Hedgehog, Tips, W.I.P. and The Link You Really Must Not Click

Friends and colleagues,

Ever eaten roasted hedgehog? My wife recently did. You shouldn’t. You’re welcome.

What’s the point, Bower, you ask. It is this: She tried something new; she experimented. She wrestled with her preconceived notions and doubts, took a chance, experienced and learned. She knows now that she’d rather not dine on the gastronomical equivalent of a leather belt seasoned with peppercorn.

So, as we begin the New Year, my wish for you good people is that you take calculated risks, try new things, learn from experience and yes, even eat some hedgehog.

Now on to dessert!


  1. Learn from the New York Post. Did you know that the Post and other leading papers and magazines employ folks whose primary responsibility is to write the cover and article headlines we can’t ignore? (e.g. “Headless Body in Topless Bar”) They’ve learned that single copy sales are driven primarily by these oversized exclamations. So does that mean you should shock and awe with your headers, subheads and subject lines? Mostly not, but it does mean you should recognize that these lines – much like a retail storefront – strongly determine how many of your customers and/or prospects stop, look, listen and read.
  2. Embrace responsive design. A kissing cousin of adaptive design, a responsively designed website uses media queries to determine what screen size and resolution of device it’s being served on. Flexible images and content grids then size correctly to fit the screen. So, if you’re viewing a responsive site (click example here) on a desktop browser, for example, try making your browser window smaller. The images and content column will shrink, then elements of the design and blocks of copy will disappear altogether, adapting to the media serving the content. Because it’s more user-friendly, smarter and less expensive than the old way (i.e., designing mobile versions of your websites), it is becoming de rigueur among hipsters (i.e., the development community). Get some.
  3. Think like Frank Luntz. Ever heard of the “death tax?” Well, you have Luntz, a well-traveled political pollster and strategist, to thank. His specialty is testing language and finding words that will help his clients sell their product or turn public opinion on an issue or a candidate. Luntz has proven that eliciting an emotional reaction from a reader or viewer is as important, if not more so, than evoking a rational response. He believes if you win over the heart, the mind will follow. This is a key reason he encourages his political clients to use words like “fight” when describing what they’ll do for you. So, next time you’re developing a well-reasoned, thoroughly logical piece of marketing communication, channel your inner Luntz and test some fiery adjectives and action hero verbs that get your customers’ or prospects’ blood pumping.
  4. Try the billboard test. During your commute over the next few days, check out the billboards on the major roadways you travel. Of those you recall, take note of colors, balance of copy vs. graphics, length and readability of the headline, typeface used, overall message, offer, etc. Ask a few of your colleagues to do the same. Then compare notes. I’ll bet you a barley-colored beverage that there’s a shared experience of what “worked.” You can then draw on this low cost research to upgrade your digital media (e.g., websites, banners, email). Much like highway billboards, all of these are experienced on a “drive by” basis. So what catches your eye on the road will likely catch your eye online.
  5. Use prescriptive links and buttons. We all assume that everyone on the web knows what to do when they encounter blue underlined text or a button that says “Click here.” And for most of the surfers with prehensile thumbs this is no doubt true. But if you want more of your customers and prospects to click through deliberately rather than incidentally you need to tell them exactly what to do. This means using direct language and commands (e.g. “Click this link now”) and graphics of a mouse and directional arrows (hey you, click on this link to see a visual example) to show visitors exactly what they need to do. In numerous tests we’ve executed over the last year, click-through rates on prescriptive links and buttons are as much as 50% higher. Simple, stupid, but it works.
  6. Claim a color. An adjunct to “Own an adjective,” this line of thought holds that the consistent and disciplined association of your brand with a specific color or pattern can increase aided and unaided recall (i.e., folks remember who you are with or without any help) by 30% or more. So, for example, if I ask you what computer company is blue, what cracker is red, what dog food uses a checkerboard pattern, the majority of you could answer my questions. It works for packaged goods marketers, sports team and political parties and it can work for you. Let me know if you want to learn more.
  7. Respect the fold. We all know calls to action should be above the fold in email, but results we’ve seen indicate that almost 90% of response comes from the top of the communication (seen in preview panes and on mobile devices.) So keep those calls to actions up high and top of mind.
  8. Become a storyteller. People will quickly figure out what you do, but they’ll start to care when they hear the story of why you do what you do. Did I just blow your mind?

The Link You Must Not Click:


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

Your friend and colleague,


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

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