Anne Holland

Blog Copyright Theft on the Rise Part II: Readers' Advice & 5 Useful Hotlinks

July 25th, 2005

I was worried that my blog last week about copyright theft (link to read it below) would spark a storm of folks posting nasty things about MarketingSherpa or my (assumed) naivete about the safety of any content on the Web.

Instead the opposite happened. Loads of you wrote (and even called) to say you had been worried about the same problem. Here’s some useful advice and hotlinks:

-> Add a formal copyright line and Terms & Conditions

At the very least, add copyright info to your published content. (See links below to copyright info for bloggers and publishers.) And don’t make the almost universal mistake of forgetting to update the year in the (c) date at the bottom of your Web pages annually.

But, don’t count on formal legal language on your site to dissuade theft. For example, I got a note from the folks at WorldWit saying their email discussion group postings appear to be routinely stolen and posted online by another site, apparently for AdSense revenue, despite WorldWit’s explicitly worded terms and conditions saying it should not be done.

-> Slim down your RSS feeds

Reader Elise Bauer of Elise.com wrote in, “Many bloggers release full-text RSS feeds, making it extremely easy for others to automatically lift their entire article. TypePad blogs, for example, release full-text RSS feeds by default, exposing their owners, often unknowingly, to bot theft.

“Who wants to spend their time trying to track down all these instances? Better to release just an excerpt in RSS. That way aggregators point back to your site, driving traffic to your site instead of stealing your content.”

-> Embed an “invisible” copyright line in articles

Reader Dave Stein of HowWinnersSell.com said he’s fed up with people stealing his articles “left and right.” He notes, “Most of the time a phone call will shake up the offender. I’ve actually made a friend or two who didn’t realize their lower-level people were stealing this content.”

He added, “One of the tricks I learned is to embed ‘(c) 2005 – Dave Stein – all rights reserved’ in white-colored font in the article. At least it’s easy to prove to an offender that they’ve pirated stuff. Plus, since I’ve keyed that string into Google Alerts, I can find out whenever someone posts it with or without permission.”

-> Ask for a hotlink

Reader Brian Cha, author of Email Marketing Resources blog, noted, “As I’m sure you already know, your page will rank higher in regards to search engine optimization when other sites link back to yours. So instead of trying to fight blog thieves, write some guidelines on how articles can be used (in regards to copyright) to help out those who legitimately want to spread the good word.”

So, perhaps we should add a note to all MarketingSherpa articles saying “If you like this article, please link to it *instead* of copying it. Thanks.”

-> Include preferred attribution lines

Reader Mary Schmidt of Schmidt & Associates notes, “Personally I’m all for people taking my content – just as long as they attribute it to me.”

So, if you are writing articles or blogs hoping to get noticed and perhaps land clients for your main line of business, then you should try putting a formal attribution and re-use line at the end of each item posted online. This might start, “Yes you may reprint this article/blog entry, as long as you include the following bit of text….”

(Of course, since MarketingSherpa is *not* a consultancy or marketing company, this would not apply to our articles. We’re solely a publishing company and our articles are our product, rather than being marketing vehicles for something else we offer. So naturally, copyright protection takes on a different urgency for us.)

-> Tell Google in writing if someone steals your copyrighted materials

As I noted last week, one reason some people steal others’ content is because they want to get Google AdSense revenue with content-rich pages without the effort of actually writing content.

To that end, many sites I’ve seen appear to be using automated bots to scrape content from other sites and then post hundreds, even thousands of pages online with AdSense listings. I’m not going to accuse any sites in particular here, suffice to say it’s a quickly increasing problem and loads of folks in the online publishing community have been noticing it.

Here’s what Barry Schnitt in Google’s PR department said in response to my query about this problem:

“Copyright violations are against our policies. We ask that the owner of the copyrighted material comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the text of which can be found at the U.S. Copyright Office Web site: http://lcWeb.loc.gov/copyright/) and other applicable intellectual property laws. In this case, this means that if we receive proper notice of infringement, we will forward that notice to the responsible Web site publisher. To file a notice of infringement with us, you must provide a written communication.”

My take on this? It’s not awfully reassuring. Google seems to want to put the policing ball in the copyright owner’s corner despite the fact that few of these stolen content sites would exist if it were not for AdSense revenues.

Plus, he didn’t comment at all on my second question, which was in essence, what about policing those sites — known in the industry as “Google Spam” — that post such short snippets of scraped content that they don’t actually break copyright law. They dance around the law and usually present no real value to the visitor.

Again, these sites are a burgeoning cottage industry that appears to be wholly funded by AdSense revenue potential.

My advice: if you are investing in an AdSense ad program, watch your metrics very carefully (separately from your AdWords ROI). Also consider the brand image implications of your ad showing up on automated bot sites. Do you want to be visibly sponsoring cruddy Web pages?

Until such time as Google decides to police more rigorously the sites ads appear on, buyer beware.

-> Five useful hotlinks about copyright and blogging:

#1. US copyright law explained in fairly clear English for bloggers with common questions (Thanks to reader Alan Herrell who pointed out this link in his Raving Lunacy blog) http://www.eff.org/bloggers/lg/faq-ip.php

#2. Official copyright info site from US Federal Government http://www.copyright.gov

#3. Copyscape — Quickly see if any Web page tracked by Google search is copying content from a particular page of your site or blog: http://www.copyscape.com

#4. Example of what appears to be an automated bot site that collects snippets of content from blogs and sites without adding any additional value/commentary, for the sole purpose of Google AdSense revenue (thanks to reader Tom Hespos of Underscore Marketing for sending in this link): http://www.ad-agency.your-information-source.com/blog/

#5. Last week’s column on Blog Copyright Theft http://www.marketingsherpa.com/sample.cfm?contentID=3032

Anne Holland

Blog Copyright Theft On The Rise

July 18th, 2005

Every Friday afternoon I take a few minutes to do a quick Technorati or Feedster search for our company name. It’s the equivalent of doing a Google search on yourself, only in this case you discover what millions of bloggers are saying about you.

At first, it was a sort of guilty pleasure. There’s that tingle of excitement when you discover a favorable mention in a blog. Sometimes of course it’s criticism, which is slightly painful but always worth learning from.

But more recently I’ve begun to see an ugly trend emerging.

Bloggers have begun cutting and pasting the entire text of our articles in their blogs. Sometimes it appears as though they wrote the article, sometimes they give a little credit “from MarketingSherpa.” Either way, I have to contact them with the following little cease-and-desist note or risk losing the intellectual property that our company is built on:

“I’m glad you like MarketingSherpa, but please remove this article from your Blog. By posting an entire article, you are breaking copyright law. You are essentially a thief, stealing content it cost us hundreds of dollars to create. You can certainly write your own commentary or summary of our article and link to our site for your visitors to see. Thank you.”

I’ve noticed these thieves come in two distinct colors — the first are genuine fans. They are so psyched about an article they decide to cut and paste it under the misconception than it’s a “compliment” that a copyright owner won’t mind.

I appreciate the compliment, but just because a product is an article rather than a shirt or widget, doesn’t mean you can take it and give it away without the owner’s permission.

The second group of thieves are profit-driven bloggers who are generally seeking Google AdSense revenue. They publish as many blogs as possible populated with lifted content and sit back to collect commission checks from Google on ad clicks. Some have created automated programs that suck up content from around the Web and post it without need for a human editor.

Worried publishers are forming task forces now to begin to address this threat. Ideas include limiting bots’ site access and requiring registration. In the end, more walls go up around the Web and an atmosphere of distrust reigns. Too bad.

Sponsor: New! Search Marketing Benchmark Guide 2005 ~~~~~~~~~~~~
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– Cost per click – Average click rate – Conversion rates – How much marketers really budget for search – Optimization vs PPC results

3,271 search marketers revealed real-life results data to MarketingSherpa’s Benchmark Guide for you: http://www.sherpastore.com/c/a.pl?1150&p.cfm/2166
Or call 877-895-1717
~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anne Holland

What I Told the PC World Reporter about Phishing & Marketers

July 11th, 2005

What I Told the PC World Reporter About Phishing and Marketers

“Can phishing emails make people miss or deliberately delete messages they would otherwise want to receive from businesses?” asked Andrew Brandt, Senior Associate Editor PC World, when he interviewed me last week for an article. Three factors made me say “Yes”:

#1. Open rates are slipping unexpectedly. Open rates for HTML campaigns to house lists from legit mailers had been holding fairly steady for the past couple of years. Now, according to data from both MarketingSherpa and Doubleclick’s separate research efforts, opens are sliding down faster than expected. (How much depends on your niche, frequency, and deliverability savvy.)

#2. A June study by Lyris Technologies revealed 100 consumers were likely to mistake legit messages (even from big brand-name companies) as phishing scams if they were badly laid out text-only or had HTML code errors (happens more frequently than you think).

#3. I automatically delete the dozens of emails I get per day “from” financial institutions and the world’s fave auction site without looking at them because I assume these are all scams. And I bet you may do the same.

Brandt’s next question was, what can legit emailers do to make sure their messages aren’t mistaken as phishing? Here are my quick tips.

Tip A. Maintain higher quality production values

Consumers expect scam-artists’ messages to feel amateurish with typos, reply addresses that no longer work, and improperly rendered images (because perhaps they had to switch servers in a hurry).

Make sure your HTML email is coded properly by passing it through the validator at
http://validator.w3.org and check that whoever is serving your images will have them up on time and for a good long time — such as weeks, not just days.

Plus, take a good look at your text-only version. Never ever let your email department autocreate it based on your HTML content. Text layout must be handcrafted separately for readability and appeal.

Tip B. Consider protective software for your customers

When we were interviewing Secure Computing’s marketer Shelly Maley for our top Case Study this week (see below), she explained one of their products can protect your customers against phishing by changing their passwords in some automated fashion. I don’t pretend to understand this technology but hey, why not sic your IT department on the idea?

MarketingSherpa reader, Shira Steinberg, wrote in to tell us her company has invented another solution that adds “simple visual cues” to your Web site so folks know it’s legit. Again, I don’t understand this stuff, but if you like to research tech, the company name is Green Armor.

Tip C. Test alternate and mixed delivery methods

If the email message is critical either to your bottom line or because you are legally obliged to deliver it, then you can’t rely on email alone anymore.

Try multi-channel campaigns — If consumers see matching messages from a variety of sources (such as your new print catalog cover and a matching email campaign), they’re more likely to assume it’s legit email and more likely to respond.

Also, set up a program to automatically switch consistent nonopeners (or for text-only, consistent nonclickers) to a completely different media, such as print.

You should also proactively contact top accounts and key prospects via phone, postal mail, or on-screen pop-up, to see what the problem is. Perhaps the address is bad. Perhaps their filter is confused. Perhaps they want off your list.

Plus, consider offering alternate electronic delivery methods such as desktop apps, downloadable toolbars, RSS feeds, IM alerts, SMS alerts, etc., to your best customers. But, if you do, build in above-average reporting from the start so you can track usership on an account basis.

Good luck! P.S. Here’s that Case Study on Shelly Maley’s marketing: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/sample.cfm?contentID=3025

Anne Holland

Warning: Two US States Enact (Bad) New Email Laws

June 27th, 2005

This weekend, my email in-box practically exploded under the weight of incoming queries, concerns, and mailer debates about two new US state email laws that have come up pretty much out of the blue.

On July 1st, new child protection email laws go into effect in both Michigan and Utah. I’m not a lawyer, but here’s my rough take on the facts thus far.

— Individuals who are minors (under 18) or who give minors access to their email accounts (i.e., parents) and live in UT or MI can add those email addresses to a registry in the appropriate state.

— Institutions such as schools can add their entire domain to the registry.

— No “commercial” emailer can send a message that contains anything illegal for kids to view or use to even a single recipient on those registries. This includes messages about alcohol, tobacco, porn, gambling, and prescription drugs.

— Plus, your message can’t hotlink to a Web page that contains info about anything illegal. So, if your link goes to USAToday.com and there’s info about tobacco on that page, then you might be breaking the law. (This angle is what worries mailers the most.)

— The laws are in effect regardless of whether you’re a permission mailer. If an individual requests to be on your list, you still can’t mail any illegal content to them nor link to any illegal content.

Both laws are fairly vaguely worded, leaving details open to interpretation. So knowing how to obey isn’t easy. (Can you say “Bad Law?”) And no one has any idea how forcefully the states will go about stopping mailers who mess up.

The key is, because of this vagueness, the laws at this time affect nearly every mailer in the US who either:

A) Mails content only suitable for adults, or

B) Hotlinks to a Web page that might contain an ad, an article or perhaps even just a hotlink to content that’s only suitable for adults. (And some argue that could be Yahoo’s home page, what with links to personals, etc.)

I’m working to put together a special report on these new laws for our next issue. This could be a hue and cry about nothing, or it could turn into a huge pain for otherwise legitimate mailers.

In the meantime, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Sponsor: New! Search Marketing Benchmark Guide 2005 ~~~~~~~~~~~~
All-new Search Benchmark has 210 charts of useful data so you can compare your campaigns to the “norm”:

– Cost per click – Average click rate – Conversion rates – How much marketers really budget for search – Optimization vs PPC results

3,271 search marketers revealed real-life results data to MarketingSherpa’s Benchmark Guide for you: http://www.sherpastore.com/c/a.pl?1150&p.cfm/2166
Or call 877-895-1717
~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anne Holland

Three Double Checks Before You Decide to Switch Email Service Providers

June 20th, 2005

, Publisher

A friend of mine emailed, “Anne, I’m fed up with my current email service provider. I think a lot of my mail is being filtered before it gets to my readers’ in-boxes.”

He figured switching to a new vendor would be like a silver bullet for delivery. If only he could pick the right one.

I had to be honest with him. Although we do publish Buyer’s Guide to Email Vendors, I strongly advise marketers not to assume that switching vendors equals better deliverability.

Why? Because so much of delivery is determined by your own practices as a mailer — not by your vendor. So, before you consider switching, first make sure you’ve done everything you should on your end to get the mail through.

Assuming you’re already doing the obvious stuff — only mailing true permission names messages you’re darn sure they’re interested in at a nonannoying frequency — here are three more factors to double-check:

#1. Are you currently using a dedicated IP address to send email that no other mailer ever uses? Some vendors charge a bit more for this, some don’t. Almost all offer it, and it’s your responsibility as the mailer to insist on using this service.

Otherwise you’re at the mercy of every other mailer sending from the same IP address. If any of the folks on their list block or blacklist them, your mailings are tarred with the same brush because you appear to be identical.

#2. If you send in HTML, is it coded properly? One industry expert told me off the record that almost never, ever, are email newsletters and alerts coded cleanly.

Much email design is done by Web designers who don’t realize email requires super-clean code. Plus, as original email templates are altered and adjusted over the years, the code can get messy. To see if your HTML passes the test, run it through the online validator here: http://validator.w3.org/.

#3. Content filtering is *huge* in the corporate world. Great email service providers can help you get through to major ISPs with volume controls, strict list hygiene, and reputation.

However, many at-work email addresses are being protected by content-based filters that may have much higher false positive rates than big ISPs. Translation: if your copy contains enough junk-mail-looking words, your mailing to folks at work may not get through. To see if your copy passes the test, run it through an online validator here (or ask if your ESP provides a similar checker): http://www.lyris.com/contentchecker/

Still not getting through? Now it’s time to pick up the phone and ask your current vendor for help with the problem. If they have no ideas, then (and only then) start shopping.

Sponsor: New! Search Marketing Benchmark Guide 2005 ~~~~~~~~~~~~
All-new Search Benchmark has 210 charts of useful data so you can compare your campaigns to the “norm”:

– Cost per click – Average click rate – Conversion rates – How much marketers really budget for search – Optimization vs PPC results

3,271 search marketers revealed real-life results data to MarketingSherpa’s Benchmark Guide for you: http://www.sherpastore.com/c/a.pl?1150&p.cfm/2166
Or call 877-895-1717
~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anne Holland

MarketingSherpa Reader Feedback: Fast-track Name Choices or Lose Out

June 13th, 2005

Here’s a useful reader letter I just got in response to the “How to Name Your Brand” article we ran last month:

“Dear Anne,

A recent excellent article on naming in MarketingSherpa pointed out the folly of using abbreviations, as well as outlining a complete process for a company name change. While we heartily endorse the comments on abbreviations, the process described for a name change was unfortunately very biased to large or slow moving companies.

Do you really have 18 months for such an initiative? And, even if you do, does your company realize the time value of names?

Every day, hundreds of new businesses start, and hundreds of new products are launched and they all need a name. Every week, the US Patent and Trademark office processes a few thousand trademark requests as everyone tries to protect the intellectual property rights in their names. And our language is not growing nearly that fast, so the fight for good, clean and unique monikers intensifies every year.

We have seen a number of clients recently lose a favorite prospective company or product name to direct competitors. Your competitors only have to apply for a trademark, or properly use a name as common law trademark, one day sooner than you, for it to be their property and not yours.

Admittedly this situation is more common in fields where a number of competitors are suddenly all running in a new technology or fashion or theme direction, but it can happen to any company at any time. Businessweek magazine wrote about two direct competitors showing up at the same sportsmen’s show where both were launching new canoes called Cascadia.

In fact, certain roots, themes, and ideas come into popularity and affect naming, just like fashion trends. When brown colors came into fashion a few years back, we suddenly had a rash of Sienna and similar names, for example.

Here, instead, is a proposed timeline for naming or renaming your business or product line that anyone can follow if their management team is properly engaged:

Week 1: Refresh Brand Values & Image Characteristics Week 2: Master Name List Generation Weeks 3-5: Sort/Search/Select Names Week 6: Final Legal Checks/ Final Name Selection Week 7: Secure and Register Name/ Explore visual concepts Week 7: Logo Design Week 8: Management Review Weeks 9-11: Business Image Design(s) Weeks 12-14: Finish new Web look/Print initial items/Rollout

Too aggressive for you? What do you gain from dragging it out?

I understand if your lawyers have to go check every country of the world (this usually only applies if you are a Fortune 50 company). I understand if your executives are scared to make a decision so they pay someone to do market research about a name in many parts of the world.

But in the end, the management team makes the decision based on their personality, their personal likes and dislikes, their perceptions and desired marketing images. So you have to get the final names to them quickly, claim a name, and start using it to describe your new brand promise. Which means registering it and getting it out in the marketplace before anyone else does.

The 90-day plan outlined above lets you get on with chasing your customers instead of wasting time with incessant internal debates. If nothing else, calculate the cost of all the executive man-hours in meetings as naming and identity projects drag out for no discernible reasons.”

Athol Foden, President Brighter Naming

Useful links related to this letter

#1. Has this naming advice wetted your appetite for more real-life stories of how companies name themselves and new products? Check out our free giveaway for the book ‘Wordcraft’ by Alex Frankel, which the Wall Street Journal reviewed as “Hilarious and revealing.” http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=93070279812 (Contest ends June 26)

#2. Brighter Naming: http://www.brighternaming.com

#3. The MarketingSherpa article Athol was writing in reaction to: How to Name (or Rename) Your Company — 3 Steps & Mistakes to Avoid: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/sample.cfm?contentID=2993 (Open access)

Anne Holland

What I Learned on Summer Vacation in Croatia: Advertising in Eastern Europe

June 6th, 2005

I just stumbled off a plane a few hours ago, so forgive me if this isn’t completely coherent. I left half my brain back on vacation in sunny Croatia (the coastal part of the former Yugoslavia).

English is rarely spoken there because most tourists are from Italy and Germany. Croatians all learned a little English in school, which they remember about as well as I recall high school French (not very).

This doesn’t stop English from being used frequently as a marketing device — as you would a dash of spice in soup. Toss a few English-language words into a store display poster or a brand name tag-line and consumers know your brand is youthful and cutting edge. Hence “Montana” brand sandwiches, and signs offering “free shit” at Internet cafes.

There are lots of Internet cafes, but few eretail sites as, like many Europeans, locals don’t use credit cards much (let alone trust them on the Web yet). So, the Web is largely an offline-traffic-driving device.

Out-of-home roadside advertising is huge, and creative often matches the ads playing on TV. Most towns are small and centralized enough that you can completely saturate (and dominate) everyone’s consciousness with your billboard campaign.

There’s a downside to this: creative has to be incredibly good because your ad is *so* noticeable and unceasingly noticed during the weeks it’s up. If consumers don’t like your ad, your brand may suffer a lot more than it would in the US where it’s hard to get any eyeball time, let alone saturation.

(I wonder if that’s what it was like sponsoring TV in the 1950s here.)

One hardy entrepreneur is trying to get a cafe bathroom stall advertising company going. The ads for the service are, naturally, posted in a few cafe restrooms. And, they show — honest to god — photos of actual people in stalls eagerly looking at ads as they … do their business. It’s not quite as horribly explicit as it sounds, but awfully funny.

My absolutely favorite cafe didn’t have the ads (yet anyway). If you’re in the ancient seaside city of Zadar, definitely stop in at The Garden, where you can lounge on white canvas sofas under gently rustling trees as the waiter brings you another round (http://www.thegardenzadar.com).

Anne Holland

The Battle of the Road Signs: Eight Competing Garden Centers Duke It Out

May 23rd, 2005

Although I live in a fairly small town on a not-so-big island, every day as I drive to work on the mainland, I pass signs for eight different garden centers.

Obviously it’s a garden-crazed community that I live in. But even so, with eight garden centers duking it out on the main road (not to mention the ones off it), the competition for marketshare is ferocious.

It’s also tremendous fun for those of us commuters who pass the various competitor’s signs each day. (Reminds me of email marketing competition to consumer’s inboxes.)

I’ve noticed three rules of thumb:

Rule #1. Change your sign frequently

The more notably successful garden centers (based on my eyeball count of cars in parking lots) tend to update their road signs at least weekly.

Rule #2. Only easy-to-reach signs get updated

DeCastro’s sign requires a ladder to reach, and who wants to drag out a ladder once a week? So they content themselves with monthly sign changes and just swap out buckets of display plants clustered at the base of the sign weekly.

Chaves’ has a sign anyone over 5’7″ could change the letters on, so they update weekly. I look forward to seeing what the new sign says as an addictive form of drive-time entertainment. Convenience for the sign-guy equals better marketing for the center.

(Tell that to the committee who are debating allowing you a content management software budget to change your Web marketing pages by yourself without waiting in line for the IT or Web department.)

Potting Shed goes even lower with a waist-high chalkboard sign that’s so easy to update that they change it several times a week.

Rule #3. Specificity works best for copy

Every time a sign has made me pull in to shop, it’s been the most specific ones. “Hundreds of perennials” didn’t work, but “pink and yellow-throated daylilies” got me. If you change your sign weekly or even daily, you can continually change the very specific item and pull in some of the people some of the time.

It’s better than being so generically bland that you pull in none of the people all of the time.

But I have to admit the best signs of all are the ones with humor. Chaves’ Valentine’s Day countdown (each day a different chastising message for the typical husband who hasn’t gotten around to ordering roses yet) was priceless.

However, Potting Shed won this weekend’s roadside battle with their latest sign:

“Your husband called. He says to stop and buy whatever you want.”

Even though I knew it was “just marketing” and my better half thinks the last thing we need is more shrubs, I pulled in. After all, I could blame the sign and make him laugh instead of mad.

Anne Holland

5 Discoveries from Fortune 100 Marketing Statistics

May 9th, 2005

If you work for a Fortune 100 brand, accurate “what moved the needle” measurement is almost impossible.

If sales are up, how much is due to your nifty street team, versus the instant-win packaging campaign, versus a product placement shot on a hip TV show? Or maybe the bump is from dealer/distributor sales incentives.

Our Metrics Editor Stefan Tornquist sat down with the folks at Marketing Management Analytics (MMA), who’ve been building regression analysis models tracking ad impact for the Fortune 100 since 1989 to discover what they’ve learned from trying to integrate tracking.

First, they suggested three improvements:

Improvement #1. Gather ye spreadsheets as ye may

“CPGs don’t realize that data is the crown jewels of a company. They leave it sitting on Excel spreadsheets all around marketing,” said MMA’s Ed See. He also often finds data from PR and Internet campaigns stuck in separate silos. (One CPG’s marketers were mystified by a sales bump because they didn’t know another department had placed an ad dominating Yahoo’s home page for a few days.)

Improvement #2. Put data governance under marketing (not IT)

Marketing and IT departments tend to treat analytics like a hot potato. Marketers would rather concentrate on creative, strategy, and whiz bang tactics. IT people want nothing to do with marketing at all.

Best solution? Hire an analytics manager in the marketing department who loves technology and numbers. Don’t wait for IT to do it, because the end product — and the passion — must belong to marketing.

Improvement #3. Spend more online

MMA’s John Nardone noted the typical Fortune 100 isn’t spending enough on Internet and email ads to get enough data back for statistically significant results. If you don’t invest enough in your test campaign to generate reliable data to make a go/no-go decision on roll-outs, what’s the point? Next, although data guys hate to be caught mouthing generalities, Stefan was able to pin the MMA team down on five lessons learned from their years of analysis across hundreds of brands.

Lesson #1. Creative quality matters less than you think

80% of television creative falls within the “norm,” said Nardone. “Classically, we have clients who will say, we’re launching new creative and we’re going to bump up by 20%. We’re always the bucket of cold water that says, do you really think you’re going to buck the statistics?”

See adds, “but bad creative can drag you down.”

Betting the bank on what you consider great creative just isn’t smart. “People put more belief in their copy than it warrants,” Nardone says.

Lesson #2. Long-term impact requires short-term impact

Marketers who justify a campaign that isn’t performing by saying, “We’re not looking for short-term results, this is a long-term equity campaign,” are fooling themselves. “If there’s not a short-term lift, there probably won’t be a long-term lift,” said Nardone.

Lesson #3. Don’t spend before your seasonal curve

Ever wonder if you can jump the gun by marketing before the season? Don’t. “It doesn’t make sense to spend before your seasonal curve,” Nardone said. (Note: This advice bucks data we’ve seen from some cataloguers.)

Lesson #4. Budgeting for line extensions

The closer a line extension is to the base brand, the more of the base brand’s budget you can spend on the extension.

Example: if a company that makes chocolate cookies wants to launch a strawberry cookie — to the same consumer group — the company could spend a chunk of the base brand’s budget on marketing the new cookie: the “halo effect” of the line extension would extend back to the base brand.

However, if that company were to launch something very different — say, chocolate milk — “you would be unwise to take the budget for the chocolate milk line extension from the base brand,” said Nardone.

Lesson #5. Current customers equal best customers

Marketers seem to want to disprove this fact. They look at the people who aren’t buying and think, “Look at all that potential!” But Nardone and See find that a company’s best prospects are their best customers. “On a trend basis, that still seems to be true,” said Nardone.

Of course this is something that direct response marketers have known forever. I guess that means if more Fortune 100 marketing leaders had direct response backgrounds, the world would be a better place.

(At least far, far fewer ad dollars would be wasted.)

Sponsor: New! Search Marketing Benchmark Guide 2006 ~~~~~~~~~~~~
MarketingSherpa’s new Search Benchmark helps you compare your results & budget to the norm. 210 charts include:

– Typical Cost Per Click & Click Rates – Conversion rates for B-to-B, B-to-C, & Ecommerce – What your competitors are budgeting for search – Do agencies get better results than in-house marketers? – SEO (Optimization) vs PPC campaign data

+ 3,271 marketers’ real-life 2005 search campaign data: http://SEMGuideWeekly.MarketingSherpa.com Or call 877-895-1717
~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anne Holland

How to Get Legal to Approve Your Marketing Campaigns More Easily: 3 Tactics

May 2nd, 2005

Do you work for a company where you have to send new copy past legal for approval?

Keene Benson over at GE Healthcare, whose email campaigns we detail in this week’s Case Study (see below), revealed the tactics he used to turn the legal department from an adversarial barrier into friends of marketing.

Tactic #1. Avoid grief-making offers and triple check claims

Benson keeps a list of offers that make lawyers fret by his side so he can avoid them. “I’m not going to fight that same battle again.” He’s found if he consistently sticks to safer ground, the legal department relaxes and begins to trust him. “They basically rubber-stamp them now that they’re comfortable I’m going to stay in the framework.”

He also never submit copy containing claims about a product that he hasn’t researched and substantiated just in case there are questions.

Note: you can’t always rely on product managers to do this. They can get carried away with enthusiasm and forget about the letter of the law. “When I talk to the marketing product managers and they make a claim about a product, I say ‘How can we prove it?’ I ask the questions I know legal will want to ask.”

If the claim is a bit tenuous or hard-to-prove, Keene focuses his copy on another benefit or offer instead, if possible. Why invite trouble?

Tactic #2. Never argue with legal

“Never argue with legal — they live to argue,” advises Keene. Lawyers will get drawn into an argument for the sake of arguing alone, thrilled to working out why they are right and you are wrong.

You need to stop their brains from racing down that rabbit hole when they talk to you. Instead of discussing right and wrong, discuss options and/or ask them for a percentage of worry.

(A percentage of worry is what’s the reality-based likelihood this will be a problem? Often lawyers will spot potential problems but not define how worrisome the problem is. They want to shield you from *everything*.)

Tactic #3. Don’t rely on email alone — talk to legal in person

“Lawyers love to write. They’re trained to be argumentative when they write, that’s their job. They love to send emails back and forth. I avoid getting into long email discussions,” says Keene.

“If I get an email indicating there’s an issue, I walk up and sit down in their offices and talk it out. It’s so funny — lawyers can get so aggressive by email but if I pick up the phone and say ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ they can be easy as pie to get along with.”

One final tip: Although Keene is proud to get along fairly well with GE Healthcare’s legal department, he notes, “I don’t let them give me marketing advice.”

Rah tiger!

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