Are Target, Sam’s Club and Universal Studios Succeeding with Halloween AdWords Ads? You Decide.

Who’s Paying Attention to Marketing Basics When Buying Halloween AdWords Ads?

If you do a simple search of Google for the word Halloween, you’ll notice that plenty of companies are throwing down big bucks for positioning. How much, you ask? According to the tools in AdWords, the one word “Halloween” will cost you $0.33 to $0.50/click. Your clicks will run from 1,388 to 1,743 per day, so that’s going to run $470-880 during the Halloween season run-up. For a month of ads in positions 1-3, you might spend $14,000 to $27,000 on ads.halloween

So position #1 in my sample search goes to Universal Studios (see image above.. this is not an actual AdWords ad for this page – fake out! It was real when I originally searched, though). They’re advertising their Halloween Horror Nights event at Universal Studios in Los Angeles (or El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula – which is the original name of the city… which interestingly can be abbreviated to 3.63% of its size: L.A… but I digress).

The audience is probably teenagers, college kids, wild adults and brave youngsters dragged in by their older siblings, no doubt.

The ad leads with an economic benefit and a promise of being the “most terrifying” event in the area.

That’s kinda good. I would expect it to be scary, but there are probably some better benefits/dreams/visions lurking just below the surface that could have been used in the ad. As I recall, Halloween, theme parks and thrill rides were all about cuddling up to the girls (at a certain age). I’m guessing that this demo fits that profile. If they could insert a teen dream twist in there, it would be even more provoking or compelling. Something like “Defend your sweetie from the most ghoulish thugs in Southern Calif”… or even something Freudian, like “a night that will make you want to run home to Mama.”

The savings pitch could come after that. Here’s the landing page that the Universal Halloween horror nights link ends up at. Let me know what you think of the effort there by posting comments below. I like the testimonial at the end, but I’m not sure the main body text is so motivating.

Position #2 goes to BuyCostumes.com. I like the fast shipping benefit. We all know how last minute costume shopping goes. Selection benefit is good, too. Simple but strong.

OrientalTrading.com is in position #3. Selection and discount are the benefits they’re touting. I’m betting that their ad changed to “fast shipping” as the 31st approaches. A better approach might describe the end-result benefit and combine that with the economical/discount factor. Something like, “Delight the little ones with discount Halloween treats. Rapid, one-click check-out.” They could also put in a low price guarantee. That’s always reassuring. The last sentence I suggested is something I like to see, because we all know how tedious and slow shopping cart processes are.  It would be a good differentiator when competing for Web business with the likes of Target.com and SamsClub.com.

Target’s in spot #4. It’s weak, but a lot of their branding comes pre-loaded, anyway. What I mean by that is that their benefits are well known by most. You can drive there and find supplies and costumes in stock. They have great prices. You know what you’re getting… etc. You’d think they might have some fun with their ad, though.

The next two – for fairplex.com and SamsClub.com – don’t really bring anything new to the party.

What do you think? Are these companies using AdWords to their fullest potential? Should their ad agencies be fired for “phoning in” the copywriting? Your comments are welcome below.

4 Social Media Stories – The Good, Bad and Ugly

Participating in social media activities is like participating in any other social activity. It can be as valuable as a lunch with the boss or as vapid as a breeze shooting session at the water cooler. Or vice versa.

What follows are some highlights and lowlights from a typical day of “connecting” in my life. I find the most value appears when I’m connecting with people who help me get my job done, of course. On the other hand, some exchanges are just plain fun even though they won’t help my business right away.

For starters, I posted a question to several of my LinkedIn contacts that I know have experience in the marketing and Web development field. I was looking for a WordPress developer that could help quickly launch Word Press Web sites. I’d need the person to “turn the lights on” every time I launch a new site or have a client that wants to transition to the flexible, powerful WP platform. I quickly found a great resource (in New Zealand of all places) that’s already helping out with a rather extensive client project. In the words of Jack Davenport on Britain’s Coupling, “result!”

Next, I read a bunch of links from thought leaders and link-sharers that I admire and trust. I use Seesmic Desktop and Twitter to do this. I follow quite a few people on Twitter, but Seesmic allows me to put them into groups (I think you can do this with TweetDeck, too). I have a group called “A-List,” and this is the place where I filter out those that consistently bring useful and entertaining links, ideas and articles. This can be a major time sucker, because if you follow a lot of the thought leaders on Twitter, there are a lot of tantalizing titles flying around. I try to limit my window for this activity to an hour or less. I like to take one action idea from each piece I read and get it into my calendar or task list. That way, I’m not just admiring articles. I’m actually using information to move my business forward. I came across an article yesterday that was really intriguing, How I got to the first page of Google thanks to ONE bookmarklet (by Zee on TheNextWeb). It shows you how to use Posterous and optimize WordPress for an ultimate SEO pick-me-up. I’ll be tinkering with those tools/tips today.

Then I moved into the realm of the unproductive. I put up some pictures of our kids’ soccer games [taking very little time, mind you: 1) Eye-Fi wireless SD card takes the pictures from the camera and automatically uploads them to my computer and Kodak Gallery, 2) A quick email puts the best ones on Posterous, which 3) automatically updates to Facebook]. Everyone’s updated in a matter of minutes, and I’ve only clicked a couple of times. The videos from the camera go to YouTube automatically, as well. It’s amazing.

Next, I commented on a bunch of inane but funny Facebook friend stuff. There were some good/ugly Kanye West/Michael Jackson funeral jokes and more of those silly Hitler videos from Valkyrie, where they put in subtitles about current events. I also caught up on friend photos, videos and whereabouts. I may score a ticket to the Cal-USC football game, as a result. That would be productive!

How do you use social media for fun and profit? Any stories or tips that are useful and insightful?

How to Simplify your Social Media Life: The Pros and Cons of Posterous, Soup.io, ShareIn and FriendFeed

One of the biggest problems with social media communication is the drudgery of sharing links, making comments and updating groups.

Several sites aim to make this process easier… namely, Posterous, Soup.io, FriendFeed and ShareIn. I’ve tried all of them, and I’d say they’re “almost ready for primetime.” Each has value, and each has significant drawbacks.

This is a quick review that’s interested in answering the question: “How can these tools make my social media life easier to manage?” I’m not so much interested in questions like, “What’s the most powerful, flexible blogging platform?” That’s another issue together (and the answer is WordPress, btw).

I’ll start with ShareIn, since it’s the simplest tool of the three. Here’s how I use it: I opened an account, dragged their bookmarklet to my Firefox bookmark toolbar, adjusted my settings in ShareIn to update my Facebook and Twitter accounts, and then started selectively posting links, videos and photos to my pages via the bookmarklet. It’s useful, because if I’m reading an article and want to share it with friends without emailing it (a less invasive or interrupting method of sharing), I can do this quickly with a couple of clicks.

ShareIn places the appropriate links and images in my Twitter and Facebook feeds. I can do both at once or just do only Twitter or only Facebook. I notice that there’s a delay for image loading within my Facebook page. During this time a ShareIn logo sits in the position where the media image or photo should go. That’s slightly annoying.

When users click on the links, they’re sent to the article or media. Pretty direct and simple. There’s a ShareIn banner at the top of the web page that can be clicked closed. I’m calling it a banner, but it’s really just a strip at the top which allows users to continue to share the link on their social networks. It’s viral that way. When you close it, you’re presented with the original URL and page. Either way – open or closed – you have a nice big view of the article or media. Here’s an example of how a ShareIn link looks.

This does make sharing info easier on Twitter and Facebook. It works as advertised and has some nice back-end reporting features that show you the popularity of your posts and so forth.

I tried ShareIn because I was frustrated with Posterous’s quirky linking practices. But Posterous has some nifty features and advantages. It’s much more than ShareIn, even though it does some of the same kinds of things.

What do I mean by quirky Posterous linking? Here’s the deal. When you link to online media and articles with Posterous, the link you share is a link to your Posterous blog… not to the original article. That’s problematic for me. This linking process (and the Facebook/Twitter integration) is done via a bookmarklet in Firefox, like ShareIn, and your “share” settings within Posterous (they include more services than just Facebook and Twitter).

[BTW – Posterous is essentially a blogging service, like Soup.io, Tumblr and other blogs.. but it’s different, because it’s primarily designed to blog things that you send in via email. You send content (photos, videos, documents, etc.) to post@posterous.com, and the information is nicely posted to your Posterous blog. Mine is http://phildunn.posterous.com/. It’s quick and easy to set up. Check out the Posterous site to see more of the benefits and unique features. It’s pretty slick.]

The way Posterous links is problematic, because of the way my Twitter and Facebook followers consume information. In Facebook, for example, the peruser of my content sees a nifty graphic or photo related to the story I linked to, but the link itself goes to my Posterous page, and on that page there’s only a tiny little link that goes to the original article (it’s easy to miss it). The common experience on Facebook is to click on the link and arrive at the article or media. With Posterous posts, I’m forcing them to jump through a multiple click process – if they even see the link to the original content in the Posterous post. The same thing happens with the Twitter links that are created by Posterous.

I didn’t like that – so that’s why I ended up at ShareIn.

Posterous is great, however, for sharing family photos and videos.. and then having them automatically blast out to Twitter and Facebook friends. That feature works great. Posterous makes slick galleries of multiple photos and those show up really nicely in Facebook. If you post from YouTube that shows up nicely in Facebook, as well.

My deal is that I want one tool to make all these things happen with a minimum number of clicks. Is that so much to ask?

Soup.io is somewhat different animal. It’s like Posterous in that you can send emails to Soup.io, and they’re posted on your blog page. In a way, it’s like Posterous in reverse, however. With Soup.io, you *import* content into your blog page from other services like Twitter, FriendFeed and so forth (I didn’t see Facebook integration available). This reminds me. I want to talk a little about FriendFeed at the end of this article.. coming soon. Here’s what my Soup.io page looks like: http://phildunn.soup.io/ (admittedly, I don’t spend as much time here as I do other places).

When I set up “import” with Twitter and YouTube, for example, Soup.io grabs all my shared content on those services and shows them in my Soup.io feed. This happens automatically moving forward. I’ve yet to see a way to click the “post to soup” bookmarklet and have that content automatically update my Facebook and Twitter feeds.

So Soup.io is not quite there yet, either. All these platforms have nifty features, but they’re not quite optimal for a user like me who wants to share articles, videos, photos and personal blog info, links, etc.

I’d say ShareIn is the best option for posting online content to Twitter and Facebook. Posterous is great for posting personal photos and videos and having that propagate out to Facebook and Twitter automatically (along with a host of other platforms – you can even have it automatically update your own blog, like a WordPress blog or Blogger blog). Soup.io is good for bringing everything to one place… the problem is that you have to update all the other services separately, and that doesn’t make any sense at all to me. I want a place where I can post once and forget about visiting Twitter and Facebook until there’s some interest or discussion going on those particular platforms.

Now this brings me to FriendFeed, which is kind of a hybrid. It’s half Soup.io because it allows you to import content from a lot of your favorite sites, like Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, Picasa, Flickr, Digg, YouTube, etc.  And it’s half Posterous, because it allows you to automatically publish (export) your FriendFeed updates to Twitter. There are currently Facebook apps that appear to enable updating of Facebook via FriendFeed, but I’ve yet to see something that looks reliable (please let me know if I’ve missed something). The intriguing thing is that Facebook recently bought FriendFeed, so there’s bound to be better integration coming down the line… or a transformation of Facebook and the obliteration of FriendFeed. Who knows.

So there you have it. I’m sticking with ShareIn for most of my needs. But I am using Posterous for family stuff (photos, videos and such). One caveat: if you want all these things to work well together, you need to have your settings in each platform perfect. Otherwise, you’ll multiple post to different social media sites. And that’s annoying. It’s pretty easy, though, so I won’t get into it here.

I’ve got another post coming about Eye-Fi – this one is perhaps the best technology innovation for social media I’ve ever encountered (as it pertains to photo and video sharing). This falls under the same category of this post, which is “How to make social media easier.” Until then, enjoy.

New Post: Beyond the Smoke, Hype and Fanfare – What is Social Media?..really

What compels advertising and marketing types to rip off the LiveStrong brand?

Logo Template - Army Strong 1I just ran across another advertising campaign that’s mimicking the Lance Armstrong “LiveStrong” campaign. It’s “Army Strong.” Just saw it on ESPN. Just like “Fan Strong” for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I’m sure there are others.

Am I just being crabby or is that weak? (Or is using the word crabby weak?). This tagline/marketing piggybacking reminds me of the “Got Milk?” campaign parroted endlessly for more than a decade. Got Sand? Got Surf? Got Weed? Got Faith? Got River? Got Soccer? Got Brains?… Barf.

Does anyone have an original thought? Or is there some science behind this cowardly mimicking?

Please comment if this annoys you as it does me.

David Ogilvy Back from the Grave – Wise Advertising/Marketing Video and Quotes

“I once used the word ‘obsolete’ in a headline, only to discover that 43% of housewives had no idea what it meant. In another headline I used the word ‘ineffable,’ only to discover that I didn’t know what it meant myself.” – David Ogilvy

“Never write an advertisement which you wouldn’t want your family to read. You wouldn’t tell lies to your own wife. Don’t tell them to mine.” – David Ogilvy

“Committees can criticize advertisements, but they should never be allowed to create them.” – David Ogilvy

5 Quick Tips for Linking Up Your Twitter, Facebook and Plaxo Statuses, Tweets and Pulses

UPDATE: The better way to accomplish this these days is with ping.fm or hellotxt.

One of my associates in the writing and marketing world just asked me how I link up all my social media accounts so I don’t have to trot around to each site/tool to keep everyone informed. At first, I started to scratch my head… How did I do that? It took place over several months, piecemeal. So I traced my steps, drilled into some menus and put it all together…

These will make your social networking/social media life easier:

I also use http://www.twitterfeed.com to update Twitter whenever I post something new to my blog.

If you’re doing video, the following site allows you to upload a video once and distritube it automatically to multiple video sites like Viddler, YouTube, Vimeo, Yahoo Videos and so forth: http://tubemogul.com/

Now, off you go… start communicating like an many-tentacled thing!

How to Log In to LogMeIn Free When Using Windows 7 or Windows 7 RC

Sometimes you need to connect to your desktop from a remote location in order to access files or data on your main computer. Many of you  pay Citrix and do this with GoToMyPC. Others use Microsoft Remote Desktop from within Windows.

IMHO, the easiest, and cheapest, way to do it is with LogMeIn Free, however.

I installed it, and it works just like GoToMyPC.

I did hit one stumbling block, however, because I’m using Window 7 RC (release candidate) on several of my computers.

There’s a trick to logging in. You have to specify the name of the computer as well as the login when you’re logging on (and the password, as well).

Here are the instructions from LogMeIn support:

If you are using a Windows account username and password to access your Windows 7 host computer, you will need to enter the username in the format that includes the computer or domain name.

For example:

  • You normally log into your host computer with the username  David and you are not on a domain.
  • Your host computer’s name is  HomePC.
  • When connecting to the host computer, you would enter  HomePC\David for the username.

If you don’t know what your host computer name is, you can easily find out by going to that computer, clicking Start/<right click> Computer/look under “computer name.” That’s the name that is equivalent to HomePC in the example above. You can find your name by clicking start and looking under the icon in the upper right of the Start pull-down. You know your password already, because you logged in ;-).

Hope this helps out. It took me a while to figure it out (Googling and such), but the best answer came straight from the support folks at Logmein, who were nice, personable and helpful, btw.

Enjoy!

Stop Saying “Frankly” My Dear – Why You Shouldn’t Write Honestly in Your Marketing Documents

I was having a glass of wine with a friend last night – a Malbec, which by the way, was sheepy, barn-yardy and yucky.. some Malbecs just baffle me (I don’t dig it, so I opened a different bottle) – and he said something interesting.

He said, “To be honest, Phil, I don’t think anyone cares what the buildings are like. There’s no connection between the maintenance crews and the customer desire.”

This was part of a long conversation about a timeshare development that’s teetering on the brink of disaster. So I couldn’t resist and said, “Are you going to let me know when you switch back to dishonesty?”

I love this little joke and try to fit it in every once in a while, even though it’s really annoying. I wrote it about a long time ago (Eliminate Honesty from Your Copy), and it’s covered in-depth in my eBay Marketing book, which is now available on the Kindle.

The main point is this. When you’re speaking or writing – especially if you’re involved with a persuasive presentation or document – it’s best to stay away from words like “frankly,” “honestly,” and “to tell you the truth.” Consciously or subconsciously people are going to notice and wonder why honesty all of a sudden became an issue.

Instead, use facts, logic and proof to construct your pitches and explanations. You don’t need to qualify your virtue when clear, compelling information is at hand.

That other stuff sounds “salesy” and a bit cheap. You’re better than that.

And, yes, please use my joke when you’re out with friends. It’s a real show stopper.. but it might just get you a face full of Malbec, so be careful.