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Should You Subtract AdWords Now?

Do you have a contrarian mindset? Do you question the notion that if “everyone’s doing it” than it must be okay? Do you spend money on Google AdWords?

If you answered “Yes” to these three questions than maybe, just maybe, you’ll reduce or eliminate your AdWords advertising.

Many business owners keep advertising the way they always have. They have no idea whether the advertising is still working. Take Yellow Pages as an example. Please, take my yellow pages away now because the font is too small and interest searches are so fast.

Plumbers and lawyers may still get new clients from Yellow Pages. For most people it’s just autopilot and they don’t think about it until the yellow pages rep calls them up to renew for the following year. Then it’s a one year to commitment to renew or not to renew.

Google AdWords have been a goldmine since being introduced by Google in 2000. A goldmine for Google and for millions of businesses as well. Is this still true?

As Fred Gleeck says, “data ends discussion.” The following article questions the necessity of AdWords to bring traffic to their businesses and make online sales. To summarize, a few large companies cut online advertising and it didn’t affect sales growth.

A Startling Anecdote About Online Ad Spending From Restoration Hardware

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-09-11/startling-anecdote-about-online-advertising-restoration-hardware 

Category 1 storm clouds are gathering over what has traditionally been one of the most lucrative, and perhaps only profitable, sectors to come out of Silicon Valley in decades: online advertising.

Two months ago, it was P&G which fired the first shot across the “adtech” bow when not long after it announced it was slashing its digital ad spending because it thought it was not getting the kind of return on investment it desired, it made a striking discovery: “We didn’t see a reduction in the growth rate.” CFO Jon Moeller said “What that tells me is that that spending that we cut was largely ineffective.”

Proctor & Gamble thinks that “bots” were clicking on their Facebook ads rather than human beings who actually buy products.

The advertising system has become so automated that companies pay for advertising on fake news websites with fake traffic.

A separate, if just as concerning problem emerged last month, when the WSJ reported that online ad giant, Google, would issue refunds to advertisers for ads bought through its platform that ran on sites with fake traffic, and generated no actionable advertising “clicks.” Just how much of Google’s ad revenue (and thus profits and market cap) had been inflated over the years by said “fake ads”?

The article quoted the CEO of Restoration Hardware who discovered where most of their clicks were coming from.

So fast forward to last week, when during Thursday’s Global Retailing Conference organized by Goldman Sachs, Restoration Hardware delightfully colorful CEO, Gary Friedman, divulged the following striking anecdote about the company’s online marketing strategy, and the state of online ad spending in general (courtesy of @parsimony16). What Friedman revealed – in brief – was the following: “we’ve found out that 98% of our business was coming from 22 words. So, wait, we’re buying 3,200 words and 98% of the business is coming from 22 words. What are the 22 words? And they said, well, it’s the word Restoration Hardware and the 21 ways to spell it wrong, okay?

Stated simply, the vast, vast majority of online ad spending is wasted, chasing clicks that simply are not there.

Let me spell this out for you. Restoration Hardware was buying AdWords for 3,200 keywords. These are words which prospects might enter into search engines. Paying for 3,200 keywords on AdWords would cost a lot of money. Yet the top keyword was the name of the business, “Restoration Hardware.” The rest of the top 22 were misspellings of “Restoration Hardware.”  Let me make up a few for you as….

  • Restoration Hardwhere
  • westoration hardware
  • rustoration hardware
  • restoration heardwhere

I had to work hard to keep my spellchecker from correcting my typos. I copied the last one into the Google search box and “Restoration Hardware” appeared as the top entry. I doubt that Restoration Hardware paid for this placement. Google became the #1 search engine because it overcame spelling mistakes to deliver search results based on what you want to get. Regardless of your ability to spell.

One wonders how long before all retailers – most of whom are notoriously strapped for revenues and profits courtesy of Amazon – and other “power users” of online advertising, do a similar back of the envelope analysis, and find that they, like RH, are getting a bang for only 2% of their buck? What will happen to online ad spending then?

A drop in online advertising should be a big concern for Google and Facebook. It is not your concern. You should be concerned on spending money on advertising which will pay for itself by bringing in new and existing clients. You need to do what is in your best interest.

You should have no doubt that Google will do what’s in its best interest. Such as using direct mail to get new clients for Google AdWords. Yesterday, I received a direct mail offer from Google AdWords customized for my company:

Right now, people are looking for businesses just like yours.

Make sure Reality Marketing LLC shows up on Google the moment potential customers search for what you have to offer-whiter they’re at home or out on the go. Learn how Google can help.

If people are looking for me, they will search for “Richard Emmons” and they will find me one way or another. I don’t plan to spend money on AdWords on these keywords:

  • richard emmons
  • richard evans
  • richard simmons

You can use AdWords wisely to help people who are looking for your products and services. This can make you money. Just be sure to send your clicks to special landing pages or special offers so you can calculate whether the ads are working or not.

Convert What You Know Into Income

In this article by author and master marketer Bob Bly, you’ll learn about how you can convert your specialized business knowledge into a side income. I have learned a lot from Bob Bly over the years and hope you make him one of your “virtual mentors.”


There’s a lot of money in teaching the business, tasks, and skills you have mastered … and the information you have researched, learned, and produced … to others who seek them.

Collectively this is the knowledge business, or as I like to call it, “the college of knowledge” — packaging your knowledge as products and services to sell for a price.

Including: ebooks … newsletters … special reports … books … online courses … webinars … seminars … college courses … conferences … boot camps … coaching … consulting … DVDs … audio CD albums … training … membership sites … Facebook groups … the list goes on and on.

So, how is it that a “knowledge business” even exists? What makes it possible?

The key to it all a simple principle George Clason wrote about in his book The Richest Man in Babylon:

“That which one man knows can be taught to others.”

That’s the premise — proven since the dawn of humankind — on which today’s knowledge business is based.

Now, some who want to get into the knowledge business protest, “But I am just ordinary; I don’t know anything others will pay for.”

This is almost never the case.

As my colleague Dr. Gary North warns: “The great mistake of most small business people is to imagine that their detailed knowledge of their niche market is widely dispersed.

“On the contrary, hardly anyone knows it. They are owners of a capital asset that others do not possess and have no easy way of possessing it.”

And will therefore pay handsomely to obtain.

Another objection I hear is: “Well, I know something about topic X. But I am not the world’s leading expert. So how can I presume to teach others?”

Info marketing guru Fred Gleeck astutely notes:

“You don’t have to know more about your topic than anyone else in the world. You just have to know more than 90% of the people in the world.”

And either you do now … or can get to that level with some work on your part.

Widely quoted research shows it only takes 1,000 hours to be competent at something. And it requires 10,000 hours of practice and study to become a master of it.

Also, if you know the subject and how to teach it to others, you are a better source of knowledge transfer than other experts who perhaps know more than you — but are lousy teachers, as so many are.

The next objection is: “There is so much information available for free on my topic already on the internet, why would anyone pay me for the same information they can already get on the web at no cost?”

Here’s the thing: What is widely available online is just data and information.

But in the knowledge business, we don’t merely sell data and information … although, both are usually part of our offerings.

What sets us apart is that our paid info products and services provide:

Data we have collected through long effort that others in fact do not have.Deep knowledge gleaned from our data and long experience.

Analysis of the data and knowledge to show what it means and how our customers can benefit from it.

Actionable ideas tested and proven to enable those using them to achieve the desired results.

Wisdom to understand what will work in a field, what won’t, and to consistently know the difference.

In other words, mere data and information are often free for the asking.

But actionable ideas on how people can use it for their gain are in short supply … and again, people will pay you handsomely to get this knowledge.

One more fact about the knowledge business:

If you gain a wide base and become a recognized authority in your field, people will pay a premium for your knowledge.

If you don’t, they are less likely to do so.

Also, it doesn’t take a huge audience to make a good living in the knowledge business.

If you build a list of just 10,000 fans and each spends only $100 a year with you, your gross annual income is a million dollars.

Not too shabby.

Sincerely,

Bob Bly
Copywriter / Consultant
31 Cheyenne Dr.
Montville, NJ 07045
Phone 973-263-0562
Fax 973-263-0613
www.bly.com

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7 Ways To Write a Great Headline

When you write great headlines, you improve the results of every advertisement, flyer, invitation, press release, client letter, and email you write. Remember that 73% of the buying decision is made at the point of the headline. And “buying” can mean opening the email message, listening to the rest of the TV or radio ad, reading the rest of the newspaper advertisement, buying the product or registering for a community seminar. So let’s spend some time looking at proven ways to create great headlines.

Ted Nicholas has written books selling over a million copies including How To Form Your Own Corporation For Under $75 . Ted recommends writing the headline first before writing any other part of the ad. He starts out by listing every possible benefit he can think of. Next he turns benefits into headlines and writes as many as he can think of. Sometimes as many as 200 for one product! Once you’ve settled on the main headline you can start putting together the rest of the ad. You can use the “runner up headlines” as “sub-headlines” to highlight other advantages of the product or service.

Remember that your headline must speak to a want, need or desire of your prospective customer. This is the big benefit that your product or service offers.

Now let’s look at 7 ways to write a great headline.

  1. Add the words “How To” to your existing headline. Tests using the exact same ad with only these 2 words added to the headline increased results by 17%. I did this with a headline for living trust seminars beginning with “Avoid Probate…” and made it “How To Avoid Probate…” and improved results. People are looking for solutions to problems and they want to know “how-to” do something.
  2. You can offer to fill a gap in the marketplace with the words “Finally,…” or “At Last, You Can…” These headlines build curiosity because you may solve a problem they’ve had for a long time. “At Last, You Can Stop Worrying About Your Retirement”
  3. Everyone hears “No” from parents, teachers, bosses, so hearing “Yes” gets them to stop in their tracks. “Yes, You Can …”
  4. Using a client testimonial can create a great headline by adding credibility and personalizing the product or service. Here’s a classic “testimonial” type ad written by copywriting ledgend John Caples: They Laughed When I Sat Down At the Piano But When I Started to Play! —
  5. Ask a question: “Tired of Waiting For the Phone To Ring?” or “Worried About Running Out of Retirement Money?”
  6. Two words, “Free” and “New”, are proven to grab attention: “Free Report On Avoiding the 5 Most Common Mistakes of Retirement Planning” and “7 New Ways To Hire Better Employees” Both of these headlines have a number in them. For some reason odd numbers of lists work better. The exception to this rule is “Top 10” lists which work well.
  7. Try to dig deeper and uncover the “hidden benefit” of your product, seminar, or service. Ted Nicholas used “The Ultimate Tax Shelter” as the headline for selling 200,000 copies of his book on setting up your own corporation. Yes, this single ad generated over $4 million in book sales. Yet the book itself didn’t use the phrase “tax shelter.” He says that the “tax shelter possibilities are why many people form corporations.”

When you see the same exact ad running again and again in your local paper or in a magazine, you know it must be working. And a great headline is the number one reason an ad will work again and again. Folks see the ad, read the headline and then the rest of the ad and finally take action.

Now take a look at your own ads and see how you can improve the headlines.

How To Write an Effective Advertisement

You begin the process of creating an effective ad by thinking of one of your best clients, a wealthy widow by the name of Sally Jones. You write the ad for Sally so your ad will speak to Sally and people like her.

You absolutely do not want to design the ad to please yourself. As author Jerry Reitman wrote, “Bait the hook to suit the fish, not the fisherman.” One of you is enough! You want more Sally’s so your ad should speak to Sally and get people like Sally to take action.

Over the years, successful writers have developed copywriting formulas which produce effective ads, TV commercials, and sales letters. I first learned about the “AIDA” formula in 1989 from marketing expert, Jay Abraham.

AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire and action. Your ad must get the buyers’ attention, build interest in your product or service, create desire to own that product or service, and finally ask the viewer or reader to take action to get that product or service.

Attention

You get your reader’s attention with a powerful headline. This is the key.

Ted Nicholas became famous selling his best selling book, How To Form Your Own Corporation Without An Attorney For Under $50. He spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting this and other books in full-page magazine ads. He says that “73% of the buying decision is made at the point of the headline.”
Without a powerful and persuasive headline, your ad copy won’t be read. Your offer won’t be considered. You’ll waste your money.

So what should a good headline do? In Bob Bly’s The Copywriter’s Handbook, he describes the four functions of a headline:

  1. Get attention. This gets the reader to read more of the ad.
  2. Select the audience. Who do you want to attract? Who would you rather not attract?
  3. Deliver a complete message. David Ogilvy, author of Confessions of an Advertising Man, says that 80% of readers will only read the headline. Headlines like “Merrill Lynch Is Bullish On America” at least let the reader know the name of the company.
  4. Draw the reader into the body copy. The promise of solutions to current or potential problems gets the reader to continue reading more of the ad.

Let’s consider these four functions as we look at a few headlines.

“How To Win Friends and Influence People”
Dale Carnegie wrote this best-selling book during the 1930‘s. The book’s title served as the headline for ads selling the book. This headline grabs the reader’s attention and builds curiosity because who doesn’t want more friends? So this headline/title does #1 and #4. In a way, it selects the audience (#2) because everyone wants more friends.

“Did Your 401(k) Become a 201(k)?”
This headline grabbed attention (#1) by dramatizing a 50% fall in the stock market. It selected the audience (#2) by assuming the reader had a 401(k). It pulls the reader into the copy (#4) because it implies a solution to the problem of a falling retirement portfolio. While powerful, it missed on #2 by not offering a solution to the problem. I suppose “Turn Your 201(k) Into a 301(k) With Chinese Growth Stocks” would fulfill #3 but only testing would show if it was as effective.

“Worried About Outliving Your Retirement Funds?”
This headline grabs attention (#1) by pointing the pain of running out of money during retirement. It selects the audience (#2) advisors want to reach because pre-retirees and retirees worry about this; 25 year-olds don’t give it a thought. It can’t deliver a complete message because the problem will differ greatly from person to person. Yet it raises a real concern during times of rising prices and low interest rates and draws the reader into the rest of the ad (#4).

The most common mistake in advertising is using your business name at the top of the ad as the headline. Look at all the ads in the yellow pages or your local paper. How many put the company name the top in big letters? Most. Use a powerful and compelling headline and you’ll have far more effective ads. Why? Because your prospects will read on….

Interest

Next, you need to build interest in the reader for your service or product. Keep the reader interested by providing more facts which show in words or imagery you can deliver on the promise made in the headline. Pile on multiple benefits that will improve their lives.

Validate your claims by offering proof you can deliver on your promises. This proof can include references to your education, certifications, and years in business. Perhaps you’re a radio show host or have written articles in your local paper or other major publications.

Include some client testimonials and let your customers praise you in print. In local markets, this provides powerful proof that you will deliver what you’re promising.

Desire

You build up desire by helping them imagine how they’ll feel after buying your product or service. Your product will make their life better and more enjoyable. Whether it’s a night on the town or a better retirement. you want your prospect to want what you have to offer.

You should offer the best guarantee you can. You can also build desire by offering additional free bonuse or limited time offers.

And how do they fulfill their desires? By accepting your offer….

Action

Finally, you need to close the deal and get the reader to act now and accept your offer. You want them to take an action step to get them to your website or place of business.

Your offer will differ depending on the ad placement. Yellow pages ads run all year long so the offer might be for a free report on “The 7 Most Common Mistakes and How To Avoid Them.” An advertisement for a no obligation tax planning analysis would work during tax season. Yet an ad for a free community seminar will only work a week prior to the event.

In a previous article, I wrote about giving away free information. Just remember that you need to offer your prospect something of value so they’ll contact you.

Your offer ends with a call to action. “Call our office today to receive your free report.” Or “Visit our website to get all the details and find out how they can get a free sample..”

At the bottom of your ad you can include your company name, address and contact information. Make it easy to read so they can take action and get a hold of you.

In my next article I’ll look show you some more ways to create effective headlines.

How To Get More Bang For Your Advertising Buck

“Half my advertising is wasted, but I don’t know which half.” ~ John Wanamaker, 19th century retailer

You’ll find improving your advertising to be one of the best ways to leverage your marketing dollars. Why? Because an ad costs the same whether it brings in 1 call per day or 10 calls per day. So improve your ads and you’ll get more calls without spending an extra dime on advertising.

Let’s define the two major types of advertising: General (or image) advertising and direct response advertising.

Copywriter Bob Bly defines general or image adveritising as “advertising that seeks to instill a preference for the product in the consumer’s mind to prmote the future sale of the product at a retail outlet or through a distributor or agent.” Image advertising is seen every day in TV commercials for consumer products and magazines such as Forbes and Fortune for institutional advertising. Some famous image advertising campaigns included:

“Merrill Lynch is bullish on America.” This slogan was introduced during the 1971 World Series.

“When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen.” Very memorable ad…but would it make you call a broker and invest some money?

E.F. Hutton no longer exists as a business although their old ads remain alive on YouTube.com.

Many businesses place small display ads in their local newspapers to get their name out there. Similarly, I see “business card” sized ads in the local Chamber of Commerce magazine of guess what? The company owner’s business card. Normally this would fall under image advertising because it just gets your name, contact number, and perhaps areas of expertise out in the marketplace. A caller might tell you they saw your ad in the Chamber paper. Or you can ask them how they heard about you. Otherwise you won’t really know if it’s helping or not.

Bob Bly defines direct response advertising as “advertising that seeks to get orders or leads directly and immediately rather than build an image or awareness over a period of time.” This type of advertising is the opposite of image or general advertising.

Direct response ads are easy to spot when you see a coupon at the bottom of the ad. Or you’re asked to call an 800 number to order the product. You measure the response to these ads to know how well the ad is working. You can change the headline or the offer and know if you improved or hurt the ad.

You can turn your “image ad” into a direct response ad by offering a free report. This could be a written report or an audio interview on CD. The viewer of the ad is asked to call your office to get their free report. You capture their name and address so you can mail them the report. You can also ask, “Would you like to receive helpful and interesting investment information via email?” You can mail them the report with a copy of your last physical newsletter. Most importantly, you can measure the success of the ad because you’ll know how many people call in to request the report.

Direct response advertising also allows you to measure the relative strength of different advertising mediums. For instance, you might advertise in 2 different yellow pages. You could offer different reports and track which yellow pages works better for you. Otherwise you just have to guess. Online searches may eventually put the yellow pages out of business. Only time will tell. But if you track your own yellow page ads you’ll know  when it’s time to pull the plug on yellow pages.

Glitzy image advertising might win a design award. And get posted on YouTube.com. But you want to win new clients. So use direct response advertising to get prospects to call your office now and get them in your marketing pipeline. Measure your results so you can test different ads. Keep your winning ads and cull the losers.

How To Put Your USP To Work

In a recent post we spoke about creating a USP or “unique selling proposition.” Your USP answers the question of why someone should do business with you rather than with a competitor or just do it themselves. Your USP sets you apart from your competitors. Walmart’s USP reminds its customers that they are saving money and improving their quality of life by shopping at Walmart. You need to put your USP to work to grow your business. Your goal is to put your USP in all your marketing materials and in every communication piece your clients see. Let’s list some easy ways:

  • Your website banner. Change your header graphic and every page of your website will be updated.
  • Your website articles. Update your bio page, qualifications page, etc. to emphasize what makes you different.
  • Your invoices and statements. Maybe you can put in the footer or the cover page of the statement.
  • Your business proposals. You want your USP to appear near your picture.
  • Your answering machine message: “Thank you for calling John Smith & Associates, where we help you make money and retire better. How may I help you?
  • Your email signature block
  • Your fax cover sheet
  • Add it to your byline in articles you write.
  • Add it to introductions when you speak in public
  • Display advertisements.
  • Press releases

Other places may wait until you need to reprint:

  • Your business cards.
  • Your practice brochures.
  • Your letterhead. Consider adding your USP to the bottom of your signature block until you reprint.
  • Your checks. You never know if one of your vendors needs a financial advisor.
  • Your yellow page ads
  • Your billboards. Unlikely I know but what about the sign on the front of your office?
  • Your employee memos

The last one might seem odd at first glance but really it’s critical. Imagine if one of your employees was asked, “What makes your boss different from all the other financial advisors out there?” What would she say? Imagine, a Fed Ex employee being asked in 1978, “Why should I pay ten bucks to mail a letter?” “I don’t know” would be the wrong answer! All your employees should know what makes you different and better and be able to explain why you’re the best choice. You need to ensure that you can deliver on your promise so your employees must be trained to deliver on your USP. Proverbs 29:18 states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Use your USP training to get your employees jazzed up on how you aim high and want to over deliver on your promises. Remember that you can update your marketing materials over time. And when your business changes, you’ll need to update your USP to match. Be glad you don’t have a fleet of 30,000 trucks to repaint every time you update your USP!

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Kickstart Your Marketing With a “USP” and Set Yourself Apart

Every business and business professional should have a “USP” which stands for “unique selling proposition.”

Without a USP your advertising will have a plain vanilla, me-to appearance which won’t lead people to take action. When you have a good USP and deploy it in your advertising, you’ll attract more clients like you want. You’ll also keep away folks who aren’t your targeted clientele.

Rosser Reeves invented the term “USP” in the 1960’s. In his book, Reality in Advertising, he defines what makes a good USP:

1. Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: “Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.”

2. The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. It must be unique—either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.

3. The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions, i.e., pull over new customers to your product.

Here are some well known examples which meet this 3-part definition:

Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free.”  Notice it says nothing about Mama’s recipe, taste, or low price. This created a whole new market at a time when it took 30 to 40 minutes to get a pizza at pizza restaurants.

FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight” This USP answered the question, “Why would anyone want to pay ten bucks to mail a letter?”

M&M’s: “The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand” Rosser Reeves created this USP over 40 years ago and it still works great.

Wonder Bread: “Wonder Bread Helps Build Strong Bodies 12 Ways” Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. It sure sold a lot of bread.

Did it occur to you that 3 of these 4 USP’s are no longer used by their companies? I had to look up Wonder Bread and found they use “Soft. Delicious. Nutritious.” Fed Ex does a lot more today than overnight delivery so they use “Save more as you ship more, Think FedEx First.” Pizza Hut’s website emphasizes that it wins national taste tests.

You also need to remember to use your USP in all your ads and in contact with customers and prospects. I noticed in the fine legal print on Domino’s home page:

Domino’s new hand tossed pizza has been reinvented from the crust up to be our best tasting pizza ever. Guaranteed. If you are not completely satisfied with your Domino’s pizza experience, we will make it right or refund your money.

This should be in BIG print in the headline of the webpage. 99% of web visitors will miss this. Guarantees are a great way to create a USP.

Your USP should be visible and become part of your daily operations…not just something for your advertisements or website. Let me give you an example.

My mom came across a letter written to me back on April 23, 1976. I had written to M&M-Mars after getting some red, green or brown coloring on my hands while eating some M&M’s. I can’t remember what motivated me to write them. Maybe it was school assignment. Maybe I was just being a wise guy. Here’s their reply:

Dear Richard:

Thank you for your letter and your interest in M&Ms Chocolate Candies.

In our advertisements we say: “THE MILK CHOCOLATE MELTS IN YOUR MOUTH – NOT IN YOUR HAND”. The melting to which you referred was undoubtedly caused when the pure food coloring in the thin sugar shell came in contact with the moisture in your hands. This sometimes happens if the candy is held for a while.

The objective of our advertising is to acquaint consumers with the fact that M&Ms Chocolate Candies are neat to eat and do not have the mess of other chocolate products that do not have thin sugar shells protecting the chocolate centers.

Thank you again for your interest in writing to us.

Very truly yours,

(Miss) Eleanor C. Trautwein
Customer Service Manager

Now let’s talk about USPs for business professionals. Your USP should answer the question, “Why should someone choose you as their advisor over all other advisors in your area and instead of doing it themselves?”

Obviously, you can answer this question in numerous ways. Let’s categorize them as good, bad and ugly.

Let start out with “ugly” USPs for business professionals.

Ugly ones will get you in trouble with your compliance department. This may affect you if you are a financial advisor, insurance agent, CPA or tax professional. For instance, Montgomery Ward first used “Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back” in 1874. Worse yet, “Retire as a millionaire…” These sound lame because compliance departments don’t like anything which is promissory in nature. FINRA won’t let advisors use client testimonials so that eliminates a lot of ideas for USPs. Your industry standards will set boundaries on what you can say.

Next, what makes a “bad” USP for a professional?

Something vague or a cliche like “Quality Service. High Standards.” Every one can say this so why bother? If your client or prospect reads something and says “So what?” or “Duh. Every advisor does that” then you know you need to work harder. I see this all the time with advisor websites which use the boilerplate verbiage provided by the website company.

What makes a good USP for a professional?

A good USP describes who you are, what makes you different and tells your story in a way that sells your prospect on your ability to get the job done for them. So an advisor’s USP should be more of a core story than a tagline like Walmart’s “Save Money. Live Better.”

You shouldn’t put too much weight on your designations. There are over 50,000 CFP’s in the United States. Many advisors argue this designation is the best one to have. Few would argue that it sets them apart like it did ten or twenty years ago. Yet, how many advisors describe why they pursued the CFP certification and how it improved their ability as a planner? Plus states are cracking down on new designations these days so you wouldn’t want to build your marketing around a designation which may be on the outs in the near future. Even if you’re the only one in town with it.

How do you get started creating your own USP/core story?

Easy, just start calling up your best clients. Ask them why they initially started doing business with you and why they continue to do business with you. Something about you attracted them to you and kept them from going elsewhere. Or may be they did go elsewhere and came back to you. What did they not like about that other financial advisor?

Next, look at your own story and how you got to where you are today. You’ll want to uncover details about your life which made you the advisor you are today.

Finally weave this information together so that your own unique story is told in a way that will attract your a-list clients. Never forget  you are a unique individual and the “U” in “USP” stands for “unique.” Be yourself. Don’t be bland. Stand out from your peers.

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Oval Office Carpet Copywriting Misquote: Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt Enjoying a Good Laugh

While on his latest vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, President Obama had the Oval Office redecorated to reflect both his aesthetic as well as philosophical taste. His new beige carpet has quotes from 5 major historical figures. One is attributed to Teddy Roosevelt:

“THE WELFARE OF EACH OF US IS DEPENDENT FUNDAMENTALLY ON THE WELFARE OF ALL OF US” – From a speech Teddy Roosevelt gave at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, N.Y., on Sept. 7, 1903.

Over a hundred years ago, John E. Kennedy observed that “copywriting is salesmanship in print.” Every ad is made up of copywriting (the words for the headline, body, and offer) and graphic design (font type and size, pictures, colors, etc.)

I’ll leave the aesthetic critiques of the makeover to others. Let’s ask one question: Did this quote really help sell President Obama’s product? The product can be ObamaCare, Banker Bailout, Automaker Bailout, Green Energy Subsidies, etc.

Or was the quote taken out of context which reversed its meaning?

Thankfully, author Susan Shelley took the time to read Teddy Roosevelt’s entire speech. Her conclusion was that a lot more of the speech should have been printed on the carpet. I suggest that would make the “advertisement” less effective. Perhaps he should have quoted a former president who did so much to expand socialized medicine for people over 65 years old: President George W. Bush. Perhaps not.

Let’s take a look at some of Susan Shelly’s article and see how the quote was taken out of context. I bolded a few choice quotes which might be used for future White House renovation projects.

A reasonable person might interpret this selection as an indication of President Obama’s core belief that the president’s job is to “spread the wealth around.” He is unafraid and undaunted, the quotations suggest, in his quest to bring moral justice to “the people.”

Unfortunately, a rug has only so much space, and President Obama had to cut somewhere. Therefore, as a service to you, the reader, America Wants To Know looked up Theodore Roosevelt’s speech at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, New York, on September 7, 1903, and we now present some of the quotations from that particular speech that are not on the rug:

“The failure in public and in private life thus to treat each man on his own merits, the recognition of this government as being either for the poor as such or for the rich as such, would prove fatal to our Republic, as such failure and such recognition have always proved fatal in the past to other republics. A healthy republican government must rest upon individuals, not upon classes or sections.”

“Class government, whether it be the government of a plutocracy or the government of a mob, is equally incompatible with the principles established in the days of Washington and perpetuated in the days of Lincoln.”

“Again and again in the republics of ancient Greece, in those of mediaeval Italy and mediaeval Flanders, this tendency was shown, and wherever the tendency became a habit it invariably and inevitably proved fatal to the state. In the final result it mattered not one whit whether the movement was in favor of one class or of another. The outcome was equally fatal, whether the country fell into the hands of a wealthy oligarchy which exploited the poor or whether it fell under the domination of a turbulent mob which plundered the rich.

“The reason why our future is assured lies in the fact that our people are genuinely skilled in and fitted for self-government and therefore will spurn the leadership of those who seek to excite this ferocious and foolish class antagonism.”

“Fundamentally, the unscrupulous rich man who seeks to exploit and oppress those who are less well off is in spirit not opposed to, but identical with, the unscrupulous poor man who desires to plunder and oppress those who are better off.”

“There is no worse enemy of the wage-worker than the man who condones mob violence in any shape or who preaches class hatred; and surely the slightest acquaintance with our industrial history should teach even the most short-sighted that the times of most suffering for our people as a whole, the times when business is stagnant, and capital suffers from shrinkage and gets no return from its investments, are exactly the times of hardship, and want, and grim disaster among the poor.”

“Legislation to be permanently good for any class must also be good for the Nation as a whole, and legislation which does injustice to any class is certain to work harm to the Nation. Take our currency system for example. This Nation is on a gold basis. The treasury of the public is in excellent condition. Never before has the per capita of circulation been as large as it is this day; and this circulation, moreover, is of money every dollar of which is at par with gold. Now, our having this sound currency system is of benefit to banks, of course, but it is of infinitely more benefit to the people as a whole, because of the healthy effect on business conditions.”

Yes, Theodore Roosevelt was crediting the excellent condition of the public treasury to its adherence to the gold standard. Sound money is good for the American people because it’s good for business conditions. That’s what TR said.

That’s not on the rug.

When “business is stagnant and capital suffers from shrinkage and gets no return from its investments,” it means “grim disaster” for the poor.

That’s not on the rug, either.

Turns out TR had no use for the man who “preaches class hatred” and believed the nation would always “spurn the leadership” of those who stir up “foolish class antagonism.”

TR said the rich and poor must be judged as individuals and treated equally under the law. He warned that republics were just as much at risk from those who “plundered the rich” as from those who “exploited the poor.”

You can bet that’s not on the rug.

It turns out that Teddy Roosevelt’s state fair speech, on Labor Day, was not a call to “spread the wealth around,” but a warning that attacks on the rich would bring down the whole country.

In 1903, anarchy was a spreading and violent threat to governments around the world. It was the terrorism of its day. It wasn’t what it is now, just a bunch of black-clad college students clattering their spray-paint cans outside the G-7 meeting.

In Syracuse that day, TR was trying to explain to the working people at a Labor Day event that their fates were inextricably tied to the freedom and success of wealthy capitalists.

That’s what he meant when he said, “The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally on the welfare of all of us.”

Do you think it’s too late to return the rug?

Source: http://www.extremeink.com/awtk/2010/08/not-on-the-rug.html

I say Teddy Roosevelt is having a good laugh right now.

The moral to the story is to carefully check all the facts in any advertisement, flyer, brochure, website, or blog post. It could be worse: You have to live with a Yellow Page ad for entire year. President Obama can fix this mistake as soon as they can manufacture some new carpet.

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Advisor Marketing: Magazine Advertising

Your city probably has one or more high-gloss magazines targeting the affluent people in your region. Should you advertise in your region’s magazine? First, you must confirm that the readership of the magazine matches the demographics of your targeted clientele. Does the typical reader sound like someone you’d like to have sit across your desk?

One such magazine in Southern California is South Coast magazine, self-described as the “magazine of the California Riviera.” The magazine states “South Coast readers live in households with a median property value of approximately $950,000 with a median age of 41.5, and a median income of approximately $164,000. Our readers are predominately young, affluent, active, educated, well-traveled professionals, who seek challenge in their lives.”

Home value and income levels are high yet the median age is 41.5. Wonderful if you target professionals. Not so great if you target retirees needing estate planning.

The advantage of magazine ads over newspaper advertising is that magazines often will sit around for a month or two before being tossed in the trash. Newspapers come daily and are quickly tossed. These high-gloss magazines are designed to look good sitting on your coffee table. Which increases the chances of your ad being seen.

This advantage becomes a disadvantage if your ad is a dud. You’ll need to live with your ad for a whole month before you can tweak the headline or change the name of the free report.

What should your ad say? Resist the temptation to create a glitzy image ad showing how wonderful you are. Your ad should offer something of real value to get readers to contact your office. You need their contact information so you can follow-up with them later with your newsletter or e-zine. You could offer a free report on retirement planning pitfalls or an invitation to an upcoming community seminar.

Should you try a one-time test? Someone once said the most popular form of gambling for small businesses is advertising. This is especially true of magazine advertising. Don’t expect to make a big splash with a big full-page ad run one-time. Even a proven ad in a new publication may need time to work. For monthly magazines budget for 3 months and a weekly magazine budget for 4 weeks minimum to give the ad a fair test. Far better to run a quarter-page ad 3 times than a full-page ad just once.

What size ad should you start with? Many magazines have active classified sections in the back of the magazine. You can start with a small classified ad offering a free report. The ad won’t cost much and can easily pay for itself. Gradually increase the size of the ad as long as the ad is paying for itself. You can add a bigger headline and a splash of color to a small display ad to get more attention. Go to a quarter page ad and keep tracking the results. A half-page ad may pull better than a full-page ad. You won’t know if you don’t track the results.

Who should design your ad? Be careful if the magazine offers to design your ad at no cost. The graphic designers probably aren’t skilled in copywriting. Plus they have a tendency to try to design a beautiful ad versus an effective ad. You don’t want to win a design award…you want to win new clients. You want the ad to pay for itself.

Want to get free advertising? Take a look at the magazine and see if they have a financial columnist or not. Offer to write a monthly column in exchange for some display advertising. How much advertising should you ask for? Let’s assume that your hourly rate is $175 per hour and it takes you an average of 3 hours to write an article. You value your articles at $500 each so ask for twice that in free advertising in lieu of payment. If $1000 buys a quarter page ad, you could do a half-page ad every other month.

Magazine ads should be considered when you know the magazine’s readers match your targeted niche, you have proven ads with tested headlines and offers, and you have the budget to test an ad for several issues in a row.

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Get Your Own Radio Show For Advisor Marketing Success

Getting a local radio show is a great way to get known in your community as a financial planning expert. Let’s look at the “6 C’s” of having your own radio show:

Contact. A radio show gets you in contact with hundreds or thousands of prospective clients all at once. You build chemistry, establish yourself as an expert and as brave. Not many folks would like to be put on the spot every day or every week. Your clients will enjoy hearing you on the radio and will brag on you so you’ll get more referrals.

Content. Now you’ve gotten a radio show. So what do you talk about? You could do a series of topical shows on various investing and planning areas. You could do a few shows on explaining common investment jargon. You could answer listeners’ questions. The questions could be sent in by email, folks could call your office with questions or you could take them live on air. What do you do if someone asks you a question you can’t answer? No problem, just say, “Great question. Let me do a bit of research and come back tomorrow with a complete answer.” Listeners will appreciate that you admit you don’t know it all. Live Q&A is best and you can do it after you’ve done several shows.

Counsel. You need to give general advice only. You can’t give specific advice because you don’t have the facts of their personal situation. This is a good reason for them to visit you in your office. You also need to be careful not to provide tax or legal advice. Share some air time with your lawyer and CPA and you might see some more referrals down the road.

Controversy. Be especially careful when a listener asks a political question. Your opinion might alienate half your audience. Remember most elections are decided 51% to 49%. Many listeners (and potential clients) will be adamantly opposed to socialism while equally adamant against any cuts to Social Security or Medicare! Emphasize personal responsibility and not wanting to be dependent on the government in your old age. You can take stronger positions when it comes to financial planning matters. Why? Because you are an expert and should know certain planning approaches are better for “most people.” Example, “For most people who own their own home and have over 100,000 in financial assets, estate planning with a living trust is a better option than relying upon a will.”

Cost. Small towns have smaller audiences so the cost is less. One advisor I help pays $1000 per month for a 15 minute Financial Forum show every business day. Another advisor pays $250 per hour for a one-hour weekly show in a big city. In both cases, they get some advertising spots and can cross-promote their seminars and other events.

Communication. You must learn to be clear, concise, and confident when you talk on the radio. Speak in plain English or people will tune you out! And toss in a bit of humor to be more likable and approachable. Imagine you’re speaking to just one person and you’ll be more effective (and less nervous).

How do you get started? Talk to your best clients and find out which radio stations they listen to. Contact these stations and speak with the station manager about starting your own radio show. Whether you do a 3-minute “Money Matters” or a 15-minute or one-hour “Financial Forum”, you can use radio to build chemistry and trust with thousands of people while establishing yourself as an expert in your field.

UPDATE: My friend Burke Allen has over 20 years in PR and the radio industry. He put together a program called Get Your Own Radio Show to help individuals get started in radio.

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