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


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.

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.

Marketers need worms, not bullets

As I make my way through Digital Impact, by Vipin Mayar and Geoff Ramsey – as part of my journey through 12 marketing books in 12 month – one of the first concepts that struck me was the need to be a fisher not a hunter as a marketer today.

Hunting, they assert, involves “tracking and targeting your prey (the consumer) and then shooting them with your ammo (ad messaging).” Fishing, on the other hand is all about attracting the consumer with the right bait. That bait, of course, is the content you put out through various channels. The better your bait, the better your catch.

Any fisher (the real kind, not the metaphorical) will also tell you fishing also requires patience. You need to continue to put out quality content until it lures the fish.

Fishing alone won’t feed most companies, though. Mayar and Ramsey point out later in the book that the best content undiscovered will not bring in customers. So, you have be a bit of a hunter, too; to target your prey with ad messaging to let them know where your bait can be found.

So, what are your weekend plans? Hunting, fishing, or sitting on the dock with a beer?

A marketing book a month; what’s your recommendation?

So, I have decided to make the onset of summer a time to embark upon a 12-month journey towards becoming a better marketer. My chosen method of learning: books. More specifically, I plan to read a marketing/business book a month for the next 12 months and see what I can glean and apply from each, and share some of my thoughts on each here, spurred on by the fact that the list of titles on my wish list is growing and I never seem to have time to read them.

I now a book isn’t exactly a strange place to look for ideas, but it’s important not to overlook the obvious. And I know a book a month isn’t a huge accomplishment, but I’ve never been a speed reader – I like to take my time and float through a book – and I have to allow for the usual interruptions.

The first book on my list is Digital Impact: The Two Secrets to Online Marketing Success, by Vipin Mayar and Geoff Ramsey. Why this one? A few reasons, actually. I heard a great interview with Geoff Ramsey by Mitch Joel on Six Pixels of Separation; my company is going through a rebranding and we will be remaking our online presence; and I like that there are only two secrets. Two’s not too big. I can manage two.

I have a list of a half-dozen others that will be on my list over the course of the next 12 months; Six Pixels of Separation; Trust Agents; Flip the Funnel (I know it’s sad how many of these I haven’t read). I’m open to suggestions, too, so please post yours in the comments section.

I’d also really like to hear what you think about the books I’m reading and posting about. Maybe we can get a little MBA-type banter going and all learn a little something beyond what’s found in the pages of the books.

So, here goes. I’ll be back soon with some thoughts on Digital Impact as I make my way through it.

Will Facebook cost you more in insurance premiums?

We’ve all heard the warnings about sharing personal information and read the criticism of Facebook’s blatant disregard for personal privacy in the name of ad revenue. Now, it appears, that the use of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter may hit us directly in the pocket book.

Insurance companies in the UK are making noise about increasing home insurance rates for those who use social media.

According to the operators of a UK price insurance comparison website,, users of social media sites could could face home insurance hikes as high as 10 percent.

In a recent article in Thompson’s World Insurance News, they cite recent burglaries in the US where the culprits used references to vacations and the use of location-based services on Facebook and Twitter to target homes for burglary.

The article also said that criminals are also using tools like Google Earth to plan burglaries from the comfort of their homes, or the local Starbucks.

I can see the logic from an actuary’s point of view, if I use these services I am more likely to share information that will lead to a burglary than someone who doesn’t. But with the proliferation of sites like Facebook and Twitter, it seems unlikely that insurance companies will be able to target those who use the services because … who doesn’t, or won’t in a couple of years? What it may mean is higher rates across the board, and more so in areas with greater internet penetration.

It seems to me that the real penalty should be on those who lack common sense; those who choose to share intimate details of their lives without paying attention to who can read them. But, because common sense is hard to measure in a questionnaire and insurance is based on pooling risk, it looks like we will all pay for the folly of the few (or the many?).