NSA Logo

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

Comments Off on How about a sure-fire copy writing formula?

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

Comments Off on A good lesson for marketing (and life, too!)

text mobile phoneI know a lot of today’s generation tends to communicate via text. Many have said that’s their preferred means of receiving messages, which has led a lot of marketers to adopt this as the next big way to disseminate information. To be fair, usually such information is requested via subscription or something, so it is indeed something the customer did ask for.

But I wonder if the possible brand damage that tactic could inflict has really been considered.

Here’s what I mean…

Let’s imagine you’ve subscribed to receive short little Burtisms, similar to these blog entries, via text here and there. One would hope we’d have the same great experience we have here, me sharing ideas from time to time and you getting a little something useful. Once a week a little Burtism text pops up in your text inbox, you read it at your convenience, it brightens your day, you happily go on about your life.

But what if my happy little Burtism text pops up right in the middle of an important conversation you’re trying to have? What if I’m interrupting good news? Wouldn’t that be rather an aggravation? What if my happy little Burtism pops up during bad/sad news? In addition to being an aggravation, might that be  considered inappropriate, even it it’s not intentionally so? Even if you could forgive such an intrusion, might my brand then carry that negative association with it from then on?

As my friend –  and quite the marketer himself – Nic Bittle said, “What we sign up for today might be a nuisance tomorrow.”

Indeed, and that’s not the kind of brand association you want.

The answer remains to be seen, but a it’s not a bad idea to ask these kinds of “then what” questions as you go.



Comments Off on Texting: Media breakthrough or brand killer?

Just a little refresher course on how to know if  marketing we’re observing is “good marketing” or not. I thought I’d do this  by quoting some of my favorite marketing authors…

“The goal of advertising is to sell more stuff to more people more often for more money” – Sergio Zyman

“If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.” – David Ogilvy (Before there was Zyman, there was Ogilvy…)

“The only purpose of advertising is to make sales. It is profitable or unprofitable according to its actual sales.” – Claude Hopkins(And before there was Ogilvy, there was Hopkins…) (Thanks to my friend Bob Oros for sharing this one way back in 2008.)


Good marketing gets RESULTS! Forget awards, forget buzz, forget total followers, forget how in love the audience says they are with it. Forget all that and simply consider this: If it doesn’t produce results, it isn’t good marketing.

Tell ’em Dr. Burt and the gang said so!




Comments Off on Good marketing does what, again?

The best way for ANY business to get more business is simply to do GOOD business. You take care of your customers in such a way that they’ll want to come back, spend more, and tell others about you, and success will follow as sure as night follows day.

Social media is but ONE tool to help market a business, and frankly, it’s one of the most overrated tools that’s ever come on the scene. Yes, it is a very low cost way to promote a business, but it’s also a way to irritate a lot of people very fast. IF, and only IF, the brand is such that people eagerly want to talk about it in a positive way through their social channels, it can be extremely powerful. But that’s a big “if” because busy people today feel they get quite enough communication, and they’ll quickly turn on a brand that abuses that privilege no matter if it’s you or one of your raving fans who share the message.

So social media CAN be a good tool if the rest of one’s marketing house is in order, but the risk that it’s just something that adds to the clutter is pretty high.

Social media is best done if used in an non-pushy manner. For example, rather than invade people’s social media space with disruptive messages in a vain attempt go get in front of them, work on having such good relationships with your customers that when the need for your product or service arises, your customers confidently recommend you to people in their sphere of influence, whether it’s via social media or a good old fashioned personal conversation.

So I still say the best way for any business of any size to get more business is to focus on doing GOOD business. Then, take care of every customer relationship with the goal of keeping and growing it for life, and chances are those customers will be happy to stick with you and may even feel so good about their experience that they’ll tell others and do a lot of your marketing for you.

If social media helps YOUR brand with that, then it’s a great tool and one you definitely want to put to use. If not, it’s a waste of your time and that of your customer.


Comments Off on Since we haven’t hammered social media in a while…

I’m as bad as anybody else about complaining about how it seems like everyone is either talking or texting, that none of us communicate in person like we used to, that it’s a big time waster, yadda yadda yadda. But perish the thought that I might have to ever go an hour without my smartphone!

It’s not too big an exaggeration to say that the smartphone you and I are carrying around is really nothing short of a miracle when you stop and think about all the ways it has enriched, or has the potential to enrich our lives in the form of convenience, savings, information connectivity… the list goes on and on.

Just think about how remarkable it is that such power, which didn’t even exist a couple of decades ago, not only exists today, but is affordable. Just about anyone who wants to can  personally own more computing power than the richest and most powerful among us could even access not too long ago.

Technology author Aurthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Next time you use your smartphone for something, think about how you would have accomplished that task before the advent of the smartphone, if it was something you could do at all, and you may find that it is indeed magic!


Comments Off on Stop taking that smartphone for granted!

Gary Busey McDWhen I found this article after hearing the story on CNBC, a chuckle turned into an all out belly laugh! Maybe it’s just me, but I thought this entire happening was hilarious. The buzz is about how McDonald’s launched a new mascot for its Happy Meal last week, and some think it’s a nightmare in the making.

You can judge that for yourself, but the real lesson here is a reminder of what we talked about earlier, which is how our brands are not “ours” any more, but are owned by the customers thanks to the miracle of social media.

All that aside, you’ve really gotta hand it to Busey as a “brand” because he’s been able to reinvent himself for five decades now, largely by just  being able to poke fun at himself.

Think simple. Think like a customer and your brand will become more successful.” – Al Ries and Laura Ries



TombstoneBrands are still powerful. Building a solid brand is still a noble – and profitable – pursuit. You should work to build as strong a brand as you can and then work to make it even stronger, because a good brand is indeed money in the bank. It’s like having a printing press on which you can print your own money, in fact. (More on that here.)

That’s the good news. The bad news is, this brand of “yours” really isn’t yours any more. Brands are owned by the customers, not us. We can work all the live-long day to try to develop the perception we want them to have of us, but when it’s all said and done, the customer gets the last word. You may be thinking that this has, ultimately, always been the case, and you’d be right. What is different today is the kind of access customers have to their own media empire thanks to such tools as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Pintrest, and any of a number of other online forums in which they can express their opinions, good or bad, to their spheres of influence. All with just a few clicks.

So what’s the answer? Well, as we’ve said before, if you want more business, do GOOD business. Do the kind of business people will like so much they’ll want to come back, that will get them to proudly tell others they are your customer,  and that will lead them to use their ever-growing digital influence to tell others they should become your customer, too.

As we’ve also said before, it may not be easy, but it is that simple.

The brand is any association the customer can have with your product.” – Philip Kotler



Comments Off on The death of brand ownership?

I have historically shied away from naming companies (or people, for that matter) by name in my blogging endeavors. That’s because I prefer to say only positive things about companies (and people), and also because sometimes companies (and people) can end up disappointing you. It’s kind of awkward to either have to “print a retraction” or just take down an entry I’ve posted where I bragged on a company or individual that ended up not being the caliber I want to be associated with, much less acquaint you with or be perceived as endorsing.

In some cases, I’ve even bragged on strangers who have single-handedly saved the brands of their organizations by giving professional service. Remember Sara? How about Bridget & DougI’m offering that as evidence because you may end up reading about a very disappointing experience I am currently having with the Kodak company…but you will likely be hearing more on their lackluster efforts later.

But on with today’s POSITIVE story…

I’ve been a customer of Richards Car Care for close to 10 years now. They were recommended by my father-in-law, who had a respected 45+ year career in the automotive industry, so they had the power of an authority figure as an endorsement working for them from the start!

But they REALLY wowed me when they went out of their way to help dear old mom. One day my mother, who’s in her 70s, was up here visiting her grandson (though she claims she comes to see his parents, too). There was some bad weather moving in later that day so we really wanted her to have the 3-hour drive behind her and to have her home safe and sound before that happened. As she was about to leave, we noticed a nail in her tire. Fortunately, it wasn’t flat yet, so I had her follow me a the short distance to Richards and we’d see if they could get her on the road. My optimism sank when we pulled up and I saw they were extremely busy, but I explained the situation to them and they made a point of getting her right in and back on the road.

I might be exaggerating a wee bit to say they treated the situation with such urgency that you’d have thought it was their mother they were helping, but it sure felt that way!

That was several years ago, but I’m STILL telling the story and I make a point of reminding them of it every time I’m in, often in front of a showroom of onlooking customers. 

You’ve heard me say often, to have MORE business, do GOOD business.

What stories are your customers telling about you?


For as long as I’ve had the honor of appearing on your screen as a Blogger, I have made essentially an annual tradition of bashing the whole pomp and circumstance surrounding the time of year I’ve come to call “Super Bowl Season.” I have stated often, and continue to believe, the hype about the grandeur of the ads is misplaced because the focus is on the window dressing rather than on what marketing is supposed to do, which is to get results. And in most cases, that means to sell product!

You can read those rants here if you like, but my main gripe has been that as the price of Super Bowl advertising goes higher, so does the difficulty in achieving a respectable return on the marketing investment.

But could it be that your ole buddy Dr. Burt has shot off his big mouth again without thinking? A couple of observations thanks to two marketers I greatly respect, Brian Blake and Tim Berney, have caused me to give some more thought to the matter. But don’t tell them that!

Brian sent me links to two articles that are packed with interesting Super Bowl ad stats and visuals. One of the many points the articles make is that even though a 30 second spot in Super Bowl 2014 does cost a whopping 4 Million-Plus, because the size of the audience is so huge, it actually makes the cost-per-viewer isn’t any higher than it is during normal prime time. The article gives two other reasons why Super Bowl ad space deserves respect, and I’ll let you see that for yourself. Here’s the link.

Tim was interviewed in the Daily Oklahoman last week. One of the many good points he made was that if these ads are component parts of a bigger strategy, rather than just something randomly done to attract all those eyeballs at that one point in time, then the chances of the campaigns contributions to a bigger payoff go up considerably. He’s got a relevant take on how social media impacts the whole event, too. It’s a great article and I’d urge you to check it out here.

You can visit with both Brian and Tim at the AMAOKC’s Annual Super Bowl Showdown in a couple of weeks.



Comments Off on Do I owe the Super Bowl an apology?