Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Ogilvy Advertising Quick Facts

  • During tough economic times, if you stop advertising a brand that is still in its introductory phase, you will probably kill it.
  • All of the past century’s recessions have shown that companies that continue to advertise gain market share.
  • During WWII, the British government prohibited the marketing of margarine under brand names. Unilver pulled one of their brands from the shelves but continued to advertise its name during the war. The result: When the war ended and all margarines could be marketed under brand names again, that brand led the pack by a long shot.
Moral: Save up advertising budget when times are hot and then use it during recessions.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Friday, May 27, 2005

Promote Your Business - Publish Articles on the Web

This following post originated on my eBay Marketing Blog, but it's equally applicapable here:

As the Web, Tivo, Google AdWords/Adsense and subscription radio throw the advertising world into a funk, there's a tried and true method for promotion that's cheap, relatively easy and still highly effective when compared to "traditional" advertising... Some call it PR. Some call it editorial promotion. Most serious businesses deem it a critical component to their overall marketing plan. As an eBay seller, you should be utilizing editorial promotion to position yourself as an expert and position your products within the marketplace.

The basic idea is to get articles about your business, products or services published...anywhere. You can spend a lot of time and money dancing with print newspaper, magazine and trade publishers, however it's much easier to publish on the Web. Not only is it easier, but media trends show that people are consuming news differently on the Web, and they're going to the Web more often for news and product information. People look for targeted information on the Web. You don't need to be all over the nightly news for people to find you. What you're interested in are the people who are searching for exactly what you offer and are writing/editorializing about.

So, how do you do this? How do you publish articles about your products, services and business on the Web? Fortunately, Brett Krkosska, managing editor of Home Biz Tools, has written an excellent article on the subject. This article shows you how to syndicate your work so that multiple outlets will pick it up. This is basically free advertising for you and your eBay business. What's more, you have the opportunity to truly educate prospects when you publish journalistic articles about your business. That's important, because the more people know about your business, how it works and how it can benefit themselves or others, the better positioned your company becomes. This probably falls under that old adage, "The more you tell, the more you sell."

Take a little time to develop some story ideas about your business. Then, return to this blog tomorrow (or this afternoon - this subject has my fingers dancing on the keyboard). I'll post an article about the fundamentals of "attention-grabbing" topics and journalistically sound leads.

My book, The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing, has lots of info on how to craft stories, develop problem/solution studies (known as case studies or success stories), and market your business better. It also shows you how to write attention-grabbing headlines. All these pointers apply to both journalistic articles and your eBay listings. The strategy and positioning are a little different, but the fundamentals are the same. Also, check out the previous post on post card tips. It's got some good pointers on headline writing and other valuable information.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Post Card Marketing

This post originated on my eBay Marketing Blog, but it's equally applicapable here:

Bob Leduc has an nice article up on Home Biz Tools that explains why post card marketing is effective for all kinds of businesses (including eBay, and for driving traffic to sites/listing pages/eBay Stores).

I would just add a few points that will help you get your post cards read.

1) If the recipients know you by face, name, or company name include that prominently on the card. People like to see people and know people and hear from people. Leverage that, especially if you're sending cards to people who hear from you on a regular basis (as with email newsletters, regular business communications and so forth).

2) Write a headline for the card that speaks to or is about the recipient (not about you or your company or your product). Grab their attention, but make the recipient the focus. For example, "How Often Do You See Limited Edition Widgets for Less than $100?" speaks to the recipient. And, "The Top 10 Causes of Dry Skin" makes the recipient's problem or need the focus.

3) Put news in the title: "New Orthopedic Neck Brace Helps You Sleep More Soundly"

4) Make an offer in the headline. "Summer Sale Starts This Friday -- Free Shipping for Valued Customers Like You."

There are plenty of other strategies. I'll cover more of these in future posts. Remember, you can mix these up, too, and create layered messages. That includes mixing the photo concept with the headline.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

White Paper Tips

Delivering white papers over the Internet is a great way to communicate in-depth information to highly targeted audiences. White papers also offer companies the opportunity to build marketing lists…. But, you’ve got to write them first. Some tips for producing first-rate white papers follow:

1. Offer a solution. Many white papers waste all kinds of time and ink on theory, probability and speculation. Good white papers establish well-defined problems and offer easily understood solutions. Leave the pontificating to the industry analysts.

2. Reduce marketing language to a minimum. These days, this tip even applies to marketing materials. The more you economize your exposition and eliminate hyperbole, the better.

3. Support assertions with evidence and examples. Tangible, mentally vivid examples help pull readers through long pieces of text and provide them with ammo when they go to present your assertions to somebody else. Metaphor is also helpful (for example, ammo).

4. Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them. Classic business presentation structure.

5. Use graphics, charts and pull quotes. White papers tend to be long. So, help the readers along with visual cues and graphics that complement the text and illuminate your explanations further.

6. Watch the length. Less than 15 pages is preferable for a given topic. If you find that your page count is hurtling toward novella length, consider breaking the project into several separate but related white papers.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Harry Truman on Advertising

"Advertising has induced progress in the use by manufacturers of new materials, new tools, and new processes of manufacture by calling their attention to economies which could be achieved and to the new uses to which they could be put. Without such advertising, information of this kind would take years to reach all of those who might benefit by it and progress would be delayed." --- Harry S. Truman

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Ogilvy Advertising Quick Facts

  • You can judge the vitality of a company by the number of new products it brings to market. 35% of supermarket sales come from products that did not exist 10 years ago.
  • Sales are a function of product value and advertising. Promotions cannot produce more than a temporary kink in the sales curve.
  • There is no correlation between quality and price (numerous scientific surveys have demonstrated this). The higher you price your product, the more desirable it becomes in the eyes of the consumer.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

The Magic of Newsletters

Newsletters are priceless for so many reasons - some obvious and some not. First, the obvious reasons.

When you sustain a valuable dialogue with your prospects and customers, you stay connected and available for whatever opportunity may materialize. Nobody knows where the next great business opportunity is going to come from. It could come from a partner, a friend, a business acquaintance, someone who was just forwarded your newsletter, an ancient customer, someone looking over the shoulder of the person reading your newsletter, a prospect. so many different possibilities. Newsletters keep you in the game and in the minds of whoever your audience may be.

Newsletters show your audience the mind-set, personality, needs and aspirations of your organization. In formal marketing communications, you may not have the flexibility to do this due to various creative and bureaucratic constraints. It's much easier to just come out and say things in a newsletter. When your customers and prospects know "where you're coming from" it brings their guard down a little and lets them feel like they're not engaging a big sterile corporation.

When you write newsletters that provide valuable information, the readers learn more about your business, and you do, too! No matter what business you're in, creating a newsletter is an exercise in understanding the value of your business and finding ways to communicate that to your audience. It's another way to get your marketing brain chugging along. Writing reinforces the things you learn.

I could go on, but I won't because I want to get to the not so obvious reasons for writing newsletters. I just read about these hot ideas in...you guessed it...another newsletter. When you write newsletters and archive them on your site, you raise your rank in search engines. The key words in each story you write are "spidered" by search engines and those pages contribute to your rank. If you write about things that are critical to your business, the page will show up when those key words are entered into Google, Yahoo, AlltheWeb, MSN, etc. Other sites will link to your newsletter archives, too, and that helps boost your overall ranking. And, since your site it constantly adding new information, you'll get another swift kick up the ladder. Search engines like "fresh" sites, and the ones that add content get spidered more frequently. I'm going to start making Web pages of my newsletters ASAP.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Monday, May 23, 2005

Why the "Little Details" Are So Important

Truly Solid Marketing Is About Customer Service

Painters are at our house this weekend, doing the trim outside and a few rooms inside. My wife is doing most of the direction, but I've asked the head guy (and owner of the company) to pay attention to a few details for me. I don't get into interior design much, choosing between mauve and tope, but I do have some input as far as the whole project goes.

I want them to make sure they clean up the "misses" on the outside, where some black trim paint has accidentally hit the white house paint. I need them to unstick some of the windows and put all the screens back, as well.

They're wrapping up the project today, and it's starting to appear that the lead is ignoring some of my requests -- namely the screens and window unsticking. I love the work they've done, but now I'm obviously not so hot on their finishing skills. And this new feeling is coming at the end of the project, when the head guy should be going out with a celebration rather than with some gripes. He should lead me around, show me how great everything looks, show me the extra work he's thrown in, and go down my list of requests one by one, demonstrating that he met my needs and respects my wishes.

If he performed these "finalizing" customer service/marketing steps, he'd have my 100% recommendation. I'd rave about him to friends, pass out his business cards and even write up a testimonial for him. I'd offer to help him out with his advertising materials, in fact. We'll certainly have more painting jobs in the future, and I'd like to stay on good terms with him.

Every business needs to follow these same steps in order to build business and collect loyal customers. On the Web, you need to send customers follow-up emails that confirm what customers bought, what kind of deal you're giving them (on shipping, bonuses, etc.), and how you appreciate their business and would welcome any questions they may have. You need to offer them targeted cross-sell and up-sell items as they bid and shop. And, you need to quickly address their concerns as they come up. All this attention and service ensures that your customers refer you to others, leave positive feedback, and return to do more business with you.

Don't be like my painter. Pay attention to detail and your business will grow at a healthy pace.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, May 19, 2005

*Quality Writing/Editing Checklist (10 good ones)*

1. Establish the audience right away and keep focused on them
2. Forgo 'style copy' and use 'selling copy'
3. Break complex sentences into shorter, clearer sentences
4. Arouse the curiosity of the reader (rather than satisfy it)
5. Provide readers smooth transitions so they don't look up and get distracted from the piece
6. Write compelling benefits into heads and subheads
7. Support ideas with vivid examples
8. Use real facts and numbers (i.e. '57 satisfied customers' vs. 'dozens of satisfied customers')
9. Go back and weed out excessive adjectives
10. Provide a compelling call to action at the end of every piece (or prominently in an ad)

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

White Papers: Goals and Effective Use

In the world of technology, white papers are so very important. Yes, I know, they can be a major slog to deal with -- to produce, edit and read. . . and to get everybody to sign off on. However, they really are a valuable complement to traditional marketing.

White papers help companies introduce new business solutions and their underlying technologies. They bridge the gap between technical detail and the 40,000-foot level of generalized understanding and bottom line decision-making. Non-specialists can quickly learn the basics about subjects that cannot be easily explained in an elevator or on a data sheet. Specific issues and markets are often better addressed in white papers than in promotional materials, and companies that share their expertise without blatantly pitching products often engender more respect from prospects and industry analysts.

As an example, I recently wrote a white paper on XBRL (a financial reporting standard based on XML – eXtensible Markup Language) for Software AG. Consider the fact that XML has been both excessively hyped and incisively attacked by all kinds of highly qualified industry analysts. Our goal was to establish expertise, clear some of the smoke, explain some very technically challenging and abstract concepts, and outline some case studies about how XBRL is being used in a variety of financial industries. We were successful because we stuck to the facts, explained concepts in clear and simple English, and presented promotional information with complete candor. Actually, we kept the promotional information to a strict minimum.

Keep in mind that white papers are not academic studies that exist outside the realm of promotion. White papers are part of integrated marketing strategies that are designed to elicit buying action on the part of the reader. Think of the brochure or data sheet as the elevator pitch. All parties understand that they are promotional and biased. With complex technologies, brochures are designed to pique interest and offer proof of value. White papers establish expertise and competence while also serving to educate potential users on complex subjects.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Ogilvy Fast Facts

  • Ads that are designed to look like editorial pages gather far more readers than those that don’t.
  • Never put large amounts of white type on a black background (reverse). Some say never do it, period. Study after study has proven that it’s difficult to read.
  • Write to the self-interest of the reader rather than treating your audience as a large company or group of people.
  • Companies sometimes change ad agencies because one agency can purchase circulation at a slightly lower cost than another. They don’t realize that a copywriter who knows his craft (the experience and skill that induce people to read copy) can reach many times more readers than a copywriter who doesn’t.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Friday, May 13, 2005

Selling the Sizzle

When you "sell the sizzle instead of the steak," you're selling the dream portion of the benefit.

Think about a car commercial, for example. The car is the steak, but the mountains, the bikini-clad babes, the breathtaking views, and the rugged terrain positively sizzle. Most buyers will use their car to go to work and pick up the kids, but they'll rarely, if ever, conquer a Southwestern mesa with their new SUV. People buy based on fantasy and then hold on to the fantasy as a possibility as they haul kids around and sit in traffic.

If you think in terms of sizzle, you can get a sense of what else it is your customers want, and then move that to center stage. If you sell hip fashions, sell the dream of looking like J.Lo or Britney Spears. If you sell golf equipment, elicit the glory of adding up that low score at the 1989thth hole. If you sell porcelain dinnerware, create images of elegant dinner parties and timeless family feasts. Whatever it is you sell, there’s a way to connect to a buyer on a deeper level.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Economy of Words

Everybody says this... but it bears repeating. If you reduce the number of words your readers have to endure to get your message, you're way ahead of the game.

It worked for Hemingway, and it works for advertising and marketing writers. When you simplify, you not only communicate better, you make your readers think you're *smarter*. Stanford University did a study on this, in fact. Those who write with both shorter sentences and shorter words are perceived by their audiences as more intelligent than those who use more elaborate and sophisticated means. It sounds couner-intuitive, but it's true.

Write short and reap profits. That's communication.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Well-Crafted Benefit Messages Are All Around You

Sometimes I write this blog on a laptop in a courtyard near a Pilates studio. The studio has a benefit pitch written on the window. It’s a quote from Joseph H. Pilates himself: “In 10 sessions you feel better…. In 20 sessions you look better…. In 30 sessions you’ll have a whole new body.”

How about that! A promise, a dream, and a plan of action for achievement—all in one simple little sign on the window.

That's good marketing.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Monday, May 09, 2005

Authority, Scarcity and Closing Hard - Part II

9 Marketing Lessons from the Swim Instructor

Here's a short list of things the swimming instructor does right. See the last post for background on this discussion.

1. He develops scarcity around his product. It's tough to sign up. You have to go through a scheduler who says he's booked through 2006, and then you have to "weasel" your way in through those you know in the program already.

2. His advertising is word of mouth. When coupled with the scarcity angle, it makes him highly sought after. If you can sustain a business with word of mouth (or word of link) advertising, then you know your product or service is good.

3. He delivers on a guarantee. We didn't pay until we saw results.

4. He's a self-promoter. Tom wasn't afraid to tell those in attendance that he's good at what he does and is highly experienced.

5. He brags, but he backs it up. You can say you're the best if you are.

6. He meets needs and makes it clear to the buyer that he's doing just that.

7. He drops names and numbers as testimonials (75,000 taught; Columbia University)

8. He constantly works new leads and encourages customers to "refer" new business to him. It doesn't seem like he's doing it, but he is. It's somewhat subtle.

9. He makes it seem like he's doing you a favor by letting you into his program. (UC Berkeley, USC, Stanford, Harvard and the other Ivy Leagues are experts at this.)

If you emulate Tom and deliver on your promises, promote your product aggressively, and close new business hard, you'll rack up profits quickly.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Friday, May 06, 2005

Authority, Scarcity and Closing Hard

A Lesson In Promotion and Closing from My Child's Swim Instructor

My 2.5-year-old son just learned how to swim. He learned to swim a short length of the pool in two days, and then he swam a large length of the pool in four days. This post isn't supposed to be a brag session about my son. Instead, it's a brag session about his instructor and the way the guy delivers on his promises, promotes his product, and closes new referrals hard.

I may as well plug the guy right here. His name is Tom Bradbury (works in Southern California) and he's just dang good at what he does. He takes kids from 17 months of age on and puts them through a no-nonsense swimming workout that's designed to get them swimming fast and water-safe for life. He guarantees that your child will swim in two days. The first day is a bit edgy for the parents, because he just escorts the kids (in groups of two and three) into the pool with a gruff, "I'm the boss" style. Most of the kids quickly offer him respect and trust his every move. Their crying subsides rather quickly. Other pupils persist with their whining, but by the third day they too are finished and enjoy swimming around.

So that's how it works. The beauty of it, however, is the business at hand. Tom charges $300 for a 9-day program with 20-30 minute sessions each day. He works with 2-4 kids at a time, and he appears to be busy for about 3-4 hours a day, maybe more. Do the math. It's a nice little business. He's been doing this since 1957. He's also a child development specialist/speaker.

We heard about his swimming courses through a friend who got into a morning session. We tried to sign up, but his scheduling person said that he's booked through 2006. We went back to our friend and asked if there was a way to "weasel in." Tom told our friend that he had an opening in the noontime slot in two weeks. We showed up on that Monday, check in hand, ready to pay the master. He was in the pool and had a sign up that said he wouldn't take payment until Wednesday -- when he could show us that our son was actually swimming.

While training the new swimmers, Tom offered up various quips to the parents in attendance, for example:

- I know what I'm doing. I've been doing this since 1957.
- It's my job to get this child swimming and safe for life.
- Your child is my customer, not you. You're the conduit -- you showed up with the check.
- I've trained more than 75,000 children all over the world.
- I just spoke at Columbia University about child development.
- We're not blowing bubbles and playing patty cake here. You showed up with a need, and I'm meeting it.

Sounds abrasive, but he's really a nice guy. And you quickly understand that he's a pro. You immediately witness structured technique and immediate progress.

You also notice that he's ginning up new business as he guides the children around the pool. He talks to the parents in attendance occasionally, and they invariably mention friends that they'd like to refer to him. He hems and haws and then tells them how their friends can get around his scheduler. He tells them to sneak the pupil into one of his classes in a couple of weeks -- then he'll see what he can do.

I don't know if Tom is aware of all of the things he does right -- from marketing, promotion and influence perspectives (I suspect he does). My guess is that he's just learned his techniques and habits as a matter of business over the years. He's smart and has incorporated some very effective techniques that have been a part of the advertising and marketing canon for centuries.

Tomorrow I'll dissect some of the things he does right. This post is getting a little long. In the mean time, maybe you can beat me to the punch. Post your thoughts, and we can make this an interactive discussion.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, May 05, 2005

A Low Cost Marketing Approach for Tight Budgets

How to Complete Critical Marketing Projects During Economic Slowdowns

Many marketing departments have been straight jacketed due to the recent economic climate. Several of my clients have eliminated or replaced key people in marketing over the past two years, creating a severe interruption to the communication process with their customers. Product development and sales efforts have moved forward, but in many cases, marketing efforts ground to a halt.

It’s understandable, really. Sales dropped off, revenue declined, and budgets dried up. Writers and designers were let go, and depending on the severity of the crunch, so were marketing managers and even VPs. The companies were presented with some interesting dilemmas: If you’re not out there actually selling, with improved messaging, persuasive solution descriptions, and ongoing communication with your customer base, then you’re not getting any new results, like improved sales, refined strategies or breakthrough ideas.

The predicament affected all aspects of the selling process, including:
· lead generation
· trade show communications
· Web messaging
· email campaigns
· direct mail
· sales support collateral
· presentations

As a result, sales departments had to adopt new “guerilla warfare” strategies in order to proceed without updated support collateral. They were left to their own devices to generate leads and sent into the field with sub-standard briefcase tools.

Many companies looked on the bright side and saw the economic conditions as an opportunity to separate themselves from the pack, improve their bread and butter products, and pound their competition into submission. They still didn’t have a lot of revenue to support marketing projects, but they were able to complete key initiatives with a lean and mean approach to production, a re-emphasis on digital document delivery (rather than costly print) and the utilization of outside consultants, writers and designers.

Fortunately there’s a well-educated, technologically skilled open market of freelance professionals that offer these kinds of services. For a fraction of your usual training, HR and actual production costs, you can hire a freelancer on a piece-by-piece basis.
There are several benefits to hiring outside help:

· Most freelancers will always be around, honing their skills and industry expertise even when business is slow.
· Professionals that are dedicated to a specific industry are less likely to switch their focus and disappear. Young, full-time hires, just out of college or new to the industry, often switch careers and plans with much higher frequency.
· Costs are significantly lower than in-house production, especially when focusing on per-project production costs. Full time staff requires payroll and HR support, medical benefits, desk space and computer equipment. That adds up, especially when no projects are in the pipe and you can’t turn off the money spicket.
· You don’t need to retrain or start from scratch with seasoned professionals.
· Professionals dedicated to your particular industry have good visibility across the market. They already understand your competition, your markets and your customers.

The benefits of outsourcing make as much sense in good times as they do in bad. When things were booming, executives were hopping from company to company, leaving projects in the lurch and disrupting production. We all saw that in the late 90’s. Even low level production staff were making good dough and then heading off to travel or pursue some other avenue. During the downtrend, marketing management and production staffs were severely reduced. Outsourcing has proved invaluable in both scenarios.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Ogilvy Advertising Quick Facts

From Ogilvy On Advertising, one of the ad world's most famous texts.

  • Roughly six times as many people read the average article as the average advertisement.
  • Four times as many people read captions as read body copy…So, caption every photo if you want the opportunity to communicate and persuade.
  • Headlines get five times the readership of body copy.
  • Body copy is seldom read by more than 10 percent of the readers of a publication (ad, brochure, data sheet, web copy). Those 10 percent are the serious prospects you’re looking for.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Power of Reciprocation

Why Giving away Freebies Promotes Sales

Give away something original, artistic, informative or of recognizable value and your sales will increase. End of story.

This little tip has been working for centuries. It’s built into our societal code of ethics, our culture, and our collective behavioral systems. People reciprocate when they are given a gift. It doesn’t matter if they don’t like the gift or the giver. They feel an obligation to reciprocate.

You may say: ‘Hey, that’s not me. I don’t feel obligated to reciprocate.’ You may eat the cheese at the supermarket freebie station and pass on purchasing. You may receive personalized address labels from the American Heart Association, actually use them and then still toss the donation card into the garbage. It’s probably because you recognize and analyze the marketing concepts at work and second-guess your impulses.

Most people do reciprocate, though. On impulse, we’re trained to reciprocate and feel guilt and shame when we don’t live up to that contract. Giving back provides closure when we’ve been given to.

You can really see the power of the contract in action when you try to return or refuse a gift. Have you ever been given a gift and then decided to give it back after accepting it? You usually don’t give it back because you don’t want it or you can’t use it. You give it back because you don’t want to be bound by the reciprocation contract. You don’t want to be obligated to the exchange relationship. When you accept gifts, you accept the reciprocation obligation. This is where the phrase “much obliged” comes from.

Remember, gift giving in combination with originality increases sales conversions. Address labels and cheese samples are pretty worn concepts. Think creatively and offer value. Simple art, inside information and inspirational gifts will help your generosity stand out and your prospects remember this unclosed loop of debt.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Monday, May 02, 2005

Move Decisions Forward with Contrast

How Case Studies Leverage an Age-Old Marketing Concept

Customers act on drama, not subtlety. We rarely buy if a product promises to offer only marginal improvements in our lives. That applies to virtually everything we consume, from brochures and emails to gum and movies. Without some compelling motivation, we pass on reading the brochure, watching the demo or making the purchase.

Contrast is one of the most highly effective ways to communicate the benefits of change or action to people. It provides the emotional impetus for buying and, in the least, moves prospects closer to a decision.

Try the following experiment to get a feel for the impact of contrast on your sense of touch. Pour three buckets of water, one hot, one room temp and the other cold. Simultaneously put your separate hands into each of the hot and cold buckets, and then simultaneously dunk them into the room temp bucket. Trippy, isn’t it? The room temp water feels cold to the hot water hand, and it feels hot to the cold water one. Contrast shows you the profound impact of change relative to other situations.

By showing customers a contrasting experience with respect to your products or services, you gain the same kind of emotional impact. In terms of writing, this is often achieved with the case study or success story. The contrast of highly undesirable circumstances against a pie-in-the-sky solution provides readers with a grand vision of how the world could be better. First you elicit pain, and then you provide the refreshing, enlightening, ingenious solution. There’s some additional psychology at work with case studies, but the principle of contrast provides that fundamental kick. If you don’t sustain a clear line of contrast in the story, the punch and pay-off flattens out. You can even lose key ideas by allowing solution and pain points to co-mingle too much.

The measure of success you attain when writing a success story is directly related to how sincerely the writing identifies with the reader. If you’re not talking about the right pain points, for example, your credibility goes out the window. A good interview can help illuminate and bring forth these coveted pains from the interviewee. You can get a sense for the right kinds of issues to address by talking to customers and digging for the visceral reactions that accompany problems. On the flip side, you need to dig a little deeper than “we installed your product and solved the problem” to gather the contrasting emotional pay-off to the purchase. Ideally, responses like, “it made my life so easy,” “I looked like a hero,” or “we’re so relieved,” help color in the descriptive spaces between standard pay-offs like ROI and time saved.

If you want to research pain points and the uplifting emotions that accompany their solutions, it’s worth checking a few sources before concocting your interview questions. Read up on:

1. Your competitors’ case studies
2. Industry Forums
3. Analyst reports (Gartner, Meta, Yankee, IDC, etc.)

If you have a keen eye, you can notice contrast in marketing everywhere. For an “old school” example, check out your local haberdasher. The next time you go shopping for nice clothing, see if you can pick up on this concept in action. The sales people will usually steer you toward high dollar purchases first. For example if you’re there for a suit and a shirt (and you offer up that information), they’ll focus on the suit first so that the following shirt price seems relatively less expensive. The potential for further add-on sales is also excellent after the biggie purchase. It’s the hot and cold water test. Every perception is colored by the one that precedes it. Master these types of presentations in your collateral, and you’ll be way ahead of the game.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Sunday, May 01, 2005


How to market yourself when applying for jobs

You’re résumé is beautiful! You’ve spent countless hours perfecting both its content and appearance and now you’re ready to send it out to fulfill its primary duty--landing you an interview. Or several. And fast.

What you may not realize, however, is that the first interview is about to begin--the 10-second interview (also referred to as the "10-second glance" or the "email in-box review"). Unlike a traditional interview, the 10-second interview, often conducted by overworked, unimaginative appointees, doesn’t offer you the chance to respond to initial questions, biases, and concerns; it’s just them, your résumé, and that dreaded ‘delete’ key.

Here are some tips to help you make the right first impression:
1. GIVE IT A NAME. Hiring managers receive anywhere from 10 to 1,000 résumés a day by email so it’s understandable why they may get a little agitated after opening a dozen résumé files in a row entitled ‘resume1.doc’. Use a more specific naming convention for your attachments, incorporating your full name and the position to which you’re applying. Uniquely labeled files are easy to remember and (more importantly) easy to retrieve later on amongst a sea of ‘MyEngineeringRez.doc’ files.
2. REMEMBER WHERE YOU’RE FROM. Using your personal email account is fine, as long as your user name and domain are palatable in the professional world. It’s hard to take someone seriously when they’re sending from ‘coolsherry@yahoo’ or ‘porsche_man@hotmail.com’. Consider investing in a website, especially if you’re in the IT industry. That way you can use your own name as a domain, create user names specific to your field and position, *and* store your résumé online for easy reference.
3. MORE IS NOT NECESSARILY MERRIER. Keep your correspondence limited to the contact specified in the job description. Human Resources personnel, administrative assistants and other "screeners" may be offended if you try to go over their head. That said, if you’ve identified an employee with decision-making power through your own personal network, you should contact them directly. Just be sure to introduce yourself (in-person, on the phone, or by email) *before* you forward your résumé. Then ask for the proper application procedure (i.e. should anyone be copied on this email?).
4. TO ATTACH OR NOT TO ATTACH. Unless otherwise specified, you should always send an ASCII (text-only) résumé embedded in the body of your email along with an MS Word or Adobe Acrobat attachment. This way, the recipient will have the option to begin scanning your plain text résumé immediately or to open up the "reader-friendly" version. If you’re unclear as to what an ASCII résumé is, find out soon; they’re quickly becoming the standard for online résumé submission.
5. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Computer crashes can ruin anyone’s day, including the hiring manager who’s having trouble opening your gargantuan Photoshop file. Keep the size of your collective attachments down to 50Kb. This means no pictures (of yourself or anyone else), graphics, writing samples, or lengthy résumé addendums. Save these items for the interview or send them upon request only.
6. AN INTRODUCTION IS IN ORDER Always, without exception, include a cover letter embedded in the body of the email. This is your opportunity to introduce your résumé. Don’t pass it up. If you’ve written a cover letter that warrants more than a passing glance, attach it as a Word or Acrobat file alongside your résumé, and make sure it’s clearly labeled as a cover letter.
7. FOLLOW THEIR LEAD. All companies have a preferred way they like to process résumés, just as you have a preferred way you like to receive, open, and organize your mail. Keep their life simple and follow directions even if it means pasting that cumbersome 16-digit job code in the subject line *and* the body of your email. One last note: If their requests contradict any advice you’ve read or heard (including this article), go with what they say. Even if it makes absolutely no sense, you’ll get points for following along.
8. THE FINAL FIVE. Proofread, proofread, proofread. As is true with any marketing document, it’s essential that your email, cover letter, and résumé are flawless. Spend a final five minutes (at least!) reviewing your work, preferably after a short break from your computer to give your eyes a much needed rest.

Remember, you’re being interviewed from the minute you push that ‘send’ button on your email program. Your résumé--a faithful ally in your job search--and your other application materials should be answering the hiring managers’ questions *before* they ask them.
Good luck! May your phone ring and your in-box swell!

*Cliff Flamer, a former Silicon Valley recruiter, is the President of BrightSide Résumés, a certified résumé writing and consulting agency. Visit http://www.brightsideresumes.com for more help with revitalizing your job search, including an article on ASCII résumés and a free 12-point assessment of your existing résumé.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Popdex Citations