Thousands of people are starting their workweeks with smiles of invigoration as they log on to their computers to find their Monday Morning Memo just waiting to be devoured. Straight from the middle-of-the-night keystrokes of Roy H. Williams, the MMMemo is an insightful and provocative series of well-crafted thoughts about the life of business and the business of life.
Your Low Conversion Rate on Pay-Per-Click
When I was growing up, I could never change the opinion of my mother by saying, “But everyone else is doing it.”
My mom had the courage and confidence to believe that Everyone Else’s mother was wrong.
That’s a high level of courage and confidence. I’m hoping that you have it, too.
When I speak to advertising professionals on the subject of advertising, I often find myself having to explain how certain widely-held beliefs are wrong. I will patiently produce the evidence, the case studies, and scientific documentation. In most instances, the audience will concede that I am right. Then someone will say, “But everyone else is doing it,” as though it is impossible for “everyone else” to be wrong.
Here’s an example: most people believe in tightly targeting the right customer. They are convinced that the secret of successful advertising is to “reach the right people.”
I believe targeting is essential if you are in a business that sells to other businesses.If you sell computer chips, you need to reach computer manufacturers, so send a letter, an email, a salesman to knock on their door. If you sell cardboard boxes by the traincar load, you need to reach companies that sell things packaged in cardboard boxes. Send a letter, an email, a salesman to knock on their door. The world of B2B lives and dies with their ability to “reach the right people.”
But when you are selling a product or service to the public, “targeting the right customer” works only about 10% better than reaching the untargeted masses.If the cost of targeting is less than 10% higher than the cost of not targeting, go ahead and target. But I am confident you will find that targeting usually costs considerably more than that.
“But everyone else is doing it.”
Please excuse me while I bang my head against the wall.
Nielsen is the highly scientific organization that measures television and radio audiences.D2D is cloud based, and leverages open source technology designed to collect, manage, and analyze complex data.Les Binet is a highly respected data scientist.
In the summer of 2020, Les Binet published a huge, longterm study on the effectiveness of marketing. Here is one of the many things he learned:
“In many ways, online marketing and online media has done itself a disservice by focusing on targeting more than reach. A couple of very interesting studies are out there. One was a study by Nielsen, about the relative contributions of reach versus targeting in effectiveness, and they concluded, with a survey of about 500 econometric models, that targeting only adds about 10% to the effectiveness of the campaign on average. A very similar result came from some work by D2D, where they looked at over 200 econometric models, from a wide range of categories, and they concluded that targeting of a campaign adds only about 10% to effectiveness. So the same numbers, two very different methods.”
Have you been following the news about Phenylephrine, the decongestant that was proven to be ineffective in 2007 and in multiple studies since then, but is still on the shelf 16 years later?According to a recent news story by Sarah Zhang,
“Americans collectively shell out $1.763 billion a year for cold and allergy meds with phenylephrine, according to the FDA, which also calls the number a likely underestimate. That’s a lot of money for a decongestant that does not work.”
Generally speaking, I’m in favor of government staying out of the way of business, but this seems to be a case where the Federal Trade Commission might ought to step in
The Video Game of Life
Too much to do, too little time. First you are interrupted; then the interruption is interrupted. Does that ever happen to you?
Surrounded by frantic, breathless, rapid distraction, we have become characters in the video game of Life. The problem is that we are becoming habituated to it. Sensory overload is becoming the new normal.
Jeff Sexton, one of my business partners, sent me an article from Science.org last week. I’ll share a single paragraph with you:
“The researchers then decided to take the experiment a step further. For 15 minutes, the team left participants alone in a lab room in which they could push a button and shock themselves if they wanted to. The results were startling: Even though all participants had previously stated that they would pay money to avoid being shocked with electricity, 67% of men and 25% of women chose to inflict it on themselves rather than just sit there quietly and think… People would rather be electrically shocked than be left alone with their thoughts.”
– Nadia Whitehead, Science.org
Like I said, “habituated.” We skitter and twitch through each day as though the finger of God is mashing the fast forward button on the spacetime continuum.
In her book, My Invented Country, Isabel Allende writes:
“The North Americans’ sense of time is very special. They are short on patience. Everything must be quick, including food and sex, which the rest of the world treats ceremoniously. Gringos invented two terms that are untranslatable into most languages: ‘snack’ and ‘quickie,’ to refer to eating standing up and loving on the run … that, too, sometimes standing up. The most popular books are manuals: how to become a millionaire in ten easy lessons, how to lose fifteen pounds a week, how to recover from your divorce, and so on. People always go around looking for shortcuts and ways to escape anything they consider unpleasant: ugliness, old age, weight, illness, poverty, and failure in any of its aspects.”
But last night I discovered the Nancy Reagan solution: “Just say no.”
You have been telling yourself that you are overcommitted, but you’re not. You are careful about making commitments. You are not overcommitted. You are over-obligated.
Obligations are thrust upon you by people who ambush you with an urgent emergency, or worse, a “quick question.” These people know quick questions often have complicated answers, but they just don’t care. They hide behind the word “Quick” so they can pretend they are asking for nothing more than a flickering moment of your time and attention.
You never committed to do what they are asking of you, but you feel obligated nonetheless.
Just say no.
See how easy that was?
God bless you, Nancy Reagan.
Roy H. Williams
To obtain power and influence, you don’t need wealth or privilege. Anyone can become widely known and respected if they can generate a compelling idea and communicate it effectively. That is the conclusion of Bob Dilenschneider, an author, historian, and strategic communication advisor who has been studying and dissecting the elements of power and influence for more than four decades. This week, Dilenschneider shares a surprisingly simple way to get others to listen to you, and follow you. Grab some popcorn and take a seat. The show is about to begin, starring Dean and Maxwell Rotbart, at MondayMorningRadio.com
Living in the Nick of Time
You cut a nick into a stick to mark a moment. Then, at the end of the time being measured, you make another nick.
To do a thing at the last possible moment is to do it within that second nick, “in the nick of time.”
Millions of us have been using this phrase since the year 1580, but very few know the story behind it. You are now one of the chosen few who possess the arcane knowledge of the nick on a stick.
But why do we say, “nick of time” instead of “notch of time”? If nick and notch mean the same thing, why haven’t we been saying for 443 years, “This money arrived in the notch of time.”
We say nick because “nick” ends with a sharper, cleaner sound than “notch.” Say it out loud. “nick-nick-nick.” “notch-notch-notch.” “nick-nick-nick.” “notch-notch-notch.”
“Nick” sounds like a sharp, narrow cut, shaped like a V, narrow and specific. But “notch” sounds softer and wider, with an indistinct bottom shaped like the letter U, a bite taken out of an apple.
But nick doesn’t have a V in it, and notch doesn’t have a U. So what’s going on?
The letters V and U are graphemes, visual letters in the alphabet. But the meaning of a word is not determined by the look of its letters, but by the sounds they make within the word. Those sounds are called phonemes.
When describing a phoneme, don’t say the name of the letter. Make only the sound represented by the letter. The letter is a grapheme. The sound it makes is a phoneme.
The sound of a word has a lot to do with how it makes us feel, even when we are reading silently.This is incredibly important when choosing names for products and services and companies. It is also important when writing messages that you hope will persuade.
Ad writers, song writers, speech writers, and poets, are you listening?Phonemes with abrupt, clean sounds are “p” “b” “t” “d” “ck” and “g”. The visual graphemes that visually represent those phonemes are P, B, T, D, K, and G. “p” “b” “t” “d” “ck” and “g” are known as the stops, or plosives. This is because all the air is stopped, then released with a plosion: “Kate kicked a kite. nick-nick-nick.” The grapheme is called a K, but the final phoneme in “nick” is “ck”.
The “tch” sound in “notch” is an affricate, a sound that begins as a stop and releases as a fricative, a sound that will hiss, hush, or buzz, like “f” “v” “s” “th” “z” “sh” “j” and “h”. The indistinct ending of the sound is what causes us to hear something less sharply defined than we hear in “nick.”
We could go on for at least 30 more minutes describing the 44 sounds that make up the English language and discussing the conceptual ideas we unconsciously associate with each of those 44 sounds, but right now my interest is elsewhere.
I want you to return with me to the title of today’s Monday Morning Memo, “Living in the Nick of Time.”
Do you remember the Monday Morning Memo from 8 weeks ago, July 17, 2023? Today’s Monday Morning Memo is a callback to that memo. A callback is a powerful tool in storytelling because it deepens the understanding of the audience by giving them a new context to consider.
When you end with a callback to the beginning, this is called “going full circle.”In the words of T.S. Eliot,“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
Here is what I told you on July 17th:
“You cannot suffer the past or future because they do not exist. What you are suffering is your memory and your imagination.”
You cut a nick on a stick to mark a moment. At the end of the time being measured, you make another nick. To do a thing at the last possible moment is to do it inside that second nick, “in the...
Are You Sure You Want to be Famous?
A friend rotated my brain toward the subject of fame.He aimed my eyes in a new direction when he said, “Do you remember that thing you sent me 10 or 15 years ago?”
I gave him the same blank look that you would have given him.
He continued, “It was that thing Leonard Pitts wrote about being ‘the Man.'”
I recovered it from the Random Quotes database at MondayMorningMemo.com, handed my phone to him and told him to read it out loud. When he was finished, we laughed together like two little boys who heard someone fart in church.
Here it is:
“I’ve got nothing against fame. I’m famous myself. Sort of.
OK, not Will Smith famous. Or Ellen DeGeneres famous. All right, not even Marilu Henner famous.
I’m the kind of famous where you fly into some town to give a speech before that shrinking subset of Americans who still read newspapers and, for that hour, they treat you like a rock star, applauding, crowding around, asking for autographs.
Then it’s over. You walk through the airport the next day and no one gives a second glance. You are nobody again.
Dave Barry told me this story once about Mark Russell, the political satirist. It seems Russell gave this performance where he packed the hall, got a standing O. He was The Man. Later, at the hotel, The Man gets hungry, but the only place to eat is a McDonald’s across the road. The front door is locked, but the drive-through is still open. So he stands in it. A car pulls in behind him. The driver honks and yells, “Great show, Mark!”
The moral of the story is that a certain level of fame — call it the level of minor celebrity — comes with a built-in reality check. One minute, you’re the toast of Milwaukee. The next, you’re standing behind a Buick waiting to order a Big Mac.”
– Leonard Pitts, January 14, 2008
There is something about laughing with a friend that soaks into your heart and redirects your thoughts.I woke up the next morning thinking about fame, and how easily it comes and goes.
I thought about Bill Cosby and Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. And then my computer told me “Joe the Plumber” had died. Remember Joe the Plumber? He became a celebrity in 2008 when he asked Barack Obama a question. We learned later that his name wasn’t Joe and he was never a plumber, but his perspective resonated with a lot of Americans.
And then it hit me: Andy Warhol was a painter, but what we remember about him was his colorful comment about each person receiving “15 minutes of fame.”
I could feel the freight train of curiosity gaining momentum in my mind, so I had to quickly decide whether to grab a handrail, swing aboard and see where it would take me, or spend the rest of the day regretting having missed the chance.
I didn’t want to live in regret, so I grabbed a handrail and was yanked off my feet into a noisy, rattling railcar.
When my eyes had grown accustomed to the dust and the half-light, I found the following 19 statements carved into the wooden walls of that railcar. These statements were signed by Marilyn Monroe, Johnny Depp, Erma Bombeck, Tony Bennett, Emily Dickinson, John Wooden, Gene Tierney, Jack Kerouac, George Michael, Eddie Van Halen, Sinead O’Connor, Fran Lebowitz, Michael Huffington, Lord Byron, Arthur Schopenhauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Clive James, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Davy Crockett.
But not in that order. I’m not going to tell you who said what, because I don’t want your reactions to be influenced by your memories of those people.
“Wealth is like sea-water; the more we drink, the thirstier we become; and the same is true of fame.”
“Fame is the thirst of youth.”
“Don’t confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other.”
“Fame comes and goes. Longevity...
The Price of Intimacy
The comedian Mark Russell said you can judge a generation by its magazines.
Life magazine was first published in 1883. It was followed by
People in 1974, which was followed by
Us, which was followed by
Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in 1803, just a few weeks before the Louisiana Purchase was announced to the American people by President Thomas Jefferson. Emerson was 23 when Jefferson died.
America was still heavily influenced by Europe, but Ralph Waldo Emerson saw a future that no one else could see.
At the age of 34, he gave a speech to a group of college students in Boston that provided a visionary, philosophical framework for escaping the influence of Europe and building a distinctly American cultural identity. That speech was entitled “The American Scholar” and Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. considered it to be America’s “intellectual Declaration of Independence.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson was a poet, a writer, a lecturer and an encourager who inspired generations of positive thinkers that stir among us to this day. Friedrich Nietzsche considered him “the most gifted of the Americans” and Walt Whitman referred to him as his “master.”
Emerson was also a passionate opponent of slavery. Throughout his life he urged Congress to bring slavery to an immediate and permanent end.
When Emerson was lecturing in Springfield, Illinois on January 10, 1853, a then-unknown Abraham Lincoln was in the audience. Years later, Lincoln invited Emerson to the White House and told him of the impact that lecture had on him.
Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke with whimsy, sentimentality, and vulnerability when he said,
“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”Modern businesspeople believe whimsy, sentimentality, and vulnerability to be weaknesses.
But I know those people to be wrong.
When you choose to like a person who does not like you, this is whimsy.
It is hard not to like a person who likes you.
When you choose to believe in someone, this is sentimentality.
It is hard not to love a person who believes in you.
When you say something that requires humility and love, this is vulnerability.
It is hard not to trust a person who says something that only a humble, loving person would say.
As a writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson was lofty. But as a person, he was famously open and vulnerable.
Vulnerability is the price of intimacy.Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote Self Reliance in 1841.
Elbert Hubbard wrote A Message to Garcia in 1899.
Dale Carnegie updated Emerson’s ideas in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People in 1936.
Napoleon Hill wrote Think and Grow Rich in 1937.
Norman Vincent Peale added a veneer of Christianity in his book, The Power of Positive Thinking, in 1952.
Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson wrote The One Minute Manager in 1982.
Stephen Covey wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in 1989.
Joel Osteen wrote Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day in 2007.
And every one of those writers owes a debt to Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Life, People, Us, Self.
is about more than just business. It’s about balance. It’s about the freedom to be stupid with old friends.
cover the earth. They speak lots of languages and have confusing cultures, but every person is made in the image of God.
is problematic because it necessitates the idea of “Them,” those who are not Us. Uh-oh.
is who you think...
How Does Advertising Work?
I have a friend who is a famous online marketer. Last week he sent me an observation I found interesting. It occurred to me that you might find it interesting as well.
“Now that targeting is pretty much dead on Facebook and Instagram, I have a theory that the rules of reach and frequency that have always applied to radio will also apply to social platforms as they shift away from micro-targeting and toward looking more like mass media.”
[Frequency means repetition. – editor]
And then he asked a question.
“Can you remind me again what your magic formula is for reach and frequency when buying radio ads? I know this is a bit like someone asking me how to spell SEO, but this came up in a conversation I was having with a buddy the other day and I felt stupid that I couldn’t remember it.”
Happy to help. Here’s what you’re looking for:
APE = Advertising Performance EquationShare of Voice x Impact Quotient = Share of MindShare of Mind x Personal Experience Factor = Share of MarketShare of Market x Market Potential = Sales Volume1.Share of Voice: How much of the noise in your category in your marketplace is your noise? (All media combined, including word of mouth)
2.Impact Quotient: The average impact of a message in your category is 1.0. If your ads are 30% better than average, you score a 1.3. If your ads are 10 percent weaker than average, you score a 0.9 … the Impact of your message can accelerate or reduce your Share of Voice
3.Share of Mind is the percentage of real estate you own in your category in the mind of the average customer.
4.Personal Experience Factor is likewise measured with a 1.0 being, “exactly the experience your customer expected.” Anything above a 1.0 is a delight factor. Anything below a 1.0 is depth of disappointment. Online reviews are just measurements of a customer’s Personal Experience Factor
5.Share of Market is your sales volume as a percentage of the total sales available in your category, in your marketplace.
For a message to enter Declarative Memory (mid-term memory – longer than Working Memory – but not yet Procedural Memory, which is involuntary, automatic recall,) a message should be repeated to the same individual at least 3 times within 7 night’s sleep. Further research has lowered this number to as little as 2.5 repetitions per week.
The more memorable the message, the less repetition is required. Therefore, the only way to beat the system (Google) and save money is to create messages that are highly memorable. NOTE: Any limited time offer with a call-to-action is erased from declarative memory when the “limited time” window is closed. This is why you cannot build a brand with Direct Response calls-to-action.
To become a household word and enter long-term Procedural Memory, you need to hammer your message into the mind of your target at least 2.5 per week for at least 3 years. But even then, it will fade within 24 months after your ads disappear, assuming that your ads have only the average 1.0 Impact Quotient. But a message – or an experience – with a significantly higher Impact Quotient can enter Procedural Memory and become automatic, involuntary recall, with only a single repetition. PTSD is an example of this.
The key to absolute category dominance is to elevate your Impact Quotient and Personal Experience Factor to numbers above 2.0.
In other words, you’ve got to have awesome ads and deliver an amazing customer experience.
But you already knew that.
“This is perfect. Thank you. Have any of your partners tested APE in social ads (FB, IG, TikTok, etc.) to see if the numbers hold up? I would have to assume that Share of...
Time to update Pendulum
Wow, your history of America show reminded me how spot on your book was... and needs to guide us through the next 20 years with an update. Please!
If vivid and articulate would have a child Roy would theirs.
The way this man uses nuances of voice is delightful. The stories and information he shares are marvelous.
Quick and to the point. Love it!