K.I.S.S. Your Copy

Glam Red gloss lips.You have less than one second to convey your USP and offer. Only give them:

  • One price
  • One simple USP

If you can’t, you’ll never have them ask “what else can I buy from you?” and you’ll never have the chance to say “here’s what else I have for you.”

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Three Simple Reasons Your Marketing Will Fail

2014-10-10 14.19.32You’ve labored mightily at your marketing efforts. Hours of careful thought about marketing objectives, followed by careful analysis of past test results. Then, even more analysis of lists and target audiences, followed by agonized copywriting and creative development. Lastly, double- and triple-checking media buys and lettershop insertion samples.

After all that, what could possibly go wrong?

Just three simple things: Continue reading

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Seal The Deal With Good Direct Mail

9321813548_46270232f9_zMost direct mail these days stinks. Yes, that means the stuff your company is sending me. Generally it lacks:

  1. A strong offer
  2. Segmentation
  3. Good merge/purge

I get too much mail in blank white envelopes without anything interesting on the outside. Does the sender think I’ll be so intrigued by standard rate mail with my name misspelled that I’ll be compelled to open it? (Not a trick question. I won’t–and I’ve tested it.)

How about the offers for charities I’ve never given to, nor care about? Maybe my name comes up because of my relationship with a couple of select non-profits, but a quick screen by Target Analytics or DonorDynamics would quickly show what I’m interested and not, and eliminate me from the mailing.

My biggest beef is bad merge/purge. The ability to run a proper merge seems to have gone the way of the dodo bird, even at mailers who should know better, like American Express. Tell me, AmEx, what’s the chances you’ll get two gold card applications from two different LLCs from a SFDU, where you already have a cardholder? How do you not catch that in the merge?

But sometimes my faith in direct marketing is restored.


Here’s a good example from Academy Sealers. This arrived a couple of weeks ago and got my attention with the “Your Custom Quote” line and arrow.

$65 to get my driveway sealed? By a reputable, local firm? I got all that information from the front, in less than two seconds.

Front The back told me exactly how to order and what I’d get for my $65. It provided photographic evidence of the type of service performed and featured a two year guarantee.

I called that day and my driveway was sealed four days later. It would have cost me $40 in sealer, an hour of my time and a pair of shoes and pants.  It would have been a bargain at $99.

This offer worked because it had exactly what much direct mail lacks today: A strong offer, with the right target customer and timing.

Could the mailing have been better? Sure. I’d call out that price with a burst, not print KO green on black and pump up that guarantee, among other things. But the bottom line is that even with substandard design, it got me to respond and paid off with exactly the service promised.

Congratulations to Academy Sealers. You get today’s gold star for creating direct mail that actually works.

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Do We Have Each Other’s Backs?

“At this level, you can’t expect somebody else to stand up for you.”

A sad quote overheard in the breakfast room in my hotel just a few minutes ago. Two business colleagues were preparing for the day, and one said this to the other.

The problem is that humans are cooperative and social creatures. We do expect others to look out for us, while we look out for others. This is the basis upon which all successful human groups are built, from our communities, to our social organizations, to our businesses.

But these people were in vigorous agreement that they are on their own. They suffer while looking out for the knife in the back and their organizations suffer because resources are wasted because they–and others–are looking over their shoulders for the threat within.

Worse, how do their employees feel? If the leaders can’t trust each other, how can the employees trust their leaders?

We absolutely can and should stand up for each other. That’s the very definition of leadership. 

What will you do today to stand up for somebody else? What will you do today to make it worth the risk for somebody to stand up for you?

In other words, how will you demonstrate leadership today?


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Thirteen years ago today, almost 3,000 people were murdered. One was my friend and Utica College classmate Margaret Echtermann. I miss her because I enjoyed her company, intelligence and sense of fun. I’m upset because she offered so much to the world that was never realized.

I won’t forget Margaret nor the others.

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Four Easy Articles to Improve Your Testing Today!

I’ve seen a few examples lately where the word “test” was bandied about when no such thing took place. One of my recent favorites was this article by the MD of a digital trading desk who claimed to be testing when, in fact, he was creating spurious data flotsam for a clickbait headline.

Takeaway number 1: Read the blog posts by the leaders of the digital marketing service providers you rely on for marketing, testing, and analytical advice. You just may decide to switch agencies.

Takeaway number 2: If you can’t design the gold standard marketing test–the univariate test–you have no business doing more complicated tests.

For a quick refresher course in statistics for marketing test design, check out Evan Miller’s excellent blog*. He’s written several articles on testing that statistics that will make your tests better today.

A lot of the growth hacker babble I read–at least as much as I can stomach–leads me to believe they are advocating running Bayesian A/B tests, except without the correct math. Making them non-tests, but I digress.

To help solve that problem, Evan has also written an easy-to-understand article on setting up Bayesian A/B testing. It is worthwhile reading for those doing online testing such as home page design, path testing, cart tests and the like.

* A last plug for Evan. He creates and sells the wonderful Wizard statistical analysis software for Mac OS X. It is worth every penny. I highly recommend it!

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Creating Interest Through Jargon

6826303487_b1e529a4f7_bIf you look at some websites you’d come to the conclusion that some companies believe this theory. I was doing a quick analysis for a client this morning and bumped into a company that clearly subscribes to the theory.

As I sit here fifteen minutes later, I’m scratching my head. I think this company is an ad agency of some kind, but they never bothered to tell me that on the website. Instead, on the home page,  I learned they had something to do with:

  • Marketing transformation
  • Analysis and insights
  • Maximizing learnings
  • Optimizing and scaling
  • Capitalizing on new realities

The rest of the website didn’t get any better.

The kicker was the call to action: Engage with us.

Uh, no. I’m afraid you might ask me to touch base about potential synergy and then create a list of action items.

There is nothing about jargon that is going to intrigue me enough to pick up the phone or email you to figure out what you do and if you can help me. Instead, I just wonder what you are thinking. Then I go back to Google and find somebody who can explain in clear English whether they do what I need.

And I hire them instead.

I’m too old to be leveraging synergies and working in new realities.  I just want to figure out how to get people to buy the stuff I have to sell. I sure as heck don’t need a Marcomm agency that doesn’t know how to communicate.

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The Customer is Right. Usually.

Today Seth Godin clarifies Rule #1 by breaking it into two parts

a. the customer is always right

b. if that’s not true, it’s unlikely that this person will remain your customer.

Part b reminds us that our products should never be for everybody. Some people will always complain because feature X is missing or require uneconomic levels of service to be satisfied.

Great products are never made for everybody.

When you stuff a product full of features to address the last corner case customer or go to automated phone trees to enable you to serve the over-demanding/under-paying accidental customers, you’ve started down the losing path to making undifferentiated beige boxes of mediocrity.

It’s OK and more honest to say “no” to some customers, as long as you are nice about it. (See Comcast’s latest customer service fiasco to learn how not to do it.) It’s also OK to fire those “Part b” customers who are uneconomical to your business, as long as you are nice about it.

If I were to demand that Prada make $100 hiking boots, I’d be wrong and Prada would be right. And that’s OK, even if they tell me to take a hike.



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Administrivia Root Cause: The Simple Heuristic

SandwichesI used to work for a large corporation that required managerial approval to get a corporate Blackberry or to order food or snacks for meetings. Said another way, vice presidents were responsible for assessing the need for $30 worth of sandwiches. Huh?

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Improve Your Content Marketing With One Simple Trick

3201140770_da797b35ce_zHow do you know if your content marketing is any good? Well, if you’re using the term “content marketing” to describe what you’re publishing, it’s a good sign it probably stinks.

If the generic “content” is the best you can muster, you are not providing important, relevant, and usable information to your customers and prospects. Further, because you’re too cheap to do it right, said “content” is probably provided by a content marketing firm that employs a bunch of people who have no interest in what you have to sell, other than it provides a paycheck in exchange for their dreck.

You are also not doing any wonders for your brand when your customers (who know what they are talking about, remember) associate shallow pablum with your company.

Continue reading

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