Tag Archives: advertising

Create great copy: Things to remember

Who says that writers don’t know science? Writing is a science! If it weren’t, then anything that was ever written for marketing or advertising purposes would do its job and make you fast cash.

Know your audience.

The more you know, the better targeted and relevant your copy will be. Ask yourself:

  • —What does their everyday life look like? Who do they work with? What websites do they read?
  • —What are they passionate about? Hobbies?
  • —What past products/services have they purchased and how does your offering compare? Once this is identified, however, it’s ineffective to use comparison words in the copy itself. For instance, instead of saying “Our vacuum cleaner is better than the common household brand.” You identify how it is better, ie., “Our vacuum cleaner has five times the suction as other brands.” Now you’re showing them, not just telling them.

Identify key motivators.

A gerund is a noun acting as a verb. It ends in
A gerund is a noun acting as a verb. It ends in “-ing.” Awesome cartoon courtesy of Boggletondrive.com.

Great copy motivates people to feel, think or do something. One way of achieving this is by addressing them personally.— I don’t mean to say that you should call them out by name – I mean that they need to trust you. They need to like you.

  • —You can reach users by speaking directly to them – be conversational and as specific as possible. Avoid sweeping statements.
  • —Don’t use passive voice — write in the present tense (avoid gerunds, or, the “ing”)
  • —Short, Simple and Sincere (one way of doing this is by avoiding adjectives)

Layout matters.

The way you position words, pictures and paragraphs in your website copy or email are important.

  • —Indent sections & number paragraphs
  • —Capitalize and BOLD sparingly. Does anyone underline anymore?

What’s next. 

—Include a testimonial.

  • It’s always better to have someone else say how great you are so that you don’t have to. A brief and convincing quote from a respected source adds credibility to your campaign.

—Keep your copy clean and concise.

  • Cut unnecessary words and consolidate ideas.
  • Have someone else read it to see if they understand the message.

—Avoid weasel words.

  • Weasel words include: may, maybe, hope
  • Instead, use words that emote power and prestige:  will and can

Google’s Chris Vennard on integrated mobile functions

Chris Vennard and me in their Chelsea Market offices.
Chris Vennard and me in their Chelsea Market offices.

Google’s Global Product Lead, Chris Vennard, predicts mobile calls from search will double to 86 billion annually by 2018. Vennard, who heads up Google’s Call Ad product, spoke with me about improving the user experience with customer support.

“Nobody will disagree when I say the world is going mobile,” he said.

Vennard outlined several options to enhancing the customer journey – and they begin and end with mobile. First, a ‘bail out’ function is important. Mobile users visiting a company’s website should always have the option to hit a call button to automatically connect them to an agent for help. The next step will be to show the agent their search history.

During the interview, which can be seen in a three-part series on www.CallCenterWeek.com, Vennard went on to talk about the difference between mobile apps and mobile webpages and the benefits of these strategies.


How do you define brand?

“At its core, a brand is a promise to consumers. What will consumers get when they purchase a product or service under your brand umbrella? The brand promise incorporates more than just those tangible products and services. It also includes the feelings that consumers get when they use your products and services.” – Branding Strategy Insider

I asked four market research experts from MTV, J.P. Morgan, Meijer International and Union Bank to answer what that questions means to them.

This is what they said:

“In our world, it’s the brand of the company. As a retailer, this is tricky, because we sell products for many well-known brands. That said; we define brand as what our company Brad Hilemanstands for (services, products, etc.) and how we want customers to perceive us. We’re tasked with bringing the brand to life through content and creative, so it’s really about how we communicate through tone, visuals and story.”

– Brad Hileman, Director of Digital, Brand Development, Meijer Inc.

“The way a customer remembers you.”Xavier Corona

– Xavier Corona, Vice President, Sr. Marketing Manager-Multicultural and GCM
Corporate Marketing, Consumer Lending, Union Bank

Michael Rosenberg

“Brand is the public ‘image’ or ‘perception’ of a given company. Brand is more than just a logo or name, it’s the “embodiment of a company and its’ values to the public.”

– Michael Rosenberg, Managing Director, Corporate and Investment Bank Marketing,
J.P. Morgan

alison hillhouse“Any brand that is turning old models on their heads, for example, mattress companies Caspar and Tuft & Needle that are calling BS on the outdated and opaque mattress industry model. These new brands offer Millennials exactly what they want – perfect design in both product and communications, transparent product details, free trials with no commitment, convenience, affordability and promise of perfection. Industries that try to pull the wool over consumers’ heads like Sleepy’s are dead. Millennials won’t stand for them.”

– Alison Hillhouse, Vice President of Insights Innovation, MTV

The Top 5 Reasons to Outsource Your Marketing

Marketing isn't as easy as 1-2-3.
Marketing isn’t as easy as 1-2-3.

Marketing is simple, right? Everyone is aware of the boxes that need to be checked: Launch a website and set up a Facebook page and Twitter account. Perhaps you assign someone on your business development team the task of maintaining a corporate blog with the goal of posting several times per week. You create a strategy, an agenda and an editorial calendar. Then, you sit back and wait for your plan
to take hold and gain attention, traction and a countless number of clients.

But, sometimes not everything goes to plan. Maybe you hit a plateau of Facebook likes or you realized you’re not quite sure what to post on Twitter. Perhaps you have a sneaking suspicion that no one is reading your blog posts. Slowly, your enthusiasm and interest in your marketing plan dwindles and it’s clear that there is no proven return on investment of your time and resources. You’re not sure anyone is hearing your message and you don’t know how to track your campaigns.

Don’t lose heart. The digital age is among us and establishing your brand online is a must. What you need is a digital marketing plan that includes Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay Per Click (PPC), content creation, blog integration and social media. Entire marketing firms, such as Cirgenski Marketing, exist to evaluate and execute upon marketing strategies. The firm spends days, weeks and months perfecting marketing plans. You’re not in that business, so why do you expect yourself to be a marketing maven on their level?

Placing your marketing in the hands of experts with the know-how to execute tailored plans is just one reason to consider outsourcing your advertising and branding goals. Outsourcing saves you time. It says you money. Consider that running an effective online marketing campaign will cost you at least $3,000 per month, according to Forbes. The truth is your competitors are most likely spending several times that amount. If that number seems exorbitant to you, keep in mind that hiring an in-house marketing and SEO professional will cost at least $50,000 per year at a base level. An experienced professional will demand upwards of $70,000 depending on your location.

Outsourcing not only saves you money, but it also ensures that your message will be heard. But, there are even more benefits than that. Let’s take a look at the top 5 reasons you should outsource your marketing campaigns.

Reduced overhead

There’s no need to hire additional personnel when you choose to outsource your marketing. Not only will you save $50k+ in salary and benefits – depending on your location – but you can also avoid or reduce costs spent on office space, overhead and hardware.

Increased time management

Even if you have your own marketing department, outsourcing at least some of your marketing spend will free up your in-house personnel to focus on strategy instead of “busy work.” Your team will have the ability to play to their strengths and focus on branding deliverables as well as the business’s core focus.

The gift of impartiality and neutrality

Sometimes it’s hard to separate yourself from your marketing plan. Of course you believe in your product and service – if you didn’t, why would you be in business? By outsourcing your marketing you will have a fresh set of eyes on what you truly have to offer and, conversely, what it is that your clients and/or customers need and want. Outsourced marketing agencies identify and deploy depending upon the company’s goals and its budget alone without being bogged down by a clouded vision.

Expanded talent and creative pool

Your staff can’t do it all. Perhaps they excel at email marketing, but their skillset is not up to par in SEO or PPC. Outsourcing allows you to be more agile on complex projects that require acute understanding on numerous components of the marketing plan. While you might not be able to hire in-house for the functions that you need, outsourcing allows for the ability to enjoy new, innovative and creative ideas and energy at half the cost.

A fresh perspective

This leads to the last benefit of outsourcing: A fresh perspective that is not influenced or handcuffed by an established company culture. It might not be for lack of dedication or ability, or even resources, but perhaps your team may not be able to see the forest for the trees. Oftentimes marketers become too involved with their functions that they forget or are unable to take a step back and analyze their strategies from the customer’s perspective. An outsourcing team often provides the fresh, objective perspective that is so hard to maintain.

It’s clear by now that outsourcing marketing is a viable option. But, who should you trust to handle this very important function? You need a firm who will evaluate your current marketing programs to identify where there are opportunities for optimization.

This includes taking a close look at your top competitors and identifying/developing your differentiation and key advantages over them. If clients already have a marketing plan in place, firms such as Cirgenski Marketing look at key indicators such as the marketing mix and implement solutions to find the best opportunities suitable for your business’s end goals. Next, they develop a customized integrated marketing plan which includes recommendations for the top prioritized marketing initiatives that all will provide the best results. What better outcome is there?

If You Build Remarkable Content, the Readers Will Come

This is the first installment of a two-part interview with content strategy extraordinaire, Rebecca Lieb.

Content is not necessarily a build it and they will come proposition. Content has to be very good for them to come.

It may seem like a basic principle, but according to Rebecca Lieb, many companies still just don’t get it. Rebecca is an author, columnist, journalist and digital advertising and media analyst at Altimeter Group. In this interview she answers some important questions regarding content marketing strategies, going beyond how your organization should create content and into how it should be published and on what channels.

hrh media: Before we dive in, would you mind sharing with us a little bit about your content marketing journey and how you became interested in the industry?

I think you encapsulated it very well when you enumerated some of the positions that I’ve held prior to my current role as an analyst. I’ve effectively only done two things in my life. On the one hand I’ve worked as a marketer, always for media companies; and on the other hand I’ve worked as a journalist, as a content creator. So when you combine content creation, editorial acumen, running a newsroom (which I’ve also done) with marketing, I think content marketing and strategy is a very logical outcome of those two skill sets.

hrh media: Could you define what content marketing is, and furthermore what differentiates content marketing from public relations and even advertising?

I’m so glad you asked that. I’ll even take it a step further and differentiate content marketing from content strategy; first and foremost, because I think those terms get conflated very often. Content marketing is the art and science of marketing with media that a Brand owns; as opposed to advertising that you buy. That’s almost the definition of advertising, there’s a media buy associated with an ad. Content can be created in all sorts of ways, shapes or forms – on a blog, on websites, and certainly in offline channels if you publish newspapers, magazines, etc. What the digital revolution has really enabled is for any brand or any marketer to become a publisher and to become a content provider. You no longer need to buy media when it’s so easy and so accessible to create media yourself.

I really divide content marketing into three different categories: there’s content that is entertainment—this is your typical viral video. It makes people laugh, cry, or pass along. There’s content that’s entirely informative—this is used a lot in high consideration purchases such as a mainframe computers, another piece of technology, or a car that you have to do a lot of studying up on before you’re comfortable buying. The third form of content I’d like to call utility content. It’s things like mobile apps that help you deposit a check into the bank without visiting the bank—you take a picture and you zap it. It’s a vertical search engine that helps you find nearby restaurants or choose the right wine to order. So those are the forms of content marketing and effectively what it is.

The underpinning of content marketing is content strategy. Content strategy is planning for content marketing. Not just how you’re going to do it, how you’re going to create it and who’s going to create it; but how you’re going to publish it, in what channels, and what’s all the rules, processes, technologies and procedures are around the governance of that content. Just like the New York Times has a staff and that staff is specialized at doing different things, and the staff has an editorial calendar that says we publish this sort of stuff on Monday, this sort of stuff on Tuesday, this at the end of the year, this around the holidays, so too is content marketing very calendared, very seasonal. Without a plan you’re just looking at the proverbial white sheet of paper and you’re not going to know what to do next, so I’m very much looking forward to hearing new thinking around content strategies at the conference this spring.

If You Build Remarkable Content, the Readers Will Come – Part II

This is the second installment of a two-part interview with content strategy extraordinaire, Rebecca Lieb.

Content is not necessarily a build it and they will come proposition. Content has to be very good for them to come.

It may seem like a basic principle, but according to Rebecca Lieb, many companies still just don’t get it. Rebecca is an author, columnist, journalist and digital advertising and media analyst at Altimeter Group. In this interview she answers some important questions regarding content marketing strategies, going beyond how your organization should create content and into how it should be published and on what channels.

hrh media: So, it can be said that currently there is a content deficiency among companies and brands, especially the kind of content that speaks to and engages prospects and customers. How can this be addressed easily, especially for smaller to mid-sized businesses?

You know, I think that’s almost a chicken and egg question. Is there a content deficiency or is there a good content deficiency. On the one hand, marketers who really haven’t worked enough on creating a strong content strategy do have that sort of panicked, “I haven’t studied for the test, I haven’t thought about what we’re going to publish today on Facebook, on Twitter, on our YouTube channel, on our blog.”

Planning can take away a lot of that anxiety. Planning, along with analytics and listening, can help you determine how to make content that’s good, that resonates, and that’s shared and passed along. Remember, when you’re advertising and making that media buy, you’re guaranteed a certain number of eyeballs or a certain amount of attention. It might not be good attention, it might not even be effective, but you’re out there.

Content is not necessarily a build it and they will come proposition. Content has to be very good for them to come. You know that in a multi-channel universe you’re really only watching one channel at a time on your television set. You’re only reading one book at a time, so the job of the content marketer as well as the content strategist is to make sure that content stands out, is attractive, is professional, is well presented, is compelling and is appropriate to the medium. These are all skills that publishers are very well versed in and require a lot of publisher and/or producer acumen.

hrh media: So one of the top reasons why business leaders shy away from content marketing or content strategy is a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of its return on investment or ROI. How would you address this?

In a research report that I published earlier this year called content, the new marketing equation, which by the way you can download at no cost from the Altimeter Group’s website, we developed a content marketing maturity framework, and one of the earlier stages in content marketing maturity is learning how to measure content and learning how to attribute return on investment to content so that you can actually gauge its effectiveness and know what you’re doing right and what you’re doing that’s not so effective.

My favorite hero story of that is a company called Eloqua that had a recently departed head of content marketing, a man by the name of Joe Chernov, and Joe enabled a way to trace all of the downloads of the white papers and free e-books his company made available to prospects. Because you had to fill out a form before you could download this free content, he was able to capture everybody’s title who downloaded the content. His goal was to get content downloaded by Vice President and above titles, and he could demonstrate that that’s who was downloading the content and he could also trace those names and those downloads through a very long sales cycle until he got to the point that he could attribute $3 million dollars in sales that the company made directly to that content that he had produced.

So content really is attributable, it really is measurable, you just have to decide what legitimate key performance indicators there are to gauge the value and the work of that content and then build in a mechanism to measure them. That requires planning and that’s part of content strategy.

hrh media: Thank you for sharing that example of a great success story. On the flip side, are there some key factors or traits that you see companies consistently make that leads to an unsuccessful content marketing strategy?

The companies who aren’t measuring very often are the companies that aren’t listening. They just throw content out there and never stick around to see what’s resonating, what’s being read, what the very basic web metrics say about the use of that content, if and where it’s being shared in social networks, whether there’s discussion around that content in social channels and whether that discussion is positive or negative. If you listen to what consumers say and if you engage in their conversations you learn more about your customers and what they expect from you as a business, as a product, as a service, but also how to better serve their needs. Just like going to a dinner party, nobody likes a one-way conversation. It has to be give and take.

hrh media: In your blog you mention that media conversions or the blending of owned and earned media will continue and intensify in 2013, which you said will spark new technological solutions and skills. Would you mind explaining that idea further in depth for us?

Certainly. Again, I’ve written another research report on the convergence of paid, owned, and earned media that is also available as a download from our website at no cost, so anybody interested in diving in can help themselves. We’re noticing a trend, as our environment is increasingly multi-screened and multi-media that consumers are making very little differentiation, or much less differentiation between paid, owned, and earned media. By those terms I mean paid media is advertising, that’s media that you as a marketer pay for; earned media is what consumers, influencers and journalists are saying about you. You don’t control that, but it is listening to the chatter that’s out there. Finally, owned media is content. It’s the content that you control both in terms of its creation, its production, and the channel that it lives on. You own your Facebook page, you own your website, you own your blog, etc. We’re finding that as budgets and attention move to social media, which is largely earned, as well as owned media channels, these are becoming much more important in the marketing mix than paid media-advertising; which until very recently was the boss of everything, pretty much by the fact that it cost the most.

hrh media: Before we wrap up, is there a content medium today that is perhaps receiving less attention than it deserves, but is primed for the future?

That’s a great question. When I was conducting research earlier this year I asked close to 60 marketers, most of them at major multi-national global corporations, what content channels matter now and what channels are going to matter three to five years in the future. Over and over everybody said, “video and mobile.” Content channels that were noticeably diminishing importance were channels that were written word, so online press releases, blogs, media kits, press kits and white papers. Interestingly I interviewed all of these marketers, and not a single one mentioned e-mail, which is very definitely a content channel and very definitely something that every single company I know is doing. Only one of them mentioned search, and we all know that SEO is a very important component in content marketing, so while I’d be reluctant to single out one specific channel as being overlooked, I will accuse marketers of what I like to call bright, shiny object syndrome of looking at the newest, coolest, most gee whiz technology, perhaps at the expense of the basics and fundamentals that underpin campaigns.

We’re now finding that the creative ideas that surface in content and earned media, the conversations around those pieces of content, are forming the creative seed for advertising. So whereas advertising messages used to rule everything, they’re now, in a way, subservient to content and social chatter. That said, from a grand perspective, it’s incredibly important to unify this messaging. So as consumers slip across screens, channels and media, they can consistently recognize a brand as it appears on paid, owned and earned media. I’m certainly not suggesting advertising is ever going go away, it’s not in our lifetime, but the people who work on advertising now almost work very closely with the people who work on content, the people who work on social, the people who are handling measurement, this needs to be a much closer collaboration, because as these walls between paid, earned and owned become more porous and these media channels overlap the distinctions that exist within the organization in terms of who controls what are coming increasingly meaningless.

Inc. 500 Ranks Asentra Corp. 16th in List of Advertising and Marketing Firms

Exciting news from a client (of course I wrote the press release)! Congratulations to Asentra.

HONOLULU, H.I. – Asentra Corporation has been named one of the fastest-growing companies in America by Inc. 500. The company ranked 16th among Advertising and Marketing firms and 98th overall in the annual September list. Asentra Corp., which is one of the largest outsourcers of telemarketing services with more than 200,000 customers worldwide, is the first direct marketing firm to make the list two years in a row. The company saw a 3,040-percentage growth rate in three years and plans to create more than 500 jobs in the U.S. in 2013.

“We are proud to be on the Inc. 500’s list of the top fastest growing private companies in America. We plan to continue to grow and provide the best services to our clients and customers,” said Asentra CEO, Dave Grubler.

Asentra Assurance Plan, a division of Asentra Corp., offers full warranties for mobile devices starting at $14.95 per month. The warranty plan covers iPhones, iPads, Blackberries, tablets and eReaders, and has no deductible or co-pay. Asentra also offers a lemon policy, technical support, an extended, five-year warranty and unlimited claims and yearly usage. Similar plans offered by competitors such as BestBuy and Apple range from $99-$180, with a one-year warranty and co-pay costs starting at $99. Competitor’s plans do not include used handheld devices, liquid and accidental damage or data recovery.

Asentra was founded in 2001 and operates in five different countries with more than 200,000 customers worldwide. It is the fastest-growing company in Hawaii and the fastest-growing direct response agency in the U.S. In 2011, the company’s revenues totaled $8.6 million. It is an Inc. 500 award recipient company with corporate offices in Honolulu, H.I., and regional offices in Connecticut, Florida, North Dakota and California.

Asentra is the highest-rated and most consumer-friendly assurance plan for your cell phone and hand-held appliances. With a 50-year-plus of combined leadership, AAP is a global leader in warrantee and assurance programs. For more than a decade, AAP has revolutionized the extended warranty & assurance program industry while maintaining the highest level of customer satisfaction. For more information, visit http://www.Asentra.com.