CHALLANGE Ken Braun literally started his interactive ad agency, Lounge Lizard Worldwide, while commuting back and forth on the Long Island train to his old Creative Director job at iXL. He says, "I built it from nothing working on my laptop, an hour and a half each way every day." As a self-funded start-up, Lounge Lizard needed a highly economic way to get the word out.
Braun immediately invested in text ads in email newsletters. He says, "I combined direct response copy with Madison Avenue copy. Then I tested sponsorships in targeted newsletters that people looking for banner designers read. Then, every single dollar I made, I put back into advertising."
Braun's text ad advice: "Each sentence is a headline, a direct response headline. You're not just rambling about your services. You can't lose them at the third line if you only have six lines! So you have to make that first sentence intriguing enough to read and to go to the second sentence, and so on. I also try to use teasers. For example one ad started, "Your ugly Web site is scaring customers away -- get help!"
Initially Braun bought space in newsletters such as BannerTips and WilsonWeb's Web Marketing Today that smaller clients would see. As his company grew big enough to handle larger accounts, he changed media buying patterns. He says, "In the beginning we were doing banner ads for a couple of hundred dollars. Now we have bigger talent, so we moved the sponsorships to a bigger audience. We're thinking about testing Industry Standard, Business 2.0 and MarketingSherpa where you'll reach people building half million dollar or more sites."
In order to supplement text ads, Braun also tested a broadcast campaign to YesMail's opt-in lists, search engine optimization, a booth at an Internet World show and banners.
Braun's direct response text ads have consistently pulled up to 5% clickthrough rates -- about five times the B2B industry average. His best performing banner, which read in large red type, "ORGASMIC BANNER DESIGN" got a 16% response rate its first month and continued to pull strong CTRs for more than a year.
The Company's other marketing tactics, with the exception of search engine optimization, were less successful and have been discontinued. Braun says, "I don't think YesMail's email lists of people interested in Web marketing were real decision makers." He adds, "When you have a booth at Internet World, you just get solicited by the other salespeople there."
In just two years Lounge Lizard Worldwide has gone from being a commuting-time hobby to a multimillion dollar company, with name brand clients including AOL, American Express and Disney Interactive.
The Company's site gets about 5,000 unique visitors a month, of whom about 70 are Web marketing decision-makers with serious interest in services. Braun notes, "What's really funny is half of the enquiries are not from the US. The Middle East is particularly hot right now."
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