Friday, June 29, 2007

Marketing Like You Were Talking to a Kid

This is the best way I can describe how you should approach a sales letter or marketing piece. You never want to assume that the target audience you're talking to can read your mind and know what you're thinking.

People today are bombarded with information overload, and it may take them awhile to focus (or re-focus) on your message and understand how it can benefit them. As you're doing this, break your message down step by step, so there's no misunderstanding or guesswork on the reader's part.

Here's the rule of thumb that I use: If I think my message is easy enough for a teenager to understand, then I've made it easy enough to understand. Here's another hint when you're writing...

Use smaller, shorter, easier-to-understand words. Remember, your goal is trying to sell a product or service to the reader - not impress her with your knowledge and grasp of the English language. That was fine in Mrs. Johnson's Advanced Composition course, but not so helpful when marketing and selling in print.

It's 5PM on a summer Friday afternoon, I'm ready to call it a day behind the PC. Hope your summer's going well, have a happy, safe and fun 4th of July!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Tell 'Em Quick, and Tell 'Em True

This is the biggest pet peeve I have with ads and marketing today. It doesn't matter if it's the headline and sub-head of a print ad, or the first 10-15 seconds of a TV or radio spot.

Nothing irritates me more because it wasted that much of my time. What is it?

It's the beginning of an ad that doesn't quickly and clearly tell me who they are, what their product or service is, and most importantly - "How Can It Help ME?"

Being a typical 30-something single guy, I'll make an exception to look at an attractive woman on a TV or online ad. A great example of this is the ads. The model they hired for these ads is great-looking, and definitely got my attention the first few times I saw them.

But the ads didn't give a clear call to action, or explain how Go Daddy is better or different than other domain registration sites.

There's a great old saying about advertising (not sure exactly who said it and when), and it definitely applies today with regards to marketing and your ads:

"Tell me quick and tell me true, otherwise sir, the hell with you."

American are being bombarded by hundreds (and probably thousands) of ads every day through TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and online. If you don't cut to the point quickly and give a clear, specific benefit for your target audience, your viewer, listener or reader will probably tune you out and forget about your ad.

Information overload is a big reason why American's attention spans have gotten shorter and shorter. However, there are exceptions to this rule.

If you have a good existing relationship with your customers or list, they'll be more willing to allow you more time to explain what you're talking about. Even so, you want to respect people's time. It's probably the most important commodity for most folks in our ultra-busy, fast-paced lives.

Another exception is telling a good story that 'hooks' the reader's attention, and holds it through the body of the sales letter all the way to your offer.

But when you're marketing or speaking to a new audience that doesn't know you from Adam or Eve, it's important to get to the point as quick as you can.

Telling your story 'quick and true' is the best way to get someone's attention, and maintain your credibility.