Thursday, December 17, 2009

23% Open Rate on SPAM???

Below is an email I sent to 200 people.  The subject line of the email read: Test Print Now!

I sent the email out on Monday of this week.  As of this posting I have recieved 46 emails from people asking the same question (slight variations): "I tried to print it, it worked. Now what?" or "I opened this so I guess the test was successful?"  Of course they are referring to the obvious and then realized the content... but they engaged!

After reading the email the Subject Line makes more sense.  But how many people open an email that says Information on Print Advertising?  Just a little electronic experiment I thought I would share with you all.... After all a 23% open rate on an email (SPAM really...) is pretty decent, doncha think?

Yes, My Name Is Charlie - And I'm A Victim of Viral Marketing!

YouTube- "I don't have an account but boy do I still get to watch videos all day!"

Below is a list of videos that have been passed to me via email, Facebook, or text message at least 5X each in the last 2 weeks.  This is a prime example of Viral Marketing used for entertainment purposes only.  People think it is funny to send me video links to things with my name in the title (I find it flattering).  What I think is interesting are all the revisions each of these videos go through once released in the world.

Charlie Bit Me is a good example.  The Original version has a large amounts of views but the AutoTune Remix version, released roughly a year later, is quickly catching up.  When you watch these two videos the important thing to recognize is the AutoTune portion.  Watch it and then type in AutoTune into YouTube and see what you get- this is a new way- ONE TO WATCH- to deliver information.

Charlie Bit My Finger 140,941,980 views

Charlie Bit Me - AutoTune 846,719 views

Now, Charlie The Unicorn is a very weird cartoon, which I have never fully understood and don't find funny.  (Am I the only one?)  Many of the variations on this show are very twisted!  However, it is continuously circulated through the internet with a cult-like intensity.

Charlie The Unicorn 43,178,644 views

Charlie The Unicorn Remade 8,147 views

The Charlie Perfume videos are many in number.  The Original 1970's commercial with the woman in the red dress (whom I was named after) has been "remade" using many different people in our pop-culture world, most recently Cindy Crawford.  These videos and their variations give you a good glimpse into how Brands can use humor and pop-culture to circulate their message into nooks and crannys they would not ordinarily consider.  The trick is how to get the viewers to order.  Watch several of these Charlie Perfume commercials and see how long it takes you to get to an order page. This is where traditional brand messaging is not so disimilar to YouTube - you have to ask for the sale- which neither do very well- YET!

1993 Charlie Perfume Remake - Little Richard and Cindy Crawford 6,672 views 

1970's Charlie Perfume Commercial 13,586 views

And this leads me to another example of the strangeness that is Viral Marketing.  Vince Offer sold a lot of Slap Chops on TV using a very clever 2 minute video.  This video was viewed 615K times on YouTube (as of today).  I'm sure this translated into retail sales- although the tracking is tricky.  But when the Slap Chop Rap hit YouTube almost 8 million people were exposed to this product- those are Oprah numbers.  These are people (many under 25) who would have never seen or taken seriously the TV spot.  These are people that surely saw Slap Chop in a CVS or Walmart and picked it up due to this rap spoof.  Isn't humor one of the main reasons Chia Pets are such a big seller every year at Christmas? Again, the trackability is tricky at this level.  However, if you were to look at the media dollars spent, BEFORE and AFTER, the spoof became a viral marketing phenomenon, I bet you'd be surprised to see the REAL LIFT at the cash register.

Original Slap Chop TV Commercial - Vince Offner 615,600 views

Slap Chop Rap - Spoof 7,584,308 views

In the upcoming months the challenge for all marketers will be to understand what the buzz about viral is all about.  It is as easy as having an name like Charlie and yet as complex as not knowing how many people actually bought your product when 8 million people have seen it.

Coming soon... Should You Leave Comments on YouTube Videos?  The Hansel and Gretel Theory!

Social Networking - What Do We Really Know About "Our Friends"?

Do you FB?  Do you Tweet?  YouTube Junkie?  Cyber Date at all?  DVR much?  Or do you just hang out with your APPS?

December 2009 - Fortune Small Business Magazine  Pg. 88 -

13.9 BILIION  = minutes Facebook users spent on the site in April - a 700% increase from April 2008.
     WWCS? - I am a very active FB user and have probably contributed to this amazing increase.  Last April I could barely use my toaster correctly. This year I judge my coolness factor based on the number of FB friends I interact with daily (not really but maybe...).  Facebook lead me to Twitter- Twitter to YouTube- and I have APPS for all 3.  As I finish up an article on Facebook Is What Cheers Used To Be (coming soon) I pose the question:  How many of those 13.9 billion minutes were productive versus neutral entertainment?

According to Fortune, out of 2,000 random Tweets analyzed- 38% were conversational and 43% were deemed babble!
     WWCS? - If Tweets are 140 character babbles, is Facebook a more extensive, audio/video populated version of babble/chit chat?  Why are we spending so much time on Facebook doing something that is as effective/ineffective as chatting in the local bar with strangers?  Especially, when you consider that 87% of adults say they prefer dealing with others in person instead of via computers or smartphones.  Is non-memorable chit-chat better accepted in bytes then over a bite?

There must be something to all this YouTube exchange and Tweeting because 95% of business decision makers worldwide use social networks to some extent.

I get asked all the time, "How do I make money using a social network or blog or Facebook?"  When looking at the above polling numbers it might seem as though no real money can be made in this fickle medium which offers little more focus than an hour at Chili's on a Friday night. However, there is money to be made when harnessing these emerging, and warp-speed growing, mediums correctly. 

So, the next time you are using your APP to log on to Twitter and post a '140 word quip' ask yourself this question: "Is what I am about to say pop-culture relevent,  antagonistically interesting, freakishly Cultish, or funny to the masses under 25?"  If the answer is yes then you are closer than ever to making some moula in cyber-space.

I'll be posting more on this topic in the next few weeks as I prepare to Moderate this Hot Topic in New Orleans at ERA in February.

By the way, what's the appropriate sign of in the Internet world?


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Newspaper Dips / Online Print Rises - $$$ STILL BIG!

Here are some snapshots from an article written by a great friend of mine, Marsha Friedman.  It talks about the status of print and online print and its ability to generate good results in this tight economy.  I found her article RIGHT ON!  I've extracted a few sections that I think you'll find as interesting.

The Value of Web-Based Press Shines As Newspaper Readership Declines   by Marsha Friedman
If you’re an old newspaper hound, it’s not a pretty sight.
The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), the standard-bearer of newspaper and print publication circulation reporting, just reported a couple of weeks ago that newspaper circulation for the six months ending Sept. 30 dropped 10.6 percent from the same period in 2008, with a 7.5 percent dip on Sundays.

Oct. 1, 2008-Mar. 31, 2009: down 7.1 percent on weekdays, down 5.3 percent on Sundays.
Apr. 1, 2008-Sept. 30, 2008: down 4.6 percent on weekdays, down 4.9 percent on Sunday.
Oct. 1, 2007-Mar. 31, 2008: down 3.5 percent on weekdays, down 4.5 percent on Sundays.

Conversely, as newspaper circulations take a nose dive, online readership of newspaper Web sites is on the rise. Newspaper Web sites attracted more than 74 million monthly unique visitors on average in the third quarter of 2009, more than one-third (38 percent) of all Internet users, according to a custom analysis provided by Nielsen Online for the Newspaper Association of America. The sites collectively tallied more than 3.5 billion page views during the quarter, with users spending 2.7 billion minutes browsing the sites over more than 596 million total sessions.  This is a 17 percent increase over the 62 million unique visitors the same sites drew in 2007. In fact, for the first time in history, the stats now show that more people are getting their daily news online, and not from their daily printed newspaper.

While 74 million is a good number of unique visitors, the news-based Web sites are growing in influence and prestige, as well. At the end of the day, print and Web combined means more eyeballs for your story.

Charlie Says: The irony is more people overall are consuming the news than ever before.

Charlie Says: Your product should be in print/online - especially during these tough economic times.  TV/Radio can be accidental.  Print/Online is purposeful!  People buy on purpose! 

Charlie Says: At Synergixx our print budgets have only gone UP this year - even with the newspaper decline- because those that look for news are very qualified buyers!

Who is integrating your traditional print ads with online print ads?  At Synergixx we do it daily... ask us how!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What's In An Offer? Besides My Free Bonus?

It's 4th quarter again!  And this means everyone is rushing to test new shows for 1st quarter!  Hurry.  Hurry.  Test. Test.  But have we considered if we have anything to really OFFER?

We all know what's up with our economy, the world, the war, politics, real estate, stock prices, gas, prices, internet fraud and diet failures... same stuff as always just more compacted and in our face this year.  And what we also know is that selling products is becoming more difficult because our audience is more savvy and less tolerant than ever before in history.  In the last two weeks I have reviewed over 13 different commercials trying to make the 4th quarter test cycle and while most of the products are really GREAT - I'm not sure why I should CALL NOW - aside from collecting some free gifts.  9 of the OFFERS were Just Pay Shipping + 2 Free Gifts.  This is not good as it is a form of "training our consumer to tune out".

What's in an OFFER?  (ALOT)
While reading the 25 OFFERS below, think about any OFFERS you have out in the world.  These can be product offers, service offer, branding offers, lead generation offers, TV/Radio offers, web offers, and so on.  
  • Can any of them be tweaked, twisted, altered, trashed, revamped, super-loaded or "pimped out"?  
  • Can you identify the OFFERS below that are working and that are flat-lining?
  • Can you figure out which OFFERS are being used in TV, Radio, Print, and Online?
 Here we go:
  1. Call us today for a free report on debt management.
  2. To get started log on and type keyword: No Tummy.
  3. Learn how this amazing program can save you time and money.
  4. Save an animal's life for less than the cost of a cup of coffee.
  5. Get a free consultation on the e-diet that's right for you.
  6. Enroll in our online classes and increase your earning potential.
  7. Call us today at 888-8888 and ask for our Web discount.
  8. Subscribe now for free tips for doing your own taxes.
  9. Log on and read how to drop a full dress size by Thanksgiving.
  10. Hurry Up. Reserving your free laptop is just a click away.
  11. Watch this video on how you can stop smoking within 4 hours- and forever!
  12. Does your child suffer from ADD? Take this simple test.
  13. Buy this product today and start losing weight tomorrow. (Or in 7 - 10 days with the super saver delivery.)
  14. Get an excerpt of this self-hypnosis audio CD emailed to you in the next 5 minutes.
  15. Call now for a free 30-minute consultation.
  16. Take our Identity Theft Security quiz.
  17. Learn how you can afford a bigger home than you thought!
  18. What factors should I consider before starting my own business?  We'll tell you for free!
  19. Call today and find out what the I.R.S. doesn't want you to know.
  20. What are the telltale signs of anxiety for children and teenagers- it's all in this free online report?
  21. Buy a Discount Pass and never pay full price again!
  22. How can a new air purifier pay for itself in six months?
  23. Use our online calculator and see how much you can save using our system.
  24. Add to cart.
  25. Buy now! 
You'll notice that none of these offers mentioned price, extra free gifts or trial offers. They may be a part of the OFFER but the point is that your OFFER MUST BE MORE that just free trials and bonus gifts. What are you promising the consumer? How are you affecting their life NOW? Why is your product and your free gifts any more trust worthy or relevant than the one the consumer saw five minutes ago? There is a safety net in testing products with tried-and-true OFFERS but in a year when 1 in 30 new product launches are actually making it into roll-out we must stop being safe and go back to being innovative.

Check out websites I think have it going on - and OFFERS to match! (OFFER: Save 50% on Health Care) (OFFER: Stop Surfing. Start Cruising!) (OFFER: Enter to Win!) (OFFER: Get PAID by check, direct deposit or PayPal- Scam Free!)

DO I endorse the websites?  No.  Are they doing something right in the marketing world?  Yes.

Don't get me wrong... tradition is tradition and we should hold on to our Trial Offers, Soft Offers, and Hard Offers.  Make these traditional offers part of an A/B test.  But let's get a little "unsafe" with our offers and see if we can reinvigorate our consumer's response rate.  Remember, 40-60% of your respondents go online BEFORE they call you... here is a hint:  your OFFER should trap and entice them both Online and Offline- even entangle them in between the two.
 Look for my next post on BACK-END OFFERS GONE AWRY!

Take Time To Shop! A New Online Store I Simply Love!


Putting the Fun in Functional

One of the best ways I find to stay creative at work and not loose my edge is to surround myself with meaningless crap that puts it all in perspective.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Comedy, Cultural Marketing And Did You Know I Am Hispanic?

FACT: Multi-Cultural marketing is the IN thing- especially in direct response.
FACT: Across the world 1+1 is always 2.
FACT: Like words do not always have the same meaning from culture to culture.
FACT: Everyone likes to laugh.

Let's start here!  You go to a comedy club with a variety of comedians- White, Black, Hispanic, Chinese, Italian - pick your mix.  The comic tells a joke.  Half the audience is rolling on the floor while the other half pretends to be taking a sip of their drink because they are perplexed.  People at a comedy club want to laugh even when the joke is not that funny.  Yet sometimes the words themselves are simply not something people can relate to. Potentially they are even offensive.  Worse- they may leave people completely without an opinion.  The reaction of audiences to stand-up comics is just one way to appreciate how it is not language, but rather cultural connection, that can make or break the impact of a message.

Is Humor the Best Way To Bridge Cultural Barriers?  English advertising gurus, like Claude Hopkins in 1923, have always said, “People do not buy from clowns.” Fast forward to David Ogilvy in 1985, “I think this was true in Hopkins’ days and I have reason to believe that it remained true until recently, but the latest wave of factor-analysis reveals that humor can now sell.” Humor plays a vitally important role in consumers’ lives and, therefore, has an important role in the development of effective advertising. But we have to be careful. Let's look at recent advertising with a comedic twist like Shamwow, SlapChop, and Snuggie. These highly effective commercial spots used humor to develop powerful sales messages. But would this humor translate across all cultures without some "tweaking"?  Maybe or maybe not- that is where advertising test dollars are won and lost every year.

Now let's jump to Hispanic advertising.  If your message plays to an English audience can you simply translate the words into perfect Spanish and connect with your consumers?  Weight loss is weight loss in any country?  Credit protection is as important to any family regardless of race?  Everyone would love to have their own home-based business despite their zip code?  Converting English marketing campaigns to Spanish language should be easy by just exchanging words with the same meaning.  Not so.  Converting Hispanic audiences into credit cards orders is more about understanding cultural drivers and respecting cultural nuances than it is about being grammatically correct in your creative scripts and sales pitches. Language is but a tool. Culture is the element that puts that tool to work.

Switch your focus to what can effectively connect cross-cultures.  Take George Lopez’ new HBO Special, “Tall, Dark & Chicano.” If you watch it, you will laugh at some of his jokes guaranteed because they hold universal truths.  But unless you are culturally clued into the very specific Latino audience that he targets (Chicanos) you will find your self sipping your drink in silence.  For some, Chicano populates the mind with images of gangs and other such stereotypes.  But Lopez's unique understanding of this culture allows him to make fun of Chicanos, using a politically charged brand of humor, that leaves them feeling empowered and places like the San Antonio AT&T Center sold out.   Now consider Tommy Davidson, an Black comic, that uses great skill to "fry up" Latino's on their own television stations.  This non-Latino shoves his outside perpective down the audience's throat but in a way that clearly shows affection and respect.  Even though he doesn't speak the language or even belong to the cultural group, he has made a cultural connection.  When you can connect with a culture from the outside your message is very powerful.  And remember, people want to laugh, engage and understand so your attempts to send a message simply must have respect, affection and cultural nuance.

Here's is an example of a cultural nuance.  For Hispanic's, a commercial with people having a conversation gains more credibility if the people touch during conversation.  Hispanics have a very touchy-feely communication style and watching an advertisement that lacks this little nuance will steal away credibility.

Hispanic's like to laugh and react to humor that is personal.  In this way, creating a Hispanic advertising campaign using humor, like that found in a Shamwow commercial, may be a winner.  You must make sure that the humor resonates and is effective- this is another reason to bone up on nuances.

And let's not stop with Hispanic marketing.    Understanding cultural nuances is the key to all Multi-cultural marketing.  Vivian Chen, a manager for US Marketing for McDonald's, had this to say about McDonald's current marketing efforts in Asia.  "...I strongly believe in building long-term relationships with our consumers. We connect with our diverse consumers through their cultural heritage and passion points like music and sports for the African-American segment, entertainment and soccer for the Hispanic audience, and achievement and education opportunities for the Asian consumers. McDonald’s continues to reinforce its brand affinity through a comprehensive and integrated approach that includes traditional media, digital media, social media, events marketing, community outreach, and public relations — all of which bring together the various touch points to connect with the specific target audience."  You got to hand it to them - they sell a lot of Happy Meals!

Right now is the time to embrace multi-cultural marketing.  The U.S. is a melting pot and it is time our advertising budgets reflected this.  Many of you may not realize that I am Hispanic but I am very much so.  And while I may not photograph that way, I am heavily affected by cultural nuances when it comes to advertising.  I listen to Spanish radio and watch Spanish TV.  I have family in Mexico and regularly speak to members of my family who do not speak English.  I buy American products and send them to relatives in Mexico.  I am a decedent of the very cultural group many direct response marketers have pictured in their mind "as difficult to market to".  The stereotype most commonly heard is that the Hispanic market does not have credit cards or disposable income.  Another stereotype is that Hispanics produce lower average order values and a bigger need for COD.  I can tell you first hand that these stereotypes are keeping many marketers from making some series money.  There are many tips and tricks to maximizing this type of campaign.

"Multi-Cultural marketing is too niche!"  And to this I say, "Have you noticed how many cable channels there are now and have you seen how big the Internet is lately?  Niche is in!  Niche and Nuance go hand in hand.  Niche allows you to test cultural messaging cheaply.  Niche marketing makes it easier for more people to get your message and actually react to it in a favorable way.

Here are a few tips to consider when putting together a multi-cultural campaign.
1. It’s important to have a diverse team because they bring some of the insights of the
consumer naturally.  If your marketing staff is not diverse enough you have to find contributing members that fit the bill.  This may mean holding focus groups or hiring a media or creative company to consult.
2. Review advertising that has a long standing in a highly saturated cultural community.  This may be looking at billboards in neighborhoods, searching culturally driven community websites for the banner ads, or watching TV channels targeting the culture specifically.  Become familiar with the styles you see over and over.
3. Understand what makes a message authentic and credible in that culture. 
4. Test digitally when possible.  Research supports that multicultural audiences are using high-tech options to research, shop, and buy products. For example, of the 23 million Hispanics who have online access, 77 percent use the Internet to learn about products, while 70 percent use it to make a final buying decision.
4. Make sure that your cultural connection is not left out of your back-end marketing, such as your call center scripts.  If you have figured out the TV, radio or print messaging and it is generating a response you must follow-up the consumer's response with call center agents that have the same cultural connection.  In Hispanic marketing your call center campaign can be improved just by how the agents are trained or even understanding how different Hispanic accents affect ROI.

I would like to end this post with a really funny joke... but I am a terrible joke teller... I'll leave that to people like George Lopez!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Social Media: Retro Vs. Modern Marketing

50's Flasback!  Retro Marketing Meets Modern Media!
Friends of mine have been sending me photos of themselves transformed into different decades.  They urged me to go to and do the same.  You can see the result above.  I came away from the social media pasttime with two thoughts. 

1) I am positive that the 50's were definitely not my best hair decade.
2) Traditional direct marketers have to take a lesson from social media marketers- a lesson in "touchpoints".
3) Let's not forget our traditional marketing methods no matter how "square" they make us feel.

Touchpoints - repeatedly making your product or service accesible to the consumer using more than one marketing medium.  In traditional direct response channels we consider touchpoints to be TV and radio commercials, call centers, catalogs, direct mail pieces, etc.  In the social media world touchpoints are endless and even better- strategically convienent.

While I was creating my 1950's image this website was quitely feeding me fun facts on fashion with links to online clothing and accessory stores.  The stores themselves had little to do with the 50's (Old Navy, Abercrombie Fitch, Urban Outfitters) but I remember thinking, "Oh, I wonder if these stores are carrying retro styles?"  It was enough to make me click to find out.  And it was a good thing I did because I saved 30% on an non-retro outfit and had it sent to me with free shipping... but I digress...

When you consider the response rates of our traditional touchpoints, like direct mail pieces, you can hope for a .8-3% response on the customer list.  And a response rate means that the customer will call your 800# or visit your website but it does not always result in a sale.  Our touchpoints are limited to our databases or the lists that we buy.  Our touchpoints can be interpreted by our customers as annoyances (outbound calls, junkk mail, spam).  Our touchpoints are limited.  In the social media world the consumer can be exposed to your product in an unlimited number of ways.  My discovery of online stores while using a silly Facebook App is just one example.  With the viral nature of the internet your customer database is never ending.    This means that even at .8% you are getting alot of people's attention.

As you gather your customers through proven methods such as TV, radio and print consider how your are remarketing to them to encourage future purchases.  Are you reaching out to them enough?  And when you reach them are they annoyed or are they having a casual and fun interaction?  Facebook, Twitter, blogs, online video are just some of the tools that social media marketers utilize to grab customers.  You should consider your product/service and how they fit into these online mediums but let's not abandon our roots!

Here are few ideas on how to take some retro marketing mediums and give them a modern day twist.

1. Run radio spot ads that drive directly to a website with an interactive game/survey/prize that links to your microsite.  Instead of telling listeners to call and order now ask them to click and have some fun.  While they are havig fun expose them to your product and convert them.  You may not convert as many customers as you would when they know they are calling to order but with the right interaction you could quadruple response and make it up in volume.  These spot ads are very cost effective.

2. Instead of sending out a traditional catalog or postcard to encourage reorders experiment with sending them an invitation to join your product's Fan page or Twitter feed. (this is easier if you have their email addresses)

3. Reconsider using a tradtional outbound call center to call your customer list and try a different approach when you dial.  Tell your customers that if they a) log on to your website within the next 2 hours they will get a free gift b) if they log on to the product's Fan page and download the brochure on a new product they will get a free bonus c) if they have a friend call back a special 800# they will get a major discount or bonus.  Be creative and make sure that no matter what the customer's response is on the phone they feel entertained not bothered.

When you consider the endless ways to take our retro marketing strategies and infuse them with new social media strategies the possibillities are endless.  BUT... and it's a big one...

According to an August 2009 survey by Mzinga and Babson Executive Education, 86% of professionals in a variety fields said that they have adopted social media in some way.  GREAT!  The survey also stated 84% of respondents said they don’t currently measure the ROI (return on investment) of their social media programs. Even less encouraging, more than 40% of respondents said they didn’t even know whether they could track ROI from their social tools. YIKES!  This makes us traditional direct response marketers cringe in our bobby socks...

Where I believe we can be more successful in the inevitable intergration of traditional and social media is that we live and die by the ROI.  We already know how to track this wihtout a doubt.  By setting up these touchpoint campaigns with measurment tools we will be able to see our touchpints translate into sales dollars much faster. So as you get more familr with social media make sure you don't abandon what has worked for decades because social media responses can be tracked by clicks, 800#s, and carefully structured media plans. 

So c'mon... let's have some fun figuring out how to get your customers excited about your product again.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Legal Zoom/Shoe Stylings - DR Radio Rocks

Here is a subject near and dear to my heart   SHOE OF-THE-MONTH-CLUB! 

Perhaps you missed the recent Press Release released in PRWeek. From the September 01, 2009 Issue of PRWeek   Check it out!

Here are the basics:
Robert Shapiro from teams up with Fashionista Kim Kardashian to launch a shoe-of-the-month club!  For $39.95 a month, Kim and her team of stylists hand pick a shoe for you and send it out with free shipping.  It's a very appealing idea especially when you see the site and the shoes!

This $100K e-commerce test launch has already shipped about 1000 pairs and they are increasing membership about 20% each month! 

How did they do it? 
A massive radio and press interview tour nationwide coupled with updates on Facebook and Twitter pages to help build word of mouth.  Just another example on how traditional radio is feeding new world social media.  Additional media inludes spots on E!'s Daily 10, Extra, the TV Guide Channel's The Fashion Team,, as well as the aforementioned 30-plus radio interviews. Facebook page membership has grown to 1,300 fans.

This is a bit of a departure from - or is it really?, Robert Shapiro's other great DR hit, has been utilizing the power of radio for months.  A major difference in the strategy, aside from STAR power of Kim, is the use of Outdoor advertising instead of Social Media. recently employed the use of outdoor billborads to increase their brand awareness and radio response rate.  Initial results seem to show a 3% lift!

What I love is that in both ventures Robert Shapiro has used one of the oldest forms of advertising to sell some very modern products - spot radio!  Now more than ever spot radio is delivering the audience you need to convert into sales.  The main reason is that it is so flexible and can be supported in so many ways - from billboards to banner ads.  Both of these products are internet based services - no store fronts - but they are using non-internet based mediums to doing the heavy DR lifting.  This is another testiment to why you should be looking at low-cost radio campaigns to test and roll out your next product.

And to answer your obvious nagging question: I am not a member of (yet).  I anticipate that the majortiy of the shoes at that price are pleather or "leather-like uppers" which are not my traditional choices for foot gear.  However, for the budding fashionista I can see this as a great club to join.

Ask me about how to incorporate spot radio with your existing campaings!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Busting Through Creative Blocks

3 Things Charlie Does To “Bust Through” Creative Blocks!

1. I try and stand in the Yoga Pose: Tree! It requires so much focus to keep me from keeling over that I get hyper-focused for a few minutes. When I get out of the pose my brain feels so free.

2. I try to break normal habits. My two favorites: eating a cookie before 12p or having pancakes for lunch – I’m a rebel.

3. I resist urges. In a creative block period I have done crazy things like buy shoes online in haste. I actively resist the $250 shoes, the 2nd doughnut, and picking the same old fight. Sometimes finding happiness or that great new idea is about what you don’t do.

A New Way To Spot Radio

Radio spot advertising just may be the most cost-effective and customizable direct response vehicle available.

Radio is mobile. Eighty percent of adults listen to radio in their cars, and a quarter of the population also listens while at work. Or at least those were the old stats of yesteryear – how many now listen on their iPhone or other mobile devices?
Radio is always new. Many stations now stream their programming on the internet, create web-specific programming, and design entire online and street-based communities of loyal audiences. What's more, if online listeners like what they hear on streaming radio, they're just one click away from your website. And through all this innovation radio has still managed to maintain its credibility.
Radio is a highly credible medium. For small businesses, online services and many products spots are ideal. Here are some tips and tricks to consider for your next spot ad test.

1. Zero In On Your Audience. Who do you believe will buy your product? If you can answer this question you can craft an effective media buy. Write it down: what does your consumer look-like, act-like, talk-like and spend? Try and make this one sentence. This sentence should include age, gender, and relative demographic information including household income. Send this sentence to your media buying outlets and they will send you back a market specific radio proposal that will zero in on your audience.
Ex. My buyer is 45+, male, with middle level income, who is worried about hair loss.
One place to start might be zeroing in on Classic Rock radio stations.

2. Know the power of 3: Reach, Frequency and CPM
Reach refers to how many people can hear the radio broadcast during the time you buy your media. Frequency refers to the average number of times your audience will hear your radio spot. CPM (Cost-Per-Thousand) is the basis for evaluating the cost effectiveness to reach 1% of your target audience. CPM is the best way to compare station to station and is determined by a blend of reach and frequency. Your media buying team must provide this to you.

3. Always be “promoting” your radio spots.

Radio stations are promotional engines- it’s their life blood. Whether it is through website banners, contests or on-site events you need to use every bit of promotional advantage the station is willing to give you along with your radio spot schedule. Remember, many listeners turn to the radio station’s home page to check weather, sport scores, local events and more. Take advantage of this viewership so that the next time a listener logs on they say “Oh, yeah I heard about that product. Llet me click here for more information!” In this same way you can take advantage of the station’s newsletter sponsorship and local events. Radio listeners are loyal to their stations and the more they see what they have already heard the more likely they are to purchase. Additionally, most stations offer the opportunity to sponsor news, weather reports or other types of regular programming. As a sponsor, you generally get additional mentions and lead in’s to your spot. It’s like the station saying, “Hey listen to this next commercial!” Often, sponsorship will guarantee your spots air first in the commercial breaks, or pods, so you'll reach more listeners before they have a chance to switch stations or tune out during long breaks. You won’t get this type of treatment with remnant spot radio but you’d be surprised how cost effective these integrated spots really are AND how much more profitable.

4. Write Good Copy!
Zeroing in on your audience is only half the battle – entertaining them is the other half! Don’t opt for do-it-yourself spots since they are rarely effective. Your spot needs to grab the listeners attention and hold onto it. Your spots must tell stories or present situations your target audience can immediately relate to. If you are going to run the spots month in and month out creating a campaign theme will help keep spots fresh and the audience responsive. Remember 80% Offer! 10% Big Promise! 10% Details! And always try and make the URL or 800# as memorable as possible. Even without a vanity number you can make the 800# pop using voice and sound treatments. Experiment with the URL and 800# - there are many places you can send a listener to but it is the one that converts them into a customer that matters most.
And always use radio responsibly as it just may be the best way to test your next TV or Online mega-hit!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Social Marketing Survey's - Are They Relevent?

In the life of any true marketer the need for validation is constant. We have a great idea but we want to know that others think it is a great idea BEFORE we expose it to the world. Enter SURVEYS and OPINION POLLS. While very formal procedures exist to gather statistically relevent data we must not forget the power of an "unsupervised opinion". By this I mean, the opinon people give when they do not believe the answer counts. The "unsupervised opinion" is one made from the GUT and not the HEAD.

I have conducted these "unsupervised" opinion polls for years in a variety of places, my most favorite being in a resturaunt where I engage the waiters or bartenders into discusion. The feedback you get on an idea, product, or service is refreshing and invaluable because they feel like their opinion is merely a part of the discussion and is certainly not being disected. I asked a waiter once, "Hey does your Chef use any of those gadgets they have on TV to slice and dice or marinate meat better?" The answer was "Not in this kitchen but he told me he bought the Magic Bullet. And I like that one where you can make donuts and pancakes. But my favorite TV product of all time are those lights you stick on the wall - I have them everywhere!" My real survey question was 'which infomercial products were making an inpact at that particular moment'. Do you agree I would have gotten a different response if I had phrased it in such a way? And better, what if I had asked 300 friends online the same question?

Let's turn to Social Marketing- social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and others. The comments expressed in the threads are generally more honest when it comes to products and services than one would expect. Recently, I posted a question on a social site that asked "What would make you buy an acne product on TV: testimonials, clinical studies, a personal success story, or if you could try it free?" As with any opinion poll/survey I was hoping that my GUT was validated and that I could finish my TV script quickly. The answers I recevied back were all over the board. Some traditional survey experts would say the achitecture of the survey was not correct as I should have gained a more specific set of answers. I say that the wide variety of opinions I received prove why it is so difficult to produce a TV HIT right out of the gate. Here are some of the responses I recieved:

Respondent #1: Forget a risk free trial, cheapens the product. Celeb testimonials.

Respondent #2: testimonials that are believable. I bought ProActive before they had all the celeb endorsements... some are so bogus -- just about everyone can sniff a paid testimonial. Has to be real people making real statements. Best one ... Read Moreever was the Pepsi challenge. It felt" real" because they were on the streets doing it -- If you could re-invent that for an acne solution, BINGO!

Respondent #3: Word of mouth is best, but I guess you can't do that. Barring that, for an acne medication, probably risk-free trial. I would want to try it before I invested any money.

I recieved over 50 responses in a 24 hour period either posted publically and privately. The commentary was very specific about what they would need to make a purchase.
I have always thought that an email SPAM campaign was a massive form of a public opinion poll. Use one sentence to peak interest in a product and get strangers to open the email. Your open rate on that SPAM tells you the interest of the averge consumer on your product and their conversion rate states their final opinion on IF the creative angle was effective. Some email marketers will send out a dozen email creatives in SPAM to millions of people trying to narrow down the best offer and creative for roll out - basing their decision on the click-thru rate. The difference here is that the respondent has one choice - 'do you like this creative angle on this product and would you buy it?' By using social media interactions you allows respondents a choice in their response which yeilds more relevant information. The problem is scale!
How scaleable is social media? How many friends do you have to have on a Facebook site or followers on Twitter to make the data collection relative? Can you translate the "unsupervised" opinions into techniques that sell more product? Is social media able to generate revenue? It is not an easy answer but it is definely a YES!
Online marketers will agree that the days when a carefully placed newspaper or radio ad was the answer to building customers have come and gone. They will tell you that your target audience receives their marketing and sales messages through an ever-growing number of media channels – with Social Media and networking sites at the top of that list. I would say that these mediums are joined at the hip, not independent of each other, and can actually work together to produce highly impactful audience response and ultimately sales.
The next time you purchase a spot radio ad or a print ad ask yourself "What will people say about this on Twitter or Facebook?" And the next time you buy a banner ad or send a marketing email ask yourself "Does this have as much credibility as a headline story on the nightly news?" These two questions will guide your creative and marketing efforts in a whole new way. You'll be using Social Marleting Survey's to improve the response rates on your traditional advertising as a standard without giving up tried and true methods like radio and print - even TV!
Gotta go now... I'm late for a social media date!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009



Ok, so what’s a GoGirl?
Simply put, GoGirl is the way to stand up to crowded, disgusting, distant or non-existent bathrooms. It’s a female urination device (sometimes called a FUD) that allows you to pee while standing up. It’s neat. It’s discreet. It’s hygienic. (more)

Hear Your Success on TV Before You See it!

The convergence of TV and Internet marketing has certainly happened and is definitely here to stay. Advertising campaigns have increadible reach with the hundreds of TV channels now available and the ease of online video exchange. It has never been easier to sell ALOT of product very quickly using the combined power of TV and the Intenet. BUT! And it is a big BUT! The risk of loosing BIG TESTING DOLLARS is still very high in these mediums because they still have a high "stumbled upon" factor which does not always translate into product sales. Many product marketers have one shot at testing their product before they run out of money or worse- they get picked off by a competitor (bigger, better faster). When I am approached with a product and asked "Do you see any potential on TV?" I almost always respond, "Let's not guess. Let's listen instead and see if we can hear the success first."

For over a decade, I have been using a talk show interview format on the radio to test product concepts, pitches, spokespeople, and marketing angles with very little financial risk to my clients. What we have proven over and over again with dozens of shows is that these radio talk show formats create a template for the TV version of the same show. This template not only extends to the creative but also the sales metrics. Basically, if we produce a radio talk show 1/2 program and it generates a 100 calls and 30 sales with the average order value being $120 we can safely expect very similar results on TV using the exact same radio show creative. This is not news to some of you. BUT! And it's an even bigger BUT than before... we have now pioneered a highly effective way to combine traditional long form and spot radio with advertorial print and online rich media. We call it PRADIONLINE testing. This is not traditional radio or affiliate marketing or even banner advertising. It is literally a way to increase the number of people listening to your ads and help them "see" exactly what they are hearing. Let me explain!

We use the 1/2 radio show to test the control concept for the product, and then test alternate concepts, buzz copy, price points and visual elements using a combination of advertorial print and online. All at a fraction of the cost of creating a TV spot. Quickly, we distill your marketing message down to make it highly potent. Once we have a winner we increase your listening audience through podcasting and embedding the radio show in highly credible online communities. We use short form radio spots to drive more listners to these credible online communities so they can hear the show or read the advertorial- we have great incentives to get them from listening to clicking through to your website and ordering. And because we have fully integrated the three mediums your consumer has the opportunity to "hear" about your product in many different ways on websites they trust rather than getting SPAM or channel surfing. Rather than allowing your consumer to stumble upon your message we guide them through your message and ordering process. We track which trigger made them order and within a 2-3 week period you have all the data you need to make the jump to TV testing. By testing your product using this interactive radio approach before you produce your TV infomercial or spot ad you will defintley save thousands of dollars and have a significantly higher rate of hitting it big your first time on TV. BUT THAT'S STILL NOT ALL!

Many of our clients have been able to fund their TV production and media testing using the revenue generated from these interactive radio and advertorial campaigns. Most of our radio and advertorial campaigns have generous lifespans of over 18 months each. So, even before you start your TV campaign you will be collecting active customers everyday.

What is so exciting about this direct marketing approach is that it removes the "stumbled upon" affect of traditional TV, banner advertising and affiliate marketing. Using highly credible online communities we put your traditional radio and print campaigns to work for you in new ways. It's not a crystal ball but our clients definitely agree that they heard their own success long before the ever saw it on TV.

If you have a product that targets men or women 35+ and your product has continuity then PRADIONLINE testing should work for you. Think about it.

On September 13th Las Vegas will be invaded by Direct Response marketers from all over the world at the annual ERA Convention - check out If you are attending let's find a time to connect and create some synergy!

Friday, August 21, 2009

White Board Experiment

I have huge white boards all over my office - and today I decided to put them to good use. I read the below and now am trying to "draw out" a brainstrom idea to solve a huge problem in under 28 minutes! My hypothesis is that I can creatively solve problems faster using colors and a time limit - it is a significant combination of endorphines and mental visual focus. I'll let you know how it works out and in the meantime check out this site- good stuff!

Define your problem or issue as a creative challenge. This is extremely important. A badly designed challenge could lead to lots of ideas which fail to solve your problem. A well designed creative challenge generates the best ideas to solve your problem. Creative challenges typically start with: "In what ways might we...?" or "How could we...?" Your creative challenge should be concise, to the point and exclude any information other than the challenge itself. For example: "In what ways might we improve product X?" or "How could we encourage more local people to join our club?" Click here to read Dr. Arthur Van Gundy's The care and framing of strategic innovation challenges (PDF document: 537kb)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dog Disasters to Dating Dynamite!

Meet Indie and Pino, my Boxer and Bulldog. Indie was my "perfect child" for over 2 years when I decided to get her a sister. Enter Pino. After doing zero research I fell in love with her coffee stained face and she came home with me. Little did I know that as she grew to 75 pounds and ate everything in my house she would also turn my perfect little angle Indie into an accomplice. Things were bad so I called the local Dog Whisperer, trained by Ceasar himself. She would fix everything I was convinced. In the first hour she had identified the problem - me! I am a terrible pack leader! And as she began to tell me all the things I was doing wrong I began to feel like I was getting advise on how to improve my relationships: "don't give away affection for free", "demand respect and set boundaries", "never walk the dog in heels". FAST FORWARD> I am now working on developing an online subscription service that will allow people to learn how to Eliminate Dog Disasters and it will double as a How To Improve Your Love Life, and triple as How To Finally Get Control Over Your Problem Child. Using online videos and various offline materials we are creating different ways to serve up the same psychology for training pack animals and making it applicable to achieving success in your personal relationships too! This is a perfect example of 'when life gives you a lemon-make lemonade'. My doggie disasters lead to a creative spark that just may be.... As this develops I'll keep you posted but for now visit

WWCS Goes Mobile!

A year ago I launched It was a very well recieved website that was started to help generate creative thinking, marketing ideas and advertising solutions. It was a great start but it had one major flaw! I- the author- can't stand still and I certainly don't have time to maintain another website- it's too stationary, too cumbersome, too, too, too, NOT accesible through my IPhone! And then it hit me... Blogging has upstaged the now "passe" static websites. It's less restrictive and it can achieve the same desired result as any static website- or dare I say newsletter.

One might say I am late to the Internet Revolution Party. Or am I?
I am an active member of the Direct Response Industry, where some of the most innovative marketing and advertising in the world is generated. Yet I am continuosly amazed at how anti-web the majority of us really are... and let's not use the fuzzy phrase "social media". Most of us pretend to be hip to the power of communicating to the masses effectively through online engagement but in reality how many of us actually engage in it daily? How many of us do much more that Facebook or Twitter as a social escape (no critism as I do it too)? With active participation you can use these interavctions too become more successful.

Like exercise, the more we engage in creative thought processes, the more refined and defined will our creative muscle become. This Blog will update you on how I am develop projects using all kinds of experimental thought processes, issues that I think affect our abilities to grow successfully, as well as fun, creative and inspriational nuggets of nonesense that will get the juices flowing. You can use this content as fuel for your own creative thinking and endeavors. I think Creativity is like sending positive vibes out in the universe- the more you send out the more the universe sends back to you. I can use all I can get, expecially in the marketing and advertising game you're only as good as your last great idea. How do we generate enough ideas to create GREAT ideas more rapidly- new opportunities quicker- and long term success? Let's blog about it and find out- follow me!