Julie Guest Direct Response Copywriter, Marketing Strategist, Best Selling Author

Brand

Critical Marketing Lessons From A Famous Southern Farm Stand

Not long ago I stumbled on a little farm stand which is extremely well known here in the south. It’s not exactly a farm stand - more like a farm “boutique store” full of locally sourced meat, produce and their very famous tomato pies. I had heard great things about this farm stand. People would drive for 50 or more miles just to buy their home-made pies. So when I finally made it through their front door, I had high expectations. Boy was I wrong. I could barely get through the front door due to all the “stuff” that was crammed inside the store. Between 7 ft high book shelves, piles of knick knacks and rows of freezers, the place reminded me much more of a garage sale meets appliance clearance store. It was overwhelming.

The owner’s voice cheerily rang out over the chaos “let me know if I can help you find anything”. I definitely needed some help finding grass fed beef. She expertly weaved her way through the clutter, opened one of the freezer doors and pointed happily to the extensive selection of grass fed beef. “Where y’all from?” she asked before retiring to her rocking chair, her blonde braids bobbing up and down as she swung backwards and forwards… “you just have to try this tomato pie, it’s on the house”.

We got to talking and it turns out that this little farm stand was about to get a major overhaul. They had outgrown the space and were moving into a gorgeous custom built building with a commercial kitchen, cafe and of course her “farm stand”. In two years they had outgrown their current space. She was overwhelmed and had no idea had to upscale their existing operation. It was clear her love was serving customers and knowing each of her suppliers down to the minutest detail. What she knew she was out of her depth on was the marketing side of things - creating an inviting retail space that is conducive to people whipping their wallets out, rather than feeling dazed and confused as I had. She had no website and had never run an ad in her life. But outside her farm stand were at least 20 different hand painted signs that advertised all she sold. Despite her lack of marketing this woman was to be heartily congratulated - she had built a very successful business. The only thing was now she was going to have to pivot - to upscale her operations with no idea how to go about it.

Breaking things down into their simplest form, I gave her a quick run-down of the Client Stampede Marketing Formula

1) Find your target market

2) Craft a message that resonates with your target market, speaks to them on their own terms and cuts through the noise of annoying advertising

3) Create an iconic BRAND for your business - this is far more than a logo or visual identity and extends right through to the customer experience. It’s a living breathing thing that is always evolving. Think of Apple. You have the same impression of the company whether you’re opening your new iPhone ir walking into one of their stores. The key to creating an iconic brand is to ensure that no matter how someone interacts with your business - whether its’s online, or speaking to you on the phone or walking through your store, or buying a tomato pie - the experience is consistent with your brand values.

4) Package up your products and services in creative ways that meet the needs of your target market (this helps to avoid price comparison shopping)

5) Create sales ascension with your pricing - make it easy for a customer to give you the first dollar, and have creative ways for them to invest at higher levels on a regular basis (think weekly home shopping service instead of just buying a single pie).

6) Create your marketing toolbox and get your message out there! These are all the things people typically leap straight into when they think of advertising a business - but if you haven’t done your homework on steps 1-5 then you’re playing blind archery with your marketing budget.

tomato-pie-mrketing-tips

7) Create an extraordinary customer experience. This step the farm stand had nailed down. My first trip in I got given a complimentary tomato pie. Not a tiny pie - a full size pie. Guess what one of their best selling items are? Yes you guessed it - tomato pie.

Marketing a business does feel completely overwhelming. Whether you’re marketing a farm stand or a $100 million tech company - the core principles of HOW to market your business are the same. What differs - is the execution!



A Great Marketing Lesson from Chanel

chanel_experience.jpg

Last week, I was close to running out of foundation and knew there was no way I’d be able to get to Nordstrom’s before it was gone.  As an avid online shopper, I have no idea why I insist on going to a department store to buy my makeup, but it’s just something I’ve always done. I Googled the exact color and name of my foundation (which is made by Chanel) to see which online stores might be offering the best deals. After a 30-second turbo search I gave up trying to read through all the fine print and just placed an order on Chanel’s main website. At checkout, a surprise gift was offered — what a nice touch! “Which of our samples would you like to try?”  I placed the order and then promptly forgot all about my purchase. That is, until two days later when a chic-looking white box appeared at my doorstep bearing the iconic Chanel logo. They had upgraded my ground shipping at no extra charge. Things just got better from there. Inside the white box was another box — the kind that might contain a $1500 pair of sunglasses or a  $10,000 watch. For an instant I thought someone had sent me a gift — surely Chanel wouldn’t go to this much trouble for a $60 foundation? Oh yes, they would. Inside the box, my foundation was beautifully gift-wrapped. A black silk-like drawstring purse held my three complimentary samples (they certainly weren’t tossed into the box as an afterthought). And my receipt was neatly and tastefully tucked inside a black cardstock envelope, carefully placed underneath the gift box. Chanel had indeed succeeded at creating an extraordinary experience for me, the client. Even for something as insignificant as a purchase of foundation. And that’s what makes them Chanel — one of the most premier and highly sought-after luxury brands in the world. Do you consider your business a “luxury” experience? If you want to command higher prices and attract the most affluent patients in your business, then creating an extraordinary experience for your clients is critical. While I see many business owners who have worked hard to deliver their clients a wonderful experience (eg the Porsche dealership who picks up your car for service and drops it back afterwards) nowadays you have to go the extra mile. It's expected. Just what constitutes the extra mile? Every year the bar gets raised higher as consumers demand more (if you want a great resource on this read the Middle Class Millionaire - it is excellent.) For example we used to be impressed with cars that had GPS's in them. Now that's all but standard. How about the grocery store who offers to have your groceries carried out, or even delivered, (eyes roll). So yesterday.

The point is this. If like Chanel, you can deliver an extraordinary experience at all price points in your business (and not just the premium ones), your clients will never go anywhere else. It';s time to get thinking about what would make an extraordinary experience in your business!  

 

A Clinical Marketing Lesson From a Smoking Doctor and Maya Angelou

Smoking Doctors

Smoking Doctors

Take a look at this great old vintage ad I found on the internet. My how times have changed — and advertising along with it!

But some things haven’t changed in advertising, namely, the same basic human desires need to be fulfilled today just as much as they did 50 or even 150 years ago: better health, improved appearance, praise from others, social advancement…

The great late writer Maya Angelou, who passed away this week, had this great quote to say which applies to your business marketing as much as it does to our lives:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Really effective marketing evokes feeling. It’s not just about getting your name out there, but getting your prospective clients or customers to feel something that then propels them to take action — a desire to look better for their daughter’s wedding, a desire NOT to look like their mother did when she was their age.

Would this cigarette ad have evoked feeling back in the 50s when it ran? Absolutely. Actually it was one of Camel’s most successful ad campaigns. It’s a statement about class, about sophistication. It speaks to that innermost desire we all have to win other people’s approval. It evokes feeling.

The worst way to market your business is to use marketing that doesn’t evoke feeling, that’s simply fact-based. People don’t buy based on facts. We buy based on feelings and then justify with facts (if you don’t believe me then just look at all the luxury cars on the road — cars get us from A to B — if we all bought based on facts we’d likely all be driving inexpensive Hondas). People won’t choose your business necessarily because your qualifications are superior to your colleagues. They’ll certainly use your qualifications as a justification once they’ve made a decision, but they’re far more likely to decide based on the softer stuff — how you come across on your website and whether you seem like a nice person who genuinely cares.

The worst kind of marketing you can use in your business is the kind that makes a person feel nothing. It’s boring. It’s dry. It’s…well, easy to ignore.

On your drive home tonight and over the weekend, start paying attention to the ads you see, and think about what kind of emotion they evoke. But most especially, pay attention to the things that you buy and ask yourself, “What really made me buy it?” You might be surprised at the answer.

How a Painted Moose Can Help Your Marketing (Seriously)

Last week I was consulting with a client in Salt Lake City. I love the mountains, and I especially love mountain towns (I spent a lot of time in Squaw Valley, CA, as a student). I’ve never been to Park City, so after the consult day with my client was wrapped up, I grabbed my rental car and took a sunset drive through the winding canyon toward Kimball Junction and Park City. The area of Park City is deceptively big – big enough to have a Wal-Mart, all the major fast food stores and its own shopping mall. But it’s old town Park City that has all the charm (and hosts the Sundance Film Festival every year). Right before I got to Main Street I saw on my right hand side something that absolutely demanded my attention. It refused to be ignored.

Here’s what it was: a statue of a moose. OK, nothing remarkable about that, especially in these parts.

But here’s what made it stand out – it was painted GOLD and had an assortment of hand-painted dogs on it – some wearing bandanas, some not. Right next to a red fire hydrant. Outside a busy store.

Huh? As a dog lover, an art lover and a marketing nut I had to pull over to take a closer look. The store the moose belonged to had won. In an extremely colorful, frenetically busy mountain town with eye candy everywhere, this moose stuck out like a sore thumb. And now, almost a week later I’m writing about it to you in this blog post.

How a Painted Mooose can Help Your Marketing

How a Painted Mooose can Help Your Marketing

Your marketing has to be just like this moose. Different. Eye-catching. Innovative. It’s about taking something familiar and breathing new life into it.

Let’s say you’re a physician who specializes in aesthetic medicine and you’re doing a promotion for non-invasive body contouring, like Venus Freeze or Cool Sculpting. You don’t have to look very far in your own market to see that your competition is running practically the exact same ads as you are. The ones, most likely that the company who invented the technology provided you with. Sure, those stock ads are better than nothing, but the problem is that people have seen them all before. It’s just a plain looking moose sculpture, and it makes you blend perfectly into your surroundings.

Your marketing has to stand out. Don’t look to your competition to copy their ads. Look outside your profession at completely different industries for examples of great marketing. Great marketing is...great marketing, no matter where you see it. What stopped you in your tracks? Who have you bought from recently? How can you use these ideas to market your business?

How to Super Charge Your Marketing By Going Against the Grain

"Brand is the 'f' word of marketing. People swear by it, no one quite understands its significance and everybody would like to think they do it more often than they do" - Mark di Soma, Audacity Group In marketing your business, if you’re like most solopreneurs, you’ve probably been lead to believe that the key to successful marketing is building a strong brand. The success of companies like Coca Cola, Louis Vuitton, Adidas, Starbucks, and Wal-Mart, branding giants of our time make this a very logical assumption to make.  Unfortunately this assumption is lethal for small business owners.

What is brand advertising anyway?

In its simplest form, brand advertising is image-based advertising.

You push an image, a tagline, a slogan out to the marketplace in the belief it will attract new people to your business.

Your competitive edge is building a stronger brand presence in your marketplace than the guy down the street.

The only problem with small business owners doing brand advertising is that you don’t have the mega million dollar marketing budget that’s required to even make a “brand splash" in your market place.  Nor do you likely have the 10, 15 or 25 years it takes to really build brand awareness.

The job of your marketing is actually very simple. It has only one objective. Get you sales today.

Brand advertising is an extremely inefficient and deadly slow way for you to make sales now. It places you at the mercy of your buyers buying schedule – they’ll only buy from you when they’re good and ready (if they ever are, assuming of course they remember you and your brand!).

Instead, the far more powerful and cost efficient way to advertise is direct response advertising.  Which is the exact opposite of brand advertising.  Direct response advertising compels your audience to take immediate action, today, now.  It’s the kind of advertising that’s been around for hundreds of years–ever since the traveling medicine man rolled his wagon into town and handed out flyers offering a special discount on his miracle cure for baldness elixir.

By using direct response advertising you also remove the guess work from your advertising because you know, down to the penny, how effective an ad is and how much money it brought you.  With brand advertising there is no way to measure effectiveness except by guessing (by the way, the lack of accountability is why ad agencies love brand advertising so much!).

So how do you stop brand advertising and switch to direct response?

I have a 32 point checklist I use when writing direct response ad copy, but here are two of the most important elements to include in a direct response ad.

1) Include a compelling offer in every piece of ad copy you write.

What carrot can you offer prospects that is so enticing, so bold, and so darn delicious that it will cause them to leap out of their La-Z-Boy arm chair, kick the cat out of the way, grab their coat, brave a sub zero snow storm, and drive with bald tires to go buy the thing you’re selling?

Remember, your offer shouldn’t be good.  It should be great.  Something like "Place an order by Noon and get free shipping," qualifies only as good because it's likely that your competitors offer the same thing!

2)  Use a strong headline that arouses curiosity and answers that age old marketing question: "What’s in it for me?"

Using great headlines in your ad are everything! One of the best headlines of all time is “A little mistake that cost a farmer $3,000 a year."  Imagine you were a farmer back in the 1930s and your annual income was only $9,000.  Wouldn’t this be an ad you’d want to read?

Direct response marketing is your own secret weapon to turbo charge your response rates, make more money and attract prospects to you like bees to a honey pot.  It’s a much smarter way to run a business than marketing by chasing your prospects and hoping that when they feel ready to buy, they’ll somehow remember your brand.

The Worst Marketing Mistake You Can Make In Your Business

When I made the switch from escaping my corporate job to becoming a freelance copywriter, one of the things I was most excited about was building my brand. I’d had come up with a snappy name for my business (Blazing Copy), created a cool tagline and I’d hired someone to create a logo.  Actually I agonized over the logo because I wanted it to be just perfect... it was after all going to be my brand which was what was going to attract clients to me.

Right?

Maybe you’ve thought the same thing in your business.  All you need to do to get more clients is to get your brand “out there” more.  Build a stronger, better brand than your competition so that way, anytime anyone thinks of needing what you sell – they think of you.

Sounds perfect in theory.  This is, after all, what big businesses all do to get big.  They advertise and build their brand.

Unfortunately as a marketing strategy for Solopreneurs, this brand-driven marketing strategy is fatally flawed, and is responsible for more business failures than any other one thing.

I’m about to shave about 10 years off your marketing learning curve and teach you something that I never learned getting a degree in marketing….

Using brand advertising or “position type” advertising is the single worst way for Solopreneurs to market their business.  It's ridiculously costly, inefficient and most importantly – IT DOESN’T WORK.

Why? Many reasons actually.  Here are the main ones:

1)    Building brand recognition is a marketing strategy used by big BIG companies who have hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on their advertising.  It's taken companies like Apple, Coca Cola, Louis Vuitton billions of dollars to build brand recognition and 30 - 100 years to get any kind of brand recognition.  You don’t have the luxury of having either millions of dollars or 30 years to start making real sales.

2)    Brand advertising is an extremely inefficient way to market a business which doesn’t necessarily result in an increase in sales.  It doesn’t even work for a lot of the BIG companies who do it (Ford was spending more than 20 million advertising on American Idol, meantime it was hemorrhaging red ink; Circuit City had a recognizable brand, so did Borders and Linens n’ Things).

3)    Brand advertising is NOT trackable.  If you’re putting brand ads out there, you have NO idea if they’re actually driving people to your business.  If they are working you don’t know, so how can you replicate the ads and get more out there?  And if they’re not working, then you’ve no idea either.  You might as well be flushing your hard earned marketing dollars down the toilet.  (Side note: this is why ad agencies are such BIG fans of brand advertising – as it's not trackable they can’t be held accountable for results either!  They’ll take the credit if sales go up (even though this is may very well be caused by something else, and they’ll point the finger elsewhere when their brand campaigns bomb).

4)    Brand advertising puts you at the mercy of your target market.  THEY get to decide when they’ll buy from you, which might be a month from now.  It might be a year from now.  This doesn’t help you any – you’ve got bills to pay, a family to feed and a business to run now.  You need sales NOW.  Today.

So let’s recap why doing brand based marketing for your business is a really bad idea.

Using your brand to try and market you business is a bad idea because it takes millions of dollars to make any impact in your market, it’s an extremely slow way to build a business (brand building takes decades), it's like playing blind archery with your marketing money because you’ve no idea if those ads are even working, and it doesn’t necessarily result in an increase in sales.  It also gives all the power to your target market, they get to decide when they’ll buy from you, instead of you being able to call the shots and compel them to take action, immediately.

So how then should you market your business?

Simply with one objective: to market in a way that enables you to make sales TODAY.  Right now.  Use marketing that is trackable so you can immediately measure ROI and know if it's a smart use of your marketing budget, AND market in such a way that compels your prospects to take immediate action.

This is what’s known as Direct Response Marketing.  It’s the ugly sister of advertising because it’s ridiculously effective, 100% trackable and it's only measure of effectiveness is how much money it brings in. Not how pretty, cool or creative the ad was.

Imagine that.  Marketing that really works to attract new clients and gets them to take action when you want them to act (and not when they feel like it).

Next week I’ll share with you inside secrets as to how you can quickly and easily start transforming all your marketing into Direct Response marketing.

Stay tuned!

How a Cow Shaped Rubber Band Sparked a Fashion Revolution and Made a Fortune

This month, while trawling for interesting information to share with you in Marketing Dynamite, I stumbled on an interesting article in Inc magazine called “How I Did It.” It was about a guy named Robert Croak who in 2006 started a national fashion frenzy by introducing colorful shaped rubber bands called Silly Bandz. At their peak in 2008, his little company was selling more than 1 million packs of Silly Bandz a week and people were driving to its offices from Alabama, Indiana, and Kentucky because his phone lines were jammed up with orders. In Inc, Croak talks about being so overwhelmed with shipments at one stage that the company ran an ad on Facebook saying:  “if anyone was looking for work, they’d hire them on the spot – with a line down the street, and a full warehouse, they started packing shipments on tables on the sidewalk.”  Croak goes on to say “Silly Bandz put me in a category of wealth that most people have never imagined, and everybody wants to look at me and say ‘that guy got lucky,’ when in reality it took me 20 years to get where I am today.”

I tell you this story because all too often we assume that an overnight success is just that – luck, when rarely luck has anything to do with it. It’s the culmination of invisible years of multiple failures, bulldog tenacity, sweat, massive risk, a steadfast goal and belief in yourself.

The Kardashian "Mother Lode" - How Chris Jenner Created The Kardashian Juggernaut

Love 'em or hate 'em, reality tv stars, The Kardashians and Kardashian Inc. are branding powerhouses to be reckoned with. Last year they earned $65 million – more than Tom Cruise, Sandra Bullock and Angelina Jolie combined. This year their estimated earnings are set to top more than $100 million. From fragrances and paid endorsements to designer duds and a “destination Kardashian” at the Mirage in Las Vegas (which houses every product the family endorses). “We’ll take Kim in a bikini and put her on a beach towel,” mother Kris Jenner says. “So you would be laying on a Kardashian at the pool.” The hotel itself will be a Kardashian shrine: room keys will bear their image, each of the 4,338 rooms will house Kardashian-branded water in the minibars, Kim’s fragrance on the vanity; oh, and Kim and the girls will be vamping on a dozen of the new slot machines. Really? You can lay on a Kardashian by the poolside and this is their mom speaking? (Actually it was Kris’s idea).

The mother and “Momager” behind the Kardashian powerhouse, Kris Jenner, may be many things – bossy, controlling, nosy, obsessed with personal lubricant to name a few, but when it comes to monetizing her family’s reality TV fame in inventive and controversial ways, the woman can’t be beat.

And, just like the inventor of Silly Bandz, the success she’s created for her family hasn’t been overnight either – it’s been many, many years in the making. A former airline hostess, she started back in the early 90s selling exercise equipment via an informercial she wrote and produced with gold medalist hubby Bruce Jenner.......... (continued below).

Kris met husband Jenner on a blind date - at the time he was doing  a little motivational speaking, a few public appearances but mostly playing a whole lot of golf.  Kris recognized an opportunity when she saw one and began overseeing his speaking engagements and management deals.

By 1994, Kris and Bruce launched a line of stair-climbing fitness equipment via a self-produced infomercial, “Super Fit With Bruce Jenner,” in which they both appeared. The ad was a success, running 2,000 times a month in 17 countries, however in 1995 and 1997,Kris added 2 more daughters to the clan and her show biz career took a 10-year hiatus.

In February of 2007, inspired by the Success of Sharon Osbourne and the Ozzy Osbourne Show, Kris independently produced a presentation tape of a reality show following her family and had begun shopping it to different production companies.  It was about this time that Kim Kardashian sat her Mom down and told her that a sex tape she'd made with her boyfriend had been sold to an adult film distributor and was going on sale at the end of the month.  If there was ever a time to turn lemons into lemonade, this was it.  Kris hired a spin doctor to handle the public outcry. Vivid, the adult film distributor ended up having to pay Kim a reported $5 million for the sex tape and the tape itself went on to become one of Vivid’s best-selling DVDs in 10 years — putting the Kardashians squarely on the map. In 2006 Kris signed a deal with Ryan Seacrest Productions to follow her family on a new reality tv series - Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

“My job", said Kris "is trying to take my kids’ 15 minutes and turn it into 30.”

Looks like she hit the ball out of the park on that one ...

The $3.5 Million Dollar Violin and the Washington Subway

On a cold January morning in 2007 at L’Enfant Plaza subway station at exactly 7:51 am  - the height of rush hour - an ordinary looking man wearing a pair of jeans and a baseball cap nonchalantly took out his $3.5 million Stradivarius violin and started to play.  The man was Joshua Bell – one of the world’s finest violin players -  a man who regularly performs to sold out crowds at the world’s most prestigious venues. Unbeknownst to any of the commuters, Bell was taking part in an undercover study conducted by The Washington Post.

Bell started his subway concert performance with Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Unaccompanied Violin – one of the most challenging musical pieces ever composed for violin.  Over the next 43 minutes his concert continued – but this time not to the thunderous applause he was so accustomed to receiving.  In fact, of the 1097 who scurried past him that morning, hardly anyone stopped.  One man listened for a couple of minutes, a few kids stared, and one woman who recognized him gaped in utter disbelief.

Now the commuters may have been in too much of a hurry to listen to Bell, but clearly if there’d been news cameras there, or if a few more people had known this man was a virtuoso and huddled around him as an attentive mini-crowd, then at least a few more would have stopped to listen.

But think about how Joshua Bell appeared on the subway.  He was wearing jeans and a baseball cap.  No black tie and no stage for him to stand on.  To everyone passing by, Bell looked like an ordinary, run-of-the-mill street performer.  Even though Bell didn’t sound like a mediocre violinist, he sure looked like one.

Without realizing it – the DC commuters had made the assumption that because he looked like an ordinary street performer, and because he was playing in a subway station, his talent as a violinist was nothing to write home about.

You see, as much as many of us would like to believe differently, image really does matter.  Especially when it comes to business.  The way we dress, the car we drive, the companies we do business with, the places we vacation to, even the pen that we write with – can have an enormous impact about how our customers perceive us, which will ultimately dictate how much money we can charge and how big our paychecks are.  These so-called “little things” aren’t little at all.  They’re actually ginormous.  Remember, when it comes to business – it’s not how you perceive yourself that counts – it’s how your customers perceive you.

Have a great weekend!

Why Doing Brand Advertising/Traditional Advertising is Certain Death for Small Business Owners

One of the biggest mistakes a small business can make in their marketing is to copy the way big businesses advertise. I remember when I started my first business at 17 – the part I was most excited about was coming up with the logo, the tagline and the “brand” of my business, thinking that was what was going to get me sales.

I figured that if I built enough brand awareness in my market then people would be persuaded to purchase my products when they were ready to buy.   After all, that’s how Nike, Coca Cola, Farmers Insurance, and Wal-Mart advertised…

There was just one small problem with my grand plan.  The difference between these big guys and my small business was…a couple of (hundred) million dollars in advertising budget!

In my experience, copying big business brand advertising is the #1 reason so many small businesses end up going belly up.  Not only do small businesses not have the marketing budget to build brand, but the marketing agenda of a small business owner is far different than that of a big business owner.

Here’s the marketing & advertising agenda that most big businesses follow:

  1. Appease the Board of Directors
  2. Look good to Wall Street
  3. Look good in the media
  4. Build brand
  5. Intimidate the competition
  6. Win some advertising awards
  7. Sell something

As a small business, your marketing and advertising agenda is much more simple:

  1. Sell something.  NOW.

The whole point of spending money on marketing is to make money.  Ideally for every dollar you spend on your marketing you want at least two dollars back.

If you do brand advertising you have no way to measure if your advertising is effective.  You hope it’s effective, you pray it’ll bring you sales, but ultimately, it’s a wild stab in the dark because you really don’t know which advertising is really bringing in customers.

Using guesswork for your marketing is no way to run a business.

You need to scrap brand advertising (I also call it traditional advertising) for good.  Instead you need to get your business on a strict diet of direct response advertising.  

Building brand should be a nice by-product of making sales – it should never be the objective of your marketing.  Making sales is.

What is direct response advertising?

In its simplest form, direct response advertising is advertising that ALWAYS contains a special offer with a deadline.  It’s advertising that has the objective of motivating prospects to take action immediately so you can tell within a day or a week of running an ad exactly how effective it was.  You can then tweak successful ads to try and make them more successful and scrap the dud ads that aren’t pulling a response. No more guesswork.

The best book I’ve found on direct response advertising is: No BS Direct Marketing by Dan Kennedy.  I highly recommend you grab a copy and immerse yourself in it.  It’s an easy and entertaining read and will be worth many, many thousands of dollars to your business.

So how can you shift from traditional, brand based advertising to direct response advertising?  

At the very minimum, include an irresistible offer to your prospects, impose a deadline for them to respond, and tell them clearly how to respond (e.g. To order your copy just call us at xxx-xxx-xxxx).  Make sure NO advertising leaves your office without containing these three essential ingredients.

In the next post I’ll be giving you a laundry “checklist” of the other essential ingredients your direct response marketing must contain for maximum effectiveness. But by adding an irresistible offer, a deadline, and clear instructions on how to respond to all of your marketing – you’ll be off to a great start!

Don't Make This 100k Mistake A Small Ann Arbor Business Made

Happy April fools day!  I have 2 brothers (one younger one older) so as a kid I grew up with a big fear of this day every year.  I'd wake up to fake dog poop in my school shoes (thankfully it was fake), salt on my tooth brush, a whoppee cushion under my breakfast chair...phew glad I managed to survive that lot! I wanted to share with you a major mistake that's being made by a hairdressing salon I just started using, so you can learn from it and avoid this giant pothole in your business.

They're a relatively upscale Ann Arbor hair salon, serving mostly professional women and a handful of men from the area (think $70 and up for a haircut and color starting from $130).  Inside is tastefully decorated, modern - has a high end/trendy/warehouse feel to it. All good so far.

And they're doing some things right - they've implemented a successful referral campaign, they've created an actual "sales process" so that when you come on your first visit you get presented with discount coupons for your second and third visits to get clients coming back.  They greet people by name regardless of whether they've met you before or not.  You get an actual "hair consultation" which is of course a sales pitch for the latest and greatest products that will transform your golden locks from drab to fab.  All good stuff and a good start to creating a platform to really grow your business from.

But here's their $100K+ mistake.

Their location absolutely sucks.  They're situated in the outskirts of Ann Arbor in an area I can only call industrial.  But worse than that, they're part of a strip mall that has, as their neighbors, many visibly struggling small businesses, and several vacant store fronts.  All with a very dilapidated feel to it.

When I pulled up to my first consultation, I could hardly believe where this salon was located.  From the outside there was absolutely no street appeal created by the owners to make their salon at least look somewhat inviting despite it's horrid surroundings.  I wondered what kind of place this was and had it not been that a good friend and client had referred me, I would have turned my car around and canceled my appointment on the way out.

No doubt this owner thought he was "saving" money by paying a lot less in rent.

He probably figured that as the interior of the salon was so nice, and they were good at what they did, they could be located nearly anywhere.  Little does he realize the true cost of this giant mistake.  If he moved to downtown Ann Arbor - yes he would pay a lot more in rent but this would be more than offset from the higher prices he could then command (clever positioning), attract and retain better talent, attract far more prospective clients just from visibility...the list goes on and on.

Also, on researching this salon, I found glowing reviews.  Except that 3 mentioned the sinking feeling and intrepidation they felt on driving up and seeing it from the outside.  For every one client who mentions it, at least 100 think it...

You may or may not have a physical location that you operate your business from.  Regardless, learn from this mistake and review objectively the interaction your prospects have with your business before, during and after they do business with you.  It'll make a HUGE difference to your bottom line.  If you need help, call my office and ask about my End-To-End Sales Choreography service - from prospect to close and happily-ever-after after sales.

Have a great weekend! Julie

Chrysler Suing Retailer For Using "Imported From Detroit" Tagline

Chrysler’s Super Bowl tagline is spawning a cottage industry, and the car company—which is already selling its own “Imported from Detroit” clothing line—is not exactly jumping for joy. The big car makers have slapped the founders of Pure Detroit, (a three-store retailer that sells locally inspired merchandise) with a hefty lawsuit claiming the t-shirts they're selling with the tagline is an infringement on their trademark...blah blah.  Apparently these shirts have been the retailer's golden ticket - their hottest selling item.  And now thanks to the lawsuit - the publicity will have sent sales through the roof (unless of course the lawyers got their mitts on the shirts first and have purged them from the shelves).

From my corner (I live not 50 miles from Detroit),  I don't think I've ever seen an ad revitalize the pride and passions of a region that's been pounded in more ways than I can count.

From a business perspective, I understand why Chrysler is trying to keep the lid on their now famous trademark - and it will be interesting to see whether they'll actually succeed.  Wearing my regular old baseball cap - why can't the automaker share the love with the rest of Detroit and then figure out some smart advertising ways to ride on the adoption wave of all that free advertising (I've got plenty of ideas and no doubt their top shot marketing brains do too).  Surely Chrysler would get better press for being "pro-Detroit" (which after all is what that whole campaign is all about), than from being just another law-suit-slapping-greedy-money-making big corporate....hmm I think Chrysler's execs may have made a seriously wrong move here.

Here's a link to see the Chrysler-Eminem ad again http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKL254Y_jtc