WELCOME TO THE DRAYTON BIRD BLOG - Commonsense about marketing, business and life
If you like, I'll e-mail you each new dollop of drivel when I publish it. Just
Wednesday, 27 April 2011
Monday, 25 April 2011
Joel Helfer is one of many people I correspond with, and he sent me a story that's a pretty good marketing lesson for anyone selling anything.
Joel's eldest son Zach is a graduate Architecture Student at the University of Illinois.
He's diligent (Joel says, being totally unbiased) in the top ten percent of his class, and had two summer jobs as an undergrad.
Zach was terribly frustrated, wondering if he'd chosen the right field.
Joel reassured him - after being been a glass and glazing contractor for over 35 years he was used to the ups and downs of the construction business (If you want to know what's happening to the economy, ignore the politicians who are mostly professional liars. Ask builders, cab drivers, restaurateurs and printers).
Timing is everything, and Joel had sold his business right before the crash.
But he hardly realised how this would help Zach - after a fair amount of trial and error
Here's what he and Zach did.
They bought the URL "www.hirezachhelfer.com" from Godaddy - the entire message in the URL.
They then sent up a simple wordpress blog - he bought three simple themes for under $100.
Zach set up a simple header with his picture and his contact information.
There were more pages for his resume and portfolio, giving all the information any firm hiring architects could want.
So Joel went to the AIA website, and compiled a list of 400 architects around Chicago.
Now they had a list, what to send?
Joel decided to send an email article on the top ten things an architect should know, with links in the article back to the website.
The website also contained an interesting story about Zach, with a headline to catch their eye.
They put up a screen capture on the site to introduce him and sent out an email in early 2010 that got about a 60% open rate, which is pretty good.
They got 17 comments, 16 favourable, one not.
Zach got 3 interviews, one asking him to do marketing for an architecture firm, but got no summer jobs.
In winter of 2011, they revised the video, making it real, not just a screen capture.They shot it in their living room using a tripod and a Canon camera with a video option. (You don't need fancy equipment to make videos. I use a cheap Kodak). You can see what they created on the site.
They sent out the video again with new emails, and got a smaller response, but it was just before a career fair at the U of I which was attended by over 20 architecture firms.
To Zach's surprise, most of the firm reps knew him, and even called him by name, He had his resumes to pass out, but two firms said that wasn't necessary.
As a result of that career fair after a marketing campaign lasting over a year Zach got two interviews, which led to a full time decently paid summer job, 20 minutes from home.
Zach came up with a pretty neat line. "I am not looking for a summer job. I consider this a 3 month interview for a full time job!" That line worked wonders and impressed many prospective employers.
What can you learn from this?
They used the latest internet marketing ideas - which are nothing new, really.
They did not give up. It took time; it was a campaign, not just the one shot most people take when sending out a resume, with no follow- up. I was irresistibly reminded of all the idiot clients who've said to me "we tried direct mail. It didn't work." Would you just "try" medicine?
They continually tweaked and improved. They measured the results - which again, a lot of marketers still don't do properly. Incredible stupidity!
They sent out 1600 emails over 14 months with an average CTR of over 40%.
And Zach is now one of the best known Architecture students around Chicago - which is famed for its architecture - and has made lots of valuable connections that will help him in his career.
Joel says that Zach thought he was crazy through most of this. Father knows best - well, sometimes!
Posted by Drayton Bird at 16:13
Saturday, 23 April 2011
Well, here comes another royal wedding, with the usual cartloads of nauseating pap from the arse end of the media.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 06:41
Thursday, 21 April 2011
Before the first great British share crash - the South Sea Bubble in 1720 - investors were falling for the most outrageous scams. The best known, perhaps, was "a company for carrying out an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is."
This reminds me irresistibly of what has been happening on the internet - which I fear will end in tears before bedtime for a few people
All of a sudden those geniuses whose miracle money-making formulae have been producing torrents of cash for the last years are worried. The cash geyser seems to be slowing to a trickle
When you're the first to come up with an idea you just have to make promises, really. No matter how ludicrous, as long as the promises are big enough and the story enticing enough, you'll do well.
Then comes the second stage. Competitors emerge: you have to be a bit smarter. Don't just tell people they'll get rich, say it's $242,862 in 24 hours, show the cash coming in, stick in a few testimonials.
Then there's the third stage. Everybody's got into the act. The punters are getting wise. You had better, too. You have to explain a bit more. You have to recall David Ogilvy's great line: "The consumer is not a moron. She is your wife."
Don't get me wrong. Many of the ideas being proposed are absolutely valid.
The thing is, when you're the first to stumble on an idea, your copy can stink and you'll do OK. But a lot of these scamsters' copy is not all that good - you know, stuff beginning with "I gotta tell ya". A lot of it breaks the first rule - don't talk about yourself, talk about your customer.
One of my heroes is the late Charley Brower, who ran B.B.D&0. "Honesty is not only the best policy. It is rare enough nowadays to make you pleasantly conspicuous."
Anyhow, having got that off my chest, if it makes sense why don't you go to draytonbird.net/copywritingseminar.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 07:22
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Maybe it's the man who looks like Gollum in the Lord of the Rings. Maybe it's the loony values people ascribe to their loopy ideas. Or maybe it's just the sheer nastiness of that women with a face like a boot.
I don't know, but anyhow I had lunch today with Doug Richard who used to be on it, so before we met I looked him up on the internet. He is "economically conservative and socially liberal". I like that.
But I also found something that summed up the complete uselessness and waste perpetrated by governments when they try to help business.
In a report he worked on for the Tories he found the Labour Government had spent £12bn on support schemes for business,with absolutely zero evidence of any results; in fact he unearthed 3,000 schemes run by 2,000 public bodies.
His report was, of course, just a stratagem for the Tories to attack the then government Now that they're in they're pissing away money faster than even the great Bloated McToad did.
No worries, though. At least we have a Minister for Cycling. I wonder, does he cycle to work every day? Does he have staff? If so, why? What the hell do they do all day? Watch porn?
I hope to be doing something with Doug to help small businesses, unless one lunch put him off for life. It has been known to happen.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 07:40
Tuesday, 19 April 2011
P. S. I hope to put up full details of the Bristol copywriting event on June 2oth within 24 hours. 6 tickets out of 40 already sold. And within a week or so I also hope to have edited videos of the branding event.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 07:17
Monday, 18 April 2011
Posted by Drayton Bird at 07:32
Saturday, 16 April 2011
A fleeing Taliban, desperate for water, was plodding through the Afghan desert when he saw something far off in the distance. Hoping to find water, he hurried toward the oasis, only to find a little old Jewish man at a small stand, selling ties...
The Taliban asked, "Do you have water?"
The Jewish man replied, "I have no water. Would you like to buy a tie? They are only £5."
The Taliban shouted, "Idiot! I do not need an over-priced tie. I need water! I should kill you, but I must find water first!
"OK," said the old Jewish man, "It does not matter that you do not want to buy a tie and that you hate me. I will show you that I am bigger than that. If you continue over that hill to the east for about two miles, you will find a lovely restaurant. It has all the ice cold water you need. Shalom."
Cursing, the Taliban staggered away over the hill.
Several hours later he staggered back, almost dead and said:
"Your f****ing brother won't let me in without a tie!"
Posted by Drayton Bird at 14:09
Thursday, 14 April 2011
Those of you who cherish the out-pourings of the shit-for-brains creeps who infest cyberspace will like this.
I think perhaps the most illiterate attempt ever to rip me off came half an hour ago.
Even in its over-exploited genre it had a peculiar charm of its very own, right down to the esoteric spelling of a good old Scots name:
A message from Mcmilan Marshall mcmilan8282
I am Mr Mcmilan Marshall, Retired Marine Director here in London , England .However, I have already sent you this same letter by post a one month ago, but I am not sure that the letter promptly gets to you since I have not heard from you, now I am resending it again. I want to trust this investment fund in your care, It will be in my interest to transfer this fund worth of ? £6.5M Great British Pounds(Six Million Five hundred thousand Pounds Sterling) in an account offshore. Can you be my partner? Regards and respect, please kindly send me your Cell phone number, And tell me your opinion.
What is a Marine Director, by the way?
It wrote telling me that he (Dylan, I assume) "Wanted to see if you had any interest talking about Keith's Relationship Masters Academy."
Who is Keith, you may ask? Well, he is Keith Ferrazzi, has a big smile, knows a lot of clichés, has done a deal with Cisco and persuaded them his Academy can really change your life.
Research has proven that the strength and breadth of your Human Network is the most predictive element of your personal and professional success. And the more authentic your relationships the better! Keith Ferrazzi, thought leader and co-founder of the Relationship Masters Academy will guide you through seven simple but extremely valuable and effective missions that will allow you to purposefully build new relationships and skillfully strengthen and manage the ones you already have for immediate results.
Well, how about that? Or as you might say, what pretentious tripe.
Lee Iacocca who once rescued Chrysler put it rather better when he said "If you want to succeed you'd better get on with people, because that's all we've got around here."
And Dale Carnegie's How to make friends and influence people tells you what to do in plain English rather than corporate gobbledegook.
Anyhow, Dylan is West Coast head of sales for Keith's Academy, but his auto-responder or whichever airhead writes its stuff clearly doesn't know England has not actually been on the West Coast for as far back as I can remember. So undeterred he wrote yesterday in a chummy sort of way saying,
Hey Drayton, Wanted to see if you had any interest talking about Keith's Relationship Masters Academy. All the best. Dylan Dylan Conroy|RelationshipMastersAcademy.com Head of West Coast Sales 323-420-6250 email@example.com
I wrote back one word: Why?
His auto-responder replied in semi-literate fashion saying: Trying to remember the providence (I assume he means provenance) of our introduction. I think it was Bob Sering?
I replied "His name is Bob Serling. If you can't spell it, I really doubt if we can do any business."
I ask you, what is the matter with people's education and commonsense if they fall for this stuff? And how does a man get to be head of sales of anything if he can't write English?
More to the point, what is Cisco doing in business with these people?
By the way, for those of you who have asked - there are quite a few - yes, we are filming the branding event, and I will be whizzing out a clip of Rory Sutherland and myself talking in the tiny Fellows' Study at the Royal Society for Arts about the subject later.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 04:16
Wednesday, 13 April 2011
This is provoked by three things.
First, the daily torrent of lies from people who claim in various ways that they think of nothing, night and day, but making me rich and successful - and I won’t have to pay a penny to find out.
Second, a recent exchange with one of the few people who have really interesting ideas and express them well. Howie Jacobson, the co-author of Adwords for Dummies told me he didn’t enjoy being in the same business as so many grasping charlatans.
Third, an old book I found on my shelves about Bernie Cornfeld, one of the great fraudsters of the 20th century, called Do you seriously want to be rich.
All this took me back some 20 odd years when I went to a big direct marketing jamboree in Wembley, London.
A lady at the bar said to me - with the kindest of intentions, I am sure - “It’s great that gurus like you come and talk to the rest of us.”
I had never heard the word guru used about a trade as lowly as direct marketing, thought it ludicrous – and still do. But it has caught on like the Black Death. Nowadays anyone with the slightest competence is a guru, and those who are quite good are hailed as visionaries and geniuses.
This is absurd.
But people regularly ask me what I think of some of these guys.
How can I say this one is a rogue, that one a liar, the other should be in jail, the fourth seems a bit mad, I wouldn’t trust the fifth as far as I could throw him and am amazed that anyone sane would give money to people who can’t be bothered or don’t know how to write good English?
When someone asks you (after the usual freebies or discounted offers) to pony up thousands to be "mentored", or belong to their special circle of friends, or step up to the next level, first ask yourself who else they have helped?
One man I know makes many claims, but doesn’t mention that (as I discovered with a little research) one of his chief skills seems to be putting companies into liquidation. He has done it 10 times.
Another seems to run his business from accommodation addresses or in one case, from an address that didn’t actually exist.
Another takes the fairly simple business of selling stuff and makes it seem so complicated people think he’s a genius. I asked two delegates at one if his seminars if they understood what he was talking about.
“No,” they replied.
“Nor do I” was my response.
But people think if it’s hard to understand it must be brilliant.
I would say if you can’t understand it, how the hell can you do it?
Others in this piratical crew shower you with testimonials from ecstatic customers or say their copy has worked miracles. But testimonials from whom? Copy for whom? People you’ve never heard of. Firms of no account. Small-time local businesses, or highly specialised ones.
That is relevant. Not because helping small businesses is easy. Nor because writing good copy doesn’t matter. Not because it’s easy to do well in a special niche. But because it is not the same as playing in the big leagues, and you shouldn’t be paying big money for relatively small thinking.
But people are so eager to succeed that they fail to notice these things. They sincerely want to be rich.
But wishing will not make it so.
I’m sorry, but the man who tells you he is dying to make you rich and successful is far more interested in doing so for himself.
The man who says you can be a highly paid marketing consultant after just a few lessons is talking rubbish.
The man who promises you can coach others to succeed without having succeeded yourself is a liar.
The man who claims you can become a writer and make money when you don’t even know where to put an apostrophe is taking the piss.
But there is a good way to protect yourself.
Just ask: does this sound too good to be true? Because if so, it usually is.
And study the process, which is as old as the three card trick.
In that trick, sometimes called Spot the Lady you see a man who is swapping cards around and all you have to do is bet on where the queen has ended up. Other people seem to be winning money. It seems easy.
So you have a go, and you lose your money*. You didn’t realise the “winners” you saw were what they call shills - confederates of the operator.
In the same way you don’t realise when you see the people who have allegedly made fortunes from some guru’s advice that they are either the rare ones, the exceptions or sometimes just friends of the person selling to you.
Nothing changes, really.
Bernie Cornfeld ran what they used to call a pyramid scheme. Some people made money. Most lost it.
Today pretty much the same thing is called MLM – multi-level marketing. Only 2% of those who try it succeed.
The same principle applies to nearly all these things. Be warned.
But also profit from what you see. These people are extremely good at what they do: take money off people. By studying that you can indeed learn a lot - and it won't cost you all that much.
* In his book In for a penny my now-retired client Peter Hargreaves of Hargreaves Lansdown tells how he was taken in by the three card trick.
But he also tells how he and his partners built what I am sure is the best financial marketing-based business in this country. You will learn a lot from it
Posted by Drayton Bird at 08:29
Monday, 11 April 2011
A few things I wonder.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 09:35
Friday, 8 April 2011
Well, every day kind people tell me they like my ramblings, but this from Ian Dunsford had me in stitches.
There's one that I have nearly every day (dependent on supplier) and that's Vitamin Drayton.
Thanks, Ian. And thanks to all those who send me encouraging messages like that.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 12:08
Thursday, 7 April 2011
I got a lot of comments about this when I sent it out to my list, so if you haven´t seen it, here it is:
Maybe you sometimes think I'm talking piffle, but are too polite to say so.
Thank goodness I do get it right every now and then.
This is an unedited comment from a reader on what I sent you yesterday:
"You make excellent points in this email, and I have experienced this myself in my own business.
If you don't mind I would like to share my own personal story.
I started out as a "discount" provider and it was miserable. I attracted the worst possible customers and the more I gave the more they wanted, but at no extra cost to them mind you.
My customer satisfaction rate was abysmal, my job satisfaction was non existent... along with my profits.
I was doing what I loved and hating every minute of it.
Finally I said enough's enough. I raised my prices by 500% and established very clearly I compete on quality and nothing else.
I lost 90% of my customers overnight.
But the ones that stayed, and more importantly the new ones that suddenly appeared... attracted by my higher rates like moths to a flame, more than made up for it.
Before I raised my rates I was working 12 hour days 7 days a week for miserable people - impossible to satisfy who viewed not just my service, but myself as a commodity and losing money while I did it.
Now, since I raised my rates I have clients who view me and my service as something special, and feel like they are still getting tremendous value.
I work just 7-8 hours a day, 5 days a week (and am working hard to bring that down to just 5 hours a day 4 days a week) and the last 4 months have been the most profitable in the history of my company. In fact the last 3 months my company has earned more than it did in the 18 months previous to the price hike!
Thanks Drayton for all the wonderful insights - Ash Goodman."
Well if you´d like some more insights from me and people who are full of practical ideas, just go here.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 08:58
Wednesday, 6 April 2011
At the dinner I sat next to the boss of Unilever in Thailand. Their great rivals are, of course, Procter & Gamble, and he told me an instructive story with some glee.
It seems P & G wanted to enter the market for nappies or diapers in Japan with their successful brand Pampers. They failed miserably. It was nothing to do with the advertising or distribution. It was because they had not taken the trouble to find out two things, one quite obvious, the other not.
First, amazingly enough, Japanese babies have smaller bottoms than American babies.
Second, Japanese mothers are much more painstaking than American mothers, and change diapers far more often.
Net results of not doing their reconnaissance properly: they invested $2 billion and lost the lot.
By contrast when Honda entered the Californian market with their motor bikes, they did allow for the fact that American bottome are bigger than Japanese ones. Of course, that was not the only reason they succeeded, but they surely would have failed otherwise.
People often spend far too much time talking about big ideas and strategy and far too little paying attention to detail. Getting the details right will do far more for your brand than fancy ad campaigns.
You can transform a brand´s success without any advertising at all. My colleagues did this for the Mercedes M class a few years ago. My only contribution was to write a very fancy booklet and a letter to go with it. How was it done?
Well, you'll have to trek all the way to De Montfort University Business School to find that out. It´s an hour away from London. Do you think you can manage that?
Posted by Drayton Bird at 10:23
Sunday, 3 April 2011
Do you like quotations? I love and collect them. I can sit quite happily for hours reading any decent dictionary of them. Good ones are distilled wisdom.
Of course, being pathetically vain and insecure I am always thrilled when someone quotes me (and livid when they don't credit me).
Dr. Grote Mardy must love quotations even more than I do. He sends a selection out every week - find him at www.drmardy.com. So I was vastly flattered when a couple of years ago a friend sent one of my lines to Dr. Mardy and he used it.
I think it was "Nothing fails like success". Or it could have been "The road to failure is paved with success".
See? I have very few ideas and am so thrilled when I have one that I keep playing with it.
That preamble reminds me of three favourites. Einstein was asked why he wrote so few books. He replied, "I have very few ideas."
De la Rochefoucauld said much the same thing twice: "We can always bear the mnisfortunes of our friends with equanimity" and "There is something not entirely displeasing in the misfortunes of our friends."
Here are some quotes sent by Dr. Mardy yesterday.
"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou
"I have begun in old age to understand...that we seldom if ever realize how generous we are to ourselves, and just how stingy with others." Saul Bellow
"When I can no longer bear to think of the victims of broken homes, I begin to think of the victims of intact ones." Peter De Vries
"Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted." Benjamin Disraeli
"Our friends are generally ready to everything for us, except the very thing we wish them to do." William Hazlitt
" Don't flatter yourself that friendship authorizes you to say disagreeable things to your intimates. The nearer you come into relation with a person, the more necessary do tact and courtesy become." Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
"Instead of loving your enemies, treat your friends a little better." Edgar Watson Howe
"The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated." William James
"A study came out this week that said one out of four American workers is angry at work. And the other three save it for the loved ones at home." Bill Maher
" You Always Hurt the One You Love." Title of song by Allan Roberts and Doris Fisher, first recorded by The Mills Brothers in 1944 (Opening Lyric: "You always hurt the one you love, The one you shouldn't hurt at all. You always take the sweetest rose, And crush it till the petals fall").
Does anyone today write lyrics one tenth as good as that? Of course not. And why? Poor education - the greatest scourge of our times.
Incidentally, does anyone know why the editing function on this wretched system has gone mad? All of a sudden, no matter what I do the preview shows everything as one unbroken block of text.
Posted by Drayton Bird at 08:04