You're lucky if someone's noticed, if they're aware of what you're advertising/promoting, in a world of endless messages once you've got someone hooked you need to allow them to click through freely to purchase/experience your wares, this is why Amazon introduced One Click shopping. You want to reduce friction, you want instinct to take over, once someone thinks about spending their money or not, you're lost. 


Which is why if you're a known quantity you want your publicity front-loaded and if you're unknown you want to wait until you have traction. If you're someone and your new project doesn't come out of the gate roaring, it's a stiff, and no amount of sycophantic old media press will resuscitate it. If you're no one, the instinct is to promote to overcome ignorance, this is a mistake, you waste your budget, you burn your relationships and everyone is frustrated and depleted. Now, more than ever, you start small and develop a story. You're selling the story, not the project. That's what hooks people in today's cacophonous society. Not information so much as ANALYSIS! We all see the headlines, but we rarely go beyond that. We do when there's a genuine hook. A real hook is not "This is my latest project, it's the best one I've ever done and let me tell you about my favorite color." Nor is it the classic "I've experienced tragedy and I've distilled it into this work." No, it's more about the reaction of the audience, your experience in slogging it out to get ahead. Where you won over the audience, where you didn't. Ink without story is worthless, there's just too much of it. And only a few may actually read, but those people will be bonded to you and spread the word. You're not speaking to everybody, just somebody. Broadcasting is passe, just look at TV ratings, you're narrowcasting. 


Just because you've got 'em today doesn't mean you've got 'em tomorrow. In a world where what happens in the morning is already passe by the evening you've got to keep the story rolling, you need new product, more music, more YouTube clips... You satiate the core and when the looky-loos finally come on board there's a plethora for them to experience, 


There are no turntable hits. You check the Spotify streams and the YouTube count and if's not reacting forget about it. Never lie, people can check the truth instantly, and then you're dead in the water forevermore. 


Never ever try to bend people's will, follow them, or get ahead of them in unknown territory, which is how Spotify won, people didn't even know they wanted streaming. We live in an on demand culture. Put up hurdles at your peril. 


Spielberg believes movies must open in a theatre. Yeah right, so they can be ignored there and forgotten when they hit the small screen. Be thrilled anybody's watching/listening to your stuff at all. When someone starts speaking about protection, stop listening. Windows are impediments. Critics have been superseded by the wisdom of the crowd. The music business woke up, the holier-than-thou movie business is way behind the curve, as are network and cable television. Sure, it's about the content, but if it's not easy to consume whenever and wherever I want, I'm not watching. 


Think about the outlet. If you've got a choice, sacrifice payment for eyeballs. You don't want to be the guinea pig at Apple television, no matter how much they pay. 


Everybody involved is backslapping, believing they're fighting the good fight, when the audience has completely tuned out. Youngsters don't read the newspaper. And they go straight to rottentomatoes, as do I, why should I waste my time, which is so precious! 


Fewer projects are ubiquitous and ubiquity ain't what it used to be. If you don't hit right away, give up or be in it for the long haul. No one wants to listen to your sour grapes. 


That's right, there are so many ways to monetize success that to get hung up on the old ones is a major mistake. The biggest rappers give away their music. People buy merch they don't wear or play, just to feel involved. 


Be human, have frailties, whether it be in your art or personality or both. Rough edges hook people. Which is why "The Voice" stars never translate to Spotify. We're looking for vulnerability, originality, we want to identify. Plastic surgery just makes you look like everybody else. Stop feeling inadequate, own who you are, it will pay dividends. 

Before You Hire Us, Ask Us These 10 Questions

So, you’re entertaining the idea of running a crowdfunding campaign. If you’ve talked to anyone who has run one before, you know that it can take a tremendous amount of work, some of which you might not have experience in, and that’s ok! If you’re on the fence about running a campaign all by yourself, it might be worth your while to look into hiring a crowdfunding agency to help you out with some of the legwork.

Before you hire us

Once you begin your search for the perfect crowdfunding agency, you will find that different agencies offer different services. From promotions agencies to full-fledged crowdfunding marketing agencies, you’ll need to decipher which one will bring your campaign the most success.

Regardless of which type of agency you choose, asking the right questions will not only help lead you to the best decision but also save you time and money in the long run. Having been in the crowdfunding business for years now, we’ve compiled a few of the most important questions that we’re frequently asked for you to consider when searching for the perfect crowdfunding agency:

1 – When did you get into crowdfunding?

Most typical marketing agencies don’t have much if any, experience working with crowdfunding campaigns. The reality of it is, they might have the tools to get the job done, but they might not be familiar with the little details that have a major impact on a successful crowdfunding campaign.

While crowdfunding is fairly new, if a crowdfunding agency just started crowdfunding in 2015 or 2016, you might want to find a team that has more experience and a larger portfolio.


2 – How many campaigns have you run?

Have most of the campaigns that they’ve run been successful? See if they reached their funding goal, how many backers they had, if they received a good amount of press and other qualities that you would like to see in your campaign.


3 – Have you managed any campaigns similar to mine? Can you give me some examples?

Ask them for specific examples of projects they’ve managed that are similar to yours and what some of their techniques were. See if those projects performed well and look at all aspects of the campaign to see if it possessed the qualities that you’d like to see in your own successful campaign. If they weren’t successful, ask them why they weren’t and what they would do differently for your campaign. If you plan to run a crowdfunding campaign for a watch and they’ve launched ten watch campaigns unsuccessfully, you might want to consider looking into a different agency.


4 – What’s your average ad spend and average ROI?

If you’re spending your money on advertising, you’re probably going to want to know where it’s going and what it’s being spent on. Is the agency willing to send you frequent updates and keep you in the loop on their different tactics? What sources of advertising will they be using? If they’re not willing to be transparent about what they’re doing with your money, and you’re not ok with that, consider looking for a different agency.


5 – Ask them about press and how they get it.

Do they rely on a launch press release and gamble to see if someone picks up the story, or do they have relationships with journalists that they utilize to gain coverage for your product? Do they build a custom media list or just blast out a pitch to journalists? Make sure to ask about their strategy and see if they utilize embargoes and any other tactics that will result in the best press for your campaign. Also, consider asking them which outlets they have relationships at and if those outlets have the right audience for your product.


6 – How does this work? What’s the process like for getting set up and working with you?

There’s a good chance that this entire process is new to you, and you won’t want to be left in the dark. Will the agency’s team be willing to chat with you frequently about what’s going on in the campaign? Will you ever get the chance to talk with them via phone or Skype, or do they strictly communicate via email? Make sure they’re willing to take the time to learn about what successes you want to see from their work, and they’re not just in it to make a quick buck and leave you hanging out to dry. The ugly truth is that some agencies will do this, and that’s why it’s important to ask questions and perhaps try to get in contact with some of their past clients.


7 – What can you do for a campaign that’s already up and running?

If you feel like your campaign is lagging a bit, see what kinds of services they will offer to help give your campaign a boost. Do their services include writing updates, email marketing, Facebook advertising, press and more? You’ll want a team that will try new things and provide you with constructive feedback, not one that will reiterate what you’ve already done.


8 – What was your most successful campaign and how much did it raise?

Ask them about the strategy and tactics that they used while working with that project. Is that the same strategy that they’re going to utilize for your campaign? Did their most successful project raise less than you thought it would? It also makes sense for you to ask if they ran the campaign the entire way through. If they started halfway through the project when it was already successful, then they might be taking credit where credit isn’t due.


9 – Are there possibilities post-campaign for us to still work with you? Do you have any connections that can help my business?

See if they have any services to offer once your campaign is over. Running a company is tough work, and it might be nice to have someone take over certain aspects. Do you have a great idea but no idea where to begin? See if they know of any people who could help you develop your product. Additionally, once your campaign is over, you’ll need to manufacture and ship your product. Do they have any helpful connections?


10 – Do you have a past backer network? How did you obtain it?

Do they have a past backer network that they can utilize? If they can’t explain how they obtained it, that might be a red flag that they didn’t legally get that information or they may have purchased a large, but random, set of emails. The numbers might sound impressive, but they might not be the best for conversions. This also might be an indication that they’re spammy, which could mean spam for your backers in the future.

If you’d like to ask us these questions yourself, contact us and someone from our team would be more than happy to chat with you to see if we’d be a good fit to help you run a successful crowdfunding campaign.


Raising financing for business startup, growth and working capital needs can prove a massive time-suck and even a distraction away from true business growth. But slow growth of an operating business beats the alternative–no business at all. Luckily today’s world offers a broader selection from the proverbial fundraising buffett. Alternative financing options abound and the number of options is not slowing anytime soon. This boon for business founders and entrepreneurs simultaneously requires greater education on both the benefits and detriments of both traditional and alternative small business finance. The release of each new and creative financing option brings with it its own shortcomings. There will never be a one-size-fits-all approach to business finance. Consequently, matching individual business needs and goals to the financing options available will require a complete understanding of all the options available and how they impact the operations of the business. Here we’ll focus strictly on some of the differences between equity and rewards-based crowdfunding and the features that may push business owners to one over the other.



The Kickstarters and Indiegogos of the world have some of the best success stories for financing small business ideas. The biggest obvious benefit to the rewards-based crowdfunding scene is that founders aren’t forced to give up equity in their company. The poster child of this phenomenon is the OculusRift. After raising nearly $2.5 million from the company’s Kickstarter campaign, the company was sold just 23 months later to Facebook for some $2 billion. The story here is self explanatory. The founders and original shareholders in the Oculus virtual reality had a nice payday, but all the backers got in return were either their units or, worse still, a lesser reward. Had the deal included equity, the outcome would have resulted in life-changing payouts. Fortunate for the startup shareholders, unfortunate for the backers.

Rewards-based crowdfunding is also much more suited for startups with a specific project, product, game or franchise. It’s a way to test the true consumer market if such a product is worth its weight in hype. It’s certainly helpful for existing businesses as well, but plays well toward something new that could hit a tipping point for virality, especially when it comes to raising the sizes that come from some of the most successful campaigns. Rewards funding is also geared more toward consumer-based businesses. Never would you see a the owner of a niche manufacturing plant, a convenience store or a oil distribution company post on a rewards-based crowdfunding site. It plays to the wrong audience, the wrong demographic.


Where rewards-based crowdfunding fails, equity crowdfunding picks up some of the slack. It plays better with existing businesses whose products or services may lack some of the sexiness we’ve seen on popular rewards-based portals. And while the downside includes some equity dilution with the private placement, it typically lends itself better to sophisticated investors with comfort in a specific market niche. Such an investor could prove more beneficial than the capital s/he provides to the campaign. Networks, experience and personal contacts may make all the difference in the success or failure of the business.

Currently, most equity crowdfunding campaigns are attracting less than 20 investors, which lends itself to a much more manageable group. While we certainly shouldn’t place backers and investors in the same bucket, the post-campaign time demand from said groups are worth noting. For instance, having 2,000 backers in a rewards-based campaign is likely to prove a larger drain on resources than say five investors with deep pockets from an equity-based campaign. Both groups can be unforgiving and unrelenting when it comes to delivering on promises touted in the campaign, but the larger the group, the more resources will be needed to fend off the fray.

The statistic that 8 out of 10 startups fail is fairly accurate. That’s why many expect the future growth in crowdfunding is likely to lend itself more to existing, successful businesses seeking growth or working capital financing in exchange for equity, debt or warrants. It’s a more plausible scenario because investors like safe bets with nearly guaranteed cash flows. When the dust finally settles, we’ll certainly see some more big wins like Oculus Rift, but the safe bets in existing businesses, product lines and business teams are likely to provide less risky returns than the high risk gamble of putting all your crowdfund investment into a bunch of mobile app or gaming startups. In essence, some equity crowdfund investments will look more like debt instruments or traditional private equity while others will mirror traditional venture capital plays.

A note on the full implementation of crowdfunding: While we’re not at the stage where online fundraising allows for non-accredited crowdfund investors to purchase securities using a credit card, I expect we’ll be there soon enough. Full equity crowdfunding will certainly present its own challenges, but until it’s fully implemented, the aforementioned “pointers” apply.

Shareholders should always keep in mind that neither equity or rewards-based crowdfunding are mutually exclusive. Both forms could be used in tandem or at separate intervals to help provide a boost to the business or a specific project. The timing, nature, structure and target demographic of either type of campaign is likely to be wildly different. The knowledge of being successful on Kickstarter is likely not going to transfer over when you need to create a pro-forma financial statement for Equitynet. Most consultants good at drafting a private placement, including attorneys and accountants, are certainly not going to be good at assisting with a creative video for your campaign.

The best approach for any small business deciding what type of crowdfunded finance is right for their particular situation will always be an “it depends” scenario. It does help to know the ins and outs of both options to ensure shareholders make the right decision relative to their individual situation and business needs.

Top Five Reasons To Fire a Client

Here are my top five reasons to fire a client:

  1. The “Why Are You So Expensive?” client: It’s perfectly reasonable for a client to ask how you came to an hourly fee or project rate. However, repeated questions are signs of red flags. Repeated requests to reduce your rate, work on spec (no way, no day), or promises of business referrals (if you do great work, you should be comfortable asking for references without having to work for less) for a reduced rate should be regarded with suspicion. There have been times when I’ve lowered my fee for a dream or cause client, but I do not compete on price. It’s a losing proposition. Someone will always underbid me and I have enough experience and confidence to know that my work is not a race to the bottom. Be wary of someone who nickel and dimes you every step of the way.
  2. The “This Can Be Done in 5 Minutes” client: Remember when I mentioned respect a paragraph or so ago? The client who believes that everything is so easy, or is baffled as to why something would take longer than ten minutes is a prospect that should send you running for the exits. A good client hires an expert who fills gaps in their business. They should trust that you know how long a task should take and that you would give honest implications of schedule changes and unreasonable timelines. If they don’t, they lack basic respect for what you do, and they will gaslight you every step of the way. I live by the Triple Constraint Concept in project management. You want something fast + high quality: it’ll cost you. You want something quick + cheap: it’ll be low quality. You want high quality + low cost: it’ll take time.
  3. The “I Flunked Communication 101” client: This is probably one of the most important aspects of a client-partner relationship. A lack of established lines of communication could put a project in jeopardy, and communication extremes are just as precarious. If you’re dealing with a ghosting client (do you really like sending 500 “just checking in” emails to then hear from a client that they need X deliverable by tomorrow, 2pm EST or ELSE) or an overly needy client (see #5) — both will get you no satisfaction, as the song goes. I had a client who could never properly articulate what they wanted, even when they were presented with examples, questioned, and coached. Hours and dollars were wasted even when they liked the finished product. Why? They were never quite satisfied with it. Their constant nitpicking on the small stuff took time away from the things that mattered. They didn’t understand that done is often better than perfect, which leads me to their micromanager…
  4. The “Don’t Mind Me Stalking and Screaming Over Your Shoulder” client: Who feels empowered when they’re micromanaged? While your client may know their brand and business inside out, they hired you as an expert to help them with an aspect of their business. When they get too involved in the strategies and tactics for which they hired you, or if they consistently second-guess or question your judgment, fire them. Micromanaging represents a lack of respect, and it also demonstrates an unhealthy level of control. Micromanagers never grow into leaders because they don’t know how to trust and let go. As a result, your work will be inefficient, and you’ll probably be blamed for every misstep and failure — even though the client did the equivalent of wearing earmuffs while you offered your expertise and recommendations.
  5. The “Why Haven’t You Responded to my 35 Emails in 10 Minutes” client: Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. I used to tell my staff that they should take their work seriously but we’re not curing cancer. Not even close to it. While it’s important to be responsive to your client, you don’t need to be on a gurney answering emails. Set communication expectations from the onset. Now, I even bake into my contracts and remind them of my onboarding email series. I note the hours of my availability in time zone, when they should expect to hear from me, and communication protocol for emergencies. And by emergency, I don’t mean, that pixel is off-center. You had better be on a gurney. You don’t have to act like a first-responder when it comes to emails to be an effective consultant. Sometimes a response requires time and thought, and it doesn’t always pay to be instantly available and immediately reactive. If a client fails to understand that and has a rage blackout that I’m not holding my phone at 3 am, we have to part ways.

The last thing you want to do is cut the cord on a relationship, especially when your livelihood depends on it. In five years, I’ve only let three clients go and trust me; It took a lot before I decided I couldn’t take anymore. However, I’m now attuned to the warning signs in the proposal phase — how a client communicates, what kinds of questions they ask, etc. — so I can avoid the painful process of saying, it’s not me, it’s you.

One Growth Hack A Day

Every person who has walked up the ladder had his own way of doing things, call it.


Growth is easy, But it takes TIME.

Growth can be hacked and stereotypes of growth can be broken.

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There are no shortcuts to success but there are growth hacks to success. We can help you find your own way.

There are so many nuggets to mine here and there is growth treasure for everyone, just apply and earn!



There are best times to get great clickthroughs. Buffer analyzed over 4.8 million tweets across 10k profiles from 10 different time zones.

Here are results for different time zones:

  • Los Angeles (Pacific Time): 2:00 a.m.
  • Denver (Mountain Time): 7:00 p.m.
  • Chicago (Central Time): 2:00 a.m.
  • New York (Eastern Time): 11:00 p.m.
  • Paris (Central European): 2:00 a.m.
  • Istanbul (Eastern European): 8:00 p.m.
  • Sydney (Australian Eastern): 2:00 a.m.
  • Hong Kong (Hong Kong Time): 5:00 a.m.
  • Shanghai (China Time): noon
  • Tokyo (Japan Time): 8:00 a.m.
  • Global (on average): 2:00 a.m.
  • So the best time to tweet on an average is 2.00 am.



Everyone has a story and anyone would love to read an interesting story. Moreover, your customers and prospects would connect with you emotionally.

So keep these in mind while telling our story

  1. Useful info in the story so reader finds value in it
  2. What motivates your team- it will inspire the reader.
  3. What is the credo of your brand-your core message and what you stand for?
  4. About your customers- your business can’t survive without them.
  5. Emotional- nothing works better than emotional triggers.
  6. A beginning, a crisis & a resolution- ups and downs in life made you what you are today
  7. AN interaction between your customers and your brand- There is a relation between you and customers.



  1. Visit (
  2. Search for topics, related to your service-
  3. Comment related questions, promote your stuff in the answers but keep in mind that you read non-promotional.

It works pretty well but don’t expect that your reputation would scale up

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Turn hustling of getting new users into a scalable process and save a little more of your time:

  1. Create a Google spreadsheet.
  2. Create 3 tabs. 1 for each of the following: Quora, Yahoo Answers, and Niche Forums(google ““niche keyword” inurl:forum”).
  3. Create 3 Google Docs. One for each of the categories above.
  4. Have a virtual assistant on Elance or UpWork to find the questions you could answer and fill yes/no and fill direct URL to each question.
  5. Write the best answers you can to the questions and reference your links and then you would be able to copy and paste all the answers to these questions anywhere required.



Why Chasing PR and “Exposure” is a Mistake

Why Chasing PR and “Exposure” is a Mistake


So am I saying that PR or exposure are bad?

Yes, mostly. Your chances of converting this traffic into backers is so dismally low that:

At best, you’ll get a few backers but probably no more than 5% of your overall total.

At worst, chasing after these “opportunities” (press, PR, blog coverage, etc.) will be a complete waste of your time and could put your campaign in substantial jeopardy by preventing you from reaching out to those who are most likely to pledge to your campaign. (I have observed this directly with the campaigns I’ve worked with.)

Many people have a mistaken analysis of what might happen:

If you are from a big city like New York or Los Angeles, well, if you could get media placement, you’d be in front of a lot of people, so wouldn’t you get a lot of backers?

Or if you are from a small town, the people who would see your media coverage would be rooting for the hometown hero and would back your campaign, right?

Or if you could just get coverage in that popular blog, wouldn’t those readers be likely to back your campaign?

Or if you could simply get featured by Kickstarter, then you’d be in front of people who are already proven campaign backers and who are just waiting to find the next cool thing to pledge to, right?

Unfortunately for the vast majority of campaigns, the answer is NO.

So the lesson here is that spending all of your precious time focusing on PR and exposure is a big mistake that will cost your campaign.

How To Create Momentum for Your Campaign

A common question I receive is how to be a featured project on Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or whichever crowdfunding platform you use.


Hi Jeff. I have a question for you. After you’ve made your crowdfunding video, how do you get seen on these platforms because there are so many videos. How does it get to the front page? -Luke V.

The nuts and bolts: platforms have algorithms that place projects/campaigns based on performance, similar to how Google and Facebook have algorithms for placement. Thus, in order to gain placement, you must generate momentum on your own by pulling in backers in a short amount of time.

Demonstrate Momentum

So, how do you create momentum?

Answer: the pre-load strategy!

Hopefully, you have seen me talk about the importance of a  pre-load strategy. The pre-load strategy leverages connections you already have to make quick, early progress.

When the people whom you know respond in an enthusiastic way, then you increase your chances of being noticed by the algorithm and being a featured project on the platform’s prime space.

Warning: when you launch your campaign, you will be contacted with several offers to promote your campaign. These offers sound tantalizing but will do nothing for your campaign. Don’t waste your money.

This has everything to do with the type of traffic and conversion rates. Bottom line is that traffic (if any) will be random, cold, dead traffic that will convert at a dismal rate: closer to 0% than to anything else. And 0% of anything is zero.

Project Exposure and What It Gets You

How much does being a featured project and getting good website placement help?

Unfortunately, not as much as you’d think.

I have had dozens of campaigns who I’ve worked with chosen as a Kickstarter Staff Pick or New and Noteworthy campaign. These campaigns raised amounts ranging from $6,000 up to $300,000. And NONE of them received a funding bump upon being designated as a Staff Pick or New and Noteworthy.

And it wasn’t just something we did or didn’t do. The campaigns got the placement but while campaigns for gadgets, tech, and gaming have some ability to turn cold traffic (people who have never seen you before) into backers, the task is darn-near impossible for music and other creative genres.

Consumers do not make decisions about music the same way in which they make choices about other consumables. As an Economist, I would characterize the music marketplace as pert-near perfect competition. This means that there are lots of sellers (musicians) whose product is easily accessible. In music, not only are there literally millions of buying alternatives, the alternatives are relatively cheap, if not free.

I could continue at length but, suffice it to say, people can acquire music so easily and cheaply that they can afford to be very choosy and protective of their money and time. Asking someone who does not know you or your music to invest in a project that they cannot even hear until some indefinite point in the future is not a winning strategy.

Oh, and I no longer even bother noting when a campaign is a featured project because it does not translate into results. And results are what we are looking for!

A Winning Strategy for Campaign Promo

Okay, so being a featured project will not likely get you what you want.

What is a winning strategy? I have talked about this extensively on my podcast, Successfully Funded. Basically, you need to ask the people who DO know you or your project and you need to do so in a way that is genuine and authentic, not annoying and self-serving.

Most people who hear this the first time are not real thrilled with my answer. It sounds overly-simple, like duh-gee common sense.

However, the magic lies in the way you do it and that is where most people take a wrong turn. Understanding the assumptions, thinking, and numbers behind my advice is where people can increase their campaign funding by two, three, or even four times as much.

In the meantime, if you are curious, our Crowdfunding Success Roadmap will guide you through each step of this process from message to momentum for your campaign and everything else before and after!

Create This Simple 2 Step Facebook Ad Funnel

The Facebook Ad Carpet Bomb Strategy

It’s as awesome as the name makes it sound.

Woodshed Agency Blog

If you’re a locally based business, there’s one Facebook strategy that’s really standing out compared to the usual “pick your target, add a picture, and tell people to come visit” advice that some marketers give.

It’s called the carpet-bomb, and it’s pretty easy to set up, and normally only requires you to make 2 ads.

Ad #1: The Video (The Carpet Bomb)

Upload a video to Facebook, explaining your products or services. Keep it to around a minute long. Set your targeting to everyone within your service area, and be as broad as possible. The only thing you really should touch here is age or gender if your product is only marketed to one group.

We call it the carpet bomb, because it’s a wide target that hits pretty much everyone in an area.

Ad #2: The Offer (Missiles, or Something)

Create a second ad, targeted to people who’ve watched 25% of your first videousing the offer ad-type. Give them some incentive to visit your store, and make it time-sensitive.

Then, you’re done.

But why does it work so well?

In an effort to keep people on their platform, Facebook has the pricing for video ads set to dirt cheap. Facebook charges more if an advertiser makes someone leave Facebook, it’s common sense.

Most video views are only going to cost a few cents a piece for a relatively un-targeted audience like we’re using. The people we’re retargeting with the second ad stuck around long enough to watch some of our first video, which means they’re at least somewhat interested — and because of that, your ad costs is EVEN CHEAPER due to Facebook’s relevancy score.

People are essentially self-selecting whether they’re interested in your business or not. Plus, it barely costs you anything.

Six Tugs of War

Six Tugs-of-War:

1. Intellect vs. Emotion

Intellect and emotion are not connected! Consequently, ad writers must choose whether to speak to the customer's intellect or to her emotions.

2. Time vs. Money

Today's shoppers are going directly to the store they feel is most likely to have what they want, and they are walking in the front door with every intention of buying. Category killers don't just give the competition a run for its money, they eliminate it by design. Which category do you kill?

3. Opportunity vs. Security

I'm sitting at the conference table when a prospective client lays a large check in front of me. He covers the check with his hand and says, "If I give you this money, what will you guarantee me?" It's a question I'm asked routinely, so I lay my hand on top of his, look into his eyes, and give him my standard answer: "I guarantee that you'll never see this money again." The only fool greater than the one who expects big results from small changes is the fool who believes big changes can be accomplished without risk. Opportunity and security are inversely proportionate: as one goes up, the other goes down. It's a fundamental law of the universe.

Do you have the courage to be a pioneer, or will you live your life as a settler?

4. Style vs. Substance

Shoes, fragrances, clothing, and soft drinks are often sold with ads that are "artsy" and "fluffy," and every time one of these campaigns becomes a big hit, some car manufacturer will begin an equally fluffy campaign to sell automobiles. Those campaigns invariably fail. Products that are mostly style can be sold with ads that are mostly style. Products of substance, however, require ads of equal substance. Is your product mostly style or mostly substance?

5. Pain vs. Gain

Which would you rather have:

1. a sure gain of $ 3,000, or

2. an 80 percent chance of winning $ 4,000 and a 20 percent chance of winning nothing?

Now choose between 1. a sure loss of $ 3,000 and

2. an 80 percent chance of losing $ 4,000 and a 20 percent chance of losing nothing.

In their research on the process of human decision making, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky clearly established that when the identical question is posed in slightly different ways, the resulting answers can be radically different. Of particular note was their observation that "losses loom larger than gains" -- specifically, that our willingness to accept risk is higher when we are facing possible loss than when the identical risk is presented in terms of potential gain. In the first example, most people are unwilling to accept the risk. They opt for the "sure" $ 3,000, though pure mathematical probabilities make the second choice slightly more attractive (0.8 x $ 4,000 = $ 3,200). In the second example, however, more than 90 percent of those surveyed choose to accept the risk of losing an additional $ 1,000 to gain the 20 percent chance of losing nothing. Professors Kahneman and Tversky, at the University of Chicago, proved it again and again: the average person avoids risk when seeking gains, but is willing to embrace risk to avoid losses. Sales trainers have long known this and often teach their students to phrase things in terms of potential loss. "You'd hate to return tomorrow and find that someone else had purchased this item, now, wouldn't you?" The pain-versus-gain theory is not so easily applied to advertising, however, because it presupposes that the subjects have been successfully reached with your message of potential loss --a very dangerous assumption in advertising. In reality, ads that speak to the fear of loss must necessarily conjure a negative first mental image, and in so doing, they will often alienate the listener. When confronted with an uncomfortable mental image, a percentage of the public instinctively opt not to "participate" with the ad; they direct their attention elsewhere. Moreover, those who casually participate with such ads often associate the negative mental image with the advertiser who presented it, and the campaign becomes counterproductive. Although the fear of loss may be more powerful than the hope of gain, it's usually a mistake to use fear as a motivator in your ads. The first objective of every ad is to successfully engage the imagination of the listener with a thought more attractive than the one that currently occupies the listener's mind. How attractive are the mental images in your ads?

6. Sight vs. Sound

The greatest liar who ever lived was the one who first said, "One picture is worth a thousand words." Don't you believe it.