Warning Signs Your Marketing (and Copy) Isn’t Right

“This time it will be different. You are a copywriting genius.” This is usually a warning sign that no matter how good the copy produced it will not turn into a result.

There is a lot involved in producing winning marketing – the copy is a big piece of it but it isn’t all of it.

Over time, working with clients you can get a bit of a sixth sense for when your client’s ideas about marketing and copy will lead to non-results.

There are three all too common signs that your marketing is not going to work.

1) Naivety of the Business Owner. This is the first sign that there will be marketing problems. Business Owners either are marketers or they aren’t.

You can turn yourself into a marketer over time but it takes work and commitment to education. And it is important to learn marketing – at least to the point where you can identify and retain talented people to oversee your marketing.

Otherwise you’ll just be a marketing victim.

But at any given time a business owner either is or isn’t a marketer and when they aren’t they are often deluded by business opportunity level sales pitches about how better ads will magically turn them into a millionaire – with dollar signs in their eyes they will fall for anything.

Conversely, when the business owner is intelligent gets what can and can’t be realistically done by with a marketing strategist or copywriter they are often not patient enough to keep working with them beyond that first project because it takes a couple of goes to get it right. They’ve exhausted that bright shiny object and are on to the next one.

2) Poor Market Selection. When I meet a potential client who tells me that their business is ‘anybody with a heartbeat’ or some variation of that, I despair. This ties into number 1 but it is so important it warrants its own section.

Without fail there is a sweet spot in the market that is more valuable to you and you are more valuable to them – where you can command and receive higher fees. It is worth searching for and finding these sweet spots.

I was talking to a potential client recently who was trying to market to everyone but was also secretly hoping that one or two industry segments responded because they were so valuable. I should have made him write me a check for what I said next but I asked him”

“Why don’t you just get a list of industry segments you want and customise your marketing for each of these?”

Light bulb goes on over the client’s head.

3) Over reliance of benefits and feature driven copy.Most good copywriters will tell you that selling is all about benefits but it isn’t. More accurately, it is all about the benefits being able to solve the problems your market has. For this reason the best copy actually is problem focused and story-driven about the solution to those problems.

The product’s features and benefits can almost be an afterthought. I wrote an advertorial where the product basically isn’t mentioned. It is all about the problems that the audience faces and the missed opportunities that arise from not addressing the problem – only in the final 10% of the advertorial is the specifics of the product mentioned.

Is Network Marketing Success Luck or Skill?

Network marketing otherwise known as multi-level marketing (MLM) is one of the fastest growing yet most misunderstood methods of moving products in use today. It has been in existence since 1960 starting from the United States of America. The first network marketing company that started in history is known as AMWAY which is the short form for American Way. Presently Amway is quoted on the stock exchange and their annual sales turnover is in excess of $200 billion. Certain people see this industry as a resort for persons who could not get a place in the traditional corporate business world i.e the white-collar job. But network marketing just like every other product/service distribution model is an honorable means of livelihood and business model. What is network marketing? It is important you understand what network marketing is so that you can correct the negative uninformed knowledge that is planted in the minds of so many people who were listening to those who could not wait to understand how this industry works before they quit in their network marketing business. Let us start from the basic. Marketing simply means moving a product or service from manufacturer or provider to the consumer. Network marketing refers to the system of compensation provided to those persons who are causing the products to move or the service to be provided. Multi-level marketing or network marketing means more than one (network) level.

There are only three basic methods of moving products. The first is wholesale/retailing model. This is the traditional distribution model which uses the advertisement media and wholesaler to move their products. It is the most common model but it is aimed to enrich the already rich wholesalers and advertisement agencies. The second is direct Sales. This just like network marketing is a model where the manufacturer or service provider sells the product direct to the consumer. But sales instead of sharing are emphasized. The third is network marketing. This is a model where the manufacturer or service provider offers their products and services direct to the consumer at the cost price and also pay them compensation for buying their products/services and at the same time for sharing the products/services with their friends, associates and relations.

Most objections that people have about getting into network marketing are due to not realizing the difference between network marketing and direct sales method of marketing. Network marketing does not necessary mean door-to-door selling of products but sharing of valuable products and services. What I mean by this is that you use the product which is of more quality than their rival in the market and at the same time share same with others. (Mostly family, associate and friends)The most significant difference between MLM and direct sales is that you are in business for yourself. But in direct sales you are not for yourself but for the company you are representing. Being in business for yourself, you are buying the products wholesale from the company you are representing. This means that you can (and should) use these products for your own consumption. Note that many people get involved in a company at first for this reason alone, to buy wholesale. And many of those will get serious in building a business along the line. Since you are buying your products at wholesale, you can, if you wish to, sell those products at retail band make a profit. The most common misunderstanding about MLM is the notion that you have to sell retail to be successful. The most important point is that you should let your sales come as the natural result of building the organization. More people fail than succeed by trying to do it the other way around, i.e they try to build the organization by emphasizing selling.

The word selling triggers negative thoughts in the minds of about 95% of the people. In MLM you don’t need to sell the products in the traditional sense of the word. However, PRODUCT DOES HAVE TO MOVE or nobody gets paid. I define selling as calling on strangers and trying to sell them something they may neither need nor want. Again, product has to move or nobody gets paid! To understand this, I will adopt Metcalfe’s Law which states that a network’s economic value equals to number of users squared. (Robert Metcalfe is one of the people credited for creating the ethernet, the earliest form of internet) Stating Metcalfe’s Law in simpler terms, if there exist just one telephone, that single telephone really has no economic value. The moment there are two telephones, according to this law, the economic value of the phone network is now squared. That is, the economic value of the network would go from zero to two squared which is four. Add a third phone and the economic value of the network is now nine. In other words, the economic value of network goes up exponentially, not numerically. Similarly, in MLM when you build an organization, you are building a network through which you can channel your products. Retailing is the foundation of network marketing. Sales in MLM come from members sharing with their friends, neighbors and relative. They never have to talk to strangers but what they do is to consciously make more friends and in share their products with these friends.

Three Things to Consider Before Hiring That Marketing Person

First, what does the position entail? “Marketing”, after all, means different things in different companies. To some firms the Marketing done entails identifying new markets, driving new product development, fielding market communication campaigns, then directing and motivating the sales force. Clearly, they envision a senior executive who would be very near the top of the organization..

At the other extreme, to other companies a “Marketing” person is someone who turns out ads, catalogs, brochures, flyers and so on and do it in-house. That’s what “Marketing Manager” means to these companies.

For most companies the “marketing person” needed is less than senior executive and more than a graphics designer. If your company is in this middle category then you need to consider these questions:

1. Is the marketing need long term and ongoing? Is there a regular monthly workload and will it continue at least two years? Too many companies hire someone to tackle a “huge” volume of work only to see it completed within a year. Then they have to find more for the new hire to do or let them go. Here are a couple of hints;

A. Plot all past marketing projects. When were they completed? If you don’t see an ongoing, steady output of marketing projects, chances are that you don’t need that marketing person.

B. Don’t hire someone just to save on agency or graphic designer costs. When outsiders aren’t working for you, they don’t cost you a thing. Salaries, on the other hand, are a fixed expense.

2. How will you recognize and avoid B- or C grade marketing? You want marketing that will boost sales and rock the competition but what if the new marketing person’s proposals don’t “wow” you? Do you run with them anyhow and hope for the best? Consider this:

A. “Creativity” isn’t all there is marketing. Successful marketing is always based on an insightful marketing strategy. The marketing manager must have both the education and real-world marketing experience to not only understand the strategy but to contribute to its development.. And those credentials don’t come cheap.

B. Creativity is required to implement the strategy but it must not only be attention-getting but must also reflect well on the product and on the company. Mediocre or “cute” creative can blunt the impact of the strategy. That’s why marketers want to see three or more distinct creative approaches.Will you be able to recruit —and afford—that creative a marketing manager?

C. Even creativity should be judged in a business-like manner. Younger, novice marketing managers may not take criticism, let alone rejection, of their pet ideas well. How to spot them? Go through a candidate’s samples and quiz them on why they chose a particular direction. Look for answers that refer to results not design theories. If they seem defensive, you can look forward to hurt feelings and sulking.

3. What if you hire the wrong candidate? In companies that haven’t a good-sized marketing department, there is no one to take up the slack when the marketing person is out, on vacation, or let go. Moreover, marketing people usually interact with only one or two others who are in a position to judge how well they’re doing. That’s why when that marketing person is let go, the reasons are usually not obvious to their co-workers. This uncertainty can affect employee morale. Hints? There aren’t any. Just don’t hire the wrong person.

At the start I wrote ” the bad news is that there are other reasons why adding to your staff may not be best for your company.” Well, the good news is that you can get the marketing you need without a marketing manager.

I’m not proposing that you simply go back to the ad agencies or designers you relied on before you considered hiring a marketing managers. Apply the same business acumen that you employ in the rest of your operations. While marketing services are far from being a commodity, shopping around for the right one… or ones… is easy in these internet days. And, yes, I did write “ones.” Let me explain.

A lot of companies do the same things they did all along because they thought that there were no choices. They’d hire one ad agency. They’d sign a contract. And, believe it or not, some paid a monthly retainer! Wake up, pal! You’re the Customer! You get to call the shots!

Why not hire the marketing expertise you need when you need it? Need a product launch plan? Hire someone who’s done it over and over again. Pay them then say “adios.”

Need a corporate identity campaign? Hire someone to get you that recognition then recognize that, once the mission is accomplished, you no longer need that someone.

Consider this radical idea in terms of the three questions we covered before.

1. Is the marketing need long term and ongoing? It doesn’t matter. Once you’ve settled on the price you can “employ” an outside consultant or agency for a month or a year. Let them go and re-hire them for the next project. What about the cost? Trust me, it’ll always be far cheaper than paying a salary, benefits, and for endless hours of web-surfing.

2. How will you recognize and avoid B- or C grade marketing? Simple. If you don’t like what they bring you, you don’t pay. You send them “back to the drawing board.” No more worrying about hurting someone’s feelings. No more putting up with missed deadlines. You’re the Customer not the Boss. And everyone in sales knows that customers are more demanding than any boss.

3. What if you hire the wrong candidate? Fire a consultant or an agency and not one of your people will care. Best of all, you can hire a replacement before the original is out the door. In fact, you can have more than one agency or marketing mercenary working for you at the same time. The secret? You don’t give anyone your account. You give them a project.

So before you fill that Marketing Manager position, ask yourself ” Why not hire a “temp” first?”

Richard Koranda has driven creative strategies for American Express, Bank of America, CitiCard, Visa, Dreyfus, and Diners Club. His work earned over 60 industry awards for response and creativity. He was also responsible for the highly successful repositioning of Visa “Visa. Its everywhere you want to be”, which led to the brand dominating the bankcard market.

Previously, he headed up UMarketing LLC as Executive Creative Director serving a broad range of clients including Blue Cross, AMA, KaVo Dental America, Blockbuster Music, MicroTek, and Diners Club International, Chase, US Bank, BMO Harris Bank.