Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Alito, King and the State of the Union crowded me off the sched for tomorrow. (Wed)....

The Today Show segment got bumped again because of big news today and tomorrow...

I'll post again when I get the word about the new time slot/day.

I swear it really did happen.. a crew was here and everything... ;-)

Should air Thurs or Fri..

Monday, January 30, 2006

'Today Show' Appearance Time Rescheduled for Wednesday at 7:16 a.m.

The air time got shifted - it's now this Wednesday morning - Feb 1st.

More specifically, at 7:16 a.m.

NBC’s Today Show Visits Blogger, Author, Marketing Consultant

An NBC News crew was at our house yesterday. An interview with me will be on the Today Show tomorrow, Tuesday - Jan 31st (with family/home footage). The producer said it will probably be in the 7am to 8am segment.

The topic is "people who don't read (physical) newspapers." They got enough footage to make me either look like a whiz nerd or a total idiot. We'll see how the editing process goes.

I tried to insert "ebay author" and "ebay marketing" into my answers as much as possible. I hope some of that makes it into the piece -- or that they just identify me as a marketing expert. I think they're going to paint us as an All-American family -- just consumers and everyday folks. We'll see.

Please tune in or Tivo, and be sure to pass the word along to others who might be interested.

My Best -
Phil

Phil Dunn - (949) 515-3510
Marketing Writer, Author
http://www.qualitywriter.com
http://ebay-marketing.blogspot.com
http://www.qualitywriter.com/blog/
http://www.allbusiness.com/blog/eBayEdge/11217/

P.S. Amazon.com knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing"(McGraw-Hill, 2005). Walmart.com sells if for 36% off!

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Even Madison Avenue Ad Firms Blow It From Time to Time

If you've read posts here before, you've no doubt noticed that I spend a little bit of time on design concepts like font choice, layout structure, which colors to use when, and so forth (check the archives on the right to browse topics - lower right, scroll down). I'm usually referring to the Colin Wheildon/David Ogilvy book on the topic, Type & Layout: Are You Communicating or Just Making Pretty Shapes?

You'd think that with all the resources out there -- the great books and web sites and newsletters dedicated to smart/effective design concepts -- mistakes wouldn't make it into national publications. Let alone by some of the biggest companies in America.

AT&T blew it big time in The New York Daily News recently. Bob Bly, copywriter and marketing guru, blogged about it here.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

How to Design Web Marketing Pages for Usability and Readability

This is an interesting read about fonts and web usability/readability. If you want people to read your ads and product descriptions comfortably and stick with what you're saying, you need to consider some of the ideas in this article. There are a lot of factors to consider, but you can vastly improve the experience by making just a few simple choices.

In search of: The Best Online Reading Experience

P.S. Amazon.com knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing"(McGraw-Hill, 2005). Walmart.com sells if for 36% off!

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

New Site Offers Insight into Customer Minds

There’s a new Web site that gathers stories about customer service nightmares, legal fine print, marketing deception, and broken promises. If you want to understand what kinds of customer service and marketing practices drive customers and prospects crazy, take a look.

I’m thinking that this could be a really good resource for getting into the consumer mind-set. Obviously, there will be some garden variety cranks showing up with comedy routines, a la “what’s the deal with airplane food.” However, I suspect that they’ll be gathering some good stories that honestly uncover the real nonsense that goes at some companies.

While you’re checking out the hogwash site, take a look at the ads that run on their pages. Pretty savvy marketing if I don’t say so myself. The site is sort of a blog that produces stories about how customers are getting hosed (and the content is provided by readers, BTW). Then they turn around and promote advertisers whose sole “brand” or marketing concept is to provide service that counters those trends. The example I’m seeing today is their ad for SunRocket, “The No Gotcha Phone Company.” This is a nice little business model. We’ll see if it works.

P.S. Amazon.com knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). Walmart.com sells if for 36% off!

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Marketing, Like Most Things, Is About Overcoming Ego

When you write marketing copy (brochures, email campaigns, direct mail, etc.), there’s a golden rule that applies: You must orient the copy toward the customer, and cast your ego and pitch aside for a moment. In other words, avoid “me, our and it,” as in my company, my product, our greatness, and position your talk in term of “you, your needs, your fears and your benefits.”

This is especially important in lead paragraphs. And, if you can write fairly well, you can continue it throughout the copy and make all your points and features directly relevant to your audience.

Acknowledge the difficulty, pain or dream of the shopper. Treat the exchange as a one-on-one encounter and talk about that person directly (even though your listing will be seen by thousands). Write as if you’re writing an email to a friend. Ask questions. Acknowledge feelings and emotions – as if you were Oprah or Barbara Walters empathizing and connecting with people.

Here are a couple examples of wrong and right approaches (culled from eBay listings):

Wrong:
“You are bidding on a Cartier ladies tank francaise watch. It’s solid 18K yellow gold set with original Cartier top quality round cut diamonds on sides of face. It has a deployment style bracelet, and comes with two extra links.”

Fortunately there are lots of these kinds of descriptions on eBay. I say fortunately, because that means you can do a little bit better and look like a dream in comparison.

Right:
“These gorgeous and incredibly brilliant earrings are sure to please any taste! They are specially handcrafted to let the sparkle of the Ideal cut Diamonds light your face with inner glow. Be envied!!”

This set-up will work well with features and specs that follow. The lead makes a one-to-one connection with the reader, bringing up those intangible benefits that jewelry provides, and then they go on to offer all the details.

The thing is, almost everyone else selling jewelry is writing it like the first example. The net effect is that shoppers think they’re shopping apples to apples. But the fact is, you can’t possibly compare jewelry in an apples to apples manner. People need to understand what specifications mean what – as in, what benefit do I get out of a certain color rating on a diamond? If you can explain that, then you’re a big step ahead of the competition.

The trick is to get your self out of the way. Stop presenting items as if they’re part of your ego, and present them as if they look gorgeous on the person trying them on (pretend). This doesn’t work if you’re selling hard drives, of course.. kidding. It does, actually. The same rules apply. Get out of the way. Explain specs in terms of benefits (negative or positive), and allow the shopper to start to feel good about the product on their own terms.

P.S. Amazon.com knocked 32% off the cover price of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). Walmart.com sells if for 36% off!

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

My Noon Field Trip to Staples – and Some Priceless Marketing Lessons

I went to Staples today to pick up some odd-sized envelopes and accidentally got schooled in marketing 101 and new color printer technology.

The first tip off was a huge, colorful Hewlett-Packard van parked in the lot. I walked in the door, and a couple of young ladies asked me if I’d like to see their printers. They had a little demo area set up. In keeping with my character, I glanced away and game them the “oh gosh, I’m just so busy” shrug.

But as I picked out my envelopes, I realized – maybe I could learn something from these demo reps. They’re schooled by HP. How bad could they be?

[I don’t plug anything but my book in this blog – so don’t take the following as any kind of pitch. Everything I write about I’ve tried and like. I don’t get paid by anyone but my publisher and my own clients (for actual writing work). This is just part of the story.]

I asked the young gals if they would give me a demo. I told them that I write blogs for marketing folks, and that maybe there would be interest in color printers for small promo and flyer print runs. They were excited, because they understand the small biz market and they know that they’re competing with low-run print houses and online printers like VistaPrint and iPrint (both services which I use and recommend, BTW).

They showed me a couple of nice printers. I forgot what the third one was. It was beefier, faster and more expensive then the others. The printing was nice. The multifunction (fax, copier, printer) one did photos, too – comparable to what you’d get at the drug store.

Anyway – the point is, this is an option. If you include flyers and promos in the boxes you ship, you should consider this option and compare it to the rates you get from your printer (and factor in the flexibility that’s available with an in-house machine). HP has a nifty calculator that helps you estimate per-page printing costs based on how much of the page you cover.

Please let me know if you’ve considered this. I haven’t, so I’m a bit clueless. I suspect it’s only an option for people that print in low volume but want to provide superior promo and customer service (for high-ticket items that include nice photos). You’d have to be graphically inclined, too.

The second part of this story is about the marketing methods used by the ladies at the demo table.

They demonstrated the machines and features well. They could have asked more about my interests or the interests of my blog readers, but no biggie. The impressive part was that they gave me a free marketing toolkit that integrates with MS office. It’s nice software for simply and quickly creating everything from brochures to post cards. I’m guessing that you could even export/print to a PDF (I use a program called PrimoPDF for this) and then send it to the printer.

The thing is – it was a gift. And I probably would have been hard pressed to write anything about my experience if I hadn’t received it. That’s how gifts work. You end up feeling obligated (thus the phrase “much obliged”). I’ve posted on this obligation and gifting psychological phenomenon before.

They also gave me a 64M thumb drive. It had the logo of another company on it (a logo design company), which made it a cross promotion. I’ve talked about cross-promos before, too. (There’s lots more on that topic in the 7 Steps book.) So their costs were probably pretty low, because they were shared with the other company. I wrote about LogoYes before. This is a similar outfit called LogoWorks.

Gifts, gifts, gifts. I was very happy. And I’ve got a good feeling about HP and their printers. Good marketing. Good lesson in the real world of Staples at noon.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Do Product Guarantees Work?

Don’t think that by offering money-back guarantees you’ll be sending out refunds on a daily basis. If you’ve described your products honestly and accurately, requests for refunds won’t be common. And the trust that such guarantees inspire will generate much more money than what you may lose with the occasional refund.

From chapter 6 of "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, 2005). This book is contextually positioned for eBay sellers, but much of the contents applies to general market business people, as well.

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