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Latest Issue: Nov/Dec 2018

Non-advice that will help you stand motionless


One of the curses of multichannel promotional availabilities is that excretions from just about anybody's keyboard can claim “expert advice”. (Oops. You might aim that accusation at the words you're reading reluctantly at this moment.)

But... Before you accuse me of being arbitrarily adversarial, check out this professional advice just as it appeared in print, not in this publication, of course, titled “Ways to increase your Facebook Engagement”: In order to create success on Facebook, you need to have a clear objective and great design, plus:

Solid content strategy;
Promotion strategy;
Engagement strategy;
Conversion strategy.

Now, suppose the subject might have been ways to increase your email engagement or ways to increase your direct mail engagement or ways to increase your print media engagement. Get the idea? Uniqueness has castrated itself, as though an expert on meteorology says, “If you're outside and it rains Thursday, you might get wet”. Hey, Fellow Expert, how does that differ from rain on Tuesday? Thanks for the non-advice that may help your competitors outdistance you.

How are you ?keeping score?
You walk off the tennis court, exhilarated because you scored four service aces and somehow returned your opponent's impossible smash. Wait a moment: Does it matter that you lost?

Losers invariably find solace and comfort in achievements that fall short of triumph. If you're reading this, implicitly you're a professional within the hallowed direct response universe. Don't wallow in achievements that have fallen short of triumph. Those are losers, not achievements. Don't, please don't, stumble into that slough of despond. Instead, analyse and fight professionally for increased share of market.

In the early, embryonic days of email as a marketing tool, some marketers-whose delight overpowered their logic-gauged success on the number of times their message was “noted” rather than the number of responses their message generated. Are we marketers or are we egoists?

That tell-them-nothing-new Ways to increase your Facebook engagement non-advice isn't standing there alone. Here's another, headed “5 Tips to Help Retailers Increase Fan Engagement on Facebook”. Hmmm. Engagement. Aside from the difference in commitment between an engagement and a marriage, can any sane retailer draw a positive comparison between a “Like” and a transaction?

Draw your own conclusion about the value of the five tips in that second non-advice:
1) Learn what excites your fans and put that knowledge into action. 2) Post photos and images. 3) Include calls to action. 4) Hitch your wagon to a shooting star. 5) Show fans you love them.

These are the headings. The texts can discourage would-be social media experimenters who want those media to become potent competitors. Include calls to action? If the word were Emphasise it still wouldn't be a strong enough imperative.

Implementing that last tip, “Show fans you love them,” bases its appeal on giveaways and discounts. Come on, giveaways and discounts are venerable and competitive in every traditional medium. Every loose insert in the newspaper is loaded with them and has been for half a century or more. You get the overall idea.

Lead us not into temptation?
Okay, then lead us where?The Lord's Prayer in The Good Book has as a key line: “Lead us not into temptation”. But that prayer also says, “Deliver us from evil”. In the rough, tough world of direct marketing, those two imperatives might clash with each other.

Temptation is our rhetorical candy. Evil is the nasty married couple who detest everyone's offspring, including their own: Suspicion and Competition.

Sad, intemperate, and heretic as it may seem, no outside benefactor is sitting on a cloud (not the computer cloud), casting thunderbolts on our behalf. It's up to us to succeed in a hypercompetitive direct response universe.

You've read this far. Thank you! In exchange for the Facebook-parallel assumption that you “like” the advice, one more brass nugget: Implementing the diatribe is as basic and as uncomplicated as the creative message that says to the recipient of that message-in language the recipient understands-“This is an offer you shouldn't allow to get past you unaccepted... and oh, yes, why you shouldn't”.

See? Not only does cost-per-response trump cost-per-click by too huge a margin to bother tabulating; a more universal trumping truth emerges: Results trump blather.

Herschell Gordon Lewis is president of Lewis Enterprises. He writes copy for and consults with direct response and catalogue companies worldwide. He is the author of 32 books including the recently-published Internet Marketing Tips, Tricks, and Tactics. Other current books are Catalog Copy That Sizzles, Open Me Now, Asinine Advertising, Marketing Mayhem. The fourth edition of his classic On the Art of Writing Copy has just been published.