June 24, 2013

A critical question

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:28 am

One of our clients called me recently with a quandary. He was in search of the answer to what, seemingly, is a simple question. After he had given a business card to a prospective client, the prospect put him right on the spot, asking, “Why should we give you our business?”

“What should I say?” he asked of me. My first instinct was to say to my client, “You want ME to tell you?” Because, the fact is, I would have trouble coming up with a brief answer to that one, too. The operative word, here, is brief.

What was called for here was an iteration of what often is called an “elevator speech.” It is a genre that, by definition, should be short enough that the person hasn’t turned on their heels and exited the scene before you have had a chance to finish reciting it. Therefore, by their very nature, such statements are a frustratingly incomplete, yet necessary, evil.

Except, in this case, the questioner, having listened to his elevator pitch, had turned the tables and challenged this pitchman right then and there. Sure, these short pitches tend to require some kind of follow-up and elaboration, but, in the meantime, they have offered a somewhat unique frame of reference with which, hopefully, the prospect can associate you.

But, what are you to do, in an instant, by way of coming up with a persuasive and effective answer when such a direct and legitimate question is shot back at you? Think about your own approach to such a critical “post-elevator-speech” response. I’ll follow on this very subject next time.


June 17, 2013

A recipe for marketing

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 10:04 am

Let’s see .  .  . we’re cooking our marketing stew with a thick base of the conventional advertising media, e.g. electronic, print, outdoor and direct mail, that are pumping-out ads at a record pace.

Then we toss in bottomless residue from the boundless gristmill of public relations mechanisms that are generating an endless stream of press releases and invitations to grand openings and new product releases .  .  . then we add a pinch (can you say torrent?) of those ubiquitous e-mail promotions, and bring to a boil.

Now, we fold-in a social media tsunami of blended Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Plaxo, etc. and – voila! – our recipe is ready to (burp!) serve.

Footnote: It’s a recipe for sensory overload, the likes of which, not only have we never seen, we have never even imagined. There are so many message transmissions out there that only the most expertly crafted, appropriately delivered will find their mark.

What does this mean for marketers?

It means a whole series of things, but topping the list is the seemingly incompatible duo of opportunity and obstacle.

Basketball fans have long remembered and revered the “Big O,” Oscar Robinson. And marketing aficionados understand and, yes, revere the big O of opportunity, but where, exactly, does obstacle fit into this scene? It fits where you would expect – right in your path to communication of your marketing message.

Let’s talk opportunity

This all presents an opportunity to craft the expert’s staple – sharply focused marketing messages that go beyond the innocuous stuff that dominates the lion’s share of communications to which we are subjected (with which we are assaulted). This is easier said than done, but a pursuit, not only worth tackling, but absolutely imperative if we want anyone to follow our lead.

A good, though oversimplified, rule of thumb would be to look at what’s out there, and head in the absolutely opposite direction. Clue: meaningful content is the best vehicle for the drive.

Let’s talk obstacles

These are powerful and plentiful, and will never, ever go away. They are characterized by the multifarious “marketing” messages which are hardly worthy of that term, and that inundate the media, the flames of which are now fanned by social media.

Antidote: Write it clear. Write it true. Write it on the “right walls.”


June 10, 2013

The heat is on

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:51 am


Here we are in June, already. To understand the full impact of this, one really has to live in someplace like Phoenix, where the thermometer and a sizzling-hot steering wheel, when one hasn’t been fortunate enough to have procured covered parking, are a constant reminder it is “deep summer.”

This year, there are other, perhaps more profound impacts to consider, as well. In the order of their relative consequence, I would rank them this way:  1.) the economy 2.) the 2014 national election and 3.) The Attitude.

We can do about as much to affect the first two as Will Rogers said we could do about the weather .  .  . nothing (air conditioning and revitalizing trips to the ocean or mountains notwithstanding).

Attitude stirs the drink

But, oh that third one: attitude. Simply put, attitude is the difference maker, the game-breaker, the turning point, the difference. It separates the “woe is me” folks from the get-up-and-goers

A “challenging” economy can spell doom – and for many it does. Or it can be a much needed wakeup call for those among us who have become a little complacent with some degree of success. On the upside, tougher times can be enough to convert us from strollers to hustlers (the legal variety, that is).

Back in 1973, when asked about the success of his New York Yankees, Yankee manager Ralph Houk pointed to slugger Reggie Jackson, dubbed “Mr. October” for his World Series prowess, and said,” He’s the straw that stirs the drink.” The same can be said for attitude. Attitude can be the oft-referred-to “plus factor.”

All things being equal

Those who succeed in hard times are those who have a determination to “lap” their competitors who have a tendency to mope while focusing on things like gas prices, tough-to-close sales and the empty half of the glass. In some perverse way paucity of effort may to some seem a more comfortable port when encountering a perfect storm.

In the meantime, the reenergized-by-necessity overachievers will look for creative ways to continue to get their share of what has become a smaller pie. Ways this can be accomplished include picking up the phone to call on that juicy prospect; getting in touch with that inactive client by way of a new idea or, even, entertaining new initiatives of various descriptions (like a new product or service they can offer).

One of my all-time-favorite cartoons appeared in The New Yorker back in the day. In it, these two emaciated guys are shown spread-eagled by shackles on their arms and legs, and are suspended far above the floor of a dungeon. With a gleam in his eye, one looks toward the other, and says, I’ve got a an id

How about you?

Do you have an idea? As the pilot announced when we arrived at the gate in Chicago, “If Chicago is your final destination this morning, now would be an excellent time to deplane.” Likewise, if your destination is success, now, in a “soft” economy, would be an excellent time to do something dynamic about it.

I don’t know how it is where you live, but summertime in the desert tends to turn us into burrowing animals, the kind that retreat into the air cooled comfort of our nest. Or, we might even venture out to the pool or the neighborhood watering hole. But, the idea of traveling across town to that prospect’s office, to that trade show or to that networking event just doesn’t quite as inviting.

Think about the new opportunities you have. Be twice as energetic and inventive as the crowd. Who knows, maybe swimming upstream beats drifting and dreaming. Now, just think of a good idea, pick up the phone and dial for dollars.


June 3, 2013

Looking toward future marketing

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:24 am

As we look toward a future beyond the recession, marketers are fixing their sights on the customers who will be at the core of the economic recovery. In the past it was the Baby Boomers, with their optimistic attitudes, sheer numbers and buying power, who helped pull America out of recessions. But not this time. Those born between 1946 and 1964 have been hit hard and they’ve seen their savings and retirement accounts decimated. So close to retirement age, their focus on practicality will likely continue well into the economic recovery years. And Baby Boomer interests will turn more toward home, finance, healthcare, personal care and lifestyle issues, according to a new report from Price  Waterhouse Coopers and Retail Forward.

This time the economic recovery will be driven by the affluent segments of Gen X and the young Gen Y, plus another source that many marketers have failed to consider–the growing Hispanic market.

Gen X and Gen Y: The Newest Gadgets and Technology RuleIt’s the Gen X and Gen Y demos that have disposable income, says Price Waterhouse Cooper, and they spend differently and have different ways of seeking bargains than Boomers. Though there is discrepancy among sources, Gen Xers are generally described as individuals born between 1965 and 1976, up to the late 70s, and Gen Y (also known as Millennial) consumers were born from the late 70s or 1980 to the early-mid 90s.

The reports suggests “up-market affluents,” a segment of the Gen X market, will have a meaningful positive impact on the recovery due to their stage in life and above-average spending potential. About 60 percent of Gen Xers have attended college, though they may work to live rather than live to work as many Boomers do.

For the young Gen Y consumers between 18 and 27 who were surveyed, just 25 percent say the economy has significantly changed their spending behavior. This is likely due to their higher proportion of discretionary income as a result of fewer debts and a less urgent need to save. Marketers must take into consideration their preference for texting and online communication rather than phone or face-to-face communication and other forms of interaction, which remain more popular with Boomers and Gen Xers.

Gen Y consumers are accustomed to instant gratification and keeping up with the latest gadgets and spending on technology staples will remain a priority.

Latinos: A Growing Demographic That Values Family and Home
More than 15 million Hispanics in the US command $1 trillion in buying power, according to a new Hispanic marketing trends survey commissioned by Orci. Latinos make up more than 15 percent of the population and are predicted to number 50 million after the 2010 census. That’s an increase of 42 percent since 2000. Hispanics are the heaviest users of wireless access to mobile phones and laptops and 80 percent of Latinos socialize online.

Campaigns targeting Latinos will benefit entrepreneurs marketing everything from diapers to fashion and beauty. According to a recent study from The Nielsen Company, Hispanic shoppers, on average, spend more on products for babies and children and more on food consumed at home when compared to the general population.

Marketers targeting Hispanic demos should take into account specific cultural differences and ethnic preferences. For example, according to the Pew Hispanic Center’s National Survey of Latinos, more than half of Latinos ages 16 to 25 identify themselves first by their family’s country of origin, and an additional 20 percent generally use the terms “Hispanic” or “Latino” first when describing themselves. They are satisfied with their lives, optimistic about their futures and place a high value on education, hard work and career success. A valuable market indeed.

– With thanks to Kim T. Gordon