Last Friday, Donald J. Trump was sworn in as 45th President of the United States of America.

That first sentence either made you smile…or it made you spit. Either way, it’s okay. The purpose of this post isn’t to judge you, regardless of who you voted for. 

There are a few theories about how, with no political experience, Trump came to be President:

  • The Democratic Party insists that the Russians are to blame. 
  • Both liberals and conservatives have cited rising distrust of Hillary Clinton, based on the results of the FBI investigation into her use of non-secure, private server for federal business while she was Secretary of State, as well as Benghazi and the Clinton Foundation.
  • Conservatives say it’s because Trump hit the right nerve with the working man—that the government status quo of the past 35 years has enriched itself while neglecting the people it was intended to serve.

I thought that this last point was closest to the truth but it’s still not quite 100 percent. I think there’s an even bigger reason for Trump’s win, which I only fully realized after hearing his inauguration speech this afternoon.

What I feel is largely responsible for Trump’s success was the consistency of his message: from June 16, 2015, when he announced his run, right up through his inauguration, it has been (Do I even need to say it?) “Make American Great Again.”

Now before you start rolling your eyes and condemning me as being “just another simple-minded copywriter” consider a few questions:

·      Why do people choose to shop at Wal-Mart?

·      Why would some people rather have an iPhone?

·      Who do you call for next-day package delivery?

People shop at Wal-Mart because it’s cheaper. For 19 years, the company’s slogan was “Always low prices.” In 2007, they changed it to “Save money. Live better.” They’ve been repeating those messages in every ad for nearly 30 years. So who do you think of when you need to save money?

People line up early for the new iPhone and pay considerably more for it than most Android phones cost because Apple emphasizes innovation and design in all of their marketing: “Think different,” “The only thing that’s changed is everything,” etc. A large group of people strongly identify with those values.

FedEx is the name that jumps off of most peoples’ lips when you mention next-day delivery. It has everything to do with the messages they’ve repeated for decades: “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight,” “The world on time,” and “Relax, it’s FedEx.”

It’s a truism in marketing (first identified by Bob Berg, in his book Endless Referrals) that “People will do business with those people they know, like, and trust.”

And it must occur in that order, starting with “know.”

The way a business gets the public to “know” them is by repeating its message often.

Even if you don’t shop at Wal-Mart, don’t use FedEx and don’t own the iPhone, you’ve seen or heard their message so often, that you know what each of them stands for. You know what they value. 

When you come to know someone, it opens the door for you to like them. Just that little bit of familiarity that you’ve built up by hearing their message regularly gives you a degree of affinity for them.

This is how a company builds a strong brand. It’s also how one candidate built a strong brand.

Trump’s success is due in large part to his marketing: “Make America Great Again” was everywhere. It’s on his website. In his emails. On hats. t-shirts, bumper stickers, and coffee mugs. He stated it every time he spoke in public.

By constant repetition of his message, Trump built a strong brand for himself. People came to know him.

On the other hand, while his main opponent had far more experience in politics, she lacked a message. She lacked repetition. If Hillary Clinton had any brand at all, it was the one the media created with its constant repetition of messages about her involvement in numerous scandals.

Or maybe it was the Russians….

-  -  -

Every business has a message, though not all of them have discovered what their message is.

Your company’s message should express your core value and what differentiates you from your competition (these are often one and the same), in a way that benefits your customers. That’s your brand.

“Repetition makes reputation and reputation makes customers,” said businesswoman Elizabeth Arden (of make-up fame). So, once you’ve isolated your message, repeat it as often as possible in all of your marketing efforts.

If you need some help working out your brand messaging, I can help you with that. Call 323-646-2469 or email me steve (at) @stevewagnercopy (dot) com 

(or, what's copy got to do with it?)

The "wish list" of many a direct marketer probably looks something like this:

1. More sales. 

2. More customers. 

3. Umm... more conversions, sales and customers. 

Makes sense, right?

But while some direct marketers regularly have high sales and attract new customers, other marketers struggle and even fail. 

Why? Ask Bly.

In his white paper, "The 12 Most Common Direct Mail Mistakes... And How To Avoid Them," renowned direct marketer Bob Bly isolates 12 factors. Not surprisingly, seven of them are related to the copy itself. 

So, all other things (product/service, mailing list and number of mailings) being equal, the greatest difference is the copy they use in their direct marketing efforts: 

•   High-quality copy gets read. A  percentage of readers take action (make a purchase or take another desired action such as "click here" or "call now"). Life is good!

•   Poor-quality copy does not get read. Less or no action occurs. Life ain't so good.

High-quality direct response copy is effective. It grabs readers' attention right from the headline or subject line and holds it. It fires their imaginations and increases desire for the marketer's solution to their pain point or deep desire. It presents an offer that's magnetic, irresistible--so high in value and low in risk, that the reader can't not buy it. 

Hence, high-quality copy makes you more money. 

Get Better Results

If your sales or lead generation aren't as healthy as they should be, the copy is often the first place to look, especially if it was written by someone without a lot of direct response experience or training. 

If you're going to tackle it yourself, I would highly recommend studying Bly's The Copywriter's Handbook or any of Dan Kennedy's "No B.S." books on the subject. 

Or contact me and let's discuss your copy and your marketing aims and see how I might be able to help.

(Originally posted on LinkedIn.)

If you’re re-inventing the wheel with each new marketing effort, you may never achieve the desired reputation. Here’s how to invent it once so that your marketing efforts really roll
About a year and a half ago, I wrote a series of marketing pieces for a financial services company. Let’s call them “The Company.”

I did not work directly for The Company but for a marketing specialist The Company had hired to help them revamp their website and improve their marketing results. Let’s call them “The Agency.” 

In all, The Agency hired me to write on six separate occasions: four landing pages, a home page and an “About Us” page

I came up with some very strong messages for each landing page, each of which was for a different service The Company is marketing. The Agency must have thought so too, since they kept re-hiring me.

The home page was the fifth item they hired me to write. It was to include information about some of the services I’d already written about for the landing pages. As I worked on it, I began to feel a bit scattered.

There were messages I’d written for some of the landing pages which I thought would have been ideal for the home page—headlines and other copy that would have been excellent descriptions of The Company’s “Unique Value Proposition” (UVP, that quality or qualities that make them better or more desirable than their competition).

It was a bit like having Joe manufacture “some doors” and having Fred build “some walls” and having Ron construct “a roof” and then trying to jam all the parts together to make a house.

Build Your Marketing From the Top Down

It seemed to me that The Agency should have had me write the home page first. It’s an ideal place for a company to communicate its UVP. The company could then incorporate the UVP and related ideas into all of their marketing copy, thus creating a strong and consistent overall message.

But there is an even better way to achieve this consistency—before you ever write a home page or brochure or whatever you will use to introduce your product or service. This better way, which I am going to get to in a moment, strengthens your marketing impact and makes effective copywriting a no-effort affair.

Repetition of a Message

So The Agency ended up with several marketing pieces, each of which contained strong marketing copy (if I must say so myself) but all of which functioned more or less independently—each with its own messages but no consistent Company message.

That’s not the ideal scene.

So what is? Before I answer that, consider this:

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say “Coca-Cola”? You probably think “Coke Adds Life” or “Things Go Better with Coke.” Perhaps even Coke’s red and white “wave” logo. Though they have used other tag lines and images in their long history, these are some of their more enduring ones for me (and I don’t even drink the stuff).

This kind of brand identity is what any company wants if they wish to be successful. In other words, you want the public to identify your product or service with a certain concept: your UVP, the thing you do best, which the customer benefits from.

You can only achieve that through repetition of a particular message or messages. As copywriter Casey Demchak has so succinctly put it:

Repetition builds reputation.

The Chaos of Random Messaging

It is an acknowledged phenomenon in marketing circles that inconsistent messaging reduces conversions. For instance, if a shoe company’s pay-per-click add says “Shoes that massage your feet” but their landing page header is “Shapes and tones while you walk,” a significant number of people who encounter it will search elsewhere for shoes. That’s what inconsistent/mixed/conflicting messaging can be counted on to do.

Can you imagine if some new cola company did that? The lack of repetition of a single or carefully-crafted group of messages would result in no impression on the public. They would never gain any reputation. Mostly likely, they would fade away.

On the other hand, consider the following brands. Large segments of the public immediately know what these companies are about—an effect achieved through repetition of a message:

  • Chevy trucks are dependable (“Like a Rock,” “…the most dependable, longest-lasting pickups on the road”)
  • Apple Computers are innovative yet simple life-style products (“The Computer for the Rest of Us,” “Think Different,” “It just works”)
  • WalMart saves you money (“Save Money, Live Better,” “Always Low Prices”)  

Each of these companies’ messages may have been repeated in their ads for years or decades.

This is true for companies and is true for their new product offerings, each of which needs its own messages.

Use This for Consistent Messaging

So how can you ensure that messaging is consistent? How can you get on the road to building a strong reputation?

It’s called a Key Message Copy Platform.

The Platform contains the guiding concepts and messaging about your product/service.

These concepts and messaging are worked out by you, with or without the help of a copywriter (though a copywriter will know all the questions to ask).

It is the master document for all copy you will produce for your product or service. Among other things, the Platform contains:

  • Headlines and taglines
  • Description of voice and tone of marketing copy
  • Descriptive key words that apply to various aspects of the product or business
  • Descriptions of how the product or company provides value
  • Messages for overcoming objections
  • a whole lot more…

The Platform contains the Key Messages about your product and service that must be in every marketing piece in order to bring about the repetition that establishes your reputation.

No Need to Reinvent the Wheel

So, when you need to write a landing page, an email sequence, brochure or whatever, you don’t have create it from scratch.

The key messaging—those ideas you want the public to identify with your product/service—has already been worked out. Refer to the Platform before creating your next marketing piece. Incorporate the key messages.

This ensures consistent marketing messages, so your prospects and customers get a consistent understanding of your product/service.

With repetition of a consistent message, you arrive at a reputation. People know who you are, what you do, what you’re good at and how it benefits them.

Do It First

I now try to guide my clients to create a Platform, particularly when it’s evident that they don’t have anything guiding their marketing. Hiring a copywriter to create a Platform is not a budget-buster and is often be the best use of your marketing dollars, for the effect it will have on all future marketing efforts and the establishment of your reputation. 

Sounds good, doesn't it? Call me 323-646-2469 or email me and let's discuss your marketing goals.