Does your dead dog smell? Reflections on marketing myths and realities from one who knows.

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by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

In the days when I taught university level marketing, I set my eager-beaver students a task.

Write a classified or space ad… and report on how it draws and what you did to handle any responses  you received. In short, this project, like my teaching in general, was never merely theoretical, detached from reality. It was real! Vital! Truthful… and often, as a result, jolting. In other words, your class project either made money… or it didn’t. Much more than your grade depended on it.

The scene of the crime…

All my students were adult practitioners, that is people who were already employed in professional positions or worked in home-based businesses or on the Internet. These were people who had a strong and pressing interest in mastering marketing. These students came because they needed to learn the ins and outs of marketing… or else. To such people one had an obligation, a sacred responsibility, to speak honestly, speak candidly, and address their real world concerns.

And I did.

On one occasion, a bright professional woman (I had lots of them in my classes) had the task of presenting her classified ad to the class… explaining why she wrote the ad she wrote, where she ran it, what the results were, how she followed up the respondents, and (and it was the all-important and) how much money this ad generated.

In other words, it was all real-life stuff.

She wrote her ad, as instructed, on the chalk board, the better for us to see the words which would shortly be shown as either golden, or dross.  Then I became the Joe Friday (“facts, ma’am, just the facts”) of the marketing drag-net.

“When did you start running this ad?” (Specific date required.)

“Where do you run this ad?” (Specific publication or venue required.)

“How many responses did you get?” (Specific number required.)

And then the kicker…

“How much money did you make… after deducting all actual costs of running the ad and responding to respondents?” (Exact dollar figures required.)

The lady squirms…

Now the moment of high truth and full disclosure had arrived. What had started as merely a class project had become for the person reporting a matter of life and death. The ad copy, you see, would show whether she had mastered the marketing essentials that either produced bucks… and all that those bucks could buy… or not.

Everything was riding on what she reported.  And she knew it…

Bad, bad, tormentingly bad.

I an inveterate reader of body language, and this student’s was typical of those who wish they were in any other place on earth rather than here, the cynosure of every eye in this most unrelenting of classes. Of course I knew she was squirming, mulling over how to disclose and deliver facts which (from that all important body language) were sure to be uncongenial. So… along with every member of the class…. I waited to see what the lady would say and do.

And we waited….

Then, at last, she admitted the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth… and it wasn’t pretty. She had run her classified ad six times… had not had a single response… and, of course, and worst of all, hadn’t made a single penny.

Now, the lady, this aspiring marketer, stood before her classmates…. abashed, humiliated, at rock bottom, a total marketing failure.

Then I told her the first essential truth of marketing: does your dead dog smell? And does it, day by day, smell worse… until the nauseating stench overpowers everything else?

The ad copy you produce is like a dog. Its job is to go out, your servant, finding and bringing home what it captures; the quarry that sustains you and gives you comfort, even excess.

No dead dogs do this…  neither do ads which fail to produce responses.

The student began to get the picture.

Her ad hadn’t pulled and yet she continued to use it, paying good Yankee dollars  to do so.. despite the fact she KNEW the dog was dead, stinking.

Why had she done this?

First, because she was sure, absolutely sure, Her Ad Was Brilliant, the stuff of legend… she was invested in the words… certain that given a chance they would produce the desirable results; aged to perfection, like a fine vintage.

But that is a huge mistake… and now she was willing, and the entire class with her, to find the essential nubbin of truth, that made everything she had done worthwhile.

1) Marketing copy doesn’t improve with age. It either works at once, immediately, or it never works at all. Dead dogs never become quick and agile again… they just stink the more.

2) ALL marketing copy, at  ALL times  must be evaluated, starkly , by results and nothing but results.

3) You must never, ever re-run marketing copy without knowing its previous results.

4) The entire business of marketing is about writing copy, testing copy, evaluating the results produced by this copy, then tweaking the copy to improve it and your overall results.

Marketing is and always be an action sport… it is not for the slothful, lazy, or unassertive.

More tips

** Never, ever become invested in, beguiled by the marketing copy  you create. It either works (producing responses and money), or it doesn’t. Success isn’t everything here… it’s the ONLY thing.

** Never re-run ANY marketing copy until  you are certain it works; that is, until you have money in hand.

**  Trash your erroneous but deeply felt belief that you can find marketing copy which is so good, so responsive that you never have to change it, never have to do anything else with it than run it and reap perpetual rewards.

Such copy doesn’t exist, never existed, and will never exist.

Marketing is the most active sport in the world. Those who win at this sport, and the rewards can be staggering, are, to a person, people who are bold, active, engaged… not sleepy-heads hoping against hope that they will find and eternally profit from a few magic words artfully strung together. Those words have never been written.

Thus, energize yourself for the marketing you must do today, for if you want the rewards of marketing you must master and remain focused on and dedicated to the unrelenting truths of marketing.

Otherwise you are hunting with a dead dog… a dog that will never produce results. It will simply stink to high heaven. And that will never do.

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About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Dr. Lant is also the author of 18 best-selling business books. He is happy to give all readers, 50,000 free guaranteed visitors for attending his live webcast today.

Republished with author’s permission by Graham Lee – TheIncomeZone.com.

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