How “Ginsu Blade Marketing” Helps You Get More Customers

“It’s a sad thing not to have friends, but it is even sadder not to have enemies.”
– Che Guevara

Most companies look and feel and talk the same way. Have you ever noticed that? It’s like modern marketing is this chain gang of identical twins, all yelling at the top of their lungs, all vying for attention.

There’s no distinction and no personality. For that reason, prospects block the vast majority of marketing out.

Ever wonder why most local marketing fails? Do you want to know why most SMBs rely so heavily on word-of-mouth? Now you know the answer.

Marketing Works… They’re Just Doing it Wrong!

Me-too marketing never works.  Prospects block it out. Then you end up relying on word-of-mouth. Or you have compete with prices… and that strategy always leads to paltry margins and less-than-ideal customers.

There is a better way. I call it “Ginsu Blade marketing.”

The idea is this – Get rid of the Plain Jane marketing. Get rid of the “me too” marketing. Stop using the same messages that your competitors are using.

Instead, publish ads that highlight what makes your business unique. Create marketing that could only represent your company. And to take it even further, you want your ads to…

Resonate With a Specific Kind of Prospect.  

I call this “Ginsu Blade marketing” because it is divisive marketing. You are essentially “slicing and dicing” your audience into small, bite-size segments.

When you highlight your differences… and talk to a specific kind of prospect… you’ll naturally repel the wrong prospect… while attracting the right prospect. This is, more than anything else, what makes effective marketing work.

Think of a business like Apple. Or Black Milk. Or Avis.

These companies step into the marketplace and make a loud statement. They say…

“This is who we are… this is who we’re looking for…
and everybody else can get lost.”

And it works. The right prospects are attracted. The wrong people are repelled.

You might expect that this approach could only work for national companies. Yet it’s just as effective for SMBs. Let me give an example.

One of our clients, who is a medical professional, runs his office like a small family. He makes the entire experience feel like a house call. And he does certain things in a way that none of his competitors do.

So we reflected this in his marketing. And prospects love it. Those that want the feel of having a “family doctor” flock to him. Those that could care less probably never finish reading the advertisement.

But don’t take my word for it. Test it for yourself. Find the elements in your business that make it unique… and the specific audience that you can help the most… then create a test campaign that highlights your differences specifically for that audience.

Tally the results. You can thank me later.

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Want to implement this strategy in your business? If so, my team and I would love to help. We have a track record of making digital marketing profitable.

The first step is simple: Request a complementary strategy session. Click this sentence to get started.

The Secret to Provocative Content

Picture this: Two of your best friends go to Vegas. Let’s call them Steve and John. So, your friends Steve and John head to Vegas for three nights of debauchery.

They fly to Vegas on the same airplane, but their return flights are at different times. Steve arrives in the morning. John arrives in the afternoon.

You’re a good friend so, despite the inconvenience, you agree to pick up them both. You have the day off, so you don’t mind making two trips to the airport.

Steve arrives at the crack of dawn. He’s waiting at the curb when you pull into the terminal. You pick him up and, as your car lurches through gridlock traffic, you turn to him and ask…

“So, how was the trip?”

His eyes light up. “It was amazing,” he says. “You should see the strip. It’s buzzing with activity 24 hours a day. I spent way too much money. Had a blast, though.”

You ask more questions and Steve gives easy answers. You discover that the casinos were pretty fun, and the food was pretty decent, and the weather was pretty nice.

Fifteen minutes later, you both fall into silence. Steve looks out the window. You turn on the radio.

Several hours pass, and you’re back at the airport. John just arrived. He flops into the passenger seat and you press the gas pedal. As you coast down the highway, you turn to him and ask, “So, how was the trip?”

“Dude,” John says. “You will not believe what happened.” He turns to you and smirks.

“So, get this. We go to this crazy nightclub called Hakkasan.  We’re waiting in line and Steve is jabbering about 50 bucks he won playing Black Jack.

“Anyway, when we get there and the place is packed. It’s at capacity. They tell us nobody else is getting inside.

“Well, I’m not ready to go to the hotel yet.”

“So I walk up to the bouncer. He’s this big, burly dude that looks like he eats lions in his spare time. I walk up to this guy and I say, ‘Hey, be a bud and help us out.’ And I slip him a $20 bill.

“The bouncer turns his head and he looks at me. And guess what he says?”

Now pause.

I want you to compare Steve and John. Both of these guys are your friends. They both get your undivided attention. They both have the same “content” to share.

Yet, if this example were real, John would hold your attention for longer. You’d also be more likely to remember what he told you. Put another way, his “content” is more provocative.

Why is that?

The difference is one of approach. Steve is factual and straightforward. John is factual yet also suspenseful. And…

Suspense is Provocative

In the illustration above, Steve shares great information that could be interesting. The problem is he doesn’t share it in an interesting way.

Many businesses make the same mistake. They publish great content, but they forget to make that content engaging. They share useful information but they struggle to captivate readers.

Suspense is the missing ingredient. It helps you hook readers and hold their attention. Suspense better engages the mind. And in today’s Internet-driven economy, mind share is market share.

So, how do you add suspense to your content? There are two main techniques:

1.) Tell stories.

Stories, by design, make you wonder what happens next.  By weaving your best ideas into stories, you make it easy for readers to get engaged and stay engaged.

Now, you don’t need to hire Michael Crichton to use stories. Sharing a case study or an extended testimonial is just as effective. No winding plotline required.

The only requirement is that you express your best ideas with concrete examples.  Don’t just talk about being provocative. Show what being provocative looks like. Don’t just say your business is great. Show how your service helped Mr. Smith and Mrs. Jones.

2.) Promise to answer a troublesome question.

Curiosity breeds suspense. Make your reader curious and you’ll earn his attention. And a simple way to spark curiosity is to promise an answer to a troublesome question.

All of us are haunted by certain, hidden and troublesome questions. These questions are personal in nature, but many of us have the same ones.

Sometimes we’re conscious of them. But most of the time they’re gurgling just below the surface. We seldom think of these questions … yet they drive almost all of our daily actions.

Life, in many ways, is an exercise in answering these perennial questions. Let me show you what I mean. Consider these headline examples:

  • Are you Making These Mistakes in English?
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • Why Men Crack
  • How to Feel 18 Years Old Again
  • What a Bestselling Author Can Teach You About Hooking Your Readers
  • How to Get Your Children Stuck Into a Book Instead of Glued to the Television

What do all of these headlines have in common, besides being massively successful? They all promise an answer to an implied (and troublesome) question.

So, which of these two techniques is best for you? I suggest using both. They aren’t mutually exclusive. The strongest content promises an answer to a troublesome question, and then uses story to deliver on that promise.

** External Resource – J.J. Abrams on Creating Suspense **

J.J. Abrams is one of the co-creators of Lost. He knows a thing or two about building suspense. Here’s a TED talk where he discusses his craft. I think you’ll love the story about the mystery box in his office. (See what I did there?)

Now, Let Me As You Something…

How are you making your content more provocative? Are you leveraging suspense?  Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Want to implement this strategy in your business? If so, my team and I would love to help. We have a track record of making digital marketing profitable.

The first step is simple: Request a complementary strategy session. Click this sentence to get started.

How to Get More Customers with One Simple Advertisement Change

About three years ago, I read an article that changed how I market forever.  To this day I attribute at least 30% of my advertisement’s effectiveness to the core idea I culled from that one article.

The article was written by John Carlton, and was published in his now defunct Marketing Rebel Rant newsletter. If you haven’t heard of Carlton, he’s a well-known marketing “guru”, and he’s written powerful ads for a bevy of businesses. His ads were so profitable and so provocative that he’s a virtual celebrity in copywriting circles.

(Want an example of a Carlton headline?  Try this: “Amazing Secret Discovered By One-Legged Golfer Adds 50 Yards To Your Drives, Eliminates Hooks  and Slices… And Can Slash Up To 10 Strokes From Your Game Almost Overnight!“)

Anyway, this particular article was about guarantees. In particular, how to present a guarantee for maximum effectiveness.  Carlton’s argument was that most ads aren’t nearly as effective as they could be, simply because the guarantee is worded just like every other.  Most of them read something like this:

Try our widget for 30 days.  If you’re not completely satisfied, simply return the widget to us for a full refund.  No questions asked.

Here’s the problem – when a prospect sees this guarantee, it barely even computes.    They have heard or read that guarantee so many times that it has almost no bite. Recognizing this, Carlton suggested a simple way to add some teeth.

Carlton used the example of a golf clubs.  The traditional (and ineffective) approach would be to have a guarantee that reads something like this: “Try these clubs for 30 days and if they don’t work as advertised send them back for a full refund.” The approach works but it isn’t even close ideal.

A much better approach would be to say this: “When you’re golf clubs arrive, go to the driving range and line up 4 golf balls… hit each ball in turn… if, by the time you get to the 3rd ball, you aren’t crushing the ball for 400+ yard drives… and if your 4th ball isn’t the straightest shot you’ve ever taken… then let us know and we’ll refund every red cent”.

Which guarantee do you find more powerful?

I call this approach “putting the copy in motion”.  By prompting your prospect to visualize using your product, and by wrapping that visualization into your sales copy, you can boost it’s effectiveness.

This approach isn’t limited to guarantees, either.  Recently, I used this concept to improve the front end advertisement for a B2B service.  The result?  We saw a 56% increase in CTR.

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Want to implement this strategy in your business? If so, my team and I would love to help. We have a track record of making digital marketing profitable.

The first step is simple: Request a complementary strategy session. Click this sentence to get started.

106 Percent Increase In Clickthrough Rate

Have you heard of BoostCTR yet?

Put simply, BoostCTR is a service that you use to make your advertisements better by “crowdsourcing” your copywriting.  Advertisers set up competitions by posting their current advertisements.  Then a pool of some of the industry’s best writers try to beat the “champion ad” with their own ad.

Anyway, I write for BoostCTR every now and again.  And this week one of my advertisements is being highlighted on their blog. Why?  Because my ad more than DOUBLED clickthrough rates for the advertiser.

This isn’t my first win on Boost, but it is my first time featured on their blog, so it’s worth mentioning.  Jeff Sexton, one of the blog’s contributors, gives a pretty accurate breakdown for why the ad works.  His analysis is worth reading for anybody that’s using a savings/discount appeal in their marketing.

You can check out the entire post here.

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Want to implement this strategy in your business? If so, my team and I would love to help. We have a track record of making digital marketing profitable.

The first step is simple: Request a complementary strategy session. Click this sentence to get started.

Google Nixes Ad Rotation Plan… And Shows The Right Way To Do Business

This weekend the nation’s ad agencies and marketers are releasing a collective sigh of relief.  City officials are likely to begin organizing parades.  Kids are doing cart wheels in the front lawn and letting off firecrackers. And pretty birds are singing and fluttering underneath an ever-expanding rainbow.

All  of this because yesterday, June 1,2012, Google declared their intention to modify their upcoming ad rotation “upgrade”. (Note: If you don’t know what Adwords ad rotation changes I’m referring to,  take a minute to read this.)

Since it’s announcement, I’ve been apprehensive about it… and I thought it could only bring pain, despair, disease and anguish to SMBs and their ad agencies. At the very least, I felt  it would harm the ability to improve low-traffic campaigns, such as local business campaigns.

And I wasn’t alone.  Thousands of marketers voiced the same concerns.  Google noticed – and here’s the key point – they changed their course based on customer input.

Namely, Google decided to make two major changes to their plan:

1. They are stretching the time frame for “automatic ad optimization” from 30 days to 90  days.
2.  They are giving marketers the ability to opt out entirely.

Of course, the opt out process is a bit clunky (which is most likely intentional), but this is excellent news for anybody that uses Adwords.  It is also a great business lesson for anybody that offers a product or service.

The Internet has made it unbelievably easy to get customer feedback on your ideas and products almost immediately.  Customer feedback is the most valuable asset any business has.  And the Internet has made it unbelievably easy to get customer feedback almost instantaneously.

Smart businesses, such as Google and 37 Signals, are creating “feedback loops” that deliver customer feedback quickly, and implementing the resulting data in their business strategy immediately.  The end result is a better product, happier customers and higher revenues.

So kudos to Google for listening to what us customers had to say.  And also a big thank you for saving me countless hours of labor your “upgrade” would have cost me had you not made these changes.

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Want to implement this strategy in your business? If so, my team and I would love to help. We have a track record of making digital marketing profitable.

The first step is simple: Request a complementary strategy session. Click this sentence to get started.

Spy On Your Competitors – Google Rolls Out Auction Insights Report

Marketers have long understood the value of competitive intelligence.  In the days before a commercialized Internet, this usually meant keeping tabs on competitive commercial spots, direct mail packages, product releases and the like.

In today’s Internet-driven economy the means and methods of doing competitive espionage have evolved.  Companies like SpyFu, SEMRush and WhatRunsWhere now allow marketers to track competitive campaigns across countless digital channels. But these tools come with a price and, depending on the size of your operation, they can get pricy.

Now, Google is making it even easier… and completely free… with the roll out of their Auction Insights Report.  This new report is a perfect complement to the added transparency which Google has been incorporating into the Adwords platform, and it makes building smart search campaigns much easier.

You see, in the past, advertisers had the ability to see what percentage of total impressions their ads were being triggered for.  If 100 searches were run for a given keyword, and your add only showed 70 times, this meant you lost out on 30% of that keyword’s potential.  This loss of opportunity could be sourced to one of two causes; either a depleted budget or getting outbid by competitors.

Now, with the Auction Insight Report, advertisers can see the specific advertisers are beating them for missed impressions.  Of course, you could do this manually by just running a query for your keywords at Google.com.  But taking into account considerations such as your previous queries, location and time of day, this wasn’t a very feasible solution.  Now you have access to this intelligence within your Adwords account.

The benefits are obvious; by seeing which ads are beating you for a given query, you can reverse engineer their success, incorporate parts of their strategy to bolster your own, and claim more impressions.  The added transparency will intensify competition, leading to a better user experience for Google and (potentially) higher CTR for the advertiser.

While I wouldn’t relinquish your SpyFu account just yet (seeing query history is invaluable) having a tool you can access for quick research will be a huge time saver.  Lets hope that Google keeps up this emerging trend towards transparency; it can only lead to a better platform, both for advertisers and Google users.

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Want to implement this strategy in your business? If so, my team and I would love to help. We have a track record of making digital marketing profitable.

The first step is simple: Request a complementary strategy session. Click this sentence to get started.

How Google’s New Privacy Policy Helps You Generate More Leads

A recent article published by the Irish Times brings up a good point:  Google’s latest privacy changes have been incredibly beneficial for advertisers.  The article credits this change for an increased click-through rates… but it doesn’t explain why.  So I will.

For one, advertisements can now be better tailored to prospects that use Google products.  Since data points are collected while you watch videos on Youtube, read articles on Zero Hedge and search for books on Google, the advertisements you run into as you traverse the internet are better matched to your preferences.  Second, and more powerful in my opinion, is the new opportunities that exist for retargeting.

For those that are unfamiliar, retargeting (which Google calls ‘remarketing’) is simply a method whereby you can present new advertisements to visitors that clicked on your ad in the past.  You know all those people that came to your site but didn’t convert?  Now you can continue to court them, as they interact with different websites and traverse other sections of the internet.

While this is incredibly powerful for converting prospects that are still straddling the fence (and would have been lost without remarketing), it is also an amazing tool for improving customer lifetime value.  By retargeting different offers to a person that has shown their confidence in you by completing a transaction, you’re essentially turning the entire Internet into part of your backend sales funnel.

The opportunity here is endless.  You can learn more about remarketing from the horse’s mouth here.

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Want to implement this strategy in your business? If so, my team and I would love to help. We have a track record of making digital marketing profitable.

The first step is simple: Request a complementary strategy session. Click this sentence to get started.

Will “Breadcrumb Links” Hurt Adwords Advertisers

Prompted by an article on Web Pro News , I’ve been looking into the upcoming AdWords “Breadcrumb URLs” update. In a nutshell, it is changes is how your advertisements are presented.  While previously searchers would be presented with one link to your website, now they are presented with each links leading to that landing page, starting from teh base domain all the way down. Here’s an example:

Adwords Breadcrumb URLs

As I said in my comment on Web Pro News, I can only see this hurting the advertiser.  Most professional marketers build very specific sales funnels, based on search query.  This is especially true for the more expensive “buy keywords”.

Allowing searchers to go to any landing page except specified one  can only harm  conversions.  Its as simple as that.  A general webpage just doesn’t work as well as one built around a specific query.

On the other hand, you might be able to do some cool things with interlinking sales funnels.  Giving searchers multiple landing page options might open up the scope of your campaign, but that’s hard to see for any exact keywords.  Maybe it’d work better for broad match keywords.

In either case, this will be great for Google’s bottom line, just like the changes to how recent misspellings match update. And it is optional; you need to install a widget on your website to activate breadcrumbs. But as an advertiser I’d be wary of using this, and I’d be certain to monitor results like a hawk.

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Want to implement this strategy in your business? If so, my team and I would love to help. We have a track record of making digital marketing profitable.

The first step is simple: Request a complementary strategy session. Click this sentence to get started.

AdWords For Video is An Amazing Opportunity for Local Businesses

Google is rolling out a new way for local businesses to advertise via promotional videos, on the Youtube platform.  For those not in the know, Google acquired Youtube back in 2006.  Since then, it’s been possible to run advertisements there but never painless.

Essentially, in the words of Diana Samuels, this update is “the next generation of commercials.”  I agree.  But without taking into account fill capabilities that AdWords puts at the fingers of the business owner, it’s easy to underestimate how big this improved integration really is.

From a conversion/copywriting standpoint, video promotions simply work much better.  Maybe this is due to our society’s television addiction.  Maybe its because more of the prospect’s senses are engaged.  Whatever the reason, in almost every test I’ve ran or been privy to, properly crafted video promotions have beat out text alone.

Then when you consider the targeting options AdWords has, you see where the real power is. The major drawback of running television commercials is the huge swaths of wasted circulation.  Your message will be put in front of thousands of folks that simply aren’t and never could be prospects.  Plus, it’s expensive for prime placement.  Unless you have a mass-market product/service, it’s hard to make TV work.

AdWords for Video  eliminates both of these drawbacks.  Now, you can target people specifically interested in the problem your business solves… and you can target down to a city block, if you wanted to.  I’m very excited to explore this with my clients.  Want to know what I have in mind?  Two words: multichannel integration.

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Want to implement this strategy in your business? If so, my team and I would love to help. We have a track record of making digital marketing profitable.

The first step is simple: Request a complementary strategy session. Click this sentence to get started.

Insight: Google’s “New” Keyword Estimator Tool

I’m finding the latest update to the Google Keyword Estimator Tool incredibly.  I’m not talking about the grouped keyword estimates, which you can now do. (And that I find useless, at least for the purposes of accurate planning.)  But the integrated graphic aspect is slick.  Take a look:

 Google Keyword Estimator Tool

Notice the flat line for traffic clicks around $XX?  Of course,   AdWords is meant to adjust your bid dynamically, based on Quality Score and competitive bids, but it’s still nice to set your CPC “by the numbers”, so to speak… just in case.

You’re now forced to log into your account to use the Keyword Estimator Tool.  I personally think there’s two reasons for this change: 1.) To put more keyword research tools, which rely on scraping Google’s tools, out of business and 2.) To reflect click estimates based on some type of general account quality score.  Of course, the “official” Google explanation is quite different (and also a non sequitur if read literally):

We’re also improving the quality and accuracy of the traffic estimates by using performance history to better gauge traffic estimates. This means that going forward you’ll have to log in to AdWords to use Traffic Estimator.

 

Read more about the updates on the AdWords blog.

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Want to implement this strategy in your business? If so, my team and I would love to help. We have a track record of making digital marketing profitable.

The first step is simple: Request a complementary strategy session. Click this sentence to get started.