Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Blue Ferret CommChannels, Issue 2: The 4 Main Marketing Objections




Welcome back to CommChannels! You're receiving this month's issue a week early for a very simple reason. Like most of you, I'm taking next week off. Computer – off. Schedule – closed. Mental activity level – minimal.

To my colleagues, friends and everyone else who's reading – may you have a safe and cheerful holiday.

Main Article

The 4 Main Objections All Marketing Must Overcome

We've all waffled on a purchase. The pitch wasn't very good, you're debating alternatives, whatever. When you're on the selling end of a business deal though, waffling is fatal. Successful marketing triumphs over indecision, and does it in a way that the buyer feels good about it.

Let's examine four objections marketers encounter – all of which are no doubt familiar. Typically, the techniques to respond to them work equally well in either a face-to-face deal-closing meeting, or on your website.

1. I Don't Have the Money

If he didn't, you wouldn't be talking with him. He needs something to tip him over the fence. Numbers work great here. Prepare calculations beforehand on how your product/service increases their ROI. Whip them out if a money objection comes up.

This exact approach also works in website content. Numbers and words back each other up, fostering trust in what they reveal. If you reveal a concrete boost in ROI from your product, Objection #1 goes shallow.

2. I Don't Have the Time (to implement, to retrain, to handle problems)

Chances are he has the time, but he can't see it. His mind is focused on how much time his workday already takes up. He's not considering the time regained from everyday tasks by implementing your solution.

Use questions to find out about how he does things now. Probe. Ask questions you might consider silly, i.e. “How much time do your managers spend chasing after employees for status updates each week?” He'll either start to realize they have lots of time, or he'll blurt out the real reason he's objecting.

3. I Want to Think About It

He's already made up his mind, yes or no. What you must figure out is which one. Be careful - he might not even know.

If yes, he wants something more from you. A bonus, a special deal, etc. If you want the deal, offer him whatever you have. Many information product marketers online use “bonus books” - free gifts relative to their topic – to encourage sales.

If no, he's trying to escape and “be polite.” (I could debate how polite leading others on is, but I'm limited to 600 words.) Best way to tell this is if he gets anxious. Try to save the sale if you can by offering a special deal or asking if something more could be done to satisfy him. But it might not work.

4. I Need to Run It By So-and-So First

There's a question you need to ask yourself here. Have you been talking to a non-decision-maker, or is he passing the buck?

Ask if he could arrange a conversation with So-and-So, as soon as possible. Offer to stick around, if necessary. If he waffles, he's probably the decision maker and has a different reason to object. Doing this will help bring it out.

Another way to fish for approval is to ask if there would be any other obstacles were you to eliminate the original, or got approval from the decision-maker. This way you've covered the given objection. Now it's his turn to approve, list the 'real' objection, or decide to buy.

Most of these objections, as you've seen, are basically excuses for feeling hesitant. Nothing wrong with that, but you'll need to respond to the objection before you can answer the real problem. Anticipating all of these objections in your website content will make it a stronger piece with a bigger pull.

Next month – 6 Things to Check Before You Send That E-Blast

Word Count: 584 (whew!)

~~~This Month's Blog Posts~~~

BlogTip 12-4: Be Wary of Holiday Identity Theft

Copyferreting – How to Close Up Gaps in your Work

I Say Blogs Strengthen the Web – One of Duct Tape's 500 Posts

BlogTip 12-11: Minimize “That” While You're At It

Should You Say the Obvious About Your Product?

BlogTip 12-18: Things Writers Should Be Aware of In 2007

Think Up A Resolution You CAN Stick To

Tags: eblast" rel="tag">eblast marketing" rel="tag">marketing newsletter" rel="tag">newsletter writing" rel="tag">writing

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Think Up A Resolution You Can Stick To

Story of the New Year. We make a resolution or three, tell ourselves we'll make the time, recite to our bathroom mirror, and...we fizzle out a couple weeks in. No lasting change.

Depressing, isn't it? Now, what if I told you there was a method with which you could set 2007's resolutions in stone before the year even starts?

It's called the S.M.A.R.T. principle.

Time management gurus love it. Many successful executives rely on it. (The rest of us drag it out when we slow down enough to remember its usefulness!)

You may have heard of it already. If not, here's what it stands for.


Smart. Get it? *rimshot*

Here's what you do. It'll take 10 minutes.

Let's say your goal is to lose weight. (The #1 resolution in America, several years running.)

Get a notepad. Write down the left side, "S--" "M--" and so on. Here's how I get S.M.A.R.T.

For S, go for either number of pounds to lose or duration you will stick to an exercise regimen. I prefer the latter. Try a 3-month period to start. Once that ends, you'll have incorporated the regimen into daily life - you won't want to give it up!

For M, write out an image you want to see occur at the end of your specific goal. In the case of weight loss, it might be, "Look at self in mirror and realize you're more attractive than ever."

A, list a few steps on how to make the goal attainable. Weight loss (and other goal-accomplishing) tips abound on the Web. Put in a couple that resonate with how you feel about your goal. One good idea here would be reaching milestones after a certain time - say, 10 pounds lost by the next month.

R, write out what you'll do for yourself when you reach those milestones. Weekend trip to another city perhaps, or a night out at a live band or a comedy show. Make it something to look forward to, and reachable via your goals.

T is very open to interpretation (I partially covered it with S, in fact). For weight loss, I'd go with setting down the amount of time you'll dedicate to exercising per week. Then you can break that down on an individual weekly basis, if you'd prefer.

Applying the S.M.A.R.T. principle to other resolutions is just as easy. These 5 aspects work for every goal worth striving toward. To keep things realistic (and attainable), I'd say go for a maximum of 2 goals. I like sticking to one, but if you can pull off two, go for it.

Most people who use the S.M.A.R.T. principle do so in the context of business achievement. But there's nothing that says you can't use the method to achieve other types of goals. Take 10 minutes sometime after Christmas, pull the resolution in your head into the spotlight, and lay out how you'll get there. Once you do, you've already started toward achievement.

That's all folks! I'll see everyone next year. Designate a driver, try not to harm family members, and look forward to a successful future.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Blue Ferret BlogTip 12-18-06 - Things Writers Should Be Aware of in 2007

Like many of you, I'm taking next week off. And since the end of the year approaches rapidly, I decided to focus this week on planning for 2007.

First, let me put down some links dealing with trends awareness. If you want to plan for a new year, it pays to get a sense of where to look. Some things I think writers/marketing consultants should be aware of include open source, business moving into the social/virtual sphere, and proliferating information sources. I've put a couple example links below:

Open Source Industry Growing -
Pretty thorough overall introduction to the open source industry here: http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/rational/library/1303.html Open source is gaining traction. Now it has to find market niches. Hello, marketing materials!

Business Moving Further Into Social Spheres -
IBM investing in Second Life. I predict opportunities will abound in this business/social meshing for 2007.

Improved Sources of Information -
New Digg Adds Podcasts, Videos, Top 10 to Info Listings: http://blog.digg.com/?p=57
Blog and Social Search Engines Growing: www.stumbleupon.com * www.sphere.com * www.omgili.com
Tons of new/improved ways to find customer information. And they're GIVING it away!

Wednesday I'll talk about - *cue dramatic music* - New Year's Resolutions. Check back then!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Should You Say the Obvious About the Product?

Copywriters are there to make words sell. We spend years figuring out what phrase has the most impact where. Along the way, it's a natural inclination to avoid repetition. We don't like writing the same thing over and over any more than the audience likes reading it.

However, a problem lurks in this always-wanting-creativity preference.

It is known as The Obvious Description.

You might be tempted to avoid the obvious when describing your product. The thought might pass in your head, "They must know that part already. I'd be insulting their intelligence if I wrote it out."

The problem we as writers have when this occurs is that we're too close to the product. It's a constant danger. As we research, we start assimilating facts and product characteristics. Even if we remind ourselves to pull back and examine what we've written through a "new customer" eye, it's hard to accomplish all the time.

So occasionally, we give into temptation and talk almost completely about benefits. That in & of itself is great. But you can go too far.

Like, failing to specify what your product even does.

That's Very Nice, But What Does It DO?
I've actually read technical copy where I couldn't figure what the product did until the second page! The writer spent a great deal of time talking about how many fields this product worked for, how easy it was to use, etc. And yet they didn't cover the Obvious Description early enough in the text to focus all of these benefits on.

Here's a basic example of what I mean by an Obvious Description: "Axis Security Suite 4 is an email security application suite which protects your user mailboxes."

It even sounds Obvious if you read it out loud. Extreme "Duh" moment. Yet this kind of copy is so easy to skip over - and it shouldn't be. I know "Focus on Benefits, Not Features" is the mantra. You won't sell any benefits without a fundamental description, though. It's not so much a feature as it is a core foundation.

How, Where and Why to Write Obviously
HOW TO WRITE IT - Write out the Obvious Description in the plainest language you can. You won't want to. Fight the temptation to dress it up or swap words. Then, put it down and go do something else.

When you come back, read over your target market characteristics before looking at the copy. The idea is to re-situate the audience firmly in your mindset when you edit. "You" don't know this product from the next. That way, you'll be asking yourself questions like, "What is this? Does it do what I need it to dot?"

WHERE TO PUT THE OBVIOUS DESCRIPTION - As early in the page as possible. No later than the first 2 paragraphs. If you can't begin the copy with an Obvious Description outright, aim for starting the second paragraph with the Description line.
For example, you could spend the first paragraph outlining the major business problem your software solves, and use that to introduce the software next paragraph.

WHY IT SHOULD BE THERE - In the case of websites, you're giving the reader an instant "I know I'm in the right place." Very often when visitors arrive at your site, they want to know one thing. "Is this what I'm looking for?"

You could actually type out, "Yes, this is the place. Stop looking." But it'd be easier and more fulfilling to answer the implied question - "What does this product do?" Bam. This is what it does. I'm in the right place.

So, back to the subject line - should you say the obvious about the product?

Yes. State the Obvious Description early. Back it up with product features, and sharpen your reader's desire with benefits.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Blue Ferret BlogTip 12-11-2006 - Minimize "That" While You're At It

"To be or not to be..."

Shakespeare hit on something powerful.

It's one of the most fundamental verbs in the English language - "be." It's probably used millions of times every day in speech alone.

But it can slow down marketing copy like tar on a hot road.

Copywriting experts talk about strengthening your writing by eliminating "to be" and its derivatives. I've seen this referenced in so many newsletters and blogs, it'd take me hours to hunt-and-grab a smattering of links.

And these are Tips. Written on Mondays. So let's just continue. (Check my blogroll to the right if you want; I know Joe Vitale has talked about this in the past.)

Let me give you an example of how eliminating "to be" boosts a sentence's impact:
To Be - It's not smart for a person like you to be breeding.
Or Not to Be - You! Out of the gene pool!

Okay, that's a silly example. Let's try something more serious:
To Be - Hydra Corp. is the best choice for widget maintenance.
Or Not to Be - Keep your widgets humming for years with Hydra Corp.

See? Much stronger language. The message carries more weight, and feels like it's more active. The kind of language people engage with - and read more of.

Interestingly, this substitution process also works for another word which, like "to be," slows down copy and can mangle meaning.


Why "that?" Because "that" is vague. It kind of hangs in a sentence, assuming you already understand why it's there. And it often requires explanation anyway - within its own sentence (e.g., "that second article, that third idea he mentioned")! It doesn't favor skimmers, and doesn't carry flow very well.

Here's one example of how to eliminate "that."
That - We've implemented a new tracking system that brings a new level of service quality.
Or This - Our brand-new tracking system helped our service quality so much, we've already achieved 15% more successes in the past 3 months.

See what I mean? Taking out one word leaves room to add more details and punches up the overall sentence strength.

Try it sometime. While you're editing, going back through to pick out the "to be"s, try rearranging around a "that" or two. You might be surprised at what that brings. (Agh! I did it again!)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I Say Blogs Strengthen the Web - One of Duct Tape's 500 Posts

John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing posited an interesting challenge last night.

He's asked for 500 blog mentions of his new book, of the same title as his business. I'm looking forward to it (though I haven't pre-ordered mine yet - holiday budget and all).

While I'm of course happy to answer John's call for action, I want to throw in my own viewpoint.

He mentioned in his announcement that his publishers didn't believe blogging was an effective platform for selling a book. Like John himself, I vehemently disagree. Blogging not effective? Blogging amazes me all the time with how powerful it is!

One small example I've had came at the beginning of this year, when I blogged about Wiki service sites. I detailed my query here, and the surprising reply I had the very next day!.

While I ultimately chose another option than Stikipad, I was very impressed not only by its services, but the friendliness Matt displayed in our email conversation. It remains a shining example of how easy blogs make it to connect out there on the Web. How strongly interwoven blogs are into major websites like AOL, CNET and Google only further demonstrates their power.

Blogs are how I found out about Duct Tape Marketing in the first place!

I've been working on two fiction novels these past few months. Progress is going amazingly well, and I'm learning a ton about how to stick to a long-term schedule. I plan to use this knowledge for my business books, when their turn comes up. And yes, I've planned on using blogs to promote all of my books. I anticipate maintaining my own blog network for all my books after I retire.

There's my five cents (hey, inflation can be nasty). Best of success to you, John!


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Copyferreting - How To Close Up Gaps in Your Work

(Fair warning - I've had a monster headache all day. Today's article might sound a bit off.)

Flow is extremely important to copy. Without flow, there's no story. No foundation on which to build. No steady persuasion effort. You've read copy like this: you get lost, can't figure out what's being said, don't feel like reading more, and so on.

Flow depends on connecting ideas. I guess I'm an atypical writer, because I don't always sit down, start at the top and write in a linear order from beginning to end. As I write, I jump from paragraph to paragraph. I want to make sure the ideas are in proper order to be the most convincing. (Something tells me I'm not alone in this.)

However, this leaves gaps between points quite often. The ideas are present, but the flow is not.

The good news is, if you've done your research, you already possess the connectors necessary to close up the gaps and create flow between your words. These are a couple of ways you can pull them out of your head.

Don't Let Floaters Disappear - Sometimes you'll be writing in one area, and something else will pop into your head. It's not relevant to what you're writing that moment, but it might be relevant three paragraphs up.

Don't hesitate. Don't reach for the scroll wheel. Start writing it that second. Yes, it breaks up what you were working on before. But you can pick it back up. Pause, even for a moment, and you'll lose the brainstorm.

I call these "floaters" - bits of copy that float in out of the blue. Relevant to the overall subject, but not right this second. These are potentially flow-saving elsewhere, because they're the result of your mind sifting through your research and previous copy.

When The Wall Approaches, Throw Notes At It - You have been taking lots of notes during research, right? You have the product features, benefits, competitors' information and company sales points at your elbow, right?

When your fingers stop moving and your mind falls flat, reach for your notes. Browse through without a specific purpose. Toss what you've written back and forth. Usually what you need is waiting to jump out. Keep doing this when you hit a wall, and the walls will decrease.

Juggle - It's happened before - you're at a dead stop. Another sentence, one you wrote last paragraph, looks like it will fit next. But it means patching one gap by creating another. Do you move it?

Yes. Continuity now is hard to maintain. Going back and adding on is easier. Juggling sentences can yield surprisingly good results. Almost every time I do it, I get a better flow. And even more helpful, after I do so I have little trouble resuming where I was.

Try these ideas out in your own copy. They aren't hard-and-fast rules by any stretch. But they might poke your writing brain in just enough of a new direction to inject some creativity.

Other parts to my Copyferreting may appear here at a later date. Keep your eyes peeled!


On a sadder note: CNET editor James Kim has been found dead. He risked - and gave - his life for the chance of saving his family. The man deserves hero's honors. I salute his courage and his sacrifice.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Blue Ferret BlogTip 12-4-06 - Be Wary of Holiday Identity Theft

Think twice about ditching all those holiday offer envelopes unopened.

Identity theft, the nation's fastest-growing crime, is a particular danger during the holidays. We throw away more during this month alone than some countries do the entire year.

Think about all the mail you receive that gets dumped without a second thought - boxes you've received mail orders in, holiday sales offers addressed to you, etc. Harmless? Think again. One of the biggest sources of personal information is still your trash. Identity thieves are expert dumpster-divers.

Even if it's pure junk mail, if it has your name on it, shred it. Spread the shredded stuff out between your trash bin and recycling. If your city collects newspapers, slip some shredding in there. A little mindfulness this holiday season may prevent the next one from being a nightmare.

Here are some links with information on preventing ID theft, and what to do if you suspect you've become a victim:

Identity Theft Action Plan
Identity Theft - FTC
Identity Theft Resource Center