Monday, 21 January 2008

MadScam - full review

Last week I included Madscam by George Parker in my list of marketing and advertising books that I was reading.

I've now finished it, so here's a fuller review.

Firstly, George Parker is a stereotypical advertising person in some ways. He's loud, over-the-top, obnoxious, knows less than he thinks he does about the world in general, is sometimes "clever" at the expense of making his point clearly and simply, and his sentence structure and punctuation are a bit ropey at times (especially towards the end of the book). But he has some good, sensible advice to offer about advertising for small to medium businesses, both things to do and things to avoid. Top on his list of things to avoid is employing a big advertising agency; second is producing advertising that's just like everyone else's that says that your businesses is just like everyone else's. (The second would be a consequence of the first, he strongly suggests.)

Here are some notes I took of things that were specifically relevant to me, as someone with a small hypnotherapy practice that I want to grow larger. There's a lot more to his book than this, though, and it's well worth your while to get a copy and read it.

Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP): In 20 words or less, what unquestionable benefit do you provide at a fair price to satisfied customers? Can you claim to be first, best, to have a wider range of inexpensive products, a smaller range of high-quality products, to be easier to transact with, more effective, more flexible than your competition? On the other hand, is there something that everyone in your industry does but nobody else mentions? That can be your USP, even though it's not unique.

The Communications Plan: Write down what (the market situation), who (your target groups - research through the Department of Statistics, blogs etc.), why (your USP), and how (your creative strategy and design).

Research why people go to your competitors, and why they stop going or are dissatisfied.

In your advertising, talk about benefits to the customer, not features.

Then put a twist on the concept.

Promote the business, not just the product.

Follow Winston Churchill's advice: Begin strongly, have one theme, use simple language, leave a picture in the reader's mind, and end dramatically.

Good advertising requires, in order of importance, information, time and money.

George Parker claims, of course, that you don't need to read any other book on advertising apart from his, but then he would. Any suggestions for other good books out there?

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