• Email Marketing
  • Beware of the popularity trap

    It turns out Martha Stewart is an inspiration for a lot of the tattooed 20-something hipster crowd who are entrepreneurs. Who knew?

    Apparently she has street cred among them because of the time she served in prison. It adds some edge to the Suzy Homemaker image that would normally be a put off.

    Traffic to her website among the 18-34 set has skyrocketed and this age group frequently hosts Meet Ups about crafting the Martha way and blog about her books and some even have tattoos of her. Everything an online marketer would want, right?

    Yet even though she is popular, her company is in financial trouble.

    As the analyst in the article puts it, “Who cares if she’s popular if you can’t monetize it?”

    Somewhat ironically, Oprah’s popularity has dropped since she left her TV talk show and she’s trying to boost her popularity by seeking a younger audience for her magazine, which currently only attracts older readers.  But such a tactic hasn’t worked for Martha.

    It’s easy for non-celebrity types to fall into the popularity trap too in this social media age, but beware and remember: who cares if you’re popular if you can’t monetize it?

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  • Email Copywriting
  • Is there a quarterback controversy in your business?

    I am NOT a San Francisco 49ers fan (I’m a Packers fan, even though they are losing big to the Giants as I type this) but I couldn’t help reading about this past week’s brouhaha over their back up quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

    Their starter, Alex Smith, has played almost perfectly this year yet Kaepernick started for the second week in a row and the 49ers won both games.

    Since last Sunday he’s been given a nickname (“Kap”), generated a lot of chatter on sports talk radio and social media, and his jerseys are flying off shelves.

    But why, considering Smith was having the best season of his career?

    Apparently one big reason is because Kap played with swagger and excitement, which got the fans fired up in ways Smith’s workmanlike style fails to do.

    I guess it’s not enough to play well and look almost perfect on paper. The intangibles are important as well.

    Plus, Kap has an interesting story: he was 6’5″ and 170 pounds in high school and more suited for baseball. He was a star pitcher with a ton of offers to play professional baseball yet chose to pursue football even though he was only offered one football scholarship.

    49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh caught a lot of heat for deciding to start Kap again this week, yet there are two lessons here:

    Just because you’re doing well doesn’t mean your customers (i.e. fans) are going to stick with you no matter what.  Insecurity is your best security.

    And as a business owner (i.e. coach), are you always going to stick with what’s working no matter what, because you put so much time in developing it and because most people think you should?  Or do you take the risk and try something new that could be even better?

    P. S.  Because of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and whatnot, I’ll go ahead and add a deal of my own:

    Order one series of 7 emails and I’ll include a second series at no charge.  I can only offer this to one client before the holidays – MAYBE two, if you’re flexible about the time frame.  Email me at anitaashland@gmail.com. The offer expires after Christmas. It’s good for both repeat and new clients.
  • Email Copywriting
  • Bring on the information overload

    Do you ever hold back on sending out email for fear of information overload?

    Then I recommend this article in The Atlantic, (which reminded me I need to reread the book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen).

    If you are feeling overwhelmed, or don’t want to give your customers information overload, then consider this:

    Information overload is not the issue. If it were, you’d walk into the library and die. As soon as you connected to the Web, you’d just explode.

    In fact, the most information-rich place in the world is the most relaxing: it’s called nature. It has more varied horizons, more detail, more input of all sorts. As a matter of fact, if you want to go crazy, get rid of all your information: it’s called sensory depravation.

    The thing about nature is, it’s information rich, but the meaningful things in nature are relatively few—berries, bears and snakes, thunderstorms, maybe poison oak. There are only a few things in nature that force me to change behavior or make a decision. The problem with e-mail is that it’s not just information; it’s the need for potential action. It’s the berries and snakes and bears, but they’re embedded, and you don’t know what’s in each one.

    Not only that, but e-mail has a trait that fits the core of addictive behavior, which is random positive reinforcement.

    What’s that?

    So you get an e-mail from your mom, or you get an e-mail from your boss—they contain snakes or berries or bears, but they’re not self-evident until you look. Now, some part of you, subliminally, is constantly going, That could be meaningful, that could be meaningful, that could change what I’m doing, that might be something I don’t want to decide about … You multiply that by the hundreds, if not thousands, of items sitting there.

    All those things you’re not deciding about wear you down, and decision-making functions just like a muscle. If you’ve had half a day of a lot of decisions to make, you don’t have much willpower left the rest of the day. So then we walk around with what I call the GSA of life—the Gnawing Sense of Anxiety that something out there might be more important than what you’re currently doing.

    They key with email marketing and copywriting is to make your berries, bears and snakes, thunderstorms, and poison oak self-evident and decisive so that your customers don’t have to wonder if your email is important or relevant.  Either they delete it or click on the link in it. That way you aren’t adding to their Gnawing Sense of Anxiety.

  • Email Copywriting
  • The E. F. Hutton approach to marketing

    Remember the E.F. Hutton commercials in the 1970s and 80s?

    If you’re a young whippersnapper and don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a video of one of the commercials.

    The tagline of each commercial was, “When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen.”

    I thought of this when I read online somewhere a description of billionaire Mark Cuban as the E. F. Hutton of the business world.

    I’ve subscribed to his blog for some time and he rarely posts.  But when he does I am sure to read it because he always has something interesting and substantive to say.

    Sure, one could say he doesn’t have to post a lot because he’s successful. But a lot of entrepreneurs who have made it big often just end up using guest bloggers or let their blog die completely. They aren’t E. F. Huttons.

    Anyway, a lot of people think it’s important to be active on social media and hammer their lists constantly and all that.  But how many people actually listen?

    I’ve been a copywriter for five years now and more and more I’ve come to realize that the E. F. Hutton approach to marketing is the way to go.