Saturday, August 21, 2010

So What?

Some insight from Seth Godin this month:


The number one reason people give me for giving up on something great is, "someone else is already doing that."

Or, parsed another way, "my idea is not brand new." Or even, "Oh no, now we'll have competition."

Two big pieces of news for you:

1. Competition validates you. It creates a category. It permits the sale to be this or that, not yes or no. And this or that is a much easier sale to make. It also makes decisions about pricing easier, because you have someone to compare against and lean on.

2. There are six billion people in the world. Even if your market is hand-made spoke shaves for left-handed woodworkers, there are more people in your market than you can ever hope to track down.

There are lots of good reasons to abandon a project. Having a little competition is not one of them. Even if it's Google you're up against.

Sphere: Related Content

Choosy Eaters Choose...

This is no surprise to me. Atmosphere (sometimes defined as "The View") is always high on my wife's list..

Restaurant Chains with the Best Customer Satisfaction
Service, Atmosphere Drive Scores at Many Chains, Survey Finds

Even in tight economic times, price isn't everything for restaurant consumers, according to the 2010 U.S. Restaurant Satisfaction Study released last week by J.D. Power and Associates.

The survey of 93,410 diners at more than 100 restaurant chains, conducted in May and July, found customer satisfaction was distinguished by quality service and atmosphere as well.

"While you may be able to capture some market share on a value-based strategy, you still have to pay attention to service and experience to have an overall positive outcome," said Jim Howland, senior director of the hospitality practice at J.D. Power, a marketing-information company based in Westlake Village, Calif.

The study looked at three restaurant segments — casual dining, family dining and quick service — in 10 markets that were selected for having the highest average spending for dining outside the home, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Markets included Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, the Los Angeles area, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York/Northern New Jersey, Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington, D.C.

Overall satisfaction scores in the 10 markets averaged 742 on a 1,000-point scale among customers at casual restaurants, 708 among family-dining customers and 700 among quick-service customers.

Four satisfaction criteria were surveyed: price; service (timeliness of order and wait staff courtesy and friendliness); meal (quality/taste of food, meal presentation and portion size); and environment (ambiance, cleanliness and convenience of location/hours).

The J.D. Power study found that among casual and family restaurant brands, the importance of service and environment, combined, outweighed the importance of price as a driver of overall satisfaction. Among quick-service restaurant chains, service and environment were equally as important as price.

"In a fiercely competitive marketplace, restaurant companies have focused on a variety of strategies to attract customers — the most prominent being value-based, such as 'dollar menu' items," Howland said. "While delivering value is still critical, elevating customer experiences by providing excellent service and an inviting environment are also key for restaurant chains that seek to differentiate themselves."

Howland called out Cracker Barrel Old Country Store of Lebanon, Tenn., which was the top-ranked family-dining restaurant in five markets.

"It’s particularly noteworthy that Cracker Barrel Old Country Store receives awards in five markets, as this speaks to its ability to provide highly satisfying experiences consistently across various locations," he said. "In any service industry, creating consistently positive experiences for customers has a notable positive effect on loyalty."

Other chains that were ranked highest in multiple markets included Chick-fil-A, with three markets, and several that scored highest in two markets: Chipotle, In-N-Out Burger, Marie Callender's, Carrabba's Italian Grill, The Cheesecake Factory and Maggiano's Little Italy.

Howland also pointed out "local heroes," or restaurant chains whose satisfaction scores were especially strong in their headquarters city or where they were founded, including Chick-fil-A of Atlanta, Buca di Beppo of Minneapolis, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers of Greenwood Village, Colo.; and Texas Roadhouse of Louisville, Ky.

"The implications of this are that while there may be some differences in how these firms perform across markets, it also suggests very strongly that there are some regional differences at play in … how appealing these brands are to consumers in those local markets," he said.

Other findings in the study:

  • The J.D. Power Web Intelligence Division found the main themes of social-media conversation about quick-service restaurants vary widely by demographic group. Those ages 14 to 18 and 22 to 29 were most likely to discuss the convenience of fast-food restaurants, while older customers discussed visiting those eateries as a treat for themselves or their families.
  • Among all demographic groups surveyed, McDonald's was responsible for the greatest volume of online discussion for quick-service chains.
  • One-half of customers of quick-service restaurants say they order the same meal each time they visit a particular restaurant chain. About 32 percent of customers of family restaurants and 30 percent of customers at casual restaurants say the same.
  • About 41 percent of quick-service customers buy a combo meal.
(Source: Nation's Restaurant News, 08/10/10)

Sphere: Related Content


From my email:

Daily Sales Tip: Trial Closing

A good way to determine a prospect's interest is to use a trial close. When trial closing, a salesperson is asking for the prospect's opinion about the product or service. It helps measure a prospect's interest at any time during the presentation.

It's a good idea to use a trial close as soon as you spot a buying signal. There is usually no risk in trial closing.

You may get an immediate positive response or uncover some resistance that has to be overcome before you can close the sale. It's a win-win situation, in either case.

Source: Adapted from The One Minute Closer, by sales consultant James W. Pickens

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, August 20, 2010

10 ways to Support your Best Customers-10

Wrapping up this series from Inc:

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.

10. When in doubt, ask what your customers want.

When Norm Brodsky looks back to his first year of doing business, one instance of impromptu customer satisfaction stands out. As a transit strike appeared eminent in New York City in 1980, Brodsky wrote: "I realized I was facing a potential disaster. Perfect Courier was barely seven months old. We were doing about $30,000 or $40,000 a month in sales." Then he went to a person he respected in the office of a client and was handed an idea: use the existing company vehicles to not just deliver packages during the strike, but also help Perfect Courier's clients get their people where they needed to be. And it helped Perfect Courier grow much closer to its best clients. Brodsky writes: "During the strike, we saw them every day, and they became our friends, as did the executives at other accounts. They came to our office for coffee and doughnuts." Also: "Aside from the additional cash and the new sales, I took away from the episode one of the most important lessons I've learned in business: When in doubt, go to your customers. They will tell you what they want and lead you to solutions you'd never come up with on your own. Indeed, just about every successful new initiative I've taken in business since then has come from listening to customers." Read more.

Sphere: Related Content

Advertising that still Works

Back in March my wife and I took a vacation to Michigan.

It was the first time we'd done that together in the past 10 years we've known each other.

Was it their ad campaign that influenced us?


We are making a return trip next week.

This is from one of my clients, Villing and Company:

Pure Michigan: To Everything There is a Season — Including the Use of Broadcast Advertising

Aug. 16, 2010

Thom Villing
Written by:
Thom Villing

I know the case I’m about to make flies in the face of much contemporary marketing wisdom. Consumers today are in control. They want to determine when, where and how they will be receiving information from marketers and the intrusive nature of traditional advertising just doesn’t fit that model. In addition, broadcast television and radio advertising, by definition, casts too broad of a net to be meet the targeted efficiency needs of contemporary advertising.

But there exceptions to every rule and a time for every purpose under heaven.

Case in point: the Pure Michigan advertising campaign. I’m sure everyone who reads this has seen or heard some of the commercials. What some of you may not know is that the voice of the campaign is none other than Tim Allen. You know, Tim, the Toolman, Taylor. Santa’s Clause. Buzz Lightyear. Who knew that this comedic Michigan native could turn advertising copy into pure poetry.

Ah, but you digress, Thom. No, not really. The power of the campaign is the way the message evokes such powerful emotion through well-crafted words and images, through such superb story-telling.

Today wasn’t business as usual; today we made mermaid tails at the shore.
Today was what summer was meant to be, where we can run barefoot on golden sands.
Today wasn’t just another day at the beach. Today was pure Michigan.

Complement that poetry with the music from Cider House Rules and beautifully composed images and you have one outstanding campaign. It is some of the best brand-building and richly presented advertising I have seen in a long time. Not edgy. Not built on the latest whiz bang special effects. Just exquisitely crafted and choreographed advertising. Broadcast advertising.

That’s fine, you say, but does it work? Consider this. Last year, the campaign attracted 681,000 visitors from outside the region. Those visitors spent $250 million and produced another $17.5 million in extra taxes, which according to USA Today, represented a return of $2.23 per national ad dollar.

In the late nineties, our agency was a finalist several times for the Indiana Department of Tourism business. At the time, I was very concerned about the national trend in tourism marketing away from broadcast advertising because of the perceived difficulty in measuring impact. To be sure, the Internet was already becoming a factor in tourism decision-making, a trend we recognized and wholeheartedly supported. My concern was losing the means of stimulating interest and driving traffic to the sponsor website by not utilizing the power of broadcast media — especially television.

The Pure Michigan campaign is a compelling reminder of what broadcast advertising can do when the medium matches the message. And it is a great case study in the power of integrated marketing communications. Tell your story to build awareness and interest. Then let the consumer do the rest through the brand’s website and digital media outlets.

Of all people, maybe Kid Rock said it best in his ode to northern Michigan “All Summer Long”:

We didn’t have no internet
But man I never will forget
The way the moonlight shined upon her hair

If you would like to receive your own personal "subscription" to Villing & Company’s News & Views, click here to get free updates by e-mail or RSS. If you prefer to get updates on Facebook, visit the Villing Facebook Page and click the "Like" button next to our name.

Sphere: Related Content

Warming Up an Ice Cold Prospect's Erica Stritch:

How to Turn Cold Prospects into New Clients

by Erica Stritch

There’s a distinct difference between those prospects who contact you to learn more about your services (we’ll call these inbound leads) and those prospects whom you contact and secure a meeting with to talk about your services (we’ll call these outbound leads).
When it’s an inbound lead, the prospect comes to you because they have a [...]

Read the full article →

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, August 19, 2010

10 ways to Support your Best Customers-9

Continuing this series from Inc:

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.

9. Add value to your relationship.

Even if you planned for the possibility, no one wants to lose big clients. So, how do you make sure they hang around for as long as possible? Big companies are looking for value, says Constance Bagley, a professor at Yale School of Management. Figure out your client's immediate concerns. "Make sure the information is flowing both ways," she says. "What info can you bring them about their costs and competitors? Have your account manager talk to their counterpart; have your salespeople talk to their R&D." Erin Enriquez, who manages a Red Bull account for Terralever, says with Red Bull the company focused on the client's desire to be perceived as technologically forward in its online marketing. "The No. 1 thing is to be aware of the competition and what they're doing, and what new types of technologies are out there," says Enriquez. "Red Bull appreciates us coming to them and pitching them and usually agrees to let us do a portion of that work." Plus, once you have that competitive insight, you can use it to attract new clients – especially if your contract isn't exclusive. "It's a lot like high school dating," says Bagley. "Nothing makes you more desirable than the fact that someone else wants you." Read more.

Sphere: Related Content

New Ad Campaigns

From Amy at Mediapost:

Real woman have curves. Candy ads that contradict and fizzle. Let's launch!

Discover Financial Services launched an ad campaign that highlights the differences in the company's competent customer service reps versus other -- well, incompetents. Anyone who's ever called customer service can relate to the consumer in "Loyalty." Questioning a charge found on his credit card statement, the consumer is connected with Peggy, a man with a woman's name, fielding questions from a cold location... potentially Siberia. Regardless of the question, his answer is "yes." When questions get too difficult, Peggy shyly hangs up the phone. See it here. Additional ads feature Peggy watching phones glow with customers on hold and a caveman's version of transferring calls. The Martin Agency created the campaign.

"All asses were not created equal." So says a print, outdoor and online campaign for Levi's Curve ID. Amen. Finding the right pair of jeans is hard, so when I find a pair that fits, I buy more than one. The campaign, running in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City, features women with minimal and bold curves, all finding denim zen. "Bring us your skinny tomboys, your curvy girls, and all girls in between. ... Every Tina, Tonya, Teresa, and Talia deserves jeans that make her curves look like a national treasure. It's the new democracy of jeans," reads copy. See creative here, here and here, created by Wieden+Kennedy Portland.

Starburst launched the campaign concept "Contradictions" last year, pairing the solid/juicy brand with other contradictions. The initial spot, "Kilt," starred a father and son of Scot-Korean descent. In the latest ad, the pair meets another contradiction while riding the "Bus:" a zombie. I really like this ad. The living dead creature is bored by Dad's explanation of Starburst being a contradiction. "You are boring me to death and I am already dead," says the zombie. "You are boring me back to death." See the ad here, created by TBWA/Chiat/Day New York.

It's always best to be prepared, as the Boy Scouts are taught. In addition: never underestimate your opponent, even if it's a tiny spider. Perfetti Mentos launched an amusing TV ad that should have ended with a boyfriend rescuing his girlfriend from a small spider. Instead, he got his butt kicked. A woman shrieks to high heaven when she sees a petite spider crawling on the floor. Her boyfriend bends down to take care of business but the spider has other plans, like slamming the guy against a wall and through a coffee table. "It's better to know what's coming next," closes the ad, seen here. Mentos' packaging has you covered. BBH, London created the ad, directed by Brian Lee Hughes from Stink.

Skittles launched three viral videos on its Facebook page promoting Fizzl'd Fruits Skittles. The videos serve as an extension of a TV spot from May, starring Tube Sock and his landlords, Ed and Carol. Ed prefers to be shocked by Tube Sock's static electricity, while Carol gets her fizzle from Skittles. Ed takes a break from raking leaves to receive shock treatment from Tube Sock. See it here. Ed shuffles on the living room rug in his tube socks but fails to wield any spark onto a sleeping Tube Sock, who wants his rest. Watch it here. Tube Sock is so electric that Carol must pry her bra and underwear off his back. See it here. The virals are weaker than the TV spot, yet a nice thank-you to Skittles' 8 million Facebook fans. TBWA/Chiat/Day New York created the campaign.

Stanley Steemer launched a national ad campaign that never ceases to make me laugh. Ads follow two Stanley Steemer technicians throughout a typical workday... who doesn't encounter an alpaca on a regular basis? In "Challenge," a technician wants a real workday challenge, like a crock-pot explosion or messy free-range chickens. See it here. The same technician describes the importance of knowing a stain's origin. As an alpaca walks by him, he knows it's not a llama, judging from the animal's fur and ear size. Watch it here. "Saved" is my favorite ad. Driving down a residential road, the technician pulls over to inspect a discarded rug. "Why? I could have saved this one," he sobs. See it here. In "Doctor," our go-getting technician wouldn't necessarily call himself a doctor, but he wouldn't rule it out. Watch it here. The final ad features an emergency house call involving a kid, a baseball bat and an aquarium. See it here. Young & Laramore created the campaign, and media buying was handled in-house.

Acura shows viewers what one million books, knives, and chattering teeth toys look like in "Millions," an ad promoting Acura TL. Breaking Aug. 23, the ad denotes the carmaker's precision quality control process for all car parts -- even the door handles. Watch it here. RPA created the campaign and handled the media buy.

Verizon created an ad earlier this year that spoofed "Big Red" ads from the 1980s. How did I miss this awesomeness? Verizon bought the rights to the music and gives lyrics a modern day, Facebook-era spin. Verizon plays the role of "Big Red." I love this ad. There's not as much kissing in the updated version, but the ad includes lyrics like: "Update Facebook pages better, make your boring job much better... you'll watch YouTube on a horse when you use it." See it here. For anyone wanting to continue the walk through the '80s, here are some classic Big Red ads of the past. Good luck getting this jingle out of your head. McCann Erickson, New York created the ad.

Random iPhone App of the week: Wrigley's Juicy Fruit wants to "Sweet Talk" you with its free iPhone app. Users select one of five personalites that churn out 25 different sayings, hold their iPhone under their nose, and lay on the sweetness. Characters include DJ Spraytan, the "Jersey Shore" guy that says: "You're so sweet, I wanna take you on the tilt-a-whirl. You gonna keep the cookies in the jar, or what?" Excuse me while I swoon. Users can share messages through email, Facebook or create their own videos. Evolution Bureau created the app, available at the App Store.

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

Sphere: Related Content

7 Musts

from my email:

Daily Sales Tip: Actions to Control Your Sales Success

Have you planned how you're going to make successful sales? If you haven't, it isn't too late -- but you're already behind the eight ball. Here are 7 actions you must take and take now if you want to control your own destiny:

1. Flush Out All of the Tail-Chasing "Prospects" in Your System.
We all have "prospects" in our pipeline that take up time and energy but that we know in our hearts will never buy. Get them out of your system now. Don't spend any more of your precious time on them. Concentrate on real prospects, not the "hope someday." Vow not to spend any more time chasing your tail.

2. Get Organized.
Most of us spend as much or more time "organizing" each day as we do working. Take a day or two and get yourself organized and then 30 minutes each evening getting ready for the next day. Don't waste time "getting ready" to sell.

3. Know Who a Real Prospect Is.
If you haven't already defined your ideal prospect(s) in detail, do so now. Many salespeople waste a great deal of time chasing unqualified prospects because they haven't taken the time to define for themselves exactly who their real prospects are.

4. Focus Only on Real Prospects.
Even many who have defined in-detail who their real prospects are, find themselves chasing after those who don't qualify. Commit yourself to staying on track. Defining your prospect doesn't do any good if you allow yourself to wander.

5. Eliminate the Success-Killing Busy Work.
If what you do isn't directly involved with finding qualified prospects, making sales presentations and closing sales, or getting a sale completed, it's busy work. Busy work may make you feel like you're accomplishing something but it isn't making you a dime. If it doesn't make you money, don't do it.

6. Learn to Generate Referrals.
Referrals are the best, most cost-effective prospecting and marketing method there is. Nothing can beat referrals in terms of ROI, close ratio, and client loyalty. Yet, few salespeople generate many quality referrals. Less than 15% of all salespeople generate enough quality referrals to impact their business. Learn the process that really generates a large number of high-quality referrals and turn your clients into your marketing platform.

7. Create a Consistent Client Communication Campaign.
If you don't already have a consistent communication campaign for your clients and prospects, create one now. You should be touching each of your clients and long-term prospects 12 to 16 times a year. Use a combination of media -- calls, emails, newsletters, letters, postcards, etc. Make sure each of your communications brings value to your client. The key question to ask yourself before making any contact is "does this benefit the client or only me?" If it doesn't benefit the client, don't send it or don't call. Never waste your client's time.

Time is short. But implementing these 7 "musts" will get your sales on track.

Source: Paul McCord, President of McCord and Associates

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

10 ways to Support your Best Customers-8

Continuing this series from Inc:

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.

8. Nurture your relationships.

When companies build relationships with their clients and suppliers, "it's a huge competitive edge," said Kathy Homeyer, the director of supplier diversity for UPS. A lot of large corporations offer mentoring programs, which many entrepreneurs don't realize are available. At UPS, we do outreach programs and external mentoring. We go to a lot of workshops, expos, and networking events. When a manager here comes to me and says certain commodities are going to be put up for bid in the coming months, I go through my files of people I have run across over the course of the past couple of years. We'll also reach out to the other large corporations, like Time Warner, and ask, 'Who are you guys using? Do you have someone that we don't know?' It's almost a small family." Read more.

Sphere: Related Content

Non-Profit Branding

From Laura Ries:

Non-Profit Marketing: Lessons from Kate's Club

Kate's Club website

For many non-profits, spending money or time on branding is a hard pill to swallow. Too many non-profit leaders think it is either shallow or useless to spend either time or money on improving their brand image, tagline or logo.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Branding is the key to success no matter if you are selling sneakers or helping the homeless.

Here in the Atlanta area I have had the pleasure of working with several non-profits including Kate’s Club which was founded by Kate Atwood to help kids deal with the death of a parent. I have known Kate since the beginning of her journey in starting the non-profit.
There are important lessons to learn from watching a brand emerge. If you are building a new brand, remember to keep these lessons in mind:

1. Start Slow.

Kate’s Club was founded in 2003 with six children, their families and an outing to a bowling alley. In the beginning, Kate kept her day job and worked on Kate’s Club on the side. If she had expected to the club to take off rapidly, she probably would have quit her job right away. That likely would have been a disaster.

Start slow. Don’t expect donations, volunteers or even people in need to break down your door right way. Just because you are doing good work doesn’t mean you can defy the rules of branding. And the more revolutionary, the more remarkable your work, the more time it is likely to take to build the brand.

2. Have Patience.

Brand building takes time. You need to show great patience. Getting into the human mind isn’t easy. You need to wait it out as word of mouth delivers the message about your brand. That won’t be easy, especially when you feel strongly about your work and your non-profit mission.

But is the key to success. Without it patience you are likely to make foolish errors in strategy. Early on I remember sitting with Kate wondering how we would get anybody to talk about death, which is not an easy subject. But because of her own experience she showed great patience and conviction that it was an idea worth sticking to. Too many kids are left to suffer alone after a parent dies because nobody knows how to talk to them.

3. Don’t force it.

You cannot force your way into the mind. Turning too quickly to advertising to build a brand is the biggest mistake companies and non-profits can make. Until your brand has gained credibility and established a position in the mind, any ad dollars spent are wasted.

In addition, trying to force people to change beliefs or behavior with advertising is doubly foolish. It just doesn’t work. Even if your brand is the best thing since sliced bread, consumers won’t believe you if you say it with advertising.

Kate people
4. Focus on PR

Say it with PR. It works because it is third-party endorsement of your brand. That’s why Red Bull, Starbucks, Google and many other brands used no advertising to build their brands and instead relied on PR.

Getting PR for your brand isn’t easy, especially if editors have never heard of your organization. But again, stay patient and keep at it.

And don’t just write press releases. You need to focus on creating news. What are you the first in? What is your story? Who is the spokesperson? What is your category?

Remember that neither consumers nor the media care about brands. What they really care about are categories. Nobody cares much about Kate’s Club, but they care about “kids facing the death of a parent.” That’s why it is so important to create a category you can be first in and then position your organization as the pioneer, leader and voice of the movement.

Kate has very much been a pioneer in the “grief” category. She has been on The View, The Today Show, CNN and many other television shows. She has been profiled in People magazine. And last year published her first book: A Healing Place: Help Your Child Find Hope and Happiness After the Loss of a Loved One.

Buy Kate's Book at Amazon

5. Stay Consistent

You might start slow and show great patience but you won’t succeed unless also remain consistent with your brand.

You need a razor-like focus, not just weeks or months but for years. Too many leaders and marketers like to tinker. So they constantly change messages, taglines, events, spokespersons etc. That never works.

At Kate’s Club the brand and message has stayed very focused. They have also stayed focused and consistent with their big yearly gala called the Kate’s Club Cabaret. The first Cabaret was held back in 2004 just over a year after Kate’s Club was founded and every year since.

Kate's Club Cabaret

A yearly event is a great way for any non-profit to raise money. But you need to keep the event consistent with its name, date and position.

Unlike most non-profits, Kate’s Club went after a younger audience. While this meant having lower ticket prices, it allowed the Kate’s Club Cabaret to build a reputation as a fun, young people gala. Nor did this strategy turn away the older folks who are now attending in droves. What middle-age person doesn’t want to attend the in-crowd gala with all the fun young pretty people?

Locking the name of the event to your non-profit is also key. Kate’s Club Cabaret uses alteration one of the best ways to increase memorability of a word in the mind.

No date you pick for an event is ever perfect. Don’t feel the need to have your gala during the “season,” the best strategy is to pick a date and stick to it.

The first Kate’s Club Cabaret was in August. Why? Who knows? August is hot in Atlanta and kids are going back to school. Getting the venue might have been cheap? Kate might have just picked it at whim. Whatever the reason doesn’t matter, August became the time for the Cabaret and it was locked into the mind.

One year Kate’s Club tried to move the Cabaret to September. September is a better month for a charity event, less people are on vacation, the weather is beautiful and there is a more serious feeling in the air. Did it work for the Cabaret?

No! It was one of worst events in terms of attendance. I was there and it was definitely less crowded and didn’t feel right.

As a result, the Cabaret quickly went back to August where it has remained ever since, growing bigger and better every year.

The Kate’s Club Cabaret has grown from a 200 person event to a 500 person event. Last year the tickets were sold out.

In this sour economy, that is an amazing accomplishment. But it speaks to the power of the brand, the message, the PR and the consistency. Bravo Kate and Kate’s Club.

The 7th annual Kate’s Club Cabaret is this Friday, August 20th. Hope to see you there.

Tickets for Kate's Club Cabaret!

Sphere: Related Content


Some of the sales experts I use for my daily sales tip know each other!

For example, Art Sobczak quotes Jim Meisenheimer:


I often see sales reps who are "quoting machines."
At every opportunity they prepare price quotes
for prospects, thinking that they have hot
opportunities. Actually what they are doing is
positioning themselves as a common vendor that
is selling on price, and opening themselves up
to getting into a game where the prospect will
try to beat their price down.

My friend and colleague, Jim Meisenheimer suggests
that you do proposals instead. He has just created
a free e-course, "The Art Of Closing The Sale,"
where he shares a number of valuable lessons on
getting the business. I've excerpted one of the
lessons below, and also highly recommend you
sign up for the complete e-course.

This Week's Tip:
Forget Doing Quotes. Create Personalized Proposals
To Win More Sales

By Jim Meisenheimer

Closing the sale is much easier when you present your
sales prospect a professional sales proposal instead
of a quote.

First, if you are doing quotes, stop it. Don't use
those automated run-of-the-mill quotation forms or
programs. Instead, create value-packed sales proposals.

As an example, let's say you are working with a prospect
and you're dealing with a committee of five decision makers.
Also imagine they are seated around a conference table for
for a meeting to determine who gets the business. You're
not there by phone or in person to represent yourself.
What's left is your sales proposal. In order to stand out
from the others it has be spectacular.

Let's assume there are four suppliers involved. Three
of the suppliers have submitted boring boiler-plate
quotations that scream out, "Hey, here's my price."
These are the people who are perceived as "vendors."
The person who likely gets the business is the one
who is perceived as adding value, at THEIR price.
This is accomplished with a dynamic proposal.

Here are three ways to add pizzazz and value to your
sales proposals.

1.The cover page is your headline. If there are five
decision makers, be sure you have each person's name
in large type on the front cover. Add a line that says
"Especially prepared for____." Put the date of the
decision making meeting on the front cover too, not the
date you send it. This also forces you to find out
when the decision is going to be made. (You are asking
that, aren't you?"

2.Include an organization chart. Create a chart that
includes the names of six to eight people in your
organization who are most likely to have some interaction
with your potential customer. Traditional organization charts
usually include names and titles. Go beyond that and
include telephone numbers, fax numbers, e-mail addresses,
direct dial extensions and a digital photograph the size
of a quarter situated in the box.

Including this contact information draws attention to the
accessibility of all key people--exactly what you want.
Having pictures adds faces to the names. You can score
some major points by introducing your support team.

3. Include a Benefits Page. At the top of this page,
in very large type, put "(Their Company) Benefit Page".

List seven facts or features about your company and or
products. But of course facts are simply facts. Under
each fact express a benefit. This benefit statement
should be indented, bold faced, slightly larger type,
and printed in red so it jumps off the page at anyone
who is looking at it.

Begin each benefit statement with these words: "Which means."

This will increase your sales and multiply your personal
income. This page should be positioned as the page before
your first page of pricing. What this means is your potential
customer gets to see your benefits before he sees your
pricing. That's a smart move and makes closing the
sale easier for you.

Get Jim Meisenheimer's new e-course
(delivered via email) "The Art Of Closing The Sale."

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

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

10 ways to Support your Best Customers-7

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.

7. Don't fear the online tools.

Your website is usually the customer's first exposure to your company, so your homepage should be personal and user-friendly. Include staff bios or embed a Twitter feed to build an intimate relationship with your customer, and consider other social media. Think of Facebook and Twitter as listening posts. People love to chat about their recent purchases and experiences, so why not tune in? But, she cautions, be mindful that those conversations may not represent the majority and should be put into context. "If you have a large group of people on Twitter talking about their problem with pairing their headset to their phones, you want to be able to grab those Tweets and route them to the appropriate person in your company so the customer can get the answer they need directly from the source," says Sean Whiteley, vice president of product marketing for, a San Francisco, California-based CRM provider. Read more.

Sphere: Related Content

Straight Talk

I serve on the Board of Directors for my local Advertising Federation. We strive to keep advertising professional, honest, and effective.


Yep, honest.

At the radio stations I work at we often screen the ads that we are asked to air if there is any questionable content.

Michele Miller wrote about this on her site this month:

When Free Isn’t Free Enough

Posted: 11 Aug 2010 11:14 AM PDT

I once found myself in the middle of a conference call with the CEO of a young Internet company that provided a great service – the website allowed customers to securely file emergency contact information and medical files online for an entire family (pets included). Backed by a monster server, and a 24/7 call center, the business was a slam-dunk in giving caretakers peace of mind should any emergency arise.

The company wanted help in creating more compelling content for their website, with the goal of converting more visitors into customers. At the time of our conference call, web stats showed that while visitors were steadily on the rise and that most people were following the content all the way through to the sign-up page, they bailed out about halfway through the sign-up process.

The CEO was flummoxed and frankly, so was I. The company even offered a two-month free trial.

As we sat there talking, I kept flipping back and forth between the homepage and the sign-up page.

CEO: “I don’t get it. Our service costs less than $35 a year, yet the process comes to a screeching halt when visitors have to sign up. What’s the hang up?”

MM: “Well, your service is still a fairly new business model and perhaps with all that you’re promising, it seems too good to be true. I see that you guys offer a free trial.”

CEO: “We do… you can see it on the sign-up page. We give two months for free.”

MM: “That’s great – so why aren’t you advertising this on your homepage… heck, on every page of the website? Surely there are those folks who are a bit more impulsive and will want to check it out right away.”

CEO: “You’re right – we’ll get on that, first thing. Where do you think we should put the info about the $4.95 handling fee?”

Handling fee? HANDLING FEE?!

In a world where individuals are barraged with advertising and special offers everyday, consumers are highly sensitized to hidden fees and obligations. The customer’s first reaction to a “free trial” with a $4.95 handling fee – especially when it’s buried in the middle of the sign-up process – is going to involve the click of a mouse away from your site (probably preceded by a phrase like, “Uh, screw that!”).

Hyped advertising or offers with strings attached, either intentional or unintentional, will do more harm than good. In the case of this company, I recommended either offering a “two month trial for $4.95” or, better yet, removing the handling fee entirely, depending on what their marketing budget could handle.

Make sure that free is really free, or don’t do it at all.

Sphere: Related Content

Avoid the No

from my email:

Daily Sales Tip: Give 'Em a Choice

When you only offer one solution to a customer, the only possible response is to say yes or no. Whenever possible, offer two or more alternatives and ask the customer to choose the one that is best for them. A good way to phrase this is to say something like "...based on what you told me about your needs, I think that these two products/services would work well for you. Which would you prefer?"

There are several advantages to offering alternatives to a customer. It doesn't come across as pushy, lets the customer pick the product/service/option that works best for them, and shows the customer that you are trying to provide something that truly meets their needs.

Source: Bill McCormick, president of Sales Training And Results, Inc. (STAR)

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, August 16, 2010

10 ways to Support your Best Customers-6

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.

6. Be innovative.

After you know the competition, you simply have to do better for your customer than the competition would. compiled video clips of tips on how to build customer loyalty from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, JetBlue founder David Neeleman, and other successful CEOs."We're not waiting for them to call us This is hand-to-hand combat out there, folks: you have to do a better job," said Jay Myers of Interactive Solutions Inc. Watch the video.

Sphere: Related Content

The Not-So-Old Folks

From Mediapost this week:

Countdown: 137 Days Until Boomer #1 Turns 65
My 65-year-old stepmother is an avid photographer who maintains her own blog and just bought her third camera in as many years. My 68-year-old stepfather "retired" in 2007, yet works seven days a week managing his rental properties. My 71-year-old mother runs three miles a day and is obsessed with trying new products, particularly if she gets a rebate. My 92-year-old grandmother doesn't drive, so my stepfather gives her a lift to the store every week where she makes her own product selections.

Does my family deserve its own reality TV show for being freakishly vibrant after age 65, or are they simply the "new normal"?

If companies thought we marketing experts were nuts for advising them to target 50 year olds, wait until they hear that 65 year olds should be on their radar. We should be telling them now. Boomers begin turning 65 in less than five months -- 137 days to be exact.

There's plenty of evidence, anecdotal and otherwise, to suggest that people 65+ are alive and spending.

According to Yankelovich, Boomers aren't alone in bucking age stereotypes. The desire to work hard to improve oneself, to strive to reach one's full potential and to remain open to new ideas does not wane as people age. Nor -- brand marketers take note -- does the propensity to research a product before making a purchase.

Make no mistake, America's 40 million 65+ consumers are buying. They are responsible for 22% of all new car purchases, they visit restaurants 13 million times a day, and they travel -- to the tune of $26 billion last year.

But these numbers will pale in comparison once Boomers populate the 65+ market. Consider the impact over the next 18 years as all Boomers turn 65:

  • The 65+ market will grow twice as fast as the 18-49 market (increasing by 29 million vs. 14 million)
  • One out of every four Americans will be age 65+
  • There will be nearly as many 65+ Americans as there are 35-49-year-old Americans (69 and 70 million, respectively)

AARP recently asked its Facebook fans for their perceptions on being marketed to as older consumers. One exasperated respondent speculated that marketing departments "must consist of Generation Xers who are clueless about the needs and wants of older generations."

All relationships suffer without proper attention, and the loyalty that brands believe they established with older consumers years ago (if it ever truly existed) simply can't be counted on when consumers feel ignored and misunderstood.

My stepmother agrees wholeheartedly, "Brand loyalty goes out the window if the consumer feels disregarded and taken for granted," she says. "There's a lot of competition out there these days and, believe me, older people are some of the canniest in researching a product for value and price. After all, they have the time."

If they expect to prosper, companies have an obligation to tell older consumers how their brands and products add value to their lives. And, we have an obligation to provide these companies with the foundational knowledge from which they can develop appropriate products, services and marketing plans that will serve all Boomers -- even those who may soon be characterized as "old."

Tick tock, 137...

Mark Bradbury is research director for AARP Media Sales. You can email him here

Sphere: Related Content

8 Ideas to Act on This Week

from my email archives from

8 Ideas to Help You Sell in a Tough Economy
by Jim Kasper

Selling in a tough economy requires extra effort, tenacity, better planning, and greater control over your sales cycle. Remember one thing: The top 2% of all salespeople automatically turn up their activity a couple more notches when things get tough. By doing so, they're the ones who'll be standing tall when the economy turns around.

Here are eight ideas to help you sell like a "top 2 percenter" in a tough economy:

Double and triple your call activity
Honestly, your competitors do not have the "stuff" to compete under these circumstances. Average salespeople buy into the "woe is me" philosophy and decrease sales activity. The top 2% know that an economic slowdown is an opportunity to edge out competition.

Re-allocate your field time
Work more with your "A" accounts in lieu of your "B" and "C" ones. Your purpose should be two-fold: 1) Your top producing accounts have the capacity to buy more from you; that's what makes them "A" accounts and, 2) You'll be securing your position with these accounts from attempts by the competition to wrest them away. Don't allow that to happen! Remember, this business cycle is impacting your competition, too, and they'll be aggressively looking at your "A" accounts as a source of new business.

Examine prospecting efficiency
Both rookie and veteran sales professionals tend to let their prospecting slide when times are good. As a result, their prospecting skill levels and prospect targeting abilities get rusty. This is a good time for you to hammer out your "prospective customer dimensions" In other words, delineate what your ideal prospect looks like. Then, identify key prospects in your area and proceed to develop your capture and execution plans.

Fire stalled prospects and move on
Your income and success depend upon calling on true prospects and current customers who can (and will) do more business with you. Assess the prospects you are calling on and don't be afraid to fire them, particularly if your extra effort is not showing any results. Remember that you have a business objective for every call you make. If you don't, your call will be reduced to a social nature and you don't get paid for those.

Go the extra mile for customers and increase value-added activities
You need to be creative in low or no-cost ways to help your accounts cut costs or stimulate new business. Go out of your way for your top accounts. Now is the time to establish yourself as a source for best practices. Share how your other accounts have benefited from your ideas.

Make every call count
Be prepared to make the most of every call. What value are you deriving from each customer visit? Who is controlling the sales call/sales or the customer? Experience and research has demonstrated that formal pre-call planning generates more successful outcomes of all sales activities. You should never take sales call effectiveness for granted, especially in tough economic times. The days of "blowing through" a call are over. The simple fact is that you are paid to move the customer to the next stage in your sales cycle. In today's economic climate, you've got too much at risk not to plan for success.

Now, more than ever, craft a strategy to overcome such objections as:

    "Until things improve, we're not undertaking new projects." "Now is not the time to change. We need to stay with our current supplier." "With economic conditions as they are, we're looking for low price suppliers."
Write a long list of discovery questions that will uncover hidden opportunities.

Plan to succeed
You will not survive an economic slowdown by simply hoping that you sell more or your current customer base buys more. Account planning, territory planning, and pre-call planning are the keys to efficient selling in a down economy.

It's time to review account plans or develop them, if you haven't already. Account plans are your road map to selling more to your "A" accounts. It may be time to reassess pricing or bundling in order to pick off some of your competitors' offerings.

In addition, ask yourself the following questions:
    How efficiently are you managing your territory? How much time do you spend traveling? Are you touching all of the accounts you need to? How many of your prospect calls are interspersed within current account visits within your territory? What accounts are at risk and what actions have you taken to reduce that risk? What value-added activities are you planning for your key accounts?
Reassess your priorities
This is not the time to perfect your golf swing or take extended time off. This is the time to dig in and take charge of your sales activities. By doing so, you'll be able to survive the current tough times and will be positioned to reap the benefits when the economy bounces back because you'll be ahead of your competitors who didn't!

Jim Kasper is the Founder and President of Interactive Resource Group. Jim has over 26 years of practical experience in direct sales, sales management, sales training, and marketing. Contact him at or call 800-891-7355.

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Classic Ad of the Week

And now they own NBC...

Sphere: Related Content

Handling Change

Nearly 25 years ago I jumped into the advertising world after working on the air and in the radio programming business.

Lot's has changed over the years in my world and the world of marketing. Here's some tips on handling change from the DLM Blog:

How to Stay Focused When Plans Keep Changing

Posted: 05 Aug 2010 07:22 AM PDT

I’m a planner. I like checklists and itineraries and schedules. Give me a map and I’ll plod along, one foot in front of the other, until we reach our destination. Of course, life isn’t always so easy. In fact, lately it seems like all my finely tuned plans have been turned upside down. Just like the old saying goes: We make plans and God just laughs.

These days, you have to be able to “go with the flow.” You can’t let fluctuating plans throw you into a tizzy. Minor changes (like switching the date of a meeting) and major changes (like company buyouts) happen nearly every day. And sometimes, even a seemingly minor change of plan can have a frustratingly huge impact.

I decided recently that I had to learn, once and for all, how to handle changes in plans with grace and poise, and not let such changes distract me and make me lose focus. Now, when someone throws a wrench my way, I have a calculated strategy with which to approach it. A plan to deal with broken plans, if you will. Yes, I’m a little neurotic.

If you find yourself in a situation where plans are fluid and you’re having a hard time keeping focused, try the following techniques.

Give Yourself Permission to Be Annoyed
Set a time limit. Ten minutes, maybe twenty minutes. During this period of time, complain all you want about how frustrating this change of plan is, how inconsiderate people are, how impossible this change will be to accommodate. Get it all out. But stick to your time limit. When it’s over, it’s over. No more venting; it’s time to get focused again.

Find Wisdom in the New Plan

So, the beautifully calculated plan you created went up in smoke and, in its place, there’s a new plan. It’s probably not fully fleshed out yet but you can see the outline of it. Find a way in which this new plan is better than the old one. Make up a reason if you have to. “I’ve always wanted to see Sheboygan. I’m so glad they moved the location of the conference.”

Recognize the Limits of Your Control
For most of us, the frustration with changed plans is that we feel out of control. But, the reality is, we can’t control everything and everyone. When a decision is out of your control, it doesn’t help matters to let it steal your energy. If you have no control, throw your hands in the air and ride the roller coaster. Acceptance is your only choice.

Embrace the Control You Have
If nothing else, you have control over yourself and your reaction to the change of plans. It might not seem like a lot, but it’s all you need. You can choose to react in a calm, poised and graceful manner or you can choose to freak out. You can choose to find solutions to make the new plan work or you can choose to rail against the change. Make productive choices.

Focus on the Next Step

Don’t try to think of every little thing that this change of plan will impact. Just think of the next step. What is one thing that you can do to feel more comfortable with the situation? Don’t try to re-evaluate the big picture right now. Just take one step and then, focus on the next one. Before long, you’ll be able to step back and look at everything with a level head.

Over the past few years, many people have faced some mighty big wrenches in their plans. Some experienced layoffs just months away from retirement. Others faced losing their homes due to overwhelming debt. Plans are great, but we shouldn’t ever get too comfortable with them. We can’t predict the future. It’s much better to be prepared so we can cope with changes as they happen—with grace and poise—and stay focused on moving forward.

Written on 8/05/2010 by Chrissy Scivicque. Chrissy is a writer, nutritionist and career coach. She trains others to manage their career path with a holistic point-of-view. You can find her at, a blog dedicated to helping you create a nourishing professional life.
Photo Credit: eschipul

Sphere: Related Content

15 Seconds

An interesting post from

Different Strokes for Different Folks
Quote of the Week: "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot
be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."
— Helen Keller
Publisher's Note:

Have you ever caught the TV show, The Mentalist? Each episode, the main character solves crimes by "reading" people. The bad guys don't stand a chance. The show, of course, is fictional but the ability to read people is real. In fact, SalesDog partners with a real life mentalist whose skills are almost scary.

Meet John Boe. John has an uncanny ability to analyze an individual based on a picture, phone conversation, or face-to-face meeting. He teaches his techniques to trial lawyers, poker players and salespeople. Our editor was astounded by John's skill when he accurately identified her personality traits after just a brief phone conversation. Here, he shows you how to read your prospect's personality and style so you can quickly develop trust and rapport.

Different Strokes for Different Folks
by John Boe
Have you ever wondered why you seem to hit it off right away with some customers, while with others it's more like oil and water? That's because we respond intuitively to the natural chemistry, or lack thereof, between temperament styles. Our temperament style not only determines our behavioral traits, body language patterns, and "buying styles" but it also influences our compatibility with others.

Click here to read the rest.

Sphere: Related Content