A Few Good Ads

My introduction to the business of advertising was through the characters in Bewitched.

Each week Samantha and Darren would have to come up with something highly creative to explain the presence of whichever historical figures were hanging around the Tate Agency.

In Lover Come Back Rock Hudson and Doris Day were competing advertising executives landing the account with tricks, schmooze, and everthing but good advertising. And Good Neighbor Sam had Jack Lemmon focusing on keeping the client happy rather than on creating ads which boosted the sales curve.

The more recent films, Richard E. Grant and Rachel Ward in How to Get Ahead in Advertising; Dudley Moore and Daryl Hannah in Crazy People; Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason in Nothing in Common; Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt in What Women Want, all share a similarity in plotlines… cleverness and creativity will save the account (and the ad man’s job).

What’s the ROI?

So it shouldn’t surprise me that advertisers expect cleverness and even entertainment in their ads. We all grew up in the same culture, watching the same shows, reading the same books. It shouldn’t surprise me, but it still does. I’d have thought that return on investment was the standard by which we judged the ad.

After all, media reps all tell us that advertising is an investment. Shouldn’t we judge this investment by the same ROI as all of our other investments?

It’s not that a good ad can’t be entertaining, but rather when attention is drawn to the ad itself, it’s already failed. The instant your audience focuses on the delivery vehicle the message becomes irrelevant.

Years ago at a live community theater production an actress slipped and fell on stage. Up until that moment the whole audience had been pretending they were looking through an invisible wall, watching people reacting to each other and to the situation in which those people found themselves. But in a single brief moment the play was forgotten as the audience wanted to know “Was the actress hurt?”

The instant we focused on the delivery vehicle (actress on stage) the message (story line) became irrelevant. To this day, my strongest memory of that evening was watching the other cast members help the actress off stage.

A Good Ad…

A good ad doesn’t draw attention to itself, focuses the audience’s attention on the message, and produces a solid ROI.

By that definition, let’s look at a few good ads. I picked them at random. Here are their headlines:

  • Stop Snoring Tonight – Guaranteed!
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  • Lose 20 Pounds in 9 Days.
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  • Lower Your Mortgage. $200k Refinance for Only $583/Month.
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  • Affordable Life Insurance. No Medical Exam. No Waiting Period.
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    Dull, aren’t they?

    Agreed. These will never win an award.

    But assume for a minute that you sleep with a snorer. What words would capture your attention better than “Stop Snoring Tonight – Guaranteed?

    If you’ve already tried willpower and treadmills, can you find an ad with higher salience than “Lose 20 Pounds in 9 Days?

    There is nothing clever or creative about these ads, but you know they work. You know it because they provide the information to solve their problem(s) to people who have a real need that information.

    What’s your message? When you try to deliver that message to potential buyers, is your ad carrying the promise of a solution to a very real problem? Will it act as bait to draw them into your solution while you’re fishing for customers?

    Your Guide,
    Chuck McKay

    Marketing consultant Chuck McKayYour Fishing for Customers guide, Chuck McKay, gets people to buy more of what you sell.

    Got questions about headlines with big promise? Drop Chuck a note at ChuckMcKay@FishingforCustomers.com. Or call him at 760-813-5474.

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    Twice A Year Is Recommended

    Dentist Sign

    Dentist Sign

    We assume that people avoid seeing their dentist because they fear pain. Perhaps that’s a valid assumption.

    Maybe they don’t call because they don’t have a relationship with a dentist. Or maybe they’re just busy. Then again, maybe it’s lack of foresight – the “Nothing hurts. Why invite trouble?” attitude.

    For the record, I’m feeling no discomfort. I’d like to think it was all that busy-ness that kept me away for the last dozen years. But, whatever the reason, for the first time in twelve years I made an appointment for a check up.

    How did I choose the dentist?

    Did I ask for referrals from people I know? Did I call the Chamber of Commerce? Search the Internet? Consult the yellow pages?

    Nope. Like so many other people, I drive by his office every day. He has a sign out front of his office.

    You’ve heard me say that frequency sells. Repeat the message often enough and people who need what you’re offering will eventually seek you out. By my own estimate I’ve passed that sign well over three hundred times. Three hundred impressions made their way into my brain. At the conscious level? Well, conscious enough that I did start thinking I was past due for a check-up.

    One day, on a whim, I pulled into the parking lot and walked in. I had a delightful conversation with the doctor’s receptionist. She set my appointment, took insurance information, and explained the pricing and credit policies of her office.

    On the appointed day I arrived, checked in, and got only half-way through the first article in an August 2004 issue of People, when I was called into the exam room.

    Met the hygienist, Janine. Nice lady. She took a patient history, cleaned my teeth, and filled out a chart. She also took an x-ray of each side of my mouth. We spent about an hour and a quarter together.

    Then the dentist walked in.

    I said “Hi.”

    He said “Hi,” back, but there was no enthusiasm in his voice. He made no eye contact. He went directly to the chart, and after studying for a minute, picked up a probe and a mirror and stuck them in my mouth.

    He made two comments to Janine, wheeled his short naugahide covered stool out of my line of vision and announced “You need two fillings and we’re going to have to remove that rear molar. I’m going to have Janine take a full panoramic x-ray.”

    With that, he was gone.

    Janine escorted me across the hall, shot the panoramic x-ray, and told me I was finished.

    I stopped at the reception desk to ask about my next appointment, which the receptionist scheduled within ten days.

    I won’t be keeping the appointment.

    I’ve already called and cancelled.

    This Doctor of Dentistry could have turned me into a strong reference for his practice. All he would have had to do was to treat me as if I mattered.

    Imagine the difference it would have made if he had spent thirty seconds when he first walked into the room to say “Good morning, Mr. McKay. We’re always glad to welcome new patients, and we’re pleased that you’ve chosen us for your dental care.”

    Imagine how much better I’d feel at the beginning of the exam had he said “I’m going to take a look now at some areas Jeanine has marked on your chart. Would you mind opening your mouth?

    Imagine how much more confidence I’d have in his prescription of treatment had he said “Mr. McKay, you have a couple of minor cavities that need to be filled, but that back molar is a ticking time bomb. If you’re not in any pain, yet, it’s only a matter of time. I’m sorry, but the decay is such that we’re not going to be able to save that tooth. I’d like to schedule a time to remove it. Is there any reason we shouldn’t do that?

    But, those things will have to remain in my imagination, since they didn’t happen.

    I’m one of those people who resents not being acknowledged. I don’t like it at a restaurant. I definately don’t like it when I’m paying a high priced professional for his services.

    I’m presently taking steps to find a different dentist.

    How much do you want to bet that the first doctor is still counting me as one of his patients? My patient file is probably one of the assets of his business.

    And, though I did have the courtesy to cancel the appointment, I didn’t feel compelled to announce my departure from his practice. Maybe I’ll send him a copy of this article.

    Three Lessons

    So, while I begin the search for a second opinion, let me summarize what’s to be learned from this particular dental experience.

    • First, there is no amount of advertising as valuable as a good location.If enough people drive by, you won’t need to spend a dime promoting your business. We advertise to reach the people who don’t drive by.
    • Second, whether you pay large amounts in rent or large amounts for advertising, every customer / client / patient is already a major investment.DO NOT TREAT THEM AS IF THEY ARE INTERCHANGABLE. Make eye contact. Smile. Tell them how much you appreciate their business. People like to be appreciated.
    • And third, become very aware that the customer list you’ve paid so much to create (in rent or in advertising) is already outdated. You know people have tried you once and have decided not to repeat that experience.

    How long should you wait for a customer to make a repeat purchase before you conclude that (s)he’s no longer a customer? One purchase cycle? Three? More?

    Consumers today have more choice than ever before. One could argue that they are more valuable than ever before. The best way to be chosen is to be delightful.

    What are you doing to delight them at first contact?  Maintaining attention and attraction are critical when you’re fishing for customers.

    Your Guide,
    Chuck McKay

    Marketing consultant Chuck McKayYour Fishing for Customers guide, Chuck McKay, gets people to buy more of what you sell.

    Got questions about whether your customer list reflects real customers (and how to get them all buying again)? Drop Chuck a note at ChuckMcKay@ChuckMcKayOnLine.com. Or call him at 304-208-7654.


     

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    Love And Indifference, Part 3

    In Love And Indifference, Part 1 we learned that there are actually three groups of customers that do business with you, and they can be sorted by their personal experience with your company.

    You’ll find those whom you’ve thrilled with your customer service are recommending you to their friends. Call them Customer Evangelists. Those at the other end of the emotional scale, whom you can expect to say negative things about you, we’re calling Vigilante Customers.

    And the group in the middle? Those who’s basic expectations have been met? Nothing more, nothing less? Call them Passive Customers.

    Passive Customers probably make up the majority of the folks who do business with you. They find you convenient, or someone else inconvenient, or maybe they buy from you because the cost of changing from you to a competitor is too high (in dollars, in inconvenience, or any other measure of value).

    Make no mistake, these are not loyal customers. They’re here for now, because it’s less trouble than not being here. And yet, as the largest single group, these are the customers that most businesses count on for future growth. See the danger?

    Passive Customers are neither going to bring you any referred business, nor cost you any. And the bad word-of-mouth of the Vigilante Customers is easily going to cancel out the positive recommendations of an equal number of Customer Evangelists.

    This means you absolutley must have more Customer Evangelists than Vigilante Customers. Many more.

    How many do you have? And how many more do you need? Those are numbers worth tracking, aren’t they? But how? How do you track the net positive effect of those Customer Evangelists who haven’t been cancelled by Vigilante Customers?

    You’re going to do it by asking if they are willing to put their personal reputation and credibility on the line by recommending you. You’re going to ask customers to answer a simple, one-question survey of satisfaction. Give it to them at the conclusion of each transaction with your company.

    The question?

    On a scale of zero to ten, how likely are you to recommend us to your friends?”

    That’s it. One simple question.

    Your results will be more accurate if your customers are allowed to remain anonymous. Make sure that they know zero means “absolutely no chance it will happen,” and ten means “Count on me telling everyone I know.”

    When you’ve tabulated a significant number of customer transactions, you’ll score the survey. Customer scores from zero through six you’ll put in the Vigilante Customer column. Scores of seven or eight get tabulated as Passive Customers. Those who’ve rated their experience with your company high enough to recommend you to their friends, the nines and tens, will be counted as Customer Evangelists.

    Now add the columns. Put the total of Passive Customers aside. Subtract the Vigilante Customers from the Customer Evangelists. Express the result as a percentage of the total number of survey respondents.

    This is the Magic Number that foretells your company’s future.

    The median score for most businesses is a mere 16%, but high-growth companies will score 75% – 80%. If your score is below zero, start printing your resume, find a buyer, and get out, quick.

    This single-question customer satisfaction survey is too simple not to use, and too important to ignore. Knowing your Magic Number is the surest way to manage the future financial health of your company.

    When you mail invoices, enclose a post card that your customers can fill out anonymously and mail back. Hand that post card to customers who’ve just made a purchase. Ask them to circle the appropriate number and to anonymously drop the card into a padlocked box. As you finish dealing with customers over the phone, ask them to answer a one-question survey, switch the calls to an answering machine with the question, and record the answer. Place a pop-up questionnaire on your web site – one question, no personal information. If you’re gutsy, you can even go to your competitors businesses and conduct quick exit polls of their customers to see how satisfied his customers are, and compare.

    Implement the survey. Get the information. Use it. Resist the temptation to add more questions. You’ll kill the response rate. This is not market research, it’s a management tool.

    Keep a running total and share the current numbers with your employees. Tell ’em the number of Vigilante Customers, the number of Passive Customers, and the number of Customer Evangelists, as well as the Magic Number for last week, or last month, or yesterday… whatever adds up to enough responses for an accurate sampling.

    Ask your staff for great customer service stories. Share them with the other employees. Reward exceptional customer service.

    Disappointed in your score? Time to re-focus on how to delight your customers and exceed their expectations. Make them eager to spread the word about their experience with you.

    Some companies make this Magic Number the crucial measure of employee competence. Enterprise Rent-A-Car, for instance, refuses to promote branch managers who’s branch scores are below the company average.

    As happened in Love And Indifference, Part 2, serendipity again stepped in with another example. About an hour ago, the lovely Mrs. McKay got an e-mail from Blockbuster Online:

    Hello Allyson, you may have noticed a delay in the shipment of your DVDs early last week. And, by now, we hope you’re enjoying the extra discs we sent you as a token of our appreciation of your patience. Once we identified and fixed the problem that caused your delay, we immediately sent you TWICE the number of titles you were to have received. We realize the extra DVDs may temporarily find you with more movies out than typically allowed by your rental plan. Simply enjoy the extra movies and return them at your convenience.”

    Delight? Absolutely. Exceeding expectations? No Doubt.

    Pity they didn’t ask her how likely she is to recommend them to her friends.

    Then again, perhaps they will.

    Click here for Love And Indifference, Part 2

    Click here for Love And Indifference, Part 1


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    Love And Indifference, Part 2

    I had just posted Love And Indifference, when two oddly-related things happened. First, my copy of Mike Dandridge’s book, Thinking Outside The Bulb, The Art of Creating an Amazing Customer Experience, arrived in the mail.

    In chapter 48 of Thinking Outside The Bulb, Mike stated:

    “Satisfaction is the bare minimum, the baseline, for customer retention, but it’s no guarantee of your customer’s business tomorrow. Think about it this way, your customer can be satisfied with your company and your competitors at the same time.

    “Customer satisfaction simply isn’t enough to keep your clients from switching to a competitor when they perceive a better offer. Note that “better offer” doesn’t always mean cheaper price. In fact, though price may sometimes drive a customer to make the initial purchase from a business, it has almost no effect on retaining that same customer.

    “So what keeps customers coming back? According to Gallup surveys, customer loyalty is the main component that drives repeat purchases. And what’s the biggest factor in building customer loyalty?

    “You are.

    “Gallup found that customers who felt “strongly positive” about the people they bought from were twelve times more likely to continue to buy.”

    Then, a matter of hours later, Jeff Eisenberg, co-author of Persuasive On-Line Copywriting and the just published Call To Action, sent me a copy of a Fredrick Reichheld article titled The One Number You Need To Grow, published by the Harvard Business review.

    Reichheld reported the results of a study in which the satisfaction of 4,000 individuals was compared to their purchase history over a six to twelve month period.

    First, a definition. Loyalty is the willingness of someone – a customer, an employee, a friend – to make an investment or personal sacrifice in order to strengthen a relationship. For a customer, that can mean sticking with a supplier who treats him well and gives him good value in the long term even if the supplier does not offer the best price in a particular transaction.

    “Consequently, customer loyalty is about much more than repeat purchases. Indeed, even someone who buys again and again from the same company may not necessarily be loyal to that company but instead may be trapped by inertia, indifference, or exit barriers erected by the company of circumstance.…Conversely, a loyal customer may not make frequent repeat purchases because of a reduced need for a product or service.”

    Reichheld concluded:

    Loyal customers talk up a company to their friends, family, and colleagues. In fact, such a recommendation is one of the best indicators of loyalty because of the customer’s sacrifice, if you will, in making the recommendation. When customers act as references, they do more than indicate they’ve received good economic value from the company; they put their own reputations on the line. And they will risk those reputations only if they feel intense loyalty. …

    “The tendency of loyal customers to bring in new customers – at no charge to the company – is particularly beneficial as a company grows, especially if it operates in a mature industry. In such a case, the tremendous marketing costs of acquiring each new customer through advertising and other promotions make it hard to grow profitably. In fact, the only path to profitable growth may lie in a company’s ability to get it’s loyal customers to become, in effect, its marketing department.”

    Very interesting. How does one go about turning satisfied customers into your company’s marketing department?

    You won’t find the answer in a “customer loyalty program.”

    Dandridge gave us two clues: “you are the biggest factor in building customer loyalty.” and “customers who felt ‘strongly positive’ about the people they bought from were twelve times more likely to continue to buy.

    We’ll be discussing the answer, and it’s implementation, in Part 3 of Love and Indifference.

    Click here for Love And Indifference, Part 3

    Click here for Love And Indifference, Part 1

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    Love And Indifference, Part 1

    You’ve heard it said that when you please a customer she’ll tell an average of three other people, but when you disappoint her she’ll tell twenty. It’s not true. You may have even heard me say it. Sorry. It wasn’t true then, either.

    Oh, you can bank on the part about unhappy customers telling twenty friends. But you see, it’s not the happy customers, but rather the customers who have merely had their basic expectations met, who will tell three others.

    It comes down to personal experience doesn’t it? When you thrill shoppers with their purchases and the way they are treated, they are likely to become customer evangelists. They’ll be out preaching the gospel of your company and winning converts to whatever the degree of their persuasiveness. Will they tell twenty others? Highly probable.

    But the extremely displeased group turn into vigilante customers. In their minds they’ve been wronged. You could just as well have “Wanted, Dead or Alive” posters up with your name on ’em, ’cause they’re out to get’cha. Tell twenty more? Count on it.

    Is the opposite of love, hate? Nope. Love and hate are very much the same. Both are expressions of extreme emotional involvement with someone else. As any small child instinctively understands, the opposite of love is being ignored. The opposite of love is indifference.

    And we certainly have enough indifferent customers. They form the third group: those who’s expectations have been neither exceeded nor violated. Because they don’t complain, you’ve been assuming that they’re happy. They are not. They’re merely indifferent. They don’t love you. They don’t hate you. Mostly, they just don’t care that much.

    When asked “where did you buy that?” they’ll likely mention your store. Then, because they have no emotional involvement, they’ll forget about you. Tell three? If you’re lucky. Quite possibly they won’t think about recommending you at all.

    Unless, of course, you manage to thrill them, to delight them, to please them to the point that they can’t wait to tell everyone they know about their personal experience with you.

    How much delight can you offer?

    Click here for Love And Indifference, Part 2


    Earlier today, Bryan and Jeff Eisenberg’s new book, Call to Action: Secret Formulas to Improve Online Results, went on sale at Amazon Dot Com and has already shot to fifth place on Amazon’s best-seller list.

    Download a few sample chapters and see for yourself why this book may be one of the most important you read this year.


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