What can you say dear reader…
Both Facecrook and Floptus use full page press advertising to try to rebuild credibility.
Who do you trust – certainly not the digital channels that’s for sure…
Recently I was invited to tender to write the copy for a regional tourism website in NSW. The brief was strange to say the least.
A wireframe or site map were not available. This, as you would guess dear reader, makes it a tad difficult to estimate the amount of writing to be done for the job.
Sadly the brief included personas, though curiously no reference to whether they were right or left-handed. The personas are just a manufactured marketing label describing the typical prospect. You know what they’re like – they never use language used by humans. Whoever invented the term “persona” needs to be <fill in the blank>.
It gets better. The required outcomes for the copy were:
All of these have everything to do with how well the site is promoted. The copy will help deliver the results, but only when people get to the site. Nothing was given regarding promotion of the site.
A brand style guide was also supplied – and it spoke volumes. Here are four headlines from the guide for the STATIONERY section. Obviously editing or proofing are not big priorities:
It appeared both the agency that developed the style guide and the marketing people who commissioned and use it at the council, are standing still when it comes to detail. Not much care factor.
It reminded me of a seminar I once ran in Canberra. It was about direct marketing and copywriting. The majority of the delegates were from the Commonwealth, and the ACT public services.
The seminar was advertised to run from 9am to 5pm. But at 4pm, something strange started to happen. Most of the delegates started to check their watches and fidgeting in their seats. By 4.15pm they were packing their bags. At exactly 4.21pm they stood up to leave.
When I asked them what they were doing, they answered in unison “we’re not paid to work past 4.21pm, so we’re going home“. I argued that the seminar went til 5pm and the tickets had been paid for by their department for them to attend until 5pm. One assumes the tickets were bought on the understanding the delegates would attend the full day.
It was like I was living in a parallel universe speaking an alien language. These public servants could not comprehend “working” outside the hours they were being paid. It was a foreign concept.
Bugger the fact they might learn something to help their careers. They viewed attending a seminar, not as professional development, but just another way to spend time to get a pay packet – without a care about the details.
I did run until 5pm and those that stayed thanked me for doing so. But to say I was gobsmacked would be an understatement. Others might say I was naive.
Then today, as I was writing this article, I received this email. I get regular requests like this because I run a “content team” for an online publisher.
I’m writing from Destination Blah. Destination Blah is the lead government agency for the Blah tourism and major events sector. We have two key consumer websites – Blah.com and Visitblah.com.
I’m reaching out to see if you’re currently accepting guest posts on your site? We have a content team dedicated to providing accurate and thorough information about different areas of Blah, and we would love the opportunity to share our experiences with the area.
I look forward to hearing what you think, and discussing further.
Blah Digital Team
This is depressing in soo many ways:
1. The email starts in the personal (I’m writing) then moves to the plural (we have a content team…we would love…) then back to singular (I look forward…) It doesn’t build confidence in Blah’s content team’s writing skills.
2. The final sentence said ” I look forward to hearing …” but the signature file is not a person, it’s a phrase – Blah Digital Team.
3. The cardinal rule of email marketing is “teams never send emails” – individuals do. I’ve written about this before.
4. “…we would love the opportunity to share our experiences with the area.” Share your experiences with what area?
5. The only time you should ever use “reach out” is if you are singing with the Four Tops – “reach out I’ll be there”. You risk offending people when you try to “reach out” to them. It’s such a creepy phrase.
But back to the copywriting tender. I did submit a simple proposal based on the “brief”, though without much expectation. Even included at no extra cost, hiring a final year marketing degeree student from the town’s university, as part of my “Auld Head – Young Shoulders” programme. It gives undergraduates and graduates paid work experience, at excellent value for clients.
The date passed when the successful tenderer was announced. It took three days of chasing past the announcement date to get an answer. We didn’t get the business, but wasn’t surprised. Apparently the job was awarded to a PR agency.
Hope they can proofread…or maybe it’s not a required outcome?
Today’s Throwback Thursday features two campaigns promoting fine dining restaurants in the Sydney CBD. These campaigns would still work today, 21+ years after they originally ran…
Fine dining restaurants located in 5 star hotels, are quite different to your everyday cafes and restaurants located on the high street or in food lanes. They have their own peculiarities, one of which is their location inside a hotel without street-front exposure.
They’re also expensive. Most are frequented for one of four reasons:
Here are two case studies promoting fine dining restaurants to business executives:
The Astral Resturant was located in a separate top floor of the casino as part of The Endevour Room, the casino’s private gaming room. The casino is just too far to walk from the CBD for lunch – but it had free parking. The agency drew a map of streets west of George street down to Darling Harbour, with boundaries north and south in the CBD.
A list of senior executive contact details within the map boundaries was then rented and the names/job titles were qualified by phone. The mailpack is the size of a typical dinner plate and used the plate imagery within.
The mailpack had three incentives to visit and dine at The Astral:
So recipients could go for lunch or dinner, then get to gamble in the private VIP high roller room. Of course they probably weren’t aware that an entree cost about $75 and the minimum bet was $50, but the incentive worked its head off.
The mailing generated a response of more than 25% and all respondents were put on a database for future mail/email communication. (email was just starting in the business world)
The Galileo Restaurant is also located on the fringe of the CBD. The agency hired people to walk ten minutes from the restaurant towards the city centre and create a map of the catchment area. Staff walked the floors of each building and built a list of senior executives for each company in the catchment area. A list of senior executives in North Sydney was also rented to so a split-run test could be conducted.
The mailing is an A3 piece of parchment card stock, folded into thirds and sealed with a black tape. It unfolds into a food art poster. There is an invitation with an excellent incentive:
There is a reservation card to hand in when the respondent arrives at the restaurant. It captures the recipient’s name and their guest’s details. This doubled the size of the database and gave the restaurant a reference point for a ofllow-up mailing. This also generated more than 24% response rate. Local executives responded more than North Sydney executives, which was expected.
More importantly the staff offered the lunch guests a backroom tour of the hotel. While showing the guests around the inner sanctum, the hotel staff asked for the contact details of the person who books accommodation and events at the guest’s company. So the hotel built three databases – restaurant, accommodation and events.
Both these mailings would work today – the only difference is the reply device would most likely be a personalised landing page (PURL) supported by a confirmation email and/or SMS.
All this talk of fine dining is making me hungry. Where are last night’s leftovers?
Who’d call themselves a digital marketer these days? As the evidence continues to grow about the lies, deceit, appalling ROI, as well as agency bias towards digital at the expense of better performing channels, it’s become embarrassing to claim you only have digital marketing skills.
But we shouldn’t be surprised. Lone voices in the wilderness have been warning for more than a decade that the digital chooks would come home to roost. Though their voices have largely been ignored.
The real reason so much digital marketing fails is simple – the people working in it don’t have the right marketing skills.
The evidence is plain to see in the online advertising space. Most online ads are brand ads not direct response ads, yet the internet is a pure direct response channel.
Fact – the internet is primarily a direct response channel. Online marketing is just direct marketing, albeit at a much faster pace than analogue channels.
You wouldn’t run a brand ad in a newspaper or on TV, then measure its success using direct marketing metrics. So why run brand ads online and expect direct responses? But this is exactly what the brand marketers do every day.
FYI direct marketers are making money online – have been since day one. But they are not running brand advertising to do so. They have tested the different emerging channels and ads. They avoid those channels that don’t work. In most cases these are the social channels.
They rarely use programmatic buying. They deal direct with the publishers. This is how they’ve always worked with analogue channels, so they already have the expertise to succeed in online channels – evolution, not revolution.
But the marketers who dominate online advertising are mostly brand marketers and that digital peculiarity, the fake marketer. They were lured by the magic of its measurability.
Unlike direct marketers, they had no prior experience of direct response measurement. The “response drug” in the form of open-rates, click-through rates, time on page, downloads and (occasionally) sales, hooked them like teenagers having their first drink. This measurability stuff was the secret marketing hooch they craved.
And just because measurability was new to them, they assumed it was new to the world.
So they rushed headlong into the online advertising world completely ill-equipped for success. To cover up this lack of expertise, they created new buzzwords to describe alleged new marketing tactics – despite these tactics being centuries-old.
To help position themselves, they used virtue signals, to manufacture FOMO. Direct marketing was called old-fashioned, implying it was irrelevant. Some even made the stupid claim that DM no longer exists (really, some fools stated such crap). All it did was reflect their lack of marketing expertise.
For those who might be confused, direct marketing (or direct response advertising) is any marketing activity whereby you communicate directly to individual customers and prospects, or they respond directly to you, in any media channel. The outcome of the communication is that there is always a measured exchange, of either dollars or data, or both.
For example, the customer provides their credit card and in return they get a case of wine, or they provide their contact details, in exchange for an email newsletter.
Branding for branding’s sake, is a secondary priority with a direct response message.
But here’s the rub with direct marketing…
You are trying to get prospects who may or may not know your brand, to do what you want them to do, when you want them to do it – take immediate action and respond.
That’s hard shit and requires some specialist skills, the least of which is the ability to write persuasively.
Yet the majority of people working in digital marketing have no direct marketing expertise. If they did, they wouldn’t have invented fake vanity metrics such as likes, and shares, to justify their credibility.
The brand and fake marketers have misunderstood the digital channels
Direct response is definitely not the way to sell fast moving consumer goods, in single unit sales. Why it took P&G until last year, at a cost of $Billions, to realise this fact, is a mystery.
The only reason to use direct response for packaged goods, is to sell a continuity programme or subscription. For example, that digital darling, the Dollar Shaver Club is a direct marketer and uses direct response advertising to sell subscriptions. Both analogue and digital wine clubs also sell wine by subscription.
The process is known as “negative-option” and I’ve written about it before. The marketer delivers products on a regular basis, say monthly, until the customer says “stop”. This is a way of marketing that is more than 100 years old and goes back to the days of mail-order. It’s not new just because we have an internet.
The more they failed the more they created spreadsheets of bullshit
These “digital marketers” tried to justify the poor branding results with vanity metrics. They even created jargon such as “customer engagement” to make the metrics appear genuine. When the vanity metrics failed, they just increased their tracking to create even more spreadsheets of bullshit. They attempted to confuse the world with useless data to convince us they were legitimate.
Sorry folks, but data without dollars is just doo-doo.
The tracking eventually became stalking as they desperately tried to get sales, from ads that didn’t sell, to people who didn’t want to buy. Have you ever seen a grocer chase a customer out the door shouting offers at them, just because the customer picked up a lemon then put it back without buying? Welcome to the world of remarketing – placing cigarette burns on your customers long after they’ve left you.
Read Bob Hoffman’s brilliant Badmen for the appalling truth of the tracking, stalking and the fake world of online metrics.
Playing in the fringes
Any direct marketer will tell you, when you are marketing to a mass audience and chasing a response, you are always playing in the fringes. You don’t know when people are going to buy. That’s why you need to give them as much information as possible, plus some incentive, to help them make a decision in your favour.
Here’s an example. If a product is only bought once-a-year, then on average, in any single week, only 2% of the annual market is buying – 50 weeks PA x 2% = 100%.
This means if you deliver say, a direct response insurance ad to 100 people (and you don’t know their renewal date) then on a good day, you could expect at best maybe 2 people to buy – assuming you capture 100% of the 2% of people in the market that week. You’ll be partying like its 1999 just because you made two sales. It’s pretty obvious to see why trying to sell single bottles of shampoo via digital channels won’t be profitable.
Given this market reality and the complete lack of involvement in online ads by website visitors, marketers should not be surprised that online ads rarely get one tenth of sweet FA worth of clicks. Any direct marketer worth their salt could have told them these ads wouldn’t pay off.
If you’re a mass marketer, in most situations, you’re generally better off not running ads online.
If you really want to do brand advertising, change the way you buy media and dominate web pages for long periods to create awareness. Do not simply run an online brand ad and measure it by impressions or click-through rates. Measure it as you would the ads in other channels. And never rate vanity metrics such as likes or shares or customer engagement. You’ll just waste your money.
Once you build your database you can then encourage your customers and prospects to download your app. Then you can gradually reduce how much you spend with online advertising, as more of your audience migrates to your app. You’ll still need to advertise though – read Byron Sharp’s “How Brands Grow” to learn why.
To get your customers and prospects to switch to your app, you’ll obviously need an incentive.
Where are those steak knives?
Edited since posting on 5th February:
Longtime readers of this missive, will be aware I post annually about the longest hour of the year – the Super Bowl.
It’s one of the marketing industry’s favourite events, apart from award shows. The accompanying statistics are always interesting too. The tonnes of chicken wings and hot dogs consumed, along with lakes of beer guzzled, always makes fascinating reading.
But there is one statistic I find most interesting. It’s the percentage of repeat purchase by marketers that advertised the previous year. In simple terms, here are the numbers:
2017 – 54 advertisers
2018 – 42 advertisers
Two things to note. The first is the drop in number of brands advertising. The number fell from 54 in 2017 to 42 in 2018. This is a decline of roughly 22%.
Secondly, is the number of repeat advertisers from 2017 to 2018. Only 17 brands backed up again in 2018. This equates to roughly 31% of 2017’s advertisers.
Or in other words, almost 70% of last year’s advertisers, did not return this year.
I’m not sure about you dear reader, but if I was selling a media opportunity that only occurred once a year, and only 30% of my customers returned for a repeat purchase, I’d be a tad concerned. But that’s just me.
I suppose if they sell all the space at an increasing rate, who cares if customers don’t come back? There’s always another sucker ready to believe the sales pitch.
Though I also get a kick (excuse the football pun) out of the fact that marketers use good old-fashioned public relations to promote their Superbowl ads. For those who’ve only worked in marketing for five minutes, that’s what you may know as earned media. Go figure, a marketer uses publicity to promote its ads. What’s old is new again, again.
I’ve also just learned of another alarming statistic:
64% of Super Bowl viewers are unable to connect a memorable ad to the brand it was advertising.
Research consultancy Communicus has been tracking and trying to measure the success of Super Bowl advertising for a number of years. Their latest research revealed 64% of Super Bowl viewers are unable to connect a memorable ad to the brand it was advertising.
It also revealed less than 20% of Super Bowl ads produce significant impact on the brand.
If this is correct, the obvious conclusion for advertising in the Superbowl, is that entertainment alone is not enough. When measuring the sucess of their Super Bowl advertising, marketers should focus on mental availability. Byron Sharp popularised the concept of mental availability. It is “the probability that a buyer will notice, recognise and/or think of a brand in buying situations.”
I won’t go into it any further here, but check out Byron Sharp’s book How Brands Grow for more insights.
I’m also confident that again this year there will be the usual over-hyping of how many people watched the game on mobile devices. It will be more people than 2017. And am sure the numbers will be almost statistically insignificant in the scheme of things. Television has no reason to be concerned.
Besides, there are dangers to watching a small screen when going to the loo at half-time, after sucking back all those Budweisers…
And just because he is always spot-on accurate with his cartoon interpretations, here are a few of The Marketoonist’s classics about Super Bowl advertising:
Gotta go, I can hear the delivery van backing up to drop off the 100-kilo family pack of buffalo wings and hot dogs…
I’ve recently returned from a trip to the USA, where among other things, my family and I rafted and hiked in the Grand Canyon for a week.
I first did the trip 30 years ago and I have to admit, the 10 mile hike to get up and out of the Canyon, was a tad more brutal this time round.
Within a couple of days of returning I received an email survey from OARS, the company with which we rafted – I highly recommend them by the way. I dutifully completed the survey and thought nothing more of it.
But yesterday, I received this automated marketing message.
It’s a hand-written thank-you card, personally signed by all the OARS crew who looked after us on our rafting adventure. It is automatically sent by the crew to each customer, after they complete their trip.
My kids thought it was wonderful to hear from them and read every word on the card. It immediately brought back some fabulous memories and we all started talking about the different characters on the trip. The kids also asked if they could send cards back to each of the crew too.
The card now sits in a prominent place in our kitchen, for all to see.
It reminded me of a local hairdresser in my suburb. She is a very smart businesswoman who regularly wins small business awards and drives a very flash Mercedes sports car.
Twice a year she gets each of her staff to send hand-written cards to their clients. Each card includes a personal comment based on what the staff knows about their client. The owner calls these cards “wow” cards, because when the clients get them, the first thing they say is “wow“. And the clients always talk about the cards when they return to the salon.
How many of your clients go “wow” when they receive your automated marketing messages? I suspect very few.
So if you’re wasting money on expensive marketing automation software to try and fake authenticity, maybe you should spend less on computers and more on your customers and staff?
Why not send genuine messages of thanks to the people who pay your salary? Cause I seriously doubt your customers ever get as excited by fake personalised computer-generated emails sent from a team, as they do to real messages.
Who’d have thought hey – old-fashioned automated mail, packs more “wow” than customised automated content delivered as pixels?
Gotta go now – am off to the newsagent to buy some postcards for the kids to send…
And you don’t become a CMO by hanging around the marketing department either. It’s like those people who claim to be copywriters just because they can use a keyboard.
To really stand out from the crowd and get ahead of your marketing peers, you need to invest in yourself.
Furnish your brain with knowledge from those who’ve already succeeded (and failed occasionally). Tap into the expertise of those who’ve tasted blood. Learn from the experts.
High achievers don’t use hope as a strategy when it comes to their success. And they don’t fall for the fake thought leadership and definitive guides published by marketing wannabes and cyber-hustlers.
Which brings me to this unique opportunity in Australia. International legend of marketing, Drayton Bird, is doing his final ever events in Sydney and Melbourne.
Every marketer on the planet would kill to achieve a fraction of Drayton’s success**. And it will be a long time before any other marketer comes close to earning the same genuine industry respect. If he was any younger he’d be called a unicorn!
So if you want better results from your marketing, or to improve your career, I suggest you take the opportunity to spend 3 hours at Drayton’s final gig- Cocktails with Drayton.
You won’t get another chance to meet, chat and listen to Drayton in Australia ever again. In his 90 minute presentation he’ll share his best tips, ideas and marketing secrets, compiled during a career spanning four decades, including 20 years of online marketing.
He’s also giving away 3 of his books FREE, including the 338-page international best-seller “How to write sales letters and emails that sell“.
So to quote a well known Aussie “Do yourself a favour” and book your tickets today. They are only $125, or if you book 5 or more people, they’re just $100 each.
That’s a damn cheap investment to get priceless information to boost your career and your marketing results.
Book Melbourne here: 15th November (5.30 – 8.30pm) Rydges Melbourne
Book Sydney here: 21st November (5.30 – 8.30pm) Rydges North Sydney
More information at www.draytonslasthurrah.com
See you there…
**P.S. Here’s just a snippet of Drayton’s resume:
How’s yours compare?
With much fanfare, the marketing clerks at Adidas announced they are no longer going to advertise on TV, as their target market is young and allegedly doesn’t watch TV. Their Aussie brethren repeated that announcement again this week.
It seems Adidas will only use digital channels for marketing to these young folk – completely missing the larger audience of active sportspeople still playing football, netball, jogging and much more, well into their 50’s. These people also have more money than younger people and will spend it on all sorts of branded goods.
I declare a hand here. I was once paid a few shekels to play football and eventually played for 40 years, so have bought a shed-load of boots, running shoes and clothing. I am a qualified football coach and assistant rugby referee. I coached juniors until two years ago, advising parents on what boots to buy.
I attend my kid’s rugby, basketball and hockey games, participating in team management. So in summary, I am a parent of, and involved with, the young sportspeople Adidas want to reach – not to mention a lifetime sports gear customer and person who showered regularly in male sporting sheds. Though that’s not a vision you need right now.
I’ve also worked on creating ads for sports drinks and sporting goods retailers, so may have some semblance of an idea about the market. Hence my humble opinion via the following points:
Young folk do watch large screen TV, often with an iThingo in hand. They love to watch sport on TV, as well as on smaller devices. So they do see TV advertising.
The lads play FIFA on PS4 which is where they see some of the coloured footwear of different players. This may have some influence on their choices. They also attend professional sport as fans, so they see what their heroes are wearing. Interestingly, sport brands rarely have pop-up stores selling stuff at these matches – where are the brand activation folk?
Generally though, their footwear decision is influenced by the following three things:
The delusion that the only way to reach young sportspeople is via digital channels, is farcical. One has to wonder, what’s in the sports kool-aid at Adidas?
My kids (and I) have worn Adidas, Nike, Tiger, Puma and Asics. They are not loyal to any single brand. I was never brand loyal either, though admittedly I did prefer the Adidas Predator boot in my twilight years.
This younger generation is responsible for the single biggest consumer protest in history. Around 700 million of them have downloaded ad blocking software to their digital devices, specifially so they don’t get any (Adidas) advertising. So am not sure who the marketers at Adidas believe will see their digital ads?
Obviously, to overcome the issue of digital advertising not working, Adidas will create content and brand experiences for their customers. But they will need to spend money to promote the promotion, so to speak. They cannot rely on social media or WOM.
I suspect Adidas will awaken from its folly in good time. Maybe they should speak with P&G to learn how they lost $Billions in sales, when they moved away from TV advertising to Facebook advertising? P&G returned to TV BTW.
I’m banking on Adidas moving to a “footpath graffiti” strategy. They’ll hire street artists to paint the footpaths of the cities with Adidas branding – digitally activated of course. This will allow them to capture the attention of all those young people walking around staring at their feet and the ground, while on their mobile phones.
When said punter steps on an Adidas brand image, a RFID message will be activated on their mobile, instantly offering branded content -not selling anything, because as we all know, selling in the digital world is evil. This will make the punter’s life more fabulous, so they will fall in love with the Adidas brand. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Gotta run – where are my Dunlop Volleys…
connect to me on the run: https://www.linkedin.com/in/malcolmauld/
Research released this week by ThinkTV claimed “people working for advertising agencies are out of touch, childless, share-housing, farmers’ market-loving, workaholic gym junkies, who overestimate the impact of social media and the internet on normal Australians.”
Me thinks it’s a pretty accurate persona, to use the modern vernacular.
Of course, the consequence of the frame of reference from which agency types view the world, is how it influences their creative and media decisions in quite biased and dangerous ways.
I was on the end of this type of thinking when talking with a marketer in charge of selling “enterprise solutions” for a telco. In layman’s terms this means she flogs large phone systems to big companies through consultative selling. The reason she was asking my advice was the fact her sales were tanking and she couldn’t get leads from her digital marketing in LinkedIn and banner ads on other sites. True dear reader.
I was showing her some interactive 3D mail examples from US telcos that worked really well to generate qualified leads, particularly when supported with telephone follow-up. She stared at me bug-eyed and said “mail and telephone for B2B marketing are just not on my radar, everything’s digital these days and the agency would never go for it“.
I was taken aback, because as she spoke, I saw something flapping outside her window.
The real problem with this advertising agency parallel universe is that it’s not new. The industry has lived in it for decades and not learned from its mistakes. I remember a survey in the 1980’s that demonstrated how out of touch the people who worked in advertising agencies really were.
One revelation was that agency people assumed everyone leased cars and bought their groceries on their fuel card in Shell Shops and 7/Eleven stores. Why go to Woolies?
I also had a marketing assistant at that time, who eventually became a partner in an ad agency (must have been the training). She lived in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and abjectly refused to travel west of George Street in the city. “the only time I go west is to get to the polo and then someone drives me“, she proudly exclaimed.
So here is the latest parallel universe of Adland – it goes part of the way to explaining the massive amounts of money being wasted in digital marketing channels.
The key is as follows – view the charts and weep:
This article in yesterday’s press let the facts speak for themselves. For example, when asked to estimate how many people watch Netflix weekly, Adland said 80%. Yet apparently only 28% of “normal” people use Netflix weekly.
Gotta go now and do my weekly mentoring of young agency talent. Where’s my Tardis?
As you know dear reader I like to keep abreast of the latest digital disruptions and the amazing “new rules” of marketing they have introduced. How will the old rules survive?
So I thought I’d share the most recent ads that launched Airtasker and Uber Eats in my suburb. Here’s an earlier post on similar disruption technology.
The brands are obviously on to something, as they used identically shaped die-cut cards. These disruptive cards included a discount to encourage people to trial the services. Such innovation.
The Uber Eats card was in my letterbox, along with at least a dozen non-disrupting brands. So now I can use my phone to order cooked food delivered to my home – unbelievable.
While the Airtasker card was shoved in my hand at the shops – I think I was on a customer journey at the time. Let me recall – I had my backpack, water bottle, GPS map, crampons (just in case any climbing was required – who knows where a customer journey will take you?) and my sunblock. Yes, I remember now. I was on a customer journey to buy some bread when a random stuck out their hand and gave me the card.
So there you have it folks – amazing insights into the new ways of marketing by the digital disrupters. Fascinating stuff indeed.
Have to go now. Am going on a customer journey to get some milk. Where are my hiking boots and personas?