5 Copywriter Lessons From AC/DC

July 16, 2008 at 5:41 am | Posted in Business, Communication, Decision making, Marketing, Online marketing, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments
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Courtesy of t.klick via Flickr

Courtesy of t.klick via Flickr

For many of us, AC/DC evokes memories of homecoming dance soundtracks and warm summer nights in a teenager’s Camaro. However, the bad schoolboys of rock have some valuable lessons to impart to copywriters as well.

1: “I’m just making my play. Don’t try to push your luck, just get out of my way…I’m back, back in black”

“A degree in English means you’ll be a high school teacher the rest of your life.” “I guess you don’t ever want to earn enough money to support your family.”

These very statements were told to me as I was contemplating a writing career. And they are bold-faced lies.

If your guidance counselor or girl/boyfriend or parents are trying to dissuade you from the career in writing you want, it is your responsibility to prove them wrong. Make your play in the world and then go back and tell them all about it.

2: “She wanted no applause, just another course…the earth was quaking, my mind was aching…and you shook me all night long”

There are generally two types of writers portrayed on television. You either have the Ginsberg-esque beatnik or the Mad Men type of highball swilling hack.

Like so many other things, the real world is not like that. Being a copywriter is fun, but plan to be on the roller coaster.

Copywriting is not a 9 to 5 job. It takes a lot of effort. You might actually sweat. It is mental activity that takes a physical toll. And it is truly spectacular. But be prepared to work all night long if you have to.

3: “I shoot from the hip. I was born with a stiff, a stiff upper lip”

You don’t want to go off half-cocked (groan), but as with any creative endeavor, you are going to face criticism of your work. Sometimes you will agree with the subjective assessment, and sometimes you won’t.

The best copywriters absorb the critique, compartmentalize it into the professional (not personal) part of their brains, and use it next time if it has any value. (Hint: it usually does.)

However, do not let any evaluation to permanently scar your confidence. Besides a good brain, a stiff upper lip is the most useful part of a writer’s anatomy.

Continue Reading 5 Copywriter Lessons From AC/DC…

Make Money Writing A Blog – Guaranteed!

July 14, 2008 at 6:50 am | Posted in Advertising, Blogging, Business, Communication, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 9 Comments
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Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Please forgive the link-bait title. But I do have a guaranteed way for you to make money from your blog. (Do I sound like a huckster yet? Stay with me.)

Gather ’round, kiddies, because this could change your life. And this secret is free.

The secret to making money through your blog is: Be Amazing.

Surprised? The inconvenient truth of the internet is that it works the same way as the real world. In order to make money, you have to work hard and be good at what you do. The pyramid schemes are bunk and no one gets rich quick.

Believe me? You should. And if you do, I have just freed you from the shackles of mediocrity. Can I hear an AMEN?!

Mitch Joel runs a blog and a weekly podcast, both entitled Six Pixels of Separation. Here’s what he says in SPOS #108:

“Everybody wants to know: How do you make money in this stuff [roughly, the online channel]? …It was really cool to see David [Usher] and Michael McCardy [from EMI] really take a different stance. And they were like, ‘You know what, guys? If you create something really amazing, whether its music…or products or services, people are gonna notice. These channels are gonna enable you to spread these messages far and wide. And because they will, you’re going to get more sales than you could ever imagine possible.'”

In other words, don’t blame the microphone if you have nothing to say. Mitch goes on to explain his reaction:

Continue Reading Make Money Writing A Blog – Guaranteed!…

Is Marketing Work Making Us Stupid?

July 11, 2008 at 6:27 am | Posted in Books, Business, Communication, General, Gladwell, Malcolm - Blink, Marketing, Online marketing, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 11 Comments
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Photo curtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Photo courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

I would like to do something a little different on this lovely Friday. Instead of presenting an argument or commenting on a piece of news, I would like to throw out a question to you. (Yes, you!) I need your help, so dip your figurative quills in the ink well and read on.

Here’s something you probably don’t know about me: I have a terrible memory. That’s what people tell me anyway. I forget birthdays and I was never good at remembering phone numbers (ah, the days before cell phones).

I’m the type of person who walks into a store and, when they come out, can’t figure out which direction they came from. (Malls were especially difficult as I recall.) It’s not because I’m stupid – it’s because I’m analyzing the advertisement they posted in the window, the customer service of the employees, and whether the discount rate of the sale was more or less than was offered online.

And then I noticed a passage in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink (page 186 for those of you following along at home). Gladwell describes giving a group of his Manhattan friends the Pepsi challenge – figure out which drink is Coke and which is Pepsi while blindfolded. And yet none of his urban friends, pinkies presumably high in the air, could tell the difference. “They may drink a lot of cola, but they don’t ever really think about colas.”

But marketers must think deeply about these experiences. In whatever field you work, do you have an extraordinary sensitivity? Do you have a Spidey-sense about messaging?

And this leads back to my original problem with memory. I’m working on the theory that marketers focus so much on both the big-picture issues (think branding) and small details (think bounce rate) that they may lose some of the information in the middle. Is this the case for you? Or is this just a bunch of baloney?

Continue Reading Is Marketing Work Making Us Stupid?…

Book Review: Toy Box Leadership

July 8, 2008 at 7:13 am | Posted in Books, Business, Communication, General, Hunter, Ron Jr. and Michael Waddell - Toy Box Leadershi, Leadership, Marketing, Online marketing, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 5 Comments
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TBL1

I was recently asked by co-author Michael Waddell to review Toy Box Leadership. This new book is definitely worth picking up and I will explain why. (This post contains no affiliate links and I received no compensation of any kind except for a free review copy of the book.)

The premise of the book by Waddell and Ron Hunter, Jr., is that childhood toys taught or exemplified many of the skills necessary to lead well. Some examples are direct correlations (a rocking horse describing lots of work without actually achieving anything) and others are more figurative (LEGOs describing relationships that start with connecting).

Seriously? Toys And Leadership?

The connection between childhood toys and leadership lesson fluctuates from poignant to cheesy to fondly familiar. But the important thing to remember is that this is not the point. The connection between the toy and the particular lesson is secondary to your ability to absorb and recall the idea.

The toys simply provide an easily recognized and easily remembered framework of leadership strategy. The metaphors are certainly stronger than, say, a purple cow or square apple.

Let’s Just Say It

We need to own up to a basic fact: every book on leadership will contain some similar fundamental truths. Communicating goals to your employees, for instance, will universally be a positive thing while emotional rages around the office will be regarded as uncouth. Stating this universality is not a knock on this or any other business book – it simply is.

If we admit to some similarity, then one of the differentiators becomes the book’s ability to be memorable and to find a place in the reader’s life. This is ultimately what makes Toy Box Leadership successful. Toys fit with the intended audience (Lite-Brites rather than Xbox 360s) and flow smoothly into the each particular subject on leadership.

Continue Reading Book Review: Toy Box Leadership…

Are You Outsourcing Your Best Asset?

July 2, 2008 at 6:39 am | Posted in Communication, Companies, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments
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Are you outsourcing the most valuable aspect of your business? Or worse yet, not paying attention to it at all?

Technology has been replacing humans at work for many years. And recently the remaining humans in American and elsewhere have been replaced by other humans in areas that pay lower wages. The result has been a significant deemphasis in the value of human capital in business in America.

Here’s The Equation

Web 2.0 amplifies the voices of dissatisfied consumers. And yet, most companies have been subtracting the number of humans period (technology) or humans housed at the corporate office (out-sourcing). Finally, another increasing trend is the face-to-face contact consumers expect from companies (ComcastCares, anyone?).

Increase in personal interaction – humans equipped to handle that interaction + web 2.0 vehicles to spread word of dissatisfaction = potential major headache for companies.

The Good News

Some companies, however, understand the increasing importance of the customer experience. H&R Block set up a Second Life avatar to answer tax questions during scheduled meeting times, in addition to their efforts on Twitter and Facebook. They understood that they were required to go to where their customers were, instead of expecting customers to come to them.

This outreach isn’t easy though. The Social Media podcast spoke with Paula Drum, VP of Marketing for H&R Block about this outreach:

“The other big surprise is how much time you have to put in from a human capital standpoint. And we knew that going in, that the trade-off between buying media is going to be the human capital side, but really understanding that human capital side of it and thinking about it from [the perspective that] ‘if this is successful, how do you scale it to make sure you can still deliver the same experience.'”

Continue Reading Are You Outsourcing Your Best Asset?…

The Seven Deadly Sins Of Social Media

July 1, 2008 at 5:52 am | Posted in Advertising, Blogging, Communication, Companies, Facebook, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 18 Comments
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Social media like Facebook, Flickr, and Delicious has been around for a couple of years now and companies are starting to dip a tentative toe into the water. While such courage should be applauded, serious missteps have occurred that embarrass the offending company.

And it is not the courageous steps that have been embarrassing, but the sheer level of assholery with which companies have partaken their social media experiments. Because social media is all about sharing, collaboration, and communication, it is little surprise that folks expressed outrage at the heavy-handed or downright immoral dealings of the companies outlined below.

In this post, I will list five of the deadly sins as outlined by Joseph Jaffe’s speech at the ANA’s Integrated Media Conference and then offer two additional sins of my own.

From Joseph Jaffe:

  • Faking (Sprint): The phone company released ads in which the CEO offered an email address, giving the opportunity for communication. Instead, a corporate shill auto-responder emails back.
  • Manipulating (Sony): The maker of the PSP created a fake blog and attempted to manipulate the conversation. They ended up garnering a deserved “golden poop” award.
  • Controlling (T-Mobile): The phone company sent cease and desist letters to a popular blog for using a color they claim to have trademarked. The blogosphere revolted and T-mobile missed a chance to meaningfully engage with its customers.
  • Dominating (Target): A blogger was ignored by the retail giant because they felt she didn’t have the clout of traditional media outlets. After the blogger gained more and more attention, Target claimed that their continued silence was based on a lack of adequate staff.
  • Avoiding (Starbucks): The coffee giant already felt a squeeze from its consumer base, but avoided a fan’s desire to visit every store was passed on. The only response to the fan was one of suspicion.

In these cases, the sin is not that the company was just stupid (though there’s no shortage of that). The sin is that they failed to engage at a pivotal moment with an active community that supported them with their checkbooks. They refused to join the conversation and felt the ramifications.

Here are my two nominations to round out the deadly sins of social media:

Continue Reading The Seven Deadly Sins Of Social Media…

ROI Of Social Media For Gen Y Audiences (And How To Convince Your Boss)

June 25, 2008 at 6:41 am | Posted in Blogging, Books, Communication, Facebook, Forrester, Generations, Li, Charlene and Josh Bernoff - Groundswell: Winning in, Marketing, MySpace, Net gens, Online marketing, ROI, Second Life, Social Media, Tweens, Twitter, User generated content, Web 2.0 | 5 Comments
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Generation Y – roughly those aged 13-29 – are among the strongest consumers and influencers. And while social media like Facebook, delicious, and Flickr have garnered media attention, many businesses are still wary of dipping a toe in the social media water.

I argue that we can gauge return on investment (or influence) for Gen Y by looking at their buying power and online behavior and therefore that it is imperative that (most) businesses participate in social media. Plus, I will give you the research to back up these assertions so you can prove it to your boss.

Flashback: Ohio

Growing up in pre-internet Ohio, I spent a good chunk of my allowance and lawn-mowing money on comic books at the local pharmacy. If they were sold out of my usual books, I was SOL until the following month. Scarcity of goods required that I go where they were (and quickly!) or I would miss out.

Fast-Forward: Today

Now, post-internet, these stories sound quaint. Given a bank account, any kid can get any comic book from anywhere in the world. So what does this have to do with social media and Generation Y?: proximity to resources.

Today, consumers expect businesses to come to them. Long gone are the lazy summer bike rides to the pharmacy – today, young people expect to be able to spend their money just about anywhere. And where are they? Online, in general, and on social media, specifically.

Maybe this shift isn’t a surprise to you, but let me prove it with research (easily printable for timid bosses or humbugs).

Continue Reading ROI Of Social Media For Gen Y Audiences (And How To Convince Your Boss)…

Pitching To Bloggers Done Wrong

June 18, 2008 at 6:59 am | Posted in Blogging, Communication, Email, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 4 Comments
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Last week, I gave an example of the correct way to pitch to bloggers. In this post, I will show the wrong way to pitch to bloggers – learn from this person’s mistakes and do not repeat them.

Bees and Honey

I believe in positive posting – attracting more bees with honey and all that. Anyone can be smarmy and abusive, but if you are going to do a hit piece, I think you need to have a good reason and do your research.

The thing that really grinds my gears is that I laid out a perfect plan for pitching on Thursday. So when I got this email – not 24 hours later – I was shocked at how poorly virtually every element was handled. Click the picture to the right to read the email.

I thought I was clear the first time at the way to successfully pitch bloggers. But I guess some folks can only learn from “Do Not” instructions.

  • No introduction: If she was able to get my email address, she certainly could have gotten my name.
  • Wrong information: My “Clearcast Digital Media blog”? Does she mean “Comcast” or was she referring to these guys? Who knows? But clearly she does not know me.
  • Marketese: If she’d read my white paper, she would have known that marketese is death. But I’m given a full serving in this email, from start to finish.
  • Bad writing: In addition to the marketese, she’s inconsistent with her italics, occasionally writes the authors name’s in capital letters FOR NO APPARENT REASON, and also capitalizes words haphazardly. Here’s a tip: If you are writing to a blogger who writes about writing, know how to write. ‘Nuff said.
  • Continue Reading Pitching To Bloggers Done Wrong…

The First Tweet-Up

June 17, 2008 at 6:18 am | Posted in Blogging, General, Marketing, Online marketing, Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments
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I went to my first tweet-up on Thursday and had a blast. The Colonel from the Chicago Tribune hosted the event and it had a surprisingly large turn-out. I’d like to tell you about my experience and give yet another reason you social media types and marketers need to be poking a toe into the twitter water.

A What?

A tweet-up is a meet-up conceived on Twitter and/or bringing together folks who follow each other through the service. While everyone there used Twitter, the social media capabilities spread far and wide, including Stumblers, Yelpers, and good ol’ bloggers.

Two Chicago Traditions – Talking and Drinking

I didn’t know anyone there, but it was not difficult to discern that the chatty, type-A personalities in the front were my people. @BobbiDigital said it best – “I just looked for the people on their iPhones.” I met some nice folks, including @kvetchingeditor, @BrentDPayne, RodRakic, and @LenKendall.

There weren’t a lot of strictly marketing people there (I didn’t have a chance to say hello to local marketing celebrity @Armano), but it was still useful to hear how other people were using social media. Maybe it was especially advantageous that they didn’t use it for their day job.

Continue Reading The First Tweet-Up…

Writing Content In A Web 2.0 World

June 4, 2008 at 5:39 am | Posted in Blogging, Communication, Facebook, General, Marketing, MySpace, Online marketing, Search, Second Life, SEM, SEO, Social Media, User generated content, Web 2.0, White paper | 11 Comments
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You’ve heard all the hype about Web 2.0, but what does it all mean? How will it affect your business?

How do you communicate with potential readers and customers in this new era?

My free white paper, Writing Content in a Web 2.0 World, answers these questions and:

  • What exactly is Web 2.0?
  • How should your writing style change?
  • How has online interaction changed and what will this mean for the future of business?
  • What is the secret new currency in this market?

Download the white paper here: Writing Content in a Web 2.0 World

(The white paper is in PDF format. Download the latest version from Adobe here.)

And of course, please join the conversation! Leave comments here with your thoughts and suggestions for this or future white papers.

I considered requiring you to subscribe to my enewsletter to download the white paper. After all, if you were interested in this subject, it’s a sure bet you will be interested in my other content.

However, I’ve decided that this requirement does not fit well with my overall strategy or the community environment found in a Web 2.0 world.

Rather, I would just ask that you consider subscribing via email or RSS. Thanks!

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