“It’s bad enough I feel like I don’t know the rules of the game anymore, but I don’t even feel like I know the shape of the ball!”
Sound familiar? More and more small business people feel this way.
The worst economy since the great depression compounded by major shifts in the world of advertising, bought on by the new online and mobile media, and most people don’t believe anybody has the answers anymore.
They don’t believe they have the answers, or that agencies have the answers, or that consultants have the answers.
Who can blame you? Look at what has happened to the biggest companies on the planet?
But there are answers… Tried and true answers that are based on immutable human nature. And THIS is the place to find them…read more
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If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got…
Most people who visit this site won’t do a thing. They scout around a bit and leave, without doing anything.
And they don’t just do that with this site… they do with with all kinds of websites and programs and opportunities. They’re afraid to pull the trigger. They’re afraid to step outside of their comfort zone. They’re afraid they’ll fail. Again… Because maybe they tried before and failed. Maybe they’ve got naysayers in their lives who remind them of past failures; “You can’t do it. You’ve never done it before. What makes you think you can do it now”… and any number of variations on the theme.
Question is… Are YOU one of those?
Because the simple fact is, if we are all slaves to our past behaviors, foibles, weaknesses, mistakes, misdeeds and failures, there is no chance for any of us to ever overcome… and become… something better than we were and are.
When it comes to the success of your business, this is your chance to break the mold. This is your chance to embrace the “DISCOMFORT ZONE.” This is your chance to do something different. And when you do, you MUST get a different result.
The good news is, there are plenty of ways to get started, ranging from “dip your toe in the water easy” to “take the plunge tough.”
Check out the products and programs here and decide to BE EXTRAORDINARY… Decide to TAKE ACTION… Decide to DO SOMETHING TODAY.
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If you want to achieve exceptional success in the promotion of your business & in generating revenue and profits; and if you want to take back control of your business destiny, you MUST have these 5 “U-Needs”
1. The What To Dos… You may already have them, but you also may not. Or you may have some, but not enough. You’ve simply got to know what to do. This is what most training is based on. It will help you build knowledge, but it can’t help you build skill.
2. The How To Do Its… How you do the whats can make all the difference in the world. If you do the right things but don’t do them right, you’re likely to get a fraction of the result. Changing 2 words in a headline can bring a 10-fold increase in response. It’s a matter of both knowledge and skill.
3. The RESOURCES to get it done… Some things you can do yourself, others you can’t. We provide the resources to help you apply your new-found knowledge and newly-developed skills, to bring success in whatever kind of marketing and advertising you do.
4. Feedback to make sure you do it right. You’ve heard the old saying, “Practice makes perfect.” Not true. “Perfect practice makes perfect.” But how do you know if you’re doing it right, without somebody knowledgeable giving you feedback. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter and virtually every top athlete has trusted coaches and advisers who keep them doing it right. Shouldn’t you have the same in your business?
5. ACCOUNTABILITY to make sure you actually DO IT. If you yearn for peak performance, you need more than knowledge and skill. You need habit and systems. You need somebody to hold your feet to the fire and make sure you do the things you need to do, and do them on a consistent basis.
Only Ascend Marketing product and programs give you all 5 of these U-Needs. And that is why we can GUARANTEE results like nobody else, anywhere in the marketing world.Take advantage of any of Ascend Marketing’s unique services & empower yourself to achieve remarkable marketing & advertising success…
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How To Market Your Crap When The Economy Is STILL In The Toilet If you’d like to dip your toe in the water, Jim Ackerman’s latest book may be the perfect way to start. Now available in the updated Second Edition, Jim is out to “Unclog Your Revenue Stream.” (And you can have Market Your Crap in soft-bound, ebook or audio versions.)
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Jewelers Marketing Gems We have worked with dozens of jewelers all over the nation. Therefore we have developed a collection of products and services just for them. Find them here.read more
WARNING: If you’re expecting a bunch of 2-to-5 minute reads, watches or listens, you’re going to be disappointed. We’re dedicated to providing you with info you can use right now. And most of the time, that takes a little more detail — and frankly, time investment, on YOUR part — than you find on other sites that try to suck you in to take your money BEFORE they give you real, useful meat. Here, we earn your patronage BEFORE we ask for a nickel. But only if you’re dedicated enough to invest in yourself with a small, but meaningful time commitment first.
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WHAT BUSINESS ARE YOU IN, REALLY? Article challenging your commitment to marketing & therefore, business.
DIFFERENTIATE OR DIEArticle on the critical use of a Unique Purchase Appeal
WHAJAGIT?Article about the importance of testing & tracking
MARKETING FITNESS CHECK-UP Tool designed to help you evaluate your marketing needs
THE FREQUENCY MYTH Article on why the biggest hoax in the world of advertising, and why people really DON’T need to see your ad 3, 5 or more times before they’ll buy.
ASK Article on what it takes to get clients buying from you more often
THINK LIKE A CUSTOMER MATRIX Tool designed to help you get inside your customer’s head to make sure you make compelling offers he or she won’t refuse.
THE KISS MYTH Article on Keep It Simple, Stupid, and how this true principle has been twisted to the detriment of marketers large and small, everywhere
COPYWRITER’S CHECKLIST Tool designed to help you write more powerful, effective selling copy for your ads, scripts and sales presentations
WHAT BUSINESS ARE YOU IN, REALLY?
Let’s start with a question. What business are you in?
No, really. This is a vitally serious question.
Ask 100 business owners what business they’re in and 97 of them will tell you what they do. That isn’t the question.
Ask 100 jewelery store owners what business they’re in and they’ll tell you, “I’m a jeweler,” or, “I’m in the jewelry business.”
Ask 100 plumbers and they’ll tell you, “I’m a plumber.
Real estate agents, mechanics, insurance salesmen, manufacturers, printers… it’s all the same.
If you own the business, you may think you’re a jeweler, a plumber, a real estate agent, or whatever, but you’re not.
No, the day you took ownership of the business is the day you became something different. That’s the day you became a marketer of jewelry or plumbing services, or property or whatever, and you were no longer a what you thought then, and probably still now think you are.
The late, great business leader Peter Drucker said in effect, “The only two legitimate functions of business are marketing and innovation. The rest are expense.”
When you own the business, your primary function is to “bring in the business.”
Other people can be found to do virtually everything else; buying and managing inventory, managing employee schedules, training, accounting, you name it. But if you fail in the function of bringing in the business, you have no business.
Dare you abdicate this responsibility?
Unfortunately, most business owners never realize these important truths and that accounts for their lack of prosperity.
For example, one jeweler has been in business for three generations and yet is generating less than a million dollars a year in gross revenues. Another opened just three years ago and is already enjoying a multi-million dollar business.
How can this be?
Some would chalk it up to luck, location, up-front capital, etc. But the truth is, the difference is probably marketing. The owner who focuses on marketing will be the one who makes the most money, even if his skills, inventory, and location are inferior. This is the businessman who realizes his primary function is to bring in the business.
There are only three ways to grow your enterprise…
1. Get more customers
2. Increase your average sale
3. Get your existing customers to come back and buy more often.
This past April, jeweler, Bill Warren, realized his role was to market. He adopted these three goals. By steadily working on the marketing of his business, he was able to go from a typical May of $40,000.00 to a May 2006 or over $61,000.00. That’s more than a 50% increase, in just one month.
What did Bill do? He installed a formal up-selling/add-on selling system in his business that increased his average ticket dramatically, and served his clients at a higher level.
He also took advantage of a unique PR opportunity resulting from his gemologist and certified appraiser training, which had the phone ringing off the hook. As a result, 88 new customers came his way in May. And Bill is operating out of a small town.
Kent Whipple owns Whipple Services in Salt Lake City. He has built a multi-million dollar plumbing, heating and air conditioning business in near-record time. But he can’t tell you the last time he turned a wrench, drove a truck, made up an employee work schedule or did the payroll.
Kent has delegated all of those responsibilities. He has people who can do that. He focuses on two things… 1) providing the vision for his company and 2) marketing.
There are a lot of plumbers and heating guys in the Salt Lake City market who have been around a lot longer than Kent, who aren’t doing a quarter of the business he is. But Kent understands that he’s not a plumber, he is a marketer of plumbing, heating and air conditioning services.
And because of that understanding, not only has Kent built a thriving enterprise, but he has the time to enjoy himself, taking several extended trips every year, confidently knowing the business will continue to churn along in his absence.
But if he saw himself as a plumber, he would never have been able to build such a business or enjoy such a lifestyle. He’d be too busy with the wrench.
Odds are you have spent considerable time and money to become the professional that you are. You have time in the field; you may have paid for substantial training; you unquestionably have countless hours invested in learning your craft. You may have taken business courses, even gotten a degree.
What have you done to become the marketer that you need to be? Have you invested the same kind of time developing and honing the skills you need to run the “engine” that truly drives your business?
I suggest you start with a simple commitment of 30 minutes a day. Set aside at least a half hour a day to work on the marketing systems of your business. (Remember, that is to work on developing and implementing marketing systems, not operating them.)
If you don’t have an up-sell/add-on selling system in place, that would be your
most lucrative place to start. Determine what the pieces of the puzzle are for such a system, then decide how many 30-minute sessions it will take to develop all of those pieces. If it will take 10 sessions, you will have your new system ready to put in place in 10 working days.
After you’ve done your first project, select another – perhaps a formal referral system – and begin working on that the same way. Put in your 30 minutes and stop at the end.
The key is to remain true to the commitment. Set an appointment with yourself and honor it. Unless the building is literally burning down, do not let anything – even clients – interfere with this effort.
Finally, if you’re not skilled as a marketer, it might be a good idea to get some help. This does not mean simply abdicating your marketing responsibilities. It may include some delegation. It certainly includes getting some training, and gathering some resources. Consultants, ad agencies, trainers, books and audio programs… these are all resources. But remember that resources are there to help you accomplish your responsibilities to bring in the business, not take over that job for you. Ultimately the responsibility can only rest with you, the owner.
This is some of the most powerful and useful advice on marketing I have ever given to you. Fail to heed it at your own peril. Follow it and you will quickly, easily, add tens of thousands – maybe even hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue to your enterprise.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Ackerman is a Salt Lake City-based Marketing Consultant, Writer and Speaker, and is President of Ascend Marketing, Inc. For information about his one-day seminar on Marketing, go to www.morecustomersmoremoneymoreoften.com. For a FREE Report on How To Get More Customers Who Will Pay You More Money, More Often , send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 800.584.7585.
DIFFERENTIATE OR DIE
Businesses that thrive in a competitive world, invariably develop a Unique Purchase Appeal or UPA. This is one sentence to one paragraph that describes how your business is different from the competition in a way that appeals to your target customer. Your UPA is the reason your customers buy from you instead of your competitors.
For example, most printers promise on-time delivery, but few are willing to back that up. Dana Wilson, a Kwik Kopy franchise owner in Burlington, MA, promises on-time delivery or you get a 10% discount for ever hour the job is late. For clients who are more concerned about getting their work when promised than they are about price, this UPA is a powerful persuader. When Dana’s sales reps approach new prospective clients, this guarantee is one of the first things they talk about. And you can bet that Dana’s competitors are afraid to match this promise, making it even more compelling to prospects. They simply can’t get it elsewhere.
In Salt Lake City, plumbing and heating contractor, Troy Neerings has been offering full service extended hours without charging his customers overtime. That gives consumers a real reason to choose his company. And again, it’s a place the competiton generally doesn’t want to go. His business is thriving.
If you’re in a competitive business – insurance, financial planning, web design, even advertising agencies are just a few examples — and you rely on a staff of sales representatives, a UPA is critical. You and your sales reps will remain at a disadvantage unless and until you’re seen as different from the competition. If the buyer perceives all comers in your marketplace as the same, you’re a commodity. In the old days you could still win being a commodity, if you had the lowest price. But with all the competition in the marketplace today, even that won’t consistently win you new business. Buyers are too often willing to pay a little extra, just so they don’t have to go through the hassle of making a new decision.
In other words, if you can’t differentiate yourself by bringing something unique and beneficial to the table, you die!
Here’s how you can give your business a powerful Unique Purchase Appeal.
Tip #1: The fly on the wall
Pretend you are a fly on the wall watching your clients purchase from you. At the
point of final decision, what are the main topics being discussed? What are the big concerns? What is frustrating them to death, not just about you, but about your industry?
Tip #2: The survey technique
Go directly to 12 to 30 of your best customers and ask these questions.
1) Why did you decide to do business with us in the first place?
2) What makes you continue to do business with us?
3) What do our competitors do that used to drive you nuts before finding us?
4) What products and services would you like to see from your (category of business) that you’re not getting now?
The patterns that arize from the answers you hear identify your perceived strengths, your real strengths and the holes in the industry. That’s what you need to know to create a strong UPA for your business.
Tip #3: “Point of only-ness”
A UNIQUE Purchase Appeal must have at least one “point of onliness.” If it doesn’t, it’s not unique! Write a draft of your UPA, starting with the words, “We are the only (category of business) in the (your area) that provides (your point(s) of unique contribution to customers).
Tip #4: Infusion!
Once you have your UPA statement, you must infuse it into the very fiber and fabric of everything you do from a marketing point of view. Check your marketing efforts to make sure your UPA is…
- reflected in your company name
- the foundation of your slogan
- stated in some way, in all ads
- reflected in product presentation or packaging
- on your business card, all literature, maybe even your invoices
- emotionally bought into and trained into your employees so they use it in the way they behave in the business.
Tip #4 is vitally important. One of the saddest sights in business is a business that has a UPA, but isn’t telling everybody about it. Dana Wilson had tracked his on-time performance for decades and he knew it was above 98%. He knew it, but his customers and prospects didn’t. Until he started saying so, he had a critical advantage he was failing to exploit.
Your UPA should be the first thing you and your people talk about. It should also
be the last thing you talk about and it should be blended in with the rest of what you talk about. It must be infused into every ad, direct mail campaign, or promotion you do.
Your UPA will be most effective in helping your sales staff if the buyers know what makes you different before your reps make their initial calls. Start infusing your UPA into every marketing effort you make in support of your salespeople and watch their ability to see prospects go up and watch closing rates go up as sales cycles come down.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For a FREE audio program about the UPA, The Most Powerful Marketing Concept on the Planet, send an e-mail request to email@example.com. Jim Ackerman is President of Ascend Marketing, Inc. of Salt Lake City. He has been a member of the National Speakers Association and developer of the Principle-Centered Marketing Coaching™ Program. He also publishes the 30-Second Marketer’s Tip O’the Day. Subscribe FREE at www.ascendmarketing.com. Jim can be contacted at 801.254.7964.
Whajagit for your last advertising investment?
I mean how much money did you spend to get whajagot, and how much of a return on your investment dijagit?
“Well, Jim, that’s not why we advertise. All we’re trying to do is get our name out there. We want people to recognize us. We’re just using our advertising to create awareness.”
Okay, then how much awareness did your last advertising investment buy you? How many more people are aware of your company, your product or your service because they saw and read your ad? Who are those folks, specifically? How much did it cost you to buy that awareness ? No, I don’t mean the cost per thousand you paid to “reach” the entire audience of the ad medium you used, I mean how much did it cost you per viewer, reader or listener, for each one who actually viewed, read or listened? Were they favorably impressed? Were they impressed at all? Will they really remember you at buying time? Did your ad actually increase the liklihood that the viewers, readers or listeners who were exposed to your ad would actually say yes when you finally get around to trying to sell them something?
“Oh… well Jim, you gotta understand, that’s not how advertising works. No, you can’t measure it like that, it’s not that scientific. No, no. You see, advertising is meant to create an image in the marketplace. Everyone who is exposed to your ad in any medium sees it and remembers it a little bit. And the more they see it the more they remember it. And the more they remember it, the more they favor you “brand.” And the more they favor you brand, the more likely they are to buy when it’s time for them to buy. But it’s something that happens over time. You can’t just plug in an ad and expect money to start pouring in.”
You can’t? Why not?
If you find yourself agreeing with the hypothetical advertising defender here, you may want to consider a long and expensive relationship with someone in the psychiatric industry. Listen to yourself. If you were to argue this for a job interview or in front of a venture capitalist, would expect to have him show you the money?
Now you may have an MBA or a PhD, but if you’re buying these arguments, you don’t have much of a brain for marketing.
Advertising exists to make the sales curve go up… period. Claude Hopkins called it “salesmanship in print.” Of course, he said it back in the day when the only kind of advertising was print advertising. Today it may be salesmanship in print, or on the airwaves or across your computer. But it’s still supposed to be salesmanship.
Yes it can raise awareness on some level. Yes, you can use it to help people remember you when it comes time to buy. But you’re supposed to use it to SELL, dummy. And if you don’t, you’re wasting money. That’s all there is to it.
Trouble is, most ads are a waste of money because they’re not being used to sell. If you don’t want to be in that boat any longer, here are the four things you must do with every ad.
1. Capture attention. (Most ad agency types stop here. They come up with the cute, the clever and the beautiful, and it may momentarily arrest the attention of an audience. But seldom does the person get to the next step…
2. Convert attention into interest. Fail to do this and you’re ad is history. It won’t accomplish anything you want it to, even if all you want is awareness. And the vast majority of ads fail to do this. You won’t if you’re ad is packed with the BENEFITS of using your product or service, rather than the FEATURES of your product or service. But you’re still not done. Because once you have captured attention and converted it to interest, you must…
3. Cultivate wonton desire. They gotta want it. They gotta want it bad! More benefits and the proof that will allow them to believe you can really deliver those benefits. And then you must get them to…
4. Take ACTION! You want them to DO SOMETHING. Not just like you more, or be more aware of you, but actually come to your establishment, call you on the phone, send for something, raise the hand of interest… SOMETHING!
If you want your advertising to raise awareness, help people remember you, prefer you to the competition, make sure it gets them to do something; get them to take the next step in the buying process, focus on not just the first, but all four of the above steps.
If you want to genuinely want to build that enterprise… build that brand, there is no better way to do it than advertising that actually works. I call it “direct branding.”
It will never be a bad thing for you to make an offer in every ad you run. It will never be a bad thing for you to have a mechanism for tracking specific response to that ad. It will never be a bad thing to do a complete, compelling sales job in every ad you ever run, delivering all the benefits you and your company and your products and services have to offer.
Will every ad stand alone as a profit generator? No. The truth is that most new customers to most businesses are actually acquired at a loss. But by making specific offers and tracking your results, you can decrease the cost of acquisition. And you may be surprised to find you may even be able to eventually break even or even profit from the acquisition of brand new customers, all the while leaving everybody who is exposed to your advertising feeling good about your company – for whatever brief time your ad may have a cognitive impact.
Remember… salesmanship in print, on the air or over y our computer, but salesmanship!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Ackerman is a Salt Lake City-based Marketing Consultant, Writer and Speaker, and is President of Ascend Marketing, Inc. For information about his one-day seminar on Marketing, go to www.morecustomersmoremoneymoreoften.com. For a FREE Report on How To Get More Customers Who Will Pay You More Money, More Often , send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 800.584.7585.
Dispelling THE FREQUENCY myth
You buy a flite of radio ads but nobody comes in the door. You say to your ad rep, “Hey, these ads aren’t working.”
Your rep responds, “You’ve got to run them more often to get the impact.”
So you pony up more cash to spend on ads that don’t work.
Is there something wrong with this picture?
The idea that you must run your ads often so they’ll “sink in” with the public is simply absurd. It is one of the biggest myths in the world of advertising.
I’ve heard it said that your target customer must be exposed to your ad at least three times before they’ll remember it. I’ve also heard that the magic number of exposures is seven times for recall. And I’ve heard the numbers nine and 12 thrown around as well.
It’s all hogwash.
Consider this… you bought a new car six months ago. Is any automobile advertising going to make a dent in your head in the next six months?
You won’t pay any meaningful attention to any automobile advertising because you are not in the market for a car right now. You could be – and will be — exposed to hundreds of automobile ads, both from manufacturers and dealers during the next six months to two years, but you won’t really pay attention or remember any of them, because you’re not in the market.
If you just moved into a brand new house, you won’t be affected by real estate, heating and air conditioning, plumbing, or painting ads for years.
But you might be affected by an ad for vinyl fensing or landscaping, because they may be immediate needs for you right now. And if the advertiser makes the right offer, you only need to be exposed to the ad once to make a decision to call or go in.
Let me share two experiences…
A real estate agent came to me after running a newspaper ad 10 times at a cost of $1,000.00 each time. He was unhappy with the five or six responses he got from each insertion. I changed two words in his headline and adjusted his layout slightly. The very next time he ran the ad, he got 50 responses, and every time he ran it after that he got 50 to 60 responses. That’s a 1000% increase in response, INSTANTLY!
Now, if it takes multiple exposures for an ad to “sink-in” or be remembered, wouldn’t his responses have taken more time to change that dramatically?
Another example. Bob Mann’s Automatic Golf infomercial series had run successfully for a number of years when he asked me to improve response. I created a new show for him and during the first weekend it ran, response rates went up 200%!
But Bob only ran my new show in five markets that first week. He continued to run his old “control” show in the rest of his markets. The second week he ran my show in about half his markets and his old show in the other half. Again, in the markets where my show ran, responses were 200% higher than the markets in which he ran the old program.
Bob was no idiot. By the third week he totally replaced his old show with my new one and sure enough, response rates were up 200% across the board.
Run the right ad to the right people with the right offer and the response will be immediate. But wrong ad to wrong audience with wrong offer and you’ll get nothing. If that happens change your ad immediately, because no amount of frequency will save it.
There is a case for frequency. As illustrated in the car example above, advertising is a matter of timing. You’ve got to reach the prospect when he or she is in the market for what you’re selling.
If you bought a car six months ago, it’s likely to be three years before you’re in the market to replace that car. But around that three year mark, when you start thinking about getting a new automobile, the ads about cars will begin to matter to you.
For the advertiser, the timing issue means this: Create an ad that works and then keep running that ad until it either stops working, or you find another ad that works better.
I ran the same ads three days a month on local radio and consistently generated hundreds of leads each month for several years. I’m confident if I resurrected those old ads again, they’d continue to pull just as well as they ever did.
When you’ve got ads that work, that’s the time for frequency.
Next month, another advertising myth debunked
EDITOR’S NOTE: For a FREE report on REACH & FREQUENCY in media planning, send an e-mail request to email@example.com. Jim Ackerman is President of Ascend Marketing, Inc. of Salt Lake City. He is a member of the National Speakers Association and developer of the Principle-Centered Marketing Coaching™ Program. He also publishes the 30-Second Marketer’s Tip O’the Day. Subscribe FREE at www.ascendmarketing.com. Jim can be contacted at 801.254.7964.
Oh, That’s Your Job…
Last column we talked about your job as a marketer. If you’re the owner of a business or if you’re in charge of generating revenue for a business, you are, by definition, a marketer. As such I reminded you that you have only two jobs… educate and ask.
My last column elaborated on what it really means to educate your customers and prospects as to why they should buy from you. This time, I want to talk about your other job… asking them to buy from you.
You’ve heard it said that the greatest weakness of salesmen is failure to close, or failure to ask for the order. You’d be amazed at how many ads are created, that never ask anybody to do anything.
Just about the first thing you learn in Advertising 101 is the AIDA formula. This is an acronym for the four tasks of any ad… A)Attention; I)Interest; D)Desire; and A)Action. Capturing attention, converting it to interest, and cultivating desire all all “education” functions of your advertising. Action is the “asking” part.
Look at all the ads in your morning paper; pick a dozen or so off the television; check out a magazine, billboards, your favorite radio station. Take a count on the number of ads that don’t make a “call to action.”
This is just foolishness.
If advertising is just “salesmanship in print,” as a famous ad man said decades ago (and I now add, on the air or over the net), then how can you justify your “salesman” failing to ask for the order.
Every ad should carry an offer, and every offer should ask the prospect to take specific action. It doesn’t always have to be to buy, by the way, but action must be requested, or you’re simply wasting your precious advertising and marketing dollars.
For example, you can certainly make an offer that’s designed to get someone to buy. A substantial discount may be warranted in this case.
But another call to action might be to simply generate a lead that can be converted later. A FREE report or some kind of analysis may do the trick in this situation.
There are other reasons to make offers. To get your existing customers to buy again, or to buy in greater quantity are two more good reasons to “ask for the order.”
What about an offer specifically designed to get lost or dormant customers to “come back to the fold?” Have you considered that most of the customers you lose haven’t been lost to a failure of quality service or product on your part? It has probably
been a simple matter of forgetfulness or other priorities getting in the way. Your only failure may have been failing to ASK your customer to do business with you again. Most business can reap a windfall of profits, simply by going back to their past customers and rekindling the relationship.
Two other reasons to make offers are to induce trial on the part of a prospective new customer, and to cement loyalty on the part of older customers. A trial inducement is often a small, initial purchase, that you then systematically build into larger and on-going buys. The loyalty offer is one that encourages your customers to do business with you often and for an extended period of time. Take a look at what the book and music clubs do to induce trial and then to build customer loyalty.
Finally, you can make offers designed to get your existing customers to bring you other customers. These are what I call incentive-based referral systems, and they can be among the most effective and cost-efficient ways to bring in new customers and cement existing customer loyalty at the same time.
Just remember, when you ask, you’ve got to ask in a compelling way. Ten percent off generally doesn’t do it.
Good offers are made up of CONDITIONS and APPEALS. Conditions are the price and any limiting terms you place on your offer. Appeals are the extras – the “pot-sweeteners” – you can throw in to entice your customers.
Here are a number of appeals you can use to sweeten the way you ask for the order…
1. The way you structure your conditions can be an appeal. Which works better… 50% off or Buy One Get One FREE? Most people like the buy one get one offer best. Two ways of stating the same price, but one has greater appeal.
3. Bonuses (Ever see those Oreo packages when they give you an extra quarter pound of those devils food wonders for FREE? That’s a bonus and time for me to stock up.)
4. Premiums (Crackerjack prizes)
5. Free samples and free trials
6. Performance-specified guarantees
Don’t underestimate the power of any of these appeals to stimulate a “yes” to your asking. Many people buy for the bonus and many make a choice between two options based on these kinds of extras.
Ask and ask right, and you’ll be making an offer they won’t refuse.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For a FREE, report “60 IRRESISTIBLE OFFERS YOUR CUSTOMERS WON’T REFUSE” send an e-mail request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Jim Ackerman is President of Ascend Marketing, Inc. of Salt Lake City. He is a member of the National Speakers Association and developer of the Principle-Centered Marketing Coaching™ Program. He also publishes the 30-Second Marketer’s Tip O’the Day. Subscribe FREE at www.ascendmarketing.com. Jim can be contacted at 801.676.0550.
Debunking THE KISS myth
You’ve heard of the KISS principle. Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Actually, KISS is a true principle. But the way it has been distorted, contorted and downright abused by advertisers has destroyed its profound meaning.
Keep It Simple, Stupid has come to mean Keep It Short & Sweet to advertisers.
Let’s deal with the “sweet” problem first.
Most advertisers have become consumed with the concept of “clutter busting.” They believe that because the public is bombarded with so much advertising material, they have to do something cute, clever, or even odd to get noticed.
You wind up with everybody trying to create ads that make you laugh. They waste precious airtime or print space telling jokes, instead of selling the product.
How crazy is that? Remember, as an advertiser, you’re paying for that time and space. Why would you ever waste the precious little attention you get from a prospect telling jokes at the expense of selling your product?
I’ve even heard an advertising agency executive tell a client, “Funny is money.”
Wrong! Funny can be money, but only in exceptional cases. And let’s face it, most ads may be described as cute or clever, but seldom uproarously funny. Very seldom funny enough to make you want to buy, just because they made you laugh.
Yes you must engage, but you must also educate. And you must do both if you expect your advertising to be effective.
Even more important, clever ads break the true KISS principle. Consider the headline based on a pun. Puns are phrases that have multiple meanings. Your prospect is too busy to try and figure out those meanings. And they certainly don’t care enough about what you’re selling to make the effort.
What if your prospect doesn’t get the pun? He feels stupid. And we don’t buy from people who make us feel stupid.
Some years ago a local ski area had a series of billboards based on word and picture puzzles, like in the game TV gameshow Fascination. I saw several of these clever ads and was able to figure out all but one. The one I couldn’t figure out was on the freeway and I had to pass it every day. And every day this billboard reminded me just how stupid I was. Soon my curiosity turned to frustration and eventually my frustration to anger. I never figured it out and I have never skied that area since.
Simple, straight-forward headlines and copy that convey benefits always work better than clever writing that may bring a smile but fails to give the prospect a reason to read further, listen or watch longer, or to buy.
Now what about the “short” issue?
Advertisers today have been sold a bill of goods that shorter is better. They’ve been told the public doesn’t have an attention span.
Truth is, the public has an endless attention span for things that they perceive will benefit them. They have ZERO tolorance for fluff.
Measured advertising indicates “the more you tell, the more you sell.” Longer ads historically outpull shorter ads. Thirty-minute infomercials sell better than two-minute spots, which sell better than 90-second spots, which sell better than 60-second spots, which sell better than 30-second spots.
My brother recently tested this principle in direct mail for his business. He found a 4-page letter got the greatest reponse compared to a 2-page letter, which came in second, vastly outpulling a 1-page letter, which finished a distant third.
One of the most successful ads I ever wrote had a 40 word headline and almost 1,000 words of body copy. The ad was for a small clothing boutique and generated $119,000.00 worth of sales in one week, on a $3,000.00 ad investment.
But not a word of either the headline or the body copy was wasted. Each word conveyed meaning and benefit to the reader. No jokes. All value.
The point is not to purposely make your ads long. The point is to make them as concise and engaging as possible, but never short-cutting the telling of the whole sales story.
You can rest assured, nobody will buy, or take the next step in the buying process until and unless they are convinced there is sufficient “what’s in it for me” factor to get them to go there. And that usually takes more telling, not less.
Keeping it simple doesn’t mean keeping it short. It means sticking to the benefits and delivering those benefits in the most clear and compelling way possible.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For a FREE report on WRITING AD COPY, send an e-mail request to email@example.com. Jim Ackerman is President of Ascend Marketing, Inc. of Salt Lake City. He is a member of the National Speakers Association and developer of the Principle-Centered Marketing Coaching™ Program. He also publishes the 30-Second Marketer’s Tip O’the Day. Subscribe FREE at www.ascendmarketing.com. Jim can be contacted at 801.254.7964.
Think Like A Customer Matrix
Ask yourself this series of 20 questions before inventing your marketing and sales materials or devising any offers you will make to customers or prospects. This will help you think like a customer… keep the customer’s perspective in mind… consider your offering from the customer’s less-informed point of view.
1. Who is my typical customer?
- Where are they located
- Marital status
- Socio-economic status
- Likes & Dislikes
2. What does my prospect or customer really want from the products and services I offer?
3. Where does the customer find out about me and my products or services?
4. How does the customer feel about my industry, my products, my type of service?
5. What is the “GAP” in my prospects’ lives that is making them uncomfortable about their current situation?
6. What are the customer’s needs in considering my product or service?
- Human needs
- Emotional needs
- Cognitive needs
7. When does the customer typically take action in seeking out my product or service?
8. Why will the customer resist taking action…
- In response to my marketing efforts
- In response to my offers
- In response to my sales efforts
9. What are the “Move Now” Pivotal discomfort Factors that would prompt my prospects and customers to favor my products and services?
10. What are the automatic “Hold On” Pivotal Discomfort Factors that would prompt my prospects to not buy, even though they are relatively convinced they should?
11. What are the excuses, rationalizations, justifications my prospects will give themselves for taking action to secure my products or services?
12. What are the excuses, rationalizations, justifications my prospects will give themselves to avoid taking action to secure my products or services,, even though they should buy?
13. What is it safe to assume my prospects understand about my industry, products and services?
14. What do I think they understand but they probably do not?
15. What do they certainly not understand that I must be careful to explain?
16. If I were a customer and knew little or nothing about this industry, product or service, what would I be afraid of and how would I want things explained to me so my fears would be laid to rest about making this decision?
17. If I were a customer, what kind of offer would move me to…
- Respond to an ad or marketing piece for more information
- Agree to a sales interview
- Agree to make a purchase
18. What are the competitive considerations my customers are looking at when they compare products, services and companies in my industry?
19. How does the typical customer weight or rank these competitive considerations in making the final selection or buying decision?
20. What is the “Key Customer Insight” that will enable me to unlock the door to a positive decision on the part of my customer?
Your Marketing Wizards Alliance™
from Jim Ackerman
- RESPECT COPY: A picture may be worth a thousand words, but words deliver the SPECIFICITY of meaning that is essential if you are to get people to buy. (May not be true of sex, booze or gambling, but is of just about everything else.
- DO YOUR HOMEWORK: There is no substitute for thoroughly researching your product or service, your company, and perhaps most importantly, your prospects. What are the Move Now Pivotal Discomfort Factors that are naturally urging your prospects to buy? What are the Hold On Pivotal Discomfort Factors that are naturally urging your prospects to say no, even when they should say yes.
- UTILIZE THE “THINK LIKE A CUSTOMER MATRIX”: You have received this important tool with your Marketing Wizards Alliance™ membership.
- ASSEMBLE THE INGREDIENTS OF YOUR COPY WRITING RECIPE: There are four key ingredients…
- USE THE FOLLOWING TECHNIQUES…
- IF YOU RUN INTO TROUBLE, TRY THE FOLLOWING…
- The Unique Purchase Appeal (One sentence to one paragraph that describes how your business, product or service is different from the competition in a way that appeals to your target customer)
- The Comprehensive Feature List (What your company, product or service is or “has”)
- The Comprehensive Benefit List (What your company, product or service does — the results it delivers to the customer, client or patient)
- An Offer Sheet (The collection of conditions and appeals associated with your offer, including price and terms)
- Combine features and benefits as many ways as you can.
- Write 12 to 20 headlines for warm-up.
- Include appeals to visual, auditory and kinesthetic sub modalities.
- Use adjectives, adverbs, power words and phrases.
- Use conversational language. Talk in the first person.
- Keep words, sentences and paragraphs short, but don’t fear long copy.
- Vary paragraph length. (Never more than 5 lines)
- Use subheads, crossheads, call-outs.
- Use testimonials and case histories.
- Take advantage of the power of the specific. Opt for specificity in your claims. the more specific the better.
- Give your prospects the reasons why… why you are making the offer your are making… why they should buy.
- Use Neuro-linguistic Programming Techniques (NLP).
- Don’t forget to appeal to “avoid pain” people as well as “gain pleasure” people. (More people will typically act more quickly and spend more money to avoid pain than to gain pleasure.)
- Consider how your prospects typically sort information. Do they look at similarities between things, or do they look at the differences?
- Use the vernacular of your audience. Talk the way they talk. Use the jargon and phrases they use.
- Be warm and friendly as you tell them what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and how it benefits them.
- Make sure you give them all the specifics of how to take action.
Use the “Inverted Pyramid” style from journalism. Pack the most important information up front…
- Who: Who this offer is for
- What: What are the BENEFITS to the Who
- When & Where: Let the Who know When and Where the What is available
- Why: Why is the most overlooked element. Your Whos want to believe your Whats are great things for them. But they’re naturally skeptical of unjustified claims. Tell them why you’re doing what you’re doing for them.
- How: Tell your Whos the precise steps they must take to get the Whats you’re promising them. This is where the price comes in.
- THE CARD TRICK
Go back to your feature list, benefit list and combined feature & benefit list. Write or type them on separate file cards or pieces of paper. Experiment with arranging the statements in different orders. Try combining them. Eliminate redundant ones. Once they’re the way you want them, add some simple transitions from one to another and your ad will be done.
- DON’T BE A WRITER, BE AN EDITOR
Don’t write anything. Simply speak your sales pitch right out loud, preferably in a real selling situation. Record it, have it transcribed and then edit away.