Wanamaker Was Right – Getting the Most Out of Your Firm’s Print Ads

John Wanamaker practically invented retailing. It was the late 19th Century, and he was bringing thousands of shoppers to his downtown Philadelphia department store with all sorts of gimmicks and innovations.Advertising was one of these innovations. And, Wanamaker was spending fortunes on the city’s papers.Despite his success, Wanamaker used to complain. He’d say that he was confident that half of what he was spending on advertising worked… but that he couldn’t tell which half.Not Much Has Changed Most big law firm managing partners understand how Wanamaker felt. You’re probably planning your first campaign, looking for ways to do a better job with what’s out there now, wondering if you’re on the right track or idling somewhere in between.Whatever your status, the following offers a few corrections or confirmations. It begins with a word about having the right expectations, the issue that usually stays on top for most managing partners.Setting The Bar Lots of studies show that print advertising is the best way known to “get found.” It’s efficient and, if well-produced and well-distributed, faster than anything else at getting your name and message out there.On its own, however, it is not likely to get the phone ringing with new business. That’s because ads largely are a cognitive tool–one that lets its viewers know you exist. Ads impart information.Rainmakers know, however, that information alone won’t get you hired. That takes connecting emotionally with clients, something that recognizes that people buy from people.Print ads generally lack the capacity to convey the emotional charge it takes to “get picked”. Good ads will get you on the short-list. They’ll soften the sale. But the rest is largely up to you and your rainmaking skills.What’s A “Good” Ad? First, it has to get noticed. That takes using an image that will arrest the viewer’s eye. That’s tough, considering the relentless bombardment of images and messages each of us endures or ignores every day.Robes and globes probably won’t get the job done. Neither will pictures of gavels, scales of justice, law libraries, briefcases, huddles of lawyers, or any other hackneyed, hidebound image.Look instead for an image that conveys wit. Or sophistication. Or intelligence. Look for an image that illustrates your firm’s values and personality. An image that sets you apart and relates to your clients’ self-interest.Second, your ad has to be readable. Think of it as you would a billboard. Remember that your clients are blasting through whatever magazine, newspaper, or airport in which you’ve placed your ad.Can you read and process more than seven words when you drive by them at 70 MPH? When you’re also checking your PDA and carrying on one or more conversations?Too many words in an ad will lose a viewer’s attention, no matter how firmly the image grabs them. That’s true of both the headline and your ad’s text.In fact, a few of the wrong words will lose them. Keep the focus on suggesting value to them and away from stating your credentials for the sake of impressing anyone with them.We Can Do That! Resist the urge to produce a print ad by yourselves if you have no background or experience in advertising. Especially the written part. Ad copy is tough to write. It suspends rules. It’s conceptual. Writing it is an art.Lawyers can write. Many can write well. But it’s extremely rare to find one–let alone a group of lawyers–who can compose an ad. Much less a series of ads.It’s rare to find an attorney who can write like an artist.Is This Working? It’s a matter of when, not if, your partners will ask about ROI. They live in a quid pro quo world. And, after all, it’s their money.Tell them the following. “We don’t know if it’s working and have no way of finding out. The mathematical model has not been invented to reliably measure the impact of advertising.”Tell them about John Wanamaker.Cutting through the Clutter People are a little like radio receivers. They have different abilities to pull in weaker signals and to keep the stronger ones separate.Your job is to send a signal with enough strength and clarity to get picked up easily…regardless of any inconsistencies at the other end.This is where it pays to be consistent. Have you just re-launched your Web site or re-designed your letterhead? Plan to? Then tie your ads to the color palette, the message and anything else that represents your image and that’s already–or, about to be–out there.Remember, too, that once is not enough. In fact, once is a waste. I swear by the studies which suggest making seven impressions to get and to stay top-of-mind.So, figure on at least seven insertions each year for your ads. That’s on the low end. It assumes that you’re mailing, calling, socializing with, and otherwise making impressions on anyone who matters to you and your business.How Asymmetry Helps There’s another key to getting your ad noticed and remembered when it’s just one of an avalanche of competing messages and images from others. This is the part of your campaign that recognizes that most consumers bore easily.Boredom will kick in if your ad’s targets see the same image and message from you week after week, month after month.So, vary. Create two or three complementary print ads, budget permitting, and alternate their placement. Make them all part of a consistent theme and look, but with enough variety that your public notices each ad each time with a little surprise (even when they’ve seen the ads before) while still associating them with you and your campaign.Silence offers the same thing. Go dark in the summer and holiday months, when your customers are on the beach…mentally or physically. This will heighten the impact of your ads when they reappear. And, it will save you some money!Reaching The Right People Even the best ads won’t do you much good if they’re in the wrong place. Here’s where being strategic figures in.Assuming you have a limited budget, what’s your top objective?o Getting merger candidates to take you seriously?o Attracting outstanding law students or laterals?o Making your existing clients feel proud that you represent them?o Making your internal audiences more aware that marketing and selling matter at your firm?o Letting a business or industry sector know that you exist?Each of these objectives indicates a different, targeted media. Sometimes that’s a local B2B periodical. Other times, it’s a national trade publication read by managing partners.Keeping This in Perspective Most of you have probably studied the available placement options. You’ve noticed that they’re on to you.Most B2B periodicals have ads from law firms. Some (e.g., the ones read by corporate counsel) are chock-full of law firm ads.Publishers and their sales departments have, therefore, made it harder for a firm to get noticed because of the success they’ve had with law firms. Their attractiveness has made them less attractive.So, keep advertising in its proper perspective. Print advertising for law firms has an important but limited purpose.Difficulties aside (e.g., competition, weak ads, etc.), print ads work. But they work best when they’re deployed in combination with other, coordinated get-found and get-picked activities.Doing nothing is the only option with virtually certain results. Wanamaker knew that.

Video Search Engine Optimization and Affiliate Marketing

Video production and Video SEO can be daunting tasks for those who publish affiliate products and services online. Those who endeavor to tackle it and become efficient at the skills required will always be looking for short cuts to effective affiliate publishing.Video is a hot topic at the moment, and personally, I don’t see it cooling off any time soon. There are literally millions of videos online and probably hundreds of millions of people who view them in any given year. That is one big market, and it is only going to get bigger!Video is so effective because it is a multidimensional media, combining pictures – both moving and still, with all kinds of special effects, sound – both music and voice over, and print – which can also be manipulated to become more alive; all features and the creative combination of them can be very intriguing for the viewer. Video is always living and active, and video is well and truly here to stay as a marketing media.All of that is great news for the viewer, but what about the producer? How do they produce numerous videos without having to spend hours upon hours, or even days, to get a video out, and then how do they optimize the video for the search engines?We all know that if we sow sparingly we will reap sparingly. The more videos you produce the more likely you are to have them viewed online, and the greater the chance you will have of generating traffic to your web site. More traffic indicates the likelihood of more conversions to sales of your affiliate products – which in turn means commissions in your bank account.As a former Television Commercial Producer I have produced hundreds of commercials in the 90’s, and quite a few promotional videos of various lengths. One of the problems all producers have is shrinking the informative content down to the time frame allowed by the budget. This is a skill and an art. When you are producing videos to sell your affiliate’s products and services you have no budget, so in effect, you are producing for free! This leaves you with an overriding concern to become efficient very quickly.Most videos produced that sell affiliate products online are usually as simple as sitting in front of a web cam, or using screen capture software to show the viewer point and click options contained in the product, some of the videos are up to ten minutes long, and may lose the viewer’s attention because of the length. This kind of production is fine, and lots of people are doing it. But, how do you produce quantity without losing quality, and still stand out in the crowd?When a person searches for a particular topic on a video site like YouTube or Yahoo Video, they type in the keyword or phrase of which they are interested into the search box. This will bring up numerous videos in that category. One of the first things you notice is a thumbnail shot or a small single ‘frame capture’ of each video that is returned by the search engines. Another thing you may or may not have noticed is the general overall resemblance of the returns. They all look very much alike, and very few stand out. To be noticed in a crowd you must stand out, or you will get lost in the blur of ambiguity. To be indistinct is to be almost invisible. Take a second look when you get time and you will see what I mean.A way I have discovered to ‘kill two birds with one stone’ to produce numerous videos quickly, and to stand out in the crowd when they are uploaded, is to use the K.I.S.S. Principle, and keep it simple. In fact, I produced 12 videos over one weekend and they do stand out due to how they were produced. When you can produce, render, upload, and add tags and titles for each video at one video every hour, uploaded to 2-3 video sites, you are hopping!First I keep them short, no more than 30-31 seconds each. This helps with speed of production, rendering, and uploading. You can produce more, and more is always better than less when it comes to video search.Secondly, I make a template for these short videos on my editing software. I use five sequences of 6 seconds each and alter them according to the product. Again, speed.Thirdly, I make all the backgrounds black with colorful text that doesn’t dominate the space. You have heard of ‘white space’ in print, well black space for video works the same. This helps with the ‘standing out in the crowd’ aspect, as most videos usually display white backgrounds on the thumbnails, and this means they all look the same to the casual eye and they tend to blend in with the white backgrounds of the web pages.Fourthly, I top and tail the video with the same frame to outwit YouTube’s frame capture algorithms. With the top and tail being the same sequence this means I only need four sequence changes in each new video. This insures, for the most part, that the frame of my choice is displayed on the search returns. If You Tube changes this formula, I change mine. I had to redo one video that I had added pictures to 5 times until I beat it! Luckily it did not take long to move sequences and transitions.Fifthly, I use the affiliate’s squeeze page for the script, capturing their choice of words for each 6-second sequence. You will be amazed at how quickly you can find key phrases to use as text in the video. Your affiliates have already done the brain-work and you are promoting their product, so they will be very happy you made a video for them. After all you are going to ultimately direct your viewer to their squeeze page for the full and unaltered long version of your short introductory video of their product.And finally, I don’t use a voice over, generating only a music background, this adds to the clean feel and sound of the videos. When the videos are complete they all have a similar look and feel about them. One may think that when they are all together they may be boring to watch, but the contrary is true. Lots of short colorful videos with ‘easy on the eye’ text, and ‘easy on the ear’ music, rather than numerous voice-overs, are more likely to be watched than a few longer videos with long explanations, that may lose the attention of the viewer.One of the ways I have discovered at how YouTube and other video sites work is that they cluster all the videos that are produced by the same person together through a ‘more videos like this’ sorting algorithm. This means that if one is found, all of them will be, and the one that perhaps you promoted or that may have received more views and reviews, will drag all the others up with it on the search page returns. This means that your videos tend to dominate the category.Another great bonus is that if you post them all up on a web page with a black background only the colorful text of each video stands out giving the page a uniform and uncluttered look.These are just a few tips that might help you to produce more videos, and how to use the video search engines to promote them. And guess what? Video SEO can be done for free! Get producing and promoting. It will pay off in the long run.