Category Archives: Marketing: Do’s and Don’ts
With so many how-to books and websites, where do you find real help? Here are some ideas from over 30 years of ‘street’ experience to get your thoughts in order.
There’s a lot to say about your 30 Second Elevator Commercial. It’s based on the notion that if you were to meet someone in an elevator and they asked what you did for a living, you would have just enough time to pique their interest before they reached their destination. From my experience, folks just usually stare at the blank doors or watch the numbers as they go up or down!
- Beginning: Introduce yourself with a big smile and state what you do
- Middle: How you do what you do and what makes you stand out from the rest
- End: Your call to action
- Smile when you talk
- Make sure it’s short, sweet and to the point – too long and you’ll lose their interest fast
- Don’t make it a sales pitch
- Stay away from buzzwords and cute acronyms
- Keep the conversation broad – don’t get too specific
- Use plain language so anyone will understand what you do
- You might have to customize the speech depending on a specific audience
- Seriously, “Bob the Builder” – check our previous blog “What’s In Your Company Name”
- Don’t tell me you’re a “professional” or provide “quality service”, everyone’s going to say that
- DO NOT mention your competition by name – you have no idea if the person you’re talking to is related to them or was thrilled with their work and putting down your competition only makes you look petty and unprofessional
- Don’t try and make a sale, especially being so up front as to ask for their address – that will only scare away a potential customer
- End with a question/call to action which will solicit them into asking you for more information
- Key: Bob’s a ‘local and family run business’ – people like that
- His advantage: he grew up and lives in the area – so he knows and understands their neighborhood
- What’s unique: Bob likes any project, he’s on all jobs and then pulls at the heart strings with that dream deck you always wanted statement
- What he offers: Free estimates
- Call to action: This is the type of client I’m looking for and would love to hear from
- Practice, practice, practice – first out loud, in front of a mirror
- Then record it – how does it sound to you – do you have a lot of “ahhh’s or ummm’s”
- Once you think you’ve got it down, try it on family and friends
- Finally practice it in front of a trusted client or two
Your speech should flow without hesitation. Like it’s a conversation you’re having. And when you’re good enough, if you’re interrupted with a question, you should be able to get back on track without having to back track.
Good Luck…and with your new marketing strategy, make opportunities to try out your new advertisement at meetings, get-togethers, speed marketing events and more. You never know, it could land you your next big project!
In case you’re wondering, here’s our 30 Second Elevator Commercial for Peregrine Associates. And by the way, it’s always a work in progress:
We help organizations promote their people, products and services. For 30 years, as a marketing and advertising agency, we’ve helped our clients succeed in business.
The person or group of people you choose to help you with your marketing has to become your partner. They really have to believe in not only the product or service you offer, but they must believe in you. It’s just as important for them to feel comfortable working with you as you are working with them.
- Do they rub you the wrong way or do you feel like you’ve known them since childhood?
- Are they too direct or not direct enough?
- Does the way they dress bother you? — I’m not kidding
- Do they present themselves in a manner you appreciate?
- Are they the type to have a basketball net in their office?
- Do they have a fancy espresso machine — does that even make you wonder if they’re too expensive for your marketing budget?
- Is it like home every time you visit? I’ll let you decide if that’s a good thing or not…
- Do they listen to you or are they too busy telling you about your business?
Another point to make is that your mother, father, brother, sister, best friend, girl/boy friend, significant other does not make for a marketing professional. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a client tell me they make their marketing decisions via the ‘family committee’. You politely ask how long they’ve been in the ad business and well, you know where that goes. And if you decide to make their adjustments and the ad is a failure, who gets blamed in the end? But truthfully, you need to trust the skills of your marketing partner.
For example, if you were to put 10 marketing professionals in a room and provide them with all the same information about your business, you will get 10 different marketing plans — including logo designs, color schemes, thoughts on the best media and their layouts, budgetary needs and more. Some will be way out there while others may be closer together. Does that mean 9 out of 10 are wrong? Especially the ones out in left and right field? NO! They’re just different. And which one should you choose? The one you feel identifies most with your personality, the one you feel will do your business justice. Remember, you have to feel comfortable picking up the phone and asking questions of your agent. And they need to feel as though they can be straight and honest with you. It’s an important relationship we build with all our clients.
And how honest should they be? There are times I will tell a client, that in my heart, they are making a mistake. It’s my job. I’m being paid to tell them my opinion. Remember, 10 marketing agents, 10 different thought processes. But you need to stick to one. So what do I do if the client insists? Depending on how strong my objection is — I’ll either make the change with fair warning or refuse the job. It’s my reputation on the line. It’s a rare instance where a client will admit that they should have gone in another direction.
It’s a marriage. You have to go through the dating stages. You have to like the person or group you’re working with. You have to feel you can leave them the keys to your dream. And if by some misalignment with the stars it doesn’t work out, make a clean break. But make sure you’re doing it for all the right reasons. A quick, flirtatious wink from another agent does not mean the start of a wonderful, lasting relationship. And remember this, the agency has just as much right to terminate the relationship with you if they find you’re difficult to work with. They have to feel just as committed to the partnership as you are.
Remember, there’s no online dating service for marketing partners. Sometimes the best blind dates are the ones set up by your business associates.
Let me tell you a story about a man named Jed
Who invented a ‘gadget’ that would keep his family fed
He came to Peregrine; “Market this he’d say”
He failed ‘cause I couldn’t get him out of his own way
This is a true story, the names have been changed…to protect us all!
About a million years ago (or it seems) when the internet was at blazing speeds of 28.8k, 33.6k or even as fast as 56k, we had a client invent the ‘gadget’. This was a brand new product and was in the process of being patented. The unique feature about this product was that it wasn’t a stand-alone item, you first needed to have a ‘widget’.
Now, the widget was a very expensive piece of equipment that needed constant maintenance, preventive upkeep and when it broke down, you were out of business until you either fixed it or replaced it. And with the cost of repair, maintenance and the high price of the original widget, if you could offer a protective device at a fraction of the cost, it was a no-brainer not to purchase a gadget to protect your investment and make it last longer and cut down on your maintenance costs!
So on to marketing:
- The client had already developed a name for the company
- We created a logo based on the name and product
- We determined a marketing strategy that would include:
- Trade Publication advertising
- This also included a professional photo shoot with model
- And with the advent of this thing called the internet, a website
We also introduced our client with a couple of manufacturers to help him establish a relationship with someone that could produce the gadget.
After requesting media kits from 3 different publications, our client decided to focus the first print ad in one trade magazine. We also determined what region of the country to advertise in to get the most bang for the budget. And, since the widget was a seasonal product, choosing the right editorial month fell right into place with production, just as the website would go live, along with the publisher’s editorials just as the season was about to begin! And, we got our client a Free Editorial/New Product article and great ad placement!
Everything was coming together perfectly. The logo turned out great. The photo shoot went perfect. The calendar was in the works. We had preferential placement of our print ad along with a Free editorial. The website was going to be live, on time! And, the delivery of the first production run was on time as well…so you know, there has to be a BUT somewhere!
You’ve been there at home or work or just taking a nice walk outside. When all of a sudden, you hear the screeching of tire rubber on pavement, knowing someone just locked their breaks in attempt to not hit something and the sound seems to last forever…then it suddenly stops. And for a brief moment, you can hear a bird chirping. You anticipate, you wait, you know it’s coming, but you hope not…it seems like forever…then…BANG!
Now you know exactly how we felt when the client came to us and requested the Magazine’s print ad be cancelled. CANCELLED! Really? His thoughts; (1) It was a great product and folks were going to love it; (2) We were building a website that could be searched by those looking to buy gadgets to protect their widgets; (3) Both the end-consumer and distributors would talk it up big time. So, with all that hoopla, there was NO NEED TO ADVERTISE!
So let’s look at why this wasn’t such a great idea:
- First of all, the gadget never existed until he invented it, so no one, I mean NO ONE knew it existed
- This was way before Google –why or how would any one do a search for a product they didn’t know was available
- Just because you build a website doesn’t mean folks are going to flock to it
- I call this the Field of Dreams Syndrome – you know “Build it and they will come”…nope!
- In essence, it became the best kept secret because without advertising, know one knew it was ‘alive’
Needless to say, the product was in on time, the website went live and the client was thrilled to see 3 visitors to the site — the first day. Yup, (1) the programmer to make sure it was good, (2) the client because they wanted to see it and (3) us to verify it looked right.
When you hire a marketing person, a graphic designer, a web developer or an agency, you need to feel trust. Trust that they know what they are doing. Stop reading all the ‘answers’ you find on the internet or all the expert advice from your friends and family. The reality is if you put 10 marketing professionals in a room and tell them what you want to accomplish, you will get 10 very different answers. Some way out there, but for the most part, 10 different approaches. That doesn’t mean some are wrong while others are right. It means you need to find the one you’re most comfortable with that fits your personality and needs…and trust them.
The ‘gadget’? Well it did fail. Never really made it to market. Sure, there were other walls built up by the client that eventually became unsurmountable. It’s a shame. Unlike the Beverly Hillbillies TV show that had a successful nine-year run, he was cancelled before his first season was complete.
Sometimes our worst enemy is not the competition, but ourselves.
> Do you know the story behind Xerox?
- It comes from Xerography = greek word xeros which means ‘dry’ and graphos which means ‘writing’. Shortened, you get Xerox.
> How about McDonalds?
- A milk shake mixer salesman by the name of Ray Kroc purchased the rights from Dick and Mac McDonald who started franchising their restaurant in the 1950’s.
> And VOLVO?
- ‘Volvere’ is a latin verb for the word ‘roll’ – like in the word revolver. Created by a swedish firm that made bearings, VOLVO means ‘to roll’
But if you didn’t know any of this history, would it make a difference? A McDonalds hamburger still tastes great and making a Xerox still means to make a copy. Sure it helps if the company name you choose tells your customer what you do, but sometimes trying to be too tricky can lead to problems:
> Jim’s Plumbing: that’s obvious
- Sometimes plain and simple is the best
> Ducks Cleaning: with a graphic of Aflack’s twin brother
- This doesn’t convey that you clean air ducts
- This is too cutesy and very confusing
> Best Quality Cleaning
- ‘Best’, ‘Quality’, ‘Professional’ — did you ever see anyone market the fact that they’re ‘Almost Best’? ‘Amateur’?
- It’s usually best to stay away from these types of terms — your ego is getting in the way
I once was given a business card with three big letters across the page: D I G I thought, Dig? What’s that mean I asked. The gentleman announced his girlfriend would keep telling him how good he was, so he decided to name his company D I G: Damn I’m Good. Really? Needless to say, his services were never used.
I had someone else ask me to design a card with just his name on it. No number, no address, no company, no email, no nothing. The only thing I did see he had, was an ego.
Another question you should ask yourself when you’re trying to choose a company name, is it readily available for a ‘.com’ domain name? Will you have to hyphen it? Underscore it? Shorten it? Compromise it?
- It took us over 5 years to finally get our name as a domain.com. And it was well worth the wait. Up until then, we had to hyphen it.
Are .net and .org the only alternatives? In that case, don’t grab them. It’s always best — unless you’re a non-profit organization — to have a ‘.com’ web name. Why? When people search, they tend to type in .com, and many browsers automatically add that if you don’t put anything in. And having your competition show up instead of you? And if you are a .org, grab the .com as well and just have it point to the org site.
So will the right company name make or break you? For some, if they find the business name offensive, stupid or just plain unprofessional, you’ll never hear from them. So take your time, ask around and choose wisely.
Sometimes simple is best.
What exactly is marketing? That’s a great question. Here’s where you’ll usually see, ‘According to Webster’…except in today’s electronic world, how many folks actually know who (or what) Webster is? I could of course go the Wiki route, but let’s not bother with that either. Remember, just because it’s on the internet doesn’t make it real. Remember the ‘How many spiders someone actually eats in a year’ story? Yea, go look it up, the real story.
Instead, I’ll define marketing in two ways:
1) Marketing is a money draw. Accounting looks at marketing as a black hole — a place where you pour in money but don’t ever see a direct return on your dollar
- Why? it’s not the department that actually makes the sales
2) As a money maker, because without marketing:
- The ad department wouldn’t know where or how or what to advertise
- The sales department wouldn’t know where to concentrate their sales efforts
- Administration would never see a dollar raised
In short, Marketing answers the proverbial: Who, What, Where, When and How. The Why should be obvious…To make money!
Who: You need to know who your market is. And is that as obvious as you think? Don’t forget, although a product may be geared towards a specific consumer (i.e. males, 20-35, $50k+ income, single), your market may actually be a distributor, not the end user. So marketing is not just who’s using it, but who’s buying it.
What: What are you selling. Okay, this usually goes before the who of course, but the saying always starts with ‘who, what, where, when and why’. Is the what you’re offering enough? Is the color right? The size? Are the costs of production low enough to make a profit — or do you need to find a better source? Is there already competition and why should someone buy your product or service over them — and if that’s the case, what is it about your item that makes it better? Asking friends and family if they’d buy your product is not market research. It’s only a way to see who your friends and family are. Everyone’s willing to buy something until they have to reach deep into their pocket or purse.
Where: Where is your product going to sell the best? In the U.S? Elsewhere? What part of the country? Remember, snow removal products don’t sell very well in Sunny Florida and Bikinis don’t fare as well during the winter months in Alaska. Think location aware Search Engine Optimization, regional delivery of magazines, etc. Are you going to sell in brick and mortar stores or via the internet? Is this a direct consumer sale or are you better selling to a distributor — and are you willing to do both which means you’re in competition with your own client! And don’t forget TV ads — vacation trips don’t only sell on the Travel Channel, people watching the Food Network like to visit exotic places to try all those delicacies they see on cable.
When: Is your product time sensitive? Is there a better time of the year to offer your services? How about cable advertising, is your product better shown late night, or first thing in the morning while your client is watching the news and drinking their first cup of coffee? And does your budget allow you to have a few ads at a higher rate or many more for less, because you’re not prime time. And what about eNews Blasts, do you know the best day and time to schedule them for delivery?
How: Everything comes to this. How will you advertise? Print Ads, Direct Mail (EDDM included), eNewsletters, Internet (Website, Amazon, eBay, Craig’s List, etc), Search Engines, Local Newspapers, Church/Synagogue Bulletins, Flyers, Catalogs, Radio, Television/Cable, Word of Mouth, Door Hangers, Bill Boards, Promotional Products, Calendars, etc. Wow, yea WOW!
All of this goes into your marketing plan. This is where you put down on paper (or in pixels) the answers to Who, What, Where, When and How. Along with all the other thoughts that come to your head. Then work with a professional who can give you real costs to do each item, work out your strategy carefully. Maybe what you perceive as the most expensive is really not — in the long run. But maybe putting all your eggs in that one basket can become a catastrophe when you end up dropping it because you can’t do it all at the same time, but you’re going to try anyway. Don’t put that horse behind the cart — know where you want to head, where you want to go. That’s half the marketing battle.
Marketing is what you do to get your clients to want to purchase your product or service.