Surfing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vines, and other sites has become an exercise in speed reading. My little finger is getting callouses from all of its hits to the “Page Down” key.
Whether it is newsletters I have subscribed to or a Facebook wall, I am giving everything less and less time to grab my attention. I do appreciate a well-reasoned argument on stopping nuclear proliferation. Really. But, I don’t often click on a link that a friend has posted as “important” in a good-for-you way.
I admit it. I am looking for instant gratification for my intellect, wit, and aestetic sense. I make split-second decions on whether to skip or linger. And, if I have to think about whether I want to read your post, it’s too late.
If I, a 59-year-old sophisticate, am giving you a second to make me want to read your stuff, see your deal, or learn about your company, how much time do you think a 20- or 30-something prospect gives you?
Fortunately, the basics of marketing are unchanged whether the medium is a high gloss magazine or an app that shows a photo that self-destructs in 15 seconds. People are attracted to pretty women, puppies, and cute babies. “Women” includes “men”. “Puppies” includes “kittens”. And, “children” includes “toddlers”, “children”, and sometimes even “young adults”.
Right now Facebook and other top-tier sites promote users’ photos and videos more than text links. That’s because their metrics show that users click on those type of stories more often.
So, make sure that you remember to include lots of pictures of women/puppies/babies… or similar gut-grabbing ones… in your online activity. I am happy to help businesses develop attention-getting photos and campaigns — just give me a shout for professional marketing help. Of course, you may have all the ideas and photos you need on your smart phone with its pictures from the last family vacation.
Last week I had sleazy sales experience with a representative from a big-name media powerhouse who was trying to get my client to advertise with them.
It’s been a long time since I’ve encountered a classic, fast-talking salesman who runs though the shock and awe sales pitch with such speed and vigor that all you’re supposed to be able to do is say, “Yes, sign me up.”
But, KNEW’s male salesrep provided me with that retro, Madmen-on-steroids call last week. The spiel went something like:
With your permission, during our post Easter station breaks your company will be mentioned as sponsoring our anti drunk-driving campaign. Let me read you the copy…
It was a brief, good-doing, innocuous statement that I could live with. But, I had a few questions. Like, how much for how many mentions over what period of time? And, more importantly, who was KNEW and why hadn’t I heard of them?
My attempted interruptions for those questions didn’t yield too much information. The cost was cheap, a couple hundred dollars a day. But for how many mentions? When during the day? These details that never surfaced before the big issue was tackled, who is KNEW?
I was told the KNEW was a news talk station in San Francisco.
Really? I listen to the radio a lot, and wind up listening to news (KCBS) and the #1 talk station (KGO) most of the time, with a few hours a week from my local school district’s public station. I know that KGO has a conservative talk sister station, KSFO, but KNEW? It didn’t ring a bell.
So, I asked what KNEW programmed and got unresponsive mumbo-jumbo from Mr. Motormouth. I persisted, and got more sales speech and no better information.
But, as Mr. Sales was going on about the goodness of anti-DUI messages, or something, I went to the keyboard and Googled KNEW.
Oh. They’re the Fox affiliate in San Francisco, and their home page showed Glen Beck smiling out on his public.
Fox! That’s what my fast-talking monologist was trying to keep me from knowing. He wanted to sign me up to advertise on Fox radio without ever telling me it was Fox radio. Wow!
Now, I imagine that San Francisco is not the easiest sales market for far-right Fox radio. But, to have the station’s programming masked from a potential, questioning advertiser just is wrong. Stand up for your product, Mr. Salesrep. Maybe I share Fox’s views, or maybe I just want exposure to its listeners. Find out. Maybe take your lumps, maybe make your sale. But, don’t play coy. Besides, do many businesses really sign up without knowing that they are supporting with their advertising dollars the super-right line up of Fox?
But, back to my conversation. After I dug up the apparently awful truth about KNEW, I said, “Oh you’re Fox. Oh, no, no, no!” in a surprised or horrified, not angry, tone. In response, the ace sales rep hung up. No goodbye, no nothing.
Apparently the Stand Up for America Fox network tries to slink in the back door of potential advertisers and runs when exposed to the light of day. Kind of ironic. Kind of disappointing.
This is a picture of a real email message I received this afternoon from a firm wanting to sell services to one of my marketing clients:
The woman who sent it had sounded very nice, competent, and on top of her work when I spoke with her on the phone.
But, then I got her follow-up email.
The color scheme is unreadable. (Click on the photo to see the original message. I left some unidentifiable paragraphs in it unblurred.)
She sent it with the false “high priority message” flag which only spammers seem to use. She acknowledges that the web site that she had told me to go to for more information was for a different business. There were spelling and capitalization errors in the text.
I am now afraid to recommend her services — which sounded perfectly reasonable on the phone — to my client. I am concerned about the professionalism of the email sender’s company. Part of their job would be to represent my client to prospective new customers. What impression would these prospects get of my client’s firm?
- Do I really have to tell people not to use pastel colors in their email? At best it’s cute. At worst, it’s difficult to read and cutesy.
- Do you really not know to not mark emails “high priority”? Especially when they are really just a sales call follow-up?
- Do people really send business emails out without spell checking? Wrong-word typos are forgivable (maybe because I do them so frequently myself!), but most mail programs will automatically check your emails for non-words, if you let them. So let them!
- Does anyone looking for business really not have a website featuring that work? And, if you don’t have a web site that features your business, don’t send people to the web site for another business you work on. Really. I mean, where are you focusing your energy?
This real-life example of a deal-killing piece of email. You’re not sending anything like this out, are you?
I have been working with some new clients this month. Not only are they new to me, but they’re new to using the Internet for their own business.
My task has been to reassure them that everything they thought they know about marketing and sales still applies. The medium may be unfamiliar, but the basics of marketing are constant.
It’s been fun explaining to them that nothing fundamental is different. Here’s a great example from Inc.com.
Stamps.com found that using the phrase “sign up” was actually a negative; customers saw it as a high-pressure sales tactic. Once the site replaced that phrase with “Get Postage,” sales increased.
When the web site was focusing on what Stamps.com wanted (a new subscriber), visitors resisted. When the wording was rephrased to focus on delivering what the clients wanted (postage), people responded.
This is basic, brick-and-mortar, pre-Internet, pre-electricity marketing. You focus on meeting a need of your potential client and not on the needs of the business owner. Getting the prospect to sign-up will follow naturally once you’ve addressed his or her needs.
Your prospect’s time is valuable! They want to see that you’re going to solve their problem with little or no risk to them. They want to see this quickly.
So, on the Internet, just like in print, be direct, be catchy, and don’t waste anyone’s time or space.
“Welcome to our Website” is a very common — and very stupid — sight on the Internet. It’s like buying an ad in Time magazine that shouts in big type, “Welcome to our Ad”. Instead, spend your valuable screen real estate grabbing the prospect by his needs.
Don’t “welcome” or talk about yourself. Instead, make your visitors an offer they cannot refuse. Something like: