What's On My Desk Now

Nothing like starting off a new year with "Fresh, New Words" to grow your business. And looks like my clients agree ...

Today's assignment: Write a follow-up letter to remind prospects to register for an event be held in the summer of 2012. Assignment received yesterday afternoon, first draft of copy delivered to client this morning. Awaiting client feedback.

Next: Getting ready to prepare copy for a PowerPoint presentation to be used by a global professional organization to recruit members in 2012.

And just got wind of a brand-new opportunity: Received a call earlier today from a CEO who just started working with a new organization. She and I have worked together in the past, and she wants me to head up their social media launch in 2012. 

It may still be the last week of 2011, but shouldn't your business be thinking about what "Fresh, New Words" you'll have in place for your 2012 marketing efforts?


Thought Control Technology

And I thought "thought control" was just something stupid from that movie "Dinner for Schmucks." Watch the video ...

InteraXon presents Bright Ideas from InteraXon on Vimeo.



Writers who design; designers who write

In the advertising world, there are many writers who are also wannabe designers and designers who are wannabe writers. In fact, I know quite a few designers who can (and do) write some amazing copy. I also know copywriters with a great eye for design who can whip up a mean writer's rough. I like to think of myself as being in - or at least edging into - the last category.

My design leanings case in point ...

Above: Cropped shot of my hat design on the Henri Bendel website.
The winning design, to be announced next month, will be manufactured and sold at Bendel stores.

From pencil and watercolor paint to an electronic newsletter wireframe I just did for a client ...
... and hundreds and hundreds of writer's roughs in between, I've found that it's good to think creatively in BOTH words and pictures. If I'm stumped on coming up with a headline or a copy approach for a new assignment, I start researching visual images or formats. Taking out my pencil and pad, I start drawing ... what if it looked like this? What would it say? How should I say that? And viola, a concept evolves. Sometimes it's even stronger than if I had started thinking in just words alone.

Next time you get blocked creatively on a project, try thinking in the opposite of what you normally do. If you're a writer, try to draw the solution; if you're a designer, try to write down some options. Think outside of YOUR box. And watch what happens!


How do you spell mammajamma?

"Tell us in 140 characters or less why you deserve a scholarship to our MBA program?"

Ok, so my "What's happening?" tweet above probably won't win me a two-year scholarship to the University of Iowa's MBA program ... but someone's will.

The university is among a handful of others - both corporate and academic - to tap potential candidates' social media skills to find the best of the best.

So who says tweeting is a waste of time? (And did I spell mammajamma right?)


I'm One of 365 Days in 2012 ...

365 Days of Women's Wisdom: I'm thrilled & honored to learn that my inspirational quote was chosen from over 5,000 submissions to be featured in the 2012 Woman's Advantage Calendar! It's the only calendar written BY women biz owners FOR women biz owners.


Disguised As a Giant, 15" Postcard

"Giant Inventory Sell-Off" - Here's the 15" "postcard" from McCafferty auto that arrived in my mailbox today. Bent, yes. Big, you betcha. But they didn't "go it alone." 
The piece, if you look closely, is from The Colossual Circular, whose tagline is "Reach your customers in a BIG way!"
And it's not actually addressed to me, but rather "****ECRWSS (which stands for Extended Carrier Route, Walking Sequence Saturation) Postal Customer." 
And there are ads for a hair salon, hoagie shop, attorney, and roofing company on one side - mixed in with McCafferty "coupons" for FREE inspection and alignment check. 
So it's not really from McCafferty auto, and it's not really a postcard after all, but a circular disguised as a humungo postcard.
Ok. Fooled me!
Being in the business of "who's mailing what," my first reaction when I saw this was, "Wow - marketers ARE mailing giant things and paying flat surcharge postal rates, despite the added cost. There you go, Mr. Crumby Economy!" But now I see how they did it ... and just thought I'd share that with you.
So what's new in your mailbox?


QR Patchwork Post

I made this. Just for you. Using my QR code for this blog.
Because I'm good like that. : )

A little of this, a little of that. I've got QR codes on my mind.

Maybe it's because I read an interesting post about them yesterday.

Some marketing pundits have dubbed 2011 "the year of the QR code," and those quirky mazes of pixel-ly thingies (not to be confused with pizzelles - which do seem to look like they have QR codes on them, and why couldn't they?) have been spotted on everything from business cards to t-shirts, billboards and even in sand.

Are QR codes hot or not? Should marketers be basing entire creative campaigns on them? Probably not. Including them in their campaigns? Sure. But don't overestimate the power of a QR code. It ain't nothing compared to a great headline when it comes to getting prospective consumers to "act now."

David Weineke hits the nail on the head in his June 8th, 2011 article Why Marketers Shouldn't Waste Their Time With QR Codes:
"QR codes can actually impede the conversation. First, you have to assume not everyone knows what they are, so you have to explain how they work. Then, you just hope people are willing to download the app and go through the hassle of getting it to work. Then and only then will they be exposed to whatever brilliant website you have put together. And the majority of the time, this process neglects the critical issue of why someone would want to do any of this in the first place. Right now the answer to that seems to be, 'Because marketers thinks it's cool.'This is a dead-end technology. This is a transitional technology, and other options are headed to market that will quickly displace it. Improvements in mobile search far outpace QR capture. Near Field Communications will provide richer machine interfaces. Google Places has already abandoned QR codes for NFC chips .... It's not all bad though. There are some good QR uses. These are the ones that actually make people's lives easier -- like displaying a boarding pass on a smartphone to a ticket reader. But the day of huge billboards that are nothing but QR codes is definitely past."
Yeah, it's kind of like how artists would take mother boards from dead computers and make them into jewelry or sculptures. Looks cool. And a QR code, in the right designer/artist's hands CAN be a visually stimulating thing, which I'll get to later.

Still, David makes some very valid points in his article. but I think it's even simpler than that:  Machines read QR codes, not people.

To me, QR codes represent "high tech" in advertising. They are becoming less of a curiosity to a significant segment of the digerati/wired-for-business professionals so as to warrant the inclusion of these quirky symbols on marketing materials that connect with a tech-savvy audience. Instead of keying in a website with multiple keystrokes, one click takes you from ad to web. Bookmark the page, save it for later - you're in. What could be easier? That's what QR codes are all about, really.

In direct marketing, we love to give the audience a choice of ways to contact the product or service provider - call a toll-free number, visit our web site, fax us, or return the reply form in the postage-paid envelope provided. QR codes are just another one of these options. A QR code can help facilitate response but it alone can not generate it. It's like having an ad with a giant toll-free number and nothing else - no reason to call. Curiosity will only get so many calls. Even Tommy Tutone knows, you gotta ad the line "for a good time call..."

So don't mistake a QR code as a strong enough impetus to generate an inquiry or sale or use it to replace a headline. Strong headlines and copy speak to people, not machines.

On the other hand, design crowd - do you think an ad that has a great photograph or illustration coupled with just a QR code could do the trick? Could that be enough to drive traffic to a website? Sure! Get creative. Just look at this awesome example ...

And here's another from Macy's ...

And yes, I did in fact recommend adding a QR code to a client's piece this morning. Adding it. Not centering the whole piece on it. Because that's how I roll.

Post it, Dano.


Community Service - Giving Back, Giving Thanks

"Those who can, do.  Those who can do more, volunteer." ~ Author Unknown

Community service is important for everyone. It's something I learned at an early age in Brownies and Girl Scouts, and something I continue to do as a working professional, utilizing my skills in a way to promote the positive impact of organizations such as the American Red Cross. Currently, I am active as the Social Media "guru" for my local Lower Bucks County Chapter and was honored to attend a June 3rd event to thank the chapter's major donors and supporters. For my coverage of the event, you can visit our chapter's Ready & Red blog.
Cynthia Maniglia of The Copy Grove, Social Media Volunteer, attending the American Red Cross Lower Bucks County Chapter's Donor Appreciation Night on June 3rd, 2011.
The event was sponsored by Toll Brothers and held at one of
their Dutchess Farm Estates model homes in Newtown, PA.

The thank you card, with pins, that was given out at the event.


Everybody Chromercise

While Richard Simmons was busy making an exercise video for Air New Zealand, these guys were whipping us this for us.

Now I want to know ... where can I buy those cute finger bands? And do they come in pink?


Don't You Wish Your Conference Gave You a Wrap Like This?

From the Wishes for Women website
I'm not talking chicken wrap. I'm talking about a Wishes for Women by Karen ThompsonTM wrap. I recently attended The Women's Business Forum's IDEAS 2011 Expo/Conference/Power Lunch and not only came away with a lot of great ideas and inspiration on how to boost my business but also a fluffy, cushy Wishes for Women wrap (a $39 retail value). This is the kind of thing you'd expect to win as a door prize at a conference - but every attendee received one. The wrap comes with a Wish Card where you can write down your heart's desire and Your Wish PocketTM where you can tuck the card away and I don't know - maybe rub it for good luck or take it out every now and then to remind yourself that wishes do come true, if you focus on working towards them. Now that's what I call awesome conference show haul! Makes a great gift. Thanks, Women's Business Forum and Wishes for Women!


Chapter 11 = Rotten Apples for Harry & David

Can an image re-do save Harry & David from the bowels of bankruptcy? An article in the front page of the March 29th USA Today business section seems to think so. Among the article's image change suggestions for the 78-year-old company:

- embrace social media
- brighten/liven up the interiors of its dark retail stores
- stop promoting online discounts
- co-brand with local growers, other "foodie" ventures/companies (well, Macy's does carry Harry & David's goods at the holiday times)
- think beyond the holidays ... which, ahem, the company DOES already (anyone with a Harry & David account who gets their seasonal catalogs or has visited their online store knows that)

In the past, Harry & David's has relied heavily on not just its retail stores but catalog sales. And we all know that catalog sales are not what they used to be.

Should their retail stores become mini produce markets with fresh, local, organic fruits and vegetables? Maybe they ought to go the route of Starbucks and have little snack bars that serve up their gourmet fruit. Or maybe they'll just file Chapter 11 in Delaware and cut down their bond debt and march on.

What's your take? Any way Harry & David is going to retool its image and become anew like Sears and JCPenney did when faced with dwindling business?
Let's hear it ...


Great Marketing Copy - Really Not As Difficult To Write As You Think?

Recently, I received an e-newsletter with the headline, "Write Great Marketing Copy" which included some great "how to" advice but the problem is, copywriting tips without examples or experience can actually be misleading to the novice marketing writer.

The article said, "Writing good content for your website, marketing materials, blog or newsletter is not as difficult as high-priced consultants would lead you to believe."

Hmmm, if it were "not as difficult" then every website ought to have a least good or somewhat good content and they all should be pulling in a good number of sales everyday, right? Then why isn't that so? (Just ask the marketer whose website gets traffic but can't convert visits to leads or sales.)

The truth is, a professional copywriter knows "tricks of the trade" that marketers don't know. The professional copywriter has experience and from that experience has a well of knowledge to draw upon when faced with any marketing challenge. Copywriters and designers are creative professionals who can turn raw marketing strategy and data into the words and pictures that resonate with a target audience and motivate prospects to become buyers.

One of the first pieces of advice in the e-newsletter said, "Know your audience. Gear your writing to the needs and tastes of your customers. Think of your top 10 customers and write as though you're talking to them."

This is great advice. But let's go a little further with it and get a little deeper into the process of writing great marketing copy. Just because you're thinking about your top 10 customers' wants and needs doesn't mean you can think like them. And are they really the ones you should be talking to anyway?

Sometimes, you need to talk to the bottom 10, the ones who aren't buying your product or service due to perceived obstacles - things they THINK are reasons to not buy. Surveys and market research can help you find out what the obstacles may be and why those customers are not buying. Is the obstacle price? Is it that they don't think they "need" your product or service? A professional copywriter can address negative perceptions and knows how to turn them into positives with  words that can appeal to the bottom 10 and turn them into buyers - without alienating the top 10. Without alienating the top 10 - that's key. You still want people who are like your top 10 buyers to buy.

If you ARE writing to your top 10 customers, best thing would be to try to cross-sell them additional products or services - after all, they know and trust your brand. You'll be writing to your best customers, the ones you already have, who are most likely to buy more. But it's that fraction of your audience that isn't buying now that you also need to address and try to convert into customers.

Sound complicated? It is. It's more difficult than the advice in an e-newsletter may lead you to believe. You almost need a degree in psychology. A professional copywriter knows how to motivate with the right words, is a veritable "salesperson on paper" who knows how to talk to the top 10 (easiest to convert buyers) AND knows what to say to the bottom 10 (hardest to convince buyers).

Another "tip" from the e-newsletter ...

"Arouse interest. From your headline to your close, be interesting and colorful. Be crisp. Be friendly. Do everything possible to keep your reader reading."

Again, this is great advice. However, do you know if you're writing a letter what the tricks are that can keep the eye moving through your letter? Do you know how to use long and short sentences, subheads and bold copy, when it's more appropriate to write in the first person ("I"), and why you need to use the word "you" a lot in your letter? These are things professional copywriters know and can make a difference between a letter that gets tossed in the trash can or one that persuades readers to "act now" and buy your product or service.


People We Met At The Show

From left to right ...

Debra Schaner, Solutions Consultant, Power Tech Cleaning
meets with Joanne Lewis of Tango Vision, Inc.

Cynthia Maniglia of The Copy Grove sharing direct mail samples
with Chris McCraley of Vertical Resources, Inc.

Joanne Lewis of Tango Vision, Inc. with Larry T. Myers, Owner of L. Myers Associates

Exhibitor Jodi Frank, Owner of Keystone Safety Supply
visiting our table, pictured with Joanne Lewis of Tango Vision, Inc.


What's yours?

The Copy Grove will be exhibiting with design partner, Tango Vision, Inc., at NAPM-CP’s Diverse Business Trade Fair on Tuesday, March 15th, 2011 from 1-7:30PM at the Colonial Park Country Club in Harrisburg, PA.


The Graphic Department: Good Use of a Grease Pencil

Greasy kid stuff? Not always. Sometimes enhancing stock imagery or getting the image you want/need is as easy as using your grease pencil.


How to Create Catchy Marketing Phrases

1) Catchy advertising phrases are often spin-offs of common colloquial phrases, cliches or popular slang.

It's easier to remember a new phrase if it's like one you already know very well. Examples:

Trans World Airways once used the slogan, "Sight for Soaring Eyes" - a spin-off of the cliche "sight for sore eyes."

Consider the Ralston Purina Pet Food slogan, "All you add is love." How close is that to words in the Beatles popular 1960s song, "All you need is love"? Or Nortel's slogan, "Come together" - compared to the Beatles line, "Come together, right now ... over me"?

Geek Squad used "I heart nerds," which is a twist of the "I heart ____(anything - fill in the blank)" colloquial phrase. That phrase, by the way, became insanely popular following the
"I love NY" tourism campaign which began in 1977, with a red heart transposed for the word "love" in the logo version.

Apple Computers used "Think outside the box," a phrase that was extremely popular in the business world in the 1990's. Taco Bell changed it to "Think outside the bun." 

Syntel used "Consider IT done," a phrase we all know - but changed the "it" to "IT" (eye-tee - as in "Information Technology").

And don't forget Morton's Salt - "When it rains, it pours." A great slogan because damp weather often makes salt hard to pour out of the salt shaker. 

2) When in doubt, rhyme.

Click here for a FREE online rhyming Dictionary, if you need help. Then you can create slogans like:

"Once you go Mac. You'll never go back." - Apple Computers

"Easy, Breezy, Beautiful, CoverGirl" - CoverGirl
"Once you pop, the fun don't stop." - Pringles 
"Ore-Ida! It's all-righta!" - Ore-Ida
"Leggo my Eggo" - Eggo Waffles

3) Compare and contrast.

"Pork, the other white meat." - Pork council
People were shunning red meat when this slogan came out, so white meat was something people WANTED. And the thing that came to mind mostly when you said "white meat" was chicken, not pork ... thus the slogan's effectiveness.

"The uncola" - 7-Up
What you don't want - cola. What you do want - 7-Up?
Kind of sounds like an "uncool" soda, though - but hey, the brand went with this in the 1970's anyway. 

"We're number 2. We try harder." - Avis
People love underdogs. 

Well, I could go on and on - but I've got work to do. So I'll leave you with my best advice ...

Just look at a bunch of famous slogans - you can find long lists of them online. And do a little "deconstructive" thinking about them. What makes them catchy to you? Does it sound like something you've heard before? Does it rhyme? And start noticing trends in slogans - how one famous slogan does something similar to another famous slogan. Count the number of words, the way the slogan plays with spelling or punctuation, and see if you can spot trends.

In the early 2000's, it was popular for companies to have taglines that were three words, each followed by a period, like:

"Live. Laugh. Love."
"Experience. Strength. Reliability."


What's. Funny. Now. 
A reverse trend. People have started writing like this in their own non-commercial communications. I've. Seen. It. On. Many. Blogs. 



Bank Merger Yields Interesting "Do Good" Campaign

Doing well and doing good - for banks that are merging and want to generate financial AND social dividends, here's a lesson from Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo is taking over my local Wachovia branch. (Yes, banks are still merging - something you may have remembered from the 90's. It's been a while since TD Bank took over Commerce Bank and so on and so forth. My Wachovia used to be a First Pennsylvania bank, I think, way back when. And transitional marketing is a discipline in and of itself, as my former connections with the old Wilcox agency in NYC taught me.) But I digress.

The point of this post - take a look at that buckslip above from Wells Fargo. It's more than just a piece about a bank name change - it's about doing good! Wells Fargo is inviting bank customers to vote for their favorite charity from a list of five local contenders (all prominent in the Greater Philadelphia area from which I hail) and then goes on to say they will donate a total of $80,000 amongst the charities - every one gets a piece, who gets more depends on the number of votes.

Now that's cause marketing unlike anything I've seen in the banking merger world. Right on, Wells Fargo.


Subaru vs. Ford - And Texting While Driving

This week, Subaru ran four - count 'em - four FULL PAGE ads in the News Section of USA Today. Here's the series of ads the car maker ran and what Ford is doing in contrast.
Ad #1: Through snow ...
 Ad #2: Through the woods ...
Ad #3: On the open road and into the sunset ...
 Ad #4: Through the mud ...

It's all terrain for Subaru but ... where's the car? It's cool. They're selling what the car can DO. They're leaving their competitors in their tracks and making them eat dust. (For the media buying inclined, ads were all on the left page of four consecutive spreads.)

In contrast, let's look at Ford's double truck magazine ad in this month's Travel+Leisure magazine ...
"Daddy, why are you texting while driving? Oprah says that's a no-no!"

Ford explains, via body copy to Daddy (aka Jordan) ...
So if you're wondering how to combine Social Media with your print ad, here's a solution from Ford. Or if you are thinking of updating your Facebook status about your All New Ford Explorer while driving, please wait until you're in the driveway.

Advertise responsibly.


Auto Dealerships Try to Outdo with Bells and Whistles

Bells and whistles - that what we direct marketers call snazzy formats and tipped on do-dads that you might find on a direct mail package. They're usually rather costly but can have a great ROI if they bump up response. Case in point ...

Two auto dealers send similar mailings to me on the same day - what are the chances of that happening? It may not seem too unusual until you look at the actual mailers ...

This one is from Peruzzi Nissan.
Hey, that's a real key tipped on the piece. Wow! And a scratch off. Double wow!

This one is from Dieckhaus Buick.
That's a real key tipped on the piece. And a scratch off. Semi-yawn. I've seen this trick before! Oh, wait - this one has more pages. It's like a newsletter. Hmmm. Interest piqued. AND there's a check inside - "Customer Down Payment Assistance - Pay the sum of:  ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED THIRTY FOUR DOLLARS AND ... 00/00." You may have me at varoom.

Bells and whistles be damned. Too bad I am not in the market for a new car. Those keys are not cheap to put on a mailer. For high-end products like cars, the cost to put something in the mail with a real key can be worth it if it bumps up response.

So I wonder which of these mailers outperformed the other? Is this something new for auto dealerships to send mailers with car keys tipped on? Have you seen it before in your mailbox? Inquiring minds want to know.


The Copy Grove has just completed the training required to do SOCIAL MEDIA for the American Red Cross, Lower Bucks County Chapter.


LinkedIn Creative Group Asks: Do We Really Tell Stories?

“Brand stories"- what's the story? Nowadays, advertising agencies and creative boutiques are being charged with the task of creating a narrative that tells the story of a brand like a Hollywood movie. Is it what we are in the business of doing anyway or just a passing fad? LinkedIn creative group asks the question.

Your thoughts?


Catchy Slogans - Reincarnated (Part 2)

The Original:

"What Happens Here, Stays Here" - In 1999, the team at communications agency R&R Partners introduced this fresh campaign and a new motto for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau (LVCVB). Maybe you remember the commercial featuring the two women who go into a bathroom at a Vegas club and switch wigs ...


Flash forward 2010-2011, Luvs has put its spin on the tagline to come up with "What happens in diapers should stay in diapers." Here's the spot that's currently airing ...

I'm lovin' it!



Cloud Computing is Great, But ...

Cloud computing is hot now - witness the Windows 7 commercial that aired this holiday season about going "to the cloud."

This is web based electronic storage, a convenient way to back up your photo, Word doc, MP3 and other important files from your SmartPhone, laptop, or what-have-you favorite go-to-device. Windows 7 isn't the only one to offer this service. For instance, Toshiba offers it and so does a company called GoGrid, to name a few.

The information you back up to the Cloud is accessible as long as you have an Internet connection. That's the convenience, but it can also be a downside for business people who depend on having constant access to archived or "work-in-progress" electronic files.

Say the Internet goes down. A Verizon cable is compromised or something goes awry with Comcast. You don't have access to your primary device. You've got a deadline to meet and need to work on some files - which, unfortunately, are only backed up in the Cloud. Unless you're Icarus, too bad; you're out of luck. 

Modern technology rocks but you don't want to get stuck between it and a hard place. Even with state-of-the-art web based electronic file storage, you can still build a case for backing up to a good-old-fashioned flash drive. So go dig up the free one you got from the trade show you attended last year or the one that vendor just gave you. It might come in handy!

Thanks for stopping by