Steinbeck Hitchcock and Yes, Lifeboat

What on earth do Steinbeck and Hitchcock have in common? Well, nothing except that they made a film together called Lifeboat. They did not even share any common interests in terms of their work. John Steinbeck created novels such as Grapes of Wrath which is still considered as a literary masterpiece even by modern critics. The novel was highly controversial at the time it was first published in 1939 due to the anti-capitalist sentiments. But it also won the Pulitzer Prize. This and his work later were instrumental in getting John Steinbeck his maiden Nobel Prize for literature. Steinbeck also wrote some comedies such as Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat but thrillers, not any that I know of.

Alfred Hitchcock lived thrillers and absolutely thrillers. However, he did take some diversions into other genres such as comedies in Mr. and Mrs. Smith and also some nonfiction films just before the Second World War. After the war, he mostly stuck to what he knew best and that was making thriller movies. I don’t know what Steinbeck was thinking about while writing Lifeboat. Was he intentionally making a thriller or just an interracial film with a hypothetical situation about people from various communities of German and allied forces getting together and having to do battle together? I think it’s later and that’s where Steinbeck came into the picture.

Originally the screenplay of Lifeboat was credited to John Steinbeck. But after the film was released Steinbeck requested his name to be removed from the credits because he felt the film had unkind words against organized labor. However, the British and American press at the time thought the film glorified German characters and denigrating the US and British characters. Modern critics see things differently though. Hitchcock defended his characterization because he respected his movie villains. Characterization of a villain has been the hallmark of Hitchcock films over the years. The moral of the story in his opinion was to get the allies together to fight against Nazis.

Lifeboat was nominated for 3 Oscars but received none and it was not commercially very successful either due to the negative publicity and controversies surrounding the film. It was Hitchcock who came up with the idea for the film and considered several top writers at the time for the project including Ernest Hemingway and A J Cronin. Hitchcock didn’t use music in the film as he thought it was imprudent to do so. Where would music come from in the sea? He retorted when asked about it. He was countered with where would the cameras come from in the middle of the sea?

I am a diehard Hitch fan and have seen all his best work and more. I never felt him being racist or unkind to any community unless it is for the characterization. The very fact that he chose Steinbeck for this project confirms this fact for me. But it is a strange combination all the same. After so many years of Hitchcock, it is difficult to associate him with a writer who is not at all a thriller writer. It is a lonesome but great alliance all the same.

How To Use A Call to Action for Better Advertising Response

Wouldn’t you like a simple but extremely powerful way to pump up sales, get better quality leads, and practically eliminate advertising waste?

Here’s an insider tip.

Hey, you and me… we’re in the marketing trenches together. Every day. And we’ve lived to tell about it.

But what may surprise you is that very few business owners employ this simple but powerful “tool” in their advertising.

This tool I’m hinting at is called… tada… a call to action.

What? Yes, it’s a call to action.

If you don’t ask, then you don’t get. Sounds reasonable, right? But very few business owners (or their creative staff) use this simple tactic to boost sales.

All… and I mean all the marketing pieces that I write, and this includes white papers, print ads, landing pages, emails, you name it, includes some sort of call to action.

It’s the very core of the type of advertising I use. This is called direct response marketing. And it works… like gangbusters, if done correctly.

Why Use A Call To Action (CTA)?

First of all, it works. It’s a great way to move people down the sales funnel.

Second, it measures the effectiveness of your copywriting.

Think about it. The more responses you get directly indicates how compelling your copy must have been. In other words, your copy message is doing its job.

Now that you know the advantages of using a CTA, let’s look at a few examples. They’re not as difficult to come up with as you may think.

When you think about your “call to action” think about what objective you want the reader to do…

… sign up for a webinar, download some information, visit your store or call now.

Pretty simple, right?

If you’re stuck or just can’t find good ideas for your call to action, then start an advertising swipe file.

I’ve talked about this before but as a reminder, a swipe file is a collection of good ads that are producing good results. And how you’ll know that these are “good” ads is that you’ll see them running over and over again.

Savvy marketers do not like to spend money on advertising that is not producing. It’s all about a good ROI (return on investment). And only good direct response marketing gives you this opportunity.

Now while I’m on the subject of putting together your CTA, it’s only natural to talk about your writing style. Specifically, the words you choose.

According to social-media-scientist Dan Zarrella, verbs outperform adverbs, adjectives and nouns when eliciting ‘shares’ on Twitter.

This is true not only for Twitter and other social media but nearly any media outlet.

Here’s a few bold verb examples that produce results:

Register

Subscribe

Buy

Download

Donate

These are much better than the plain old vanilla ‘click here’ and be sure to tell your reader what benefits she’s getting, for example…

Download your free copy of our business survival guide

Subscribe to get your free reports

Register now to get in on this webinar

And so on.

Now let’s add some urgency to the mix.

We humans sometimes need a bit of pushing sometimes. Adding some sincere urgency to drive the funnel can be just what’s needed to get us moving.

Here’s a few examples to get your creative juices flowing…

Offer expires

First 50 people only

Hurry, the price goes up at noon today

While supplies last

And one of personal favorites is ‘Immediate Download.’ It’s a great call to action because folks like downloads and they like immediacy. Bam. Here you got both.

Last, let’s talk about risk. Actually, let’s talk about reducing removal or removing risk from your offer or call to action.

As you can imagine, risk removal or reversal is a powerful marketing tool.

How do we lower the risk?

Oftentimes doing business for the first time with a new company is a scary deal. After all, you know or trust this “new company.” And who hasn’t been burnt before. Heck, these days trust has flown out the window, right?

So why not start by truly focusing and empathizing with your prospect and clients. Put yourself in their shoes. Again, they do not know you and they don’t trust you. Make a point to earn their trust… and keep earning their trust.

Prove that you truly care by showing them you’ll shoulder the risk. Communicate this in all your marketing messages.

Here’s a few examples…

“Start your no-obligation 30 day free trial”

“You have a no-hassle, no-questions asked, 100% money back guarantee”

“Not Satisfied? No Problem! We’re double your money back immediately”

You get the idea.

Use these ideas to create a strong “call to action” in your next advertising pitch.

Yours for bigger profits,

Music Producers – You Can Pursue Your Passion

Something thats always bugged me about music production is we limit it. If you tell someone that you are a music producer you either have a Benz, or a loser with a dream.

For some reason people have this idea that there is no middle ground in a music production career. Either you’re making millions or its a hobby.

Thats just not true. Why can’t you be a music producer who makes a modest 60-70k per year? That’s more than most people make with their little college degrees. Not to mention you’re doing something you enjoy. You were born with a passion and talent for music, why not take advantage of it?

You don’t have to be the next timbo or neptunes. Their is a lucrative career in TV music, movie score, commercial jingles, etc… Those are just a few of the things you can do to make money as a music producer.

I think the real reason people are scared of pursuing a career in music is because it requires you to be an entrepreneur. Sure there are production companies you can work for, but you still are an entrepreneur. You are CREATING a product. The product obviously is your music.

You can choose to sell your product any way you choose. Some producers choose to sell them to production companies, who then re-sell them for more profits. Some producers sell them online to up and coming artist. Some producers sell them to big budget artist for $40-$50k per beat.

How Prepared Is Your Board for Cyberspace?

While cyber security is an important issue for boards, it has not always been top of mind. Because a major corporation like Equifax had a breach in its IT system, many companies are rethinking how to secure cyber security.

Boards around the world are examining the Equifax case to determine how to best secure their organizations valuable information stored in their IT systems. So who is responsible? Since the CEO has stepped down, it is apparent he was being held accountable. However, where was the board of directors?

In today’s world of cyberspace, corporate boards have to think about more than governance, CEO compensation and strategy.

As it stands, it is in the board’s best interest to ensure the company is not exposed to debilitating risks. Companies have workplace safety standards and sexual harassment policies to mitigate lawsuits. They even have disaster recovery plans in the event of natural disasters or occurrences like the World Trade Center plane crash. These plans and policies are in place to keep business running smoothly and perpetually. It protects customers and employees.

However, with sophisticated computer hackers around the world, it is no news that computer systems and valuable information can be breached and stolen. There are hackers who breach computer systems as a business. They ask for ransom in the amount of tens of millions of dollars. If it is not paid, they threaten to release the companies secure information, which sometimes could contain private email communication from top executives.

While many enterprises as large as Equifax may have disaster recovery plans for their physical operation, they may not have the same plan for cyber breach. The disaster recovery policies would include immediate action steps based on size of the breach, who made the breach, what information was taken, were company smart phones breached, what to communicate to employees, the public and shareholders as well as other important factors.

In some cases, it may make sense to inform the FBI. In other cases, it may be better to pay the ransom. The challenge with calling the FBI is that the hackers could be in countries like Russia. In Russia, the FBI may not pursue them. Why? Because the Russian government is always looking for good hackers. If the FBI exposes the hackers in Russia, the government may hire them, which can present long-term problems for the US. When it comes to paying ransom, it’s tricky. If you pay, they may hack you again as though you are an ATM machine. If you don’t pay, they may expose confidential information. These are also the kinds of challenges that directly involve the board.

What’s most important is that the board is talking about cyber security before there is a problem. There should be constant audits of the cyber security system to mitigate any risks. In addition, as a board, they should hold the CEO accountable for that security. Furthermore, there should be clear policies to guide the board and the executive team on how to handle the various moving parts in a delicate situation. Boards with disaster recovery plans and high accountability with the CEO are more likely to be forward thinking about cyber vulnerabilities and proactive about updating the security system.

Why Packaging Labels Should Be Clear

It is an age when consumers are the most demanding. When purchasing a product, any customer has a specific set of requirements, which the buyer needs to meet. The requirements of the consumer are based on the kind of product which is being purchased and of course the purpose of use. Thus, it is important that retailers and manufacturers offer complete transparency, especially in case of food products.

Labels are an integral part of packaging. But the important fact is that the labels should ideally serve their purpose. They should offer all that the customers are looking for in terms of information. If the labels are not informative or clear, the manufacturer might lose out a chunk of customers.

Importance of Packaging labels Clarity

Source of Information:

Labels are the only source of information about a product. A label needs to be clear so that the consumer gets all the necessary information needed before use of the product. If there is no such information, consumers might be in doubt and they will lose faith on the product. This is especially important in case of food products, where consumers need to necessarily have some information on the product. This includes information, on the calories, nutrition count, method of use, storage information and more.

This is also most important in case of pharmaceutical packaging. Buyers need specific information related to the product, which includes ‘best before date’ and composition information. If labels are not clear, customers will not buy the product next time. They will instead opt for another product which offers them complete information related to the product.

Brand Image:

If your package isn’t clear and professionally done, your company might lose its integrity. The consumers might have suspicion in their minds about the product since they have no clarity of information regarding different things. It doesn’t help the brand image. Besides, consumers never purchase anything unless they are aware of the content. Would you like to purchase a package of cookies if you are not aware of the calories or the ingredients?

Also, having a clear packaging is not enough. You need to know what should be included in the packaging label as per the manufacturer. There is usually no formal definition of what needs to be included in the label. But, you need to include information as per the requirements of Food and Drug Administration authority. Thus, labels which do not offer clear information also mean they are not complying with the safety standards.

If there is a natural product, the label should be clear with information. Such information includes words like ‘minimally processed’, ‘gluten free’, ‘simple’ or natural. If such words are present, the buyers are actually sure that the product is safe for use. Also, there should be certification or logo about the product being safe for use.

Thus, whenever you buy a product, ensure that the product has a clear label. It includes all necessary information about the product. If there is no clear label, it might be possible that the company is hiding something.