The Life Cycle of Junk Mail

junk-mailYou pull in the driveway after a long day at work. Hands full with bags of groceries, you grab the mail and make your way into the house. Flip through the envelopes, the bills, the magazines, toss aside anything that doesn’t look immediately important, and move on with your life.

But every now and then, one catches your eye, and it makes you think. When we’ve done our job right, it makes you care enough to take the next step and take action.

There is the advertiser’s challenge: How do we find a space in your life and make an impression? How do we make our product matter to you through a piece of paper you might only glance at?

Let me tell you, creating something that doesn’t become “junk mail” is the result of hours of meetings, production work, and research. From the time we begin to the time it reaches your home, it’s likely already been in the works for over a month.

It starts with the creative strategy and writing team. What are we selling? Why? Who are we selling it to? What’s the headline? What’s the special offer or message? A strategically sound creative foundation is imperative, and it usually takes a lot of misses to find the one direction that might be a hit.

Then, the designers get their hands on it, making sure the piece incorporates all the important text, cohesive and consistent branding elements, uses quality paper/print media, and has the proper messaging hierarchy. That’s where simple words are transformed into a compelling visual – never underestimate the power of a great design.

The media buyers have to scout out the right audience, buy or curate the right lists, and negotiate the best prices. Successful marketing comes down to the numbers, and great results don’t always have a hefty price tag if you have the right media placement and savvy buyers.

After rounds of revisions, tweaks, and approvals, it finally goes out to the client who also has rounds of revisions, tweaks, and approvals to go through.

The result is a simple postcard. Every word is carefully selected, images meticulously created, and consumers specifically targeted to get the results our clients are looking for.

The surprising part? More often than not, it works.

Taking it Easy with Ad Messaging

“I’m standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see – it’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowing down to take a look at me.”

I’ve never been a big fan of the Eagles, but that line from their 1972 hit “Take it Easy” recently made me think about the similarities between songwriting and copywriting. I was watching the documentary “History of the Eagles,” in which Jackson Browne and the late Glenn Frey of the Eagles discuss the song and how Browne had come up with the first part of the line – “I’m standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona” – but was having trouble finishing it until Frey suggested the ending of the verse. Browne marvels: “Girl, lord, Ford, I mean, all the redemption, you know, girls and cars and redemption all in this one line. It’s very mercurial.”

Now, I’m not a songwriter by any means, but writing advertising copy is a big part of my day-to-day life. Brevity is essential in writing advertising copy because you’re always working within parameters. Some are fairly rigid: space if you’re writing something that will appear in print, or time if you’re writing for broadcast mediums. Some are less clearly defined. For example, in an age when we’re when we’re all exposed to hundreds of advertising messages daily, a copywriter has to compete for an increasingly limited amount of his or her audience’s time and attention. You have to engage your audience quickly. And when I thought about it, I was amazed by what Frey had done in just 24 words.

First, Frey clearly understood his audience and was able to relate to it. I could argue that the key elements of the line (girls, cars, redemption) are everything you could have wanted in an early 70s rock song with a presumably male audience. There’s also an emotional cue (“such a fine sight to see”), which anybody can relate to. Relatability is something copywriters strive for, too. Every time I sit down to write an ad I start with the same basic questions: who am I talking to, and what do I need to say to them? Compelling copy appeals to the audience’s interests, experiences, emotions, needs, and desires.

Good copy also sparks the audience’s imagination. It’s important to write visually, especially if you’re writing for a non-visual medium like radio. I think Frey succeeds here, too. I can picture that street corner. I can see the girl (she’s blonde), and I know what type of truck she’s driving because Frey told me (in two words). And because the writers immediately set the scene (we’re in Arizona), I imagine the Ford is a little bit dusty. Oh, and it’s an early 60s model.

I’m glad Netflix kept insisting that I’d like “History of the Eagles” and that I finally broke down and watched it, because the film’s dissection of that one line reminded me of the things I try to do when I’m writing copy: engage the audience with emotion and imagery, make it relatable, and keep it brief. I now admire that lyric, when previously I’d never given it a second thought. It’s won me over, the way good advertising can.

How to Efficiently Media Buy on TV

Media-ChartsThere are many questions we’re asked when placing a media buy for a client. One of the most frequent questions is…

How do you measure success on a media buy?

One major way we measure the success of a media buy is through the cost per point (CPP) – a ratio based on how much it costs to buy one rating point, or one percent of the population in specified market or area. The CPP is calculated by taking the total amount spent on a specific television station and dividing it by the total number of gross rating points (GRPs). GRPs, pronounced “grips”, are a standard measure in advertising denoting the advertising impact. GRPs are calculated by the total number of spots that you have running in a specific daypart (timeframe) on a TV station, multiplied by that specific daypart rating. Daypart ratings are determined by how many people in the market tuned into that show, or timeframe.

Nielsen and Rentrak are two major global information, data and measurement companies. They create ratings books that will give a rating to every program that runs on TV. Some of our clients advertise all 12 months of the year. So, to get a better idea of how the program we are buying did, we might ask that the TV station rep uses a 4 book average for all 4 seasons of the year. The ratings will be different for whatever age group you decide to use as your demographic. This way, if a November book performs exceptionally, but a July book does not do nearly as well, they would be averaged together and that would be the rating given to that program. This is very important because it affects your cost per point. Whatever the average rating is of all four books is your rating for that program. If we divide the program rating into the spot rate, we get the cost per point.

All markets are different sizes, especially in population. The size of a market typically impacts the cost per point. For example, smaller markets in rural and upstate New York would have lower cost per points than markets of a much larger size like, metro (NYC) area, Buffalo and Albany. Our goal as a media buyer is to reach our audience demographic at the lowest cost per point we possibly can.

Confused yet? Don’t worry… here’s an example:

Station A is #1 in the market (in ratings/viewership). Station B is #2 in the market.
We have a budget of $1000 to advertise with. I receive one proposal from each station using a 4 book average from Rentrak.
Station A’s proposal:
5am-6am morning news – $50 per spot for 4 spots – Rating 2.8
6pm-7pm evening news – $200 per spot for 4 spots – Rating 12.1

So for $1000, I would receive 4 spots in morning news and 4 spots in evening news. If I multiply the rating of 2.8 x 4 morning new spots, this gives us our GRP’s total, which is 11.2. Doing the same thing for evening news, it’s another 48.4 GRP’s. So total for $1000, we would receive 59.6 GRP’s. If we divide the $1000 into the total GRP’s 59.6, we get our cost per point, which is $16.78.

Station B’s proposal:
5am-6am morning news – $25 per spot for 8 spots – Rating 2.2
6pm-7pm evening news – $100 per spot for 8 spots – Rating 8.6
The total GRP’s with the same calculations above would be 86.4 GRPs. And if we divide to get our cost per point, it is $11.57.

As you can see, the #2 station, station B costs $5.21 less to buy one rating point. This example shows you just two dayparts (time slots your ad has to run in), now imagine a cable buy when you are buying 15 different networks and 4 different day parts per network?! Things get crazy. That’s when a media buyer can be essential to ensuring you get the most bang for your buck. The best part, media buying is typically a free service provided by agencies like MPW. You don’t pay extra for this service. A typical 15% commission is paid directly out of your intended media investment. So, you get more value out of the media outlets and don’t have to pay a dime to do it. Now THAT is a win-win.

4 Steps to Successfully Respond to Negative Online Reviews

Any good business owner wants to learn from their customers in order to grow their business. That’s why they ask people for honest feedback… like when a manager at a restaurant asks you how your meal was. Or, when a technician asks you to fill out a review form at the end of a service or installation.

The potential trouble with online reviews is that the anonymity factor can lead people down a dark path. While honest feedback is appreciated, the Internet veil can sometimes bring on exaggerated, non-constructive remarks. But, once it’s written online, it becomes a reality you have to deal with. So… how do you successfully respond to negative reviews, no matter how exaggerated, hurtful or just-plain-wrong they are? Simple.

Follow these easy steps using a kind and conversational voice.

  1. Thank the reviewer for his or her feedback.
  2. Apologize for whatever negative experience they’ve described.
  3. State your continued intent to better serve your customers.
  4. Offer an opportunity to discuss their concerns further and privately in either a private message or a phone call, and offer something for their trouble. (Make sure to state a specific owner/manager name. It adds a level of ownership and trust to the response.)

A majority of reviewers will not call a business back, but if they do, this is your opportunity to apologize, listen to their thoughts and offer a solution. Even if they never call you, you’ve assured future customers that you care about their experience. This increases their trust in you and negates the negative review in most cases.

So, that’s what you should DO. Here’s what you DON’T do.

  1. Ignore the review and hope it’ll go away or get buried.
  2. Refute their claim or dismiss their concerns.
  3. Write with harsh, defensive or robotic language (intended tone).
  4. Change the blame by going into detail saying what THEY did wrong.

Any confrontational language can lead to an unwanted continued exchange with a frustrated patron. It reflects poorly on your character as an owner or manager and negatively impacts the reputation of your business.

5 Things to Know Before Jumping into Pay-Per-Click

1) Your Audience

Your audience is the most important factor when starting PPC (pay-per-click). They are the one actively searching and buying your product or service, so it’s best to know how to target them. Targeting users can include sites they would frequently visit, where they are located geographically and general demographics, to name just a few.

2) Your Goal for Adwords

What are you looking to accomplish by using Adwords? Are you trying to get more people to visit your site? Are you trying to build brand awareness? Knowing what you would like to use Adwords for will help answer a lot of setup questions. For example, if you are a newer company and are just hoping to get your name out there, display ads may be the way to go, but if you are established and want to increase how many people contact you via your website, search ads may be your avenue.

3) Your Target Cost Per Lead

Your cost per lead is a great number to know regardless, but in Adwords, this will help to make sure your money is being used effectively and efficiently. If you estimate that you will still make money if you pay $100 for a new sales lead, that amount is the highest you should aim for with paid ads. Once you go drastically over your cost per lead, you may find that your campaigns need adjusting, or that you should adjust your approach when using paid ads.

4) Level of Satisfaction with Your Website

Your ads will ultimately lead users to your website, where that needs to be the big selling factor for a user to call your business, submit a form or take an action. View your site as a consumer. Are you able to easily find information you’re looking for? Is it easy to contact your business should someone have questions? Is it mobile friendly? If you are able to answer no to any of those questions, there may need to be a bit of improvement on your site before launching a campaign.

5) PPC Isn’t a Band-Aid; it’s a Supporting Factor

At MPW, we suggest that PPC should complement your other marketing initiatives, especially your online marketing initiatives. Specifically, when you are working on the SEO for your website, PPC helps to establish more real estate on the search engine results page (SERP) than just a paid ad or organic listing, alone. Seeing your paid ad, and then coming across an organic listing, helps to make an association from the keyword the user is searching to your brand that you are an expert. Especially if the user then clicks on the organic listing, this is even better. You receive the benefit of getting the click organically, with the real estate of two listings, without having to pay for the click.