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Tip Sheet

Try This Trick to Add Spark to Your Marketing Writing … and More Tips for May-June

Start writing to Aunt Bessie.





Write Aunt Bessie

Want to liven up your overly formal direct mail letters or email bulletins? Michael Corbett, author of The 33 Ruthless Rules of Local Advertising, says that you need to stop thinking about the thousands of anonymous customers who will be reading your message. That will inevitably make your prose stiff as a redwood tree. You could imagine you’re writing all of your messages to your cool Aunt Bessie, as Corbett suggests, but we think a better idea is to address your customers’ pets … by name if you’ve been really good at gathering customer data.

guerilla marketing

Word-of-Mouth Test

There’s no advertising force more powerful than word of mouth. But sometimes it’s awkward asking your customers to spread the good word about your business. Want to identify good candidates? Joe John Duran, author of Start It, Sell It and Make a Mint tells of a businessman who has a little test. He asks his customers if they know a good restaurant he can take his wife to. They can’t think of one? OK, probably not a good person to ask for referrals. They give you a name? There’s some potential. They tell you a restaurant, tell you to use their name while making the reservation, and check back later to see how much you enjoyed it? This is clearly somebody who feels good about helping people. And a great candidate to spread the word about your business.



Suggest Scarcity

Want to bring extra attention to a specific item in your store? Limit the quantity at which you can sell it, says Jonah Berger in his best-selling book Contagious. A sign saying “One per pup” or “Limit three per cat” can sometimes work wonders.


Ready for Radio

The keys to a successful radio commercial: Use your own voice and make your point quickly to grab short attention spans. “Wizard of Ads” Roy H. Williams also offers this advice: Talk faster, say more; use big ideas and present them tightly; introduce a new mental image every three to five seconds; use fewer adjectives; say things plainly, bluntly even; and emotion is good. Even negative emotion.



Give Staff a Say

Daniel Pink, author of To Sell Is Human, says motivation comes from a collaborative environment, autonomy and finding purpose in a job. Promote autonomy by letting staff have control over not only how they sell, but what they sell. Give them a say in what you order at SuperZoo.


Hire Slowly

You’re probably on the lookout for staff right now. As you search, keep in mind this simple reminder from Jim Collins, author of Good to Great: “When in doubt, keep looking.” (This is absolutely true of full-time staff … for temporary staff, you can get away with bending a little.)



If you think you’re being productive and making progress, author and management guru Tom Peters suggests you ask yourself a question: “What have I done this year?” Answering that question succinctly puts the focus on your big achievements — or lack thereof — over the past year.

Since launching in 2017, PETS+ has won more than 20 major international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact PETS+ editors at



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