The Mood Ring, Pocket Fisherman and Philip Kives

Post from April 30, 2016

As seen on TVPhilip Kives died last week. You might not even realize that you know him, but you do. He invented the infomercial.  Some might call him the founder of direct response.  He revolutionized marketing.

He brought us these products:

You’re probably familiar with the ‘As Seen on TV Logo’. Yep. That’s Philip Kives.

Or do you remember those commercials where the greatest of hits of an era would play while the song list scrolled up your TV screen? You guessed it, Philip Kives.

He grew up poor, living with his parents on their farm in a tiny town in Canada. After graduating from high school, he successfully sold products door to door, such as vacuum cleaners and cookware, earning $29,000 in 1959, a small fortune. In his early 20s, he figured out that TV would be a more efficient way to reach people, and so the infomercial was born. And in 1963, Kives founded the company called K-tel International.

The very first infomercial ever produced was for a Teflon non-stick fry pan. And you guessed it – Philip Kives was the mind behind it. He was 32. Turned out that Teflon might help keep food from sticking, but it didn’t stick so well to the frying pan itself. So he looked for other products. He bought a bunch of products to sell from Seymour Popeil, father of Ron Popeil, the guy who coined the phrase:

“But wait, there’s more!”

Three years later, for no apparent reason, he traveled to Australia with an infomercial he had made himself, selling the Feather Touch Knife. In five months’ time, he had sold a million knives, earning $1 per knife for himself. Ironically, because Kives was so successful, Popeil decided to stop selling products to him, because he was getting too big.

That change forced Kives to start finding and developing his own products, and that’s when he hit on the jackpot: compilation hit song records. His company sold 500 million albums by 1983!

Kives perfected the all important call-to-action. His messages were simple: “Only available through this very special TV offer” and “Buy now while supplies last”, “Snap up one of the first 30,000 LPs”

Eamonn Forde, @Eamonn_Forde writing for theguardian summed up Kives style perfectly: “His approach to sales was unapologetically mainstream. The marketing language was simple and unswerving at a time when, as illustrated by Mad Men, the advertising industry was attempting to elevate itself to a level of erudition and sophistication that perhaps it didn’t quite deserve. For Kives, the sales message should have no space for indulgence or purple prose.”

We should all be so successful.


The Perfect Couple: Content Marketing and Direct Marketing

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Direct Marketing (aka Direct Response Marketing, aka DM) and Content Marketing are often seen as two very different aspects of marketing. But in fact, as Wayne Hendry (@ideakid88) so aptly tweeted: They are two sides of the same coin.

Earlier this week I was honored to be the ‘guest tweeter’ at Content Marketing Institute’s content marketing Twitter chat. The topic was how Content and Direct can (and should!) work together.

I have pulled together some of the conversation here.  Great insight and learnings and hopefully you’ll learn something that will help you in your marketing plans. This was a lively group of intelligent marketers!


The first question help define what direct marketing actually is along with why content marketers should care: Direct Marketing (aka direct response marketing) refers to marketing efforts aimed directly at a consumer to drive a specific action. It’s all about finding out what resonates with your audience so that they’ll respond.

Mike Myers ‏@mikemyers614 added: Direct marketing and content marketing are perfect compliments…getting a targeted #audience to do something specific in both.

Next question was about using DM to inform your content.

Angela J. Ford ‏@aford21 uses customer responses to direct her marketing, and turns questions she hears into blog posts with step by step solutions.

And Marcel Digital ‏@marceldigital adds (over  two tweets):

Direct marketing and direct engagement give you SO many content ideas – it’s straight from your clients! What are user questions? Issues? Ideas? How can you take that information and provide REAL value? CONTENT!

The real key here is seeing what your audience responds to in DM and using that to inform your content. From Lars Helgeson ‏@larshelgeson:  A great way to develop content is by seeing what resonates with your audience. What do they respond to? Write that.

Remember that one method of communication with your audience can inform all your communications. Listen to your audience when they talk to you!

Rosaline Raj ‏@creativechaosc: When you have direct feedback from customers, you have a major advantage in creating valuable content.

Crowd Content ‏@CrowdContent added:  If you’re successfully executing direct response mrkting, content should be built around what your audience responds to.


Thanks EELECTRIK marketing‏. @eelectriklady for this oldie!

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A couple of quotable tweets:

From Varun Kumar ‏@varunkr842  – Direct #Marketing is the gas station for your #contentmarketing vehicle #CMWorld

And from Liliana GH ‏@Liliholl –  DM warms up your leads and content marketing helps them to convert.


And from Blue Fountain Media ‏@BFMweb – With direct marketing you’re saying check this out and with content marketing you’re saying here’s why #cmworld

Liliana GH @Liliholl reminded us: You want your DM to have the customer asking for more.

Q4 asked how your content marketing can help drive DM tests. There are many answers but consider what content is read most. Test those themes in a mailer, DRTV or space ad. And if some of your content creates social media buzz, use that in your DM to engage your audience.

Tons of brands use content marketing well in their direct marketing. Everyone knows ShamWow, Nautilus and infomercial experts, but also look at Apple, Nissan, Discover Cards, and Dove.

Regarding how social and community management can support DM programs, think about how you can use your social posts to reinforce messages from your DM. If DM is touting a product benefit, soc. posts can talk about the same.

Social and community are all about listening and responding to customers:

Simply put by Lars Helgeson ‏@larshelgeson:  I think they go hand-in-hand. Your strategy should be integrated for better reach and exposure.

Lynn Suderman ‏@LynnSuderman also reminded the group that “affiliate & refer friend programs are an easy 1st step.”

Jeremy Bednarski ‏@JeremyBednarski  “Your content, DM and social should all work together for a consistent message.”

Marcel Digital ‏@marceldigital “It gives you the language for copy that your audience is using to understand the need for your service / product.

SurveyGizmo ‏@SurveyGizmo  “If you know what your audience is talking about, you can better respond, and put yourself in the position to be of relevance.”

Importantly too, social and communities can ID hot buttons. If you hear ‘they use cheap materials,’ test a message around quality in your DM.

As always, keeping a tab on your competition is so important and social/community can help you do that, while giving you great ideas for your DM (or content).

The Gary J. Nix ® ‏@Mr_McFly  “When listening, you’re not only listening for brand mentions. You have competitors, industry thoughts/changes, sentiment, etc”

Vanessa LeBeau ‏@VanessaLeBeau2  “Social media is a great way to learn what your competitors are offering and how their consumers are responding”








3 Critical Steps in Identifying Your Target Market

Knowing your target is critical to your success. Once you know what yourArchery targets typical customer looks like, it’s much easier to find others who look just the same.  Especially if you are selling as a business-to-business (B2B), it’s important to remember that your product is bought by a person, not a business. You will be more successful selling if you can identify commonalities among your buyers.

STEP 1:  Analyze your current customer file to tease out the demographics.

If you sell directly to the consumer (B2C), you need to know, at a minimum, three basic things:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Income

It’s also helpful to know education level, where they live, occupation and/or employment status, ethnicity, children in the home, and marital status.

If you are selling B2B, gender of the buyer is still important, but add to that:

  • Job title
  • SAIC code (business classification code)
  • Company size (employees and revenue)

This analytical exercise will help you paint a picture of your potential customer and make it easier to target both your online and offline marketing.

STEP 2: Determine behavioral characteristics of your buyers.


To figure this out, again turn to your current customer file. This is easier (IMHO) if you are targeting customers directly, but also has a B2B application.

In the case of B2C it’s important to know what your customers like to do. Do they tend to be outdoorsy, are they car fanatics, do they love to cook? Knowing this information will make your customers easier to find. If they like to cook, try running ads on recipe sites, if they like to hike, look for them on hiking trail sites. You get the idea. There are a number of ways to figure out what your customers like to do:

Look at the Twitter feeds of some of your most active buyers. Do some analysis to see what they are tweeting about. Visit the links they share. See if you can determine any patterns. You might find that a portion of your buyers spend time doing research on cars. Perfect! Now you know where to target some advertising.

Analyze your Facebook posts to see which ones resonate more with your followers. Do you get a lot of engagement when you post about your company’s charitable activities? If so, think about  how you can use that in your promotions.

Look at your website and analyze how much time your visitors spend reading various content. Especially in B2B, if your visitors tend to gravitate towards particular topics, you can continue writing about those, you can reach out to influencers in your field to see if you can publish an article on their blog or you can figure out appropriate conferences and see if you can speak on that topic. The goal of all of this is to establish yourself as an industry expert.

For both B2C and B2B, survey research can yield dividends. There are many tools available that enable surveys (paid and free!), so don’t be afraid to reach out to past buyers to ask questions. SurveyMonkey is an easy to use tool that has a free and paid version. Once you survey your customers, you can ‘cut’ the data in a number of ways to see where nuggets of information might exist. For instance, you may discover that one product feature is more important to your male buyers, and another to your female buyers. Or that your male buyers tend to buy your product for others, while female buyers tend to buy it for themselves.

STEP 3. Do some research on your competitors’ customers.

Why are they buying from him instead of from you? This type of research will take more time than surveying your existing base, but is a great way to gain insight into why your competitor sometimes wins out. There are a few options for these types of surveys. You can hire a survey company to find appropriate email lists that might include both your customers and your competitors’ customers. Or you can try to find those lists yourself. Either way, the information gathered can be enlightening!


Delighting Customers Costs More Than it’s Worth…and Other Surprising Findings

Customer supportWhat? Did I really just type that?

I recently attended a conference where Matt Dixon, a group leader at CEB presented on making your customer experience unique. I expected him to cover the benefits of surprising and delighting your customers, but I couldn’t have been more wrong!

He started his talk somewhat as I’d expected. He told a great story of how the Ritz Carlton surprised and delighted a guest at one of their resorts. That guest was staying at the Ritz with his wife and very young son.  When they departed and got home, they realized they had left their son’s beloved stuff animal, Joshie, at the resort. The little one was beside himself, crying, apoplectic, etc. So the father told the boy that Joshie had decided to stay on at the hotel for a few extra days to have some Joshie time. It bought him some time anyway to find a Joshie replacement.

But then a surprising thing happened. The Ritz Carlton called to tell this guest that they had left a member of their party behind. The father expressed his relief and owned up to the white lie he had told his son. The next day, a box arrived at their home from the Ritz. Inside was of course Joshie, but in addition, these pictures were also included.

Talk about the Ritz saving the day!

But then the talk took a strange turn. Matt said that the CEB set out to do some research on customer loyalty. They embarked on a 7-year project to study customer service and customer loyalty and concluded that delighting the customer doesn’t actually pay off with increased loyalty. Customer service CAN efficiently and effectively drive loyalty, but not in the way described above.

Matt’s study was a large one, and included over 125,000 customers, 5,000 customer service reps, and 100+ companies and it produced 3 main findings:

  1. Delight doesn’t pay. In fact, delighting customers increased operating costs 10-20% and only succeeded in delighting 16% of the time!
  2. Customer Service drives disloyalty. This one might not be entirely surprising. Sometimes companies can raise the ‘sleeping dogs’ who have just not gotten around to cancelling your service until you remind them that they have it. But it’s also because service interactions, according to this study, makes a customer 4x more likely to be DISloyal! And it’s because customers aren’t actually satisfied after their interactions.
  3. The key is to mitigate disloyalty by reducing the customer service effort. He cited examples that tend to tick customers off: having to call back multiple times, getting transferred around, having to repeat your name and issue over and over again.

And the key to reducing customer service effort is in figuring out how to do things like

Make self-service easy

Avoid the next issue a customer may have (by anticipating it). He had a great example of this. He broke a part off of his Dyson vacuum cleaner. So he called to get a replacement. The rep easily helped figure out the model he had and therefore the part that he needed. And she said she was going to send him two of them. Matt asked why (and also explained a bit about what he does), since he really didn’t think he’d break the part again. And she explained that it’s a little tricky to attach the part, and sometimes customers will snap off a small part of it in trying to click it in place. Once that happens, the part won’t stay on the vacuum, so you’d need another one. And once you snap it off once, you understand how to make sure that doesn’t happen. She said it’s less expensive for them to send out two of the parts than to take another call from the customer.

The CEB research showed that the lower the effort required by the customer, the higher the repurchase rate (94% repurchase for low effort vs only 4% for high effort). And they spend more. AND, word of mouth, in a bad way, is way higher for high-effort required customers. So when customers are unhappy, they share at a much higher rate than happy customers. And the beauty about making the customer experience easy, is that your costs will go down by 37%! Why? Because, among other reasons, your customers will have less reason to call you back.


It turns out the KISS principal is alive and well and can help you garner customer loyalty!


How do I get Started with Social Media?

By Sue Brady

treasure chestSo you want to get started but you feel like there’s so much you aren’t sure of.  How do you uncover the hidden treasure that is social media? Do some reading on the topic, starting here, and you’ll be on your way in no time. It’s not as hard as you may think!

  1. GOALS. Establish your social media goals. What do you hope to accomplish with social media: are you looking for awareness, loyalty, sales, customer service opps? Whatever you decide, this will drive your presence online. Your goals help you determine the type of content you post to promote the behaviors you want to see, and also help you determine the places where you should have a presence. Here’s an example. Let’s say you want to post content that will be shared. In that case, the goal is customer engagement as measured by shares. Or let’s say your goal is to drive traffic to your website. In that case you would be including links to pages on your site, and you’d measure clicks on that link.Links
  2. AUDIENCE. Next you need to figure out where your audience is: where do they like to go online? I heard a great way to do that last night from Brad Farris at Anchor Advisors:
    • Compile a Twitter list of your ideal customers and follow them
    • Capture all of their tweets for 10 or so days
    • Sort out all of their tweets that have links
    • Visit all of those links and identify if there are common sites, or types of sites, among the group.
  3. EDITORIAL CALENDAR. Develop an editorial calendar to keep topics you want to write about organized. This will also help you remember that specific keywords are important in order for your posts to gain traction with the search engines. There are many templates that you can find on the Internet, but what’s most important is that the calendar has what you need. My calendar is very simple. I keep an Excel spreadsheet that has dates down the left hand side and the following categories across the top: Author, Title, Status (ie, written, published), 3-5 Keywords or Tags, Category (general topic of the post), and Notes. I have a separate tab for each site I post to (Blog, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.). This will also help ensure you are posting with sufficient frequency.  If you have nothing of interest to post, it’s best not to post anything that hour/day/week.
    Make sure that your content is relevant to your audience. Give your customers and prospects a reason to return to your site. Interesting and useful content is a way to do that. Also, remember that some content does not necessarily translate well to different social media sites, so make sure you are creating your pieces with a specific posting destination in mind.
  4. ANALYTICS AND MONITORING. Set up analytics and monitoring. From the start, you’ll want to understand what is happening with the content on all of your sites. Use analytics to determine if you are meeting your goals and to drive further engagement. You can track what’s been successful and replicate it to drive future success.
    Make sure you monitor all of your sites to hear what your customers and prospects are saying and to answer any questions being directed to you. Monitoring can help you nip a problem in the bud (see point 6 below).
    There are many sources for social media monitoring that also include analytics. Some examples include: Hootsuite, Salesforce, Meltwater, and Brandwatch, and there are many others. Google Analytics is of course widely used as well on the analytics side, so read about how you can use it.  Read reviews, sit through some product demos, and determine what would work best for you.
  5. SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY. It’s important to have a social media policy for your employees. This policy should be a part of your overall employee policy document and cover things like: code of conduct for your company, roles and responsibilities of employees who will be posting, who can post on behalf of the company, company policies such as the treatment of confidential information, external laws if appropriate, and best practices for online behavior. You’ll want a lawyer to review your policy to make sure all is good. Here’s an example of a well-written social media policy by Coca Cola: (source: Andy Sernovitz)
  6. NEGATIVE COMMENTS. Be prepared to hear negative comments from customers. Sooner or later, everyone gets them.  The key is to have a plan for dealing with them. I’ve already posted about Handling Trolls here. Not only should you yourself have a plan for dealing with these comments but you should also make sure your management is forewarned. You don’t want an upset CEO calling you because they read something negative and want you to remove the comment immediately. Negative comments are to be expected. The trick is to handle them well and quickly, so that they will have little importance and visibility. And removing the comments is really a last resort option, as you don’t want your readers to doubt the honesty of the site.

Don’t be afraid to try new things. Monitor your results and over time you’ll figure out what works best for you. You’ll learn things from your customers you’ve never even considered. Talk about a treasure trove of information!

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