Category Archives: Communication

Article-Based Advertising Can Get Results

Classical booksEveryone loves the storyteller who captures our minds and tickles our desire to be entertained, to be carried away to a world that only exists in our imaginations.  It’s what makes the classics so accessible and worth reading; their creators were incredible storytellers.  I wrote a recent blog about how to use storytelling in your marketing,  but there is a recent post about a two year consumer preference survey which supports this concept of creating content on the Internet that can help build brand awareness and drive sales if written as an article or in a story-based form versus other methods of online advertising.

Jack Loechner, writing for the Center for Media Research, sites a two year study conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation whose results show that “article-based advertising was preferred by 53% of respondents who said they are ‘very likely’ or ‘somewhat likely’ to read and act upon the material, compared to 51% a year ago.”  And of the age demographic of 25 to 34, there was a 66% favorable reaction.  Even the affluent, those making in excess of $75,000 per year, showed a 60% likelihood of reading and acting upon this kind of content.  These results far outdistanced other methods of Internet advertising like pop-up ads and sponsored search.

In examining closer, we find that this two year study was sponsored by Adfusion, which is a company that writes “advertorials” for their clients that are placed in publications around the country.  These are stories that are made to appear as articles but are really brand promotions.  This could cause us to invalidate these survey results; however I believe that would be a hasty conclusion.

I am not saying that when writing a blog, article, or newsletter, that there should be a blatant self-promotion or an attempt to fool people into believing that they are reading a legitimate article when in reality it is simply brand advertising.

What I am saying is that if you provide value through the telling of a story, and your readers find it interesting, then you will likely see a positive reaction to your brand. This in turn can support the other methods of direct advertising which are a part of your overall media mix and as the survey above shows, can bring measurable results.

What are your thoughts?

Marketing Communications: Why Is Everybody Always Yelling At Me?

man with megaphone yelling

There they were, two kids standing toe to toe and nose to nose, with faces beet red, cheeks puffed out, sweat dripping from their forehead, fists clenched to their side, and even though they weren’t more than a few inches from each other, their voices were raised in a mutual fortissimo that could be heard a block away.  The idea, of course: Speak louder than the other guy and win the argument.  This scene is a very funny thing to watch because as we all know, it just doesn’t work.  A whole lot of time and energy gets wasted.  Sound familiar?

I talk with business owners who are just getting into the “social media” game and of course they will ask my opinion on what they’ve done.  Many get caught in the trap of not being able to step outside of the mindset that social media tools should be used for promoting the business, to help people understand what it is about their company that is better than anything else out there.  And this extends beyond just social media to most other forms of communication.  Websites, billboards, brochures, television spots, email all are used as just another method of repeating their marketing message only louder, more often, to more people and oh yea, did I say LOUDER.  It is very hard to break old habits but it’s an absolute necessity.

We are yelled at all day, from so many sources, all standing about two inches from us trying as hard as possible to get our attention by yelling louder than anyone else, yet the effectiveness of this diminishes with each passing day.  As a species, we are developing greater capabilities for ignoring the noise.

As Seth Godin says, “The goal shouldn’t be to have a lot of people to yell at, the goal probably should be to have a lot of people who choose to listen.

Here are some ideas that might be different:

  • Instead of telling someone about your product or service, ask them what they need or what is on their mind
  • Use Twitter, Facebook, your blog, your website, email, etc. to start a conversation
  • Stop promoting yourself
  • Invite comments, even if they disagree
  • Let people understand what it is about YOU that they might find interesting or be able to relate with
  • Build trust
  • Tell what is happening in your industry and what is your take on it
  • Mention interesting books, blogs or articles that you have read
  • Strive to give more than you get

What are your thoughts or what might you add to this list?

I Knew in an Instant, Did You?


It seemed so obvious just by looking at his face.  You could see the glint in his eyes, the slight up curl of his top lip resembling the snarl a cat gets just after eating the mouse.  This guy was cool, not a drop of perspiration.  He was guilty, you knew it and he knew it, and he was relishing the fact that he had fooled everybody.  Your gut was telling you, this guy did it, but with the wealth of testimonies, charts, diagrams, witness depositions, and all other types of evidence, the jury found him innocent.  How was it that with all that information available, they could make such an obviously bad decision?

This is a fictitious story however we have all been there.  How many times has your gut told you, don’t do this, you’ll regret it, but after you thought about it, weighed all of the possible outcomes you made a decision that turned out to be the wrong one?

This is the gist of Malcom Gladwell’s book “Blink” (after his best seller “The Tipping Point”).  When confronted with lots of information, humans can and often do make dreadfully wrong decisions.  The part of our unconscious brain that processes information very quickly and undetectable to us, the part that is a necessary hereditary trait that has kept our species in existence, is remarkably accurate.  It is our instinct, or our gut, that sometimes we choose to ignore because we’ve been taught to pause, gather information and deliberate before making a decision.

I don’t think it was Mr. Gladwell’s contention that we only rely on instinct to make decisions and I urge you to read his book to find out when deliberate conscious thought is better, however I believe he makes an important point relative to how good marketing can help or hurt this process of decision making.

In marketing collateral, signage, websites and other forms of communication, it never ceases to amaze me just how much information companies feel they need to include.  We are absolutely inundated with information and choices and yet we’re expected to sort through all of the possibilities and make the correct decision to take action.  More is better, right?  Worse yet, with too many choices, we will sometimes choose not to choose: paralysis by analysis.

As Mr. Gladwell says, “The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.”

Here’s what I recommend:

  • Don’t be afraid to have “white space” in your marketing communications.
  • Strive not to present too many choices or force a lot of information on your potential customer.
  • Keep it simple and more than likely, their “instinct” about you and your product or service will be correct.
  • Help them to understand how your product or service will make their life easier or better.

I’d love to know your thoughts.