The #1 Secret to Writing Great Headlines

Secret to great headlinesThere is a lot of great advice from some very smart people out there about how to write effective headlines that will grab your readers and pull them in. You can take entire courses on this subject, such is its heft. That’s not this blog. I have just one tip for you. What I think is the single biggest secret to writing great headlines. Continue reading


That pond needs email


I get excited when I see small businesses doing good marketing, and it’s usually a simple opportunity they’ve taken advantage of.

At a rest stop on the way to Niagara Falls, a company called Coles Pond Store has done a waterfall/pond installation. It caught my eye not only because it’s attractive, but because we are thinking of putting one in our backyard.

The installation is in a spot that sees a lot of traffic, so points for a good location. But location isn’t everything. Coles needs to think of the timing of my exposure to their marketing. I’m probably not shopping at the rest stop.

In the middle of the installation is a sign for the store with a QR code on it as well. I didn’t snap it with a QR reader, but it probably just takes me to a website homepage.

Better would have been if it took me to a landing page to sign up for an eNewsletter on pond building tips. At a rest stop, I’m not likely to be inclined to seek out more details, but I would if I’m reminded to a few days later by the arrival of a newsletter.

We’ll see if I remember to check the photo I took when time comes for me to build, but the Coles is off to a good start.

But I’m the Mayor!

Just because your customers are on vacation doesn’t mean you can be.

We have a family cottage about three hours north of Toronto. Two years ago I discovered the marina had a check in on Foursquare. Being addicted to social media, I dodged the calls from my wife to put my phone away and checked in. At the time there was only one other check in.

In short order I became the Mayor of Harris Lake Marina! While I didn’t expect a ticker tape parade, I was curious to see if anyone at the marina noticed. They didn’t. I don’t even think they know they are on Foursquare, let alone how to make it work for their business.

This is cautionary tale for small business owners. Your customers may be trying to engage with you online even if you aren’t there.

It wouldn’t have taken much effort to monitor Foursquare. To offer discounts on items in the marina store for checking in. Supporting that with a Facebook page that posted current weather conditions, upcoming events, allowed cottagers to sure photos and stories.

The lake is small and the cottagers are definitely a tribe. The marina is definitely a part of that community. They could be a much larger part of it, though., and online could support that.

Sadly, they don’t even recognize the Mayor when he walks into the store.

Being invisible is the key to good design

Good user design is about getting out of the way and letting people interact with each other. I think this is the key to good digital marketing with when we create a community interface.

I recently read an article about design sensibilities a Facebook in Fast Company. In it, Chris Cox, VP of product said, ” we don’t want people to remember their interactions with Facebook, we want them to remember their interactions with their friends and family.”

This makes so much sense to me. I love it.

Don’t make me Tweet to get service

Two levels of customer service is a recipe for underwhelming.

Recently I had problem with Airmiles regarding some ski passes I ordered. I needed them fast, their delivery commitment was slow. So, I went to the website and filled out the email form, following the rules like a good customer. The response I got told me I could expect to wait 4-5 days for a response.

On what planet is that delay acceptable today?

So, I tweeted my displeasure and got an immediate response suggesting I email the company’s Twitter email address. I did, and that email was answered the same day. After a little back and forth we solved the problem. Then I got the response from the the original email form submission from four days prior. In my mind – as with all customer interactions – I wasn’t talking to Joe, or Suzy, I was talking to Airmiles; so what the heck?

One of the problems this highlights for me (and there are a few to choose from) is a lack of connection within the company. Consumers today have access to many channels to talk to brands. Many of them use multiple channels. If those experiences aren’t aligned, you are not consistently delivering on the brand promise. There has to be consistency, and there shouldn’t be secret clubs for those who find the right channel. Unless of course you are trying to change behaviour, but then shut the channel down. Don’t under deliver.

Mine my data, please

A few days ago we got a new dog. A three-year-old Springer Spaniel named Murphy. We got him from a rescue agency and did a lot of online searching and researching before we decided Murphy was the dog for our family.

A few days before Murphy arrived, we received in the mail a sample of a new dog food. I don’t recall ever receiving a dog food sample before, but there it was, just before our new pet arrived. I can only assume that somewhere along the way we registered on a pet search site that provided our data to a pet food company.

Some would be angry at this seeming unauthorized use of my private data. I, on the other hand, was thrilled. I got a free dog food sample three days before I got a new dog. How perfect is that? I look forward to the day when, because I gave enough people my data, all I receive are relevant marketing outreaches. When I open up my mail or click on an email, what I see is at least a little bit relevant to my lifestyle.

I tried the food on Murphy, by the way, and he loved it. So, I went out and bought a bag. Well done, Marketer. Thank you for mining my data. So much better than all those baby lotion samples I get now that my children are in school!


Book review: Six Pixels of Separation

Wow, what a month. Did anyone see where August went? I discovered some new levels of busy in the last full month of summer and it took me much longer to get through the second of my 12 marketing books challenge than anticipated.

It’s a funny coincidence that the book is Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation and just recently Mitch blogged about the challenges of keeping up with your planned to do list.

I was not surprised that I enjoyed Mitch’s book; I have been a fan of his blog and podcast of the same name for years. Those active in the social media space will not find a lot that they haven’t heard elsewhere – especially if they follow Mitch, but where this book really excels is at talking to it’s target audience: business owners and executives who are unfamiliar with the social landscape. In fact, I decided early on that I needed to buy copies for some senior people in my company in the hopes that it would lead to better conversations.

Mitch does a fantastic job of showing business owners exactly why they should be using social media to grow their business. He also offers a good amount of how to for the do-it-yourselfer. If you are an entrepreneur or a business leader and you think you should be using social media, but don’t know why or how, buy this book. You will not regret it.

In it, you will find a guidebook to engage your audiences in an authentic, sustainable way. Why not give it a go and see what happens?

Stay tuned for the next book in my little odyssey.

Do you want Lady Gaga to follow you on Twitter?

I got a really interesting email the other day. It was forwarded by a friend who received it because she was identified as a potential client by the sender. In an interesting business extension, Universal Music is now offering up its roster of artist to help your brand run a successful social media campaign. Universal, it seems, is now offering brands the chance to “combine your social brand initiatives with Universal Music artists to deliver a successful program.”

They very nearly position themselves as an agency with the ability to deliver integrated marketing strategies. Maybe I’m slow and I missed this transition; perhaps they’ve been at this for a while. Regardless, it gives me pause to think.

On one hand, I think that’s pretty smart; renting out the fame of their product to increase the exposure of another brand. Good for them for figuring out a way to make money in the music business because they can’t compete with free downloads.

On the other hand, though, the alignment seems forced. It feels like a disconnected and desperate cash grab. Like they have so given up on figuring out how to reinvent their business model that everyone is now in charge of “special projects.”

And then I wonder what this process will do to the reputations of their artists (okay, granted some are beyond selling out). Will it over commercialize even the likes of a Gaga or a Bieber? And, while I’m at it, what is their reputation as a digital marketing agency, if that is how they are positioning this service?

Like I said, pause for thought. A curious one. I wonder what some you think …

Book review: Digital Impact, The Two Secrets of Online Marketing Success

Finished! That’s book number one down in my 12-month challenge. I really enjoyed Digital Impact. I was a little worried when I saw the cover – a little too 1980s sci-fi, but inside was true gold. My biggest takeaway is still the subject of my last post, the assertion that fishing (attraction) is a more important strategy for today’s marketer than hunting (targeting). Beyond that, though, the book is really well structured and easy to read.

The two secrets are implementing good performance metrics and spending the time to create really compelling content (Magnetic Content). Those might not seem earth-shattering, but Mayar and Ramsey do a great job of breaking their ideas down into digestible, actionable chunks with solid examples.

For example, they propose a total of seven metrics and group them into exposure metrics (is your content getting noticed?), strategic metrics (is your content moving the needle on your goals), and financial metrics (is your content making you any money?). Through subsequent chapters they they explore six key digital channels and recommend the best metrics from each category for each channel. It’s simple and easily implemented. By easy, I mean understandable. They make it clear that doing it right takes time and money, but I feel confident I can take these channels on with a little trial and error.

Those looking for the quick and simple DIY model of digital marketing may be disappointed. Their approach, done right, is not something you could implement overnight. But, if you are looking for an easy to read, practical book that can apply to any business, Digital Impact is the one you want. It covers all the big channels, how to create great content for each and how to measure the impact of what you create.

So, that’s one book down and 11 to go. Up next: Six Pixels of Separation, by Mitch Joel. A long over due read.