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Who Is The Customer?
To be successful, all of the people, from yourself to the end consumer, must understand and desire your product or service. Only then will the consumer part with their money and make the rest of you successful. Here is the “food chain” at this Internet company:

       "Food Chain" of Internal and External Clients
We reached out to understand, train, and motivate each of these groups.


Dot-Com Increases Effectiveness Of Banner Ads To 250%

In early 2000, the “dot-com bubble” had grown rapidly and was about to burst. Many companies with a great idea and a pile of investment capital were dashing into the marketplace to stake their claim and then make an IPO (Initial Public Offering) that would make their founders, backers and employees into millionaires.

One of these rising stars, PowerAdz.Com, provided web services and informational content to over 1000 local newspapers around the county. It was a quick and painless way for traditional publishers of printed newspapers to join the online generation. The plan was to earn money partly by charging fees for monthly services and training; but the main money was hoped to lie in numerous small commissions from the sale of banner ads.

Only one problem: banner ads didn’t seem to be working as well as hoped.

Response was measured by the “click-throughs” of online readers on the local banner ads. If Mr. Fuller of Fuller's Auto Sales decided he wasn’t getting his money’s worth for $200-$500 per month of advertising, he’d stop the ads (or ask for make-goods by getting extra ads in the printed paper). The papers began to lose faith, and PowerAdz.Com stopped getting as many commissions.

What We Did
We visited and listened with all concerned, writing down ideas and looking for solutions. We analyzed the company’s financials and business plan; we met with their IT people, trainers and product experts. We talked with hundreds of the company’s client newspapers. We rode on sales calls with the ad reps; we even talked with many of the automobile clients and other customers.

Then we collaborated with several individuals, departments and customers to come up with a new concept. Instead of simple banners at the top or edge of the page, we used miniature newspaper ads, placed throughout the news story area, just like people are accustomed to in the printed papers. The little ads were tantalizing enough for people to “click-to-enlarge”, which enabled them to see the full sized version. Furthermore, the ad was identical to the client’s current print ad, which greatly simplified the selling, implementation and client understanding of the ad process.

This concept proved to get far more responses than banner ads, it was much less annoying than intrusive pop-up ads, and was considerably more visible than ads that were hidden away in a Display Ad section.

How The Client Benefited
As shown at right, the new ads worked at least 2-1/2 times better and sometimes up to 9 times better than the old ones. This was proven in a series of A/B test ads in numerous markets. In addition, the implementation costs were lowered because all the customers (see left) had a better understanding and appreciation of the new ads.

Epilog: Seven years later, the company gradually sold its assets and closed shop. The dot-com marketplace had changed so much that PowerAdz’ main SAAS products could be purchased more cheaply through Yahoo, Monster and other giants. But PowerAdz had a good run of eleven years and we were glad to be a small part of their success.

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Which Of These Ads Worked Better?
Ads similar to the ones below were tested in dozens of small online newspapers. By measuring the response, we were able to see that the miniature display ad did 2-1/2 times better than the traditional banner ad. Here are the actual measured average responses to a daily ad in a small online paper.

             Banner Ad
      Typical Banner Ad
         Typical response = 8

             Mini-Display AdMini-Display Ad           [Click To Enlarge]
         Typical response = 20
--a 2-1/2x improvement!
This car dealer's customers were far more interested in the mini-display ad. Sales were better and implementation costs were reduced.









Front Page of the Albany Business Review!
After I left PowerAdz, I continued to work on my project to help them achieve better advertising results.

Even without pay, I spent several weeks finishing the nationwide tests to discover if my marketing concept would work for them. As you see in the results above, it worked extremely well.

This dedication to getting the job done became part of a front-page article in the Business Review in January of 2001, followed a week later by the editor Mike Hendrick's editorial and kind words about my dedication.

--Choppy Wicker



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