Saturday, May 29, 2010

Weekend Riding

3 of 5 of our jocks on my classic rock station own bikes....

What Do Harley Owners Like To Do?
Percentage of Harley Davidson owners more likely than the average American adult to:

1 Listen to classic rock radio +156 %

2 Own a full size pick-up truck +153 %

3 Be a union member +119 %

4 Own a rifle +102 %

5 Own bowling balls +100 %

6 Attend NASCAR auto racing + 95 %

7 Own a hot tub/whirlpool spa + 94 %

8 Contribute $100+ to charitable organizations + 87 %

9 Own U.S. savings bonds + 75 %

10 Agree that much of advertising is way too annoying + 21 %

Source: GfK MRI Survey of the American Consumer, Fall 2009

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Weekend Catch-Up


‘Behind the Curve:’ Week Ended May 28, 2010

Below are some links to recent research news, studies and lists from the collection of items that MarketingCharts didn’t get to writing up this week, but still may be worth a peek:

We Just Can’t Quit You, Facebook (or can we?)

Nearly 9 out of 10 Internet Users in Hong Kong View Online Video

‘Glee’ and the Rolling Stones Lead Surge in Indie, Digital Music Sales

Average Subsidized US Smartphone Price Rises

Deloitte Survey Finds Consumers Recharged

Americans Choose Gas over Alternatives

Twitter Top Site for Movie Referrals

Luxury Buyers, Retailers Use Mobile Coupons, Too

3-D TV Technology Waits on the Consumer

Future Optimism Drives Consumer Confidence

Self-serve Regular Gas Price Down from April ‘10

Nearly 1 in 5 Dads Hope for Grill or Grilling Accessories on Father’s Day

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Summer Slow Down?

If you are slowing down your prospecting because it is summer, and the temptation of a long weekend is easy, then people like me will be taking your potential customers!

From my email:

Daily Sales Tip: Summer is a Great Time to Prospect

One of the things that tends to slow down in the summer is prospecting for new business. Whether you have a long or short sales cycle doesn't really matter. The summer is a good time to get out and find new prospects.

Chances are your competitors aren't going to be as active during the summer, and there may be some good selling opportunities to be found. Why let your competition get this business?

Source: Sales trainer Dean Goettsch

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Updates continue all weekend. In the meantime...

by Sarah Mahoney
While giving away freebies may seem like an odd way for Redbox to boost revenues, "rewarding consumers with a free rental code is a great way to encourage trial as well as build loyalty with our existing customers," says a spokesperson. "We believe that once consumers have had an opportunity to experience the value and convenience of Redbox, they will continue to visit our kiosks." ...Read the whole story >>
Packaged Goods
by Karl Greenberg
A report from Packaged Facts says eco-friendly is where the opportunity is, with products offering ideological, practical and functional benefits. The report says that while green cleaners accounted for just "a small sliver" of the overall household cleaner market last year, "more and more consumers will make cleaning a lifestyle choice rather than simply a sanitary chore, pushing green cleaners from the fringe into the mainstream." ...Read the whole story >>
Financial Services
by Tanya Irwin
The 2010 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test indicates that nearly one in five licensed drivers -- roughly 38 million Americans -- would not pass a written drivers' test exam if taken today. Kansas drivers ranked first in the nation with an 82.3% average score, while New York drivers ranked last, with a 70% average score. ...Read the whole story >>
by Mark Walsh
Most people are buying them from within online games (57%), followed by official Web sites outside games or virtual worlds (38%), and e-commerce sites like PlaySpan, (16%). Not surprisingly, young men 18 to 24 make up the single biggest demographic among virtual goods buyers, at 31%. Nearly a quarter (23%) of boys 8 to 11 and 12 to 17 each were also customers. ...Read the whole story >>

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10 Facts about...

The Hispanic Consumer from Mediapost:

10 Things To Know About These Shoppers
1. Hispanics are destination-shopping
Hispanics see shopping as entertainment and opportunity for family / friends time, "me time" and even date time with spouses. Different trips call for different experiences and companionship. Many stores have taken advantage of this opportunity to be a destination for social activity by adding cafes, lounges and bars.

When targeting Hispanics, the competitive set is not just other retailers and stores, but also destinations. By developing the overall store experience, retailers have an opportunity to increase time spent in store as well as store loyalty.

2. Variety is the spice of Hispanic shopping
Hispanics are not motivated to simplify their shopping routine. In grocery shopping, a minimum of five channels are used by shoppers.

Understanding what category associations the Hispanic shopper has with different stores creates new opportunities in distribution.

3. Personal map replaces "near my home"
For Hispanics, shopping is not an isolated event but rather a part of their busy daily routine. Knowledge and preference of stores are based more on proximity to daily activities than proximity to home.

The challenge is to evolve beyond zip codes and understand the Hispanic footprint and where they live their daily lives. This "personal map" opens the door to discovering and expanding the base of Hispanic targeted stores.

4. One shopper, four lists
Hispanics are making lists and any one shopper most likely has a number of different types of lists in their arsenal.

The four types of lists:

  • Complete: family staples and add-ons, such as cereal and kids needs for school projects.
  • Mental: routine shopping needs kept mentally, not written down, such as bread, eggs and milk.
  • Recipe: created around the specifics for a recipe/occasion; usually complement a mental list.
  • Eternal: the ever-evolving list of the things needed or wanted sometime, somewhere, depending on the availability, price, etc. Such as fresh nopales or other hard-to-find imports.

For brands, understanding trip mission and category helps understand which list you want to "get on" or "make" and where to start the conversation within the buying cycle.

5. Brands battle it out at the shelf
While-list making is important, the store shelf, where 70% of Hispanic purchasing decisions are made, is the last stand for swaying the brand purchase decision.

Key attributes, packaging and promotions are factors that influence the final decision. Being relevant to the Hispanic consumers' needs and preferences can win that battle from the shelf to the basket.

6. The emergence of digital in retail
The perfect storm is forming from the overwhelming numbers of Hispanics participating in the digital world and new digital retail activities. And while Hispanics under-index in coupon clipping, they are over-indexing in online and mobile application redemption.

Leveraging these opportunities with online, mobile and in-store applications is the next phase in connecting with Hispanic shoppers.

7. "Shopping" is limited to only planned trips
Hispanics have been under-reported in frequency of shopping trips, despite their high number of channel choices, enjoyment of experience and larger basket sizes. This disparity is because Hispanic shoppers define "shopping" differently. Shopping involves only the planned/routine trips, and doesn't include spontaneous trips, which are frequently made.

Understanding this small but important difference opens the door for creating moments of interception that encourage and recognize spontaneous shopping trips.

8. Private labels take the stage
Where 37% of Hispanic shoppers purchased more private label products in 2009, 25% plan to buy more this year. Private brands account for 31% of Hispanic household grocery basket; averaging $89 every two weeks out of a total of $267.

To the general market, private labels are seen as generic and recognized for their price benefits. For Hispanics, however, private labels are seen as store brands, placing a higher importance on the value they carry as a product from a trusted store. To take advantage, stores must leverage their store loyalty in promoting private labels.

9. Product attributes drive brand choice
The number one reason that Hispanics try out new brands/products is the quality of their ingredients. Hispanics are moved by attributes of "well-being" like real, natural and fresh. Additionally, Hispanics are becoming more aware and increasingly more educated on health issues, taking steps to manage these issues by looking for low-fat, low-sugar and low-calorie options.

Besides packaging, product cross-promotions and communications, highlighting well-being could make the difference in choosing one store or product over another.

10. Different definition for convenience
The convenience and drug store category is important for the Hispanic market; however, the Hispanic shopper defines the quick-trip benefit of convenience differently.

For the general market, convenience is based on the speed of the experience from location to transaction. For Hispanic consumers, it's about a good experience even at the c-store and drug store level. "Location convenience" is about how quickly they can get to the store so they have the time to find what they are looking for.

These fundamental differences change how we talk to consumers about the store experiences and product offers to better reach the Hispanic consumers' need for convenience.

Elizabeth Fauerso is Director of Strategy and Planning at Dieste with strong experience in consumer intelligence. In the last few years she has focused on the development of the "Nueva Latina" profile tool for the agency and led consumer and market strategy for AT&T, HP, Southwest Airlines and Levi's, among other clients.

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Feeling Safe

from my email:

Daily Sales Tip: Make Them Feel Comfortable

People never say what they really first. Most individuals learn from a very early age that saying what is really on their minds can have negative consequences.

As a result, they are cautious to express their real feelings until they feel "safe enough" with another person. The professional salesperson "peels the onion" to allow the customer a feeling of safety, which allows for the free expression of thoughts, opinions and feelings.

Source: Sales trainer/speaker Jeff Thull (

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thursday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Click & Read:

by Karlene Lukovitz
Now through June 4, the Kraft Foods brand is giving everyone the opportunity to bid on eBay for a "Ride Shotbun in the Wienermobile" package. The package includes use of the vehicle for a day, a catered Oscar Mayer cookout for 50 (complete with a grill, cooler and other accoutrements) and a year's supply of the hot dogs. ...Read the whole story >>
by Tanya Irwin
"We made the investment in TagMan for its benefits in pure tag management and to free us from the bonds of incumbent technology providers such as ad servers," says Virgin Atlantic's Veronica Brown. "But, to be able to say that this investment delivers a return of more than 40 times on CPA commission duplication alone is fantastic." ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
"The key is that it's truly a North American partnership, because we translate strongly in the Canadian marketplace. In past years [with Bridgestone's involvement in The Winter Classic], they were getting one-offs. Now, they will leverage the association over the course of the entire year," says the NHL's Keith Wachtel. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
People are using mobile devices to plan travel. Ten percent of respondents said they used a hotel application on a Web-enabled smartphone. Respondents who have used a hotel application have used it to: book a room, access their loyalty program account, view/modify/cancel an existing hotel room reservation, pay a hotel bill, check in and check out. ...Read the whole story >>
by Sarah Mahoney
Aerie, its lingerie concept, is doing well. "It's a brand with tremendous promise," says CEO Jim O'Donnell, and will be expanded to "become a full lifestyle brand," including personal care and loungewear. Similarly, he says 77Kids, an online brand, "is gaining traction," and that nine brick-and-mortar stores will open this year, fewer than initially forecast. ...Read the whole story >>

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New Ad Campaigns

from Amy at Mediapost:

"Write the Future." Chic-filled diapers. Hop into a "Swagger Wagon." Let's launch!

MTV International launched a trio of ads in Russian, Spanish and Korean relating to the World Cup. Odd subject matter for a music network, yet even MTV knows its viewership will wane when the World Cup takes place. A man buys and eats dog food for a trip to the World Cup in "Shto." His sister wonders why he just doesn't peel off and send the labels. The brother insists that eating dog food has done him no harm... then he humps the couch. Watch it here. Two friends watching football spot a large bug in "Chobi." One friend wants to kill it, while the other thinks it's good luck for their team. The critter turns them into snails, but their team scores. See it here. "Spooky," the adult-sized guinea pig, wields a chainsaw at his owner for neglecting to feed him while watching the World Cup. Perhaps there were performance-enhancing drugs in his water? The frightened owner orders a pizza for Spooky and sleeps with one eye open. Watch it here. La Comunidad created the ads.

Believe the hype. Nike launched a global football campaign beginning with "Write the Future," a three-minute film that will knock the socks off fans and non-fans alike. Famous footballers Drogba, Cannavaro, Robinho, Ronaldo, Rooney and Ribery are featured both on- and off-field. Their on-field actions, whether it's victory or defeat, trigger global consequences. Take Wayne Rooney, for example. His pass to a teammate is deflected, causing England's stock market to nosedive and sending him to live in a trailer, no longer playing soccer. However, if Rooney recovers and stops his opponent from scoring, the Queen knights him, England's economy soars and baby boys are named Wayne. Who knew Ronaldo made house calls? He drops in on Homer Simpson for a quick score. See the ad here. Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam created the film.

John Smith's launched its second TV spot, "Antique," this week, starring the brand's "No Nonsense" man. In "Diner," which launched earlier this month, our spokesman truthfully answered the dreaded question: If you could date anyone, who would it be? This time around, the no-nonsense man is having a watercolor appraised. The setting is just like "Antiques Roadshow." A crowd gathers around our spokesman and art expert, who describes the painting's history. After a large build-up, the painting's worth is valued at £200. "There's a man over there that got $15,000 for a box," says a disgruntled no-nonsense man. Watch the ad here, created by TBWA/London.

Target created three 15-second spots that aired during the series finale of "Lost," which combined products sold at Target with themes found throughout the series. Jack Bender, a producer and lead director on "Lost," directed the ads. The first ad shows the infamous "Lost" numbers being entered into a computer with an unreliable keyboard, while Target sells a wireless keyboard. See it here. Black boars are hunted on the island. Why not slather ribs in Kraft BBQ sauce? Watch it here. Islanders would know when the Smoke Monster is nearby if they had a smoke detector... and batteries. See it here. Wieden+Kennedy Portland created the ads.

Huggies launched limited-edition Jeans diapers. Yes, you read that right. It's all so children can look stylish when crapping themselves. There's a TV version and online version of the ad, where copy is slightly altered. The voiceover in the TV spots says, "My diaper is full. Full of fashion," while the online version states, "My diaper is full. Full of chic." Both ads follow the viewpoint of two lunching women who spot something jaw-dropping: a baby walking in a dress shirt, shoes and denim diaper. Heads turn, the baby looks at himself in a mirror, then climbs into the backseat of a car. "The coolest you'll look pooping your pants" closes the ads, seen here and here. Cue Seth Myers and Amy Poehler and say it with me: "Really?" JWT New York created the ads.

Don't think that color can enhance a person's life, mind and behavior? Watch this ad for Dulux and be prepared to think differently. "Let's colour" launched online and combines a series of painting events that occurred over the past 4 months in the U.K., France, Brazil and India. Each community painting event, dubbed "Dulux Walls," tasked participants to transfer public and private spaces into something more vibrant, using Dulux paints. Looks like a job well done. The film will run worldwide on TV, starting with France. Euro RSCG London created the campaign.

Have you seen the Toyota Sienna music video "Swagger Wagon," starring the Sienna Family? Sit back and enjoy. The Sienna parents, with cameos from their children, rap about parenting skills and why rolling in a Sienna SE is better than a SUV. Shot in black and white, the video includes quotes like, "I got the pride in my ride in my swagger wagon" and "Straight owning bake sales with my cupcake skills, I'm better with the money so I handle the bills." Watch it here, created by Saatchi & Saatchi LA.

In honor of NBA Playoffs, here's a Nike Basketball ad entitled "Handshake." Puppet LeBron James sits in a barbershop, discussing the importance of a team handshake, while shots of human LeBron James performs said handshake on TV. LeBron catches flak for the handshake, with his barber saying, "I heard you gotta go to training camp three weeks early just to learn the handshake." When a fellow patron arrives, Lebron teaches him the handshake. The barber is still fascinated by the drawn-out ritual, commenting, "They're gonna need some hand sanitizer after that." Watch the ad here, created by Wieden+KennedyPortland.

Random iPhone App of the week: The NBA on ESPN launched RV Chase, a free app that allows users to collect points and trophies by checking in at basketball-related locations. Users can compete against friends and fellow ESPN members for biggest NBA fan-bragging rights. App updates can be synced with Facebook and Twitter status updates. The app can be downloaded from the App Store.

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

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23 Tips

How many of these are you going to do?

This is from

Before You Complain About the Economy...
by Colleen Francis
I think we can agree that the economy is still unstable. While some companies are flourishing, others are suffering. Likewise some sales professionals are exceeding their goals and others, I would say about 75%, are crying about their poor results and blaming the economy.

I see it every day, with sales rep after sales rep not achieving their goals asking for advice on how to sell in a slow market. The first comment I make to all of them is this:

"If your market has slowed and you have slowed with it, you will soon be out of business. So tell me, what have you done to ramp up activity this year?"

Usually that question is met with silence and then another complaint about how no one is buying.

"No one?"

Of course some people are buying, someone always is. So my question to you is this:

"If your market has slowed to a crawl, or maybe only half of your market's buyers are buying, what are you doing to ramp up your activity — working both smarter and harder — to capture a greater share of sales in your slowed market?"

Sadly, it's been my experience that most salespeople give up when their markets slow down. They resign themselves to the fact that it's going to be a bad year and they don't even try to hit their quotas.

A very few refuse to wave the white flag. These top performers attack their markets with vigor. They approach more prospects with new and increased sales activities. These are the few reps who, even in a bad market, are selling more.

I met one of those types recently. Mike is selling to home builders, renovators and consumers, arguably a down market. His sales are up 200% this year because he is, as he said, "powering through this economy and out hustling my competition."

So, before you complain about the economy hurting your sales I need to ask: Are you taking any of the following actions?

1. Reach out to your current client database at least twice per month with a value-based, content-rich newsletter.

2. Attend at least 1 networking event per week.

3. Ask for referrals at least once per day.

4. Follow up on your leads at least 7 times by email and 7 times by phone before you give up.

5. Prospect every day to keep your funnel full. A full funnel is one full of opportunities totaling 300% of your goal.

6. Identify new target markets to sell to.

7. Attend trade shows regularly and follow up with the leads within 24 hours.

8. Make 5 more calls every day.
9. Implement a reactivation campaign to win back lost customers.

10. Revise your goals for the month, quarter and year.

11. Change your presentation to place the customer's values first and your corporate marketing messages last. Remember clients only care about what's important to them.

12. Talk to your five best customers. Ask them to evaluate your situation and make suggestions for new markets.

13. Get a coach or a mentor. Invest in a live training program and network with other professionals for a new perspective.

14. Get to work an hour before everyone. Put in more productive time.

15. Stay away from the complainers. Don't make your sales worse by hanging around the life suckers and underachievers.

16. Each night before you go to bed, make a list of 20 things that happened that day that you are excited about or proud of.

17. Spend 15 minutes before you start work reading materials that focus on developing your positive attitude. Search for blogs or online sources, or start a classic book from Napoleon Hill. Skip the newspaper!

18. If you travel, listen to motivational or educational CDs in the car ALL DAY. Make sure your mp3 player is also loaded with motivational CD's for listening in airports, train stations and while traveling.

19. Record your live presentations. Review them with a manager, a superstar colleague or your coach. Take notes. Implement new ideas immediately.

20. Ride along with the best salesperson you know and watch how they communicate with clients. Implement what they do into your sales approach.

21. Take your boss with you on calls for a week. Or ask them to listen in on your sales phone calls. You'll get more feedback than you can handle, but it will help.

22. Record your calls and listen to them. Would you buy from you?

23. Tweet, blog or update your social media status with a value message or inspirational message daily.

You can change your results in any economy. Just look at Mike!

Once you accept the fact that you can change your results, you can begin to recover one step at a time. Don't try all 23 ideas at once. Simply pick one or two new ideas per week. Implement them every day for seven days. Master them. Own them. Continue to use them as you pick two more the next week. Soon you will own your market.

Believe in yourself. I do.

Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wednesday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Click & Read:

by Karl Greenberg
An insider source tells Marketing Daily that General Motors' marketing chief has basically told BBH that the "Mark of Leadership" theme doesn't have legs long-term, and they need to find a much more relevant brand positioning that can be sustained as a long campaign. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
"The way men view fiber is a considerable obstacle for marketers to overcome," sums up Mintel's Molly Heyl-Rushmer. The answer? She believes that employing "macho" spokesmen in advertising to "gently poke fun" at these false beliefs could help fiber-rich food marketers convince men that they're in error about fiber. ...Read the whole story >>
by Tanya Irwin
Advertising critic Lewis Lazare of the Chicago Sun-Times called the spots "emotionally gripping" and lauded the airline for launching them "after a long string of fairly ho-hum TV ads." He gave the spots an "A" grade in his column. "They unabashedly tug at our heartstrings," Lazare says. "It's hard to say which of the two American spots is the more compelling." ...Read the whole story >>
by Sarah Mahoney
Still milking the media buzz created when Fox and ABC initially refused to run one of its lingerie ads last month, Lane Bryant is having a new kind of fun: It's got an ad spoofing underwear powerhouse Victoria's Secret up on its blog and is asking its customers to weigh in. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
The off- and on-premises promotion, which will run through July 31, kicked off on May 20 with a 24-hour "pop-up" beach party in New York's Times Square. The event featured 30 tons of sand, ocean sounds, palm trees, volley ball and other games, beach-item giveaways and brand ambassadors. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
There's also a line of T-shirts, hats and hoodies with a hamster theme called Hamstar. Michael Sprague, Kia VP marketing, says the clothing line was a response to consumer demand after last year's campaign. "We got a lot of inquiries from consumers about it, so it was always in the back of our minds," he tells Marketing Daily. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
"For all the industry's rhetoric about providing consumers with 'choice,' the choices at restaurants mostly range from bad to terrible," asserted CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "If chain restaurants want to practice corporate responsibility, they should substitute fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for white flour, sugar, salt, and fat." ...Read the whole story >>
by Laurie Sullivan
Evidently, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive officer, has had enough. Maybe that's why Microsoft in February appointed David Webster chief strategy officer, and Gayle Troberman chief creative officer -- both new roles -- after somewhat of a reorganization earlier this year. ...Read the whole story >>

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Do Brands Matter?


On what you are selling and what the price difference is.

Mediapost reports:

Brand Loyalty Suffers During Recession

According to the recent results of a comScore study on brand loyalty among consumer goods products, showing a significant decline in consumers' allegiance to their favorite brands during the past two years, the percentage of shoppers who typically buy the brands they want most has steadily declined across the categories examined. In March 2010, less than 50% of shoppers reported purchasing the brand they want most.

comScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni, said "A decline in loyalty to consumer goods brands is typically one of the byproducts of a recession as consumers give greater consideration to price... (our) research... has quantified the impact of the ‘trading down' effect... highlighting consumers' increasing willingness to switch brands in the face of pocketbook constraints."

In some categories, particularly CPG household products and housewares, consumers were already more likely to buy a brand they didn't "want most" at the start of the recession. Some categories (e.g., paper towels, facial tissue) have not seen increased trading down from a brand perspective, possibly because such categories have led the way in tiering, allowing consumers to stick with their preferred brand at a more attractive price point.

As the economic downturn has persisted, this trading down behavior appears to be spreading to categories that were previously immune. The increases in trading down in these categories have largely occurred in the last year. Higher ticket items have seen large increases in trading down possibly due to larger absolute savings on a single purchase.

Percent of Respondents Who "Buy The Brand They Want Most" (March 2010 vs. March 2009 vs. March 2008, Total U.S.)






Net Shift 2010 vs. 2008

Health & Beauty Aids






Mouth rinse




























Pasta sauce





Fruit juice





Household Products

Laundry detergent





Facial tissue





Paper towels






Small Appliances





Source: comScore ARS, May 2010

U.S. consumers were also asked about the type of brand they did buy when not their preferred one, with a focus on the importance of promotional discounts and lower price in causing the shift.

Consumer Sentiment on "Trading Down" (March 2010 vs. March 2008 Total U.S).


Net Shift 2008 to 2010

"I buy the brand I want most"

"I sometimes buy a different brand if it is on sale"

"I buy less expensive brands to save money"

Health & Beauty Aids




OTC Medications




















Source: comScore, Inc, May 2010

For most categories, the drop in likelihood to shop for the brand wanted most is not restricted to buying other brands on sale. Rather, a sizeable percentage of the change in shopping approach is being driven by a decision to convert to less expensive brands to save money.

Mr. Fulgoni added: "Despite these shifting consumer dynamics, research has repeatedly shown that premium brands which invest in marketing and promotion activities aimed at maintaining buying at ‘preferred' levels are able to minimize short-term erosion of share to less expensive brands and position themselves for a bounce-back when the economy improves."

For additional information about this study, please visit comScore Press here.

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Are You Hiding?

I give my cellphone number to my customers and potential customers. I've renamed it my "Direct Line".

Here's why in this tip from

Stop Hiding from Your Buyers by Michael Johnson

Sounds silly doesn't it? Who would hide from their buyers?

Using voice mail and the Internet, many organizations are doing just that.

"Your call is very important to us, but not important enough to actually answer the phone."

It started when some accountant figured out if a business had a machine answer the phone they wouldn't have to pay a human being. It was a good idea for some businesses. However, the idea quickly evolved and voice mail became increasingly complex. Why not, the accountants reasoned, "externalize costs" further by having callers spend their time screening and directing their own calls? Surprisingly, even sales organizations that depend on incoming telephone inquiries have adopted complex voice mail systems.

To protect the guilty I'm offering a slightly fictionalized account of a call I recently made. All details except the names of the companies are true. I'm sure you've had similar experiences. Here's how my call went:

Brringg, brringg! "Hello, you have reached Acme Industrial Widgets. For complete product, services and company information please visit our web site at . (I am on their site as I hear this recording and, if I can get someone to answer a couple of questions, I am ready to do business.) Please listen carefully as our options have changed. If you know your party's extension you may dial it now. For a company directory please press 7, for customer service please press 3, for sales please press 4..." Great, I want sales so I press 4. Brringg, brringg! "Hello, you have reached the sales department at Acme Industrial Widgets. No one is available to take your call. Your call is very important to us. Please leave your name and callback number and someone will get back to you shortly. You may also visit us on the web at blah, blah. blah..." I don't leave a message and hang up.

The next company I call actually answers their phone! A pleasant professional voice says," American Industrial Widgets, how may I direct your call?" "Sales please." "I'll connect you now." "Sales, Mike Jones, how can I help you?" Mike, who was friendly, knowledgeable and articulate, answered my questions. My trust and confidence in the company soared. Mike then informed me of a special they were offering. I liked it. He got my $7800 order.

Millions are spent on advertising and marketing yet some companies don't realize that most sales transactions of any size result from human contact. While the first company avoided the cost of answering their phones, the second got my business. I can't help but wonder if the bean counters figured lost sales into the equation before celebrating the savings from not answering the phone.

If your organization has a complex voice mail system which makes it difficult for buyers to reach you, I suggest you change it. You might get a dedicated sales number that is separate from the main company voice mail system and actually (gasp!) answer it. If you are a smaller organization, consider getting a cell phone that is dedicated strictly to incoming sales calls and publish the number on your website as an alternative way to contact you. Incoming calls to the dedicated sales line can be call forwarded to the cell phone and contact can be made.

"Come on in, it's a jungle in here!"
While the Internet is an incredible sales and marketing tool, it is a very dangerous place. Buyers are understandably cautious. Misrepresentations seem to be the rule. Scams abound. Clueless "experts' offer to make you a millionaire overnight. Others dangle a variety of "too good to be true" rip-offs designed to separate you from your hard earned cash. You've seen their bogus promises: overnight weight loss, instant stimulus checks, miracle cures, the list goes on. On top of all this you can add tracking cookies, phishing, viruses, spam, spyware and Trojan horses.

It's no wonder buyers are wary.

Unless you are in a league with Macy's or Amazon, or well known within your industry, an essential job of your web site is to overcome buyer caution. Post a list of customer referrals, publish bios, offer a solid guarantee of satisfaction and have a strong privacy notice. While you can put all kinds of these commonsense "credibility enhancers" on your web site, a simple thing like including your street address and phone number really increases buyer confidence.

Whatever you do, unless you are a Geico giving instant online car insurance quotes, do not require potential buyers to submit an email inquiry form and wait for your response.

I don't want to start a business relationship with an assignment from the seller. I refuse to spend my time filling out your intrusive online form in order to get a call back Could we at least say hello before I tell you my budget, time frame to purchase, number of employees and annual sales?

I also don't want to leave a voice message and wait for a return call when you get around to it. I am the buyer. It's my agenda, not yours. Want my business? Tell me who you are and talk to me!

Michael Johnson is founder and publisher of Got a question or a comment? You can reach him at 760-476-3700 (Mon-Fri 8:30 am to 3:30 pm Pacific) or email him at:

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

A little later than usual....

by Sarah Mahoney
"It's a very narrow ruling and doesn't impact the entire licensing business," Oliver Herzfeld, chief legal officer for Beanstalk, a licensing agency based in New York, tells Marketing Daily. "But it does mean that major sports leagues cannot automatically assume that they can grant licenses for the entire league and escape exposure to antitrust claims." ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
Jack Hollis, VP of Scion, tells Marketing Daily that the eight-week-long "Unlock the tC Road Trip" is meant to build awareness with a specific crowd -- young people who spend a lot of time on the web. He says the tC has the youngest median-age buyer -- around 25 -- of any vehicle in the industry. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
The decision to invest in a new campaign for the brand, which is also launching four new flavor varieties, was based on the growing popularity of barbecuing, reports Bull's-Eye brand manager Noelle O'Mara. That growth is being spurred both by the economy-driven trend to more eating at home, and by consumers' interest in chicken as a healthy main course and their desire to find tasty, new ways to prepare it, she notes. ...Read the whole story >>
Financial Services
by Tanya Irwin
"With The Hartford topping our ranking for the first time, traditional carriers are clearly beginning to catch up, and even in some cases, surpass major direct-to-consumer players like Progressive and GEICO," says Pamela Pavliscak, a Change Sciences partner, and one of the authors of the report. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
The campaign comprises radio, point-of-purchase, social media and online videos that posit the brew as "Official Beer of Chet Hammerton." Hammerton, invented by the agency, spouts "Chet-isms" at, appears in videos and generally is meant to evince the American-blue-collar-dude ethos. ...Read the whole story >>
by Laurie Sullivan
The year-long project now asks Mountain Dew lovers to guide the media-buying process after creating the products and designing the marketing campaign. Through the DEWmocracy project, Mountain Dew polled the 4,000 Dew Labs members about their favorite Web sites. Gathering that information, Mountain Dew invited the potential media partners to pitch the DEW Labs community. ...Read the whole story >>

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Does your Woman Give a Rat's Ass about Laundry Soap?

My wife doesn't.

She wants it to be dye and perfume free.

And not cost too much.

And she's not alone.

From Mediapost:

Stop Avoiding The Conversation
News flash: Moms don't want to have a relationship with their laundry detergent. What they do want is more time to engage with the segments that impact their busy lives, such as health care and financial services.

The Boston Consulting Croup published a book recently regarding the "female economy," stating that Moms will drive $5 trillion in incremental global spending growth and advising marketers about they should do to capture this highly influential group. It goes into six profiles of different types of women and points out, specifically, the categories in which women are easily engaged, i.e., food, fitness, beauty and apparel. This is no surprise; it's where we see most of the marketing focus from brands to Moms.

What we don't see because it "frustrates" them, according to BCG, is financial and health care services marketing to Moms. One could also add real estate, automobiles and big box stores.

The financial and health care segments are missing a big opportunity. Moms are the game-changers today, leading the way online by creating a presence for themselves on social networking sites and blogs. According to the latest stats, women are ahead of men in the most popular social media destinations such as Facebook (57%), (52%), Ning (59%), Twitter (57%), Ustream.TV (66%) and Flickr (55%).

Additionally, mobile use is up and dominated by women (55%), with the 35-54 age group leading the way for social networking, followed by the 25-34 age group. With more Moms controlling the conversation, having the power, information and resources to make their own decisions, brands are going to need to step up and learn to be transparent in their relationship with them.

Personally speaking, we don't want to have a relationship with our laundry detergent. Moms do want to know that the household products we purchase work as advertised, are good for the environment, and have coupons and specials so we can make our dollars go further. However, it doesn't mean that we're not interested in the segments that "frustrate" us. Moms want more time, which means that we don't have time to sit through a three-hour consultation with a financial planner or wait around for the on-call nurse to call back so we can schedule an appointment.

Moms seek out social engagements and, by doing so online, they look for portals and resources where they can find the information they seek from an authentic, trusted source. They do this while multi-tasking through their to-do lists and don't appreciate having their time wasted. Isn't it ridiculous that laundry detergent brands have a better "relationship" with Moms than health care and financial services providers do?

Moms care about sustaining and improving their families financially; they want to know how to manage daily and monthly finances. They worry about money every day. Creating solutions that make it easier for Moms to engage with financial services beyond the household budget would be a huge growth area.

Take the health care segment. Did you know that women spend 30-50% more money than men do for health care services? Why aren't they paid more attention? Do health care providers think they're going to come and keep spending money with them and not look elsewhere for a true engagement? No wonder these segments (along with auto, big box and real estate) are listed as areas that women find "frustrating" and ones that marketers avoid. The fact is, these marketing teams are not consumer-focused, not social, and not present.

Stop avoiding the conversation. Engage with Moms in ways that show you value their time and want to have a relationship with them. The best place to start is with a conversation. Ask questions, and find out what Moms want.

Stephanie Piche is a work-at-home mother with over 20 years of sales and marketing experience in start-up technology for media and consumer clients. She has initiated and led over 30 product launches including mobile and social networking communities with world-wide responsibility for sales, marketing and support. Stephanie has been on the Internet since 1994 and has successfully pioneered product engagements using the right mix of technology from new media, digital publishing and Web 2.0 tools. Her latest endeavor is a social TV community, Mingle Media TV, where she and other hosts start live streaming video conversations daily from parenting to special causes. Reach her here.

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Zeroing in on your best Prospects

from my email:

Daily Sales Tip: Creating a Customer Profile

When developing your ideal customer profile, first focus on the demographics, or "hard data," of your most profitable customers. This may include company size, industry, geographic location, compatibility of your product, or budget.

It is also important to consider the attitude and values of your best customers -- company culture, propensity to take risks, perception of quality versus quantity, etc.

By combining these two sets of characteristics, you will find you've pieced together the ideal "profile" of the prospects you should pursue first. This will leave you with a shorter list of opportunities, but this list will allow you to achieve a much higher level of success with the least amount of time and effort.

Source: Sales training organization Miller Heiman

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