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99% of Advertising Doesn’t Sell a Thing

The title of this post is a quote attributed to one of the biggest names in advertising, David Ogilvy. A recent article in BrandWeek pointed out that most advertising agencies don’t run any advertising. Now, what’s a person to think about the effectiveness of advertising given those two thoughts?

Advertising works, it’s just that most of the people who produce or sell advertising don’t have a clue how to make it work.

Advertising is looked at by most as a tool to create overall awareness. This approach can in fact be a benefit to small business, if the message is right, if the awareness that is created, spells out a benefit. More often then not awareness advertising seems to be an attempt to win advertising awards instead of new clients.

The point is that the most effective form of advertising for the small business does sell – not a product a service, but an action. A call to pick up the phone, surf the web or send an email to get something of value. To begin a relationship with the advertiser.

The good news about this approach to advertising is that you don’t need clever copy, gorgeous models or full pages. You only need a very strong offer targeted at the right audience. Sell permission to educate your prospect and you will find that advertising does indeed work quite well. Heck, I bet ad agencies that practiced this type of advertising could even find new clients.

Where To Find A Targeted Mailing List

One of my favorite small business lead generation strategies is to define a mailing list for a target market as narrowly as possible, with the intent of getting that list to a very small number. Once you do this, knowing that most anyone on the list is a good suspect, you can possibly more easily afford to mail to this list multiple times.

This strategy assumes that you have some goals in mind in terms of how many leads and clients you need to generate from your marketing activities.

If you only need 10-12 new clients this quarter, then you are looking to carve out a list of maybe 500 very defined members a mailing list. If you want 100 leads a month, your list might need to be 5000. The point though is to work hard on gaining the trust of that narrow list instead of sprinkling a little bit of marketing dust on the universe.

The somewhat hard part of this equation can be finding a good way to narrow your list. Most direct marketing pros will tell you to work with a list broker. A list broker is someone who sorts and resells lists from various publications and organizations. In some cases you could just go get this list from the owner, but a good list broker should have some history on lists that work, how to get the best deal and where to find the best list for your specific needs. Like any resource the trick is to find a good broker.

Bob Bly, author and copywriting genius has a list of list brokers that he uses and recommends. This would be a good place to start your search. Before you pick up the phone and contact a broker make sure that you can tell them what your marketing goals are, what you intent to send and, most importantly, as much detail as possible about your target prospect.

Who Else Wants To Advertise On This Site?

Advertising on blogs and in RSS has gone mainstream but remains a bit of a patchy proposition.

Early this year I was approached by John Battelle and asked to be one his new firm’s authors in a group of blogs related to small business. I accepted because, well, John Battelle has some serious cred, but thought little of the potential advertising. (List of Federated Media’s Authors)

What I have since discovered about working with Federated Media is best summed up in Battelle’s press release announcing his company’s new online ad management system.

“Nearly two years ago, while researching my book, I came up with an idea about online media, based on an author-driven world where publishers acted more like partners, and less like bosses, and where talent – that’d be our authors – might find a way to be supported in their valuable work. That idea turned into FM.”

Congrats to John and all of Federated Media on the next big step forward – if the above sounds like an approach that makes sense – go talk to them.

Can Professional Services Providers Use Coupons?

Coupons have long been a staple for marketing products. Internet coupons came along in recent years as well and have been well received.

So here’s my question: With the advantages of geo targeting and automation that come with the Internet, why couldn’t a professional services provider use a service like Zixxo (listen to an interview with cofounder Mike Hogan) to market big-ticket sales?

Zixxo, a start-up Internet coupon service has added some very nice Web 2.0 type features that make the process of using coupons easier for both the user and the advertiser.

Zixxo’s primary focus also appears to be letting small, local businesses target their coupons geographically – a big plus.

I predict this will allow small business marketers to use coupons in some new and creative ways. So, how will you use coupons in the future?.

Is Single Opt-in a Form of Spam?

I had my eyes opened recently to an email marketing point that I was having trouble determining an answer to.

Should you require double opt-in or verification of an email address when someone subscribes to an online newsletter or offer? One side of me fought this idea with the thinking that it just adds another hoop for someone to jump through.

After a conversation with AWeber’s CEO Tom Kulzer, (my list and autoresponder service provider) I’ve become a firm believer in the necessity for double opt-in.

The argument that turned my head was the fact that when you don’t require verification, a person can fill any name and email in and then, when you unknowingly mail that address, guess who the spammer is – you!

Tom tells me that on all their various lists the name [email protected] shows up about 80 times an hour.

I think double opt-in is a much more professional approach for the small business to take as well. After all, it’s what the big guys do. With Aweber setting double opt-in up is like flipping a switch.

    Some other tips:

  • Don’t put the link to your download in your redirect page, it allows them to grab what they are after without verifying or giving your an accurate address.
  • Put verification instructions on your redirect page with the verification subject line to look for and ask them to white list your email address.

Bottom line, with double opt-in your subscriber lists will be much more responsive, you won’t be sending (even though innocently) spam and your subscribers will thank you for making the world a better place to live.

Sales Contacts with Jigsaw

Jigsaw calls itself an online directory of business contacts and company information. It’s more like data meets eBay. Jigsaw users buy, sell and (this is a big one) maintain contact information on millions of executives and purchasing folks throughout America. Sales people and recruiters swear by the service.

The service is a brilliant example of a user created tool that gets better them more it’s used. The data or list industry has been around for years and my experience tells me that Jigsaw may be a major wake-up for an industry perfectly happy with date error rates around 20%.Jigsaw motivates users to submit and clean the data on their system.

Users can simply pay for leads or buy them with points earned by submitting names and cleaning up names. Some users actually earn a little cash by submitting more contact data than they buy.

I interviewed Jigsaw CEO Jim Fowler for my podcast site.

Detractors say that this type of service is an invasion of privacy. Jigsaw counters that no personal information, such as cell phones, is accepted and what they are doing has been done by the Dunn and Bradstreets and Hoovers of the world for years. They just do it better!

Guide to CSS support in email systems

If you are sending HTML emails in your marketing campaigns (and there’s lots to support that you should) you have probably come across some serious design issues when it comes to using CSS styling. I ran across a very comprehensive article over at Campaign Monitor that outlines what CSS elements, selectors and properties are and are not supported by the various email client environments such as Outlook and Yahoo.

Does Spot Runner help TV ads for small business make sense?

Spot Runner, a start-up TV ad agency created by the founders of Firefly and PeoplePC, is a service that allows small local advertisers to customize one of a growing library of TV commercials to use in their local market. The user pays only $500 to use the professionally produced template and then can build a media schedule and run the ad using Spotrunner’s ad placement interface that boasts local targeted spots for less then $10 in non-prime time.

I’ve always had trouble recommending TV for small business marketers because the cost is pretty hard to justify for most.

A professionally produced television ad costs at least $5000. Now, Spot Runner’s ads are indeed generic templates, but the quality is pretty good. This service could be a very good way to add another medium to the mix to help with awareness. The low cost is what may make this form of television advertising make sense when it is added to the overall mix that includes direct mail, referrals and public relations.

I caught up with Spot Runner co-founder, David Waxman, and recorded an interview for the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. Go have a listen and find out more about this innovative offering.