Saturday, July 24, 2010

Automatic Success?

There really is no key it an instant, or automatic success.

In the 1967 movie, "The Graduate" Dustin Hoffman was told that the business to go into was Plastics. But not all companies in the plastics industry were successful.

If the movie was remade around the turn of the century, Dustin would have been told to go into the Tech business, after we survived the Y2K scare.

Again, it takes more than the right industry to be successful as this article from explains:

Over the last 30 years there have been several satellite companies that have had their share of struggles as they tried to be the first to master this technology and monetize it by bringing key home services to market (satellite TV, radio, and Internet specifically). Some companies made it through their turbulent times like Sirius XM and others just died a silent death like Primestar (absorbed into an industry giant). We thought it would be interesting to take a look at 10 satellite companies that failed miserably. If you think we need to add more to the list, place a comment and let us read your arguments.

  1. Sirius XM – Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio merged in 2007 to become Sirius XM. When they combined they had over 18.5 million subscribers and growing. They seemed to be the invincible king of satellite radio until they issued a warning for the company to prepare for Bankruptcy in February of 2009. Eventually this led to them being owned by Liberty Media (which owns 49% of DIRECTV). All of the Sirius XM broadcasting was cancelled and replaced with offering from SonicTap.
  2. Iridium, LLC – This is a satellite phone company that was originally founded in November of 1998 and the first Iridium call made was by then-Vice President of the U.S., Al Gore. They launched their satellite (and some spares) and it was a rocky start by 1999 they were in chapter 11 bankruptcy. Today they are doing better with quite a few subscribers (over 320,000) and are bouncing back. So this one is definitely not a complete failure, it just failed at least once out of the gate.
  3. Primestar – This was a really good satellite TV service that failed and eventually sold its assets in 1999 to Hughes Network Systems which later evolved into DIRECTV. They originally broadcasted in analog but converted over to digital technology before eventually losing the battle for subscribers to DIRECTV and Dish Network. I actually was a Primestar customer and really resented being forced to move to DIRECTV.
  4. ASkyBAmerican Sky Broadcasting was a joint venture of NewsCorp and MCI Worldcom. They were at one point being courted by Primestar and would have possibly kept Primestar alive. There is nothing specific about ASkyB that makes it a failure aside from the opportunity to keep a third viable satellite television provider alive. The assets were purchased late in 1998 by Echostar (Dish Network).
  5. AlphaStar – This was a direct-to-home satellite TV service for the U.S. developed by a Canadian company called Tee-Comm Electronics. It started in July 1996 and got up to about 40,000 subscribers before finally succumbing to bankruptcy in September 1997. It had a short life and you can read more about it here.
  6. St.GIGA – in 1990 they became the first satellite radio company in the World and regular broadcasting really commenced in 1991. This was partially supported by Nintendo and they broadcast only in Japan. Unfortunately despite even venturing into gaming, they just couldn’t make a go of it and eventually its satellite broadcast certificate was revoked.
  7. Globalstar went through a chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2003 but was originally launched in 1997 as a joint venture between Loral Corporation and Qualcomm. After the restructuring and emergence of a new primary owner in Thermo Capital Partners, LLC though Globalstar, Inc. was born and remains a fully functional organization with over 300,000 subscribers. It mainly focuses on satellite phone and some data usages.
  8. VOOM – What is really interesting about VOOM is the fact that it was actually launched by Cablevision (yes the cable TV giant). There was apparently a big dispute in 2005 between Charles Dolan (the founder of Cablevision) and a few board members who wanted to shutdown VOOM. It resulted in the servicing being shutdown later that year and the assets being sold to EchoStar (Dish Network).
  9. United States Satellite Broadcasting (USSB) – This was founded by Hubbard Broadcasting in 1981 (specifically by Stanley S. Hubbard). This was one of the first satellite television companies and considered by most to be the pioneer in the industry. They broadcast most of the major American premium channels and really made a name for themselves. It never really failed but eventually was absorbed into DIRECTV. So the only real failure is not getting credit for what they accomplished and then later being dissolved into another system.
  10. Protostar went bankrupt in June of 2009 (filed for chapter 11 protection). The largest customer of this satellite company is Dish TV India Limited, the largest television operator in India. Eventually it went up on the auction block later in the year (October 2009) and was purchased by Intelsat Corp. for $210 million. It obviously had valuable assets but couldn’t capitalize on those assets.

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Lifetime Value

Check out this recent email from Chuck McKay:

How to Make Money by Losing Money

Would you buy a dollar for 50 cents?

OK, that one was easy. If you could hand me 50 cents, and get a dollar back every time, you'd push as many fifty cent pieces in my direction as I'd be willing to accept.

What about for 99 cents? Would you be as excited about that exchange? Maybe. As long as there's a profit to be made you might be willing to make it slowly.

How about $1.35? Could you imagine spending $1.35 to get back one dollar?

Your first reaction is likely "no," but the correct answer isn't so obvious.

How could anyone stay in business losing 35 cents on the dollar?

Pretend with me that your music store consistently sells twelve guitars a week, at an average price of $850, and an average profit of $332 (39 percent).

You're planning an Anniversary Week guitar sale, and have budgeted $10,000 for advertising. Knowing that you'll get to keep 39 cents of every dollar you take in, it would seem that to recover your $10,000 advertising investment you'll need to generate $25,641, or roughly 30 additional sales (for a total of 42) just to break even.

But wait a minute. Selling 42 guitars this week doesn't have you showing a profit. You're merely recovering your costs. And what happens if you don't sell 42 guitars? Wouldn't you have been better off not advertising this sale at all?

Maybe we need to re-think this Anniversary Week sale idea.

Then again...

We probably will sell a lot of accessories. We'll probably draw some new people into the store, and remind former customers that they used to enjoy shopping with us. OK. Even if we can't sell enough guitars to pay for the Anniversary sale advertising, we might sell enough other items to recover the ad budget.

And then there are the rumors of the way the new competitor does business. You've heard he will happily lose money on the first sale if he gains a new customer in the process. What the... How can anyone stay in business with a silly business model like that?

Well, your competitor has recognized that the customer who buys the guitar will also need a case, maybe a strap.

Over the next weeks he'll see the value of a battery-powered tuning standard, or a capo. He'll need picks, and strings. Over his lifetime as a player, he'll need lots of strings.

Then, too, over his lifetime as a player, he may purchase several other instruments, and all of the accessories. Maybe he'll even need lessons.

If a business is willing to invest money in advertising to gain new customers, why not invest in the customer himself?

When we consider the probability of all those additional purchases, and all of the profit derived from them, would you be willing to lose a few bucks on the "front end" of this relationship to "buy" the customer, and gain a profitable "back end?"

Twenty years ago Jay Abraham brought up the concept of back end sales by telling the story of a coin dealer. The dealer offered a $23 starter coin set at cost, and gained 60,000 new customers.
  • Within six months, 6,000 of those 60,000 new customers each bought another $1,000 worth of coins.

  • Two months later 2,000 of the 6,000 customers each purchased roughly $4,000 in additional coins.

  • Finally, 500 of the 2,000 bought another $10,000 each.
By being willing to break even on the initial sale, the coin dealer was able to generate a list of qualified customers who were responsible for $19 million dollars in additional sales:

And this part is critical: every one of the 60,000 names on the initial list turned out to be worth $317 in additional sales, even though nine out of ten of those new customers never spent another dime.

This is a great illustration of Lifetime Customer Value (LCV).

Make your profit on the back end.

How many customers would you be willing to sell at no profit, if it meant each would directly or indirectly generate $317 in new sales in the next year? Would you maybe even be willing to lose money on the front end, if there was enough profit on successive back end deals?
  • Would you give away the $400 (retail price) cellular telephone, in order to gain the 24-month usage contract at $100 per month?

  • Would you give away the new $60 (retail) chrome plated coffee brewer to gain a customer who spends an average of $234 on your gourmet coffees?

  • Would you be willing to sell gasoline at an average profit of $14.32 per month (four, 20-gallon tanks), when that driver will spend an average of $31.92 each month in interest and carrying charges on your company credit card?
Yes, I suspect you would. Next time, in "How to Calculate Lifetime Customer Value," we'll determine in dollars and cents the value of each new customer. We'll also get a handle on how long that new customer will continue to do business with us.

SChuck Chuck McKay is a marketing consultant who helps customers discover, and choose your business. Questions about making money with back-end sales may be directed to


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7 Tips

This is from bnet:

Impress Your Customer: 7 Easy Strategies

The following basic tips aren’t news for seasoned sales pros, but you’d be surprised how many novices either don’t know them or aren’t following them:
  • Strategy #1: Tune your first impression. A bad first impression is almost impossible to overcome. Make certain you look like someone the customer will want to work with.
  • Strategy #2: Develop a friendly greeting. If you’re in sales, your smile, handshake and eye contact should be top quality. Rehearse these with a colleague who’ll give honest feedback.
  • Strategy #3: Always get the name right. Be fanatical about pronunciation with unusual names. Prospects will appreciate it and it will communicate that you care.
  • Strategy #4: Focus on the customer. If you find yourself talking too much about your weekend, your golf game, your family or your job, then you’re probably not listening enough.
  • Strategy #5: Remember personal information. Record interesting information, like the names of family members and birthdays. Then show your customers that you remembered.
  • Strategy #6: Always speak positively. Whatever the temptation, avoid criticizing anyone, even a competitor, in front of your customers. Criticizing others makes you look underhanded.
  • Strategy #7: Stay appropriately upbeat. A positive attitude, fueled by honest curiosity, energy and enthusiasm, makes people WANT to work with you.

BTW, the above is based on a conversation with Michael St. Lawrence, author of the book “If You’re Not Out Selling, You’re Being Outsold.” Smart guy and (not surprisingly) a fun guy to talk with.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Click & Read:

by Karl Greenberg
"In the old days, someone would print a [KBB] window sticker, put it on their car window, not sell it for six months and then by that time the KBB value is out of date," says KBB's Cy Scott. "So a potential buyer would go to our site and get a totally different price. That's what the Live Value feature solves." ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
The challenge in the U.S. market is that Americans who aren't big fans of Formula racing won't know the brand. "In the rest of world, we have a huge presence with Formula One," says spokesperson Lynne Arciero, "but because it's not as popular in the U.S. we need to build up a 'cool' factor. For the brand's longevity, we have to promote what McLaren means." ...Read the whole story >>
by Tanya Irwin
"Given the surge in social network marketing and its growing clout, just about anything that amplifies a company's online interactive experience with customers and potential customers is a net plus these days," says Packaged Facts' David Lummis. "Also, [such] initiatives can be cost-saving ways to reach a potentially vast market base not just nationally but globally." ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
The recent rise in healthier menu items likely reflects both growing consumer awareness/demand and governmental initiatives to address obesity and nutrition issues, including federal requirements for nutritional transparency on menus that will go into effect next year. ...Read the whole story >>
by Aaron Baar
"Everyone's doing just a little more [saving] or are about the same level as they were in February," Regina Corso, director of the Harris Poll, tells Marketing Daily. The economic indicators may be out there, but the American public's not feeling it yet. People are still gun-shy about spending." ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
The Defenders, dressed in hard-to-ignore (even in Manhattan) green-and-black costumes that include head goggles and shields bearing the New Leaf logo, will pilot a branded vehicle around the city dispensing New Leaf samples and searching for "taste offenders." ...Read the whole story >>
by Sarah Mahoney
Most people in marketing are either so BlackBuried or lost in the C-suite that they miss key developments in industry jargon. Thankfully, Chicago ad agency Cramer-Krasselt is ready to loop you back in with this year's version of its "Cultural Dictionary." ...Read the whole story >>

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The next two Fridays, one of my radio stations is teaming up with McDonalds to do Real Fruit Friday's at lunch time. shares the details of their latest success:

McDonald's Unleashes Summer Sales Weapon: Beverages

Ahead of National Advertising, Chain Is Finding Success -- and Unexpected Customers -- With Line of Frappes, Smoothies

CHICAGO ( -- Burgers, schmurgers: This summer at McDonald's, the focus is on beverages. The chain is launching frappes and smoothies by way of its McCafe line and sales are surging -- even before the national advertising, which officially launches this week.

The entire line of beverages, including lattes and cappuccinos is expected to add about $125,000 to each restaurant's annual sales and $1 billion to McDonald's bottom line. It's a good thing, too, because new equipment and remodeling costs ran up to $100,000 per restaurant, although McDonald's kicked in a portion of the cost.

McDonald's coffee drink is a cheaper alternative to Starbucks.
Tim Klein
McDonald's coffee drink is a cheaper alternative to Starbucks.

So far, McDonald's has said the McCafe drinks are on pace with that goal. In May, the chain credited frappes as part of the reason for a 3.4% increase in U.S. same-store sales. Smoothies are also selling ahead of expectations, McDonald's spokeswoman Danya Proud confirmed. So much so that the chain recently asked exuberant franchisees to curtail promotions in advance of launch.

While the drinks are well-known among urbanites, they have yet to catch on in the mass market. One sticking point may have been one of availability. Now McDonald's is putting them in 14,000 U.S. locations and throwing the switch on its $1.2 billion U.S. advertising spending. Another is a lack of knowledge about the products. And so the chain is beginning another education campaign, having spent much of last spring explaining the latte. Ads from DDB Chicago, depicts berries and yogurt going into a blender to create a "real fruit smoothie."

Women seem the most likely target for these sweet drinks, and McDonald's has undertaken a variety of initiatives in recent years to woo them into restaurants or entice them to buy something for themselves while making a stop for the kids. Ad Age decided to stop by a downtown Chicago location, and get a sense of who is buying the new beverages and why.

"The idea has been to do as much visible and audible advertising as possible," said franchisee Nick Karavitis, pointing to signs on the menu board and recorded messages that greet customers in the drive-thru, saying, for instance, "We now have smoothies and frappes." But once national advertising starts, he predicts sales will go through the roof.

It's not just women, though, a number of men confessed to be fans. A young man who identified himself as Matt Blank said he was drinking his eighth frappe and had gotten hooked on the sweet concoctions. He was unable, though, to convince companion Naomi Garcia to even have a sip. Ms. Garcia, who described herself as "basically vegan," had insisted they visit Starbucks next. "I trust their food," she said.

But the smoothies seemed to be enticing a few vegetarians to the home of Big Mac. Two women, Saman Sheikh and Trina Wolfson, separately confided that they hadn't been to McDonald's in years. They each ordered fries to go with their smoothies, apparently not realizing the fries are flavored with beef.

A mother and son visiting from Albuquerque praised the smoothies. Becky Burrage said she makes smoothies at home, but was pleased with the product.

Not everyone was as complimentary of the frappes. Kate Falardeau, who said she was having her first lunch at McDonald's in years, had also ordered her first mocha frappe. "It's more like a milkshake," she said. "And I wanted something that tasted like coffee."

But Taylor Shaw, an area high-school student, said she was enjoying her caramel frappe. And while she'd had the similar product at Starbucks, she said the McDonald's version had saved her money, which was going toward a purse she was going to buy at Water Tower Place.

Another important aspect of the premium beverages is the ability to build business in off-peak times. While the drinks are an easy upgrade from a coffee or soda, smoothies and frappes also fit the bill for a late-morning or mid-afternoon snack. The fast-food industry has worked hard to drive traffic in middling hours, with items like snack wraps. Mr. Karavitis noted that the drinks also do well in the evening, as dessert or even a late-night snack.

Now the problem for McDonald's is what to do about the tired-by-comparison triple-thick milkshakes. The chain is working to add a premium touch to the drinks, serving them in clear McCafe cups and adding whipped cream and a cherry. The chain is also working on a number of trendier shake flavors and styles. The Chicago and State location was serving a take on an orange-sherbet shake with striated layers of white and orange.

And get ready Sonic: the McSmoothie machine is already equipped with a button for ice-blended strawberry lemonade. The drink itself is still in test, in a handful of markets, including Michigan and Austin, Texas.

Our Reporter Learns to Leave Drink-Making to the Experts

So if I can break stories about McDonald's marketing, I ought to be able to make one of its smoothies, right? Not so much. After a few highly supervised minutes operating its state-of the art ice-blended-drink machine, McDonald's spokeswoman Danya Proud told me, "Don't quit your day job."

Tim Klein

McDonald's employs a drink specialist to run the two machines that make its espresso-based and ice-blended drinks. In a very short stint just before the lunch rush last Thursday, I learned how to make a smoothie and a frappe.

The first thing is to grab the pitcher, which gets inverted and washed after each use, and fit it under the drink chute. Now select the drink and the size on the touch screen. Check! Since the machine adds and measures each ingredient by weight, the actual preparation is pretty foolproof. For a smoothie, it draws pre-made smoothie mix and frozen yogurt from drawers beneath the counter, and adds ice.

Now comes the hard part: grabbing a plastic cup from the bays overhead. Not easy if you're 5' 2," and even harder if you use any pressure, which I did. Luckily, the owner-operator was on hand to do it for me. Smoothies are served without toppings. But on the subsequent frappe, I really got to shine: covering the top with a layer of whipped cream was done in only two tries. Then I drizzled the top with chocolate sauce and added a lid without sticking my finger through.

Now, back to my day job.
--Emily Bryson York

What People Are Saying About the New Products

Saman Sheikh

Saman Sheikh
Tim Klein
Saman Sheikh
This Chicago-based journalist said she hadn't visited a McDonald's in years. "I try to eat healthy," she said, and that includes a vegetarian diet. She cited concerns about the company's treatment of animals. "I really think they should rethink their practices," she said. (Franchisee Nick Karavitis said smoothies are giving McDonald's a chance to combat commonly-held misperceptions about the food and how it's made.)

Taylor Shaw

Taylor Shaw
Tim Klein
Taylor Shaw
This high-school student from the Western suburbs stopped at McDonald's with friends and had a caramel frappe. She'd had Starbucks' version, but said she wanted to save money for a new purse. Darren Tristano, exec VP of Technomic, said that millennials are a solid target for ice-blended drinks because they had more options (read: fewer milkshakes) while growing up. Smoothies, he said, "taste good and the flavors are going to be appealing and there's a healthful association." Freshness is another bonus, he said, as well we the ability to offer a variety of flavors.

Matt Blank

Matt Blank
Tim Klein
Matt Blank
If McCafé drinks primarily appeal to women, their charms aren't entirely lost on men. Mr. Blank stopped in for what he said was his eighth frappe. "I'm hooked," he said. Mr. Tristano said to expect a lot of men with McCafés. The drinks are "a natural for men who want something cold and tasty." Companion Naomi Garcia was having none of it. "I'm going to Starbucks," she said.
--Emily Bryson York

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Next up: Generation Z!

from Mediapost:

Three Predictions About Generation Z
In 2010, Gen X, the group defined as having graduated high school around the turn of the millennium, might as well be considered over the hill. Likewise, Gen Yers are slowly growing up and out of their "teen" phase, paving the way for tweens to take the crown. Increasingly, pre-teens of today are becoming more savvy and in tune with behaviors and preferences normally reserved for teens.

So what is this generation -- chronologically called by the name "Generation Z" -- going to look like? Here are three predictions:

1. Sorry, Kindle, Gen Zers are iPad enthusiasts.
The iPad has been the breakthrough device of the year. One could argue that the iPhone 4 or other mobile technologies should take that crown. But the iPad has created an entirely different way of receiving and absorbing information in 2010. Has anyone seen that cool new Popular Mechanics application?

Increasingly, parents are turning to bite-sized devices to entertain and educate their children. The iPad will outpace the iPhone for the chosen "keep the kids entertained device" for Gen Z parents as there is more room for security, limited need for a data plan, and the device will allow parents to hold onto their cell phones versus giving them to the kids to stay occupied. Not to mention the price point of an iPad makes it the perfect, dare I say, in-be"tween" device that's not quite a computer, but not quite not either.

2. They won't take criticism well.
If there's one thing we've learned from Generation Y, it's that they're not to be ... umm ... messed with. One slip of the tongue with a teenager and they're likely to stomp on your foot, leave the room, and start an empire quicker than you can say Facebook. The generation of entitlement is only going to continue to grow, so be prepared to speak to your young-ers the right way.

Sounds weird, doesn't it? Don't ignore it because, from a marketing perspective, it's very important. A group of Gen Zers will be able to sabotage a brand, kill a campaign, and destroy the bottom line of a company with just a few keystrokes on a status update or Twitter. Qualified responses don't matter, perception is reality, and this group is going to have a big opportunity to shift brand perception in an unprecedented way.

3. They will continue to find loopholes.
This is probably the most important prediction as it will affect everything in a marketer's toolbox -- creative, media and loyalty programs included. As information continues to be more accessible, and advertisers look to find a way to reinvent media spaces, such as the 30 second spots, banner placements, etc., Generation Z will continue to find ways to access their information more quickly.

Loyalty programs will become "what have you done for me lately" programs, as the marketplace becomes more competitive, social and referral based. The days of using one brand of toothpaste for years is nearing its end! Creative will need to be more compelling to not just cut through the clutter but to engage this audience in something interactive. Overall, a very interesting game of cat and mouse is about to ensue, and marketers will need to be even more on their toes in choosing the right strategy, creative, and media to engage this audience.

The moral of the story? Engage teens, but prepare for the "über teen." Generation Z is on the rise, and it may just be the most agile, fickle and trickiest to engage generation yet!

Frank O'Brien is the founder of Conversation, a strategy-driven, independent advertising agency specializing in emerging technologies and cross-channel marketing integration. Building on his previous success at agencies such as Deutsch Inc and Mr Youth, Frank has grown Conversation's client roster to include The Children's Place, Estee Lauder, Unilever, E*Trade, Rocket Dog, Prince Tennis, Pollo Tropical and HGTV, among others.

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Don't Do This

from the folks & Jill Konrath:

Whatever You Do, Don't Do This during a Sales Meeting

Jill Konrath, Selling to Big CompaniesBy Jill Konrath, Contributing Editor

After months of trying, you land an appointment with a major account that uses your competitor's services. It wouldn't be unusual if you now feel an overpowering urge to cram as much as possible into this one meeting. You need to tell them about your firm's new directions, latest technologies, unique services, competitive advantages, and more. So much to cover, and so little time!

Whoa! Slow down. Prospects who receive massive information dumps unconsciously erect barriers to slow or even derail your sales efforts. How? They tell you everything is fine, even if they're dissatisfied with their current vendor. They rule out doing business with you if your service lacks a minor feature. Your pricing is never good enough. Or they simply thank you for the update and promise to contact you when the need arises.

Sound familiar? It's the result of trying to convert long-standing relationships in one sales call. Prospects distrust motives when they perceive a lack of concern for their needs. And that's exactly what happens when you spend most of your time doing all the talking.

Slower Strategies for Faster Results

Top sellers realize that replacing an incumbent is a slow, deliberate process. They understand it takes time to demonstrate value and develop strong relationships. Knowing this, they put together a one-step-at-a-time account-entry strategy that advances the sales process much faster than if they tried to do everything in a single call. The steps:

  1. Do your homework—Learn as much as you can before your meeting. Review your prospect's annual report and website. Look for gaps between where he is and where he wants to be. Identify his primary initiatives. Figure out how your product helps him achieve his objectives or ties in with his critical business drivers. For example, if “Earning Customer Loyalty” is mentioned repeatedly, determine how you can contribute.
  2. Think and talk results—Your service is a tool, nothing more. People buy it because of what it does for them; make sure you know what that is. Talk about the business results clients achieve when using your service. Explain how he can reduce time to market, increase operational efficiency, or reduce costs.
  3. Establish a logical next step—Before your meeting, determine how you want it to end. A successful advance might be an information-gathering meeting, an analysis of current work flow, or a presentation. Most sales to large accounts require multiple calls, so build this into your planning right from the beginning.
  4. Plan your questions—Questions are key to your success. They demonstrate interest and concern. Prospects feel you are more knowledgeable when you ask good questions. Questions provide valuable insights into client needs and the decision-making process. They are the basis for developing a strong relationship. Plan at least 10 questions ahead of time.

The sales process can't be short-circuited. If you go too fast, problems are guaranteed to arise. And your opportunity will evaporate into thin air.

The Big Meeting

At last it's time for the big meeting. Get down to business fairly quickly, minimizing chit chat. Start by stating your purpose. It's enough to simply say, "I'm here today to understand your organization better and see where we can improve your business results." Next share a short story about how your company helped another client and the specific results they attained. Talk results, not products!

Explain your process in working with accounts. Tell your prospect it's essential to fully understand his objectives, needs, issues, and challenges in order to determine the value you can provide.

Transition to questions and spend the bulk of your time investigating. Ask about the current situation: "Tell me about your workflow." Find out about any problems, challenges, or difficulties he has. Explore his answers by asking about the ramifications of these problems and the value of eliminating them.

Even though he asks, don't be tempted to talk about services. If you get caught in this trap, your chances of sales success decrease significantly. Graciously explain that a discussion about specific services is premature until you understand their needs better and then get back to asking questions. Before you leave, share a few key benefits and suggest the logical next step.

This is what the top sellers do. They don't rush the sale, and as a result they get the order. And they get them quicker. Follow their example, and you'll soon be enjoying the same success.

Jill Konrath is a Contributing Editor for and is a recognized expert in complex sales strategies and creating business value for B2B sales organizations. She's the author of Selling to Big Companies, a Fortune "must read." Her new book, SNAP Selling, focuses on fresh sales strategies that actually work when selling to crazy-busy prospects. For more information, download two chapters of SNAP Selling and start using these four sales-accelerating tools. Email Jill at

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thursday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Click & Read:

by Sarah Mahoney
"There is practically no segment or category out there where Boomers aren't a significant audience, even across technology, including cell phones and computers. They may not be the first ones in the door when a new product comes out, but it's close," says Doug Anderson. "They are purchasing at rates just as high as other segments, and because they are often buying for their kids, many are double-dipping." ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
"We looked at the market landscape and saw that, though we are a seasonal product, we have the same distribution as motor oil," says Sam Martin, Prestone's product manager for global coolants. "So much of sales is four months every year, so we wanted to see how we could expand that horizon a little bit." ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
Visits to U.S. restaurants declined by 3% during the year ending in May, compared to a year ago, according to NPD CREST tracking data on usage of commercial and noncommercial foodservice outlets. Moreover, consumer spending in restaurants declined by 1% -- the first dollar decline recorded since NPD began its foodservice industry tracking in 1976. ...Read the whole story >>
Financial Services
by Tanya Irwin
A new relationship with WildTangent includes a Latino financial advice microsite and an insurance-focused social simulation game. The program integrates entertainment and education to engage consumers with the brand, its products and its agents. ...Read the whole story >>
by Aaron Baar
Even the use of more "traditional" advertising is up via mobile devices. According to ABI, 28% of 2010 consumers viewed a commercial while watching video, compared with 20% in 2008. "In the coming months, this will change as more marketers grasp the significance of this changing behavior, and move budgets into mobile -- especially those chasing a branding lift," according to the report. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
The division is offering the Targeted Marketing solution to Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealers for a significant cut in price -- $599 per month, which FordDirect says is 40% to 60% below what such services usually cost for dealers. Ford says sales from FordDirect Internet referrals represent nearly 20% of Ford Motor retail sales. ...Read the whole story >>

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Writing Better Ads

There are plenty of bad ads out there. I see them, hear them, and try and ignore them. I've even written a few over the years.

Cumulus Radio sends out a newsletter that I get in my email with some advice on your advertising:

How Not To Be A Bore

by Bill Hansen

Don’t worry, this is not a recommendation to wear a lampshade at your next social event. This post is about effective advertising. But since the social metaphor is on the table, let’s follow it for a minute to illustrate how you can save a lot in wasted marketing dollars and, instead, turn those dollars into a powerful investment.

Have you ever gone to a party or networking event and found yourself locked in a one-way conversation with someone that spent 20-30 minutes going on and on about themselves? It’s a pretty miserable experience, particularly if politeness, politics, or family relation prevented you from bolting. It certainly didn’t leave you wanting to learn more about or interact more with that person. We’ll use this as our definition of ‘boring.’

Now, if you hold your marketing up to the same standard, would this fit our definition of boring? It’s a fair question because 70-80% of the advertising you notice on local TV, print, online, or radio (and ALL that you don’t notice) fit this description. These ads are boring because they focus mainly on the advertiser, and not the end-user. Just more blah, blah, blah about things consumers don’t care about. No one except the lonely people watching informercials want to hear about what a business is selling. For the most part, these boring messages are a waste of marketing dollars. If you want to communicate with a consumer, make your communication about that consumer. Her problem. Her felt need.

No One Cares About You

At least when it comes to commercial messaging. Your message is an intrusion on their media consumption. This doesn’t mean it can’t be effective, it just means that you need to know your place and message accordingly.

Let’s go back to the party for a minute. What would happen if your conversation partner was asking questions about how you felt, what you’d experienced, or what you were interested in? Even if that person had a strong point of view, by focusing the conversation on you he completely changes the dynamic. It’s Dale Carnegie 101 – when you want to get someone’s attention, or you want to make a friend, you find a way to show an interest in them, demonstrate that they’re important to you.

The way to do this with an advertisement is to make the main subject of the ad – the idea that sets the tone, grabs attention, demonstrates, or informs – the consumer herself.

How To Make Your Ad About The Consumer

If the topic of your ad is the consumer, then your ad’s headline better make that clear. And don’t let the term “headline” fool you – every ad has a headline, whether it’s print, video, graphic, or audio. The headline is what’s said first.

If the first thing on the screen, the copy, or the audio is your name, you’ve missed the mark. As soon as the consumer sees or hears the name of a business, it’s like giving her permission to tune out. It’s not about her, it’s about some business that she doesn’t care about.

How do you create a headline about someone that you’ve never met? It’s pretty easy. Just focus on the problem that you solve. Why do people buy your product/service, need it, or want it? Every effective ad should directly or indirectly be about a problem that the product/service solves.

Try starting the message with a question – a question directed at the consumer that pertains to the problem you solve (“When was the last time your lawn mower started on the first pull? Remember how satisfying that felt?”) Or start with statement that assumes the problem (You might actually enjoy mowing your yard if the darned machine would start like it was supposed to”). Note that both of these approaches are about the same consumer’s problem, but couched in different emotional terms.

Contrast this with a typical (and boring) approach: “Hi, this is Jim Hendricks, President of Hendrick’s Mower and Small Motor Repair, I’m here to tell you that we serve all of your small engine and yard equipment needs…” (yes, this is real copy, I just changed the names to protect the guilty).

Can Humor Save A Boring Ad?

If the ad is boring because it’s about a company and not the consumer, humor probably can’t help. There are exceptions, of course, but for every one that comes to mind there are literally thousands of failed attempts that don’t come to mind because you ignored them! The truth is, so many ads use humor ineffectively that humor itself has become cliche – and a signal to the consumer that the ad can be ignored. When humor does work, it’s almost always because it’s truly different and executed by real pros who know their stuff – and even these creative pros strike out more often than not. For every Budweiser “Real Men Of Genius” or Geico “Cave Man” there are a thousand painful examples of poorly executed advertising humor.

Same thing for obnoxious ads – a stratagem that many automotive retailers use to “grab attention.” Sure they grab attention, just like the drunk at the party who trips over his own feet and breaks the coffee table does. Yes, we noticed… The same things hold true for great photography, whiz-bang studio production, and flashy graphics. Some of these things may get attention once, but once the purpose of the technique becomes clear, the consumer catches on and tunes out to subsequent exposures. Since you generally don’t win a new customer with a single ad exposure (it usually takes dozens), technically-proficient ads about the wrong topic are no different than technically-deficient ads. They don’t work.

The Bottom Line:

Boring ads waste marketing budgets. Stick with a couple of simple fundamentals and you’ll turn potential advertising waste into a powerful growth investment. You might not win a creative award, but your ad will sell and that’s all that matters:

  1. Make the ad’s headline about your target consumer.
  2. The main idea of the ad should be solving a problem pertaining to need or desire.
  3. Frame this idea around emotions that are relevant to why people need or want your product.
  4. Give your consumer one iron-clad reason why you’re the best business to solve this problem for them. Just one, and make it persuasive and clear. That’s what they’ll remember.

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New Ad Campaigns

from Amy at Mediapost:

Out to Launch
Amy Corr
Virgin Mobile lauds the crazy life. Stupid phone bills that cost exorbitant amounts of money are buried and replaced with a rebirth of crazy: unlimited email, data, messaging and hundreds of talk minutes for $25 a month. The debut TV ad for "Welcome to the Crazy Life" begins with a funeral, shot in black and white. Mourners part ways with expensive cell phone bills for a more colorful, crazy life. This life includes a woman giving birth while reading the latest gossip, a tattoo artist who fails at multitasking, a woman unappreciative of a lap dance, a married couple too busy for pants and Rob Halford of Judas Priest playing a priest who keeps his phone atop his bible. See it here. Print ads, shown here and here, describe Virgin Mobile's monthly plan as crazy while referring to other mobile offerings as stupid. Hopefully crazy is replacing stupid. I've had enough of stupid, thanks to this award-winning outdoor campaign created by Anomaly for Diesel that pushed stupid over smart. Mother created the campaign.

I'm still basking in excitement from receiving a personalized message from Old Spice Guy, Isaiah Mustafa. Watch it here. After creating close to 200 personalized messages, Old Spice Guy threw in the towel, moving on to new adventures like solving Bermuda triangle mysteries with large magnifying glasses. As he says in the ad, seen here, he's just "one ridiculously handsome man." No arguments here. Silver fish hand catch! Wieden + Kennedy Portland created the phenomenon.

FedEx launched a pair of TV ads promoting its FedEx Cup tournament and global golf sweepstakes where users have a chance to win an international golf trip. Friends riding in the speed lane are going anything but fast in "Carpool." Their car turns into a golf cart because their driver is dreaming of winning the global golf sweepstakes. The driver dreams of Scotland, meaning each passenger is wearing a kilt. Since golf carts aren't used in Scotland, the men must run to work. See it here. "Pond" is great. An office conference call turns into a wet mess for two employees when their co-worker dreams of golfing in Australia. Entering his office leads both workers directly into a dirty pond. The dreamer regains focus, but only temporarily, sending the duo into the pond a second time. Watch it here. BBDO New York created the campaign.

How does Lance Armstrong find the strength to ride up those hills? The voices drive him. "Engine" promotes Nike LIVESTRONG and was filmed in France in the Jura Mountains, the conclusion of stage 7 of this year's Tour de France. Armstrong is climbing a mountain during a training ride, surrounded by breathtaking scenery, with voices of cancer survivors fueling his fire. The voices describe their emotions upon first being diagnosed and the things they've accomplished post-diagnosis. See it here. In addition, the Nike LIVESTRONG Chalkbot is back for the Tour de France. Users can send chalk messages of hope through Chalkbot's Twitter and Facebook pages. Wieden + Kennedy Portland created the campaign.

Pepsi MAX is warring against Coca-Cola Zero in "Diner," a remake of a Super Bowl ad from 1995. The original ad was created by BBDO and featured two truck drivers working during the holiday. The two bond over music and family; each man lets his friend try the competition's soda. A fight ensues when Coke man refuses to relinquish the Pepsi. 'Tis the season. See it here. The updated and unnecessary spot again features two truck drivers who bond over music. The Coke driver tastes Pepsi MAX and enjoys it so much that he finishes the can. Pepsi man videos this and immediately uploads it to YouTube. Cue the fight. Look out for a cameo from Art Fleur, who played the Pepsi truck driver in the original ad. Watch the ad here, created by TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles.

Verizon Wireless launched a sci-fi ad that played more like a movie trailer than commercial. "Expedition" promotes Droid X and begins with a group of soldiers in hazmat suits entering an underground lair. The soldiers pass a lone helmet and reach a door marked with an "x." Inside the room is a floating orb with a hole in it. An ambitious soldier sheds the protective gear on his arm, then sticks said arm inside the orb. His arm morphs into a wired entity, reminding me of cyborgs from the "Terminator" movies, and a Droid X emerges from his wrist. See it here. mcgarrybowen created the ad, directed by Noam Murro of Biscuit Filmworks.

Stella Artois is relaunching itself as a she, using the new tag line, "She is a thing of beauty." Photographer Bert Stern shot the print and outdoor campaign. He recreated an image he originally shot for a 1960 cover of Vogue that shows a man admiring a beautiful woman. This time around, the beautiful woman is drinking a glass of Stella. See it here. The campaign will run stateside for six months, in an effort to establish the brand as an object that all men desire. Mother created the campaign.

This takes brand loyalty to a whole other level -- a borderline creepy level. Titus Cycles launched a three-stage print campaign that offered free bikes to bikers willing to show extreme brand love. Willing to be inked with an original tattoo design that mentions Titus? Someone was, according to Titus' Fabebook fan page, and it netted him a $5,000 bike. A second ad offered a married couple matching bikes if they got married in Titus jerseys. The final ad encouraged a biking enthusiast to change his name to Rockstar 29'er and win its namesake, valued at $6265. See the ads here, here and here. TDA Advertising & Design created the campaign. The media buy was handled in-house.

Random iPhone App of the week: Wrigley launched "Gummie Mug," a free app promoting Lifesaver Gummies. The concept is easy. Take a new or existing picture from your photo album; tap your phone to stretch faces and slide your fingers to smush them. Gummified pics can be shared via Twitter or Facebook. Big Spaceship created the app, available at the App Store.

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Cold Calls

from my email:

Daily Sales Tip: Cold-Calling Pitfalls to Avoid

Here are three pitfalls usually associated with cold calling. You may correct them with a change in attitude:

* Making the cold call approach confrontational rather than consultative. When prospects feel confrontation, they often feel provoked or challenged. Salespeople who are too anxious to close the sale in a cold call decrease the odds of closing. Successful salespeople get a clear picture of the prospect's objectives and show how their product or service will meet them.

* If the prospect feels pressure rather than help. When prospects feel pressure during a cold call, they feel that demands are being placed on them. Creating demand and force won't work in a cold call. Patience, respect and understanding will give the salesperson a good feeling for the prospect's motivation to buy.

* When the salesperson shows self-focused goals rather than prospect-focused ones. Prospects have a multitude of choices of how and what to buy. Effective salespeople help, support and share knowledge with their prospects, especially during cold calls.

Source: Sales consultant/author C.J. Hayden

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wednesday Night Marketing News from Mediapost

Click & Read:

by Karl Greenberg
Most used-car shoppers plan to spend less than $15,000, and half of new-car shoppers said they plan to spend $25,000 or less. While the company says most shoppers are not biting the incentive-baited hook, 0% financing is still the most appealing offer followed by low monthly payments for those who are likely to be influenced by such offers. ...Read the whole story >>
by Sarah Mahoney
"Overall, consumers have reached this new equilibrium of spending and making decisions about things like groceries and apparel and electronics and automotive," Dee Warmath tells Marketing Daily. "The pie has shrunk, so each category is competing with another. So while there is a roving release of pent-up demand, there's not an overall increase in spending." ...Read the whole story >>
by Karlene Lukovitz
While Brown-Forman is simultaneously marketing the liqueur for mixed drinks and mixed shots, Tuaca is primarily positioned as a shot brand that appeals to young adult consumers, "and we wanted our packaging to reflect that, while still conveying the rich heritage," says Tuaca brand director Monica Garaitonandia. ...Read the whole story >>
by Aaron Baar
To launch the 11th iteration of its NCAA Football game, EA Sports is taking both a national and regional approach. A national television commercial features fans and football luminaries talking about their college football fanaticism by completing the phrase, "Where I come from ..." with a team-specific comment. ...Read the whole story >>
Packaged Goods
by Tanya Irwin
McNeill-PPC is offering a daily online sweepstakes through July 30 for a pair of tickets to the shows, which feature an array of female artists. On the o.b. Web site, people are invited to use an o.b.-branded guitar pick to strum a few bars on a guitar for a chance to win. They can also "like" the brands on Facebook in order to get a "VIP ticket tip-off." The Facebook page includes a link to a sweepstakes for the VIP package, which includes plane tickets, hotel and backstage passes. ...Read the whole story >>
by Karl Greenberg
CEO Victor Muller is appealing to owners and fans this week at the 28th Saab Owners Convention. To promote the forthcoming 9-5, Saab will also be in New York next week to give auto scribes a taste of the car, and a chance to hobnob with Saab executives over -- what else? -- a Swedish dinner in Monticello, N.Y. ...Read the whole story >>

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