A semi-funny story, with a point that advertising salespeople can use. You can credit me or not (Jean Best, Best Marketing) This is something I have used in my career in ad sales and as a sales manager for a couple of newspapers, radio stations, and ad agencies, both here in Raleigh area, as well as back in NYC.
Many sales people have business owners say their ads do not work. OK, let me prove ads work! Lets run an ad and give away a FREE item to first (10, 20, 100) customers. Absolutely FREE with the ad or mention of ad, BUT the salesperson gets to pick the item. Here’s where you, as the salesperson, pick an expensive item, say for example a $300 TV. The store owner, OF COURSE, will have a slight fit! They usually then say – are you kidding ( Crazy!?) I’ll go broke giving away thousands of dollar$$ worth of products. Let’s give a $1 or $2 item!
My answer was sooooo – you are saying the ad will work?! IF the ad isn’t going to work, why is it a problem to advertise to give away an really expensive item? If the ad isn’t going to bring people in asking for the item, then why worry?
The point of this is, WHAT you advertise, not IF you advertise, makes the difference in response to advertising.
But, a word of caution, be careful how you say it – don’t make an enemy of the business owner. Better to be laughing when you say it, and still get the point across.
This little story has resulted in closing many, many sales for me, and my sales staffs. Oh, and the use of the word FREE often and boldly helps too!
A lot of people use the term marketing as interchangeable with advertising. They are not the same thing.
Marketing is creating a NEED and want for your product or service, on an on-going basis, and increasing the sale of existing products. I am sure there are other definitions that people use, but something from the past has always given me a clear view of it.
Some great examples of marketing from the past: (these may be true or may be one of many “urban legends” in the ad agency world, but did put things in a unique perspective):
- Ad agencies were asked to present plan to market a personal care item that everyone already knew how to use – ONE tiny word made all the difference – “REPEAT” Shampoo directions were changed to say Lather, Rinse, Repeat. People now needed to buy it more often, thus creating more repeat sales and increasing revenues from an existing product. All the other brands shortly followed adding Repeat to their directions,
- Re Branding or Re-naming – the case of the Spider Crabs – although the taste was delicious, they were not selling very well when called Spider Crabs (along with a few species) and had to be sold at a low profit margin. A creative person came up with the idea to call them King Crabs (re-branded product) changing Spider to KING – and King Crabs became the high end product it is now. Sales increased quickly.
- Buzz and celebrity endorsements – getting stories out to the public about your product being used by Celebrities – or Influencers – as we now have! Products were shown on TV shows as being used by the stars, not just in ads. Companies gave stars samples of their products – when the public saw them, they wanted them too. We now have podcasts, blogs, influencers on social media to help with this. There are local influencers too. Businesses should take advantage of these.
- Impulse buy and Product placement – WHERE and HOW you display a product or position your service, can make all the difference. Seeing suntan lotion in bathing suit or outdoor sections, as well as the health and beauty area, create additional sales. This is why end-caps and cashier lines have products on display, and stores charge companies for visibility and product placement. You have time to look at them, and think I could use that! Just putting a product out there is not always enough. In the huge pool of competition, you need to get your business, service or product noticed, and have it stand out among competitors.Future blogs will talk about Advertising (letting potential customers know what you offer, what it cost, where it is, etc). Promoting and cross-promoting. Creating new revenue streams. Turning slow times into income producing times. Product placement, perception and more. Low or no-cost options. Sales techniques. Plus some funny business and sales stories too.
Check out BestMarketingNC.com
Tip for business owners: You are open and/or possibly struggling to stay open. It’s important, more now than ever, to make sure your info, links and public profile position your business, product or service in the right way, so customers can find you.
Don’t send potential customers to No-Where-Land!
Broken Links: Many businesses send out newsletters, tweet, or have social media presence, but links don’t always work or send people to the right location. Think about it like putting an address in your GPS, getting there and being told You Have Arrived...and it is an empty parking lot OR the GPS says Address Unknown. That’s what a non-working or incorrect link is like in your newsletters, social media posts, and website.
People are pre-planning where they go, not as many are driving or walking by storefronts and businesses as pre-Covid. There is not as much foot traffic as in the past. They are checking online to preview a business, it’s hours, if any specials, and, most importantly IF they are even open.
You can search for info online, but not always get an answer or get the answer you are looking for No one wants to drive somewhere only to find out it is closed, or their hours, products or services you need have been cut. They check online – websites, facebook pages, tweets, yelp, etc. If the info is not up to date or you get an error message, or links go to no-where-land, it is frustrating and many people give up and look for another place to take their business.
Many retail stores are closing brick and mortar locations and relying on online – this may be the new future of your business too…if you cannot be a strictly online business, you need to get people to your location, online and actually through your door.
Using the services of a person dedicated to that rather than an owner or staff who have their own jobs to do, or just trying to post now and then, can be a huge asset to a business. It is almost worse to have your latest up-to-date info be from a year or more in the past! That is like opening your business and keeping the lights off and door locked. It appears to potential customers that you may be closed. But it needs to be done creatively, and be current and consistent. Now is the time to re-position your business, and look for new ways to create customers and customer loyalty.
It doesn’t take a lot of budget to have someone handle your online presence. You invested a lot of money and time in your business, you should promote it – don’t rely on people just finding you by chance. Protect your invest and future. The shopping and dining habits of people change very easily, your loyal customers of the past can be loyal customers of a new business pretty quickly.
People are finding out every day that one or more of their favorite places have given up and closed for good.
Don’t let your business address be in NoWhereLand!
More tips coming on What’s the difference between advertising and marketing – What Actually does Marketing mean? and more; plus some funny business stories to lighten things.
Check out some of the services we offer at Best Marketing.
This funny story has a moral – or least a few lessons to be learned – or maybe will just get a smile. Never assume, look before you leap, don’t believe everything you hear, get all the facts, some things are not as they appear, test the waters first…and on and on. So many lessons learned from 1 little jump.
Years ago we were invited to visit some friends who lived on a hilltop, on a wooded lot. They told me they had a built in pool, with a cover, with a heater – so bring my bathing suit. Got there, it was a cool late summer night in NY, cooler than the previous days had been, so outside temperature was probably under 70, maybe more like 60 degrees; I commented that the pool must be cold, even in summer being surrounded by and covered by so many trees. They said, no it’s heated – so I put on my bathing suit and jumped in!
I came up yelling – OMG, I thought you had a heater. It’s freezing! They said – and here it is – Yep, we do have a heater, BUT IT’s NOT ON!
Moral – make sure you get all the info before making decisions. This can be applied to life in general and business. You should always learn from your mistakes – this was a cold slap in the face (and whole body) reminder! But it left a lasting impression and I learned a lesson from it. I now try to ask questions, and/or listen to others, gather the facts to make sure I have all the info before I do things, or form an opinion.
We all laughed about it. It kind of became the joke whenever we were about to try something new. We’d warn each with “it’s not on!”
And, yes, we did stay friends with them!
Have a happy weekend.
Here are some tips when cold-calling:
Learn the peak and off hours so you do not interrupt their business or customers. Do not expect the customer to wait til you are done; you should wait til they have been taken care of.
When the first person you see may be sweeping the floor, cleaning a table, stocking shelves or answering phones – most people would ask politely, “can I speak to the owner (or manager).” You should NOT assume they are not the owner or manager. A better way is to ask are you the owner, or manager, or even person in charge. It accomplishes a few things. IF they aren’t, they now feel respected and can become an ally, getting you in front of the decision maker; if they are, then you still showed respect for their business and staff. Many owners have to do every job at some point during their day to day operations and get their hands dirty, or wear same uniform as their staff.
Never underestimate who you are talking to…they may not be the owner or manager, but could be a relative. If they ask what it’s about, or what you want, don’t talk down saying you only want to talk to owner.
Same thing applies when you do talk to decision maker – don’t knock their business and say you can make it better; you can offer some suggestions to help – but putting someone on the defensive by saying they are not handling their business correctly only puts up a wall. You want to become an asset, talk about helping them save time, as well as money, by using your or your company’s products or services.
Remember TIME is very valuable in small businesses, and especially now with Covid-19, Coronavirus affecting so many. There is a short time to make a comeback to remain open.
There is so much to do that a lot of the marketing, advertising, promotion of the business gets put off; especially keeping the public up to date on social media, and keeping website current. If you can show how you can help them save time as well as money, it can be a deciding point for a harried owner.
You should also offer conversationally a reference or business similar to theirs that you have worked with in past, or are working with currently, to show you understand their potential needs, so you can provide a solution.
Never be Negative! A radio sales rep once asked a client of mine if he felt I knew what I was doing, did I have his business interests as priority, and was I really helping his business. The client said well I hope so, that’s why I hired her. Rep proceeded to say that since I advised against his station, I did not have the best interest of the business at the forefront, and that he could a much better job. The owner then said – how do you know that is not my wife, or sister or business partner that you are knocking! All that rep accomplished was to make 2 enemies, and of course, the owner never would work with him since. Not every service is the right fit for every business.
Never burn your bridges! You never know when you may need to talk to that person again, or patronize their business, or, if you change jobs, or they do, you may need to call on them again. Even if you do not earn their business right away, it is always better to be on good terms. They may even refer you to someone else.
Be knowledgable! Salespeople should learn something about the business and the industry that they are calling on, so you can talk the “language” and use proper terminology. To be able to help a business you really need to know about it. Too many salespeople are so busy talking about what they do or sell, that they ignore the trends in the particular business or industry, or what the business owner wants or needs.
Be positive! It is always better to be positive and creative, than to downgrade what is or has been done, even if it didn’t work. A no today does not necessarily mean no tomorrow or in the near future – circumstances change in businesses every day. Covid is a prime example – no one could have imagined being shut down for months.
For business owners, it’s like starting from opening day again.
Be pleasant! No one wants to talk to someone who is depressed, angry or makes you feel like your time is not valuable.
90% of sales closings are personality driven. An old saying is that as a salesperson you have to sell yourself, then the product or service!
Business is getting better, and although many are being forced to make the decision to close permanently, it is better to be part of the solution, than the problem.
Businesses have to do their part and find creative ways to keep serving their customers – BUT, we, as consumers, also need to do our part to help small, local businesses stay in business.
We are all talking about how awful it is that our favorite places are struggling or closing, but we can do more than just talk about it. When we shop, dine or take out, get hair cuts, get our nails done, hire small independent firms and consultants etc, think of the type of ownership of those businesses. LOCALLY owned helps all of us….there is a trickle down effect that is a good one. When you spend your hard earned dollars locally, the money stays here and helps other local families and businesses. What you spend keeps people working, helps to pay someone’s rent or mortgage, pay local taxes and give a boost to the local economy, with us all spending our dollars locally.
Everyone’s money is tight right now, and although there are amenities we can skip or cut back on, we all for example, have to eat. So why not at least spend part of your food budget for 1 or 2 meals a week in a local restaurant (take out or dine in) and help everyone from the business owner to the waitstaff, to their suppliers. It actually benefits a lot of people locally and can make the difference in whether your favorite place stays open or becomes yet another victim of this virus.
You could be that one more customer that helps keep a local business open. There will unfortunately be a lot of closings, changes and scaling down due to this virus, but if we do our part it really does benefit all of us. The more businesses that can survive and the more people back to work, our way of life may be able to be close to what was “before Covid-19”.
If we do nothing, nothing happens!
Way too many small businesses are suffering during this extended Covid shut-down and slow-down. There are some ways to help jump start or keep your business afloat.
Now is NOT the time to stop advertising or keeping the public informed and aware of your business; use social media free posts or small amounts of $$ Facebook ads. It’s also smart to offer specials, do something unique and different to create customer traffic. It is also an opportunity to update websites, make sure they are mobile friendly, and position your business correctly in the most favorable and user-friendly way.
For example, restaurants are all competing for customers since people are not dining out as often, or with as many people as pre-covid; they are choosy about where they go and are looking for the best value for their money. Sometimes a special can make the difference on which place is chosen. Sometimes figuring out how to increase traffic during the seemingly “off” hours can make the difference between weathering this virus storm or going out of business.
So many businesses, retail stores and services are struggling and not able to pay rents, staff and suppliers. They either cut hours, what they offer, or decide to close, some permanently.
A creative approach can help keep you in business. I know many have said they cannot afford to hire an outside person or marketing firm right now – but it could be the boost desperately needed to continue to operate and make a profit – or at least cover expenses – til things get back to normal. For example, restaurants need their managers, waitstaff and cooks concentrating on their respective jobs and servicing the customers that coming in; they don’t have time to post or keep updating social media.
Consumers do look to social media for current info on hours, restrictions, if any, menus, specials and more. If information is outdated or missing, people will in most cases, choose another place.
If you are looking for some affordable help with this, check out my website for short-term marketing packages. www.BestMarketingNC.com