I already know you’re an expert

September 13, 2011

…they already know you’re capable

When I get hit in the forehead twice on one day with a marketing tip — I know it’s time to share.

Incident One: I’m on the phone with a potential new client who is telling me about his previous experiences with finding the right agency.

He’s describing one agency visit and says, “pretty much all we talked about were how many awards they won.  I already knew they could do the job, I just wanted to know if I liked them.”

Turns out he didn’t like them…but apparently they sure liked themselves.

That agency didn’t get it.

Incident Two: Later that evening (around 11 pm) I’m working in my home office.  I notice a drip of blood that has fallen, apparently from me.  The one drip becomes many and an hour (and two rolls of TP) later, when I still can’t stop the nose bleed… I figure I’d better head to the ER.

We have a new hospital minutes from my house, and fortunately, this was my first visit.  I walked in and within 10 minutes, a nurse is coming out to get me, apologizing for keeping me waiting.  In the holding pen (exam room) the nurse doesn’t tell me about his education or skills, instead he empathized with me by telling me how he used to suffer from nose bleeds and how glad he was I came in, rather than continuing to try to stop it myself.

Doctor comes in 10 minutes later — again, does not tell me his med school GPA or diploma.  He introduces himself by his first name and begins to solve my problem.

(Turns out the solving my problem involved cauterizing — really do not recommend that.)

After the “procedure” — both the doctor and the nurse checked back in and encouraged me to come back in if I couldn’t control the pain or the bleeding started back up.

The entire experience — they focused on me.  They anticipated my questions, concerns and even that I felt a little silly bothering them with a nose bleed.  As the nurse was walking me out to the front door, again he apologized that I had to wait here and there.

They got it.

In today’s age — if someone is approaching you to potentially buy something, they already know you/your product is capable.   No one buys anything today without doing a little research on the web or by asking their network.  If you’ve gotten to the “I want to meet you” stage — they’ve already given you props for your capability.  Now they want to know how the chemistry is.

Here are the questions running through their mind at the interview/first visit stage:

  1. What would they be like to work with?
  2. Do I trust them?
  3. Will they make me look good?
  4. Do they care?

So pitch the PowerPoint slides that blather on about you.  Don’t lead with the awards or credentials.  Just roll up your sleeves and be valuable by being about them.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Marketing tip #83: You really can’t make the horse drink

August 26, 2011

You can’t make a customer buy!

Here’s an uncomfortable marketing truth:  With few exceptions, you cannot control potential buyers.

No matter how great your product, how spectacular your price or how unparalleled your customer service reputation — if they aren’t ready to buy, they just are not ready to buy.

Yes, as the old adage says — you can lead them to the water.  But once you get them there, you only have two choices.  Try to force their head into the water or entice them to hang out by the water trough until they’re actually thirsty.

And trust me, if you’ve spent any time around horses or a stubborn prospect, you know that you cannot force their head into the water.  No matter how badly you’d like to!

Sadly, to stay with the analogy — most companies don’t have any carrots or sugar cubes at the ready.   Which means their “horse” wanders away.  And by the time they’re ready to buy — probably has wandered to someone else’s watering trough.

I see so many companies that can get a prospect in the door but if they don’t buy that instant, have no way of staying in touch, creating a relationship or keeping under the prospect’s nose until it’s the right time for them to buy.

Imagine this scenario: Someone who would be the perfect sweet spot customer called today and chatted with you on the phone for 15 minutes but wasn’t ready to buy — what would you do/say to keep them connected to you until they were ready to buy?

Could you hold their interest for a month?  6 months?  3 years?

If you didn’t have an answer or don’t think you could keep them around the water trough for as long as you need — you are letting sales walk out your door.

So…now what?



Enhanced by Zemanta

Five elements to writing an effective sales letter

June 28, 2011

…make me feel like you know I’m unique

Writing an effective sales letter for a cold list?  Are you kidding me?

Cold calling doesn’t work.  Blind sales letters go right into the circular file cabinet.  E-mail solicitation to strangers get flagged as SPAM.

All of that is true.  Most of the time.

And while I will never be the guy advocating for blindly reaching out to people who have no idea who you are, have no burning need for what you’re selling and in fact, will probably see you as a nuisance, not a trusted partner — every once in awhile I see someone who does it masterfully enough that I admit, never say never.

We got an e-mail sales letter today that not only got me to read it but — got me to respond.  And that hardly ever happens.  I thought I’d share the letter with you (I did trim/paraphrase for space) and then we can identify why it worked.

“You can stop wasting time chasing after the wrong ones and simply attract the ones who are your perfect fit.  Customers who love you aren’t about the transaction.  They’re about the relationship.”

Now, some would call the above quote plagiarism, but let’s assume none of those people are here.  This quote was lifted from the MMG website because it’s simply one of the smarter lines I’ve read on an agency’s website in quite some time.  It’s honest and effectual, and it speaks volumes of the work your company does.  It makes advertising geeks like me want to get to know MMG and what the company is up to (and possibly get one of those sweet nicknames. Not going to lie – I’m a little jealous ‘Girl Wonder’ is already taken).

I just wanted to reach out and introduce myself as your new – or possibly first – rep for Company XYZ.

And now that I’ve explained why I want to work with you, I’d like to come in and tell you why you would want to work with me…

If you’re not familiar with Company XYZ, here are the Cliffsnotes: [Two short sentences about what they do]  On top of that, we swear by our customer service and I can promise you’ll be embarrassingly doted on as a client.

I’d love to swing through Des Moines office and get the scoop on what’s in the works at McLellan. Do you have any time available for lunch (liquid or otherwise – pick your poison) or a meeting the week of 8/1?

Looking forward to working together!


Bravo Sarah!  Let’s dissect her efforts to see what elements made this work:

Show me that you know me. I’m sure she used the same technique of quoting a prospect’s website in all her letters, but in this one — she quoted us.  And she referenced our job titles.  It felt like she “got us.”  No one wants to be prospect #2,843.

Cop our attitude: Our website is written with a bit of attitude and Sarah captured it perfectly in her e-mail.  It feels like we speak the same language.

Talk more about me than you: In the entire pitch e-mail, two sentences are about the company she works for.  The rest is about us.  And who doesn’t like to talk and read about themselves.

Keep it short: Whether it’s e-mail or snail mail — you don’t need to tell me everything in one fell swoop. Hit the highlights and whet my appetite.

When you talk about yourself, talk about me: Even in the two sentences she wrote about her company’s offerings — she talked about them in relation to how they could help us serve clients better.

Notice how many times I used the word “me” in the call outs above.  That’s why most sales letters don’t work.  Because they’re not about the prospect at all.  Most sales people don’t take the time to do their research or tailor the letter.

Which is why most sales letters go right in the trash.  But if you build in the elements that Sarah so deftly demonstrated — you might be surprised at the results!




Enhanced by Zemanta

Stop guessing what your customers are thinking

April 25, 2011

… Want to tap into your customers’ minds?

We spend way too much time in “I think I know” land especially when it comes to customers. We make huge decisions based on “my best guess is” or “it seems like…”

There’s absolutely no reason for you to not know what your customers are thinking. Here are a few ways (short of the brain probes in the photo) to ferret out exactly what’s going on in there.

Secret Shopping with a Twist: Invite your customers to sign up to be secret shoppers.  Let them sign up on your website and pick a good blend of them.  Then, after every experience (or in a given time interval) give them a little form to fill out, rating performance,, quality, or whatever else you want to know.  Every time they send in their form (or submit it, if you put it online) they get some reward.

Bonus: Even those you don’t select will now know you want their feedback.   So they’ll speak up more often.

Create a customer survey: Just ask them already!  Afraid of what they’ll say?  Steve Olenski’s tells us in a recent post that we shouldn’t worry about that. In fact, according to the study he cites — most customers who participate in surveys (even if they have a tough message to deliver) care about the company and want it to be successful.  That’s why they invest the time in answering your questions.   We do these for clients all the time and it’s remarkable what we learn and how tiny tweaks (that you learned about in the survey) can change the customer experience.

Bonus:  They feel important and valued because you asked.

Create a customer board of advisors: If you are going to be making some big decisions, why not create an elite group of your best customers (the ones you’d like many more of) and bring them together monthly or quarterly for a couple hours. This requires you being willing to bare it all — they can’t give you good advice if they don’t know the whole picture.   But their insights, questions and counsel will amaze you.

Bonus: They shift from customers to full on evangelists for your organization.

There are, of course, more ways to check in with your customers.  Some may be better suited for your industry than others.  But… guessing is never the best choice.

What say you?  How do you stay in touch with your consumers?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Is retro marketing the way to sell?

March 16, 2011

mtdew drewmclellan
The retro Mountain Dew can

It makes some sense.  How do you appeal the the 75+ million baby boomers?  You help them take a trip down memory lane by giving your product a retro make-over.

I saw this Mountain Dew can on the shelf a month ago and immediately noticed how blatant they were in their efforts.  They’re calling it a throwback and making no apologies.

An added bonus — teens think retro is cool too.  With one packaging shift, this trend has captured the two buying groups with the most disposable income.  Teens and boomers.  Pretty smart.

And it’s not just a gimmick.  It’s a smart sales strategy. Pepsico is reporting that after a few months, the retro can have added one share point to sales, which equates to about $220 million in annual sales.  (They’ve also released a retro Pepsi can but my Coke preference precludes me from putting the other cola’s picture on my blog!)

It’s not just food products who are jumping on this retro bandwagon.  Nike launched the Air Jordan retro sneakers in February, Disney put huge dollars behind their Tron sequel and look at how many VW beetles you see on the road.

Last month, we had a lively conversation about what sells better — pointing to the past or the future.  How do you think the idea of retro fits into that mixture?

Enhanced by Zemanta