Thursday, March 26, 2009


Air can destroy pottery -- and sales (see 03/19/09).

Air can also destroy an ad.

There are two extremes: I'll call them "Cool Air" and "Hot Air".

"Cool Air" is trying too hard to be cool. It's oversimplification. Most effective ads are simple, not simplistic.

A few years back, dozens of amateur ads were based on the "Got Milk" ads. For example:

Headline: "Got high density-polyethylene pipe?" Graphic: Image of pipe Tag: Logo and phone number.

Funny? Maybe. But it doesn't sell anything. Everyone knows what milk is. Not everyone knows your product.

On the other hand, "Hot Air" is too many words.

The key to a good ad isn't saying more. It's saying more with fewer words.

Good ad copy reads like good poetry. Big punch. Short sentences.

Enough said?

-Takeaway: Good advertising looks easy. It isn't. It takes great skill to balance all the elements.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


PJ and I attended his friend's 10th birthday party at a pottery studio last weekend. He sculpted a rhino with a bowl of macaroni & cheese...

When the kids were done with their project, the pottery teacher began poking a few small, discreet holes in each piece with a toothpick.

"Why are you doing that?" I asked.

"So they don't explode," she replied.

"Explode?" I said.

"Trapped air can make the piece explode when it's fired," she explained. “That could destroy everything in the kiln."

I never thought of hot air as dangerous before.

But it is in sales and marketing. Too much hot air can destroy a sale.

You've been there before. A salesperson spends too much time talking and too little time listening. All that hot air creates doubt. The customer becomes worried. He thinks: "That's a pretty hard sell. Maybe it's not as good as it seems if he has to push it that hard."

Pottery explodes if the air trapped inside expands with nowhere to vent to. The salesperson has the same effect by trying to create an airtight argument for his or her product. Don't be afraid of the customer poking a few holes in your presentation. It will let you know what his concerns are. Listen. Let him "vent" his concerns. Then answer his questions -- and no more. Saying too much can be far worse than saying too little.

Next time, I'll cover how to let the hot air out of your advertising without deflating its effectiveness.

Takeaway: Let the trapped air out of your sales pitches and you could sell far more. A few discreet words can sometimes say it all.

Friday, March 13, 2009


My family vacationed near LaCrosse, Wisconsin a few years back.

When we were there, we stopped to visit the LaCrosse Clock Company and bought a Satellite clock that hangs in our kitchen.

It's one of those clocks that is automatically updated. Except the clock never knows it's daylight savings time.

And last night the clock set itself back 15 minutes. (I tried to reset it, but the satellite keeps setting it 15 minutes off.)

We use that clock a lot. So, everything we did last night and this morning has been late.

In much the same way, good marketers follow a marketing clock.

If we are keeping a tight pulse on our business using analytics, we know how our advertising, PR and promotion are working. And we use that information to adjust our sales and marketing actions.

If we don't keep an eye on that marketing clock, or if the data is old or out-of-sync, we are out of step.

Is your marketing clock working properly? Or do you need someone to fix your clock?

Takeaway: Measuring things like leads generation, sales to lead ratios, open and click-thru rates in emails, and other marketing analytics can help you adjust your marketing efforts and timing to the market response. Old information can be worse than no information. Without up-to-date details, everything we do in our marketing plan will be too late.