Archive | April, 2009

Print or online?

30 Apr

If you are a media buyer, and you are given the choice of only the online edition or the print edition of your local daily newspaper, which do you choose? Kind of a tricky question, right?

Last week, I attended a panel on business news and media, specifically tailored for public relations people. One of the panelists was the tech writer at the Washington Post. He told us how his column on personal tech runs in the paper on Sunday but is posted online on Friday.  When I heard this I thought that the Post is cannibalizing itself. After all, if you can get the exact same content plus  links and commentaries, online, why ever would you subscribe to the Post? (Note to self: think about whether I should cancel Post subscription).

But, apparently, the two editions (print and online) have different audiences. Most people who exclusively read online NEVER read the print edition, and those who read the print edition will only go to the online version when they want more information. This is what came out of a survey of the attendees to this panel (put on by the Washington Network Group Communications Roundtable).

What online offers that print does not is a multimedia experience, plus more (more info, links, comments, blogs).  Online is also more current, updated frequently and that is what people expect.

Another panelist, the editor for the Washington Business Journal, said that they do have different content online than on the print edition, and it is more updated. However, they just started a blog, get this, TWO WEEKS ago.  But WBJ may have an older base, who still wants the print edition and may not even visit the online edition.

Bottom line to answer the question is this:  is the online version better than the print version? And, what is your core target audience? If the online version is better, and has a better readership, certainly buy online only. If the online version is a skeleton version of the print, buy the print. And ultimately, look at the audience numbers. You want to buy where most of your audience is.

Your thoughts and experiences welcome!

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How to: Develop a tagline

23 Apr

Does your business have a tagline? If yes, does it accurately convey what you do?  If not, why not?

Every business should have a tagline, no doubt. A tagline is an additional bit of information that clarifies what you do to your potential customers. Now, a tagline is not a motto. Webster’s defines a motto as “a short expression of a guiding principle.”  A motto could be something generic, like “we always do our best,” which can be seen as something your employees rally around but that does not communicate anything about what your business does.

What is a slogan? Webster’s gives three definitions: 1) a war cry; 2) phrase used to express a characteristic position or goal; 3) attention-getting phrase used in promotion.  Clearly definition number 1 is not what we are after. And the difference between two and three is really the difference between a slogan and a tagline. A slogan should be unchanging, something that is more universal (your goals or your purpose) and your tagline can change for a particular ad campaign. And yes, a slogan and a tagline can be one and the same.

For instance, if you are a hospital or clinic, your slogan might be your commitment to a healthy future for all. If you are running an ad campaign, you might focus on a certain aspect of your practice like cardiology and your tagline might focus on helping patients achieve heart health. All the while your motto could be something about maintaining  the highest standard in hygienic practices.

So, how do you develop a tagline? First make sure you are not developing a motto.  Be more specific about what you are trying to communicate about your product or service.


1) Understand your product or service and its USP. This seems fairly obvious but you would be surprised at how very few people can communicate succintly what they do. You might start with a short description of your product and service. Think about attributes, descriptors and differentiators

2) Brainstorm. Write out 10-20 short lines (5-10 words) about your product or service. Incorporate some descriptors and attributes from above.

3) Evaluate. Which is catchy? Which is comprehensive? Which is too generic? Eliminate anything that is cliche, generic, or just doesn’t say enough.

4) Narrow down your list to 3-5 choices and show them to your principal stakeholders.

5) Have a vote. Generally, one tagline will emerge as the best one.

One more thing. People often confuse  logo and slogan. A logo is a GRAPHIC representation of your slogan/motto.  A logo is never a written piece. And logos are best left to design professionals. I would strongly counsel you to not try doing this at home!

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What we can learn from spam

21 Apr

Nothing in the online universe is more annoying than spam. This past week, my email host was not working properly and a lot of spam got through. As I was busy deleting unwanted email, I got to thinking about what spammers do that works and what they do that doesn’t.

What works:

1) Spammers know exactly what they are selling (online drugs, weight loss promises and other items).

2) Identifying the keywords associated with their product and focus on those words.

3) Trying again and again.

4) Using official-looking return addresses to look legitimate

5) Personalizing emails (which is scary but effective)

What does not work

1) Typos and spelling/grammar mistakes  in the subject line

2) Using foul language

3) Not targeting

Most spam does a bit of both these lists, which is why, ultimately, many of us don’t open this junk. You may wonder why they keep trying. Simple: it costs next to nothing to send these emails out. And there are always people looking for a fix, so someone must click on these emails.

Do you open spam? Do you report spam? Have you ever seen a great spam subject line? If you have, let me know in the comments.

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It’s all about appearance

15 Apr

We judge people by their appearance

Have you heard about the lastest YouTube sensation? Apparently, on the show “Britain’s Got Talent,” a woman who is not a) young; b) thin or c) beautiful wowed the judges, because, get this, she can sing.  The show is about talent, and yet the woman was pre-judged on her appearance.

While I think that judging talent by appearance is not wise, it remains part of how the world operates. We do judge the book by its cover. What does this mean for your marketing?

Evaluate what people are seeing about you: website, brochure, business cards, etc.  Will people think you have less talent because your website is outdated or your cards have typos?

Are you projecting what you want people to think? I have written before about this, but if you have a dated look (a website designed in the 90s) are people going to think you are  “with it?”  If you are a graphic designer and you have no samples on your website, what does that say?

Appearance is easy to fix. Talent/quality is a lot harder.

Resisting change

14 Apr

Does change frighten you?

If so, you are not alone. Many people are so frightened of change that they cling to outmoded things.  For some people, it is that shoulder-padded 1980s look that keeps them grounded. In business, especially the marketing business, resistance to change may not look as jarring as a 1980s ensemble, but it still causes plenty of pain.

The only constant is change

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, change is constant. Technology is especially fond of change and this kind of change is not only hard to deal with but expensive. Upgrade to Vista anyone?  A few years ago, we would have never dreamed that we would be communicating with each other in warp speed via text messages or Twitter, but yet here we are.

I have noticed that many people in the marketing industry resist change. Some PR practitioners may stil insist on sending out press releases via fax or regular mail. Some may keep their website static, never updating. Many scoff at Twitter or blogs or Facebook, thinking that they are flavor of the moment and quickly gone.

Whether Twitter will be here a year from now is debatable, but what is not debatable is that it changes the way people communicate and connect. If anything has derived from the new social media world, is how close connections can be to anyone anywhere. One can be in contact with an Australian designer or a French writer. And the other reality is that there is more information out there than ever before. It IS hard to keep up. But ignoring it because you don’t like it will not make it go away. I have heard many people say they “don’t have time for blogs or for Twitter.” Do you also not have time for the news and for email? My point is that the way people are communicating and learning is changing, and by resisting that change, especially if you are a marketing person, you are staying behind the times.

This reminds me of a friend who refuses to be on Facebook. She and I were catching up and she relayed information about a mutual friend, whom I haven’t spoken to in a while. I told her I already knew. She wondered how I knew. I told her I saw it on Facebook.  The point is people communicate with each other via social media, and it is necessary for marketing people to understand where people find out things.

Let me know what things you are resisting, and why. I really want to know!

The question of the day: Is Twittter Worth It?

12 Apr

It’s on the minds of people everywhere: should I Tweet on Twitter? Some people think it is silly. Some people think it is stupid. Some people think it is a waste of time. I even saw a letter to the editor in the Washington Post where some guy was saying that he was above hearing all about how people enjoyed breakfast or whatever (he must be down to brass tacks guys, because God knows, in real life everybody talks about extremely important stuff all the time).  Well folks,  in order to answer this question, I have decided to let you see what other people out in the blogosphere think about it:

Janet Fouts from Social Media Enabler,   says it is worth it.(I found this post through Social Media Today, worth a look through if you are interested in this topic)

Neil Patel from QuickSprout sees pros and cons.

Copyblogger says you can grow your business with Twitter and that you can improve your writing with it.

Work it Mom is in favor of Twitter

And finally, Chris Winfield uses Twitter to find out if it is a time waster or not.

And me? I think you can’t beat the ROI. Twitter is free, and if I learn something it is totally worth it, and if I am wasting my time, it is also worth it.

Thoughts from the peanut gallery?

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Everything can be bought

7 Apr

A few months ago, I wrote about airline advertising. You have probably all seen the ads on traytables and on the backs of tickets. This is fine as long as it keeps the beverages free and keeps the airlines flying. But today I am writing about airport advertising. Airports have always had plenty of places to advertise, from the bag carousels to the luggage carts. But now, I have seen the most unusual type of airport advertising yet: advertising on the outside of the gate connector.

Yesterday I was at Miami International Airport, not my favorite airport but that would be the subject for a whole other blog,  and as our airplane pulled up to the gate, I noticed that all the gate connectors were sporting HSBC Bank advertising.

I have never seen this type of advertising before, and I wonder two things, how much it costs and how much impact it can have. Sure, lots of passengers are potentially trapped audiences for this type of advertising, but why would a bank choose this type of advertising? More sense would be for a fast food restaurant (one with a branch inside the airport) or a soft drink or something that you would buy soon, but a bank? Are you going to go open an account because you see that it is advertised quite literally on the airport structure itself?

In any case, this shows that advertising can be placed almost everywhere.  Creativity or business greed?