Butter or Margarine, Tips, W.I.P. and That Thing You Owe Me

Friends and colleagues,

I hope this note finds you tan, but not too tan, well rested, well read and on the verge of your second or third anonymous good gesture.  No?  Yep, me neither.  But I do hope you’ve had a productive, adventure-filled summer with colleagues, friends and family.  After all, you truly deserve all the very best things.

Ok, have I buttered you up enough?  Then on to the buffet table.  Read on.


  1. Build a “beta” customer. No, this is not what Boston marketers want. Rather, I’d suggest you take the path a number of our clients have and ask several groups of your best, most dedicated customers to test drive new products and services. Call them your Expert Advisory Board or Council of Excellence or some other aspirational name that says “you are smart and we like you so tell us what to do.” Here’s the kicker: They’ll do you this solid for free or close to it. And here’s the pay-off: You’ll be able to shortcut false starts, kill bad ideas early, embrace the gold nuggets and spend less – a lot less – on launch marketing. Don’t believe it? Call me.
  2. Try a hybrid app. Can’t afford a “native” app, but don’t think a mobile site built with HTML5 will meet your needs? Then consider a hybrid app which offers the benefits of both at a lower cost and with significantly less development time. You’ll still have a treasured presence in the Apple and Android stores, but you won’t need to build two or more versions of your app to accommodate users on different platforms.
  3. Say goodbye to Skeuomorphism and hello to iOS7. This one is geeky, but the mobile developers and Apple devotees among you know where I’m going. And since mobile is the new black, y’all had better try to follow along. In short, instead of Apple Notes app icons looking like a three-dimensional yellow legal pad with lines and margin (designed to be telegraphic and familiar for nascent users of mobile technology), in the mobile devices coming out this fall these icons will be unashamedly two dimensional.
  4. Use iambic pentameter in your next email. Kidding! Don’t do this unless you’re marketing to Royal Shakespearean Theater company subscribers.
  5. Mind your chapter and verse. Next time you’re building your next web video or demo, break your piece into discrete, digestible sections with purpose-driven chapter headings so viewers can choose to either view the whole magilla or just the parts that are relevant to their current need and/or interest. You may want them to soak in every second of your lovingly produced piece but the reality is that 65% of video viewers only get through half of the online videos they play.
  6. Abide by the 25/25/50 rule for email and display ads. Assume that a quarter of your prospects are scanners who only read subject lines, headlines and CTAs (call to action), another quarter are New Yorker proofreaders who will read that stuff and every word of body copy, and half will do something in the middle. You may say “no duh, Jay” but remembering this rule will remind you to write and design to accommodate different personas, behavior patterns and idiosyncrasies. And your conversion rates will improve.
  7. Honor thee the three pillars of SEO. Content, links and social media continue to inform and drive Google’s and Bing’s search algorithms. But where the focus in the recent past would be to maximize the number of keywords, inbound links and followers, today the watchword driving Google’s 11 major algorithm changes this year is quality. You will be rewarded even more for focus and relevancy in your content and partnerships and sharable social media content. Man, that sounds jargon-y, but I think you get the point. If not, ping me.
  8. Beware of cognitive “diss”-onance. This is a high-falutin’ description of a tendency all marketers (heck, all humans) have: to see what we want to see and hear what we want to see rather than what actually “is.” In a marketing context, this means we like a plan or a piece of concept creative even if at some level we know the target customer won’t. Or simply because not liking it means disagreeing with the boss. How to guard against it? Include it in your evaluative or scoring criteria. Acknowledging this bias has helped us develop more effective work even if we don’t personally love it.

That Thing You Owe Me
Just feedback.  That’s all.  What you liked, didn’t like, would have done differently, etc.  What were you thinking?

Until next time, be well and be good. And please let me know what’s new with you and yours.

Your friend and colleague,


P.S. If, for whatever reason, you’d rather not receive these occasional notes, please let me know.

W.I.P. (Work in Progress):

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