GrokDotCom — one of the most prolific publishers of useful information about marketing, advertising, copywriting, marketing testing, and the like — has published a blog post that links to dozens of resources on Copywriting and writing effective advertising.
Here are some of the topics covered:
Trust & relationship building
Copywriting blogs & resources
Persuasive online copywriting
If you haven’t seen it, it’s a resource worth looking at and studying in depth.
GrokDotCom has published part 2 of this article. The topics in part 2 include:
Copy length (long copy vs. short copy)
Active vs. passive voice
Writing for customer personas
Advertising brain food
Inspiration & fun
This is good stuff. It includes links to some very valuable resources. They call it “Copywriting 101″ but if you really dug in and learned everything included in the articles they referenced, it’d be as good as a Bachelor’s in Advertising Copywriting.
Did you know if you choose a skill or process, and improve it just 1% every week, in just 70 weeks (about 16 months) you’ll be twice as good at it then as you are today.
It doesn’t take much to improve a skill or process 1% in a week. And through the power of compounding (what makes a little investment grow HUGE through time) your skills grow quickly.
This works for playing piano. This works for marketing and copywriting. This works for business processes. This works for manufacturing. It works in any skill or process you can imagine!
Toyota is the perfect embodiment of this process. Check out this article about how they constantly refine their manufacturing process. If you ask me, it’s why they’re one of the — if not THE — strongest car companies in America right now.
If you do the same in your business, you’ll experience incredible results (it’s not just for manufacturing — the same principles apply in marketing, product creation, customer service, etc.).
Continuous improvement is serious business. It’s how you get — and stay — ahead of your competitors. It’s something worth starting right now.
How can you improve an important aspect of your business 1% this week? How about next? And the week after that?
You may be familiar with a couple different formulas that copywriters use for creating effective advertisements. AIDA — Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. Or the 4 P’s — Picture, Promise, Proof, Pull.
This article isn’t about those.
This is about a different advertising formula — based on research done on magazine advertising where responses were tracked (the study was done on magazine advertising, but the formula will work across all media).
You may have seen in some magazines where there’s a response card at the back, with a listing of all the advertisements in the magazine. It allows you to send in your contact information to multiple vendors with a single reply device.
You just put your contact information on the card, check the offers you’re interested in learning more about, and send it in. Then the magazine passes on your information to the vendors you selected, and you get the info you requested.
This method allows the magazine to track the effectiveness of the advertising included in each issue, and that’s where this research comes from.
In the magazine that did this analysis, they noticed that while many advertisements got 20 or 30 responses, there were some that consistently got 200 to 300 or more. Obviously these advertisements were doing something right to draw attention and build the interest of prospects, enough to get them to reply.
After an analysis of these ads, here’s the formula that was discovered:
The ad is distinctive — it grabs attention. This is usually through a compelling picture that attracts the attention of as many potential prospects as possible, that is somehow linked to the big idea of the ad.
The ad tells the big idea — the benefit to the customer — in 3.5 seconds or less. The headline and the picture’s caption contain the same big idea, and it’s the major benefit customers get from responding. This helps prospects self-identify — only those who want the benefit you promise will read on, and that’s okay.
Pack your ad with the benefits your prospects get from responding. Focus on how your product will help them save money, save time, enjoy life more, etc. These are their reasons to respond — getting your product or doing business with you is just what they have to do to get these benefits.
Focus on “you” — the customer. Customers only care about how long you’ve been in business, or how cool you are, or how innovative your product is if it means more benefits for them. Good ads are about the customer, bad ads are about your business (if you’ll — God forbid — permit me to define “good” and “bad” ads by results instead of creativity or entertainment value).
That’s it. This 4-part formula works into the other formulas — a solid call to action and effective persuasion both improve the results of this formula. But if you want to create a compelling advertisement that gets results, keep these 4 parts at the front of your mind.
Special thanks to Chet Holmes for sharing this formula.
P.S. – Let me know if you need help coming up with ads that follow this formula. Call me at 541-543-1438 or email me here.
If these two videos don’t get you started using Google’s Website Optimizer, I don’t know what will. The second is the one I referenced in my Insiders Secrets to Google Website Optimizer blog post. Both are very revealing, and worth the 1 hour each.
Introduction to Website Optimizer Webinar:
Website Optimizer: Creating and Launching Experiments
In these (especially the second one) you’ll learn some pretty innovative ways of using Google’s free Website Optimizer tool, including how to do:
Multivariate (MVT) tests
Multi-page multivariate tests
Time-on-page goal tracking
Click-based goal tracking
It’s some really cool, really exciting stuff.
As an aside, I heard that at a recent get together of some high-level internet marketers, they asked everybody who did regular, everyday testing on their website to stand. Then they asked how much each was making online per year. The lowest was $12 million. The highest was much, much higher. The average internet marketer in the room was earning less than the lowest person doing testing every day. Doesn’t that make you want to test, especially when you can get a tool like this for free?!
Here’s an article from John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing fame, that I thought was appropriate based on yesterday’s article from me:
“I get at least a hundred times the referrals now as I did before I had a referral plan.”
~ Scott Hensley – Affordable Concrete Cutting
Today I want to share with you, in it’s entirety, a copy of a letter I received from a small business owner who implemented a number of suggestions I gave him in the Duct Tape Marketing book. I chose to share this not to point out how brilliant I am – writing this stuff is the easy part sometimes – but to showcase how acting on what you read – the really hard part – can pay huge dividends.
Scott’s business cuts concrete, not exactly your Web2.0 business – yet, he has developed a simple, but systematic approach to generating referrals and shares it very specifically in this great letter – thanks Scott
I implemented what I call a “passive referral system” days after I read your book. I have a small business in a niche industry and have always been successful at getting the calls, business and the money.
Either way, I can always use more calls, business and money. I never realized the importance of a referral system because I always got referrals without trying, most likely because of my niche.
I am not a “come out and ask” sales pusher type so some of your suggestions don’t work for my personality. I am sure they work, don’t get me wrong, it is just not something you could convince me to do.
Therefore I took the main message from your program, which is to simply have a referral plan and I implemented it. I will explain to you how I do it in a minute but the reason I am writing is to tell you that I get at least a hundred times the referrals now as I did before I had a referral plan.
I get calls from new customers that mention people that I have never heard of and say “so and so referred me!” Simply having a plan is enough for me and I want you to know I would have never thought of it without your newsletters and your book.
I merged my referral plan into my marketing plan to some degree. I derive a lot of business from the yellow pages and unfortunately yellow page people are loyal to the yellow pages and the next time they need a concrete cutter they will return to the yellow pages and wind up being serviced by my competition or who I like to call the “uninsured toothless cave man.”
As a self proclaimed marketing professional I like to vision it as similar to the old west, my competition and I are Ranchers. These yellow page customers are wild cattle and when the come up to one of my fences I open the fence quickly and drag them in. I then take my branding iron and brand them. I send them to re-education training, if you will. Everything that they see or hear in the next several days is “Affordable Concrete Cutting” and my logo, so I can gently hypnotize them into never even thinking of leaving my ranch and when they call home or call their friends they tell everyone what a fantastic experience they have had here and how it would be great for their family, friends and colleagues to join them.
On top of that I keep my fences in tip top shape by keeping in touch with my customers by using (USPS Direct Mail) mailings every month or by sending them a decent gift for no reason other than to remind them of the great experience that they have had here. Now, my competition on the other hand, has a real problem with keeping their fences up and the fact is that their customers escape most of the time.
This is when I open my fence up and persuade them into coming in. I then hold them down and “re-brand” them (most were never branded in the first place) and again gently hypnotize them into forgetting the competition and to never even thinking of leaving. We provide better than great service, we are on time every time and the customer’s satisfaction is priority. Why wouldn’t they tell everyone? Well as you said it yourself because they were never asked to! So now I ask. I don’t ask verbally but I make it more than known that referrals are very important to me.
My first contact with the customer is via a phone call inquiry. I mention my company name several times and I make the customer feel great about using us. Next my guy goes to the site and performs the cutting. This is where the marketing and branding or re-branding begins. Once the job has been completed successfully my men give the customer a paid invoice and are instructed to hand the customer ten or so business cards and to ask that they mention it to everyone. The old “your best compliment is a referral” thing.
Unfortunately, sometimes this part gets left out. I counter this by sending each customer a computer generated paid invoice with an insurance certificate request form and a W-9. On the invoice I hand write a thank you and I enclose several business cards and a Rolodex card.
Now, as part of your referral suggestion I put a big sticker on the envelope that reads “Thank You! We appreciate your referrals.” Then I prepare a Thank You card that basically says if you were happy with our service then please tell everyone ( the key is to make sure they are happy in the first place.) I don’t mail this until a day after I mail the invoice. Then I prepare a “gift pack” which is a bubble mailer (lumpy mail) that contains a gift, a pocket knife with my logo on it, a mouse pad, some pens or a couple of pads of paper. Inside the mailing is a bunch of business cards and I don’t mail this until the end of the week because I have to go to the Post Office and by the end of the week there are about 20 – 30.
Every new customer is placed on my mailing list and they are mailed a gift, a letter or a post card every month, come Hell or high water! Since I started using the stickers and the Thank You cards my business has exploded and is increasing exponentially.
Just a small suggestion for referrals works incredibly. Now I know you would probably say that verbally coming out and asking works better and I am sure it does but that’s not my style. The point is that thanks to you I have a referral system that is active and in place and it is working.
Do you know the difference between word of mouth and referral marketing?
And more importantly… Can you leverage both for greater profits?
First let’s identify the difference…
Let’s say a customer really likes your product and they tell four friends about it… And two of those friends come to your business and buy products.
Which is that? Word of mouth or referral?
Now let’s say you ask a different customer to identify four friends or associates who they think would benefit greatly from using your product… Or at least from talking to you about how your product can help them solve their problems. Then, with your customer’s permission, you call up their friends and associates and mention your customer’s name, that they wanted you to call, and then work with these four new people to determine if your product is a fit for their needs. You get two more customers this way.
Is this word of mouth or referral?
The first is word of mouth. The second is referral. Did you get them right? Good!
But do you understand the difference?
Very basically — word of mouth is passive, referral marketing is active.
I’ll break it down further…
Word of mouth is a mostly passive process — it happens without a specific associated action on your part.
I say it’s “mostly” passive because it does depend on you doing one thing very actively — providing the best possible product or service to your customers… A product or service worth raving about to their friends.
But once you’ve done this, word of mouth happens without you doing anything. That’s the passive part. Your customers are promoting your product through word of mouth without you asking them to do anything. It’s viral — and for this reason it’s coveted like nothing else! I’ve seen companies grow like wildfire with mediocre marketing just because they had amazing word of mouth.
On the other hand, referral marketing is a completely active process. Referral marketing involves putting processes and systems in place where you ask customers to put you in contact with friends and associates that will benefit from your products and services. This can be with or without an incentive — meaning, you can give them a gift for referring others, but you don’t have to. The one thing you do have to do is acknowledge their referral, and thank them for it.
So how do you implement an effective referral system? That topic is worth a book, but I’ll try to condense it here.
Step one, know who you want as a customer. Define exactly what they look like. If you’re looking for owners of businesses that do between $500,000 and $5 Million in business per year, who could use more effective marketing systems, processes, and tools… say it! (By the way, if you know anybody like that, have them call me: 541-543-1438 :) ) Define your ideal customer as specifically as possible.
Step two, tell your current customers who that ideal customer is, and ask if they know anybody like it. This is best done when they’re talking about how much they like your product. This might go something like this:
CUSTOMER: “Man, I’m telling you. That sales letter you wrote for me is bringing me more leads than I’ve ever had! I’m even thinking about hiring another person just to answer phones, so I can focus on serving all these new customers. I don’t know how to tell you thank you enough!”
YOU: “Wow. Well I’m glad it’s working so well for you. I knew when we were looking at your product that if we could just put the right appeal in front of these people… That they’d beat your door down. Now it looks like that’s happening!
“You know, my business thrives because I can help people like you succeed. And I’m sure you’re at a place in your life where you know a few other people like you — business owners whose businesses are doing between $500,000 and $5 Million per year, who could use more effective marketing systems, processes, and tools like that sales letter I wrote for you.
“Maybe you know them through a local professional group like the chamber of commerce, maybe you go to church with them, or they’re your golf buddies. I don’t know where you know them from, but I bet you could think of three people like that right now — people who could really benefit from at least talking to me about their marketing.
“And the best way to say thank you to me, as well as to really help your friend out by pointing them towards a service that could help them make more money this year — for their business, their family, their hobbies, whatever — is to put them in contact with me so we can talk about their marketing and see if I could do anything to help them succeed. Which three people do you know who’d like a no cost, no obligation marketing consultation from me? Can we call them together right now?”
Step three, call the referrals you get, and introduce yourself:
YOU: “Hi this is Roy Furr. Bob Jones wanted me to call you. My company, Fresh Look, Inc., helps business owners increase profits without spending more on advertising. Right now Bob is flooded with new leads from a marketing package I helped him put together. He’s even thinking about hiring a new person to help him handle the extra business. Did he tell you how well he’s been doing?”
REFERRAL: “Yeah, he mentioned something about it when we were out golfing.”
YOU: “Good! Well, Bob thought you might be interested in working on your marketing and seeing if you could make it more profitable. I told him I’d call you and — because you’re an associate of Bob’s — offer a no cost, no obligation consultation. It’d be about an hour long, at your office if you’d like, and we can do it this week, whenever it fits in your schedule. I’d just like to see if there’s anything I could do to help you get results like Bob is. When are you available this week?”
You think this guy’s going to have a hard time saying no? Right! In fact he’ll be excited to meet with you. Now do this with the other two referrals Bob gave you.
Step four, call your referrer back! Say:
YOU: “Bob, I called Tom, Jane, and Bill — and all three were interested in sitting down to talk about their marketing strategy. I really appreciate you putting me in touch with them, and want you to know that I value our relationship and the relationship you have with them — and I’ll do my very best to get them exciting results like the ones I was able to help you get. I just wanted to say thank you.”
Nothing more than that. Unless you want to send a card, or a gift card, or a gift certificate for your services. Or even — I really like this one — a donation to a non-profit organization that they support, in their name.
Step five, provide really good service to the customers you get by referral, so you can start the process all over again.
As I said above, word of mouth is viral — a quality unmatched by referral marketing.
But with referral marketing, you have control, and each customer you get can reliably be turned into a source for two or three or five or ten more.
This double-barrel approach will get you more customers quicker than you could imagine!
I’ve written before about the importance of the MasterMind principle. That is, when two or more minds come together, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Combining ideas lets us get out of our own way. And we need to get out of our own way, because we are not Buddhas — we don’t know all, we can’t see all. In fact, most of us have very clouded vision about what is “right” for our business and selling to our customers. Some of our ideas surrounding these topics are very valuable. Some, very detrimental.
I’m all about finding ways to maximize what’s valuable in our businesses, and minimize anything detrimental.
MasterMind groups are one way to get out of your own way and find unique ways to add value to your business. But they’re not the only way.
I have a couple easy ways for you to get half way to the benefits of the MasterMind by yourself — so you can uncover big marketing breakthroughs waiting to happen (and recognize what’s holding you back).
These are easy ways to get some of the benefit quickly, without the effort of finding and setting up a MasterMind group. I’ll cover those first then I’ll cover an easy way to get big results, using resources already inside your company.
Two ways to step out of your head and find big marketing breakthroughs
These two ways give you many of the benefits of doing a MasterMind, with less effort.
The first, steal from your competitors.
This is a good way to get “on par” with the rest of your industry.
If you’re an underperformer but your product is good, you can grow quickly to the level of your competitors by using the same mediums as your competitors. A better selling message — providing unique value — will even push you a bit beyond your competitors.
To know what your competitors are doing, you should get on their mailing lists, subscribe to the publications they advertise in, etc. so you know what they’re doing, when they’re doing it. Even buy their products so you understand how their customer experience compares to yours. But this only gets you so far…
Second, steal from industry leaders across any industry.
Most people think that marketing happens just one or two ways in their industry for a reason.
Maybe that’s true but they usually get the reason wrong — it’s not because it’s the only way that works, it’s because your competitors are lazy. They found something that works moderately well and they quit trying to innovate.
And everybody copies everybody else for the same reason — laziness.
On the other hand, industry leaders are often that way for a reason. They apply proven strategies and tactics that get them to the top and keep them there. And they do it in unique ways that competitors don’t. They innovate.
If you can find out what those strategies and tactics are (hint: 6 Musts of Marketing for Top-of-Mind Awareness), you can duplicate them — even if they’re not currently used in your industry — and your growth of market share will continue.
Applying these strategies and tactics from outside of your industry will often lead to dramatic results — because you’re presenting your message to prospects and customers in a way that stands out. It’s unique. It gets attention. It makes sales.
Now — how to find marketing breakthroughs sitting inside your company
Even if you hire moderate performers, your employees have tons of ideas about how to do their jobs better (top performers will have even more, and they’ll be even more valuable). Whether it’s to save you money, increase sales, or introduce profitable product innovations — they know what to do. So listen up!
Your employees are a better source of profitable innovations in marketing, sales, and product innovation than anybody else. Especially the ones that are on the ground, talking to customers every day.
So why don’t you hear about these ideas? Because you don’t ask!
Often times employees will sit for weeks, months, or even years on profitable innovations you could introduce into your business, just because they don’t know that you’ll listen to their ideas and value them.
Sit down and let them contribute to the growth plan of your company. Don’t reject any ideas when brainstorming. And anything that might be plausible is worth a conservative test.
And when you find success — give your employees credit! Both in praise, and in a fair share of profits (whether that’s through a raise, or a bonus, or a contingency agreement).
Make sure you’re doing at least what your competitors are doing — that’s the bare minimum
Copy the strategies and tactics of industry leaders outside your industry
Ask your employees for their ideas about how to improve your business — then implement them and reward successes
Coming up with the content of this short article originally cost $500,000. And it was worth every penny…
So don’t take it lightly!
If you apply this simple knowledge, it could easily be worth twice the original $500,000 to your bottom line (or 1,000X if you’re ambitious enough).
First, a demonstration.
Think of a cough medicine. First one that comes to mind.
What about an American car company?
A soft drink company?
I’ll bet your answer was the same that I gave on 3 out of 4.
That’s the power of top-of-mind awareness.
These companies dominate their markets, because when their customers and potential customers need a solution that they provide, their name comes up first. Sure, not everyone chooses them. But many — if not most — do. So their sales soar.
Not too long ago, there was a company that was determined to find out what was consistent between companies that had top-of-mind awareness. As you can imagine, if you know what systems these companies use to gain that level of awareness, you can duplicate those systems in your company and your sales increases will be practically guaranteed.
So they did their research — about $500,000 worth of it — and here’s what they came up with.
These are the “6 Musts of Marketing for Top-of-Mind Awareness.”
Personal Contact with customers
Company Literature describing products and services
An ongoing Public Relations program
Consistent and ongoing Customer Education
Consistent and ongoing Advertising
Regular use of Direct Marketing
How many of these have you implemented in your company? Which are part of your goals for the next 6 months? Which can you make part of your goals?
If you want top-of-mind awareness so your customers think of you before your competitors, these are things you’ll seriously want to consider.
But… Just doing each one independently only has so much power. A notable difference about the way top-of-mind companies do these things is that they do them with consistency.
Their consistency comes in three areas: Design, Message, and Timing.
Design. This one is easy. Make sure everything from your website to your customer literature to your business cards to your direct mail pieces have a similar look and feel. Do not do these things completely independently from each other. Make sure you use the same graphics and templates to ensure that your image is consistent in customers‘ and prospects‘ minds.
Timing. This one just requires some organization and dedication. You need to set up systems within your business to make sure you’re touching on each of the “6 Musts of Marketing for Top-of-Mind Awareness” on a regular basis — weekly, monthly, bi-monthly. Whatever is appropriate to your business. But do it, and do it regularly. Because repetition will make it more successful than trying each thing once or just doing it when you “remember.”
So here’s what to do today — set up a goal. Do it. If you have 3 of the 6, start by implementing a 4th. If you have 2, do a 3rd. If you have 5, do the 6th. But always be moving forward. And keep in your sights the goal that you’ll be doing all 6 within a set length of time.
Then you can experience the real benefit of top-of-mind awareness in your industry.
I’ve kept my finger on the pulse of Google’s Website Optimizer since the beta was first announced. By my book, the more people that use marketing testing tools, the better. And Google is helping by making their Website Optimizer available to anybody with an AdWords account — for FREE. (But I’ll bet only a small fraction of people are actually using it — stupid, stupid, stupid!)
Anyways… I thought that Website Optimizer was pretty limited in what it could do — either split traffic between two pages and track who gets to a conversion page, or rotate components on a single page and track who saw what and who got to a conversion page.
Well I was wrong!
Yesterday I sat through a 1-hour webinar on Google Website Optimizer. In it, they explained all sorts of advanced features and approaches to using Website Optimizer. The webinar revealed all sorts of insiders’ secrets to maximizing your use of this tool.
Multivariate (MVT) tests
Multi-page multivariate tests
Time-on-page goal tracking
Click-based goal tracking
It really revealed to me that this is a much more powerful testing platform than it appears at first (or second, or third, or fourth, or fifth) look.
What really struck me was the last three: the multi-page multivariate tests, the time-on-page goal tracking, and the click-based goal tracking.
Multi-page multivariate tests. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how one element on one page interacts with another element on another page, and yet another element on another page to effect conversions? Now you can figure that out.
Time-on-page goal tracking. Want to determine what combination of elements keeps people on your page for longer than 5, 10, or 15 seconds — because you know the longer they stay the more likely you are to get a conversion? Now you can figure that out.
Click-based goal tracking. Running an affiliate site and want an effective way to track when people click through from your site to the product page for the seller (but you can’t put tracking information on the seller’s site or on their conversion page)? Now you can track that too.
It’s really amazing what you can do.
They said they’ll be posting the webinar recording on the webpage for Website Optimizer within a couple weeks — maybe sooner. I’ll look out for that recording and make sure I link to it from here.
For now, here’s the page for Google Website Optimizer: click here.
Need help making sense of Website Optimizer or implementing on your website? Don’t hesitate to contact me: 541-543-1438.