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The Edge 365

New Thinking that Drives Marketing Results

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  • Jon Rivers

Truth and Lies: Wading Through All Those “Expert” Marketing Tips

Let’s face it. There is no shortage of marketing professionals. Put 3 of them in a room and they’ll make your head spin. That’s because marketing is not a static science. It doesn’t come with the exactitude of the formula for determining the circumference of a circle. Nor can you measure it with a ruler.  

But that’s not to say that there aren’t best practices and measurement tools for successful marketing. You will, however, have to wade through the advice of many self-proclaimed experts and find your own truth. I can only offer my own opinions below on what I believe to be truths and lies. Of course, “lies” is a rather harsh word. But it made for a catchy title!

Truth: Titles and subject lines are of paramount importance in attracting readers. This is very true. But the jury is still out on several aspects of those all-important titles and subject lines. The current thinking is short and catchy. No question marks. “Top 5” or “Top 10” type subject lines, once very much in vogue, appear to have fallen out of favor. Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try them.

I’d like to add another important element that I believe contributes to the success or failure of a marketing piece, beyond the title or subject line. And that is, the first line of the text. Writing a blog or an article is, or at least should be, approached with the same reverence as writing a play or a novel. In all of those formats, the goal is to immediately draw your reader into your story, immediately being the key word here.

I’d like to offer you two literary examples to support my claim.

William Shakespeare, A Tale of Two Cities. It’s a pretty good title. It leaves you wanting to know which two cities? What about those two cities? And then you open the book and the first line catches you off guard. “It was the best of time, it was the worst of times…” Bingo! Now you want to read on.

Sena Jeter Naslund, Ahab’s Wife. Based on the single reference in Moby Dick to the possibility that Ahab had a wife back home. The title is certainly intriguing. And then the first line truly reels you in: “Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last.” Bingo. Now you’re truly hooked.

Centuries apart, these two authors most assuredly understood the importance of title and first line. So should you!

Lie: Tuesdays and Thursdays are indisputably the best days to publish your blogs and articles. I might agree that these are good days. But the best? HubSpot bases this recommendation on their vast research. I don’t want to malign HubSpot, in fact I’m a fan. But have you read Dan Lyons’ book: Disrupted. My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble? It’s thought provoking.

Getting back to the idea that there’s a single best time to publish, a colleague of mine is a solo professional and he has long been publishing his weekly newsletter on Fridays. One day I asked him why, since conventional wisdom says that Friday is not a good day at all. He told me that he has tried several other days and found absolutely no difference in his overall response rates: deliverable's, opens, clicks.

Still other colleagues are getting great results over the weekend, on both Saturdays and Sundays.

Go figure. Personally, I’d recommend doing some A/B testing and seeing for yourself what works best for your audience. Different audiences have different habits. So really, how could there be a single best time to publish?

Truth: Social media marketing is outdoing most other forms of more conventional marketing and has become an integral and necessary component of every marketing campaign and strategy. I have absolutely no quarrel with this claim. We’re living in the era of the so-called Digital Transformation. I’ve expounded on this topic in the past. Basically, email marketing, while not entirely dead, does nothing to enhance your Web presence or your search engine ranking. Go digital young man!

Lie: Marketing is the sole domain of marketing professionals. Not true. In fact, although I don’t remember where I once saw the quote, the most successful companies are those in which every single person is in one way or another part of the marketing effort. They don’t have to be trained marketing professionals. They just need to understand the role they play.

Marketing is essentially the face of your organization. So when a receptionist answers the phone with a smile, that’s marketing. When a consultant arrives at a client site with coffee and donuts, that’s marketing. When your vendors get on time, that’s marketing. When members of your team volunteer at a soup kitchen, that’s marketing. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

I’m going to rest my case here, having treated you to only 2 truths and 2 lies. But they’re good ones so they’ll suffice for now.

Stay tuned for more and in the meantime, visit us at, call us at 617.256.6178, or email us at



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