Category Archives: Social Media

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.

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 🙂 )

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.

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.

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.

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.

Forrester Research CEO Predicts Doom

The Web is Dead, Social Media is Saturated, and Social Business is Our Future…

George Colony at LeWeb 2011

At least this is what George Colony, CEO of Forrester Research, thinks. He unveiled these predictions during his presentation at LeWeb in Paris this year. I caught this story through the Logic & Emotion blog, and decided to include it in this week’s episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy.

You can watch George’s presentation and read the transcript on his blog.

According to George, the web is moving away from a network/browser model to something that leverages devices, apps and the cloud in a more powerful way. Not exactly an earth shattering prediction, but I think George misses what the future really is.

My prediction: Apps become our electronic servants – ever more sophisticate and specialized. Vivint is one current example. Apps are the precursor to software that will operate robots in our homes and businesses.

George’s second thunderstorm is the saturation of social media. He thinks we’re running out of hours and people to provide audiences for all the social media sites out there. He even predicts the demise of sites such as Foursquare.

Obviously George vastly underestimates our ability to find creative ways to waste time. Not to mention the more than half of the world’s population who have only just begun to access social media.

If a service like Foursquare dies, it won’t be for a simple lack of audience participation. It will be because they fail to engage business owners and show them the power of Foursquare as a rewards program for customers.

And finally, George predicts businesses will make use of social media tools to increase productivity with employees and for making better business decisions. It’s an interesting prediction that smacks of utopia.

There will certainly be some businesses – such as Dominoes – that use social media well and profitably. But the vast majority will simply add it to their business model, overlay it with bureaucracy, and end up wasting more time and effort than ever before.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I think George has some interesting ideas but missed the boat completely. For the guy in charge of Forrester Research, I expected him to have a much better understanding of human nature. Listen to the whole story on Social Media: Cheap and Easy.

OWS Splits, Small Business Succeeds and Forrester Predicts Doom

As I have been predicting, the Occupy Wall Street movement is splitting.

The leaders and achievers in OWS are producing a live media outlet (article from New York Times) while the OWS wanna-bes and masses are organizing protests that hurt the working man (article from USA Today). Listen to this week’s show to know what’s happening and where the OWS movement is going.

Then we look at one small business that is succeeding – online – against competition from the likes of Macy’s, Nordstrom and Diapers.com. The business is Little Dudes and Divas (www.LittleDudesAndDivas.com), and they sell diapers, diaper bags and all sort of baby accessories.

The story comes from Gabriel Shaoolian’s column (You’re The Boss) in the New York Times. There are some really good points about this business, and there’s one spot where Gabriel and I disagree.

Listen to this week’s show to know how we disagree, then you tell us who’s right.

And we wrap the show with a look at George Colony’s predictions of doom. George is the CEO for Forrester Research. He presented his Three Thunderstorms at LeWeb this year, and in two cases I think George is dead wrong. And he simply doesn’t go far enough with the third thunderstorm. I picked this story up from Logic & Emotion, and just had to “set the record straight.”

This story is so important I let the show run long this week. George raised some really good  points, and unfortunately missed the boat with his predictions. So I’m going to add a special blog post Thursday, 22 December to expand on what we discuss during this week’s show.

So listen in to the show now, then watch for the blog post Thursday, 22 December. Then you can tell us who is seeing the future, and who is a touch off their rocker.

Small Business Marketing Gets A Boost

Several things have happened over the last year that are now resulting in great rewards for Small Business Marketing. And with those rewards come some risks.

The first is a service called ValuText. You can guess from the name that it lets you send text messages to people who have opted-in to receive them. And it does far more than just that.

ValuText allows you to be very targeted about who receives your message, and when. This gives you huge potential for creating events and promotions specific to your location, the day of the week, even a change in weather.

It also carries a significant risk for how you use it. Many retailers are going to be caught in a laziness trap. Be sure you rise above the crowd, and leave your competitors behind, by injecting personality and experience into your use of this very practical and profitable service.

Listen to this week’s episode of Social Media: Cheap and Easy for all the details.

Then we have a look at Square.

It’s an innocent looking, little device that makes payment processing simple and easy to use. Small businesses and charities across the country are using Square to process billions of dollars worth of transactions – and Square is little more than a year old.

Are you going to an event and need to do back-of-room sales? How about a community market down the street from your store? Or even a special promotion in the parking lot? Square gives you the versatility to turn any smart phone or tablet into a portable cash register.

Tune in to Social Media: Cheap and Easy to discover how it works.

And we wrap up this week’s show with a look at how the world of search engines is catering to small business marketing. Google, Bing and Yahoo are all jumping to milk their newest cash cow – small business.

The attention they’re paying to serving us is making it a lot easier to understand how Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising works. That’s because they’re putting a lot of effort into developing support tools for all of us who can use a computer, but we’re certainly not technology pros.

As good as the support tools are becoming, there is one in particular you want to avoid using.

The search giants are offering done-for-you services where their staff  handle creating your ads and setting your bids. Even if that seems a little vague, what you need to know about this type of service is crystal clear: Avoid Using This Service At All Costs!

Remember: They get paid based on how much you spend on PPC advertising.

It makes no sense to let them determine how much you pay per click. It makes even less sense to have their rank-and-file employees create the ad you’ll be spending money on.

And there’s an incredibly ironic point you definitely don’t want to miss. Google, Bing and Yahoo are foaming at the mouth to get you using their PPC services, but they’re using a completely different media to persuade you.

Listen to Social Media: Cheap and Easy to hear what it is, and why you should follow their example rather than their instructions.

Small Business Marketing Reality Check

This week’s stories have me just a wee bit angry. So you might want to prepare yourself to be offended.

Start listening now to Social Media: Cheap and Easy

Small business marketing is far easier than most business owners make it out to be. But you do need to do some work, and professional advice is often helpful.

Have a look at www.SkyRoll.com. It’s the subject of our first story. More accurately, the bozo that owns it is the subject.

I meet way too many business owners who ask for advice on small business marketing, like this guy, and then disagree with me. It makes me want to scream “Are you KIDDING?!” This is why I’ve learned to weed out the problems by making business owners jump through hoops to get to me.

After I go to town on SkyRoll, we take a look at Facebook’s upcoming IPO.

Like Groupon, Facebook’s IPO is like to be successful. That is, Facebook and the investment bankers are going to make a whole lot of money. Also like Groupon, those who buy in are going to lose money.

Listen to hear WHY Facebook is doing an IPO – and HOW they’re preparing for it. It’s definitely odd, and should be screaming DANGER to every investor in the world.

Hear it all this week on Social Media: Cheap and Easy.

Then we’re wrapping up the show with a look at Occupy Wall Street. If I haven’t offended you by this point in the show, I probably will with this story.

After more than a quarter century of owning my own business, becoming a master carpenter, and writing 5 books in 19 months, I have little patience with anyone who whines about life being hard. Have you noticed a lot of the people getting press coverage over Occupy Wall Street are college professors? Talk about professional underachievers.

If you think lawyers are bad, we should stone the people who train them. That’s right, college professors.

I’m all for being social, but socialist is just insane. I’m a dedicated capitalist – everyone who listens to Social Media: Cheap and Easy knows it. And by the way, that means I’m first in line to put crooked bankers and corporate executives in jail. They give capitalism a bad name.

Just click the Instant Download link at Social Media: Cheap and Easy. And when you’re good and riled, come on back here to leave your comment. Just click on the post title to go to the comment page.