Tuesday, June 20, 2006

10% off is music to a girl's ears

It amazes me the pavlovian dog response that hits me when I see the word "sale". Even if I'm not in the market for anything at all, I'm compelled to find out more, check out what bargain I might miss out on. Yes it's theoretically better to reward than discount - but it does get people shopping.

This little email ad from Red Balloon Days was a case in point. It's not a clothing label, nor is it even a consumer brand. It's a (mostly corporate) experiences and gift brand. So my first instinct would be to say don't use a retail marketing tool like discounting. Yet it got me to click...and I hardly think I'm the only one that will.

So perhaps taking a marketing hint from a completely different industry and trialling it isn't such a bad idea. Except for your reduced margin, using a cheap tool like email and limiting the time of the offer (eg. 24 hours) is a pretty cheap way to test an inexpensive little marketing tool.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Take the "bland" test (and get more specific)

If you are creating a piece of marketing material, I think you need to subject it to the "bland" test. If your headline or copy is so generic, it could work for another business (or even a competitor) - ditch it. Go back to the drawing board and make it specific enough that it's actually got a real connection with your business.

And don't just take my word for it.

Roy Morgan presented a paper in Prague at the 12th Worldwide Readership Research Symposium (try saying that quickly and three times in a row!).

At any rate, they showed the difference in Return on Investment on the two ads below.

The first headline says: When they change the way they make people, we'll change the way we make bread.

The second headline says: We've put fibre in Roman Meal for 75 years because people need fibre from day one.

Which do you think worked best?

In terms of persuasion performance, if the second ad returns $100,000, the ad on the
right returns $258,000. The second ad basically kicks butt over the first (and it helps that the headline actually matches the pic)

Being compelling is very cheap - but very hard!

You know, if you have a compelling enough marketing message and offer, it doesn't take much to have a big impact. So back on a bit of a recurring theme, but perhaps it's time to take a bit of a risk and put something out in the marketing that makes it hard for people not to want more.

I decided to check out futurist Faith Popcorn's site when doing some research and I think her extremely simple site - breaking many rules as it has no real information - starts with a hugely compelling message: if you could know everything about tomorrow, what would you do differently today?

Get's you thinking, doesn't it. It then just goes to a screen that says "Let's Talk" and provides her contact details. And if you were in the target market that could afford her services, I'm sure you would pick up the phone.

One simple question but you know immediately why you should call. I was impressed. How can you make your message this compelling?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Like a great SME (small business) marketing guide (for nicks)?

This is a totally zero budget post - a free marketing guide for small business I came across that's a great overview for non-marketers.

The Australian Information Industry Association has put together an SME marketing guide. Whilst it's a tech association, the vast majority of the info in the guide applies to all sorts of small business.

It also has a bunch of great case studies in it. Best of all, it's free. So download it today and build your marketing knowledge for nicks!

(And by the way - what a great way to build a database - giving away valuable free information - and idea for another post!)

Can't afford expensive database software? How's $30 a month sound?

I believe it's essential to have a customer & prospect database these days, in ANY type of business.

And it truly scares me how few businesses have one.

Outlook & excel really aren't enough, access can be clunky and decent CRM (customer relationship management) systems usually start at well over the $1,000 a seat.

When looking for a local email marketing provider for a client, I came across Vision6. They provide email and sms services. But they will also host your database. And you can add all the fields you want in this database, give people access to update their own details if you want, search it and access it from anywhere AND build lists to market to based on criteria. It even has some handy auto email functions.

So it occured to me, this is also a great zero budget database solution. For under 1000 records it's $30 a month - you can't get much cheaper than that!

I'm sure there's other providers out there offering something similar. So why not use this as an inexpensive, centrally accessible database tool - with the bonus that you can then use it on a fee per use option if you decide to use for email marketing.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sorry + fix = Customer Loyalty

Continuing a thought from the previous post, as a business are you prepared to go further and admit when you're wrong?

TRUE customer loyalty to a brand or business is often built when a company gets something wrong - then admits it and bends over backwards to fix it.

You see, we've come to expect good service and for things to work. So when they do work, no-one notices (just think about your average IT guy or girl). Yet when something goes wrong, you ALWAYS notice. And there's a real moment of truth for a company in how it deals with that.

Many companies fail dismally. Just check out Not Good Enough to hear some stories that will curl your toes. Yet think about the last time someone went out of their way to fix up a mistake made...and how many people you told. We often only notice GOOD service when it's correcting (or contrasting) to BAD service.

In the 1990's I worked for a major telco that made a major bungle. We accidentally "churned" a bunch of people to our service without their written permission. A whole bunch of them. Panic stations ensued when the tech guys told us what had happened...and that to churn them BACK without their consent would be mistake number 2.

So we made a tough call - we decided to send a letter to these people and admit our error and ask what they wanted us to do. Of the thousands of letters we sent out, have a guess how many people opted to churn back? All? Half? A quarter?

Actually, about a hundred. Well under 5%. And we had a bunch of calls from people gushing about how nice it was to see some honesty in business and that as a result of admitting that mistake, they'd decided we were the company for them.

So for a zero budget idea to build massive brand loyalty, make sure you deal with customer issues, complaints and problems in a timely manner - and go out of your way to fix them if you can. You'll then start to achieve marketing nirvana - customers as advocates.

Be brave - admit when you're wrong (or something's wrong with you)

Imagine the board meeting, years and years ago, when someone pitches this positioning line to Avis management:"Avis is only no.2 in rent-a-cars".

I mean, now we know it's a great marketing success story. But imagine the bravery of taking a negative, admitting it...and then turning it into a positive.

Imagine an accountant that says: The bill might hurt...but your business will feel so much better

Or a food that says: We might taste terrible, but we're ridiculously good for you (spirulina anyone?)

Or a bank that admits: Yes we have fees...but we have the service to match

I'm not a copywriter, but you get the idea. You see, brands like Joy (the most expensive perfume in the world) and Listerine (a taste you hate twice a day) took a negative, were honest and then spun a positive. Yes, these are big brands that had the advertising might to make sure we knew about them, but even for a small budget business, this type of positioning statement gets massive cut through.

But are you big enough to admit a negative?

Don't be afraid to sex it up!

Ok, whilst I may have just been wanting an excuse to use this pic of some of the Italian Rugby players (my only World Cup mania indulgence, I promise), if you're going for big impact on small budget, don't be afraid to get a little saucy, cheeky or naughty!

You see, as much as we'd all like to take the high road, the reality is the low road is crowded with the easily titilated and amused.

A year or so ago we had some movie tickets to give away (to The Secretary, famous for it's "spanking" scene) in return for people completing a online survey. Instead of using an email subject line of "Complete our online survey for free double pass" I went with "Fancy a little sadomasochism and romance?". We had DOUBLE the usual email open rate to this database - almost 60%!

Forget being sleazy or sexist - but take a risk and appeal to people's naughty side. We all have one...why else do you think something like Sexpo keeps selling out year after year...

By sexing it up I'm not only talking about sex - but making something more sexy. There is so much utter drudge produced in marketing materials that something with a bit of sparkle and shimmer will catch your prospects eye so much better. Name an event "Selling Cool" instead of "Youth marketing". Send a chocolate telephone instead of leaving another unanswered message. Use some funky graphics instead of staid corporate stock shots. Have some bloody fun with your marketing!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

How to keep the ideas flowing (for free)

The greatest thing about the web has to be the masses of great information you can access - for free.

I subscribe to several great newsletters and updates and I get great ideas from these all the time. So don't get too insular about you're day-to-day job. Make sure you allocate half an hour each day to checking out what other's are up to.

My real faves at the moment:

For some DM hints:

For some copywriting ideas:

Let me know if you have any that should be added to the list!

It's also great to get some more fun mails to see what clever and groovy people are doing. Check out:

Image courtesty of: http://floppycheese.free.fr/timsroom/style-5/style-5.htm

Back to the future (repeat, repeat, repeat)

Looking for a great idea? It's time to go back (to the future)!

I was reminded of this great idea reading one of Geoffrey McDonald Bowll's "Guerilla Guide" articles in Marketing.

So what am I talking about? Repeating what you've done that has worked in the past. Sometimes we feel like we always need to come up with new ideas. But something that's worked previously has some real benefits: It's already tested and you'll already know what to expect.

After seven years of running events for marketers, I KNOW certain topics will work well. So as much as I might not need to see the presentation again, a new generation of marketers and attendees will.

Similarly, you can look for inspiration in PAST places you've worked. Cast your mind back? What worked there that you can apply to your current business?