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Category Archives: Marketing Techniques

Book Review: About Face: The Secrets of Emotionally Effective Advertising by Dan Hill

I am an avid reader of design and advertising books. As geeky as it sounds, I read those types of books as my pleasure reading. I always want to know more about how to excel at my craft.

Every so often there comes along a book that completely changes the way that I think about advertising and marketing and About Face is one of them.


Dan goes into great detail about how we truly react to advertising and it’s not in the cognitive areas in the brain. In fact, the cognitive area (where language resides) may actually lie to us to protect our self-image…you know the people who say they watch public television to sound smart, but they really can’t stand it?

There is a part of our brains that has no language but controls our emotions. Dan and his team have found a way to learn what we’re really thinking about ads by examining our facial expressions. We all do it. There are micro-expressions that last a fraction of a second that show our true feelings about what we are viewing. An example that Dan uses in the book helped lead to the Dove “Real Beauty” commercials, that showed women of varying shapes celebrated by the skin care company. When the original video was shown to the target market, they scowled at the skinny models in their undies. “I don’t look like that, so this product can’t be for me” they thought and their expressions belied those sentiments.

Through his research, Dan Hill and his team can tell us which type of advertising resonates most with people, how the same types of advertising win awards, and just how easily influenced we can be by our environment. The photo below is a passage about how changing the music in a wine store influences our purchases and how brands can engage senses other than sight to influence our behavior. Have you noticed how Hilton Hotels offer freshly-baked cookies when you check in? There’s a science to that.


Without getting too long-winded, this is a must-have reference for anyone who is serious about making advertising that motivates and memorized.

Check it out and I’d love to hear your thoughts about the book and what Dan has to say. Get the Kindle version:

Understanding culture

Part of my goings-on about the user experience include knowing your audience and understanding what makes them tick. A huge part of the behavioral information that you can glean about a particular audience segment is culture. I came across an article on Business Insider that represents visually how cultures around the world negotiate. Why shouldMore

speak the language

About a year ago, I accepted a Creative Director position at Capital One. Yes, I went to work for the “What’s in your wallet?” guys. I love it. Good people, challenging work. One of the headwinds (Capital One term; I’ll be noting them throughout this post) to getting the hang of things there is theMore

Brand Culture: Creating a community around your small business brand…a primer

Years ago, when the web was relatively young, I remember business owners asking me to build them a website with the rationale that “they just needed one.” There was no more discussion than that. Me, being young and hungry, built them a site that, for the time and my skill level, looked great. But thenMore

(free) information is power 2

Responded to an email that came through the site last week (I know, that was a little too long to wait) and a request for marketing assistanceĀ  for $1000 per year. That’s a very low number, and I told them so. But instead of telling them to get lost, here’s what I did. I gaveMore

Get your foot in the door: creating compelling email subject lines

Coming up for air from a busy stretch and thought that I would cover a marketing channel that benefits small businesses: email marketing. Unless you have been under a Martian rock for the past 20 years, you have received quite a bit of email in your inbox. Have you thought about what gets you toMore

(free) information is power

I had a prospective client meeting yesterday; delightful, thoughtful people who are trying to make the world a better place. They came recommended through a mutual friend and I met them for Iced Tea and nibbles atĀ  Lucky’s Coffee Shop. I’m deliberately keeping the details vague, because this post is about information and how toMore

The case for quality

A former Wilmington University student of mine approached me with a problem. He didn’t feel as though he was getting the proper rates for his freelance work. He has found himself taking jobs that pay very little and reward him even less professionally. He wrote me asking for my advice. This has been an issueMore

courtin’ and marryin’: thoughts on customer relationship management strategy

So as I am developing email marketing templates for a client, I thought it would be a good time to drop a post about customer relationship management or CRM. Many big brands pay very close attention to their relationships and are always looking for ways to strengthen them. I have found that many small businessesMore

Conversion rate coolness

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I have been working on building a brand and sales for a client, Cal Smith, who not only is a great client, he is just a fun guy, period. I have been working with him very closely and educating him on how marketing works, especially in theMore