Category Archives: copywriting

82.4% plan an increase in e-mail marketing in 2008

emailing for business

I just read my latest copy of BtoB’s Interactive Marketing Guide.

It’s full of great marketing info. In this issue, it sources a Datran Media survey from a press release, dated January 22nd, 2008:

82.4% of respondents plan to increase their e-mail marketing in 2008.

15.3% of respondents plan the same amount of e-mail marketing in 2008.

2.4% of respondents plan to decrease their e-mail marketing in 2008.

If you market using email, what does this mean?

Over 82% plan to increase their e-mail marketing! There’s going to be much more e-mail competition in 2008. Your e-mails need to stand out or they’ll get lost. This translates to creating a really good subject line – something that is not only catchy, but also creates trust and interest to the recipient.

Links need to work. Inside the email, make sure your links are working, even if the images get blocked.

You need a reporting system to track metrics. Every email campaign needs to track opens, bounces, and clicks. I use Constant Contact, (click on the link for a 60-day free trial) for my business and am very happy with it.

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Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency in Elk River, Minnesota. He plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. Mitchell is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.

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Lessons from The Godfather: I’m going to make him an offer…

The Godfather

For over 35 years, this movie line from The Godfather has stood the test of time:  “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

It is one of the greatest movie lines of all time.  And it begs another advertising teaching moment  – What makes a great marketing offer?

A great marketing offer has four distinct components

1)  A offer.  As simple as it sounds, there are a lot of marketing materials or commercials that do not contain on offer.  Corporate sometimes calls this “branding.”  It’s advertising designed to create name or product awareness.  It’s often created by advertising agencies who have huge client budgets, and lacks accountability because it’s difficult to track.   A great marketing offer must ask for a specific, trackable response from the person receiving the marketing message.

2)  Including a specific benefit to the customer.  Will it save time?  If so, how?  And how much time will it save?  Compare these two offers:  Offer 1:  Our dry cleaning delivery service will save you time.  Offer 2:  Our dry cleaning delivery service saves our customers an average of 52 minutes per week.

3)  A price.  Great marketing offers always have a price.  A specific dollar amount is always better than a percentage.  Always.  In the customers eyes, they’d like to exactly that they’ll be paying, or saving.  Monetize a great marketing offer.

4)  A deadline.  A deadline creates a sense of urgency.  It also creates a sense of demand.  This offer ends soon is weak.  This offer ends at midnight on Monday, March 25th is strong.

Use these four elements to always create great marketing offers for your products and services.

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Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency in Elk River, Minnesota. He plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. Mitchell is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.

Minneapolis Star Tribune reaches new low with this anti-real estate story

I was absolutely floored with the Minneapolis Star Tribune yesterday

On the front page: Credit Mess Means Selling For Less was the lead story. (see above print version) It showed me that the Star Trib is really, in my opinion, anti-real estate. Why?

1) The headline is sensationally negative. I really wonder if they wrote the headline PRIOR to writing the story.

2) The graph is inaccurate. They show a 12.5% decrease in 2008. Fine. But that only the first 3 months. They make this look like a larger thing than it is. I learned how to draw more accurate, to-scale graphs in third grade. Hey, maybe they fit the graph to cover the shape of their photo?

3) How many realtors did they need to interview before the Star Tribune could get this quote from Ryan O’Neill of ReMax Advantage: “I don’t see it getting better in the immediate future.” What that in the context of a longer quote?

4) The story buried good quotes from Kevin Knudsen (Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors) and Greg Bauman (St. Paul Area Association of Realtors) on page 8 of the section. Too little, too late. The Star Trib’s ‘sky is falling’ mentality is plastered all over page 1.

I have friends, clients, and business associates in real estate, homebuilding, mortgage, and banking. I’ve talked to several of them about this story. It’s not just me…there are a lot of people upset with this story. This type of bad news, perpetuated by newspapers like the Star Tribune, is the only thing that sells subscriptions.

Maybe they’re grudging because Edina Realty cut 70% of their Star Tribune newspaper budget about a year ago to develop their internet presence. But the anti-real estate industry bias is all too apparent here.

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Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency in Elk River, Minnesota. He plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. Mitchell is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.

website: http://www.258marketing.com
email: chris@258marketing.com

Four things your Billboard Reps didn’t tell you

bad billboards

Just a few things that I’m sure the outdoor billboard rep “forgot” to mention…

1. The average person isn’t exposed to your billboard the same way you are. Many outdoor sales reps sell their facings (the term for a single billboard) by driving very slowly by the locations of various boards they own. The rep points out the location so the prospect (you) sees the board for as long a time as possible. Then once the client rents the board, they may go out of their way to drive by it. The average person isn’t paying as much attention to the client’s board as the client is.

2. Which billboards do you remember seeing on the way to work? Make a list of the boards along that route and notice the ones you’ve never seen. People who frequently look at billboards are:

  • Those that sell outdoor advertising
  • Those that advertise on them
  • Other advertising sales people
  • Everybody else

3. Winter is a risky time to be advertising on billboards. Where are your eyes when the roads are slippery or the windshield is dirty?

4. The average time someone looks at a billboard is about three seconds. The billboard companies tell advertisers to keep their messages short — seven words or less. How much selling can you do in three seconds or seven words?

PS.   Know what the best two words are for a billboard?   Next Exit.

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Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency in Elk River, Minnesota. He plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. Mitchell is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.

website: http://www.258marketing.com
email: chris@258marketing.com

One direct mail tip you must know

The use of a postscript (P.S.) is mandatory in every direct marketing letter.

Whether you’re doing postcards, or a direct marketing newsletter, I consider this one of the most important features on the marketing piece. It’s often overlooked or forgotten…and that’s a mistake.

After the headline and first sentence, the P.S. commands the highest readership. Use that important space to repeat a key benefit, or add a twist or another idea to something you’ve already said. Also repeat your call to action here, in slightly different words.

PS. Did you know: Writing “P.S.” was wildly popular in the 1770s and was in several of the letters Paul Revere delivered on his famous rides. Start using it in your marketing today.

PPS.  Use of a P.S. for your online marketing, websites, and emails is also effective and highly encouraged.

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Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency in Elk River, Minnesota. He plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. Mitchell is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.

website: http://www.258marketing.com
email: chris@258marketing.com

100 overused marketing words and phrases

bad ad copyLet’s rid the world of bad ad copy.

I was having breakfast with a client a while back and he brought to my attention an article in Business Week entitled: Five Words to Never Use in an Ad. Back at my office, I found it online and read it. It was great information. Author Steve McKee explained how there are many meaningless cliches that are simply timeworn, and should be avoided.

Why bad ads happen

There are so many reason why bad ad copy runs in newspaper, direct mail, internet, radio and television. Foremost, there is a lack of marketing expertise from the people who design or write these ads. Most newspaper and internet ad designers have experience in graphic design, not marketing. Most broadcast writers are either salespeople (who’s job is, in their mind, finished when the sale is made) or production people (who’s job is to get the ad produced to time out to exactly 30-seconds).

Next, there are deadlines. When people are in a hurry, time is not taken to write a proper ad. 80% of the time is spent deciding where to advertise, and 20% is spent deciding what to say. It should be the other way around;with emphasis on what you’re telling your audience to do. Cliche words and phrases are the easy way out of deadlines.

Budget cuts are another factor. Gone are the days of copywriters. A lot of this is due to downsizing of media departments. Finally, sometimes the responsibility of ad writing falls upon the owner of the business. This is especially true with small to medium-sized businesses. Their expertise lies in building houses, selling shoes, or practicing law, not writing advertising copy.

The A (as in Avoid) List

Here is an alphabetical list of 100 words and phrases to avoid in your marketing campaign and business correspondence. It’s taken from my experience, automotive, real estate, retail and banking sources, McKee’s article, plus the last six years of Lake Superior State University’s annual list of banished words. Enjoy, remember, then avoid:

A level playing field. Substitute fairness.

Attention to detail. How can you be detailed without paying attention?

Back by popular demand. Don’t use unless you’re marketing a Broadway show.

Best interests at heart. No, I think you just want to sell me something.

Best Price. Do you really want to compete on price only?

Blowout. Only for tires.

Brainstorm. Substitute think.

Business as usual. Not good. When you coast, you’re usually going downhill.

Business entity. Substitute business.

Celebrating ___ years of service. It’s very overused.

Convenient parking. Cliche.

Core competency. A corporate euphemism.

Corporate underwriter. Substitute advertiser.

Cutting Edge. I’m not impressed.

Cyberspace. Please just call it internet.

Dealer pricing. Don’t indicate you have different levels of pricing, it promotes mistrust.

Dedication. All businesses are dedicated, it’s overused and worn out.

De-install. Substitute remove.

Documentation. Stop trying to impress me. Substitute paperwork.

Dot.com. Out like Enron. Dot.bomb.

Employee pricing. The auto dealers wore this phrase out.

Excellence. Overused.

Exceptional. See Excellence.

Experience. As opposed to inexperienced?

Expertise. Substitute expert.

Factoid. Substitute fact.

Factory direct. Interpretation – no middleman.

Final weeks to save. Please just put an expiration date on your offer.

Finest. According to who?

First Annual. No, it’s your inaugural. By year 2, you can call it annual.

Foreign imports. Oh yeah? What if I wanted a domestic import?

Free gift. Stupidly redundant.

Friendly. Most businesses are friendly. No uniqueness here.

Giving 110 Percent. It’s a physical impossibility.

Going out of business sale. Don’t insult our intelligence, you’ll be liquidating for weeks and weeks.

Hassle Free. What’s wrong with the word easy?

Highly unique. Gosh, I didn’t know there were levels of uniqueness.

Hit the nail right on the head. Substitute correct.

Holiday tree. A silly name for what most folks hold as a Christmas tree.

Home of the___. Nobody cares, unless you’re referring to Lambeau Field with a Packer fan.

Huge savings. Always use a percent or dollar amount. It’s too vague.

Impactful. Substitute effective.

In the very near future. Substitute soon.

Information Superhighway. Al Gore retro-phrase.

Integrity. You shouldn’t be in business without it.

Inventory reduction sale. What other purpose is there for being in business?

Knowledgable. Cliche.

Largest Selection. Cliche.

Last chance. Right…until next month.

Loaded with options. We know what this means…drop the “with options.”

Locally owned and operated. Just use locally owned. We figure you also operate locally.

Making your dreams a reality. Oh, I thought the genie gave me three wishes.

Mindshare. Substitute attention. This shouldn’t even be a word.

Must see to appreciate. Cheap ruse…just ask them to visit your store.

Nearly flawless. Come on. You were so close to perfection.

Networking. An overused word. Substitute business exchange.

No-brainer. Substitute obvious.

On a daily basis. Substitute daily.

On the same page. Substitute agree.

Once in a lifetime. Cliche.

Outside the box. Substitute differently.

Partly Sunny. Meteorogogists take note: Either I see sun or I don’t.

Pass the savings on to you. Because you can’t just say “Pass the mark-up on to you?”

Past history. Another redundency.

Perfectly Honest. Substitute honest.

Personal Service. All service is personal. That’s why it’s called service.

Pre-owned. Substitute used.

Professional. It has become overused. People expect professionalism. It’s not unique.

Prompt Service. It’s expected.

Pushing the envelope. Substitute daring.

Qualified. You need to expand this generality. Which criteria are you referring to?

Quality. This word is so abused, it means nothing anymore.

Quality of Life. Use well-being.

Quality workmanship. It’s expected.

Reducing headcount. You are just a softie. Substitute firing people.

Service. Too vague.

Service you deserve. We all deserve service. Avoid this phrase.

Serving the ____ area. Cliche.

Setting the Standard. Don’t use unless you’re an olympic athlete.

Skill set. Substitute skills, and stop the corporate-speak.

Take advantage of. Nobody believes this.

Team. This word belongs in sports, not real estate.

Terrible tragedy. What tragedy isn’t terrible?

The Honest Truth. As opposed to the dishonest truth?

The lion’s share. Substitute most.

The most overall. Redundant.

The whole nine yards. Substitute everything.

Talking Points. Invented by some political PR spinster to put a positive note on their press releases.

To Be Perfectly Honest With You. No, please lie to me. This one drives me nuts.

Trained Professional. Exactly how do you become professional without training?

Unconventional business practices. Substitute lying or fraud.

Under new management. Here’s a quarter, call someone who cares.

Unique. The word “unique” isn’t unique. Substitute different if possible.

Virtually any. Unnecessary.

Wake-up call. Substitute warning.

Weather conditions. Please just call it weather, and stop adding a word.

Webinar. The geek that coined this word needs therapy.

With the help of. Meaningless words.

Your (fill in the blank) needs. The most shallow phrase in advertising history.

Your Friends. Tom Shane is not your friend in the diamond business, sorry to disappoint you.

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Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency that plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. He is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.

website: http://www.258marketing.com
email: chris@258marketing.com