Julie Guest Direct Response Copywriter, Marketing Strategist, Best Selling Author

A Great Marketing Lesson from Chanel

chanel_experience.jpg

Last week, I was close to running out of foundation and knew there was no way I’d be able to get to Nordstrom’s before it was gone.  As an avid online shopper, I have no idea why I insist on going to a department store to buy my makeup, but it’s just something I’ve always done. I Googled the exact color and name of my foundation (which is made by Chanel) to see which online stores might be offering the best deals. After a 30-second turbo search I gave up trying to read through all the fine print and just placed an order on Chanel’s main website. At checkout, a surprise gift was offered — what a nice touch! “Which of our samples would you like to try?”  I placed the order and then promptly forgot all about my purchase. That is, until two days later when a chic-looking white box appeared at my doorstep bearing the iconic Chanel logo. They had upgraded my ground shipping at no extra charge. Things just got better from there. Inside the white box was another box — the kind that might contain a $1500 pair of sunglasses or a  $10,000 watch. For an instant I thought someone had sent me a gift — surely Chanel wouldn’t go to this much trouble for a $60 foundation? Oh yes, they would. Inside the box, my foundation was beautifully gift-wrapped. A black silk-like drawstring purse held my three complimentary samples (they certainly weren’t tossed into the box as an afterthought). And my receipt was neatly and tastefully tucked inside a black cardstock envelope, carefully placed underneath the gift box. Chanel had indeed succeeded at creating an extraordinary experience for me, the client. Even for something as insignificant as a purchase of foundation. And that’s what makes them Chanel — one of the most premier and highly sought-after luxury brands in the world. Do you consider your business a “luxury” experience? If you want to command higher prices and attract the most affluent patients in your business, then creating an extraordinary experience for your clients is critical. While I see many business owners who have worked hard to deliver their clients a wonderful experience (eg the Porsche dealership who picks up your car for service and drops it back afterwards) nowadays you have to go the extra mile. It's expected. Just what constitutes the extra mile? Every year the bar gets raised higher as consumers demand more (if you want a great resource on this read the Middle Class Millionaire - it is excellent.) For example we used to be impressed with cars that had GPS's in them. Now that's all but standard. How about the grocery store who offers to have your groceries carried out, or even delivered, (eyes roll). So yesterday.

The point is this. If like Chanel, you can deliver an extraordinary experience at all price points in your business (and not just the premium ones), your clients will never go anywhere else. It';s time to get thinking about what would make an extraordinary experience in your business!  

 

A Clinical Marketing Lesson From a Smoking Doctor and Maya Angelou

Smoking Doctors
Smoking Doctors

Take a look at this great old vintage ad I found on the internet. My how times have changed — and advertising along with it!

But some things haven’t changed in advertising, namely, the same basic human desires need to be fulfilled today just as much as they did 50 or even 150 years ago: better health, improved appearance, praise from others, social advancement…

The great late writer Maya Angelou, who passed away this week, had this great quote to say which applies to your business marketing as much as it does to our lives:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Really effective marketing evokes feeling. It’s not just about getting your name out there, but getting your prospective clients or customers to feel something that then propels them to take action — a desire to look better for their daughter’s wedding, a desire NOT to look like their mother did when she was their age.

Would this cigarette ad have evoked feeling back in the 50s when it ran? Absolutely. Actually it was one of Camel’s most successful ad campaigns. It’s a statement about class, about sophistication. It speaks to that innermost desire we all have to win other people’s approval. It evokes feeling.

The worst way to market your business is to use marketing that doesn’t evoke feeling, that’s simply fact-based. People don’t buy based on facts. We buy based on feelings and then justify with facts (if you don’t believe me then just look at all the luxury cars on the road — cars get us from A to B — if we all bought based on facts we’d likely all be driving inexpensive Hondas). People won’t choose your business necessarily because your qualifications are superior to your colleagues. They’ll certainly use your qualifications as a justification once they’ve made a decision, but they’re far more likely to decide based on the softer stuff — how you come across on your website and whether you seem like a nice person who genuinely cares.

The worst kind of marketing you can use in your business is the kind that makes a person feel nothing. It’s boring. It’s dry. It’s…well, easy to ignore.

On your drive home tonight and over the weekend, start paying attention to the ads you see, and think about what kind of emotion they evoke. But most especially, pay attention to the things that you buy and ask yourself, “What really made me buy it?” You might be surprised at the answer.

How a Painted Moose Can Help Your Marketing (Seriously)

Last week I was consulting with a client in Salt Lake City. I love the mountains, and I especially love mountain towns (I spent a lot of time in Squaw Valley, CA, as a student). I’ve never been to Park City, so after the consult day with my client was wrapped up, I grabbed my rental car and took a sunset drive through the winding canyon toward Kimball Junction and Park City. The area of Park City is deceptively big – big enough to have a Wal-Mart, all the major fast food stores and its own shopping mall. But it’s old town Park City that has all the charm (and hosts the Sundance Film Festival every year). Right before I got to Main Street I saw on my right hand side something that absolutely demanded my attention. It refused to be ignored.

Here’s what it was: a statue of a moose. OK, nothing remarkable about that, especially in these parts.

But here’s what made it stand out – it was painted GOLD and had an assortment of hand-painted dogs on it – some wearing bandanas, some not. Right next to a red fire hydrant. Outside a busy store.

Huh? As a dog lover, an art lover and a marketing nut I had to pull over to take a closer look. The store the moose belonged to had won. In an extremely colorful, frenetically busy mountain town with eye candy everywhere, this moose stuck out like a sore thumb. And now, almost a week later I’m writing about it to you in this blog post.

How a Painted Mooose can Help Your Marketing
How a Painted Mooose can Help Your Marketing

Your marketing has to be just like this moose. Different. Eye-catching. Innovative. It’s about taking something familiar and breathing new life into it.

Let’s say you’re a physician who specializes in aesthetic medicine and you’re doing a promotion for non-invasive body contouring, like Venus Freeze or Cool Sculpting. You don’t have to look very far in your own market to see that your competition is running practically the exact same ads as you are. The ones, most likely that the company who invented the technology provided you with. Sure, those stock ads are better than nothing, but the problem is that people have seen them all before. It’s just a plain looking moose sculpture, and it makes you blend perfectly into your surroundings.

Your marketing has to stand out. Don’t look to your competition to copy their ads. Look outside your profession at completely different industries for examples of great marketing. Great marketing is...great marketing, no matter where you see it. What stopped you in your tracks? Who have you bought from recently? How can you use these ideas to market your business?

How Not to Send an Email to Prospective Clients

The story that I’m about to share with you is highly embarrassing because it’s the worst example I’ve ever seen for how NOT to send an email and it comes from my home country, New Zealand. The story has made the rounds through many world media outlets including Yahoo, AP, Reuters, BBC, and many blogs (including this one) who continue to retell this story even though it happened a few years back. Here’s what happened: A New Zealand attorney named Paula Brosnahan, age 33, and her fiance Steve Hausman, 36 were looking at wedding venues. After visiting many different options they finally decided on having a cliff top wedding in the small town of Whangaparaoa (it is a breathtaking spot just north of Auckland.) In doing their research, the couple requested a quote to rent a marquee from a company called The Great Marquee Company. They had viewed the company’s website, seen the photos and had made an appointment to inspect the marquee in Auckland where they lived.

After inspecting the marquee, they decided it wasn’t what they were looking for. So they emailed a polite response to the company saying they would continue their search for the right marquee.

Here’s what it said: "Paula and I went and viewed your marquee setup at Devonport ... unfortunately we did not like it ... thanks for your assistance and we are sorry that it turned out this way."

The response that came back from the company’s office manager Katrina Jorgensen was shocking "Your wedding sounded cheap, nasty and tacky anyway, so we only ever considered you time wasters. Our marquees are for upper class clients which unfortunately you are not. Why don't you stay within your class levels and buy something from Payless Plastics instead."

Ouch.

That single email response from the office manager had no doubt been sent when she was having a bad day. It has now been circulated throughout the world and read by hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions. The next day the owner fired the office manager (who happened to be his wife) and virtually overnight his company was out put of business.

What’s the lesson? Thanks to technology, any and every communication you have with a client or prospective client can quickly go viral. It's not just email. Calls can be recorded, letters can be scanned.

What was supposed to be a "private" email has now been spread worldwide, and has destroyed a business, all because an employee got a little snappy with a customer and put it in an email.

Just imagine if this was your employee and your business.

If you say "My office staff would never do that." Reread the above example, and remember...the office manager was THE OWNERS WIFE!

Take Action: If you don't have office rules of engagement for writing communications to clients, do it now. ANY employee you have has the immediate power to create a problem just like the above one. I advise my clients to keep a folder of sample communications for office staff to follow.

Also, realize that email is solid documentation, if you aren't willing to have it broadcast to the world, don't put it in an email. That [forward] button is too close to the send button to risk putting anything out there that could compromise your business.

Even though there is no standard set for email and it is still considered "informal," make sure you and your staff communicate in a professional manner at all times through email, or otherwise, because you never know who is going to see, read, or hear your message.

The Big Mac Belly Flop: Has McDonald's Committed The Cardinal Marketing Sin?

Usually, when I write about McDonald's, it's to uphold them as a shiny example of how a business should be run – systems based, very little is left to chance and everything is scheduled and automated as much as possible (especially the marketing.) But not this time.

Trying to shed its “Super Size” me image of a decade ago, McDonald's shrunk its elephant sized portions and rolled out oatmeal, smoothies, salads and added an apple to all its Happy Meals.

From March to July of this this year McDonald's also added Premium McWraps, Egg White Delight McMuffins, Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothies and new Quarter Pounders to its menu. The result? According to an independent survey McDonald's clocked its slowest average drive through time in its 15 year history at 189.49 seconds.

My take on it?

McDonald's have committed the cardinal marketing mistake of trying to be all things to all people. Seriously, who says “Wow! I feel like a nice healthy salad – let’s go eat at McDonald's." No one! They say, “I’m hungry, I’m hung over, I’m tired - I want a triple quarter pounder with cheese and an extra large fries double quick.”

McDonald's target market is and always has been people who want fast food: with the emphasis on fast.

McDonald's is still king of the restaurant business but its growth has lacked luster and its stock has under-performed in the last year. Unlike their competition, they haven’t had a blockbuster new product since 2003 (McGriddles) and they’ve strayed so far from their core menu that it's barely recognizable and it's slowing operations – from snack wraps for the millennials to raisin oatmeal for health conscious moms.

Here’s some free marketing advice for you McDonald's: you are never ever going to be perceived as healthy. Anyone who is truly health conscious holds their breath even when they drive past. Get back to your core market of die hard fast foodies and find better, faster ways to serve their needs (maybe with a little less fat but don’t tell them that). You serve 69 million people each year – forget trying to add new customers and just focus on getting the ones you already have to come back more often. That will equate to some serious double or triple digit growth.

You’re welcome!

Marketing to Create Raving Fans Out of Your Customers

Here’s an insightful poem about advertising called Why Is It? (author unknown): A man wakes up after sleeping under an advertised blanket, on an advertised mattress, pulls off advertised pajamas, bathes in an advertised shower, shaves with an advertised razor, brushes his teeth with advertised toothpaste, washes with advertised soap, puts on advertised clothes, drinks a cup of advertised coffee, drives to work in an advertised car, and then, refuses to advertise, believing it doesn’t pay. Later when business is poor, he advertises it for sale. Why is it?

The need to advertise your business is clearly a no-brainer. But what kind of advertising, and how on earth do you break through the noise and clutter of everyone else and actually get noticed by the people who matter the most?

While a great multi-media, multi-step ad campaign will do it for you, or a cleverly written viral video – or any other form of meticulously crafted advertising – one of the most powerful ways to achieve this can be summarized in 5 simple words:

Create an extraordinary customer experience.

The good news is that this isn’t nearly as difficult as it sounds – mainly because the bar is set so low by your competitors. People have been let down so many times, they’ve come to expect it.  So when one enlightened business goes out of their way to really get the customer experience right – word travels like wildfire.

Here are a couple of great examples of businesses who have hit it out of the park:

CEO, Chris Hurn and his young family were holidaying at the Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island in Florida.  His son’s beloved stuffed giraffe “Joshie” accidentally didn’t make it into their suitcase for the trip home and got left behind. The young boy was completely distraught and Hurn, attempting to reassure him, told him that Joshie was just taking an “extra long vacation.”

When the Ritz-Carlton called him later to let them know that they’d found Joshie, Hurn asked if they could possibly take a photo of the stuffed giraffe on a lounge chair by the pool to substantiate the story.

The hotel complied – and then some.

Joshie-the-Giraffe
Joshie-the-Giraffe

Not only did they return Joshie along with the photo requested, they sent along a photo album complete with photos of Joshie getting a massage at the spa, taking a ride in the golf cart and making friends with other fellow stuffed animals at the resort. They even made him an honorary staff member and issued Joshie his own Ritz-Carlton staff ID badge!

Next, one of my private clients owns a small wealth management firm in Chicago. In reviewing some of their client demographics we noticed that a significant number of their clients were widows in their 60s and 70s. Each of these ladies now receive a large bunch of flowers every valentine’s day from the firm and a small but thoughtful birthday gift. You would think that some of them had just won the lottery! Such a simple gesture can mean so much.

The bottom line is that any business can make someone’s day better by doing something extraordinary. Extraordinary doesn’t have to mean big (although it can if you’re a go-getter and you’re ready to have your entire customer experience re-choreographed from start to finish.) Small acts of unexpected kindness can amount to the extraordinary.

It's all about making your patients, customers and clients feel important.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

The Disaster Beauty Spa Experience – 3 Things To NEVER Do In Your Business

bad fashion disaster retro cartoon bubble nightmare black and white
bad fashion disaster retro cartoon bubble nightmare black and white

One chilly October evening, I headed out of town for a bit of pampering (or so I thought). A client had generously sent me a gift certificate to the spa of my choice and after doing a bit of online homework, I settled on a “top medical spa” that was a 30 mile drive from my house and boasted anti-aging treatments with a “celebrity following.” I was skeptical, but the before and after pictures on their website were the best on the web (note the power of proof) and with all the late nights I’ve been working, I could do with a miracle fix for my skin. The problems with this place started even before I hopped in my car. There were a couple of not too favorable reviews which I had not paid that much attention to (I was hooked by their photos) and when I called to book my appointment I was advised by the curt receptionist that all appointments require a mandatory initial consult of $200.

Huh? Nothing on their website mentioned anything about having to first book a consult before a treatment. “The fee is halved if you book your treatment immediately after - the owner is the best skin guru in the state” she reassured me.

Ok, fair enough, but then make sure your website carries a consistent message. Not feeling warm and fuzzy about this place so far, I still went ahead and booked the appointment.

When I arrived, the spa was in a surprising location – not quite the high end location they made out to be on their website. The spa itself felt cramped and over cluttered to me. Another red flag.

I was ushered into a shoebox sized room surrounded by glaring lights and mirrors (make no mistake you could see every mark, line and blemish on my skin.)

In less than 10 seconds (a record for me), one of the hardest and most manipulative upsells I’ve ever witnessed began.

It went something like this:

“Gosh, you have some lines in your forehead, you should really be getting Botox there.”

Huh? I’d never noticed them before but I sure did now.

She then proceeded to put my skin under an even harsher lamp and a magnifier pointing out, inch my inch, everywhere I had issues. The list was so long that by the time the ordeal was over I felt like the only proper thing to do was wear a paper bag over my head anytime I’m in public.

Then, she came in for the kill.

They could custom tailor a specific program to address my clearing lacking skin for a series of weekly treatments that would cost me a mere $10,000.

I excused myself and couldn’t get out of the place fast enough. I don’t care if they are miracle workers, the way they conduct their business is entirely unethical in my view.

As an advertising copywriter, I am well aware of the power that lies in marketing and how the right words can compel someone to take action, or not. Understanding these psychological triggers and what compels people to buy is how I make my living. It’s also the reason why I refuse to accept a private client whose products and services I don’t 100% believe in and know people would be much better off by having. I have said no to casinos, tobacco companies and financial advisors who didn’t dare invest their own money in the funds they bought for their clients.

I choose to use my marketing powers for good.

This company chose to use its powers for bad: by employing sales techniques that were blatantly manipulative and highly pressured.

While outwardly this company seems to be successful, it’s only a matter of time before this will catch up with them, regardless of how good the before and after photos on their website are.

Here is the key point from this experience to apply to any business or practice:

Be consistent: Build a Relationship First My entire experience with this medical spa was reminiscent of the early 2000’s -when hard sales pitches were still tolerated. I guess no one had told them that the rules of marketing have changed. It’s about building a relationship FIRST, which this business was colossally terrible at. Now, granted not many businesses really understand how to do this properly, but if you know nothing, the one thing there is no excuse for is to not care. In this economy, the company who can build the strongest relationship with their clients or patients, is the business that wins. They have the most loyal following, the fullest practices, and can charge the highest prices and enjoy the best reputation among their peers.

In your business or practice, don’t ever lose sight of the fact that the real equity in your business is your relationship with the people you serve – which is most effectively built through the marketing you use, and the experience you deliver.

The Best Lesson In Transforming A PR Disaster Into An Absolute Triumph You’ll Ever Read

Maybe you’re already well versed with who Elon Musk is – a South African born entrepreneur, father of five and one of the world’s youngest and most influential billionaires. His passion lies in technology – specifically taking well-established structures and throwing them on their head by achieving what others can barely even conceive of. He was the brains and co-founder behind PayPal, he’s the visionary behind Space X (a space exploration company revolutionizing rockets and outer space travel), and he also happens to be the CEO and CTO of Tesla Motors – who designs, manufactures and sells electric cars. Just about a week ago disaster struck at Tesla as one of their cars, while traveling down the highway struck a metal object and caught on fire – with the driver still inside. Below is a copy of the letter Elon wrote explaining the incident, as well as copies of the letter Tesla sent to the driver after the incident, and the driver’s response. They are the best example of turning a PR nightmare into a major triumph that you’re likely to ever come across. I have highlighted the parts of the letters in bold that are particularly insightful.

Tesla also released their correspondence with the Tesla owner who had the accident (released with the owner’s permission):

The market seems to like Tesla’s explanations with Tesla shares up an average of 4.4%!

Is Detroit In The Toilet Or The Biggest Opportunity Of The Decade?

The first time I ventured into the “bowels of Detroit” as some people call it was just a couple of years ago. I had been summoned to appear in the Supreme Court (no, not in that way – but to get sworn in as a US citizen alongside the melting pot of new immigrants who mostly didn’t speak English.) When I drove my car in downtown Detroit it felt like I had left America altogether and was instead in some burnt out husk of an impoverished African nation.

A homeless couple barreled up to my car at the lights, knocking on the window and demanding money.

Vacant buildings outnumbered occupied ones, broken windows and “no trespassing” signs peppered the landscape and there was trash everywhere.

There was no doubt this was a city of “pure grit” as I had once heard it called – it had birthed the hugely talented and controversial rapper Eminem, Cadillac cars, Kellogg’s cornflakes and Carhartt pants to name a few. Clearly the burnt out husk of a city I was experiencing was a far cry from the glory days of the past.”

To make matters worse that same day, Michigan headlined in all the national papers. People were fleeing Detroit and Michigan in a biblical sized mass exodus.

Eek. Not exactly what I wanted to hear as a business owner who had just relocated my marketing agency here from Los Angeles.

But here’s where my experience of Michigan and Detroit varies widely from all the media. I have lived in several countries around the world, traveled extensively in the USA and called 4 different states home.

I can honestly say I have never been to any place where there has been such a massive pool of exceptional entrepreneurial talent.

No its not what you hear in the media, but its certainly been my experience.

These are the people who ignore the headlines, pay no attention to the news and quietly go about their work building highly successful multi-million and multi-billion dollar businesses (some of whom I am privileged to call my clients). Companies like Moosejaw and Domino's Pizza, La-Z-Boy and Herman Miller, Two Men and a Truck Moving Company and Quicken Loans, Jiffy, Whirlpool, and Gerber Baby Food, to name just a few.

Now the City of Detroit is reeling from having filed the biggest municipal bankruptcy in history.

“Have you been busy packing?” my colleagues across the border ask me gleefully.

Its really no different to my experiences of backpacking through Columbia or South Africa. The media makes these places out to be the worst on earth, but my experience is that reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

Michigan has soul and Detroit sure has heart.

The people from here are fighting to bring this city back tooth and nail. I met one Detroit native who ditched her high paying corporate job with Microsoft to take up a position in corporate philanthropy at one of the leading children’s charities “I was sick of people ragging on my city” she told me, “I’m here to make a difference.”

Seems she’s not only one. Just take a look at this ad that was run front page on across all the national newspapers a few days ago.

Julie Guest TV
Julie Guest TV

Some of the greatest businesses have been forged out of the toughest times – Thomas Edison founded GE in the middle of the panic of 1873 – a 6 year long recession. Hewlett Packard was founded in the middle of the Great depression. Bill Gates started Microsoft in his parent’s garage during the recession of 1973-1975. Revlon, one of the best-known cosmetic companies in the world, was founded in 1932 during the Great Depression. Brothers Charles and Joseph Revlon introduced their opaque nail enamel to the world, which sparked a business that became a multi-million-dollar enterprise in only six years.

I could go on.

Bottom line – one person’s adversity is another’s big opportunity… Whenever the media reports doom and gloom news, there’s a dedicated entrepreneur or group of individuals quietly working away and achieving success anyway.

It all depends on which end of the binoculars you choose to look through.

The Pink Paint Story and The Home Depot

Pink Paint and Home Depot
Pink Paint and Home Depot

A couple of weekends ago I drove to my local Home Depot store in search of the perfect paint color for my 3 year old’s room (she wants pink!).  Now maybe you’ve never had to shop for pink paint before but let me tell you that the selection of different shades is enough to make your head spin.  There’s everything from a sickly looking Pepto‑Bismol shade all the way to an electric neon shade which surely someone was suffering from a nasty hangover when they gave it the rubber stamp of approval.  In all, there were over 40 different shades of pink to choose from.  But the decision‑making process was just getting started.  Once you pick your shade then you have to decide what quality of paint you want – primer, non‑primer, brand, non‑brand. The guy behind the counter wasn’t exactly helpful (he was going on break in 5 minutes and was counting down the seconds) and then I happened to spy the marketing materials  – a big fold‑out brochure which I grabbed.

What The Home Depot has done with their marketing is a kind of genius.  In less than 5 seconds their marketing told me which paint was the paint for me – using just 3 simple words:

“Good.” “Better.” “Best.”

Incredulous, I looked over at the rows and rows of paint brushes, rollers, paint trays. They had conveniently labeled everything in just the same way (and helpfully in Spanish).

“Good (bueno).” “Better (muy bueno).” “Best (mejor).”

Aside from the label given, there was no other explanation as to why this paint brush was labeled “best” versus the one to the right of it that was a few bucks cheaper and only listed as “good”.

Could such a simple marketing strategy work?

Are people really that trusting or that naive to spend more on a product just because of the “label” it’s assigned.

The answer is emphatically ‘yes’ backed up by some pretty impressive financial results for the company – last month they outpaced published forecasts nearly across the board,  its per-share earnings climbing more than 22% with U.S. store sales surging 11.4% from this time last year.  Now clearly it takes more than a clever marketing strategy in one area of business to post those kinds of results.

But The Home Depot is far more connected to the needs of its customers than any of its competition.

In a world where people are suffering from time crunch, information overload and huge amounts of stress, the company that can simplify the decision‑making process, wins.

So how can you do this in your business?

It’s simple:

1)     Build trust in everything that you do.

2)     Take away the complexity. While your competitors are thinking they look like the experts by overwhelming customers with pages and pages of unhelpful information, using complex and confusing language - you can be the hero by cutting through the clutter using simple, crisp language by showing customers a clear path in which to take action.

As Leonardo da Vinci said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” ~

A Marketing Secret From Warren Buffet

The Oracle of Omaha has become famous for many things – he’s worth $39 billion dollars but chooses to live in a humble bungalow in Omaha where his property tax bill is just $13,859. In an industry filled with false promises and hot air, Buffet’s no nonsense approach to living simply has equally been applied to his approach in investing. In studying the businesses that Buffet buys, one of the biggest commonalities shared by over 80% of his investments is the way these businesses have approached their marketing. Given that Buffet is one of the world’s most successful investors, its amazing that more people haven’t delved into the marketing secrets of his investment choices. I have and here’s what I discovered:

Warren Buffet loves investing in companies that involve a high component of trust – either in the way they’ve built their brand, or by building a personal relationship with their customers (as Buffet has with his Berkshire Hathaway stock holders), taking a personality driven approach to their marketing.

In other words, Buffet loves investing in companies that really take care of their customers. He buys trusted companies. Not the kind that just churn and burn through customers – ignoring the ones they have in pursuit of new targets.

Here’s a powerful question for you to ponder in your business: what would your relationship have to look like for your customers to choose to stay with you, for life?

Inevitably a big part of that answer is going to be trust. Its all in how you approach your marketing. Trust is the overlay that has to govern every decision you make in your business, never compromised or sacrificed for any other objective. While such an important topic is worthy of far more than just a brief article – here are 3 top strategies to incorporate trust into your marketing:

1) Keep your promises. Sounds ridiculously obvious but its alarming how few businesses do what they say they will. If you do, your business will stand out immediately. 2) Be prolific with your marketing. Familiarity and regularity builds trust. Create a marketing plan that breaks down your marketing activities into weekly, monthly and quarterly events. Just like clockwork. Don’t take a shotgun approach to your marketing (ie; frantic periods of activity followed by …silence). 3) Use high trust media, not low trust media. It takes absolutely no effort to hit send on an email broadcast that’s sent to thousands. It takes a great deal more effort, thought and commitment to send a direct mail piece that makes the recipient feel like they’re “the only girl in the room.” Traditional media like direct mail STILL out pulls digital advertising for ROI. Don’t abandon it and run the risk of making your business look and sound just the same as everyone else.

The Ultimate Marketing Secret

fisherman
fisherman

I once heard this great story about a little commercial fisherman who fishes off a well known peninsula in New York.  This man has become legendary in fishing circles and I even heard it rumored that he was the guy who captured the great white shark which inspired the movie Jaws. Every morning Captain Jack heads out bright and early to go fishing. But that’s pretty much where the similarity between him and every other commercial fisherman ends.  Instead of hiring a big crew to help get his Catch, Captain Jack just has one lone deck hand.

And they don’t use nets to catch their fish.  Call him old school but he still prefers to use just fishing poles and lines.

But here’s the thing.

Every day, for the past 20 years, without exception, Captain Jack catches not hundreds of fish, but thousands of fish.

In fact he out fishes every single commercial fishing operation in the area, usually by multiple times.

It doesn’t matter what the tides are doing, what time of year it is, or even if the fish are “running.” Captain Jack seems to have the “midas touch.”

Over the years he has been interviewed many, many times about the secret of his success.

His “fishing secret” also happens to be the single most powerful marketing secret I have ever heard.

And its surprisingly simple.

Here’s the secret to Captain Jack’s success.  Think like the fish, NOT the fisherman.” And that is precisely the reason why so much money is wasted on ineffective marketing.

Its not tightly tailored to your target audience.  It doesn’t resonate with the way they think. It’s written with the way YOU think.

Don’t ever make the mistake that you are your customer or your patient.  You’re not.  You have far more knowledge, more experience about your product or service than the people you serve. You’ve forgotten what its like to be in their shoes – how nerve wracking it is to visit a specialist physician or to sign a listing agreement!

That’s why before I begin ANY marketing project, I invest at least 50% of my time researching my client’s target market before I ever start putting pen to paper to craft the right message.  Here are some examples of how I go about researching: Who are they?  Where do they live?  How much money do they earn?  Who do they work for? Do they go to church?  How old are their kids?  What publications do they read?  What TV shows do they watch? Where do they like to vacation? What’s the burning issue that keeps them awake at 2 a.m. in the morning?  Who else are they buying from? How do they like to buy? Who are they mad at?

I don’t even dare pick up a pen until I have a very firm grasp of who I’m writing for and how they think.  You write copy very differently for business owners versus employees.  You speak to a 30 year old man very differently than you’d speak to a 40 year old man.  Married women very differently than single women.  Moms very differently from “empty nesters."  Knowing and understanding these nuances makes all the difference to how effective your marketing is.

I recently took an ad campaign one of my private clients had been running consistently for the last 12 months.  As a prominent plastic surgeon he works in a fiercely competitive and price driven market.  This one particular campaign had worked ok for him, but he had noticed a steady decline in response rate.  I rewrote the campaign to specifically target boomer age women looking to refresh their image.  We changed the message, and the media he advertised in but most importantly I rewrote the ad in language that would specifically appeal to boomer age women.  Even I was surprised at the results. His overall campaign spend decreased by 30% but his ROI tripled.

Little hinges open big doors!

Think like the fish, not the fisherman.

Stupid Hot Air Balloons and Why Marketing Is NOT Art

About 10 years ago, I remember sitting in the room of a huge ad agency listening in on a “pitch” meeting. This ad agency was a big one. Their offices were sprinkled with crazy hairstyles, wild tattoos and uber-hip means of self expression everywhere you looked.

They charged top dollar to their clients and prided themselves on recruiting some of the “most creative minds in the business”.

I could hardly wait to hear what their genius minds had cooked up to promote my client – a huge company in the insurance industry, who had a new executive team in place looking to shake their market up.

My client had invited me to attend because there was a great deal of money at stake, and they were worried that their big agency wasn’t “getting them.”

Turns out they were right to be worried.

The ideas that were put forward were absolutely ridiculous. For example “Let’s float 100 hot air balloons with your brand on them above the city and have people dressed like spies (like Mission Impossible) belay down ropes into the city and give away free vouchers.”

Seriously?

You have a very generous 7 figure budget to work with and this is the best your team have come up with?

“It’ll be fantastic” gushed the account manager, his platinum cufflinks gleaming in the halogen lights. “The Media will go nuts over it, and we’ve never ever done anything like this before...”

Whoa Bessie. Back up the bus.

First of all “free press coverage” does not necessarily mean sales. You hope it leads to sales, but there are a lot of “if’s” in there –”IF it gets picked up by the press, IF it gets the right media coverage, IF the segment gets in front of the right target audience, and IF that target audience then decides to pick up the phone and call. Hope is not a marketing strategy.

Sure the concept was a cool, novel idea that no one had done before, but as Tom Cruise said in the movie Jerry McGuire “Show me the money!”

Despite what the vast majority of marketers and advertising agencies would like you to believe, marketing is not art. It’s not about being cool and creative. It’s not about winning awards.

It’s about getting you sales, immediately, today, and putting money in your pocket. Period.

I can’t even tell you how many private clients have come to us with a superb looking websites which didn’t actually sell.

While it looked great, there was no marketing message that socked you between the eyeballs within the first nano second, the copy was fluffy and vague, there was no sales funnel set up, no enticing opt in magnet, no personality infused ad copy and possibly worst of all – it looked practically identical to all of their competition.

None of this was their fault. The vast majority of web designers are just that – web designers. They know how to design a great looking website, but they know nothing about selling.

The entire premise for advertising can be summed up by the cranky but profoundly talented advertising mogul David Ogilvy, who said:

“If it doesn’t sell, its not creative.”

9 Super Effective Ways To Get More Leads

Confused about what marketing to invest in? I don’t blame you. The marketing options out there are enough to make your head spin. Here’s a straight forward, plain speak list of some of my most proven marketing strategies that have got the biggest results for our private clients:

  • Send a direct mail campaign to targeted homes or businesses that fit your ideal client profile. Make it a multi-step campaign (to improve your response rate). Make a low barrier, irresistible offer with a deadline to respond by.
  • Create an animated sales and promotional video about your business and write to your best clients asking if you can feature them in it (of course they will say yes and you’ll be able to get glowing testimonials from them). Then hand them a done-for-them campaign to make the video viral so they can send to their own clients, friends, and centers of influence. The viral campaign to their people makesthem lookterrific.
  • Buy ads on Facebook, use some powerful, emotional laden copy that really connects with them and point them to a fan page with an irresistible offer in exchange for their email address.
  • Invest in some ad space in a magazine read prolifically by your target market. Run an “advertorial” (which is an ad that looks, smells and reads exactly like an article, except that it’s your dream article written about your company.” Order plenty of additional copies and send it to your high value prospects as part of a multi-media ad campaign. This is one of our most successful ad strategies used for our private clients.
  • Network with other local business owners, or those who might not be your geographic market but who also service your target prospects. Create a strategic alliance and promote each others’ businesses. I’ve written extensively about this over the years and call it “piggy back marketing.” It’s one of the best and fastest ways to generate high quality leads for your business.
  • Create 4-6 minute “how to videos” and broadcast them virally with a list of all your keywords and add a link to your landing page in the description.
  • Buy traffic from Google (using AdWords), carefully select your keywords and write your persuasive ad copy, then point them to your landing page or website (hint: before you go spend thousands on your AdWords campaign make sure you’ve done enough testing to make sure that the pages convert well. Doing this one step has saved our clients hundreds of thousands of dollars).

Are you using all these strategies to generate leads for your business? If not what are you waiting for!

Don’t Bother With This Kind Of Marketing

There’s a famous advertising quote that goes something like this “half the money I spend on my advertising is wasted.  The problem is I don’t know which half!” But that’s only part of the problem.  With all the marketing hokem out there, its harder than ever to discern what kind of marketing you should be doing and where to invest your money for the biggest marketing bang.

It’s time for some plain talk marketing.

’m not going to presume I know your business and tell you exactly what you should do.  I can’t.  There’s no such thing as a one size fits all marketing plan.  Every business is unique and requires a very specific marketing prescription to tap into new markets and connect with new customers.

But I can tell you what kinds of marketing you should not be doing.  These are universal, applicable to each and every business because they’re either hopelessly outdated, or were never effective in the first place.

Here’s a quick Marketing black list to avoid at all costs:

1.)     Avoid broadcast marketing messages that are “pushed” out to everyone and anyone.  Generic marketing is well and truly dead.  Welcome to the age of specialized marketing – using tightly targeted messages to reach specific audiences.

2.)     Avoid any marketing that isn’t trackable and measurable.  You need to know to the penny what the effectiveness of your advertising is.  If you don’t know, then you’re going to need to sharpen your psychic powers, because how else will you know if it’s actually working?

3.)     Avoid plain old brand ads.  The world is cluttered enough.  Truly, no one cares about how cool your logo looks, or what your tagline says.  Every ad has to answer the old question for your customer “what’s in it for me?”.

4.)     Avoid any kind of marketing that even remotely looks like what your competitors are doing.  If you can remove your brand from an ad or your website and insert your competitor’s, and no one could tell the difference – that’s a giant fail.  How are your customers supposed to choose you above everyone else if you look the same?  Make it easy for them by making your marketing different.  Truly distinctive.

How To End Prospecting Once And For All

“Stop selling, start helping” – Zig Ziglar When asked whether you’d prefer to get a root canal or get on the phone and cold call prospects for new business – I suspect you’d be like the majority of folks and choose the root canal. Frankly, I would too. Prospecting for business is hard, grubby work. It’s out dated, and if you are still spending your precious time actively prospecting for business, then it only means one thing – your marketing is simply not doing its job.

Here are 53 easy ways to strengthen your marketing and put an end to painful prospecting once and for all:

1.) Implement a marketing strategy that focuses on positioning instead of prospecting. By that I mean positioning yourself in your marketplace to ensure good, qualified prospects can find out about you and seek your expert assistance to solve their problems. This can best be done by writing white papers, articles, blog articles, or best of all - a book (that can be ghost written for you). 2.) Don’t let any leads go to waste. It was billionaire entrepreneur and ex-super model Kathy Ireland who once told me that “no” doesn’t mean no – it just means not now. Implement a follow- up direct mail campaign, auto responder sequence and get them added to your drip marketing campaign. Your prospects might not remember who you are in a week, let alone in a couple of months’ time when they’re ready to buy! Some of the biggest results I’ve achieved for my private clients have been by way of designing a multi-media follow- up marketing system for their businesses. You might not need new leads – perhaps all you need is a better way of converting the ones you have!

3.) Be of more service. As Zig Ziglar says, start helping and stop selling. Its truly rare to find someone who cares about you and your success. Become that person for your clients and your competition will be left in the dust!

A Brilliant Laundromat Marketing Strategy You Need To Swipe For Your Business

There are only about 2 or 3 laundries in New York City that specialize in laundering and hand ironing expensive bed linens, from companies like Charlotte Thomas Bespoke, Frette, Pratesi, etc.

Their prices (as you’d imagine) are a lot higher than your average dry cleaner’s – starting at $50 and up per sheet.Of course, if you can afford to spend $300 - $3000 for a single sheet in the first place these prices won’t scare you.

Here’s what one of these high end laundries does to separate themselves from the competition and give their customers an actual ‘experience’ rather than just a service.

Instead of returning the linens in cling wrapped, clear plastic (which is the norm), one savvy company wraps them in thick, colorful tissue paper tied with a wide, multi-striped grosgrain ribbon around them, and a polka dot gift tag with the owner’s name handwritten on it – just like a present.

Not only does this look amazing, but the psychological message it delivers is that this is a gift – triggering the happy response we all get from being handed an unexpected present.

What can you take away from this to do in your business?Think about a service or product you offer and come up with 3 ways you can pleasantly shock and surprise your customer – the more unexpected the better.

You’ll be amazed at how just the smallest things can make a big difference!

A Dave Matthews Band Marketing Lesson

Last week I finally went to my first Dave Matthew’s Band (DMB) concert. I’ve been a big fan of this group for the longest time – in fact, the first time I heard them was about 18 years ago when I was traveling through South Africa and their 2 big hits “Satellite” and “Crash” were getting some serious air time over there.

Its pretty shocking that its taken me 18 years to get my rear in gear and hear them live. Especially since I love going to hear live music.

It was worth the wait. The concert was excellent, but of even greater value to me was the big marketing lesson I saw unfold before me.

To date, The Dave Matthews Band is only the second band in U.S. history to have 5 consecutive #1 songs (Metallica holds the lead position). They sell out the world’s biggest arenas on a regular basis and according to one source grossed more revenue between 2002-2009 than any other band in America.

Not too shabby for a group of musicians who started out in a sweat, smoke and grime filled pub in Charlotte, VA.

But from the very beginning, Dave and his guys set about building their band, their brand and their business their own way.

Instead of trying to chase down a recording contract in the hopes of building a fan base – they built a fan base first. Pretty genius. They toured college campuses and gave away copies of their music for free. Word quickly spread and an extremely loyal fan base sprung from grassroots.

Today DMB fans are some of the most passionate, quirky and fiercely loyal fans on the planet. They regularly crash servers flooding to buy pre-release tickets and campout 24, 48, and 72 hours outside venues the band plays at.

I got to see some of this first hand at the concert.

A couple rows in front of me there was a guy wearing a make shift psychedelic headband and a home made t-shirt that proudly said DMB – My 100th Concert!

I saw a LOT of DMB tattoos on arms, legs and backs (including an extremely impressive almost full body tattoo with a picture of each band member and all their album artwork). And the line up outside the concert merchandise store had at least 100 people waiting to drop $200, $300 even $1000 on limited edition band merchandise.

Developing this kind of rabid and fiercely loyal customer base is the holy grail of marketing for ANY company.

DMB fans will devour anything and everything the band puts out.

Their revenue is only limited by their capacity to produce. They have a guaranteed market for a product even before its created.

How many companies can say the same?

So how have Dave and his guys managed to get to this supreme position?

By ardently following a few criticalmarketing rules which can be replicated by anyone.

1.) They refused to hide behind their brand and kept their personalities at the forefront of their marketing and communication with their fans. This is known as Personality Infused Marketing™ - one of the most powerful ways to build both a memorable brand and a base of raving fans in record time (covered in more detail in my Client Stampede Ultimate Marketing Toolkit).

2.) They haven’t reduced their marketing. After enjoying 15 years of sold out arenas and chart topping success, many people in their shoes would be tempted to pull back on their marketing, the number of concerts performed, the number of public appearances given because they’d “made it”. Not DMB. Despite being one of the most successful bands of all time they have never taken the foot off their “marketing gas”. If anything, they’ve actually increased it.

3.) They constantly innovate – they’re experimenting with different “looks”, different sounds, different marketing methods to reach their fans. DMB was one of the first bands to start using social media. They were also one of the first bands to introduce a customer “loyalty program” and today are one of the few bands smart enough to use direct mail to reach their most ardent fans.

Building a customer base of raving fans is the holy grail for your business – and is much easier to achieve that you might think. But it does require you going against the grain and doing those things that your competitors aren’t prepared to do!

5 Simple Ways To Build An EXTRAORDINARY Business

When I was a kid I was terrified of chickens. Don’t ask me why. It seems completely ridiculous and it made me the butt of many family jokes (especially from my two brothers). Fast forward a few decades and fortunately I’ve managed to curb my chicken phobia, but they do have a funny way of cropping up in my life. I was recently hunting for some great imagery to explain the concept of what it meant to be extraordinary...and here’s a picture I found of …an extraordinary chicken!

And then I got to thinking about the similarity between chickens and how most people run their business.

If you’ve ever watched chickens run around in a yard – they pretty much stick together in clusters. They scratch the ground looking for worms in the same spots. They lay their eggs in the same places. And they all pretty much look the same. It's hard to tell them apart.

But if you saw a chicken who looked like that extraordinary chicken – you’d likely want to take pictures of it, tell all your friends, post it on Facebook, show it to your kids. In fact, you and your family might keep talking about that extraordinary chicken for years, simply because it was so memorable and so different.

And that’s how you want to make your business.

By doing what everyone else is doing, copying the way your competitors are all marketing, offering the same things they’re offering – you’re just another plain old chicken in the barn yard. It's harder than ever to get people to notice you (which is why you might be finding marketing so frustrating).

I strongly believe that if you’re going to run a business – you may as well make it an extraordinary one. One that people can’t help telling everyone else about and creates an army of raving fans.

Its not nearly as hard as it sounds, mostly because people have been let down so often we all have pretty low expectations.

So in brief, here’s why you’d want to make your business an extraordinary one: 1) It’s easy. People’s expectations are so low it doesn’t take much to make your business really stand out from the crowd.

2) It’s the ultimate competitive advantage. Chances are better than average your competitors are either dropping the ball or delivering ordinary service. If you really take care of your clients, they will never ever look anywhere else and will send you tons of referrals

3) You can charge higher prices. Its very crowded at the bottom of the market, but few businesses know how they can raise their price. Making your business an extraordinary one is an easy way.

So how do you make your business extraordinary? Just follow these 5 easy steps:

1) Keep your promises. So simple, but few do it. Do what you say you’re going to do.

2) Build a brand that looks nothing like your competitors. Something that’s so memorable, as soon as people see it they know it's from your business. For example every month I write a marketing newsletter for my private clients that arrives by snail mail. As soon as they open their mailbox they know its from me – it’s the only piece of mail they receive in a plastic bag and it has a very distinctive rustic modern look to it.

3) Abandon boring marketing (puh-lease). If an honest reading of your marketing materials or your website makes your eyeballs dry up, then just imagine how your prospects must feel. Remember you can’t bore your prospects into doing business with you – you can only interest them. Your marketing needs to be written so compellingly that it keeps them glued to their seat and then lights their pants on fire to call you. Your marketing needs to be extraordinary – look different, feel different, read different.

4) Take great care of the customers you already have. So many businesses are laser focused on getting new sales, when in reality they have an untapped goldmine in their own customer list. I see this time and time again when I consult with new private clients. Remember it’s 5 times easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to try and convert a new one. But its not just about selling. Its about really caring about your customers and their success. It’s the doctor that calls his patient after hours to see how they’re feeling. It’s the vet who remembers Fido’s 10th birthday and sends an oversized Milk Bone. It’s the financial advisor who sends his elderly widowed clients a bunch of flowers on Valentine’s day.

5) Marketing is everything! There’s no point having an extraordinary business if no one knows about it! Educate your clients about what makes your business extraordinary. Send out press releases. Start a monthly newsletter. Run a themed offer of the month to all your prospects and valued clients. Profile outstanding staff going the extra mile. Send new customer welcome kits and let people know what a great decision they’ve made in choosing you.

Do these 5 simple things to make your business extraordinary and you’ll never have to scratch for worms or be mistaken for a plain barnyard chicken ever again!

Little Hinges Open Big Doors

Once upon a time (in 1960) there were two brothers who desperately wanted to go to college.  Their parents were broke, so the boys figured that the only way they were going to be able to swing it – was by working a couple of jobs. The boys wound up working for a struggling pizza company, which despite its prized location close to a college campus, still couldn’t turn a profit.  The boys offered to buy out the stressed out owner – the deal secured by a $75 down payment and the remaining $500 they scrimped and scrounged as a loan from family and friends.  Eight months later the more studious of the two brothers decided he wanted to spend more time hitting the books and less time flipping pizza dough.

Client Stampede Volkswagon
Client Stampede Volkswagon

Meantime the other brother loved the pizza business and wanted little to do with his studies – so they traded: full ownership of the pizza business to brother Tom in return for his cherry red Volkswagen beetle.  Like most business owners, Tom was working crazy hours – struggling as the previous business owner was, to run the business profitably.  There was a lot of competition on campus for food, and more pizza stores than you could shake a stick at. Times were tough.

Wracking his brain to come up with a marketing message that would draw people in was no easy task.

He certainly didn’t have the best tasting pizza.  It was good, but not exactly what you’d classify as a taste bud symphony.

He couldn’t claim that his sauce recipe was Mama’s own secret – direct from their tiny village in Sicily and fiercely guarded by his family for 5 generations.

After many sleepless nights he finally had it.  Excited beyond words he rushed to work the next day to test it out.

The results were astounding.  Response rates to his ads quadrupled almost immediately.  Media requests started pouring in.  Their phone system blew up and more help had to be hired immediately in all positions.

Here is his marketing message that changed everything and resulted in the world’s largest pizza chain – 10,000 franchised stores in more than 70 countries.  The company of course is Dominos Pizza:

Fresh hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free.

That’s it.  How could a marketing message so simple be such a game changer in an overcrowded market?

For that exact reason.  It’s overcrowded.  As very few businesses have a really great, extremely clear marketing message – the ones that do really stand out.

Why is having the right marketing message so important for your business?

Well, because everything, and I mean everything – hinges off of it:

- Whether someone decides to stay or leave your website in that first 3 seconds - The way the media perceives your business - The way you perceive your business and the value you bring to your customers - The process your prospects go through in their mind to decide whether they want to pull out their checkbooks or not.

Whenever I accept a new private client, one of the first projects I work on is nailing down their marketing message – identifying a gap in their market and then crafting the right wording that will help drive a truck right through it.  Once this exercise is complete it’s not unusual for campaign response rates to double or even triple, for site traffic to spike, or to attract media attention (instead of having to chase it).

Little hinges open big doors.

The uncomfortable truth is that unless you have the right marketing message – any marketing you’re doing is going to yield a small fraction of the results that it would otherwise do.

Take a look at this photo I took at the bottom of my yard.   Does your marketing message make your business the red poppy in your industry, or are you really just another green leaf?

Client Stampede Garden
Client Stampede Garden