4 Simple Meme Types That Will Go Viral Today

Isn’t it crazy that one of the most successful ways to market online involves sharing funny images?  What would Don Draper think!? Actually, I think he might quite like the idea.

Ok, so maybe meme marketing is not all about funny images.  There’s funny videos too!

Not to mention shocking images and videos, awe-inspiring images and videos and basically any visual content that viewers feel worthy of sharing.

And they do, by the billions!

For this reason memes are an important element of most modern day marketing campaigns. They are used prolifically by the biggest brands names such as Coca-Cola and Levis’, and even politicians seeking to drive debate and votes in Presidential election campaigns.

Though they might seem like silly, trivial content, memes are extremely powerful mechanisms for sending messages, driving opinion and building traffic!

Meme marketing, known as “memetic marketing” is just one component of Image Based Marketing, a trend that has become widely popular since the growth of social networking sites.

It’s appeal as a powerful marketing strategy comes down to the fact that memes are cheap, popular and spread rapidly. Simply put, messages go viral more easily with meme marketing.


So what is it about memes that gets people interested?


Memeticist and author of The Meme Machine, Susan Blackmore, may have the answer. She explains, “Memes are essentially selfish pieces of information trying to use our brains to get themselves copied and passed on.”

While Blackmore sees memes (ideas or information) using our brains as a channel to propagate themselves, it’s is equally true that by sharing a meme, individuals are sharing their approval, disapproval, opinion or something about themselves, and are therefore using memes as a channel to express themselves and assert their own identity.

In other words, by sharing memes people are sharing little pieces of themselves. It’s essentially a selfish gesture to assert our identity, but one that works to the advantage of any enterprise, body, agency, brand or government that wants to have a stake in our identity.

So essentially memes appeal to our ego, which makes them a perfect marketing channel.

While the popularity of a meme cannot be predicted, there are some strategies that will boost the chances of a meme going viral.

Limor Shifman has identified six such features that characterize the most virally successful memes.

These are ordinary people, flawed masculinity, simplicity, humour, repetition, and whimsical content.

The most successful memes, will usually exhibit at least one of Shifman’s characteristics and are typically not planned. For example, the hugely popular Success Kid Meme, began as baby photo posted on Flickr by photographer Lainey Griner of her 11 month old son Sammy.

Now success kid is one of the most consistently used viral images on the Internet.

The reality is however, most memes do fail, or have a very short life span. The next big meme is always waiting to take center stage.


Popular Meme Tactics & Types


Let’s look at how to ‘engage’ audiences with memes by tapping into the identity/ego complex that gets a finger to click the share buttons before the brain has time to tell it to do so.

Method 1 – Like – Comment – Share

This is probably one of the easiest ways of encouraging an audience to interact with and share a meme. By placing a direct call to action in the meme photo along with a statement that is meaningful to the audience, the chances of the image being shared, commented on or liked, are hugely increased.


Dove have run meme campaigns like this very successfully. Dove’s audience chooses an option that reflects their preference. And their response is directly based on their desire to express who they are.

Method 2 – Ask A Question

It doesn’t get any more simple. Asking a question, particularly one that conjures up nostalgic, happy or positive thoughts or memories is always going to get an answer. The most successful marketing campaigns will provoke the right kind of emotion in the target audience. The viral effect happens when others want to share their unique emotion too.

(Remember, the ego!)


This simple tactic can be applied to any marketing campaign. The possibilities are endless. While Coca Cola use the “Summer days + Coca Cola are Like ….” image, it’s not difficult to think up dozens of others …

Mornings without coffee are like ….
Dieting without exercise is like ….
Movie nights + my best friend are like ….
Snowy mornings + woolly mittens are like ….

Method 3 – PiggyBack On Success

Sharing images on Facebook pages relevant to the audience you are trying to target is an easy way to piggyback on the meme machine. Take for example, the Facebook page Hug Pugs. The page has 271K users and regularly shares users content.


Just one share on a page like this can result in a huge amount of exposure for an image.

The image above was shared 751 times in less than a day and received over 8000 likes. The page is full of other similar user submitted images.

Method 4 – Brain Teasers

The final method covered here for engaging an audience is the age-old puzzle or brain teasers. These don’t have to be cryptic images. Word puzzles like the one used below, again by Dove or images that have something out of place that needs to be spotted.


This image above of a rubbish dump has a cat (middle left). Add a ‘share if you find the cat’ direction and images like this will go viral very quickly.  (Ok, you can stop looking for the cat now …. )

In short, used intelligently and consistently as part of an online marketing strategies, meme’s can yield significant results for small businesses and brands.  They’re cheap. Their potential reach is in the millions and they don’t feel like heavy handed marketing, which is why people love to share them.  In fact, the very best memes used in online marketing will integrate themselves in their audience’s lifestyle, emotional landscape and sense of ego.


Blog Images Made Super Dooper Easy

One of the things I hate, hate, HATE about finishing a blog post is getting a great looking image to showcase it.

It usually goes like this …. spend an hour writing a post (victory dance moment!!) only to spend 3 hours trying to get an image that works and usually ending up with one that sucks anyway!

Well, I got tired of that scenario and solved my problem. And I’m happy to be sharing that solution with you today!

I guess being a graphics geek kinda has it’s perks!

If you own Photoshop (and even if you don’t, Gimp and Pixlr will do fine) you can download my ‘Blog Image’ Creative Toolkit.

It’s full of free to use stock photos with room to add many of your own, filters to Instagram-ify your images, text layouts, shapes and lighting effects.


See what’s possible in demo overview I’ve made for you!


And you can go ahead and download below.


Download The Toolkit Here

Tracey Meagher is a designer and product creator who likes to wind down with Photoshop and has been known to work 12 hours stints without coffee (gasp!)


All The Stuff Your Competitors Know About Explainer Videos

Explainer videos. What are they, what do they do and why your business needs one.

Explainer Videos get their name from the word ‘explanation’!

An explanandum (a Latin term) is a phenomenon that needs to be explained and its explanans is the explanation of that phenomenon!

The irony!  The explanation for the world explanation is so complicated!! I mean … really???

I prefer to think of it this way. An explanation is a way to communicate ideas meaningfully.   Creating a really great explanation involves transforming facts into a more understandable collection of ideas and concepts.

Explanations help to clarify why something (a law, an idea, a process, a product, or service for example) makes sense, so making it easier for peeps like you and me, to understand.

Explanations enable people to “see an idea from a personal perspective”, so allowing them to make educated decisions about whether they want to invest their time, money, or energy to learn more about the idea.

With improved internet speeds, the rise of video powerful video hosting platforms (YouTube, Vimeo, Vine), and the reducing costs of video production, online videos are everywhere.  Businesses understand their appeal and the infrastructure is there to satisfy the demand for motion content.  And so Explainer Video have become part and parcel of business branding for millions of business worldwide.


So what are Explainer Videos?


These are short (usually less than 2 minutes), imaginative, and to the point videos that can be used to communicate a business, a product, a service, an idea or a value proposition quickly and effectively.

Explainer Videos can use real people, places, and objects, or 2D/3D animations, or a mixture of all of these to communicate and engage with a potential audience.

It’s also quite common to use animated characters to tell  a story that will create emotional bonds, trust and empathy with your viewers.


How Should Explainer Videos Be Used to Gain Most Benefit for Your Effort?


Using Explainer Videos as part of your overall marketing solution will enable you to communicate information, feelings, and emotion to your audience, by using motion, images and sound.

Explainer Videos should be included on your website, on video hosting sites (YouTube, Vimeo, Vine), and within your Social Media Network; Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

To give a good return on your investment, you should have a video channel set up on YouTube (or other video hosting sites), with video and channel branding which is consistent with your overall online brand; your website and all social media channels.

You need to ensure that your videos are properly annotated, and include video sitemaps. This will ensure that your videos are properly indexed on Google, YouTube and more easily found by your potential viewers when performing searches.

To be effective, Explainer Videos need to have a well thought out script and proper animation. If using animated characters, they do not necessarily need to be complex to be effective. In fact, Lee Lefever of Common Craft uses animated characters with no facial features in many of their animations. This removes the emotional distraction created by our brains interpreting the emotion on a characters face.

So, some considerable thought and creative imagination needs to go into your explanation and the proper format and structure of your video for it to effectively communicate your message and create engagement with your audience.


An Example Startup Business Explainer Video Script Outline


According to Neil Patel, co-founder of CrazyEgg, a good Explainer Video script for a startup company should contain the following elements:

An introduction to your company & an overview of the problem you solve
Why the problem is valid for the industry
Specific example of the problem
Show off your features and how they solve the problem
Give the call to action
Answer any objections & state your guarantees
Use client proof to seal the deal


Why you should be using Explainer Videos in Your Marketing Mix


Some Very Relevant Statistics

According to a recent survey by Shutterstock / Comscore, when users perform online search they are significantly more likely to click a video link rather than a text link.

Digital Video also tends to be most often watched on mobile devices, when the viewer is in their own home, or on their own leisure time. So, your viewer is relaxed and has more time to take in your message.

60% of all Internet data is now made up of video content.

Of the 190 million videos watched, one sixth were watched on mobile devices. 36% of those 190 million videos were ads, some being forced views to get access to otherwise free content!

So, video ads have also become a popular and acceptable medium for viewer business/product/service information gathering, and entertainment.

According to the Internet Advertising Bureau, online advertising revenue/spend has been above $11bn for three consecutive quarters in 2013/2014.

Of this figure, mobile advertising makes up $5.3bn, a 76% growth on 2013 figures (PWC/IAB 2014);

Digital Video makes up $1.5bn, a 13% growth over the same period in 2013.

The proportion of consumers watching TV or movies on tablets on a weekly basis has grown from 17% to 26%.

Many companies are adding videos to their home pages as a means of increasing user stickiness and engagement. It has been shown experimentally that users spend more time (up to 88% more) on websites that include video content.

This can also help search engine rankings, as search engine algorithms also take duration of user time spent on webpages as a measure of relevant and quality content.

Explainer Videos can lead to a higher sales conversion rates; online retailer reported that visitors were 144% more likely to purchase after seeing a product video than those who did not.

Including video in emails greatly increases the probability of reader click through CTR:

A GetResponse Study showed that video Emails Increase Click-through Rates by 96%
Wistia showed a 300% increase in click through rate compared to emails not including video
Hubspot – normal CTR 2.4%, with video CTR of 16.4%, 583% higher than average

According to Kissmetrics, video now appears in 70% of the top 100 search results listings, and viewers are anywhere from 64-85% more likely to buy after watching a product video.

All videos enable you to connect with potential customers in ways that you cannot do with e-mail, phone calls, or white papers.

For sales professionals this is especially important, as it takes time to build customer rapport and trust.

Explainer Videos can help introduce your company, staff and products/services before you make direct contact with prospects. As the customer has contacted you after seeing your videos, this cuts down/out most of the initial effort required to get a customer familiar with your business, brand, team and products, and increase the prospect of a successful relationship going forward.


Impact of Effective Explainer Videos on Sales


Higher Conversion Rates and Reduced Returns with Video
Recent research has shown that shoppers who chose to view product specific videos were 85% to 174% more likely to make a purchase than viewers who didn’t, and that pre-purchase video viewing reduced returns by up to 25%. [Sources: Retail Touchpoints, Internet Retailer,]

Reduce Your Bounce Rate
When making buying decisions, 60% of consumers will spend between 2 and three minutes watching Videos that educate them about a product that they are considering purchasing.

Video Gives Higher Search Rankings
Video results appear in about 70% of the top 100 listings.

Increases Sales
Retail site visitors who view video stay two minutes longer on average and are 64% more likely to purchase than other site visitors.

Encourages Use of QR and Barcodes
The most popular use for mobile action codes, such as QR and bar codes, is linking to mobile video: 40% of codes link to video content, including product demos.

Establish Credibility and Trust with Your Customer before Selling 
57 % of purchase decisions are made prior to ever talking to a sales rep.


What Kind of Explainer Videos Work Best?


According to one recent analysis by, YouTube videos under 2 minutes in length get almost 50% of all views. This is an ideal duration for short Explainer Videos.

A recent study, “Types of Brand Videos Consumers Want to Watch” (Source Levels Beyond August 2014) found that viewers were primarily looking for the following kinds of videos online:

How-to, instructional or tutorial videos 67%
Comedy or spoof videos 42%
Product/information videos 34%
Micro-documentaries telling the story of a person or event 33%
Animations/infographic videos 30%

From the point of view of Explainer Videos it is interesting how many viewers are interested in animation/infographics, product/information videos, How-to and micro-documentaries. All of which allow ample scope to create interesting videos with business objectives in mind, especially product, branding, support videos.

The reason we don’t emphasise comedy, or spoof videos, is that it is easy to offend people with comedy, and it takes either a naturally funny presenter, or team to pull them off effectively.

However, younger viewers do prefer humour, and, if you have the imagination and resources then this can work very well to show your brand in a light-hearted and different way than the fact-heavy manner of a the usual how-to video, or product showcase video.

So, keeping in mind the above insights, small to medium businesses should be able to effectively use low budget, short, Explainer Videos to help boost marketing with the following*:

Promotional: Showcases your products and services
Testimonial: Highlights your talents by showing clients raving about work you’ve done
Thought Leadership: Presents new or useful information relevant to your industry
How-To: Informs prospects on how they can use your product or service
Product Information: Explains new features, benefits, solutions, troubleshooting
Entertainment: Shows your brand’s human side; leverage viral videos, contests

The first five of these video types would be standard items that any business should be able to make use of to help promote their business, products, or services. They fit into the ‘normal’ range of things that good businesses do in their usual marketing efforts, but transformed into a new medium that allows more creativity, expression, engagement and dynamism in their communication.

A recent STRATA survey* found that viewers are more inclined to watch online video ads if they’re entertaining (43%), targeted to their interests (31%) and educational or informative (30%). Younger viewers (18 – 29 year olds) prefer humour, whereas older viewers find the informative side of an ad more appealing. *[Source: marketing Charts, STRATA]

Further evidence for the use of Explainer type videos comes from Advance Auto Parts, a car parts retailer, which tried placing how-to and instructional videos on its website and Facebook pages. They found that ‘visitors who watch video stay on the site twice as long and visit twice as many pages versus those who don’t see video. Sharing their videos on Facebook further enhanced their online reach.

So, it seems all of the facts and figures point towards video (and explainer videos) having a positive effect on customer engagement, brand enhancement and sales! The reality is, if you’re not using an explainer video yet, get one fast!


How To Make Your Customers Love You & Hate Your Competitors (Ssshh! It’s Easy!)

Acquiring a customer is a very special moment and it’s all to easy to forget that when people are buying from us anonymously across the interwebs.  Without face to face interaction, we kinda forget to be nice!

Just because it’s not a face to face interaction, doesn’t mean that the relationship has to be any less valued than if the customer walked into your store, handed you a fifty and bought your product … which I’m sure would make you smile at the very least, say thank you and maybe even give them a great big bear hug (more shop owners should do that!!)

In fact, with everything being so transparent across social media, it’s more important than ever to respect that relationship.

Because we’re selling on much larger scale on the internet,  this requires continual hard work on your behalf.

However, there are simple things that you can do to make this process run more smoothly, keep your customers happy and loyal, and increase your sales all at the same time.

Some of these involve:

Going above and beyond your customers expectations
Making your customers feel valued
Communicating across as many channels as possible

Compared to ‘traditional’ marketing techniques, all of these require little marketing experience, and little-to-no financial outlay. Yay!

More importantly though, if executed with effort, and imagination, the return will far outdo any ‘traditional’ marketing campaign that you might consider carrying out.

You will gain a loyal, expanding community of customers only too eager to recommend you, your business or brand and the products and services you sell. You might even gain some friends into the bargain!

So, what do you need to do then?


Go Above And Beyond Your Customers Expectations!


It’s nice to over-deliver!

The first and easiest  zero-expenditure action that you can take is go above and beyond what your customers expect from businesses and brands in your market.

Examples of things that you can do include:

Providing exceptional support; this might/should include;

Promptly answering all contact from your customers (emails, support tickets, including positive and negative social media mentions and comments);

Doing follow-up with your customers after they have purchased one of your products or services, or after a sales campaign if they failed to purchase from you (you can tell this from non-opens, or shopping cart abandonment if you are tracking properly).

An example of exceptional support provision could be providing technical assistance to a customer having trouble with one of products. You or one of your team members can step them through the setup process or even set it up for them. This may seem like a lot of extra effort. However, the payback of having one very satisfied customer up and running will come in the form of positive feedback you’ll receive from them. Don’t be shy about asking satisfied customers to share their experiences across all of your social networking channels.

Another example of going beyond the expected is to ask your customers what they need. Get feedback from them on how you can improve your product or service or what new services or products you can provide for them. Ask what they most need and when they make feature requests, implement them in a timely manner. It’s of no benefit to say you’ll do something if you don’t deliver on that promise. This causes resentment and will lose you customers.

Also, if a customer brings a bug, or another error, to your attention, when it is fixed make sure to thank them for bringing it to your attention. Don’t resent the communication or see it as flaw and take it personally. Act on the information by remedying the problem and then let all of your customers who purchased that particular product know that an update is available, where to get it (download location) and any instructions/caveats for/in applying the update.

This kind of communication provides an opportunity for two-way dialogue between you and your customer, that if handled positively will feed back into the online social sphere through comments and feedback on sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Also, when interacting with your customers, you need to consider that all users are not created equal in their (neediness) knowledge and abilities :) So be patient with them. If you are spending too much time with a particular customer, find a polite, diplomatic way of breaking the communication and promise to return to the issue at a later date, or perhaps offer a refund. In general, you are better to give refunds when requested, unless you know for certain you are being scammed!

Each of these actions will show your customers that you genuinely care about them and their businesses and will also give you opportunity to communicate with them in a positive manner and build up a rapport which if developed will lead to an on-going business relationship, enabling you to build your business and grow your revenues. Your customers will also likely become ambassadors for you, your business and your products.


Be A Bearer Of Gifts!


It’s nice to give, even in business … especially in business!

Give unexpected stuff to your customers at unexpected times!

Another really effective way of building customer satisfaction is by thanking your customers for their loyalty but providing either free gifts or loyalty discounts. Many businesses shy away from giving anything for free as they consider it an expense they can do without! But the fact is that customers who feel appreciated will value your service, product or brand and remember you ahead of your competition.

You don’t have to break the bank to do this either. You can run competitions, offer customer only discount prices on particular goods or services and occasionally give away a product at no cost at all to the customer. The giveaway should be relevant, in the context of other products they have bought from you, or relevant to their business.

Remember, whatever you give, it should help your customers earn/save money or time, be useful in acquiring new customers for them, or make their life a little easier (for example training).

Often customers will reciprocate in some way, by buying a product, or service from you, or recommending you to other prospective customers. If you are lucky they will talk about you on social media like Facebook, twitter, or on forums related to what you and they do in your everyday business (that is saving you a whole lot of marketing effort – think about how hard it is to get new customers!). If you are good to your customers it’s ok to ask them to help you out now and again – e.g. give you some feedback, make some recommendations etc. They will likely be happy to do so!


Communicate Regularly with Your Customers


It’s nice to talk.

One of the most important and often neglected aspects of the seller/buyer relationship is your story. Have you ever clicked on ‘About page’ only to find a general statement that tells you nothing about the person/business/brand you’re planning to engage with. It’s disappointing!

Let you customers know you. To help build relationships, always tell them about who you are, what you are doing, and how you are endeavouring to identify and meet needs. It helps lots if there is a story to how your business came about, or how you overcame a struggle to get/keep things going. If you do have such a story, use it, by integrating on various social media such as Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest/YouTube. Make it interesting and let your customers know about it. Maybe they’ll tweet it, or link to it from Facebook. Make sure to thank them in some way if they do! Maybe reciprocate a tweet or like them on Facebook.

But most, importantly, tell the story of your or your brand to be transparent and to say to your customers openly, this is me/us. This is who you are doing business with and we’re happy to know you!

Aside from inviting your customers to know you and delivering what you promise (products, services, support), the single most important thing to do to keep your customers coming back to you is to communicate with them. That’s two-way communication, not just you pushing products or services on them!

You must do this using multiple customer contact channels, online (your website, social media activities, email, Skype) and offline letters, phone calls, or just dropping in to see them if they are in your locality!

It’s likely that your customers will come from different time zones, be of differing ages and technological competencies, and so you must provide as many different communications channels as you can to ensure that all of your customers can reach you.

You must also ensure that these channels are filtered through to you in such a way that you will not miss a message from one of your customers. Consider this example, some people use email and a support ticketing system. Sometimes when they access their emails, support emails are downloaded and sent to the spam folder. These emails are not then available in the support system and will be missed.

If you have a sizeable number of regular customers and/or a large number of products, it is worth having a separate support page where your customers can reach you. This should preferably be tied into a support ticketing system, which helps you manage your support requests.

Making different communications channels available for your customers to speak to you has all of the following advantages:

Makes it easy for your customers to engage with you and so feel ‘heard’
Helps build relationships with your customers and so feel ‘valued’
Helps spread your message wider through building ‘loyalty’


How to Communicate with Your Customers


These are some examples of how to approach your customer communications:

Make your customer communication personal, honest and accommodating (where necessary).

Send a (genuine) thank you letter with a note e.g. thank you for hiring me to be your wedding photographer, or to build your wedding portfolio website, and by-the-way your reception was lovely…

If somebody mentions they like your photo on Facebook, or tweets something nice about you … login and say thank you! If they mention something negative, thank them, offer to help resolve the issue, and invite them to discuss the matter with you (through your support system if you have one and they are agreeable) or via Skype or over the phone. Direct contact always gives an opportunity to diffuse a negative situation and turn it into one with a positive outcome for you and your business.

Use your end user to help build your business – your reputation should be enhanced with every user/customer interaction, thus making your customer feel good every time they hear mention of you or your business, and prompting them to pass on the positive feeling to friends, business acquaintances and colleagues.

Answer emails, even if only to say you will follow up with them (and make sure to do so). Be diplomatic (and sensible) when handling difficult customers. Don’t let your emotions control any of your communication with troublesome customers. And remember, sometimes it’s better to give a refund than waste a lot of time trying to bring a customer back onside.

Also, besides the large social networking channels, consider extending your communication to smaller less used social media sites and tools. Gary Waynerchuk recommends using ‘Micro-trend ponds’ to get your message out. [e.g. Digg, Reddit] These tend to be less crowded, less noisy, and less expensive than the bigger channels everyone else is using. They are most suitable for small niche markets.


And Finally … !


Always openly engage with your customers if they (publicly) mention your or your products, or services. Phrases such as “Thank You” “You’re welcome” “I’m sorry,” “How so?” “Is that how you really feel?” “Tell me what happened,” “How can I fix the problem?” or “Allow me” are best used when communicating publicly with customers.

Customers like to receive your brand’s (you/your businesses’) special, personal attention and engagement at least some of the time. Remember to engage.



Let’s Examine A Case Study Of How Refusing To Be Nice Can Give Your Competitors An Advantage!


Case Study – get one up on ‘Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook, who shared the same name as the very well known Thomas Cook travel agency decided to post a cheeky request on the Facebook page for Thomas Cook Travel.

He requested that to compensate for a lifetime of teasing because of their shared name, the company should send him and a friend to Paris for weekend!

Thomas Cook, the company promptly sent a stiff reply to the 26 year old, claiming that they couldn’t give free trips to everybody named Thomas Cook and asking him to check their website for great travel prices.

When he posted their reply to his Facebook profile,, a competitor of Thomas Cook Travel, picked up the post.

The quick thinking rival travel agent offered to send Thomas and a friend on a trip to Paris for not just for a weekend but for a week!

When Thomas posted a photo of himself and friend at the Eiffel Tower to his Facebook profile, the photo instantly went viral and was seen by hundreds of thousands of Facebook users.

By doing the ‘nice’ thing and making a young man happy, were able to harness a massive amount of free publicity and come out as the good guys, while Thomas Cook obviously suffered brand damage by underestimating the value of doing something nice!


It Costs Nada To Be Nice


‘It costs nothing (or at least not much!) to be nice!’

By expending a little effort, using your imagination (and maybe a little money) and keeping direct communications open and accessible to your customers, you can easily build a solid reputation for you or your brand. This will lead to an on-going beneficial business relationships, which will also help in growing your customer base, increasing your sales and in turn growing your business.

Take the steps to make your customers feel special and they will reward you well!

And remember, the simplest things to do when communicating with your customers are:

Be yourself. Be genuine. Say Thank You! And mean it!



Free ‘About Me’ PSD Template

Don’t you find the worst case ever of writer’s block comes over you when you open that ‘About Me’ page?

There’s something beyond mentally crippling about trying to sum yourself up in a few words, while also making yourself sound … well interesting!

So how about this for an idea?

Instead of trying to crunch out a few hundred words about your very interesting self, why not crunch out a few numbers, facts and figures and mix them all up in nice infographic style ‘about me’ page!

But where would I get such an infographic Tracey?

I’m hearing ya!

And the answer is right here at the link below!  Enjoy!





Back To Basics. The 5 Fundamentals That Everyone Forgets About Writing An Ad

Most of us are not copywriters, nor do we have the time to master that skill.

But we do, as online marketers need ads!

So how can talentless wannabe copywriters like ourselves write effective ad copy that will actually work?

Fret not! There are some simple rules that believe it or not makes the whole process actually kinda easy!

All Ads Are Not Created Equal

First, best to know that ads have two different purposes.

1. Awareness or brand advertising. This is usually performed by advertising agencies for larger businesses.

The purpose of this type of advertising is to keep a brand in people’s minds so that when it comes time to make a purchase your brand is the first one they will think of. Through constant reminder and familiarity, your customer will come to prefer your brand over others. So, the intent is not to encourage a prospect to make a purchase, or perform an action, immediately. For this we use direct response advertising.

2. Direct-response advertising aims to encourage a prospect to perform an action of some kind; phone us, fill out a contact form, sign up to your newsletter, visit our website, buy a product.

The Internet is a perfect platform for direct-response advertising, as we can track an ad campaigns success by monitoring prospect actions after they have seen an ad. For example, do they click it?

So while a brand advertisement wants to impress you, a direct-response ad wants to sell to you.

It is critical when writing ad copy to keep these differences in mind, so as to keep your copy focused around the key objectives of your advertising campaign and its desired outcomes,  guaranteeing as much as possible a successful outcome.

The Key Elements of an Ad

So with that out of the way, let’s talk about the structure of an ad.

Your ad will have a headline, which will serve to arouse readers interest in your ad and the product or service you are promoting.

Your ad must have an offer that you are selling (duh!)

This offer must be relevant and enticing enough to prompt your reader to respond to your ‘call to action’.

Your call to action is the desired outcome of your ad or what you want your prospect to do when they read it.

1. Planning Your Ad: The Brief

Now to the tricky stuff!

In order to find the key elements to attract reader attention in an ad, you need to plan out the ad and all of the key elements of your offering which will be used in creating the ad copy.

If it is your own business and your own product or service you are advertising, then you will at least have a reasonable idea about each of your business and the key attributes of your offer.

You will likely also have a reasonably good idea of the benefits of your product or service. If you are writing copy for another businesses products or services you will need to do some research.

An ad brief will help. An ad brief should outline the objectives of your advertising campaign, your intended target audience, your call to action – what it is that you want them to do when they read your ad.

At this point you should also identify any constraints you may have on your ad production – deadlines, word count, and design restrictions (use of images/graphics, their byte size).

For whatever product or service that you intend to promote, you also need to identify clearly the key features, and the corresponding benefits provided by them.

This should include why someone would choose your offer over other similar offers from elsewhere.

At this point, identifying any relevant keywords would be very helpful. You can use the Google Keyword Tool or tools such as Keyword Spy for this. It is be worthwhile looking at what keywords you competitors use as well. Look at their brochures, whitepapers, blog posts, websites and any PPC ads that you are aware of.

2. Get Writing! Get Creative!

The even trickier stuff comes next!

After you have laid out your advertising brief, you will not succeed in producing an ad  if you do not begin writing.

To get your brain working, just begin typing anything. ANYTHING! This is what some novel writers do when they’re stuck and it works well when writing ad copy too! Write a first draft. This will increase your writing speed and creativity.

Avoid writing, then revising and correcting your draft. Instead, write and edit later, with the aim of increasing your creativity, not your correctness.

If you get stuck on some word or phrase, just leave a space or pad out with X’s so that you can come back and replace them later.

After your first draft is finished, you can do some corrections. Perhaps highlighting some key phrases that you have written and which give a flavour of your product or service will help.

This can provide the outline of a structure for your ad if it is a long format ad, e.g. a sales page rather than a short ad (e.g. PPC).

Ad writing is a creative process and sometimes you will get stuck for ideas. We will look briefly at how to get started writing in a moment, but we can also think about how to structure your ad so that you can think of it less creatively. This will make it easier for ou to write your ad. The creativity can come later on.

You need to ask what it is about your product or service that is useful to your prospect! You can use how your offering provides solutions to a customer problem, or testimonials from other customers to give yourself some structure when writing longer ad copy.

Another thing which can help with writing copy is starting a timer and writing for a set amount of time and not stopping before the timer goes off.

3. Address Your Audience

To really engage with prospects or customers, you need to make them part of your copy. You can do this by following these guidelines:

Try to empathise with your targets situation. Ask yourself, what challenges do they face during their day? What do they really care about?

Talk about benefits of your offering to your prospects, not the features.

Talk about how your product, or service, will make their life

More comfortable
Less stressful
Less risky / safer

Make your ad copy personal.

Use “You” in your copy.

Caveat: In the Futerra study (mentioned later) on marketing and selling environmentally sound products/services, it was found that “You” didn’t work effectively. Instead, in this instance, using collective/inclusive words like “We” and “Us” was more effective for the particular kind of products being sold. See excerpt below:

“‘We’ not ‘You’
Tapping into a sense of cooperation, community or shared interest appeared to resonate more with our focus groups than terms associated with individual or personal behaviours. We searched for sustainability terms that implied mass social action or generated ‘social proof’ to test, but found that most terms encourage atomised individual behaviour. Research consistently shows that we follow the behaviour we see around us rather than making isolated decisions. A terminology of sustainability ‘participation’ rather than ‘atomisation’ is urgently needed.”
Source: Words that sell: How the public talks about sustainability – Futerra

Share stories and experiences from other customers. Use successful outcomes from customers using your products or services. Phrases such as; “Recommended by XXXX”, “As used by XXXX”, “Using XXXX saved my business!” Any positive outcome can be used here.

Use the same language as your customer when writing ad copy.  Do not make use of specialised vocabulary that you may be familiar with, but that is not used regularly by your target. Try to use popular terms that are familiar and common sense to your target.

Caveat: Copywriters often make use of sentence fragments, short forms, and acronyms to reduce word count. The trick in doing this is to make sure that your copy still makes sense to your prospects. This can be achieved by using popular words and phrases which are culturally accepted and commonly understood by your target prospects as mentioned earlier.

4. Use Power Selling Words in Your Ad Copy

There are over 1 million words in the modern English language. However, most people only use a few thousand of these in their everyday use of English. You may be even more surprised when you realise that only around five dozen ‘power’ selling words are actually necessary when writing ad copy.

These power words are what successful copywriters use to move their prospects and buyers to take an action step; subscribe to a newsletter, sign up to a website, or blog, or take the first steps to purchase one of their products or services.

A recent report by Futerra on marketing and selling ‘green concepts and technologies’ discovered the following:

“Words matter. They matter a great deal. Words bring ideas alive, make new concepts familiar, and can change the way we see the world. Marketers, journalists and those working in the media are acutely aware of the importance of words. There is a whole industry dedicated to perfecting copy. A PR company can spend days (or weeks, if the client is important enough) pondering a single line of text. In some cases, millions of pounds are spent on market testing one word.”
Source: Words that sell: How the public talks about sustainability – Futerra

List of Power Selling Words

Absolutely | Accomplish | Achieve | Benefit | Best | Clear-cut | Compelling | Convenient | Critical | Dependable | Easy/Easily | Ensure | Exciting | Free | Fun | Guarantee/Guaranteed | Health/Healthy | How-To | Improve/Improved | Instant/Instantly | Love | Money | More | New | Now | Personalized | Power/Powerful | Private | Proven | Quality | Quick/Quickly | Results | Safe/Safely | Save | Secrets | Secure | Shocked/Shocking | Simple | Solution | Step-by-Step | Strong | Top | Uncover | Unique | Unleashed | Unlimited | Unlock | Winning | Yes | You/Your

Some of these words should be integrated throughout your ad copy.

The Importance of Your Headline

Your ad headline is the most important component of your ad. You have only a few seconds to attract your prospects attention.

Research has shown that the headline is responsible for 80%+ of an ads success.

Copywriters commonly spend the largest part of their time working on the ad headline.

Your headline must summarise your ad message usually the benefit(s) and/or advantage(s) of your product or service. Notice I didn’t say feature(s)! Your headline must cause your prospect to become interested in your ad, so that they read and think further about it. Depending on the ad format that you are writing for, you have between one and four short lines to encapsulate your headline message.

It has been shown that up to five times as many people read an ad headline as will actually read the ad. So, you must get across the primary benefit your prospect will get by performing your required action (see the earlier section on focusing on one prospect action).

You will need to write multiple headlines before you settle on a final headline.  Your final headline should be ‘unique’, that is it should only be relevant for your particular combination of product, service and target market and no other.  It should be very ‘specific’, very focused, and definitely not vague. Your headline should provide something ‘useful’ to your prospect (for example, some information, a proposed solution to a problem, or appealing financially). There should be a sense of urgency about your headline’s message (time-limited) requiring action immediately on behalf of your prospect!

Just as I mentioned earlier about the main body of your ad, there are a number of words that can be used in your ad header to increase prospect interest in your ad.

To gain prospects attention, start your ad headline with some of the following words:

Introducing | Announcing | New | Now | At Last | How To
How | Why | Which | Who Else
Wanted | This | Because | If | Advice

You can evoke different emotions and responses using these words:

Create Curiosity – Breaking News | Wow | Exposed | Surprising
Create Exclusivity – Secret | Hidden | Never | Limited
Create Urgency – Now | Direct | Fast | Results
Create Reassurance – Easy | Simple | Lifetime | Safe
Desire to save – Bonus | Cheap | Discount | Bargain
Connect to Deep Emotions Love | Passion | Success | Hate | Alone | Guilty

Other things which can be very effective when included in a headline are:

Putting a date in your headline
Writing your headline in a news style
Featuring the price in your headline
Featuring reduced price
Featuring a special merchandising offer
Featuring an easy payment plan
Featuring a free offer
Offering information of value
Telling a story
Beginning your headline with the words “How To”
Using a testimonial style headline
Offering the reader a test
Warning the reader to delay buying
Letting the advertiser speak directly to the reader
Addressing your headline to a specific group or person
Asking a question
Offering benefits through facts and figures

Your headline must get the attention of your prospects with the benefits, possibilities and solutions provided by your offering.

5. Your Offer & Call To Action

You don’t need to discount all the time to sell your product or service. You can ensure your offer is attractive to your prospects by making it relevant to your target audience, their business or personal life, or even the season of the year.

Your offering could have high value to your prospect, but low cost to you to produce, for example, a report on increasing their monthly income, or generating a sideline income. Your offer could be made irresistible. For example, you might include setup and/or training with a piece of software or hardware, or free hosting for the first year with a new website.

Make it easy for your prospect to respond to your offer. Don’t overdo fields on forms, just ask for the basics. Maybe offer a free trial for a month, or three, with just basic information (name, email) required to begin the trial.

With some thought and a little imagination, you should nearly always be able to avoid discounting your products and services.

Your Call to Action: Focus on One Thing

In order to get your prospects/customers to do something for you, you need to tell them what you want them to do next within your copywriting. Otherwise they are unlikely to do it!

You must ensure that your call-to-action mentions the advantages or benefits gained by obeying your call. It should be clear and easy to understand what you want them to do. Use verbs (implies action) to tell them what to do (Join Now! Click Here! Download Your Report Here | Now)

You need to ask yourself what is the one thing you want your reader to do when they read your ad?

Visit a store and buy your product, or phone up to buy your service (e.g. car/home insurance)?

Choose your product/service rather than a competitor’s?

Associate certain emotions with the product/brand name?

Visit a Web site and register or sign up for a newsletter?

Become a social media follower?

Let their friends, family and colleagues know about you?

Remember your product/service name?

Scan a QR Code to take advantage of a discount?

Recognise you as an expert in your field (through whitepapers etc…)?

Form a positive impression of your product/service so that when they come to make a purchase decision they will think of your brand and products first?

“This is the key to successful advertising; focusing relentlessly, exclusively, and without distraction on the one thing that you want the reader to think or do, and then write your ad copy to accomplish that one specific objective.”

Convert An SWF File To An Animated GIF and MOV file Using Photohsop

Explaindio and Video Maker FX users have access to dozens (hundreds for those who get monthly slide packs) of .swf animated images.  They’re accessible to everybody right inside the applications content folder.

How useful would it be to be able to convert those animations to file formats that can be used in other software?

You all know I’m a huge fan of using animated gifs in PowerPoint and .mov files are great for screencast software like Camtasia or Screenflow.

So let’s take a look at how to work some magic on those .swf and open up a world of other possibilities!

For this tutorial, you’ll need to download a free piece of software called SWFRenderer .  Be sure to scroll to the very bottom of the page for the unsupported (and free!) older version.

Once you’ve got that installed, Photoshop will do the rest!

Blog Stats Infographic Template For Facebook

Followers love to see how a blog they’re a fan of evolves and what better way to show them than with an infographic?

I’ve created a PSD template to showcase your blog stats. It’s easy to edit.

Simply add your own colours, logo and stats and then go share your blog awesomeness with the world.


Is The Gmail Promotions Tab Killing Internet Marketing?


So what do you think about Gmail’s inbox tabs? Scary stuff for marketers, right?

It’s difficult enough to get emails opened when they are in full view, but now there’s an additional hurdle; hoping your customer will bother to look inside the Promotions tabs. I mean, seriously, who willingly goes looking for spam?

So with such dramatic changes to how your emails are being received, you’re probably imagining doomsday stats of 0.1% open rates right now.

(If that’s your current open rate … … awkward silence!).

But just how freaked out should you be?

Continue reading…


Outsourcing A WordPress Plugin Case Study Day 6

Outsourcing A WordPress Plugin Case Study Day 6

Day 5 and 6 have been about working out a couple of problems with the plugin and also working on styling issues that will determine how the plugin will look on the front end of blogs.

The deadline has just passed and the plugin while almost there, is not yet complete.  In fairness to the my coder,  I wasn’t around as much over the last couple of days to answer his questions.  He had some slight delays on his end too but nothing significant.   I also had to give some thought to one particular part of the plugin, that wasn’t working as I would have liked.  This related to limitations with the sharing options for the plugin.  I had to compromise on this.  I haven’t had one plugin developed where I didn’t have to compromise somewhere.

I can’t stress how important it is for your coder to be accessible to you and open to understanding your vision for your plugin.  To do this, they will need to be competent and enjoy their work.  I’ve worked with many coders.  I’ve had bad communicators, excuse makers, money hunters and lots of unethical types.

When you find a good coder, you’ll know it. It may take many months.  I’ve been hiring coders for 6 months now, having hired posssibly more than 30 coders for various projects (up to as many as 6 to finish one project, becasue I got unlucky and got 5 bad coders in a row  … bad karma!).

Right now, I have three coders whom I trust completely.  They are professional and experienced.  They may not be the cheapest but I would rather pay more for a project to turnaround on time and on budget than try to find cheaper coders and wind up having to hire six and still pay more in the end!

That said, I will always have a budget in mind for a project and I’m not afraid to go hunting for some more great coders. They are out there. Don’t be afraid to keep looking until you find one.  I’ve heard people say they won’t look for freelancer coders because they’ve been ripped off too many times.  As a result they don’t tend to get products developed.

It happens, I’ve been ripped off many times but the risk can be minimized and it’s part of the process to finding somebody great!

So after day 6, my plugin is begining to look as I had imagined it.  No regrets either for pre-paying my coder the full fee in advance either!

Tracey Meagher is a designer and product creator who likes to wind down with Photoshop and has been known to work 12 hours stints without coffee (gasp!)