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.