Conversation Starter

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Superman vs. the Ku Klux Klan?  Yes!  After World War II, the KKK experienced a growth spurt and became a powerful organization.  The writers of the Superman radio serial agreed to create a 16-episode series called “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” which pitted the Man of Steel against bigots in white hoods.  The series used actual inside information to reveal all the secrets of the Klan, and recruitment plummeted.  Ordinary people even began showing up at Klan rallies just to jeer at them.  But what hurt the KKK most of all was knowing they’d been foiled by an immigrant – and a fictional one at that!

Clever or Clear?

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There’s one caveat to the item above.  In your enthusiasm for being different, don’t forget that you still have to sell.  So yes, your marketing has to push the envelope enough to get your prospects’ attention — but if they move on without knowing what you offer or why it’s better, you’re like one of those Superbowl commercials that’s entertaining, but the next day, no one can remember what it was selling.  It’s a very fine line.  And the only way to find that balance is to practice.

Clearing a Low Bar.

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Most marketing is terrible.  If you don’t believe it, take a drive and count how many billboards make you want to know more.  Or even make you smile.  Go online for awhile and see if a single digital ad intrigues or inspires you.  Or makes you click.  Do the same with TV, or radio, or any other medium you choose.  Mediocrity abounds.  And there’s your opportunity.  Make a statement.  Make waves.  Make your point in a way nobody else is trying.  Because almost nobody else is trying.

Learn from the Best.

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Nearly every company has a group of best customers or clients: those people who are intensely loyal and use more of what you sell or use it more often.  In addition to being more profitable, these customers may hold the key to growing faster.  If you spend time with these “enthusiasts,” you can learn why they tend to buy more — or more often —  and use those insights to market more effectively.  So find your biggest fans, then bring them into your brand.  You’ll learn a lot in a short time.

Deliver the Paper.

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According to a study reported in Scientific American, people comprehend and retain what they read on paper better than what they read on screen.  The tactile aspect of handling paper — the feel and even the sound and smell of it — have a positive effect on the brain that boosts understanding.  This is especially true when there is more information with a lot of details to absorb.  So even as you work on creating content for your website, consider that printed pieces — a brochure or booklet, a direct mail piece, an ad in a magazine — is more likely to be absorbed and retained.

Conversation Starter

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The Pledge of Allegiance that every American schoolchild knows was written in 1892 by a Baptist minister named Francis Julius Bellamy and published in a magazine called Youth’s Companion on the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ 1492 voyage to America.  The original version, written to be recited in 15 seconds, read, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”  In 1948, Chicago attorney Louis Albert Bowman suggested adding “under God” to the pledge, and it became official on June 14, 1954 under President Eisenhower.  Bellamy also suggested a stiff-armed salute to accompany the pledge, but that gesture was replaced by our modern hand-over-heart version in 1942, when President Roosevelt felt the original too closely resembled a Nazi salute.

Pleasant Persistence.

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Understand that few purchases happen with a single visit.  Plan your process.  Respect your prospect’s schedule and be punctual.  Always ask about the next step or steps, and always do what you say you’ll do.  Ask your prospect which method of communication he or she prefers, and use that.  Don’t say the same thing with every contact.  Listen and focus.  It’s your job to keep the momentum going.  And even if this sale doesn’t happen, find a gracious way to stay in touch.  Ask what you could have done differently, so you can learn as you go.

Passion and Value.

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Two qualities earned high praise from the panelists.  The first was a genuine and obvious passion for what you’re selling.  If you’re not excited and enthusiastic about what you offer, you can’t get a prospect excited either.  The other thing you should always bring to the table?  Genuine value.  Can you save me time?  Can you save me money?  Can you bring me business?  Can you make life easier or remove an obstacle?  Do you have knowledge I need, or an idea I can use?  There has to be an obvious benefit for the conversation to continue.

Get Carded.

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All the panelists agreed that business cards are still a necessity, but one took the notion  a step further.  Instead of simply handing someone your card, make it your goal to get them to ask you for one.  Why?  Two reasons.  First, it forces you to become an expert at learning about the other person and presenting what you do in a compelling way.  Second, a card that someone asks you for means much more to them than a card you simply hand them.

It’s Personal.

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Technology offers a wide array of tools for salespeople — tools for prospecting, tools for communication and more.  But the panel was emphatic on this point: people buy from people.  If your primary outreach is by email or text or some other impersonal approach, it will be ignored.  Instead, go to every meeting you can.  Rather than trying to meet everyone, get to know a few people at a time.  The only way to know whether you can help anyone is to get to know them as a person first.