Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sales Training Building Blocks-4

Time for some sales training from the website

3 Steps Business Developers Can Take When Prospects 'Need to Think About' Buying

By Jeff Thull

On a list of the "Top 10 Things Business Developers Don't Want to Hear from Prospects," few rank as high as, "We'll need some time to think about it." For the business developer, this phrase signals a host of potential barriers to winning a deal: additional meetings, more people getting involved, requests for further detail and information, which prompt further questions, and more.

These frustrating and costly delays lengthen the sales cycle, put the sale at risk, permit competitors to gain a foothold, increase direct sales expenses, and deprive other opportunities of needed attention.

Given these costs, why does this continue to happen? Why do prospects seem to deliberately drag out their decisions? After all, it appears more logical for a buyer to quickly solve their problem as soon as a good solution is found.

The answer, in truth, is that prospects are rarely to blame for delayed decisions. Instead, it is the business developers themselves who contribute the most to the delays they find so frustrating.

Paradoxically, their eagerness to move the sale along puts them into the trap of prematurely presenting solutions. Too often prospects don't clearly recognize they have a problem. And, when they do, they may not fully realize its financial impact.

While clients give a lot of reasons for delaying a decision or not buying – price, feasibility issues, lack of internal alignment and so on – in reality there are only two:

  1. They don't believe they have a problem compelling enough to take action.

  2. They understand the problem exists, but don't believe the proposed solution will solve it.

These reasons both indicate a prospect's uncertainty and lack of clarity. To take this on and shorten the sales cycle, sales professionals need to:

  • Guide their prospects to clearly understand their problem or realize it actually exists.

  • Help them grasp the financial impact on their business if they don't invest in solving it.

  • Quickly move on to a quality candidate, one with a relevant and costly business problem to resolve, if the current prospect understands their situation yet believes the cost of their problem is not severe enough to address.

To do those things, the sales professional must tackle three key challenges.

Challenge #1: A Poor Decision Process

Clients often lack a decision process for complex purchases. A business developer's presentation thus often feeds good information into a bad decision process, resulting in confusion and random and unpredictable decisions. Likewise, a doctor could present the details and benefits of angioplasty to a patient who isn't aware he suffers from any symptoms or health issues that would require such a procedure.

In contrast, the business developer could lead a prospect through a logical process of identifying symptoms – indicators of a problem in their business – and reach an agreed upon conclusion based on solid diagnosis of that problem.

A particular solution will then more clearly demonstrate why the investment is worth it. Again, this is analogous to a doctor leading the patient through a high-quality diagnostic process that reveals symptoms the patient is experiencing and measures those symptoms to see if they're serious enough to warrant the surgical solution.

Challenge #2: The Pain of Change

Sales professionals often overlook the fact that a decision to buy is a decision to change, and change can be painful. All the potential disruption, risk, and direct switching costs frequently cause prospects to delay or put off buying a service, and avoid change. Sales professionals need to remember this barrier and address the change process in a straightforward way.

If the solution requires significant changes, business developers must discuss and address them. Some changes will have positive effects and support the decision to buy. Other may have negative implications and offer a reason to hesitate. Regardless, clarifying these effects helps both parties understand the full context and what issues need to be managed.

Challenge #3: Measuring Value

Value, left undefined, can be a fuzzy concept. Prospects want to confirm they are receiving value, but may not have good methods for defining it, or quantifying it. Business developers can clarify and add credibility to their service's value by offering ways for prospects to measure its impact.

Until that happens, prospects can't easily predict what value they will receive for their purchase. And, post-sale, prospects won't be able to recognize the value once it is delivered.

Many business developers acknowledge the upside to metrics, but point to the difficulty of putting a dollar amount on a solution's impact. Hard or not, if something happens in a business, it can be measured. If the business developer has difficulty measuring an impact, the prospect will have an even harder time doing it.

* * *

Sales professionals can dramatically cut the length of a sales cycle and win more business by:

  1. Creating a quality decision process prospects to evaluate the seller's service

  2. Addressing the challenges posed by change

  3. Offering ways to measure the service's value

Do that, and seldom will you hear, "I'll have to think about it." Instead, you'll hear, "How soon can we get started?"

Jeff Thull, President and CEO of Prime Resource Group, is a leading-edge strategist and valued advisor for executive teams of major companies worldwide. Thull is also author of best selling books, Mastering the Complex Sale and The Prime Solution. You can email Jeff at

Inspired to agree, disagree, or otherwise comment? We hope you will! Write a letter to here. Selected letters may be posted on the site.

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Sex and Burgers

So you don't have the ad budget of McDonalds, what do you do? You try and create an impact. This interview is from AdAge:

Carl's Jr. CEO Is More Than Happy That Sex Sells

Andy Puzder's Provocative Campaigns -- and Big Burgers -- Have Helped Drive Sales

CHICAGO ( -- Andy Puzder isn't afraid of fat. The president-CEO of Hardee's and Carl's Jr. has made a name for his chains -- and boosted same-store sales -- by bragging about the caloric and fat content of products such as the Monster Thickburger and unabashedly championing meat.
Andy Puzder
Andy Puzder

Sexy ads haven't hurt, either. Mr. Puzder credits the infamous Paris Hilton car-washing commercial with much of Carl's Jr.'s brand awareness outside of the Western U.S. Last year, a TV spot featuring a comely schoolmarm raised the hackles of a teachers union, and Carl's Jr. pulled the spot. Mr. Puzder, an attorney, said it would have been better to use a librarian.

Lately, the brands' ads seem to be getting away from sex, focusing instead on quality, with a "fake restaurant" spot that shows customers duped into paying $14 or more for a Carl's Jr. burger. The next round of media for Hardee's, meanwhile, will tout "breakfast as big as our burgers," but a spot for the Carl's Jr. hand-scooped milkshake, slated for September, is sure to get tongues wagging again.

The two regional chains have posted some of the industry's best same-store sales since Mr. Puzder, a slim, athletic-looking 58, took over the company in 2000. CKE Restaurants, the chains' parent company, earlier this week released same-store sales for the year to date, up 2.5% for the year for both chains, and up 5.2% for both chains from mid-June through mid-July.

Mr. Puzder spoke to Advertising Age about his company's same-store sales gains, why 99-cent burgers are "garbage" and, of course, those ads.

Ad Age: Tell me about the role of sex in your ads.

Mr. Puzder: We do these ads where it fits in. Paris at the time, her big thing was "That's hot." It turned out to be maybe the most successful ad of the decade -- maybe for anybody. We're not opposed to using sex in ads, but we like for it have something to do with the product we're trying to promote.

Ad Age: But that same concept backfired last summer with the schoolteacher. What happened there?

Mr. Puzder: She should have been a librarian. Then we wouldn't have had to pull the ad. We got a lot of calls and e-mails from teachers who really liked it, but another group had been criticized because of an abuse case when the teacher went off with a student, and they aggressively [came after us]. ... We set ourselves up for an attack, and that was a mistake. I was on Bill O'Reilly defending the Paris ad, but to go on there and fight teachers was a different story.

Ad Age: But some of that's necessary to reach your core, right?

Mr. Puzder: We spend $80 million on Carl's Jr., $80 million on Hardee's, and McDonald's [spends] $800 million. I can't do "I'm lovin' it." Everybody's a-loving it. You watch a Lakers game, you maybe see our ads once or twice if we're lucky. But these other brands, Burger King has a $400 million budget [$275 million in 2007, according to TNS Media Intelligence]. They can run two to three times. We need to be near the edge. You need to remember our ads, so it's got to be close to the edge, and it's going to offend some people.

Ad Age: To what do you credit your same-store sales gains?

Mr. Puzder: When everybody goes one way, we go the other. Two or three years ago, investors were saying you've got to sell salads and applesauce. We said, "To hell with that, we're going to sell the Monster Thickburger," and our sales went very, very well. This year everybody is doing 99-cent double cheeseburgers, and quite honestly, go to the grocery store and buy the meat and the buns and the condiments and you don't pay rent, utilities, labor. You can't make a decent burger for 99 cents. People are looking to sell this garbage and trying to out-garbage each other.

Ad Age: You've also stayed away from the health and wellness positioning that's been a big part of your competitors' messaging in the past year. Why don't you have more healthy products on the menu?

Mr. Puzder: I think everyone has the responsibility to do the right thing, and we make the products available. My job is not to tell you what to eat, but figure out what you want to eat and offer it to you. I can tell you from our sales, it's not the ultra-healthy no-taste food. At Hardee's we sell 130 to 150 Thickburgers a day per restaurant and probably two salads. But they're there. I think if we fried the salads, they would sell more.

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Advertising Campaign Updates

From my email this week:

Fishing. October baseball. Migrating NFL players. Let's launch! Planet Green is here and keeping tabs on your carbon footprints, people! OK, maybe just Ed Begley, Jr.'s. The new network launched a set of four TV spots running on all Discovery-owned channels. I'd give two ads a green thumbs-up; the other two reek of carbon-smelling feet. "Beach" is a keeper. In it, a man with a solar panel on his crotch discovers a group of sunbathing ladies. It's just his way of giving back, and giving new meaning to the term hot pants. See the ad here. "Prison" ads are basically a guaranteed hit. Prisoners show off their homemade shivs crafted from older, unused instruments. Watch the ad here. Ludacris and Tommy Lee argue about who's more eco-friendly. All I remember from the ad is that Tommy Lee abstains from showering. I didn't need Planet Green to tell me that. Click here to watch. A woman ditches her clothes in an effort to stay cool and use less air conditioning. Too bad the man behind her at the bank doesn't appreciate her eco-contribution. Watch the ad here. Amalgamated created the campaign and media buying was handled in-house.

The Looking Glass Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Canada aiming to create a residential center to treat young people with eating disorders, launched a series of PSAs educating Canadians about the severity of eating problems. Running in British Columbia and Canada, one TV spot features a teen backed against a wall and penciling in her measurements. She's tracking her monthly weight loss and getting smaller and smaller. Watch the ad here. "Not every suicide note looks like a suicide note," is the tag line of the multimedia campaign, which also features broken toothbrushes in plastic bags and individual stories about girls forcing themselves to vomit and choking on a broken toothbrush. Just reading it made me want to gag. See creative here. DDB Canada created the campaign.

Trek Bicycles launched two TV ads during the Tour de France that make me want to ride. "Believe" shows Trek riders young and old as a famous voiceover describes things that riders believe in. "We believe in long rides and the stories they bring. We believe in simplicity and idea that complex problems can be solved in a simple way," says Lance Armstrong, who makes an appearance at the conclusion of both ads. "Best" -- which features Trek-sponsored cyclists who have won the Tour de France, Tour of California and Grio d'Italia over the past 10 years -- isn't as motivating to me as "Believe." See the ads here and here. Hanson Dodge Creative created the campaign and media buying was handled in-house.

Major League Baseball teamed up with FOX and TBS to launch its largest postseason ad campaign, entitled "There's Only One October." The campaign bowed during the Home Run Derby, and initial elements star actor/baseball fan Rick Gonzalez blogging about October baseball as memorable post-season highlights come to life behind him. Although the Mets don't have as many rings as that other New York team, they make an appearance or two in the ads, seen here and here. Just don't blink, or you'll miss their cameos. Future spots will feature FOX and TBS personalities Jeff Foxworthy and Frank Caliendo. McCann Erickson created the campaign.

Reebok launched a TV spot called "Migration" starring 20 NFL stars. Since football is not baseball, it's lucky that I recognized Peyton and Eli Manning. But I digress. The ad features players during the off-season, lounging by the pool, mowing the lawn, fishing, yet all coming together in formation en route to their destination: their respective stadiums. I love the shot of Eli Manning leading the Giants across the Brooklyn Bridge. "Join the Migration," concludes the ad, seen here. Mcgarrybowen created the campaign and Carat handled the media buy.

Ardent Outdoors launched a print campaign targeting weekend anglers who view fishing not as recreation, but serious competition. The campaign aims to establish Ardent as a high-quality brand that knows its audience. "Armor plated. Like your will to win," reads one ad, seen here. "A reel that works as hard as your adrenal gland," says another ad featuring an underwater view and one reel. Click here, here and here to see the ads, running in Bassmaster, Bass Times, North American Fisherman and Heartland Trails. Rodgers Townsend created the campaign and handled the media buy.

The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation revamped its brand because people that love to fish, simply weren't. Time for some motivation. The campaign speaks to anglers young and old, pros and novices, encouraging them to boat, fish and visit the newly designed The site contains more than 2,500 pages of content, including "Fishopedia," an ideal place for a non-angler like me to get a quick tutorial. Print ads, running in Popular Mechanics and Camping Life magazines, among others, feature a boat full of fishermen in the background, reeling in a framed picture of the happy crew and their prized catch. See the ads here, here and here, created by Colle+McVoy.

Nike launched a comprehensive Web site deemed as its "home of innovation" for the Beijing 2008 Olympic games. Nike Lab features interviews with athletes from 26 Olympic sports and Nike product designers, as well as products with game-changing technologies. Being a runner, I was quite fascinated by Nike's Pre Cool vest, which uses tap water as a coolant to aid long-distance runners throughout unbearably hot runs. I wonder how much those cost... AKQA created the site.

Amy Corr is managing editor, online newsletters for MediaPost. She can be reached at

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Another Email Marketing Guide

And this time it's from Microsoft. Click here to go to the download page.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Office Max Penny Spot

Here's the commercial mentioned in the last post:

Find more videos like this on AdGabber

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Friday (almost) After Hours Final

Marketing news for you to use from Mediapost today:

OfficeMax Puts Power Of Penny To Test In Campaign
by Nina M. Lentini
[Retail] Over the next two weeks, OfficeMax's "Power to the Penny" campaign will launch TV spots using "Penny Prank" footage, radio spots featuring improv comedian, Matt McCarthy, online ads and a national event on Aug. 5 at Minnesota's Mall of America, where a massive penny tray will be filled with two million pennies available to kids for back-to-school shopping. - Read the whole story...

Packaged Facts Finds Kids Take Lead On Green Purchases
by Les Luchter
[Research] Half of 6- to-8-year-olds encourage their parents to buy green products--with Hispanic children leading other demographics by a wide margin. The Hispanic kids' environmentalism, in turn, may be the reason why the Pacific region--with its large Hispanic population--leads all other areas in numbers of kids pushing their parent to go green. - Read the whole story...

American Express Expands 'Members Project' Parameters
by Aaron Baar
[Financial Services] "We're putting more focus in how we leverage online," says Belinda Lang, vice president of consumer marketing strategy at American Express. "We're trying to make it that much easier for people to engage with us." The company has developed a vast array of online tools, from Facebook and MySpace presences to widgets and online badges people can use to promote their projects. - Read the whole story...

Strong Sales Of TV Converter Boxes Boost Radio Shack Results
by Sarah Mahoney
[Retail] Even though results are improving in its Sprint postpaid business, that line is still a major drag on results. Excluding Sprint postpaid and related wireless accessory business, "comparable store sales in the second quarter would have increased 12.7%," the company says. Still, Radio Shack saw a "significant improvement" in its AT&T post-paid business. - Read the whole story...

American Express Sponsors AOL Music Tour Site
by Tanya Irwin
[Financial Services] Card holders get special discounts at The site's goal is twofold: First, to be a one-stop destination for music fans looking to follow their favorite bands/artists on tour. And second, to provide a resource for music labels to track the popularity of a particular artist or tour beyond ticket sales. - Read the whole story...

Rapper Sues Taco Bell

CSPI Chides Girl Scouts For DQ Drink

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Friday Afternoon Sales Tip

This is from Art Sobczak who is where some of us would like to be right now:

This Week's Tip:
Differentiate Yourself Like This
Mexican Beach Vendor


I'm on location in Cabo san Lucas, Mexico,
searching for sales ideas.

Well, that wasn't the sole purpose for coming
here, but, of course I'm always on the
lookout for sales situations we can learn

As I've written several times before over
the years, this is a great place to observe
and participate in the purest form of sales:
direct, face-to-face transactions on the beach,
where vendors ranging in age from five to 85
sell hats, t-shirts, plates, and other trinkets.

And, it seems like everyone is an agent for a
timeshare property, offering incentives to
attend a presentation.

There's more: If you have the "right" look, after
turning down whatever they initially offer,
a few then push another unrelated
line of products and services: "Blow? Marijuana?
Sex, senor?"

Apparently I have the look, but of course did
not participate.

Early this week I decided to set up my sales-
watching lab at the busy, in-town Medano beach.

This area could best be described as a place
where spring-break type partying and activities
with people of all ages goes on year-around at
the bars right on the sand. My venue of choice:
the very appropriately named Office bar.

It's impossible to go even just a few minutes
without being interrupted by one of the beach
peddlers. Most sell the same things...
t-shirts, jewelry, plates, henna tattoos, hats,
sunglasses, and more.

Some of the techniques vary. Many just stand
inches away from you, silent, holding out their

Others ask for the sale directly: "T-shirt amigo?"

A few make an actual offer with a hint of an
incentive: "Almost free for you today."

You become very used to shaking your head and
saying "No gracias."

I must admit, even for someone who understands
and is sympathetic to the concept of "sell or don't
eat," it does get annoying after about the 100th
person comes by.

And I have to wonder how little some of these
people must make in a day, given the pure number
of vendors swarming the beach.

But I did see one salesman who managed to stand
out from the crowd. From the hundreds of others
who were selling commodities, this guy did a number
of things to set himself apart. And remain busy
making sales.

Alberto was a, well,
short man, perhaps 5
feet tall in his shoes,
on his toes. He smiled
constantly. He carried
a sign that said, "

Name On

He used a little jigsaw
and actually carved
names into keys!

Here are the "keys" to success I observed he had going
for him...things we can implement as well.

Advertising and Marketing
He carried a sign. No one else did. This alone set
him apart. The curiosity prompted people to
look up from their books or beers. The first step
for success for most of these vendors was to get
a prospect's attention and eye contact.

Something New!
As part of his advertising, his sign said he had
something new. Again, creating more curiosity.

With Alberto, you could get something with your
name on it. Further setting him apart from everyone
else. (How do you personalize your calls? Do you say
the same thing to everyone, or do you make sure the
call is about THEM?)

Smile and Personality
In contrast to the many others, trodding through the
hot sand, with dour looks on their face (understandably
a result of getting thousands of no's per day), Alberto
approached prospects with a beaming smile. This
made him likeable, which is a simple, yet not-always-
practiced aspect of selling.

Asking Questions and Closing

He then would engage people, usually by asking a question.
Brilliantly, he chose his targets well, typically a
guy with a girlfriend sitting next to him. Loud enough
for her to hear, he'd say, "Amigo, you probably want a
key with your name and your girlfriend's name engraved
on it, right?" Then he would show a sample.

He'd then look at the girlfriend, and say, "He should
get a key to your heart, right?"

Well, what's the guy going to do in this situation?

He had no choice. As my daughter's boyfriend will attest.

Look at your own sales situations. See how many of
Alberto's simple ideas you incorporate into your own

And now, if you will excuse me, I need to get back to
the lab.

Have your best week ever!

Contact: Art Sobczak, President, Business By Phone Inc. 13254 Stevens St.,
Omaha, NE 68137,
(402) 895-9399. Or,

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Getting Unstuck Part 2

Yesterday I presented Part 1.

Here's Part 2 from Jill Konrath:

Part II: What to Do When You're Totally Stuck

In Part I: We focused why asking the "How Can I?" question is the key to getting unstuck and achieving your objectives. Part II continues with more examples.

Creating an Entirely New Revenue Stream

Several years ago, I lost my two bread-and-butter clients when the investment community demanded better financial results. Both these firms immediately suspended all "extraneous" projects - which included all my work with them.

While in the process of rebuilding my business, I did some free consulting for a small magazine serving the entrepreneurial community. I became enamored with the vitality of these firms as well as their contribution to the economy.

But the failure rate was sky high. Good businesses being run by well-intentioned people were closing down because the founders didn't understand how to sell. It about drove me crazy.

For months, I kept asking myself, "How can I share my expertise with these people and make some money doing it?"

It was a real conundrum. Entrepreneurs don't have deep pockets. When they hire consultants, they want to squeeze as much advice from them in the shortest possible time. In short, despite the apparent need, I couldn't figure out how to make a living.

But I kept the question open, choosing not to say 'no' yet. Instead, I kept researching and asking the question repeatedly - in multiple variations.

One day, the answer came to me: I'd create a website called Selling to Big Companies where I could give away lots of good sales advice for free. Plus, I could offer some premium content such as ebooks, emanuals and teleseminars. While doing this, I could still serve my corporate clients.

I knew I'd finally hit on a viable business model, and, as they say, the rest is history.

Trust the Questions

Over the years, I've come to trust this "How can I" strategy implicitly. Whenever I pose these questions to myself, the answers always come.

They're better ideas than I could have ever thought of myself. While that sounds strange to say, it's really true.

Right now, I trust the question again with the Sales SheBang - my online resource, conference and community for women in sales. I'm asking myself questions such as:

  • How can I attract savvy saleswomen to the 2008 Sales Shebang Conference ?
  • How can I fund this project so that I can make it bigger & better?
  • How can I make it an incredible value for the women who come?

The good news is that the ideas are already streaming in. The bad news is that I appear to be a bottleneck in my own system. Too much is on my plate right now, so I'm adding resources to help out. In truth, it's really not a bad problem to have.

But it all starts with that "How Can I...?" question. Without a doubt, it's the best strategy in the whole world for reaching your unreachable goals.

Invite others to help you answer your questions. Track down a top salesperson and ask for their insights: How can I be more successful? How can I close more business?

Ask an entrepreneur: How can I create the company of my dreams? How can I get more done in the same amount of time?

The answers are already out there. You just need to ask the questions!

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Small Fuel Branding Series Part 5

Here's part 5 in our series this week from Small Fuel:

Marketing Essentials: Creating the Perfect Message

stone pillars marketing message

Reaching consumers with your message is one of the top Marketing Essentials. If people don't hear what you're saying and see what you're showing them, why would they do business with you?

But what is your marketing message? What are you trying to get across to people? It's simple: You know their problem, you have the solution, and you are the best business to buy it from.

That's easier said than done, of course. It's difficult for many small business owners to figure out exactly how to market that they can solve problems. One of the most common mistakes is touting features or going on about being the best.

Everyone is the best these days. No one wants to hear it again. And yet, you need people to hear you, feel your message and believe it. How?

Creating a solid marketing message makes a difference in whether consumers pay attention to you, whether they trust you and whether they decide to buy. It combines specific elements to:

  • Grab people's attention and interest
  • Tell consumers how you solve their problem
  • Convey why people should trust you
  • Indicate why you're different or special
  • Show why people should choose you

By following just a few easy steps, you can compel interest and evoke the power of a message that people not only hear but feel as well.

Identify your target market

Every business has a target market, and no, it isn't everyone. Before anything else, you must know the consumer who will buy from you intimately.

What is this ideal customer like? What is his or her personality? What demographic does the individual belong to and do you know his or her realistic income? What kind of shopping preferences does the customer have?

Find your market's needs

Now that you know your ideal customer, identify this person's problems. Everyone suffers, whether it is mental, physical or emotional - and people want to ease suffering quickly. If they know you care, you have a better chance of making them a customer.

Know your customer's problem. Make sure that your message tells consumers that you understand their pain and that you empathize with their suffering. How do they hurt? What are they feeling?

Offering a solution

You've identified your target consumer. You know the person's pain and problem. Now give them the solution and present the cure to their suffering. Address the situation in a way that makes the consumer relive his or her pain so that it is clearly felt – and so that the person sees you can ease the hurting.

Benefits tie in closely at this point. The ways you change a person's life convince consumers that you offer what they need. Your benefits establish that you can remove the suffering and help consumers achieve their goals.

Minimize the risk

Remove as much risk as you can when presenting your solution. Consumers need to feel that the end of their anguish will happen quickly and easily. Banish the uncertainties and make your solution one they can implement right away, if possible.

Also, remove any barriers to taking action. People are increasingly busy and tired of jumping through hoops to get what they want. Make it easy for people to choose you. Keep in mind, too, that the more you do for them, the happier they'll be – because it's easier to pay someone to help us than to help ourselves.

Show them proof

People are funny creatures sometimes. No one likes to be the first to try something new or the only one standing in line. Consumers are more likely to buy if someone has already bought and had good results and a great experience. If it works for others, it'll work for them.

Show your target market that people in the very same situation with identical pain have had positive results. Present proof that what you sell works, that it eases suffering and offers the cure. Word of mouth referral is the best marketing.

This is where testimonials, before-and-after stories, case studies and statistics come into play -- the more measurable and credible the proof, the better. It makes your message more believable and backs up your promises.

Be different

You have competition out there, offering the same solutions that you do. What makes you different? Why is your solution better? Why should people choose you over someone else?

This doesn't mean bad-mouthing the competition or putting them down. It's often a better idea to avoid comparing your solutions to everyone else's to boost your reputation. All you need to do is know why you're different - and communicate those differences clearly.

A solid marketing message captures the elements of knowing your audience, their problems, and your solution. Communicate these elements to consumers in a credible, believable manner.

Use your message everywhere -- on fliers, in your website copy, on your business card -- and you'll quickly be on your way to small business success.

Next week we're going to have a can't-miss Marketing Essentials post about websites, so make sure you come back and check it out. Oh, and feel free to subscribe too.

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I-Phone Branding

There comes a point in life where each of us have our own comfort levels with technology. This has been going on for decades. The idea of a push button phone versus the old rotary style took some adjusting for some people, I'm sure.

Cell phones are replacing landlines to the point that even the homeless have a cellphone, and if we ever went to a national identity card, we could use our cell-phone numbers, not social security numbers.

But do you want your cellphone to do everything? Blackberry took us up a level, and Apple is trying to take us even further.

Laura Ries wrote this week about the marketing and branding of the I-phone. Read more:

It has been over a year since the launch of the much ballyhooed iPhone. Much has been said. Many have been bought. Let???s take a look back and a look ahead.

First there is a difference between a brand having loyal enthusiastic following and becoming a blockbuster mass market success. Second there is a difference between making a better product and winning in marketplace.

Being better isn???t enough

In fact, the reality is the better product often doesn???t win. Just look at Macintosh. There is little dispute that Mac is better than Windows. Yet Microsoft has a worldwide market share of 94 percent and Apple has 4 percent. Apple is cool but Microsoft makes a LOT more money.

Most taste test show Pepsi tastes better than Coca-Cola. But Coke has a brand sales index of 100, while Pepsi is at 65.

I am not here to argue whether or not the iPhone is cool and fun. I am here is analyze the strategy of the iPhone and Apple???s expansion into the cellphone market.

My fear is that by expanding into phones Apple runs the risk of spreading itself too thin. My fear is that by expanding the number of functions for the iPhone (phone, email, music player, internet, camera, video, etc) Apple runs the risk of its phone falling into the convergence trap of becoming a jack of all trades but a master of none.

If you love your iPhone, that is great. I know a lot of people that do. But is it for everyone? Will it be profitable (they keep dropping the price)? Will it survive intense and focused competition coming from all sides? Or will Apple undermine its own coolness once again and eventually lag behind in technology by taking on too much? We will see.

The first iPhone was all about convergence, putting lots of existing functions together in one device. In contrast, the iPhone???s second generation is a story more about divergence.

Remember that convergence was basically the main benefit touted for the original iPhone. Phone. Music. Camera. Web. Video. And it is Apple???s focus on convergence that I have the biggest problem with.

Convergence is what killed the Newton, the PlayStation 3, the TV/PC, the media center PC, the flying car and more. Convergence means compromise and most consumers aren???t willing to do that. Some consumers will accept some compromises for convenience sake but most will not.

Shampoo plus conditioner might be easier, faster and cheaper but most people use separate shampoos and conditioners because they believe they are better and worth the time.

The first iPhone was a cool gadget that combined a lot of functions in a beautiful device. With Steve Job???s unbelievable showmanship it received massive PR and word of mouth. But the future for a Swiss-Army-knife cellphone is limited, as is the market for the real Swiss-Army knife.

Steve Jobs obviously felt the same because we have an almost totally-different device in the second generation iPhone. The second generation is not just better and faster; it is different. It incorporates two incredibly important elements missing from the original iPhone: GPS and 3G. This allows faster Internet access and precise location information. Combining the web with GPS opens up a whole new world of applications that can be of incredible value and which make this phone a totally new kind of device. Recently we have seen applications for the new iPhone explode.

A mobi-phone is one that takes advantage of being a phone, GPS and web device. It does not simply replace an existing device making the new iPhone about divergence. Just like the BlackBerry is about divergence in being the first wireless email device.

(Of course, only the latest iPhone has GPS. This is why the first iPhone was so problematic.)

Of course, Apple is still promoting surfing the ???real??? Internet on an iPhone when the real advantage is using the dotMobi Internet or sites designed for small screens. I would forget the real Internet and promote the mobi-Internet.

Divergence of the Internet

Divergence happening even on the Internet itself. The .com Internet is getting grander as consumers buy faster computers with larger monitors using ever higher access speeds. Even with 3G, the small screen on an iPhone makes Internet surfing a far from ideal experience.

There is a whole new species of the Internet emerging. Like AM/FM/Satellite. We have the Internet and the dotMobi net. A new class of sites and brands that are being built just to be used on mobile devices. These sites would also incorporate GPS information making it a killer combination.

The iPhone is one of the first devices in a new class of cellphones we call mobi-phones.

While the iPhone has gotten enormous PR about being a must have gadget for the with-it crowd, it has not established a clear position and message in the mind.

That wasn???t the case for the iPod. The iPod the best and most important new brand of the 21st century. iPod established it???s brand with the message ???1,000 songs in your pocket??? and ???.99 cents a song.??? It was a simple device with a singular function and a solid message. And it has brought Apple back from the brink.

The cellphone market

In a market with weak competition, even a flawed strategy can succeed. The success we have seen with the iPhone speaks more to the mess in cellphone market than the pure brilliance of Apple???s strategy.

All the cellphone brands are a mess. Everybody makes everything. Everybody has the same features. Everybody looks the same. No brand stands for anything. And most don???t even focus on phones. Motorola, LG, Samsung, Erickson all make a wide range of electronics.

BlackBerry is one exception. And as a result, BlackBerry has built a very strong and powerful brand by dominating the business market and wireless email. Nobody loves their phone like the CrackBerry addicts do.

Nokia is the other exception. As a company from Finland, Nokia once made everything from rubber boots & tires to television sets to cellphones. But by getting out of every other business and focusing on exclusively on cellphones, Nokia has become the worldwide market leader. Of course Nokia has chased the convergence dream too with products like the Communicator, a brick-sized all-in-one phone that went nowhere and the N-Gage a cellphone/game player combo. These distractions have meant that Nokia hasn???t launched a killer high-end consumer phone model in years.

The last really successful cellphone brand was Motorola???s RAZR. It became a bestseller in 2005 by being small and sleek. But Motorola has since killed that brand with ridiculous line-extensions like ROKR, KRZR, RIZR, RAZR2, SLVR. etc.

To predict the future, one only has to look at the past. There was a time that everybody thought Apple, Sony and Motorola could do no wrong. Apple had the Mac, Sony the PlayStation and Motorola the RAZR.

But in the late 1990???s, Apple was a mess and nearly sold for scrap. Today, Sony is a mess. And Motorola is spinning-off its ailing handset division. Why? Because they went after too many markets, because they focused on convergence not divergence and they put their name on everything.

My fear for Apple is that they take for granted and neglect their very valuable iPod market. All this time, money and development cost on the iPhone has shifted the company???s attention and focus away from the iPod. Remember the iPod market is way bigger than the iPhone market, look at the recent sales figures:

In the last six months, (October 2007???March 2008)

Apple sold:

iPod ????????????????????? 32,765,000

iPhone ?????????????????? 4,018,000

While the sales numbers for iPhone may still seem impressive, they still pale in comparison to the big cellphone makers. On an average day Nokia sells 1.28 million phones. Of course, each individual iPhone is more profitable that the average Nokia phone. But Apple has already drastically cut the price to increase its sales numbers and will likely have to do so again to keep pace.

The new iPhone took 5 days to sell 1 million phones. Not bad, but they aren???t likely to start selling a million a day anytime soon. The hype guaranteed big upfront numbers.

There are some other interesting facts from a recent iPhone launch survey:

66% buy the higher capacity model.

(I would only sell the high capacity model. Keep the price higher and brand more exclusive.)

51% will use an iPod in addition to the iPhone.

(Convergence is not the main driver for getting the iPhone.)

38% were upgrading from the original iPhone.

(They were very avid and devoted consumer segment willing to spend and not a very broad mass market appeal.)

85% bought the new iPhone because of the new features 3G & GPS.

(These features are key. I think Apple should have delayed the launch of the original iPhone until these features were standard.)

Over time hardware tends to be commoditized. The big companies will copy the technology and make mobi-phones faster and cheaper. That is exactly what happened to Macintosh in the 1980???s and 1990???s. With its the expansion into cellphones Apple needs to be careful. It means they are now competing with Nokia and Dell. Each would is a formidable and focused competitor on its own. Taking on both will be tough. Just ask Sony.

Technology moves very fast. A hot device today can become very cold if a better brand comes around tomorrow. For now there is no consumer phone brand worth a mention and iPhone has been able to generate a lot of excitement especially around its latest GPS/3G device.

The ultimate future for iPhone is still up in the air. The die-hard Mac lovers will follow the brand anywhere like Phish fans driving in van cross country selling grilled cheese sandwiches. Steve Job knows cool. But he doesn???t always get it right. (Remember the Cube, Apple TV, NeXT) (And Phish is no longer together or touring)

There is a difference between being a successful narrow play at the high-end versus a successful mass market brand. I think iPhone could have a very nice future with a small segment of the population at the high end. Just like there are avid Audi fans, there are avid Apple fans. But that doesn???t that mean either brand will dominate the overall market.

What hurt Macintosh was that Apple kept trying to broaden its market, when they should have done just the opposite. Narrow the focus to graphic arts. That is basically what the brand has become anyway. They never succeeded in getting big business to use Apple products.

The future for the mobi-Internet and mobi-phone applications is undeniably bright. The opportunity to build new brands is as endless as your imagination. Take upstart Urbanspoon. Using an iPhone with GPS and G3, Urbanspoon recommends nearby restaurants as you walk down the street.

The mobi-phone market is much larger than just the iPhone market. This is a huge opportunity for the brave few who can see how divergence is creating an enormous opportunity to build a new brand for the dotMobi world.

It was not established companies that made it big on the Internet, it was new brands focused on the new medium like Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google and YouTube. The same is likely to happen on the mobi-Internet.

Nobody is 100% right, 100% percent of the time. Even me. Marketing is not a science but an art. You have to be able to study the past then analyze the present in order to paint a picture of what the future may bring.

Early iPhone sales have been brisker than I predicted mainly because I underestimated the complete void in the consumer phone market. Consumers were desperately craving a new phone brand and when given the chance they leaped headfirst onto the iPhone bandwagon.

Today iPhone is a niche product. But will the iPhone be the next iPod? Will the iPhone dominate the cellphone market like iPod does the music market? Can Apple chase Dell in hardware, Microsoft in software, Nokia in cellphones and lead with iPod all without exhausting the company in the process? If the key to success is focus that is not what today???s Apple is about. Will a strategy of expansion work? Time will tell.

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Fresh or Stale?

Last year I was talking to Bob Nicholson, attorney with the firm Beckman Lawson about family businesses. Bob hosts a radio show, Your Business Matters on WGL AM/FM Saturday Mornings at 8am.

Bob told me that statistics show that by the time a business is in the hands of the third generation, there is a high failure rate compared to the previous two generations. I saw this happen in my own family with my grandfathers company, which my Uncle took over and then my cousin had to sell it.

Perhaps it is too much inbreeding, where there is not a clear view of the business in the changing marketplace. If this sounds like you, here are some ideas to stay fresh instead of stale:

Find a Fresh Pair of Eyes

"Let's face it," writes Bill Taylor in a post at Harvard Business Online. "Most companies in most industries have a kind of tunnel vision. They chase the same opportunities that everyone else is chasing, they miss the same opportunities that everyone else is missing." It's an atmosphere that stifles innovation, and can create an unsettling sense of corporate déjà vu as companies continue to use the same old thinking with each new initiative.

If you're caught in a cycle of "been there, done that," Taylor says you need a good dose of vuja dé. Coined by the late comic George Carlin, the remixed term refers to an active search for the opportunities your competitors don't—or can't—see. It's about breaking away from the pack mentality and approaching each new challenge from an entirely new vantage point.

"The most creative CEOs I've met don't aspire to learn from the 'best in class' in their industry—especially when the best in class aren't all that great," he says. Instead, they look far outside their industries and their standard way of thinking for solutions that lead to groundbreaking change.

The Po!nt: "[W]hat's valuable to innovation is vuja dé," says Taylor, "looking at a familiar situation with fresh eyes, as if you've never seen it before, and with those fresh eyes developing a new line of sight into the future."

Source: Harvard Business Online. Read the complete post here.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thursday Night Marketing News

From Mediapost:

Back To School: Parents Shop Earlier; Teens Cut Way Back
by Sarah Mahoney
[Retail] The National Retail Federation, which says 20% of parents have set aside a portion of their stimulus check for back-to-school purchases, says purse strings will be loosest in the electronics aisle, with average spending of $151.61 there, up from $129.24 last year. - Read the whole story...

Anheuser First-Half Performance Validates Strategy, Execs Report
by Karlene Lukovitz
[Beverages] Net sales grew 4.6% for the quarter (to $4.7 billion) and 5.3% year to date (to $8.8 billion), while diluted earnings per share increased 9.2% and 7.1% for the respective periods. A-B's initiatives over the past two years, including new products such as Bud Light Lime, "are gaining traction with consumers," said VP/CFO W. Randolph Baker, during the company's Q2 earnings conference call. - Read the whole story...

Duracell Spot Leads To Sales Spurt For Featured Product
by Les Luchter
[Packaged Goods] "I'd much rather be shipping product than taking backorders," says BrickHouse Security's Todd Morris. He says he had prepared for sales to double due to the Duracell commercial, but "the reaction has been much more than we expected." For one thing, the spot includes no info on where to buy the Child Locator, let alone any call for action. "Vast numbers of people have been hunting us down," Morris explains. "They have to Google us to find us." - Read the whole story...

PepsiCo Has Strong Q2 Despite N.A. Beverage Declines
by Karlene Lukovitz
[Beverages] The company cited cross-brand sales declines in convenience stores and slowing growth in unflavored waters as key factors in the N.A. performance. The region's carbonated soft drink portfolio gained market share, but volume declined 2%. Low single-digit gains for Mountain Dew and Sierra Mist partially offset a mid single-digit decline for Pepsi. Non-carbonated beverages volume dropped 4% due to unflavored water performance. - Read the whole story...

JC Penney Reaches For Teen Market On New Social Site
by Nina M. Lentini
[Retail] The digital advertising program for the back-to-school shopping season features a comprehensive guide called "Back-to-School Central" on The guide will feature more than 500 products, many of which will be provided JC Penney. Says a spokesperson for the retailer: "We are always looking for unique, engaging ways to get to that target market. And this is where our customers are." - Read the whole story...

Hershey's First Half Achieves Targets

Jesse McCartney Is In Bongo's Fall Advertising

Carl's Jr. Offering Hamburg-Sized Breakfast Sandwich

Crown Royal Offers Indy Spectators Rides Home

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Getting Unstuck Part 1

This is from Jill Konrath:

Part I: What to Do When You're Totally Stuck

Posted: 22 Jul 2008 11:05 AM CDT

You've been there before. And, so have I. Perhaps you have aggressive competitors who you just can't seem to beat. Maybe the economy is hitting your territory pretty badly. Or, perhaps you've been slacking off a bit lately and it's catching up to you.

Frustration_2 It doesn't much matter what the reason though when your goals seem unreachable and you don't have a clue how to achieve them.

Stuck is stuck. If you knew what to do, you'd have already taken action.

When you're struggling, it doesn't help to have your boss say, "You need more sales." Duh! Comments like that just add additional stress to the difficult situation.

Nor does it help to continually tell yourself, "I have to get more business" or "I must come up with a better plan." All that does is push the panic button.

Did you know these statements actually cause your brain to freeze up?

It's true. They literally immobilize your creative juices, enabling you to see fewer solutions to your dilemma. Plus, the ideas you do come up with are typically stale (e.g., make more calls) and don't give you an edge in today's competitive marketplace.

So, if you're in a rut, what can you do? Or, if you have an audacious goal, how can you get there?

The Answer: Ask, "How Can I ...?"

Guy_with_on_head This is the start of a simple, but powerful question that unlocks your thinking and enables you to see fresh perspectives where none existed before.

Look for different ways to finish the "How Can I" question. Play with it. Why? Because when you phrase the question in new ways, you'll come up with different answers. For example, you might ask yourself:

  • How can I increase my sales?
  • How can I get bigger contracts?
  • How can I focus on customers that are more profitable?
  • How can I free up time to pursue more business?
  • How can I leverage new offerings to get my foot in the door?

As you can see, each of these questions leads your thinking down a whole different pathway. And, instead of feeling like you're carrying an insurmountable burden, suddenly the creative YOU jumps into action, ready to help you out. Your "oomph" returns, along with a whole slew of ideas.

Let me give you a couple ways I've used this "How Can I" strategy in my sales career.

Dealing With Slumps at Xerox

Much as I hated slumps, there were times when my pipeline was nearly empty and I had no idea how I was going to make my quota. When that happened, I'd go to breakfast alone, carrying only a notebook and pen.

Over a couple hour discussion with myself, I'd pose and answer questions such as:

  • How can I get more business from my existing customers?
  • How can I find prospects who are ready to buy now?
  • How can I leverage my relationships to find more opportunities?

At first, I'd jot down whatever thoughts came to mind. Then, I'd expand on each of the thoughts, adding more detail and flushing out the concept. Before leaving, I'd evaluate & prioritize the ideas and then create an action plan to move forward.

The best part of this process is that it was re-invigorating. Rather than feeling stumped or at the mercy of slow-moving decision makers, I felt empowered again. With a renewed sense of momentum and an action plan, I always got results. Big results.

... and speaking of "big," I'll continue on that theme in my next post.

Related Posts
Secrets of Top Sellers
Turning Setbacks into Success
How to Develop Credibility When You're Not Credible

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Endorsement Advertising

If you think the above picture is normal, than you are already conditioned to accept product placement marketing. Here's the story behind the picture from the New York Times:

A Product’s Place Is on the Set

Name-brand products make regular appearances on television shows, where they are typically written into a drama, comedy or reality program. “American Idol” viewers, for example, have come to expect to see a Coke cup in front of Simon Cowell as he dresses down contestants.

But TV news?

In recent weeks, anchors on the Fox affiliate in Las Vegas, KVVU, sit with cups of McDonald’s iced coffee on their desks during the news-and-lifestyle portion of their morning show. The anchors rarely touch the cups.

Executives at the station, one of 12 owned by Meredith Corporation, say the six-month promotion is meant to shore up advertising revenue and, as they told the news staff, will not influence content.

“There was a healthy dose of skepticism, and I’m pleased there was — it means they’re being journalists,” said Adam P. Bradshaw, news director of KVVU. The product placement was first reported Monday in The Las Vegas Sun.

The arrangement does raise questions about potential conflicts between the intended message and news content. The ad agency that arranged the promotion said the coffee cups would most likely be whisked away if KVVU chooses to report a negative story about McDonald’s.

“If there were a story going up, let’s say, God forbid, about a McDonald’s food illness outbreak or something negative about McDonald’s, I would expect that the station would absolutely give us the opportunity to pull our product off set,” said Brent Williams, account supervisor at Karsh/Hagan, the advertising agency that arranged the deal between McDonald’s and KVVU.

If that did not happen, “it might lead to the termination of an agreement” to appear on the show, he said. KVVU, for its part, said it would continue to report truthfully and honestly about McDonald’s. Mr. Bradshaw said the station would remove the cups, just as it would remove spot advertising from a newscast for any advertiser who is the subject of a negative report.

With the economy in rough shape and advertisers funneling more dollars to the Internet, the television industry is trying to increase its revenues. Neither the agency nor KVVU would reveal the price of the six-month deal.

Other stations owned by Meredith — including WFSB, the CBS affiliate in Hartford, Conn., and WGCL, the CBS affiliate in Atlanta — are also accepting product placements on their morning shows.

Arrangements like these are anathema to journalists and media watchdogs. And the broader issue of product placements is under scrutiny at the Federal Communications Commission, which is weighing tighter rules for how sponsorships on TV shows are disclosed.

“Expanding this into news raises very troubling questions,” said Harold Feld, senior vice president for the Media Access Project, a consumer advocacy group. “Viewers, when they see news programs, are expecting to see things that reflect the marriage of the things reported, and do not look in the credits of these programs to see if there’s some small disclaimer that people are being paid for product placements.”

The three major network morning shows, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” CBS’s “The Early Show,” and NBC’s “Today” do not accept fees in exchange for product placement, representatives of the shows said Monday.

“It is against CBS News’s standards to accept money in exchange for product placement on any broadcast, and we do not do so,” Kelli Halyard, a CBS spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail message.

Paul Karpowicz, the president of Meredith Broadcasting Group, said that product placements on his stations were limited to morning news shows.

“If something happens and we have to report something about McDonald’s, we’ll report it,” said Mr. Bradshaw of KVVU. “I would not put product placement into any of my traditional hard newscasts. I would not run it in my 5 p.m. or my 10 p.m.”

He said he was not allowing the McDonald’s cups on the so-called straight news portion of the morning report, which is before 7 a.m., but on a lighter, news-and-lifestyle show that goes from 7 to 9 a.m.

McDonald’s has also placed products on morning news shows on WFLD in Chicago, which is owned and operated by Fox; on KCPQ in Seattle, a Fox affiliate owned by the Tribune Company; and on Univision 41 in New York City, said Danya Proud, a McDonald’s spokeswoman.

Ms. Proud said the promotion was regional rather than national in scope. “This is a way for us to allow our customers to discover our products,” she said. Morning shows, she said, are a natural place to promote coffee drinks.

But what if the reporters sitting in front of McDonald’s products are doing segments about, say, gang violence or outbreaks of tainted food?

“That’s something we’ve taken into account,” said Mr. Williams of Karsh/Hagan, part of the TBWA Worldwide unit of Omnicom Group.

“I’m kind of relying, my client is relying, on just the inner workings of that station,” he said. “Not that editorial would ever give a heads-up to sales or be expected to give a heads-up to sales, but these are professionals. They do realize that some businesses’ brands, some businesses’ reputations, could be at stake in terms of how commerce and news are interacting here.”

In 2005, the F.C.C. issued a reminder to broadcasters that they must disclose when they use certain video news releases provided by corporations. The inquiry that the agency opened in June is focused on entertainment shows rather than news, but could easily be broadened.

In June, the Writers Guild of America West sent a letter to the F.C.C. supporting real-time disclosure of product placement and asking for a ban on video news releases on local broadcast television.

“This practice is unbelievably deceptive and is an attempt to trick the viewer to think that a paid advertisement is actually news,” the group’s president, Patric M. Verrone, wrote.

Herbert Jack Rotfeld, a professor of marketing at Auburn University, said that product placement deals on news shows could backfire for both sides. “In the end, they just make the audiences even more skeptical of everything.” he said.

For more on this topic, click here.

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