Short Copy vs Long Copy

Strange, isn’t it? The debate of short copy vs long copy doesn’t happen among professional copywriters. It happens with ad agencies and small business owners on one side, and professional copywriters on the other.
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The deciding factor? Who makes sales and who doesn’t, of course.

The Hobbit is 169 minutes, and grossed $1,017,003,568 worldwide according to IMDB. Can you imagine it doing the same as a five minute video?

When’s the last time you saw a short letter from Publisher’s Clearing House? It takes a good half hour to collect all the stickers and paste them onto your entry. Why? Because the more involved someone becomes with your mailing, the more likely they are to take action.

It is a direct response marketing maxim: The more you tell, the more you sell.

But if long copy is so much better, why do all the ad agencies and media sellers keep telling small business owners to keep it short? Let me start the answer by saying these are the same people who discourage the tracking of results.

They know what works and what doesn’t. They also know what they can sell and what they can’t.

Long copy takes work. It’s work to write the copy, and it’s more work to test the copy. All those uses of a nasty four letter word make it hard to sell. But short, quick and easy sell quite quickly.

Have you ever read an advertorial? Notice they are densely packed, and formatted to look like content (only more densely packed). That denseness of the information on the page is no mistake. Every available scrap of the much vaunted “white space” is used up in an advertorial.

And here’s a tasty tidbit of information: Even with the now required “advertisement” disclosure in the border of an advertorial, this advertising format still draws more readership than any other part of a magazine or newspaper. (They also work quite well in the supposedly dead media of yellow pages.)

Here is an article about just one example of a successful advertorial from Aldi’s.

Before we end up down a rabbit hole of debate and comparison, let’s go straight to the heart of the matter.

The correct length for every ad (letter, space, e-mail, landing page, etc.) is to use only as many words as are needed to persuade the reader to take action.

I know – it doesn’t seem like an iron clad rule, does it? But it is.

A postcard only has so much space, so a professional copywriter knows it should be used to generate interest rather than make sales. Let me share a powerful example of this rule.

The Wall Street Journal mailed a letter of only two pages (781 words) for 28 years. It brought in over $2.5 Billion in sales. The writer of that letter knew that selling a newspaper subscription required a powerful story rather than an exercise in persuasion. So the letter is short.

In another direction, Stansberry Research launched an advertisement titled End Of America using a 60 minute video, and the transcript as a sales letter. Results were good, so they tested a 90 minute video. Results got better.

Then they tested a 2 hour, feature length film. Results dipped. They ran with a 90 minute film, and the transcript as a sales letter, to produce one of the most successful advertising campaigns in history. They now running a new, also successful, promotion with a 76 minute, 51 second video.

Good, profitable advertising takes thought and work. There’s no way around it, and the proof is easily seen in those businesses that succeed (and the 95% that fail). It isn’t a straight forward question of short copy vs long copy. It is a question of putting the right message in front of the right customer at the right time.

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Loose Tracking Methods – #1 Reason for Business Failure

Small business owners don’t have money to waste on loose tracking methods, but they keep doing it. It’s the number one reason for business failure because it means you’re constantly bleeding cash into advertising that produces little or no result.
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Here are three effective, easy to do fixes for loose tracking methods.

Loose Tracking Methods Fix #1 – Continue reading

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Relationship Marketing’s Rebirth – Sad for Small Business Marketing

Pundits and cow-patty gurus galore are squawking about relationship marketing being a “new thing” in small business marketing. You could get the idea business owners have never heard of things like word of mouth or referrals.

Once upon a time, relationships were the only thing that mattered.

We could secure credit for our small businesses based on a handshake or a promise. People honored their word, and put out every effort necessary to meet their commitments.

The truth is that relationships are nothing new. They are, and always have been, the foundation of small business marketing, and even of success itself.

How is it that we – small business owners – have fallen for Continue reading

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Bridging the Achievement Gap – 3 Keys to Successful Goals

Martha Stewart fell into an Achievement Gap when she was convicted and sentenced to five months in prison. Then she found a way to bridge that achievement gap and return to being chairman of the board.

Her situation is more high profile, sure. Yet we can all use the same 3 keys to successfully achieve our goals. Let me share them with you, and at the end I’ll show you how to get your own goal setting worksheet to bridge your achievement gap.

Have One Focus

Martha Stewart’s goal was to return to being chairman of the board. Dan Kennedy’s goal was to build a business that allows him to work from home, and set his own schedule. My goal is to find teens who are as I once was, and help them avoid the darker paths I’ve traveled.

For each of us to achieve this goal of personal development, we definitely keep our minds focused on the big, over-arching goal. Equally important is that while we work toward that big goal, we have one focus at a time.

For example, right now I have three books under contract and am becoming seriously involved with affiliate marketing. This could easily become four places to “focus” my attention. But if it’s in four places, then I’m not really focused, am I?

So, my one focus to start is the book on joint ventures and affiliate marketing. The first draft deadline is only a couple weeks away. Then I’ll focus on a second book, and then the third. Affiliate marketing is important – heck, it’s a revenue generator – but because it’s ongoing (rather than a project) it can always be a second level priority. It only becomes a focus when I’m doing a special promotion or specific project.

This is important – have one focus, and be sure to leave time for everyday work. I put four hours a day into a book, and that leaves time to work on affiliate marketing and other daily business tasks.

Plan Your Work

This is where a Goal Setting Worksheet comes in handy.

I’ve made my own, and it helps me decide what my objectives are, plan what needs to be done, and break those big To Do items into a specific task list.

I use a goal setting worksheet for ongoing items and projects. Each evening, I take tasks from the goal sheets to make my schedule for the following day. Then I add in errands, phone calls and other small tasks.

This allows me to split up the four hours I have set aside for writing the book. In psycho-cybernetics, it’s called oscillation. You alternate the kinds of work you do so you stay fresh and attentive. For me, I write for about two hours then take an hour to do other tasks. There’s another two hours or so of writing, then I’m “done” for the day.

Because tasks are listed on the goal setting worksheet, I put a checkmark next to each one that’s done. I can check off big To Do items as they’re finished, and it feels great to check off an objective achieved.

I even formatted my goal setting worksheet so it prints on 3-ring, lined binder paper. This allows me to make notes, add task items, and add pages whenever needed.

Track Your Progress

We’ve already talked about checking things off on the goal setting worksheet. More than anything else, I think celebrating progress bridges the achievement gap.

So I track my progress in two places. I have a spiral-bound book where I write each day’s task list. As things are done – writing this post for example – I check it off. At the end of the day, I go to my goal setting worksheets and check off tasks accomplished during the day.

I find tracking and reviewing my progress this way reinforces my successes and helps me quickly bridge the achievement gap.

What I’d like to do is share my goal planning worksheet with you. If you’re interested, I’ll make a blank template available AND a current goal setting worksheet you can use as an example. Leave a comment saying you’re interested. When we hit 100 comments, then I’ll make the whole thing available with notes for my whole system for bridging the achievement gap.

Leave a comment, and be sure to ask your friends to comment, too. We need 100 comments to be sure there’s interest, right?

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Blogsite vs Website – The Power of Content

Carol asked me recently whether she should include a blog with her website. Like many business owners, she didn’t really understand the powerful, business building (or strangling) differences between a website and a blogsite.

The first thing to understand is that a blogsite and website have the same appearance. They each have pages, links, ads, and other content. You can even make a website do the same things a blogsite does. The difference is this: Anyone can handle a blogsite, and it takes a programmer to handle a website.

Blogsites are dead-nuts easy to manage. You definitely want a Continue reading

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Is Book Marketing For Real?

Ever think about writing a book? It’s sort of like owning a house, right? Everyone wants to do it. But what about book marketing?

Naturally, once the book is written people just buy it, right? Or do they? ;-)

Sadly, people don’t line up to buy a book just because we write it. Case in point – the TV commercials with an author plugging his newest book. The author is James Patterson – big name – and even he has to do book marketing.

Let me share a conversation I had recently with Pete. We’ve talked about writing a book together for his business, and I wanted to get an idea for how clear he is on the process.

My first question was “What’s the purpose for the book?” Since Pete’s a consultant for business owners, his first answer was to show people how to run a business. Definitely NOT a good answer. That’s such a broad topic the book would have to be the size of the Gutenberg Bible!

You see, book marketing starts with choosing what you want the book to do. Is it a lead generator, an authority tool, or maybe a straight teaching book. And yes, all of this is based on knowing whether anyone wants a book on the topic you’re covering.

So we talked about what he wants a book to do. He’s going to do some more thinking about that, and we’ll talk again. The conversation did go on, and we talked more about how the book marketing is done.

Pete already does speaking gigs for industry organisations. That means he can always promote the book when he’s speaking. That’s book marketing 101. And there are dozens of ways to promote your book – radio interviews, articles, Kickstarter, videos, podcasts, blogging, industry sponsorship, and the list goes on.

It’s important to remember two things:

  1. nobody get rich from writing and selling books – the writing and selling of books leads to other, more profitable activities
  2. book marketing is a continuous process that becomes part of your lifestyle.

If you’re not willing to flog your book, then don’t write it.

Why “flog” right? Because it’s used as in “flog a dead horse.” You normally wouldn’t, of course, but with a book you have to. It’s the same as telling your attractive character story and building credibility – you do it all the time. (Unless you’re me, of course, then you forget to do it when you’re writing blog posts :-) )

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Happiness is a Whole New Book

Yes, it has been a while since I’ve updated this blog. I apologise. Life has been interesting, and it has led to a new book project: Getting Happy…when you wish you were dead.

Sometimes happiness is found through a field of sorrow and pain. Or maybe it always is and that’s what makes it possible to appreciate the happiness?

Since this blog is about marketing, let me fill you in on how the marketing is going to work (I hope) for Getting Happy…when you wish you were dead. This blog, www.themarketingspotlight.com, will have updates about what we’re doing to market the book, how those efforts are working, and suggestions for how you can do the same things.

A new site, www.gettinghappybook.com, is being built right now. The basics are in place. Some functional changes are being made over the Easter weekend. Then the site goes live Tuesday, 2 April 2013 – ready or not. There is also a Facebook Page – www.facebook.com/gettinghappybook. It is currently UNpublished. We’re updating it over Easter weekend, and it too will be live Tuesday, 2 April 2013.

I thought about kicking off the conversation around the book on 1 April. Then it occurred to me that this is April Fool’s day. Since the book is about mental health and suicide, I thought people just might take it for a sick joke. So April 2nd it is.

The Facebook Page – and www.gettinghappybook.com - are for you to comment on the project. You’re welcome, and invited, to give your input on anything you think should be added to the manuscript, changed, or even removed. The first post on www.gettinghappybook.com gives the architecture for the book so you’ll know how we’re approaching it. I think you’ll see the approach is unique, and I hope you like it.

That’s all for now. I’ll update through the weekend, and I’m planning on short, daily posts to share the progress we’re making. The objective is to start the conversation from 2 April to 28 April. Then we’re doing a Kickstarter campaign from 29 April to 26 May to make sure there’s a real need and interest for the book before we head into publishing.

Please be sure to check in regularly, read the updates, and put in our comments. I appreciate knowing what you think.

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Listener Questions Answered

Welcome to this week’s episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy.

A listener question that has been coming up a lot lately is “How do I connect social media with the rest of my marketing?”

Smart business owners are wanting to let their social media contacts know they have a print newsletter. It’s their most powerful marketing tool, and they want to move potential customers onto a mailing list. When you consider that over 70% of people still prefer to marketed to through mailed promotions, you can see how these business owners are definitely on the right track.

So we start the show off this week with how to connect your offline and online marketing. There are several things you can do to move people off social media sites (EXTREMELY good idea since you don’t own the list when it’s on a social media site), and there’s one particularly important thing you should NOT do.

Making this one mistake can completely destroy your efforts to move people onto your mailing list.

“Showrooming” is becoming such a large problem for the big box retailers that Target recently sent a letter to its suppliers asking them to come up with special items exclusively for Target.

(Showrooming is going into a store to see the item you want, then purchasing it online through your smart phone while standing in the store.)

They have the right idea – they’re looking for the solution. And they’re trying to eliminate price comparison shopping by having exclusive items. But they’re trying to solve the wrong problem.

We have no loyalty to these big box retailers precisely because they don’t care about us. They have zero customer service, and their employees know little about the store and almost nothing about specific products.

On the bright side, this presents a huge window of opportunity for you to step in and fill that customer service gap. Listen to this week’s episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy to find out how.

Then we wrap up the show with another listener question I’ve been getting frequently over the last few months: How do we use the online business listings?

The truth is that online business listings represent some excellent low-hanging fruit. Google and all the other search engines are putting a lot of time and energy into making Local Search useful to us a searchers and as business owners. So it makes sense to take advantage of the free business listings.

This week, I walk you through which listings to go after first. All the search engines talk to each other, so getting a few of them right takes care of any others you might miss.

You also have a lot of options for the types of content you can include with online business listings. This is a case where less is more, and there’s one type of content you definitely want to avoid including with any online business listing. Listen to this week’s episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy to know what it is.

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Social Media Reality Check

There’s a lot coming at us in 2012. From mobile marketing and social media, and from an election and poor economy. So we need to be prepared to make good use of our marketing and advertising dollars.

This week, we start with a social media reality check.

Yes, mobile phones and social media are growing presences in the marketplace. They are, however, no where near as big as the cow-pattie gurus want you to believe they are. The idea that you “must have” a Facebook Page or risk losing out to your competition is poppycock. And the numbers back me up – listen to the show and check my sources for yourself.

You can listen right away by streaming the audio, or click “Download” and take the show with you on your phone, tablet or MP3 player.

We also take a quick look at a company that’s doing social media very well. It’s Collective Bias, and their primary social media tool is blogging. All of their results are trackable, and highly profitable, so it’s worth paying attention to what they’re doing.

Then we take a look at the truth for what it takes to attract an audience.

Would you be willing to sit and watch a 45 minute video of two scientists discussing Systems Biology? Me neither, but Dr. Hidalgo has an audience of thousands. We take a look at how he has done it, and why you’re able to do the same thing for your business.

And we wrap up the show with how you can use technology trends to benefit your own business.

The Consumer Electronics Show – one of the largest consumer shows of during the year – ran from Jan 10 – 13. There were some decidedly non-tech companies at the show, and they were very smart to be there. You need to know why, and how to follow their example. So listen to this week’s show.

You can listen to right now by clicking the Play button, or hit “Download” and take the show with you on your laptop, phone or tablet.

And please do tell me what you think of the show. Is it entertaining and informative, or do you think I’m full of wind? Leave a comment here, or send me an e-mail at listeners@theconradhall.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Predictions 2012

Welcome to 2012, and the first episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy for the year.

This week, I’m making some predictions. Nine of them, with maybe a bonus one thrown in at the end because “10″ sounds so much better than “9.”

We kick off with an economic prediction for 2012 because business owners are always interested in what the economy is doing, right?

Prediction #2 is about Cause Marketing. We’ll see it rise in 2012, and I give you a couple of
good examples to follow. Plus a key piece of advice for making Cause Marketing work for you.

Prediction #3 – The Rise Of The Machines – or at least digital assistants. You too can have the crazy person look by talking to your technology. But all joking aside, I think programs like Siri are great. Although they’re likely to reduce productivity, and increase the frequency of bathroom conversation.

Prediction #4 – A resurgence of print media. Specifically, I think we’ll see the “zine” come back into vogue. It’s already a popular style among bloggers, and now it’s making a comeback in the streets. Listen in to this week’s show to hear what I mean and how it can help you.

Prediction #5 – This one is easy. It’s hardly a prediction…The convergence of smart phones and laptops. There has been some interesting progress with “ultrabook” laptops, but I think the real progress is coming from motion controlled games like Kinect.

Prediction #6 – Time Wasting is on the Rise. There are more ways to buy smoke and mirrors than ever before. You need to be prepared so you can cut the time wasters out of your business.

Prediction #7 – Micro-Employees Arise – Ever have an emergency and need something done quickly? There’s a service for that. TaskRabbit and Zaarly are just two services that enable you to hook up with a micro-employee to get something done.

Prediction #8 – Online Spending is going up – but not necessarily for you. There’s no question more people are making use of the ability to shop online. I very much enjoy being able to order from Amazon and get free shipping with their Prime service. But online spending is going to merchants that people know and trust, so I have some useful guidance for you to get – and keep getting – those online purchasing dollars.

Prediction #9 – What prediction show is complete without a reference to the Facebook IPO? Regular listeners know I’m less than a fan of Facebook, and I’m not changing my opinion.It’s useful for you to know what’s going to happen, and that Facebook simply can’t avoid it.

Prediction #10 -yes, there really are 10. You know I’d never do 9 and leave you hanging like that! But you do have to listen to find out what #10 is. (Hey, I have to keep you through to the end, right?)

And I’ll give you a heads up about the show length this week. There’s a lot to cover here, and I set aside the 30 minute time limit. This show goes for just over 50 minutes, so download it and listen at your convenience. The shoot me an e-mail at conrad AT theconradhall DOT com to tell me what you think. And you’re always welcome to leave a comment here.

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