How We Decide to Purchase

Amateur ad writers assume everyone makes decisions based upon the same criteria they use. This causes them to unconsciously frame their messages to reach people exactly like themselves.

Professional ad writers frame their messages to speak to the felt needs of a specific consumer.

People are multi-dimensional. We make decisions to purchase based on a variety of criteria, but two of the big ones are Time and Money.

Advertising Oversimplified

The advice I give to others, I rarely take myself.

I admonish persons who possess detailed knowledge to “dumb it down” so the rest of us can understand because, frankly, we are rarely interested in the mystery and wonder of the unabbreviated truth.

I tell them, “Say it so plainly that you worry you have stripped it of all its truth and beauty.”

Are You the Solution or the Problem?

“The deer have killed the oak tree! The deer have killed the oak tree!”

Forty-year-old Todd – we’ll call him Todd – came running into my office with his second crisis of the day. I expected there would be at least one more.

Todd felt it was his job to bring every problem to my attention so that I could tell him how to solve it. Todd was an idiot. His only value was that he gave me a sparkling example of what it means to be an identifier of problems rather than a creator of solutions.

I’m Here to Encourage You

Her only hope of survival is an audience that believes in fairies and demonstrates that belief through enthusiastic applause. Tinkerbell’s light has been growing brighter since 1904, when she first appeared in J.M. Barrie’s play, Peter Pan.

Everyone believes in fairies enough to clap enthusiastically.

The Tinkerbell Effect describes things that exist only because enough of us believe they exist, and behave as though they do.

When Men Retire

I know what happens when men retire.

I do not know what happens when women retire. Perhaps they are plagued by the same maladjustments, discomforts and discontentment as men, but I doubt it. As Michele Miller points out in her audiobook, The Natural Advantages of Women, females of our species are gifted with different neurological wiring that helps them be less obsessive, more able to adapt.

“It was Dark Inside the Wolf”

“It was dark inside the wolf,” is how Margaret Atwood believes the story might have opened.

Emily Dickinson would agree. “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant,” was her advice to those of us who want our emails to be opened, our stories to be read, and our voices to be heard.

If you want your subject line, headline, or opening line to win attention, “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.” Approach your subject from an interesting angle.

The Treachery of Surveys

1. You Cannot Measure What Has Not Happened.

When you ask a person about an experience that exists only in their imagination, they will give you imaginary answers.

You can measure only what has already happened.

In other words, you cannot measure what “would” or “would not” work. You can only measure what “did” and “did not” work.

Just Because “It All Adds Up” Doesn’t Make It True

When someone says, “Figures don’t lie,” know this: Figures lie, and liars figure.

Never trust a weasel with a calculator.

Do you remember the mortgage meltdown of 2008 and The Big Short, the movie that was made about it? There is a scene in that movie where investors Mark Baum and Vinnie Daniel go to visit Georgia Hale, an employee of the ratings agency Standard and Poor’s:

How to Make Big Things Happen Fast

Ad writers hear it every day, whistling toward them like a bullet: “We need more traffic, that’s what we need; more sales opportunities!”

I spent the early part of my radio career stepping up to the plate and knocking that fastball out of the park. If your back was against the wall, I was the man to call.

I was like Coca-Cola, baby, I was everywhere.

The Truth About “Going Viral”

Real experts in online marketing rarely use the phrase “going viral,” because it has no agreed-upon definition. Instead, they talk about “Discovery Content” and “Community Content.”

To understand Discovery Content, just look at anything posted by BuzzFeed or any of the other organizations whose principal income is generated by the companies who sponsor their clickbait.1

But not all Discovery Content is shallow and vacuous.

Stories That Sell Products and Services

The door to immediate action is easily kicked open by the steel-toed boot of urgency.

If you want people to take immediate action, you’re going to need a credible shortage.
A shortage of product. “Only 11 remain!”
A shortage of time. “Sale ends Saturday at 6PM!”
A shortage of capacity. “Only 128 seats are available!”
Some kind of shortage.

Radio versus Pay-Per-Click

You hear a lot of talk these days about how no one listens to the radio anymore.

Interestingly, the people who make these claims offer no evidence beyond the fact that commercial free music can be obtained through online streaming. This reminds me of that famous malaprop by Yogi Berra, “No one goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”