Press Releases Drive Sales

Do you hide in the shadows of the web? Is your website drifting out near the margins of the online world? Want to come into the light?

Take a look at David Meerman Scott’s downloadable eBook (it’s FREE) on how you need to rethink your PR strategy. This approach will stretch your story writing abilities … you need to write and write often, you need to appeal directly to your customers, not to the editors and gatekeepers of the news desks. You need to sharpen your pencil … don’t take my word for it, download the book now!


Visitors who Self Select Your Story

Google AdWords is an interesting system. As you become more refined about what you are searching for on Google, you are presented with links to sites that may have something (a product or service) which may be attractive to you. All this is based on the search information you are entering.

In a way, AdWords help people self select your story from all the others on the web. Of course, getting someone to click through is still a challenge — can you put your whole story into a half dozen words? But if you are very prescriptive, you can generate some target leads.

But then, what do you do? Seth Godin’s article on Funnel Marketing reminds us not to dash forward and try to make the sale. He says:

At this point, your job is not to make a sale. Selling is just one option in a range of things you can do to further drive him down the funnel. You can engage in a dialogue (by phone or email) that takes place over time and avoids the all-or-nothing cliff of "buy now or go away forever". You can further inform or entertain, all in the service of your goal of increasing the interest, education and value of this prospect.

This approach means understanding the funnel, and then treating people differently depending on their position within the funnel. This means not one story, but many stories that resonate with your customers.

Does it sound like more work? Does it sound like a more rewarding approach? I vote yes.


Another Tasty Addition

By following the entries on Kendall Guillemette’s blog, I found this tasty little site. It aggregates all sorts of web and online information in one place. Take a look at Creole and I am sure you will be back for more of this tasty dish!

First Derek Story

When I was at high school I had a great mathematics teacher called Derek Long. He was a man for whom every equation held a story — and the story hardly ever related to science — it was always a matter of life. This, my first Derek story, is prompted by Guy Kawasaki’s blog on How Not to Suck Whilst on a Panel.

As the time for university approached us, Derek was in a more philosophical mode during lessons. He would impart important advice … tips and tricks to ensure your success, and in fact, this one I still use today.

While in a tutorial room, Derek was peering one morning at the blackboard at the far end of the room. The room was large and the class numbers were significant. It was going to be a challenge to garner some attention from the overtaxed lecturer. But this one morning, something caught his eye.

Looking at a very long equation stretching across half the room, Derek found something that he could not understand. Was it an error? Was it simply beyond his understanding? Why had no one noticed it before?

Derek raised his pale undergraduate arm into the air.

"Yes?", the lecturer asked. "Mr Long, isn’t it?". "Y-yes", Derek stammered, his words tripping over themselves on the way down the aisle.

"What is it, man?".

"I don’t understand the section in the middle", Derek explained.

The lecturer paused, glared around the room in search of other learning failures, then turned on his heel to examine the middle section. All of a sudden his head tipped up as if in some silent salute to the power of the equation, and he pulled his cardigan down across his wrist and rubbed a line of chalk out, quickly replacing it with another.

He turned around, waved to Derek and said, "well spotted, Long", and continued on with his lesson.

So what? I hear you ask. Well, Derek’s secret was that he remained as confused about this new change as anything else. Did he ask another question to help clarify his problem? Of course not, he didn’t understand the equation, but he wasn’t stupid — he had raised his profile with his lecturer as well as everyone in the room. You don’t give that sort of profile away easily.

So, on that hot summer day many years ago, Derek taught us all to speak up and answer the easy questions early on in tutorials. Because the questions only get harder as the class continues.


iTunes Sings a New Song

It appears that Apple does listen to its consumers. This story explains that the iTunes MiniStore has now been explained more fully to the users of iTunes.

The problem is not that data is being transferred or kept or profiled. The problem is that we are not being told — upfront. It is a matter of respect. It is a matter of trust. And we all expected a company like Apple to treat us better.


The Joy of Hypertext

I love the way hypertext works. I was reading Olivier Blanchard’s excellent Brand Builder blog, and saw that it is now being syndicated through the Corante Network. So I dutifully clicked through, hoping to find out what this might mean … what the benefits would be and so on.

And sure enough, there is some great content available there.

In particular, I liked what John Yunker says about the challenges of globalisation. It is all very well taking a property, a brand or a license and moving it into a new market BUT unless you know that market well, unless you are willing to spend some time to find the right partners, approaches and messages, breaking through will be much harder. Sesame Street is shown as a great case study …

Great stories don’t always translate. Sometimes it is language, sometimes it is nuance. And sometimes it is far more complicated. At the heart of this challenge is respect for your audience … and when you meet someone new, it is polite to listen first before you start talking. There is much to learn.


Word of Mouth + Story to Story

When marketers talk about "word of mouth" how do we know whether the story being told is the one that was intended? How is the "word" being passed — is it online, viral, random, deliberate, seeded etc?

John Moore at Brand Autopsy points us to a study showing the effectiveness of word of mouth marketing. And while I see value in the data and the approach, I am more interested in the actual mechanisms, approaches and challenges faced in spreading the word. I guess this will be tackled at the WOMMA conference.

But, at the heart of word of mouth comes the concept or product. If you don’t have something worth talking about, no amount of effort is going to generate the buzz that you want. If you don’t have a customer engagement experience worth sharing with friends and colleagues, then your customers wont fall within the net of your efforts. BUT, if you do, make sure that you have ways to help them tell YOUR story in their own way. Give them some content, a free download, a link, a fun online game … or something more tangible, a gift, a coupon, an entry into a prize draw.

Too often we fall into the trap of designing a great product, developing an experience and then sitting back. Organic word of mouth is great, but find a way of allowing that word of mouth to spread from story to story. It needs to go cross-media, cross-channel. Then, of course, if you find a way of doing this, share your idea with me! I love a good story!


iTunes is Spying on Me

Is the iTunes Mini-store a great idea or a breach of trust?

The latest version of iTunes apparently scans your music collection and offers suggestions for new music from the iTunes store. I thought this was kind of neat when Amazon first started doing this, but it is a whole different ballgame when this is being done on my own PC — not at a remote site. With Amazon, I have to actively choose to register my preferences — whereas with iTunes I have to actively choose NOT to.

This new version of iTunes takes some of the goodness in Pandora, and makes it slightly unpalatable. Do I want iTunes searching through my files? Do I want to let Apple know what is on my PC? Probably not. Just like I don’t want Microsoft searching through my files. And then what do they do with that information anyway?

It is not simply enough to disclose this in the licensing information. How many of us actually read through the licensing information when installing software? Do we know what we are getting? Do we know what it really means?

I would prefer these features to come in a disabled format. Then, if Apple can convince me of the merits, maybe I will turn them on.


A Life 20% Better

OK … blah blah … we can all be critics, but what can we work with to make a prototype 20% better?

Here are my tips:

  • Have a single great message. Don’t waste your time being all things to all people. Put your key message up front and make it in-your-face.
  • Capture the imagination. Appeal to the imagination and the emotions of your audience. Take them out of the place they are in, make them forget where they are, and then show them something they did not expect.
  • Say it at least three times. Don’t expect someone to remember your message. Tell them, tell them and then, tell them again.
  • Weave a story. Don’t just expect someone to "get it". If it is your product you have been living and breathing this for quite some time. Find a way to let your audience in on your story and then give them the language, the ideas and anything it takes for them to tell your story to someone else.
  • Finish with a hit between the eyes. If they aren’t gasping by the end, then you haven’t sold it in.

Got any other tips? I would love to hear them!