Ron Brauner’s Blog reminds us of “one of the most successful marketing headlines of all time” in Free Marketing Headlines. What is it? The customer testimonial.
However, getting customer testimonials can be awkward and even embarrassing. When asked directly by someone to say something nice about them, can you say no, even if you want to? And you don’t want to put customers in a difficult position.
Here’s a technique I recently used for a client, which produced results that bowled us over (and not just the one from the happy customer who asked “You don’t have a sister, do you?”). We set up a survey – using SurveyMonkey – where there were two questions, both open-ended with large text boxes for the responders to write what they liked. The first question was “how could we improve our service to you?” and the second was “what do you like about doing business with us?”
We got far more responses to this survey than we’d normally get – I think people are genuinely flattered to be asked for their opinions, and enjoy the chance to push a supplier in a direction which benefits them. The first set of answers were useful from a customer service point of view. But the answers to the second question were marketing gold – the only embarrassment here was at the company itself, which was quite taken aback at the warmth of the feedback, most of which went straight on its website, unattributed of course.
Thank you so much for all your flattering comments about last week’s series of articles about the state of online marketing in UK industrial companies. I’ll try to write a few more pieces like that which are closer to home in the future.
In the meantime, back to work. I’ve read entire books on writing sales letters, and some of them have even been worth reading. But to fill an entire book on this subject you need to get far too detailed; the really good stuff can be summarised in a good article. And here’s just such an article.
In Direct Mail: The Letter on Ron Brauner’s Blog you’ll find specific ideas on structure, presentation, tone, calls to action and closure. You can argue the toss on some of them, but in the end, you won’t go far wrong if you follow these guidelines.
Sometimes I link to articles in this blog almost as a way of bookmarking them for myself. Now, I’ve got whole books on writing sales letters, and I’ve even read one or two, but once you get to whole-book-levels of detail, you can’t see the wood for the trees. Here then is Ron Brauner’s Blog on 8 Ways to Improve Your Sales Letters. Nothing revelatory, just good common sense in a two-minute read, and all the better for that. Just like a good sales letter, I guess.
I regularly look through the trade mags which have made it well past the date by which they were supposed to have been blown away by the internet. About half of those which I worked on in the decade or more I was a print magazine editor have now disappeared, but others seem quite healthy (and I’m glad, because a lot of old friends work for them). However, when I study the advertisements which keep them going, I do get the impression that the majority are placed by people who either don’t really know what they’re doing, or (more likely) haven’t got the time to do it properly. Maybe they just think: “Look, I don’t know if magazine advertising works any more, and I haven’t got time to find out if it’s does, but I need to be seen to advertise, so I’ll just get something nice in the next issue and that’s another item off the to-do list”.
Most of the advertisements I see are suffering from one simple fault: they don’t seem to have been placed with a real objective in mind. Now, many print magazines have loyal, influential readerships. A well-crafted, eye-catching message will get noticed, and probably by a large number of the people you’d want to get noticed by. So for branding, or a corporate message of some sort, magazines are a strong contender to be your primary outlet, and if advertising is the best way to get in them, then it’s time to open the chequebook.
But many ads just seem to be half-hearted attempts to generate a few sales leads. And that’s one area where online marketing left print for dead a long time ago. Not because online marketing reaches more people, or better people (although it probably does), but because it’s measurable. You know who reads your promotional emails. You only pay for actual page views when you use pay-per-click advertising. You can even take out pay-per-sale advertising online now – what’s more accountable than that? The list goes on. As far as lead generation goes, speculative advertising with no measurable results should be dead. It’s astonishing that it continues.
Anyway, enough of my rant. If you want to step back and take a look at your advertising, in print or online, there are some good articles around which will inspire you in that process. Here’s a random one: Analyze Your Advertising with this 9 Point Inspection on Ron Brauner’s Blog. It’s good. But before you read it, perhaps there’s a more fundamental question to ask: what am I actually advertising for? Finally getting rid of the magazine’s ad sales rep isn’t really a good enough reason.