Monthly Archives: June 2015

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable”

seneca

I am constantly amazed by how many companies spend a fortune on marketing without analysing whether the money they spend actually helps their business.

As a long-term direct marketeer, it’s absolutely second-nature for me to say ‘how much business does this activity bring in?’ or, the DM person’s favourite question ‘does this activity pay for itself?’. In other words, is a specific marketing activity actually costing you money, rather than making you money?

(And if so, why on earth are you doing it?)

Yet, time after time, I meet clients who are spending money on various forms of marketing – be it a shiny new website, a direct mail campaign, a beautiful new brochure, some adshel advertising in their local area, email newsletters – yet have no way of knowing which bits of this (if any) is getting customers and which is just money down the drain.

There are two reasons for this.

Firstly, they aren’t formally measuring the effectiveness of the activity. Again, the old DM cliche is ‘What gets measured gets improved’.

Did the new website get more hits? More importantly, did it deliver more enquiries or sales? If not, why not?

Did the remarketing campaign generate enough clickthroughs to justify its cost? Did the PPC campaign do better than old-fashioned keyword SEO?

Did the press advertising generate more awareness in the target audience group? How many phone calls and emails did it generate?

Measure this stuff and you will improve its performance (or decide to ditch it altogether).

Secondly, they don’t have any objectives to work towards. If you don’t have a target number of new customers to recruit by the end of the year, or an awareness score to increase, or a simple top line sales target to meet – then you aren’t going to tailor your activity to meet these ends most cost-efficiently.

Remarkably, I talk to many (usually smaller) organisations who don’t really have any business objectives or marketing targets other than ‘sell more stuff’.

And if your strategy is that non-existent, it doesn’t matter what form your marketing activity takes as nobody will be holding you accountable.

The quote at the top of this post, summing up this approach to business, is from Seneca the Younger, a Roman philosopher born 4 BC. Which just goes to show that there’s nothing new in marketing. Ever.

 

Good copywriter, bad copywriter – what’s the difference?

tweedledum-and-tweedledee

To me, there’s no mystery to it. You can tell who’s a good copywriter and who’s a bad one within a few seconds of reading their work.

By a good copywriter, I mean one that’s going to write copy (or content, if you prefer) for you that really sells your products or services. One that knows how to get under the skin of your target audience and writes stuff that will get them clicking through to your Buy Now page before they know what’s hit them.

And here’s the secret…

Bad copywriters mostly concern themselves with how they say stuff. Good copywriters concern themselves mostly with what to say.

This is because the message, the offer, the nugget of information contained in the words is always far, far more important than the words themselves.

A good copywriter will ask you loads of very detailed questions about the product, the marketplace and the target audience. And spend a lot of time seeking the razor-sharp idea that will most convince your audience to act (or think) in the way you want them to.

A bad one will simply write some puns around your product name or come up with what they think is ‘clever wordplay’.

I saw a particularly awful example of a bad copywriter’s work yesterday while strolling past the British Museum.

There were some posters on the railings announcing particular exhibitions. One had a picture of an ancient coin. With a line next to it about how things change through history. Geddit? Coin, change?

Trouble is, this headline told me absolutely nothing about the exhibition. I gleaned it was something to do with coins from the picture but the oh so clever headline added nothing to the communication whatsoever. There were several more, equally hopeless.

This is the classic sort of stuff you see every day of the week from Bad Copywriters who have hardly paused for a second to think what the communications objective of these posters might be. They’ve gone straight for a lame pun because they think that’s what copywriters do.

And, as they’ve bought this drivel in the first place, their clients clearly concur.