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.

Thanks for stopping by