Online Marketing Strategies – EverEffect


Posted in online marketing by Thomas Heed on November 28, 2007

Every day, with frustration mounting, I read another article by an online video wonk touting the value of buying impressions. Stuff like –

  • Pre-roll Ads aren’t as pricey as you think they are
  • Simultaneous Viewings are the cat’s meow
  • Financial Services Company buys 85-million Impressions online

This is old school thinking so bad it could have come right out of those abandoned, decaying, one-room school houses that you can still stumble upon in rural America (circa 19th Century).

Offline (TV) is push, online should be pull; offline is intrusive advertising, online should be inclusive advertising; offline is about selling an impression; online should be about selling an interaction.

Mainstream folks will tell you that impressions indicate how many times someone saw your advertising. I prefer to modify that statement by saying impressions are how many times someone could have seen your advertising.

How many people in your target audience are in the bathroom, rummaging around in the fridge, or using their clicky-things to fast forward when your message is playing? How many people actually pay attention to your nifty pre- or mid-roll video online?

It’s the tree in the forest thing: if your video runs and nobody watches it, does it really make an impression?

Now, if I have a video on my website, and it’s user-initiated (think opt-in), then I know darn well that that visitor chose to interact further with my brand. Even better, I can measure my video’s effectiveness. Even, even better, if I use email to invite viewership, and I have properly segmented my list, I can glean all manner of accurate, detailed demographic info. Oh, and I can track conversions, or what we call Return on Interaction.

See, traditional TV and Agency pros want to sell you potential eyeballs, not actions.

Bottom line, stop trying to buy an impression, and start trying to make one.

How do you know if someone is interacting with your brand? Stay tuned.

Yellow Pages Suck

Posted in Measurable Results,multivariate testing,online marketing by Jim Brown on November 26, 2007

For years they were considered the ‘lifeline’ for businesses to reach potential customers. 10 to 15 years ago I would have considered that a true statement. (It could be because that was the last time I knew where my phone book was!) Today, it is just simply not inaccurate, and I would challenge anyone who thought otherwise.

Why? Every year the Yellow Pages rate card goes up 3-7%, yet less and less people actually USE them. The decline in use closely mirrors the adoption of broadband internet service. With that, a large portion of young adults and business buyers NEVER consult the Yellow Pages at all – and they are controlling an ever-expanding portion of the dollars spent! Now, if your target market is one of the two population groups that is not adopting broadband internet services (the lower social-economic segment and the over 50 segment) you should be just fine.

Need more specifics?

Ad Placement

Wouldn’t it be nice if every company’s name started with ‘A’ so they could ALL be at the front of the directory? Let’s take a look at a pretty popular Yellow Page category: Heating and Cooling!

After eight full page ads and just as many half page ads that are horribly designed, yet begging for attention, you finally get to the phone number listings themselves. There you will find 70 (seventy – not a typo) companies that start with the letter ‘A.’ A-Fast Heating, A Perfect Climate, A-Plus Heating, AAA Heating, Aaron’s Heating… you get the point. How in the world are you supposed to stand out? I guess you buy a bigger ad.

Multiple Category Listings

Let’s assume you were a general contractor. Right out of the gate we can put you in that category for a nominal fee. What happens if people aren’t looking for a ‘general contractor,’ but rather a painter. You provide painting services yet you will not be seen when that person is looking – unless of course you buy that category too. The next potential customer wants someone to do a little bit of drywall installation – you do that as well, but again you are only listed under general contractor. I guess you’ll be buying another category?

Now, your budget is not very big to begin with, so what happens when you spread that budget over the 14 categories that a potential customer MIGHT look for you under? Your listing is diminished to next to nothing, and you might as well not be in there at all.

Ad Modification and Spending

I recently spent an afternoon with a local business who spends $13,000/month on Yellow Page advertising. After I picked my jaw up off the floor and realized that equated to over $150,000/year I started to chuckle and asked if he would like to keep more of that in his pocket.

He told me two things that really stuck out during the conversation.

  1. His business is dead November 15 – March 15. It is season and no one is in need of his service during those months. Regardless, Yellow Pages will still bill him $52,000 during that time where his phone will not ring one single time. If you knew this about your business – wouldn’t it be nice to turn OFF your advertising during this time?

  2. He recently added a new service to his business and was waiting until the new Yellow Pages came out so he could start advertising! Who said print isn’t dead? It seems like the moment a piece of paper rolls off the printer, it is already out of date. Why in the world does this business have to wait until the next printing of the Yellow Pages to START advertising his new service? What if the new service is a bust? He can’t do any testing of less than a year with this advertising method.

Shouldn’t YOU be in control of when your ads are modified and how much you are spending? Wouldn’t it be nice to do so on a monthly basis – or even a daily basis?

Measurable Results

“50% of our marketing dollars are wasted every year, the problem is we don’t know which half!” Sound familiar? What about – “80% of my business comes from the Yellow Pages.” Heard that one too?

The fact of the matter is – if you are not measuring your marketing, you are wasting money. Unless you have a special 800 number for every category in the yellow pages you will have NO idea of what is working and what it not – and at this point we are ONLY talking about leads. What happens after the call? Did they close? If not – why? When will you follow back up with them? What if 2 weeks go by – do you remember where they came from or do you just chalk it up as ‘another Yellow Page lead?’

Still not convinced?

You are reading this online – if I were wrong, you’d be reading this in your Yellow Pages!

Wondering where I got a copy of the Yellow Pages? After visiting with my grandpa this Thanksgiving I asked to borrow his copy for this blog entry. I know he’ll need it back.

Aesop on Marketing

Posted in online marketing by Thomas Heed on October 2, 2007

You probably don’t know this, but Aesop, apart from making his mark as a fabulist, was one of history’s first online marketing gurus. As proof, I offer the following case study:

Once upon a time, a boy thrust his hand into a pitcher full of peanuts. He grasped as many as he could possibly hold, but when he tried to pull his hand out of the pitcher, he was prevented from doing so by its narrow neck. Unwilling to lose the nuts, and yet unable to withdraw his hand, the boy burst into tears and bitterly lamented his disappointment. A bystander said to him, “Be satisfied with half the quantity, and you will readily draw out your hand.”

The moral of the story: do not attempt too much at once.

How does this fable apply to online marketing? Well, let’s say you’re part of a large law practice. Imagine that your website is the jar, and your business is the boy.

Your firm specializes in corporate law, including Mergers & Acquisitions, Tax Law, Environmental Law, Labor Relations, SEC Compliance, Patent Law, and so forth. Like the boy, you want to grab as much business out of the jar as you possibly can. The jar’s narrow neck is the fact that your prospects don’t need your expertise in every area, but are seeking solutions to specific legal problems.

What should you do? Do not attempt too much at once.

  1. One story, one message. Aesop wrote dozens of fables, but sold them one at a time. If you offer lots of products or services do not attempt to sell them all at once in the same place. Devise a separate campaign for each offering and make sure that you’re relevant messaging gets to the right audience. Direct web visitors to those areas of your site that speak directly to their desires or needs. Traditional media sells to the lowest common denominator; online you cannot afford to.
  2. Don’t grab for too much all at once. Let’s say you’re advertising a weekend sale for women’s shoes. Aesop would never have publicized a URL directing his target audience to a Home Page featuring all manner of women’s clothing; the fabulous fabulist would have included a link directing interested parties right to a landing page featuring “funky, functional footwear for women.” Don’t overtly try to sell anything other than what has already got your audience’s attention (cross-selling and up selling are another topic). Think of it as the online version of “Would you like fries with that?”
  3. Tell a good story, and set yourself apart from the pack. Your unique story – or the manner in which you tell it – is a key differentiator. Lots of people wrote fables, and yet most of us can only name Aesop as the definitive master of this age-old craft. Tell a great story, and people will be drawn to your product or service. Best of all, they will remember you!

Focus on one initiative at a time and optimize it for success. Getting people to your website is hard work; driving them away is easy when you attempt to do too much.