Although the college experience is great (and a lot of fun and hard work), I don't think it's suited for the real world. In a lot of ways, I think a technical college will get you where you need to go and maybe steer you out of some bad habits. What I mean is, in college you do a project, hand it in and get a grade. It's instant. Well, that's not how it works in the real world in many cases - especially with marketing. So when there are no instant results, people get frustrated because their expectations were not met.
With marketing, you've got to observe and experiment. Marketing is emotional and subjective. It's not like fixing a car, which is mechanical. So when you launch a new campaign, in many cases you won't get instant results or a "grade" on your assignment that tells you how it went (in the professor's opinion). Many forms of marketing are long term.
The great thing about web marketing is that it's very trackable, which is awesome. So I love web marketing. It still takes some time to get results but those results are very measurable, unlike a yellow pages ad or print ad.
(Ok, I guess that was my introduction. Here's the segue and meat.)
So although I don't have the slick marketing talk, I know what's going on. I've done a lot of web marketing and have seen great, great results. Frankly, I geek out on that and just love seeing the results. It's awesome, especially when it translates into dollars. There's a lot of information out on the web about marketing, too - much more than when I was in college. For example, this blog post.
One thing I ran across lately was "AIDA" which stands for:
When you write an ad - be it a classified ad, print ad, banner ad or even a web page which acts like an ad, you're basically following these 4 guides / steps / rules:
Attention/Attract - The ad must grab the attention of the reader or viewer. This is the first step and is not always easy. If you don't have their attention, you're not going to be able to sell very effectively to them. So you do this with a compelling headline. Here are some I can think of and have used in the past:
Of course, one of the most important things in advertising is: location, location, location - and location. But assuming you have the right location (in a newspaper, magazine, on a website, in search engine rankings, etc.), you then need a compelling headline to grab their attention.
Interest - Once you have their attention, you need them to be interested in what you have. This is a deeper process than getting attention and you have even less time to do it. Focus on their needs. Think "fact and benefit" (my dad was a salesman and based his selling on Dale Carnegie principles, so I've heard "fact and benefit" all my life, thanks dad!). This is also sometimes called "feature and benefit" (or "FAB"). People need to quickly find out how they're going to benefit. Use bullets and subheadings.
Desire/Conviction - Once they're interested in what you're offering, you want to create a desire in them to do what you want them to do. They have to want to do it. Desire is motivation to act on their interest. Use hard data to support what you're saying or use testimonials to show that others are happy with what you're offering. Explain how what you offer will solve a problem they have.
Action - This is your basic "call to action" statement. I think it's kind of funny sometimes when you see web pages that don't have a call to action at the bottom when they're clearly trying to sell you something. You must ask for the sale or ask for the next step at least. For example:
If you can add some urgency to your call to action, even better!
So there it is - an educational twist on my non-formal marketing education. Put your message out there, test it, track it, adapt it, rinse and repeat. In a little time, you'll come up with your winning formula. Once you get there, duplicate it. You'll then know that if you spend "x" amount of time/money, you'll get "y" amount of sales. Simple, right? But how many of us are doing this regularly or practice these simple things? It takes work, but it's worth it if you stick with it.
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(that's my call to action line, what do you think?)