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Marketing Wizard's Alliance - Part 2

Marketing Speaker, Jim Ackerman says… “Great Minds Act Alike… And so do non-great minds”

By Jim Ackerman · Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 · No Comments »

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I’m on an airplane returning from an engagement in Orlando, where I addressed the members of the Independent Jewelers Organization. And while they are all independent, they have two things in common. They’re all jewelers, and they all ACT alike.

And in this case that’s good.

As one of the nation’s top Marketing Speakers, I address groups all over North America, and I have noticed a very interesting phenomenon…

All groups act alike.

Every group takes on a personality of its own. And I have to say, seldom is this fact remarkable.

But the IJO crowd is different. The IJO members are a serious group of professionals who are dedicated to growing their individual businesses. They are individually open to, and actively seeking, better answers and better solutions to better their enterprises. And they are collectively finding those answers.

IJO only accepts one member in any given geographic area. This encourages the members to be willing to share their successes, because they don’t fear competitive “poaching.”

How did I get the gig? One of my very best and most successful clients, Ashley Miller, the owner of Green’s Jewelers in Roxoboro, NC, referred me to the group with a strong recommendation, because Ashley grew her business, well over 30% in the first year she worked with me and increased by double-digits again the second year. (Her Valentines sales were up 25% alone this year.) So Ashley wanted to share me with her colleagues. You don’t see that in other groups all that much.

What is even more impressive about IJO members is their propensity to take immediate action.

I’m a good speaker and my addresses are generally well received, by all kinds of audiences. But while every group has its go-getters who embrace and act, what impresses me about the IJO crowd is the shear volume of go-getters.

Within minutes of the conclusion of my first session, all the promotional materials I had brought for all my sessions were almost instantly snatched up. I was deluged by people asking for appointments, more information, and how to directly and immediately benefit from what I had to offer.

Don’t misunderstand. Of course this is flattering to a speaker, but I’m not blowing my horn here, I’m blowing theirs.

Most groups are far more timid. Most groups actually fear following through. I’m not sure whether it’s fear of being “sold” something, or fear of not being able to succeed. But it is fear, and it’s often almost palpable. It’s ironic that they join these various groups, ostensibly to improve their business acumen, but balk at going all the way to actually do it, especially in the most vital area of their business for their long-term success… marketing.

Why this phenomenon of homogeny in groups? Is it simply that birds of a feather flock together? Well, perhaps to a degree.

But I believe that it’s more than that.

I believe that every group is a reflection of its leadership. From a group as small as a couple or family to our national society at large.

And I believe this all happens quite naturally and automatically, regardless of whether the members of the group even think they’re a member of the group or are consciously aware that they are.

For example, do we think of ourselves as part of a collective? Well, on some level. We claim to be “Americans,” for example. But do we realize that we “Americans all act alike?” Don’t believe me? Ask the French. And we all know all the French act alike.

You see, we’re trained by our leadership to believe, think, talk and act certain ways.

For example, perhaps Bill Clinton’s biggest (notice I did not say greatest) legacy to the country — and I have to say congress and his party were complicit in this — is that he made it okay for all of us to cheat on our spouses and lie about it.

I’m dead serious about this. Bill Clinton got caught with his pants down — literally — and we as a society, through our press, congress and political process, decided to look the other way and say, no big deal.

Since then we have had all kinds of scandals, some with consequences, some without, but generally it appears we’ve all said, no big deal.

But what is the marketing lesson for all of this?

You have a group that is affiliated with you. They’re your customers. And for the most part, they all act alike. You’re the leader of this group. They act, toward you, the way you’ve taught them to act.

Are they always asking for discounts? You taught them that. They don’t do that with other merchants, because when they’re doing business with another, they’re part of that group, and the other merchants have taught them not to ask for discounts.

Do they buy from you frequently enough or not? Whichever it is, you’ve programmed them to act that way.

Do they trust you? Do they always have to “think about it?” Is each transaction large enough, and do they say yes when you ask them to add something on, in their own best interest? Whatever your answers to these questions, you’ve taught them to act that way.

Now, if you like the answers to all those questions, this principle is a powerful advantage for you. If you don’t like the answers, you’ve got a problem. Because once a group develops a personality, it’s tough to change it. Like steering an aircraft carrier, group behavior doesn’t turn on a dime. It takes time.

But the good news is, the ship can be steered.

You start by reprogramming yourself; the way you talk to your group, the frequency with which you interact with them, the stories you tell them, the examples you hold up, the messages of expectation you send. In short, the relationship you develop with them.

It will take time, but through a dedicated, consistent effort, you can have the IJO of clientele. A group that will enthusiastically embrace and endorse you; a group that will trust you and buy from you; a group that will love you and each other. And you, and each member of your group, will prosper together.

THE END

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Ackerman is a Salt Lake City-based Marketing Speaker, Marketing Coach, author and ad writer. For Jim’s speaking services go to www.marketingspeakerjimackerman.com Subscribe to his VLOGS at www.YouTube.com/MarketingSpeakerJimA, where you get a video marketing tip o’the day, and at www.YouTube.com/GoodBadnUglyAds, where Jim does a weekly ad critique and let’s you do the same.

Marketing Speaker Jim Ackerman Warns of the Danger of the Big Idea…

By Jim Ackerman · Monday, January 30th, 2012 · No Comments »

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I know everyone is looking for the “Big Idea.” But big ideas can be dangerous, especially in the world of marketing and advertising.

If that sounds like the opposite of what you’d expect, here’s the problem…

Marketing and advertising are the glamor sides of every business. It’s the fun stuff, and it’s the most important stuff.

The great industrialist, Peter Drucker said – and I’m paraphrasing here, “There are only two legitimate functions of business… Marketing and innovation. The rest is expense.”

Well, if you believe Drucker — and who doesn’t — then if you’re an accountant, an attorney, an executive assistant, a middle manager, a production line person, the janitor, and all too often the President or CEO, you’re part of the expense structure. And what fun is that?

It’s the marketers that make the world go ’round. Sales, marketing and advertising. That’s where the action is. And everybody wants in on the action, right?

Now, in order to get the marketing stuff done and done well, the boss hires ad agencies, or in-house marketing people or freelancers from top designers to foreigners on e-lance at two bucks an hour.

A good start. These people are hired because of their expertise in this tricky field of marketing. They’re hired because they’ve made a study of it. It’s their life’s work. They have education and they have experience. And that is specifically why they’re hired.

They’re expected to come up with brilliance and they feel the pressure to do so. And sometimes they actually deliver.

But then what happens?

Incredulously, the very people who hired them in the first place, specifically because the hiree is supposedly smarter about these things than the hirer, feel compelled to seek all kinds of opinions about the work of the expert.

So they “show the work around,” to virtually everybody in the building. The accountants and lawyers, the clericals and managers, even the line workers and the janitors in many cases.

Don’t you find it unnerving that the boss wouldn’t trust these people to do this work, but he turns to them to critique it?

When you go to the doctor and he gives you a treatment plan, do you say, “Gee Doc, sounds p-e-r-r-e-t-t-y good. Tell you what. Let me run it by my secretary and some of my line people and see what they have to say.”

Yet this is precisely what happens in the world of advertising.

And what do you get when you do this? A plethora of “big ideas”… and an array of small ones as well.

The little ones look like this…

“I think you should change the word STAT in the headline. I don’t think our market will relate to that.”

“The picture doesn’t do anything for me. How ’bout we use an older couple looking like they’re enjoying life.”

“I would never respond to an offer like that.”

“It’s too edgy. We’re likely to turn our audience off.”

“It would be funnier if we…”

You know you’ve got a “big idea”, though, when they start out with the words, “Y’know what we oughta do is…”

Here’s the truth when it comes to the people who create advertising and marketing programs for a living… at least the good ones…

Every single word that has gone into your ad – every graphic, visual, or auditory element – has been thought through and calculated to bring the greatest possible response.

They’ve almost always considered just about every one of the ideas you and your non-marketing wannabes are spouting off like the creative geniuses they’re not. Those ideas were tossed for a reason.

People who tell you they wouldn’t respond to “something like that” almost always have and almost always will. The only market research that really means anything is the “wallet test.” Which marketing will actually get somebody to pull out their wallet and buy? And the only way to discover that is to take it to market and sell it.

The reason your creative people even allow these kind of pass-it-around shenanigans is that they’re not arrogant enough — translated, secure enough in their own skin — to believe they’ve got the only answers of even the best ones. But odds are frankly through the roof, that they actually do.

These exercises are maddenly frustrating to the creatives. Maybe that’s why they’re seen as hyper-sensitive eccentrics most of the time. It certainly is professionally discouraging to them. Bad for their attitude. Bad for their work. Bad for what you get out of them.

Still, occasionally, somebody comes up with an idea that really is an improvement, so we all keep doing the dance. That is the nature of ideas.

Just remember that, these true improvements are very rare indeed. And in fact, most of the “improvements” that get deployed actually make the effort less effective, not more.

There can be an exception to the rule. When you go to get your “second opinions,” why not pay another professional to critique the work. Keep an agency, a copywriter, a marketing consultant on retainer, whose sole job is to look at the lead agency’s work. A second pair of genuinely expert eyes could be just the ticket to make real improvements that could send response rates through the roof.

“Too expensive, Jim”

Really? If you’ve been reading this column for any length of time, you know that a 2-word change in a headline could account for as much as a 1,000% increase in results. Given that understanding, doesn’t a little extra investment in the message make a lot of sense? It could make a lot of dollars.

Whether you take that step or not, here’s one thing I recommend in all cases: You hire these people for their expertise. When it comes to changing their work in favor of any less-expert opinion, it’s dangerous not to give your creatives the benefit of the doubt.

If you can’t do that, then at least test their version against the amateur-revised versions, head-to-head in the marketplace.

If you still don’t trust their instincts and training, fire them, and get people who you can trust.

THE END

EDITOR’S NOTE: Salt Lake City-based Jim Ackerman is one of the nation’s top Marketing Speakers. He’s a Marketing Coach, author and ad writer. For Jim’s speaking services go to www.marketingspeakerjimackerman.com Subscribe to his VLOGS at www.YouTube.com/MarketingSpeakerJimA, where you get a video marketing tip o’the day, and at www.YouTube.com/GoodBadnUglyAds, where Jim does a weekly ad critique and let’s you do the same.

Marketing Speaker, Jim Ackerman Reveals the Demonstrable Power of Relationships

By Jim Ackerman · Friday, January 20th, 2012 · No Comments »

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I have, over the last several years, had the opportunity to work with a number of businesses, all in the same industry. The same segment of the retail industry, as a matter of fact.

Some of these retailers I worked with concurrently; others consecutively. And the experiences have led me to one inescapable, fully documentable conclusion…

If you’re not cultivating strong relationships with your clientele,
you are leaving thousands – even tens of thousands of dollars – on the table,
and risking the prosperity, and probably the survival, of your enterprise.

Here is the uncontestable truth… Good marketing is exponentially better when you have strong customer relationships.

In fact, BAD marketing is exponentially better when you have strong customer relationships, it’s just harder to tell.

Case in point. I worked with a half dozen jewelers in North Carolina. I recommended each do very similar, private sale promotions. And when I say very similar, I’m not kidding. The invitations were almost identical in many ways. The heading at the top of the page was the same. Much of the copy of the letter was the same.

Really, the only difference from one to the next was the specific, price and item offers contained. But while the merchandise being highlighted was different, the relative values were very similar. Deep discounts, a wide variety, multiple price points.

Now it needs to be said that all of these promotions were successful beyond what these merchants had been used to. Response rates varied between 6.5% — which anyone with experience will acknowledge is two or three times “normal” — and a whopping, through-the-roof 40%.

And here’s the thing… In the three lower-performing shops, the rates were all in the 6.5 to 8 percent range. But the three higher-performing shops got dramatically better results – 16.75%, 20%, 40%.

What caused such a magnificent difference? I contend it was relationship. Quality of customer relationship is a predictor of marketing effectiveness.

The better the relationship going in, the greater the response rate will be to any promotional effort.

In the case of the top-performing retailers, each had strong, established relationships with the clients they were inviting to participate in the event. When the invitations arrived, the clients didn’t see them as a cheap ploy to get them back in the store. In fact, they felt honored just to be invited to such an exclusive event.

In each of the three lesser-performing retailers, they had previously admitted to me that they once had good customer relationships, but they had let that slip over the recent several years.

Not only, therefore, did the relationship-based merchants realize a better response rate, but they also closed more sales for more money per sale.
The tale of the tape bears out my main premise. All marketing works better if it is backed up by a strong client relationship that has been pre-established.

Now lest you think this applies only to retail jewelers, I assure you, it applies across the board. I’ve seen the same phenomenon in manufacturing operations, wholesalers, service companies and professionals.

The question then becomes, how do you establish and maintain those relationships. There are a number of ways…

  1. Say thank you for the business. And not just at check-out. Send a thank you note.
  2. Render extra-mile service at every opportunity. And remind the client that you have done so, and what the value of that extra service is, when appropriate
  3. Educate clients about your products, services, company and industry, on a regular basis. Easily done now-days through an email or e-zine. But if you want to get a little more elaborate, open a YouTube channel and do it through video.

But here’s the single, most important thing you can do to cultivate a rock-solid relationship with your already existing customers or clients…

Sell them something else…

That’s right. Keep selling to them.

If you fail to continue to SELL to your customers, they’ll fail to continue to BE your customers.

Selling to them is a demonstration that you care about them. Selling to them is how you tell them you want to bring additional value into their lives. Solving their problems through your products and services is the glue that binds them to you; that makes them value YOU.

I endorse those thank you notes… and the best of my clients include a bounceback coupon on his thank you notes, to encourage buyers to come back for more.

Birthday and anniversary offers, private sales, several other promotions during the course of each year. Depending on the nature of your business, don’t let more than a quarter go by without some kind of solicitation. In most situations monthly offers are appropriate. In some cases, more.

“But Jim, I have 18 stores across 5 states! How can I possibly build relationships with all those customers?”

I’m tempted to say, “I don’t know. You figure it out.”

But I won’t. Instead, I’ll point to Nordstroms. Their salespeople are encouraged to develop relationships with customers. They’re trained on how to do it and how to make salesmanship and exceptional customers service blend into one. Which they should be anyway.

If Nordstroms can do it, so can you. It will take training. It will take a consistent and concerted efforted… It will take time.

But the time will pass anyway. The question is, are you using the time to improve your relationships – and therefore your marketing – or are you frittering it away.

One more thing… if you want client relationships set in granite, ask them for and get from them, referrals. Once they refer a friend, you’ve got ‘em for good, and you’ll be theirs.

Success,

Jim

P.S. If you want to get a program in place that enables you to consistently market to your existing clients, and consistently express your appreciation to them. I recommend SendOutCards. In fact, I so believe in their service, they have been made Preferred Vendors in The Marketing Wizards Alliance, which allows me to rebate to you, 25% of their initial set-up charges. Contact me for more details at mail@ascendmarketing.com. Subject Line: SOC Info.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Ackerman is a Salt Lake City-based Marketing Speaker, Marketing Coach, author and ad writer. For Jim’s speaking services go to www.marketingspeakerjimackerman.com Subscribe to his VLOGS at www.YouTube.com/MarketingSpeakerJimA, where you get a video marketing tip o’the day, and at www.YouTube.com/GoodBadnUglyAds, where Jim does a weekly ad critique and let’s you do the same.

Magic Wand Marketing Contest Winner, Bill Warren, Shares Valuable Philosopy with Marketing Speaker Jim Ackerman

By Jim Ackerman · Friday, January 13th, 2012 · 1 Comment »

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Master Marketing Jeweler, Bill Warren, owner of THE GOLD MINE in Hudson, NC, is the winner of the first, annual Magic Wand Contest, sponsored by The Marketing Wizards Alliance™. Bill won for submitting the best marketing project of the year. And the truth is, he made several quality submissions throughout 2011. You can see Bill’s website at www.hudsongoldmine.com.

How does Bill do it? This video will give you some valuable insights as to how you must think to grow your business in today’s economy.

Take Bill’s advice to heart. And submit your marketing projects for consideration. You could win multiple monthly prizes and even win the Grand Prize of a trip to beautiful, Park City, Utah!

Send your submissions via email to mail@ascendmarketing.com. Subject: Magic Wand.

Success,

Jim

Topics: Uncategorized · Tags:

COMPOUND COMPLEXITY… As if recession wasn’t enough, the media world is upside down

By Jim Ackerman · Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 · No Comments »

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As we enter 2012, I can’t help but reflect on 2008. The economy had crashed and we elected a new President on “Hope & Change.” We hoped things would change, but have they?

YES… for the worse!

And what does that mean for businesses large, and particularly small?

Here’s the sitch…

The government hasn’t helped one iota. We’re still spending like drunken sailors; there is still a tremendous amount of uncertainty regarding energy, healthcare and taxes. The ONLY reason the economy hasn’t continued to plummet is because consumption that was postponed had to eventually take place in some sectors. Cars and washing machines, wear out, for example, and simply must be replaced. Businesses that don’t stay up with technology simply can’t continue to compete. So some movement has to take place. It just has to.

And give credit where credit is due. Some smart businesses innovate and come out with products, programs and services that are particularly designed to serve people and other businesses in these economic circumstances, helping people cope with the economic conditions. These products and service will be bought.

But you don’t see an improvement in housing, do you? Not much anyway. Because most of us who can keep our homes are doing just that.

So what is the message for businesses? How do you market in this economy?

The most important answer is that you DO.

I have a former client in Wisconsin who blames the economy for his woes. He is likely to lose his business in the next few months, unless he can sell it. Sad. He’s been a successful businessman for over 30 years. But he refuses to do what must be done to save it. He refuses to do things differently than he ever has. He refuses to innovate in his marketing. He’s literally pinning his hopes on an economic turnaround that will lift all boats and provide the “automatic prosperity” he once enjoyed. (Wonder why he’s a former client?)

Ain’t gonna happen.

Not for him; not likely for you and me; not likely ever again.

No, from now on, we’re all going to have to earn our right to survive and thrive in the world of business.

The compound complication

Bad enough, the economic crash. But something else happened at about the same time that has made things all the worse for most businesses. What was it?

The iPad.

I’m serious. The introduction of the iPad literally changed everything, almost overnight.

The Internet was already revolutionizing the world of marketing and advertising, but the iPad – and the online and mobile innovations that came along at about the same time – have accelerated the speed of that revolution beyond almost everybody’s ability to cope.

The epitome of the point is the iPad television commercial that said, in part, “Now you can watch a newspaper; listen to a magazine…”

The lines of the media have blurred to the point that they are almost unrecognizable. You go online and radio stations look like TV stations, TV stations look like newspapers and magazines. You can get your newspaper, TV or radio streamed right to your computer, your phone or that iPad or lesser tablet. Books are now electronic and so are the papers, magazines, newsletters, and on and on.

The Yellow pages are all but dead, major daily newspapers are fast diminishing, and one wonders if they’ll be around in a decade.

The fallout is, on the surface, it looks like nobody knows the rules of the game anymore. Shoot, they don’t even seem to know the shape of the ball.

What used to work – or so we thought – doesn’t anymore.

Or does it?

To be sure, the world of media and advertising has so changed that one is tempted to draw that conclusion. But could it be that what allegedly “used to work,” never really did, but we were in such prosperous and easy times that it seemed like it did?

Today I hear all the time that direct mail doesn’t work, “like it used to”; that newspaper, radio, newspaper doesn’t work, “like it used to.”

Most of the people who say this are still running the same kinds of ads “they used to,” and are surprised they don’t work anymore. When odds are they weren’t working all that well before. But it felt like they were because in “the good ol’days,” you had the force of volume.

It’s just the way it is that fewer people are reading their newspapers, watching TV or listening to the radio. No wonder the same old ads are bringing the same old results.

Interestingly enough, almost everybody still gets mail, so why isn’t it working “like it used to?”

Well, it is… and so are the other media. And some of it’s working even better. But only for the people who are innovating its use.
I have clients who are routinely getting response rates of 7%, 10%, 16%… all the way up to 40%. But it’s not your daddy’s direct mail, or radio, or whatever.

Want to know the secret? Go back to tried and true basics…

1. Start with chasing the right people. Start with marketing to your house list
2. Make a strong, irresistible offer. Ten percent off doesn’t cut it. Never has. But especially not now.
3. Employ a compelling headline that sucks in the reader or listener or viewer.
4. Pack your message with powerful BENEFIT statements.
5. Get personal. Avoid “ad speak.” Talk to people in your advertising as you would talk to them face-to-face.

Use these basics in all your advertising, in any media, and you’ll overcome the complexities and simply succeed.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Ackerman is a Salt Lake City-based Marketing Speaker, Marketing Coach, author and ad writer. For Jim’s speaking services go to www.marketingspeakerjimackerman.com or contact Jim directly at mail@ascendmarketing.com. Subscribe to his VLOGS at www.YouTube.com/MarketingSpeakerJimA, where you get a video marketing tip o’the day, and at www.YouTube.com/GoodBadnUglyAds, where Jim does a weekly ad critique and let’s you do the same.

Jim on Tony Wilkins online Radio program…

By Jim Ackerman · Friday, December 2nd, 2011 · No Comments »

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Gang, I’m going to be on the radio with Tony Wilkins in 15 minutes. Join me if you can to talk all things marketing in the “toilet economy”, including new insider secrets about online marketing. Listen in and call in!

Listen to internet radio with TonyWilkins on Blog Talk Radio

The Loss of Jobs…

By Jim Ackerman · Monday, October 24th, 2011 · 2 Comments »

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It was early 1986. Just over a year after I opened my advertising agency in Idaho Falls, Idaho. My first use of any kind of computer at all wasn’t that long ago. It was at my former J O B. I had a terminal for a mainframe. Green screen; DOS operating system; dozens of commands to memorize. Basically a pain in the butt.

Now, however, a local printer was introducing me to something different. A new kind of computer, made for the rest of us. It was called… the Apple McIntosh.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that I wanted one. And it was easy justifying the idea that I needed one. It was so easy, so user friendly, so immediately no-brainer to operate. And it was best at doing what we advertising types do… graphic design. (Up to this point, I was doing everything on an IBM Selectric typewriter and with T-square and triangle on a drawing table.

It took months of deliberating and cajoling my wife, but by the end of the year I nervously took the plunge and got my first Mac Plus and Laserwriter Plus. The package cost me 10 Grand! And it remains, to this day, the single largest investment of any kind I’ve made for business purposes, with the possible exception of an occasional media buy. I went into hawk to buy it, which really scared my wife. And if the truth be told, I was petrified about it myself.

Turns out it was one of the best business decisions I ever made. That little computer served me, trouble-free for years. And I’ve been an Apple Man ever since.

I’ve mused in the past about this. I’ve talked about the entire experience of doing business with Apple. I’ve particularly extolled the virtues of Apple’s realization that “brand” is about the experience, and because of my experience with Apple, wild horses couldn’t drag me away from this brand.

And now… now we’ve lost Steve Jobs.

This is one of the most significant losses in the history of the industrial age. Unquestionably the greatest loss of the computer era. Has to be. Jobs essentially invented the computer era.

Oh, I know he didn’t invent computers, or even the personal computer. He just invented making them easy, fun, and even sexy. And that has made all the difference.

But Jobs legacy is bigger than McIntosh… bigger than the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. It’s bigger than Apple itself. Jobs legacy to all of us is in the example he set of how to do business.

I’ve quoted another great visionary in this column, and every time I quote him, it’s been the same quote.

Peter Drucker said, “There are two and only two legitimate functions of business… marketing and innovation; the rest is expense.”

Nobody, probably including the great Drucker himself, exemplified these words than Steve Jobs.

He was legendary, of course, for being a stickler for detail. Legendary for eschewing market research and focus groups, saying that the public doesn’t really know what it wants until you show it to them.

And if that doesn’t epitomize the spirit of innovation, I don’t know what does.

I mean, did any of us know we wanted an electric light until Edison showed it to us?

The innovations Jobs brought to the market were and are stunning in scope. He was truly a visionary. But I guess you can say that about science fiction writers. The difference is, Jobs figured out ways to bring to reality his visions of the future.

The other side of the equation, of course, is marketing. And this is, as much as anything else, what really sets Jobs apart.

I deal with “inventors” all the time. People bringing their products to me. I see their innovations – some good and useful, many almost a joke – but I see them. And their question is always the same… “How do I market this?”

Jobs didn’t just know how to innovate. He also knew how to market. What an exceptional and rare combination. I certainly don’t have it. Not the way he did.

Here are the secrets, it seems to me, of Jobs’ marketing success…

1. He brought products to market that were demonstrably different and superior to his competitors.
2. He didn’t flinch at charging a premium price, which also set him apart from the crowd.
3. He realized that it would take more than a superior product; that it would also require a superior presentation.
4. Generally, he knew how to wait, to be patient, and to make sure his team waited and was patient too. You heard rumors about what was up at Apple, but you seldom knew, until they announced it. And when they announced it, it was already good. Compare that to Microsoft and their track record of weak releases.
5. He made sure that everything about his company, as well as his products, contributed to that “different” kind of experience.
6. He was passionate about what he did and he had fun doing it.

I’m not saying the man was perfect. The ironic release of the iPhone 4S, in such proximity of his passing is evidence of that. And incidentally, could give many pause as they consider the future of Apple. But I am saying he had the right idea, about just about everything business.

I do admire the fact that he has literally changed the world, more so perhaps than anyone since Edison.

And though Steve was actually two years younger than I, I have to say, I want to be like Steve when I grow up.

How ‘bout you?

Other Marketing Speakers May Disagree, but Jim Ackerman Says You CAN Track Radio…

By Jim Ackerman · Thursday, June 23rd, 2011 · No Comments »

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Yes, you can track the results of radio ads.

You can track specific results, and you can track the relative success of one ad compared to another.

Let me share some of the results achieved by one of my clients. Of course, his specific numbers are confidential, but I can give you good enough generalities that you’ll get the point.

But first, how ’bout actually listening to the 3 ads he tested. Hear them right here in an episode of my YouTube Channel, Good, Bad’n Ugly Ads

Here’s what normally happens in the advertising world…

1. The advertiser, either by himself, via the station, or by an ad agency, creates one radio spot and runs it. It either works or it doesn’t, and most of the time the advertiser doesn’t know, because no system for measurement has been put in place.

2. In the rare instances where an advertiser does create multiple spots, the motivation is generally variety instead of testing and tracking. The spots are run in a random rotation, which makes them even harder to track, and the advertiser learns nothing.

Here’s what we did differently in this campaign…

1. We created 3 different spots, each with a somewhat different appeal, so we could test one against another. Each had a specific call to action, but one didn’t have much of a special offer. (Hey, we’ll test just about anything.)

2. Instead of running in rotation, we made sure that ad A ran on day 1 of the flight, ad B ran exclusively on day 2, and ad C only ran on day 3. Then it became a simple matter of tracking phone calls.

THE RESULTS…

Naturally, for confidentiality reasons, I can’t give you all the numbers, but I can give you some of them, both to illustrate the value of testing and tracking and so you’ll know what to track…

Ad B (1 Office, 1 Dr., 1 Day) out-pulled the 2nd place ad by 500% and the 3rd place ad by 1,000%. If that doesn’t convince you it’s worth testing and tracking, I don’t know what will.

Cost per lead - As low as $170.75
Conversion-to-appointment rate - As high as 36%
Appointment-to-patient conversion rate - 50%
Call-to-patient conversion rate - As high as 18%
Gross ROI - 1,117% or 11.2 to 1. (For every dollar spent, $11.20 returned in gross revenue)

There are more numbers that I can’t share, but here’s what we looked at…

Total calls
Total investment
Appointments set
Cost per appointment
Cost per patient acquisition
Average revenue per patient.

And when we were done, we tried the winning ad on a different station and did the same tracking. We were able to compare one station to another this way, so we knew definitively, not only which ad is most profitable, but which stations are as well.

Don’t you think this kind of info would be worthwhile to use in your business? Follow the process and you’ll soon experience the confidence and power that comes from having this kind of vital marketing intelligence at your finger tips.

I can help you or your group discover and implement these important principles of marketing, and many more. Check me out at www.MarketingSpeakerJimAckerman.com, or buy my book, HOW TO MARKET YOUR CRAP WHEN THE ECONOMY IS IN THE TOILET… 12 Vital Strategies for Unclogging the American Economy, One Business at a Time

Ad your comments and submit your marketing efforts for my analysis, and receive a FREE Audio version of my book if your ad is used.

6 Keys To Strong Ad Creation from Marketing Speaker Jim Ackerman

By Jim Ackerman · Thursday, June 16th, 2011 · No Comments »

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If you haven’t figured it out by now, there is a lot more to creating good ads — or marketing projects of any kind for that matter — than merely throwing something together and spending your hard-earned resources on media.

In my role as a marketing speaker, I have pointed out many times how message trumps media time and time again.

But people don’t like to spend their resources on message. They think they need to spend them on media.

My point is, an investment in what you say can be a tremendous multiplier of your media budget. Easily one worth investing either time or money in, or both.

If you create your own ads, these 6 criteria will keep your writing on target. If you hire somebody to create the ads for you, judge their work by these 6, to make sure you’re getting the best for your investment…

1. Is there a good headline? Nothing is more important. Headlines MUST accomplish 50% of the work of all ads. That’s not an arbitrary number. It is exact. The headline MUST capture attention AND CONVERT attention into interest. That is precisely half the work of any ad. (The other 50% is cultivating desire and inspiring action.) The headline MAY do more than that first 50%, but not less. And don’t forget, since the headline is responsible for the FIRST 2 functions of the ad, which happens before the “meat” of the message is delivered, and because if it fails, the meat never gets tasted, we say that the headline accounts for up to 80% of the success of your ad.

It stands to reason, a lot of time should be spent coming up with the right headline.

2. Is the UPA — the UNIQUE PURCHASE APPEAL in there. The UPA is one sentence to one paragraph that describes how your business is different from the competition in a way that appeals to your target customer. It must include a POINT OF ONLY-NESS. There may be a lot of ways to say it, but like the sauce, it’s gotta be “in there.” If you fail to differentiate yourself from the competition, one of the consequences it that your ads may actually help your competition, almost as much as it does you. And you certainly won’t be able to justify higher prices.

3. Are the BENEFITS clearly articulated. Typically, they’re not. It is dismaying that so many businesses are so focused on the features of their product, service or company, that they forget the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) that the prospect is exclusively interested in.

Remember, there are two kinds of benefits. Primary benefits are emotional in nature, appealing to our needs to feel important, love and be loved, variety and convenience. They are not immediately recognizable — unless you point them out — to your prospects, because they’re feelings based. Secondary benefits are cognitive in nature. Less compelling normally, but easily recognized because they are immediately recognizable results. Like save money, save time, better fuel economy, greater control, etc.

4. Are the Features featured? Just because benefits are the most important, doesn’t mean there is no place for features. Your features provide the believability for your benefit promises. You’ll save money BECAUSE our car gets 35 mpg, or You’ll enjoy maximum health benefits because our brown glass bottles keep your supplements fresh longer.

There are three kinds of features…

Physical features are the physical characteristics of the product or service. A 6.2 liter engine, graphite frame, etc.
Credibility features are often overlooked and very important. 35 years experience, 97% customer satisfaction, etc.
And deliver features are HOW you deliver your products or services. 24 hours service, 3 easy payment plans, etc.

5. Is the message in BENEFIT language? It’s one thing to have benefits, but if you put them in feature language, you reduce their impact. On the other hand, you can put features in benefit language and improve their effectiveness.

For example, a typical claim would be, “Our high efficiency furnace saves you money.” Well, saving money is a benefit, but this statement is in FEATURE language. It talks “us” instead of “you”. Better said would be, “You’ll save money with our high efficiency furnace.” That’s benefit language. By the same token, “Choose from 3 easy payment plans,” is a feature. But we’ve made it sound and feel like a benefit by starting the sentence with a verb (Choose), which makes it sound like a result; which is a benefit.

6. Does it have a compelling OFFER? Maybe I should have put this in the number 2 position. Because offers come close behind headlines in importance for making your ads effective. In fact, with the right headline and the right offer, you don’t have to have very good copy. Not that you shouldn’t, but headlines and offers are so important to the success of your ads that if you get them right, you may only need to make sure your body copy doesn’t get in the way.

Your offers are made of CONDITIONS and APPEALS. The conditions are the price of the product and the terms or limitations. In other words, the things about the offer the prospect would just as soon do without. But, structured properly, they can provide real incentive for the prospect to act now, rather than delay. For example offer ends Saturday or only 27 units available are conditions that would discourage delay.

Appeals are the pot-sweeteners that prospects like. Bonuses, premiums, free samples and guarantees.

By way of review, check out this video from my YouTube channel, GoodBadnUglyAds

Look at the ads that come to your mailbox, that you see on TV, hear on the radio, read in papers or magazines, or see online. Practice analyzing them with these 6 criteria and your skills at creating and evaluating your own ads will increase, your results will improve, and you’ll be rich by Tuesday.

Marketing Speaker Jim Ackerman Asks, Is the Internet Killing All Other Media

By Jim Ackerman · Sunday, June 5th, 2011 · No Comments »

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Could it be that the Internet is killing all other media?

It has surely killed the Yellow Pages already. And it looks an awful lot like newspaper is soon to follow.

I just heard that while television viewership is up by just over 1% in the last year, viewership in the key 18-49 demographic is down by over 10%. Where are those viewers going? To the internet.

But perhaps most disconcerting of all was two direct mail packages I received from American Express. They were a two pieces in a split-run test. One a postcard, the other a #10 letter package.

Nothing unusual about that on the surface, but immediately upon examining both packages, something glaringly jumped out…

Both pieces were designed primarily to send readers directly to a website to get the rest of the sales pitch. The postcard, a folding piece, had headlines and primary features on both sides and told readers to go to the website, even before they opened the card. If they did open the card, the message was very short and, while it did offer a telephone option, also sent people to the website.

The letter package was almost identical. Headline on the front and back, same features featured. Same call to action of going to the website on both the front and back of the envelope. And when you opened it up, the letter was short and focused on getting you to got to the website or call.

Here… see them for yourself here…

So, are all of the other media on their way out because of the internet? Frankly, I hope not. As a marketing speaker and marketing consultant, I must say that i-marketing is still tough and may be very tricky to figure out effectively and profitably over time, simply because of the limitless options people have. Is there anywhere online where enough motivated buyers are regularly-enough assembled to make using on-line marketing as your PRIMARY marketing tool going to be cost effective and profitable.

Surely the answer is yes for some companies, products or services. But just as clearly, the answer will be NO for many, if not the majority. And if the traditional media are rendered completely ineffective, where will those companies go? How will they market, and how will they survive.

Some time ago I wrote a column recommending that if you haven’t already cracked the internet code, now is not the time to do it. That was several years ago. With the latest media/internet marketing developments, the time has come to dedicate both budget and time to learning the net and to at least begin the process of mastering its marketing capabilities.

Having said that, the key word is BUDGET… both time and resources. It’s still not going to be the mainstay of your marketing and the effort you pour into it must therefore be thoughtful and disciplined. Keep going with you other marketing efforts as well. They’ll be your sustenance, at least for the near future.