Saturday, August 14, 2010

You Decide

Last month I got a call from a Marketing/Advertising agency that was turning down a potential client.

My friend at the agency, told me that the $10,000 budget was too small for them to work with.

In reality, it was also not the type of work that their agency focuses on.

When the referral came to me, I considered it. The money would have been nice, but what they needed and the time it would take... I decided to pass too.

Instead I checked around and found two other agencies that would do the work and passed along the info.

Seth Godin wrote about this:

Choosing your customers

Yes, you get to choose them, not the other way around. You choose them with your pricing, your content, your promotion, your outreach and your product line.

When choosing, consider:

How much does this type of customer need you

How difficult is this sort of person to find...

and how difficult to reach

How valuable is a customer like this one...

and how demanding?

It's not a matter of who can benefit from what you sell. It's about choosing the customers you'd like to have.

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Not the Weaker Sex

In case you missed it, Michelle Miller posted this on her WonderBranding Blog recently:

6.2 Million Customers Who Are Waiting To Do Business With You

Posted: 04 Aug 2010 08:00 AM PDT

Last month, the National Women’s Business Council released a fresh batch of statistics on women-owned businesses, taken directly from the newest U.S. Census Bureau report.

Between 2002 and 2007, the number of majority-owned (51%+), women-owned businesses rose by 20%, to 7.8 million.

If you’re interested, the ethnic breakdown looks like this:

  • Caucasian: 50%
  • African-American: 34%
  • Latina: 9%
  • Asian: 7%

While this report doesn’t account for the economic downturn of the past couple of years, the fact that women haven’t been as affected as heavily as men by job loss (combined with cultural shifts in which more women are choosing to work from home), is probably holding this number fairly steady.

Here’s what I find to be the most interesting part of the report: An economic impact study (in collaboration with WalMart), estimates that women-owned businesses contribute more than $3 trillion to the economy, even though only 20% of those businesses have employees.

That leaves 80% of women who have started their own businesses and work on their own.

That means you have a tremendous opportunity to position your product or service not only for consumers, but female business owners as well.

Take the garden center, which could easily create a corner display within the nursery to feature low maintenance plants that are perfect for the office.

Or the cleaning service that could offer a “Home Office Only” package. A woman always thinks of cleaning the rest of the house for the family, but neglects her own office. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door to persuade her to hire you for the whole house.

How about a meal prep service that delivers a “Work From Home” series of healthy lunches once a week? She can just pull one out of the freezer, pop it in the microwave, and then work while she eats.

I’ll bet you can come up with a half-dozen ideas on how your company can serve those women working on their own.

Let’s see… 80% of 7.8 million is 6.2 million women-owned businesses.

Is that enough customers for you?

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The Unspoken

from my email:

Daily Sales Tip: Know Those 'Unwritten' Expectations

Customer satisfaction is a very subjective thing to measure. It really is a matter of perception and experience.

If you meet or exceed the "unsaid-unwritten" expectations of your customers, their perception will be a positive one. Fail to meet these expectations, and you will find them less than satisfied or happy with you.

One method to make sure you meet or beat these "unsaid unwritten" expectations is to do your homework or research. Often, within an industry there are certain "unwritten, but still valid" expectations, which serve as the norm. Make sure you know what they are and use them as the bottom line in your service and performance.

If you want to succeed in gaining their repeat business and loyalty, make sure you go well past the "normal" expectations.

Source: Sales consultant/author Bob Hooey

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Friday, August 13, 2010

10 ways to Support your Best Customers-5

Time to continue our series:

10 Ways to Support Your Best Customers

Every company is in the service industry, right? Expert pointers for how to best perform for your best accounts.

By Inc. Staff |

Even if you're not in the customer service business, there's one clear way to please your customers: act like serving them is your first priority. We've compiled tips from expert interviews and articles that have appeared in Inc. and on to find the most poignant pointers for pleasing your most valuable customers.

5. Know the competition.

In Inc.'s series of sales tips from the world's toughest customers, Kathy Homeyer, director of supplier diversity for UPS, gave a helpful tip on what not to do. "The biggest no-no is not knowing our competition. People will say, 'I've got this really exciting proposal I want you to look at.' I'll say, 'Go ahead; send it to me.' Then they send it to me by FedEx. It happens every day. Just be smart. Know the company you are pitching to and know their likes and dislikes. You get such brownie points with me when you come in with a UPS envelope and have an account all set up. It's just the little things like that, the icing on the cake." Read more.

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The Boring Truth

Instructions on the shampoo bottle:

Lather, rinse, repeat.

That's true for success in all of life.

What would happen if you decided to do the shampoo routine for a week and then never again?

Drew wrote about this:

Marketing truth #3: There is no silver bullet

Posted: 11 Aug 2010 09:39 PM PDT

94156126 I hate to break it to you, but there's no magic marketing tactic.

  • There's nothing you can do once or twice and voila, you have customers.
  • You can't change gears every time you turn around and hope to build up awareness, let alone the desire to try your product.
  • You can't chase every shiny new object, thinking it's going to make you an overnight sensation.

Folks -- marketing is not about a silver bullet. It's not that sexy or that complicated. Marketing, whether you want to hear this or churning it out, day in and day out. It's about being disciplined enough to create a plan and then work the plan. Long after you're bored with it.

That's why most companies don't do it well. When you boil it down -- it's kind of boring. Sure, it's fun to brainstorm a new ad campaign. But that same campaign isn't all that interesting 24 months later.

Let me tell you a little story to illustrate my point. We have a client who has a product in a very competitive niche within the over the counter pharma category. Lots of Goliaths in their hen house. Our client is the David in this story. They'll never outspend their competitors.

Several years ago, they decided that having a presence in key trade shows where their referral sources (docs, pharmacists, nurses, etc) flocked was going to be their #1 effort. They've not wavered from this strategy.

They've tweaked their booth, their "come to the booth" enticements and their follow up, as they've learned. But they've stayed the course. In the beginning, they didn't attract much attention. But now, their key referral sources seek them out at the shows. They come to ask about the product or tell a success story. Then our client stays in touch with these contacts all year long. The relationship that is born at the trade show is nurtured and then renewed at the next show.

The benefit of this boring "do the same thing over and over" method of marketing? They're enjoying double digit growth. Double digit. In 2010. When most OTC pharma products are struggling to hold onto the marketshare they've had.

Oh wait...did I mention that they're the most expensive product in the category?

  • If they only did shows every once in awhile, would they be enjoying this success? No.
  • If they had rushed to social media and abandoned the old fashioned trade show tactics, would they be enjoying this success? No.
  • If they'd tried trade shows for a year and then given up, would they be enjoying this success? No.
  • If they "winged" their marketing efforts, never doing any budgeting or planning, would they be enjoying this success? No.

Stop looking for the silver bullet and roll up your sleeves. Marketing is hard, sweaty, dull, often boring work. The silver lining? Most of your competitors won't bother.

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What Level are You?

Here's the latest from Jim Meisenheimer. Subscribe to his weekly newsletter by clicking here.

Unconscious Selling Competence

Unconscious Selling Competence has roots that date back to the
mid twentieth century.

Back in the 1940's psychologist Abraham Maslow created a conscious
competence theory and more commonly known as the "Four Stages Of

If you're in sales you need to be learning if you want to be
earning. There's no way around it.

These four stages of learning describe how a person learns.

The first stage is Unconscious Incompetence. In essence, in this
stage you don't know that you don't know something.

This stage can be perilous for professional salespeople. When
you don't know, what you don't know it's easy to become over
confident in your abilities.

I guess there's only one way out of this stage and that's with
information and education. The worst thing anyone can do is to
turn off the learning faucet.

Ignorance is never bliss.

The best way out of the hole of ignorance is continuous improvement.
Keep reading books and listening to CDs and you'll soon realize
how much you don't know about the selling profession.

The second stage is Conscious Incompetence. Interestingly, in
this stage you are aware that you are incompetent at some things.

In this stage you recognize where your strengths and weaknesses
are in the work you do.

You have to be careful however because a weakness you have today,
if not strengthened, can be a weakness you carry around for a

For example, "I've always been lousy at handling the price objection."

Another example, "I don't like asking for the business - it makes
me feel too pushy!"

Imagine your weaknesses are shortcomings all contained inside a
block of granite. As a sales representative, your job is to keep
chipping away at all the things that don't add to your personal

Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is a professional sales

The third stage is Conscious Competence. In this stage you're
developing skills but you have to think about them.

This stage is for salespeople who want to keep growing. They aspire
to bigger and better things. They are hungry for the skills they
need but do not yet possess.

They are committed to self-development. The word quitting is not
in their personal dictionaries - the word perseverance is highlighted.

The fourth stage is Unconscious Competence. In this stage you are
good at a particular skill and it comes naturally to you.

The fourth stage is where you want to be if you're an entrepreneur
or a professional sales person.

Everything about selling comes naturally to you because you have
prepared and practiced a gazillion times. You make everything
look easy, after years of hard work.

You can pick up the phone and call someone, you've never spoken
to before, and ask for an appointment. You know exactly what to

Your elevator speech is as smooth as ice because you know exactly
what to say - word for word.

Your priority is to identify and solve customer problems. You can
ask a dozen questions without thinking or blinking because you
have crafted each one. You're able to weave your questions in a
conversational way.

Your sales presentations are personalized and tailored to fit
sales prospects and customers and their specific needs. And you
know exactly what to say.

In fact, you're so good, you can go an entire day without doing
seal talk. You know, the "Ahs" and "Ums."

Dealing with the price objection is easy for you because you have
prepared and rehearsed how you'll do it, over and over again. You
could do it in your sleep.

Asking for the business is a piece of cake for you, because once
again you've created a short script that you memorized and
rehearsed over and over again.

When it's all said and done you can choose between Unconscious
Incompetence or Unconscious Competence.

The only thing separating the two of them are dedication,
discipline, focus and your sheer desire and determination to
become the best you are capable of becoming.

Three cheers for Unconscious Selling Competence!

These Webinars Are Now Available 24/7

New Sales Managers

"What Every New Sales Manager Ought To Know About Making
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Resource Box - eBooks

3 Secrets To Making More Money In Sales

The Science Of Getting Rich

eManual - The Ultimate No-Brainer Selling Skills Sales Manual #1


Links To Recent Articles

Upgrade Your Selling Skills

Extraordinary Service

Cold Calling Sales Tips


Favorite Quotes

Anybody who is any good is different from anybody else.

Felix Frankfurter

Toil, says the proverb, is the sire of fame.




Check this out. Twitter note pads - very clever.

Now you can be the first to Tweet your customers
offline using paper!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Tom Peters has a new book titled "The Little Big Things."

You can check it out here.


Let's go sell something . . .

Jim Meisenheimer

22 years . . .

528 customers . . .

72.7% repeat business . . .

P.S. - The Sales Trailblazer Sales Training Program!

Jim Meisenheimer. 13506 Blythefield. Lakewood Ranch. FL. 34202

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

10 ways to Support your Best Customers-4

Time to continue our series:

10 Ways to Support Your Best Customers

Every company is in the service industry, right? Expert pointers for how to best perform for your best accounts.

By Inc. Staff |

Even if you're not in the customer service business, there's one clear way to please your customers: act like serving them is your first priority. We've compiled tips from expert interviews and articles that have appeared in Inc. and on to find the most poignant pointers for pleasing your most valuable customers.

4. Make sure your staff is equipped.

Your customer-service team is your frontline in making sure customers are not just satisfied – but are genuinely happy to work with you. The most critical person to hire in the customer service schema is the manager, says Andy Fromm, president of Service Management Group, a Missouri-based firm that works with retail and restaurant chains on improving customer service, since employee turnover is directly driven by manager turnover. You want someone who'll stick around, because otherwise, Fromm cautions, "it will be almost impossible to keep up with the hiring challenge." But everyone should care about the product at hand: "Make sure that pet retailers like pets. It's not rocket science." Other qualities to look for, according to V. Kumar, author of the book Managing Customers for Profit, include empathy, consistency and patience. Experience is vital, too, but it can be a double-edged sword: too much, and the representative may sound pedantic or condescending; too little, and the representative won't know how to handle delicate situations. The ideal? Three to five years. Read more.

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New Ad Campaigns

from Amy at Mediapost:

Pizza proverbs. "Butter Shoes." Sibling rivalry. Let's launch!

I've heard the term butterface but not "Butter Shoes." Foot Locker explains what's what in the first of two TV spots that launched last week. Two high school friends check out the new girl entering class. "She is super-fine," says one guy. His friend disagrees, calling her a butter shoes. "Everything is hot but her shoes," he explains. Her shoes are pretty awful. The spot ends with another girl entering class, wearing a pair of Nike's. Needless to say, both guys approve. See it here. "Art Class" is funny. A nude model proudly drops his robe while a roomful of students describes their first thoughts. Sturdy, leathery and crooked are some initial student findings. It's not until a woman asks to touch the subject that viewers see the star of class is a pair of sneakers. "It's a sneaker thing," closes the ad, seen here. SapientNitro created the campaign.

Heineken has created a great TV spot that takes home improvements to a higher level. Aesthetically pleasing, it's not, but I'd probably scream like a girl, too, whenever a cold beer was delivered. The ad is similar to other Dutch Heineken ads from the past two years. Remember "Walk-in refrigerator," which gave men a reason to shout, and "Men with Talent," a spot that made reality-TV appealing to men. "Beer Tube" follows a can of Heineken thorough a series of heinous tubes installed throughout a house. There's a drop-off next to the bathtub, sofa, dining room table and outdoors, next to the grill. I love how the can travels through a baby's room, where the tubing has been padded, so as not to wake the baby. The tube distorts framed pictures on the wall, travels through the kitchen and outside, where it looks like the gopher from "Caddyshack" made a burrow. When the beer reaches its final destination, three grown men scream with delight. Watch the ad here, created by TBWA/Neboko.

Tatra Beer launched a completely different type of beer ad, this one starring a man and a horse. The spot opens to a horse stuck at the bottom of a canyon. He's wild and nervous and a man with a weathered face is trying to rein it in. The man takes a swift kick from the horse, and continues to pursue it. Once successful, the man wraps his jacket across the horse's eyes and slowly guides him safely through a forest fire. The ad closes with the horse drinking water and the man drinking Tatra. Talk about calm under pressure. I'd need more than a beer to quench my post-forest fire thirst. See the ad here. Change Integrated, Poland created the ad, edited by Cut+Run.

Emergen-C launched an amazing Facebook app, "Share the Good," allowing users to send friends actual packages of Emergen-C, based on their status updates. For example, my friend's status read: "I'm still tired from yesterday." She'd make an ideal candidate. Once users "like" Emergen-C, the sharing can commence. In addition to free product, a personalized video is created, based on your status and profile picture. The video plays like a game show, complete with smarmy host and buxom blonde assistant. The host explains that you're in need of an energy boost based on your status. The assistant comes out carrying a sign with your actual status. The audience boos. The hostess demonstrates how to prepare Emergen-C while the host reads its ingredients. The app, created by Walrus, then takes your profile picture and sets it in motion. I danced near a disco globe and rode a unicycle. Start sending!

Vibram FiveFingers launched a bare bones Web site to promote its latest shoe. The brand's shoes fit runners like mittens; each toe has its own pocket, allowing runners to experience the benefits of barefoot running. Since I'm a runner, I spent a lot of time exploring the site. It begins by removing all the technology found in most running shoes. Some are familiar; others, not so much. Users are left with a naked man and woman, clad only in Vibrams and countless, clickable tattoos that debunk running shoe claims about the differences between barefoot running and traditional running shoes, that could potentially alter your running form. The accompanying music makes for quite a hypnotic experience. Nail Communications and Coolfire created the site.

Domino's Pizza wants YOU to submit a Pizza Proverb, or poetic pizza words of wisdom, in 140 characters or less. If selected, your proverb could make its way onto a batch of Domino's pizza boxes. Users can submit proverbs online or via Twitter, using the hashtag #PizzaProverb. The nugget I wrote was short, yet expressed my profound love for a certain topping: "Everything's better with bacon." Crispin Porter + Bogusky created the campaign.

Google launched two online videos that invite users to "Search On." "New Baby" seems to pick up where the search engine's Super Bowl spot, "Parisian Love," left off. A first-time father researches the cost of raising twins, baby names, the job of a doula, minivans that don't look like minivans and everything baby-related. The final search question asks: "how soon can we try again." Watch the ad here. "Brother and Sister" plays on sibling rivalries. I love how the search box changes from pink to blue, depending on who's doing the searching. Questions consist of buying a diary with a lock, how to pick a lock, introducing your boyfriend to your brother, background checks and having your brother walk you down the aisle. Sweet. See it here. Google Creative Lab and Johannes Leonardo created the ads.

The Ontario Veterinary College's Pet Trust Fund has committed to raising $10 million to building a new Animal Cancer Center. To date, $8 million has been raised. In an effort to reach its goal, the college launched a print campaign, running in the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail, emphasizing the odds of a dog or cat being diagnosed with cancer, and their chances of a longer life. See the ads here and here, created by Vopni Parsons Design.

Random iPhone App of the week: Promoting the upcoming movie "Piranha 3D" is Piranha 3D: The Shredder app. Users can upload a picture from their photo library, Facebook library, or take a new picture. The app makes people in the pictures look like soon-to-be piranha victims, without the blood and pain of a real-life encounter. The movie hits theatres Aug. 20. The Visionaire Group created the app, available for free in the App Store.

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

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Be You!

from my email:

Daily Sales Tip: Show Them, Don't Tell Them

As a salesperson, you can thrive with buyers and purchasing departments if you follow these simple approaches: Be yourself, be professional, and be engaged in genuinely wanting to help the buyer and their company. If you can't do these things, then you shouldn't be selling. If you are not sure if you're already doing these things, then I hate to tell you this, but you're probably not.

Don't walk around telling people you care about them and that you are so concerned about helping them. The salespeople who truly do care and are concerned let it come out in their actions day in and day out. Other people see it and do not need the salesperson to offer a verbal alert to it.

Source: Sales consultant/speaker Mark Hunter

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

10 ways to Support your Best Customers-3

Time to continue our series:

10 Ways to Support Your Best Customers

Every company is in the service industry, right? Expert pointers for how to best perform for your best accounts.

By Inc. Staff |

Even if you're not in the customer service business, there's one clear way to please your customers: act like serving them is your first priority. We've compiled tips from expert interviews and articles that have appeared in Inc. and on to find the most poignant pointers for pleasing your most valuable customers.

3. Bring expertise to the table.

Aside from being flexible, the most important thing a small business can do to differentiate itself is "having deep expertise that can give us knowledge about a particular customer segment or a technology." That's according to Larry Wood, Intuit's director of sourcing. "Several years ago, I did an RFP for a hardware bundle comprising five components. We were interviewing suppliers for each of the components when one of them took a chance and said, 'You don't know anything about this market. Let me step up. I know all these other providers. I can buy these other components and bundle it for you.' That was amazing. They addressed a lot of our needs and took a lot of things that we weren't familiar with off the table. I have to admit that I see very few companies do that." Read more.

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Are You an Apple?

from Drew:

Could your business be like an Apple Store?

Posted: 03 Aug 2010 11:06 AM PDT

Applestore_drewmclellan Walk into any mall in the world and I'm willing to bet that the most crowded store will always be the Apple Store.

I snapped this photo a couple weeks ago. It was around 6 in the evening. But it doesn't matter. The Apple Store looks like this morning, noon and night.

I've visited Apple Stores all over the US and it's always the same story. Jam packed, people playing with iPads, iPods, iPhones...oh yeah, and their rockin' computers.

Who wouldn't want their customers to flock into their place of business and just want to hang out, trying new products, showing their friends and buying a ton of stuff. (over 3 million iPads sold in the first 80 days).

So...what can we learn from Apple and how can we apply it to our business?

Let them touch the stuff: The Apple Store is basically a huge demo room. You can check out any item, you aren't rushed away when you're updating your Facebook status or creating a new tune on Garage Band. They want you to get the feel of their wares.

Nothing sells like sampling. If I can try it and like it... I can pretty quickly convince myself I need it.

Don't hide behind the counter: Look at the picture. Do you see all the blue shirts? Those are Apple employess...ready to show you how something works, answer your questions or just brag on the product.

If you're sitting behind your desk, waiting for customers to come to you -- get off your lazy rear and go to where the people are.

Think about my convenience, not yours: You don't stand in line to buy something in the Apple Store. The blue shirt who was answering your questions can also ring up your order. They have little scanner/credit card readers on their belt. Voila...they can print or e-mail you the receipt. Need a bag? No worries, there are bag dispensers underneath the tables throughout the store.

What are you doing because it's how everyone else in the industry does it that way? What if you looked at it from your customer's perspective. How could you re-design it with them in mind?

Don't hire someone because they're breathing: At the Apple Store, the employees LOVE what they sell. They're aren't clerks or sales people. They are zealots. And that's infectious and effective.

Hire zealots...and set them loose on your customers.

We all have the opportunity to create an Apple-like experience. The question is -- will you?

Other than Apple, where have you seen these techniques be employed?

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Sell ALL the Benefits

Short Term thinking could be holding you back:

Daily Sales Tip: Selling Future Benefits

Most salespeople sell the current benefits of what they do. But your customers already know the current benefit you offer.

One of the reasons customers leave you for a competitor is that you haven't cemented the future benefit you can bring them. Your goal as a salesperson should be to establish a long-term, problem-solving relationship with customers rather than a short-term transaction.

Your most profitable customer is a repeat customer. Therefore, you want customers to see the benefit you can give them over time, not just in the present. You want to show how the products and services you offer are going to be evolving with their needs. In other words, you want to sell the evolution of your products or services.

Unfortunately, most salespeople don't know their future benefit. Therefore, you need to sit down with your fellow salespeople and create a list of future benefits that you have for your customers. Also, talk to the people developing the products and services and get an idea of where they're taking them.

Realize that you're more likely to deliver future benefits if you think of them ahead of time. As a side benefit, this kind of dialogue will also help internal communications within the company.

Source: Business strategist Daniel Burrus

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

10 ways to Support your Best Customers-2

Time to continue our series:

10 Ways to Support Your Best Customers

Every company is in the service industry, right? Expert pointers for how to best perform for your best accounts.

By Inc. Staff |

Even if you're not in the customer service business, there's one clear way to please your customers: act like serving them is your first priority. We've compiled tips from expert interviews and articles that have appeared in Inc. and on to find the most poignant pointers for pleasing your most valuable customers.

2. Mind the customer's mood.

Perhaps you can learn something from a tactic used at the world-famous Inn at Little Washington, where it's been said the tastiest thing served up is the service itself. It was founded in 1978 by chef Patrick O'Connell, who believes people aren't impressed by what you know or what you can offer until they see that you care. And you can't possibly care in any meaningful way unless you have some insight into what people are feeling and why. Enter the "mood rating." When a new party arrives in the dining room, the captain assigns it a number that assesses the guests' apparent state of mind (from 1 to 10, with 7 or below indicating displeasure or unhappiness). The mood rating is typed into a computer, written on the dinner order, and placed on a spool in the kitchen where the entire staff can see and react accordingly. Whatever the circumstances, O'Connell's goal is crystal clear: "No one should leave here below a 9." To that end, restaurant staffers spare nothing in their attempt to raise the number – be it complimentary champagne, extra desserts, a tableside visit from one of the owners, even a kitchen tour. "Consciousness to the extreme is great customer service," O'Connell says. "If guests ran into terrible traffic on the way over here, or are in the midst of a marital dispute, we need to consider it our problem. How else are we going to ensure that they have a sublime experience?" Read more.

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The New Normal in Car Sales

There's a young man named Brian who works at one of the most recognized car dealerships in Northeast Indiana, as the General Sales Manager.

Over the past 9 months, I've learned a lot from Brian about changes in his business. His dealership has lost inventory, because G.M. scaled back the number of brands they carry.

Gone is Saturn. Gone is Hummer. Gone is Pontiac.

What's left? Cadillac, Buick, and GMC Trucks.

And three empty buildings.

Brian has learned how to manage, though. He was recently promoted to GSM for the used cars along with his other duties.

There's a lesson for all of us. Our old ways of doing business are changing, and often those changes are beyond our control.

How we adapt however, IS in our control.

Check out this story about the auto business and perhaps you'll get some ideas on what you can do in your business:

Life At 11 Million U.S. Transactions

What To Do When You Lose 6 Million Sales? Shake Things Up, Top To Bottom

So how does the car business cope with the loss of nearly 6 million annual sales in the space of three years? It reinvents itself -- top to bottom.

Look around and you see a different auto industry taking shape -- a "transformational moment," says AutoNation Inc. CEO Mike Jackson.

Why are companies that struggled in 16 million sales years doing just fine in a market of 11 million? Because discipline is breaking out all over -- at manufacturers, suppliers and dealerships. A pragmatic, tightly controlled approach has evolved from the recession, and the changes touch almost everything.

Incentives are smaller, simpler and more tactical. No-haggle and limited-negotiation pricing are getting a real tryout across the country. And inventories are lean and balanced.

Here's how that's playing out in the showroom:

Pete DeLongchamps, head of manufacturer relations at retailer Group 1 Automotive, tells of a neighbor who said he planned to stop by his dealership, trade in his 140,000-mile Chevrolet Suburban SUV and drive out in a new one.

DeLongchamps gently explained the new reality: "The factory's working 10-hour shifts," he told his neighbor. "You can't get Suburbans."

So the guy ordered one with exactly the equipment he wanted and drove his old Suburban for eight weeks until delivery.

"Instead of walking the lot, we sit with our customers, talk about their needs, place orders and take deposits," DeLongchamps says.

That anecdote illustrates how the "push" system of building and selling vehicles is fading. Automakers are closely matching production to sales -- a dramatic change for the Detroit 3.

That means U.S. inventories are hovering near record lows -- 2.1 million cars and trucks on July 1, half of the 4.2 million that were in stock on July 1, 2004.

General Motors Co. -- which used to run its factories at any cost, trying to create demand with hefty incentives and high, low-profit fleet sales -- now is underproducing hot models. On July 1, Chevrolet had just a 22-day supply of the Equinox crossover, a 31-day supply of the Traverse crossover and a 37-day supply of the Suburban -- all well below the pre-crisis norm of 60 days.

GM wants dealers to operate with much lower inventories and turn their stock faster. But one executive says many are having trouble adjusting to the new paradigm and regularly scream for more inventory. The exceptions, he says, tend to be dealers who also have Toyota franchises and understand how to function with fewer vehicles on the lot.

Dennis Egglefield, owner of Egglefield Bros. Ford in Elizabethtown, N.Y., says he is forced to live with lower inventory.

That means he risks not getting Mustangs in time for his spring-summer season or four-wheel-drives before the snow flies. To compensate, the dealership is encouraging regular customers to order in advance and also is trading vehicles more often with surrounding dealerships.

"Our floorplan is down," he says, "not from necessity but because we can't get the merchandise. We do a lot more dealer swaps than we used to."

For manufacturers, leaner inventories mean lower incentives. Average June incentives were down more than $300 from the industry's peak of $3,165 per vehicle in March 2009, says.

"There is no faster way to profitability than to cut incentives," says Dave Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research.

Structural change
Carmakers -- and not just Chapter 11 survivors GM and Chrysler Group -- have taken advantage of the crisis to fix structural problems.

Toyota, for example, had too many factories below capacity in 2008. This year it has closed NUMMI in California, consolidated Tundra pickup production in San Antonio and revamped plans at its new Tupelo, Miss., plant. Instead of the Prius hybrid, Toyota will make the high-volume Corolla in Mississippi.

Supplier relationships are changing, too. All three Detroit 3 purchasing bosses -- recognizing the difficulty of getting by without the technology and expertise of key partners -- have vowed to collaborate more closely with suppliers.

For instance, Chrysler this summer began offering more formal protections to suppliers. Previously, says purchasing boss Dan Knott, "I could pull the trigger at the last minute" and drop a supplier because "I didn't like the way you look."

Conversely, some old loyalties are crumbling. Auto advertising was once known for its stability, but a few of the oldest ties between carmakers and agencies -- Campbell-Ewald and Chevrolet, for example -- were severed this year as automakers struggle to re-establish brands and shake off tired stereotypes.

Dealers' new approach
Nowhere is the change more profound than at dealerships. Dealers have slashed costs in every corner of their stores to focus on the bottom line. Because of those cuts, many say they'll be profitable this year no matter what.

The combination of lower sales and shrinking margins has led dealers to experiment with new ways of paying salespeople. The traditional straight commission of 20 percent of gross profit has so squeezed salespeople that dealers fear a wave of departures.

A common switch: Pay a base salary plus commission.

With finance and insurance revenue falling as a result of lower sales, some dealers have cut dedicated F&I staff and let salespeople share some F&I commissions.

Some dealers are pushing their service departments to compete with repair chains such as Jiffy Lube. And they are tinkering with new pricing models, testing variations of no-haggle selling. By the middle of this decade, AutoNation plans to have all of its 200-plus stores using low everyday prices and limited negotiations.

Smarter suppliers
Suppliers that happily used to accept jobs with razor-thin margins just to keep their factories running are concentrating on contracts that are sure winners.

"You can't just launch 10 different car platforms (and have) four of them be winners and six of them losers," says BorgWarner CEO Tim Manganello. "That's a recipe for disaster. You need nine out of 10 winners."

Behr America CEO Heinz Otto says suppliers are chasing margins above 5 percent of sales. In the past they were OK with 2 or 3 percent, he says.

There's a dark side to the new emphasis on the bottom line: Many suppliers are moving engineering jobs out of the United States.

"You always have to look at your engineering structure -- and how possible is it to use engineering resources that are offshore," says James Rosseau, CEO of Magneti Marelli USA. "We offshore certain administration functions to reduce costs. I don't think we'll revert. The support functions, I believe, are gone."

With their lower breakevens, parts makers are poised for strong profits at today's volumes of 11 million to 12 million units annually.

That could be critical. Rebecca Lindland, head of auto research for the Americas at IHS Automotive, says current low sales are not building future demand but instead are working off the excess supply of the past.

"There's very little pent-up demand," she says.

Permanent? Or just a blip?
Are these changes permanent, or will they disappear with the first sign that things are back to "normal"?

It's a crucial question, since analysts say the industry's long-term health rests on continued discipline.

"We have a greater opportunity to make change that's permanent," says Jeff Schuster, head auto forecaster for J.D. Power and Associates.

"But as the sun comes out, it's easy to let go of some things you have learned."

(Source: Automotive News, 08/02/10)

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Your Personal Brand

From my email archives, this is from Jim Meisenheimer from last summer:

Personal Branding
How To Do It In 5 Easy Steps

Personal branding for professional salespeople should
be a high priority - unfortunately it isn't.

Your personal branding can provide you with an unique
competitive advantage if you take the time to develop

Here are five easy steps you can use to launch your
personal brand.

1. What makes you different - I mean really, what makes
you different from other salespeople? If you don't give
this any thought, don't think you're memorable from your
customer's perspective.

I often ask the question, "what makes you different
from your competition" during my corporate sales training
programs. I always get the same responses: honesty,
reliable, experienced, problem solver, product knowledge,
follow up, trustworthy etc.

While these qualities are admirable they won't
differentiate you from your competition because
everybody believes they possess these qualities.

Just remember this - if you want to be remembered you
have to be memorable!

2. What are you known for? Do you have specialized
training? Do you have an advanced degree? Do you have
23 years of experience within a market subsegment?

For example, I have met salespeople with doctorate
degrees who keep this a secret from their sales prospects
and customers. Why in the world would you do this,
when you could differentiate you from your competition?

Are you unflappable? Do you possess an extraordinary
sense of humor? Do you possess any unique skills - like
you're scratch golfer or maybe a college football referee?
Are you a gourmet cook? Do you breed dogs in your spare

What makes you different, makes you memorable.

3. Let people know what makes you different. You can
communicate your uniqueness in ways you have never
imagined before. I'll give you 2 specific ways you can
do this.

Prepare a special report on a topic that you have some
experience and expertise in. Google makes doing research
a snap. You create a title page, an about you page, the
actual content pages, and you could end your special
report with a short list of resources your sales prospects
and customers would benefit from.

You could also write a book. If you happen to be a timid
soul you could team up with two or three other salespeople.
Imagine how your sales prospects and customers would react
when you give them a book you've written. It automatically
establishes you as an expert. It automatically sets you
apart from your competition.

And here's some very good news for you - you don't even
have to write the book yourself. You can visit and post a job describing the project and
how much you're willing to spend. You can probably get
a special report, on any subject, for less than $125.
You can probably get a book written for less than $400.

Think about this for a minute. How many salespeople do
you know, who are working in your industry, are giving
their sales prospects and customers special reports and
books they have written? Probably not too many.

You see, personal branding is not about blending in,
it's about standing out. Doing things that no one else
is doing creates a strong personal brand for you.

Your personality, unfortunately, isn't enough to
differentiate you from all the salespeople calling on
your sales prospects and customers.

4. Most professional speakers have signature stories
they tell. These stories are unique to the speaker.
It's their signature. As an entrepreneur or a professional
sales person you can create a signature for yourself.
For example, my e-mail signature includes this:
21 years . . . 522 corporate clients . . . 72.7% repeat

These 47 characters help create my personal brand - you
can easily do the same thing.

What color did Johnny Cash favor? He was the man in black,
wasn't he? What color shirt does Tiger Woods always wear
on Sundays? It's always red isn't it?

You don't have to be famous to consider doing this. In
fact doing this may help you to become better known in
your industry.

You could always wear blue ties. You could always use a
fountain pen to take notes during sales calls and to write
short personal notes. Not too many salespeople are doing
these things.

Another good example of a great signature is Thomas
Jefferson's signature - it really does stand out, doesn't

5. Do something that says you're different. Do something
on the blank side of your business card. Think about what
you can leave behind at the end of the sales call. In
preparing for this article I did a Google search for the
phrase, pencils personalized.

You can order these pencils in a variety of designs and
colors for as low as 7 cents each. You can also imprint
up to four lines of text on each pencil. The pencil
becomes your business card.

Imagine including a sharpened pencil with your sales
proposals with a short note saying, "We already sharpened
our pencil for you."

Finally, don't assume you're automatically different
because of your DNA. You have to work at cultivating
your uniqueness within your industry. Doing these five
things will enable you to become the "Go to person"
within your industry.

I hope you have fun working on your personal branding.

Being boring doesn't get you anywhere.

Being different does!

Jim Meisenheimer | 13506 Blythefield Terrace | Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202 | 941-907-0415

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Monday, August 09, 2010

10 ways to Support your Best Customers-1

For the next 5 nights and then 5 nights next week, I'm going to share an article with you from Inc on 10 ways to support your best customers.

Let's get started:

10 Ways to Support Your Best Customers

Every company is in the service industry, right? Expert pointers for how to best perform for your best accounts.

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Gotta Nickname?

In the past 18 months my wife has changed what she calls me. She used to call me Scott, like nearly everyone else.

But then she started calling me SCLO-HO.

SCLO-HO is how you pronounce ScLoHo.

ScLoHo was a word/name I invented a dozen years ago when I needed a unique id for email.

Where did ScLoHo come from? It's the first two letters of my first, middle and last name=

SCott LOuis HOward.

Then a few years ago I started my own company and, well the rest is history.

Al Ries wrote a piece for and the subject of nicknames last week:

Why Two Names Are Better Than One

Marketers Lucky Enough to Have a Nickname Shouldn't Abuse It

Al Ries
Al Ries
The one-day flap over the "Chevy" name should never have happened.

General Motors made a mistake by telling its employees to never use the "Chevy" name again and to refer to the brand only as "Chevrolet."

A nickname is not a bad thing. It's a good thing. People who use a brand's nickname feel closer to the product than those who don't. As a matter of fact, nicknames are one of the most under-utilized aspects of marketing. If at all possible, every company and every brand should have a formal name as well as a nickname. Two names are better than one.

Ad Age versus Advertising Age?
Should Advertising Age change its name to Ad Age just because everybody in the industry uses the nickname? I think not. That would destroy some of the connections industry people feel toward the publication.

Formal names and nicknames are somewhat like "vous" and "tu" in the French language. When meeting someone for the first time, it's common in France to use "vous." After a friendship or working relationship is formed, it would be common for one party to suggest using "tu." When someone uses "Ad Age" instead of "Advertising Age," you know that person is in the ad business or is familiar with it.

Nicknames serve a communication function. They indicate an emotional connection with the brand. Or in the case of a formal name, the lack of one.

The Chevrolet owner who calls his or her car a "Chevy" is communicating some emotional connection with the brand. Hopefully positive from Chevrolet's point of view, but it could also be negative.

Chevrolet is fortunate it has two names. Most automobile brands have only one. Of the six leading automobile brands, only Chevrolet has a nickname. Try to figure out a nickname for the other five.

  • Toyota -- Toy?
  • Ford -- F?
  • Honda -- Hon?
  • Nissan -- Nis?
  • Dodge -- D?
Nothing works except "Chevy." This is a valuable aspect of the Chevrolet brand.

The original title of a book Laura and I wrote was "The 23 Immutable Laws of Branding." The 23rd law was "the law of nicknames." But we dropped the 23rd law because everybody knows that nicknames are a valuable aspect of a brand.

Apparently not.

The nickname killers.
Many companies and many brands are hell-bent on killing their nicknames by substituting them for their formal names.

  • Kentucky Fried Chicken is now KFC.
  • British Petroleum is now BP.
  • American Association of Retired Persons is now AARP.
  • Computer Associates is now CA.
  • Federal Express is now FedEx.
These are just some of the formal name changes. There are many other examples of informal name changes.

"National Public Radio," according to The New York Times, "sent a note to all its staff members asking everyone to refer to it as NPR." The YMCA is doing something similar. The organization wants to be known by one and all as the "Y." (Companies that want to follow the ultimate downsizing trend had better hurry. "W" is a hotel. "Y" is a gym. "G" is a sports drink. "O" is a magazine. "I" is on the verge of being taken by Apple. That leaves only 21 letters of the alphabet up for grabs.)

In the short term, of course, it makes no difference whether National Public Radio uses its formal name. Almost everybody knows what NPR stands for. But the long term is different. There are some 12,000 people born every day in America. As these infants grow up, how are they going to find out what those strange "NPR" initials stand for?

And there are some 6,500 people who die every day, taking their knowledge of the NPR brand with them.

Longer names seem more important.
When given a choice, most people believe a longer name is more impressive than a shorter one. In the 22 presidential elections between 1876 and 1960, for example, the candidate with more letters in his last name won the popular vote 20 times. In two cases, the winners of the popular vote lost in the electoral college. In one case, both candidates had the same number of letters in their names. The only time the longer-named candidate lost was in 1908 when Taft beat Bryan. But hey, Taft had only a one-letter handicap.

The situation changed starting in 1964 when Johnson (7 letters) beat Goldwater (9 letters.)

Why? In a word, TV. In the 1960s, the visual became more important than the verbal. One important visual aspect is a candidate's height. The taller, the better.

In the 13 presidential elections between 1960 and 2008, the taller candidate won the popular vote nine times. In one election, the taller candidate (Gore) won the popular vote but lost in the electoral college. In one election, the two candidates (Clinton and Bush) were equal in height. In only two elections did the shorter candidate win the popular vote. (Nixon in 1972. Carter in 1976.)

In other words, the taller candidate was more than four times as likely to win the popular vote than the shorter one.

In addition to its formal name, a brand should have 1) a relatively short nickname, 2) a word it owns in the mind and 3) a powerful visual. If you can accomplish all three, you have hit the marketing trifecta.

Take Coca-Cola, for example. 1) Coke. 2) The real thing. 3) The contour bottle. No wonder Coca-Cola is the world's most-valuable brand.

The problems of a shorter name.
It's hard to make a short name seem important. Take the Gap, a chain that has been having problems. Competitors like Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle Outfitters have names that make them seem more important and authentic.

Furthermore, what's the Gap's nickname? "G" is pretty much taken by Gatorade.

Then there's "Saks Fifth Avenue" often known by its nickname "Saks." Should the company call its stores "Saks"? That doesn't sound important.

Saks Fifth Avenue has a long, formal name that sounds important and a short nickname that's easy to say and easy to spell. An ideal combination.

Radio Shack is trying to use the same strategy with an advertising campaign focused on "The Shack." But you can't force consumers to use a nickname.

You can understand why Radio Shack is trying to do this. Names become obsolete. When was the last time you bought a radio? Or a part for a radio? Or an accessory for a radio? Radio Shack doesn't need a nick name. Radio Shack needs a new name.

Brands with nicknames have an advantage over the competition. Nicknames allow consumers to feel closer to the brand. You can show your friends you are cool if you use a brand's nickname instead of its formal name.

Let's go to Mickey D's.

How about a Jack & Coke?

Hop on my Harley and we'll go for a spin.

Let's take the Vette instead.

Two-buck Chuck and other examples.
Charles Shaw became one of the largest-selling wine brands in America even though it was sold initially in only one state by only one chain, Trader Joe's.

What made Charles Shaw wine such a big success? Its nickname: Two-buck Chuck.

Now what do you suppose the marketing gurus behind the rash of recent name changes would have suggested for Charles Shaw wine? Change the label to "Two-buck Chuck?"

And would they have suggested that "Macintosh" be changed to "Mac?" And Jaguar to "Jag?" And "Mercedes-Benz" to "Mercedes?" Or to "Merc?"

None of these name changes make sense. That's what makes marketing so difficult. Marketing often defies common sense.

One strategy is better than two strategies. Yet one name is not better than two names. The ideal strategy for every brand is to have a formal name and a more casual nickname.

Rules of thumb.
When should a company or brand use its formal name and when should it use its nickname?

In print advertising, a company or brand should probably use its formal name in the headline and the signature and its nickname in the body copy.

Chevrolet has often violated this rule, signing many of its ads "Chevy" instead of "Chevrolet." Here is a typical ad that uses "Chevy" in the headline and nothing in the signature except its "bow tie" trademark.

Recently, however, Chevrolet has been running this same ad with the "Chevy" in the headline replaced with "Chevrolet." So perhaps there was a good reason for the nickname memo. Chevrolet needed to spell out when to use which name.

In TV advertising, a company or brand should probably use its formal name in the first mention and in the closing signature. In between, the nickname might be appropriate. A good rule of thumb which publications almost always use is to use the full name in the first mention and then the nickname in the next mentions.

In an article, for example, a reporter might refer to a newspaper as "The Wall Street Journal." In the next mention, the reporter might say "The Journal." Should The Wall Street Journal change its name to The Journal? No, in the long run the publication would lose a lot of its identity.

When a company or brand has a well-known nickname, it shouldn't hesitate to use the nickname in the proper settings.

I'm surprised, for example, that McDonald's in its TV advertising seldom uses its "Mickey D's" nickname. It would seem to be an ideal complement to its verbal slogan "I'm lovin' it."

You really have to love the place to call it "Mickey D's."

Al Ries is chairman of Ries & Ries, an Atlanta-based marketing strategy firm he runs with his daughter and partner Laura.

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