Today I read that Facebook is predicted to fail. Not immediately, but it has been suggested that it will be 20% of its maximum size by December 2014. The cause of the demise is that younger users have been moving away. Read more about it here:http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-23/facebook-could-fade-out-like-a-disease-researchers/5214524
And there seems to be a debate about the value of Twitter. The company, not the tweets you send out. It is currently valued at 70 times its annual revenues. Refer http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-22/kohler-what-is-twitter-worth/5212376
So what does this mean for you and your business? There are two major points that I think every business owner needs to consider.
The first is that any business can fail. The biggest business on the planet in your industry is not safe. No business is too big to fail.
The second is the power of the customer. Your business must provide a need (or want) and take steps to make sure that the customer is happy. Existing customers have a habit of leaving. They change jobs, move house, retire … there are many valid reasons why their situation changes, but they will – sooner or later – stop buying from you. That just means you never stop looking for new customers.
Governments can get away with not always being polite because they legislate for people to use their services, they do not compete.
There are a number of attributes a successful business must have – and one of those is innovation. In this case innovation means additional products or services that add value to your customer, not additional problems for your customer.
How can you treat your customers better?
I was talking with a friend a couple of days ago about marketing which led us to talk about popular searches and just for nothing in particular I thought I’d take a look. About 80% of the most popular searches are about a person.
Not the same person, obviously, but to maybe express it more clearly the most popular searches are about people.
The most popular people appear to be those in the ‘Entertainment’ business if you are in the USA. In the UK the most popular people are still in ‘entertainment’ though most likely they will also be someone who did something noteworthy recently. That can be being evicted from Big Brother, confessing to having had an affair a few years ago (Don’t ask me, I don’t know either) or any one of a surprising number of activities that probably wouldn’t get a mention if it was an unknown who had performed them.
In Australia the most popular people were sports people. I guess that’s still entertainment?
How can this help your marketing?
Marketing is about connecting with your target market, meaning with a select group of people. It involves positioning your product or service inside their world, convincing your target market that they need it.
What the popular searches tell us is not to dwell to much on the features of your product or service, instead describe what effect they will have on the person reading your copy. People are mostly interested in people. Connect to that in-built drive and your message will be far better understood and accepted.
Describe the experience of using your product or service from the perspective of the buyer. Show them how it will improve their lifestyle. Include some comments from other people – also called ‘testimonials’.
Remember the world’s most popular radio station: WII-FM. That’s the call sign, their tagline is “What’s In It – For Me?”
I promised in the last post that I’d comment on Long versus Short copy. Well, here we go. Some of you already know the answer and if you do I’d ask you to just read this and find out if you are right.
Yes, that was a little cheeky, but they say one should start with something that grabs attention. If that didn’t grab attention then I don’t know what would!
OK, so let’s get to the core of the matter: which works best – long or short copy?
To answer that we first have to ask ourselves what is it that we are trying to achieve? My answer to that is that we are trying to attract the attention of potential customers, inform them of our expertise and abilities and to encourage them to take some action.
That action can be to buy something or register for an event or to receive some information. It can be anything, it is just the reason why we wrote the copy in the first place.
Now let’s look at the length of the story. First I’d like you to think of a movie you’ve seen or a book you’ve read that was fast-paced and excitement from beginning to end. How long was it? Now think of another movie or book of around the same length that had you yawning after the first couple of scenes.
Yes, you have figured out what I’m going to say, but just for the other people reading this: the length of the story isn’t the important part. The important part is grabbing and holding the attention of your audience until you have finished your story. Make it interesting, attractive, and inspirational. Actually make it anything you wish, just as long as it never gets boring.
Your advert must lead your target market on a journey from ‘here’ to ‘wow’! It must tell a story that shows your audience what is possible.
The ancient Greeks honed storytelling into a fine art. They invented the Three Act Play: an introduction that establishes the current position, the body of the story where most of the detail is revealed, and the conclusion that leaves the audience where the author wants them to be. If the story is a morality tale then the audience leave educated, if it was a comedy then they leave happy and so on. If it is your advert they finish feeling the need to take the action you last described.
Here’s how the Three Act Play works for an advert:
If you follow the Three Act Play strategy then your ‘copy’ will grab the attention of your target audience and hold it until the end. They will become educated about you and your ability to solve their problem, and keen to take the action you described.
The information in your advert will be crisp and to the point. People will lose track of time when they read or watch your advert.
What does that tell you about the length? If people complain that the length of an advert is “Too long” it really means “You lost me part way through, I couldn’t understand how it related to me”. It also probably means that the advert was not well constructed, and had not established a solid rapport with the reader/watcher.
An advert that is “Too short” is likewise probably not well constructed in that it most likely also didn’t establish a solid rapport and it may well have pieces of the story missing.
Einstein once explained his Theory of Relativity like this: If you place your hand on a hot stove for a minute it seems like an hour, and if a pretty girl sits on your knee for an hour it seems like a minute.
If Einstein is correct then it is probably the quality of the story you tell that determines if your advert is too long or too short. If that’s true then that’s good news because you can learn to tell better stories.
I can guarantee that nearly everyone reading this is making a fundamental mistake in their marketing, one that is costing them more than half the business they might be getting. Get it right and your business will more than double, keep getting it wrong and you will continue to struggle.
That secret is revealed in this post, but allow me to tell you why I’m writing about it now rather than letting you in on the secret years ago.
Over the weekend I spoke to an old friend who amongst other more friendly things told me I “was the wrong profile for a marketer”. For those that know what it means I am a “Lord” profile, and for those that don’t know what that means then I like systems. I like to see things happen in a systematic way.
Now that comment made me stop and think. You see I am actually quite good at marketing, and yet I understood why some would think otherwise. And then it dawned on me.
There is a ‘hidden’ marketing secret that 99.9% of people get wrong. For most people ‘marketing and promotion’ is something they do when they can’t put it off any longer. There are a couple of reasons why most people do this.
The first reason is that ‘marketing’ is a dirty word. Look at the way it is represented in most movies or books: some sleazebag grabs you when you are in the middle of something important and will not take “NO!” for an answer. And to be fair, there really are people who think that’s how marketing is done. They follow the 1980’s-style break the door down and confuse ‘em until they buy strategy. I’m sure you have met some of those. So we avoid being a ‘marketer’ because we don’t want people we know to think we are like that.
The marketing copy seems to be designed to make you feel like an idiot if you don’t buy, or it goes on and on and on with seemingly endless irrelevant details. I don’t know anyone who enjoys reading adverts that are longer than they need to be, do you? By the way, this isn’t a comment on “Long copy” versus “Short copy”, I’ll leave that discussion for another post.
So we don’t want our friends to think we are “One of those”.
That causes the second problem. We market only when we have to. That means that the marketing system doesn’t have the impetus to work properly. Let me explain it this way.
Imagine you own a farm, and that since it is a small farm you are the only person who works on it. You have a crop in the ground, so you need to fertilise it, keep the bugs off and generally look after it the best way you know how so that you get the best price when that crop is taken to market. That’s obvious.
Though growing a crop isn’t limited to the time after the crop is sown. Before you can do that you must prepare the ground – aerate the soil and then plough it so that the growing crop is as successful as it can be, and add what the ground needs to produce a good crop, then actually sow the seeds and then protect them until they germinate.
Your business is like that too. You must deliver on your current contract, making sure you look after your current customer and give them the best possible experience and yet if you don’t also look for more customers then you will have plenty of time next month to do some marketing but precious little income.
Your income is determined by you doing the job, but if you don’t market your business successfully your income will have peaks and troughs that make life way more ‘interesting’ than it needs to be.
So you need to deliver to current customers and you need to look for new ones at the same time. How do you do that?
The answer is you need a marketing system. One that works for you rather than one that requires you to work for it.
Some of you just thought “You can’t automate marketing”. And in 1980 you’d have been right. Now let me explain a little more about a good marketing system.
We all know about the 80/20 Rule. It basically says that 80% of your income will come from 20% of the customers. In the perfect world you would spend most (if not all) your time delivering value to the 20% rather than trying to figure out what the 80% were thinking. Well actually that’s the automated part.
Your time is limited, so the ideal is to just talk to the 20% of people who are interested in what you have for sale. That way you can fit everything into your busy day.
So your first marketing contact shouldn’t be to look for as many sales as possible, it should be to separate the 80% who will almost never buy from the 20% who really need what you have. Can you see the system here? How it works better for both the Buyer and the Seller? And the Non-Buyer! The Non-Buyer isn’t bombarded with what are now nuisance messages, the Buyer receives the attention they deserve, and you, the Seller, make the best use of your time. And that means a bigger profit for all.
Here is an example of an initial contact that separates the 80% who don’t need my services just now from the 20% that do. It is currently running at above 30% opt-in, so it is out-performing the 80/20 rule (maybe I should start a 70/30 rule?) and it just says “If you are looking for this, just let me know”. Everyone who has indicated interest receives a personal contact from me.
See the system? And how that makes best use of my marketing time?
I’ll talk about Long and Short copy in the next post.
Good marketing, Iain
Everyone reading this will have an answer to that question. Some will have a list longer than your arm, some will be against it, or at least certain aspects of it.
The thing is: both perspectives are correct. Technology is good for one thing: making our lives easier. If it fails to do that then the reason it exists has disappeared.
You might have a long list of how technology helps your life easier, or you may have a list of how it makes it more difficult. The difference is mostly connected with how you use the technology, not the tool itself.
Is it an invasion of privacy? Find out how to change your settings to limit the distribution of your information? Do ‘they’ know too much about you? Don’t sign in to new offers with your existing social media login, and don’t put links from one to the other.
Do you struggle to keep up with all of the information sources? Trim your list, or use a tool that brings them all into the one place that you can more easily manage.
Are you too busy at work? Does it feel like you need to ‘clone’ yourself? Maybe the right technology and a refreshed strategy will help reduce your workload? What might you be able to automate?