Malaysia suspected MH370 downed in murder-suicide: Aussie ex-PM

first_img“I’m not going to say who said what to whom but let me reiterate, I want to be absolutely crystal clear, it was understood at the highest levels that this was almost certainly murder-suicide by the pilot – mass murder-suicide by the pilot.”Zaharie’s family and friends have long strongly rejected such claims as baseless.In 2016, Malaysian officials revealed he had plotted a path over the Indian Ocean on a home flight simulator but stressed this did not prove he deliberately crashed the plane.A final report into the tragedy released in 2018 pointed to failings by air traffic control and said the course of the plane was changed manually.But they failed to come up with any firm conclusions, leaving relatives angry and disappointed.Six passengers were Australian, including four from Queensland state, where Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this week suggested authorities may pursue an inquest into their deaths.Topics : Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has claimed “very top” level Malaysian officials believed vanished Flight MH370 was deliberated downed by the captain in a mass murder-suicide.The Malaysia Airlines jet vanished on March 8, 2014 carrying 239 people – mostly from China – en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.No sign of the plane was found in a 120,000-square kilometer (46,000-square mile) Indian Ocean search zone and the Australian-led search, the largest in aviation history, was suspended in January 2017. A US exploration firm launched a private hunt in 2018 but it ended after several months of scouring the seabed without success.The disappearance of the plane has long been the subject of a host of theories – ranging from the credible to outlandish – including that veteran pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah had gone rogue.In an excerpt from a Sky News documentary airing Wednesday, Abbott claims he was told within a week of it vanishing that Malaysia believed the captain had intentionally downed the jet.”My very clear understanding from the very top levels of the Malaysian government is that from very, very early on here, they thought it was murder-suicide by the pilot,” he said.last_img read more

Hadžibegić: Sušić is doing an excellent job and the team are on track to reach Brazil

first_imgThe Bosnian Football Federation (FFBH) has been through difficult times, but it is now gradually moving in the right direction.Elvedin Begić, who was elected the new president in December, visited FIFA with a FFBH delegation on 22 January. Among the group was Faruk Hadžibegić, who formerly played for Real Betis and Sochaux, coached the BIH national team and was the last captain of Yugoslavia, for whom he won 65 caps.In an interview to FIFA, Hadžibegić – who now has an official role monitoring the FFBH as an observer – said he hopes “to never have to intervene, as that will mean everything’s going well at the federation”.A former central defender with deep knowledge of his homeland, Hadžibegić’s playing career included spells with FK Sarajevo (1976-85), Real Betis (1985-87), Sochaux (1987-94) and Toulouse (1994-95). And, as he explained, he was also involved in BiH efforts to gain FIFA affiliation in the 1990s.Hadžibegić recalled how, “during the Yugoslav era, BiH was the main source of players,” before adding that “the current team is very good: I can’t find many faults with it.”“The concern is that there aren’t enough of us, and we’re a bit short on the bench,” he continued. “We’ve reached the play-offs several times, but our federation has never experienced any big events. We lack the experience to manage those situations.”The former Arles-Avignon manager is realistic about his country’s future. And he recognises that taking a post-war country of 3.8 million people to the summit of world football is no small task.“The challenge is huge,” he said. “We’re all from the former Yugoslavia, where football was extremely well organised. Every effort had been made to establish a great quality of football, a quality that was recognised around the world. Now, BiH must take a very big step up to reach the former Yugoslavia’s level of excellence. We’re on the right track, but there’s still lots and lots of work to do.”The Bosnians came close to qualifying for the last two FIFA World Cups™, only to be denied in the play-offs. And their Brazil 2014 campaign, for which they are placed in Group G of the European section, has also started strongly.“Safet Sušić, the head coach, is a real legend in Bosnia,” said Hadzibegic. “He’s doing an excellent job and the team are on track to reach Brazil. There are some important matches left, but we’ve never been so well placed to qualify.”last_img read more

How one student gave back to Donegal Hospice for helping his late mum

first_imgA young Milford student has “given something back” to the Donegal Hospice following the death of his mother.Loreto Community School student Anthony O’Connor raises funds for the hospice in memory of his mother, Maeve O’Connor.Anthony O’ Connor, a Junior Cert student, wanted to pay tribute to his mother Maeve, who sadly passed away last year. Anthony handmade Christmas memory trees and sold them at the Loreto Community School Craft Fair in December 2016, to raise money for the Hospice that cared for his mum.Anthony said he “wanted to give something back to the Donegal Hospice” and in the process raised a superb €535.60.Some of Anthony’s teachers and classmates stood with him when he planted a tree in the school grounds in memory of his mother after donating his cheque to Kelly McIntyre representing Donegal Hospice. Principal, Mrs. Margaret O’ Connor is included in the photograph. How one student gave back to Donegal Hospice for helping his late mum was last modified: March 28th, 2017 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Joe Thornton’s love for hockey leads him to remarkable milestone

first_imgSAN JOSE — Both Marcus Sorensen and Barclay Goodrow were still in awe.Here they were, two forwards who were basically still learning to skate 20 years ago, talking Tuesday about what it was like to be on the same line with a veteran of 1,499 NHL games in Joe Thornton.“He’s one of the best players to ever play the game,” said Goodrow, who had the game-winning goal in the Sharks’ 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild.“It’s an honor to play with him,” said Sorensen, who had his first career …last_img

Bug-Eye Camera, Fly Robot and other Bio-Inspired Tech

first_imgIncredible advancements in technology are coming from the imitation of nature, but engineers cannot yet attain animal performance.Look like a bug:  “New Camera Inspired by Insect Eyes,” announced Science Now.  If you thought insects with their compound eyes had inferior vision to ours, think that no more:An insect’s compound eye is an engineering marvel: high resolution, wide field of view, and incredible sensitivity to motion, all in a compact package. Now, a new digital camera provides the best-ever imitation of a bug’s vision, using new optical materials and techniques. This technology could someday give patrolling surveillance drones the same exquisite vision as a dragonfly on the hunt.In the Illustra film Metamorphosis, Dr. Thomas Emmel notes that butterflies have better color vision than humans.  They can see from infrared to ultraviolet.  And in the Illustra film Darwin’s Dilemma, we see that compound eyes existed in the Cambrian multicellular animals, including trilobites and anomalocaridids.According to PhysOrg, the new camera has an “unmatched field of view.”  Part of the challenge for engineers at the University of Illinois was to develop flexible electronics and optics that could accommodate curved surfaces.  Even so, their “low-end insect eye” mimic does not reach the performance of the design that inspired it:Eyes in arthropods use compound designs, in which arrays of smaller eyes act together to provide image perception. Each small eye, known as an ommatidium, consists of a corneal lens, a crystalline cone and a light-sensitive organ at the base. The entire system is configured to provide exceptional properties in imaging, many of which lie beyond the reach of existing man-made cameras.It would appear difficult to rephrase that paragraph in Darwinian terms, since it depends on the use of concepts like design, configuration, and exceptional properties.  The project caught the attention of Nature, and Science Daily twice.  The engineer’s paper was published in Nature, which noted that arthropods differ in the number of facets or ommatidia.  Some ants have about 100 facets; praying mantises have about 15,000, while some dragonflies have up to 28,000.  They ended by saying, “Biologically inspired schemes for adapting to different light levels are also of interest.”Fly like a fly:  A biomimetic robot that flies like a fly was reported in Science this week.  It caught the attention of Nature and Science Daily.  “RoboBee” doesn’t look anywhere near as sophisticated as an actual fly (and lacks digestive, neural, and reproductive systems), but Nature called it a “manufacturing marvel.”  One of its designers said, “This is a major engineering breakthrough, 15 years in the making.”  The little robot, weighing only 80 milligrams, has thin membranes for wings that it can flap 120 times a second, similar to a fly’s flapping rate (the engineers admitted it is only “modeled loosely on the morphology of flies”). Building a lightweight battery was one of the biggest challenges, so they had to tether it to a power source and computer with thin wire.  Still, it’s “pretty fantastically cool,” an observer said for Science Now.The engineering team faced many challenges.  For instance, if the wings weren’t exactly symmetrical, it failed to fly.  It “took many rounds of tweaking the design before it finally worked,” but when the team had their “Kitty Hawk moment,” they were really proud.  RoboBee can only fly for 20 seconds, and wears out after 15 minutes of use.  But it’s “the smallest flapping wing aircraft that has ever been built and made fully functional,” they said.  The goal is to get the power supply, flight control computer and everything else on board.  They envision making swarms of these robots for search and rescue.  “When you scale things down, smaller is better,” they said.  That speaks volumes about the actual living fly, which not only has everything on board, but also contains digestive, neural, and reproductive systems.  A fly or bee is comparatively large for insects, too (consider gnats and mosquitoes, for instance).  Recently, a microscopic fairyfly dubbed Tinkerbella nana was discovered with a body length of 155 micrometers (see Science Daily for picture).  That’s packing a lot of systems into a very tiny space.Sea horse armor:  In other biomimetics news, scientists at UC San Diego have their eyes on seahorses for ideas.  According to Science Daily, “Sea horses get their exceptional flexibility from the structure of their bony plates, which form its armor.”  The plates slide past each other.  The plates can be compressed to half their size without damage.   The principle behind the UCSD project is broader than one particular animal:“The study of natural materials can lead to the creation of new and unique materials and structures inspired by nature that are stronger, tougher, lighter and more flexible,” said [Joanna] McKittrick, a professor of materials science at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego.McKittrick and Meyers had sought bioinsipiration [sic] by examining the armor of many other animals, including armadillo, alligators and the scales of various fish. This time, they were specifically looking for an animal that was flexible enough to develop a design for a robotic arm.Mr. Clean cicada:  The 17-year locusts are emerging from hibernation in some parts of the south this year.  Live Science reported on work to understand how the bugs can stay so clean.  They don’t need to stand in the rain; the structure of their exoskeleton allows the bugs to be self-cleaning, researchers at Duke University have found.  “Apparently, grime can simply leap right off them, given dew.”  When dewdrops merge together, they literally leap off the bugs, carrying grime with them.  This also happens on lotus leaves and other “super-hydrophobic” surfaces.These findings not only can help explain the mystery of how cicada wings keep clean, but could also lead to improved artificial self-cleaning materials. Jumping droplets could also help remove heat from power plants, Chen said.Protein origami:  Science Magazine published a paper about the use of proteins for self-assembling materials.  A “Perspective” piece in the same issue about the project said that synthetic biology “aims to push natural biological systems in novel directions or to generate biomimetic systems with new properties.”  The team from University of Bristol learned how to control the self-assembly of proteins to generate simple “cages” and patterns out of coiled-coil elements of proteins.  “The assembly properties of the peptides are governed by how their folding results in the projection of chemical functional groups into space.”Short bows:  Nature mentioned the “worm-inspired adhesive” that came from following how a spiny-headed worm embeds itself in the tissues of its host.  A bandage built on the principle is “more than three times as adhesive as surgical staples for affixing skin grafts.”  Live Science posted “Seven Clever Technologies Inspired by Animals.”  Entrants include butterflies, sharks, worms, cockleburs, beetles, geckos, and spiders.As usual, evolution was useless in all these stories.  It was only mentioned occasionally as an ideologically-driven afterthought, such as “Nature has developed and refined these concepts over the course of billions of years of evolution” (PhysOrg).  Nature is not a developer!  Nature is not a refiner.  Nature knows nothing of concepts.  Those are terms from intelligent design.  The Nature paper on the compound eye begins, “In arthropods, evolution has created a remarkably sophisticated class of imaging systems, with a wide-angle field of view, low aberrations, high acuity to motion and an infinite depth of field,” but then says nothing further about evolution.  Evolution is not a creator!  Evolution does not design sophisticated imaging systems with desirable properties!  Tanya Lewis at Live Science dreamed, “Over time, evolution has led to some incredible developments, from the photosynthetic machinery in plants to the human eye.”  She needs to awake from her dogmatic Darwinian slumbers.The lingo that predominates in biomimetics is design, inspiration, exceptional performance.  Darwinians, pack up your snake oil wagons and get out of the way of this new, popular I.D. parade.(Visited 42 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

How to Split-Test Your Facebook Ads to Maximize Conversions

first_img Facebook Advertising Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Jan 18, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Topics: It’s tough to nail down a successful Facebook advertising strategy unless you do some testing. However, testing Facebook ads, with all their nuances and constant updates, might seem scary. In this post, we’ll walk you through the basics and functions of Facebook ad split-testing.Understanding Facebook Ad CampaignsIn the Facebook Ads Manager, you arrange your ads into campaigns. A campaign is a group of similar ads that have the same purpose but slightly different variations. The chart below is just an example of how you can arrange your campaigns. The ads belonging to each campaign will be split-testing different variables. For instance, you can test different versions of an image or a title to find out the most effective one to use in your ad.6 Split-Testing Tips for Facebook Ads1. Change One Variable at a TimeYour main variables are the title, the picture, the copy, and the targeting.2. Keep Similar Ad ConditionsSame time of the day, same bid (although bid prices vary), same length of time, etc.3. Watch the ReportsIt may look like one ad did better than the other, but check the actual ‘Likes’ (fans) generated.4. Always Create a New AdDon’t try to tweak one that didn’t perform well. Facebook makes it easy to click on “Create a Similar Ad” so you preserve your settings.5. Try Split-Testing Your Destination Landing PageWhere do people land after they’ve clicked on your ad? Make sure the page is congruent with your message. If it’s your website, do you have the promised offer on the page? If you have the resources, you can also design two landing pages on your website where you send the traffic. In that way you, can optimize for a higher visitor-to-lead conversion rate.6. Rotate Your Ads OftenEven a well-performing ad will wear out its welcome. The ads are often served to the same audience several times, and if you aren’t rotating them every few days or when the CTR drops to 50% of its original value, you will be wasting your money.Here Is a Real-Life ExampleSome easy mistakes to make when split-testing Facebook ads is not testing the ad for a sufficient amount of time or letting it run too long and wasting your ad budget. A good comparison usually requires at least 20 clicks and requires that the ad run for at least two days. But clicks may not always be the best measure, depending on your targeting. You may want to run them for the same amount of impressions.Would you like to read more about advertising on Facebook? Download our free ebook, How to Create Epic Facebook Ads.last_img read more

Is Your Email List Healthy? Take This 5-Question Sniff Test

first_img Email Lists and Segmentation Originally published Mar 20, 2012 1:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 Email list are like milk — they’re perishable. In fact, rotten email lists can leave you a lot worse than just queasy. Bad email lists can make it nearly impossible for your messages to get into your prospects’ inboxes. Return Path reports that 83% of the time an email address is not delivered to an inbox, the sender’s reputation (defined by the sender score ) is to blame. And what makes a bad sender score? Sending emails that get marked as spam, which is exactly what happens when you send to bad lists. Sniff Test for Email? It’s pretty easy to identify bad milk; but what about bad email lists?Turns out they’re not so tough to spot either. Generally speaking, a bad email list is one where many of the recipients are not expecting and do not want your email.Of course, that’s pretty general, so how do you get more specific? At HubSpot, we ask a series of five questions to every customer who uploads a list to our email tool . The questions, listed below, constitute our basic email list sniff test.(Note that we ask these questions about lists that are uploaded to HubSpot but not lists created from leads collected by customers with HubSpot forms  or our leads API . That’s because we assume that if the leads are collected by the customer using a HubSpot form or the leads API, the contact has a recent business relationship with the customer and is expecting to receive email.)So without further ado, here’s the test:  1) Does everybody on this list have a prior relationship with your business? Yes? Move on to the next question. No? Get rid of the list — or at least the people you don’t have a relationship with. Pronto. If the person doesn’t have a prior relationship with your business, they’re not going to be expecting your email. Not only is emailing them just spammy, but it will also hurt you. Without a prior relationship, many of the recipients will mark your message as spam. Those spam designations will then turn around and hurt the sender score of the servers you send from, which will make it harder for you to get your messages delivered. 2) Do you have an unsubscribe list? Yes? Nice job! On to the next question … No? Do not pass go; do not send to list. Go back to the drawing board, and build a new list. Every list should be accompanied by an unsubscribe list. Here’s why: If you have a prior email relationship with the people on your list, you will inevitably have people who have unsubscribed from said list. When you load that list into a system like HubSpot, you need to load both the master list and the unsubscribe (AKA suppression) list. If you don’t, you’re going to end up emailing people who have already unsubscribed. That’s against the law , and, since people on the unsubscribe list are likely to mark your email as spam, it will also reduce your ability to send successful emails. 3) Did you purchase, rent, or lease the list from a third party? No? Excellent! Next question! Yes? Agh! No dice. We can’t let you send to that list from HubSpot — and it’s unlikely you’ll have success sending to the list from any other quality, reputable marketing software solution. Why? It’s pretty simple: The people on that list do not have a prior business relationship with you. At best, they gave their address to somebody else and are expecting email from them , not you. At worst, their address was harvested from some sort of directory, and they’re not expecting any type of email. Any sending you do to this list will get flagged for spam and ultimately reduce your future conversion rates. 4) Will the people on the list be expecting (not surprised by) your email? Yes? Awesome. One more question. No? Game over. Time to do some more inbound marketing to build yourself a clean and quality list of recent opt-ins. Which leads us to our final question … 5) Have you emailed these contacts within the last 12 months? Yes? You’re good to go. Your list is smelling great. Create some awesome emails with super useful content, and you’ll have yourself some amazing conversion rates. No? Sorry. Twelve months is a long time. Chances are, a big chunk of your list already forgot about you and will be surprised by your message (remember question #4?). That means they’ll mark it as spam, which means your delivery rates will drop.  How to Create Lists That Don’t Stink — And Keep Them That Way So what’s the best way to create lists that won’t get marked as spam? By building your own list with remarkable content that drives traffic to your site, and then entices them to opt in to your emails with compelling marketing offers (that are clearly associated with your business) on your site and well-optimized landing pages. (This ebook, An Introduction to Lead Generation , will help you get started.)Here at HubSpot, we build our list with offers like content and tools, including  webinars , ebooks , and Marketing Grader . By building these lists internally, we’ve made our email marketing program far more productive that it would have been if we had purchased lists.So how do you keep your list smelling good? Good list hygiene . On a general level, that means keeping an ongoing email relationship with your list so recipients are always expecting your messages. More specifically, that means sending to them at a predictable cadence , making unsubscribes easy, maintaining reliable unsubscribe lists and, perhaps most importantly, continuing to grow your list organically. So, what do you think? Do your email lists pass the sniff test? And are we missing anything on our sniff test?  Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

Our Take on the Most Commonly Cited Shortcomings of Inbound Marketing

first_imgAt HubSpot, we have the privilege of talking to a lot of marketers on a regular basis. And although we’re ultimately trying to sell inbound marketing software, a big challenge for our salespeople isn’t just in convincing people our software is a good choice for them — it’s also in selling them on the idea of inbound marketing in general, especially if those marketers aren’t convinced they should be shifting their marketing from a traditional, outbound approach toward a more inbound one. Because this is the case, our salespeople have heard every concern in the book when it comes to shifting gears to inbound — and a lot of those concerns have to do with their perceived limitations and shortcomings of inbound marketing.So let’s clear the air once and for all by highlighting some of the most commonly believed inbound marketing shortcomings we’ve caught wind of from other marketers on the phone and on the web, and giving you our two cents about them.Claim: It’s not easy to target specific audiences with inbound marketing.This claim usually comes from marketers who regularly market to purchased or rented lists of contacts or who pull together lists of contacts at specific companies they want to target. The thought process behind this one is that inbound marketing is based on organically attracting people who opt in to receive your marketing messages, and there’s no way to guarantee that the specific people you want to target will opt in to receive your messages.Rebuttal: Inbound marketing allows you to target specific audiences — throughout the entire funnel.With inbound marketing, targeting specific audiences and sets of contacts is not only very possible, but it can also be much more effective than traditional targeting methods. With inbound marketing, you’re attracting potential buyers to your website with relevant content that is targeted at the specific interests and needs of your business’ buyer personas (found through channels like search engines and social media). As a result, inbound marketing allows you to focus your efforts on prospects who have already shown an interest in you, making them much more qualified than people you might target who have never heard of your company or shown any interest in you whatsoever.Marketers should also consider that inbound marketing applies to the entire funnel beyond just the top of the funnel — all the way from attracting new visitors to your website, to converting them into qualified leads, and then nurturing them into becoming happy customers. And once you’ve attracted visitors to your website and converted them into leads for your business, you can use the information you’ve collected about them — where they came from, what offers they’ve converted on, which pages they’ve visited, the demographic information they’ve provided on your lead-capture forms — to nurture them in the middle of the funnel. In other words, you can send them much more targeted, personalized messages in the form of email marketing, dynamic content on your website, etc., all of which moves prospects further through the funnel and makes them much more likely (and ready) to buy.We disagree with marketers who argue that inbound marketing is more about pulling in a broad audience rather than targeting specific groups of people. In fact, I’d argue that inbound marketing enables you to do the very opposite with targeted content, and that the concept of capturing the attention of a broader audience much more appropriately applies to more traditional, outbound marketing techniques. Effective inbound marketing ultimately allows you to market to segments of one, whereas outbound tactics usually involve bombarding lists of people with mass marketing messages.Claim: Decision-makers don’t spend their time online researching products and services.This argument is mostly prevalent in B2B marketing in which longer sales cycles and more high-ticket products and services are involved. The idea is that the typical C-suite executive doesn’t spend his or her time online reading blogs, conducting searches in Google, or participating in social media — all of which are top-of-the-funnel, traffic-driving channels for inbound marketing.Rebuttal: Decision-makers are influenced by online channels when it comes to purchasing decisions.To say that decision-makers and C-suite executives are not spending their time online is an overgeneralization. Just consider the fact that, according to a Forrester-commissioned study by LinkedIn in November 2012, 59% of IT decision-makers said they are influenced by at least one social network when considering business purchases. And during each of the five phases of decision-making (awareness, scope, plan, select, implement) social networks influenced nearly 50% of all IT decision-makers involved in each phase — close to a 60% increase since 2010. Furthermore, 73% have engaged with an IT vendor on a social network.Even if a C-suite executive doesn’t spend a lot of their time reading blogs, using social media, and conducting research online, that doesn’t mean there aren’t others within their company who are doing those things. And chances are, these people have some level of influence on the decisions of those C-suite executives.Claim: Inbound marketing doesn’t push people to take action.In other words, because inbound marketing is built around the idea that buyers have more control over their purchasing decisions than they had in the past, inbound marketing waits for prospects to take action when they’re ready.Rebuttal: Effective inbound marketing leverages compelling calls-to-action to get prospects to take action.First of all, is it really a bad thing to let your prospects have control over when they decide to act? Second, just sitting around and waiting for potential buyers to take action is not a tenet of inbound marketing. Savvy inbound marketers know they have to motivate their prospects to move down the funnel — and they do this with compelling calls-to-action (CTAs) that encourage prospects to take the next logical step depending on which stage in the sales cycle the prospect is currently in. Content pulls them in, and relevant CTAs serve as that “push” that incites them to take action. And with technologies like dynamic, Smart CTAs, inbound marketers can ensure they’re automatically displaying the right CTAs, to the right visitors, at the right time to increase the likelihood that prospects will convert through targeted messages and content. So, depending on the prospect’s position in the funnel, that CTA might motivate them to download an educational ebook, sign up for a webinar, request a product demo, get a free trial, download a coupon, or contact a sales rep, incrementally propelling them closer and closer to sales-readiness.Claim: With inbound marketing, you miss out on the inactives, or late adopters.Another argument that inbound marketing skeptics will bring up is that inbound marketing doesn’t allow you to capture late adopters, or people who are content with their current solutions and/or are not actively seeking new alternatives or solutions. Rebuttal: Inbound marketing attracts people’s interest before they even realize they need your solution.There’s no doubt that those types of people exist, but the problem is that this argument is referring to the bottom of the funnel — when people would actively seek out a new solution. Here’s the thing: Those laggards may not recognize the need for a new solution or actively shop around for new products/services, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t looking for information that helps them solve the everyday problems they have … and that’s where inbound marketing comes into play.Let me explain, using HubSpot as an example. We sell marketing software, and yes, ultimately we want the people who come to our website to buy that software. But a lot of the people we end up closing as customers didn’t first come to our website because they were specifically looking for marketing software. Instead, they were seeking solutions to problems that are symptomatic of a need for a new marketing software solution — maybe they wanted to know how to generate more leads, or how to better market to their existing contacts, or how to get more traffic to their website. So, in other words, they were drawn in at the top of the funnel — probably by an educational blog post or ebook about how to generate more traffic/leads/customers — and then over time, as they interacted with our website and our content more and more, they realized they needed a better marketing software solution and decided to buy.What other inbound marketing shortcomings have you caught wind of? Looking forward to hearing your own thoughts on the ones above in what I anticipate will be quite an interesting debate in the comments 😉 Topics: Originally published Feb 22, 2013 2:00:00 PM, updated October 01 2019 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Inbound Marketinglast_img read more

30-Day Blog Challenge Tip #5: Use Bulleted Lists

first_imgYou’ve probably heard how paramount blogging is to the success of your marketing. But it’s important that you learn how to start a blog and write blog posts for it so that each article supports your business.Without a blog, your SEO can tank, you’ll have nothing to promote in social media, you’ll have no clout with your leads and customers, and you’ll have fewer pages to put those valuable calls-to-action that generate inbound leads.So why, oh why, does almost every marketer I talk to have a laundry list of excuses for why they can’t consistently blog?Maybe because, unless you’re one of the few people who actually like writing, business blogging kind of stinks. You have to find words, string them together into sentences … ugh, where do you even start?Download 6 Free Blog Post Templates NowWell my friend, the time for excuses is over.What Is a Blog?A blog is literally short for “web log.” Blogs began in the early 1990s as an online journal for individuals to publish thoughts and stories on their own website. Bloggers then share their blog posts with other internet users. Blog posts used to be much more personal to the writer or group of writers than they are today.Today, people and organizations of all walks of life manage blogs to share analyses, instruction, criticisms, and other observations of an industry in which they are a rising expert.After you read this post, there will be absolutely no reason you can’t blog every single day — and do it quickly. Not only am I about to provide you with a simple blog post formula to follow, but I’m also going to give you free templates for creating five different types of blog posts:The How-To PostThe List-Based PostThe Curated Collection PostThe SlideShare Presentation PostThe Newsjacking PostWith all this blogging how-to, literally anyone can blog as long as they truly know the subject matter they’re writing about. And since you’re an expert in your industry, there’s no longer any reason you can’t sit down every day and hammer out an excellent blog post.Want to learn how to apply blogging and other forms of content marketing to your business? Check out HubSpot Academy’s free content marketing training resource page. Free Templates: How to Write a Blog Post Tell us a little about yourself below to gain access today: How to Write a Blog Post1. Understand your audience.Before you start to write your first blog post, have a clear understanding of your target audience. What do they want to know about? What will resonate with them? This is where creating your buyer personas comes in handy. Consider what you know about your buyer personas and their interests while you’re coming up with a topic for your blog post.For instance, if your readers are millennials looking to start their own business, you probably don’t need to provide them with information about getting started in social media — most of them already have that down. You might, however, want to give them information about how to adjust their approach to social media from a more casual, personal one to a more business-savvy, networking-focused approach. That kind of tweak is what separates you from blogging about generic stuff to the stuff your audience really wants (and needs) to hear.Don’t have buyer personas in place for your business? Here are a few resources to help you get started:Create Buyer Personas for Your Business [Free Template]Blog Post: How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your BusinessMakeMyPersona.com [Free Tool] 2. Create your blog domain.Next, you’ll need a place to host this and every other blog post you write. This requires choosing a content management system (CMS) and a website domain hosting service.Sign Up With a Content Management SystemA CMS helps you create a website domain where you’ll actually publish your blog. The CMS platforms available for you to sign up for can manage domains, where you create your own website; and subdomains, where you create a webpage that connects with an existing website.HubSpot customers host their website content through HubSpot’s content management system. Another popular option is a self-hosted WordPress website on WP Engine. Whether they create a domain or a subdomain to start their blog, they’ll need to choose a web domain hosting service after choosing their CMS.This is true for every blogger seeking to start their own blog on their own website.Register a Domain or Subdomain With a Website HostYour own blog domain will look like this: www.yourblog.com. The name between the two periods is up to you, as long as this domain name doesn’t yet exist on the internet.Want to create a subdomain for your blog? If you already own a cooking business at www.yourcompany.com, you might create a blog that looks like this: blog.yourcompany.com. In other words, your blog’s subdomain will live in its own section of yourcompany.com.Some CMSs offer subdomains as a free service, where your blog lives on the CMS, rather than your business’s website. For example, it might look like “yourblog.contentmanagementsystem.com.” However, in order to create a subdomain that belongs to a company website, you’ll need to register this subdomain with a website host.Most website hosting services charge very little to host an original domain — in fact, website costs can be as inexpensive as $3 per month. Here are five popular web hosting services to choose from:GoDaddyHostGatorDreamHostBluehostiPage3. Customize your blog’s theme.Once you have your blog domain set up, customize the appearance of your blog to reflect the theme of the content you plan on creating.Are you writing about sustainability and the environment? Green might be a color to keep in mind when designing the look and feel of your blog, as green is often associated with sustainability.If you already manage a website, and are writing your first blog post for that website, it’s important that your blog is consistent with this existing website, both in appearance and subject matter. Two things to include right away are:Logo. This can be your name or your business’s logo, either one helping to remind your readers who or what is publishing this content. How heavily you want to brand this blog, in relation to your main brand, is up to you.”About” page. You might already have an “About” blurb describing yourself or your business. Your blog’s “About” section is an extension of this higher-level statement. Think of it as your blog’s mission statement, which serves to support your company’s goals.4. Identify your first blog post’s topic.Before you even write anything, you need to pick a topic for your blog post. The topic can be pretty general to start with. For example, if you’re a plumber, you might start out thinking you want to write about leaky faucets.Then, as you do your research, you can expand the topic to discuss how to fix a leaky faucet based on the various causes of a faucet leak.You might not want to jump right into a “how-to” article for your first blog post, though, and that’s okay. Perhaps you’d like to write about modern types of faucet setups, or tell one particular success story you had rescuing a faucet before it flooded someone’s house.If a plumber’s first how-to article is about how to fix a leaky faucet, for example, here are four other types of sample blog post ideas a plumber might start with, based on the five free blog templates we’ve offered to you:List-based Post: 5 ways to fix a leaky faucetCurated Collection Post: 10 faucet and sink brands you should look into todaySlideShare Presentation: 5 types of faucets that should replace your old one (with pictures)News post: New study shows X% of people don’t replace their faucet on timeFind more examples of blog posts at the end of this step-by-step guide.If you’re having trouble coming up with topic ideas, check out this blog post from my colleague Ginny Soskey. In this post, Soskey walks through a helpful process for turning one idea into many. Similar to the “leaky faucet” examples above, she suggests that you “iterate off old topics to come up with unique and compelling new topics.” This can be done by:Changing the topic scopeAdjusting the time frameChoosing a new audienceTaking a positive/negative approachIntroducing a new format5. Come up with a working title.Then you might come up with a few different working titles — in other words, iterations or different ways of approaching that topic to help you focus your writing. For example, you might decide to narrow your topic to “Tools for Fixing Leaky Faucets” or “Common Causes of Leaky Faucets.” A working title is specific and will guide your post so you can start writing.Let’s take a real post as an example: “How to Choose a Solid Topic for Your Next Blog Post.” Appropriate, right? The topic, in this case, was probably simply “blogging.” Then the working title may have been something like, “The Process for Selecting a Blog Post Topic.” And the final title ended up being “How to Choose a Solid Topic for Your Next Blog Post.”See that evolution from topic, to working title, to final title? Even though the working title may not end up being the final title (more on that in a moment), it still provides enough information so you can focus your blog post on something more specific than a generic, overwhelming topic.6. Write an intro (and make it captivating).We’ve written more specifically about writing captivating introductions in the post, “How to Write an Introduction,” but let’s review, shall we?First, grab the reader’s attention. If you lose the reader in the first few paragraphs — or even sentences — of the introduction, they will stop reading even before they’ve given your post a fair shake. You can do this in a number of ways: tell a story or a joke, be empathetic, or grip the reader with an interesting fact or statistic.Then describe the purpose of the post and explain how it will address a problem the reader may be having. This will give the reader a reason to keep reading and give them a connection to how it will help them improve their work/lives. Here’s an example of a post that we think does a good job of attracting a reader’s attention right away:7. Organize your content in an outline.Sometimes, blog posts can have an overwhelming amount of information — for the reader and the writer. The trick is to organize the info so readers are not intimidated by the length or amount of content. The organization can take multiple forms — sections, lists, tips, whatever’s most appropriate. But it must be organized!Let’s take a look at the post, “How to Use Snapchat: A Detailed Look Into HubSpot’s Snapchat Strategy.” There is a lot of content in this post, so we broke it into a few different sections using the following headers: How to Setup Your Snapchat Account, Snaps vs. Stories: What’s the Difference?, and How to Use Snapchat for Business. These sections are then separated into sub-sections that to go into more detail and also make the content easier to read.To complete this step, all you really need to do is outline your post. That way, before you start writing, you know which points you want to cover, and the best order in which to do it. To make things even easier, you can also download and use our free blog post templates, which are pre-organized for five of the most common blog post types. Just fill in the blanks!8. Write your blog post!The next step — but not the last — is actually writing the content. We couldn’t forget about that, of course.Now that you have your outline/template, you’re ready to fill in the blanks. Use your outline as a guide and be sure to expand on all of your points as needed. Write about what you already know, and if necessary, do additional research to gather more information, examples, and data to back up your points, providing proper attribution when incorporating external sources. Need help finding accurate and compelling data to use in your post? Check out this roundup of sources — from Pew Research to Google Trends.If you find you’re having trouble stringing sentences together, you’re not alone. Finding your “flow” can be really challenging for a lot of folks. Luckily, there are a ton of tools you can lean on to help you improve your writing. Here are a few to get you started:Power Thesaurus: Stuck on a word? Power Thesaurus is a crowdsourced tool that provides users with a ton of alternative word choices from a community of writers.ZenPen: If you’re having trouble staying focused, check out this distraction-free writing tool. ZenPen creates a minimalist “writing zone” that’s designed to help you get words down without having to fuss with formatting right away.Cliché Finder: Feeling like your writing might be coming off a little cheesy? Identify instances where you can be more specific using this handy cliché tool.For a complete list of tools for improving your writing skills, check out this post. And if you’re looking for more direction, the following resources are chock-full of valuable writing advice:The Marketer’s Pocket Guide to Writing Well [Free Ebook]How to Write Compelling Copy: 7 Tips for Writing Content That ConvertsHow to Write With Clarity: 9 Tips for Simplifying Your MessageThe Kurt Vonnegut Guide to Great Copywriting: 8 Rules That Apply to AnyoneYour Blog Posts Are Boring: 9 Tips for Making Your Writing More InterestingThe Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Successful Blog in 20199. Edit/proofread your post, and fix your formatting.You’re not quite done yet, but you’re close! The editing process is an important part of blogging — don’t overlook it. Ask a grammar-conscious co-worker to copy, edit, and proofread your post, and consider enlisting the help of The Ultimate Editing Checklist (or try using a free grammar checker, like the one developed by Grammarly). And if you’re looking to brush up on your own self-editing skills, turn to these helpful posts for some tips and tricks to get you started:Confessions of a HubSpot Editor: 11 Editing Tips From the TrenchesHow to Become a More Efficient Editor: 12 Ways to Speed Up the Editorial Process10 Simple Edits That’ll Instantly Improve Any Piece of WritingWhen you’re ready to check your formatting, keep the following advice in mind …Featured ImageMake sure you choose a visually appealing and relevant image for your post. As social networks treat content with images more prominently, visuals are now more responsible than ever for the success of your blog content in social media. In fact, it’s been shown that content with relevant images receives 94% more views than content without relevant images.For help selecting an image for your post, read “How to Select the Perfect Image for Your Next Blog Post” — and pay close attention to the section about copyright law.Visual AppearanceNo one likes an ugly blog post. And it’s not just pictures that make a post visually appealing — it’s the formatting and organization of the post, too.In a properly formatted and visually appealing blog post, you’ll notice that header and sub-headers are used to break up large blocks of text — and those headers are styled consistently. Here’s an example of what that looks like:Also, screenshots should always have a similar, defined border (see screenshot above for example) so they don’t appear as if they’re floating in space. And that style should stay consistent from post to post.Maintaining this consistency makes your content (and your brand) look more professional, and makes it easier on the eyes.Topics/TagsTags are specific, public-facing keywords that describe a post. They also allow readers to browse for more content in the same category on your blog. Refrain from adding a laundry list of tags to each post. Instead, put some thought into a tagging strategy. Think of tags as “topics” or “categories,” and choose 10-20 tags that represent all the main topics you want to cover on your blog. Then stick to those.10. Insert a call-to-action (CTA) at the end.At the end of every blog post, you should have a CTA that indicates what you want the reader to do next — subscribe to your blog, download an ebook, register for a webinar or event, read a related article, etc. Typically, you think about the CTA being beneficial for the marketer. Your visitors read your blog post, they click on the CTA, and eventually you generate a lead. But the CTA is also a valuable resource for the person reading your content — use your CTAs to offer more content similar to the subject of the post they just finished reading.In the blog post, “What to Post on Instagram: 18 Photo & Video Ideas to Spark Inspiration,” for instance, readers are given actionable ideas for creating valuable Instagram content. At the end of the post is a CTA referring readers to download a comprehensive guide on how to use Instagram for business:See how that’s a win-win for everyone? Readers who want to learn more have the opportunity to do so, and the business receives a lead they can nurture … who may even become a customer! Learn more about how to choose the right CTA for every blog post in this article. And check out this collection of clever CTAs to inspire your own efforts.11. Optimize for on-page SEO.After you finish writing, go back and optimize your post for search.Don’t obsess over how many keywords to include. If there are opportunities to incorporate keywords you’re targeting, and it won’t impact reader experience, do it. If you can make your URL shorter and more keyword-friendly, go for it. But don’t cram keywords or shoot for some arbitrary keyword density — Google’s smarter than that!Here’s a little reminder of what you can and should look for:Meta DescriptionMeta descriptions are the descriptions below the post’s page title on Google’s search results pages. They provide searchers with a short summary of the post before clicking into it. They are ideally between 150-160 characters and start with a verb, such as “Learn,” “Read,” or “Discover.” While meta descriptions no longer factor into Google’s keyword ranking algorithm, they do give searchers a snapshot of what they will get by reading the post and can help improve your clickthrough rate from search.Page Title and HeadersMost blogging software uses your post title as your page title, which is the most important on-page SEO element at your disposal. But if you’ve followed our formula so far, you should already have a working title that will naturally include keywords/phrases your target audience is interested in. Don’t over-complicate your title by trying to fit keywords where they don’t naturally belong. That said, if there are clear opportunities to add keywords you’re targeting to your post title and headers, feel free to take them. Also, try to keep your headlines short — ideally, under 65 characters — so they don’t get truncated in search engine results.Anchor TextAnchor text is the word or words that link to another page — either on your website or on another website. Carefully select which keywords you want to link to other pages on your site, because search engines take that into consideration when ranking your page for certain keywords.It’s also important to consider which pages you link to. Consider linking to pages that you want to rank well for that keyword. You could end up getting it to rank on Google’s first page of results instead of its second page, and that ain’t small potatoes.Mobile OptimizationWith mobile devices now accounting for nearly 2 out of every 3 minutes spent online, having a website that is responsive or designed for mobile has become more and more critical. In addition to making sure your website’s visitors (including your blog’s visitors) have the best experience possible, optimizing for mobile will score your website some SEO points.Back in 2015, Google made a change to its algorithm that now penalizes sites that aren’t mobile optimized. This month (May 2016), Google rolled out their second version of the mobile-friendly algorithm update — creating a sense of urgency for the folks that have yet to update their websites. To make sure your site is getting the maximum SEO benefit possible, check out this free guide: How to Make a Mobile-Friendly Website: SEO Tips for a Post-“Mobilegeddon” World.12. Pick a catchy title.Last but not least, it’s time to spruce up that working title of yours. Luckily, we have a simple formula for writing catchy titles that will grab the attention of your reader. Here’s what to consider:Start with your working title.As you start to edit your title, keep in mind that it’s important to keep the title accurate and clear.Then, work on making your title sexy — whether it’s through strong language, alliteration, or another literary tactic.If you can, optimize for SEO by sneaking some keywords in there (only if it’s natural, though!).Finally, see if you can shorten it at all. No one likes a long, overwhelming title — and remember, Google prefers 65 characters or fewer before it truncates it on its search engine results pages.If you’ve mastered the steps above, learn about some way to take your blog posts to the next level in this post. Want some real examples of blog posts? See what your first blog post can look like, below, based on the topic you choose and the audience you’re targeting.Blog Post ExamplesList-Based PostThought Leadership PostCurated Collection PostSlideshare PresentationNewsjacking PostInfographic PostHow-to Post Topics:center_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Hi 👋 What’s your name?First NameLast NameHi null, what’s your email address?Email AddressAnd your phone number?Phone NumberWhat is your company’s name and website?CompanyWebsiteHow many employees work there?1Does your company provide any of the following services?Web DesignOnline MarketingSEO/SEMAdvertising Agency ServicesYesNoGet Your Free Templates 1. List-Based PostExample: 10 Fresh Ways to Get Better Results From Your Blog PostsList-based posts are sometimes called “listicles,” a mix of the words “list” and “article.” These are articles that deliver information in the form of a list. A listicle uses subheaders to break down the blog post into individual pieces, helping readers skim and digest your content more easily. According to ClearVoice, listicles are among the most shared types of content on social media across 14 industries.As you can see in the example from our blog, above, listicles can offer various tips and methods for solving a problem.2. Thought Leadership PostExample: What I Wish I Had Known Before Writing My First BookThought leadership blog posts allow you to indulge in your expertise on a particular subject matter and share firsthand knowledge with your readers. These pieces — which can be written in the first person, like the post by Joanna Penn, shown above — help you build trust with your audience so people take your blog seriously as you continue to write for it.3. Curated Collection PostExample: 8 Examples of Evolution in ActionCurated collections are a special type of listicle blog post (the first blog post example, described above). But rather than sharing tips or methods of doing something, this type of blog post shares a list of real examples that all have something in common, in order to prove a larger point. In the example post above, Listverse shares eight real examples of evolution in action among eight different animals — starting with the peppered moth.4. Slideshare PresentationExample: The HubSpot Culture CodeSlideshare is a presentation tool owned by the social network, LinkedIn, that helps publishers package a lot of information into easily shareable slides. Think of it like a PowerPoint, but for the web. With this in mind, Slideshare blog posts help you promote your Slideshare so that it can generate a steady stream of visitors.Unlike blogs, Slideshare decks don’t often rank well on search engines, so they need a platform for getting their message out there to the people who are looking for it. By embedding and summarizing your Slideshare on a blog post, you can share a great deal of information and give it a chance to rank on Google at the same time.Need some Slideshare ideas? In the example above, we turned our company’s “Culture Code” into a Slideshare presentation that anyone can look through and take lessons from, and promoted it through a blog post.5. Newsjacking PostExample: Ivy Goes Mobile With New App for Designers”Newsjacking” is a nickname for “hijacking” your blog to break important news related to your industry. Therefore, the newsjack post is a type of article whose sole purpose is to garner consumers’ attention and, while offering them timeless professional advice, also prove your blog to be a trusted resource for learning about the big things that happen in your industry.The newsjack example above was published by Houzz, a home decor merchant and interior design resource, about a new mobile app that launched just for interior designers. Houzz didn’t launch the app, but the news of its launching is no less important to Houzz’s audience.6. Infographic PostExample: The Key Benefits of Studying Online [Infographic]The infographic post serves a similar purpose as the Slideshare post — the fourth example, explained above — in that it conveys information for which plain blog copy might not be the best format. For example, when you’re looking to share a lot of statistical information (without boring or confusing your readers), building this data into a well-designed, even fun-looking infographic can help keep your readers engaged with your content. It also helps readers remember the information long after they leave your website.7. How-to PostExample: How to Write a Blog Post: A Step-by-Step GuideFor our last example, you need not look any further than the blog post you’re reading right now! How-to guides like this one help solve a problem for your readers. They’re like a cookbook for your industry, walking your audience through a project step by step to improve their literacy on the subject. The more posts like this you create, the more equipped your readers will be to work with you and invest in the services you offer.Ready to blog? Don’t forget to download your six free blog post templates right here. Free Blog Post Templates Originally published May 6, 2019 7:30:00 PM, updated October 25 2019last_img read more

The Engagement Ring Story: How De Beers Created a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry From the Ground Up

first_img Topics: Originally published Jun 13, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated June 30 2017 One of the biggest assets in a married couple’s relationship, the diamond engagement ring, might be an emotional asset and a symbol of love and commitment — but in the financial sense of the word, it isn’t actually an asset at all.In fact, it’s worth at least 50% less than you paid for it the moment you left the jewelry store. Makes you wince a little, doesn’t it?And yet, we feel compelled to buy them for our loved ones anyway. Heck, I still want one even after writing this article. How did that become the norm? It’s hard to imagine that it’s only been three-quarters of a century since diamonds became the symbol of wealth, power, and romance they are in America today — and it was all because of a brilliant, multifaceted marketing strategy designed and executed by ad agency N.W. Ayer in the early 1900s for their client, De Beers.Over the course of a few decades, N.W. Ayer helped De Beers successfully turn a failing market into a psychological necessity, all during a period of war and economic turmoil.Click here to download our ultimate toolkit for social and PR branding.How exactly did N.W. Ayer convince Americans that diamonds are the ultimate symbols of love, romance, and marriage? What were the marketing campaigns that turned the diamond industry around — and were they morally sound?De Beers’ 80-year stronghold on the diamond industry was one of the most impressive and fascinating in history. Let’s take a critical look at how the company used marketing to create and manipulate demand for diamonds from nothing.How It All StartedDiamonds haven’t been rare stones since 1870, when huge diamond mines were discovered in South Africa. Soon after the discovery, the British financiers behind the South African mining efforts realized the diamond market would be saturated if they didn’t do something about it. So in 1888, they set two audacious goals:1) Monopolize diamond prices. They succeeded by creating De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. and taking full ownership and control of the world diamond trade. While they stockpiled diamonds and sold them strategically to control price, De Beers Chairman Sir Ernest Oppenheimer cultivated a network of wholesalers all over the world.2) Stabilize the market. To succeed here, De Beers would have to figure out a way to control both supply and demand for diamonds worldwide. For this, they would need to find an ad agency.When De Beers began looking for an ad agency, the global economy was suffering and Europe was under threat of war. Their challenge was to figure out which country or countries had the most potential to support a growing diamond market, and then to hire an agency to implement a marketing campaign in those countries. Because of Europe’s preoccupation with the oncoming war, the U.S. was chosen — even though the total number of diamonds in the U.S. had declined by nearly 50% since the end of World War I.De Beers hired Philadelphia ad agency N.W. Ayer in 1938.The Birth of a VisionDe Beers chose N.W. Ayer because of their ideas on conducting extensive research on social attitudes about diamonds, and then strategically changing them to appeal to a wider audience.N.W. Ayer did exhaustive market research to figure out exactly what Americans thought about diamonds in the late 1930s. What they found was that diamonds were considered a luxury reserved only for the super wealthy, and that Americans were spending their money on other things like cars and appliances. To sell more and bigger diamonds, Ayer would have to market to consumers at varying income levels.So, how do they get more people to buy big diamonds in a bad economy? They needed to figure out a way to link diamonds with something emotional. And because diamonds weren’t worth much inherently, they also had to keep people from ever reselling them. What was emotional, socially valuable, and eternal? Love and marriage. Bingo.According to New York Times, N.W. Ayer’s game plan was to “create a situation where almost every person pledging marriage feels compelled to acquire a diamond engagement ring.”The concept of an engagement ring had existed since medieval times, but it had never been widely adopted. And before World War II, only 10% of engagement rings contained diamonds. With a carefully executed marketing strategy, N.W. Ayer could strengthen the tradition of engagement rings and transform public opinion about diamonds — from precious stones to essential parts of courtship and marriage. Eventually, Ayer would convince young men that diamonds are the ultimate gift of love, and young women that they’re an essential part of romantic relationships.Creating the NarrativeThe agency wanted to make it look like diamonds were everywhere, and they started by using celebrities in the media. “The big ones sell the little ones,” said Dorothy Dignam, a publicist for De Beers at N.W. Ayer. N.W. Ayer’s publicists wrote newspaper columns and magazine stories about celebrity proposals with diamond rings and the type, size, and worth of their diamonds. Fashion designers talked about the new diamond trend on radio shows.N.W. Ayer used traditional marketing tools like newspapers and radio in the first half of the twentieth century in a way that kind of reminds me of inbound marketing today: In addition to overt advertisements, they created entertaining and educational content — ideas, stories, fashion, and trends that supported their brand and product, but wasn’t explicitly about it. According to The Atlantic, N.W. Ayer wrote: “There was no direct sale to be made. There was no brand name to be impressed on the public mind. There was simply an idea — the eternal emotional value surrounding the diamond.” Their story was about the people who gave diamonds or were given diamonds, and how happy and loved those diamonds made them feel.Every one of De Beers’ advertisements featured an educational tip called, “How to Buy a Diamond.” The instructions said: “Ask about color, clarity and cutting — for these determine a diamond’s quality, contribute to its beauty and value. Choose a fine stone, and you’ll always be proud of it, no matter what its size.”The agency saw tremendous success from their early campaigns. In just four years between 1938 and 1941, they reported a 55% increase in U.S. diamond sales. Riding this success, N.W. Ayer began perfecting their marketing strategy in the 1940s. They wanted to convince Americans that marriages without diamonds were incomplete.”A Diamond Is Forever”These four iconic words have appeared in every single De Beers advertisement since 1948, and AdAge named it the #1 slogan of the century in 1999.According to a New York Times article, the woman behind the signature line (Frances Gerety, who wrote all of De Beers’ ads from 1943 to 1968) came up with it right before bed one night after forgetting to brainstorm it earlier for the next morning’s meeting. When she reviewed what she’d scribbled down the night before, she thought it was “just OK” — and, after presenting it at the morning meeting, no one was particularly enthusiastic. It’s unclear why the slogan was chosen anyway, but it was a choice that would contribute greatly to De Beers’ tremendous advertising success. Even now, the URL www.adiamondisforever.com redirects to De Beers’ main website.The slogan perfectly captured the sentiment De Beers was going for — that a diamond, like your relationship, is eternal — while also discouraging people from ever reselling their diamonds, as mass re-selling would disrupt the market and reveal the alarmingly low intrinsic value of the stones themselves.At the very beginning of N.W. Ayer’s campaigns for De Beers in the late 1930s, the suggested spend on an engagement ring was one month’s salary. In the 1980s, De Beers ran a campaign to reset the norm to two months’ salary. The ads said things like, “Isn’t two months’ salary a small price to pay for something that lasts forever?” The story from the campaign stuck, and De Beers’ “two months’ salary rule” is still widely accepted in the U.S. today.Scam or Genius?From the start, De Beers and their agency created and manipulated demand for diamonds by monopolizing the market, changing Americans’ social attitudes, and convincing people that a marriage isn’t complete without a diamond ring. So … are diamonds the biggest scam in history, or is this a prime example of ingenious marketing?De Beers knew their product wasn’t intrinsically valuable (like gold and silver is). So instead of marketing to their product, they mastered the art of marketing to values — in this case, the values and ethics surrounding love, romance, and marriage. No one was interested in buying diamonds when they conducted their first round of extensive market research, so they had to create that value themselves.I recently read a short Forbes article from 2011 called “There Is Only One Way To Make Money.” It’s about the difference between companies who find value, package it, and deliver it to customers, and companies who create value out of nothing.Most companies are the former, meaning they are reactive to existing value — like when Kraft Foods, Inc. changed its marketing strategy when market research showed a consumer attitude shift away from direct promotions of junk food to children. De Beers was part of the latter camp — their agency’s market research showed a major decrease in demand for diamonds, so they executed marketing campaigns that would shift, rather than accommodate, those existing social attitudes. While brilliant and successful, it also opens up a ton of ethical concerns. Regardless of which side you’re on, De Beers is a very interesting example to learn from. It’s fascinating how De Beers and N.W. Ayer created demand from nothing by coming up with a story and value proposition around their product — and it’s still successful today. Since the turn of the century, De Beers has effectively lost its monopoly of the world diamond trade, although they still bring in billions of dollars every year. But by marketing an idea rather than a product, they built a strong foundation for the $72 billion-per-year diamond industry and dominated it for a good 80 years — and that’s a story worth learning more about.So, what do you think of their marketing over the last century? I’m curious to hear your opinions in the comments below!Image Credit: De Beers, Advertising Archives Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Marketing Campaignslast_img read more