It’s the Offer, Stupid

Sell the offer. Sell the offer. Sell the offer.

I am reminded of this on direct mail and other projects. If the list is solid, then the offer (and how it’s presented) will determine the level of success.

An example from the B2C world is Geico, which is constantly on TV, in print publications and elsewhere.

What’s their offer?

“Fifteen minutes could save you 15 percent or more on your car insurance.”

In other words, they’re offering a free estimate. But it’s presented in a clear, consistent and cut-to-the-quick way.

A West Coast direct-marketing agency says that direct-response pieces can easily turn into “product sheets in drag,” attempting to cover way too much. Don’t let this happen to you. Make it all about the offer.

Direct Mail, Made in China?

I saw this daily news alert at

The Direct Marketing Association is linking up with the China Direct Mail Association to promote global business development using direct mail.

The two groups will share information, statistics and trend forecasts on direct mail, and consult with each other on cross-membership opportunities, guidelines and ethical codes, best practices, consumer and economic research, and strategies for interacting with policymakers.

Does this mean we can now expect to see “MADE IN CHINA” on direct mail?

Talk to Sales, Write Winning Copy

I once read that famed direct marketer Dan Kennedy used a simple strategy for writing a new sales letter. Kennedy talked to the company’s top salesperson. Then he turned the salesperson’s proven sales pitch into a control-shattering letter.

I was reminded of Kennedy when I talked with a vice president of sales for a software company. He told me the company’s marketing materials focused too much on features and used jargon that average business people didn’t understand. Then he gave me the 10-minute sales pitch: what the product does, the business benefits, and a few examples.

I turned his briefing (including his terminology) into copy for trade show messaging and data sheets.

Continue reading “Talk to Sales, Write Winning Copy”

‘Talk Human’

About two years ago B2B ad agency Eric Mower and Associates (EMA) launched a smart trade ad campaign.

One ad showed a guy who is out cold during a business presentation. The headline read, “Is it really necessary to sit through 220 PowerPoint slides?”

The body copy said, “There’s a difference between talking to people and talking at them.” And: “Real communication doesn’t ‘leverage information against a target demographic.’ It speaks to real people about real problems ….”

EMA dramatized what seems obvious but is often absent in business communications: Simple beats convoluted. Conversational language beats jargon. And, even in B2B, emotion often beats (or at least equals) logic.

EMA’s tagline was “talk human.” It’s advice worth leveraging, er, following.

‘Use Their Language’

“If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language in which they think.”
−David Ogilvy

My daughter is taking French 1 in junior high. Last night I helped her study for a quiz. And I don’t know a lick of French.

“That’s OK, Dad,” she said. “Just say the words the best you can and I’ll spell them. It’s a spelling test.”

Imagine you were marketing something to Americans — in French. That would be absurd. Most would immediately tune it out because they wouldn’t understand a word of it.

Unfortunately, the language disconnect happens in many arenas. It’s not as obvious as my French to Americans example. Rather, it’s when communicators fail to learn the language nuances of their audiences, whether gender, educational, professional, cultural or other differences.

The Pink Spoon

I was surprised to learn that Baskin-Robbins has been in business for more than 60 years. The ice-cream chain was a novelty when I was growing up. They offered 31 flavors (one for every day of the month) back when most others only served chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.

Baskin-Robbins also had the pink spoon, a simple plastic implement that was a brilliant marketing concept. You could sample those 31 flavors. In fact, they encouraged it.

Continue reading “The Pink Spoon”

10 Ways to Build Your Marketing Cred

As we enter an economic slowdown, credibility and trust are even more critical to the success of marketing activities and customer relationships. Here are 10 tips for building your marketing cred:

1. Eliminate hype and fluff.

2. Don’t overpromise.

3. Back up all marketing claims.

4. Offer a guarantee.

5. Poke fun at yourself or reveal a weakness.

6. Meet commitments.

7. Use testimonials and case studies.

8. Focus, focus, focus on prospects and customers.

9. Admit mistakes and apologize, when necessary.

10. Be consistent.

Take a close look at your marketing and sales efforts to uncover new opportunities to build credibility and trust.