Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Last Minute Sales Pitch

I recently worked with a business that needed help with a media purchase.  They were dealing with a phonebook vendor and found themselves unsure how to handle another frantic sales pitch, as representatives were always making sales calls and pushing different products.  As is often the case, this particular deadline was “urgent”.

In a given year, this small business would spend thousands of dollars when faced with the pressure of missing the opportunity to advertise, without gaining a return on that investment.

The following suggestions can help when you are dealing with an aggressive sales representative:

1)      Develop a plan. Establish a budget and priorities so you aren’t pressured into something that doesn’t make sense for your business.

2)      Ask if “urgent” deadlines are flexible.  In my experience, the deadlines that are provided are rarely hard. If the turnaround sounds unreasonable, ask if it is firm.

3)      Trust your gut.  You know what’s best for your business.  Listen to what sales representatives have to say, but if you are uncertain, consider passing or delaying your decision.

4)      Measure results.  Ask your clients how they found out about you.  This will help you adjust your advertising plan and save dollars that can be allocated elsewhere.

In the case of my client, we established actual publication deadlines and made cuts to get spending within budget.  The sales representative was probably disappointed, but my client was satisfied, having made a smart and affordable decision that met his company’s needs.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Another Face in the Crowd

Whether seeking employment or marketing your business, establishing how and why you are better is key.  Differentiating yourself and incorporating that into your brand justifies why you are the best for the job and helps people remember you.

For months, a local gold buying company has saturated commercial breaks with tons of television ads.  They were looking to differentiate themselves.  And they did.  Each time I mention this frequent advertiser in conversation, locals know immediately who I’m talking about.

The problem?  When I mention this advertiser, people groan.  The company has differentiated themselves as the “in your face advertiser” who is always, well… in your face.

However, despite annoying people, this advertiser’s strong presence made them stand out and positioned them as the apparent industry leader.

But the plot thickened…

After the gold buying ads ran for months, a competitor had a genius response.  One night, during the news, the new company’s ad appeared.  And they had brilliantly differentiated themselves with one line: 

“There are many gold buyers, but only one Gold Master!”

In one sentence, Gold Master was different.  They stood out as the better alternative.

Differentiating yourself and your company doesn’t require a lot of money, nor anything over the top.  It mostly requires a thinking cap and a little creativity.  A well-differentiated brand resonates with consumers and reflects who you are.  And next time your product or service is needed, consumers will think of you first, because you’re more than just a face in the crowd.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Perfect Product

Since starting this blog, I’ve been looking for outstanding examples of local organizations doing a great job.  After all, these organizations have mastered something the rest of us can hopefully learn from and apply in our own line of work.

My plan sounded great to me, but what I was looking for was especially hard to find… until last week when I had the opportunity to visit the type of organization I had been seeking.  I hadn’t been in a while, but as always, was incredibly impressed.

In my “What is Marketing?” blog entry, I discussed “the 4 Ps” of marketing: Product, Price, Promotion, and Placement (distribution).  The organization that stands out to me has the first P, Product, down pat. 

The Texas State Aquarium offers an experience unlike any in the area.  They entertain, excite, and educate children and adults.  But, in addition to providing a consistently great product, the Aquarium strives to always improve its offering by rolling out new exhibits and programs including Amazon, Dolphin Bay, Tortuga Cay, Otter Creek, and Stingray Lagoon, which is expected to open later this year.

The Aquarium’s effort and ability to make their product better gives locals and tourists an ever evolving and improving experience.  More importantly, there’s always a reason for visitors to return.

There are many ways to improve the products we offer our customers.  And I, for one, am inspired by the Texas State Aquarium and its ability to get me thinking about what’s next.