by numbers. Even a tiny web site can have thousands of page views. Online marketing is simply accelerated direct marketing. Study things that work off-line because they tend to work on-line too.
HELPFUL IDEA 14: Gut Check Gut instinct is an expensive commodity. A U.S. study not long ago revealed that the results of $1 billion of advertising to about 1 billion consumers by 36 major corporations was only measured by two. The rest relied on their gut. THERE IS A BOOK OUT called What sticks? Why most advertising fails - and how to guarantee yours succeeds by Greg Stuart. It is a study of how effective some $1billion of advertising to about 1 billion consumers by 36 major corporations proved. It seems that only two of those 36 systematically measure what their advertising does and take action as a result. The others run on good old "gut instinct." The good news is that the unkind old saying "I know half my advertising is wasted - but I don't know which half" is untrue. It seems only 37 percent is useless, but the culprits have no idea which 37 percent. “My gut tells me your gut is wrong” And what did the author conclude was the problem - besides the unreliability of the average gut? Simple - there was no agreement on what the purpose of the advertising was. And if you're not sure why you are doing something, you surely can't tell if it works. All this reminded me of a comment I received after I savaged a campaign for St James's Investments in one of these pieces. The chap responsible sent me a charming message saying he 62
was very proud of the work, and that my insistence on thinking that the only purpose of advertising is to sell was naïve and old fashioned. Very appropriately he quoted the writer L. P. Hartley, "the past is another country." In vain I quoted every authority I could think of starting with Raymond Rubicam, "The sole purpose of advertising is to sell - it has no other justification worth mentioning." "That was then, and this is now" was the burden of my correspondent's refrain. So we agreed to disagree. But I still was not sure the aim of his ads was, though the word "awareness" crept in at some point. Anyhow, whatever it is, I hope it was being measured. I have not seen much of St. James Investments lately – an English firm, not the U.S. one with the same name. I fear they are no longer with us. I should add that one of my financial clients at the time I drafted this was - by far - the biggest in its field. They measure everything by return on investment. Gut instinct is an expensive commodity, believe me; and as recession drags on, it is going to be even more pricey.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ●
Before you advertise be clear why you are doing it. You can measure the selling power of your ads. There’s no excuse not to.
HELPFUL IDEA 15: Could these tips improve your newsletter? The best newsletter is personal - almost like a secret whispered only to you. Over 40 years ago I ran a newsletter – and nearly went bankrupt. However, I learned important lessons many publishers ignore today. A newsletter is a letter, not a magazine. Good newsletters are written from me to you. And they have a private feeling, as though you are being let in on some secrets; and they look like real letters, not glossy magazines. DO YOU HAVE a newsletter? Well, here's a paradox for you. 1. In front of me I have a copy of The Spectator, 64 pages long. This weekly costs £2.95 an issue - 30% less if you subscribe annually. About £100 a year. 2. A friend publishes a newsletter on subscriptions that costs £197 for six 16-page printed issues a year - which are typed double spaced - or a bit less if you just get the online version. The writing is nothing much to shout about - whereas The Spectator has been voted Current Affairs Magazine of the Year, and employs some of Britain's best journalists. In terms of how many words you get for your money, goodness knows how much more expensive the newsletter is than the magazine ... maybe 100 times. Does that surprise you? Yes? But you may find the reasons for this extraordinary price difference 64
highly instructive. As you know, practically every organisation has a newsletter. Most, in my view, are perilously close to rubbish. The reason is, I suspect that those who produce them are so busy doing so that they never stop to ask some pretty simple questions. The first is this: what is a newsletter? That may seem such a simple question as to be stupid, but please bear with me if - even more simply - I divide the word into two. Clearly, your newsletter delivers - or should deliver news in the form of a letter. Well as I write this I am looking at a selection of newsletters from all over the country and asking myself some more simple questions. 1. How many look like letters? 2. And if they are supposed to be letters, what sort of character should they have? How should they read? 3. What sort of news should they contain? The answer to the first question is, again, simple. Hardly any of them look like letters. Most of them look a sort of minimagazine or a leaflet that got a bit too big for its boots. Quite a few seem quite expensive little productions, with fancy typefaces. They certainly don't look like letters, and they don't read like letters. This begs four more questions: 1. Why is the newsletter such a popular idea? 2. What should be its character - its strength? 3. How come they turn into something else much grander? 65
4. Is that transformation an improvement? Here are some possible answers. 1. The newsletter is popular, I think, "because everyone has one"; but also because it sounds cheap. quick and easy to produce. 2. Its character should be that, like a letter, it is personal. And it should indeed be cheap and quick to produce – though not necessarily easy, because good writing is never that easy. And it should be full of news that people find interesting. 3. But they get a bit grander and more elaborate because ever since the development of new kinds of printing - usually related to computers - you can do all sorts of things you could never do before – which is fun. 4. If that takes away from the personal nature and look implied by the word "letter" it probably is not an improvement. If it gets too big - well, people have enough to read already. And here are some comments about the word "news". There are two types of news. One is the kind that interests the people who send it out; the other is the kind that interests the people who get it. The first kind is bad because nobody except the How people value information. sender cares or will read it; Source: Publishing Newsletters by the second kind is good. Howard Penn Hudson. When I thumb through the pile of newsletters in front of me, far too much of the news 66
is the bad kind - about the people who send it out; pictures of chief executives and celebrations - which are of no interest to people you are trying to influence. Here are some things to think about. Good newsletters can charge far more for their subscriptions than even the best magazines because they are seen as giving "inside information" to a limited number of people - a community. No newsletter should be without a very prominent personal message, in the form of a letter to the readers, that introduces the content and explains why it is of interest to them. All the language should be friendly and personal, as in a letter, not impersonal or official. The closer it is visually to a letter, the better. Don't use expensive and elaborate visual work. It isn't needed, and takes away from the personal nature of a newsletter. If you really hanker to publish a magazine, look at some like Grazia or GQ. Then stop and think: do you have the skills to do that well - as you are competing for people's attention with such professionals. Your newsletter should make people feel they belong to a real community ... one where they can join in and comment, not one run by other people who like to see pictures of themselves. By the way, you have now been receiving these little messages for quite a few months. An amazing number of you have written saying nice things about them. And what are they? They are really just newsletters that come out once very three days. And they follow the rules I have just mentioned.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ●
Newsletters should be written like personal letters. A newsletter may bring in very healthy profits if done right. If you are serious about making money with it, read Publishing Newsletters by Howard Penn Hudson. 67
HELPFUL IDEA 16: 26 reasons why a promising ad failed Nothing fails like success. Good times breed bad habits. Bad times breed good habits. YOU LEARN A LOT MORE from failure than success. Success leads to complacency; failure makes you try harder. You want to know what went wrong. Here are a few questions to ask if something fails. 1. Was the brief clear? And in writing? 2. Did you change it halfway through? 3. Did you allow enough time and money? 4. Was your offering fully, clearly described? 5. Did you explain why you were writing, if it was a mailing or e-mail? 6. Did you start selling fast enough? 7. Was it too clever - was the message more interesting than the offering? 8. Was it logical - or emotional. Emotion usually wins hands down. 9. Was it easy to understand? Utterly clear? 68
10. Were the visual and verbal tone appropriate to what you're selling? 11. Did you say what it is - or what it does? 12. Were the benefits impossible to miss? Did you quantify them? 13. Did you emphasise low price before it sold the benefits? 14. Was it complete? Every reason why given? Every objection overcome? 15. Did you prove your claims were true? 16. Did you show enough people? 17. Did you demonstrate the benefit? 18. Did you waste money on needless elements? 19. Conversely, was there anything you could have added, but didn't? 20. Did you ask firmly and repeatedly for a reply? 21. Did you tell people exactly what to do? 22. Was there more than one place to order? 23. Was there more than one way to order? 24. Did you repeat your benefits at least three times - especially when asking for a reply? 25. Was it as easy as possible to reply, register interest or order? Was the coupon/order device big enough, easy to understand 69
and send off? You didn’t ask people to verify or copy one of those incomprehensible sets of letters did you? Only do that if you want to make things hard for people or discourage frivolous replies 26. Was the letter/email strong and personal – if possible charming? God forbid there was no letter if you sent a catalogue or brochure
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ●
A formula is better than no formula. Use checklists.
HELPFUL IDEA 17: Strategy versus tactics “The best long-term profits are made up of a succession of short-term profits.” Do you need a new strategy? Here’s an insight from a successful marketing pioneer. OF ALL THE CLIENTS I have worked with, none was better, cleverer or funnier than Victor Ross, former Chairman of the Readers' Digest, Europe. He was originally a copywriter, but had a lot to do with developing some highly effective direct marketing techniques like the sweepstake, the yes/no option and the mystery gift. He once told me an amusing - and instructive - story about the time he was sent to a seminar in the US by his chairman. On his return, the chairman asked what he had learned. He thought for a moment, then replied, "We must stop short term thinking and plan for long-term profits". "Quite so, dear boy," replied the Probably the funniest and wittiest client I ever had: chairman. "And the best long-term Victor Ross, Former profits are made up of a succession of Chairman of short-term profits". The Reader’s Digest, Europe. There is a lot of loose talk nowadays about strategy, mostly applied to something terribly simple and really tactical, like what headline to run, and equally often added to somebody's title to make them feel important. 71
I have always thought that the minute you start to feel important you are in trouble, but that is another subject. All I want to suggest now is that Victor was not only witty but wise. Concentrate on lots of small improvements and you may find you have no need for anything more ambitious. Find one small thing to improve every week and I promise you will not go far wrong.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ●
See if you can improve many little things. They add up. Don’t get lost in the sea of management jargon.
HELPFUL IDEA 18: More on layout – magic colors and pictures that lift response Design is not always common sense. Surprising little changes in layout might bring you startling results. For example, green doesn’t always suggest “Go”. YOU KNOW THAT OLD PHRASE "by popular request"? Well, this is by popular request - one of you asked for more facts about pictures and illustrations. Before saying any more let me tell you one thing that often helps. When you can't afford a letter and a brochure in a direct mail piece, try an illustrated letter. (You know, of course, that given a choice between a letter and a brochure, you always use the letter in preference as it's more personal). Having said that, here are a few facts, much of them based on research by Gallup or testing. 1. Cartoons attract most attention. Good on envelopes. 2. Photos convince most. Use them if looks or credibility matter. 3. Charts often attract interest - e.g. weight-loss figures or interest rates. 4. People look at people. Responses for a business school nearly doubled when we put the Dean's face in the ads. 5. Men look at attractive women; so do women. But they look at babies even more. 73
6. Illustrations relating directly to the message work on average 32% better. 7. TV frames from commercials are extremely effective. 8. If you don't illustrate the product or the idea, the ad is 27 % less effective than average.(That means don't be a clever-clogs) 9. Stereotypes - chatting people, loving couples, smiling sippers and ecstatic eaters kill ads. They don't develop uniqueness. 10. If the picture has something odd about it, people remember the message. 11. One big picture usually attracts better than several small ones. 12. Pictures should demonstrate. 13. Before and after pictures are particularly effective. 14. Cut out pictures attract the eye better than squared-up ones. 15. Don't have pictures just for the sake of it; they cost money and can divert attention needlessly. So they must be relevant. 16. Coupons in ads used to add most conviction. Now that you often direct people to a website, that means it should be very prominent. Coupons still increase response. 17. Never use pictures that have nothing to with the product but seem a clever idea. 18. Visual elements that “interrupt” – may even seem out of place – are hugely effective. For instance, scrawled arrows on landing pages, flashing words, yellow highlights. 74
19. Do not allow the corporate look to hobble your imagination.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ●
Communicate, don’t decorate. Use pictures to sell, not because someone thinks “A photo would be nice.” Themes can be powerful. Try a less commercial look and see what happens.
HELPFUL IDEA 19: The only way to resolve every marketing question If you don’t ask people to reply you will never know how good the ad is. But many people are scared of being put to the test in the only way that matters – through measurement. “When people have read your copy they want to know what to do. Tell them” – John Caples. I AM ASTOUNDED by two things, First, that people run ads with no means of response. Second, that even those who do fail to act upon what the responses tell them. That thought is provoked by the ad below, which I saw when I was in Australia some time ago.
Under it, the line: "If you really want to touch someone, send them a letter".
I just can't make my mind up about it. I'm puzzled. What do you think? 76
It is a brilliant idea. I wish I had had it. But does it sell? No idea. But I'm sure it would sell better if there were some means of response. Research some years ago revealed that simply putting a coupon in an ad made people trust the advertiser more. I believe it says to people that you are serious and you have something worthwhile to offer. Many years ago I actually took the trouble to measure what difference it made if you put a coupon in an ad as opposed to just asking people to write or phone. The answer is that it gets you 20% replies. The coupon says “there is something here for you”. But, to return to my original point, if you don’t have any means of response, how will you ever know whether your message was effective or not? I should add that simply measuring responses tells you which media work best for you. Because of that I can tell you that social media – as at the time of writing – are a waste of money. Never, ever do anything without having some means of measuring it.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ● ●
To see if your ads work, add a response device. Don’t try to be clever, try to sell. Do a complete sales job – ask for the order.
HELPFUL IDEA 20: Getting a job calls for good old fashioned marketing. This is the most popular post I have ever put up. Getting a job is an old fashioned marketing task.
Sending a CV without a proper sales letter is probably the biggest mistake you can make when applying for a job. Others are; failing to understand what you are doing, being too selfcentred and not following-up. SHE'S ACTUALLY THE DAUGHTER of a client, who wrote and asked me how she should write to get a job. I was intrigued because when we analysed the things people went to most and stayed at longest on my old website, one won by a mile. Can you guess what it was? It was, of course, "How to get a better job". Here is the star of this I'm kicking myself because it isn't on the helpful idea, and even new site - so we'd better put it on there. if you don't find it Anyhow, this is what my client and I useful I bet someone you know will. cobbled together. Most people never write a more important letter than this yet they're nearly all clueless! How to write a letter to get a job Why I would never have employed my own daughter - and what she should have done. I bet you can relate to this. My 19 year old daughter Ally is at a dreadful stage in her 78
life. She's trying to get a job, which means she has to write letters. Admittedly it's only for a summer job while at university, but it's still pretty important. But since she is young with hardly any experience of this part of life, she's at sixes and sevens on how to go about it. Let me tell you what happened She sent her unsolicited CV to a famous jewellery firm she is pretty keen to work for. I asked her if I could have a look at what she sent, in case I could help in future. My heart sank when I read what she had sent, as I knew if the letter arrived on my desk I wouldn't have wanted to interview her. I felt like kicking myself, too, since I do sales letters all the time and here was my own daughter not even getting the basics right- because I hadn't helped. And let's face it, a letter to get a job can either start you out on a career - or fail to do so. This could be the most important letter she would ever write. It got me thinking that there must be lots of other parents out there with children in the same boat so I thought everyone might benefit if I looked at how Ally could have done a better job - and she would also do better next time. If you find these tips useful, please pass them onto any young people you know who are about to look for a job. They probably need all the help they can get. You might even be looking for a job yourself and be a bit rusty. Let's look at what she sent in. The application had no covering letter to speak of except something along the lines of, "I would like to work for your company this summer so I am enclosing my CV". This 3 page statement of facts began like this: "I am a hard working, intelligent and sharp person who works well on her feet. The experience from working in retail has helped me immensely in becoming very confident in selling goods to a 79
variety of people. I have a friendly and approachable manner and greatly enjoy interaction with members of the public. I am also responsible and trustworthy, and work well in a team and on my own." Four things struck me when I read it. Because there was no decent covering letter, it felt a bit like being whacked in the face with a wet fish. There was nothing linking her CV to the job she was applying for. Secondly the whole thing was just about her and how good she thought she was. There were no obvious benefits to the jewellery shop if they were to employ her. Thirdly and rather astonishingly there was no reference to the shop itself, or even the jewellery industry. Fourthly the whole thing was utterly devoid of any enthusiasm or passion for the company or its products. I was dying to tell her she should have sent in a photograph of herself as people like to see who they might be employing and it helps to get their attention, but I didn't have the heart as it was all too late and I didn't want to make her feel too bad. She is such a good looking kid (Her father would say that wouldn't he?) that I thought a photo wouldn't do any harm, particularly as the company sells very costly jewellery. It was no surprise to me when she didn't get the job - a real shame as she really wanted to work for that company. You never would have guessed it though from what she sent in, and that was where she went wrong, as do thousands of oters every month. But the principles involved in getting a job are the same anywhere, and you can't escape that fact that you have to sell yourself. Which brings me to my main point. Never forget: Getting a job is an old fashioned marketing job: you are selling yourself and the aim of what you do is to get an interview.
What does good marketing involve? Paying huge attention to detail, spending time finding out about a person and/or organisation, (in this case the prospective employer) thinking through the benefits of something (the job applicant) to another person (the employer) - and using your imagination to increase your chance of success. Oh, and I should mention one other thing: making an effort. Sorry about this, but very little comes easily in life, and marketing yourself to get job is no exception. But if you get the job you want it will be worth it a hundred times over. So here is my advice: 1. Write a proper covering letter for your CV 2. Under no account ever again should she just send a CV. 3. Send a letter, a proper letter and not just a skimpy "please find enclosed" letter. 4. Go the whole hog and send a real sales letter which gives every reason why they should employ you and answers any concerns or questions they might have about you. Don't be afraid of going onto a second, or even a third page. If you don't know what a good sales letter looks like, there are heaps of examples and suggestions in How to Write Salesletters that sells by Drayton Bird you can look at. Talk to the right person - and get their attention. Think who the best person might be to write to, and find out their name. I think my daughter should have got the name of the director or owner and written to them, in the hope that they would find her interesting and pass it onto personnel with a comment, "This person looks good." 81
If you have a choice between personnel and a senior person, go for the senior person; it shows initiative and will get to them anyhow. Enclose a photograph. People always like to see who they might end up employing. Be enthusiastic - and prove that you are genuinely interested in them. You can do this by referring to something you have found out about the company. Use your research to show you know about the company and its activities: they are interested in themselves, not you. You are trying to get the reader's attention, and you flatter them by doing this. Nobody, no matter how senior or successful dislikes flattery, but don't go overboard and gush nonsense - it will get you nowhere. How will you benefit the company? Explain your skills and experience and relate them to the needs of the company.How will they benefit by employing you? How can you prove you are any good? Depending on the job do you have any examples of your work to send in? How about some testimonials from teachers, the Brownies, other employers, any damn thing for that matter. Just something which will help convince the reader that you are worth seeing. Make an offer You can offer to come in do the first two days work for nothing, because you know that it's expensive to train staff. Can you think of anything else you can offer them?
Pay attention to detail Have a big, confident handwritten legible signature, preferably in blue ink. You want to be noticed and stand out from the crowd. If you handwrite the person's name in the salutation this gets their attention straightaway. And try having a PS, as this is the most read part of any letter. You could use this as an opportunity to emphasise how keen you are to get the job. Or repeat your offer. For example: P.S. I realise you get many letters like this, and many would-be employees, which is why I'd love the opportunity to come and work for a week for nothing Don't forget the follow-up phone call: make it easy to hire you Why not follow up with a couple of phone calls. (Most candidates don’t bother.) Talk to the important person's secretary or P.A., who is extremely powerful in these cases. Once three or four days later to check the letter has arrived and then again a couple of weeks later to see if there is anything else they need to know about you. Anything really to remind them about you. As a matter of interest, I suggested to my client that even if her first letter didn't work, a good follow-up might. I actually proposed this opening: "My last letter to you failed dismally - because it was awful, to be honest. So I'm trying again. Would you like someone so keen to work for you that I'll gladly work for nothing while you see what I can do? For instance, I can: Etc.” 83
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
● ● ●
Getting a job means you are selling yourself and the aim of what you write is to get an interview. Make an offer. Don’t send your CV without a tailored letter. Persevere.
HELPFUL IDEA 21: How NOT to go broke The road to failure is paved with success. Five reasons why one client went bust. FIRST, A CONFESSION. As a young man I went broke - or rather my businesses all did - in 1970. If you want to read about it - and how I then did well, I have a short book called How Even A Business Idiot Like Me Made A Million Or Two. Anyhow, one of my occasional clients just went broke. It was partly because of the property crash, but I wasn't that surprised, because they did five stupid things. 1. We wrote some e-mail copy in August; they didn't run it till October, which cost them a lot of profit, because it beat the pants off everything else they were doing. 2. They didn't tell us how it did - clients should always do that as it enthuses and motivates the agency. Many never say a word unless it flops. 3. They didn't come back for more. Dumb. 4. I told them that if it worked in e-mail it could work in direct mail and ads. They didn't try mail for another three months and it did work. They never tried it in ads. 5. Here's the MOST stupid thing. They didn't keep a database 85
of all the many thousands of prospects who came to their free seminars. A database of would be entrepreneurs that would be really valuable. Why did they do all these dumb things? Because they began to think they could do no wrong. They were cocky and careless. As I have decided, the road to failure is paved with success. But I bet the man behind the company is not suffering. He had the sense to keep this business separate from his other linked ventures. If had done that all those years ago when I went broke, I would have survived.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ● ●
Your most valuable asset is your list. If something works in one medium it may work in others. Don’t forget get to motivate your suppliers – they are people too.
HELPFUL IDEA 22: You have a brand – why throw it away? There are two things marketers love to do: build their brands - and kill them. What is the job of a senior executive? To stop juniors from changing everything that works.
This little picture is here to remind you of an old rhyme which runs "Always keep a hold of nurse, for fear of catching something worse."
I HAVE TALKED BEFORE about the perils of re-branding a business, a process much loved by marketing directors and often leading to misery. Today I want to talk about a step beyond re-branding - re-naming. This is, I think, even more dubious, because it involves not just changing the look of a brand, which can confuse people, but making it vanish. More and more big marketers keep changing the names of firms they have acquired for what, as far as I can see, are little more than reasons of tidiness and, I suspect, conceit. 87
It is an international disease, for it happens in many countries. Many clever people have spent a lot of time trying to calculate how much a brand is worth. Research shows that a strong one will persuade people to pay more for something identical except for the brand name, to keep buying longer, to forgive mistakes, to put up with price rises - and so on. How much can this be worth, year after year? I would imagine millions in the case of a large firm, with many customers. Take for example, Norwich Union. This venerable insurance firm was around for over 200 years. It was the largest U.K. insurer. It has been doing very well, too. Now, however, it now belongs to a firm called Aviva. I have no idea what Aviva is and am too busy to find out. They sound like they make health foods or mineral water. One thing I am damn sure they made is a mistake, because they have renamed Norwich Union after themselves. Under any other circumstances would a sensible business throw away an asset worth millions? I can tell you that a name like Norwich Union on an envelope will double response as compared to an unknown name Idiots. Smart people have bought the rights to what I call “ghost brands” brands that had been bought or had gone broke and were no longer being attached to products – and re-launched them. As a matter of fact, here's a thought for you. Give me the rights to the name Norwich Union, and I'd make money so fast your brain would spin.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
It’s damn expensive to build a brand. It takes exhausting years. But it only takes one new marketing director to kill it. And killing your brand could be the most expensive mistake you make. 88
HELPFUL IDEA 23: How you might beat fat blue chip firms Do not forget to tell people what you're selling, big boy. Claude Hopkins wrote nearly 100 years ago that when companies grow it’s only natural from them to want to boast in their advertising rather than to sell. It’s still true. My experience suggests 99.5 % of businesses can’t resist spending money on what I call “creative masturbation” – brainless advertising trying only to please its creator, not the prospect. HERE'S A CHANGE for you. It's something one of my readers, Rob Watson sent. I think it is both funny and helpful.
How NOT to do it.
He wrote: "As a reader of your tips and your blog, I just had to send you this piece of vacuous, disappearing-up-their-own89
backsides, utterly useless piece of advertising from IBM for a service called Express Advantage at the top of the attached email. It starts with a completely pointless headline: "all the blue without the big". Deep down I suspect even they may be ashamed of it, which could be why they've written it in all caps in white for minimal comprehension. It linked to: - a page offering you a free book from IBM with a less than prominent link to register for the book. I can't work out if this was ill-conceived or they just linked to the wrong page by mistake - there's not even a hint of a free book offer in the ad. Either way if you cast your eyes to the left you'll see a link "About Express Advantage" which of course you will race to view after being reeled in by that benefit-laden emotion-rich headline. Then you get to read the first paragraph explaining Express Advantage: "More than a set of offerings, Express Advantage is a fresh new way of doing things. It's a fundamental change in the way we support small and medium businesses. We listened to your business and technology issues. We took into account challenges and opportunities. And we developed something expressly for you - IBM Express Advantage". I don't actually remember them listening to my business and technology issues - I've never even spoken to them, and the above gives me no clue whatsoever what Express Advantage is, let alone what's in it for me. It continues, and gets worse: "Simplicity and economy are built in to all our solutions, making it easier and more costeffective than ever to compete. Our solutions are designed to help you access the critical business and technology capabilities you need to innovate and succeed. It's not a line. It's a promise. It's that easy." I’m still none the wiser about what they're trying to sell me. And how do they know that I need to innovate? How do they 90
know I haven't got an ordinary, dull, necessary product that keeps selling year in, year out? If an agency pitched this kind of work to me I would just take my marketing budget walk down to the nearest bookmaker and place the lot on the most generously priced horse I could find (subject to having two eyes and four legs). Risky, but at least it wouldn't damage the brand, and it might just pay off big. Somebody out there signed this off and paid for it. If a doctor or solicitor did something so negligent they would be struck off and maybe even face criminal charges. It's as depressing as it is amusing. There you are. Proof, if ever you wondered, that big businesses will never rule the world because THEY'RE TOO BLOODY STUPID.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ● ●
Write to your customer not to you. Show your ad to an idiot and see if they understand. Your advertising can build or destroy your brand.
HELPFUL IDEA 24: Maybe you should ignore direct marketing PR could get you there faster and cheaper. “When we make the man famous, we make his product famous,” David Ogilvy advised. Some of the most effective marketing campaigns used PR. Sir Richard Branson built Virgin on publicity stunts – and still relies on them. Many IT publications seem to exist only to promote Apple – for free. Few things beat good PR. (But sometimes direct mail might help get it going.)
IT IS SUMMER as I write this. Unusually for England this year, the sun is shining. Outside my flat in Chelsea this morning was a big red bus, with an open top deck. Girls were tying balloons to the railings. It's a moving party! "Whose party?" my partner and I wonder - and go to see what it says on the balloons. It is being thrown by a new shop on the corner called French Soles. My partner laughs. "They don't need to do that. They've already got it made." "Why?" I ask. "Because there isn't a woman between the age of 18 and 45 - which is who they aim for - who don't know who they are, even though they've only just opened." "How come?" "Because they've got products placed and mentions in every 92
single fashion magazine I can think of." You may wonder that she said nothing about direct marketing. Well, we don't always see direct marketing as the answer to every problem. Then I said to her, "What's so good about them?" She said, "They do nothing but ballerina shoes - or sandals that are ballerina-style." If you want to be good at marketing, don't be a one-trick pony. Learn about every discipline. Yesterday my partner spent her time doing PR on the internet. Be known for something special So there are two very simple suggestion. First, try to understand all the ways you can succeed, because one weapon may not be enough. Second, find something you know about and be a specialist. That's often the best way to start. You really want people to automatically associate you with something you are supremely good at. If you're known for being fairly good at everything, this is perilously close to being not very good at anything. Later you can, if you succeed, start to expand. For example, in the UK the big supermarket chain Sainsbury's started out as grocers who were famous for their bacon.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
See if you could get the press to write about you and your business. Top marketers master all the weapons, not just one or two. Try to be known for something special.
HELPFUL IDEA 25: How to create a good slogan – a guide for masochists You don’t always need a slogan. Many would be better off without even bothering. Marketers think they need it. So they spend far too much time and money than is reasonable to come up with a clever one. Few things get more attention – with the possible exception of coming up with a new logo or brand name.
WHEN I FIRST ENTERED ADVERTISING in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth the word "copywriter" was meaningless to most people. Come to think of it, it probably still is, but I had quite a problem when asked what I did for a living. My explanation was usually greeted with something like, "Oh, do you write those slogans, then?" And it was far too tedious to go into any detail - besides which nobody really cared anyhow - so I would say "sometimes". Actually, I have religiously avoided writing slogans for the most part, because the effort involved is usually a total waste of time. The reason is simple. The slogan is an area where marketers' most foolish, self-regarding obsessions get in the way of commonsense. The overwhelming majority are little more than an exercise in corporate masturbation. My advice is not to waste too much energy on them, because it is nigh on impossible to find one that will do you any good. That is because a good slogan is exceedingly hard to coin. 94
What makes a good slogan According to the best authority, the late Timothy R.V. Foster, a slogan should: 1. Be memorable 2. Recall the brand name 3. Include a key benefit 4. Differentiate the brand 5. Impart positive feelings for the brand 6. Reflect the brand's personality 7. Be strategic 8. Be campaignable 9. Be competitive 10. Be original 11. Be simple 12. Be neat 13. Be believable 14. Help when ordering the brand It should NOT: 15. Be in current use by others 16. Be bland, generic or hackneyed 17. Prompt a sarcastic or negative response 18. Be pretentious 19. Be negative 20. Be corporate waffle 21. Make you say "So what?" or "Ho-hum" 22. Make you say "Oh yeah??" 23. Be meaningless 24. Be complicated or clumsy And Finally... 25. You should like it. 95
The essential thing to avoid is what my old boss David Ogilvy called "flatulent puffery" - that is odious boasting. Bad slogans, like bad advertising, are always easy to find in the automotive industry. "The car in front is a Toyota"; "Go beyond" (for Land Rover) "The power of dreams" (Honda). "Is it love?" (BMW) - and so on. My favourite examples were both for the late, often very late, British Rail. "This is the age of the train" - when it clearly was the age of the car or plane; and "We're getting there" - when far too often we weren’t. I have two golden rules. Unless you can come up with something no-one else can say, or something nobody has said already, forget it. Ask yourself if the space or time you use for the slogan could be used to sell; if so, don't waste it. It's easy to carp, so here's a good slogan: "Just do it" for Nike - because the product is all about performance, and so are the ads.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
● ● ●
Because slogans and logos are usually created by committees, they usually fail to mean anything. Ask, is this something no else can claim? If not, forget it. Use the included checklist to get a good slogan you deserve. Make sure the people judging it understand what they are suppose to do. Again, a checklist helps.
HELPFUL IDEA 26: Never assume in business Show your work to a stranger; you’ll be surprised how that could improve it. Trying to come up with good ideas is damned hard work. If you’re any good you probably put a lot of effort and emotion into it. It is not easy to accept criticism. But showing your work to someone not related to it might make you do better.
How NOT to do it.: How I would improve this brochure? Read this piece to find out.
I THOUGHT YOU MIGHT LIKE a little international flavour every now and then, so here is an ad I saw when I was in Bulgaria some time ago - aimed at visitors. See what you think about it. While I was in Sofia, I was interviewed by a magazine. Unless you speak Bulgarian (which I certainly don't) you won't appreciate the intellectual depth, uncanny perception and wit of my responses to a number of questions. One of them, however, was: "Have you ever failed in something; what was it, and what happened?" I answered that there probably wasn't space in their magazine 97
to list all my failures, let alone describe them in the exuberant, comic detail they merit. A marketer’s curse However, many were due to what that wonderful retail (and direct marketing) expert Murray Raphel called "the curse of assumption." He pointed out that all too often we assume people know all about what we are selling when they don't. And if people don't know what you're selling, they are hardly likely to buy it, are they? Because we live with what we sell all the time and think about it constantly, we presume that others do. So we don’t even mention things we know but others don’t - which are crucially important and without which people simply will not buy. For instance I once wrote a mailing for Management Today which was wonderful in every respect except that it failed to say whether it was a weekly or a monthly magazine. The mailing did reasonably well because what they were doing before was so dire. But still, pretty damn stupid, eh? So look at the tasteful, elegant ad I reproduced at the top. It gives you three useful phrases in Bulgarian. Very helpful. Except there is no translation. Very silly. The moral is, always show your stuff to someone who knows nothing about it and ask if they understand. You'll be amazed what you can miss out or ignore. One practical thing to do that is very boring but utterly necessary is to describe your offering in complete detail for the benefit of someone who’s never heard of it before you start.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
Show your work to someone and see if they understand what you’re talking about. If you don’t think their comments are useful, ignore them if you can. 98
HELPFUL IDEA 27: Don’t be vague – an unusual advertising lesson from India Precision matters more than you may think – even in romance. This example brought in 7 ideal marriage candidates. Why be precise? It makes your ad more credible and effective. Often it means longer copy and perhaps more time or space. But are cost and length really what you should be worrying about?
I THOUGHT I'D GIVE YOU a bit of culture; in fact two cultures. The man in the picture is William Blake, the wonderful poet and painter, who once said, "To Generalize is to be an Idiot; To Particularize is the Alone Distinction of Merit." What he was saying in his typical vehement way, was be precise. And to give a demonstration of what he meant, applied to marketing, let us travel half way across the world, to India. Wanted: A Brahmin bridegroom for girl under 23 This is a story told to me 21 years ago by the Managing Director of O & M Direct in India, R. Sridhar. 99
When we met I asked him how he got married to his wife Vijay. Did arranged marriages still exist in India? Or was it a love match? He said that it was an arranged marriage and 70% of marriages were still arranged. Then he told this story. Sridhar had written an article in "Business India" on Direct Marketing - hoping to get some more business. The next day an elderly, distinguished person arrived at his door with his wife. Sridhar noticed he carried a copy of "Business India" and was most interested. He invited the man in and said: "Can I help you?" And this is how the conversation went. "I have a daughter who is ready to get married. And last week I placed a matrimonial ad in the papers. I am very disappointed with the response." It's very common in India to advertise for your bride. That's precisely how Sridhar found his own wife. The man continued: "Then I saw this article. You seem to have done something for a restaurant, a blood bank and some computer. I wonder if you could raise responses for a matrimonial ad." He then gave Sridhar a fifteen minute lecture on how difficult it was to get girls married - and why as a last resort he had thought of advertising. Sridhar asked for a copy of the advertisement. It said: Wanted: Brahmin bridegroom, for a well accomplished South Indian girl under 23. Reply Box No. Sridhar: "You said the response is poor." "Of course it is bloody poor. I got three replies. One is from a widower. One is from a Kashmiri Brahmin. The third is from a boy who is just 23. Too young." 100
"Look, my daughter is a MSc. first class. This chap should at least have a good degree. Of course he must have a good job. And he must be the right age. She is 23." So they wrote the ad again: Wanted: a well educated, well employed bridegroom around 27 for a 23 year old South Indian Brahmin MSc. Reply .... This was rejected by the man's wife because it didn't say anything about horoscopes, which are considered important in India. Also it didn't clarify whether they were looking for an Iyer or an Iyengar bridegroom - these are two types of Brahmin. The girl was fairly slim and very fair. The more traditional Indians are very concerned about whether people are fair or dark (a common concern in many cultures, for those of you who are politically correct.) So they had to take account of this and also the fact that the girl was a very good Carnatic Music Singer. Thus, the son-in-law must appreciate music. The girl was also an officer in the State bank with a good salary. And she was the only daughter of a well to do industrialist. On the other hand, she didn't mind settling abroad. So they rewrote it again: "Wanted: a well educated, well employed, Iyengar bridegroom around 27, for a 23 year old, 5'6" very fair, slim, South Indian Brahmin MSc. Bank Officer. Well accomplished Carnatic singer. Only daughter of a successful industrialist. Girl willing to settle abroad. Reply with horoscope..." They showed the wife the draft again. By this time Sridhar was hoping it would go through. But she was a difficult client. She rejected it again. It didn't say anything about lineage. So there had to be another qualification - non-Bharadwaja - which means nothing to me, but meant a lot to them. This is how the ad then read:
"Wanted: a well educated, well employed non-Bharadwaja Iyengar bridegroom around 27, for a 23 year old South India very fair, slim, 5'6" MSc Bank Officer. Well accomplished Carnatic singer. Only daughter of a successful industrialist. Girl is willing to settle abroad. Reply with horoscope...." Then the lady turned the question of media placement. "Where did you place your last ad?" "Times of India in Bombay," said the husband. "Quite wrong" said the lady. "You should have gone into the Hindu. Even in Bombay, the type we are looking for will buy the Hindu every Sunday only for the matrimonial ads. Make sure you release it on a Sunday." So the media schedule was settled. But what about the timing? "We can get it in next Sunday", Sridhar said. “No, no", said the lady. "This is the month of ashada. Nobody ever contemplates marriage this month. So you wouldn't get any replies. And another thing. Do you think you could get a Madras Box Number? Because I think you will get better replies." "How much would it cost?" asked her husband. "About Rs. 390," said Sridhar "My God. If I only got three replies, each reply would cost me Rs. 130." His wife said "So what? Why are you bothered about numbers? If you get one worthwhile alliance, won't that be enough?" A few weeks later the gentleman called Sridhar and said: "You know that ad you did for us. We released it in the Hindu two weeks ago and got nearly 40 replies. There are at least seven worthwhile. Thanks a lot." Sridhar confessed to having squirmed when he accepted this compliment. He realised his clients had contributed most. They'd taught him quite a lesson about targeting and creative. I find this story interesting for three reasons.
First, it demonstrates that no matter what country you are in, your clients can often teach you a lesson. Second, it shows that the more precise your copy is the better you will do - and that usually means making it longer. And third, that the quality of the reply often matters more than the cost.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ● ● ●
Being precise can make the difference between failure and success. Worry about right things: results – not just costs. It may take more than once to get your ad right. Generally the more you tell, the more you sell.
HELPFUL IDEA 28: Beware cheap deals on fancy numbers If you are not careful, you could lose your shirt on “must-do deals.” Here’s one of the richest man in the UK, publisher Felix Dennis, on must-do deals: “Never fall in love with a deal. A deal is just a deal. There will always be other deals and other opportunities. No deal is a must-do deal. If it is, you are at the mercy of the party sitting across the table – and trust me – they will know this perfectly well. In that case, your goose is cooked and your future will already be in their hands.” I GOT AN E-MAIL from somebody fairly illiterate reading: End of the month, please give me a call... Just a quick note to ask if your interested in doing a large email campaign to UK Company Directors (Managing Director, Sales Directors and Finance Directors)? We have over 300,000 of these people on file, and if you'd like to talk about doing a large scale campaign on a national basis then please give me a call on 0845 373 3953 (Select option 5). I have some very good end of month discounts at the moment for new clients, but only for large scale nationwide email campaigns. It's fairly illiterate because the eighth word in the first line of copy should be "you're", not "your". And you know what? I 104
think if people can't write English, what else are they bad at? This e-mail reminded me of those occasions when I've ended up with something I really shouldn't have bought - but I did. You know how it is. You see something in a store that's such a good deal you just can't resist it. You're worried that someone else might get it before you, and the thing is, the store is closing in 10 minutes, so you don't want to miss it.
Founder of this magazine says “No deal is must-do deal.”
You end up with something you never would have bought if you'd thought a little. That may cost you a few quid, or dollars - but when you do this in business, the damage could be much greater. For a start, what you save is less important than what you might lose (or potentially make). Better to take a sample and mail it at a higher price than blow your money on mailing the lot. And, come to think of it, how many products or services do you know that appeal to every company director in the country? Not many, I'll bet.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
Better to take a sample and mail it at a higher price than blow your money on mailing the lot. No deal is must-do deal. 105
HELPFUL IDEA 29: Do you have strippers behind counters? Is your business exciting, fabulous and fantastic? Really? Just because you say so doesn’t make it so. NOW BEFORE I GO ANY FURTHER, this "idea" hardly qualifies, as it is just a mistake so damned obvious that I hope you don't make it. There are only two reasons I have the nerve to put it forward. The first is that I see it made every day by people who ought to know better - like the world's biggest bank, for instance, slap bang in the middle of Europe's most successful shopping street. The second is that, although seemingly a small thing, it damages something much larger and more important which I shall come to in a moment. Here is an example of what I mean, taken with my tacky mobile phone.
There are many ways to describe banking, but exciting probably isn’t one of them
So, tell me, dear reader, do YOU find your bank exciting? Do you see it as the ideal party venue? Will you be waiting nervously 106
outside the new branch just before it opens, wanting to be the first to rush in and use one of the free pens? Or do you, like most normal people, consider the opening of a new bank as interesting as a wet afternoon in the local cemetery? My point is that the idea of a new bank being exciting is downright absurd. And that this word “exciting” - and a number of others, like fabulous and fantastic - is used on an astounding number of occasions by people who can't be bothered to think of something more appropriate. One reason is that very few writers nowadays have a rich vocabulary, but it's too late to do much about that. What matters is to understand what words like this do - or fail to do. It is true that a little exaggeration is no bad thing in copy - but you can only stretch the truth so far. “Free drinks and topless girls!” If your new bank does have something special about it – free food or strippers behind the counters, perhaps - say so. If it hasn't, shut up. You may ask why this matters. I know I have quoted Fairfax Cone elsewhere in this series, but I make no excuse for doing so again. When he saw bad copy he would ask the culprit: "Would you say that to someone you know?" If you wouldn't, don't foist it in the general public. This is because by doing so abuse an essential element in the relationship between you and your prospect or customer. That element is called trust. And by coincidence, it is the lack of this between banks which has had such a disastrous effect on all of us in recent years. But that's another story.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ●
Tell the truth. It’s easier to lose trust than get it.
HELPFUL IDEA 30: On fashion “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” – Oscar Wilde Don’t be a dedicated follower of fashion. MAYBE YOU'RE TOO OLD to remember it, but that was a big hit for The Kinks, 42 years ago. Fashion can be fatal. But marketers are among the most dedicated followers of fashion you can imagine. The fashions they usually follow fall into the silver bullet category. By that I mean things people think will solve all their problems overnight. One reason is that we are like sheep; where one goes, another follows. Another is that all human beings want to believe in miracles. You only have to study slimming fads, or stock exchange folly to realise that. But there are no miracles, and what goes up tends to come down eventually in the case of investment; though in the case of weight, the reverse usually applies. The truth is that besides being gullible people are lazy. Marketing is hard. So any ready-packaged solution is very appealing. That is why a lot of organisations set up CRM divisions, usually before either they or the people running them had the faintest idea what it was. Again, when the internet took off, a ton of money was invested in some pretty unlikely projects. Then came the dotcom boom and bust, which I am quite proud to say I predicted “Be fearful when in my book "Commonsense Direct Marketing" others are greedy and - before I changed the title to "Commonsense greedy when others are fearful.” Direct and Interactive Marketing" 108
As usual, the world's best and funniest investor, Warren Buffett has an apt phrase. "We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful." The latest fad to lose people a lot of money is social media. And to give you an idea of how much less effective it is than people think, here's a statistic for you relating to the 'causes' application on Facebook. Over the last 12 months for which figures were available when I drafted this just $2.5m had been obtained in the US by 19,445 charitable organizations through Causes. That's an average of just $126 per organization. Imagine the time and effort that went into getting that $126. The meetings. The discussions. The emails. The memos. The thinking. The ideas. The presentations. They would have done infinitely better using direct mail or street interviews, but neither are fashionable. Because nowadays special visual effects are so sophisticated and cheap there is a fashion among motor manufacturers to run amazingly expensive and elaborate TV spots showing cars doing impossible things – but say almost nothing coherent about the cars or why anyone should buy them. It really is hard work to arrive at a good reason for buying car A rather than car B, so they hope special effects will do the trick. No hope. Three things are worth considering. First, if everyone else is following a fashion, is it wise for you to join in? Second, isn’t it wiser to be different rather than the same? Third, why not determine what makes you different and better – and find the appropriate way, not the fashionable way, to tell people?
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
The world’s greatest investor knows trends can make people do stupid things. Follow the money not the herd. 109
HELPFUL IDEA 31: To limit yourself, is to limit your profits Don’t get trapped in one medium or form of marketing. Do you only watch TV? Only read books? Only listen to the radio? Of course not. What about your customers? Do they only expose themselves to pixels and bits online? IF YOU'VE READ THESE IDEAS you know that I wrote them whenever something occurred to me that I thought would be helpful to you. Listen to this Some time ago I was being interviewed on the phone (listen to it by clicking here http://www.systemintensive.com/uk/drayton.mp3) by Ken McCarthy - one of the internet marketing pioneers (he was the first in the world to run a web marketing seminar - back in 1994 when I was just putting together my first website). We got on to the way people who sell online seem to imagine that the world revolves around that particular medium - and nothing else. Madness. As I said to him: this is like having an army in which you only have artillery or infantry. And this occurred to me with renewed force when I was reading a very good piece from Mind-Valley labs about how to get material published on what they call internet "Authority Sites." The advice was excellent. If that's your aim, it couldn't be better. But let me ask you something. Do you only watch TV? Only read books? Only listen to the radio? Of course not. You have many sources of information. 110
More to the point, do you only buy online, or decide on what to buy online? Do you never visit shops? Never buy through the mail? Of course not. So, helpful idea for today: learn about and profit from everything. Every kind of marketing, every kind of business, every medium. Sounds like I’m repeating myself? Good. It means you are paying attention. When you close your mind, you kill your profits. When you open it, when you study everything - when you cease to be a narrow specialist, you open the floodgates of profit.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
You wouldn’t advertise movies only in cinemas, so don’t limit yourself only to forms and methods you know best. The more marketing weapons you master, the better you’ll do.
HELPFUL IDEA 32: Try some donkey (or schnauzer) business There are no small parts in theatre, only small actors. The same is true in advertising. “Don’t bunt. Be more ambitious,” said David Ogilvy. Here are three examples what the desire for glory can do for your results. THE RATHER MISERABLE LOOKING GENT I am showing you below worked about a minute's walk from my London office. He had one of the most boring jobs you can imagine, but managed to make it a bit more interesting by playing the fool. He is a Mexican, and stood for a few hours dressed as a burro, or donkey, at the entrance of a small court with five or six sandwich shops and restaurants and a pub in it. One always had the longest queues. It was the Mexican takeaway, selling (you guessed it) burritos. And the reason was my friend, who stood there shaking his head when people came near, handing out menus and when he felt inspired making donkey noises. He was impossible to ignore. Across the road is another Mexican joint, which is pretty much always empty. Why? No This donkey is the donkey. difference between success Relevant surprise always works, and and failure for one donkeys seem to be all the mode at the Mexican takeaway. moment. For at least forty years Smirnoff have been trying to popularise a drink called the 112
Moscow Mule, the ingredients of which change according to some arbitrary rule unknown to me. However, the drink hasn't really done all that well compared with, say, a Bloody Mary, mainly because the advertising has been bloody awful. But they eventually came up with an excellent campaign. Here is one example.
Could this campaign make Moscow Mule as famous as Bloody Mary?
It is not the girl with the sexy high heels who will do the trick - though I'm sure the art director had a lot of fun choosing the models; it is the donkey pretending to be a mule. There was a whole series of girls with this delightful animal, and I think it did a great job - assuming the drink tasted OK. This campaign did not run very long. Probably not long enough to do a decent job. As wiser people than I have often commented, advertisers often get tired of their advertising long before the public. 113
Another campaign which used pictures well is below, which I liked because I used to have schnauzers. Unlike the utterly pointless and obscenely expensive technical wizardry used on a lot of car commercials this is relevant. If ever I have worms, I know where to go.
The best ideas are usually simple.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ● ●
Dare to be different. A relevant surprise in advertising rarely fails. There are no dull products or services, only dull copywriters. A big idea doesn’t have to be expensive.
HELPFUL IDEA 33: “Every time we get creative we lose money.” Fight to rein in your brilliant creative flair. The quote in the title is from American executive who learned an old mail order lesson the hard way. Straightforward approach usually beats clever. THIS IS A CRIMINAL PICTURE. It is criminal because it is a criminal waste of money - which is a disgrace, as the advertiser, Centrepoint, is a charity that helps young people who are out on the streets.
An advert that failed.
So money that should be going to help them is being squandered to satisfy some little genius's idea of a clever line. It will almost certainly do no good, and quite possibly a fair bit of harm. What has happened is that some idiot has decided to be clever and play on the fact that a lot of people see black faces as 115
threatening - so as to point out that they're not at all - they are loveable little muppets. But all that happens with something like this is that people see the heading and agree. If they bother to go on, they just say, "So what" if they agree with the argument or, “Rubbish" if they don't. Charities and their agencies are particularly prone to making this mistake; I have no idea why. But you simply cannot rely on people appreciating your wit or irony - they are all too likely to take you literally. A lesson I still haven’t learnt When I ran a large creative department, people would often come up with this sort of creative tripe and try to sell it to me. I would say something of a helpful but mildly critical nature like "This is total bollocks" and the writer and art director would say, "But let us explain". Then I would end the discussion by observing that owing to a number of financial and logistical problems we couldn't send them round to every single prospect so as to explain the brilliance of their ideas. Almost invariably, too, I have found that if I think one of my own ideas is brilliant it flops miserably. Serves me right for not learning my lesson. Incidentally, if you want to know what makes people give to or support charity, the answer is powerful emotion. The key is explained by a famous President of Brazil, Sr. Lula Da Silva, who said, "Pockets are the most sensitive part of a human being; therefore we must touch hearts and minds first."
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
The advertiser’s job is to sell – not to entertain or publish puzzles. Do what a salesman would do and you won’t go far off. You don’t have to be clever to sell. In fact, usually the opposite works better. 116
HELPFUL IDEA 34: Understand direct brand-building Building your brand with direct marketing could be more powerful (and cheaper) than conventional image advertising. There are many, many superb examples of image advertising: Coke, Nike, Apple and Marlboro, for example. But there are quite a few well known firms who took the road less traveled: direct marketing. And succeeded – with much tinier war chests. REGULARLY PEOPLE ASK ME to do talks answering the question: can you build a brand with direct marketing? This always astonishes me, because plenty of brands - The Readers Digest, MBNA, Direct Line and Churchill Insurance, for example - have been built without any image advertising, but it clearly interests a lot of people. One of the best pieces on this subject was written years ago by Bill Fryer, who has the misfortune to run an agency of which I am the inadequate chairman. Since then his article has been plagiarised extensively because it is so good. A whole industry has You will find links to it scattered grown up around the through the Internet. This is the original need to promote and text preserved forever amongst the electrons build brands, but Bill of the Internet. Fryer argues that brand And Bill says, "Thanks to all those image is no substitute for brand reality. plagiarists - it's a great compliment." 117
WHY DIRECT MARKETING IS A BETTER BRAND BUILDING TOOL THAN CONVENTIONAL BRAND IMAGE ADVERTISING
by Bill Fryer MA Oxon - [email protected]
No one can dispute the power of a brand; the effect is very plain in direct marketing. Almost without exception a mailing by a big brand will significantly outpull one by a lesser known or unknown brand. Brands give you and me something to trust, reassurance of quality and increasingly, status. What is frequently debated is how to make one with the power to increase sales. I won't make any friends for saying it but there are any number of people who will tell you that what you need to do is spend £5,000,000 a year on prime time TV advertising for about 20 years - not a prospect I would relish. People have difficulty understanding how to create powerful brands because it is very difficult to work out the personality of something completely intangible. In my opinion the best way to look at brands is to think of them as people. Allow me to explain... If you were getting to know me you might read something about me, you might talk to some of my friends, you might pick up some juicy gossip about me or you might have seen some of my work. With all this information from all these different sources you form an opinion about me. If all of this information consistently says "Bill Fryer is a great guy" you might approach me and strike up a conversation or start working with me on some project. When you start talking to me and being with me however you start to discover the reality of me - a great guy but, bad breath, arrogant and at times highly obnoxious. (Actually I'm really not that bad I just said it like that for effect). The point is that when you actually interact with me you get the information you need to form your own opinions about me, and that is much more powerful than the reported information you based your initial conclusions on. 118
Brands are the same. You can spend all the money you like buying chunks of airtime in which to compose messages saying how great you are, paying celebrities and beautiful people to espouse your charms, and using PR to manipulate the media to say great things about you. But if the time comes when the customer tries your product and finds it sucks or rings up to complain and gets a "nothing to do with us" attitude or gets a series of overly heavy correspondence about some trivial matter - then they start to get a real picture of your brand; the brand reality. The converse is also true. If your advertising and PR isn't particularly hot but 'wow' are you nice, pleasant people to deal with and 'hey' does your product work well, that kind of brand message gets passed around. True it takes a little more time if you don't advertise it but it is most certainly the approach that works best in the long term. Now direct marketing by definition involves a company interacting with its customers. And that is why I say that direct marketing is a far more powerful brand building tool than conventional broad brush approaches. Evidence for this is plain to see: Reader's Digest, American Express and Tango are all examples of powerful brands built on direct marketing. Recently Viking office supplies was sold for over £1 billion. We've all seen their catalogues - not the most attractive in the world, but have you ever dealt with them? They really deliver. And the power of their brand is reflected in the sale price of the company. Also I have to say that for many products, especially those that are low cost everyday items, like most foods for example, this broadcast approach is often enough - but not always. That is why Tango is such an interesting example. As a soft drink brand you might have thought they don't need to interact with their customers - my point above - and the product is too cheap to merit conventional direct marketing methods. But they were languishing on the sidelines until their famous orange man campaign. Some of their campaigns have generated over 119
100,000 responses. The point here is that by choosing to follow a strategy of interacting with their customers they have successfully differentiated themselves from the competition with prodigious results. Why aren't their competitors doing anything similar? In my ever so humble, albeit at times outspoken, opinion any marketer's focus should always be primarily on how they can improve the reality of their brand and then how they can communicate that to the widest possible audience. Then there is the vexed question of brand equity. I am often horrified to read of companies that make a financial calculation of their brand worth - which then appears on the balance sheet - based on how much they have spent on advertising. Mainly because I know of several companies that have launched multimillion pound advertising campaigns only to see sales drop as a result. Dr Andrew Ehrenberg states that the value of your brand is how many customers you have. What else could it logically be? The value of your brand is defined as the added value in sales generated by the brand's goodwill compared to a baseline of an unknown brand. If an unknown brand has zero customers and your well-known brand has 100,000 good customers then that surely is the basis for working out the value of your brand on the balance sheet. But without a corporate database of customers how can you tell how many you have or who they are? And how can you communicate directly with them when you need to? Using the human analogy again if I have 100 good friends in my address book and you have 50 in yours is not my brand twice the value of yours? I'm not knocking the power of conventional brand image advertising, I fully acknowledge the power of campaigns like Marlboro, BMW and those for Apple Macintosh. I just believe that if you want to create a really valuable brand, focus on the reality first and the image second. And direct marketing is all about brand reality. 120
Bill Fryer is Creative Director of Bill Fryer Direct, a direct marketing agency in Warminster, Wiltshire. Why don't you talk to Bill Fryer Direct about how you can work together to increase your sales and boost the value of your brand. Send mail to [email protected]
or visit www.billfryer.com
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
The value of your brand is determined by how many customers you have. TV is not the only way to build brands. Worry about your brand’s reality first, image second.
HELPFUL IDEA 35: How questionnaires could increase your sales People love to give their opinions. You will love the profit you get from asking them. A questionnaire is a powerful marketing weapon far too little used. Your customers like to give their opinions. And you usually get more sales simply because you show that you care – not the mention the knowledge that helps you do even better in the future. A FRIEND IN AUSTRALIA, Gail Brennan, recently sent me a question about questionnaire responses. Nobody knows more about this than my old colleague Andrew Boddington, who is one of the best direct marketers I know, so after giving my opinion, I referred her to him. Then it suddenly occurred to me that this is a subject well worth talking about, and nobody knows more about it than Andrew. I have worked with him for many years now off and on. His speciality, I guess, is database. But his knowledge of marketing is much wider - and he makes everything seem so simple. So, after one or two comments from me, he has kindly written a quick guide to what you should know about the subject. Why questionnaires? Some techniques - and questionnaires are a good example - are so deceptively simple and obvious that people ignore them. They're not "creative" enough. Well, screw "creative". I like things that work. And questionnaires work. People love to give you their opinions. The questionnaire is 122
a very unthreatening way to approach people. You just have to ask nicely and often amazingly high percentages will reply. When they do reply, this gives you an excuse to talk to them again. So here is Andrew's advice for you: How to get people to answer your questionnaires and buy 1. People agonise over making the survey short for maximum response, but do not fear a long survey. As long as the questions seem 'natural and logical' to the reader, they will complete it, once the first few questions have been answered. 2. If you have some questions which are more critical than others, make sure the survey has clear sections - the first with the main questions, then the next introduced with the words "You do not have to answer these, but if you do so, it'll mean x, y and z benefit...and will only take a few minutes more..." 3. Response can be increased by a variety of details. A lot depends on the honesty in the introduction, why you are doing the survey, what is in it for the responder (altruism, sense of helping self or fellows, and maybe even the chance to win something in a free draw, as a gesture of thanks), explaining how the results will be used, and even how they can see a copy of the results (usually a simple summary). 4. People love being asked for their opinion ('your opinion matters to us'), so use flattery to increase participation. 5. Make the introduction from someone they already might know and respect, rather than have no name at all. Even have it look like a letter, with a signature and photo for a touch of warmth.
6. Much depends on the layout, the clarity of type face and typography, and the use of colours, tints and boxed sections make it look less daunting. 7. It sounds radical, but question how much response is really needed. Statistically a lower response sample may be fine, so that the views are representative. 8. Try a reminder mailing/emailing after the natural response has dried up from the first survey. Non-responders are not against responding, they just have busy lives, are lazy, like all human beings, so a courteous reminder will typically get half as much response again. 9. Consider how/when the survey gets handed over, emailed or mailed. Is there a better moment, so they'll more disposed to take part?
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ● ●
People like to give their opinions. Don’t just ask for feedback, use it to improve. You can use long surveys too, just make it easy to reply.
HELPFUL IDEA 36: Where to find your missing profits (again) Regain your lost millions. I wonder where more money is wasted: on advertising that doesn’t sell, or on lack of following up sales leads? This piece is about the latter. I MUST APOLOGISE for what follows, because I said something very similar earlier. However, I was prompted to repeat it with variations because of something that happened one morning. I was writing to a client who has three unique products products so good that, amongst others, the military, the banks, the railways and telecoms are interested in them - not to mention some of the world’s most famous brands. Other people can see that they are great products, too, because he has had no trouble raising a lot of money. Yet he is not yet making a profit, which must frustrate him - and plain maddens me - because I know precisely what he has to do. So this is what I wrote - and if it rings any bells with you, I'm glad! "You have an almost unnatural ability to come up with winning products - I was actually telling someone about it the other day. But you're only half way - from what you told me - to making a profit on them. Without even looking I wager I can tell you where the missing profits are. 125
They are in unsold leads. Millions of pounds worth of profits. I recall that the very first thing I ever wrote for you was a follow-up to people who had enquired but not bought. I will lay a lot of money that it is not being used systematically - and probably not at all. The reason is that your sales manager is in charge of this. For in nearly 50 years in this business I have ALWAYS found that: 1. If a sale is not made the average salesman (or sales manager) thinks it will never be made because the prospect is: a. Not interested or b. Stupid or c. Has no money or d. Not the real decision-maker e. Not the right kind of company f. Not a genuine prospect 2. Whereas in fact: a. They did not like the salesman. b. The sales pitch was no good
c. They had something else they needed to buy d. "Something came up" e. They moved to another job f. They couldn't persuade the money people I guarantee that you have all the sales you need lying around in unsold leads but not followed up ... and I bet your sales manager doesn't believe it. This is your friend speaking! I have told people countless times that the biggest unreaped harvest in business lies in leads people have given up on. I once asked one of the cleverest and most successful marketers I know – worth millions when not much more than 30 – how long he follows up leads. His reply was simple. “Till they give in”.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ● ●
Keep communicating until it doesn’t pay. I have yet to see a company that follows up too many times. Before your next customer acquisition campaign, look into your backyard first. You may find hidden gold under your feet.
HELPFUL IDEA 37: How NOT to choose an agency The way some people to choose ad agencies is more destructive than you may think. I’ve seen this happen more than I care to remember. Agencies picked based on their ability to entertain, amuse and bribe. Sheer, witless and fearfully expensive folly AGAIN I MUST APOLOGISE for pointing out something childishly obvious... but it is clearly necessary, as almost every major marketer makes this exceptionally stupid mistake. As a matter of fact, a large and lucrative industry has grown up to cater for the idiots who make it. It is called by those of us who have suffered from it, a "beauty parade". Or, more formally, The Pitch for the Account. Here's how it goes, all too often. 1. A large firm gets a new marketing director. 2. Among the many things he or she does - like changing everything his predecessor did, good or bad - is to change the agency, good or bad. 3. The objective is often, but not always, to get old friends in. 4. A statement is issued to the Trade Press - which is a sort of extended gossip column interspersed with news of little importance, fawning articles about industry "figures" and jargon-crammed pieces written by suppliers in the hope of flogging stuff. 5. Since the only thing of real interest is what might make 128
money, the announcement is read eagerly and the firm is bombarded with requests from agencies to be considered. 6. An outside firm is hired at considerable expense to suggest which agencies should be allowed to present for the account because the client is too idle, ill-informed or both to do this simple task. 7. They, quite impartially, of course, suggest (far too many) firms who have paid them to be put on such lists and who seem on the face of it to be qualified. 8. Vast sums of money, far too much time, and altogether too many meetings are devoted to the agencies putting together proposals and the clients reviewing them. 9. A "short list" is created. 10 More meetings take place, much speculative creative work is produced, and then there a series of presentations, with more meetings to talk about them. 11. The marketing director and his colleagues – none of whom have the faintest idea what might work and most of whom know nothing sbout marketing - decide who will get the account. 12. Sometimes the creative work is put into research, which usually gives absolutely no indication of what will really work (and often is 180 degrees wrong, I assure you). 13. The account is assigned. Very often it ends up with people the Marketing Director had worked with before, rather as retired generals wind up working for weapons firms. 14. The client is taken to some excellent, if overpriced restaurants 129
where much mutual back-slapping ensues. 15. Since when pitching for the business the agency knew even less about it than the client, the work that won the account is cast aside and they are now asked to produce more work which reflects something closer to what is needed. So now you know some very good reasons why so much marketing fails. Could this bring you better results? If you actually want it to work, just find out the agencies (or people) who appear best qualified, based on proper research by you - if you are the person responsible. Then ask the two or three agencies who seem to have the best record of getting measurable results and can explain how they got them, to create work you can test. Once you appoint someone, keep testing their work against that done by others, without making them feel threatened assuming they are doing a good job. (And before you switch again, remember that teaching new people takes time and costs money.) Any fool should know all this, but clearly many otherwise smart people don't.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
Don’t make choosing an agency more complicated than it is: pick a few candidates that have shown to their ability to produce results and test them. Understand that every lunch, gift and trip is eventually paid for by the client.
HELPFUL IDEA 38: Go small. It could pay off big A large advert may please your ego – not your bottom line. I’m not making any friends among art directors and media salesmen by saying this, but: beware big adverts. The white space that tells nothing, sells nothing. HERE IS SOMETHING EXCITING for you. A chart. I don't like them - schoolday memories! But this one is worth a lot of money.
The chart based on research by Philip Sainsbury shows that smaller media spaces are pro rata far more cost-effective.
The chart is based on research by Philip Sainsbury, whom I worked with some thirty years ago. He had examined all the studies done on the effect of space size on response. It seems 131
advertisers and academics had been looking at this ever since the early 1900's. Now you might expect a full page to do twice as well as a half page, and a double page spread twice as well as a full page. Not so. As the chart shows (and it seems all the studies came to almost identical conclusions) smaller spaces are pro rata FAR more cost-effective. A quarter page gets almost half as many replies as a full page. A double page is not even 50% more effective than a page. “But” This assumes that the copy is identical in all cases, of course. It ignores the fact that you can often get a better rate for a full page. And the fact that you can get more copy in a bigger space. Having said all that, never take a bigger space than you need; and don't imagine that a lot of elegant white space will sell for you. If it says nothing, it sells nothing.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
A quarter page may get almost half as many replies as a full page. A double page is not even 50% more effective than a page. Never take a bigger space than you really need.
HELPFUL IDEA 39: Lessons from selling expensive complex products and services like air planes, real estate, seminars and legal advice Don’t let high price dismay you. It’s just salesmanship. There’s common belief that you need something very expensive if you want to make money from small numbers. I have found it’s not always true. Anyhow, here are some lessons I learned from selling very expensive products and services. THIS DEALS WITH ONE of the most common mistakes people make. Recently I got a message from Peter Sharples, who wanted my advice on selling high-ticket items. Well, years ago I wrote the ads for a very high ticket item indeed. It was called the Airbus. How much did I vary my approach? Less than you might think. I started with five thoughts. Five tips on selling big ticket items 1. I had to explain how it was different and better. So I explained how the two engines (rather than three or four) made it more economical. 2. I had to overcome objections. So I explained how these engines were just as safe - you could land with just one functioning. 3. I had to remember that people would be buying it. So I went about appealing to human emotions. 4. I had to remember that there would be many decision-makers. So I bore that in mind in my copy. 133
5. I had to remember it was expensive and decisions take a long time. You don't get up one morning and say. I think I'll buy an Airbus. So I didn't say "buy now while stocks last". So, yes, high ticket items are indeed different. But it is still all about buying and selling. You must use common sense and adapt what you do to how people buy - the process. Besides the fact that you often have several decision makers, and that they all have different motivations which you must address with differing messages, there is one very significant difference. The greater the price, the harder it normally is to get a sale. A low price usually means a one-step or maybe a two step sale, without a great deal of reflection. Who broods over spending £5? But a £1,000 sale - that may be different. And a £50,000 sale, even more so. In those higher realms, there may be many stages. You run an ad, or send an e-mail or some direct mail. You get a reply. Or maybe they go to your website. You try to capture their names. You may phone them. You may have a salesman go and visit. You may invite them to a seminar. Then, it may take you months or even years to get the sale closed. Here are some things to bear in mind: Long copy or short? Good, long copy almost invariably beats short copy, anyhow. But this is particularly true when things cost a lot. Let me give you a couple of examples: one of our clients sold a product that starts at £85,000. The average spend though, was £170,000. Their sales process began with a one page letter. So we rewrote it. When we had finished, it was four pages long. Here's the rub though: they said they wouldn't send it out as 'nobody will read a four page letter'. But we persevered, and they reluctantly agreed to send it. The result? Response tripled and sales doubled. You see, 134
when you are asking people to spend substantial amounts, their neck is on the line - they'd read a book on the subject if they could find one. More recently we sent out a 6 page letter to sell a very complex on-line product to lawyers. It went to under 2,000 people. One firm splashed out over £l00,000 just on the strength of that letter, another over £50,000. The mailing with one follow-up and a whole sales sequence produced over £1,000,000 in sales. In fact we then created another series for that client which produced over £1,500,000 in sales. At that point they got a new marketing director and I never heard from them again. Don't get me started on that subject. Remember, though, there's a huge difference between being long-winded and being relevant. In fact I think my first letter to lawyers was a bit flabby, and have cut it back. How to use multiple sales arguments Expensive products seldom if ever have one benefit - usually you'll end up with quite a list when writing your drafts. Here's what you should do. 1. Write a letter or e-mail/landing page that encompasses all the points. If you miss any one out, you are missing a potential sale from readers who might be motivated by it. 2. Make sure you also overcome all reasonable objections. Again, any one omitted can lose you a sale. 3. Break the individual topics down into a logical sequence, then use them as the openings to a series of helpful messages to prospects. These can be letters, White Papers - whatever. Doing this serves two important purposes: ●
Firstly, different prospects have different needs - and until 135
you are further down the sales process you won't know what they are. So you have to cover every angle. ●
Secondly, you stay on their radar without sending out mindless propaganda. And prospects tend to hang on to useful, helpful information.
Another good reason for doing this is it's very hard to stay in touch with prospects when you have nothing new to say and keep repeating yourself. Mind you, continually sending out the same message to existing prospects is better than doing nothing at all. Continually qualify your prospect Every so often politely ask your prospect whether they'd prefer if they didn't hear from you again. This not only saves time and money weeding out duff prospects. Another real advantage is forcing your other prospects to ask, "Are we interested in what you have to say and offer?" Naturally, when you do this, you get more people than normal asking not to hear from you again. But in the same light also you get more than usual letting you know their intentions and where they are in the buying process. I suspect when you read the bit about long copy you muttered to yourself "Easier said than done." It's true. So one good trick is to write next to each paragraph a phrase summing up what it says. Then you can see whether the sequence of argument makes sense. Lastly, here's a point you'll know I'm very fond of: ●
Don't ignore old prospects - always true but ESPECIALLY true with expensive items. As I said to start with, the decision may take a long time - sometimes years. Putting the fury and energy most people apply to finding 136
new prospects into existing prospects is always smart. Yet so many still do not do it. And often old enquiries are your best prospects, as you will have read early on in this series. For one thing, you have been educating them about your merits!
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
It may take you months or even years to close an expensive deal. Good, long copy almost invariably beats short copy. But this is particularly true when things cost a lot. Often old enquiries are your best prospects. Try again with them. Make people choose. Ask “Are you interested or not?”
HELPFUL IDEA 40: Writing that works Make your writing – not your readers – do the work. Writing well is hard. Over 200 years ago Dr. Samuel Johnson observed: "That which is written to please the writer rarely pleases the reader." If you want to get ahead in business, try improving your writing. DO YOU HAVE TOO MUCH to read? Memos, reports, letters, e-mails, leaflets, newspapers, magazines, catalogues, direct mail? And are they breeding like wire coat hangers? Well, in a survey some years ago, US business leaders were asked what change they would most like to see in business. They didn't talk about accounting or strategy. The majority pleaded: "Teach people to write better." They just had too much written garbage to plough through. We all do. If you read most stuff put out nowadays it is appalling. Badly written, dull - and often downright incomprehensible. Yet to write better you just need to be able to count. This was discovered by Rudolph Flesch, an American, who spent years in the 1940's researching what makes for easy reading. As a result he formulated some very easy rules. What makes easy reading The simplest is, make your sentences short. The easiest sentence to take in is only eight words long. A sensible average is 16 words. Any sentence of more than 32 words is hard to take in. That's because most people tend to forget what happened at 138
the beginning of the sentence by the time they get to the end. You must make it easy for people. The same applies to paragraphs. Vary them, but keep them short, containing only one or two thoughts - especially the first one. A long opening paragraph is daunting. And happily Microsoft Word has a tool partly based on Flesch which will help you. Just go to Tools/Option/Spelling & Grammar/Show readability statistics. If you use that option it automatically tells you how readable your stuff is. Oh - and whatever you do, ignore their grammar suggestions - they're 100% useless. Good examples Read any popular novel, newspaper or magazine. They are written for people who are not clever, or not concentrating. Words, sentences and paragraphs are very short. And here are some other suggestions. 1. A heading must make the reader want to find out more, and not reveal so much they might not feel they need to read it. 2. Try to avoid 'we' instead of 'I' - the writing most likely to be read is me to you. People don't relate to organisations. 3. Count the number of "you" words - yours and your - versus "me" words - I, us, our, ours and we. The ratio should be at least 2:1, preferably 3:1. 4. Use "carrier" words and phrases at the beginnings of sentences to keep people reading. Such as Moreover, That is why, In addition, What's more, On top of that, Also and And. These tell your reader there is more to come. And forget what your teacher told you: "And" is often used to start sentences in The Bible. 5. You can also use questions at the ends of sentences or paragraphs. Why is this? 139
6. Because which you have to read on to get the answers (and if you notice, the end of point 5 and start of this point demonstrate what I mean). George Orwell's "1984" and "Animal Farm" were gripping parables about the nightmare of totalitarianism. In an essay he gave six rules for better writing. 1. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. People get used to them and they fail to take them in. Say something fresh or different. Don't say "at the end of the day" - say "in the end"; don't say "put it to the acid test" - say "test thoroughly". "Cutting edge" or "state of the art" mean "newest" 2. Never use a long word where a short one will do. Complimentary - Free Anticipate - Expect Expectation - Hope Authored - Wrote Transportation - Car Purchase - Buy Ameliorate - Improve Lifestyle - Life Marketplace - Market Transitioning - changing 3. If you can cut a word out, always do so. ● ● ● ●
"Miss out on" should be "miss" "Male personnel" is "men" "For free" is "free" "Crisis situation" is "crisis" 140
● ● ●
"Meal solution" is "meal" or "recipe" "Research process" is usually "research" "Station stop" is "station" or "stop"
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active. Active is always shorter. A biblical example is "Abel was slain by Cain" - better as "Cain slew Abel". 5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. ● ● ● ● ●
"Interface" works better as "talk with" "Core competencies" means "what we do best" "Easy to use" beats "user-friendly" "Mission statement" is "our aim" "This is a non-smoking environment" is "No smoking"
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous. I have two suggestions besides making sure you write as simply as possible. Before you start, write a simple, logical structure for what you want to say. Then draft - and revise until you're 100% sure anyone can understand it. A friend once gave me a recipe for this which delighted me. "Show it to an idiot," he instructed, "Get them to read it, and ask if they understand". I don't show my writing to an idiot. I show it to someone with common sense, but not as interested in the subject as I am. This is often my PA., but could be anyone who happens to be around. I always say, "Can you read this, please? What do you think? Is it clear?" 141
Just remember you're not writing for yourself but for others. Make it easy for them. And if you want to make it easy for yourself get an excellent and mercifully short book written by two of my former colleagues called Writing that Works - How to Improve Your Memos, Letters, Reports, Speeches, Resumes, Plans, and Other Business Papers By Kenneth Roman and Joel Raphaelson
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
Show it to someone who knows nothing about the subject. See if they understand what you wrote. Use short simple words. Good writing is clear, not clever.
HELPFUL IDEA 41: “Go for the kill!” A simple business lesson from the Great Depression Your compelling headline is wasted if you don't go all out for a sale. Headlines are important but don’t forget your close. Little things like commanding in selling can make big difference in your profits. So don’t delay – read this now for bigger results! I HAVE A DAUGHTER in Montclair, New Jersey - hometown of the famous baseball coach Yogi Berra. As a result, I have made a bit of a study of his remarks. And one of my favorites is, "You can observe a lot just by looking." One thing I have observed a lot is the disinclination of most marketers to look at the past - and see what they can learn from it. They just don't study enough. Coincidentally, a client recently asked if I had any good examples of marketing during shaky economic times. I was stumped for a moment, because wise marketers do the same things in any economy: What professional marketers do They avoid trying to be "creative" like the plague; don't settle for the first idea they come up with; test everything - and, for God's sake, do everything they possibly can to get that response. That last point is so important. And so often ignored. When I look at marketing copy - which I do every day - I am struck by how weak the calls to action are, especially when I consider how much difference even tiny changes can make. For instance: ●
When I worked briefly with the astonishing Gene Schwartz, I learned that writing "tear out this 143
coupon" instead of "cut out this coupon" made a significant difference in response rates.
When I got into catalogue marketing, I discovered that if you put ordering details on every page, sales went up.
When I wrote my first insurance mailings, tests showed that doubling the size of the order form boosted sales 25%.
And one of the first things I learned about TV direct response was that the longer the phone number is on the screen, the higher the response.
I just looked in my files and found the following - the end of a leaflet. It dates back to the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Calls to action do not come much stronger than this, do they?
Now that final paragraph really is a call to action. You can tell that whoever wrote it really wanted people to reply: "Let nothing, absolutely nothing, interfere with immediate action," he wrote. "A change for the better justifies no delay. Don't watch others make money which you can make. Be up and doing now. Some other time may be too late. Place your order and application this very minute. Take the action now that means more money next week, independence next year." The business promoted by that leaflet was successful for 144
many years. And if you read the copy, you can see that it is in a field that's very popular now on the Internet - making money by selling stuff. Just salesmanship It is easy to forget that your advertising merely acts as a substitute for a live salesperson. If you could afford it, you would send the finest salesperson you have to do the job for you. So when you look at your marketing copy, you must constantly ask yourself, "Is this how a great salesperson would do it?" If you want to make a sale, you must: ●
Remind people what they get when you ask for the order. Put a value on what they get. ("You could pay more for a lunch for two.") Remind them what they will miss if they don't respond to your offer. Emphasize the deadline or the limited numbers. (I've seen that boost response by 50%.)
Here are some of the ways I like to end my sales copy: ● ●
"Why not make this the very next thing you do?" "Why not reply the minute you finish reading this?" "It's so easy to put things off, isn't it? Why not reply now?" "Why not order now, while this is fresh in your mind?"
I always try to ask for the sale at least three times at the end. And if I'm working with long copy, I ask early on too. (That gets people who are keen to buy right away.) And then I keep asking at intervals. 145
Give every reason to act Now, here is an instructive little exercise for you. Read through the last paragraph of copy in the leaflet example I gave above. Here it is again: "Let nothing, absolutely nothing, interfere with immediate action. A change for the better justifies no delay. Don't watch others make money which you can make. Be up and doing now. Some other time may be too late. Place your order and application this very minute. Take the action now that means more money next week, independence next year." Now count the number of reasons it gives for acting. I got eight. Did you? That gives you some idea how hard you have to fight for business in tough times. (Remember, that leaflet was written during the Great Depression.) The moment of truth comes when you ask for the order. Believe me, few things cost less or make more difference than doing that as though your life depends on it - because it may.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ● ●
Give every reason to act now. Go for the kill! Repeat your calls to action. Don’t bury them at the end. Unlike many think, closing – getting the sale – is the hardest part in selling.
HELPFUL IDEA 42: Is discounting fatal? The mistake that almost killed some of the world's biggest brands I do give deals – but discounting can hurt you if you are not cautious. As one of the original 1960’s mad men Howard Luck Gossage said when he was diagnosed with leukemia, “It’s fatal but not serious.” LIFE IS STRANGE. I am one of the most disorganized jokers you'll ever meet, but a book by one of the world's most organized people influenced me hugely. It was My Years With General Motors by Alfred P. Sloan. Under Sloan's leadership, General Motors became the world's largest car manufacturer. The company was so important to the US economy that they used to say, "What's good for General Motors is good for the country." But General Motors - and Chrysler - got into terrible trouble and had to be bailed out, barely surviving. How the mighty fall There were many reasons, but one was their marketing. Aside from their ads tending to be boastful and dull, they fell into a habit I see as the marketing equivalent of crack addiction: heavy discounting. This gives an immediate boost to sales, but you become addicted to it. And you get nasty after-effects - as with crack. Consider: ●
The people who buy most from a promotion are your best customers, who would have bought even without the discount. 147
When offered a discount, people are enticed to accelerate their buying decisions... so there is a slump afterward. You are training your customers to expect bribes.
To explain more about why this is so dangerous, I must take you back 25 years. The common mistake that kills firms Ogilvy and Mather had a unit called the Ogilvy Centre for Research in San Francisco. The director, Alex Biehl, was working on a project called PIMS. PIMS stood - I think - for Profit Impact of Marketing Strategies. Over 200 firms took part, and the project was run in partnership with Professor Andrew Ehrenberg at the London Business School. (David Ogilvy always said Andrew had the best mind in marketing.) One thing the project revealed was very simple, very important - yet seemed to be news to almost all marketers: Firms that spend more money on discounting than advertising are far less profitable than those that spend more on advertising than discounting. ●
The project divided the firms into four quartiles. Those in the top quartile spent the most on advertising and the least on discounting. Those in the bottom quartile did it the other way round.
The firms in the top quartile were on average twice as profitable as those in the bottom one.
Think about it. When you spend more on offering deals than explaining why people should want to buy your stuff, you are perilously close to saying, "Our stuff is not good enough to sell on its merits at full price." To get back to where I started... General Motors is no longer 148
the world's biggest automotive firm. Toyota is. Another brand that once led its market but no longer does is Dell. And guess what? Every single e-mail Dell sends me offers a deal. I am not saying never discount. I offer discounts all the time. Nor am I saying traditional advertising is the answer to your problems. What I am saying is that marketing messages through whatever medium - that give people reasons, emotional or rational, for buying are the key to building your business and brand.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ● ●
Are you training your customers to expect bribes? Your best customers often buy without promotions. Firms that spend more money on discounting than advertising are far less profitable than those that spend more on advertising than discounting. When offered a discount, people are enticed to accelerate their buying decisions... so there is a slump afterward.
HELPFUL IDEA 43: Upside-down marketing Why is upside-down marketing so popular? And is it killing your business? As far as I can see most sensible marketers are keen on improving their creative. And why not? Simply by changing what you say or how you say it you can double, triple or quadruple your profit. But is that all there is to success? IN FACT, NO. The first thing is to concentrate on what makes the most difference - not what you like or find most interesting or congenial. But most people don't. Mark Twain had a good joke about it: "To a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail." Why creative gets more attention than it deserves Creative is fun. We all like playing with words and pictures and with today's whiz-bang technology you can make videos and do podcasts and all that groovy stuff. The devil is, though, that good creative is damned hard to do. Most of us professional scribes can tell you that one way or another long copy works better than short. But knowing that is useless if you do not know how to write long copy. It is very, very hard, no matter how many people tell you their magic system will do it all for you. "A gifted product is mightier than the gifted pen" - David Ogilvy As a writer I'd love to think creative is the most important element in success. But it isn't. 150
Are you fixing the right thing? So if you sometimes wonder why despite all your studies you are not doing too well it may be because you have got your priorities upside down. In my experience most marketers have. They will spend 10 times as much time looking at creative elements as examining other things which may be more boring but are infinitely more important. First and most important, by a very long chalk, comes what you deliver and how well people relate to it. By that I mean the quality of your product or service and its positioning. Improving what you sell or altering the way people perceive it will have more impact on your results than anything. That includes every aspect of that product and service - such as how it is delivered. Dell became the leaders in their field as a result of a number of things, one of which was selling directly. Another, offering people a tailor-made computer. Ogilvy & Mather, with whom I worked for a number of years, were very hot on research because David Ogilvy's background included a spell with Gallup Research. They discovered that the positioning of what you offer was the most important element in advertising. Positioning? I think it is your character or personality. I often quote the former Chairman of J Walter Thompson, Dr John Treasure, who described it by saying:, "Why do I love one woman rather than another? It is not just a matter of physical attributes". Or take a couple of examples from a totally different field to the one you usually read about here, booze. Which booze do you prefer? Jack Daniel's Whiskey is hugely successful largely because of its positioning. I bet you When you choose, the image is couldn't tell it from other whiskeys by taste alone. But it is distilled in a quaint little town what sways you. 151
in Tennessee by down-to-earth folks who are clearly as honest as the day is long. They would never sell you or make a lousy whiskey. In England the largest selling beer is Stella, which originates in Belgium. When it was originally launched it had what might politely be called a nothing positioning. They could have played on the Belgian heritage - Belgium is famous for its beers - but they played on nothing. The original ad was "there is a terrific draught (or draft) in here". It's just a play on A lesson from Stella: words. There was no real thinking behind How to communicate your premium it. The beer was then re-launched with an position? appeal based upon its strength. It was Charge more. slightly stronger than other lagers. This did not make that much headway. Then it was launched again with the proposition "reassuringly expensive" and that did the trick. Higher price implies higher quality. Before we get to the creative bit we love there are a few other things you should consider. The most important element is the one that makes direct marketing, particularly on-line, so powerful. That is the ability to test, measure and research what is happening as a result of what you are doing or you plan to do. I have lost count of the number of times people have come to me bent upon doing something without the faintest idea of whether it is likely to work or not in advance, or the faintest idea afterwards whether it did work or not. The blessings conferred by Google I would say Google Analytics is the most powerful weapon marketers have been given since the advent of the coded coupon in newspapers. And I am still astounded that so many people are conducting 152
marketing on the internet without taking advantage of the extraordinary facilities offered by Google, which you all know about. There are many people who are more qualified to talk about this than I am so I will shut up, except to say how astounded I have been over the years by another simple thing that could be done - yet which most people do not bother to do. I once had a job which involved me going around the world to Ogilvy & Mather offices stirring up trouble, looking out for good people, giving advice, talking to clients, making presentations and commenting on creative work. Time and time again I would be shown a piece of work and asked why it had failed; and time and time again I would say "have you rung the people who received it to find out?" Almost invariably the answer was "no". Simply asking people whether they received something or recall receiving it, whether they understood it and what they thought it said and why they did not reply is so laughably simple and yet so important that I am astounded so few people bother with it. Gary Halbert’s marketing tip The next most important thing is targeting. About 28 years ago I wrote in my book Commonsense Direct Marketing that even the worst message sent to the right people will do better than the most brilliant message sent to the wrong people. Gary Halbert put it rather well when he used to say the most important advantage in marketing if you were running a hamburger joint was to have a starving crowd. The next most important thing generally speaking is the incentive, because what I give you is going to be far more important than any bullshit I can come out with. Sometimes deciding not to have an incentive can be important. When I worked for the Franklin Mint during their glory days they repeatedly tested incentives - and they never worked. They 153
went against the positioning of the Franklin Mint which was a sort of rarefied upmarket approach. This brings me full circle - to the thing everybody likes to spend their time on, yet which is so difficult to achieve: better creative. But remember, it is NOT the key to success you may imagine. What are you supposed to take away from this? Get your priorities right. Most people don't. Most people like to concentrate on what they enjoy most - the creative bit. It is important - but by no means the most important element. Often the least important.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
Your product and positioning are the most important elements Creative is fun but it’s NOT the key to success. A good ad can’t save a bad product. Concentrate on what makes the most difference. Higher price implies higher quality. What you like and what sells are usually different things.
HELPFUL IDEA 44: The eternal battle between sales and marketing Bad results – whose fault? In far too many firms, sales and marketing – who should be natural partners – are sworn enemies. Why? I WAS IN SHANGHAI doing a few seminars a while ago. It's a dizzying place. Every time I looked out of my hotel window the building they were putting up had gained another storey in the night, because people were working 24 hours a day. Ambitions there are limitless - but not many people understand marketing well. However they are by no means stupid - I would say (and results in many universities tend to confirm this) they are smarter than most Westerners, and ask highly relevant questions. An ancient problem One man asked me to explain the relationship between sales and marketing. This made me think about a problem we come up against time and again. As Thomas Watson Jr of IBM put it, "Nothing happens in business until something gets sold." Many of the people we work with who are in sales appreciate that unless they have a full pipeline of leads the business is in trouble. More to the point, they are in trouble - because they're judged by sales results. And why are they in trouble? Very often because although they have to produce the results, they don't have the money - the marketing budget. The marketing director has that. And he or she is often more concerned with things like branding and advertising. Lamentable, really. Results: impasse - and very often bad blood between sales and marketing. 155
What's the answer? Collaboration. In far too many firms, sales and marketing - who should be natural partners - are sworn enemies. The sales people see the marketing folk as a bunch of highfalutin' theorists who know nothing about the real world. The marketers regard the sales people as a bunch of unsophisticated oafs. Yet the truth is - as you would know if you ever had to take money off people face to face, that selling is damn hard work. Get sales and marketing folk to talk to each other. Get them to explain each other's problems. Then get each side to come up with solutions - for the other side's problems. A session which involved doing this would achieve a lot more than some of the stuff that passes for training in business.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ●
Sales and marketing should be partners. Trick is to get them to TALK to each other.
HELPFUL IDEA 45: How Claire, Jose and I nearly sold the unsellable Ignore the experts. It could be the most profitable move you make this year. One of my clients' results are up around 30%, even in the middle of the dire recession. Maybe one reason is revealed in an email they got. It read: I receive emails from you regularly, and could no longer resist writing back to you to say that you have a very salesy and persuasive approach!! Your messages sell, cajole and persuade, without being arrogant, aggressive, unpleasant or intrusive!! I have no plans to go to Spain, but because of your emails - have seriously considered it, and have nearly committed and booked on DoYouSpain a couple of times over the last few weeks! And that is saying something, because I consider myself to be normally "sales-proof"! Well, I'd like to take all the credit for that. But two other people wrote a few of those emails. They are Jose, the boss of DoYouSpain.com and his trusty marketing sidekick, Claire. I like to think my training helped. In fact one of my trainees, Alex, has helped with nifty ideas too. What made that email even more interesting was the first sentence: I have been in sales and marketing for many years, and am confident that I can recognize an effective sales person/approach when I come across one. And the last: So, just to let you know, when the need arises to book a hire car, I will be booking with you! 157
What you can learn from it There is another lesson from all this. When Jose and I started working together last year they were sending out one email a week. Now it's usually two - and sometimes three. If your messages are good enough you can say "phooey" to all the "experts" who tell you not to email to people too often. In fact it seems you can damn nearly sell things to people who don't want what you're selling The secret is, you can't bore people into buying. So if you want someone to charm them into giving you money, you know where I am. And if you wonder if this is just a lot of hokum, here's a list of my clients from the last couple of years or so: ● Nielsen Research (International) ● Prudential Assurance (U.K) ● Stanley Gibbons (World's largest Stamp Dealers) ● The Royal Mint (Coins) ● Ivanhoe Cycles Retailers (Australia) ● Young Driver - Driving Courses (U.K) ● DoYouSpain - Car Rental (Spain) ● LRN - Ethical Business Strategy (U.K) ● Pimsleur Language Courses (U.S) ● Oaklands - Independent Financial Advisors (U.K) ● Foschini - Women's Fashion (South Africa) ● William Westmacott - Saville Row Tailoring (U.K) ● Top Shop - Women's Fashion (U.K) ● WOW Carpet Cleaning (U.K) ● Lexis Nexis - Legal Publishing (U.K) ● Journeys of Distinction Luxury Holidays (U.K) ● Leger Holidays (Coach Holidays) (U.K) ● Equiniti (Financial Services) UK ● Virgin Wines (U.K.) ● The Institute of Direct Marketing - Education (UK) 158
IQPC - Publishing and Conferences (International) Ocean Villas - International Property (Thailand and Hong Kong) Results - Executive Coaching (UK)
Some of these people want better copy. Some want their stuff critiqued. Some want training. Some want cheaper, better leads on line. They all want to do better in tough times. Sixteen of those nineteen have come back for more - twelve repeatedly. The other three were just one project - so far. The other day one came back after a year's careful measurement and said the results were "staggering". This is not entirely unknown. Do you want to increase your sales and profits? If you're interested, don't sit on your hands. We can only take on a very limited number of jobs, because I only work with colleagues who know what they're doing - and I am involved in everything. Email me at: [email protected]
I try to reply to every message personally.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ●
You can’t bore people into buying. Communicate with your customers and prospects whenever you have something interesting to say. If you want better results, why not try my agency? I guarantee results – or you don’t pay.
HELPFUL IDEA 46: What some famous copywriters taught me Strictly for those interested in copy. Few copywriters study enough. And many who commission copy study even less. So the partially-sighted serve the blind. No wonder most copy isn't very good. I'VE ALWAYS LIKED this old New York joke: A man asks for directions. "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?" "Practice," comes the reply. Practice starts with study. Only if you have studied do you have any idea what to practice at. I started studying how to write copy before I even got a job in advertising. I sat in Manchester Public Library and read everything I could find. I have never stopped. If others have done the job before you, start by studying and copying the best people you can find. It's the only way to learn. How copywriters fall and how you can rise Most copywriters study little, if at all. They think the key is ingenuity and clever ideas. They put their faith in flair and luck. They "pick it up" as they go along. That is why most copy is so bad. Their chances of success are not improved by those who employ them or commission copy, few of whom know much about the subject either. Of all the kinds of copy, direct response is the hardest, yet few clients pay very well for it. To make big money you have to get a royalty deal, which is a rare and wonderful beast outside North America. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys, so most copy is not very 160
good. A shame, as it is perhaps the cheapest ingredient in success. I have never specialised in any kind of copy: I take my money where I can get it. But the principles that apply to one kind of copy apply to all kinds of copy. What's more, I have found they apply equally to all messages designed to get results - speeches, articles, presentations: you name it. Here are some of the people I learned from. Maybe you will, too. Meet the father of a free trial I suspect I learned most from John E. Powers - possibly the first really professional copywriter. He talked about what a product does for the customer, rather than what it is. He popularised the free trial offer and the money back guarantee. To this day many do not realise the effectiveness of those three things. In an interview he said, "The first thing ... is to have the attention of the reader. That means to be interesting. The next thing is to stick to the truth, and that means rectifying whatever's wrong in the merchant's business. If the truth isn't tellable, fix it so it is. That is about all there is to it." Discover two undervalued war horses His two chief weapons were honesty and giving reasons for his claims - rather than just plain boasting. This is called the reason-why technique. Only a week or so ago someone wrote to me saying they had tried it and it made all the difference. Just think! Here is something introduced in the mid 19th century. Yet most marketers still don't know about it. Powers also said to his interviewer, who was from Printer's Ink, the advertising trade paper, "Never read any of those advertising publications. They ain't worth reading." That was in the 1890's, so nothing much has changed: ●
To this day many people think unsubstantiated boasting works - look at most car advertising. It doesn't. Not in real life. Not in copy. And if you don't explain why you are so good, people tend to 161
disbelieve you. Both these facts are unknown to many marketers, but my partners and I have had considerable success just by applying honesty. ●
And to this day people still imagine a bad product can be saved by advertising. It can't; in fact good advertising kills bad products faster.
13 apostles of scientific advertising Claude Hopkins was perhaps the most able copywriter ever - so good that allegedly by 1917 his boss used to give him a blank cheque every year and let him set his own salary. From his book Scientific Advertising (1923) I learned many things, but principally that copy is "just salesmanship". Your copy should do what a good salesman would do. A salesman gives every good reason for buying; a salesman forestalls objections; a salesman is not brief. Yet little copy does a complete selling job, and many still imagine brevity works best. It doesn't. Time after time, for nearly fifty years, I have seen long copy beat short. John Caples was the master of testing. I used to re-read his book Tested Advertising Methods regularly when I was young. I still turn to it. From it I learned many, many things - but especially that as another good man, Richard V. Benson, put it, "There are only two rules in direct marketing. Rule 1: Test everything. Rule 2: Refer to rule 1." Ogilvy’s secret Two of my other teachers admired Caples. David Ogilvy, with whom I worked for some years, was one. He told me that he and Rosser Reeves agreed that they learned all they knew from Caples. He also told me one night over dinner that the secret of success was charm - and that "the customer is not a moron: she is your wife". So I try to avoid the usual crass, copywriter's English and treat the reader like an intelligent person. It seems to work. 162
David was a great student. He encouraged me in my belief that study was the key. His book, Confessions of an Advertising Man, had an enormous influence on me in my first big job as a creative director: I used to test things he mentioned, like the use of certain words which increase readership. Then when I wrote my own first business book, Commonsense Direct Marketing, I copied his idea of making it very personal. People are more interested in people than theory. Reeves' book Reality in Advertising expressed and then sold the idea of the USP- thre Unique Selling Proposition. I learned that you need to be able to offer something different and better to succeed. So I spend a lot of time looking for it. And I still find that giving a competitive argument usually increases response - yet few bother to do it. Many years ago a friend asked me if I'd like to go and work for Reeves as a creative director; I wanted to stay in England for some personal reasons so I said "no". I suspect I would have learned a lot, though. Vic Schwab was partner in one of the first specialist direct response agencies, back in the '30's. He wrote a book called How to Write a Good Advertisement. I have had the same copy for 45 years. And I still refer to the list of 100 headlines in it when I'm stuck for idea. There are many others I knew and am indebted to. Bill Jayme, Gene Schwartz, Joe Karbo, Monroe Kane, Murray Raphel, Denny Hatch, Joe Sugarman, Gary Halbert – and others. And I still study in the hope that one day I'll really know what I'm doing.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ● ●
Benefits, free trial and money back guarantee still works well. Some of the world’s greatest copywriters and advertisers used old proven principles and flourished. Why not do the same? Study could be your secret to success. 163
HELPFUL IDEA 47: Where the money leaks away Beware organised bribery. Some time ago a man asked for my views on customer retention and was intrigued to know what I feel about "more structured customer retention programmes - loyalty cards, tactical retention teams etc." I think firms lose millions every day because of poor - or unimaginative - attention to customers. That is why the word "churn" comes up time and again. HERE IS WHAT I wrote to him: 1. If you look for greater profit keeping people longer is the easiest method; these people - assuming you deliver what you promise - are money for jam. 2. Any method is better than no method. 3. Most firms tend, like lustful bachelors, to devote themselves to the thrill of the chase - acquisition - rather than retention. 4. I don't like loyalty cards. They are organised bribery. A zero sum game - "everyone else has one; so must we". Giving something real - better service - seems to me better. 5. I tend to hate teams of all kinds, I'm afraid. I doubt if Einstein was much of a team player. But this is a personal quirk. 6. I would prefer a loose structure, where people are asked to 164
come up with ideas that will make customers happier as often as they can. 7. But I guess in large organisations managers think things should run in a way that minimises the need to think, which means teams and processes are important. I suspect that is why many people in such organisations are not very happy. Firms are quite exceptionally bad when it comes to regular service messages sent to customers. These are actually far more important, relevant and interesting to customers than the promotional stuff firms focus on. But they are not seen as "creative", so are given to very junior people to do. Sheer folly. Few of these people can write well, thanks to our laughable educational system. One insurance firm hired me twice to rewrite their service messages. Not much fun for me, but very important for them and their customers. (They hired me twice because a new marketing director came in after the first time and said my messages were too long and - you guessed it - not "creative" enough. Buffoon.)
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
If you look for greater profit keeping people longer is the easiest method. Most firms tend, like lustful bachelors, to devote themselves to the thrill of the chase – acquisition – rather than retention. Regular service messages sent to customers matter more than you may think. Get them right. I don't like loyalty cards. They are organised bribery.
HELPFUL IDEA 48: “I wouldn’t do that if I were you” 21 common ways to sink your firm – and I have another 128 for you. Here are 21 stupid things that can screw up your business: 1. Ignore the lessons of the past (Assume they didn’t know as much 200 years ago) 2. Think you can pick it up as you go along 3. Be “creative” – assume that what you think is wonderful will sell 4. Have too many meetings 5. Not try being a customer 6. Hire a Marketing Director without looking at his past record 7. Fall for the latest fad 8. Believe human nature is altered by media or changing times 9. Assume biz decisions are made logically 10. Get up your own arse over brand guidelines 11. Talk like a marketing person 12. Try to make it perfect 13. Believe anyone who says they This little list grew can make you rich like topsy, Eventually 14. Assume your prospect is intelligent I compiled a list of 15. Assume your prospect is stupid 149 which I presented 16. Read about nothing but marketing with some glee to an 17. Fail to test audience at The 18. Imagine everything will be OK Royal Mail. Someone 19. Spend more energy imagination and asked me, “Why 149?” money on prospects than customers I replied, 20. Assume anything is always, or never “Because that's all I the case had time for.” 21. Fail to invest in your staff 166
HELPFUL IDEA 49: Recipe for extraordinary results? Questions, questions, questions I once emailed my list about my partner Bill Fryer - and the "explosive" results he gets. People asked "How does he do it" - and in one case "Is this really you in disguise, Drayton". It is not me. And this is what he said is his secret: ATTENTION TO DETAIL. A great copywriter once told me that great creative work with poor marketing behind it rarely does well. In order to succeed you need good marketing first and then you need to top that off with good creative. This is at the back of my mind every time I talk to a new client. So, whenever I get a brief, I question it a lot. I ask myself: ● ● ● ● ●
What is the client trying to do here? What is special/different about this product/service? Why would anyone actually want to buy it? Why would they want to buy it today? Who are they planning to send this to/what media is it going into? What testimonials, scientific evidence, celebrity endorsement do they have?
I try and find out as much as possible about the product and the market and I try and think about someone who might want to buy it and where they are at when they see that piece of advertising. I also try and sell the product to people (usually my wife) 167
and see if I can convince someone/her to buy/want it. I use this as a way to rehearse sales arguments. Bill who? Bill has a good mind and is very ingenious. Here's something he did when he was doing his PhD (the third PhD I have worked with: all have done well). A town in a valley did not receive terrestrial TV signals but got their TV piped in by cable. A split test was done on the town with a headache pill company. They looked in people's medicine cabinets at the start, then fed ads into one side of the town but not the other. When they inspected people's cabinets after the test something interesting happened. When you asked people if they bought the pills (post advertising) both sides of the town had the same response. But when you looked in their medicine cabinets the advertised to half had a far, far higher purchase rate. Bill is a very interesting man. He came to me for a job maybe 12 years ago. I didn't have room. So he went away and started his own agency in a tiny office in a small town in the countryside called Warminster. Then I became his chairman, which involves keeping out of the way. He has a line I love: We're the small agency in the middle of nowhere that charges a lot less, beats the big agencies - and can prove it. Bill is very quiet and seems very serious, but when you get to know him you realise he is quite crazy and extremely funny. We have lots of laughs together. Incidentally, I often quote the Duke of Wellington, who said the secret of his success was attention to detail. Another secret of success is to eat your own cooking. Rather than just try to sell clients’ products, Bill decided to set up his own mail order business. He does very well. I do the same in my business.
One of the brightest young people I ever hired as a young art director impressed me because he, too, started a mail order business on the side. Today he is hugely successful, having been named the best creative director in Asia – which is quite a large continent.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
To solve a problem, try to express it as a question. It helps you think. In order to succeed you need good marketing first. And then you need to top that off with good creative. Find out as much as possible about the product and the market. Before you write, try to sell the product in person.
HELPFUL IDEA 50: What little I know about management Avoid managing by fear. I really don't like a lot of management people. They care more about their careers than their staff, let alone their customers. Jack Welch said, "Most people have their heads pointing to the chairman and their asses towards the customers". IT WOULD BE FLATTERING to say I am not much of a manager. I can recall only reading three books on the subject: Alfred P. Sloan, My Years with General Motors, Up the Organisation by Robert Townsend and The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard. I am lucky to have realised my incompetence and always seek other people to run things. What matters I think your staff matter even more than your customers. Without them you won't be able to serve those customers. The best managers can get people to do things they wouldn't do for anyone else. And make them do things they never thought they could do. A friend left a big firm to start up on his own. His entire staff followed him. His firm was winning awards within months, and has grown incredibly fast. He has been successful wherever he has gone - with admired brands you would instantly recognise.* How I escaped failure as a manager One way or another I have found myself managing, or rather mismanaging people quite a lot over the years. I have only escaped failure for two reasons. First, I think business should be fun. 170
Second, I believe in management by walking around. Someone recently told me they still recall me walking around the offices of my old agency thirty years ago wearing a silly leopard hat with ears. I'm not sure I entirely recommend that as a clever approach. But it's better than sitting in meetings talking rubbish about brand values. All this occurs to me because I have been watching changes in an organisation I know fairly well for the last year or two. The old boss is intensely personal. Everyone knows he is there. He walks around and talks to people. The new one never does. Not a good sign. * If you want to know his secrets - they are revealed in my EADIM videos. His firm is called Naked Wines
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
I think your staff matter even more than your customers. Without them – and without you recognizing them and what they do – you won't be able to serve those customers. The best managers can get people to do things they wouldn't do for anyone else. And make them do things they never thought they could do.
HELPFUL IDEA 51: Advice on brands Back by popular request. When I mentioned this on my blog I got the biggest response I have ever received. And for good reason: ●
A strong brand has an almost miraculous effect on your business. People pay more for something that is no better than alternatives - and sometimes worse. They pay more just for what your brand says about them - even though they know it is no better than the unbranded alternative. Otherwise sane business-people spend (and sometimes waste) umpteen millions - because they think, for example, that rebranding is a good idea. If your brand is strong, either you make more money by selling more items at the same price. Or you make more by selling the same number of items at a higher price. You get more repeat purchases; and customers stay with you longer. People forgive your mistakes. Customer lifetime value - the only sensible measure for marketing investment - is greater to you. If you make and sell more, economies of scale mean you can undercut and eventually kill the competition. You can afford more to get a customer in the first place. In short, you can out-gun your competitor at every turn. 172
You can live off the "fat" of your brand for years without even advertising. It is like a business safety net. Your brand lives on when people die. Managers come and go. Factories may move from one country to another. Products change. But your brand can live on forever. Your brand should be in the back of your mind every time you write or send out a message or make a business decision. What does it stand for? And when you answer that question, don’t get marooned in a swamp of fancy marketing jargon about business missions and corporate values. Ask yourself what you want your customers to say about you. “They’re the people who ……………” What is your ideal answer? What kind of business do you want to be? When you answer that, you create your own future.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: ●
If your brand is strong, you can out-gun your competitor at every turn. It can make people pay more for something that is no better than alternatives - and sometimes worse. Plus customer lifetime value is greater to you. So you can afford more to get a customer in the first place.
BONUS TIP: Discover the hidden marketing power of easy-to-make videos This may be one of the most useful things you read this year. UNLESS YOU'RE LIVING ON THE MOON moon you know videos have become a powerful selling tool you can't ignore. And you probably know you OUGHT to be using video - but have never got round to it because you don't see quite WHY it works so well. So here's why - and it's not just because of the internet. In fact my partner Bill Fryer says that a video on a web site on average triples conversions. It's also because there are two types of media. Those you welcome and seek out. And those you avoid or ignore. You don't look forward to receiving direct mail. You don't wake up thinking you'd like to read the newspaper ads. If you're like most people you are irritated by the inserts that tumble out of your magazine. You don't stop the car to look at the posters. When the TV ads come on you go and make tea. And you want to kill the people who send you recorded telephone messages - and even more those who make you listen to their automated horrors when you just want to find out something important to you. But there are other media you like and welcome. Customer magazines are an example. They work because people like magazines, and they don't feel they're being sold to – or if they do, they don’t mind. What people really do online? You and I know that the one medium that's still growing is the internet. And what is growing on the internet? Video. 174
Your customers love video. It's a medium they prefer. They don't go on the internet just to be entertained (though they do find it entertaining). They don't go primarily to buy things (though they do buy things as a result). They don't go primarily to talk to friends (though they do talk to friends). They go primarily to find things out. It's their first port of call. As I write the greatest source of videos on the internet is YouTube. It's also the 2nd biggest search engine - and could well overtake Google itself. It's serving well over one billion views a day. That's 41,666,667 views an hour. So this is something no sane business person can ignore. Two golden rules The golden rule in targeting is: go where your customers go. The golden rule in marketing is: give your customers what they want. A while ago Peter Ruppert, Founder & President of Entertainment Media Research discovered that 74% of people who buy things visit Youtube at least once a fortnight and often many times a day. I know I do. Don't you? Your prospects use it to find out about products and services, see demonstrations – of recipes, for instance - and find about things they need to know in their jobs. (So it's important if you sell to businesses). This alone is significant, but its logical corollary is - you will not be surprised to know - that these people decide what to buy as a result of what they see on YouTube. On top of this, a startling one in five of these people WANT to subscribe to the video channels of people who want to sell to them. How often do you hear of customers who want to be sold to? Very few, I imagine! If you've ever wondered, even for a second, whether you're wise to look into what video can do for you, and what matters most - stop wondering, and keep reading. Don't misunderstand me. I don't mean the answer to every problem is to stick something on YouTube any more than you are sure to find it on the internet. I mean quite simply that people love videos - so you should be considering them. 175
What I've learned about video When we analyse clients' websites, almost the first thing we look at is whether they have videos, and how they use them. I've now been making videos, I am alarmed to realise, since 1985, when I made one to introduce direct marketing to Unilever. It took all day in the height of summer in a stuffy Soho basement. I got two things right - and one thing wrong. The content was good (so good I shamelessly copied much of it for another video I did for Nestle). The film was good for that period. But it lacked sincerity. It was probably a little too slick. People don't buy slick, believe me, in any medium. But they do buy sincerity. Plenty of people make videos in their back rooms. Any video is better than no video. As long as they seem sincere and aren’t too amateurish, they work. If you know what you’re talking about … if you are enthusiastic about it … if you care enough to transmit that enthusiasm … You, your sincerity and a cheap video camera will do the trick.