Author Archive

So Long and Thanks for All the Case Studies

November 10th, 2008

I woke with a start at four in the morning in a hotel room in Scottsdale, Arizona, where I was conducting research at a marketing trade show in October 1999.

Back then, as now, marketing, PR and advertising professionals were nearly deafened by a deluge of media “serving” them. Magazines, events, newsletters, etc., etc. But, as a 20-year veteran, I felt that huge amount of content hadn’t been terribly useful in the everyday business of running a real-world marketing department. Read more…

Please Segment Your List & Stop Doing Something Less Effective

November 3rd, 2008

MarketingSherpa has published Case Studies and research data on list segmentation for seven years now. We’ve got data coming out of our ears showing that if you split your list into groups by recent activity and/or demographic and send special campaigns to those groups, your response rates will soar.

Nearly everyone says: “Oh yes. Segmentation is a best practice. But I don’t have the time/money/software/energy to do it. So I’ll keep blasting my entire house list with the exact same creative and timing from now until someday.” Read more…

Marketing Layoffs – How to Flourish Despite Them

October 27th, 2008

As terrible as they are, marketing layoffs have been very good to me. Years ago, I got my first major career break due to layoffs. Over a period of three months, position after position was eliminated, and the boss handed me the work to do instead. Mainly, this was because I was the cheapest position in the marketing department.

These battlefield promotions can be the making of a young marketer. I am grateful to this day for the opportunities that allowed me to gain the experience in months that, normally, would have taken years. Read more…

Sequoia Capital Advises CEOs to Rely on Marketing to Survive Downturn

October 20th, 2008

The heads of Sequoia Capital gave a CEO-only presentation on Oct. 7 that I can describe only as the ‘PowerPoint of doom’. The cover slide even had a tombstone on it.

Last week, private equity firms (e.g., Benchmark Capital) and other major investors (e.g., Ron Conway) followed suit, sending a flurry of doom-laden advisory emails to hundreds of CEOs. Read more…

3 New Demographics Emerging in Economic Maelstrom

October 15th, 2008

Right now, classic demographics such as ‘Men aged 18-24’ just won’t cut it anymore.  I’ve asked MarketingSherpa’s research team to conduct a formal study examining the changing demographics of our fair nation in the face of this seemingly endless series of economic crises.  You can expect new demographic reports to appear in future Sherpa newsletters.

Read more…

SherpaBlog: Nano-Niche Marketing: How to Beat the Recession (And Your Competition) More Easily

October 6th, 2008

No matter how difficult marketing is in your industry right now, folks in real estate probably have it harder. So, I figured: Why not research what’s working in real estate and see if we can apply it elsewhere?

Turns out the secret weapon is what I call “nano-niche” marketing. Read more…

Please Tell Politicians – Stop Saying Your Competitor’s Name in Speeches

September 29th, 2008

Every time I turn on the radio or TV news these days, I have to grit my teeth. Most political sound bites and commercials from the presidential race break a cardinal rule of advertising – saying your competitor’s name.

Ad research has proven, over and over again, that the name people hear is the one they remember. Familiarity breeds comfort. Comfort breeds purchases and, possibly, votes. Read more…

SherpaBlog: Branded iGoogle Themes: How to Dominate the Desktop in 2008

September 22nd, 2008

Using branded screensavers used to be one of the coolest marketing tactics out there. At its height, 600,000+ fans downloaded Tabasco screensavers each month. Then came desktop apps – my personal favorite was Vail Resort’s – as well as branded IM ‘skins’ offered by marketers, such as Panasonic.

At 6 a.m. ET on Friday, September 12, 2008, handbag and design diva Kate Spade launched her version of the newest tactic to dominate the desktop – a branded iGoogle offering.

So far, results have been outstanding. In the first week, 17,000 fans in the US and UK customized their iGoogle homepages with Kate Spade graphics. (I’ve posted a sample of the email that made it all happen below.) Encouraged, Spade’s marketing team will expand their iGoogle offering promotions to the rest of the world in a campaign that will launch in early October.

The cost has been next to nothing. An in-house design team created the iGoogle programming. It took them about two months, but they were working on other projects at the same time. Then Spade’s marketing team sent an email blast to her house opt-in list and that was it.

I think this test is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what may be accomplished with branded personalized homepages. Now that Yahoo is launching a new version of their homepage, which increases personalization, opportunities for creative marketers will blossom there as well.

Sherpa will continue to cover this area extensively in coming months. If you’re testing anything interesting, please let us know! Share your experiences in comments or contact News Editor Bill Rupp directly at BillR(at)marketingsherpa(dot)com

Thanks and here is the sample I promised you:

Kate Spade iGoogle Theme Offer:

Sherpa’s classic Case Studies on:

Tabasco’s Screensavers for consumers and businesses:

Vail Resort’s desktop app:

How to advertise on IM skins:

SherpaBlog: Before You Write Copy or Blog, Make a Keyword List

September 15th, 2008

What information do you give your copywriter, creative team or company bloggers to act on now?

You’re probably giving them lists of product and service features, promotional campaign info and, perhaps, a branding memo outlining rules regarding slogans, trademarks, tone and such. But you’re most likely not giving them keywords.

Keywords are the highly specific words that your target audience would use to describe anything that has to do with your offerings, as well as the personal reasons why they’d buy. Initially, keywords mattered because they were the words that people typed into search engines when looking for something on the Internet or on your site.

But, as a copywriter myself, I’ve come to realize that keywords are much, much more powerful for reasons other than just SEO. Because all advertising boils down to “What’s in it for me?”, your job is to convince prospects that their needs will be met. And, nothing is more compelling than speaking in a prospect’s language – describing their own desire or pain to them in exactly the words they would use.

Do they say “bicycle” or “bike”? Do they say “cheapest” or “least expensive”? Do they want a supplier in the “Kansas area” or the “Midwest”? Do they yearn for the excitement of “new” or the safety of “guaranteed”?

You’ll discover these words everywhere the customer is on your own site’s search engine, focus groups, customer hotlines, online customer-written reviews, etc. You *won’t* find them in your competitor’s copy, and don’t bother looking in the media or in analyst reports. Those aren’t typical customers, so they use different words.

Your final goal is to attach a set of keywords, including phrases, to everything your copywriters and internal bloggers may write about – ranging from your product benefits, promotions, customer pain points, features, offers, user conferences, etc.

The most important places to get keywords inserted are:
o Headlines
o Subheads
o First paragraph of body copy
o First bullet point on a list
o Copy immediately next to or included on an action item (click link, button, toll-free number, reply card, etc.)
o Blog categories, topics and tags

If you are the copywriter, my advice is to take a two-fold approach. First, review the keywords list, then write your copy – but don’t let the keywords restrict you too much. Often, the big battle is just getting words onto paper.

Then, when you go back to review copy, look for places where you can plant words from the list. Sometimes, it’s a quick replacement of one term for another; other times, the process involves inserting an extra word or two.

Some copywriters feel they are not being creative if they use the same exact words or phrases multiple times through their copy. They want to switch up the terminology, make a change for change’s sake. Generally, nothing could be more wrong. Rinse, lather, repeat, repeat, repeat. Consumers are not reading every word of your copy! They are glancing and spotting a few words. If you want to be sure your keywords have been seen and have an impact, put them everywhere.

Great copy is less about creative or clever phrasing and more about clarity of message for the skimming eye. So, the next time a marketer hands you a writing assignment, say: “Thanks. Where’s the list of keywords for this?”

SherpaBlog: New Email Rule: Nonresponders May Still Love Getting Your Email

September 8th, 2008

The old rule of thumb in email marketing was “the purpose of email is to get a response, such as an open, and a click.” So, most marketers measured their success rate by opens, clicks and, possibly, conversions.

If an opt-in didn’t click in a long time period (30 days for a daily, 90 for a weekly, 120 for a monthly), then marketers started to worry. Was the name a dud? Did the recipient think you were spamming them? Had their interests changed? Had your past content disappointed them?

Nonresponders are worrisome. It may mean you’re doing a bad job at relevancy. It may be because you may be flagged as a possible spammer by reputation filters, which then stop further email from being delivered.

New anecdotal evidence from MarketingSherpa’s own experiences suggest, however, that nonresponders may not be as big a problem as you think. Our editorial team conducted a test that every marketer should consider; we picked up the phone and called some nonresponders. “Why don’t you open anymore? Why don’t you click?”

The most common answer shocked us. “I do. I like your email. Don’t stop sending it. I may not always have time to read it, but I want it.”

Next we looked at our own response data. Online advertisers know that 40% or more of their responses may be delayed response “view-throughs.” This means the responders saw the ad, but didn’t click on it. Instead, they responded by going to the website (or using another media, such as phone) on their own from a few minutes to as much as 30 days later.

We wondered – doesn’t it make sense that email responders may behave in a similar fashion? They may not click on your email, or even open it. But they see your brand name in their in-box, as well as a subject line. Those two items alone may trigger a delayed response later.

When I consider my own personal use of email, that’s certainly true. I sign up for certain emails just as a reminder to go visit that brand’s site or retail store when I need something. It doesn’t mean I want to actually read or click on their emails all the time. Their presence in my inbox alone is enough for me.

I’m not saying you should ignore your non-responders. Given reputation-based filter concerns alone, you should be at least decreasing frequency to nonresponders so you’re not pinging them all the time. You might also want to survey them by email and/or by other methods. And, cross-reference your other customer records with email. Find out which of your “nonresponders” may actually be responding like crazy through other channels than the email links you send them.

The new email rule is: Don’t fire nonresponders before asking first. Until you know why, you can’t fix things.
Have you surveyed your nonresponders or run other tests with them? Let me know by commenting below.