Increase Brand Awareness with Clever Copy in the Nooks & Crannies

Hiding in the corners beneath the bold headlines, under the compelling benefit statements, and around the action-packed verbs are bountiful opportunities to inject your brand with personality. A recent trend is “nooks & crannies copy” as I’m calling it, because it often pops up in unexpected places. Here are three examples:

1. Yahoo Chat

Yahoo Chat Screenshot \

While it may be difficult to see in this picture, Yahoo has brilliantly introduced humor into their chat feature. Between the conversation above and the text box below is the status report indicating if the other person is typing a message. However, instead of a plain and boring “Apple123 is typing a message….”, yahoo has sprinkled clever anecdotes such as:

  • Apple123 really should learn to type with more than two fingers…
  • STAND BY FOR A MESSAGE FROM APPLE123
  • Apple123 is about to drop knowledge…
  • Apple123 is hammering out a wicked comeback…
  • Bate your breath, Apple123 is typing…

among a plethora of others.

While not directly selling anything, introducing conversational wit in this unexpected place allows Yahoo! to showcase their brand’s personality. It gives the user the impression that Yahoo! is a fun, easy to work with company that doesn’t take itself to seriously.

2. Verizon Wireless

Verizon Highspeed Internet Loading Icon

Located directly before a purchasing decision, this otherwise overlooked loading page has been transformed into a mini flash ad that reinforces the product’s effectiveness right before the sale. The ad shows an animated film strip loaded with a series of technological leaps. The last one, “From Dial Up…To High Speed Internet” subtly suggests “You wouldn’t live in a cave, would you? Then why on earth would you have dial up?” An effective suggestion, I would imagine.

3. You Need a Budget (YNAB)

YNAB screenshot

Jesse Mecham, the developer of YNAB, tells the story of how he and is wife needed a personal budgeting system. They developed a simple excel spreadsheet that over the years has developed into a sophisticated yet user-friendly budgeting tool. While the site has been dramatically improved on the design side, Jesse still maintains the heartfelt honesty in his conversational copy, as evidenced by the “Download Update” screen for his product. He is an accountant, and occasionally a grammatical error will pop up in his copy, but it doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to the bottom line. His conversational style is obviously effective due to the growth and endorsements of YNAB.

Related Links

Three Tips to Make Your Copy Conversational – by Mila Sidman

How to Make the Online Sales Copy for Your Website More Conversational – by Evelyn Lim

The Right Way to Write Sales Copy – by Anthony Vicenza

Build Your Own Credit Card – Captial One’s Card Lab

stuffed-mailbox.jpgWhen’s the last time you received a direct mail letter from a credit card company? If you’re like me, chances are you can’t remember the last time your mailbox contained only one.

Direct mail has traditionally been the cornerstone of credit card marketing and as we enter the era of customization, keeping up with the number of different offers means a mailbox full of direct mail letters.

Capital One is looking to change all that with their latest product – the Capital One Card Lab.

According to a Capital One press release, company spokesperson Pam Girardo commented how, “Consumers today want control and expect the ability to customize products to meet their needs. Instead of buying music albums in the store, people are compiling their own online – and rather than buying a car off the lot, people can now design and purchase the precise automobile they desire online. Capital One is pleased to empower our customers to build their own credit card online.”

The site is easy to navigate and intuitively designed. No doubt, we will still see a steady flow of promotional material in regards to this product, however at least now we can understand what we’re getting in plain English.

Related Links

Paymentnews.com

Mycardblog.com

Colloquy.com

LinkedIn – WE WANT PICTURES!!!

View Andrea Morris's profile on LinkedInI’m on a mission.

I love LinkedIn – it’s by far the most effective social media tool I use for my business. But I have one big issue and I want to get it resolved. Why isn’t there a place to put your picture on your LinkedIn profile?

The other day, someone contacted me through LinkedIn referencing our meeting over a year ago at a networking event. I can’t remember her. The name sounds familiar and I know I had a conversation with her, but if I had her picture it sure would help me spark my memory.

Adding a picture to your professional profile would also help when you’re sending new invites. People remember faces easier than names or titles. If I had an invite with a face I recognized, it would increase my feeling of connection with that person.

So, in an effort to make this request known, I’m starting a petition to gain support for LinkedIn adding the option to upload pictures to their service.

To sign the petition, simply leave a comment below.

If you’re curious as to what LinkedIn is, or how to use it – check out these blogs:

LinkedIntelligence

LinkedInBlog

BuzzNetworker

LinkedIn Business Discussion Index

Boost Your Career With LinkedIn

LinkedIn Notes

LinkedIn User Manual

Myragan.com: Here’s Why I’m Totally Addicted

I belong to a LOT of social networking sites and I love it. My latest craze is myragan.com – a social networking site specifically for communicators (folks in Advertising/Marketing/PR, etc.)

What sets myragan apart from the gads of other networking sites I belong to?

1. Industry focus – Marketing folks seem to have their own crazy way of doing things (which is part of the reason why I find my job so fun.) It’s engaging to be plugged into a community that genuinely “gets” the way you operate.

2. Content Quality – Myragan is resource-rich and well organized. The forums are outstanding and the quality of the posts reflects the professionalism of the community. My favorite spot to visit is the funny pages – where I can find clips from youtube or other media to make me laugh.

3. Community Involvement – Most social networking sites are pretty laissez-faire when it comes to direct communication with users. Not so with myragan. They have a dedicated staff that reaches out and makes you feel at home – so if you’ve never ventured into the online community, this would be a great place to start.

4. Intuitive Navigation – The menu bar makes myragan easy to navigate and operate. This may sound simple and “duh”, but trust me – with lots of sites it feels like you need to learn a second language just to understand the navigation. Myragan’s simple design has me sold.

So, if you’re a member you can check out my profile. Feel free to send me a friend request if you’d like to network. Cheers!

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Andrea Morris is the Chief Idea Officer of Write Ideas Marketing and specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Ideas on using meetup.com for marketing

meetup.gifLast fall I stumbled upon a website called meetup.com. The concept is simple – a place for people with like-minded interests to organize events and meet in real life. To me, this site takes social networking and Web 2.0 to another level because of the healthy dose of reality. Users are no longer tied to their keyboards – which has some useful advantages for your marketing efforts.

Here are some ways I’ve seen meetup.com used first-hand for marketing purposes.

1. Promote Your Product – I belong to a meetup called the Reston Pug Club. Pug owners get together once a month at a local dog park to hang out. One week a savvy bakery showed up with their pug and enough homemade dog treats for the entire pack. The free samples were a big hit and the enterprising baker walked away with lots of new business.

2. Focus Groups – Another Meetup I frequent is called Ultimate Success. The group organizer, Ayda, wanted some feedback on a program she is creating to help people achieve their goals. Using meetup.com she was able to bring together a focus group to try out the program and give honest and objective opinions.

3. Networking – My friend (who I met through meetup) Dean Hua is a master at using Meetup.com to promote networking events for entrepreneurs in the DC metro area.

4. Sponsorship – Could you provide an existing meetup with funds to pay for the site fee ($15 per month) or a convenient place to meet in exchange for mention on the meetup site?

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Calling all interesting business websites

For my column in Smart Business Ideas Magazine I’m on the hunt for interesting websites business owners can use.

I am NOT interested in anything related to “make money now.” Instead, these are resources or new technology.

Examples I’ve already published:

Why Link Love is Bad for Your Blog

Fresh out of college I worked selling ad space for a regional lifestyle magazine. It was a tough sell because the magazine was about 80% advertising and 20% editorial – and people caught on. The lack of original content was ultimately what caused the magazine’s demise.

Similarly, I can predict the same fate for blogs who evangelize link love strategies. Simply creating a list of other blogs or writing a post to the effect of “Read this blog – it’s good” is an ineffective long term strategy for building a quality blog.

If you look at some of the best blogs out there – blogs like ProBlogger, Seth Godin, Copyblogger, or How to Change the World, you’ll notice they never re-hash other people’s ideas. If they do link to another blog it’s with a purpose. If they reference an article they state their opinion. If they use a “tactic” it’s subtle and buffered with mounds of original content.

Unsure you have what it takes to come up with original content on a regular basis? Maybe you shouldn’t be blogging in the first place.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Web 2.0 Burnout?

squidoo-small.gifHere’s a riddle for you, what do you get when you cross a traditional website with Web 2.0?

The answer? A whole new ballgame.

Squidoo.com (a project with marketing guru Seth Godin at the helm) calls their new ballgame a lens – aimed at providing easy searches, low-maintenance and affiliate/PPC advertising incentives. According to the Official Squidoo Lens,

“We believe that when you go online, you don’t search. You don’t even find. Instead you are usually on a quest to just make sense…There ought to be a way for you to talk about what matters to you, what 10 things matter to you, without the pressure of keeping it up daily (like a blog); and you ought to be able to make some money if someone buys something because you recommended it.”

Interesting concept – I signed up for my first lens last week. Although it’s still in its infancy, you can check it out by clicking here.

Zude.com is scheduled to launch May 1st. Its main feature is the ability for users to “drag and drop” modules to create their own pages. Zude’s creators hail it as the “next generation and ultimate evolution of web interaction.”

Regardless of the tool, one thing is clear – Web 2.0 has increased the demand for user-friendly, intuitive online interaction. And yes, these sites do provide branding value and the potential for passive income.

But how much is too much? Is it possible to suffer from Web 2.0 burnout?

Personally, I think so. Between my website, blog, myspace, meetup, technorati, squidoo, dogster, livejournal, my yahoo! and the countless other sites I belong to – it can become overwhelming. And with the plethora of new tools on the horizon, users may not be as eager to jump on board as they were a year ago.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Joost.com – Inflated Viral Marketing

Joost Beta InviteLooking to build buzz about your business? Take a hint from Joost.com – a new online TV service from the founders of Skype that’s sure to knock the socks off traditional cable. Through a deal with Viacom, Joost.com offers name-brand channels like MTV, VH1, BET, and Comedy Central. And negotiations with other networks (like CBS) are happening as we speak.

In order to participate in Joost.com beta, users must receive an “invite” – which is a brilliant way to boost buzz. People will always want what they can’t have. Bloggers sense scarcity and post their desired demand.

It’s no surprise some holders are looking to capitalize on their invitation’s value by posting them on auction sites like eBay or joostswap.com (where bidders offer everything from web hosting services to Belgian chocolate and beer)

This is a similar concept to the crazes of toys such as Cabbage Patch Dolls, Tickle Me Elmo or XBox 360. Low supply + High Demand = Lots of Buzz & Inflated Value

So what does this mean for Joost.com? Blog posts are tangible evidence of demand – which is a big chip to play when negotiating with networks and advertisers.

Only question is – will the product live up to the hype? Bloggers are posting about their desire for the concept – not the product itself. This can be a risky move. It opens up the gates for competitors if Joost.com doesn’t meet the high expectations they have set for themselves. We’ll just watch (if I get an invite) and see.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

No more text-n-drive!! Jott.com introduces hands-free emailing

trafficIt happens every time.

I’m sitting in the car on the DC beltway and *smack* – an idea. Out of nowhere the perfect solution to a problem or a fabulous tagline for a client will magically appear out of thin air. Only problem is – I’m going 85 mph and there’s no way I can write it down (that is without risking a 47 car pileup).

Never fear – jott.com is here.

Since I subscribed (for *free*) to jott.com I can now call a toll free number from my cell phone (I have it set as number 8 on speed dial. That’s how much I use it). I say my idea into my phone and *poof* – my words are transcribed and automatically sent to my e-mail.

Fabulous!

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Advertising: No results? No charge.

My first job out of college was selling advertising space in a low-quality lifestyle magazine that has since dissolved (we all had to start somewhere). We were trained to sell on the basis of our ridiculously high distribution and that our CPM (cost per thousand – a standard way to evaluate the true cost of your advertising) was very low compared to our competition. High distribution + Low cost = Value.

The problem I faced when I went into meetings is that people saw right through it. One person actually told me, “There’s no way I would look through this magazine. It’s garbage. I don’t care how much it costs – it’s not worth it.” Even though the metrics were compelling, once you saw the product it was understood that the results simply would not exist.

Many people face this delima when looking at pay-per-click (PPC) advertising – a popular “ad” on a page (maybe you have some on your blog) that once someone clicks – the advertiser is charged and the publisher is paid. One issue with PPC is the heightened potential for scams called click-frauds where clicks are made with the intention of getting a payment rather than purchasing the product.

Google is experimenting with a new type of advertising called “cost-per-action” that takes the PPC model one step further – you’d only pay for an “action” that you define (like a file download, purchase, registration, etc.) For a New York Times article explaining Google’s cost-per-action model, click here.

If the magazine I worked for had implemented this model I could imagine the changes that would need to take place. There would be a push for higher-quality, better research, and fierce follow-up on which campaigns worked. I applaud Google for this initiative because it removes yet another piece of the “sleazy advertising” stigma. Advertising is a viable way to get your message out to millions and soon, it may be more cost-effective than ever.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Freecycle.org – I love you!!!

Our mattress was terrible. I mean really bad. We talked about getting a new one for years and never quite got around to it. Then the other day I got my freecycle e-mail and saw someone was moving and giving away their brand new, still wrapped in the plastic, top of the line Ikea mattress. I emailed them, picked it up, and am now sleeping soundly.freecycle.org

This is the miracle of Freecycle.org – an online community where the term “trash to treasure” is brought to life. Freecycle works through Yahoo! Groups and basically has just a few rules. All items posted must be:

  • free
  • legal
  • appropriate for all ages

Another shining example of a Web 2.0 site that has turned information into an experience (and boy am I glad). I also love the name – it’s memorable, easy to say and accurately describes the services. Kudos.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com