Why the graphic industry owes the colour that doesn’t exist to 2,000 dead soldiers


Sometimes even a copywriter’s mind wanders off into the realm of graphic design. Working on a corporate graphics guide right now, I became interested in what magenta actually is. Turns out it is perhaps the most fascinating of all colours.

First of all, although it is one of the basic components in the CMYK colour system used for four-colour printing, it isn’t a colour. It doesn’t exist in the light spectrum.

Second, it got its name 300 years after it was discovered. (This is where the German botanist and physician Leonhart Fuchs, 1501–1566, comes into the picture. If you know the fuchsia plant, you’ll have an idea of what I’m talking about.)

Third, its name is not the name of a colour. It is the name of a battleground that changed European history.

Fourth, it behaves in strange ways. Head over to Liz Elliott’s article Magenta Ain’t a Colour and see for yourself.

(Oh yes, and for the rest of the story, look up “magenta” on Wikipedia and follow the links from there.)

When you’re done, come back here and tell me if you didn’t find it at least mildly interesting!

Industrial advertising in 1986

In 1986, one year into my career as a B2B copywriter, I worked for Anderson & Lembke in Helsinki, Finland. A&L was in those days one of the foremost, if not the foremost, industrial advertising agencies in Finland, an offshoot of the original Stockholm, Sweden, based agency.

One of my clients was Safematic, a manufacturer of industrial sealing and lubrication equipment and condition monitoring systems for the pulp and paper industry. Continue Reading…

A simple message works best

Simple things just work. Like cars without too much electronics, bare-bones blog templates or pencils in sub-zero temperatures.

The same applies to a marketing message.

Define what you want to achieve. Focus on that key issue. Use simple language, simple terminology and a simple design. Some of the world’s best, most efficient advertising has been created by systematically paring down and condensing.

A sharp message will penetrate your audience’s wall of indifference.

There is still a difference between B2C and B2B

Many online marketers claim that “there’s no difference any more whether you’re talking to consumers or corporate buyers—you’re just talking to PEOPLE”. I’m claiming, though, that there is still a difference between B2C and B2B.

It is certainly true that all marketing should shift more toward a one-on-one style of talking to be efficient and engaging. Still, the differences between the B2C and B2B buying/selling processes have not disappeared. Some comparisons: Continue Reading…

“Location-based” defeats the purpose of the internet

When the internet started to spread around the world in earnest, it was hailed as the Great Equalizer. It no longer mattered where you were physically located, you could reach the whole world from your computer.

In recent times, there’s been a clear—alarming, in my opinion—shift toward locality. Look at this: Continue Reading…

Hide your price, lose customers

If you don’t make your price easily found on your website, you risk losing customers.

To narrow down a bit, I’m mainly talking about web-based services and other sales-oriented pages with products or services that have a clear pricing structure. I do understand that vendors of consulting and creative services, for example, often cannot give exact prices as these are largely dependent on the scope and content of a project, which might take a meeting or two to define.

In contrast, if you’re selling a product or service that has a fixed price, please do not make it difficult for your site visitor to find the price. As an example, it seems to have become a fashion among online service providers that you have to follow the actual order/purchase link to find out what the various plans will actually cost you.

Not good.

Price is ALWAYS a component of the buying decision. If your site attempts to get an interested visitor sold on your product or service, you naturally give all the arguments why your visitor should choose your particular type of solution and prefer your solution over all the other similar ones available. But if you fail to complete your potential buyer’s search by giving price information, you will most probably lose his or her business to your competitor who is more open about pricing.

Added January 1, 2011:

Just found I’m not alone in thinking this way. Take a look at Dale Underwood’s blog post Product Content Is #2 for B2B Buyers where he talks about the same thing.

I’d be interested to hear your experiences!

Is [insert any traditional marketing device] dead?

The demise of direct mail, e-mail marketing, print advertising, brochures, newsletters—I can’t even remember all of those doomed traditional marketing devices—has been announced for a long time. Even marketing itself has been declared dead.

A wake-up call, folks: none of these is dead, not even close. Continue Reading…

How to Save Advertising from Its Three Worst Faults

Guest post by Dan Hill
This material is drawn from Dan’s new book
About Face, the Secrets of Emotionally Effective Advertising, to be published in October 2010.

The joke that nobody much laughs at in marketing circles is the one liner ascribed to John Wannamaker. “Half my advertising dollars are wasted, but I don’t know which half.”

If only the reality of marketing was that good! Rigorous reviews of sales performance data by those willing to take an incisive look at the state of marketing leads to a less generous total—maybe 15% of advertising pays back its costs.

So what are the three most essential keys to doing better? Continue Reading…