Category Archives: Advertising

12 Growth Hacking Tips For Your Business

Growth hacking is a way that you can grow your business without spending massive amounts of cash doing so.  The previous post explains what growth hacking is and the traits of a growth hacker.  In this post, you’ll get 12 ways to grow your business using growth hacking.

12 Growth Hacking Tips For Your Business

  1. Read Sean Ellis’ original article on growth hacking here.  Become  your own growth hacker with the next 11 tips.
  2. “Sell your story, not your product.”  This comes from Allan Berger of Blossom.  Telling your story and why you created your products, or why you are promoting particular affiliate products is far more powerful than just pitching a product.  Des Traynor of Intercom offers two questions to help you get clarity on your business story.

    • What (other than making money) is the reason why you exist?
    • How will the world be a better place if you succeed?

    People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

    — Simon Sinek

  3. Set up your website as a blog and offer great content that demonstrates your expertise in your niche.  At, I offer content on many different aspects of marketing.  My niche is advertising and marketing and my products help people like yourself create great advertising and marketing for their businesses.
  4. Optimize your website for search engines, conversions, customer retention, and email subscriber retention.  Your website can be your showroom, your sales room, and so much more for your business.
  5. Get your content out to others through social media.  Here’s help for doing this.
  6. Create an enticing lead magnet that your audience can receive in exchange for their email address.  The money is still in the list, so build an email list to build your business.
  7. Use a drip campaign to convert your leads into buyers.  You can find more information about drip campaigns here.
  8. Create great landing pages for your lead magnet and products.  If you are an affiliate marketer, the vendors you’re working with will (hopefully) have high converting landing pages for their products and services.
  9. Use a content upgrade to incentivize sign-ups to your email list.  Write a great post and then invite interested readers to sign up for your list so that they can receive your content upgrade and announcements for new content.  Using this post as an example, a content upgrade could be 50 or 100 more tips for growth hacking.
  10. Offer incentives for feedback and product reviews.  These incentives could be discounts on future purchases, prizes, you name it.
  11. Engage in communities like Quora, LinkedIn, and reddit that pertain to your niche.  Contribute, interact, and build relationships to drive targeted traffic to your website.
  12. Use entry overlays to encourage website visitors to become email subscribers.  You may have noticed the “Get My Free Report” entry overlay to this site, and you may have signed up as a subscriber through that entry overlay.  Many sites use them because they are so effective.

What would you add to the 12 tips above?  Please reply with your comments and questions, and your likes and shares.


TBT: Can You Make Money With Free Traffic?

Today’s Throwback Thursday post returns from April 2014.  It’s been revised and expanded.

I posted an article below about how to generate free traffic, but the question is, will you make money with free traffic?  My answer is maybe, but I can tell you that it will take longer and take much more of your time to go this route.  Like getting to work in the traffic below.

The truth is almost always “you get what you pay for.”  You can fly first class, business class or coach.  There are differences in both service and amenities.

Sometimes you find a bargain, but for internet marketing, the best chance that you have to make money is going to come from buying traffic.  What do I mean by buying traffic?  Simply that to get the kind of traffic that generates sales, you are going to have to pay for it.  Let’s look at some of your options.

What are your best free marketing options?

The best free sources of internet traffic are also very easy to use.

  1. Your blog.  The business blog that you create is the number one best source for free traffic.  On your blog you can show your expertise and sell your products.  As you create great content and share it on your blog, you will build an audience.
  2. Search Engine Optimization.  Some of your best traffic will be targeted traffic that comes from search results.  Here’s a great infographic on SEO:
  3. Social media.  Do you have a Facebook business page?  Do you have a business Twitter account?  How about Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Google+, LinkedIn, or reddit?  If you need help with this, go here.
  4. Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine on the internet?  YouTube is a great place to get traffic by creating videos for your business.  Here are three ways video can help you build your business.

What are your best paid marketing options?

You’ll find posts below about two of the best ways to promote your business and products – Facebook ads and solo ads.  Both have advantages and disadvantages.  One of the advantages of Facebook ads is that you can tightly target your audience, spend as little as $5 a day, and scale your spending upward as you make sales.

With solo ads, you’ll pay a flat fee for a number of clicks (see this post for more on this), and the quality of the list that receives your ad will determine the quality of the leads that you get from your solo ad.  If you’ll email me, I’ll send you my list of the best solo ad vendors that I’ve used (email me at support at

Either way, with Facebook ads or solo ads, you’re going to have to spend money to make money.   With a good product or service, good ad writing, and good ad placement, you can make money on the internet.  You can go the free traffic route, but it’s the slow and uncertain way to profits.  Good targeted ads are the fast traffic route to sales and profits.

I welcome and invite your comments and questions and your likes and shares

Storytelling Your Way To Business Success

According to research cited in Ad Week,  “nine out of 10 people who can skip an ad do.”  We now live in the age of ad blockers.  So, how can you beat those terrible odds for your advertising?  By storytelling.  Great stories won’t penetrate ad blockers, but they will touch the hearts of those who do see your ad and they will engage a bigger audience.

Jerome Brunner, the author of Actual Minds, Possible Worlds, says “People are 22 times more likely to remember and internalize a story than facts or bullet points.”

Writer David Burn says, “Humans are wired for stories. It’s part of our evolution as a species. Therefore, you want to create a memorable story to support your brand in a real way that makes sense to the audience members. Advertising of any kind without the proper investment in brand story only makes sense to the myopic client who thinks people already care. People don’t care about your brand, until you use story as a way to invite them in.”

Good ads tell stories and great ads tell great stories.  The picture above is from an ad produced by the Leo Burnett Madrid ad agency for Spain’s Christmas lottery.  It tells the story of Justino, a lonely night watchman at a mannequin factory.  You can see the ad here.

Juan García Escudero, creative director of Leo Burnett Madrid comments, “They say that the key to a good story is to have a good protagonist who has a particular goal, which they fail to achieve, so that the reader or viewer roots for the main character to get their wish in the end.”  That’s what the Justino ad does so wonderfully.

It’s in our DNA – we all love stories.  That’s part of the power of Christmas – great stories.  Whether it’s the Biblical story of the birth of Jesus Christ or The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, we love stories.  Tell stories to entertain, educate, and inspire others, and you can build an audience.  Build an audience and you will find buyers.  Stories will touch and open their hearts.

12 Tips for Storytelling For Business Success

Tobias Brockhow of Filestage offers 12 tips on storytelling that get at the essence of how we can tell better stories for commercial purposes.  I put my own spin on them below.

  1.  Understand what makes a great story.  Tobias Brockhow recommends The Anatomy of Story by John Truby as a great resource on storytelling.   Brockhow says, “The key to every story is a character’s unfulfilled desire.”  Guess what advertising can do?  It can show potential clients and customers a way to meet unfulfilled needs and desires.
  2. “Come up with a colorful idea.”   Leo Burnett Madrid did that powerfully in the Justino ad for Spain’s Christmas lottery.  You can find your colorful idea through brainstorming, mind mapping, or a number of other techniques to get the creative juices flowing.  Brockhow recommends 1,000 Character Writing Prompts as a way into this process.
  3. Find your premise.  Once you’ve come up with a colorful idea, it’s time to crystallize your story in one sentence.  If your colorful idea is strong enough, you’ll have a great premise.  If not, go back to coming up with a better colorful idea.
  4. Craft your story around heroes and desires.  As Brockhow points out, “A hero doesn’t have to be a single person. It can be a cause, a company or a group of people – just to mention a few.”
  5. Don’t sell your product in your advertising.  This sounds crazy, right?  Well, think about the nine out of ten who avoid ads whenever possible.  In the Justino ad, the story revolves around Justino and the product, Spain’s Christmas lottery is woven into the story, but not in a way that is overtly advertising it.  Coca Cola does this well in a number of their ads.  Since at least 1971, when Coke ran their ad “I’d like to teach the world to sing,” they’ve been doing this very effectively.
  6. “Deliberately hide information.”  Brockhow deploys Truby to make this point:“Withholding, or hiding information is crucial to the storyteller’s make-believe. It forces the audience to figure out who the character is and what he is doing, and so draws the audience into the story. When the audience no longer has to figure out the story, it ceases being an audience, and the story stops.”  John Truby, The Anatomy of Story  Brockhow highlights this effective ad for Guinness Beer.
  7. “Be tremendously human.”  What Brockhow means by this is find stories in the dimensions of basic human needs.  Everyone strives to survive and thrive.  What human element can you bring to the story you tell?  How can you touch the emotions of others by rooting your story in ways that get your readers relating to what you are describing?
  8. Be real.  Most people can spot a phony from miles away.  Put your authentic voice into what you write or create.  When your writing comes out of your own personal experience, you can’t help but be real.
  9. Don’t miss the punchline.  People love humor and if you can get them to laugh, you’ve won them over.  VW has been doing this effectively for years.
  10. Think  visual.  The more visual you can make your content, the better.  We live in a highly visually-oriented world.  Browkhow says, “Close to 80% of Internet users remember the video ads they watched online.”  If you can tell your story in video, you have a far greater chance to create memories for your readers than any other way online.
  11. Be unique.  If you do everything like everyone else, why would anyone remember you?  Bring your own angle, personality, and creativity together to create what genuinely stands out from everything and everyone else.  Author and marketer Seth Godin says,   “You must aggressively go to the edges and tell a story that only you can tell.”
  12. Be relatable.  Part of your work when you write copy is to get your readers to know, like, and trust you.  One of the best ways to do this is to create a buyer persona for your product and service and write to that persona.  Speak to that persona in ways that he or she can relate to and you will be well on your way to making the vital connection that bonds your potential buyers to your product or service.

This excerpt comes from my new book, Words That Sell: Creating Advertising With Irresistible Influence, which is scheduled for release in  2018.

What would you add to Tobias Brockhow’s 12 tips?  I welcome your comments and questions, and your likes and shares.


Another modern myth: Shrinking attention spans

In October 2014 I posted on shrinking attention spans.  Here’s a rebuttal to this commonly held belief.


Every new wave of technology has its skeptics. And now, it’s digital technology—the onslaught of television, smartphone, video, radio, social media—that is shortening our attention spans. Or is it? And if it is, it may not matter.

A recent non-peer-reviewed study by Microsoft compared the attention span of a human and a goldfish, and found the two were disturbingly close. In fact, the goldfish beat us by half a second. The human span was down about four seconds from 2000, which some have said is due to technology inundating our eyes, ears, and brains.

This got a lot of, ahem, attention from the media. Time led its coverage with a story “You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish.” And the New York Times’ Timothy Egan included the study in a column on his own attention span:

In the information blur of last year, you may have overlooked news of our incredibly shrinking attention span. A survey of Canadian media consumption by Microsoft concluded that the average attention span had fallen to eight seconds, down from 12 in the year 2000. We now have a shorter attention span than goldfish, the study found.

Attention span was defined as the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted. I tried to read the entire 54-page report, but well, you know. Still, a quote from Satya Nadella, the chief executive officer of Microsoft, jumped out at me. ‘The true scarce commodity’ of the near future, he said, will be ‘human attention.’

While the goldfish comparison is amusing (and, yes, attention-getting), the idea that media (in whatever form) having an effect on our brains, consciousness, and attention spans isn’t all that new. And there are a lot of curious comparisons and foretellings of doom coming from a number of quarters, including this video, in which neuroscientist and British House of Lords member Susan Greenfield asks “what kind of person will they be?”

But these and other media reports miss an important aspect about the human brain: it’s adaptable. And in some cases, modern video technology results in increased attention spans, not shrinking ones.

The Microsoft “study” claimed that the human attention span went from 12 seconds on average in 2000 to just 8.25 seconds in 2015. Those figures were compared to an average goldfish attention span of 9 seconds. The problem is, no definition of attention span is given, and it’s not at all clear how these numbers were developed.

Another problem is that when studies do provide a definition of attention, a different physiological dynamic arises. Attention (and its close relative, consciousness) is one of the most studied attributes of the brain today. Thousands of psychological, neurobiological and social science studies have been conducted on how we “pay attention.” And one remarkable pattern shows that most of the time, we don’t. And that’s a good thing.

Attention is actually the result of a series of reactions in the brain to sensory stimuli. First, a stimulus (say, an object picked up by the eyes) makes its way to the posterior parietal cortex of the brain, which seems to be the center of managing stimuli and attention. The brain has to disengage from whatever it’s focusing on now, move to look at the new stimuli, engage that new stimuli and raise a sense of alertness to that new stimuli.

It’s important to note that behind all this focusing of attention is another response, that of deliberately ignoring other stimuli. That’s important, because our eyes and brains (to say the least for nose, ears and skin) are receiving thousands of stimuli at any given moment. In people with severe ADHD, one can see the results form an inability to focus.

This selective attention enhances neuron firing in the frontal cortex and the superior colliculus. The temporal cortex also starts firing more neurons. And these neuronal networks are highly adaptable, as they learn to move from one type of stimulus to another.

These adaptations have been evolutionarily valuable, and they are valuable now. Whether it picks out a true threat from mere objects in one’s way, or a single Tweet from a news feed storm—the brain has been able to handle just about anything that’s thrown at it. And a number of studies have shown the opposite of Microsoft’s post:

  • A group of researchers at the University of Illinois found that expert video gamers could “track objects moving at greater speeds, better detected changes to objects stored in visual short-term memory, switched more quickly from one task to another, and mentally rotated objects more efficiently.” In other words, their attention was better.
  • And as for goldfish, there’s not much, but this Australian study debunks the popular theory of tiny goldfish memories and retention. They actually can remember something (say, a source of food) for years. While not a standard attention-span study, it does question how these long-term memories could arise from not watching in the first place.

What’s behind the odd Microsoft statistic, then? One, as PolicyViz pointed out, the study cited didn’t even look at attention spans. Two, the Microsoft post was aimed at advertisers, who have always faced the challenge of trying to make their product or service the final focus of our parietal lobes. And finally, the problem with our apparent distraction may not be attention, but multitasking. Our brains focus for a reason.

Andrew Porterfield is a writer, editor and communications consultant for academic institutions, companies and non-profits in the life sciences. He is based in Camarillo, California. Follow @AMPorterfield on Twitter.