Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why Your Name Matters

Most of us don't get to chose our name.

We are stuck with the name our parents gave us.

But your business, that's something you decide.

The Rules have changed over the past 100 years.

My Dad's parents had a restaurant that was named after the family: Howard's Restaurant.

And the business went has had four owners, my grandfather, my uncle, my cousin, and for the past 10 years, a lady named Crystal Ball, who worked for the family for 20 years and bought it when it was for sale.

Crystal could have changed the name, but she saw the value in the name that had spanned generations and kept it intact.

(Apparently her parents had a sense of humor too).

In today's world however, there are several factors to consider when naming your business:

  • Is it Unique?
  • Is it Descriptive?
  • Is it Limiting?
  • Is it Confusing?
  • Is it too long?
  • Is it too short?
  • Is it Memorable?
  • Is it Social Media & Web friendly?
These are all considerations I had when I registered my company name: ScLoHo Marketing Solutions a few years ago.

The ScLoHo identity has been around for years. It began as an email address on Yahoo, Hotmail, and Gmail. Then I registered the ScLoHo.com and ScLoHo.net domains and also claimed ScLoHo on about 50 social media sites.

ScLoHo is just abbreviation of the name my parents gave me with the first two letters of my first, middle and last name. It is unique, and it is pronounceable.

Google ScLoHo and you'll come up with a few thousand links to me.

I don't really care if I am found via keywords. I am not looking to build world wide fame and fortune. Many of my coworkers are unaware of my social media presence. Which is fine with me.

One last story about how my social media life and in-person life converge:

This past summer, my wife and I attended a baseball game at Parkview Field, home of the minor league Fort Wayne Tincaps. About the 5th inning, we took a walk around the stadium and a friend of mine that I met via Twitter, yelled out "ScLoHo!"

I stopped and turned around and went over and talked to my friend Andy and noticed that he was with a group of folks that I know and work with from the Asher Advertising Agency who mostly know me as Scott Howard, although a couple of them know me by both identities.

Instead of me explaining to those who didn't know what ScLoHo was all about, I let my friends explain it, which added credibility.

So, to sum it up, you want your name to stand for something.

To stand for something good.

Something good that others will want to know about.

Chose your name wisely.

Guard and protect your name.

And if you want find more about ScLoHo, just go here: http://www.scloho.net/

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Is Anyone Honestly Honest?

Is it possible to grow from zero to 500,000,000 customers in 6 years?

The answer is yes.

The answer is Facebook.

Based on the sheer number of registered accounts, it is the most successful social networking company ever.

Let's look at another one: Starbucks.

Most of their customers are unaware that Starbucks is nearly 40 years old. Founded in 1971.

Today Starbucks has over 17,000 locations worldwide.

Step back in time to 1962. That's when Sam Walton opened the first Walmart. Last count was 8500 stores in 15 countries.

One more blast to the past: 1940, the year the McDonald Brothers started selling burgers. Now they have over 31,000 stores around the world.

These are just three companies that came to mind as I was thinking of Mega-Success Stories.

Each one of these grew because they had the money to grow.

A couple years ago I read the book, McDonald's - Behind the Golden Arches by John Love and learned the struggles and near bankruptcy that McDonald's went through in the early years. (The book was published 25 years ago and McDonald's is one of my clients.)

Each of these companies have had to fight the temptation to rip off their customers. And each have had their share of controversy in their lifetimes.

Many people misquote the Bible, "Money is the root of all evil", and then proclaim a gospel of poverty as a more honest way of life.

Let's clear up the quote.

From Wikipedia: The phrase derives from a saying attributed to Jesus in the Apostle Paul's First Epistle to Timothy in the New Testament: "The love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Timothy 6:10, KJV). The expression is commonly misquoted as simply "Money is the root of all evil". A more accurate rendering from the original Greek may be: "For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil," (New American Standard Bible).

Ah, ha... It's not money, it is greed and what how people act out their greed that causes the evil.

So, back to the question, Is Anyone Honestly Honest?

Look at the motives, look at the heart. Everyone is tempted. The small business owner is tempted to pay someone under the table. The millionaire is tempted to sock away assets in an offshore account.

The man in poverty is tempted to rob, steal, even kill for money.

Temptation does not always result in bad behavior. It 99% of the temptations we face we overcome. The same is true in the business world.

So what does this have to do with marketing, and advertising?

Advertising is the paid form of marketing that you buy for your business.

Marketing includes advertising and everything else related to your business and that includes you and your staff.

Are you honest? Look at your motives.

Is it okay to want to earn lots of money? Look at the motives behind it.

If you let greed take over as you primary motivation for making money it will fail eventually.

If your primary focus is on helping people by selling them a product or service, and set your prices and fees accordingly, everyone wins.

Enjoy the Holidays.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Prediction for 2011

I was invited (again) to make a prediction for next year for Joe Pulizzi and Junta 42.

Here's what I submitted:

Value will be the true measuring stick in 2011.

Questions consumers are asking themselves, "Is there a value to me if I follow you on Twitter or Like you on Facebook?"

Business owners are asking themselves, "Is mass discounting via Groupon (and similar sites) providing me with customers that I value, or am I just offering loss leaders without any true long term value to my business?"

Social Media skeptics will place little value on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, etc because they haven't grasped the social interaction value of the media.

Social Media users and believers will continue to grow and increase their value to their friends and followers because they understand that despite the trackability of the web, relationships are not as easily measured in simple R.O.I. terms.

Every decision made in 2011 will be based on the value each of us as individuals assign to the choices.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's the Money, Honey...

30 years ago, I was a rock and roll radio disc-jockey.

I worked on the air on the top music station in town playing everything from the Doors to John Fogerty, Black Sabbath, and even some Cat Stevens and the Jacksons. WMEE was the #1 Top 40 music station in Fort Wayne.

After a few more stops, I moved over to the advertising side of radio in Detroit. I had learned the business side of the entertainment industry and the truth about radio, tv, newspapers, magazines, etc.

Today, I am back in the radio advertising business and social media, and a few other projects too.

The vast majority are supported by advertising. And advertising money is spent to get and keep customers and clients by the businesses that run the ads.

If the advertising doesn't produce a Return On the Investment (dollars spent on advertising), then a couple things happen.

First off, the business may stop advertising. The business may close if they cannot afford to stay open due to lack of customers.

Then the advertising medium, (radio, tv, newspapers, magazines, etc.) loses money because they have lost that particular advertiser. And they advertising to fund their operation and pay the people they have on staff. Including those rock and roll disc-jockeys.

If a radio station cannot generate enough money through advertising, it is in danger of changing its format. If a TV program doesn't generate enough money through advertising, it is canceled.

If a newspaper of magazine doesn't generate enough money through advertising, it slows down or stops printing.

US News & World Report was a magazine that I used to subscribe to in my 20's and 30's. Not anymore. And they are one of a multitude of print publications that are no longer going to be available.

Is the web the answer? Is social media the answer?
I say maybe and no.

Maybe if the internet can generate money. The same for the social media platforms.
No, if you are looking for a quick fix. Despite the tremendous growth in technology via smartphones and the like, despite the growth of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, (and the list goes on and on)...

Unless there is money being made it won't work.

Someone has to be willing to buy something and someone has to be willing to sell something of value.

And the marketers job is never done because of the continuing changes.

So, got an idea? Great! Now figure out how to sell it. Need some help? Contact me @ScLoHo on Twitter or with an email to Scott@ScLoHo.net

Rock on....

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What If?

What is holding you back?

What is keeping you from going forward?

Every once in awhile we need to ask ourselves a few questions like a 2 year old.

When I think of 2 year old toddlers, I think of their persistence in asking, "Why?"

They ask it to the point of driving parents and grandparents nuts.

But most are eventually told, "That's the way it is, now go away".

And as we age, we begin to stop asking.

Not everyone stops, but the majority just stop and instead of asking they start complaining.

It's why satisfaction with our government is at an all time low.

Even with the historic election in 2008 of President Obama, two years later the level of discontent with our government is back to before he was elected.

But instead of talking about what is not right, let's start talking about what we can do.

And not what someone else can do.

Start talking about what you can do.

Start asking why.

Question everything.

It started a revolution 50 years ago.

It is occurring in our lives all around us in small and not-so-insignificant matters too.

For example, video tape.

In April 2009 we borrowed a video camera to record an event that my wife wanted recorded. It had a mini video cassette and we were disappointed with the quality. 18 months later, we borrowed a digital video camera and the result was 1000% better.

These tiny revolutions are going on all around us and changing the way people communicate, do business, and it doesn't matter if you accept these changes, because they are happening with out you.

There is a slow down coming.

If you are in business to business sales like me, the month of December and the beginning of January are slow. If you are in retail, then your slow down starts at the end of this holiday madness.

Start by asking yourself some of these why questions regarding what you do and the way you do it. Ask some what if questions too.

The answers are there.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


What is TOMA?


I don't care if you believe that Branding is important, or Price is important or Location, or any number of contributing factors you and I could name, what you really want from all of your marketing and advertising efforts is TOMA.

Last month I met with the real estate agent that I used to sell my last house about 4 years ago.

I'm not planning on buying another house for at least 10, maybe 20 years. But each month I get a piece of mail from her, and it's one of the ways she retains TOMA with me.

You cannot advertise only to the people who need you now.


Because despite all the targeting that the internet allows us to do using keywords and location and other Search Optimization techniques, if I have a favorite ___________, then I will use _________, and recommend ___________ to others.

We spend our money with those that we trust will provide us with the right value.

My daughter sent me a Groupon offer for carpet cleaning at 70% off.
We won't use it because we like the carpet cleaner we use.
He provides the right value and we trust him.

I used to spend $75 to get my hair cut. But then I discovered a chain shop that will cut it for $15 including a generous tip and they never screw it up. Which happened a couple times with the $75 cut.

Back to the real estate agent. She asked me who I would recommend to my friends, and I told her, "You, and only you". I know other agents but she is the one that I trust.

Top Of Mind Awareness coupled with a good reputation wins every time.

If you are in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area, I can help you build TOMA. Email Scott at ScLoHo.net

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Who and Where are your Customers?

Who are you customers?

While researchers like to group people into demographic profiles, you need to realize that today more than ever, there is so much diversity that you need to be careful with the assumptions you make.

I'm going to share with you the individual profiles of some of my friends and co-workers:

1. Female mid-20's, no kids, no steady boyfriend, works full time, income $24,000.
2. Female mid-20's no kids, getting married next year, combined income $80,000.
3. Female mid-40's step-mom to kids in their 20's, combined income $75,000.
4. Female mid-30's married, 1 12 year old, 1 2 year old, 2 twin new borns, combined income $70,000.
5. Male early 50's, engaged. 1 daughter age 12, one soon to be step-son age 19, combined income $250,000.
6. Male early 50's married, 5 kids and stepkids all in their 20's, combined income $70,000.
7. Male late 60's divorced, 1 son in his 40's, semi-retired, income $30,000.
8. Male late 30's single, income $35,000.

These 8 people have one thing in common. They know me. I am an influence in their lives.

What stuck me was how all but number 7 are lumped into the advertisers sweet spot of Adults age 25-54, yet look at the wide range of differences. And I know that #'s 6 & 7 have more in common than #5 & #6!

Who is in the market for a new car? Well, in the past 2 years #2, #4 & #7 have purchased at least one new vehicle.

Who is living in a house vs an apartment?

House: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
Apartment: 1, 7, 8.

Who eats out the most? 6 & 7.

Who is using social media such as Facebook? 1, 2, 4, 5, 6

Who has the newest computer? 7

Who has the newest smartphone? 6

There is a tendency to lump people together by generation and the problem is that you lose out on inviting certain people to do business with you. Or you use the methods of advertising that worked 20 years ago and assume that method will work today.

I urge you to get as much information as possible about your customers and the people you want as customers and then you can begin to find out how to invite them to do business with you.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Commercialization of Patriotism

First off, Happy Veterans Day.

My Dad served in the Navy, all my Uncles served in the military, I have friends and co-workers who have served and we owe them our gratitude daily.

I was listening to a news story on my way to the office about how today's school children are being taught the reason for Veterans Day. Somehow I have my doubts that they are being taught the true history.

Most of the schools have a two hour school delay due to fog.

The largest school system in my area, Fort Wayne Community Schools, are closed today.

My father instilled in me a respect for the military and those who served locally such as police and fire personal. We would attend the parades, stand up, remove our hats, and do the right thing.

Today, like many other holidays, merchants have commercialized the day, the week, the weekend with "Red, White & Blue Blowout Sales."

This is simply wrong.

You do this, and I will remember to avoid doing business with you.

"But my competitors are doing it, and they'll get all my customers unless I jump in the fray".

Is that the best marketing plan you can come up with?


Here's a better and more honorable way to handle your marketing on days like today.

Don't offer a one day sale.

Don't offer a free meal.

Take away all the gimmicks and make a genuine offer.

For example, make it company policy to give free beverages to all service personal.

Everyday, every night, year round.

Come up with a way to thank our vets that they will appreciate, something that you can honor year-round to honor those that serve our country and our people.

If you want to kick it off on Veterans Day, that's fine. If you want to remind us of this offer on Memorial Day and the 4th of July you can do that too. But make it standard policy, not a sales gimmick.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Importance of your Employees

On a recent weekend, I had a conversation with a friend over coffee about a couple of the employees at the coffee shop we were sitting in.

He told me about how two of the employees are hurting this coffee shops business.

Let's see if you can relate to these stories and if they are going on in your business, I hope you take appropriate action.

First off, the late employee.

Her job is to be there so they can open the doors and start serving customers at 6am. In order to do that, she should be there 30 minutes early to set up 3 or 4 coffee airpots where customers self-serve.

But she has a habit of showing up late. Sometimes as late as 6:30am. Morning customers usually have a time sensitive routine and an easy way to lose customers is to not have what they want when they want it.

So customers who used to stop by at 6:15 for a quick cup of Joe to go, are now going elsewhere, since this coffee shop is unreliable due to one employee. How much is this costing the coffee shop? More than that employee is paid per hour, that's for sure.

Next, we have the inconsiderate employee.

She has an attitude. She shows favoritism to some customers and others notice. Not only do others notice, but others talk about it too. Like my friend did over the weekend.

It all began with a comment about where this employee parks her car. She sometimes picks one of the prime spots directly in front of the coffee shop, which should be reserved for customers, not an employee whose car will be sitting there for 6 to 8 hours.

The owners of this coffee shop are aware of these two problems but choose to ignore them.

After all, the employees are friendly to them.

It's time for perspective that business owners often lack.

What matters most is how your employees are representing your company.

This is part of your marketing that not enough owners and managers consider.

And no amount of advertising can overcome crappy customer service.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Email Oops

It's Monday night, 8pm November 1st and I get home from a meeting and check my email.

There is an invitation from the local Volkswagen Dealer.

I don't own a VW, but I trust their service department for my 15 year old Mercedes, about 1 or 2 thousand $ a year.

There are several things that they could have done better.

First let's look at the email:

You are invited to Vorderman Volkswagen's 2011 Jetta Unveiling Gala! Saturday, Nov. 6th from 6-8pm. Must RSVP by Nov. 3 either online or in person. RSVP today!
Vorderman Volkswagen Go to vordermanvw.com
Scott Howard,
You are invited to our Jetta Unveiling Gala!
You are invited to Vorderman Volkswagen's 2011 Jetta Unveiling Gala! Saturday, Nov. 6th from 6-8pm. Must RSVP by Nov. 1 either online or in person. RSVP today!
RSVP Today!This email was sent by:Vorderman Volkswagen
5811 Cross Creek Blvd. Fort Wayne, IN,46818,USA

Now let's look at the TV commercial that VW has been airing the past few weeks...

Notice the big disconnect?

VW has been pushing the 2011 Jetta for only $15,995.

That is what I have been conditioned to seeing.

So why does the email talk about a 2.9% APR with no mention of the $15,995 price point?

I don't know, but this is a classic example of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

But let's dig a little deeper.

One email that I was not expecting is not going to get my attention if I was the typical consumer. (I almost just deleted this, but decided to turn this into a marketing lesson).

Since I was not expecting this email, they should have sent more than one email over a period of a couple of weeks, leading up to the event.

But they didn't.

This was the one and only email I was sent.

Let's examine what they want from me.

They are asking me to decide whether or not I want to visit their showroom to see a new car with a 2.9 APR.

And I have to RSVP in the next 36 hours, or never mind.

So far there is no reason for me to attend.

Look at the date and time for this "event".

Saturday night 6p--8pm.

This has to be one of the absolute worst times of the week to ask me to come out for Appetizers & Beverages.

I mean come on now. In the middle of my weekend, at a time when I'm planning on having dinner with my wife, you want me to visit you for this?!?

Okay, there has to be more to this than the email is telling me.

So I click on the RSVP in the email and go to their website and here's what I get:

That was the last straw. The RSVP Link was a link to their regular, standard website contact form.

Absolutely nothing related to the email, the "event", or the 2011 Jetta. Triple Fail.

So, I am planning on visiting the folks at my local VW Dealership and talk to them about this before their event Saturday, and then again next week.

We'll see if they are successful despite themselves or if they want some help and guidance.

I'm glad their service department works better than their marketing department.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Obama Brand

It's Tuesday evening, October 5th. I have no idea what the election results will be in 4 weeks but the Obama Brand is on my mind, so I sit and write what you are about to read:

The Obama Brand today is about line-extensions.

It is election day in the United States of America.

This is what we call a mid-term election because it is in the middle of the Presidents four year term. Every member of the House of Representatives could lose their job tonight, because their terms are two years long.

1/3 of the Senators could lose their job tonight. They are elected to 6 year terms of office.

The past two or three years have just flown by, due to the Obama Brand which gained national recognition in 2007.

The Obama Brand was the vision of Hope and Change that the Senator from Illinois, Barrack Obama used to carry him to the White House in 2008.

It was one of the most turbulent elections I've witnessed. Nearly everyone had a strong opinion and that opinion drove people to vote.

So what has happened to the Obama Brand?

We'll find out when the votes are counted.

Do we want more of the Hope and Change that the Obama Brand gave us the first two years of the Obama Presidency?

Did the Obama Brand work as a line-extension?

Odds are it didn't. Democrats are expecting losses in Congress. It's because in nearly every mid-term election the party that is not in power in the White House, gains ground.

So, the failure of the Obama Brand to break this cycle isn't the fault of the Obama Brand. It is the fault of those political strategists that followed the same pattern thinking that the Obama Brand is strong enough to break the cycle without using a different strategy.

The President has been lending his voice and support to candidates, just like previous Presidents did in the past with mostly discouraging results.

It's too late now, but I have the answer to break this "losing the mid-term" cycle.

The political parties need to stop latching onto the President as their brand. See, my Senator is being branded as a line extension of the Obama Brand, instead of as a member of the Democrat Brand.

There is a difference.

Would you buy an Obama Brand Dishwasher? Would you buy an Obama Brand lunch meat? I know it sounds silly, because I'm taking the fallacy of line-extensions to the extreme.

Just because a brand is popular doesn't mean it can apply to everything. Too bad the political strategists haven't learned this lesson.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What Does it Cost to Advertise on the Radio?

It's a question that people want to know.

And I have an answer.

The cost is not important.

It's just the final number in a mathematical equation.

And it is the mathematical equation that matters more the what it equals.

Lets look at it the way a lot of folks look at it, first. They say, I want to spend $2000.

(In reality, they would like to spend $5, but that won't work.)

What are the different equations that they could use to = $2000?

1 x 2000
2 x 1000
4 x 500
8 x 250
16 x 125
20 x 100
40 x 50
50 x 40
100 x 20

Just to name a few of the options that a business could use to advertise in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

What do those numbers mean?

1 print ad in the newspaper (1/2 page black and white) will cost 2 grand.

I have some radio ads I will sell you for $100 each (Morning Drive, live, testimonal by a 20 year well known talk show host), 1 per day, 5 days a week, 4 weeks a month = 2 grand.

I also have some radio ads I will sell you for $20 each, 6am-7pm, Monday through Sunday, 25 per week, 4 weeks a month, again = $2000.

Not all of these options are interchangeable. Each will produce different results, and it takes someone with the knowledge of who you are, who your customers are, and a few other important factors to help you decide which option will work for you.

I have one client that used to spend $450 a week advertising with me, then they stopped.

No, they didn't stop spending money with me, they stopped spending only $450 a week.

Right now they are spending between $1500 and $2025 a week advertising on one of my radio stations.

And they are meticulous about tracking the response. That's why they increased.

Make sure you ask all the right questions when it comes to spending money on advertising.

And if you are in Fort Wayne, Indiana; contact me and I'll show you more. Scott at ScLoHo.net

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Wrong Way

to do email marketing.

It's called spray & pray.

It's why the "Direct Mail" piece that arrives in my mailbox delivered by the U.S.P.S. is commonly called "Junk Mail" by consumers.

Last month I received the following email in my inbox:

Dear Sir/Madam,

My name is Holly DeSouza, and I am the Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Behave Media, Inc.

We are a digital media company specializing in behavioral advertising, search marketing and consumer panel research. We help develop, plan and execute profitable campaigns for Fortune 500 companies by utilizing real-time consumer data with our innovative targeting capabilities. Our clients have seen an increase of 7%-35% in their ROI by utilizing our knowledge and expertise online.

If you would like to discuss how our services can benefit your organization, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Best Regards,

Holly DeSouza
VP, Sales & Marketing
Behave Media, Inc
73 Lexington St.
Boston, MA 02464
P: 800.270.0442


Usually, I would simply delete this. But I thought I would use this as a lesson instead.

The first question that popped in to my mind is, "why didn't my spam filter catch this?" I get an average of 11 spam emails an hour 24/7 that are caught automatically. (Thanks Gmail!)

Then I remembered that Holly got my email from their mailing list since I actually registered at one time to receive emails from her company.

In case you're still wondering what is wrong with this email, think for a moment. She also has access to my name, and it's not Sir/Madam. It's Scott Howard.

Any decent email marketing program can insert a persons name automatically.

She losses credibility and diminishes her company reputation from this one glaring mistake.

Then the rest is just a bunch of crap. Sorry if this is the way you were told to sell yourself, but you've already proved that you are just fishing for a bite or two, or Spraying the in-boxes with your half-hearted attempt and Praying someone will respond to what you wrote.

Better to send out 10 personalized and targeted emails each day or each week, then to send out a few hundred like this one and lose your chance to ever work with the people who received this poorly written email.

But the problem is not entirely Holly's.

I decided to call the number.

I got an automated attendant that told me, among other things, that if I knew the extension of the person I was calling I could enter it and get connected.

Holly didn't include an extension in her email, so I had to wait a full 40 seconds to be told to press zero for the operator.

I pressed zero. Sappy on hold music came on the line followed by the automated attendant telling me that they were too busy to take my call, please leave my name and number and someone will get back to me.

Total time wasted on the phone: 90 seconds.

This company needs help. If you can reach them. If you see yourself or your company making any of these same mistakes, stop it or go out of business.

As always, your comments are welcome.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fix the Mistakes

If the front door to your business had a broken window so anyone could walk in an help themselves 24/7, how long would you ignore the problem?

If you had an employee who is supposed to open your store at 10am every morning, but they don't show up until 10:20 on a regular basis, how long would you ignore the problem?

If you set up an email marketing campaign and it sends an email two or three times a day to the same people, over and over again, how long would you ignore the problem?

If you give a phone number in an advertisement and the number is wrong or disconnected, how long would you ignore the problem?

All of these have occurred in the past 20 days to businesses and organizations that I've contacted.

Every encounter is an impression either good or bad.

The email problem was one where the organization put someone in charge of scheduling emails and he thought the more the merrier.

Wrong. Complaints started coming in. Usually people just start labeling it as junk or spam.

I work with the organization and have access to their email service provider and was able to stop the craziness. I also changed the sending email address in case the old was now labeled as spam.

Put out the Fires, Fix the Mistakes, Stop the Bleeding, etc.

Ignorance isn't bliss. It can be deadly.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Simple Side of Selling

This week, I'll share a couple of excerpts from two conversations I had last month.

The first was an impromptu meeting with a gentleman I met last year when I did a presentation on Social Media & Marketing called Join the Conversation.

Besides a few blogs that I update, I am most active on Twitter, followed by LinkedIn and Facebook.

I also use FourSquare, at times, which allows you to check in at various locations and see where your friends have checked in too.

Anyway, I checked in on FourSquare and sent it out on Twitter that I was going to be at one of my local coffee shops for the next couple of hours. After awhile, I hear a voice and it's someone that I haven't seen in nearly a year and he left his office to find me and ask for advice.

He wanted to convince his bosses and co-workers that they need to be on social media sites in order to be ahead of their competitors. He works in the B-2-B world.

To summarize, I showed him what I had done and shared some of his frustrations with trying to get some of my radio station colleagues to jump on the social media train with lack luster results.

The problem with trying to convince someone who doesn't want to do something, to do something is it's just too hard.

And that's okay.

Which brings me to the other conversation I had a few days later on Twitter where someone had been having the same struggle of trying to convince co-workers on the value of social media.

And it hit me, don't worry about it. here's what I wrote:

@allen_ts Some people will get it now, others later, some never. Focus on helping those that want help & show the others your successes.

This really applies to all sales situations.
You can't get everyone to agree with you.
You can't get everyone to buy from you.

Focus on those that want you & that you can help.

It's that simple.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Most Neglected Part of Your Advertising Campaign

So far, we've covered two of the three elements of the Formula for Advertising Success.

Here's the Formula: http://sclohonet-thebook.blogspot.com/2010/09/formula-for-advertising-success.html

Here's the first element, Reach: http://sclohonet-thebook.blogspot.com/2010/09/are-you-reaching-your-potential.html

And the second element, Frequency: http://sclohonet-thebook.blogspot.com/2010/09/why-one-big-ad-is-waste-of-money.html

Today, I'll dig into the third element, your Message.

First a bit of background. Growing up I enjoyed listening to the radio, not just the music, but the personalities too. When I was 15, my high school started a radio station and about 30 of us volunteered to spend our summer studying for a test required by the Federal Communications Commission in order to work on the air at a radio station. 20 of the 30 passed.

Those 20 were given the opportunity to volunteer at our new high school radio station. That launched my career as a radio disc-jockey and air personality. At my 5 year class reunion, I was the only one that continue that career path.

One of my least favorite parts of the job was recording commercials. The scripts were usually pretty bad, and the reason is in radio, often the person who wrote the ads, was the salesperson and he/she had no training in advertising, only sales training.

One day, when I was 25 years old, I decided to re-write a pizza commercial with two voices, a bit of sly humor and then I produced it along with the boring commercial the sales guy gave me. They used my creative ad and within 6 months, I found a job writing and producing radio commercials in Detroit.

It was hard work, but I loved it. I was fascinated by the techniques that I could use to persuade people to action through advertising. This became a passion of mine is why I do what I do today, 25 years later.

Unfortunately, not much has changed in the advertising world in the past 30 years as far as message creation. (That's your ad.)

I now work with advertising agencies that are responsible for creating ads for their clients, and even some of those are pretty bad.

The adage that any news is good news, even bad news, as long as they spell my name right, doesn't apply to advertising.

Your advertising message must be targeted to the people you want to reach.
Your advertising message must be created with a goal in mind.
Your advertising message needs to break through the clutter of all the other advertising messages that you and I are exposed to daily.
Your advertising message needs to be uniquely yours, not interchangeable with your competitor.
Your advertising message needs to touch emotions first, logic second.
Your advertising message needs to be appropriate for the advertising venue/advertising medium you are using.

Regarding that last item, there is a huge difference between the content of an ad on a Billboard, a newspaper, and radio/TV.

Oh, and just because, you are paying someone to create your ad, that doesn't mean it is worth what you are paying them to create it.

Make the person who is creating your advertising message justify why they are saying and doing what they are creating. This is not a job for amateurs, or interns.

This is your business that you are paying to promote with your advertising dollars. It is your investment in your future. Don't neglect it.

If you are in the Northeast Indiana Area, (Fort Wayne), contact me if you would like help. Scott@ScLoHo.net

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why One Big Ad is a Waste of Money

Continuing my focus on the Formula for Advertising Success...

Click here to read the Formula.

Click here to read the first part (Reach).

Now that you're caught up, let's talk about Frequency.

I sometimes get the question, "how much does it cost to advertise?" and I usually answer that question with a question, "What are you trying to accomplish with your advertising?"

I'm not in business to try and get the most money out of someone, I'm in the business to help them develop a plan that works.

By that I mean, reach the goals they have both long range and short term.

Rarely have I ever had someone do too much advertising, yet I've seen a lot of money wasted becasue it wasn't allocated properly.

Last week, I talked about Reach, the number of people that will potentially see or hear your ad.

Frequency is just as important, if not more important than Reach.

Frequency is how many times a person is going to hear or see your message. And to illustrate this principle, let's talk about dating.

I met my wife of nearly ten years about a year before we wed. We dated for 6 months before getting engaged.

What do you suppose would have happened if I asked her to marry me the first time we met and if she said no, then I didn't have any contact with her.

Yep, I'd still be single.

It takes more than one advertisement to bring in loyal customers, no matter how much money you spend on that one ad.

It may take 3 to 4 times (or more) for the target customer to even become aware of your ad, another 3 or 4 times for them to understand who or what the ad is for, and unless they are in the market for what you are advertising, it will take consistent exposure over time (like dating) for that particular person to buy from you.

Here's a simple math question:

You have $12,000 you can spend for advertising. You can get one full size color ad in the Sunday newspaper which reaches 100,000 people with the frequency of 1.

Or you can budget that $12,000 on a radio campaign to last you 12 full months. With one of my radio stations, I can craft a steady advertising plan that reaches 41,000 people over 80 times over the year. That's a frequency of 80.

One last question to drive home the point of Frequency.

The following bought one $3,000,000 (or more) ad in the 2010 Superbowl.

Do you remember them:

U.S. Census Bureau

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Are You Reaching Your Potential?

And I'm referring to potential customers?

If you use traditional media like newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, Billboards, and some internet options, they will try and tell you how many people they reach with numbers such as circulation, listeners, viewers and traffic counts.

In reality, this has very little to do with the success of your advertising campaign.

Newspapers often use a formula that multiplies the number of papers printed by a number between 2 and 4 stating that each paper is read by 2 or more people. This math also happens in the magazine business.

Radio and TV stations get their audience info from independent companies such as Arbitron (Radio) and Nielsen (TV). They do surveys of a small sample of people and then use that data to make assumptions about the rest of us. Sort of like political polls.

Billboard companies use info from whatever government department is responsible for traffic counts.

Internet sites can track how many people visit a web page, but there are other issues that I'll share with you about the web.

But first, let me toss in another advertising option: Cable TV.

Cable TV reaches between 80 and 85% of the people in the city I live in. I get 100+ channels.

Cable TV advertising sales people use this type of info to explain why they are the best option for advertising.

All of these are only part of the equation. What ever number you are given is an estimate of the potential number of potential customers that you might be able to REACH with your advertising.

Which is a good number to know.

But the REACH number is only part of the Formula for Advertising Success.

And there are some flaws to using this as the main reason to pick one advertising option over another.

When you last read the newspaper, did you read every section? Did you read all the ads?
When you listened to the radio or watched television, did you listen and pay attention to every commercial?
When you drove to work, did you read all the billboards and signs you passed?

You and I are exposed to 1000's of advertisements and commercial messages every day. Can you write down 50 that you recall from the past 24 hours?

Next time I'll tell you about Frequency, which is one of the reasons you can recall those dozen ads you just wrote down.

And I'll also tell you in the weeks to come the numbers that you really should know first.

Or write to me at Scott@ScLoHo.net if you can't wait.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Formula for Advertising Success

Last month I was consulting with a gentleman who had a couple of marketing/advertising ideas.

He said marketing, I saw them as advertising.

Advertising is a paid form of marketing usually involving ads or commercials.

After hearing his ideas I realized that he was unaware of a basic formula that I've known and preached for years.

There really is a formula for Success in Advertising. Unfortunately a minority of people know it, and even less follow it.

Some do it be accident, but imagine how much more successful you could be if you consciously followed a formula.

Here it is:

Reach + Frequency + Message.

Put the word Right in front of each of those three words.

Reach is the number of different people that you ad will be exposed to.
Frequency is the number of times one person will be exposed to your ad.
Message is, well it IS your ad.

Every single form of advertising, from Billboards, to website banner ads, to radio ads, every form of advertising relies on this formula for success.

Before you agree to spend another nickle on advertising, consider these three elements.

Contact me if you need help. Scott @ ScLoHo.net

I'll dig deeper into each of these in the future.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Procrastination and the Crock Pot

Most of us are told that Procrastination is bad.

And for good reason. Waiting until something is due to start often results in a half-assed, rushed job that is likely to have errors that would have been avoided if you hadn't done it at the last minute in a rushed, half-assed manner!

However, I've been giving this word some thought and want to challenge you to do the same.

It all began on a Friday morning. I was attending an introductory sales presentation by Paul Lushin when he mentioned that procrastination is good. Due to the time limits of his presentation and all of the other items he was covering, he didn't same much more about the subject.

But I thought about it the rest of the day, and decided to write about it.

However before I began writing about it, I checked my email and low and behold, there were not 1 but 2 newsletters in my inbox talking about the evils of procrastination.

More fuel to my fire.

First a posting on the Dumb Little Man blog entitled Four Crucial Steps to Avoid Procrastination.

Ali Hale gives some good advice on how to overcome Procrastination if it is a problem in your life and business.

Next, Seth Godin touches on the subject as he talks about Finding Inspiration Instead Of It Finding You.

Again, good advice about a more disciplined life, but there is another side of procrastination that I know is good.

I call it Crock Pot Procrastination.

Crock Pots and Slow Cookers became popular in the 1970's, as more Moms entered the work force fulltime and were still expected to feed the family at dinnertime.

A crock pot allowed you put raw food into a slow cooker, add some water and spices and let it simmer all day so when you came the house was filled with the aroma of a delicious dinner and our plates were filled tasty morsels of goodness.

Contrast this with the Microwave. What used to take an hour can now take 5 minutes. And that is how a lot of us operate with multi-tasking, doing everything now, etc.

In order for procrastination to work for you instead of against you, you need to follow the Crock Pot rules:

  1. Prepare the ingredients. Start thinking about the project way ahead of the deadline.
  2. Let it simmer. Go do something else. Some of my best creative ideas come when I'm mowing the yard, or playing a game. Staring at a computer screen and trying to be creative can be counter-productive.
  3. Capture some of those ideas. Like the aroma that fills the kitchen as the food is cooking, those random ideas can add flavor or direction to what you are going to create. Write them down, save them in your voice mail, just have a system to capture those ideas.
  4. Have a deadline. Dinnertime is 5:30 tonight. Not 9:30 tomorrow morning. Set a time to take the ideas that have been cooking in your crock pot, set the table and eat.
  5. Save your leftovers. Not all of your ideas will fit into the project you are working on. Perhaps they are ideas you can use in the future.

By the way, the Friday that all of this happened was 11 days ago, August 20th. And I wrote this after about 24 hours of "Crock Potting" the idea of Good Procrastination.

But due to an abundance of ideas, I scheduled it to appear publicly today on the 31st, which takes the pressure off of having to Microwave an idea for a blog post that I've committed myself to update every week.

So how it all works?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Privacy & Personalized Marketing

Facebook just launched a location service where people can update where they are on their Facebook page.

This is not a new service in social media, there are a couple of others including the one I use on occasion, FourSquare.

But Facebook is a giant. If you watched the video I posted last week, (Click here to see it again), did you catch that if Facebook were a country, it would rank 3rd largest in the world?

Facebook has privacy issues because it is so big.

Let me explain.

Because Facebook is so popular, unscrupulous people have found ways to gather information that most people would want kept private.

To Facebooks credit, they have created increased privacy options, but the general public hasn't locked down their Facebook pages and taken advantage of the privacy options Facebook offers.

I prefer location services like Foursquare, because I can use it when I want and only include people that I trust as my friends. Tonight I'm going to a baseball game and I'll use it to see who else is there.

Some businesses have used Foursquare as a marketing tool by offering specials to people who "Check in" on Foursquare when they are at that particular business. At lunch today, I was checking in on FourSquare and noticed that the Radio Shack in the same shopping center was offering a FourSquare special of 10% off just for showing them your phone with the FourSquare offer. It's a form of Word of Mouth endorsements via social media.

Most people however I not aware of all of the ways they give up their private information.

10 years ago, my mom was afraid of ordering anything online, yet for years she would freely give her credit card number to a stranger over the phone when placing an order at Sears.

Take a look at your key ring.

Do you have one of those loyalty cards with a bar code from your grocery store that they swipe in order to save money?

They have a record of everything you buy. Sometimes that is helpful like when they had the egg recall last week, some of the grocery stores were able to call customers who purchased the recalled eggs and leave them a warning and recall message.

And unless you are buying stuff that would be embarrassing, then you probably have nothing to worry about.

Personalized Marketing at the grocery store also occurs when they hand you coupons for your next visit that are based on the items you just bought.

Websites, and search engines do personalized marketing too, with ads that are relevant for what you are searching for and/or your location.

In the radio business, I've done a form of personalized advertising too.

No, I don't call your name in a commercial, but I'll target a very specific person in the content of the ad and keep it as time relevant as possible too.

A few other thoughts on this subject, when I turned 50 a few months ago, the direct mail and some of the email (Spam) I started receiving was geared to the 50+ generation. More like the 65+ generation.

And if you are going to send a direct mail piece to me addresses to RESIDENT or OCCUPANT, I'll probably be calling on you to teach you how to do a better job with your advertising and marketing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The New Normal of Advertising & Marketing Options

40 years ago, when I was ten years old, Walter Cronkite was the most trusted newsman in America. Uncle Walter delivered the news to millions of people 5 nights a week and his network, CBS, was one of three television channels that most households relied on. ABC was the youngest and was a spin-off of NBC.

1970 was also the year that PBS was launched although it took years for it to become a national network.

We had 5 local AM Radio Stations and 3 or 4 FM Radio Stations to listen to. And a morning and afternoon newspaper.

That's what was normal for media in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Advertising options included all of the above along with Billboards, Phone Books and Direct Mail.

A friend of mine worked for the dominant radio station in the 1970's and the morning show was listened to by 60% of all radio listeners. Now we have around 20 radio stations, 16 of them are FM, and the most popular morning show is listened to by less than 15% of all radio listeners.

We have Cable TV reaching 8 out of 10 homes, and then there's the internet.

Advertising options have exploded. If you are running your advertising and marketing the way your parents or grandparents did 40 years ago without recognizing these changes, you are destined to fail. Sorry about that, but it's true.

The changes are also happening faster than ever before. So if you added a website to your marketing plan 5 years ago, it looks dated, and less trustworthy.

I know, I know... it's hard enough to keep up with the changes going on in your industry, let alone the changes in marketing and advertising.

So how do know what to change? What to drop? What to add?

Those questions are premature.

First you need to know about the heart and soul of your business. Your business has a personality that is unique. You need to know and understand this part of your business so that which ever advertising options you use, you are being true to your business and your customers.

Very few businesses are able to transform themselves from one niche to another. We'll explore that in the future. And we'll also look at the New Normal from a consumers viewpoint.

This is one of the latest in a series of video's that demonstrate some of these changes:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

People and Technology

Technology can help your business communication, but you have to have the right people managing it.

Last month I used a trip to the dentist to illustrate how no matter what business you are in, you can use the technology tools of today to connect with your customers.

Click here to read it.

Today, I've got an update.

Last week I got an email from my dentist as part of their new email initiative:

(I replaced his name with "My Dentist" and am protecting his street address too)

My Dentist, DDS
XXXX East State Blvd
Fort Wayne, IN 46815

Dear Kathleen Howard,

Every day more exciting and important information is being communicated electronically via the Internet. In the future, My Dentist, DDS would like to communicate with you via email, which will enable you to receive teeth cleaning reminders, schedule your next appointment online, confirm your scheduled appointments online and receive money saving specials. My Dentist, DDS would like your permission for the privilege to serve you more efficiently and conveniently via email.

If you would like to be part of this convenient online program, you do not need to take any additional action. If you prefer not to have My Dentist, DDS contact you via email, please see instructions at the bottom of this message, and your name will then be deleted from our emailing lists immediately.

We appreciate your business and look forward to seeing you soon.


Your friends at My Dentist, DDS

The first problem is they used my wife's name, not mine. They sent it to my email account, not my wife's.

Very few families have "Family Email Accounts".

We have individual email addresses. Email is not like regular mail. If you address something to my home address, whoever gets the mail sorts it and gives it to the appropriate person.

The next problem is the content of this email along with the subject line which read, "My Dentist requests your permission."

I already gave permission last month at the dentist office when I gave you my email address.

And the content is written in a non-friendly, almost legalese style that does not reflect the nature of my dentist and his staff, whom I characterize as fun and competent. Yeah, my dentist is fun!

So what went wrong?

They need to make sure the people using the technology understand how to use it instead of just filling in the blanks in the email template without considering the recipient.

At the radio stations where I work, we recently fired someone who did her job pretty good.

Not perfect, but it seemed okay.

Turns out pretty good wasn't good enough.

Problems started cropping up because she was in charge of inputting data into computers and following specific guidelines.

She had the "Google approach". Google is forgiving, it helps you with spelling errors, makes suggestions, etc.

Our computer systems require perfection.

I discovered 6 mistakes that were made in one day, and I'm not even trained to work in that area, I just know how to check for errors.

So, use technology, but make sure the folks you put in charge know how to use it, and care enough to do it right.

By the way, that is NOT a picture of my dentist!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Losing or Winning Customers?

Friday and Saturday I had two very different customer service experiences.

Friday evening my wife and I took my step-daughter out for her birthday, and she wanted to go to Applebees. I happen to know the Human Resources Director and Marketing Director for Applebees and because of this, I have some inside info on what's supposed to happen when you visit.

Our waitress and the rest of the staff did everything perfectly. This was the first time I've visited Applebees for dinner, I usually stop by for lunch. Now they get my recommendation for dinner too. Despite showing up at 6:15 to a full house, they found a spacious booth for the three of us and we were done by 7pm including desert!

Saturday, I visited Arby's for a diet Mt. Dew and I decided to try one of the Junior Deluxe Sandwiches. I went to an Arby's that I've never been to and it was terrible. I visit an Arby's 4 times a week, mostly for breakfast or lunch and they usually have good, speedy service. Not this time though.

I walked in and there were no other customers inside and just one car at the drive thru. I heard voices but didn't seen any employees for about 45 seconds. When they saw me, they seemed surprised and I asked if they had diet Mt. Dew because I didn't see it on their menu board.

Her answer, with a big sigh, "No".

Then she just stared at me.

I stared back.

Finally I told her my order, a Junior Deluxe and a small diet Pepsi to go. She pushed some buttons on her register and then said, "Fer here or ta go?"

I repeated, "To go please."

"$3.75", were her next words.

I gave her a 5.

She gave me my change and walked away.

It seemed to be talking an awful long time, so I glanced at the screen that counts down how long it takes for an order to be completed and when the timer hit 4:23, she reappeared and set my order on the counter, on a tray.

Since I don't take tray's when my order is to go, I took my food off the tray and walked out.

Oh, three more things,

The manager was laughing about the drive-up customer that changed their order and calling him a dumb-XXit. And the young lady who took my order, answered the phone while I was waiting for my food and was talking to someone on the other end about what they were going to do that night. Maybe that's why she couldn't remember my order was to go.

And the restroom, let's just say it needed a LOT of attention.

My wife and I both commented to each other Friday night about how nice our Applebees experience and I bet we'll be back for dinner on a regular basis. That means more money going to Applebees because of the way they handled themselves. That's how you Win Customers.

When I got in my car with my Arby's sandwich and drink, the first thing I did was post on 4 square, twitter and facebook or terrible the service was at this particular Arbys. This is how you Lose Customers. Not just me, but anyone of the 1500 plus people who are friends or follow me on the social networks.

What lessons can we learn from this?

  1. Have a customer service plan.
  2. Make sure your employees know it, and do it and you'll all benefit.
  3. Bad news spreads even faster with the social media tools customers have and unless you are on top of this, you could lose more customers than you can recruit.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Media Numbers vs Your Numbers

Last week it was announced that Facebook now has 500 million members.

That's a helluva lot of people.

The radio stations I work for have over 142,000 listeners every week according to the last report we received from Arbiton.

That's a helluva lot of people.

Every week there are over 400 visits to one of my blogs.

That's a helluva lot of people.

But these numbers don't really matter.

I have a choice of watching between 50 and 150 different TV Channels in my home.

I have over 500 Linked-In connections.

I have 550 Facebook Friends and 1017 Followers on Twitter.

That's a helluva lot of people.

But these numbers don't really matter.

What does matter?

Your numbers.

If you are running a business, and you need to, or want to grow, do you know how many more customers you can handle before you have to make some changes, like hire staff, extend hours, etc?

Do you know how to grow by 10% without gaining a single new customer? (Upsell).

Do you know what it takes to retain more customers and recruit them as your ambassadors who will tell others about you which in turn creates more business and growth?

Please don't be hoodwinked by the marketing gurus, advertising salespeople, or social media pundits into spending your money based on their numbers.

Invest in your business marketing based on your numbers.

Need help? Contact me. Click here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Self Centered vs Customer Centered

Last week I visited my dentist for a cleaning and check-up. Everything was fine, as usual. Last year I had my first cavity in 20 years, which is pretty good.

As a kid, we had our cleanings every 6 months and at the conclusion of each appointment, they'd schedule my next visit and give me a reminder card to stick on the refrigerator along with a new toothbrush.

But as schedules have become busier, and working moms are the norm, my dentist has stepped up the reminder process.

A week before my appointment I got a post card, which jogged my memory to keep Tuesday afternoon open at 3:30. I don't recall getting a post card in the past. Usually the day before my appointment, I would get a phone call as a reminder, and sure enough, I got a message Monday in my voice mail about my cleaning the next day.

Now my dentist was doing something different. His office asked if I preferred Text Message or E-mail reminders too. They assured me that they were going to continue with the phone calls, because that works best for some folks, but they were expanding to these other reminder services too "as a service to our patients".

I know that it's also a service for themselves, because if someone forgets an appointment, it's money lost forever, since for a doctor, time is money.

So, are you asking the right questions about communication with your customers? Are you offering either enough choices or at least the choices that your customers want?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Three Choices

There is a bit of magic in the power of three. But today I'm going to refer to three that every business owner has to make everyday.

1. Improve.

2. Stay the same.

3. Go out of business.

Let's look at #2 first.

Stay the same. Coast for awhile. A lot of folks decided to do this when times were tough. When the recession hit their business, when the phone stopped ringing off the hook with new customers, when the easy money stopped being so easy... Many decided to hang tight, "I don't want to do anything different right now"

Problem is that by doing nothing, or cutting back, or staying the same, the world continued to change. Every corner of it.

Even yours.

The internet has changed the way we get information, make choices, and how we play. And now you don't need a computer to access the web.

I recall being amazed that even homeless people still had cellphones. And last month when I moved up to a Smartphone, another light bulb lit up above my head.

With the mobile web technology, even the most remote locations now are connected. And that connection means, they are not waiting for you.

I only use the homeless example to help you realize that if they are moving forward, you should be too.

There is only one way to coast.

You can't coast uphill.

You can only go so far by coasting on a flat surface.

The only way to coast is downhill. And once you start going down, you pick up speed until you crash at the bottom.

I don't think that's what most people were planning when they told me they were going to "ride it out". But unfortunately, it happened anyway.

Gravity is a law.

Of course, there are those that decided to choose #3 and close the doors and retire. Good for them if that's what they want.

But what about you?

For most of us the best choice is #1.

It's not the easiest, I can promise you that! But it is your only chance to survive. And if you can survive, you can also thrive.

In a couple of weeks I'll list a number of ways you can improve, survive and thrive.

I like that list of three, "improve, survive and thrive", don't you?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sales Basics: Attitude

The easy ones sometimes aren't.

Unless you are prepared and know what you are doing.

Around the group of radio stations I work with, I am the fix-it person. About four years ago when I moved into management, I took over our Hip-Hop Station and increased sales to hit our budget within 4 months.

Then I took over the sales management of a different station with the same result... 4 months later, it was on budget.

April of this year, we launched a new station and by June, it was on budget. Now I've been assigned a different station and by September or October it will be exceeding its budget too.

The station I'm focused on improving now just launched a morning talk show 3 weeks ago. A well known afternoon talk show host from another station in town became available and after doing research, we brought him on board.

He had a list of about 40 local businesses that he used to do testimonial commercials for and they were our first target for increasing revenues. Yesterday I met with another one on the list and it was fun. Not easy, but fun.

For the past eight years, this local business owner would never agree to meet. The door opener was the talk show host we hired.

When I was ushered into his office, he introduced me to his marketing team, one of whom I've known for about 3 years. It was clear that the final decision was going to be the owners, but he wanted input from his team.

I brought with me, a few papers, one with the price for advertising, and a blank contract along with a credit application. I've renamed it a terms agreement because it sounds friendlier.

The conversation was back and forth, like a real conversation. I involved everyone in the room, and they basically sold themselves on what I was offering them.

But I've seen others who were put in similar situations, who would have blown it. They talk too much about themselves, or why they are better than others. They give unnecessary price discounts, they appear nervous, pushy, and they project zero confidence.

I did the opposite. I even gave them an idea on how to get better results with the radio station they were still on.

Sales shouldn't be a battle, or a game of trickery. Successful sales people know that their mission is to help solve their customers problems. And when you do it with the right attitude it can pay pretty well too.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Stop Selling and Life will be Better

It's easy to sell stuff to people who want to buy it.

But it's nearly impossible to sell stuff to people who don't want to buy it.

I've been considering upgrading my phone to a smart phone for awhile. But the price had to be right.

This month my step-daughter told me her fiance was buying her an iPhone for her birthday and he was adding her to his cellphone plan. Her birthday is at the end of July, but the new iPhone was coming out this week.

So Tuesday I visited my usual cellphone store, an authorized Verizon retailer, to check out my options for a new phone for me and what the cost savings where going to be with one less phone on our plan.

It wasn't a good experience. The store was understaffed, and the guy had to call Verizon customer service to get answers. The answers were vague and I decided it was time for me to shop around.

7am Wednesday my phone rings and it's my step-daughter asking for account info because she is in the process of transferring her number to AT &T at that moment. By 8am, the deal was done and I was now in the market for my own smartphone.

Later in the day, I went to an official Verizon Wireless store and found out how to save money, get a Droid and start learning how to use the apps.

The guy that I talked to Tuesday night was incompetent in my eyes. He could have sold me a $200 phone this week, but due to his inability to help me buy, he lost the sale.

The folks that I bought the phone from really didn't have to sell me, they just had to help me buy.

How much better could your life become if you helped buyers buy instead of always trying to sell?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Saving your Way to Big Bucks?

One of my radio stations picked up a talk show host that has been on the top talk station for over a dozen years. We have been calling on the clients he did testimonial spots for and offering them a chance to stay with him, but on our station.

That's why I was meeting with a potential advertising client yesterday. It's a family run insurance business and they've been doing little piddly stuff for years along with some consistent advertising in other areas.

I noticed that they sponsored a Little League Baseball team. I learned they actually sponsored two teams. Cost them about $1000 a year. Could be good P.R. if they followed through and contacted each and every family that was involved with the teams and offered to do an insurance review for them. It could easily recover the costs and be a good investment instead of just good P.R.

In my meeting, they expressed caution. They have been losing some of their business clients because they have gone under in this economy.

Well, guess what. Nearly EVERYONE has had that happen to them. But the way to combat that is to invite more people to do business with you, not hide until the "bad times blow over".

You can not save your way to earning big bucks. Instead of cutting your advertising and marketing efforts, dig deeper.

Follow up, Follow through.

Stop wasting the leads you have and soon you'll discover the real path to big bucks is to pursue it with an honest passion to help your potential customers.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Which Form of Advertising should I Use?

As a business owner, this is one of the most critical decision you need to make.

The number of options continue to grow, but not all options are created equal.

Let's come up with a measuring stick to determine what you should do.

The first question is, "How Long will I be in business?"

Some businesses are seasonal, like a Christmas Tree lot, or a Snow Cone stand.

For them, it would not make sense to advertise when they are closed.

But most businesses are open year round, and so if you are open 12 months a year, you need to advertise 12 months a year.

Your advertising needs to have both reach and frequency to the right people with the right message.

Let's use radio as an example, but you can apply this to billboards, television, paper, the web, anything really.

Reach refers to the number of different people who will see/hear your message. A radio station might have 50,000 listeners per week, but all of them will not hear your commercial.

Perhaps the average number of listeners at any one time is 1000. Only a percentage of those listeners will be in the market to spend month with you if they hear your commercial one time.

This is where Frequency factors in. Because our brains filter out most of the information we see and hear, I have a better chance of winning the lottery than you do of getting a new customer with just one commercial. And I have never even bought a lottery ticket!

Frequency is repetition. Think about the toddler that asks for a cookie, repeatedly until Mom or Dad give the kid a cookie just to stop the noise! If the kid asked just once, he would be ignored.

But repetition doesn't have to be annoying. That's where the right message comes into play.

So, what form of advertising should I use? One that you can afford to stick with with enough frequency to consistently reach and invite people to do business with you. Perhaps it's not the biggest radio station, maybe a more targeted station with a lower cost per commercial will allow you the right combination of reach and frequency for your budget will work better.

One last thought on this subject, take a look at the motivation of the person who is sitting across the table from you, trying to sell you advertising. Do they care more about their success or yours?

Ideally, they should care about both.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Advertising: The Missing Piece

You can be the best plumber in your town and be broke.

You can be the best baker in your town and be broke.

You can be the best ___________ in your town and be broke.


you do not invite people to spend money with you.

That's the single purpose behind advertising.

You have something of value that you will sell and you need to let your potential customers know about it, so they can give you money in exchange for the goods or service.

Yet, this piece of your business success is often missing, or not planned out.

The options are numerous for where to spend your advertising money. Next week, I'll give you the criteria most businesses should use to determine which will provide the most success and profit.