02Feb/09

Marketing Mondays – Getting to Know You

Seth Godin is a bit of an expert when it comes to communicating.  In our first Marketing Mondays post, he taught us how to add friction back in to emails.  This is a good thing; it reminds us not to take advantage of the fact that we have easy, immediate access to a broad base of potential customers.  Anatomy of a Campaign is a reminder that we need to earn the attention of those with whom we wish to speak.  

The box just said “Scharffen Berger” on the return label.

I opened it up and there was a simple hand-written note. It said, “Seth, have you ever tasted a chocolate bar like this before? Regards, Raymond Major.” His business card was stapled to the note. His title? Senior Staff Scientist.

Attached: exactly one three-ounce chocolate bar, in grey cardboard. The bar itself was wrapped in a waxed-paper like substance, hand folded with a label.

And the chocolate (Tome-Acu 68%) was mind-blowingly good.

Handmade, anticipated and wonderful. From a division of Hershey!

So, what exactly happened here?

  1. They know me. I met John, the founder, years and years ago, and he gave me a plant tour and the story of his product blew me away.
  2. I read John’s book. He was true and authentic and inspiring.
  3. I wrote something negative about an engagement with their customer service folks on my blog and they reached out and we had a great conversation on the phone.
  4. The note they sent was hand written.
  5. It was from not just a scientist, but from the senior scientist.
  6. The chocolate was clearly a limited, special item.
  7. And, yes, the chocolate was terrific. Better than terrific.

So, you ask, what if I (the marketer) don’t know the blogger or the reporter? What if I don’t have permission? What if they don’t care about me? What if my product is mediocre?

Alas, the answer isn’t good. The answer is: tough. Is this an unreasonable expectation? Lengths too great to have to go to? Well, it’s cheaper than buying an ad on the Super Bowl or even buying shelf space at the Safeway.

The way to win is to make things that tiny (or large!) groups want to talk about, or care about, or engage in. That’s the story that spreads.

PS as I finished writing this, I got a letter in the mail at home from the local Mexican restaurant. They probably purchased the address of every single person in town from a mailing list broker. It’s cheap. Add a stamp and a return address that’s interesting (why are they writing to me) and I’ll open it.

It was a letter apologizing to the town for how lousy the restaurant had been since it opened three months ago and how hard they were working to fix it and how much they appreciated everyone’s feedback. It had a real name at the bottom, a phone number and a $10 gift certificate attached. Wow.

I’ve recently been spending time with members, helping them get set up with social media and expressing what I see as the key point in this post: transparency.  In order to get people to open up to you (open up their time, their attention, their wallets), you need to invest yourself in them.  When you offer advice without the expectation of a sale (maybe your competitor is truly the best fit for their unique situation) or blog about your company, you invite them to get to know you and increase the chance that they will listen when you really want them to.

27Jan/09

LAKELAND CHAMBER ANNUAL MEETING

Lakeland Chamber Logo

You won’t want to miss this year’s Annual Meeting event, set for Tuesday, February 3, at 5:30 pm, at The Lakeland Center! 

This popular event draws more than 1,000 members and guests together for a uplifting evening of networking and celebrating Lakeland’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Come hear international speaker and New York Times best-selling author, Andy Andrews, as he presents “Sailing above Rough Seas:  How to Prosper During an Economic Downturn.”  

This event sells out, so make your reservations today!  Tickets:  $60 individual, $650 corporate table (10).   For reservations by credit card or e-check, please visit http://AnnualMeeting.LakelandChamber.com

For further information about the 2008 Chamber Annual Meeting, please call Barbara Bennett at 863/688-8551 ext 233.

27Jan/09

63rd Annual Tiger BBQ

 

Tiger BBQ Logo

Join us in welcoming our 2006 American League Champion Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium, Florida’s most magnificent spring training facility!

 

 

Joker Marchant Stadium

 

Thursday, February 19, 2009
Gates Open at 6 PM
Steaks Served 7 PM – 8 PM Only
No Take Out Orders – One Steak Per Person
Adults: $50.00 Children 12 & Under: $25.00
(We host the Tiger Organization)

 

Joker Marchant Sign

 

Enjoy “The Famous Menu” which begins serving from 6 PM – 8 PM.

Roast Corn, Shrimp, BBQ Ribs, Char-Broiled Steaks, Italian Sausage and Baked Beans!

 

Purchase Your Tickets Online Now!

26Jan/09

Marketing Mondays – Avoiding “Sales Prevention Strategies”

Recently, the American Express Open Forum posted an article by Ivana Taylor.  While these poor strategies are often of little consequence in times of prosperity, taking the time to correct them when “every sale counts” may make all the difference in the world:

A couple of years ago I was in a meeting with a client when he asked me what I thought of his “Sales Prevention Manager.” After a delayed reaction and in the middle of his next sentence I started to giggle, and then do one of those suppressed snorting laughs that suddenly overcomes you in the middle of church.

“Sales Prevention Manager.” When I gave that some thought I realized how many times a day we run into businesses and companies that probably have some stellar performers in the sales prevention management role.

So I thought I’d make a list of just a few sales prevention strategies to avoid during a time when every sale counts:

You can’t take it with you – This is an actual policy at one of our local restaurants. Every day they run specials (which are reasonably priced and NOT give-a ways). But you’d better not order more than you can eat – because they won’t let you take it home. What is up with THAT? If a dozen hot wings are say $5.00 and I want to order four dozen, eat one and take the rest home – what do YOU CARE? This restaurant would obviously rather make $5 than $20. Besides, more wings mean more beer – so what’s the problem? There is nothing worse than creating a policy that stops your customers from giving you money.

Salespeople who don’t sell – Since when did a sales person become just a warm body? Sales people are there to sell and help customers choose the product and/or service that best meets their needs. There is a reason why the things we sell are called “OFFERINGS.” We are supposed to OFFER them to people; actually present them as a potential targeted solution to a customer need. Maybe it’s the self-service culture we’ve become accustomed to, but maybe it’s just plain oversight of the obvious opportunity to sell more. The first sale to a customer is a significantly lower margin than each additional sale. If each of your customers just bought one more thing – how much more money would you make?

Gift Certificates and coupons that don’t work – If someone takes the time, effort and energy to come to you and offer you money using a gift certificate or coupon, TAKE IT. If the gift certificate is expired – take it anyway? It’s a gift certificate. That means you’ve already taken and had their money. Chances are good that they are spending more money than the gift certificate is for which is money you didn’t have before. You can argue a policy or you can take their money and increase your sales. It’s up to you.

How to be sure you are getting every sale:

  • List all your customer policies and ask yourself the question “Are these making it easier or harder for customer to give me money?”
  • Take a look at all your offerings and look for simple ways that keep people from buying or buying more. Is your phone number and web site listed on every page, at the bottom, at the top, in the copy?
  • What are your customers purchasing? Are there products or services that they may not have considered that would improve their purchase and purchase experience? If they are buying clothing – are there accessories that can go with it? If they are buying services – are there complementary products that they can use to enhance the service experience?
  • Create product and service bundles and train your sales people on what things could go together. Up-sell, cross-sell. Just Sell. It also makes sense to hire sales people that like and enjoy your product or service so that they can enthusiastically share their combinations and experiences. New research shows that people are more likely to purchase based on recommendation than advertising.