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Marketing Formulas for Sweet Success


Pies and Pyramids for success

The time has come when advertising in some hands has reached the status of a science.

—  Claude C. Hopkins

In the early 20th century,  Claude C. Hopkins pioneered the use of testing methods to plan and measure the effectiveness of advertising.  He sought to identify the particular markets that responded to general advertising campaigns.

Generations later, marketers do Hopkins proud. Formulas with numerical monikers are very popular and easy to remember.

Here are a few of the most well-known in direct marketing, customer relationship management, social media, and micro-blogging.

40-40-20 – Direct Marketing

Successful direct marketing apportions success to 40% offer, 40% list (as media) and 20% creative. Developed by  Edward N. Mayer, Jr, a direct marketing hall-of-famer.  This base-line helps direct marketers test the success of various elements of each direct marketing campaign. The risk lies in paying least regard to creative and falling back on tactical vs. strategic methods.

80-20 – Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Just as Claude C. Hopkins began testing the science of advertising, Italian Economist Pareta proposed the 80-20 principle. Often called the “vital few” law, it describes how the fewest number deliver the greatest results. Database marketers applied 80-20 to customer relationship management. The smallest portion of customers delivered the greatest return on investment. CRM identifies unique clusters and builds the relationship through customized communications.

For an interesting read on 80/20 and CRM, see

90-9-1 – Social Media

Jakob Nielsen observed and described  Participation Inequality in social media. It reflects something of the 80-20 principle with regard to participation. The greatest number “lurk,” while nine percent comment to others posts, with only one percent actually creating content.  For traditional marketers, this is perplexing as it calls for entirely new methods in reaching and engaging your audience, both short- and long-term.

70-20-10 – Twitter Engagement

Education blogger and expert Angela Maiers has quickly gained recognition for her success formula of micro-blogging. Using Twitter as an example, Maiers notes that successful micro-bloggers post and socialize in three ways (from most to least important) 70% – “share resources” 20 % “co-create” and 10% “chit-chat.”

It’s no wonder that Maiers quickly cautions readers to find their own formula. After all,  social networking success depends on authenticity.

As a creative strategist, how do you respond to the use of formulas in your own work. Do you find them helpful or constraining?

As a marketing strategist, how do you apply the formulas. How do you see traditional formulas changing based on social media marketing and crowdsourcing?

Look forward to your comments.


Brownie Ganache Torte with Raspberries, from Betty Crocker Recipes on flickr®


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