Customer defection: the leaky pool nightmare

customer defectionMany years ago, I lived next door to a guy named Wayne. Wayne had a pool. It was his pride and joy.

Trouble was, Wayne’s pool leaked. Slowly and persistently. We knew where the water was going, because the area under my deck was muddy all the time. But we didn’t know where the leak was.

All Wayne could do was run a hose to the pool to constantly replenish the water that disappeared. His water bills were outrageous.

It’s almost funny, until you realize that if you run a business, you’re in the same situation as poor Wayne. Your customers are leaking away. Slowly and persistently.

You probably don’t know where the leak is. And the cost of replenishing your pool of customers is almost certainly more than you want to spend.

We’re talking about “customer defection.”

If you’re a typical service business, you’re losing 15 to 20 percent of your customers every year. And according to a study in Harvard Business Review, ” … customer defections have a surprisingly powerful impact on the bottom line. They can have more to do with a service company’s profits than scale, market share, unit costs, and many other factors usually associated with competitive advantage.”

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How to sell products with direct mail inserts

direct mail insert sampleThere’s a certain pecking order in the world of direct mail projects.

At the top are bulky magalogs and thick direct mail envelope packages with all the bells and whistles.

At the bottom are the lowly workhorses, such as postcards and inserts.

The direct mail insert shown here in the photo comes from a box of plants I ordered from Spring Hill Nursery.

Technically, it’s called a fulfillment insert, meaning it’s an advertisement inserted into the package you receive when you order something by mail.

It’s not the sort of thing anyone wins awards for. In fact, some copywriters and designers look down their nose at humble inserts like this. For them, it’s sort of like the hillbilly member of the family you never talk about and hope won’t show up at weddings or funerals to embarrass you.

That attitude is unfortunate, because direct mail inserts can generate tons of extra income for both advertisers and the companies that offer to include the inserts in their mail or packaging.

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Blog security: an interview with John Hoff

John Hoff blog security expertThere’s a lot of talk about how to use blogs to increase your traffic, attract prospects, and generate buzz. But there’s too little talk about blog security.

Like it or not, blogs are easy prey for hackers and other online ne’er-do-wells. And when they strike, and they will eventually, you need to be prepared.

Recently, this blog and Pro Copy Tips, were the victim of a series of sophisticated hack attacks. I contacted James from Men With Pens, who recommended John Hoff, co-founder of WP Blog Host, WordPress blog security guru, and author of the best-selling WordPress Defender.

I was so impressed with John, I asked him to do an interview with me on blog security.


Dean: When my blogs were attacked, I panicked a little. Is that a common reaction?

John: I’m sure it is. I know it was for me and my wife when her jewelry website got hacked a few years back. One day we went to her website and instead of seeing what we normally see, we saw a Google Warning stating that her site had been flagged by Google and may be downloading viruses to people’s computers. Yeah, our heart skipped a beat when we saw that.

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Getting response in a down economy

getting response in a down economyAll of us who work in the direct marketing industry have been affected by the economy.

In fact, the economy has affected pretty much everyone in advertising, publishing, or media.

So, last year, when the pain really started to set in, I decided to write a white paper to provide my take on the situation and provide some sound advice on dealing with it.

The results was Getting Response in a Down Economy: 4 Key Principles to Boost Your Direct Mail Profits in Today’s Difficult Market.

In just under five pages, I reveal the challenge of today’s market, what’s really happening out there, 6 key truths about your customers, the hidden opportunities of a down market, how to get your mind right, and the four key principles to improve response to your marketing efforts.

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5 bilingual copy mistakes and how to avoid them

It’s hard enough to write good copy in one language. Writing copy that works in two languages is at least twice as hard.

Here are some mistakes you should avoid if you’re creating bilingual copy for the first time.

Mistake #1: Doing a simple translation.

Let’s say you have a direct mail package that works for an English-speaking audience. Now you want to break into the Hispanic market with a bilingual package. So you figure all you have to do is hire a translator. Right? Not quite.

The “words” may translate, more or less, but the meaning may not. Try this experiment: take a simple phrase and use an online translator to go from English to German then back to English.

English: He’s mellowing out and getting his grove on.

Translates to German: Er ist aus Gärung und immer sein Hain auf.

Translates back to English: He is on from fermentation and always be Hain.

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Information Overload: 5 causes and 12 cures

information overloadI like to snack on cereal. And I buy a different brand every week.

However this personal indulgence comes at a price. When I enter the cereal isle, I’m faced with a wall of boxes vying for my attention, starbursts popping off every box, coupon dispensers flashing red, sales signs waving above my head, red and yellow price tags lining every shelf, a sea of promotional decals spattering the floor.

It’s information overload at its most intense.

I’m sure I don’t have to explain information overload. You experience it every day when you open three pounds of mail, flip through 1,000 TV channels, or dive into that teetering pile rising from your “in box.”

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Long copy vs. short copy. Who is right?

long copy advertisement

Click to see a larger version of this ad.

The long copy vs. short copy debate has been raging for decades.

And it rages on today.

On one side are the traditional direct marketing people who look at history and at testing to support their notion that long copy is proven to engage readers and sell products.

On the other side are, well, everyone else, who claim that long copy is outdated and that people today are overloaded with information and don’t have the patience to read lots of words.

Who is right?

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Advertising lessons from FAIL Blog

If you want to learn the basics of advertising, you can read books or attend seminars. But really, there are lessons all around you.

Keep your eyes open. Every day you can discover another advertising principle. What works. What doesn’t. How to improve your ads. What to avoid.

One of my favorite sources of selling inspiration is FAIL Blog, a visual library of human nature and communication gone wrong.

Just look at the advertising lessons from the past few weeks …

Niche advertising works.

advertising fail
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Google TV Ads: upload and run commercials on national TV shows from your laptop

I ran across a report by Seth Stevenson at Slate about how he ran a TV ad on FOX from his home computer using Google TV Ads.

Here’s the video showing how he did it.

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Which social media are right for you?

social landscape

Click to get a PDF of this chart.

Social media started out looking like a fad. Now it’s taking the marketing world by storm.

I and many other consultants contend that it’s not a replacement for traditional media, but it certainly deserves your attention.

The question is, how much attention? Which social media should you be using and what is the value it brings to your company? recently posted a chart showing 10 popular social networks and rated each for customer communication, brand exposure, traffic to site, and SEO.

Depending on the resources and goals of your organization, it may be wise to focus on just two or three social networks and do them really well, rather than try to do them all and do them poorly.

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