A popular marketing blog recently listed 100 ways to measure social media. But before you get excited, I should warn you. The author seems to be liberal in his use of the word “measure.”
A sampling of his “measures,” drawn at random, includes: “volume of consumer-created buzz for a brand based on number of posts,” “shift in buzz over time,” “sentiment by volume of posts,” “number of chat room participants,” and “Wiki contributors.”
Help me out here. Exactly where on the P&L statement should the accounting firm list buzz, sentiment, chat participants and Wiki contributors?
Call me a stickler, but nowhere on the list did I find “units sold.” This strikes me as a major oversight. Rave about buzz all you like, but buzz ain’t sales.
I associate “measure” with empirical stuff. “The board is 10 feet long.” That’s empirical. But by the blogger’s standard, I suppose I could infer that the board must be the right length based on how many people talked about seeing it leaning against the shed.
To be fair, there have been documented cases of cold, hard sales attributable to social media campaigns. Moreover, I’m sure that direct marketers (alas, not branders) will unlock secrets for making the social media pay on a reliable, measurable, consistent basis.
But so far, most of the buzz about buzz is nothing but buzz.
Getting worked up over non-measures isn’t new. Ad agencies have been doing it for decades by ballyhooing recall and awareness scores. The ad industry loves to argue that when awareness or buzz is up, sales follow. Which is fine, unless you care about things like facts. Think back to the biggest nerd in your high school. He had high awareness and generated lots of buzz. Yet no one asked him to the Sadie Hawkins Dance.
One of the best times to get a customer to buy from you ... is right after that customer has bought from you.
We just created a program for a client to take advantage of that. On the heels of any purchase, his Top and Second Tier customers receive an offer by mail. Conventional wisdom might tell you that we're mailing too soon, but experience shows otherwise. The mailing brings back 42% of Top Tier customers within a month, and 28% of Second Tier customers.
Whenever a customer makes a significant purchase, send an email or, better yet, a snail mail that (1) thanks the customer and (2) suggests an additional purchase. If you're a fundraiser, bring up a need and suggest an additional donation.
Standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon with my tour group, I was treated to an interesting lesson in communication.
Millions of years worth of geology, natural history and physics stretched before us. We thrilled at the sight. Our guide held us rapt with his description of the powerful forces attested by the wonder at our feet.
Until, that is, someone spied a speck on the Colorado River about a mile below. “There’s a boat!” he called out. Canyon and tour guide were instantly forgotten as heads and binoculars turned to the speck. The group debated what kind of boat it was, how many people were in it, were they fishing, and could you see what they were wearing.
The guide and I looked at each other, helpless. There was no getting the crowd’s attention back. They were busy trying to make out the logo on the hat the guy in the front of the boat was wearing.
The communication lesson is that people are easily distracted. And once they are, you won’t get them back.
When you write and design an ad, every detail must be designed to get readers where you want them. The slightest extraneous detail has the power to send them irretrievably off in the wrong direction.
Good ad writers and designers resist the urge to add words or elements just because “they’re cool.” Just as a speck of a boat can take a crowd’s attention from the world-famous, awe-inspiring, majestic sight they traveled thousands of miles to see, any device that doesn’t actively contribute to your advertising objective has the potential to undo it.
Readers of this blog have probably noticed that I am a proponent of evidence-based and critical thinking. On rare occasions, I even pull off engaging in it myself.
So you can imagine the honor I felt when I was invited to become a columnist for Swift, the official online publication of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF).
The JFEF is best known for its standing million-dollar offer to anyone who can prove a paranormal or supernatural claim. Its aim is "to promote critical thinking by reaching out to the public and media with reliable information about paranormal and supernatural ideas so widespread in our society today."
Any fantastic claim is fair game—from the paranormal, to alien abductions, miracle cures, mind reading, alternative medicine, you name it. As you might imagine, this inevitably means they do a lot of debunking. This doesn't always make the JREF popular with well-intentioned people who hold irrational beliefs dear. It makes them even less popular with con artists. Either way, it provides a valuable service.
If you'd like to read my first effort for Swift, please click here. (Also check out the reader comments. Quite a few of them unwittingly demonstrate the very behavior that I urge readers to avoid.) And check back often. I'll be contributing monthly, and plenty of other writers add good stuff daily.
A new poll shows that a majority of Utahans do not like President Obama's health care proposal. Unless, that is, you remove his name and just show them the features. Then the majority will tell you it's just dandy.
This is not new. Most Americans say they loved Ronald Reagan's policies. But show the policies without his name on them, and most express disapproval.
The lesson is that branding works. Even in politics.
It is the one area where I wish branding could be disallowed. (Were it possible, that is, which it is not.) When a brand image leads you to choose a hand soap that disappoints, there is little potential harm. Not so when it comes to choosing political leaders.
Of course, Americans generally have no clue when they vote for a brand more than for issues and ideologies. Tell them, and they will vehemently deny it. Or they will concede that others vote that way, but not them.
In my previous blog I alluded to the aversion people have to "missing out." The aversion is real. Repeated tests have shown that people are more motivated at the thought of not missing out than they are at the thought of gaining.
Copywriters should keep that in mind as they find ways to word benefits.
I realize this flies in the face of what we hear from positive mental attitude enthusiasts. So be it.
I'm pleased to report that good copy still matters.
For one client, we had done about all we could think of with the database and the offers, and with good results. The copy was already strong, but we wanted to see if we could make it work harder. So, we made the headlines more intriguing. We gave the body copy more personal appeal, capitalizing on people's aversion to missing out.
Sales went up.
Technological wizardy matters. But technology's ultimate goal is to drive people to a selling proposition. Copy necessarily drives that proposition. Always give it your best.
When an ad campaign fails, the smart, responsible thing to do is retire it. Especially if you and I happen to be paying for it with our tax dollars.
But not according to the National Dairy Council. After all, though "Got Milk?" hasn't increased milk sales, it's like, you know, really popular. Stars line up to have their picture taken with a white mustache. Heck, there's even a coffee table book of the posters. If that doesn't spell "success," what does?
Still, there's that sticky problem of sagging milk sales. But instead of trying to come up with a new campaign that might actually work, or quit throwing good money after bad and concede that milk will never topple cola or coffee, the National Dairy Council has a new tactic. They want school lunch programs to push—drum roll please--chocolate milk.
The tortured logic is that chocolate milk is healthier than soda pop.
At the risk of quibbling, it might be more accurate to say, "less bad for you when consumed in small quantities."
Improving health by pushing chocolate milk in place of pop is like pushing low-tar cigarettes on kids who smoke. Can anyone say "false dichotomy"?
Sometimes marketers who track sales learn things that contradict what you hear from marketers who don’t.
When that happens, the latter humbly admit their errors.
Ha ha. I bet you’re rolling on the floor about now. Seriously, folks, what they’re more likely to do is fight fire with snark. For instance, when we say that hard-hitting, late-night, 60-second commercials outsell entertaining, Prime-Time, 30-second commercials, never mind that we’re right. They can summarily dispatch us with, “You want Apple to sell Macs like they’re ShamWows?”
It’s easier to mock what it takes background to understand, than to do homework and arrive at an informed conclusion.
There is danger in this. Had today’s so-called news commentators lived in medieval times, imagine the fun they’d have had making the Germ Theory of Disease sound ridiculous: “Get this folks. The ‘experts’ are telling us that small, invisible animals are living inside you! There are supposedly more of these little critters in a drop of your spit than there are people living on the earth. These ‘experts’ need to get a grip.”
Actually, that’s a fair representation of how leaders, and their equally uninformed publics, reacted to Germ Theory. As a result, medical providers resisted practices such as washing hands and sterilizing implements, unwittingly and needlessly continuing to spread infections for decades.
Think we’ve changed? The nation should have, but didn’t, burst into unanimous, uproarious laughter when Don McLeroy, chair of the Texas State Board of Education, testified, “Someone has to stand up to the experts.” In fact, more than a few heads nodded in agreement. But then, what choice did they have? It was either that or weigh the evidence, thereby risking intellectual growth.
No person or group, even of experts, is infallible. And marketing isn’t as consequential as medicine. But in either domain, it’s safer and wiser to bet on a consensus of experts than on a consensus of blowhards. No matter how loud or witty said blowhards get.
(Oh, and germs are real. Despite what your chiropractor might tell you.)
Today's mail brought me an invitation from the American Advertising Federation/Utah to enter our agency's work in the annual Addy's Awards competition.
It's a poster folded to show the teaser headline, "You have a visitor." Next to the teaser is a photo of a blue canary. When you unfold the poster, you see a large photo of a guy with a dopey look on his face, reclining, fully clothed, in a bathtub. In his hand is a one-gallon milk jug containing ... heck, I can't tell. Chocolate milk? Unfiltered apple juice? A medal on a ribbon dangles from the beak of the canary, now perched in the bathroom window. The headline reads, "Award Off Depression." The copy comprises two sentences: "So the economy did its worst. We want to reward your best—with shiny things that will make it all better."
I guess I'm dense. Heaven knows I tried, but I don't get it.
Either way, the RESPONSE Agency's policy is not to enter awards competitions. To quote our core values: "We believe that setting our eye on awards diverts focus from real objectives. The best award is profitable results for a client."
Not that I'm above hypocrisy. We have won awards when clients have entered our work, and it always goes to my head.