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Imaginary Friends - Ron Sexsmith
The owner of a local candy store couldn’t help but notice the difference in the sales levels between the two identical twin sisters who worked for him.
Both girls looked the same, had the same hours, same location, same product and same price, but one always outsold the other, four-to-one.
When he asked the more successful twin the secret to her success, she said, “It’s easy. When you go to my sister’s counter and order a pound of candy, she piles a great big scoop of candy on the scale in front of you and keeps taking candies away until it gets down to a pound.”
“When you come to my counter,” she went on, “I’ll put a little wee scoop on the scale and watch the customer’s grin grow as I keep adding until I get up to a pound.”
Do you see the difference? In both cases the customer gets exactly 16 ounces of candy for exactly the same price but one sister consistently delighted customers while the other disappointed them.
Contrary to what you might think, your customers do not actually receive value when they buy from you; they perceive value. It’s up to you to enhance that value perception like the more successful twin did.
The return on your advertising investment will be much greater if you can create a value perception that keeps your customers coming back for more.
You may have heard about the classic ‘marshmallow experiment’ that revealed dramatic differences in the success of those who focused on the future versus those who focused on the present and instant gratification.
A group of four year olds was placed in a room with a marshmallow and given a choice. Their instructor told them they may eat that one marshmallow now, or if they wait until she returns to the room, they will be rewarded with two marshmallows.
Click this link; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yo4WF3cSd9Q&feature=related to view the hilarious video of each kid trying to resist the temptation of eating the lone marshmallow while there is no adult in the room. When those same four year olds were revisited at the age of 18, the ones who resisted the desire for instant gratification and waited for two marshmallows had S.A.T. scores 250 points higher than those who ate the lone marshmallow immediately.
Fourteen years after the initial experiment, those who had focused on the future were discovered to be more self-confident, worked better under pressure, and were notably more successful than their peers who sought instant gratification and ate the single marshmallow.
It is that same human desire for instant gratification that is one of the causes of advertising failure.
There are those who would have you believe that advertising that reaches prospects not yet ‘ready to buy’ your product, is a ‘waste’ and that reaching future customers makes no sense.
But the most successful marketers recognize how to make their ads effective in creating a preference for their business with today’s customers AND tomorrow’s prospects.
When the most successful marketers begin a relationship with a supplier, or with their customers, they do so in the hopes of it being a long-term affair. They make long-term lease commitments, and when they make an offer to a key employee, it’s in the hope that it will result in a long-term commitment.
Most successful businesses have a series of short-term business objectives, without losing sight of their long-term sustainable business plan.
It’s human nature to seek instant gratification, but those who keep their long-term futures in sight will win the race in the long run.
Ahhh, the good old days. In education, the three R’s were Reading ‘Riting’ and ‘Rithmatic’. In advertising, the three R’s were Reach, Repetition and Relevance.
Ahhh, the good old days. Remember them?
That’s when successful marketing often meant your advertising simply had to have the first two R’s (reach and repetition) to be heard above the crowd.
Today there are so many competitors shouting so often, online, on-air and everywhere, louder and more often isn’t enough for your advertising to stand out.
To stand out today, you must move beyond simple awareness, to creating an actual preference for your business. And that preference can only be achieved when the third R; ‘Relevance’, is at the core of your message.
Of course the old rules of reach and repetition still exist, but creating more noise, more often is not enough in and of itself. It’s what you SAY in your advertising that creates a preference for your business in the hearts and minds of your prospects.
There are instances when the various online coupon sites make strategic marketing sense. But before we examine how to use these tools effectively, let’s consider the pitfalls.
“Daily deals, local deals, group-buying deals,” says Amy Fowler of MarketingProfs, “Call them what you will, but they’re all the same thing; a very expensive form of marketing that can run a small business into the ground if utilized incorrectly.”
1.) Many businesses forget to include the huge discounts they have to offer to get ‘results’ on a deal site, as a marketing cost. That’s right, discounts are a marketing cost. For example, if you normally sell a pizza for ten dollars, but have to discount it by five dollars to get a response from an online coupon, that five dollar discount is unquestionably a marketing cost.
2.) Most deal sites take a piece of every discounted sale. In other words, the more you sell, the more you pay. Your marketing cost goes up with every sale.
3.) The type of customer who follows deal sites can seldom be developed into a loyal customer. They’ll leave you as soon as your competitor offers a deeper discount.
4.) Online deal sites can compliment, but certainly not replace, branding campaigns. If a well-branded Coca-Cola offers a 50 cent discount, for example, it will outsell an unknown Smith’s Cola offering a 60 cent discount. Branding counts!
5.) There is a danger you will develop the discount habit, where customers will only buy when there is a ‘deal’.
6.) There is always a benchmarking risk. Selling your ten dollar pizza for five dollars, can make its perceived value only five dollars in the minds of some consumers.
But in today’s economy, there is no denying a huge portion of the marketplace is looking for ‘deals’ and executed properly, offering online deals might be strategically correct for your business.
There is an old proverb that says, “A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes the same mistake again. A wise man surrounds himself with others who have already learned from their mistakes and avoids those mistakes altogether”.
In your pursuit to continually improve your business, we suggest you consider these two growth principles:
1.) None of us is as smart as all of us.
2.) There is always a better way to do what you’re doing.
We recommend establishing your own informal ‘marketing advisory board’ to tap into the experiences and minds of others to continually help you find ‘a better way’ to grow your business.
You can build your marketing advisory board by strategically selecting a creative mind, an analytical mind, a marketing mind, a customer service mind and a sales mind, and inviting them to meet over breakfast once a month.
And these ‘experts’ need not be from your type of business. Henry Ford, for example, got the idea for an auto assembly line after watching the efficiencies of a ‘disassembly line’ in a Chicago meat packing plant.
Comprising your advisory board of members with varied experiences might just help you develop a competitive edge that neither you, nor any of your competitors, have thought of.
Come to your advisory board meeting prepared with an agenda to discuss what you’ve done over the past month and what you plan to do next month. Bring any problems, challenges or new ideas you have and have an open mind as each of your experts make suggestions on how you might do better.
And never criticize the ideas of another. Sincerely look for a lesson in every wisdom they pass on to you.
What’s in it for your advisory board members to participate?
1.) They’ll be honored that you chose them as an expert you trust.
2.) Each of them will also learn from your board as they participate.
3.) They’ll also learn and get ideas from you.
4.) It’s another form of networking for your chosen advisors.
5.) And….they get a free breakfast on you!
To bring even more minds to the table, you might invite different board members each month.
What’s in it for you? There is always a better way….let your advisory board help you find it!
Where would you find them? They might be suppliers, key staff members, or members of the business community whom you respect.
You have probably heard the human mind is composed of two basic hemispheres; the logical left and the emotional right.
And you may have participated in the debate on which sphere to target with your advertising and marketing.
Some will argue the practical left, the more conscious mind, is the most powerful in making buying decisions. Customer surveys invariably reveal what the left or conscious mind thinks. The left brain searches to save money, review warranty details, location directions and various other facts and figures.
Others will argue that the more subconscious and dreamy right brain unknowingly overrules left brain logic. The powerful subconscious emotions that drive human buying behavior are seldom identified in typical consumer surveys. That whimsical right brain seeks pleasure, fulfillment and the aspirational benefits you offer.
Both arguments have merit, but like so many things in life, the truth is probably in the middle. In a perfect world, your advertising should appeal to logic and emotions.
The most successful ‘frequent flyer’ programs, for example, appeal to both brains. The right brain emotional connection created by recognition and privileges like seat upgrades, expedited check-ins and other special privileges, can actually be a more powerful motivator than simply saving money through earned miles when all airlines offer similar flyer miles savings.
Today, thanks to technology, you can cost-effectively appeal to both halves of your prospects’ and customers’ minds.
In the old media world the detailed pricing, location directions, product specs and warranty ‘fine print’ sought by the left brain were largely conveyed in print; brochures, catalogues, newspaper ads, coupons etc. And the high cost of pulp and paper production, transportation, printing presses and delivery people to produce and distribute left brain messages limited your ability to invest in powerful right brain media.
Today, the detailed information sought by left brains can be conveyed without those costs. Your website and your email campaigns achieve left brain objectives at virtually no cost.
The powerful strategy of using Radio to inspire the dreamy right brain, and internet to inform the logical left brain is a cost-effective media mix every business can afford.…no more compromises; you can reach and influence both brains!
Ads that don't look like ads can work better for you.
Successful companies like Nike actually invests more in placing logos on athletic superstars’ jerseys and hats, than they spend on traditional ads.
And if you've ever watched shows like Undercover Boss, you probably thought it was simply a TV program or documentary. Not so! Every company that's been featured on the show paid to be featured. It's a one hour infomercial, proven to improve awareness and approval ratings for the featured corporations.
You might have noticed a sponsoring CEO 'secretly' observe how the company's employees treat their customers. During the show, he gets the opportunity to tell the audience how he expects his company's customers to be treated and what he's doing to ensure that expectation is met. It's a powerful selling message under the guise of entertainment and information!
In the media business, that valuable exposure is called 'product placement'. The power of product placement is that it captures your prospects’ attention by appearing to be programming, rather than an interruption to programming.
Product placement works because;
1.) The content is perceived to be more credible than paid commercials.
2.) The content is often entertaining or informative.
3.) A certain amount of drama can capture the emotional engagement of your prospects.
You may have seen an episode where an undercover president of a featured company uncovered a dedicated employee with a personal problem. At the end of the show, that president has the opportunity to reveal her humanity by providing a solution to the surprised employee.
And guess what happens to that company's approval rating at that emotional moment? Approval ratings skyrocket because product placement is a powerful advertising platform and emotional engagement is the rocket fuel.
One of the hardest things to do in a cluttered communication world is to create meaningful messages that stand out against your competition.
When your competitors are all shouting about the same tired promotions, like Anniversary Sales, Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day, we recommend creating marketing opportunities for your business through promotion of unique special days; days that your competitors are unlikely to promote, and days that are so unusual they will capture the attention of your prospects and customers.
For example, March 21, 2012 will be ‘Single Parents’ Day’. A family law attorney could use the occasion to drive traffic to his website to view ‘Ten Father’s Rights You Should Know About’. A restaurant could promote a special for single parents who bring their kids to dinner.
Imagine the emotional impact if you were a single parent and you heard a business recognizing ‘your day’……especially if you didn’t know it was ‘your day’. An immediate emotional connection could be made! And your competitors probably didn’t acknowledge the occasion.
Unique special days or themes not only stand out, they can actually be interesting and meaningful to your target audience and therefore make your ads more memorable.
We have long lists of unique promotional opportunities you can tap into, from Mother-In-Law’s Day, to National Fishing Week and Anti-Boredom Month.
There is a special national promotion attached to literally every day of the year. There are also national week and national month recognitions, which present unique targeted promotional opportunities for you.
To compete effectively today, you must constantly search for innovative new ways to upstage competitors who rely upon the same old tired ‘basics’ to maintain their sales.
Having said that, every ‘new’ success, as with every ‘new’ media, must be built upon a firm foundation of tried and proven basics.
Social media, for example, is really built on the same basics as good old fashioned word of mouth advertising. To capture positive buzz in social media, you need to practice the same basics to delight your customers that captured positive word of mouth in the pre-social media environment.
You can find the basic foundations upon which to build your new concepts in the teachings of the proven masters that came before us; masters like Dale Carnegie, David Ogilvy, Thomas Edison, Earl Nightingale, Henry Ford, and Albert Einstein to mention a few.
In the midst of these grey winter weeks, and as you face a whole new set of challenges and opportunities, one of the most profound basics can be found in the immortal words of Earl Nightingale in his ‘Strangest Secret’.
Mr. Nightingale demonstrated his Strangest Secret to success with an analogy that likened the human mind, and what it is capable of, to a fertile farmer’s field.
Nightingale wrote; “Suppose a farmer has some land, and it's good, fertile land. The land gives the farmer a choice; he may plant in that land whatever he chooses. It's up to the farmer to make a decision. We're comparing the human mind with the land because the mind, like the land, doesn't care what you plant in it. It will return what you plant.
Now, let's say that the farmer has two seeds in his hand—one is a seed of corn, the other is nightshade, a deadly poison. He digs two little holes in the earth and he plants both seeds—one corn, the other nightshade. He covers up the holes, waters and cultivates the land...and what will happen? Invariably, the land will return what was planted. Remember, the land doesn't care. It will return poison in just as wonderful abundance as it will corn. So up come the plants—one corn, one poison.
The human mind is far more fertile, far more incredible and mysterious than the land, but it works the same way. It doesn't care what we plant...success...or failure. A concrete, worthwhile goal...or confusion, misunderstanding, fear, anxiety, and so on. But what we plant, it must return to us”.
What seeds will you plant and cultivate in your mind this year? When you see two headlines side by side; one proclaiming doom and gloom and the other exploring bountiful new opportunities, which one will you choose to absorb? P.S. The use of analogies, like Nightingale’s field and mind analogy, is just one of the communications tools you can use to create more persuasive advertising.
Long before the advent of so-called ‘social media’, the most successful marketers discovered the enormous value of networking. They became so entrenched with their selected communities that it was difficult for a competitor to break into their inner circles.
Local businesses have a huge advantage over the large cookie cutter box stores or long distance online marketers when it comes to networking.
With a well thought out strategic networking plan, a local business can be all over their ‘communities’ like ugly on ape! If you’re a golfer, you might target the local golf communities or a boater might target the waterfront communities. You might simply choose to be active in a service club orsupport and network with a local charity or a particular vocation like teachers or firefighters.
The manager at the big chain business down the street can’t own those communities because if she does, she’ll be so successful head office will promote her and move her to another market, leaving the next manager to start building relationships all over again.
Calculated networking with strategically selected communities, or ‘tribes’ as the marketing gurus call them, can be one of your most effective and satisfying methods of capturing new business, referrals and positive word of mouth buzz.
And you’re not limited to one community. You can plan to have each of your key people build strategically target networks with groups you are not personally networking.
In addition to cultivating existing clubs, you can also start your own club. An auto after-market store can start a classic car club and a fabric store might start a sewing club to win more loyal customers.
In our white paper; Strategies for Productive Networks, we suggest you “ask not what your network can do for you, but what you can do for your network”. People in any formal organization or informal group will resent you ‘selling’ them, but they’ll ask to buy from you if you have been an enthusiastic participant in their network.
Word of mouth advertising has always been one of your most important forms of advertising. In the 'good old days', if a customer was delighted with their experience with you, they might tell three to five of their friends. If they were disenchanted, they might tell two or three times as many people about their unpleasant experience.
The internet and social media have totally changed the importance of word of mouth advertising. Today, word of mouth advertising is on steroids. You can multiply old word of mouth values by 100. Customers, who might have told three people about their positive experience with you, can now tell 300 of their social media ‘friends’ about their experience. And if they are unhappy with you, they are two to three times more likely to complain about you online, creating 300 'Facebook haters'.
Before social media, getting a handle on what was being said about you in the market was difficult. The good news is, social media discussions allow you to monitor what’s being said about you, and you can now participate in those discussions.
Studies have revealed that if you can find and convert your unhappy customers into happy customers, they actually become more loyal, and spread more positive word of mouth about your business, than a customer who has never been unhappy with you.
The old rules of how to capture positive word of mouth or how to diffuse negative word of mouth, are even more important in this hyperactive environment. When you encounter a ‘Facebook hater’ you can now resolve issues you might not previously had heard of, and the entire world can see your sincere and honest attempts to correct the situation.
When you encounter a Facebook hater, follow these steps;
1. Resist the urge to go on the defensive.
2. Acknowledge the complaint, and if it’s legitimate, admit your fault.
3. Offer an explanation (not an excuse).
4. Prove to the ‘hater’, and to their eaves dropping friends, that you will do whatever is necessary to rectify the situation.
5. Encourage continued discussion and engagement.
Appreciation Marketing can be the highest ROI (return on investment) tool in your marketing tool box.
How do you feel when the cashier hands you your change and simply says, “there you go” as she waves on the next customer in line? A simple culture of customer appreciation that thanks each and every customer can generate more repeat and referral business than any other strategy or tactic you might employ.
The most successful companies actually include Appreciation Marketing in their annual marketing plan to increase their high-profit repeat and referral business.
In our free Appreciation Marketing Tactics, tactic number one is ‘Hire right’. Look for people who genuinely appreciate serving others and have a natural polite tendency to say “thank you”. You can train staff in product knowledge and your systems and processes, but caring and good manners should be a prerequisite for every new hire.
P.S. A very heartfelt ‘thank you’ to you for allowing me into your day with our SoundADvice marketing tips. I sincerely hope you find them useful.
Tune in for The Daily Dose with Dr. Oz three times every weekday @ 7:32am; 10:49am; 3:49pm on Jewel 92. Dr. OZ is Oprah's favorite Doctor. Dr. Oz is dynamic and charismatic and delivers health and wellness advice to help people live happier, healthier, more productive lives.