The History of “We’re Never Too Busy for Your Referrals”

Thanks to Rick Dassler who posted a comment about the history of the phrase “We’re never too busy for your referrals.”

Looks like he has dibbs on the phrase I came up with to replace it – glad it works for you. This idea’s on the house. ;-)

Online Newsletters – Are they worth it?

I was cleaning out my e-mail inbox the other day and realized just how many e-zines and newsletters I receive. Some of them I subscribe to (like AAF Smartbrief, Lorrie Morgan-Ferraro’s Red Hot Copy, and various blogs via Feedblitz) and read on a daily basis.

Some I’ve subscribed to and wish I had more hours in the day so I could read them.

Then there are the unsolicited ones. Businesses I’ve met at a networking event who take my info and add it to their mailing list in an attempt to generate some sort of brand awareness. But sadly, this tactic doesn’t work.

The problem? Unsolicited newsletters are annoying, and repetitive. Most are regurgitating some “market trend” that doesn’t even apply to me (ex: I had 18 real estate agents sending me their newsletters – most saying the exact same thing and I’m not even in the market for a house!!)

The question becomes – how much time does it take to compile these newsletters? And if people aren’t even reading them or your content is similar to your competition, are they worth the time you’ve invested?

What if you started a blog instead so people could read your thoughts when and how they wanted to. You could track which topics get the most respose via comments and page views. If you have original and interesting content, people will read it. Then, when it becomes a good investment of your time, start your newsletter knowing you have a subscription base.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Back to Basics: Marketing Fundamentals

little-black-dress-audrey-hepburn-style.jpgLast week I went on a hunt for the perfect little black dress. It had to be something timeless and classic. A garment that would look great no matter how many trends it went through. To me, fashion fads should be reserved for the accessories.

Like the little black dress, there are certain marketing fundamentals that should stand the test of time. Today, we are experiencing a monumental shift in the marketing world. Consumers are taking control with the use of new technologies and companies are learning to change to the new environment. But this changes the accessories – not the dress.

In my opinion, marketing is and always will be:

  • A process - Marketing is the process of converting leads (people who have no idea who you are) into prospects (people who are aware of your product or service and may consider purchasing from you when the time is right). Effective marketing campaigns view their process as a series of activities executed consistently over time. A steady flow of information from many angles helps ensure brand awareness and top-of-mind customer thinking.
  • Getting the right product or service to the right people – Remember the saying “If you try to be all things to everyone, you’ll be nothing to nobody?” How true. Not everyone will love your product or service and that’s ok – different strokes for different folks. Your goal is to make your product or service the best it can be for your audience.
  • Great communication – OK, here’s where I get a chance to toot my own horn for a bit. You can have the best product or service in the world, but if you can’t explain WHY it’s the best, you may be in for a sales slump. What’s that? You’d like a few tips? Here you go – avoid jargon, keep your words at a 4th grade level or less, less is more, inject personality, alliteration is an awesome alternative, step into your customer’s shoes, speak in benefits instead of features, read lots of stuff that is in the style you’re trying to write…..the list goes on.
  • An exercise in empathy – 99% of effective marketing is understanding what your customer really wants. What motivates them? How to they speak? What keeps them up at night? The more deeply you understand your clients, the higher your chances are your prospects will connect with your brand.
  • A balance of price and quality – Some people shop at Wal-Mart, others at Tiffany’s – and it’s for very different reasons. Do you compete on price – offering a comparable product or service at less than your competition? Or are you a quality provider where customers are willing to pay more because of the enhanced product or experience?

Once you have the dress, then you can snazz it up with the spiffy accessories Web 2.0 has to offer. Although you may get tired of the bracelet – the dress (and your marketing fundamentals) are timeless.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Word of Mouth Advertising: Give ‘Em Something to Talk About

Something to talk aboutEarlier this week I awoke to find my car vandalized. In the middle of the night someone smashed the windshield, stole my stereo and broke the steering column.

Stressed and frustrated I called my insurance company, GEICO. I was dreading the conversation, expecting to speak with a callous insurance agent that couldn’t care less about my situation. Although I had never before filed a claim with GEICO, I developed a preconceived expectation based on the hundreds of customer service reps I’ve been on the phone with over the years.

To my surprise, the GEICO agent (I wish I remembered her name!!!) went above and beyond.

“Ms. Morris” she said, “I’ve noticed that you’ve been with GEICO for over 7 years. Thank you for being a dedicated customer. I know you might be worried about how this will effect your premium. This is covered under the comprehensive portion of your policy and since it’s a not-at-fault claim, your premiums won’t increase. I’d be glad to help you find a body shop in your area and arrange for you to drive a rental car while your car is being worked on.”

Wow. Thank you for talking to me like I’m an actual human being and not just a number. You exceeded my expectations and now I am telling my friends.

The lesson? People will talk if you give them something to talk about.

If you meet my expectations and nothing more – I have no story.

If you are terrible and don’t meet my expectations – I will bash you.

If you are stellar and exceed my expectations – I will praise you. This is the key to Viral Marketing.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Web 2.0 Burnout?

squidoo-small.gifHere’s a riddle for you, what do you get when you cross a traditional website with Web 2.0?

The answer? A whole new ballgame.

Squidoo.com (a project with marketing guru Seth Godin at the helm) calls their new ballgame a lens – aimed at providing easy searches, low-maintenance and affiliate/PPC advertising incentives. According to the Official Squidoo Lens,

“We believe that when you go online, you don’t search. You don’t even find. Instead you are usually on a quest to just make sense…There ought to be a way for you to talk about what matters to you, what 10 things matter to you, without the pressure of keeping it up daily (like a blog); and you ought to be able to make some money if someone buys something because you recommended it.”

Interesting concept – I signed up for my first lens last week. Although it’s still in its infancy, you can check it out by clicking here.

Zude.com is scheduled to launch May 1st. Its main feature is the ability for users to “drag and drop” modules to create their own pages. Zude’s creators hail it as the “next generation and ultimate evolution of web interaction.”

Regardless of the tool, one thing is clear – Web 2.0 has increased the demand for user-friendly, intuitive online interaction. And yes, these sites do provide branding value and the potential for passive income.

But how much is too much? Is it possible to suffer from Web 2.0 burnout?

Personally, I think so. Between my website, blog, myspace, meetup, technorati, squidoo, dogster, livejournal, my yahoo! and the countless other sites I belong to – it can become overwhelming. And with the plethora of new tools on the horizon, users may not be as eager to jump on board as they were a year ago.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Joost.com – Inflated Viral Marketing

Joost Beta InviteLooking to build buzz about your business? Take a hint from Joost.com – a new online TV service from the founders of Skype that’s sure to knock the socks off traditional cable. Through a deal with Viacom, Joost.com offers name-brand channels like MTV, VH1, BET, and Comedy Central. And negotiations with other networks (like CBS) are happening as we speak.

In order to participate in Joost.com beta, users must receive an “invite” – which is a brilliant way to boost buzz. People will always want what they can’t have. Bloggers sense scarcity and post their desired demand.

It’s no surprise some holders are looking to capitalize on their invitation’s value by posting them on auction sites like eBay or joostswap.com (where bidders offer everything from web hosting services to Belgian chocolate and beer)

This is a similar concept to the crazes of toys such as Cabbage Patch Dolls, Tickle Me Elmo or XBox 360. Low supply + High Demand = Lots of Buzz & Inflated Value

So what does this mean for Joost.com? Blog posts are tangible evidence of demand – which is a big chip to play when negotiating with networks and advertisers.

Only question is – will the product live up to the hype? Bloggers are posting about their desire for the concept - not the product itself. This can be a risky move. It opens up the gates for competitors if Joost.com doesn’t meet the high expectations they have set for themselves. We’ll just watch (if I get an invite) and see.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

The Secret to Spectacular Writing

Idea PaintingMany of us search for the perfect words to help sell our product or service. We tweak the recipe until we have a proprietary blend of personality and professionalism. The words jump off the page and the reader feels connected. That is great writing.

I’ve discovered a secret during my career as a copywriter and marketing coach. Toning ideas down is a heck of a lot easier than jazzing them up.

My first few projects started from a logical point of view. I wrote and edited at the same time as most people do. The words were acceptable, but they lacked that certain je-ne-sais-quoi. It needed some sparkle – but adding sparkle to swill isn’t easy.

One day I decided to give my thinking a makeover. I set a goal to find all the outrageous ideas lurking in the far corners of my brain and get them out of my head and onto my computer screen.

I decorated a piece of card stock with silly symbols and the words “JUST THINK” and covered my computer screen. Somehow the paper removed the tiny editor that sat somewhere in my head trashing ideas before they even got to the screen. Since I couldn’t see my work, all my crazy ideas (not just the logical ones) made the journey from my brain, through my fingers and onto the computer.

The result? I discovered many of the ideas that normally wouldn’t have made the cut were more effective than the so-called logical ideas. With a little tweaking and toning down I had writing that worked. The process also saved me time and was fun to boot.

So the next time you’re experiencing writer’s block try covering your screen and opening your mind. Then sit back and watch your ideas blossom.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Interactive Ads – Make me notice you on ABC.com

As a Grey’s Anatomy fan I’ve been relying on the interactive player at ABC.com to get the latest gossip of McDreamy & McSteamy. I like watching episodes online better than TiVo a) because I travel and don’t have to worry about being home b) don’t have to schedule anything & c) limited commercial interruptions.

Over the past few weeks, a couple of ads caught my attention – not because they had the latest and greatest graphics – quite the opposite actually. While most ads featured the same streaming video I had seen on normal TV, Fidelity Retirements and Florida Orange Juice implemented simple flash players that relied on interaction from the viewer. The result? I noticed.

Fidelity Investments had a funny “easy” theme – including an interactive quiz, “the wheel of easy” where you spin and it randomly selects an “easy” task such as blinking an eye, and a trivia quiz that consists of questions such as:

Dogs are covered in:

a) fur
b) sequins
c) cat

After the ridiculously easy questions, the end of the flash program states, “We’ve also made retirement planning easy. click here to learn more. Don’t worry your show’s not going anywhere.”

Florida Orange Juice’s campaign began with a video of a children’s party where breaking a pinata resulted in exuberant children going nuts over celery as if it was candy. It proceeded to a game where you the viewer “break” an interactive pinata. The final commercial break was an interactive quiz about OJ and its health benefits. Although I enjoyed the quiz, I found the game a bit disappointing. After 10 unsuccessful attempts to break the pinata, I resumed my show feeling unresolved.

The point? Take into account the end user’s point of view. How can you engage them? Will inteacteraction result in interest?

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Write while the juice is in ya

When I talk to my friends who have a “regular job” (meaning they sit at an office from 9 to 5 M-F) they are often mesmerized at my hours.

I like to say that my office is wherever my brain and laptop are and I work when there’s work to be done. This tends to send the misconception that I go out and sit at coffee shops for most of the day not really doing anything. However, they don’t see this side – the fact that I’m up at 3:24 in the morning because I had an idea for a client that I needed to get down right away.

Why? Because right now the juice is in me.

Being a writer is somewhat of a two-sided coin. I write every day just to keep myself disciplined. I also consider myself “on call” with the muse. If an idea pops into my head, I’ll work with it right away (no matter what time it is) because I know that I’ll never be able to replicate the vigor of my original thought.

So today my office hours are at 3:30 in the morning. But hey, it still beats the heck out of a desk job!

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

How to define your target market – motivation vs. demographics

I recently worked with a client named Jane who is a healer of sorts. When we sat down to analyze her target market, she was mystified. “I don’t know” she said. “I work with both men and women, their age and income is varied and they are of all sorts of different professions – this is why I can’t figure it out.”

As with many entrepreneurs, Jane was focusing on the demographic profiles of her clients which were at best, varied. We looked instead at the motivation of her clients – that is to say, “why the heck do these people come to you in the first place?”

At this point, we discovered that Jane’s clients were very spiritual. They generally had an emotional block and tried various traditional ways to heal, perhaps by visiting a traditional doctor, chiropractor, massage therapist, etc. Bingo!

Motivation defined Jane’s target market. Once Jane began promoting her services to chiropractors & massage therapists, who had a number of well-motivated clients searching for someone like Jane, her phone began to ring.

Big companies are also looking at motivation as a way to segment a target market. One that is rapidly emerging is that of the “Alpha Moms” a group of socially-savvy, hip and type-A mothers.

A recent article in USA Today touts the equity of this target market in companies such as Nintendo, Proctor & Gamble, and GM. More and more it’s the social characteristics and motivation that defines a target market, not the specific demographics.

Start focusing on the needs and motivations of your target market instead of the age & income – chances are, you’ll be rewarded.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Move over Google – ChaCha.com may become my new search engine of choice

Chacha.com logoIn a recent article by ClickZ.com Tess Wegert describes www.chacha.com -a new search engine that works with professional searchers (real people) or interactive guides. It’s kind of like if you threw a search engine, chat room and about.com together to help get the info most relevant to your search.

I just had to try this one out for myself. Here’s the conversation I had with my guide:

Status: Connecting …
Status: Looking for a guide …
Ring:
Status: Connected to guide: Deborah(23079)
Deborah(23079): Welcome to ChaCha!
Deborah(23079): Hello Welcome to chacha I will be helping you with your search
You: Hi. I’m trying to find the best price on fruit of the loom boxers for my husband
Deborah(23079): ok one moment while I search for that
Deborah(23079): Thanks for being patient! Rest assured I’m finding the most relevant results for your search. (this was posted after about 1 minute of searching)
You: great! thanks deborah. I think i found what i needed.
Deborah(23079): Is there anything else on this topic I can find for you today?
Deborah(23079): O you are welcome
You: have a great day. :-)
Deborah(23079): well you have a great day and thank you for using chacha.com
Deborah(23079): bye now please come back to chacha for your next search
Deborah(23079): Please RATE ME. Thanks for using ChaCha.
Status: Session ended.

Deborah pulled up 3 very relevant sites within a matter of 2 minutes. Not to mention – its kind of nice interacting with a human being instead of an algorithm.

I don’t know about you, but when I have to do a complex search in Google, I’m almost always frustrated. Chacha.com was pretty easy and I can really see myself using it on a regular basis.

Looking for cheap pay-per-click or banner ads? Read the article from ClickZ as it outlines why chacha.com may be a good investment.

How long do you think it will be before Yahoo! and Google follow suit? I give it 6 months tops.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Could you win Richard Branson’s $25 Million Dollar Prize?

Richard Branson & Al GoreSir Richard Branson, the quirky and exuberant executive of Virgin (airlines, mobile, records, and the list goes on…) announced today a $25 million reward to the first scientist who can create “a commercially viable design which results in the removal of anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse gases so as to contribute materially to the stability of Earth’s climate.” For details, you can check out www.virginearth.com


Branson, a PR guru, has demonstrated a valuable lesson on how to capitalize on your philanthropy. Rather than simply stroking a check, using an innovative approach to a cause that you believe in (who doesn’t love a contest?) is a sure-fire way to generate buzz.

Now, you may be saying – I don’t have $25 million to promote my business. That’s not the point – it’s the ingenuity I’m pointing out. Think outside the checkbook and notice what motivates people.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

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A number of people have left comments asking me to contact them about their submission for this contest. I am not affiliated with this contest and my blog was mearly a commentary on the publicity tactics of Richard Branson. To enter, you must visit http://www.virginearth.com. Click on terms and conditions for contest details.

Best of luck.

Andrea Morris
Write Ideas Marketing