You are Wonderful and In Danger; Tips and Topics, News and the “F” word

Friends and colleagues,

You are uncommonly good people.  I’d bet you donate anonymously, practice random acts of kindness and share your wisdom with troubled youth.  You are fit, well-read and breezily funny.  But there are storm clouds on the horizon.  Unforeseen complications are arising. Life, as you know it, could change for the worse if you don’t act immediately.

See what I did there?

Appealing to your aspirations and your fears, uncertainties and doubts kept you reading, engaged.  If not, you wouldn’t be reading this sentence and gnashing your teeth.  Tapping into the deep-seeded emotions that, more often than not, trump reason is becoming a primary branding imperative for both B2C and B2B marketers.

Ok, on to the main course, served up by some of Crossbow’s finest archers.

Tips and Topics

  1. Try the Fill in the Gaps Test.  Hey you, brand marketers, attention please! Have your team, a panel of your customers and another panel of your prospects fill in the gaps for the following sentence:  (Name of company) is a  _______(what are you?) that ____________ (what do you do?) for ___________  (for whom do you do it?).   Top-tier companies who have done their positioning, identity and branding work right should, in our experience, see the following results:  At least 75% of your colleagues, 50% of your customers and 25% of your prospects should fill in the gaps almost exactly the same way.  If they don’t, you need to do some branding gap analysis so you can get a higher % of your stakeholders on the same page. So there.
  2. Search and you shall find… more complexity and cost. Google’s recent SERP (search engine results page) changes mean that paid ads that were presented on the side will now be integrated into the top and bottom placements; therefore, there are fewer organic (i.e., non-paid) slots.  In most vertical markets and in most cases, this means there will be as many as four sponsored results on top, forcing organic results to appear below the fold and making natural optimization (i.e., a page one result) even harder.  If you are relying on search engines for lead generation, we suggest you re-assess your strategies and tactics soon or risk lowering your search position and return on investment.  Bummer, right?  But not for those marketers who can pivot quickly.
  3. Move beyond personalization to individualization.  It’s not hard to integrate names, company names and titles into marketing communication.  And it almost always improves engagement.  But how many of us are truly individualizing our communications using messaging triggered by these folks’ behavior on your site, on social media sites, to email?  How many of us have developed persona-based messaging based on data modeling?  How many of you have stopped reading because I’m using too much jargon?   Whatever the case, if you’re not exploring ways (i.e., partnerships, technologies, creative resources) to develop one-to-one relationships with your customers, your competitors will.  Have I generated some fear, uncertainty and doubt?
  4. Cognitive marketing is the new black. What is it you ask?  It’s marketing strategy and tactics that map to how your target customers think, feel and act. Well, Jay, we’re doing that already and quite well, you say.  But what you might not be considering are status quo bias, loss aversion, anchoring or numerous other biases and perceptions that drive consumer behavior.  Better understanding why consumers make the decisions they do will help you test smarter and generate higher response engagement and revenue.  Yes, I promise.
  5. Hey, content marketers, get chunking.  We are more likely to sample a donut at a deli counter if it’s divided into smaller pieces.  Much in the same way – and ignoring for now the fascinating social science behind this behavior – the content we generate to push and pull customers and prospects where we want them to go should be divided into easily digestable pieces.  Even in long-form “thought leadership,” this means paragraphs with no more than five sentences, double-spacing between them, using numbered or bulleted lists, breaking copy up with visuals, using headers and subheader, providing multiple “Summaries” if needed, etc.  In a world increasingly characterized by a collective attention deficit disorder, making content “easy” to use is as important as those sprinkles on your chocolate-glazed kruller.
  6. Hire a Food Stylist to Make Your CTAs More Delicious.  Rather than a boring button, odd-shaped badge or underlined blue text, wouldn’t you rather click on a lightly salted almond, cheeseburger or a smoothie when you want to buy, download or learn more online?  Marketing science says heartily, yes!And no, I am not serious.  But maybe I should be.


  • Well, despite our best efforts to spend 100% of our time developing great plans and executing high impact work with clients, we were asked to submit some of our best campaigns for a creative award (whatever that means).  Lo and behold, our client, leading environmental and industrial services provider Clean Harbors, won a Killer Content Award in the nurture category. The integrated, cross-sell campaign we built together beat some pretty slick competition from Fortune 50 stalwarts.  Check it out below:

Clean Harbors Killer Content Award

  • Our Ad Tech Optimization Services are increasingly popular.  We’re helping both Fortune 100 companies and a few SMBs (smaller to medium-sized businesses) realize a higher return on their significant investments in so-called marketing automation and ad tech.  Ping me (whatever that means) if you’re interested in learning more.
  • Two more marketing services clients signed on.  In both cases, we enabled clients to turn fixed marketing cost into a variable investment.  In other words, we made them more effective and efficient from day one.  Man that sounds salesy, but conveniently it’s true.

The “F” Word

Fun, that is, not fenestration as many of you likely expected… Doesn’t seem like I hear it much anymore in marketing circles.  Shame isn’t it?  This used to be the area everyone wanted to work, but to whom much is given (e.g., cool tools, creative directors who disdain color, companies with funky, made-up names) much is expected (e.g., measurable results, old-fashioned return on investment, first-born idea).  Can’t say I have an answer on how to bring it back, but would welcome suggestions from gritty front-liners like you.

Thanks again for patiently indulging me. Have a great day!


P.S.:  If, for whatever reason, you’d rather not receive these occasional notes, please let me know.
P.S. #2:  Want to know why I don’t mass customize these notes through an email service provider like Constant Contact, MailChimp, Responsys or a CRM system?  Ask me.

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