#70/111: Commonsense Direct & Digital Marketing

What is it about?

What is direct marketing? A adequate description is salesmanship-in-print. Drayton Bird is one of the best salesman-in-print and he shows you how to find appropriate prospects, how to write your copy and how to test your results.

What can I learn?

Sell your product, not your designing skills: One of the biggest mistakes in direct marketing is trying to show off your design skills. Why? You should ask yourself: What is the purpose of marketing? Your answer should be generating sales. It isn’t about showing off your creativity, it isn’t about being über clever. It’s simply about generating sales. Tests showed that simple and honest ads sold better than clever ones.

Long copy works: Today, we want everything fast, we don’t take the time to read something, etc. However, people still read long copy, if they are interested. Which leads to the question? Should you care about the people who don’t even consider trying your product? Not at the cost of your future customers. Bird says that marketeers often don’t understand that $100 sales and $30 costs are better than $140 sales and $90 costs. If you are interested in a product/service, you want to read about it. You want to know more about it. Long copy supplies exactly that. It helps your prospect to learn more about your product, to face their fears and to build trust.

Test and go with the winner: If you do online marketing, testing is pretty easy and you should use it. A simple change of the headline can increase your profit threefold. A other call to action may increase your conversion rate about 50%. You can’t guess these things, you have to test them. Every situation is different and there is always a way to improve your ad. However, sometimes decision makers think that you can’t use this headline, although it triples your profit. Or that the ad doesn’t look great, although it works better than the alternatives. Don’t be fooled by your world-view. Test everything and go with the winner.


Commonsense Direct & Digital Marketing is massive. It’s about 420 pages long, covers lots of details of great direct marketing and is written by a real leader in this field. I love how clear Drayton Bird explains the fundamentals and empathizes that the key is in testing and understanding the customer and not in being overly creative. If you want to sell your product/service online, by mail or somehow, you should read this book. Recommendation!

#56/111: Permission Marketing

What is it about?

How do you advertise? Seth Godin differentiates between interruption marketing (e.g. banner ads, TV ads, magazine ads) and permission marketing (sending information directly to people who accepted to send your information). 

What can I learn?

Leverage interruption marketing: Permission marketing is often a bit mis-defined. It’s not about stopping your advertising, it’s about using it better. You have basically two options in advertising: a) You try to make a sale directly or b) You try to get the permission to give them more information. Seth recommends b) because it’s a less expensive step for your prospect (giving away their email vs. giving away twenty bucks) and you have a less expensive channel for frequent information (sending emails vs. buying magazine/tv ads).

Build trust: After the first step is done, it’s time to nurture your prospects. If you aren’t a big brand, you probably want to build trust first. Send them some relevant information: Articles, Top X Lists, How-to instructions, etc. After some time, you can sprinkle advertising in your emails. However, if you actually sold to them, don’t stop providing relevant information. This will increase your customer lifetime value.


At first, I was a bit unsure about actually reading this book, because I read Purple Cow by Seth Godin and wasn’t really impressed. Though, this book is impressive. Seth Godin wrote it in 1997 and it was incredible visionary. Today, it is unsurprisingly a bit outdated though the basics are still useful.

How to create advertising that sells (by David Ogilvy)

Read: How to create advertising that sells

What can I learn?

Make your product great and beautiful: A great product allows you to promise great benefits which the product can actually deliver. In addition, your product should look beautiful. Man is a visual animal. If you product looks awful, they conclude that you product is awful.

Sell in the headline and caption: The most people scan pages. They see the headlines and captions. Don’t miss these opportunities to sell your product.

Use news: Often marketers neglect this opportunity (however bloggers often get it). How can you react to topical news? Imagine that there is big news on digital data theft. Depending on what you are selling, you could write an article about preventing data theft, release an ad that your servers are more secure or, if you have deeper knowledge, giving interviews to journalist.


This is a pretty remarkable ad. Firstly, Ogilvy & Mather understood in den 70ies that you can increase your sales if you give away valuable information. Secondly, the last paragraph is brilliant. They show you their 38 principles of successful advertising but say:

Ogilvy & Mather has developed a separate and specialized body of knowledge on what makes for success in advertising food products, tourist destinations, proprietary medicines, children’s product – and other classifications.

That is, you can tackle the problem on your own or hire experts who are specialized into these sectors and who can afford to give away valuable information for free.

(via 1,900 word ad “How to create advertising that sells” written by David Ogilvy)

#12/111: Inbound Marketing

What is it about?

Do you want to boost your customer base? Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shan show you how. Inbound Marketing focuses on building relationships and delivering remarkable content to your customers instead of interrupting them with TV or radio ads. Furthermore there are several steps for each chapter which shows you how to execute these ideas.

Key points?

Track your progress: Whether you test a new layout or a new form of online activity, track your progress. Test what works and what doesn’t and act on this!

Remarkable content: It is important that you create content which is valuable to others. It should be so valuable that your readers decide to share your content with their peers.


What I really like about this book is that it gives you actionable advice. This point was missed by The new Rules of Marketing & PR. Additionally, there is one really cool list with about 20 points on how to promote your startup on social media or tips on how to name your blog/company.

In conclusion, Inbound Marketing gives you a great view about a lot of important topics in social media (marketing) and provides a solid base to work on.