Thursday, October 27, 2011

Is E-Mail Marketing Dead? Far From It...

With all the buzz on how Social Media is taking over the business world, you'd think that e-mail marketing is going the way of the do-do bird and will soon be extinct as a major marketing medium. However, when you look at how marketers are making money online, that's the farthest thing from the truth.

To paraphrase Mark Twain: "The reports of the death of e-mail marketing have been greatly exaggerated."

Savvy marketers such as Matt Furey, Perry Marshall and Tellman Knudson have made and are making most of their money through 'old-fashioned' e-mail marketing. They write their own copy, or have a full-time copywriter perform economic alchemy - magically turning words and ideas into money.

The foundation (or DNA) of your marketing - which includes your website, marketing communications and e-mails - is built upon words. The right words can inspire trust, build relationships, and ultimately persuade enough people to connect and do business with you.

Mark Twain also had another great quote: "History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes." The Social Media hype and buzz of today is similar to the tech/telecom/ boom of the late 90s. Internet marketing 'gurus' said it was all about 'clicks and eyeballs.' Profits didn't matter because 'it's different this time.'

Social Media gurus talk about the power of "likes" and "re-tweets" as proof that SM marketing works. I don't doubt there's some value in being popular; however, I'm not sure this popularity always translates into profitability and sales - which should be your main goals as a website or business owner.

E-mail marketing has one big advantage over Social Media: When someone is reading your e-mail, you have their undivided attention. With Facebook and Twitter, you're competing with dozens - if not hundreds - of other people and companies. I know that e-mail marketing has worked (and still works) consistently for savvy marketers - if done correctly - time after time.

A good landing page and series of auto-responder e-mails will attract qualified leads, and convert a higher percentage of those leads into paying customers. If your website isn't generating the leads and sales you want, ask yourself these questions:

1)  Do I have a good landing page (or opt-in field on my Home page) that's easy for people to sign up?
2)  Am I offering valuable free information in exchange for someone's e-mail address?
3)  Am I following up with enough auto-responder e-mails to educate the prospect on the value of what I have, and...
4)  Am I making an attractive (or preferably an irresistible) offer?

If you've been using Social Media marketing without much success, maybe you should consider giving 'old-school' e-mail marketing a try.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Another Stupid Ad Agency Trick

Opened an e-mail from a local ad agency today, which bragged about their latest contribution to the business and marketing world - the "Brand Audit," conducted to determine this gullible new client's "brand equity."

I can't make this nonsense up, here's the link and main "benefits" of this announcement:

Customer Response Research

Consumer response research is central to the brand exploratory. It is concentrated on understanding the preferences, attitudes, and behaviors of consumers in Barnacle Bookkeeping’s niche, and it aims to understand the effects and comparative success of past and potential marketing campaigns.

Brand Inventory

Brand Inventory assesses various marketing mix inputs (strategies, programs and tactics; including brand elements, product attributes, communication programs, pricing, distribution, etc.), and delineates how individually and collectively they execute the brand strategy.

Brand Exploratory

Brand Exploratory seeks confirmation that the target market actually thinks and feels about the brand as intended; to confirm if indeed that target has absorbed brand knowledge and is responding positively to the brand and its associated marketing.

What's missing in this worthless diatribe of "brand-speak"? Whether their marketing efforts have actually made a SALE for said client.

The only metric any business should be concerned with is the results a marketing campaign or advertisement produced - measured in sales or dollars. That's why I'm a direct-response copywriter, who focuses on results for my clients. Agencies who sell and talk about absolute nonsense like this, is why I don't put much stock in the value of "brand-building" for a small-to-medium-sized business.

Here's a recent example of a formerly big company who met its untimely demise, because its management didn't pay attention to marketing fundamentals.

Remember McClain Finlon, who used to be one of Denver's biggest ad agencies? They had sales of $210 million per year in the mid-2000s, and Qwest was their biggest client - responsible for about 1/3 of their annual revenues. Qwest had a failing business model, so like any good corporation, they blamed their marketing for their poor business results. Qwest switched to an ad agency out of Cleveland, which didn't improve their sales... that's why Qwest merged with Century-Tel last April.

Eventually, McClain Finlon was sold to a new owner, went into bankruptcy... and out of business altogether by 2009.

I talked with folks at this agency in 2007, and they wanted copywriters to do short, cute, and clever ads for their clients. Didn't sound like they really cared that much about results - just so it looked "creative."

I tell you this story because it's a real-life example of what happens when you get away from good marketing fundamentals. Don't focus on being cute or clever, focus on what the value is for your client... get their attention... build trust and the relationship, which should eventually lead to a sale. That's what good, effective marketing is all about.

Especially in today's economic conditions - and for the foreseeable future - smart companies will demand that you prove the results of your advertising and marketing campaigns. If it doesn't produce sufficient sales, scrap it and try something else.

If you're considering an agency or marketing firm who spouts this kind of nonsense - and doesn't tie what they do to increasing your sales or revenues - get the heck out of there, and find a company or professional who does.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Direct-Response vs. Branding Advertising - Another Perspective

Came across this article by Brad Fallon, which reinforced my belief why most business owners should focus on direct-response, instead of branding or image-type marketing.

Unless they have a few million dollars to spend on advertising and marketing... and don't care about the results.

Brad has literally made millions of dollars online as a successful Internet marketer, so he knows what he's talking about.

Frank Kern also talked about this in his "State of the Internet address," why 'brand awareness' isn't nearly as important as making sales, and measuring results.

Too many business owners have fallen for the siren's song of "branding" advertising; wasting good leads, time and money. I'm not discounting the importance of having a good professional business image, to look credible to current and future clients.

However, I'm adamantly opposed to business owners doing dumb things when they don't have to. Ad agencies LOVE to push branding because it makes them look cool, and they don't have to be accountable for results.

When an ad or campaign runs for a few weeks or months - and doesn't provide the results the client wants - they usually remind the client that "it takes time to build brand awareness in the marketplace," or some nonsense like this.

For almost all small-to-medium-sized business owners, your focus should be on making sales and revenue - not trying to be like a Fortune 500 company.

Your business models are different, and you should be able to measure, monitor, adjust and control 100% of your marketing and advertising.

That's the reason many ad agencies have gone out of business the past few years - they were too busy being cute and clever, instead of being accountable.

If you wonder why your offline or online marketing isn't generating sales and revenue, ask yourself this question: "Am I advertising to present a good image, or am I advertising to solve someone's problem and provide value... which will make sales?"