Selling shouldn’t equal annoying

hand putting a penny in a money jar - charity donationThere’s a Walgreens a few blocks from my house. It’s a convenient place to get just about everything, so I’m there a few times a week.  It seems like every week they are collecting money for some charity.

They have the cause of the week prominently displayed.  I can buy a paper boot, heart, ribbon or balloon. And when I go to check out, there’s a jug there — inviting cash donations.  When I run my credit card through — as I approve the charge, I am given the opportunity to donate.

So — I have ample opportunity to give.  But then, if all those efforts have failed to get me to donate — the clerk asks me — do you want to make a donation to XYZ?

Now I’m feeling cornered.  The people in the line are listening. The clerk is looking at me like I’m a cheap jerk and while I should not care about what these strangers think — I sort of do.

That’s not a comfortable position and we shouldn’t be putting that sort of squeeze on our prospects or clients.

There’s a fine line in marketing and sales.  We’ve talked about it before.  You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. If someone is not ready to part with their money, you can’t force or humiliate them into doing so.  And if you keep pushing — all you do is alienate them.

Sometimes this over the line behavior is overt, like my Walgreens friends.  Other times, it’s more subtle – like the passive aggressive voice mail messages or constant up selling or incessant follow up even when you’ve been told no.

Subtle or not — it’s not effective. It makes us question your motives (I am pretty sure Walgreens has some sort of contest among their stores…to see who can raise the most money) and it feels a little desperate.

I know this flies into the face of the sales motto — always be closing.  But the hard sell doesn’t work anymore (Did it ever?).

Instead — you have to find a way to know who your real audience is, capture their attention, market consistently and have something of value to share/teach often enough that you stay on their radar screen until they’re ready to buy.

If it was easy — everyone could do it.  Do you have the stamina to sell?

 

Photo courtesy of www.BigStockPhotos.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

Touching my heart doesn’t necessarily touch my wallet

Two of the best Superbowl commercials from yesterday were by Budweiser (no shock) and Jeep (a little more surprising).  Lots of tweets and FB updates mentioned “tearing up” as they watched them.  I reacted the same way.

The Budweiser spot:

 

The Jeep spot:

 

Both spots were really well done and very heart tugging.  I will admit, I got a little teary-eyed during both of them too. But neither spot had me reaching for my wallet.  I really, really do not like Bud beer.  I love their brand, their Clydesdales and their lore.  But nothing they do could get me to become a regular Bud drinker.

I don’t have those same kind of feelings about a Jeep.  I like them and I’ve even test driven them in the past.  But, I’m not in the market for a new truck, so Jeep’s spot didn’t have me changing my shopping plans either.

The spot made me appreciate that they invested that kind of money to honor our country’s troops but even if I was in the market, that wouldn’t be the tipping point.

Both spots are a good reminder that playing the emotion card alone usually isn’t enough to earn a new customer. We buy based on emotion, that is true.  But we also need something more.  Features, facts and need.

Brand building ads like Bud’s and Jeep’s earn brand respect and affinity. The spots probably had more of an effect on their current customers (who now have their buying decision reinforced) than prospects.  But for some people who might not be in the market today — these spots certainly didn’t discourage interest.

For those of us who can’t afford a Super Bowl commercial the lesson is even more important.  On a more finite budget — we need to be sure we find a balance between emotion and facts. Either alone just won’t get the job done.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Five trade show mistakes to avoid

Mistake #1: Not having a pre-game plan.

Trade shows are one of those things that sneak up on you. You’re going to have to be out of the office for a few days, you need everything shipped in advance and you’re juggling your regular work. But the prep work should be done months in advance, which you can still take action on the ideas you think will give you the bang for your buck.

You should have an action plan for pre show, the show itself and post show. Most people put some thought into the actual event but rarely do anything in advance to get attendees to their booth. You can do something traditional like an attendee bag insert or you could get creative and do something in the lobby of the hotel most attendees will be staying at. But do something.

Mistake #2: Pretty pictures are a dime a dozen

Yes, a spectacular booth is eye-catching and can sometimes draw a crowd. But these days, those are table stakes. Most companies have a visually appealing booth filled with pretty pictures. You want the attendees to know, at a glance, what you do and why they should care.

Keep these tips in mind. Show me before and after shots. One or two huge visuals are more effective than a montage or lots of smaller shots. If you can do a live demo – all the better. Capture my attention from across the room and invite me to get closer.

Mistake #3: I don’t care about you, I care about me

This is a marketing maxim we should all know by now. They don’t want to know about you. They want to know about you in relation to them.

Don’t tell me that your product is a polynomial formula of XYZ. Tell me that you can put more money in my pocket by helping me grow heartier plants. Don’t tell me that your software specs, tell me that you can save me half a day.

Remember, as they walk by you they’re asking, “what’s in it for me?” If they can’t spot the answer, they’ll keep on walking.

Mistake #4: Give me something to talk about

I have never attended a trade show where someone hasn’t said “you’ve got to check out booth XYZ.” Your goal – be that booth. It might be a killer giveaway, a interactive experience that has people coming back for more, a product that is going to change the way I do business or an industry celebrity signing autographs and charming the socks off people.

It’s usually not the cool booth itself. It’s something that’s happening in the booth. Create that buzz on the floor

Mistake #5: Actually follow up

This is the one I find most staggering. More than 90% of companies who exhibit at a trade show do nothing to follow up with attendees. Why bother going?

The problem is – this should be part of the pre-show prep. If it’s not, you’ll come back to the office, things will be crazy, you’ll have to create something to send out, that will take longer than it should and pretty soon, you’ll think it’s been too long so forget it.

That is a seriously expensive decision. Know before you leave for the show what will happen when you get home from the show. Or don’t waste your time going.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Why isn’t marketing’s version of storytelling working?

Storytelling, storytelling, and more storytelling.

Seems like every marketing book, blog (including mine if you’ve been reading this week’s posts) and study is talking about how we should be using storytelling as a marketing technique.

I couldn’t agree more.  Unfortunately, I think most attempts fall short.

Earlier this week — I made the point that A) It seems that despite all the hype — we’re doing less real storytelling today and B) storytelling is hardly a new tactic.

Marketers clearly believe that storytelling is a critical component of their marketing efforts.  As you can see (click here to see a larger version of the chart above) by the chart above, according to a 2012 B2B Content Marketing Trends survey conducted for Holger Schulze for Optify, 81% of respondents listed engaging and compelling storytelling as one of the three most important aspects of content marketing.

So — no argument that marketing’s version of storytelling is critical to a business’ communications success. The question is — why are so many companies doing it badly and not experiencing the results they want?

The stories don’t evoke an emotion: There’s not a memorable story around that isn’t seeded in emotions.  For some businesses, especially those in the B2B sector, it’s hard to imagine what emotions their products or services might trigger.  That’s because the marketers are staying at the features level of sales, not delving into the benefits that lie beneath.

It might be as simple as your prospect is afraid if they make a bad decision, it will cost them their job.  Or it could be that what you sell is helping your clients fulfill their reason for existing — which to them is very emotionally motivated.  If you dig deep enough, you’ll find the emotions behind your stories.  Be sure you expose those in your storytelling so that your audience can relate to and empathize with the people in the tale.

The stories don’t use data to lend credibility: As we discussed in my post about the Revolutionary War book — what made those stories so dramatic and grabbing was he facts that were dotted throughout.

As the folks at the Content Marketing Institute points out in this blog post — data can be used in a variety of ways to tell your story.  Think visual data like an infographic or let the data suggest a new angle or insight for both you and your audience.

The story doesn’t take us on a journey: In marketing’s version of storytelling, we often take shortcuts to get to the big reveal.  But in doing that, we rob the audience of the arc of the story. Every story is, in essence, a journey that chronicles the the problem, the fight to solve the problem and how things are better once the challenge is resolved.

But a great story lets the journey also help the audience see the motivations, frustrations and worries of the characters while they try to face the problem. The outcomes are also wrapped in more than just the tangible results.  When the story is rich with details – we also learn more about the intangible results and ultimate value of delivering the right solution.

The story doesn’t include a next step/call to action: Here’s where most marketers really miss the boat.  A well crafted story draws the audience in, helps them connect with the main character and feel their common pain.  As the story evolves, the prospect is pulling for the character — because in reality, the character bears a striking resemblance to them.  They experience the ups and downs within the story and as the story delivers the happy ending — the prospective customer is thinking and feeling relief and a desire to share in that sort of outcome.

So marketing’s version of storytelling is all too often, a big tease.  You led them right to the edge — get them hungry for what you’re selling but don’t give them a clear and defined next step.  Ask yourself — what do I want them to do next and be sure you make it easy and quick to take that next action.

If you don’t include this as a part of your storytelling — the whole point of telling the story in the first place is wasted.  You aren’t a court jester earning your supper.  You’re trying to help someone decide whether or not you hold the answer to their problem. Once you demonstrate that you are the right choice — be sure you give them a chance to tell you so.

What do you think? Can you tweak the way you’re telling your company’s story so that it drives leads and sales?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Have we lost the art of storytelling in marketing?

As the buzz about content marketing, social media and all things digital continues to rise, one of the catch phrases that gets a lot of attention is storytelling in marketing.  We afford it incredible lip service but do we actually practice it?

As we give way to our USA Today sound byte style of sharing information, are we losing the emotional tug of telling a great story?  Even in our case studies where we’re trying to help the prospects see themselves in relation to someone we’ve already helped  – are we too focused on the facts and too willing to sacrifice that emotional tug?

I worry that we are so focused on making sure we communicate the facts that we don’t trust your audience enough to find them if they’re wrapped in the emotion of the brand. The danger of that is that buying is an emotional response.  We buy based on our emotions and justify the purchase with the facts offered. But we very rarely buy on facts alone. So it we don’t offer up both sides of the equation — we leave our prospects wanting and our cash registers empty. Storytelling in marketing isn’t just to entertain or be memorable.  It is to drive brand loyalty and increased sales.

What made me ponder this on a Sunday morning is a local phenomenon that put the spotlight on the potency of storytelling for me. A Dunkin’ Donuts opened up in my community (we may be one of the few cities in the country that didn’t already have one) and the line on opening day was literally around the block.  Seriously — who stands in line for an hour for a donut?

Well, they did. And when I thought about the brand…I too had a very warm reaction to it. When I hear “Dunkin’ Donuts” my mind immediately goes back to the wonderful story driven TV spots they did back in the early 80s.

They used a character (Fred the Baker) to tell the audience why Dunkin’ Donuts were better — fresher, more variety and certainly made with more love.  I still crack up when I think of Fred in his dress, covering up his mustache, trying to get some competitive intelligence.

That’s great storytelling.  I not only learn that Dunkin’ Donuts bakes their donuts all day so they’re always fresh, but I learn about the variety (5 kinds of jelly donuts) and their commitment to quality. And it was funny to boot.

On the flip side of the emotional scale, there are few brands that tug at the heartstrings with their TV spots like Hallmark and Folgers.  Very different products but the same link to family and special times.  Check out these spots and see how you react to both the story and the brand.

 

If you look at the dates on these spots — you’ll see that they’re all more than 20 years old.   I’m hard pressed to think of a company today that takes the time to tell the same sort of story (Budweiser may be the exception) today — in any media.

So here are some questions I’m pondering and wonder what you think:

  • Has this sort of storytelling become passé?
  • Are their any brands out there today who do this sort of storytelling in any media?
  • Does social media and content marketing really lend itself to good storytelling?
  • Do we need to go “old school” to really work storytelling into our marketing efforts?
  • Are we equating storytelling to factual case studies rather than emotionally triggering customer stories?
  • Is there a current brand that is really using storytelling to create an emotional connection with their audience?
  • How can we better marry the digital marketing tools with the age old art of telling compelling stories?

Storytelling in marketing is hardly new. But it’s as effective today as it was when David Ogilvy and the other patriarchs of our field wove their compelling tales. The question is — how good are we at marrying the old and the new?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Video can make a prospect’s concerns go away

Video is a very useful medium that most companies underuse. But when they are used…they’re typically used to sell or teach.  All of that is well and good.

But I think you might be missing the boat on an opportunity to make your prospects concerns go away.

I’m in Arizona for 10 days — a mix of working with clients and speaking at a conference. I didn’t want to pack enough clothes to cover all 10 days so I decided to pack for 5 or 6 and hit a laundromat on my day off, in between meetings.  I know…the glamours of business travel!

So now it’s Saturday and for me, it’s “find a laundromat” day.  I’m in a city I don’t know and I’m heading to a laundromat, which is usually not a high end consumer experience.  So I have some concerns.

  • Will it be clean?
  • What hours is it open – can I go during daylight?
  • What’s the neighborhood like?
  • Is it crazy expensive?
  • How many machines do they have? Will I have to wait?

So I turn to the digital yellow pages.  Now I am really flying blind. But, on one of the listings — the laundromat had a video. They showed me how clean it was. They showed me the neighborhood.  They demonstrated that there’s always a staff person on-site.  They even showed me how much the detergent etc. would cost.  Their video made my concerns go away.

It wasn’t the closest laundromat. But, because of the video I was happy to pay for a longer cab ride to go to Ginny’s Washhouse. Why? They’d nullified my concerns.

All the laundromats had text in their ads that said they were clean and safe. But only Ginny’s proved it to me by showing me that it was true.

How is this relevant for you? Your potential customers have worries about you too.  They might worry that you’re too far away or hard to find. They might be concerned that you’re too expensive or you don’t understand their industry.  But deep down inside, every prospect has a worry or two about you.

Some of them will show up anyway.  Or pick up the phone and ask about their concern. But many will simply fade away, not ready to proceed with that nagging worry in the back of their head.

The old marketing model would have been to put the spotlight on all that you do right and ignore those worries, hoping they’d go away. Today, we know better.

Attack those buyer concerns and worries.  Pull them out into the light and deal with them.  And a really powerful way to do that is with video. Our brains may believe bullet points and text but our hearts believe what we see.  Video packs a multimedia punch that can use emotions, strong visuals and even music to create a tone of reassurance and confidence.

Keep in mind that sometimes their fears aren’t as easy to visually deal with as whether or not the floors are clean.  You may need to use a testimonial approach where a current client looks into the camera and says, “I thought AB&C was going to be way out of my budget range so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out it only cost $X.”

Get creative — but get to their worries and answer them right up front.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta