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Guest Blogger: Frager on Copywriting

January 7th, 2008

Interesting insight from Owen Frager:

In a new study released in the New York Times, it turns out that the typical NY police officer only hits 34% of the time she fires a gun. Even from a distance of six feet or less, it’s 43%. Obviously, Bruce Willis is the exception.

Seth Godin wonders how it changes your decision making when you discover that you’re only going to be successful one out of three times. Never mind blasting a weapon out of an assailant’s hand, we’re talking about hitting the target at all… How does a cop have the guts to even pull a weapon knowing that most of the time, it’s not going to have its desired effect (my guess is that the threat and the noise and chaos is as positive an outcome as an actual hit…). Seth knows that he would never have the guts to do that job.

Salespeople have a harder time with this than marketers. Marketers have lots of ‘bullets’ and they don’t notice the ones they miss (I usually miss 99.5% of the time online, and more than 99.999% elsewhere). We just reload and blithely continue on. But salespeople have to deal both with personal rejection and the expectation of the boss.

The poor hit rate of selling explains call resistance. Non-professional salespeople almost always wash out because they can’t keep at it, day after day, once they realize that most of the time, they fail. I guess my point is that if a policeman can risk his life doing it, we can probably find the nerve to go on one more sales call.

To ensure you hit the mark more then miss and deliver quality leads to your salespeople, consider Ted Cooper’s Never-Been-Improved-Upon Copy Formula:

1. Make a Promise

2. Prove It

3. Ask for Action

4. Leave Everything Else Out

It’s because writing copy is not just about words.

It’s understanding the core desires of the audience being targeted, the ability to create unbeatable offers to get people to buy and creating campaigns that work, create response and create loyal customers.

The promise you make in a headline needs to be about something someone already knows they want, or a problem they already know they have. And it needs to be in the same language they use themselves when they describe what they want or what their problem is.




I Am Ready For Death

June 22nd, 2009

Owen Frager’s compelling review of Social Media’s significance:

As Iranians defy Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s warning that there will be blood on the streets of Tehran if there are continued protests, it’s now clear that there are indeed extensive protests going on in Iran — and the latest is that two of the key social media sites on the Internet now have reports saying opposition candidate Hossein Mousavi who was earlier reported to be detained is now on the streets and has told demonstrators “I am ready for death.”

Read More




Creating Brand Equity

December 18th, 2008

VIA guest blogger Owen Frager:

Instinctively, every small business owner understands the importance of brand equity, even if they may not be able to define the idea. Marketing-speak aside, brand equity is how your customer recognizes why you are different and better than the alternative.

Brand equity is built on that customer’s direct experience with your product or service. This experience, repeated over time, creates equity or value in your brand. And it serves as a shorthand in the buyer’s mind that separates you from everyone else.

Brand equity is what creates loyalty that carries beyond price or the occasional product or service bump in the road. It is the quality that motivates your customers to recommend their friends or colleagues to you.

Everyone wants brand equity. But building it, when you are more likely to qualify for the Inc. 500 rather than the Fortune 500, can be a puzzle. Particularly when the role models for brand equity are global icons like Coca Cola, Volvo, or Sony—hardly your peer set.

The good news is that the path to building brand equity is clear. Here are six simple steps you can take to get started:

1. Clarify your position

The first step to building brand equity is to define your positioning: the single thing your company stands for to your customers. Single is the operative word here. Good positioning forces hard choices.

To define your brand position, get the key leaders in your company together. Decide what makes you different and better than your competition. This might sound blindingly obvious, but most small businesses are too busy responding to customers or making payroll to do a lot of introspection.

You don’t need an agency or consultant to get started. There are a couple of good exercises out there that you can do on your own. A simple one that I like is the Positioning XYZs:

“We are the only X that solves Y problem in Z unique way.”

Where…

X is the category of the company, product, or service or other offering you’ve chosen to own.

Y is the unmet need of your target audience.

Z is the differentiation, advantage, or key positive distinction you have over your competition.

2. Tell your story

Clear positioning is critical, but positioning statements are internal touchstones, not external expressions. Your next job is to make it interesting, to imbue the rational positioning with emotion.

All brands are stories, and a good way to get started is to document and share your best corporate stories: the founding insight of the company, the times you went to extraordinary lengths to take care of a customer, or the background behind the big product breakthrough.

The good news is that with ubiquitous broadband access and Web-based applications, it is within every company’s grasp to share these stories more broadly through rich-media video and audio.

B.Good, a small restaurant chain in Boston, has done this well. It’s a burger joint that promises “real food,” positioning itself against the typical fast-food burger and experience. The real food story begins with the stories of the “real people,” the founders whose corporate values are based on their experiences growing up at their uncle’s restaurant. You’re reminded of these stories when you’re in the restaurant or checking store hours online.

3. Bring it to life

Once you have the story, you need to bring it to life. Make sure that the way your company looks and feels to the outside world matches that truth. This leads to questions about your corporate identity: Do the basics (starting with your name and logo) make the impression you want? And your broader system for communicating to the market: Web site, brochures, your retail environment.

A client of mine talked about his Web site as a “corporate veil” that obscured what made the company special. Does your corporate identity reveal the best truth about your business, or does it hide it?

4. Start building brand before they buy

Think beyond the transaction. Brands begin at the transaction level, but the brand experience goes much deeper. The opportunity to create a brand impression starts long before the buying decision. The principle is a simple one: Give away an artifact of your brand for free. In the professional services world, this means a taste of your service or your intellectual property. Here are two creative examples:

Igor is a naming consultancy based in San Francisco. It has built a methodology—and a client list that rivals those of much-larger branding agencies. That methodology is laid bare in a 100-page guide to naming that it gives away—without any registration requirements—on its Web site.

This move is both generous, in the spirit of Web content “wanting to be free,” and also incredibly shrewd. The naming guide is rich, detailed, and outlines a very clear process for naming. Igor understands that giving away IP (intellectual property) doesn’t cost it business—but it is its lead business generator.

It doesn’t have to be just IP. Peet’s, the coffee retailer, allows customers to send their friends an “eCup,” an email redeemable for a free cup of coffee. This is an ingenious way to enable the fiercely loyal customers of Peet’s to promote the brand themselves.

5. Measure your efforts

Here are a few direct ways to measure the progress of your brand:

Ask your customers. Survey a subset of customers, prospective customers, and (ideally) people who chose a competitor over you. You’ll be surprised at how candid people will be about your strengths—and your weaknesses. Make sure you ask the most important question in any customer research: Would you recommend us to a friend or colleague? Research (check out www.netpromoter.com) has shown that the willingness to recommend is the most important indicator of brand health. This research can be done quite cheaply online, using free or near-free tools like KeySurvey or SurveyMonkey.

Check your search rankings. I don’t know all of what Igor measures, but I do know it fares very well in what is perhaps the most important measure of them all: organic search results. Type “product naming” on Google, and chances are you’ll see Igor come up in the top three listings (the earned ones in the middle, not the paid ones on the top or side).




The Winner of Last Night’s Debate

October 16th, 2008

From my friend and frequent guest blogger Owen Frager:

One of our first thoughts after last night’s debate: who owns JoeThePlumber.com? Turns out it’s the domain name of plumber Joe Francis in Amarillo, TX, and it turns out everyone else has had the same idea: Joe tells us he’s been flooded by calls since John McCain and Barack Obama spent most of the debate talking abut Ohio’s “Joe The Plumber”, whose taxes might go up under an Obama administration.

The Joe we talked to seemed to take in all in stride: “It was kind of cool, but I didn’t expect all this… We’re just kind of a small company in Amarillo.”

Among those calling him: Radio stations and people looking to buy his domain name. Joe didn’t tell us exactly how much he’s been offered, but did say it was in the “hundreds of thousands”. And yes, he’s willing to part with the name.

Our advice to Joe: Sell! Immediately!







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