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On the other side are, well, everyone else, who claim that long copy is outdated and that people today are overloaded with information and don’t have the patience to read lots of words.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

CMO.com 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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Has “FREE” become cliche?

Is "free" cliche?I recently received an email from a young copywriter who informed me that the word “free” was now dead.

“It’s a cliche. No one uses this anymore and no one pays attention to headlines that say free. Who believes that anymore? You have to be more subtle now.”

Well golly, thanks for sharing your 6 months of experience. I’ll inform the entire marketing world that “free” should officially be dropped from the selling lexicon because … um … why did you say we can’t use “free” any longer?

Oh, it’s a cliche. Well, let’s think about that before we take any drastic action. What is a cliche?

Here’s how Dictionary.com defines the word cliche:

  1. a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse, as sadder but wiser, or strong as an ox.
  2. (in art, literature, drama, etc.) a trite or hackneyed plot, character development, use of color, musical expression, etc.
  3. anything that has become trite or commonplace through overuse.

So if the word “free” is a cliche, that means it’s a common idea, it has lost its originality, and it no longer has impact. Is that true?

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How Technology Has Changed Creativity in the Ad Business

Note: I wrote this article back in 1995. But while the wow factor of technology has become routine in the advertising world today, the idea this article presents is still as relevant as ever.

IBM SelectricAfter more than two decades of technological evolution, creativity isn’t what it used to be. I don’t mean that the pool of creative advertising talent is shrinking, I mean the way creative people go about creating is different.

It’s more than exchanging typewriters for computers or art tables for graphic design programs; it’s a complete shift in the creative process.

It started when IBM introduced the first affordable desktop personal computer. With a monochrome screen, no hard drive, and an unbelievably slow microprocessor, it proved that a computer could be a practical office accessory.

As desktop units became more accepted in the workplace, other computer manufacturers began churning out armies of clones, with prices always falling and quality always rising.

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HootSuite: How to do a week of social media marketing in just 20 minutes!

HootSuite First, let me say that I think social media marketing is great. I’m using it more and more for my own business. And it’s obviously producing results for many others.

But I can’t help but wonder … how do people find the time to tweet all day, every day? Because I sure can’t find time for that.

Well, until recently that is, when I discovered HootSuite. If you’re not familiar with HootSuite, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

Here at last is a simple, free, online tool that brings together all your social media accounts, including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and makes basic social media marketing a breeze. There are other tools like this out there, but I have tried and been disappointed by most of them.

I instantly fell in love with HootSuite.

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Wise, witty quotes from the advertising masters

Mark Twain once said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

How true. I suppose that’s why I enjoy collecting and sharing quotations about advertising. You can read a hundred books and still not learn as much as you can from one pithy quote.

So I’m going to shut up and let the old masters (and a few extra guests) speak this week.

“Advertising is what you do when you can’t go see somebody. That’s all it is.” –Fairfax Cone

“The simplest definition of advertising, and one that will probably meet the test of critical examination, is that advertising is selling in print.” –Daniel Starch

“Advertising in the final analysis should be news. If it is not news it is worthless.” –Adolph S. Ochs

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Do you sell “things” or experiences?

sell things or experiencesYou’ve probably heard the expression, “People don’t want drills. They want holes.”

This is a reminder that benefits outweigh features. While this is good advice for creating more effective advertising and marketing messages, it’s not the whole story.

Top advertising and marketing pros have long known that people are less interested in having possessions than they are in having the benefits of possessions.

But the word “benefits” implies a utilitarian approach to buying things. It sounds as if people are always on the lookout for practical ways to solve problems.

Unfortunately, people just aren’t that rational. Apart from basic necessities, most purchases are discretionary. We buy things we want, but don’t necessarily need.

I’ve written about the motivations for buying, but an article at Psyblog got me thinking about this in a new and simpler way.

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How to explain what you do for a living

When I go to parties, people always ask what I do for a living. When I tell them “direct marketing,” they nod, but I know they’re clueless.

People don’t really know the difference between the various flavors of advertising and marketing. And book definitions don’t help. So I’ve adopted a more pragmatic way of explaining my line of work and how it differs from other specialties.

Feel free to steal this and use it for yourself. I did.

You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. You walk up to her and say, “I’m great in bed.” That’s Direct Marketing.

You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. You ask your friend to walk up to her and say, “See that guy over there? He’s great in bed.” That’s Advertising

You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. You get her phone number from someone. The next day you call and say, “I’m great in bed.” That’s Telemarketing.

You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. You comb your hair, straighten your tie, then ask if she’d like drink. You chat and joke with her throughout the evening, offer her a ride home, walk her to her door, then say, “By the way, I’m great in bed.” That’s Public Relations.

You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. She walks up to you and says, “I know you. You’re the one who’s great in bed.” That’s Brand Recognition.

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