A Mash-up of Snapple, Maroon 5 and Feeding America

*This post is shared courtesy of Brighter World Cause Marketing, leading firm in marketing communications for cause-related campaigns.

September marks a new cause marketing campaign for Snapple, where they’ve paired up with Maroon 5 for a limited time flavor. Both the drinks manufacturer and Grammy-award winning band will combine forces to donate $250,000 to support Feeding America. Pretty awesome — that equates to 175 million meals for the hungry.

All in all, a great idea. Maroon 5 fans will love that the band members each chose a tea ingredient to create the refreshing new Tea Will Be Loved flavor. Plus, naturally, many will be delighted to see the cause-related product.

The thing that we find missing, however, is the connection to the cause. We know how much Maroon 5 and Snapple will donate, but we don’t know why they’re donating. Sure, there’s a natural fit with any food-related business and hunger-relief charity, but we sure would love to see more — more stories, more info about the cause, and more call to action.

We didn’t see anything about how the public can support Feeding America. Nor did we see a link to the nonprofit site. But of course, there’s still a win/win/win. Snapple looks good. Maroon 5 looks good. Feeding America gets a nice “shout out” plus a wad of money.

7 Easy Ways to Get More From Writers

*by John Forde, whose free weekly e-Letter, “The Copywriter’s Roundtable” is definitely worth subscribing to.

What’s the single best way to make sure you get what you want out of the writers you’ll hire?

I’ll give you not just one but seven easy ways to guarantee a quality result, in today’s issue.

And by the way, don’t skip this if you’re the writer instead of the client… because this list could make your job infinitely easier too, simply by showing you what to ask for from anybody who hires you.

But before we jump in…

What to Know Even Before You Pick Up The Phone

First and foremost, one of the BIG reasons some businesses don’t get what they want from copywriters… is because they’re not exactly sure what it is they hope to get, right from the start.

Sure I do, you say.

I want sales.

Isn’t that pretty simple?

Yes. But be careful.

Why?

Because you can boost sales in a number of ways. Some ways are true to your product, some are not.

And a sale that’s followed by a slew of cancellations or refunds is no sale at all.

What’s more, there’s often another subconscious motivator that gets in the way of even the best marketer’s intentions.

And that is, of course, your ego.

How so? If your ego is inflated by selling more of a quality product your customers want, that’s good.

But too often, that’s now how it plays out.

Take, for instance, the jillions blown by “brand” advertisers on things like Superbowl ads.

Are those funny but pointless spots really about selling more product? Or are they more likely self-congratulatory spots set out to appeal to an advertisers sense of importance?

Ads like those let advertisers feel great about themselves, their businesses, and their brand.

They are the echelon of “hip,” the pinnacle of product entries in a pulchritude contest, the bountiful beauty in which those advertisers will bask like buffalo in a basin of… okay, I’m running out of ‘b’ words… but the point is, so-called advertising often does very little to get sales, despite all intentions to the contrary.

Ego that forces a message that offers no substance or promise to your target market is, in a word, a waste.

And finally, you need to be aware that even if you ARE sensibly focused on boosting your bottom line, there are different KINDS of sales you’ll want to make. And different strategies that precede those sales.

For instance, if you’re out to sell a high volume of a low-priced item… to a whole new set of names… that demands one kind of copy. If you’re looking to convert current customers for more sales, that’s something else (almost) entirely.

If you want to raise the price on something you’ve sold before, that’s something else. And if you’re looking to sell something high-end to previously low-end buyers, that’s something different yet again.

“Soft offer” pitches work uniquely… as do time-limited pricing offers… product launches… and even those pitches that create a whole new product category altogether.

Then… you’ve got the pitches that need to combine one or more of the marketing strategies above. And we haven’t even talked about your cost restrictions, list selections, and the rest.

You see what I’m getting at.

Bottom line, and this is important for you to soak up before I take you anywhere else: The MAIN thing you can do to better guarantee you’ll get what you want from the copywriters you hire is to figure out exactly WHAT it is you want to happen, first.

The better you know your strategy in advance, the better you can prep the copywriter before you bring him or her into the equation.

That understood, what comes next?

Now we get into the meat…

Seven Ways To Make Your Writer Write Better

In my experience, on both sides of the copy contract, here are seven easy ways to get more from your writers.

And again, writers, you read these too. Because it can’t hurt to know how good clients think, can it?

Here we go…

1) CHERRY-PICK YOUR WRITER

Let’s face it. Each copywriter, especially a good one, has his niche.

Some work with one kind of product well. Some with others. Some are great at telling stories. Others can work wonders with a track record.

If you’ve been in business any amount of time, you’ll start to know which writers have which talents. And you’ll match them carefully to your products.

Copywriters, there’s a lesson here for us too: Know your strengths and capitalize on them.

Make sure you accept the projects that fit with your talents. Unless you’re up to the challenge, avoid the projects that don’t.

2) HEAP ON THE RESEARCH

The better informed the copywriter, the better — usually — the copy he’ll crank out.

So if you’ve got the material, flaunt it.

You might resent, as I’ve seen some marketers do, the idea of doing footwork for someone you’ve hired to do just that.

But the fact is, even great copywriters will work even better if you arm with material to start the job.

Copywriters, there’s a lesson here too, albeit an obvious one: Writer’s block, fluff-laden copy, empty leads and offers and headlines… they all go away when you throw relevant specificity into your sales pieces.

Insist on asking for as much background material as you can get your hands on, at the very start of the assignment.

3) TALK IT OUT, AT LEAST TWICE

Talk to your copywriter at least twice — in detail — about what you’re hoping for in the first draft.

Talk once at the very start of the assignment and then ask to talk again, just to make sure the writer is on the right track.

And this, with enough lead time to make any changes before he or she turns in the first draft.

Copywriters: Realize that, as much as it’s essential to work alone and to protect undeveloped ideas, it’s also astounding what clarity you can get from a simple half-hour phone call.

If you wait for it to happen, it’s a distraction when it comes. But if you pursue the conversation, you might actually help the marketer clarify in his own mind exactly what he’s looking for.

4) PROVIDE A POINT MAN

I can tell you from personal experience, there’s nothing worse — when you’re working on selling someone’s sales copy — to have to hunt down someone, anyone, who will answer your emails to help you gather the things you need to complete the task.

Give your copywriter a gift up front — a handshake and introduction to a trusted person on the inside who will take calls and emails and attend to them promptly, as if completing the sales copy actually meant something to the organization doing the hiring.

And copywriters, don’t leave the scene of a first meeting without the name of this person.

Any client who can’t provide one, avoid working with more than once. They don’t take their marketing seriously.

5) LEARN HOW TO GIVE FEEDBACK

Patton’s quote at the start of today’s issue notwithstanding, sometimes you’re going to need a lot more in the way of first-draft feedback than, “doesn’t quite work” or “needs more” scribbled in the margins.

When I review copy, I famously almost double the original document length with my suggestions and comments. Nothing gets left to interpretation. Tell them more rather than less.

When something works, tell them that — absolutely. And when it doesn’t, tell them that too.

But tell them why.

If the writer is worth his salt, he’ll have a much better idea of how to make things right.

Copywriters, you need to push for this kind of feedback too. You’re not out to bait for praise or battle critiques. The whole process of review is to delve deeper into what your client wants — needs — from you to get the job done.

6) COME CLEAN ON DEADLINES

It might feel like courtesy to give your creative team lots of breathing room.

But, really, you’re much better off coming clean about your deadlines right up front.

Tell them what you need and when.

Some especially busy copywriters might have to turn you down. But if the time is available to work within those parameters, the pros will appreciate your clarity and efficiency.

Copywriters, this of course applies to us too.

Half of us are in this business because we like the freedom of setting our own schedules.

But to make that work, you have to… well… set them. That means making sure you know up front what’s being asked of you.

Insist on establishing this early in the game.

7) CUT THE FAIREST DEAL

The best businessmen I know don’t mess around trying to gain an upper hand. Nor do they give away the store.

They focus instead on the middle ground, making sure both sides benefit when a strategy pans out.

Between client and copywriter, that often means a royalty on sales. The better a piece performs, the more you both make.

Sure, some of the best copywriters do flat-fee only. But those fees are high… along with the quality of the copy they’ve earned a reputation for producing.

Copywriters, heed this: You’ll generally do your best work if your biggest payoff is performance-based.

Client or copywriter, I hope all that came in handy!

10 Ways To Attract Prospects Like A Magnet

*This article appears courtesy of Bob Bly’s Direct Response Letter, located at www.bly.com

I recently re-listened to an absolutely great audiocassette program, “The 28 Principles of Attraction,” written by the late Thomas Leonard and published by Nightingale-Conant.

The program presents success principles which, if applied diligently, will cause opportunities, success, and wealth to come to you, rather than you having to go out and look for it, says the author.

Here are my top 10:

  1. Recognize and tell the truth.
  2. Market your talents shamelessly.
  3. Develop more character than you need.
  4. Unhook yourself from the future.
  5. Add value just for the joy of it.
  6. Thrive on the details.
  7. Deliver twice what you promise.
  8. Affect others profoundly.
  9. Become unconditionally constructive.
  10. Master your craft.

Source: Thomas Leonard, “The 28 Principles of Attraction,” Nightingale-Conant.

Overcoming Price Resistance

*This article appears courtesy of Bob Bly’s Direct Response Letter, located at www.bly.com

When selling against a lower-priced competitor, communicate the price difference – your extra cost – in the smallest unit of measure possible.

Example: You sell an annual service agreement covering home appliances for $395, and a competitor charges $295.

Customers like you better, but are having trouble with your fee being $100 higher.

What they don’t see is that $100 divided by 365 is only 27.4 cents a day.

You need to focus on that small price differential in your selling.

Point out that they are getting superior service — and greater peace of mind — for just 27 cents a day … “less than the price of a first-class postage stamp.”

Source: The Selling Advantage, Special Issue, 10/6/07, p.2.

Increase Web Revenues With People Photos

*This article appears courtesy of Bob Bly’s Direct Response Letter, located at www.bly.com

According to Internet marketing expert Amy Africa, the average user spends 10% more time on web sites that have a lot of photos showing people. Reason: according to Amy, when we see other people’s eyes, we stay longer.

How does this translate into more online revenues? “The more you stay, the more you pay,” Amy notes. (That’s the same reason why Barnes & Noble now serves coffee and puts out comfy chairs for you to sit and read.)

Tip: You can find cheap, royalty-free stock photos of almost any image, including shots with people, at my favorite online stock photo resource:

www.dreamstime.com

Source: Thinking Inside the Box, 6/30/09.

Shop for a Cause at Macy’s

*This post is shared courtesy of Brighter World Cause Marketing, leading firm in marketing communications for cause-related campaigns.

Tomorrow, Saturday the 27th, is Macy’s 6th Annual Shop for a Cause Day. It’s sort of like a shop-a-thon for shoppers who love discounts and want to contribute to a cause.

How it works is any charities, school groups, and religious organizations can sign up to sell Macy’s 25% off coupons for $5. All proceeds of these coupons go to the nonprofit organization, so the more they sell, the more money they raise.

Overall, the promotion is a win-win. Macy’s comes out looking great by generously handing out the 25% discount and hosting the big shopping event (with in-store entertainment included!). Plus, causes of all sizes can get in on the action. Great!

And if you buy a coupon through Macy’s the money will go to the March of Dimes. This is all great stuff. Macy’s let’s small organizations fundraise through grassroots efforts and also supports one specific cause, the March of Dimes.

Clever work, Macy’s! We’d really love to see more social media outreach to promote this. Aside from the Macy’s website, there isn’t a whole lot of information on the campaign.

I discovered this earlier today when the Macy’s website was down. The best info I could find were some grassroots Facebook pages created by some of the participating small nonprofits. These were sites with an average of 6 fans and information to call or email representatives to make the $5 donation. Sounds like a lot of work for a small donation.

I acknowledge that it’s all about the grassroots part of the effort to get these small organizations involved. What surprised me is this is the lack of online info about Macy’s partnership with the March of Dimes. This is the first year the major nonprofit is the sole national beneficiary of the program. I’d love to see more information about the relationship. Aside from one press release and a section on the Macy’s website (including a video, which is always good), I really can’t find much. (Let me know if I just looked over it, but I didn’t see much on my search.)

Give us more info, Macy’s! But all, in all, keep up the good work. Macy’s has raised more than $28 million for charities across the country in the past 6 years. Let’s see what funds they can tally this year.

Make Online Buyers Push Your Buttons

*This article appears courtesy of Bob Bly’s Direct Response Letter, located at www.bly.com

A common mistake in designing landing pages is to use an underlined word or phrase as the hyperlink to the order page.

Much more effective is to design the hyperlink as an order button. To increase response, says online marketing guru Amy Africa, use big buttons. She recommends telling your designer to triple whatever they think is big.

Color makes a difference. The Mequoda group reports a split test where the only variable on the landing page was the order button color. Red was the control, which was tested against green, yellow, and ochre. The winner? Ochre, generating 27% higher conversion rates than red.

Source: Thinking Inside the Box, 2/8/08; Mequoda Group.

Coffee that Makes a Difference

<span style=”color: #888888;”>*This post is shared courtesy of <a href=”http://www.brightercausemarketing.com/” target=”_blank”>Brighter World Cause Marketing</a>, leading firm in marketing communications for cause-related campaigns.</span>

While staying at a lovely bed & breakfast in Snow Hill, North Carolina, I was introduced to an incredibly tasty coffee. When I asked my innkeeper where the coffee came from, she named a North Carolina-based business that donates a portion of its coffee purchases to a turtle rescue nonprofit.

My ears perked up as I heard this. Have I discovered a new, delicious coffee company that uses cause marketing? How exciting!

The business is Joe Van Gogh, a coffee roaster based out of Hillsborough, NC with coffee houses in Chapel Hill and Durham. I really love their campaign because when it comes down to the heart of it, they support a handful of excellent causes, and combine these into their overall brand as a sustainable, community-focused business that appreciates the fine nature of coffee. Joe Van Gogh Coffee logo

My Fave Joe Van Gogh Campaign

For the month of May, Joe Van Gogh sells the Organic Sea Turtle Blend, that benefits the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. The program rescues, rehabilitates, and releases injured sea turtles. With every bag of Joe Van Gogh coffee, 10% of net profits are donated to the rescue center.

Even more inspiring is the company helped come up with the coffee blend by working with an 11-year-old girl, who shared a passion for turtles and helping to save them. As a joint effort, they used profits and marketing in the community to help raise awareness for sea turtles and their endandered status.

And here’s a quick glance at some other causes the coffee company supports:

  • JVG worked with the local Habitat for Humanity during the holiday season, offering their “Home for the Holidays” blend. A clever coffee name and a wonderful charity.
  • Last autumn, they supported Grounds for Health, a fantastic charity that offers much-needed screenings to detect and treat cervical cancer for women in coffee growing countries. Check out the description.

The recipe for Joe Van Gogh’s cause marketing success has to do with the stories they tell with their featured coffee blends. When promoting a cause, the organization uses the art of telling a story behind each coffee to get things going.

Great job, Joe Van Gogh!

(posted by Megan)

Lift Your Direct Mail Response Rates With Lift Letters

*This article appears courtesy of Bob Bly’s Direct Response Letter, located at www.bly.com

The lift letter, also known as a lift note, is the second, small letter that is sometimes inserted into a direct mail package along with the main multi-page sales letter. It often has a headline that reads something like, “Read this only if you are NOT interested in buying [name of product].”

The purpose, as its name implies, is to lift response. But what do you put in a lift note to achieve that goal?

John Forde suggests 10 possible topics and goals for lift letters:

1. To counter a key objection.

2. As a place to test your second-best or alternative headlines.

3. To give readers an extra testimonial.

4. As an endorsement (approved, of course) from an authority or a celebrity.

5. To emphasize a time deadline on the purchase.

6. To focus on the best aspect of the offer (premiums, guarantees, discounts).

7. To emphasize long-standing credibility (a formal letterhead might work well here).

8. To keep the message newsworthy. Let the lift note cover events that have happened since the initial mailing was written.

9. To underscore the ONE THING that really gives your product an edge over everyone else.

10. To emphasize track record, unusual and impressive credentials, or to make the benefits of the most important package feature especially clear.

Source: The Copywriter’s Roundtable.

Brainstorming By the Rules

*by John Forde, whose free weekly e-Letter, “The Copywriter’s Roundtable” is definitely worth subscribing to.

Alex Osborn, founder of a super-successful New York ad Agency and of the Creative Education Foundation, came up with a list of brainstorming “rules” in 1963:

No judgment in early stages: Collect as many ideas as possible without imposing criticism.

Encourage wild or stupid ideas: Don’t refuse to write anything on the board. You never know where it might lead.

Forbid discussion: This may seem counter-intuitive to old-school thinkers. What’s a meeting without talk, after all? But at the start of brainstorming, analysis is death. Wait until you have your long list of ideas, first.

Ban cynics: Early criticism of ideas guarantees you fewer good ideas overall. Anyone who can’t accommodate randomness of thought shouldn’t be there.

Make the process visible: Be sure to record the ideas as the come on a flipchart or board. They must be seen by the group to be useful.

Impose time limits: The pressure of the clock helps ideas to flow more quickly, spontaneously. 30 minutes is good.

These rules aren’t easy to keep. But they worked for Osborn and thousands of others, from copywriters to politicians to engineers. Systems work if you give ‘em a chance.

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