Category Archives: Marketing

4 Advertising Principles from Ad Legend David Ogilvy

Let’s look at some secrets of creative salesmanship from advertising legend David Ogilvy. He advised promoters to follow these four basic principles in creating their messages:

1. Creative brilliance. Marketers need to come up with brilliant concepts that not only catch their best targets’ attention but also sell them on the product. Ogilvy was a proponent of the “big idea” — an unforgettable concept that cap­tures the imagination of your audience and puts your product (or yourself) on the map.

2. Research. Ogilvy didn’t believe in “blowing smoke.” His copy was meticulously based in fact, and he did careful research to uncover the one amazing fact about a product around which he could build an entire ad campaign.

3. Actual results. Ogilvy was a strong believer in judging the quality of an ad by its success at selling the product. Always test the outcome of an ad, and if it isn’t selling, make whatev­er changes are necessary to make it work. This holds true for print ads, banner ads, job applications, blog posts or whatev­er else it is you’re putting out into the world.

4. Professional discipline. Advertising executives were not to be dabblers in the creative realm. They needed to hone their craft and develop programs to train the next generation of adver­tisers. Similarly, if you want to be successful at promoting something, through any medium, apply yourself to creating the best campaigns possible or you’ll never achieve everything that’s possible for you.

This last point is as true today as it was when it was written. Nobody becomes a phenomenon in any field without putting in the time and discipline. This is especially true when it comes to writing promotions — particularly today, when the field is so much more competitive.

To be a successful copywriter, not only do you have to put in the hours to learn how to write, but you also have to research more than ever to make sure that what you write stands out. If you don’t take deep dives into a product and learn what makes it unique, you’ll never rise above the noise.

Today people talk about commodity versus specialty. A commodity is an ordinary product. A specialty product has something about it that makes it unique and exclusive. A great ad writer can take a commodity product and make it stand out as a specialty product by showing what makes it different and better.

The trick is to find the story in the product, and that takes skill. Maybe you’re selling a fish oil supplement. You can turn it into a specialty item by explaining, for example, that your fish oil comes from a unique kind of fish living deep in Icelandic waters, providing better Omega-3. Researching your product has always been important, but it’s even more important today. With more competition and a more skeptical audience, you need great arguments to back every claim you make.

The most famous headline in advertising history

Ogilvy wrote many famous ads during his career, but the one that’s said to have been the most famous headline in advertising history was the one he created for Rolls-Royce. The headline read:

At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.

This groundbreaking ad illustrates all the principles that made Ogilvy’s work stand out. The headline itself was a wonderful example of the “big idea.” No one had ever seen a headline like that before. It intrigued people and pulled them in to read the rest of the ad.

The body of the ad was made up of 13 interesting facts that clearly explained why the Rolls-Royce was unique and why it was worth its sky-high price. And of course Ogilvy tested the ad in a number of venues before launching the nationwide campaign that ended up earning a place in advertising history.

You might think marketers just sit around waiting for inspiration, but that’s not the way it actually works. In describing the process he used to write the Rolls-Royce ad, Ogilvy said he started out, as he always did, by doing his homework. He claimed this was a tedious but necessary process. Ogilvy said that as a marketer, you had to study the product and find out as much about it as you can. The more you know about a product, the more likely you are to come up with the big idea.

When he got the Rolls-Royce account, he spent three weeks reading about the car. In the process, he came upon this statement from a Rolls-Royce engineer: “At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise comes from the electric clock.” That became the headline, which was followed by 607 words of factual copy. In a sense, Ogilvy didn’t even write the world’s most famous headline; he took it from a company report. But his genius was in recognizing the power of the statement to work as the lead-in to the ad. Of course, the rest of the ad pulled its weight too: 13 carefully crafted points that each raised and answered a question the reader might have. It even addressed the issue of price in a clever way, stating that the Bentley, manufactured by the same company, was exactly the same machine except for the grille and a much-reduced price. People could buy a Bentley if they “feel diffident about driving a Rolls-Royce.” This would subtly appeal to Rolls-Royce buyers, who would never see themselves as being diffident about anything.

Lessons for today’s promoters

I think Ogilvy brought a modern touch to advertising that really made his work stand out — and also made it tremendously effective. Many of the copywriters I work with do just as he said: they spend as much time as necessary researching before they ever start writing.

Very often the facts themselves lead to the big idea that will really sell the product. It’s the perspiration of research that gives rise to the creative inspiration. Smart advertisers put this into practice. One company I know hires entry-level copywriters to spend the first year or two only doing research. They don’t write one word of copy until after they master researching the subject area they’re going to be working on. Ogilvy understood the value of this, and once again, he was ahead of his time.

We should also remember to always deal in facts. Especially today, consumers are wary of empty claims that seem to have nothing to back them up. In promoting your product or service or yourself, be sure to provide fact after fact that explains why you’re the best.

And of course, Ogilvy was a pioneer in claiming that testing is everything. That’s the only way to arrive at the best ad, sales piece, website copy or Facebook post that will get you the best results.


9 Ways to Speed Up Content Creation and Connect With More Users

Content creation can be a slow and arduous process. Among marketers, the agile are primed for creating and delivering content at lightning speed. Here are some ways your organization can benefit from leveraging daily customs of those who excel in the field.

1. Align content with user stories.

The user story template should be clear. One user story describes the needs and wants of one persona. This extremely narrow focus serves a purpose. It reduces meandering, mitigates excess and encourages simplicity in customer engagement.

Creating content quickly means doing one thing really well for one person. Your audience should be able to quickly tell who your content is designed around.

2. Get content creators involved early.

Content creators often aren’t part of the planning and strategy sessions that take place at the start of a sprint. But they should be. Silos slow down content production. Involving creatives earlier allows them to become attuned to the overall content strategy. This can help them begin the ideation stage early and potentially short-circuit it by dismissing ideas that don’t fit in with the bigger picture.

This approach also empowers creators to provide valuable feedback from their vantage point. They may foresee potential roadblocks that others miss. Addressing problems early is a major win for any strategy.

3. Create manageable tasks per user story.

Teams and organizations will vary in how they split the tasks that make up a user story. Regardless, it’s important to focus on creating tasks that work directly to accomplish narrative. This prevents the scope of work from expanding.

Likewise, if a team’s run rate is predictable each time, don’t add tasks or stories in the hopes of getting more work done. It is far more important to deliver completed work than to end a run with unfinished tasks.

4. Prioritize the work that is truly critical.

You can’t do everything at once. Make tough decisions about what is absolutely critical and rank the work accordingly. Then, tackle content creation in priority order.

Ideally, team members should complete a user story before moving on to the next one. If disaster strikes, your organization can rest assured that the workflow won’t be interrupted.

5. Get feedback during and after every run so you can fail early.

Teams inevitably will fail. It’s the design of human nature. Agile marketers know the focus is never the failure itself — it’s the after-effects. Getting feedback can be challenging, but it exists to help.

Fail, get feedback, and learn. Then rise up and quickly re-route the course. Consider any and all feedback to increase your content’s quality, effectiveness and responsiveness.

6. Embrace cross-functionality.

Not everyone is an effective content creator. But the people within your organization have accumulated a wide variety of knowledge and experiences that can prove to be a gold mine.

Get rid of the idea that only those hired to create content should contribute to the end product. Crowdsource content creation by allowing every department to contribute. Creatives can then harness the mass knowledge base. This allows them to ideate, create and refine more rapidly.

7. Address blockers on a daily basis.

If a team member is stuck, others need to know — and soon. In agile marketing, status stand-up meetings occur daily. The primary purpose is to find bottlenecks, roadblocks, dead ends and boulders so these obstacles can be removed. Resolve as quickly as possible any issues that cause a work stoppage or inhibit workflow.

Use an end-of-run retrospective.

At the end of every campaign run, schedule a postmortem. Team members discuss what worked well and what could be improved. Postmortems provide value, but only if members derive actionable items from the discussion. It isn’t enough to simply learn what didn’t work. Teams must create goals that address these gaps. Give members ownership over each pitfall. This built-in accountability helps ensure the same issues won’t recur.

8. Abide by the manifesto.

In theory, creators can revise content until the end of time. Seasoned creators rely on external feedback to help determine when a piece is finished. Similarly, developers rely on quality-assurance professionals to determine that functionality is complete.

Establish a mutually agreed-upon definition of “done.” This will function as a checklist to curtail unnecessary time spent on a task. Once a story has checked off every item on the list, it is considered complete. Remember that perfection is never the goal. Content’s role is to deliver value.


Facebook Marketing Tips From a Social Media Expert

Entrepreneur Network partner Kate Volman meets with Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith to discuss how small businesses can utilize Facebook to build their companies.

Since 2007, Smith has been teaching small businesses how to masterFacebook marketing. Many small businesses use outdated Facebook marketing tactics, but it’s important that they stay up-to-date with trends and new features.

Uploading your email list to Facebook, creating videos and using Facebook paid ads and Facebook Messenger are a few of the options that Smith recommends to strengthen your company’s marketing strategy.

Today, Facebook can be a key way to gain new customers and re-engage old ones.

Click play to learn how you can boost your Facebook marketing strategy.

Watch more videos from Volman on her YouTube channel here.

Entrepreneur Network is a premium video network providing entertainment, education and inspiration from successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders. We provide expertise and opportunities to accelerate brand growth and effectively monetize video and audio content distributed across all digital platforms for the business genre.

EN is partnered with hundreds of top YouTube channels in the business vertical and provides partners with distribution on as well as our apps on Amazon FireRoku and Apple TV


8 Reasons Why Your CEO Needs Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing has become one of the hottest trends for marketers. And, there’s plenty of good reasons why. It’s a powerful and effective way to organically connect with prospective clients and build your brand’s awareness. But, how can you sell your CEO on becoming an influencer?

Here are eight reasons why influencer marketing should be on your CEO’s radar.

1. It’s cost-effective.

Let’s be honest, influencer marketing isn’t 100% free. There are some costs involved, such as hosting a website, paying for social media management and monitoring tools and creating content. Compared to traditional advertising, which can cost thousands of dollars, influencer marketing can easily fit into marketing budgets of any size.

How much money does it really cost you to tweet and write a blog post everyday?

2. Establishes your CEO as an industry thought leader.

Whenever a CEO shares their thoughts or advice that are relevant to their industry, they eventually become a well-respected industry leader. That’s why whenever Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Warren Buffett or even Beyonce speak we listen. They’ve achieved high-levels of success and know the tricks and hacks to achieve that success.

3. Connects and retains customers.

report from Rhythmone found that an astounding 92% of consumers have made a purchase after reading about a product on their favorite blog. While another study has discovered that customers who were acquired through word-of-mouth had a 37 percent higher retention rate.

Influencer marketing plays a part in both introducing your brand to customers and retaining them since you’ve built trust with your audience, have engaged and interacted with them and ultimately, humanized your brand. When you do that, people start spreading the word on how awesome you and your company are.

4. Drives recruitment.

Want to attract top-level talent? Get your CEO active in sharing facts about the corporate culture, along with the latest projects and behind-the-scenes visuals of you and your team having some fun. CEOs can even directly engage high-level candidates through social listening.

5. The ROI is phenomenal.

According to a poll done by Tomoson, businesses make an average of $6.50 for every $1 they spend on influencer marketing. And, that ROI can be even higher in other industries.

“For instance, RhythmOne reported an average $21.03 return on every $1 of paid media in the alcoholic beverages advertising category, and a return of $18.98 per $1 spend in the travel and tourism category.

6. Introduces your brand to brand ambassadors.

We’ve already established that word-of-mouth referrals are important. But, a whooping 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. That’s why brands are turning to social media influencers on YouTube or Instagram to become brand ambassadors.

As an influencer, you can spot these individuals on social channels and begin to build relationships with these rising stars so that you can form a partnership that is beneficial for both parties.

7. It’s targetable and trackable.

“Decisions without data are shots in the dark at best. For decades, the advertising industry was limited to shooting in the dark, having only access to traditional strategies that yielded murky information about audience reach, sales funnel influence and branding impact,” writes Misha Talavera, co-founder and CMO of NeoReach.

“The digital world is different. Every website visit, social like and picture posted online can be stored and analyzed, yielding oceans of data that turns into valuable insights about your target market and your advertising performance.”

Thanks to tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights you can easily track your efforts.

8. It’s an alternative to ineffective and outdated ads.

“It will probably comes as no surprise to you (or your CEO) that traditional banner ads have gotten increasingly ineffectual. In fact, according to Google’s Display Benchmarks Tool, the average click-through rate (CTR) of display ads is now only around 0.06%,” says Rampton.

“And keep in mind that some web users choose not to view ads at all. According to the Reuters Institute, 47% of online consumers now use ad blocking technology. This means that if you’re paying for exposure via banner ads, you’ve lost nearly half your audience right out of the gate.”

Businesses need to find alternative strategies for getting exposure and traffic. And, Influencer marketing could be just what’s needed in this advertising-wary culture.  



How Do You Stand Out From 500,000 Advertisers on Instagram?

Instagram just hit half a million advertisers. But things haven’t always been that rosy: When the company introduced its advertising capabilities,  there was a lot of disgruntlement from users. Now, well into its foray into ads, Instagram is not only still alive but blooming.

However, even with that many advertisers, you’ve got to step up your game to be noticed. Here are some tips on how to achieve that:

1. Native-like visuals

We’ve witnessed an evolution of the platform going from a simple photo-editing app with wacky pseudo-vintage filters for hipsters to one of the leading platforms for artists. Instagram has become less about in-the-moment images and more about perfectly-orchestrated flatlays.

Are you interested in advertising on Instragram? If you are, the first thing you absolutely must take is consider your visuals and how native they look to the platform. In a sense, your promoted content should “blend in” and look like an organic part of the native feed.

2. The first two lines of your copy

While images are the most important element on Instagram, don’t forget that great copywriting can make your ad that much more effective. Keep in mind, though, that Instagram shows only the first two lines of copy. Everything else is hidden under the “Read More” link. So, you want to make sure you get your message across as quickly as possible, and that the core message is conveyed in those first two lines.

3. Entice your audience.

It is crucial that you know your audience. Not only does it help to target the right people on Instagram, it is also one of the determinants of the success of your ads. When you know your audience members, and correctly target them online, your costs per click will be extremely low. Plus, when you know whom you’re talking to, you’ll know what to say to them. What are their needs and struggles? Their interests? How can you entice them to click on your ad?

Finally, if you know something about the people you’re talking to, you’ll know what kind of imagery they like and what their Instagram feed looks like. Is its tone inspirational and pretty? Or casual and silly?

4. Be aware of the context of your ad.

One thing advertisers often overlook is the context in which their ads are being served. Context is essential not only because it makes your ads look organic and unforced in the feed. It’s also a key detail because the same ad can perform completely different in two different situations.

What if visitors are casually scrolling through their feed in the grocery store lane on a Tuesday night? They probably will forget all about your fancy nightclub that has a free cover on Saturdays. But what if they’re out on a Saturday night with some friends and the ad for your bar, which is 15 minutes away, comes up? They’ll be likely to check it out.

Be aware of what advanced capabilities are possible.

To set the time frames when your ad will be shown and to to precisely pinpoint your audience, you need to employ Facebook Power Editor. This tool has amazing tools and features, like targeting people based on the technology they use, determining whether they’re connected to wi-fi, recognizing the language they speak at home, etc.

For example, if you’re advertising an app that’s available on only one of the two major platforms (Android and iOS), you probably want to target the right devices. You might also want to target people only when they’re connected to wi-fi, because your chances of a download will be much lower otherwise.

Overall, Instagram advertising is very exciting. It provides you with an opportunity to reach a huge young audience that actually pays attention to your messages. While half a million advertisers sounds like a lot, sponsored messages on other platforms are much more crowded at this point.


3 Secrets to Adding Direct Mail to Your Online Sales Funnel

If you want to get prospects to a website, all your direct mail piece has to do is whet their appetite. You can create an entire online sales funnel for your potential customers, but the very first step is to get them to your website.

Over the years I’ve worked with many online marketers who were very successful at finding prospects through direct mail. My experience with them has taught me a lot, and now you will benefit from it. I’m going to share with you three of my best secrets for using direct mail to supplement an online sales funnel.

1. Use the right length of copy.

Out of all the mailings I do, one lesson that has come home to me again and again is that you have to get the length of the sales copy right. When it comes to getting people to visit a website, I’ve had the most success mailing postcards, tear-sheets, small self-mailers, check letters, and short 2-page letter packages. Each of these pieces is limited in size, and looks like it would be quick and easy to read, but it can still be filled with plenty of copy. The idea here is that you whet the appetite of your readers, who will then rush to see what else is waiting for them online.

Too much can be overkill. You don’t need a 12-page sales letter to drive prospects online for a free report. And you do not want to use a magalog, long form envelope package, or digest piece to try to drive prospects online. The cost to mail out a long-form sales piece usually outweighs the return when the goal is to drive prospects online.

You have to make sure the length of your copy matches your call to action. If the call to action requires spending a lot of money from the sales piece itself, you’d better make sure the piece gives plenty of justification and incentive.

But, if your goal is to drive prospects online where you will do the majority of the selling, a long sales letter is not only unnecessary, but it may actually be counterproductive.

2. Provide multiples calls to action.

People don’t always read your sales pieces with the care you would like them to. In many cases, they scan it and go back and forth looking at the copy – and they may miss the critical detail of the URL that you want them to go to.

So, if you are mailing a small postcard in order to drive prospects online, don’t just give one mention of the URL. Make sure you mention it a number of times. If you are sending prospects a postcard, you should put the call to action and URL at least once on each side.

For example, a few months ago I sent a postcard promoting one of my teleseminars. The postcard was only 4 x 6, and it was full of copy. But I still managed to put the URL on that little card three times.

If you are mailing a larger card, maybe 8.5 x 5.5 or 11 x 6, you should have the call to action on it at least two times on each side.

You might be thinking… this is something easy to do… and it is, BUT I can’t count the number of postcards that I receive that only have the call to action printed on them one time.

Don’t assume that the prospect will look for and find the call to action. Your job is to make it easy on prospects to find the information you want them to see. So, make it very clear by putting it in the piece a number of times.

Believe me, I’ve tested this over and over, and I know what works – you MUST put the URL on your sales piece multiple times when your goal is to drive prospects online.

3. Sell the sizzle, not the steak.

I often see marketers trying to give too many details about the product or service in the postcard or self-mailer that is used to drive prospects online. This is a mistake.

Don’t attempt to do a full selling job on the product or service IN the postcard, self mailer, check letter, etc. Instead, sell the prospect on the idea of your product or service. Intrigue them; make them wonder if this is something that could really enhance their life or solve a problem. If you get them excited about the possibilities, they will eagerly go to the website for the full story.

Keep in mind that your main goal is to get prospects to your online sales funnel so that it can take them to the next step in the process. If you reveal too much too early, you may over qualify prospects; they will make a decision whether or not this is for them too early in the game and may decide it’s not worth it to them to follow up. Remember the power of inertia. It tends to keep us from taking action. If you tell prospects too much about the product or service too soon you may give them ammunition to follow the law of inertia.

To summarize, make the point of the postcard to get the prospects to go online. Don’t try to sell your product or service. Let that be Phase 2 of your sales funnel.  



Learn How to Create Legendary Promotions in This Free Teleseminar

How can entrepreneurs create impactful and yet cost-effective marketing campaigns that translate instantly to revenue?

Two marketing experts will help answer just that — they’ll provide valuable insight from top executives in the advertising industry in an upcoming teleseminar happening Sept. 28, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. PT / 2:00 p.m. ET.

In this free online event hosted by Entrepreneur Press authors Bob Blyand Craig Simpson, you’ll learn:

  • 3 ways to hook your prospects and pull them into your message.
  • How to build trust and increase sales by connecting with your readers on a personal level.
  • The psychology behind what gets prospects to LISTEN, RESPOND and BUY.
  • …and much more.

Sign up here to secure your spot in this exclusive event and to start bringing in new customers for your business now.

About the hosts

Craig Simpson has managed thousands of direct mail campaigns and grossed hundreds of millions in revenue for his clients over the past 15 years. Simpson is the owner of Simpson Direct Inc., a Grants Pass, Oregon-based direct marketing firm, and a respected speaker/presenter on the topic of direct mail. He is the co-author with Dan S. Kennedy of The Direct Mail Solution, and author of the upcoming title The Advertising Solution.

Robert W. Bly is an independent copywriter and marketing consultant with more than 35 years of experience in B2B and direct response marketing. He has worked with over 100 clients including IBM, AT&T, Embraer Executive Jet, Intuit, Boardroom, Grumman and more. He is the author of 85 books, including The Marketing Plan Handbook, and he currently writes regular columns for Target Marketing Magazine and The Direct Response Letter.

original article:



How to Create a Lead Magnet That Attracts Visitors and Converts Customers

Not every customer who visits your website is willing to buy immediately. In fact, it takes time to build trust and prove your value. After you’ve done that, you might get a few customers to pay for your product.

However, there are efficient growth-hacking strategies you can use to increase your conversion rate and get more leads every day. One of the best techniques is to set up a compelling lead magnet.

In plain English, a lead magnet is a tempting offer that provides a very specific value to a very targeted customer segment. In other words, when you offer your lead magnet, you bribe your visitors to exchange their contact information for your free offer.

Characteristics of a phenomenal lead magnet.

Lead magnets exist to increase your lead-conversion rate. The secret to higher conversion with a lead magnet is to offer a particular customer segment an explicit solution that addresses a specific pain — at no cost to them. That’s why the generalization rule doesn’t apply here.

To create your lead magnet, you must pay attention to two important factors:

  • Your customer’s persona
  • Your competitor’s offering

Knowing your customer persona helps you tailor your message and offer toward their needs and desires. On the other hand, conducting comprehensive competitor research enables you to discern what matters to your potential buyers and easily target your rival’s audience.

The best lead magnets.

Depending on your niche or the nature of your business, different types of lead magnets will attract more customers. Your lead magnets should be visual, attractive and provide value. Yet you mustn’t provide a complete service or product. After all, your magnet exists solely to help you convert unknown visitors to leads you can add to your sales funnel.

Online, gamified surveys are one approach. These encourage website visitors to test their knowledge, attitude, personality or even IQ. The structure allows you to ask for their contact information while entertaining them in an engaging way.

If you suspect your customers are looking for insights, data and information, offer a free report. Depending on your industry, a useful — but incomplete — report can increase your conversion rate and also help position you as a thought leader. If you invest in the design of the report, save it in a downloadable PDF format. This provides convenience to visitors, making your resource even more attractive. Thoughtfulness on your part can encourage them to opt in more quickly.

Software companies and businesses with intangible products have found great success with other types of free downloadables. Everyone likes the feeling of getting something for nothing, and offering trial or slimmed-down software versions can significantly increase your conversion rate. Simply ask your visitors to opt in before downloading your free product.

Video tutorials can boost your conversion rate as many as five times over. Several technologies allow you to capture your screen at no cost, making it easy to create a step-by-step video product in a matter of minutes. Tutorials are an attention-getting way to help customers understand a process or see how easy it is to use your product.

A related lead magnet, the webinar, also is highly efficient and currently quite popular. Regularly scheduled webinars are a great way to encourage your visitors to learn more about your company, your products/services and even your business culture. The secret to webinar success is to avoid making it purely promotional. In fact, you must offer value before asking for commitment from your leads.

Ecommerce and online businesses can achieve stellar results with discount vouchers — consistently one of the most amazing bribes to help you acquire more leads. The only problem? If you keep offering the same discount all year long, you’ll actually lose customers as they realize your promotional price actually is your real, everyday price. Today’s consumers are too savvy for the nonstop “for-a-limited-time” ploy.

Title optimization.

Once you’ve decided which type of lead magnet to use, it’s time to focus on optimizing it for higher conversion. You have only a few seconds at most to grab attention, so it’s no surprise your title is the most important element.

Your magnet’s title must speak directly to your customers — and I do mean directly. Your visitor’s eyes are looking for intriguing calls to action (CTA). They’re more likely to opt in if your bribe meets the following criteria:

  • Be specific. Offer a measurable, specific value your visitors can perceive immediately.
  • Promise only one thing. Visitors are looking for a great value. It’s your job to make sure your big promise is crystal clear and highly specific.
  • Don’t skimp. Although you’re not setting a monetary value for your lead magnet, it must not look cheap or undervalued. You must spend enough time and effort to make it look like a decent offer.
  • Deliver value. If you show merely a great look and feel, you might get visitors’ contact information. But if you don’t deliver on your promise, your unsubscription rates will skyrocket. You’ll lose out on all those leads you worked so hard to get. Even worse, you’ll have damaged your credibility, making it less likely you’ll get a former subscriber to convert in the future.                                                                 original article:

Are You Making Any of These 6 Marketing Mistakes?

I recently hit a wall in one of my businesses, recognizing that I was making some critical marketing mistakes. But until that moment, I hadn’t realized that I myself was an offender. Credit the power of networks: I had the perfect contact in mine to help me fix the error of my ways and stop making the (common) mistakes I was making.

Enter Margo Aaron, founder of That Seems Important, a site that explores the intersection of marketing, psychology and entrepreneurship (because she herself is an expert in each of these arenas).

“I’ve always been curious about what makes people tick, what motivates behavior, and why we do the things we do,” Aaron told me. After she completed graduate school at Columbia and went into marketing, she became what she calls a “defacto translator” between academia and the real world. “I started my consulting practice shortly thereafter and continued to ‘translate’ psychological research into marketing and eventually business,” Aaron said.

She added that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. “It doesn’t matter what the ‘industry norm’ is,” she said. “It matters that your approach connects with your target market. That’s it.

“The only thing that really matters is your customer: Who is she? Where is she? What does she want? The answer to those questions is your marketing strategy.” Here are the the mistakes that you, as did I, might be making and Aaron’s advice on how to avoid them:

1. Spending too much on paid ads

“Most entrepreneurs who rush to paid ads are doing so because they want to automate their funnel and scale out of the gate. A better approach is to build a relationship with your customers first. Once you get to know them, you’ll know where, how and when to reach them with a paid ad,” Aaron says.

Paid ads of course have value. They make sense when, “Your cost per acquisition [CPA] is less than your customer lifetime value [CLV],” says Aaron. If it costs you more to get a customer than he or she is worth, your business loses money. If you don’t yet know what a customer is worth, it’s hard to know if you’re wasting money. “Paid ads are also useful when you understand which metrics are useful to you [impressions versus sales, for example], or when you know what benefit to lead with and what call-to-action to employ,” Aaron explains.

2. Jumping into affiliate marketing too quickly

The goal is to develop a relationship with your affiliate and his or her audience before you start selling them something, Aaron says. This can be a lot of work, but it’s valuable. “To start going after affiliates when you’ve never sold anything before is like a meeting someone at a conference who immediately asks you for money for charity,” she says. “It’s a great cause, but you just met this person. He hasn’t earned your trust yet.” The affiliate approach seems easier because you can piggyback off someone else’s existing relationship with his or her audience. But you don’t want your first impression to be transactional. You want it to be relationship first.  Especially if you’re building a brand.

3. Broadcasting updates on social media

Like the methods described before, social media is an important, if not critical, tool in most businesses marketing plans. However, if your first approach is to write something like: “Hey guys, just launched a new website and you should check it out!,” you run the risk of being annoying rather than valuable to your audience, Aaron says. “That’s what we call ‘broadcasting’ — it’s when you scream at people instead of talking with or to them,” she explains.

Broadcasting your message is no longer effective. “People don’t appreciate being yelled at; they want to be spoken to like a human, Aaron continues. “They want a relationship with you (or your brand). Social platforms are designed to be social. When you broadcast a message, you prevent yourself from being able to connect with your audience. Marketing today hinges on the relationship you have with your audience — through connection.”

What’s more, if you haven’t done the hard work of building a relationship with your audience, no one will see your broadcasted messages anyway (certainly not on Facebook or Instagram these days). “The algorithms make it so you must have a relationship [evidenced by proxy metrics] before they share your content with your followers,” Aaron says.

And, here, a lot of entrepreneurs believe that they have to be on every social media platform; they overwhelm themselves trying to keep up. You only need to be where your customers are. If your customers don’t use Facebook, don’t build a Facebook presence, Aaron says.

4. Hiring ‘experts’ to do things for you that you don’t fully understand yourself

“There is something about marketing that makes smart people feel stupid,” Aaron says. “I get it because it’s how I feel when I talk to a lawyer: like they’re speaking another language. Trouble is, if you don’t understand what you’re paying for, you’re going to get duped.”

Don’t be afraid to ask questions until you get an answer that makes sense to you, she says. If you’re confused, you may be dealing with someone who is also confused and won’t get you the results you’re looking for. Experts should be able to explain the fundamentals to you in an easily digestible way.

5. Reaching out to friends and family

If you sell organic yoga mats specifically for new moms, unless all your friends and family are new moms who do yoga and care about organic labeling, they’re not your market. Don’t reach out to them as if they were, Aaron advises.

6. Doing nothing while you’re ‘getting all your ducks in a row’

“We love doing nothing. Doing nothing feels safe,” Aaron  says. “[But] it’s not really ‘nothing.’ It’s waiting, preparing, getting all our ducks in a row. You’re doing a lot of work while you’re doing nothing.” There will always be many legitimate reasons for you not to act, she says. Delaying for its own sake is really about fear of what others will think, and about the desire for perfectionism.

There’s a famous saying by Reid Hoffman, “If you’re not a little embarrassed when you launch your product, then you’ve waited too long.”

So, do what Hoffman — and Aaron — advise. Start doing something. After all, you’re never going to feel ready.


Why Some Prices Are More Right Than Others

The whole field of marketing is strongly based in psychology. And this is absolutely true when it comes to pricing strategy.

We’re all familiar with price tags that read $9.99 or $19.99. Do these really move more product than tags reading $10 or $20? What about adding the decimal and zeros: $10.00 and $20.00? Does any of this make a difference? Research says it does.

Setting the right price can have a powerful effect on the success of your direct marketing campaigns. So let’s look at the factors that determine what is your most attractive price.

Prices that charm.

No one knows when marketers first started shaving pennies off their prices, although much of the lore points to events in the 19th century. One story is that doing it required the store clerk to make change. This meant opening the cash register and recording the sale – a big discouragement to the clerk who otherwise might occasionally pocket the cash himself.

Another more complex story tells of a clever Chicago newspaper publisher who, in 1875, priced his newspapers at a penny to compete with other newspapers that charged a nickel. Pennies were rarely used at the time, so he got his advertisers to set their prices lower by subtracting a penny from their whole dollar prices. This assured his readers always had the right change to pay for the paper. It sounds like a great story, but no one knows for sure if this really is how “.99” at the end of prices became so popular…

What we do know is that this kind of pricing has a powerful effect on buyer behavior. It’s sometimes referred to as “charm” pricing, fractional pricing, or odd-even pricing. Setting a price even a penny or two below the full dollar amount can increase sales by 21-34%. That’s a huge amount that can make or break your campaign.

Marketers are well aware of this. According to a survey of prices that was published in the Marketing Bulletin in 1997, 60% of prices ended in a 9; 30% ended in a 5, and only 7% ended in a 0. This study is still very relevant to your marketing campaigns today.

So now the question is, why do these numbers work so well?

Why a penny less can make the difference.

We may think we make rational decisions, but we’re all influenced by subconscious parts of our own minds that make us perceive things in ways we’re not aware of. Rationally we know that $9.99 is only one penny less than $10.00 and therefore doesn’t amount to much, but unconsciously we react as though it’s a huge difference. There are a number of theories as to why this is so. Here are a few of the more prevalent ones.

1. The reference price. While it’s a largely unconscious process within us, we’re always placing a value on things. We do it all the time without realizing it. And to help us make more accurate valuations, we use a process of comparison. We set some kind of reference point in our minds, and then we ask ourselves, is this price higher or lower than the reference point I’m comparing it to? If something is priced at $9.95, the reference point we compare it to would most likely be $10, and compared to that, $9.95 looks like a good deal.

Clearly, pricing something at $10.05 in this case would not be a good idea. We would still likely use a reference point of $10 rather than a reference point of, say, $11. But now the price of $10.05 is higher than the reference point, and would not look like a good deal.

So, with the right pricing, you establish a reference point in the prospect’s mind that’s higher than the price you’re asking, and that therefore makes your lower price look attractive. Shaving off a penny or two does the trick nicely.

2. Ignoring the “insignificant.” We tend to gloss over things that seem insignificant to us. Dollars seem important to us. Cents not so much. So we focus on the dollar amount, and don’t notice that 99¢ is essentially another dollar.

This illusion is strengthened by taking what we want to appear insignificant, and making it physically smaller. That’s why the “.99” part of a price is often made small and superscript, so it’s lifted out of view where it can be more easily ignored.

3. The appearance of being the “lowest price.” Using fractional prices gives the impression that the company has really fine-tuned their pricing to give you the best price. A price of $6.94 says “bargain.” Large chain stores work on this principle. Walmart always lists prices with odd amounts of change: .88, .94, .96. By contrast, Macy’s usually lists its prices with a “.00” at the end – unless the item is on sale. Then it usually ends with “.99” or something like it.

4. The anchor of the left-most digit. We read from left to right, and the first thing we see when we look at a price is the left-most digit. As a result, that first digit carries the greatest psychological weight.

Remember, it’s all about how a prospect’s perception makes them feelabout the price. It’s easy for us to understand that $1.99 may feel like a lower price than $2.01. But it goes even further.

If people are given two prices, say $4.99 and $6.00, and asked to estimate the difference without actually doing the math, they are more likely to perceive that the prices are about $2 instead of the closer $1 difference.

Why is that? Well, that left-most digit commands the way we see a price, and shaving a penny or two off a price to change it from $20.00 to $19.98, can make a huge difference in sales.

5. When the item falls into a different price point. An additional reason for using fractional pricing is that it may seem to put the item into another category. This has to do with an item’s price point – where it falls in relation to other competitive prices. Many people have a price point in mind before they look at the actual price tag. For example, say a prospect has a price point of $20 in mind for the kind of product you sell. If an item is below $20 it seems inexpensive; if it’s more than $20 it seems more expensive and purchasing it would require more thought.

If you can keep the price of your product below a common price point so it falls in the less expensive category, you can boost your sales. And even a few pennies, at the critical point, can make a huge difference. A price of $19.99 means the item fits in the right category. Making the price $20.19 raises it into the next category in the mind of the consumer, and can reduce sales.

When a higher price point means more.

Some businesses don’t want to look like the cheapest choice out there. Their success is based in appearing to be expensive – and worth it.

Businesses like these use something called “prestige pricing.” They deliberately make their prices higher, and the people who choose to buy from them love it. They will rarely shave off the penny. They will price in full dollars.

This is something you see a lot on menus in fine restaurants. They’ll just say:

Grilled Caesar Salad: 15

They may not even use a dollar sign. That way it doesn’t feel like money and a lot of their target customers will appreciate that!

You have to know who your best consumers are. If they want to see themselves as being so wealthy and elegant that they just want the best, regardless of the cost, then more may be more.

Testing your prices is essential.

As always, I’m back to my old mantra: you have to test. You can’t guess at the best price – the price that will bring the most sales. You have to experiment and find out.

You can bet that Walmart has a whole team of marketers who are always testing prices. I have clients who are always running A/B split tests with different prices. And the results are often surprising. Sometimes the higher price does better.

But you never know until you do the testing to find out.