Archive for Sales

It’s not JUST a business card!

rw card frontIn 2010 I created my current business card.

It’s worked well, if you ignore the folks complaining about the tiny tag line being unreadable.

And half the message on the reverse side is obsolete. Meaning I couldn’t just order another 1,000 cards and be done with it.

But nobody really cares about business cards, right?

Actually…they do.

Yes, even in this digital age the business card is important; at least for anyone serious about personal networking.rw card back

Because when you’re working the room at a conference, meeting, or chamber event you need to move fast to befriend 300 people in two hours.

Realistically, you won’t find them examining your LinkedIn profile during your conversation.

However, provide a business card explaining what you do and how to find you and you may bond afterwards.

If I can capture their attention, they’ll want to connect on social media where they’ll read my columns, review my website, and examine my portfolio.

I see this card as the first (sometimes only) impression lots of people get of me.

And I know that the alternative to having a business card touting my expertise and talents is writing my phone number on a cocktail napkin.

I’m pretty sure that doesn’t have QUITE the same impact.

In fairness to my designer, I’ve spent three weeks tweaking my new card.

He’s frustrated, wanting merely to finish the project, bill me for it, and move on to the next one.

But I’ve been struggling over logo position, font size, and messaging.

At last, after several versions I’m where I want to be and gave the final go-ahead to print.

PHEW!

My clients today care more about my comprehensive corporate communications and world-class marketing strategies than on my convenient west coast location.

The new card should reflect that.

And that tiny tag line needs to be enlarged, requiring the design to be adjusted accordingly.

It’s been an unpleasant process, but an important one.

The card I’m now finishing should last me another seven years, and my new websites now under construction will complement it.

Because just as my clients need to refresh their marketing materials every few years, my business needs to do the same.

Fortunately, I know JUST the guy to handle the whole thing!

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.
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Get help with your branding at www.marketbuilding.com.

Tips For Your Server

stone breweryIs a restaurant server worth a 43% tip?

Most of us would typically say no, preferring the historic 15%. If feeling generous we’ll go 20%, when peevish 10%.

So what must a server do to earn big tips? Read the room, and market properly.

For years I’ve complained about what folks do wrong in their marketing.

Doctors, corporations, and the Postal Service have all come under withering attack for poor marketing practices or non-existent customer service.

A 23-year old server at Escondido’s Stone Brewery demonstrates how to do it properly.

Most servers introduce themselves to encourage a “relationship”, albeit a short-lived one. They work hard for minimal pay, hoping for tips to allow them to live like real people.

Anyone believing they’re above such menial labor sees wait-staff as unskilled workers.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

To survive these staffers must be knowledgeable, gracious, personable, and talented. This week I met such a person.

Madison is hardworking, entertaining, bright, personable, and efficient. She spoke her mind, didn’t miss a trick, and restored my faith in the future of service businesses.

She made us feel truly welcome, engaging with my party and learning what made us tick.

It was unusual behavior for a server, and something I might’ve frowned upon under other circumstances.

However, it was a slow night and she read us correctly; we were open to conversation.

So she talked with us about us, rather than merely doing busywork.

We found her intelligent, her humor charming, and encouraged her to stay.

Despite my desire to interact with my dinner partner, I found Madison brought much to the conversation.

Her taking the time to care for and anticipate our culinary needs led to that well-earned 43% tip.

Few 20-somethings figure out the importance of good customer service. Indeed, many people twice that age don’t get it.

But Madison knows the 3 rules of good marketing:

  • The customer’s always right
  • Know your business
  • Anticipate customer needs

Merely introducing yourself isn’t enough to increase your earnings. Being overly-friendly won’t appeal to everyone.

Yet this young woman demonstrated it’s possible to market yourself well while carrying a tray full of drinks. She followed our lead, and established a real relationship.

We’ll both be her customers again…soon!

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

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Send your comments about Madison to www.marketbuilding.com.

 

You are what you wear

wine-dress-LUX-LD3449-aAt 15 mom convinced me you can’t get into trouble dressing conservatively.

She also said I should wear clean underwear in case I’m in an accident. I now know if I’m in an accident my underwear won’t be clean for very long.

But I digress. It’s prom night at Old Poway Park.

Everyone’s dolled up, taking pictures and awaiting the big moment.

One attractive girl whose dress is cut down to Venezuela catches attention while cavorting with her friends.

Her primary competition’s got a gown slit up to her navel.

I shake my head, wondering where were girls like this when I was in high school.

SIGH!

Assuming their goal’s to titillate their dates, these young exhibitionists are achieving their objective. Obviously, fancy parties require exciting clothes.

Other environments demand more sober clothing to achieve success. Miss Cleavage obviously wouldn’t wear that gown for a job interview.

A recent consulting gig found me surrounded by coworkers in jeans. I blended in on a high level with jeans, jacket and tie.

People noticed, calling me the classiest person in the organization.

Other clients won’t talk to me seriously unless I’m suited up.

My ideas are obviously the same without the suit, but that’s their culture. I live by their guidelines to buy myself a seat at the table.

Clothing sends a clear message who you are. Jeans at a job interview says “I’m not serious,” while jacket and tie at a rock concert screams “DORK!”

Reading the room and your place in it is critical for marketing yourself properly.

Speaking at a conference? Wear a jacket and tie. The audience shows up wearing jeans? Remove the tie.

My point is simple: Despite changing norms in many workplaces, most people still judge you by your wardrobe. Therefore, it’s key to pay attention to the message you’re sending.

Still, regardless of the packaging you can continue standing out of the crowd. Suits can be dressed up with a colorful tie or kerchief.

Hawaiian Shirt Day at work is an invitation to wear something bold.

With prom night past these kids have an opportunity to market themselves to new audiences at college and beyond. Their choice of fashion could easily make the difference to their personal and professional futures.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

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Dress your marketing for success at www.marketbuilding.com

The Best Sneetch on the Beach?

18582547_1537480859609087_60390326429017806_nLast night at Alesmith Brewery my friend Dave noticed all the pretty girls. I couldn’t get past them all having tattoos.

As I don’t sport ink, I admit my ignorance to the fascination with this form of self-expression.

It’s a throwback to my youth, when my father instilled in me three things to never do: sleep with a hooker, spend a night in jail, or get a tattoo.

So I basically just don’t get it.

Dave tried helping me out; “Military, truck drivers, and gang members have all traditionally worn body art. It goes with the territory.”

Which is all well and good. But the 58-year old accountant rebelling against a lifetime of middle class existence by imprinting a red scorpion on her neck may need therapy more than ink and needle.

That 25-year old tattooing her boyfriend’s name onto her hand fits in with her crowd but forgets he’s probably gone next year.

And will anyone really take you for a badass when you’re 90 and still sporting that grinning skull?

Next I re-read my Dr. Seuss.

In The Sneetches, Seuss spoke of the superiority complex of those with stars on their bellies. As everyone got them to feel special, eventually nobody was special. The tattoo artist won.

Regular readers know I’m all about finding ways to stand out of the crowd. Yet if the entire crowd expresses their individuality together, I go with Seuss’ observation “The best kind of Sneetches are Sneetches without!”

My bride says it’s a matter of self-identification. Does that translate to marketing yourself?

If so, before you make that commitment, ask if you’re more likely to stand out without a tattoo?

Because that body art makes a statement about you that might negatively impact your ability to market yourself and/or your company.

After all, if your customers are turned off by tats, you might not get or keep the job.

During my career I’ve observed the most successful sales people have certain things in common, including dressing well, neutral accents, good grooming, lack of facial hair, and no tattoos.

Despite this, you may feel a tattoo’s key to your identity. If you must pursue it, place it somewhere unobtrusive. You and your close friends can appreciate what’s nobody else’s business.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

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Add color to your marketing at www.askmrmarketing.com

Event marketing on a budget

It seems every week there’s a fundraising event aimed at generating support event marketingfor a local non-profit.

Golf tournaments, soccer games, bazaars … spring is the busy fundraising season. You name it, you’ll find it.

All seek to maximize turnout and dollars raised. Most face similar challenges, including:

• Competition from other events

• Miniscule budgets

• Volunteers doing the bulk of the work

Sadly, many volunteers lack basic marketing knowledge. This inhibits effectively spreading the word about their event, helping to conspire against success.

So, as a public service, I’d like to analyze the May 7 Jewish Food Festival at Poway’s Temple Adat Shalom.

This event offers everything you’d expect: food, music, dancing, educational materials, crafts … the works.

Since December, a team of eight volunteers (including me) has implemented a marketing plan aimed at delivering solid results without many resources.

Hey, it’s a non-profit fundraiser. Of course, the marketing budget’s skimpy. Despite that they’ve worked wonders, developing:

• A snappy tagline

• A revitalized web site

• Online event calendar postings

• A twice-weekly campaign encouraging Facebook connections to share news and invite their friends

• Printed signs for placement in area store windows

• Print ads targeting specific local communities

• Publicity appearing throughout San Diego County

• Promotional postcards mailing to homes within two miles of Temple Adad Shalom.

The team also coordinated a food drive with Interfaith Community Services.

Then sales promotions were used judiciously to increase awareness, attendance and participation, with fliers placed in hotels to attract regional visitors.

A mailing campaign was also done to potential sponsors, and in-house publications maintained a steady drumbeat to the most obvious audiences.

Every marketing tool used consistent designs and language. Combining good organization, a desirable destination and comprehensive marketing, current projections show double the turnout from the last Jewish Food Festival.

Has it been perfect? Hardly. Business cards should have been made for those selling program ads and a budget for radio, billboards and TV would have tied it all together nicely.

Then again, they’d probably have had so many visitors that they’d run out of food.

The only disappointment: Someone being reluctant to co-sponsor light pole banners out of fear of associating his company’s name with the word “Jewish” due to rising societal anti-Semitism.

Despite such setbacks, food festival organizers anticipate great results, setting an excellent example for other non-profit fundraisers.

Get more information about this great event at http://www.sdjewishfoodfest.com

Social media never disappears

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Willful ignorance doesn’t help your cause

Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media outlets have become the predominant way of communicating and establishing commercial and personal brands.

Wearing my hat, for example, exposes me to a targeted audience. Blasting its image via six social media accounts increases my visibility exponentially.

However, once something’s published online it’s impossible to erase. So I’m VERY careful what I publish so it doesn’t come back to haunt me later.

Consider this recent item on LinkedIn:

“Damn…the NFL been around longer than our government. We’ve had 50 Super Bowls and only 45 presidents. I didn’t know that.”

She wasn’t kidding!

Her millennial friends agreed with her, while others provided unsuccessful civics lessons.

Logically, someday this woman will want a job. Potential employers will GOOGLE her name and discover today’s conversation.

Meaning today’s willful ignorance could easily endanger tomorrow’s opportunity.

This judgmental attitude isn’t just mine. Business owners following the feed said “WOW!!!”; “The scariest thing is…they vote.”; and “Your education is what you make it, Princess.”

This subject’s appropriateness for business-oriented LinkedIn also raised temperatures. One executive observed “Actually it’s perfect…helps with candidate vetting.”

Here’s reality for you: Anonymity no longer exists in today’s world.

Meaning if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Whether you’re branding a business, non-profit, or yourself, be sure your marketing plan includes a healthy dose of social media.

But remember potential bosses, clients and partners will not only examine your recent postings, but everything you’ve ever written.

And those lurid pictures of you getting drunk, while funny now, will haunt you in 20 years with questions about your character, judgment, and intelligence.

So some unrequested advice for my young friend on LinkedIn: Poor communication skills don’t bode well for being able to market yourself in the future.

Because even though Millennials grew up comfortably sharing their every move with the world at-large, with many not recognizing the importance of privacy, their bosses probably feel differently.

There are six generations sharing the workplace today, and older generations control much of the employment and financing opportunities.

Their discomfort with a “Let it all hang out” attitude may encourage them to penalize anyone unable or unwilling to be “professional.”

It isn’t necessarily fair. But as a business owner, I know it’s a realistic view of today’s world.

Delivering Savings Until Closing Time Today

A man walks into the post office…WONDERUSPS2

Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, doesn’t it?

But there I was waiting to buy postage and I discovered a coupon jointly issued by Hallmark and the U.S. Postal Service.

In truth I shouldn’t have been surprised. For the past few years the Postal Service has been getting increasingly commercial in an effort to overcome an annual $5 billion deficit. And because the USPS is a quasi-governmental agency receiving zero tax dollars, that money obviously has to come from someplace.

So, a few years back they started selling ancillary items like packing supplies and greeting cards.

Then they struck deals to feature animated characters on postage stamps, including Bambi, Big Bird and Daffy Duck.

Today, stamps featuring Wonder Woman can be affixed to Snoopy greeting cards, both purchased at the postal counter.

The tie-in between postage stamps and Hallmark greeting cards is a logical one.

Post offices have a built-in customer traffic flow. Most cards get mailed and need stamps.

What better place to tie the stamps, card, and customers together than there?

Furthermore, free email graphics have been the source of headaches for Hallmark executives for a long time.

If they can sell more cards and pay the USPS a sales commission, everyone wins, right?

Their plan is obvious;

  • Customer chooses a card from the multiple displays in the postal store lobby;
  • Coupon offers $1 off 3 cards if purchased before Feb. 17, 2017 (That’s TODAY, in case you hadn’t noticed!);
  • Customer buys two additional cards and stamps for mailing them

The promotion’s demise date screams “Valentine’s Day,” though any cards sold there qualify for the discount.

Now let’s examine your business. Odds are good there’s a potential partner for you, regardless of what you sell.

Car dealerships can join forces with area gas stations. Bakeries can work with exercise studios, which, in turn, can partner with beverage companies.

The USPS isn’t collecting buyers’ contact information, but there’s no reason you can’t. A list of buyers is incredibly valuable, since:

  • They like what you and your partner sell
  • You have an established relationship
  • They’re likely to buy from you again

Partnerships must be carefully thought out and planned, but can be very successful if done right. Learn from the USPS and develop one today.

How much would you charge?

breakfast sandwichI just flew in from Sacramento, and BOY are my arms tired!

Sorry…I’ve always wanted to say that.

At the airport my bride purchased a “substandard” bagel and “okay” coffee for $6.04. The same counter was selling breakfast sandwiches for $11.

Realizing I’m in the wrong business, I pondered how anyone has the nerve to charge such exorbitant prices.

First thought: Greed. Airport dining options are limited and most vacationers, feeling expansive, don’t bring their own food.

Plus with millions of guaranteed customers, a “Take it or leave it” attitude is almost understandable.

Especially since airport meals typically fade from memory before the next suitcase is packed.

Then I considered my neighborhood’s gas stations. One at the freeway entrance consistently charges 80 cents more per gallon than the place across the street lacking ramp access.

Given the minor differences from one brand of gasoline to another, the price differential must be caused by the convenience factor; the station’s location.

Economics 101 dictates something is worth only what customers believe its value to be.

A bottle of cold water selling for 25 cents at Costco is worth $3 when sold on a hot day inside a football stadium. Customers willingly throw money for the same item due to its increased perceived value.

Meaning we’re witnessing the law of supply and demand in action. The gas stations, airport restaurants, and water vendors are all charging as much as their particular customers are willing to pay.

You too should be looking to bestow some form of additional perceived value on your business. Like the airport, gas station, and football stadium, you may have location as an advantage.

Carrying hard-to-find products, providing amazing service, or making something of significantly higher quality than the competition also helps.

Or just making the experience more pleasant than the competition does might make the difference.

Greeting customers with a cheery “Hello friends!” and playing classical background music for those enjoying a morning cup of coffee, for example.

Of course, the answer to business success changes based on industry, geography, customer demographics, and your definition of success.

But if you can find that one thing that makes both you and your customers happy, you may suddenly find you’ve become quite popular.

Right this way, Mr. Squinty

In September I found myself at a branch of my bank awaiting a receipt. My sd-sdreyer-1485458125-snap-phototime was spent perusing brochures, people-watching, and staring into space. Then the monitor behind the counter caught my eye.

As a marketing professional I’m naturally curious about every company’s messaging. So I watched their video presentation. Twice.

Finally I realized the problem. “The picture’s fuzzy,” I told the teller, who smiled noncommittally.

Last week I visited another branch of the same bank and determined the problem wasn’t my eyes, but the presentation itself.

This time the teller acknowledged the issue. “We said something to headquarters weeks ago and they promised they’d fix it,” she said.

Yet here we are, months later, and the problem persists.

When I started in business, my father advised me to be sensitive to customers’ needs. “People’s eyes start playing tricks on them around age 40,” he warned.

Truer words were never spoken! Shortly after I hit 40 my eyes started acting up, and they’ve only gotten worse with age.

So here I was observing a marketing presentation that was unfocused and giving me a headache.

And the bank’s marketing department apparently wasn’t very concerned about it.

Meaning the message meant to reinforce my warm fuzzy feelings for this bank instead irritated me.

Counter-productive? You bet!

Even if the bank eventually gets its act together, it’ll be quite a while before I’m watching that video again.

Translation: beyond the annoyance factor, they’ve lost a very visible, very cost-effective tool for communicating with me.

And a measure of good will has also been lost because they didn’t pay attention to my needs.

Now let’s consider your business. Do you:

• Know your customer’s profile and their preferred ways of being communicated with?

• Understand their needs to ensure they receive your message?

• Listen to your staff when they tell you there’s a marketing issue requiring attention?

Admittedly I’m not so annoyed that I’m moving my business elsewhere…yet.

Still, I’m now wondering which other concerns of mine they’re ignoring.

And should the competition hit me with the right offer, benefits, and messaging on the right day, I might be persuaded to switch.

All because some faceless person didn’t take the time to ensure quality control at the point of sale.