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Famous Last Words : Desperately Needed: Old-Time Marketing Pros

April 2014 By Denny Hatch
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The techie Web hotshots are screwing up big time. They say the right things and do the wrong things. Example:

To Marissa Mayer, the chief executive of Yahoo, fashion magazines like Vogue and InStyle have achieved the Holy Grail of advertising.

"The ads in those magazines are as interesting as the photo shoots and the articles," she said in an interview last week at the company's Silicon Valley headquarters. "I miss the ads when they are not there. I feel less fulfilled."

This year, her goal is to start making the ads on Yahoo just as compelling and just as integrated with the news and information people seek on her company's websites. —Vindu Goel, The New York Times

Spot on, Ms. Mayer! The great 20th century masters of advertising copy—John Caples, Claude Hopkins and Vic Schwab—all said people buy publications for content. If advertisers want to get attention, their ads must be as interesting and relevant as the articles readers paid for.

Chased Around the Internet
At one point I looked into buying shoes at Zappos. Thereafter, for weeks—in the U.S. and on a European jaunt—every website I visited had pictures of shoes from Zappos and its overseas affiliate.

These were not offers for shoes. They were simply pictures of shoes—men's, women's, conservative and wild—plus the Zappos logo. That ain't advertising.

At one point I was so irritated, I went to Yahoo to see what was going on. Here's the skinny from Yahoo's website:

Ads served by Yahoo! may be customized to reflect your interests. To do this, Yahoo! may consider browsing activity, including the type of content accessed, ads clicked, and searches conducted or on related terms. Yahoo! may also use information about the ads you have seen and clicked on to improve the effectiveness of our Exchanges.

No problem. This is called marketing—finding people and making relevant offers. For 50 years, I rented targeted lists and inserted off-the-page ads into niche publications, based on knowledge of my existing customers. This wasn't immoral. The folks I was talking to revealed their interests. I made offers.

 
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Most Recent Comments:
Mark Pilipczuk - Posted on April 15, 2014
But Denny, don't you know that "growth hackers" don't need to know how to do math? I wish I had a nickel for every blank stare I've received when I ask "what's the allowable?" to people who should know the answer off the tops of their heads. And I wish I had another nickel every time I show somebody those quick calculations and they respond to me like I've given them the Rosetta Stone. It wasn't that long ago when numeracy was a required skill for direct response marketers. Thanks for sharing the Bob Hacker article. I remember that cover from when it showed up at my desk at International Masters Publishers, where we knew our math!
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Archived Comments:
Mark Pilipczuk - Posted on April 15, 2014
But Denny, don't you know that "growth hackers" don't need to know how to do math? I wish I had a nickel for every blank stare I've received when I ask "what's the allowable?" to people who should know the answer off the tops of their heads. And I wish I had another nickel every time I show somebody those quick calculations and they respond to me like I've given them the Rosetta Stone. It wasn't that long ago when numeracy was a required skill for direct response marketers. Thanks for sharing the Bob Hacker article. I remember that cover from when it showed up at my desk at International Masters Publishers, where we knew our math!