Wordless

We looked at a current Vogue and analyzed 500 pages of fashion advertising.

All were photographic, mostly single image. Aside from the logos of the brands, a scattering of taglines, and some mouse-type copyright info, the absence of words was remarkable.

500 ads. Zero headlines. Zero text.

A highly evolved art form aimed at an audience that does not, will not, and (to some extent) cannot read. There were, by the way, 190 more pages of ads (!) for cosmetic products, which did carry text. Some delusions need words.

A tiny findability hint

Don’t waste your money buying the .biz .tv .net variations on your web address. Nobody’s going to accidentally type them. But do buy the near-spellings of your url. The phonetic spellings, the fatfinger misspellngs, etc. United Airlines, for example, deeply regrets not buying untied.com….

How to Rename a Company

It’s a joy to name companies, but renaming can be a minefield.

Even if the existing company name has utterly failed, there will be timid people who believe nothing should change. There are also fears, sometimes legitimate, of losing brand equity/visibility/reputation/whatever if the transition is badly handled. Yes, branding can be tricky, but fortune favors the brave. Suit up.

Will you lose customers? Good will? Trust? Credibility? Or just the cost of printing new stationery? Read our new White Paper on Renaming to learn 11 practical ways to make the process work better.

Are you content with your SEO?

The single best thing you can do to be more visible on search engines? Have plenty of engaging, readable, relevant, original content.

Why? Because over time, people will read it and link to it. It’s as simple as that. Inbound links are that big. (Not reciprocal links. Don’t be conned by offers of link exchanges – they’re essentially worthless.) We’re sorry to disillusion people who want magic instant solutions, but great content is something you can control, and the value does accumulate over time. Sure, there are other factors such as having clean code, as you can read in our White Papers on SEO, but content is king.

23 magazines killed in one day.

The publisher, Reed Elsevier, pulled the plug and pronounced them dead yesterday.

This is not the recession. This is evolution. It’s just not a good time to be in the magazine business. Or newspaper. Or printed catalog. Or direct mail. Or buggy whip.

Who’s next?

Shortening

Every B2B marketer hopes to “shorten the sales cycle”

There are lots of ways to do it, and sales gurus earn hefty fees showing you how to streamline the process once the suspect becomes a prospect and enters the big, wide sales funnel. There’s lots to do to improve information transfer, or to be seen as a responsive collaborator. Consultative sales takes empathetic listening, for example, a fundamental skill that can be learned.

But let’s rewind the tape here, and go back to the funnel entrance. If you have used your hunter-gatherer skills (last century’s salesmanship) to reach this person, say after relentless cold calling, or direct mail, or by push messaging of various kinds, you began with a huge hurdle to overcome. You’re Selling something, and you have to overcome the resulting resistance if you hope to make the leap from salesperson to consultant. Can you do it and be credible? How much time and effort will it take?

There’s a better alternative. If that person entered the sales funnel by choice, willingly pursuing their needs, you’re no longer Selling, you’re facilitating. How much more credible are you? How much easier to be a trusted source when it’s their idea? How much shorter is the sales cycle?

Moral of the story? Take a chunk of that outbound-messaging budget and redirect it to become more findable. Then measure the ROI. Rinse and repeat.

Still printing brochures? On paper?

Organizations that mow down trees to publish paper brochures do it because daddy did it.

Long experience tells them they can impress the hell out of prospects with glossy, colorful, brochures and catalogs – after, of course, the long pause for snail mail to arrive. Maybe there’s a stamped, die-cut, embossed folder with a DVD showing videos of the factory/campus/products/whatever. (Eight bucks a copy, eight days to arrive.)

In the meanwhile, their competitors (the ones playing by our decade’s rules) zipped up-to-date, personalized info via email and YouTube and website links, asked for feedback, answered questions, looked responsive and resourceful, opened the door to a sale. Virtually zero bucks variable cost, and zero thumb-twiddling delay.

We used to publish a paper brochure, too, but stopped 15 years ago.

Out-walk the zombies

Zombies in the movies are, we must admit, terrifying, but mostly for their apparent lack of personal hygiene. You do not want to sit next to one on the bus. They’re also famous for staggering clumsily out of the graveyard toward the screaming ingenue and her pretty-much-doomed boyfriend. It is quite apparent that these stiffs are stiff: they have not been doing yoga while buried.

So, as long as you don’t panic, escape seems relatively simple. Walk briskly.

It doesn’t even rise to the stress level of “I don’t have to out-run the bear. I just have to out-run you.” A steady 4 mph should leave the undead in the dust.

Likewise with your business competitors. Many brand stakeholders regard their competitors with exaggerated respect, and this can lead to bad decisions that leave you frozen in place. We’ve often said you don’t need to outspend people you can outsmart. In times of great change, if you can adapt your strategies and tactics to the changes in consumer decision making, your brand will be walking briskly away, taking market share from the zombies.

What do you think?