It will be a huge relief to some people to read that the ebook launch campaign is over. (If you’re one of those people, don’t bother reading this post – it will only extend the agony.) I must say I enjoyed pretty much all of it. I’ve done some things I haven’t done in a while and reminded myself that advertising, given the right product, is about as much fun as you can have while sober.
I’m now going to go into an Unnecessary Amount of Detail to explain why I did what I did and reveal what happened after I did it. It’s going to be a pretty dry post, but I’ll punctuate it with examples where appropriate.
From the top then.
I published the brief on this blog. I had no idea what I was going to do after this, but as I explained in the post, a brief is a very useful device to focus the mind. The focus centres around a single thought that should be communicated (what adpeople call a “Proposition”) and all work that follows should have this at its core.
Before I go on, you should know that when something is published on this blog, it is automatically posted on the écovallée facebook page (which had about 60 likes on Oct 31) and the twitter account (which had about 220 followers at this point). People who actively follow the blog (not many, as I just moved from blogspot) are notified, presumably by email. I almost always shared the facebook posts to my facebook friends (numbering around 160 at this time).
The blog was viewed 39 times that day
The blog post was viewed 18 times
The facebook post was viewed by 55 people
I sold 2 books (I hadn’t sold any books for the previous 13 days) – my only explanation is that the brief worked in the same way as a long-copy ad (see below)
Woke up with a thought for a viral video, wrote it, shot it, wrote the music, recorded it, then cut it all together and published it by the end of the day. Had a blast.
By midnight, the blog had been viewed 72 times
The blog post was viewed 12 times
The facebook post was viewed by 12 people – and I had one new ‘Like’
I didn’t log the video views, but it can’t have been many
I was a bit bummed that my viral video hadn’t gone global, so retweeted it to get the stats up. I followed this with a blog post linked to an interview about the book with “This French Life”. This was put up on their website the day before, but it gave me something new to publish without doing any actual work.
By the end of the day, the blog had been viewed 109 times.
The interview post had been viewed 8 times
The facebook post had been viewed by 16 people
I made 2 sales
This was a Saturday, which I decided to take off, because all this time in front of a computer screen felt like a job and people with jobs like that don’t work weekends. I still kept an eye on the stats, though, because I don’t actually have a job like that. This is my life, instead.
By the end of the day the blog had been viewed 26 times.
The video had been viewed 26 times (cumulative), which is very far indeed from being viral. More like a sniff or a polite clearing of the throat that might not be anything at all.
By midnight, the blog had been viewed 38 times.
The video had been seen a far-too healthy 26 times.
Published an ad with an offer. A creative director of mine in the States once showed me this pie chart about what makes people respond to advertising. From memory, by far the biggest slice of this pie was “Timing”. The second slice I remember being the “Offer”. Hence this execution. The idea with this launch campaign was to try a range of ads in a variety of styles. This ad didn’t have much style, but it did have something I hadn’t tried before – the money-back guarantee.
By the day end, 38 blog views
Of which, 13 blog post views and
0 sales. A bit disappointing, but not upsetting. Because I was just about to publish…
A long-copy ad. Ad theory has it that the more words you write, the more sales you make. This theory may have been written by a copywriter trying to keep their job, and fair play to that. I don’t particularly like writing long-copy ads. They take time. They need structuring. But I hadn’t written one for a long time and so I was happy to give it a shot. It did what the theory said it would do.
Long copy results
I got 2 re-tweets
I made 2 sales
I had 1 facebook share
I had 1 new blog “Like”
3 new twitter followers
The facebook post was seen by 15 people
By midnight, the blog had been viewed 98 times
The post had been seen 45 times
Some time ago, an agency client (who must have read a book or something) told me that people buy things for “pain or gain”. It’s a painfully slick soundbite and probably largely true. It’s also a good explanation as to why I was always very uncomfortable working in advertising – my job was to manipulate people into parting with their cash through the use of fear or greed, neither of which I think are ideas that should be promoted.
When people talk about advertising, they’re often thinking of TV commercials or posters you see in the High Street. These are great fun and very easy to do, but something I didn’t get to do much during my career. So I did this, with a poster in mind. Obviously I did the art direction, typography and everything else, which would all be done by people with actual talent (and the ability to consume an alarming amount and range of intoxicants) in an agency setting. I didn’t expect much of a response, but it went down well – possibly the cumulative effect of the previous ad executions.
Awareness ad results
I got 3 sales
1 new twitter follower
1 new facebook page “Like”
45 facebook post views
49 blog views
21 blog post views
Obviously you could spin this to say I got 3 sales from 21 blog post views – a nearly 40% conversion rate – but this would be very misleading. So I’m not going to do anything of the sort. Stats, eh?
Another ad classic is something called a “testimonial”. This is where someone talks about how happy they are with the product that’s being flogged. You are supposed to be convinced by this person on the street and rush out to buy your thneed (hat tip to Dr Seuss). I decided to invite people who had already read the book to give their feedback, thereby getting away without writing an ad at all.
By the end of the day, the blog got 99 views
The blog post got 38 views
The facebook post got 23 views
And I got 1 sale
I wasn’t too upset by this result (it is, after all, a result), because I still had my banker up my sleeve.
The charity ad. Many years ago, when I was working in Leicester, another copywriter was telling me about his housebuilder account. They always included animals in the ads, mainly kittens and puppies. He said they tried babies and foot traffic to the housing developments dropped through the floor – even varying the ethnicity didn’t help. So they went back to animals and the punters came back too.
Going off-brief for the first time, I decided to bring Pepito into the mix. Every cent raised by the book would be spent on the animals anyway, so I wasn’t being exactly dishonest. And I had the sneaking suspicion that it would, as the industry saying goes, “pull like a train”.
I got 1 reblog
I got 4 facebook “Like”s
The facebook post was viewed 31 times
The facebook post was shared
The blog got 127 views
The blog post got 57 views
I made 10 sales
A Saturday, and the end of the campaign.
The blog got 49 views
The viral video had 44 cumulative views
I made 1 sale
You almost certainly know more about stats than me, so draw what conclusions you may from all of this. One thing that occurs to me, which I have suspected for a long time, is that social networking doesn’t work in the way I would want when it comes to sales. It seems great for getting people to look for missing children, and at iphotos, but I think it encourages people to be passive, their only activity being the mouse click to share (I may be out of date here – a double-tap on a screen might be the order of the day).
Having said that, there’s another ad industry expression that bears repeating: “Half of advertising doesn’t work. The trouble is, no one knows which half”.
I started doing twitter on the advice of a friend. But I didn’t see the point. Then one day we got a call from ITV asking if we’d be interested in appearing in a prime-time TV show. When I asked the Producer how he got to hear about us, he said it was through twitter. (Interesting result here, so far unpublished: After almost exactly 15 minutes of prime-time exposure on ITV, we had 1 booking. A terrifying stat in many ways.)
It wouldn’t be fair to finish without talking money. The work I put into this campaign could be very reasonably charged at £1,500. This would then be billed out by a small to medium agency at about £6,000 (that’s just for the writer – the art director, typographer and everyone else would add to that considerably). The campaign made, up to now (Monday 1am – I still don’t have that normal job, remember?) 26 sales. After fees and taxes, this leaves around €17. Not a particularly impressive result until you consider the budget was met at €0 – which gives an ROI (return on investment) of infinity.
In real terms, it will all buy Pepito three bales of hay.
A few years ago, I played piano for one hour in exchange for 40 bales of hay. It remains my most profitable gig so far.
There is one more thing. If sales continue at the current rate, I will start writing Part Two of “écovallee behind the seams“, entitled “Descent into Hell“, on May 1st 2015. I apologise for any distress this may cause. Especially to Nige, one of the most enthusiastic readers any writer could hope to reach.