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Need to write some ad copy? A flyer? A cover letter? An e-mail? Copy for your website?

Here’s a time-honored formula that’s sure to work for you. An oldie but a goodie.

AIDA – Attention, interest, desire, action. Those four hallowed words reverently dictate how you can write persuasive copy. It’s a formula that’s been around for nearly a century and whose usage still echoes in much of the messages you experience today across all media platforms. Here’s a short discussion of the steps involved in the AIDA formula.

Attention – Before any persuasive communication can take place, the attention of the audience has to be captured. This is often referred to as “disruption” because in addition to having many other things on their minds, your audience today is being bombarded with over 3,000 advertising messages every day.

Interest – Gaining attention is one thing, but it’s another to actually secure the audience members interest in your message. This step engages the reader by showing how your offer solves his or her problem or how their life could be better with your solution.

Desire – Once the audience’s interest is established, because they see the value of your offer, the next step is to build their desire by getting them to imagine themselves experiencing the value of “owning” your offer. The benefits. Get them to imagine that better future your product can deliver.

Action – They’re interested, and they want it, so don’t leave them in suspense! Show them how they can get it! The call to action gives the audience member the way to act upon their desire to own what you’re offering, so a good idea is to make is as easy on them as possible. “Click here to order” or “Call now” or “Visit your local showroom today” are examples of calls to action.

Next time you’re listening to the radio, watching TV, browsing the web or your favorite magazine, look closely and you’ll see that adaptations of this formula are still heavily used for a simple reason – they work!

Every writer I know has trouble writing.” – Joseph Heller, Catch 22

Wal-Mart is experimenting with not only delivering your groceries to your door, but with actually coming in your door, entering your kitchen, and stocking your fridge and pantry with your groceries. Seriously. I’m not making this up. You can read all the details for yourself here.

To be fair, this is a good idea not so much because of the specific approach they’re testing, but because of the thinking that Wal-Mart seems to be demonstrating in desperate response to the big chunk of their business they are losing to Amazon and the like. Kudos to them for asking how they can differentiate themselves by offering additional value for their customers.

It’s a bad idea because not only are there way too many moving parts in this approach, and not only because I predict it’s highly unlikely that there will be a big enough target market who will trust Wal-Mart with the “keys to their home”, but because they are getting too far outside what they know they can do well. Their core competencies if you prefer the fancy schmancy MBA term.

On the grocery side, Wal-Mart does a super job of using their buying power and the efficiency of how they operate to offer the consumer a vast selection and a remarkably low price. Bravo, Wal-Mart. Expanding the services they offer in that vein to include online ordering and curbside pickup makes excellent sense. Grocery delivery seems like a bit of a stretch and a gamble, but operationally that isn’t terribly far fetched, so that’s an idea worth a look. But to think that Wal-Mart will be able to cost-effectively field a team of competent delivery staff who their customers deem trustworthy enough to let into their homes I think will prove to be a promise they’ll have a hard time delivering on.

Whenever you chase after another target segment, chances are you’ll chase away your original customer. Whatever you do, you should not get greedy but stay true to your product type, your attribute, or your segment.” – Jack Trout and Steve Rivken, Differentiate or Die

 

Congratulations to Jeff Bezos. Turns out he recently surpassed Bill Gates as the world’s richest person.

Mr. Bezos became the world’s richest person as the founder of Amazon.com. Amazon, of course, started out as an “online bookstore” and has now evolved into the world’s largest retailer. That was accomplished by setting a grand vision, working to make it so, celebrating the successes, divesting of the failures and not dwelling on them, and constantly listening to what the customer wants.

And that last one is the big one. By simply listening to what the customer wants and working to provide it better than anybody else, you can’t help but win. And if your goal is to be the biggest, richest, or whatever, giving your customer more value than anybody else is the way to get there.

Focus on that and maybe I’ll be writing about you before too long!

Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice: It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” - William Jennings Bryan

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There are a lot of fine points to networking, and you can find a lot of good tips all over the place from a lot of authors, but to me, here’s one big secret you need to know if you want to be successful at networking.

Here it is:

You gotta do it!

Like exercise, networking isn’t a spectator sport and it isn’t a passive activity. You’ve got to consciously be practicing professional networking all the time with the goal of growing the number of people who are willing to help you, and they’re willing to help you because they know you’d do the same for them.

Yes, this may get old. Yes, it may often seem difficult. And yes, it may require monumental effort on your part.

So on the days you might not feel so much like networking what should you do? Do it anyway! Push yourself! You’ll be glad you did not only because you can celebrate that feeling of accomplishment that comes from meeting a personal challenge, but also because you’ll be moving one step closer to the results you’re looking for.

Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway!” – Emory Austin

 

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Yep, I’ve got a sure fire, time-honored, market-proven system that’ll help you have all the success you want in your endeavor, and then some.

Three simple steps:

1. Find out what your customers want.

2. Find a cost-effective and profitable way to give it to them.

3. Repeat.

Just that simple. Start doing this and you’ll be amazed at the results you get. If you’re already doing something like this, go back and make sure you’re not leaving a step out.

Test it for yourself and I’ll bet you’ll have a hard time arguing that it’s a simple strategy.

Simple, yes. Easy? Not so much. And that’s why so many fail.

A complex system that does not work is invariably found to have evolved from a simpler system that worked just fine. – Murphy’s Law of Computing

 

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It’s called independence day for a reason. We’re a free people because men and women in uniform upheld the oaths taken that said they’d lay down their lives for the sake of that cause. You’re probably not guilty of this, but I’m sure prone to take that for granted.

Our family wishes you and yours a happy 4th of July. Freedom is certainly worth celebrating, and those who continue to pay the price for that freedom deserve remembering, too.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” – Ronald Reagan

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Every time I attend a seminar or pick up a book on marketing I find myself fighting the urge to go down one rabbit trail after another. While it’s good to keep an open mind and check out lots of different ideas and viewpoints, I think a much wiser approach is to peek through the forest and be sure you see the trees. Focus on what is most important.

In marketing, the most important thing is the customer! Your customer!

If the latest and greatest idea, whether it be related to big data or social media or any of the other new buzzwords out there, seems like something that would enhance your relationships with your customers or help you get more of your ideal customers, then it’s probably worth pursuing. If you’re not sure whether it would enhance those relationships, ASK your customers. And if you’re still not sure, try whatever it is (if it’s not too costly or risky to your brand) and study whether or not it enhances customer relationships. Whatever it is. Focus on what matters most: Your customer!

A similar strategy could be employed in life, too. Rather than chasing after the wind (Thank you King Solomon), figure out what is MOST important to you and be sure that becomes your main focus.

It may not be easy, but it is that simple.

Go get ‘em!

“Starve your distractions, feed your focus.” – Unknown

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Yes, I run this this story every year. I love this story more and more every year. I have yet to research whether or not it is true, because I really don’t care whether or not it is true! Hope you enjoy it as much as I do! – Dr. Burt

A fellow named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night. His 4-year-old daughter, Barbara, sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bob’s wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer. Little Barbara couldn’t understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dads eyes and asked, “Why isn’t Mommy just like everybody else’s Mommy?” Bob’s jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob’s life. Life always had to be different for Bob. Being small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he’d rather not remember.

From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl.

But it was all short-lived. Evelyn’s bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938. Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn’t even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn’t buy a gift, he was determined a make one – a storybook!

Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animal’s story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story all about? The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose.

Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn’t end there. The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book. In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter.

But the story doesn’t end there either. Bob’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore , it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry.

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of “White Christmas.” The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn’t so bad. In fact, being different can be a blessing!

It’s choice–not chance–that determines your destiny. – Jean Nidetch, entrepreneur & founder of Weight Watchers”

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Christmas lights have come a long way since I was a kid. In the days of old, Christmas lights were all on one circuit, so if one bulb…one itty bitty bulb… burned out, the whole strand of lights would stop working and you’d have to check each bulb to figure out which one to replace to get the strand of lights to light up again. I’m not kidding. Ask your grandparents if this isn’t true!

They fixed that problem several years ago and today there are a lot of really beautiful, high quality, durable, affordable Christmas lights to choose from. In fact,a person could probably make a nominal investment in one set of Christmas lights and basically be set for life thanks to the quality that is now engineered into even the least expensive ones. But, alas, for most of us, that won’t be the case.

What happens is that the makers of Christmas lights come out with newer, better, nicer, fancier versions of lights every year, causing us to look at the lights we used last year and wonder how in the world we could stand to adorn our house with that old stuff when a better, more eye-catching choice exists for just a few dollars more. This year I was rather amazed at how many Christmas lights came with apps you could use to control not only the timing of when your lights came on and went off from your smartphone, but the apps also let you choose various combinations of displays to appear at various times. What a world!

This is precisely the kind of innovation Drucker said every organization should practice. The organization should deliver a quality product offering for the customer, and constantly be working on ways to improve that product offering. Indeed, the lights most of us already have probably fit the bill in terms of functionality but the manufacturers of Christmas lights offer us more and better choices in terms of style each year, thus creating new demand. The customer gets more value, the organization has the opportunity to grow its bottom line via share of customer and additional market share, competitors are kept at bay, employees who are helping contribute to the innovation earn a degree of job security, and so on.

Marketing is all about facilitating a mutually-beneficial value exchange with the customer. Innovation is a way to continually enhance the value offered to the customer and enhance profits for the organization.

There is no such thing as an ‘average fighter pilot.’ You’re either an ace, or you’re a target.” – Guiding Principle used by the Army Air Corps in WWII

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Oklahoma City Jeweler, BC Clark, used the same jingle for their Christmas promotion year after year. Then a few years ago, they got to thinking that maybe the market was tired of this jingle, because they were getting tired of it, so they decided to change it. They quickly learned it was a big mistake because their customers let them know! They very quickly changed it right back. You can get the whole story here.

While some might consider this a “strategic hiccup,” it’s actually quite a story in the power of their brand, and a profitable lesson for us all. If a customer is so attached to any aspect of your business they’d miss it if you changed it, you know you’ve got a loyal following. Any time your customers will take time to speak up and let you know they’re unhappy with something, that’s a golden opportunity to fix it. You’ll likely keep and grow a customer relationship, and you may even impress them so much with your handling of the situation that they’ll tell all their friends about it and your net result will be even MORE customers and more profit!

Keep in mind that customers you get from referrals have no acquisition costs attached to them, so the margins are that much better! Strong customer service is a critical component of effective branding!

It also reminds us precisely When We Should Change A Strategy.

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