Print is not dead…really!

Admit it. You love to flop down on the couch with a new magazine. Nice, cool to the touch, slick, full-color pages, beautiful pictures, interesting articles with data you will use, recipes you will make, websites you will visit, a product you might try.

Print is really not dead. I guarantee. And it’s also a great marketing tool. I’m not talking only about print ads, I’m talking a Customer Magazine, produced by your company and exclusively for your client base.

newskeepr cover smallAt all of my positions, I have either apprenticed, assisted, edited or created customer magazines (or newsletters) for my companies. At Diskeeper Corporation (now Condusiv), my “Newskeeper” customer magazine went out to our entire database–nearly 100K contacts, monthly. They still produce the “Newskeeper” at Condusiv to this day. Magazines are something I really enjoy creating, and is my specialty.

A fully branded customer magazine is marketing tool that communicates quality. Since you need more than one small article, you may have to enlist others on your staff or in other departments. It’s a great chance for others to show off their writing talents and feature their knowledge on your product or service. In the sales and technical departments they always knew when I was looking for writers as I would come in with cookies and good will.

BMWMagazineAs recently as 2014 actual digital/online companies have gotten on board with the print magazine: CNET, WebMD and Net-a-Porter are distinctive tech companies who have jumped in with their own publications. Of course the luxury items have their snazzy magazines, like Driven, BMW’s customer magazine. Heck, tractor company John Deere has been around forever and had a customer magazine for nearly as long, Homestead.

There are also many different ways to distribute the magazine. Recommended is by mail, to keep your client database updated. In addition, you can send out the magazine in email form, connecting it to the articles posted on your blog, as well as hosted the magazine digitally online and distributed through online magazine sites, such as issu.com. It’s valuable and extended material for social media as the articles themselves can be shared and retweeted. This spreads article-type content out about your product that is carefully written and edited and controlled by you, furthering your brand.

Remember, people spend actual TIME with a magazine. “Studies have shown that the average reader spends almost 45 minutes with a single magazine; compare that to the average time spent engaging with a single Tweet.” (from Print is the New Black) An opportune time for you to really further your messages with your clients and customers. eventually driving more sales.

 

Click Bait (or, Vague Hyperbole from Hell)

You see it, all over Facebook stories, ads, banners, videos on YouTube, even your Google search results.

“This one weird trick…what he saw next floored him…you won’t believe what happens next…she is stunned when this happens…advertisers HATE this…restore your faith in humanity…will shock you…” and how many times do we need to read the next reason why JLaw is our perfect BFF? Well, apparently one more time, because I, personally, love her.click-bait

Why are these phrases so overused? And why, oh why, do we fall for them, even if we roll our eyes to the ceiling when we read them? Can’t help it. Want to know. Is there some information in there that I will miss out on? I’ll just peek at it, I can always go on to the next story.

Since it seems like human nature to fear missing out on something (especially something as simple as a short article with possibly life-changing, or immensely uplifting info), we marketers just can’t resist. I see the seduction–you probably can get more clicks, more readers by using the allure of the “bait”.

It’s all about the “mystery sandwich”: you create a vacuum in between the reader and the story. Nature abhors a vacuum, so you suck them right in. It’s emotional physics. Bing! Done. You’ve achieved your metrics.

I am an idealist (sometimes unfortunately), and I like to try to stick to my guns. That could mean with a bit of extra work, coming up with a story that is genuinely readable and gets me clicks, or possibly, not much. Back to the drawing board.

And, since we now have a word for those stupid phrases (that get lots of clicks, yes I know), I would rather not be knows as a purveyor of that type of rubbish.

Now, back to that article: “Watch this video to find the true meaning of life!”

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Content Driven

It’s kind of funny that “content” is what is currently perceived as one of the high points of marketing (especially online). I have always thought it was kind of cool that I provided information, data, tips, tricks, etc. within my large marketing tools—first newsletters from the nutritional clinic, then technical tips and tricks in the Newskeeper magazine from Diskeeper Corporation, and later on video and audio clips with helpful business advice to auto repair shops on the Management Success website.

Content is something you can provide, free of charge, to your customers and potential customers, in order to create an idea of “exchange in abundance”. You’re willing to give away information that others might want to provide at a premium. It’s a fantastic way to create a large amount of goodwill for your company, word of mouth, testimonials, and in the end, more satisfied customers.

Going the extra mile and setting up a special section on your website with video tips or possibly a question and answer forum, or creating a designed magazine that is attractive and interesting to read with useful information can make fantastic returns in revenue—and happy customers.

The trick is to figure out what you have that they need, and you can provide to them for free at very little or no cost to you. If you can spend money, a professionally designed magazine or newsletter is a fantastic way to not only get your company into offices and homes in hard copy format, but also keep your customers’ addresses current. It is recommended you do a mailing every 6 months or so, with a Return Service on the mailer to get those valuable updated addresses. Having that material also hosted in some way online, through a blog or even “web” versions of your magazine is another avenue to providing content. Sharing and re-sharing through social media can drive traffic to your website and begin a relationship with people who then become customers.

Even if you do need to spend money to get this valuable content out and online, it’s money very well spent.

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The Perfect Testimonial

The other day I was taking a moment to write a review of my stylist on Yelp. And I really took time, thought about why I love my stylist (besides the fact that she makes my hair look super good). I must say, the review is excellent, and not only does it say Carmen is a good stylist, it says WHY Carmen is a good stylist: she is personal, gives a haircut that is tailored for me, no one cuts my hair as expertly as her, I can trust her, she makes sure I’m satisfied and on and on.

I mean, it’s the “perfect testimonial”, giving all the reasons why you would want to go to a hair stylist when there are thousands of them out there.

Testimonials can be utterly priceless for a business, and many times these testimonials and the word of mouth that businesses can inspire with outstanding service are the mainstay of a businesses promotion. Sometimes, an advertisement just can’t give the impact that a well-written testimonial or WOM can, simply because the words are unsolicited. It comes from the customers themselves.

I have had a frustrated kind of love historically with testimonials. At a company that sold enterprise software to Fortune 500 companies (Diskeeper Corporation), I would get excellent testimonials all the time. Yet, I would be unable to use them, because of the “no-endorsement” policies most of these companies would have. Use to really cheese me off–you can’t tell the public that we have a great product and it works really well for you?? Yes. But you use and love our product. Yes. What? I would end up using the testimonials without any name or company attribution, which did help, but did not have the power of having the Fortune 500 company name attached.

When I moved on to another company who gave business consultation to auto repair shop owners (Management Success!), I was in complete heaven. Not only did the auto shop owners LOVE us and how we were able to boost their businesses, but they would literally do anything for me; say anything I wanted in a testimonial (although what came out of their own mouths was always the best), get good pictures taken of themselves, send me tons of pictures of their garages and their staff, let me visit their garages, talk about us in trade magazine articles, pose for odd/funny/silly pictures I needed and more.

So I’ve been in both sides of the spectrum and learned a lot about getting and using testimonials. With the internet, now more than ever, being a user-driven content playing field, I know for sure that you need people talking about you and talking about you positively. Because those users read and listen to it all. And boy, do they love to talk!

(check out my review for my stylist here, I’m Lisa S.)

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How did I get into this business anyway?

I went to school to become a filmmaker.  A director. Graduated from Southern Methodist University Cum Laude with a BFA in film studies. I was going to be an artist and share my vision of artistic film with the world!

But…marketing? How the heck did I get HERE?

In spring of 1997, I really needed a job. Really. I had just finished a very special production of a live-action book called “From the Heart of Love” at the Glendale Center Theater and had quit all my jobs to do it. While the creative, artistic experience was one I will never forget, I had to pay my rent (and my mounting credit card bills).

A new friend, Leslie, who produced the production, took a liking to me and asked me if I wanted to be her assistant in her other job. She worked at a chiropractic and nutritional clinic.

The ideas of chiropractic and nutritional supplements were new to me in my early 20’s. I was someone who just weathered various neck and lower back problems with rest and Advil, and regularly ate packages of instant butter and herb noodles for dinner (ugh).

My job was to assist Leslie, the Director of Marketing. I started out doing basic duties: copying fliers and distributing them around the city, signing up people for our weekly health education talks, making reminder calls to those who signed up, putting together all the supplies for our booths at health trade shows, getting people to come into our booths for free health screenings by our chiropractors.

Of course, no one can market something they know nothing about. So slowly, I learned about chiropractic, how the nerves that come out of your spine connect to certain areas of your body and when those nerves are pinched, you get pain, but you also get issues with the parts of your body that the nerves are cut off from. I learned how to eat healthy and also take vitamins and supplements that helped support my eating, and make my body stronger. I was indoctrinated to the clinic’s specific three step program for patients: get out of pain, rehabilitate the body part, and then maintain the now healthy body. I learned the technology, I learned it worked very well for me, and I believed in it. Eventually, I could talk easily to public that we wanted to attract into our clinic and, from my own experiences, relate how chiropractic and nutrition can heal and and enhance their bodies, and sometimes their lives.

Belief in a product is essential for any marketer. And while that may sound a little simple, even a small amount of belief helps when formulating a marketing strategy. Visualizing a goal relies a great deal in believe that you can achieve it with your product. I am lucky that every company that I have worked with I have believed in–and more than that, I have believed in helping their customers. Because at the very root of marketing can (and should) be a need to help people live better and fulfilled lives.

This is turning into a manifesto, so I’ll end here.

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