Monday, December 6, 2010
So, to help them out, I'm recommending they heed the principles of simple, yet effective writing, as exemplified by "Papa."
Welcome to the last edition of 2010's Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.
Blogger Brian Clark, in his "Copyblogger" site,
( http://www.copyblogger.com/ernest-hemingway-top-5-tips-for-writing-well/ ) talks up the merits of writing for marketing purposes -- and let's face it, under the veneer of an entertaining newsletter, that should be the underlying function of an e-zine -- in a way that's, simply, easy to read.
Ernest Hemingway’s Top 5 Tips For Writing Well
Many business people faced with the task of writing for marketing purposes are quick to say:
Hey, I’m no Hemingway!
But really, who better than Hemingway to emulate? Rather than embracing the flowery prose of the literati, he chose to eschew obfuscation at every turn and write simply and clearly.
So let’s see what Ernest can teach us about effective writing.
1. Use short sentences.
Hemingway was famous for a terse minimalist style of writing that dispensed with flowery adjectives and got straight to the point. In short, Hemingway wrote with simple genius.
Perhaps his finest demonstration of short sentence prowess was when he was challenged to tell an entire story in only 6 words:
For sale: baby shoes, never used.
2. Use short first paragraphs.
3. Use vigorous English.
Here’s David Garfinkel’s take on this one:
It’s muscular, forceful. Vigorous English comes from passion, focus and intention. It’s the difference between putting in a good effort and TRYING to move a boulder… and actually sweating, grunting, straining your muscles to the point of exhaustion… and MOVING the freaking thing!
4. Be positive, not negative.
Since Hemingway wasn’t the cheeriest guy in the world, what does he mean by be positive? Basically, you should say what something is rather than what it isn’t.
This is what Michel Fortin calls using up words:
By stating what something isn’t can be counterproductive since it is still directing the mind, albeit in the opposite way. If I told you that dental work is painless for example, you’ll still focus on the word “pain” in “painless.”
• Instead of saying “inexpensive,” say “economical,”
• Instead of saying “this procedure is painless,” say “there’s little discomfort” or “it’s relatively comfortable,”
• And instead of saying “this software is error-free” or “foolproof,” say “this software is consistent” or “stable.”
5. Never have only 4 rules.
Actually, Hemingway did only have 4 rules for writing, and they were those he was given as a cub reporter at the Kansas City Star in 1917. But, as any web writer knows, having only 4 rules will never do.
So, in order to have 5, I had to dig a little deeper to get the most important of Hemingway’s writing tips of all:
“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit,” Hemingway confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934. “I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”
Thanks for your readership this past year. Happy Holidays and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2011.
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I'm thankful for:
* The independence to be my own boss. And to work at a creative craft that can certainly be enervating...but enriching as well, as I help clients put a public "profile" on their businesses.
* The clients themselves, a virtual United Nations of personalities -- English, French, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Lebanese, South African --from whom I've learned something about their former cultures along with their equally diverse and varied businesses.
* The scope of work I've been able to do for them -- branding, logo design, corporate identity, print collateral, video, TV and radio commercials, publicity, websites -- to make my contributions all the more personally fulfilling.
* The camaraderie that comes with teamwork, as I and graphic designers, photographers, printers, videographers, web designers and other creative industry professionals build marketing programs to assist clients in pursuing their own dreams of success.
* The reach that technology affords all us small businesspeople, so that we may be competitive in a reasonable manner with our larger, more established business brethren; technology such as through various Social Media outlets as well as this E-zine you're reading...a great way, I've found, to stay top of mind with clients, prospects and colleagues.
* The opportunities afforded by living and working in a great mid-size city (that one hopes doesn't get too much bigger) so that it remains a manageable and embracing place for entrepreneurs and small businesses to succeed and grow.
* The same city that likes to have fun as well as put its shoulder to the wheel, so that there is additional opportunity, for instance, to assist party and event planners with a product as uniquely entertaining and customized as...caricatures. The proverbial "other hat" worn by yours truly:
* And finally, a father who paved the creative way for me by being one of the authentic Mad Men -- an illustrator, copywriter, creative director -- I looked up to for guidance, support, perspective...and the genetic passing along of verbal and artistic capabilities.
For all this, and more, I am thankful this Thanksgiving.
See you again the first Tuesday of Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza month...
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010
This is a great story, published recently in The New York Times, edited here for brevity sake. It makes the case, at least in one person's marketing campaign, for considering that most basic of promotional formats: a headline, a visual and a simple message, printed on one side of an 8 1/2 x 11-inch sheet.
As Rod Serling might have said: "Submitted for your approval...the humble flier."
Welcome to the October edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.
"Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar...and How to Build a Brand"
For nearly 15 years, Dan Smith has plastered New York with fliers promoting his guitar lessons. And in the process, has become a cult icon -- and successful entrepreneur. Why even John Mayer is taking notice.
By PATRICK SAUER
Anybody who has ever set foot in a Manhattan coffee joint, bodega, or laundromat will recognize the following exhortation:
Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar.
For those of you outside New York, these are the simple words seen on ubiquitous fliers that have enabled Dan Smith to follow his musical muse and become Gotham's most widely known guitar teacher. By combining the basic tools of paper, printer and photocopier, with a free introductory lesson, Dan Smith has created a brand that keeps him flush with 20 to 30 students at a time, soaking in his relaxed go-at-your-own-pace approach to teaching guitar. Here's our Q&A:
When did the flier campaign start?
I started teaching full time around 1996. I had been fliering heavily to get to a point to be solely a teacher, but they weren't the same ones you see today. The fliers have evolved. I put myself on the flier in 2003, but people say they've seen my face for 20 years. We all have exaggerated perceptions of things.
Did they always have the simple "Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar" slogan?
Some form of that. I wanted to be as simple and straightforward as possible, but also set myself apart by having something that nobody could copy, like my name and face. Nobody can out-me me.
They seem to be everywhere. How often do you put up fliers?
They seem to be everywhere, but there are large parts of the city I don't flier. I am only one man wearing out shoe leather. I hang them whenever I can, on an ongoing basis. It's a bit of a dilemma because it works, which means I'm teaching, but then I don't have time to put up fliers. It's a nice problem to have.
Where do you put them up?
Wherever anyone can see them. I've been told fliers have been seen in Brooklyn even though I have never put one up there. People hang them for me out of their own enthusiasm, I guess. Some storeowners don't want the fliers, but others want them because it's a conversation piece, and I've been told it's a "stamp of approval" that makes a new business legitimate. All I want is a good spot.
The fliers definitely have a cult following.
It's got a strange life to it. There's a legion of blogs out there, John Mayer copied them, and people have posted a bunch of YouTube videos. Generally speaking, the reactions are positive. If nobody were paying attention, I wouldn't be teaching.
What is it specifically about the Dan Smith fliers?
That's an easy one -- the fact that they're everywhere. I'm consistent, and people know that this isn't a lark. I'm creating a brand. Everybody knows Coke, but it never stops advertising. Week-in week-out, month-in month-out, year-in year-out, I'm out there. The fliers penetrate people's perceptions, so all kinds of mythology have grown up around them. Consciously or subconsciously, people think of every other one they've ever seen, even if it's partially covered up.
How does it turn into sales?
Like any business, I get a lot of tire-kickers. Unlike other businesses, I probably get a lot more drunk and stoned teenagers leaving long rambling messages. Fortunately, I get a lot of people interested in playing guitar. It's not a school, which appeals to people who want to learn at their own pace. The lessons are focused and results-oriented, but it's a non-pressured relaxed atmosphere. Some people want to become great guitar players; others want to learn to play a single song at their wedding or to sing to their baby. It's great for me because I get to meet all kinds of people.
What is the financial set up?
There is a pay-as-you-go option for $100 an hour, but I also offer lesson plans, which are pay-in-advance and come with a discount. For example, there's a 10-lesson plan for $800. It's been a very successful model because the plans have a workable schedule with flexibility for real world encroachments. People know after 10 lessons they will learn something, although you get back what you put in.
It seems you've had quite a ride.
I have people dressing up like me for Halloween. I never would have imagined that. And it all starts with this low-fi, low-tech grassroots campaign. A two-year-old recognized me. Couldn't even say "guitar man" yet and was too young for me to put a pick in his hand, but who knows? Kid might need lessons one of these days.
Name: Dan Smith
Company: Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar
Location: New York City
Wasn't that refreshingly simple? Come by the first Tuesday of next month when we post on the virtual community corkboard another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.
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Tuesday, August 3, 2010
The soap operatic escapades of men and women working at a New York ad agency, circa 1964 (this season, anyway) hold a nostalgic place in my cobwebbed psyche, as my Dad was in the industry as an art director during that era.
But when I watch the show, I particularly enjoy watching Creative Director Don Draper challenge his team of copywriters and graphic designers – and even the account people – to focus on what it is that distinguishes the client’s product from that of their competitors.
What it was called then…is pretty much what it’s called today.
Welcome to the August edition of “Not Your Usual Marketing Tips” from JDK Marketing Communications Management.
Since we’re waxing nostalgic with reference to “Mad Men,” I think I’ll turn the clock all the way back to, ahem, 2008, when this subject was first broached.
What's your USP?
And, no, it has nothing to do with the US Postal Service. It’s your “Unique Selling Proposition.” Or substitute the word Proposition with Proposal or Point. Any way you say it, it’s what those three words say about your business that, theoretically, no one else can say.
Simply stated, your USP should – in your marketing materials, position papers, sales letters, perhaps even your slogan – reflect the contention that what you sell is unique, something your competition cannot or chooses not to promote…culminating in the decision by your customer to act by exploring and/or purchasing your product or service.
Wikepedia further explains USP as a “marketing concept that was first proposed as a theory to explain a pattern among successful advertising campaigns (of the 1940s and 1950s). It states that such campaigns made unique propositions to the customer and that this convinced them to switch brands.
The term was invented by Rosser Reeves (an account executive with former independent ad agency giant) Ted Bates & Company. Today the term is used in other fields or just casually to refer to any aspect of an object that differentiates it from similar objects…A number of businesses and corporations currently use USPs as a basis for their marketing campaigns.”
Jay Abraham, with a string of successful books on the “guerilla” ways of marketing, opines that, “Even while you creatively imitate others, remember that it's also important to be different.
Distinguish your business or practice from all the rest. Make your enterprise special in the eyes of your customer or client. A USP is that distinct and appealing idea that sets you and your business, or practice, favorably apart from every other generic competitor.”
BusinessTown.com has a little more “tough love” message for you: “There may be very little difference between your product and your competitors’.
But if you can't find a way to communicate uniqueness and connect it to a need of your target, you might as well quit fighting your competition and sell out to them.
“There are many different ways to stake out a position. Just remember, your position reflects your unique selling proposition, and it is what makes your offering more valuable to your customers than what's being offered by your competition.”
No doubt by now you may have taken a cold, hard look at what you do for a living and thought, “but my business is really no different than others in this field.”
That’s the challenge. But it’s not unmeet-able. There are things about your business you may not be able to see – the old “forest for the trees” situation.
And that’s where it may take a professional marketing firm (Hello!) to help adjust your glasses for you…And help truly, and memorably, distinguish you vis-à-vis your competition. If you haven't done so by now, maybe it’s time you worked on your USP...ASAP.
Join us again the first Tuesday of next month as we adjust our fedoras and bouffant hairdos for another look at Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
My client, however, had not been convinced that preceding methods of conveying the information were the best ones to implement.
The distribution method was not optimally configured, the client countered.
The question I ask, however, is how long before that future is no longer foreseeable?
Set a deadline and stick to it. Don’t be tempted to put it so far in the future we will all be flying around with personal jet packs.
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Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Andy Warhol coined the observation that sooner or later everyone would have his or her “15 minutes of fame.” Now it seems everyone with an e-zine can have those 15 minutes…virtually whenever he or she mails one out.
Those of you writing e-zines, though, know what it’s like to sit down and stare at a blank screen when no compelling subject comes to mind. What do you do then?
Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.
As a copywriter, working on everything from brochures to ads to press releases to TV and radio commercials, I know what it’s like to stare at a blank page and trust that my capabilities will marry with my muse and something brilliant will emerge. Hah! If only it could be more expeditiously controlled.
There is a source, however, for those of you who, like me, also write for this 15-inch electronically illuminated screen and occasionally stare at it, scratching our heads wondering how to get cranking. If you need a jumpstart on a theme, a subject, or even want to plug in an entire piece (as long as appropriate credit is given), there’s a website that will “freely” help you out.
http://www.ezinearticles.com/ brings you to a virtual clearinghouse of already-written e-zines. There are literally hundreds to choose from, on such subjects as: Business, Finance, Self-Improvement, Health & Fitness, House & Family, Computers & Technology, News & Society, Public Speaking, Internet & Business Online. There’s no plagiarism issue; credit is expected in lieu of any kind of fee.
You can even arrange to submit your own articles so that others can glean information from them and link your name/website alongswide as an authority in that field. Through SEO and Keywords, that’s potential for a lot more eyes to see what you have to say beyond your own database.
According to Wikipedia, as of February 10th of this year, Ezinearticles.com was ranked Number 131 in traffic among global websites and Number 51 in the United States.
In the business world where we're told success is a numbers game, those are pretty strong digits to take into consideration.
'Til we meet again the first Tuesday of next month for more virtual viewpoints from Not Your Usual Marketing Tips, happy e-zine to you and yours!
Monday, May 3, 2010
"Advertising is legalized lying."
"Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don't have for something they don't need."
"An advertising agency is 85 percent confusion and 15 percent commission."
"I am one who believes that one of the greatest dangers of advertising is not that of misleading people, but of boring them to death."
"I saw a subliminal advertising message, but only for a second"
"In advertising, not to be different is virtual suicide."
"In marketing I've seen only one strategy that can't miss - and that is to market to your best customers first, your best prospects second and the rest of the world last."
That's it for this edition. But before I sign off until the first Tuesday of next month when we reconvene in this same spot, I want to wish all my friends, colleagues and clients on the distaff side (who qualify)...a Happy and respected Mother's Day!
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
It's that time of year, boys and girls, when The Greatest Game Ever Invented is upon us to officially begin its 110th season as our National Pastime. And along with it, some lessons we can apply to, yes, marketing.
Welcome to the "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.
A few years ago, I pitched this article to the readers of this column. Here's the replay:
There was a baseball player around the turn of the century -- at 5',4" the shortest to ever to play the game -- named Wee Willie Keeler. Click here: Willie Keeler - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Known for perfecting the "Baltimore Chop," whenever Willie stepped to the plate the chant would ring out, “Hit’em where they ain’t!”
The meaning was simplistically clear: hit the ball where the fielders WEREN’T positioned, to improve the chances for getting a base hit.
What if, metaphorically speaking, you could “hit” your target markets…where your competition “ain’t?”
Most businesses – however small or large – tend to market themselves through the standard avenues…the local newspaper, the local weekly, radio, TV, et al. And buckshot mailings to one’s database of clients, colleagues and friends. Chances are that your industry counterparts are doing mostly that same thing.
Maybe the next time you’re “at bat,” consider going – pardon the pun – farther afield. That is, think about hitting those markets not just among your primary audience but also to the outer periphery of your spheres of influence.
A CPA, for instance – whose services are needed by virtually everyone – can make herself the go-to professional with the local remodelers trade association. A chiropractor might want to approach the public library system (think of all that stretching and bending all day long by the staff just to put books away) with clinics exclusively for that organization. A sometime caricature artist might join a wedding and event planners organization to be their unique source of party entertainment. (Hey wait a minute, that's me..!)
For that matter, maybe there’s a hobby you have, or a weekend passion you love, that can be parlayed into a business opportunity -- by providing your services to fellow aficionados. Do these enthusiasts have associations? Do they have meetings? Do they have means, i.e. literature or promotional materials, by which they communicate with one another…and in which you can contribute an ad or, better yet, an informative article?
Next time you grab that metaphorical bat and stand in the box…you may want to think outside of it every now and then. And hit’em where they -- your competition -- likely ain’t.
See you again the first Tuesday of next month, with another slugging edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Welcome to the new-broom-sweeps-clean edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.
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Monday, February 1, 2010
According to Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert Siegel in “The Story of English” (Penguin 1992), “The statistics of English are astonishing. Of all the world’s languages (which now number over 2,700), it is arguably the richest in vocabulary. The compendious Oxford English Dictionary lists about 500,000 words; and a further half million technical and scientific terms remain uncatalogued.”
Author David Wilton adds, in “Wilton’s Word and Phrase Origins,” that “about 200,000 words are in common use today. An educated person has a vocabulary of about 20,000 words and uses about 2,000 in a week's conversation.”
So, with all the wonderful words available to us, why in the name of “multi-tasking” do we continue to use cliché after cliché to describe that which we bring to our professional capabilities?
Welcome to another addition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.
I once did a demonstration before my business referral group of how I develop a print ad. To help determine the eventual concept, I interviewed a volunteer “client” by asking him different questions about his business. Sure enough, when asked what differentiates himself from his competition, he proudly intoned “service.”
Oh really, I asked, what else?
“We care about the customer.”
Hmmmm, you don’t say...
“And we’re experienced,” he added.
I’m going to take a wild stab at this, but I’ll just bet that isn’t the first time those words have been used to excite and entice a potential customer.
Look, we’re all guilty of falling back on the familiar – in this case, words that have been used ten thousand times before. But the more serious consequence of using these hackneyed phrases is that they simply lose their meaning after a while.
If you say about your business that you provide “great service,” that you really and truly “care” about your customer, and that no one can match your “experience,” I’ll counter that every time with “SO WHAT?” Every business can, in one facet or another, make that claim! You may BE different from your competition…but you’re not SAYING anything differently.
Put it this way -- if text for your brochure, ad or 30-second oral commercial is worded in such generalities that ANYBODY else can put their name at the end of it, it’s time to consider rewriting the piece.
So, how can you sound differently? Sound differently! Keep a dictionary or thesaurus next to your computer. Illustrate examples of your “service.” Use case studies that back up how you “care.” Quote testimonials where others have benefited from your “experience.”
You’ll come across as uniquely differentiated, more accomplished and with a better chance of getting your points across.
When Gloria Estefan sings of telling her lover how she feels “but the words get in the way,” we all know how that feels. But we can’t afford, literally, to let that happen when it’s time to sell our products and services.
Whether it’s developing your printed or electronic marketing materials…speaking at a seminar…or simply doing your 30-second spiel at a networking get-together…choose your words well, and wisely. And make them words that count.
See you the first Tuesday of next month for another etymological sampling of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.
Monday, January 4, 2010
Ready to face a New Year of business, braced for all the challenges the marketplace, the economy, new technology and fateful caprice will invariably throw at you?
Neither am I.
But, like the Nike commercial philosophizes, sometimes you gotta pull yourself up by the boot straps and "Just Do It." (What I'd like to know is, who still wears boot straps..?)
Welcome to the inaugural entry for 2010's Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.
...And my annual revival, with some modifications, of proposed resolutions for the New Year:
There’s a great scene in an old “Seinfeld” episode where Jerry has apparently telephoned reservations for a car rental. Except that when he gets there to pick up the car, he’s told there are none to be had. The woman at the counter explains that, for whatever bureaucratic reason, his rental was released to someone else. In his customary exasperated manner, Jerry “educates” her with the admonition that although it is their business to MAKE the reservation…they also have to be able to HOLD the reservation..!
It’s January of a New Year. From a marketing standpoint, presuming you’ve MADE your New Year’s resolutions, are you planning to actually HOLD them?
Here are 12 Resolutions, one for each month (in no particular order):
* Guerilla Marketing: Think outside the box for ways to promote yourself. There are rules…and sometimes there are no rules.
* Networking: Do more, by joining more…business networking groups, associations, fraternal organizations, fellow hobbyists, etc. That means joining the social media milieu, as well...i.e. Facebook, Twitter, et al.
* Publicity: Toot your own horn; no one else knows your “key” as you do.
* Positioning: All things being equal…what makes you “more” equal than others?
* Seminars: You think you know it all? Heck, maybe you do – at least as far as certain audiences are concerned, and the new business opportunities they might provide for you.
* Newsletters: Share your ideas, broaden your constituency; send out industry-relevant information either as hard copy…or as an e-zine (such as what you’re presently reading).
* Trade Shows: Go to them, be in them, mingle within them, write a program article for them.
* Event Marketing: Sponsor a cause, have an Open House; it’s good P.R. by “humanizing” your business.
* The Newspaper: Remember that old-fashioned concept? For business ideas, for client contact opportunities, simply to stay topical, don’t just rely on the 11:00 PM news. Read the newspaper.
* Greeting Cards: It doesn’t have to be Christmas to send them. Stay top of mind year-round, with Valentine’s Day, July 4th, Arbor Day – whatever! – as an excuse.
* Postcards: Along with greeting cards, post cards are a fast, convenient, economical way to let people know about your business (think Realtors, Financial Advisors…).
* JDK Marketing Communications Management: Yeah, I know, I “fudged” on this last one. But how else are you going to be able to effectively take care of the previous 11 resolutions…without first resolving to contact yours truly?
Did I mention re-tooling your website, if necessary? Mine was necessary...and so I'm pleased to announce my newly revamped and updated site. Come visit:
Thanks go to graphic designer Tim Faragher, now flexing his muscles in the web world: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2010. And we’ll see you again the first Tuesday of next month with another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.
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