Adam Kreitman

Author Archives: Adam Kreitman

Video Interview: Powerful Brand New AdWords Feature & More

A few weeks ago, I was interviewed for a show, BuildaTribe Live, by my friend Mason Duchatschek of BusinessWebVideos.com. He grilled me on the ins and outs of Google AdWords for a little over 20 minutes. In that time, we cover a lot including:

  • What makes AdWords unique from every other form of marketing out there
  • The power of remarketing and the NEW mind-blowing feature that takes it to another level
  • Situations where AdWords may not be a good fit (and a trick on how you could overcome this)
  • The 3 main mistakes people make in their AdWords campaigns
  • Why it’s critical to understand the differences between the Search and Display Networks
  • Whether or not AdWords has become too complex for a business owner to manage a campaign on their own
  • The simple 5 step system for evaluating landing pages from a conversion standpoint

Here’s the interview:

 

If you’re not up for watching the whole video and just want to find out about the brand new AdWords feature, I’m not gonna hold out on you. Here’s the deal:

Up until a few months ago, remarketing was only done on the Display Network.

The way this basically works is someone visits your site, a cookie is placed on their computer and when they visit other websites in Google’s Display Network (a network of websites that display Google ads), you can show your ads to them.

But now Google has unleashed Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs). This lets you create an audience of people who have visited your site and target them – on Google itself – if they do more searches after leaving your site. Here are a few ways you could use this:

  • In your existing campaigns, add an audience of people who have visited your website and set higher bids for that audience. So, let’s say for someone who’s never been to your site before, you’re willing to pay $1.00 per click when they do a relevant search on Google. But people who have already been to your website know who you are and it may be worth more to you to get them back on your site again. What RLSAs let you do is adjust your bids for that audience. You can increase your bids by 25{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} or 50{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} or whatever percentage you want, just for people who have already been to your site. That way, you can make sure your ad is front and center, reminding past visitors about your company and enticing them to come back to your site.
  • You can even create a separate Search campaign that just targets people who have already been to your website. In your “regular” campaigns, it’s likely you’re focusing on very specific keywords and using a lot of Exact match keywords. But if you’re targeting people who’ve already been to your site, you may not want to be so limited. For that audience, it may make sense to use more Phrase and even Broad match keywords so past visitors to your site will see your ads for any relevant search query they type into Google.

In early testing, we’re finding RLSAs may not drive tons of traffic, but they are producing incremental conversions at a lower cost/conversion than “regular” Search campaigns. It’s a powerful new feature definitely worth testing in your AdWords account.

 

Marketing Lesson From Buttwipes (No Joke, Literally… Buttwipes!)

You might find this video hilarious.

You might find this video in poor taste (and maybe even offensive).

But whatever you find it, there’s a very serious… and very important marketing lesson everyone should take away from it.

First, watch the video…


DollarShaveClub.com’s first video went viral and has over 11 million views on YouTube since it was posted about a year ago.

This new one for One Wipe Charlies is well on its way with over 1 million views in about 3 months.

But it’s not the viral nature of the video I want to talk about.

There are a few lessons to be learned from it, but the one I want to focus on here is this:

Positioning.

See, plenty of other companies sell a similar product to One Wipe Charlies, but they call them the very sterile sounding “moist wipes” or “baby wipes”. The brands selling them usually include words like “fresh” and “gentle” in the name.

That’s fine if you’re selling to women and babies. But there are few things less manly sounding than buying fresh and gentle moist wipes.

The beauty of this video is how it repositions moist wipes into a product that’s quite manly. Yes, it’s a funny video, but it’s also very smartly done and well thought out. It appeals to men by:

  • Calling the product buttwipes instead of moist wipes
  • Using crude humor in the video that most husbands will find MUCH funnier than their wives (and will want to share and talk about with their friends)
  • Using marines and machine guns

By catering very specifically to their target market, One Wipe Charlies come across as a much more masculine product to use.

How can this apply to your business (the positioning, NOT the machine guns)? Ask yourself these questions…

  • What product or service do you sell that could be repositioned to appeal to a new or underserved market?
  • What product or service do your competitors sell that you could reposition to appeal to a new or underserved market?

I know guys in the online marketing world who were struggling and decided to focus on one specific market. So, for example, instead of offering SEO and PPC services to all businesses, they just offered their services to law firms.

I know a web designer who changed his business model to just serve Non Profits.

There are accountants who position themselves to just work with doctors or with truck drivers.

And by repositioning their businesses to target a very specific segment of the population, they’ve had much more success.

DollarShaveClub didn’t just go after the buttwipe market because they wanted to make a funny video. They did their research. They saw an underserved market. And they took an existing product and positioned it to appeal to a market the competition is largely ignoring.

You can do the same thing.

Reposition the products/services you and/or your competitors sell so they appeal to a very specific segment of the market. If you do it right, you’ll capture a much higher market share than trying to appeal to everyone.

And, you don’t even have to resort to making crude videos to do it. Though, if you do, be sure to send me the link! 😉

Is This Syndrome Sinking Your Sales?

There was just no convincing him otherwise.

Chris was a prospect who called looking for help exclusively for SEO and Local Search. After listening to his situation and assessing his goals, I brought up AdWords because I thought it’d help him achieve those goals much faster.

But, the instant I mentioned AdWords, Chris balked at the idea.

The reason?

He’d tried it. Didn’t work. End of story.

Recently I sat down with another prospect who was telling me about her recent attempt at direct mail. Juila sent out about 15,000 pieces in a few different waves and got 1 new client from it.

(In fact, 10 times MORE people contacted Julia demanding to be taken off her list after receiving her mailing!)

From Julia’s perspective, she’s done with direct mail.

She’d tried it. Didn’t work. End of story.

This month, we’re going to dig into these stories a bit more closely. And what you’ll see is that both these business owners suffer from the same syndrome that severely cripples the sales potential at many businesses.

It’s a pretty common syndrome too and one that, after reading this article, hopefully you won’t suffer from any longer.

The Syndrome

Chris, who runs a local service business, became a client. We’re doing the SEO and Local Search optimization he initially contacted me about.

Since he runs a locally focused business, we started optimizing his site so he could rank better for a lot of search terms that contained the names of local cities/zip codes his company services.

The issue with SEO and Local Search in a situation like this is it can take a LONG time to get results in all the cities. And, of course, the most important cities are often the most competitive and the hardest battles to fight.

That’s a main reason why I suggested AdWords in the first place. With AdWords, we could make sure he shows up on Page 1 when someone searches for him in each and every city that’s important to his business.

But Chris was sour on AdWords. He’d run a campaign in the past (set up by someone at Google) and it was a money pit that generated huge credit card payments but few, if any, leads.

I didn’t force the issue, but as we got deeper into the SEO project and the relationship grew, I brought up AdWords again. He was still quite skeptical, but I asked if I could at least have access to his old AdWords campaign and poke around a bit.

Well, it didn’t take but 30 seconds after going into his campaign to see WHY it didn’t work.

  • Instead of targeting just the area Chris’ business serves, the geotargeting was set for the entire state his business was in (and it’s a big state!).
  • The keywords were all Broad Match keywords (a number of which were WAY too generic to be in his campaign).
  • And all the ad copy was pointing to the home page of the website instead of the subpages that were most relevant to the keywords in each ad group.

It’s no wonder the campaign was a money pit!

But Chris didn’t know this. He just knew that he’d tried AdWords, it didn’t work, and he wasn’t interested in trying it again.

He was suffering from “I-Tried-Before-And-It-Doesn’t-Work Syndrome”.

It’s the same Syndrome the other prospect I mentioned, Julia, suffers from.

After sending out 15K pieces of direct mail and getting one sale, Julia decided that direct mail doesn’t work.

She had a copy of her direct mail piece with her during our meeting and at least one of the big reasons her mailings didn’t succeed was immediately obvious.

In scanning the copy, I could see it was chock full of the words “I”, “Me” and “My”. Essentially, the whole piece was about the company and its owner. It had very little to do with the thing prospects care about most… themselves!

(Whether with Direct Mail, AdWords, your website, Email or whatever marketing channel you use, if you’re not focusing on the prospect and showing them how you can solve a problem they have or a desire they wish to fulfill, then your chances of success are miniscule!)

A Good Idea Poorly Executed…

There’s a reason a lot of companies still use AdWords and Direct Mail… they’re effective, viable marketing channels that can and do generate leads and sales successfully for a lot of businesses.

This is not to say they work all the time. This is not to say they’ll work in every industry.

But this is to say that before you turn your back on a marketing channel, you need to make sure you gave it a fair shake.

If you have a low level employee at Google who’s never run a business before build an AdWords campaign for you, the chances of it succeeding are much lower than if you paid a seasoned AdWords pro that takes the time to understand your business, your customers and your sales funnel.

If you write your own direct mail piece but don’t understand the fundamentals of direct response copy, the chances of succeeding are slim compared to hiring an experienced direct response copywriter who understands how to get people to respond to a well crafted offer.

(And, perhaps even more important, finding an expert list broker who will get you a high quality list so you know your message gets in front in the right target audience.)

Don’t turn your back on AdWords, Direct Mail, email or other forms of marketing because of I-Tried-It-Before-And-It-Doesn’t-Work Syndrome.

Get a second opinion. Have an AdWords expert look over your old AdWords campaign. Have an experienced marketer/copywriter/list broker review your previous direct mail efforts.

There’s lotsa money to be made with AdWords, direct mail, email, etc. It’d be a shame for you to miss out on it because your previous efforts were doomed to fail from the start.

The Tool That’s Saved Me 38 Hours and 20 Minutes… and Counting

Ever wish for a little extra time each day so you can cross more off your To Do List?

Unfortunately, time’s always been one of those things you can’t buy more of… at least, until now.

A few months ago, a member of my Mastermind Group highly recommended a tool that I now use almost daily. It’s simple to use, does exactly what it says it does and does it really well.

And it’s one of the best time management tools around. Since I started using it a few months ago it’s saved me 38 hours 20 minutes and 43 seconds (it has a built in counter that tracks this for me!).

The tool is called MySpeed by Enounce. It’s a tool that lets you speed up videos you watch online to save time.

Videos are everywhere you go on the Internet. And MySpeed integrates with your web browser so you can increase the playback speed of any of those videos (or streaming audio) up to 5 times. And it doesn’t distort the video’s audio quality. Voices sound fast, but normal (not at all like chipmunks 😉

I watch a lot of videos online… mostly training courses, but also informational videos, promotional videos, recorded webinars, etc. I find I can speed them up anywhere from 1.5 – 2 times and still understand all the content in the video. Sometimes I even go faster than 2 times if it’s material I’m familiar with or fluff I want to skip.

(You can also slow down videos too which can be helpful if you want to take notes.)

With MySpeed I’ve effectively doubled the amount of information I can consume from video (which is a good thing because in the fast changing world of online marketing, there’s a lot of quality video content to get through!).

But I don’t just use it for business purposes. Know those commercials that pop up before you watch news/entertainment videos on the web? Just crank MySpeed up to full speed and you’re done with those videos in a few seconds so you quickly get to the content you wanna watch!

There are also news/entertainment videos that seem intriguing, but I don’t want to waste a lot of time watching them. Again, I can play them back quickly to get the gist of them, skip the fluff and focus on the good parts (if there are any!).

Now, it’s not a perfect tool. Some sites don’t have the bandwidth to stream videos quickly.  If you speed these up in MySpeed, you end up with the videos stopping and buffering, playing a few seconds, then stopping and buffering again. (Unfortunately, this happens for most TED videos which I’d love to be able to get through more of, more quickly!)

That’s annoying but, overall, MySpeed is fantastic. If you watch a lot of online videos, it’s an incredible productivity tool.

It only cost me a one-time $49 for the Premier version which has easily paid for itself many times over. I haven’t found anywhere else you can buy extra time so cheaply.

You can get a free 7-Day trial of MySpeed here.

The Simple Guide to Creating a Killer Landing Page

It’s a big problem. An epidemic really.

Business owners spend hundreds, thousands, even millions of dollars a year to get traffic to their company’s website.

The traffic builds and builds.  And, along with it, the expectation that a SURGE in sales is just around the corner.

But often that surge never comes.

And most of the time, it’s because all the traffic they’re getting takes visitors to a landing page that, to be perfectly blunt, sucks.

(For newbies: A landing page is simply the page on your site someone lands on when they click on a link from an ad, search result or another website. It could be your Home page, Product/Service page, page promoting a special offer, etc.)

A few months back, I posted about the 5 Essential Elements a landing page must have to be successful.

And, while that provides a great framework for building landing page content, I’ve had a number of questions lately about the specific steps and components that go into creating a killer landing page.

So here’s a primer on what belongs on your landing page (and what doesn’t) as well as some tips for each…

1. Identify the primary goal of your landing page

When someone lands on that page, what’s the ONE thing you want them to do? Buy something, call you, fill out a form, share the content, continue to another page on your site, etc.?

It’s essential to figure this out first because it’s the ultimate goal your headline, copy, etc. all lead to.

Your landing page should focus on just ONE primary objective… ONE main thing you want visitors to do when they get there.

Any more than one causes confusion. And you don’t want to confuse prospects because confused prospects don’t convert!

This isn’t to say you can’t have secondary objectives on a landing page. It’s perfectly fine to have links to other pages on the site, social media buttons, a phone number, a newsletter sign up, etc. . Just make sure the secondary objectives don’t steal the show from the primary objective.

2. Understand the “Thought Sequence” of your visitors

Conversion experts like to say “you don’t optimize landing pages, you optimize thought sequences.”

Here’s what this means…

First, think about the conversation going on in a visitor’s brain when they get to your landing page.

How did they get there? What keywords did they use? What are they looking to accomplish? What problems are they looking to solve?

It makes a big difference if someone comes to your landing page from an AdWords ad after typing in the the keyword “landscape architect” vs. someone who arrives from a Facebook post about your spring plant sale.

Those represent the beginning of two very distinct thought sequences and deserve very different landing pages.

Understanding thought sequences is crucial because your landing page’s job really boils down to this…

You start with “Point A”… the conversation going on in your prospect’s brain when they land on your page.

You end with “Point B”… the ultimate action you want them to take before leaving your page.

So, the job of your landing page is to meet them Point A and optimize their thought sequence on the page so when they get to Point B they are totally convinced that taking that action is in their best interest.

8 Main Components of a Landing Page

Okay, with those two concepts out of the way, let’s look at the 8 main components that make up a landing page (along with some key tips on how to make the most of each).

1. Site header/banner

With headers, narrower (height-wise) is better. They’re about branding and giving people a brief, initial impression of who you are and what your site is about.

Designers love to make big banners to show off their creative abilities. These behemoths take about 1/3 of the “above the fold” space on the page and push the content that’s actually gonna get visitors to convert lower on the page. Don’t let them do this to your site!

Often just a clean, simple banner with your logo (and maybe a tagline) on the left and your contact info on the right is all you need.

2. Headline/Subheadline

The headline is the single MOST important element on your landing page. It’s the first, and possibly only, copy a visitor will read on your site.

Make it clearly stand out from the other elements around it so it commands attention (it should immediately draw a visitor’s eyes when they first land on your page).

The main job of your headline is to let visitors know they’re in the right spot (based on the conversation in their head that got them to your page) and offer them a reason to stick around.

It should NOT try to make the sale. It’s the opening of your sales message, not the close.

The subheadline goes right under your headline and continues the conversation the headline started. It’s usually longer than the headline and in a font size that’s smaller than your headline yet still in a larger/bolder font than the other copy on the page.

Subheadlines aren’t essential. However, they’re a powerful way to elaborate on the unique value proposition you’re offering to visitors so your headline doesn’t have to carry that burden on its own.

Together, your headline and subheadline should clearly lay out the benefit/value you offer your prospects.

And, most importantly, their focus should be squarely on your visitors and their needs/problems/desires… remember, it’s not about you!!

3. Main Content/Copy block

Like the head/subheadline, the main content of your landing page should focus on the reader and, ultimately, the benefits they’ll get from taking the action you want them to take. The copy’s job is to guide a visitor’s thought sequence from the headline to your call-to-action.

There’s a lot of controversy and misconceptions about how long your copy should be (ie. long vs. short copy). And there’s really no set right or wrong answer. The length of your copy really boils down to what you’re offering and what you want prospects to do.

If you’re offering an easy to understand, free giveaway… you don’t need much copy. However, if you’re selling a more complicated and/or expensive product or service that you want prospects to buy on the spot… you’ll need more copy to get the job done.

Also, make your copy scannable because most people won’t read your copy but rather SCAN it for key points. Having all your paragraphs left justified makes this easy to do as does using bullets, short paragraphs, putting carefully selected words in bold font, etc.

4. Images

Images are not as important as most people think they are (an obvious exception being the product pages of an ecommerce site).

In fact, you can have a high converting landing page without any images at all.

If you do use images, avoid stock images of smiling business people. Instead, use images that demonstrate the value proposition of your offer. And, ideally use images that show your product/service being used.

Also, always put a CAPTION below your images. People’s eyes are naturally drawn to images and a caption can be among the most read copy on the page.

5. Forms

Keep forms as short as possible. Just capture the essential info because the more fields on your form, the fewer people will fill it out (fewer people may not be a bad thing… you have to balance quality of leads vs. quantity of leads depending on your objectives).

Left justify the fields for a cleaner, less intimidating look. If you do require a lot of fields, often breaking them up into smaller, related groupings can make the form more appealing.

Also, it helps conversions to surround your form with some “trust” elements like a privacy policy, security badges, testimonials, etc. to make people feel comfortable about submitting their information.

One last tip… unless you have a problem with a lot of web spam, don’t use a CAPTCHA for your form… don’t make people do any more work than needed!

6. Call-to-Action

This is all about the primary action you want someone to take on your page so let them know exactly what you want them to do and the benefits they’ll get by doing it.

If taking action requires a click, be sure the button/text they have to click stands out by using an arrow, bold color, spacing, etc.

Oh, and don’t use the word “Submit” or “Click Here” on the button. Use phrases that reinforce what the visitor gets when clicking on it (ie. “Get Your Free Trial”, “See Plans and Pricing”, “Start Your Tour”).

7. Navigation

Navigation isn’t essential. In fact, some landing pages perform better without it.

It depends on your niche and the objectives of your landing page. However, most of my readers own real world businesses/Ecommerce sites and will generally want to have navigation on their sites.

If you have navigation, it’s often best to put it between your header and headline, where most people expect to find it (as opposed to down the side of the page).

And keep it simple. Multiple navigation bars and/or navigation bars with too many options can be overwhelming. Simplify things so visitors can quickly and easily find what they’re looking for.

8. Test!!!

All the above are general rules of thumb/best practices to help get you started in creating a killer landing page.

However, rules can be bent/broken. The only way to know what’s going to work best for your landing pages is to test, test, test!

 

The Basic Ingredient of Marketing, The Importance of a Handshake and, Ummm, What’s That Smell?

Each month I come across some brilliant videos, quotes, books, articles, etc. (and plenty of crappy ones too!).

Here are three that particularly resonated with me (in a good way) in July:

A Quote: The Basic Ingredient of Marketing

“As a marketer, understanding the depth and urgency of raw need in your target population is critical. This is where world-class sales pitches begin to foment. It’s the basic ingredient.” – John Carlton

In prepping for my recent interview with copywriting legend John Carlton, I read and reread his ebook, “The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Your Shit Together“. This book has gem after gem of invaluable insights about sales and marketing from one of the best. No one I’ve come across has a deeper understanding of consumer pshychology and how to use it to craft incredible marketing pieces than John. I highly recommend picking up this ebook here.

An Article: The Emotions of Smell

This is a short, fascinating article about how retailers use smell to help drive people to buy. Now, I know most of you are not retailers and aren’t going to use smell to influence buyers (at least until people can smell through their computers!). But that’s not the point of sharing this. The point is to see how the retailers are using smell as a way to trigger EMOTIONS in their customers that get them in the buying mood. Read the article and think about how you could tap into your customers’ emotions more in your marketing.

A Video:  The Power of a Handshake

Big wakeup call in a world where our business “network” is defined by how many people we’re connected to on LinkedIn, our “friends” are people we stalk or play Farmville with on Facebook and our “conversations” involve sending 140 character messages to on Twitter. Great lesson here from Simon Sinek for both our business and personal lives.

 

 

Abe Lincoln’s Key to Marketing Success

“Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first 4 sharpening the axe.” Abe Lincoln

I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot lately.

It all started when I was on the set of an online reality show I’m a part of. The show chronicles the creation of an information product from conception to launch and beyond.

A cadre of experts (myself included) meet on a regular basis to discuss all aspects of the project. Our meetings are videotaped and will be put online for the world to see (I’ll let you know when it goes live).

At a recent taping I made some points about the importance of research and how, especially on the marketing side of things, the project would benefit from doing some (I’m purposely keeping things vague here… can’t reveal too much right now!).

As we were wrapping things up for the evening, one of the other people involved made a comment that if she had a gun to her head and had just 30 days to launch a business, she’d skip the research and just jump in and get started.

I totally understand the thinking here. In fact, you’ll hear a lot of business experts saying that one of the marks of successful entrepreneurs is the ability to execute on their ideas quickly.

But I guess where she(they) and I differ on things is I believe that research is the first, and most important part of executing a successful business/marketing plan.

And that’s why I’ve been thinking about Abe Lincoln’s quote.

Because when it comes to marketing, research is your AXE.

The Secret That Separates The Top Copywriters From the Herd

Here’s a little secret about the great “A” List level copywriters…

Yeah, they’ve got some writing chops. But that’s NOT what makes them truly great.

The thing that separates the truly great ones from the pack is their research skills.

Before they write a WORD of copy, they’re immersing themselves in the product/service they’re selling, the audience they’re marketing to, and the competition.

  • They ask the key questions of the business owners, salesman, inventors, etc. to find the golden nuggets that’ll provide the foundation of the copy.
  • They interview customers and prospects to understand what their needs are. (And not their superficial needs… their DEEP emotional needs that the product/services fulfills.)
  • They keep digging until they’ve got the emotional hook that’ll drive the copy that makes prospects quiver with desire, the bullet points that tease and tantalize their emotions, the offer that leaves prospects with little choice but to pull out their wallets and hand over their hard earned cash.
  • They’ll uncover the company’s Unique Selling Proposition that can be used to position them in a way that makes the competition largely irrelevant.

And It’s No Different for PPC…

All the top PPC guys I know are all fanatical about research… Keyword Research… Competitive Research… Market Research.

That’s the heart of getting a successful AdWords campaigns off the ground (as is digging in/researching the data of live campaigns to religiously optimize them).

The cool thing about the Internet (well, other than Amazon Prime and TED Talks) is that it’s now easier than ever to do your research. And you don’t even have to TALK to anyone to do it.

Some of the Most Valuable Stuff on Amazon is FREE

Speaking of Amazon, that’s one of my favorite sources to use for research.

The reviews on Amazon are a treasure trove of information that can be invaluable to the savvy business owner.

These are reviews written by people who have taken their time to express their views (the good, the bad and the ugly) about the products they bought.

The key word being BOUGHT… these are BUYERS writing about products they’ve actually shelled out their hard earned cash for. These are the people you need to be paying attention to.

During one of our recent filming sessions we spent some time on Amazon and got some incredible insights.

What we did was look at reviews people left for books related to the info product we’re tasked with creating and marketing.

Here’s what we were looking for…

  • The things they liked about the books and the things they didn’t like about the books. (Or, more accurately, what they liked/didn’t like about the information contained in those books and the impact/lack of impact it had on their lives.)
  • The emotional needs of prospects in this market, the problems keeping them up at night, their ultimate goals, etc.
  • Colorful quotes that could make great headlines, bullets and copy for our marketing materials.
  • The Table of Contents of the most popular books on the subject to see what topics they had in common (which is a GOOD indication we need to include those topics in our product).

At the end of the day, doing this research gave us a much clearer picture of:

  • WHO we were creating this product for
  • WHY they were looking for this information
  • WHAT information they’d value getting from us (and the emotional benefits they were seeking from it)
  • HOW the information helped them/didn’t help them achieve the outcomes they’re after

And we got all these insights simply by spending some time on Amazon.

Now you might be thinking you’re a dentist or run a restaurant or own an industrial/manufacturing company and there are no books/products related to what you sell on Amazon.

Fair enough. But Amazon ain’t the only place to find this sort of information. If there are no related products/books on Amazon, you can…

  • Check out reviews on Yelp or Google for businesses in your niche.
  • Go to message boards and forums where your clients hang out and discuss things.
  • Listen to what’s going on in social media. Are there any groups on LinkedIn/Facebook related to your field? Any key industry players/companies active on Twitter? Those are great places to do some research as well.

A BIG Word of Warning

There is a deadly trap you have to be wary of with research. It’s one I’ve been guilty of falling into in the past.

The trap is Analysis Paralysis… it’s when you just keep researching but never take action. That trap’ll kill your marketing efforts because you never leave the starting gate.

As I said at the top, I think research is a PART of executing on a successful marketing plan. But it’s just a part of it. You have to ACT to have any chance of success.

With 6 hours to chop down a tree, Abe Lincoln would take 4 hours to sharpen his axe. And that’s probably a decent rule of thumb. Spend about 2/3 of your time up front doing your research… then create your USP, write your copy, build your campaign,  etc.

Most of your competitors have dull axes. Do the research… sharpen your axe… and you’ll be chopping down trees they don’t have a shot at making a dent in.

YOUR HOMEWORK CHALLENGE

I know. Yuck. Homework. So let’s not call it homework, let’s call it a challenge.

I challenge you to spend 1 hour on Amazon or Yelp or Google or some other site where your customers hang out and are describing their wants, needs, emotions, opinions, criticisms, etc.

What insights does that give you into your market that you didn’t have before?

What ideas for headlines, copy, offers, products, services, etc. did it give you?

What ideas for new products/offerings or tweaks to existing products/offerings did you get?

After you spend that hour, come back here and share what you learned in the comment section below.

I’m betting that 1 hour may be one of the most enlightening hours you’ve spent in a LONG time.

And I say that confidently because, well, I’ve done the research! 😉

People As Sheep, The Power of Words and a Brilliant Bald Guy

Each month I come across some brilliant videos, quotes, books, articles, etc. (and plenty of crappy ones too!).

Here are three that particularly resonated with me, in a good way, this month…

An Article: The Power of Words

Stuck on what to do with your website?

Thinking of changing the layout? Adding some cool graphics? Did you see some fancy bells and whistles on another site you think would be cool on yours?

Justin Jackson lays out what you REALLY need to be focusing on with incredible simplicity and clarity. It’s great perspective that a lot of business owners and marketers desperately need.

Read his concise, yet powerful, article here.

A Quote: People Are Like Sheep

Claude Hopkins is one of the true pioneers of direct response advertising. Ask any direct marketer worth their weight in salt and they’ve read his books Scientific Advertising and My Life in Advertising… many times.

The following quote is from My Life in Advertising…

“People are like sheep. They cannot judge values, nor can you and I. We judge things largely by others’ impressions, by popular favor. We go with the crowd. So the most effective thing I have ever found in advertising is the trend of the crowd.

That is a factor not to be overlooked. People follow styles and preferences. We rarely decide for ourselves, because we don’t know the facts. But when we see the crowd taking any certain direction, we are much inclined to go with them.”

Claude Hopkins wrote these words in 1927. And they are just as true now as they were then. The only thing that’s changed is the ways that are available to demonstrate the trend of the crowd behind your company including…

  • Reviews
  • Video testimonials
  • LinkedIn connections/recommendations
  • Twitter followers
  • Facebook Likes/Wall activity/Shares

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I’ve said before that the web has not changed the fundamentals of effective marketing. What it’s changed are the TOOLS you have at your disposal to take marketing strategies that have worked for decades and execute them in new ways.

Social Proof is programmed into our brains. We’re all afraid of making bad decisions and will often rely heavily on the trend of the crowd to guide us in making decisions.

Adding elements of Social Proof to your site puts the power of the crowd behind you and can heavily influence a prospect’s decision to do business with you or not.

So use the tools at your disposal to add social proof to your marketing efforts and use them often!

And a Video: A Brilliant Bald Guy

I’m sure most of you have heard of marketing genius (and fellow Smokin’ Hot Piece of Brain Candy) Seth Godin.

There’s really not much to add about this video from his TED Talk in 2003. He pretty much covers it all.

But since my main newsletter article this month covers the importance of research, I want to highlight one quote from Seth’s talk…

“Find out what people want and give it to them.”

And how do you find out what people want? Observation and research.

Here’s Seth talking about giving people what they want and being remarkable…

Why This Company Should Avoid AdWords

AdWords boils down to math. And, sometimes, the math just doesn’t add up.

The following cautionary tale about using Google AdWords is true (though I’ve changed a few details to protect the identity of the company at the heart of the story).

It’s about a company using AdWords that shouldn’t be because, for their business model, in their market, the math ain’t in their favor.

There’s a catch here though. And it’s that there are other companies that CAN make the AdWords math work… in this very same market.

How?

Let’s take a look. Here’s the set up…

Last month I got a referral to a woman who’s been using AdWords to try to sell her product…a type of insect repellent. We’ll call it Bug Off Insect Repellent.

To be quite honest, there’s nothing particularly unique about Bug Off. The company makes no big, bold claims about it being any more effective than the competing products. Their main selling point is that it’s made of non-toxic materials and is completely biodegradable.

No Secret Sauce

While that’s great, there are other insect repellents that make similar claims.

And that’s Problema Numero Uno.

Bug Off has no truly Unique Selling Proposition. The product simply isn’t doing or offering anything that’s not already out in the marketplace.

It’s got no secret sauce. Nothing to make it stand out from the competition. They’re not even offering a strong guarantee.

And that’s a tough position for any business to be in.

That said, the company is generating some sales. Mostly through small retail brick and mortar stores as well as an ecommerce store they’ve partnered with.

The rest of the sales are coming through AdWords (or so they think).

And that’s why they came to me…they wanted help optimizing and managing their campaign. But I turned them down.

Here’s why:

First, they weren’t equipped to sell on their website. They’re driving people to their website and, from the site, linking to their product on Amazon.com where people can buy Bug Off.

No Accurate Tracking

The owner said they were averaging about a sale a day on Amazon. However, when pressed, she really didn’t know how many of those were from AdWords vs. how many were coming from people finding them through the Amazon site itself.

That’s Problema Numero Two. You gotta be tracking this stuff so you know what’s putting the dinero in your bank account. You can’t improve your marketing and sales funnel if you can’t SEE the funnel.

But the biggest problem this company had, Problema Numero 3, is all about the math.

Low Profits + High Click Costs = Bad News

We started talking about profit margins and the owner told me that they make about $8 profit per bottle sold. Digging a little further, she told me that their average cost per click on AdWords was $2.60.

BIG red flag.

To make the math easier, let’s say I came in and immediately got their AdWords cost per click down to $2.00.

At a profit of $8 a bottle, that means that 1 out of every 4 people who click on their ads – 25{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} – would have to BUY a bottle of insect repellent just for this company to break even!

Now a 25{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} sales conversion rate for a company WITH a Unique Selling Proposition that sells directly on their own site would be a challenge.

But there’s just no way Bug Off could expect to convert at that level.

The numbers just don’t add up. Even factoring in a few customers becoming repeat customers and/or buying multiple bottles at a time, this company has little chance of running a profitable AdWords campaign.

When You Can Afford To Sell at Break Even (or a Loss) in AdWords

That said, there is a way to get the numbers working in your favor when you can’t make money on the initial sale.

It’s why Amazon.com, Zappos.com and other big companies can afford to bid up prices in AdWords advertising products they’ll lose money on.

And it comes down to their back end.

See, Amazon (if they wanted to) could pay $2.60 a click to promote Bug Off and lose money on every bottle they sell through AdWords.

Why?

Because Amazon is not about making a profit on the first sale. Amazon is all about the LIFETIME value of a customer.

I came across this quote the other day about Amazon’s business model…

“A business model that not only valued long-term cash flow and absolute profit potential, but also deemed near-term profits and profit margin largely irrelevant.”

This is a model/concept that many businesses don’t understand. And it’s the key to making money in AdWords (or, other marketing channels, for that matter) in very competitive and/or low profit margin markets.

It basically comes down to this… the success of your business is NOT determined by whether you make a profit on the first sale to a new prospect. It’s determined by the LIFETIME VALUE of that prospect.

If you have a strong back end and can effectively cross sell and upsell additional products and services to your existing customers, then you can afford to break even or lose money on their initial purchase.

This is why Amazon could, if they wanted to, afford to pay $2.60 a click to market Bug Off through AdWords.

Because when someone clicks on the ads and decides to buy Bug Off, Amazon’s got thousands of other things to sell them. And Amazon’s going to VERY strategically present them with a number of related products to buy.

So maybe they add Bug Off to their Shopping Cart and are presented with an Insect net for $35 that would be perfect for the picnic they’re planning with their family next weekend.

Decide Bug Off’s not for you? Well, here are 50 other types of insect repellent you might prefer.

And speaking of that picnic… while you’re on Amazon how about some sunscreen, a soccer ball for the kids to play with and that awesome cooler that’s got a gazillion 5 star reviews to put the food in?

And, oh, it would be awesome to have a Kindle to bring along to read in the shade and….

Even if the person only purchases Bug Off and nothing else, Amazon’s email marketing juggernaut will kick in and send the customer follow up emails with related products.

Bug Off, however, sells just one product. They’ve got no back end. No cross sells or upsells.

And because the lifetime value of a customer is so low, Adwords ain’t gonna be profitable for them selling a few bottles of insect repellent here and there.

So, my advice to Bug Off was this…

Don’t waste their time and money with AdWords. Unless they’re going to develop a whole line of additional products (or services) they could offer to clients, the numbers just don’t add up.

The better bet is to focus their efforts on getting Bug Off into more brick and mortars and ecommerce sites. This way the company itself can focus on selling Bug Off by the CASE to retailers and then let the retailers sell the bottles onesie, twosie at a time to consumers.

(Which, by the way, is exactly what SC Johnson does. They don’t sell Off! Insect repellent on their website. And they’ve got millions of dollars they could spend trying to do it.

Instead they spend their time promoting Off! to the public and drive people to retailers (online and offline) who handle the actual transaction with the consumers.)

AdWords is all about the numbers. And, many times, the numbers just don’t add up to make a one-time sale profitable. If you have to be profitable on that first sale then, especially for low profit margin goods and services, AdWords may not be for you. Better to try your luck elsewhere.

BUT…if you can get repeat customers…if you are effective at getting people to take advantage of your cross sells and upsells…if the lifetime value of a customer far exceeds the purchase price of that initial sale…

…then the numbers can work in your favor and you can make money on keywords your competitors can’t.

What would your advice to Bug Off have been? Do you see a way they could profitably sell bottles directly to consumers? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

A Snarky Redhead, the Greatest Copywriter Ever and Pitching to the Lizard Brain

Something a little different for you this month. Decided to shake things up a bit for the summer and have a little fun.

Each month I’m going to share with you some interesting, inspirational or intriguing words that can help you in business or in life (along with some brief thoughts from me about why these words matter).

Maybe they’re in the form of a quote. Maybe a book. Maybe a video. Or, as is the case this month, all 3!

Below you’ll get…

  • a quote from the man considered to be the best copywriter who’s ever lived…
  • a video from a snarky redhead that’s not for the easily offended, and…
  • the best business book I’ve read in the last few years that’ll have you aching to go out and pitch anything to anyone.

Quote:

“One hour a day, read. Read everything in the world except your business. Read junk. Very much junk. Read so that anything that interests you will stick in your memory. Just read, just read, just read… There is your audience. There is the language. There are the words that they use.”Eugene Schwartz (generally considered to be one of the all-time greatest copywriters)

Want your marketing to connect with your audience? Then don’t use your words…use theirs.

Read the magazines, books, trade journals, etc. they read. Read the reviews they leave about similar products and services on the web. Read the messages on the message boards they participate in.

Do this and you’ll know your audience on a deeper level than your lazier competitors ever will.

And once you do, your marketing job becomes SO much easier. Because at that point, all that’s left for you to do is organize the words they use to describe their hopes, fears, desires, wants, needs, etc. into your headlines, emails, sales copy on your website, offers, etc.

The big hint here…the marketing game is won or lost in the RESEARCH stage.

Video:

Who are you trying to attract?

I’ll tell you who you’re NOT trying to attract…everyone.

Trying to attract everyone is futile. It’s impossible. There’s never been a product, service or person in the history of the world that everyone likes.

(Heck, we’ve even got very different opinions on something as mundane as WATER!)

Yet companies try to appeal to the masses all the time. And in trying to craft a message that speaks to everyone who could possibly ever do business with them, they end up with a dull, boring message that resonates with no one.

Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries has been making waves because of comments he made about only wanting to market to “cool” (ie. thin and popular) kids. Here’s some comments he made in an interview with Salon a few years back…

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”

This comment, and some others he’s made, have gotten a lot of people hot under the collar.

But from a marketing perspective, I totally agree with him. If you try to go after everyone, you are “totally vanilla”.

The important thing here is that it doesn’t matter whether you or I think Abercrombe targeting the thin and popular crowd is wrong, discriminatory or makes the CEO an asshole. They have a right to market to who they want to market to and we have a right to do business with Abercrombie and Fitch or not.

One person who likely agrees with this sentiment is branding expert Erika Napoletano. She’s built her own brand, and has helped build the brands of her clients, on the concept of taking a stand…even if it’s unpopular with large segments of the population.

According to Napoletano, we should be viewing “polarization as an asset, instead of a vulnerability.”

You can hear her thought provoking case for this in her TEDxBoulder talk “Rethinking Unpopular” (If you’re easily offended by offensive language, you may want to rethink watching this video).

 

Book:

I’ve read Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff 3 times now. And every time I read it I immediately wanna go out and start pitching stuff…a business deal, raising capital from investors, my wife on why my getting a Porsche is in the best interest of our family…it doesn’t matter!

The book focuses on our Croc Brains (called the Reptilian Brain or Lizard Brain in other circles). The Croc Brain is the most primitive part of our brain…the one that evolved the earliest in our evolution. And it’s important because it’s the one that actually CONTROLS most of our actions and decisions.

The premise of Klaff’s book is that the reason most sales pitches fail is because we’re not pitching to the Croc Brain. Basically our pitches get rejected, misdirected and mangled by the more “developed” parts of our brain and never reach the ultimate decision maker – the Croc Brain.

Using information from neuroeconomics (a big, boring sounding word that’s actually quite fascinating), Klaff lays out a step by step framework on how you can speak to your prospects’ Croc Brain and successfully pitch, well, anything.

The information in this book is extremely powerful. And, while the stories are mainly from Klaff’s experience in the investment banking world, don’t think for a minute that’s the only application of its material.

This stuff applies to presentations, sales letters, sales videos, one-on-one sales situations, persuading friends/family members/etc. I’ve even seen the Pitch Anything model applied to structuring webinars in brilliant fashion.

This is my favorite business book of all time. If you need to persuade people at all in your life, do yourself a favor and get this book!