Friday, July 27, 2007

Red-Hot Temperatures and Red-Hot Copy!

It's summertime in Colorado, where the weather and my schedule have been heating up!

Was an usher in a friend of mine's wedding last week... had a great time, the itinerary was hectic: Bachelor party Thursday nite, rehearsal and dinner Friday, ceremony on Saturday, then a potluck and gift-opening Sunday. Really happy for Mike and Christine, best wishes to them for many years of health and happiness.

Weather has been hotter than normal, too. Highs have been in the mid-90s to low-100s; that, plus my schedule has taken a lot out of me. Came down with a sinus infection that sapped my energy and hasn't let me sleep very much (or well). I decided to take an extended vacation to see family and friends in Kansas. Went with my dad to see a local MD today, confirmed it was a sinus infection, and got some Amoxicillin to take care of the problem. That, plus home-cooking and some extended rest have gotten my batteries partially re-charged.

The other part of the 'Red-Hot' theme of this post has been Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero. I met her at a marketing seminar in 2005 in Denver. Really enjoyed talking with her, and she definitely knows her stuff when it comes to copywriting. I subscribed to her list and traded periodic emails with 'Lo.' When I got an opportunity to be in a mentorship program she opened up in June, I jumped at it... and fortunately, got accepted!

It's been a great experience after only a month or so, and I HIGHLY recommend Lorrie's coaching and info products to anyone who's serious about improving their copywriting and/or marketing. I don't recommend anyone unless they can 'deliver the goods' and know their business well. And Lorrie most definitely does.

She has talked about opening up more spots in her Gold Mentorship program later this year or in early 2008. If you're serious about copywriting, and want a great opportunity to be coached by a true professional in every sense of the word, go to Red Hot Copy and sign up for her e-zine if you're not already a subscriber.

It's a summer Friday nite, and I'm ready to spend time with friends and enjoy a cool beverage or two. Have a great weekend, remember to take time to relax and enjoy your summer!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Direct-Response Marketing vs. Branding

As a copywriter and marketer, I know that direct-response marketing (if done correctly) can produce positive results for almost every kind of business. You can measure, monitor, adjust and control your marketing campaign for optimum results.

Then I look at companies and ad agencies who use the 'branding' approach to marketing, which says: If you just get your 'brand' or logo out there often enough (and 'build your brand'), you'll eventually get sales and your business will live happily ever after. After hearing this for several years, I still don't have a clear definition of what "branding" actually is... and I'm not convinced that this marketing approach is better than good old fashioned direct-response.

I think some folks also mistake the branding approach as a substitute for good business and marketing fundamentals. If a company isn't competent at its core business, all the fancy logos and brands in the world won't be able to make up for this. Even if a company is competent (or preferably good at what they do), and doesn't market effectively to customers and prospects (sending the right message to the right market... through the right media), its still probably going to struggle.

Companies that don't stay current with business and marketing trends will also have a tough road to hoe. Good direct-response marketing should explain to a current or potential customer what a business does, how it can benefit her, and how it's better and different than what the competition does.

Branding doesn't quite do that.

It seems to be based on cheesy slogans, fancy logos, and/or fancy Flash videos on a company website. Now, I'll admit you should have a professional-looking website, and quality marketing materials; and project an appealing, professional image to your target market.

If you don't have the right image, potential customers may not take you or your business seriously. And it's important to have a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that makes you stand out in the marketplace.

But a business owner's main focus should be:

1) To know and do her business well,
2) To communicate what the business does through effective marketing, and tell someone how it will benefit them,
3) To follow up and make sure the business is geniunely meeting customers' needs.

For me, it's the business basics and fundamentals that matter. Not how unique or flashy their 'brand' is. The brand can provide some short-term flash, PR or 'buzz,' but it's the solid business and marketing fundamentals (which I just mentioned above) that give a business long-term survival and profitability.