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Internet Business Marketing

February 28, 2009

Saturday Morning Viral: T-Mobile Dance in Liverpool Street Station

by Praveen Rajan

Here’s a viral video created by T-Mobile, UK. It’s a flashmob right smack in Liverpool Street Station — watch them turn the entire station into a dance party! The tagline towards the end fits perfectly with the viral concept.

Also watch the “making of” snippet:

February 27, 2009

How a McDonald’s BillBoard is Beating Starbucks with Just FOUR Words

by Praveen Rajan

McDonald’s uses billboards in high visibility locations around Seattle to attack Starbucks. Here’s why their coffee is better

Four Words Says It All

McDonald’s is using these billboards to promote their new espresso drinks.

This is foolproof copywriting at its best — the following two phrases were displayed on 140 billboards across Seattle:

Four Bucks is Dumb

Large is the New Grande

The McDonald’s Attack Plan

  • Location matters: McDonald’s picked Seattle because it is Starbucks’ home ground
  • Long-term communication plan in mind: this is a follow-up to to promote the launch of espresso drinks in the Seattle market
  • Picking on just one point: position Starbucks as expensive or snobby
  • A single consistent value proposition that cuts across segments: “We really wanted to point out that ordering an espresso at McDonald’s is quick and simple. Small, medium and large. It’s easy.”
  • Aggressive intentions: some of the billboards were located near Starbucks cafes. Starbucks employees driving northbound can see the billboard on their way into the city
  • Building credibility over the long term: “The thing about these comparative campaigns is you have to hammer away at them for a long time. You can’t just hit someone and then run away. You have to have a lot of marketing dollars to put behind it and that’s something that McDonald’s could theoretically do.”
  • Capitalizing on market conditions: timing is everything with the current economic conditions. “A new type of consumer, more conscientious, less vain, is emerging. Fewer will be slaves to Starbucks”.
  • Aim to win more market share from a new category: “We see ourselves as trying to enter a new category and steal as much of the breakfast and coffee share as we can garner…”

The Starbucks Defense Plan

  • They won’t react: “We’re not going to get into that conversation. We’re not going to get sucked into the, ‘My coffee is better than your coffee,’ price point type of coffee conversation. We’re going to play at a much higher level.”
  • Cheaper modes of advertising: the coffee giant is turning to cheaper modes of advertising via YouTube, Facebook and Twitter
  • Sticking to their game plan: “I think the way we deal with that is not to respond to something that’s that frivolous,” he said. “Are you going to say to your friend, ‘Let’s go meet at Dunkin’ Donuts?’ Are you going to say that?”
  • Remind your customers over and over again: Starbucks employees are being instructed to “remind” customers that the average price of a Starbucks beverage is less than $3, and that 90% of Starbucks drinks cost under $4
  • Use disruptive tactics: Starbucks is introducing instant coffee in its stores, priced from $2.95 — they’re taking every opportunity to “remind” customers of the “affordable luxury”

What Can You Learn From This?

Besides the attack and defense points above, just remember this:

“The idea is, in a billboard, you got three or four seconds to capture people’s attention,” he said. “You’re trying to be as short and sweet and as pithy as possible.”

Apply this to your daily marketing initiatives (not just billboards, it works with Adwords too) and you will see tremendous results. Of course, foolproof copywriting does matter too =)

*p/s: thanks to the heads up from Marketing Shift & SeattlePI

February 25, 2009

When to Employ a Loss Leader Strategy

by Praveen Rajan

Can you use a “Lowest Price Guarantee” for your Internet business? Here’s a must read tip

In our last post we talked about how Rob Walling’s copywriting tweak on boosted sales by 1000%.

But Why Did The “Low Price Guarantee” Work for

Is this loss leader strategy something that can work for any Internet business?

Rob summarizes why this works for his Internet business in his post:

The underlying lesson is to make your customers feel at ease with what they are buying. And to do this you have to know your customer.

People buying beach towels from a website are doing it because they want to save time. They want to find a towel and make the purchase as quickly as possible. They want to feel good that they are making the right decision about their purchase, which is what “Low Price Guarantee” offers.

It gives them permission to buy here and stop surfing around looking for the best deal because they’ve found it.

It offers the promise that they don’t have to continue down the list of Google results. If they can find a towel they like, they can check this task off their list. No one goes online to window shop for beach towels; people want to get in and get out while still feeling good about their purchase.

Evaluate Your Customers First

So you see — before you can start using this loss leader strategy, it’s important that you understand your customers better. In any business with competition, your best bet is to stay away from just being the cheapest provider - it’s NOT a guaranteed way to multiply your sales profitably.

Post a Comment or read more about Smart Pricing

February 23, 2009

3 Words that Increased Sales by 1000% for a Beach Towel Shop

by Praveen Rajan

How a single tweak increased sales for Rob Walling’s online shop from $210/month to $2200/month immediately

The 3 Magic Words

Rob constantly tested and tweaked the sales copy on his website,

One day, he tweaked his website to mention three magic words:

“Low Price Guarantee”

This single change alone sent sales pouring in the following day, and it grew from $210/month to $2200/month!


Lesson: Always Test Your Sales Pitch

Rob only started achieving this phenomenal sales boost after 6 months of constant testing and tweaking. This meant doing little changes on the website every now and then and tracking its performance results.

You too can achieve the same results with your online store or blog. Sure, it takes a little bit of patience, but if you keep pushing with small changes every now and then, you will discover those profitable tweaks.

(Read Rob’s original post: Marketing is Design: Three Words that Increased My E-commerce Sales 1000% Overnight)

February 21, 2009

Saturday Morning Viral: Ghost Sighting at Raffles Place in Singapore

by Praveen Rajan

Here’s a viral video created by McCann Worldgroup Singapore for GMP, a HR consultancy firm based in Singapore.

The video first appeared online on 21 April 2008, showing what appeared to be CCTV footage of two men being followed out of an office lift by the ghost of an old woman. It has since accumulated more than 650,000 views on YouTube.

Marketing-Interactive reported this last year:

GMP owned up to the ‘ghost video’, 10 days after it first appeared, and released a statement in another video which featured the company’s manager of corporate services, Josh Goh.

The revelation of the ‘ghost video’ as a marketing effort made it newsworthy for Channel 5 and Channel U, and both stations ran stories on the campaign in the news. In the video Goh said that no one should work late, and stress and ill health are common downsides of late nights in the office - and if you are really unlucky, you could even meet a ghost.

“Besides great awareness, there was a lot of traffic to the GMP microsite and the number of CVs uploaded increased exponentially,” Madon said.

Check out the dedicated blog:

February 20, 2009

Google FeedBurner’s Funny Headlines Will Make You Laugh

by Praveen Rajan

Can funny headlines work for your Internet business? Here’s how Google is using humor to give FeedBurner a personality of its own

My Feeds Could Use Some Beach Time

That’s what I first saw on my FeedBurner homepage right after switching it to work with my Google Account. At first I was puzzled, then I realized they were “hitting” me with a random funny headline every time I logged in — neat!


Here’s a collection of funny headlines that I’ve seen on my FeedBurner homepage — have you seen anything else?

  1. My Feeds know the first pancake is never a keeper
  2. My Feeds are getting Googlier still
  3. My Feeds look for the open shot on the low post
  4. My Feeds go with flat fronts over pleats
  5. My Feeds know G (m1 * m2/r²) applies to them
  6. My Feeds know a first mate on a ship that might suit us
  7. My Feeds walked both ways uphill in a blizzard
  8. My Feeds エンジョイライフ!
  9. My Feeds are making new resolutions
  10. My Feeds are cleared for the visual
  11. My Feeds are bundling up and hunkering down
  12. My Feeds will try something new
  13. My Feeds know a first mate on a ship that might suit us
  14. My Feeds might be five years old
  15. My Feeds could use some beach time
  16. My Feeds will have pancakes in the Age of Enlightenment
  17. My Feeds are reconsidering some resolutions
  18. My Feeds @*&#%*?!!!
  19. My Feeds come here often
  20. My Feeds enjoy popping the bubble wrap
  21. My Feeds wouldn’t dare
  22. My Feeds wonder what the rotation will look like
  23. My Feeds might just twist and shout

Would Funny Headlines Work for Your Internet Business?

To answer that question, just start thinking about your target audience.

Who are you trying to reach? And how would you portray your brand in the eyes of your customers?

In marketing, your first sentence or headline is everything. You have to grab your customers’ attention, as fast as possible.

Humor works for most businesses, and will do wonders especially in the form of funny headlines. However, if your brand stands for something serious, then you may want to use this tactic moderately.

(FeedBurner is the leading RSS feed reader, and was acquired by Google in 2007 for around $100 million US dollars)

February 18, 2009

Gift Wrap Like

by Praveen Rajan

How Does Make Product Packaging Look Cool Again?

Here’s a tip that works if you’re in the business of selling physical products, and deal with product packaging or gift wraps.

In November 2008, Amazon launched it’s Frustration-Free Packaging aimed at getting rid of “wrap rage“. It’s a simple concept, with great potential to be a green initiative and buzz marketing tactic.

The letter below from CEO Jeff Bezos (and this video) sums it up nicely:

How Has Capitalized on Frustration-Free Packaging?

The range of products with Frustration-Free Packaging is still limited (19 on my last count).

But just look at what they’ve done to create that buzz marketing effect:

  • Ranked #1 on Google with over 200,000 results for the term “frustration-free packaging” - think press releases, climate change articles, and more
  • Over 25,000 blog mentions
  • They encouraged customers to send in photos and videos to show how frustrating packaging can be for them - this would have attracted more traffic if it ran off YouTube or Flickr

How is Your Business Wrapping Products Today?

Can you think of ways to make your product packaging simpler or even better than your competitors?

Here are two things you can learn from’s Frustration-Free Packaging:

  • Eliminating “stuff” from your packaging won’t make it any less meaningful
  • That any simple small change in your business is worth “shouting” about

February 16, 2009

Get Rid of Unprofitable Blog Reviews Once and for All

by Praveen Rajan

Learn The Latest Profit-Making Tactic Used by The Fastest Growing Online Stores in North America

The hardest part about marketing an online business is to get it off the ground. It’s even harder when you’re starting from scratch. Your biggest problem is how to generate “profitable” traffic to your website.

One of the easiest ways to generate profitable traffic without spending any money up-front is to get your product or service reviewed by bloggers. However, because it’s easy, most bloggers that would be interested to review your product might have already been approached by your competitors.

How can you beat your competitors?

Incentivize Your Reviewers With Discount Coupons

Do you like receiving gifts? I do. And so do bloggers.

Every one loves to receive something. So, rather than just ask a blogger to review your product, make it “meaningful” for them. Give them a few “exclusive” discount coupons that they can use on your website.

Most of the popular shopping cart services, such as Shopify, support discount coupons. Even if your shopping cart does not support discount coupons, there is nothing to stop you from using this concept.

This step-by-step proven method will reveal the secret to creating more buzz and profits for your business.

Step 1: Create a List of Reputable Bloggers

Are you keeping a list of reputable bloggers in your industry?

If you haven’t got one, then it’s time to start. Keep this list fresh, by always updating it with new (and relevant) bloggers. You don’t need any fancy tool for this, as Microsoft Excel or Google Docs can do it easily. Here’s a format I would recommend to keep track of your bloggers:


If you haven’t got any bloggers in mind, then it’s best to start searching for blogs using Google Blog Search. As an example, if I were selling aquascaping products, I would start by searching for all blogs that mention the word “aquascaping”.


Hot Tip: it’s always best to get reviewed by bloggers that are already ranked on Google. This way, you can get your website indexed faster, and build higher quality traffic.

Step 2: Create Discount Coupons & Track It

Like I said earlier, you don’t have to worry if you’re not using a shopping cart system. It’s a nice to have, but you may not need it when you’re just starting out.

Either way, it’s time to create some exclusive discount coupons that you can offer to your panel of bloggers that they can give away to their readers or choose to use for themeselves. Remember: the trick is to make these discount coupons seem exclusive. So, don’t publish the same discount coupons anywhere else.

Use this exercise as a way to promote the reviewed product. For example, if you’re asking a blogger to review your latest e-book, then craft the discount coupon to specifically for that product:

BOUNTY33: Enjoy a 33% discount when you buy this e-book within the next 48 hours

Here are a few more recommendations when crafting your campaign:

  • Personalize your coupons: if you’re contacting a list of 10 bloggers, then try to create 10 different coupons with their blog names as the coupon names. This will make your coupons seem more meaningful for the selected bloggers
  • Keep it scarce: As Seth Godin says, “scarcity creates demand”, people want something that others can’t have. Perhaps set your coupon to expire within 48 hours, or allow it to be used up to three times

If you don’t have a shopping cart system to do all the magic discount coupon rules, then start with something simple. Remember to track which coupons go out to the bloggers, the expiry dates, and any other “manual” rules that you’re assigning to it. Put this down in a spreadsheet (Google Docs) and always keep it updated.

Step 3: Craft Your Review Email

This is the most important step. You need to craft a good email that is able to capture the blogger’s attention and get him/her to review your product.

Here’s an email we helped write for a client, not too long ago:

Dear Jennifer,

I’m a big fan of your blog, and follow it daily on RSS. Love your latest post on “How to Make Your Backpacks Last Forever”.

Our company, Super Duper Backpacks recently launched a new range of custom handmade backpacks, known as the Evolution series. It’s an amazing item in our store, and we’re sure your readers will love them too. You can find more information about it here:

We would be delighted if you could review this product on your blog, good or bad. As a token of appreciation here’s an exclusive discount coupon you can give away to your readers for this product. Feel free to copy and paste the offer details below on to your blog or sidebar:

Enjoy a 33% discount on the Evolution backpack
Offer valid till the end of January 2009
Go to:

Feel free to email me for any help. I’d be happy to lend a hand and answer your questions.

In the meantime, keep up the great work with your blog!


Go ahead and copy the sample above. The important part is to personalise each email for every blogger. Yes, it takes a little time, but you will be surprised by the number of positive replies you will get from this.

Here are secrets we share with our clients:

  • Personalise every email: you can reuse a template, but at least address the person on a first name basis, and mention something nice about his/her blog
  • Show that you care: try and read the blog, and pick up a couple of points about what you like. Mention this in the first paragraph. If you liked the blogger’s latest post, then mention that. The trick is to sound genuine
  • Keep it simple: remember that you’re only sending an email. You don’t need fancy graphics or HTML. Bloggers will be able to “smell” bad copy and paste work
  • Do not pressure anyone: there’s no need to force a good review. Bloggers will only promote your product if it’s good. If you get some negative reviews, then just be up-front about it, and reply to the blog post with a comment to give your side of the story

Start Building Your List of Bloggers, & Enjoy The Phenomenal Effect of Word of Mouth Marketing

This tactic has worked for many successful online businesses. It’s best to keep a long list of bloggers, and try different review offers every now and then. You will be amazed by the buzz that this type of campaign can generate for your business.

Post a Comment or read more about Blog Marketing

February 14, 2009

Saturday Morning Viral: What NOT to Do With Mentos & Carlsberg Beer

by Praveen Rajan

Starting today, and every Saturday, we will publish our favorite viral marketing campaigns of the week in a special “Saturday Morning Viral” post.

Go ahead, be viral and spread the “idea virus” to your friends =)

Here’s a viral spoof of the famous Mentos + Coke experiment. This is what happens when you combine Mentos and Carlsberg Beer. See it for yourself.

This video is “old news”, but gained over 2 million views, and 500+ blog posts since July 2007. See more stats via Video Viral Chart

February 13, 2009

Warning: $900 Million Will Be Lost on Friday the 13th — How Much of it Is Yours?

by Praveen Rajan

Up to $900 million in business revenue will be lost on Friday the 13th. There are three Friday the 13th’s in 2009 — is your business prepared for it?

A reported 9 percent of Americans are paraskevidekatriaphobics (fear of Friday the 13th), and studies have shown that $800 million to $900 million in business revenue is lost on this ominous date.

But It’s Just An Ordinary Day

Some may argue that it’s just an ordinary day. In fact, that’s true. However, a proportion of your customers believe that there are certain psychological benefits, such as more confidence and a sense of comfort, linked to superstitious rituals.

Jennifer Wang summarizes this point in her article:

… hundreds of millions of dollars are lost on Friday the 13th because humans are naturally risk-averse. Although it’s not always done consciously, there’s a tendency toward less decision-making, Block says. “People don’t do as much shopping and don’t leave the house — and there’s less flying.” But by simply making people aware of superstitious behavior, it can bring out their more rational side, reminding them it’s just an ordinary day.

What Can You Do About It?

Don’t wait to lose money on Friday the 13th.

Instead start thinking about the types of customers in your market.

Are a majority of your customers from Asia? Well, Asian cultures tend to be more superstitious about numbers as compared to Western cultures.

It’s also a brilliant time to play it up with some creative marketing initiatives:

  • Home store Crate & Barrel, ran a “Lucky You” campaign last year on Friday the 13th. “They played off the superstition and got people to come out anyway.” Because consumers are not always aware of the extent to which they rely on superstitions, this is perhaps one model that businesses can follow
  • And calling attention to the cursed date certainly hasn’t hurt the Friday the 13th movies. The franchise just grew to 12 films with its latest release, which came out on Feb. 13 — a Friday. The first 11 films have earned a scary $350 million, and five of them have been released on a Friday the 13th

How Would You Make the Most Out of Friday the 13th?

Perhaps your Internet business could up-sell / cross-sell a special offer that’s available only on Friday the 13th. It’s a great brand positioning method for 2009 as Friday the 13th will occur three times this year — February 13th, March 13th, and November 13th.

Or perhaps there’s a bigger opportunity for your Internet business to mix Friday the 13th and Valentine’s Day (February 14th) (read this tip)

How would you make the most out of Friday the 13th?

Leave a comment!