Excellent definition of “marketing” #3

“Marketing is everything you do to promote your business, from
the moment you conceive of it to the point at which customers
buy your product or service and begin to patronize your business
on a regular basis. The key words to remember are everything and
regular basis.”

My favourite marketing guru Jay Conrad Levinson from Guerrilla Marketing.

NB: I believe every marketer and business owner should have a well thumbed copy of this book in their office.

Step one to a profitable website: set your goals

My first job after uni was working at a small publishing company. One of my boss’s favourite sayings was, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” It was a reminder to his staff that the first step in any project is to establish what you want to achieve i.e. setting goals or targets.

In my experience few websites have any goals. Often they’re built on the reasoning, “We’ve gotta have a website because everyone else has one.” Even now, many people think a website is a kind of marketing panacea. They think that by simply putting a website up they’ll be deluged with sales enquiries. Unfortunately it ain’t so.

Realistic and achievable goals for a website fall into the following categories:

Sales lead generation
A website can deliver sales leads directly (e.g. by prospects emailing you to arrange a consultation or providing their contact details in exchange for a white paper or special report) or indirectly (e.g. by prospects visiting your showroom after finding out about your products online).

E-commerce
Making sales directly from your website.

Customer service
You can serve your customers better by providing customer service online. This can range from FAQs on common customer queries to a 24/7 online help desk.

Process automation
You can cut costs by automating processes online e.g. online billing, data gathering, delivering information, and human resources procedures.

One, or a combination, of these goals should be the primary focus of your website. Once you’ve selected your goals you can develop strategies to achieve them. don’t even think about calling a website developer until you’re clear about what you’d like to achieve with your website.

Is Branding Bunkum?

“Branding” is the most overused marketing buzzword. Everyone keeps rabbiting on and on about their brand. But there doesn’t seem to be any consensus about what branding actually is or entails.

I firmly believe that if you position your business properly, promote it consistently and well, keep your promises and deliver excellent products and customer service, you will be rewarded with a well regarded brand. But isn’t this simply the essence of marketing?

Bob Bly has an interesting post and comments about branding and marketing ROI on his blog: Is This the End of Branding?

Excerpt: I hate the whole stupid concept of branding. I’m IN advertising, and I hate how way too many agencies throw “branding” around because they know they can get clients to spend a lot of money on something that can never be measured.

Flag Down Your Customers With a Strong Headline

headlinesIf your print ad, direct mail piece, press release or home page isn’t getting the results you want a weak headline may be to blame.

Research shows that readers respond more to headlines than any other element of a print ad. So no matter how eye-catching the images and design, or compelling the body copy, without a strong headline an ad will most likely be ignored.

And headlines aren’t confined to print ads. You’ll also need strong headlines for brochures, signage, point of sale material, direct mail, PowerPoint presentations, web pages and email.

Attention or apathy?
These days competition for attention is fierce. This year, the average consumer will see or hear one million marketing messages – almost 3,000 per day. No one can pay attention to 3,000 messages every day, so we filter out most of them.

A headline attracts attention or apathy. People will make the decision to read or filter out your marketing materials based on the headline. You have only seconds to make a favourable first impression.

In Ogilvy on Advertising pioneering ad man David Ogilvy states: “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. It follows that unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 per cent of your money.”

Your headline must convince prospects of the value of reading your ad, brochure or home page. It must answer the readers’ question, “So what’s in it for me?”

Headlines boost response rates
Headlines can dramatically affect response rates to marketing offers. A headline can make the difference between success and failure. Take these headlines for example:

Headline 1: How to turn your non-smoking into money

Headline 2: Non-smokers save a bundle on health insurance

The second headline generated 20 times more calls than first one.

Top 7 headline formulas that work
If you need to put your puny headline on steroids try one of these tried and tested formulas:

1. Agitate the problem

Are you struggling to find good accounting personnel?

If a reader has the problem they will be compelled to read on to find out the solution.

NB: This is also a question headline – see below.

2. Ask a question

What is the secret to getting rich today?

A question incites curiosity. It engages the mind. A question headline must be open-ended; you have to keep reading to find out the answer.

3. Promise the reader a benefit

Enjoy younger looking skin in just 7 days

Focus on the primary benefit of your product or service and connect it with the target audience.

4. Give them the news

Announcing the smallest MP3 player ever built

If you have genuine news, announce it. Using the word “announcing” attracts more attention.

5. State the offer

FREE seminar shows you how to make $100,000 a year on eBay

If you have an attractive offer shout it out in your headline.

6. Use the words “How to”

How to win friends and influence people

“How to…” promises readers useful information and advice. If you’re ever stuck for a headline write “How to” – whatever follows will be a hardworking headline

7. Use a customer testimonial

“I lost 7 kilograms in 10 days with TrimSpeed”

Putting the testimonial in quotation marks increases readership.

Should a headline be cute or clever?
Some copywriters try to make their headlines cute or clever by using a play on words or an intriguing teaser. But clever headlines are often more a celebration of a copywriter’s wit than an exercise in effective marketing.

A clever headline is a risky ploy; essentially you’re betting on your target audience “getting it”. But why take a chance when you can appeal directly to the target audience’s self interest? Product benefits almost always beat clever. The exception is when a play on words adds an additional, valuable layer of meaning to the headline.

Sharpen your axe
Abraham Lincoln is reputed to have once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” And so it is with headlines. Many copywriting experts recommend you spend 80% of your time writing the headline.

This may sound like overkill. But producing marketing materials is expensive and time consuming. If your headline is a dud you’ve wasted your money and effort.

Things to do

  • Audit your existing headlines and see if they could use some improvement
  • Test different headlines to see which ones get the best response.