Great Al Ries Article: Product vs. Brand

Product_BrandAd Age online has a great article by one of my favorite branding proponents, Al Ries: “Having a Better Brand Is Better Than Having a Better Product.”

When I started at Minolta, we were sort of an “unknown” imported camera brand, even though Minolta had been around since 1928, and many servicemen and women had brought Minolta cameras home from the Korean and Vietnam conflicts (though I brought home a Pentax). But in the early 70’s, Nikon was THE brand that everyone lusted after. And rightfully so as they got there first and had a fully fleshed out and VERY professional system. Slowly, through the late 70’s and into the early 80’s, Minolta built its brand (with strong marketing and sales leadership) until we were a solid number 2 in 35mm camera sales in the US. Then, in 1985, we introduced the Maxxum Camera, at the time, a truly unique product that dealers and photographers really loved, and which almost overnight catapulted Minolta into the Number 1 position in 35mm camera sales. The best part was the “coat tail” effect. The perception of the leadership of the Maxxum cameras led to strongly increased sales of the “lens shutter” (non-interchangeable lens) Minolta cameras. Brand paved the way for rapid acceptance of a startling new product, and the success of that product lead to the success of various other cameras with the Minolta brand. (That was a fun time, and my department had the privilege of producing and touring the Maxxum product introduction show.)

So my comment on Al’s story is that BOTH brand and product are important. A good brand leads to more rapid acceptance of a good product, and good product reinforces and builds a good brand.

Read Al Ries’ article: “Having a Better Brand Is Better Than Having a Better Product” and share your thoughts and experiences in our comments area.


The Secret Words That Keep Your Prospect Reading!

By: Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero, Expert Copywriting Strategist

© All Rights Reserved

SecretWant to know one of my secrets to getting my copy très conversational? Bridge phrases! You know. That throw-away language my journalism school professors called “empty and useless.” The connector phrases that keep the pace going – like a bucket brigade! Direct mail copywriter Maxwell Ross used that concept to illustrate how copy should flow.

Let me take you back to when the West in America was young. When men were rugged. And women didn’t have to diet. I’m talking about the time before there were fire departments. Oh, there were still fires. Just no organized way to put them out. So they came up with the bucket brigade system.

When a blaze got going, the townspeople pulled together. They’d line up and pass water – bucket by bucket – from the nearest water source to the fire. Being careful to keep the water moving along briskly. No let up. No slow down. Can you picture it?

Well, that’s what we aim for in copy. It needs to move along briskly. No let up. No slow down. Each sentence pulls the reader into the next. And so on. And so on. Until he’s so deep in your copy he doesn’t want to come out. In fact, once your reader has gotten through 25% of your copy, chances are he’ll read it all, says copywriter Joseph Sugarman (the marketing genius who introduced the Blu Blocker sunglasses among many other successful marketing campaigns). Joe also said, “The sole purpose of the first sentence in an advertisement is to get you to read the second sentence.” There’s your bucket brigade in action.

That’s a little bit about the flow of the copy. Basically, the 1st sentence of your copy is designed to get them to read the next sentence. And then that sentence is to get them to read the sentence after that.

That’s why that visual works really well for me when I think about writing copy that flows. Before this country even had fire departments a long time ago, they would have volunteers that were called “the bucket brigade”. If there were a fire in the village the people in the bucket brigade would line up from the water source to the fire. One person next to the other and they would pass the bucket down full of water quickly, because they had to get it there, and throw it on the water and fill it back up and so on.

So I like that visual of each sentence briskly moving you along to the next sentence over and over again. That’s how your copy should go. It should never let up. As soon as you start letting up, you’re going to lose your reader. And that’s why we have sentences that connect like,

  1. As if that’s not enough
  2. Best of all
  3. But wait there’s more,
  4. By now
  5. By the way,
  6. Even better
  7. Good news!
  8. Here’s why
  9. Meanwhile,
  10. Nevertheless
  11. No wonder
  12. On the other hand
  13. What’s more
  14. You see
  15. Think about it
  16. As if that’s not enough
  17. As it turns out
  18. But that’s just part of the story…
  19. Fair enough?
  20. No problem!
  21. What does this mean for you?
  22. And we don’t stop there
  23. As it turns out
  24. But that’s just part of the story…
  25. Fair enough?
  26. In my experience
  27. It’s true
  28. My experience is
  29. No doubt about it
  30. No problem!
  31. Sadly,
  32. Simply stated
  33. These are just a few
  34. To make a point
  35. Treat yourself
  36. What does this mean for you?

Things that your English teacher would say like don’t put that in there. That’s really silly. It doesn’t add any value. But it does add value. It’s a connecting phrase that keeps the copy flowing along the way. Remember that copywriting is interactive. The reader gets to decide when the copywriting is over. The reader gets to decide when they’re done reading. As soon as they’re not feeling your copy, they’re gone.

And that’s also why the headline and the sub headline, those 2 are the most important part of your copy. It doesn’t matter how good your copy is if they’re not going to read it. And they’re not if you don’t get their attention.




ABOUT LORRIE: Award-winning marketer, world-renowned copywriter and creator of The She Factor, Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero of Red Hot Copy has a reputation as the top female copywriter in the info-marketing industry. Lorrie is dedicated to teaching the world it is possible to shift from the hype-filled sales to a more modern version … marketing written with authenticity, trust, and rapport.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Lorrie’s She Factor Copywriting Boot Camp and her other amazing products.

Just Re-Read David Ogilvy’s “How to Create Advertising That Sells”

You should too!

David Ogilvy, and his star 50s, 60s, and 70s advertising firm, Ogilvy & Mather, created a series of full page newspaper “house” ads that opened their philosophy of advertising to everyone. They used these ads, quite successfully, to get new clients, but for us, as Small Office Communicators, there are lessons to be learned… lessons we can use every day as we create or supervise the creation of our integrated marketing communications – or, “Common Sense Marketing Communications,” to help gather, inform, and grow customers for our companies.

The fourth in the series was, “How to Create Advertising that Sells,” and I could go through all 38 points (and 1909 words) and tell you about it, but not as well as you reading it yourself – which you can right here.

So as you read through Mr. Ogilvy’s piece, turn what he learned into questions about your own promotional executions. Answer honestly and well, and I can pretty well assure you that when you bring a lot of these insights to your own marketing and marketing communications efforts, you should definitely see results you’re looking for.

And, of course, you’ll want to read what David Ogilvy had to say about these ads in his classic book, Ogilvy on Advertising. You can get your copy of, “Ogilvy on Advertising” here.



5 Ways to Pump Up Your Storytelling Muscles

By Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero, Expert Copywriting Strategist

Lorrie_Morgan-FerreroIn 2014 we’re bombarded with more media messages in a single day than our grandparents got their entire lives.

You heard me right! We see about 5,000 ads a day (one every 11.52 seconds we’re awake). Craziness.

So how do you stand out over the rest?

Simple. You need a good story.

Let’s tackle the mystery of getting started…how do you find ideas?

1)    Listen to what’s going on around you – Yes, I’m encouraging you to spy at the grocery store, the gas station, the pet store, or wherever you are. Pay attention to random topics.

2)    Eavesdrop in a coffee shop – You’ll get to hear full conversations from the tables around you which gives you loads of ideas. Just be discreet.

3)    Always have a way to take notes – Whether you prefer writing in a notebook (like I do) or making notes on your phone or recorder, just be sure to get it down. You won’t remember all the gems. I assure you.

4)    Listen to storyteller channels in the car – There are endless podcasts and satellite radio stations devoted to telling stories. Besides iTunes, you can also check out and search for storytelling.

5)    SIT! STAY! WRITE! – Grab a timer and start writing for 15 minutes without editing. You’d be surprised at how your inner writer will emerge when she doesn’t feel judged. In about 5 minutes, you’d be surprised that you can probably write 300 or so words.

A strong story forms an emotional bond with the person who hears it. That emotional bond is what triggers action – a purchase, a decision, a new perspective. Pair that with the technology that has leveled the media playing field, and you’ve got a powerful one-two punch that can reach large numbers of people, all over the world, in a flash.

No matter which marketing medium you’re using, storytelling will make it more effective.




Wanna get better at telling stories faster? THIS Friday, August 1st we heat up the next FREE 30 Day Storytelling Challenge on Facebook. Register here.

Great New Book! Solving the Email Puzzle in Today’s Integrated Marketing World

Great news for Small Office Communicators looking for insight into building a productive email program for your company. I just published my new book, “Solving the Email Puzzle in Today’s Integrated Marketing World.”

Email Book Cover

I’m sure you’ve heard that the proliferation of social media today has many people marketing for small business puzzled and, from my perspective, incorrectly thinking that email marketing is finished. For me, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, coupled with today’s responsive web design and social media, email should still be a main focus today for all your online marketing campaigns. To put it bluntly: The money is still in the list.

Today what businesses do to extend the value of face to face, phone, and online interactions with our customers is to rely on email marketing programs. Also today, as communicators, we want to ensure that all of our communications are, “integrated” so our customers and potential customers always know that the email is coming from our business and not someone else. It must look like it fits; visually and message. Then combine that with the fantastic ways we can segment our lists to address specific information and promotions to specific customer groups to generate the largest response.

On the information page about my new book, I relate some stories from my earlier days at Minolta, and how email would have made an immense difference in the marketing I was doing at the time. I was basically doing marketing one on one as I traveled around sharing photographic information with photographers around the country. With email, I could have been sharing that information not just one to one, but one to many.

Here’s an excerpt from the information I share with you in this informative book:

Your email design needs to impart a quality message to the reader about your business. It also needs to get the job done by not being diverted to the spam folder or deleted without even being opened by the viewer. It should look clean and uncluttered and put your message ahead of fancy graphics. It should also always include a Call to Action.

Most of us are familiar with email newsletter sign ups and the entire process, but let’s think about it for a moment and how it looks. As we discussed before, first, there is a sign form either on social media or a website asking for a name and email address. The potential customer enters their information and clicks “sign me up.” Then, an automatic process happens where they are then sent an email that asks them to confirm that they wanted to sign up for xyz newsletter or email list (this is the Double Opt-In part). The user clicks to confirm, then the newsletter service sends them out the next newsletter or the first of a drip or autoresponder email campaign automatically. They also may get an email with a link to pick up a “sign up bonus” which usually takes the form of a related report in electronic downloadable format.

From that point on, each and every email that is sent to the new contact has the required readily apparent unsubscribe and opt-out buttons. Also, if your service provides it (and it should), there should also be a “pass-a-long” or “share-with-a-friend” link. The nice thing about using your service’s pass-a-long link is that the service will offer to get the recommendee to sign up to your list… free subscribers!

Email-Book-Buy-Button-01So here’s what you need to do: click on this link to read in more detail about the book, then buy and read the book, then start implementing these best practices in your business to increase your customer involvement… I don’t need to tell you that the more your customers are involved, the better it is for business. Email, of course, is only one aspect of your Integrated Marketing Communication efforts (or as I call them, “Common Sense” Marketing Communications), but it is an important one, so act now as we are selling the book now at a special introductory price of just $17.00! To get that price, you will need to add the Coupon Code: 2016welcome as you check out… but you’ll be glad you did.

Of course, as you would expect from The Small Office Communicator, we offer this book with a 30 day unconditional guarantee… no we can’t guarantee that your business will grow by following our book – no one can. But we do guarantee that you will be satisfied with your purchase… if not, let me know within 30 days, and you’ll get a full refund.

So get your copy of “Solving the Email Puzzle in Today’s Integrated Marketing World” now and start building your email marketing program to grow your business.






P.S… Remember, this introductory price (don’t forget to use the Coupon Code: 2016welcome!) will only be available for a short time… then the price will go up.

P.P.S… And don’t forget our 30 Day Guarantee – you must be satisfied or your money will be refunded.

How to Divide Labor Between Agencies and Marketers

Another excellent article from Ad Age Daily!

How to Divide Labor Between Agencies and Marketers.

This ties in well with my article from 2007 on hybrid teams,

As Small Office Communicators developing Integrated Marketing Communications programs for our businesses, it ‘s our job to determine which functions we can do well ourselves, which can be done with available staff, and which functions are best handled by outside vendors: freelancer, virtual assistant, or agency. While I was doing this at Minolta, my supervisor, the VP of Marketing, came up with an interesting term, “Full Service Client.” It was an obvious  playful play on, “Full Service Agency.” But since we had sophisticated design and production resources in house, it served Minolta’s interest well for us to work together with our agencies (advertising, PR, etc.) in creating a powerful image for Minolta in the marketplace, both with the dealers and with consumers – and, working together with our agencies and the freelancers I used, we did this well. It contributed to the era when Minolta cameras were the number one imported camera brand in sales in North America – heady times. One of the contributing factors was that, even with loading the internal costs for my department into the overall costs, we were able to deliver more communications for our budgets than companies that were competing with us were able to do. I think this was a major factor in the success Minolta had at the time.

See how you can create a winning synergy between you, your staff, your freelancers and virtual assistants, and your agencies.


Brand Journalism Is a Modern Marketing Imperative

Interesting article! Brand Journalism Is a Modern Marketing Imperative. in today’s Ad Age Daily.

Though I think he is correct, isn’t this really just Public Relations? In our Integrated Marketing Communications for our small offices and small businesses, we, as storytellers, may be telling different stories, but our stories always relate to our brand. We may use articles in the newspapers, pod-casts, blog posts, even print ads, radio ads, or TV spots; but we always tell our story, and tell it in a way that appropriate to that audience in that medium. And we know that this is the way we will get the best return on that story. In today’s world, because we have so many avenues to talk to our customers, we can talk to them as individuals, not as an amorphous mass. This is really exciting, so as small office communicators, we should take full advantage to help grow our businesses.


Guest Post – Secret to Connecting With Language

Lorrie_Morgan-FerreroImagine getting your ticket to visit a colony of creatures living on Mars. Would you simply go there without doing any research on their culture, their habits, or their sensibilities? Of course not!

Yet many marketers erroneously waste their time spewing out generic messages to their prospects. They are not aware of how often these prospects leave the fold, never to return again. That means money pouring out faster than it comes in.

Let’s bring things back to Earth. Ever notice how different language appeals to different people? How you speak to one group makes a big difference in whether or not you’ll connect. Use the word ‘sick’ to a nurse means someone is ill. Use the word ‘sick’ with a teen and it means something is a good thing. You never want to mix up the lingo.

To be honest, using the right language with the wrong prospect isn’t going to get you anywhere.

So as a marketer, where do you begin to dig for this connecting information? Well, you start by connecting to the person on the other side of the page…the person reading.

Before we go one step further, please understand this concept…

Copywriting is a team sport. There is YOU, the writer. And there is HIM or HER, the reader. Here’s the deal. The reader gets to decide when the game is over. As soon as the reader is gone, nobody is reading your copy anymore. So you must anticipate what’s going to keep them interested and intrigued with the copy ahead of time.

We have a lot to cover here, so pull up a chair and pay close attention. First of all, when you want to connect with somebody, you have to know where they’re coming from.

Let’s put this in the most basic of terms.

If you’re interested in someone of the opposite sex, to get the best results, you’re going to need to do a little research, right? Hopefully you wouldn’t just approach the object of your desire without knowing a bit more about him/her. (That’s why the movie “Fatal Attraction” was made.)

Same with your target market. You need to dig a little bit in order to get the best results.

For starters, you must know the education level of your target market to reach them effectively. Here’s the deal…in general, even educated people don’t mind reading simple words. Simple means clear. But there’s a fine line between talking down to your target market and using simple language.

  • Instead of ‘at this point in time’ write ‘now.’
  • Instead of ‘subsequent to’ write ‘after.’
  • Instead of ‘on the grounds that’ write ‘because.’
  • Instead of ‘in spite of the fact that’ write ‘although.’
  • Instead of ‘whether or not’ write ‘whether.’
  • Instead of ‘make inquiry regarding’ write ‘inquire.’

You get the idea. (Lawyers may not appreciate copywriting but your prospects will.) So anytime you can ‘dumb down’ or simplify the language, by all means do it. You’re not insulting your reader at all.

For the most part, Americans read between the 11th and 12th grade levels. Did you know that best-selling books are written for the 8th to 10th grade level? “Reader’s Digest” aims for the 10th grade level, while “Time” and “The Wall Street Journal” reach for the 11th. So remember to KISS it…Keep It Simple, Sweetheart!

Remember, you won’t make everybody happy unless you write boring, milquetoast copy that’s easy to ignore. The first recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, Herbert Bayard Swope wrote, “I can’t give you a surefire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.” Be BOLD!!




Copywriting Strategist Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero publishes the award-winning Copywriting TNT weekly e-zine with 33,000+ subscribers. If you’re ready to jump-start your business, make more money, and have more fun in your small business, get your FREE tips now at Red Hot Copy

Five Ways Good Design Can Help Your Business

Lately, Ad Age Daily has been offering some excellent articles that are relevant to us in the Small Business and Small Office Communicator community, and I’ve been happy to share them with you.

Today’s article, though aimed at big businesses that hire large ad agencies, applies equally to us smaller folk.

Over the years, I have had the pleasure and honor of working with and learning from many great designers. Though I never have been and never will be a good designer myself, from working with these designers, I have become more sensitive to good design and it’s value in a business. And Mr. Atwood’s ideas are certainly relevant and will scale nicely to our small business and small office environments. It just remains for us to educate ourselves to good design, and then strongly advocate for it in our day to day business. Will our business benefit overnight? Hard to say, but over time, insisting on good design in everything for our businesses can do nothing but help. Google and Apple, as Mr. Atwood notes, are excellent examples of this… we should all strive to exemplify this with our businesses.

This is another example of the value of how Hybrid Teams Increase Small Office Quality and Efficiency. As you build creative teams to help your business, always insist on good design as a major component of the work.

The article: Five Ways Good Design Can Help Your Business by Kemp Atwood.




Integrated Marketing Communications – Inside and Outside Resources Do It Best

Just read a great article in today’s Ad Age, As Marketers’ Internal Teams Get Stronger, How Agencies Can Collaborate.

I have been advocating this since my early days at Minolta. When you combine their creativity with research data available to the folks who do creative every day with the creativity and brand knowledge of folks who are inside the company and are intimately familiar with the products and the culture, you build a synergy that’s really hard to beat. This also ties in with an article I wrote in 2007, Hybrid Teams Increase Small Office Quality and Efficiency – And Save Money. This article was based on my experience managing communications at Minolta, and I have not changed my position on this type of collaboration since I first arrived at it in the early 1980’s

I highly recommend everyone read the Ad Age article plus my article, and keep them in mind as you build the Integrated Marketing Communications for your company or business.



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