by Jeff

I have guest posted over at Web Mar­ket­ing Today for a while now, but the Web­site itself has recently under­gone a redesign as well as a slight edi­to­r­ial change with regards to my posts.  While the focus on Web Mar­ket­ing for small to medium-sized busi­nesses remains the same, my  posts are now focused on:

  1. Web­site Improve­ment for Service-Based Businesses
  2. Con­tent Mar­ket­ing for Service-Based Businesses

I’m excited about this because SMB Ser­vice Providers are a largely under­served mar­ket when it comes to Web Mar­ket­ing.  Most exam­ples focus on either etail­ers or enterprise-sized B2B ser­vice providers.

Yet, a major­ity of what my Wiz­ard Part­ners call “Main Street Busi­nesses” are either ser­vice providers (think HVAC, car­pet­ing, con­trac­tors, print­ers, adver­tis­ers, Web design­ers, accoun­tants, con­sul­tants etc.) or are retail­ers who man­age to stay prof­itable and, frankly, rel­e­vant to the cus­tomer based on their abil­ity to pro­vide ser­vices around the sale (most niche or spe­cialty stores & bou­tiques). So this is an extremely impor­tant mar­ket to serve and speak to, and I feel uniquely priv­i­leged to be able to do so.

If you’re inter­ested in this kind of con­tent, you can find all my Web Mar­ket­ing Today posts here.  A recent one that I think many of you would like is this post on 5 Sales-Generating Pho­tos for Ser­vice Web­sites.

At any rate, I hope you  like what you find, and please let me know if there is any­thing that you’d like me to cover in future articles.

by Jeff

Did you know that there are 12 kinds of Ads?

Granted, this model is geared towards TV ads, but, yes, accord­ing to Don­ald Gunn, a for­mer cre­ative direc­tor at the leg­endary Leo Bur­nett agency, there are only 12 kinds of ads.

I’m not going to go into them here, since you can read all about Gunn’s cat­e­gories over at LifeIsMarketing.com, but I am going to give you an alter­nate frame­work for think­ing about ads.

So what’s the framework?

It’s the same Frame­work that’s been made famous — or, at least more famous — by its men­tion by the Heath Broth­ers in the open­ing chap­ters of their justly famous book, Made to Stick, wherein they men­tion an Israeli research paper, “The Fun­da­men­tal Tem­plates of Qual­ity Ads.”  Accord­ing to the pub­lished research, 89% of award win­ning ads could be clas­si­fied into 6 basic templates.

More impor­tantly, pro­vid­ing ama­teurs with just 2 hours of train­ing on the use of these tem­plates boosted their abil­i­ties to pro­duce ads that pos­i­tively affected audi­ence per­cep­tion of the adver­tised prod­ucts by 55%

And now I’m going to break those tem­plates down for you :)

Just keep in mind that, again, these tem­plates were dis­cov­ered while research­ing award win­ning ads, not nec­es­sar­ily sales increas­ing and market-share win­ning ads. But for what it’s worth, here are the tem­plates, com­plete with handy-dandy examples:

Tem­plate 1: Pic­to­r­ial Analogy

In tech­ni­cal terms, this type of ad cre­ates a dra­matic sit­u­a­tion and then makes a sub­sti­tu­tion between the prod­uct and another item with sym­bolic sig­nif­i­cance in order to illus­trate the value or worth of the prod­uct.  The idea is to cre­ate an unex­pected or sur­pris­ing expla­na­tion of the value of the prod­uct through visual metaphor.

If that’s hard to fol­low, just look at the nike exam­ple to the right.

In the ad you are intro­duced into a dra­matic sit­u­a­tion of hav­ing to jump from a burn­ing build­ing only to find that the fire­fight­ers’ safety net/trampoline — an item with huge sym­bolic value — has been swapped for a nike air shoe.

This pic­to­r­ial anal­ogy cre­atively illus­trates the pro­tec­tive and cush­ion­ing func­tion of Nike Air tech­nol­ogy and is rein­forced by the ad copy which calls the air tech­nol­ogy, “Some­thing soft between you and the pavement.”

 Tem­plate 2: Extreme Situation

This tem­plate shows a prod­uct per­form­ing beyond the lim­its of nor­mal use in order to exag­ger­ate a key attribute or worth.

This may seem sim­i­lar to the pic­to­r­ial anal­ogy, but it’s dif­fer­ent because it requires no use of sym­bol­ism or anal­ogy — it’s more straight­for­ward in it’s extrem­ity.  The cleve out­door ad for the super­glue isn’t try­ing to make a visual pun, it’s just show­ing the glue used in an exag­ger­ated extreme.

The same can be said for this ad for WMF knives:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tem­plate 3: Extreme Consequences

This tem­plate shows the exag­ger­ated results of either using the prod­uct or the exag­ger­ated con­se­quences of not using it.  This lis­ter­ine ad shows the extreme con­se­quences of NOT using their mouthwash.

While this ad for Won­der­bra indi­rectly shows an extreme con­se­quence from using their product:

Tem­plate 4: Competition

As the name indi­cates, this tem­plate shows the prod­uct in direct com­par­i­son with either com­pet­ing prod­ucts or exag­ger­ated alter­na­tives. This Ver­i­zon ad is about as straight­for­ward a com­pe­ti­tion ad as you can get:

While this Land Rover ad is a bit more indi­rect, both in its exe­cu­tion and in what it sees as the product’s real competition : )

Tem­plate 5: Inter­ac­tive Experiment

Yes, boys and girls, non-internet ads can be inter­ac­tive. And, no, that doesn’t require the use of QR codes and such. Just take a look at this great ad for DHL:

Tem­plate 6: Dimen­sion­al­ity Alteration

This is where you show some attribute of the prod­uct or ser­vice by alter­ing the envi­ron­ment.  A clas­sic exam­ple is this old-school head­line for a faster cruise ship:

Start­ing next tues­day, the Atlantic ocean becomes only one-fifth as long”

But my favorite exam­ple of this isn’t an ad at all, but a quote from Billy Wilders immor­tal, Sun­set Boulevard:

You’re Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pic­tures; you used to be big”

I still am big — it’s the pic­tures that got small.”

YouTube Preview Image

Here’s what it looks like in a print ad that com­presses time to show consequences:

 

And that’s a quick and dirty break-down of the ad tem­plates.  Hope you find ‘em useful.

P.S. if you’re inter­ested, most of these 6 cat­e­gories include sub-categories, that you can read about in the orig­i­nal research.  But for those too lazy to do that, here’s a quick and dirty chart show­ing all the sub-categories:

 “In fact, I’m going to apol­o­gize. This whole ‘dream myth’ has been prop­a­gated by news reporters like me. Because we love telling this story, we love the dream. When­ever you write a pro­file of some per­son who is a suc­cess or who is going to jail, you always start at the end and fol­low the line back so it looks like it all makes sense. You sit some­one down and you ask, “When did you first dream of being an opera singer (or a Nobel–prize win­ning econ­o­mist, or the worst inside trader of all time)?”

Then you ask, “What obsta­cles did you have to over­come? How did you tri­umph?” Reporters are no dif­fer­ent from every sto­ry­teller through time. We want to tell and hear the hero’s jour­ney. The epic myth.

You know what never makes it into the hero’s jour­ney? All the dreams that didn’t work out. There’s just not time. You never hear the part of the leg­end where the hero just wanted to chill for the sum­mer, hang out in Port­land, and fig­ure some stuff out. Get his head straight. That hap­pens, but every sto­ry­teller edits that out.”

NPR Reporter, Robert Smith, dur­ing his Reed Col­lege Com­mence­ment Address

It is per­haps fit­ting that Steven Press­field has run a series of arti­cles on “The Hero’s Jour­ney” of late, because his lat­est book explores exactly those areas of the jour­ney that Robert Smith accuses reporters of leav­ing or edit­ing out of most sub­jects’ “suc­cess sto­ries.”  The part where the hero — delib­er­ately or uncon­sciously — choses the wrong career path, some­times repeat­edly. Or where she sand­bags it for a sum­mer to “get her head straight” or work through some stuff.

In other words, most peo­ple leave out exactly the part that the rest of us des­per­ately need to know — what hap­pened to get you from the point where you weren’t mak­ing it to the point where you were!  How’d you make the leap, man?  Tell us!

And there’s a sim­ple rea­son most peo­ple don’t tell us, even beyond the reporters desire to present us with slices of life with the bor­ing parts cut out. Quite frankly, that shit is embar­rass­ing. Who wants to talk about self-sabotage, mis-steps, and unsuc­cess­ful careers. Not me.

That’s what makes Steven Press­field such an incred­i­ble trea­sure and stand-up guy: he’ll do it. And in Turn­ing Pro, he does just that; he gives you exactly the nitty gritty on HOW to turn pro, what hap­pened before he turned pro, and what you can expect in the journey.

So if that’s the kind of stuff you’d like to learn — if you’re tired of read­ing all those dream come true sto­ries with the impor­tant shit cut out — then link on over to Black Irish Books and grab your­self a copy!

P.S. Black Irish Books is the new pub­lish­ing com­pany started by Steven Press­field and Shawn Coyne.  It’s a great ven­ture and worth sup­port­ing, so even if you’d rather get your copy from Ama­zon, please con­sider order­ing direct from the author.

 

OK, the head­line exag­ger­ated it — most of these resources won’t help you improve your entire Lead Gen Web­site, just your Lead Gen­er­a­tion Forms.

But, if your forms suck, then all that hard per­sua­sive work you’ve done on the rest of the Web­site goes to waste, right? So why not get hot on improv­ing your forms now, so you can enjoy a full pipeline of well-qualified prospects later?

So let’s start with…

Wis­dom from the Eisenberg’s

Resource #1: 5 Steps to Increase “Qual­i­fied Leads” from Your Website

Great infor­ma­tion for ensur­ing your Web­site is pulling in prof­itable and qual­i­fied leads rather than tire kick­ers.  This is one of the few resources that does actu­ally talk about more than just lead forms. And just for good mea­sure, here’s a ClickZ arti­cle from Bryan that also gives rec­om­men­da­tions applic­a­ble to both your entire Lead Gen Web­site and your forms.

Resource #2: Online Form Opti­miza­tion: 3 Sim­ple Form Prob­lems to Fix

This is a great strate­gic, top-down look at the three big flaws afflict­ing most lead-gen forms. I’m sure you’re doing to know what those three flaws are, but you’ll have to click-through to find out :)

Resource #3: 7 Form Fac­tors to Increase Conversions

This one looks at the major ele­ments that are part of every lead gen­er­a­tion form, and then tells you how to max­i­mize the effec­tive­ness of each element.

Now Let’s Look at…

Split Test Results Worth Studying

Resource #4: Wider Fun­nel Tests a Newslet­ter Sign-up Form

This is a great test for a few rea­sons, but mostly because the test explic­itly forms hypoth­e­sis to test, prior to cre­at­ing the test, rather than just throw­ing vari­a­tions against a wall to see which one “sticks.”  Plus the hypoth­e­sis and lessons learned are really insight­ful and broadly applicable.

Resource #5: Wider Fun­nel Tests for Form Length and Form Flow

Another solid test­ing write-up from Wider Fun­nel.  Worth the read.

Case Stud­ies & Usabil­ity Guidelines

Resource #6: Les­son From Madlibs Signup Fad: Do Your Own Tests

If you’ve never heard about them before, the Madlib style sign-up form proved a hit with sev­eral busi­nesses and blog­gers on the Web a few years back. But when this guy tested it out for him­self, he found a dif­fer­ent story.  Bot­tom Line: best prac­tices are in no way guar­an­teed to work in your spe­cific sit­u­a­tion, and sur­pris­ing, head-slapping tests are fairly com­mon for any­one that runs them. Think for your­self & do your own testing.

Resource #7: An Exten­sive Guide to Web Form Usability

Smash­ing Mag­a­zine has no short­age of great arti­cles on Web Design and Usabil­ity.  This one is no exception.

Resource #8: Test­ing Form Length Reduces Cost Per Lead

Mar­ket­ing Exper­i­ments has a nice blog post on this, and one of the more inter­est­ing points about this isn’t the find­ings — since shorter forms almost always DO increase con­ver­sion, thereby dri­ving down cost per lead — but the point made at the end: that the “extra” infor­ma­tion you’re hold­ing out for is prob­a­bly not that accu­rate or valid to begin with.  This is a great one to show to naysay­ers who fight the “shorter is bet­ter” mantra.  That and the ol’ “Let’s just test it and see” strategy : )

So that’s all eight of them.  Now go out and do some opti­miza­tion testing!

 

In a salute to all the new grad­u­ates this spring, I’m replay­ing one of my favorite posts, about the most gifted book a grad­u­ate is likely to receive…

Say­ing What Your Cus­tomers Can’t

If I told you one par­tic­u­lar book sells almost 300,000 copies every sin­gle year, what would you guess actu­ally dri­ves those phe­nom­e­nal yearly sales? Want a few hints?

  1. It’s not a how-to, Chicken Soup, or For-Dummies book
  2. The vast major­ity of those 300,000 copies are sold in the spring

Give up? The book is Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go – an incred­i­bly pop­u­lar gift for graduates.

That book man­ages to pow­er­fully com­mu­ni­cate what hun­dreds of thou­sands of par­ents and rel­a­tives all want to say but can’t quite seem to say nearly as well as the good Doc­tor.  And because he has so gra­ciously sup­plied them with the means of say­ing it, Dr. Suess con­tin­ues to sell huge amounts of books spring, after spring, after spring — for as long as there are proud par­ents of new grad­u­ates need­ing to hear the message.

The ques­tion for you, dear Busi­ness Owner, is what are you help­ing peo­ple say?

  • What are you help­ing them say about themselves?
  • What are you help­ing them say to others?

Because not quite know­ing how to say what’s on your heart is some­thing we all suf­fer from - and some­thing most of us will gladly pay for relief from.

Are you will­ing to har­ness the same profit engine that Dr. Suess has used to sell mil­lions upon mil­lions of copies of Oh, The Places You’ll Go?  This bril­liant radio ad by Adam Don­moyer rep­re­sents a per­fect exam­ple of how to har­ness this power to drive sales:

Daddy’s Lit­tle Girl

That ad sold more watches that Fathers’ Day than that jew­elry store has ever sold on any day, ever.  All because they helped plenty of daugh­ters say what they really wanted to say, but weren’t quite able to give voice to on their own.

What are you help­ing your cus­tomers say?

 

Not only is it pos­si­ble to ani­mate your adver­tis­ing with the proven car­toon­ing prin­ci­ples of squish and squash, but it works even bet­ter when you apply some of that same strate­gic ani­ma­tion to your busi­ness itself.

But to do that, we have to under­stand how Squish and Squash is related to exag­ger­a­tion and visual impact. Here’s an excel­lent exam­ple I down­loaded and swiped from Mark Kennedy’s bril­liant blog:

Before Squash and Stretch

After Squash and Stretch

The dif­fer­ence is pretty astound­ing isn’t it?

Full align­ment with the direc­tion of move­ment + exag­ger­a­tion of the line of move­ment.  And just to drive home the “exag­ger­a­tion of the line of move­ment” part, take a look at this other swiped pic­ture from a Willard Mullin down­load (also down­loaded via Mark Kennedy):

What’s This Got to Do With Your Business?

First of all, under­stand that there’s the prod­uct or ser­vice you’re sell­ing, and then there’s what you’re REALLY sell­ing. Because unless you are hawk­ing com­modi­ties at com­mod­ity prices, what you’re really sell­ing goes way beyond prod­uct or ser­vice and get’s down to brand promise.

And the deliv­ery of brand promise within your busi­ness is where you need all that align­ment and strate­gic exag­ger­a­tion.

Take Star­bucks, for exam­ple. Did they really need to call their small, medium, and large cof­fees Tall, Grande, and Venti?  It’s almost kind of silly, isn’t it? The kind of thing that’s eas­ily parodied.

But it’s also an exag­ger­a­tion designed to make the names aligned with the brand promise (not to men­tion the brand prices). Same thing with the music, the decore, the ludi­crous choices and spe­cial lingo for how you want your drink pre­pared, etc.

This kind of exag­ger­a­tion and align­ment takes guts pre­cisely because it’s easy to make fun of. But the added profit makes it easy to endure the laughs : )

Bot­tom Line: the expe­ri­ence of what­ever it is that you’re *really* sell­ing could eas­ily be improved with a lit­tle ani­ma­tion via align­ment and exag­ger­a­tion. You just need the desire and the guts to do it.

P.S. I apol­o­gize for the “brand promise” jar­gon. I gen­er­ally try to steer clear of marketing-speak, but that was the only term I could come up with to get at the non-tangibles that allow a branded prod­uct to eas­ily charge pre­mium prices.  

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