Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

The Wizard of Ads

Saturday, August 12th, 2017 | Books

The Wizard of Ads: Turning Words into Magic and Dreamers into Millionaires is a book by Roy H. Williams.

My current series of blog posts is a clearing out and putting to bed of all the books I have half-finished. Typically, when I start a book, I finish it. But Napoleon’s Hill’s Think and Grow Rich has inspired me to give up on a bad book.

The Wizard of Ads is somewhat more interesting. But the trouble is that I have now read most of it and I am still not sure what it is about. I think it is about marketing and advertising. But the author jumps around so much that it is almost impossible to follow his chain of thought.

Indeed, there may be done. There is no real structure to the book. It is a collection of anecdotes that Williams thinks will be useful to marketers.

And they are. There is a lot of gems to be gleaned from this book. Including:

  • People are always thinking: get their attention by giving them someone more interesting.
  • Don’t train your customers to wait for a sale
  • Tell a customer what they already know or suspect. They will believe you.
  • Save people time, not money.
  • Great presentation will cause people to buy emotionally.
  • Make people feel good, don’t point out problems.

But the lack of structure of clear theme to the book making the whole thing rambling and confusing. The religious references also get tedious.

The most controversial aspect of the book is probably that Williams rejects targeting and sales it is all in the copy. This goes against what most marketers teach. Indeed, it even goes against what Gary Halbert teaches in The Boron Letters: “more than anything, give me a list of qualified buyers”.

It does have a fun title, though.

How TTP evolved their IT recruitment

Thursday, July 20th, 2017 | Life

Back in November last year, I noted that healthcare software provider Emis had started advertising at the train station. Right next door to where rival company TTP were advertising.

But Emis did a much better job of it. Their ad read:

I used to optimise gambling apps. Now I’m boosting survival odds.

Much better, in my opinion, than the patronising slogan of the TPP advert next to it:

Are you a little bit geeky?

Well, it turns out that TPP got the message (not from reading my blog, I’m sure). Because, as I walked through the train station a few weeks ago, they had replaced their long-running advert with a new one.

This one reads:

Write code. Solve problems. Save lives.

For me, this is a huge improvement over their previous ad. It doesn’t make it clear what they actually do, but it does appeal to people’s sense of wanting to do something meaningful with their lives.

Why would you advertise for people people?

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017 | Business & Marketing

This is the second of two blog posts about billboards. Life does not get any more exciting than this. Read part one here.

I ran up the canal. And for a long time, there was a First Direct billboard half way up my route that said: “people people wanted”. Every week I told myself I should take a photo of it. Finally, after a month, I resolved that this would be the day. So, I ran up there, pulled out my camera and… it had gone.

However, I recently saw this advert at the train station and it will illustrate my point just as well.

The headline reads…

Good with people? Then you’ll be great with us.

In both of these instances, it could be that they are just looking to drive some recruitment there way. And to an extent, it is. But there must be far more cost-effective ways of finding people than a billboard that targets everybody. Most people have a job, for example, and don’t work in customer services.

However, these advertisements serve a secondary purpose.

They are also value signalling. Not only do they advertise for friendly customer service people but they also say to everyone who reads it “why not come and bank with us – we care about getting friendly staff on board.”

Few people are people people looking to move into a different customer services role. But everybody would like a bank with friendlier customer services.

Why optimise your Facebook ads for conversions?

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017 | Business & Marketing

When creating Facebook ads, you can choose a variety of campaign objectives: website traffic, clicks, conversions, purchases, leads, page likes, the list goes on.

For most campaigns, you will be choosing between clicks and conversions. Some people have suggested it doesn’t make much difference. But my testing disagrees. We’ve seen a large amount of difference between who clicks and who converts.

The audiences are different

Over at Restaurant Psychology we have a survival checklist to help restaurants owners create a great experience. It is a pared down version of my book Why Restaurants Fail – And What To Do About It. To promote it, I launched a Facebook ad.

It’s not a fancy design. I tried fancy designs, and this converts better.

To start with, I wanted to make sure everything was working and that people responded to the advert. So I set up a campaign with the objective of clicks. The audience responded well, and we achieved around a 3% click-thru rate, which is pretty kick-ass for Facebook.

What is perhaps more interesting though, is that it was predominantly women who were clicking on the ad.

What happens when we changed the objective?

Once this was done, I set up a new campaign. This one had the objective of getting conversions. That means it was optimised for people to sign-up to get the checklist, rather than just click on the ad. Facebook went to work and found these people.

And they were different.

Despite the fact that women were more likely to click on the advert, they almost never signed up to get the checklist. They made up 62% of the clicks, but only 4% of the conversions.

What is going on here?

Facebook is very good at predicting what a user will do. Scarily good.

And it knows that, for example, women are more likely to click on my advert, while men are far more likely to sign-up when they do click on it. Therefore, it delivers the advert to a very different audience based on what campaign objective I choose.

What objective should you choose for your campaign?

What objective you pick will depend on what you want to happen. If you want clicks, choose clicks. If you want conversions, choose conversions. But make sure you know what you want before you launch the campaign because it does matter.

5 reasons your community group should NOT use Facebook ads

Saturday, March 25th, 2017 | Thoughts

You’re on the committee for a community group and you have a big event coming up. Someone suggests you should do some advertising as it would be a great chance to get some new people in. Someone else suggests “let’s do some Facebook ads”.

It is understandable why this suggestion would be made. Flyers are a massive waste of money. Plus, everyone is doing Facebook ads now. It seems like a great way to go.

It isn’t. Stop right now and make sure you can answer all of these objections before proceeding.

Your copy sucks

The art of writing sales material, known as copywriting, really is an art. It takes years to become good at copywriting. I’ve spent the last three months working on it, including buying expensive courses from some of the best copywriters around and my copy still sucks. Not just a little bit: it’s rubbish. It doesn’t convert.

And whether you are a business selling a product, or a community group selling an event, you need to convert some people into customers, even if that is only showing up to your event. Saying “oh we have this amazing event” is not enough. You need to write compelling stuff. That takes a professional.

Who are you going to target?

Facebook ads work because you can target specific people. But how will that work for your community group? The best marketers spend ages zoning in on their ideal customer, then market to them, then retarget them after they have visited their website.

Nobody has visited your website because you’re a community group, and even if they did, you don’t have a retargeting pixel on there.

So you target “people in my city”. Which is the equivalent of sending a blanket mailshot out via the Royal Mail. Most targetted direct mail gets a 1% response rate. Untargeted mail can only dream of that.

Facebook takes time to work

Facebook is very good at working out who your ads should be shown to. But this takes time. You have to spend money before it works. When I started advertising for the WAM 30-day challenge, we were paying £0.60 per click. Thre weeks later we were paying £0.15 per click. Facebook worked out who my ads should be shown to.

But that only happened after several weeks and several hundred pounds spent on ads. The first £100-200 is basically a fee you pay to Facebook so they can work out who to show the ads to. Then you start seeing results. How big is your budget? Probably less than that, right?

People don’t trust you

People are suspicious of paid advertising. They should be: a company is trying to influence them. You might think that you avoid this being a community group. But you’re wrong. You’re in a worse position.

Why? Because it is even more suspicious. ProCook follow me round the internet with adverts for their latest cookware. They know I have been on their website so they target me on Google and Facebook (and all the websites who use their ads, which is everyone). There are ProCook ads everywhere.

But at least I know what is going on here. ProCook is relentlessly targeting me because they are trying to sell me a pan. That’s the deal.

With a community group, it is a whole different ball game. What are they selling? How are they funding these ads? Is it a cult? What is their business model that allows them to run Facebook ads?

People want to discover community groups organically, either by searching for something they are interested in or because a friend told them about it. Seeing paid advertising makes it look like a religious cult or government-sponsored initiative to shift state-provided services off their books and into the hands of private individuals.

There are better things to spend the money on

Like making your events even more awesome. So that people come back. Most groups do not have a promotion problem. They have a retention problem. You only need one new person to come along each week and you have one hundred members after two years of running. But most groups are five years down the line with 20 members.

Cashvertising

Thursday, January 26th, 2017 | Books

Ca$hvertising: How to Use More than 100 Secrets of Ad-agency Psychology to Make Big Money Selling Anything to Anyone is a book on marketing by Drew Eric Whitman.

In the book, Whitman has essentially boiled down the rules from the great marketing writers, the big ad agencies, and his own experience into a set of simple-to-follow rules. There are constant quotes and references to names such as Hopkins, Ogilvy and Cialdini.

Be begins with a short introduction to psychology, goes on to state the basic principles of marketing and then systematically goes through the rules he has laid down. It is accessible, implementable and fun to read.

Scientific Advertising

Thursday, January 12th, 2017 | Books

Scientific Advertising is an incredible book. Why? Because it is the online marketing bible. Everyone in online marketing is talking about it. This in itself would be a pretty impressive feat for a book. But it gets even more incredible: it was written in 1923.

How is this possible? How does the entire global e-commerce industry run on a book written before computers even existed?

The answer is that technology may change, but human psychology does not. The author, Claude C Hopkins, was writing about how to sell products by direct mail. In the book, he lays down a series of principles that had been proven to work. You could replicate them, and it turns out you can replicate the same strategies in the online age as well.

Here is what David Ogilvy said about it:

“Nobody, at any level, should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times. It changed the course of my life.”

Best of all, it is now available free to download. For anyone looking to sell anything, this is a must-read.

I used to optimise gambling apps

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016 | Photos

emis-advert

TPP have been running recruitment ads in the train station for a long time. I find their tagline, “are you a little bit geeky?” patronising, and I have heard a few too many bad things about working there to be that interested.

But one of the other major healthcare software companies in Leeds, EMIS Health, have started advertising as well. This cheeky shot is presumably aimed at Sky Bet and William Hill, who are also big employers in Leeds.

You’re reading this!

Sunday, September 18th, 2016 | Thoughts

youre-reading-this

Years ago I remember a bus advertisement that read “bus ads work! You’re reading this aren’t you?” The concept recently re-appeared on a billboard on York Road. The question is: do such adverts work?

My guess would be no, because they are so stupid.

Even if you haven’t heard of availability bias, my guess is that most people can work out that those reading it is a self-selecting group. I was reading the billboard but there is no guarantee that anyone else does. In fact, I could have been past a thousand similar billboards and never noticed them, but you would never know if you had. It’s insulting to our intelligence.

Second, I am not sure that anyone who works in marketing is so bad at their job that they use their gut instinct of driving past a billboard to pick their advertising channels, rather than relying on hard data about the audience and conversation rates of different channels.

Finally, if you are going to use this message on a billboard, at least have someone proof read it. You would be barking mad not to.

The truth about printing flyers

Friday, April 22nd, 2016 | Thoughts

anxiety-leeds-flyers

I sit on the leadership or organising teams for a lot of different community groups, and have done so for many different organisations over the years. Regularly, someone suggests that what we really need to do, is get some nice flyers printed. In fact, often this person is me. This is a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ post.

The truth is, you will bin most of those flyers. Here is why:

Flyers are relatively easy to produce. You find someone who can use a graphic design tool, they knock together a flyer, and you send it off to a printer. Quite easily you get a really professional glossy flyer that you are sure will attract people to your group.

Then the delivery turns up. A massive A4 square size box containing thousands of flyers. These then sit in your house for years. If you are proactive, the box will be almost entirely undistributed. Otherwise, it will be entirely undisturbed.

The problem is that printing flyers is super easy. Distributing them however, is not. Sure, people say they will do it. At the meeting when someone suggested getting some flyers, everyone said they would give some out. But they won’t. First, you need to give them some. The box is really heavily, so you can only take a handful at a time. Ditto, they can only take a handful at a time. Second, they don’t know where to put them. If you live in a block of flats, you can probably put one through people’s mailbox. That is about it.

Unless you work as an events promoter, you probably don’t know where to take the flyers. You might see somewhere when you are at your local fish and chip shop, or community education centre. However, you can bet good money that you will have forgotten to bring flyers on that occasion. And by the time you remember the flyers, you will have forgotten where you were going to take them. It’s fine saying “we will just go round the blocks of flats and try and get buzzed in”, but nobody actually wants to do this in practice because it is awkward and embarrassing and you feel guilty for posting junk through innocent people’s mailboxes.

Third, people don’t want to commit the time, because it’s a waste of time. Purposely going somewhere to take some flyers might be a 30-minute round trip. That is big a chunk out of your day. For flyers that probably nobody will look at. The response rate might be one in a thousand. Is that a good use of your time? You might think so, but chances are that the other people volunteering at your group don’t feel the same way: especially when it comes to actually getting up and doing it.

So your lovely flyers just sit in the box until you feel it time for a clear-out and reluctantly bin them.

You will be binning a lot of them. Economies of scale is at fault here. Most of the cost is in the setup of the print job, not in the printing. This means that it basically costs the same to print 5,000 as it does to print 100. So you will get the 5,000 because it seems to make sense. Even though there is no hope of giving more than 100 out.

There are scenarios when flyers can work. The Anxiety Leeds flyers are actually one of the success stories of my flyering history. We posted piles of them to GPs surgeries, and this turned out to be a cost and time-effective way of distributing them. Even then though it has problems: finding volunteers to post them out (listing surgeries, envelope stuffing, writing the envelopes, taking them to the post office), securing grant money to pay for postage, still having too many flyers, flyers becoming out-of-date and needing re-printing.

In summary, think very carefully before you get any flyers printed. How many can you actually distribute? How are you going to distribute them? Will people follow through on their promises to distribute them? How long will they be relevant for? If you cannot answer these questions satisfactorily, printing flyers may be a waste of time and money.