Increase sales by building a better website

Matt Eggemeyer, vice president and COO, Keats Manufacturing Co.

Matt Eggemeyer’s grandfather used to meet potential customers at tradeshows, build relationships and later invite them to the shop before quoting their jobs.

Those days are long gone.

Even 50 years of tradeshow success couldn’t pad Keats Manufacturing Co. from the changing times that accompanied the recession.

“Traditional sales methods weren’t working anymore,” says Eggemeyer, vice president and chief operating officer at the family-owned manufacturer of metal stampings and wireforms. “We certainly live now in an impatient society where people, if they need something, they’re most likely going to Google. … That’s where we need to be.”

Eggemeyer looked online to recapture lost revenue, refill the prospect pipeline and uncover new business. His first website looked fine but failed because it focused more on processes than products.

That’s when Thomas Industrial Network approached the 170-employee company about improving its website’s performance to better connect Keats with industrial buyers. ThomasNet’s first lesson revealed what Keats’ target market of engineers was searching for.

“They want to know what you’re making, not how you’re making it,” a sales rep told Eggemeyer. “So we started all over again and lost some of the superfluous stuff that owners tend to put in their websites, like long ‘About Us’ and histories and ‘Meet the Management Team.’ Nobody cares about that.

“I spent most of my time talking about terminals, clips, wire forms, lead frames, things that I make. Then we enhanced it one step further by adding the specs that are involved in making those parts — how thick are they, what kind of plating do they get, all the different sizes and dimensions — which make my website that much more attractive, especially when it comes to the search engines.”

This was a crucial shift in Keats’ website strategy. Eggemeyer navigated it by understanding what target customers would type into Google or ThomasNet’s search engine.

“I don’t think they’re putting in ‘small family-run operation in Chicago,’” he says. “They’re looking for a tin-plated 006 automotive terminal, or something like that, and they’re going to find me.”

Keats developed a new site to better convey the company’s capabilities, including examples of prior custom work and details like plating specs. The new site is also easy to use — when visitors find sufficient information about materials and machines, they can click to submit a quote request and attach their custom design.

Eggemeyer tracks solutions to analyze traffic and reveal where Keats’ site is being effective. Based on where traffic lands and how long it stays, he makes small adjustments to the site.

“I can’t just drop this website and leave it alone and expect people to come year after year,” he says.

After Keats launched the site in April 2009, it didn’t take long to see return on investment. Sales are up 30 percent and quotes more than doubled in one year.

But the home run, if you ask Eggemeyer, is the military customer that found and vetted Keats online before placing a million-dollar order to develop a metal clip for a plastic bullet.

“Would I have been able to get that customer back with the traditional sales methods?” he asks. “No, because they wanted to see that I could do the zinc plating and that I could hold certain tolerances. And that isn’t on a brochure I’ve ever done, and they probably wouldn’t be asking that of me at tradeshow — and I don’t know if I could have given them that attention to sit down and talk engineer to engineer. But that stuff was on my website, and that gave them the warm fuzzy that, ‘Keats can do it; let’s give them a call.’”

How to reach: Keats Manufacturing Co., (800) 532-8763 or

Craig Swill and Steve Goodman reopen communication at Welcome Wagon

Craig Swill, CEO, Welcome Wagon International, Inc.

When partners Steve Goodman and Craig Swill purchased Welcome Wagon International, Inc. in 2009, the business was still the world’s largest welcoming service for new homeowners at 82 years old. They decided to keep the company updated and relevant moving forward by refocusing the company completely on sales and marketing. The problem was, the company’s corporate culture was very negative and communication between the corporate and sales sides of the company was poor.

“You kind of had a sales versus corporate clash going on within the organization,” says Swill, the company’s CEO.

The corporate side cared more about technology and was insensitive to many sales-oriented issues. The sales employees felt cut off from many changes at the corporate level, with some of them working as individuals in remote parts of the country.

“When people do not have communication and are out in the field by themselves, they kind of get this paranoia. … So you have a lot of missed communication when there is lack of any communication,” Swill says.

To get employees re-engaged in the vision for Welcome Wagon, especially on the sales side, Swill and Goodman needed to reopen some lines of communication that hadn’t been open for decades.

Together, they went on a “world tour,” visiting every company region to give presentations for the sales teams and to discuss their vision and goals for the first 12 months of their leadership transition. Most of the people they talked to had never met anyone from the corporate office, much less the heads of the company.

“They were very touched that we felt enough to go out and really learn about their challenges in selling and about their challenges in the economy,” says Goodman, Welcome Wagon’s president.

“We asked them questions to learn what they were looking for within the organization. From the very beginning, we opened lines of communication between the corporate office and our field organization.”

Tuned in

Marketing budgets are an easy first place to go when you need to cut expenses at your business.

“I’m a big believer in scrutinizing what you’re spending,” says Laura Sheridan, founder and president of Viva La Brand LLC. “If you’re not either getting great results or learning from it, it shouldn’t be part of your marketing program.”

But you need to think before you cut. If you don’t, you may find that you killed a great opportunity to generate more revenue.

Sheridan has worked with successful businesses across the region, including Progressive Casualty Insurance Co., Pierre’s Ice Cream Co. and LogicJunction, to help develop effective brand strategies that get results.

“If you have the wrong message, you’re not going to reach anyone because your target audience won’t think you’re talking to them,” Sheridan says. “You have to talk to your customer.”

Sheridan suggests finding a third-party brand strategist who can come up with a better way to connect with what your customers are looking for.

“You really need a professional who has done this so they can structure the questions in a way that the answers are things that the leader can really use to forward his or her business,” Sheridan says.

You need someone who is objective and isn’t biased toward your products and services through past experience and past discussions.

“They can say, ‘Look, I’m not an expert in this business,’” Sheridan says. “My job is to communicate information and to help this company that hired me improve their products and services. You’re a very important customer to them and they want to make sure they are meeting your needs and anticipating your needs.’”

When you start looking for someone to fill this strategist role, be sure to present a clear problem and keep any solutions you might have in mind to yourself.

“Don’t say, ‘Here’s the research I want to do,’” Sheridan says. “I would suggest the CEO say, ‘Here’s my business problem. How do you suggest we resolve it?’ Then see what the person’s solution is. You’ll be able to assess whether you think it’s a strong approach or not.”

Get this potential strategist to take you through a case study of how he or she handled a problem similar to what you’re experiencing with another business.

“I’d say, ‘OK, give me some examples of where you did that,’” Sheridan says. “I’d want the person to describe, ‘Here are three clients that we did that project with. Let me tell you what we did. Let me tell you the outcome and let me tell you the results and how it has positively impacted the company.’”

As you’re listening to the explanation, pay close attention to body language and how this person handles a conversation.

“Is this person a really good listener?” Sheridan says. “A researcher has to be just an amazing listener, very articulate, very clear and very succinct. Those basic qualities, I would be really attuned to making sure they are very strong in those areas.”

You’re also looking for a level of organization to ensure that you’ll get a full report from the strategist’s interview with your customer.

“This should be turn-key for the CEO,” Sheridan says. “As the researcher, my job is I do all of the interviews. I either tape them or I take incredible notes and I write up very detailed interview notes. But then as part of my whole brand strategy, I do an analysis to find themes and then I share with my client all the notes.

“Then I do a presentation with the client to share all the learning. ‘Here are my recommendations based on everything I heard to take your business to the next level.’”

Something to blog about

Ask Clyde Miles whether you should advertise your product on TV, and he’d probably tell you to ditch the commercial and air your own show instead.

“You have to have this mindset of, ‘Let’s create our own media,’” says the chief strategist at Optiem, a Web marketing agency with 35 employees. “How can we develop our own content and get it out there?”

The answer: with cheap and increasingly accessible social media. A blog can build your brand by opening a conversation with your customers, stopping short of a sales pitch to provide valuable content that they can use.

But, Miles says, “You have to find a context first before you know the content.”

In other words, you’re not writing about the product or service you provide but about how it helps your customers.

“So if you make widgets, what is the compelling thing, what is the essence of widgets?” says Miles, whose company grew 40 percent last year. “If that widget makes someone’s life better in this way, then start writing toward that versus just, ‘Hey, buy our widgets.’”

Your industry and brand positioning are good indicators of that essence. If you know the need you fill for customers, you know the direction of your blog.

“If you’re Sherwin-Williams, yeah, you’re a paint business, but it’s not really about paint,” he says. “What Sherwin-Williams is about is decorating my house, so obviously they’re going to develop content around decorating.”

Striving to be No. 1

Although it’s the best-selling brand for fillo dough
and mini fillo shells in the country, Athens Foods Inc. still
faces a challenge to distinguish
itself in the marketplace.

Because it faces tough competition from brands such as
Pepperidge Farm and Pillsbury,
the company has to work hard to
create a marketing campaign to
encourage consumers to buy its
products, says Bill Buckingham.

“Those folks have deep pockets, and we don’t have the funds
like they have,” says Buckingham,
Athens’ vice president of sales
and marketing. “But we do have
a marketing strategy, and it’s
important that our sales force
goes out and talks to our customers and conveys our message that this is what Athens is
doing in terms of educating
their customers.”

For several years, Athens has
been working with Benghiat
Marketing & Communications
on its evolving marketing plan,
using Benghiat’s smart marketing approach, which creates
results for clients based on
attainable and measurable goals
and helps them better understand their customers.

Buckingham meets each
August with Benghiat’s founder
and president Russell Benghiat
and with Athens’ Chairman Eric
Moscahlaidis to begin the
process of developing the strategy for the coming year for the
200-employee company.

“It’s not something you put
together in a couple of weeks; it
takes months of planning,”
Buckingham says.

“We define the problem or
opportunity in terms of customers, competitors, organization or production capabilities,
and then establish clear and measurable goals and objectives,” Buckingham says.

Establish longer-term goals
first, and then determine what
needs to be accomplished each
year to ultimately accomplish
those goals.

“It is helpful to create quarterly goals to break down the
process,” Buckingham says. “It
may also be necessary to incorporate research if all of the necessary answers are not known.”

Once the plan is complete,
Athens executives meet with the
sales force to explain the plan.

“It’s a trickle-down effect,”
Buckingham says. “We start
with our sales force, the sales
force educates our direct buying
customers, and then we leave it
up to Benghiat to educate the

Executing a marketing plan
requires extensive communication. Athens uses a blend of traditional and new media advertising, public relations and direct-to-consumer outreach programs
to promote the use of its products. It employs press events,
Internet news, a consumer
recipe contest and an online
community for consumers to
chat with each other.

Once the plan has been implemented, measuring results is
imperative to judge its effectiveness. Each month, Athens
receives a summary of the number of visitors to its Web site to
gauge how many new consumers it is reaching; in a single
year, the company has had as
many as 1 million hits.

But even after you’ve gone
through the process of creating,
communicating and implementing your marketing plan, you’re
still not done. A good plan isn’t
something that you do once and
never look at again. Instead, you
need to revisit it frequently to
make sure you are working
toward your goals.

Do your research and listen to
your customers to identify
whether changes in your market require adjustments to your
plan. For example, Athens identified that its consumers had
nutritional concerns and, as a
result, changed its product to
make it healthier. The company
also reduced its packaging size
to meet retailer needs and to
better fit on store shelves.

Implementing a marketing
plan can help increase both
sales and consumer awareness,
says Buckingham, as well as
give you goals to reach for. And
by keeping a constant eye on
the plan, you can continue to
find new ways to implement it
to make buyers more aware of
your service or product.

HOW TO REACH: Athens Foods Inc., (800) 837-5683 or

Finding a good marketing partner

Working with a partner can
help make your marketing planning process easier, says
Russell Benghiat, founder and
president of Benghiat Marketing
& Communications.

Here, Benghiat shares his tips
for finding a marketing partner
that works for you.

  • Look at results. “As you’re
    talking to them, find out what
    measurable results can they
    obtain for you. The more clarity
    of purpose there is, the better
    job they’ll do for you and the
    more responsible you can hold
    them and the more focused you
    will be.”

  • Test their knowledge.
    “What is their knowledge of their
    business and your industry and
    needs or knowledge of the specific situation?”

  • Determine what type of
    relationship you’ll have.
    you want a firm that can be a
    consultant, an adviser to you
    and lead you, or do you have all
    the planning you need in-house
    and want someone who can say,
    ‘Do this brochure.’”

  • Test the chemistry. “How
    well do you click? You want to
    look at the specific team you’ll
    be working with at the firm, not
    just the people who are coming
    out to sell to you because those
    are the people you’re going to be
    in contact with day in and day

  • Get referrals. “Ask for
    referrals from similarly situated
    companies in your industry but
    those who are not competitors.
    Talk with your current partners
    and vendors … people who you
    trust and admire and can ask,
    ‘Who’s doing a good job for your
    key customers?’”

HOW TO REACH: Benghiat Marketing &
Communications, (216) 831-8580 or

Strength in numbers

Focus is a key word in
the business world.
Focus on finding the right people to hire. Focus
on meeting the goals that
you set at the beginning of
the year. Focus on sticking
to your budget.

In group purchasing, however, too much focus can be
a killer, Dennis Burns says.

“If everybody comes in saying, ‘This is what I do, and
this is the way I do it,’ it’s
never going to happen,”
Burns says.

“In order to make it work,
everybody needs to come
together with an open mind,
a willingness to change and a
willingness to look at things
differently than they looked
at them in the past.”

Burns is the strategic procurement manager at The
Lubrizol Corp
. The $4.5 billion specialty chemical company is a founding member
of Corporate United, a group
purchasing organization that
brings companies together to
help save money on things
they all need to buy.

Burns says the development of faith and trust
among partners is one of the
keys to making group purchasing work. You have to
look beyond your own

“You need to realize that if
the whole group benefits,
you’re benefiting, as well,
and don’t try to monopolize
it and get all the benefits for
yourself,” Burns says. “You
can’t be cutthroat.

“Let’s say it would take me
40 man-hours to source a
commodity, and it would
take my neighbor down the
street 40 hours to source a commodity. If we do it
together, it’s going to take us
60 hours, but only 30 hours
each. So we’re actually saving time. Even if you go part-way down a path and something doesn’t go anywhere,
basically, it was a couple
meetings and a couple hours

A good first step for a company wanting to get involved
in a group purchasing program is to talk to someone
who has experience doing it.
Get a few companies together — it’s best if the other
companies aren’t your direct
competitors — and have a

“You have to have several
companies who agree that,
‘Yes, it’s something worth
exploring,’” Burns says.
“Somebody is going to have
to make the first call and
take the lead.”

When you meet, brainstorm
about products or services that every company needs to
buy on a regular basis.

“What happens is everybody has more ideas than
they could possibly ever
work on,” Burns says. “You
throw out a dozen items
each, and you have a hundred ideas. Fairly quickly,
you say, ‘I can’t work on all
100, but it would be easy to
work on this one.’ … We
don’t go in with a preconceived notion of what the
final commodity is going to
be. Therefore, we don’t
waste a whole lot of time trying to force it to work. We
move on to the next one.”

Communication is key. Talk
about what it is you’re looking for and have somebody
in your group do the research
and report back on the findings.

“We talk about our specifications and our requirements
and how long we use them
and what we use them for
and come up with common
specifications,” Burns says.
“All those upfront conditions
and internal issues are actually addressed upfront.”

Through the flow of communication, you develop
trust. You also get to know
each other and what needs
your partners in the consortium have. And while your
company may not benefit
from the purchase of light
bulbs, perhaps you’ve been
looking for a deal on safety

The key is to look beyond
both the light bulbs and safety glasses and see the bigger

“Just keep brainstorming
the ideas until something
clicks,” Burns says.

Keeping it friendly

It’s a lot easier to build camaraderie with corporate partners
when you’re not working in
direct competition, says Dennis
Burns, strategic procurement
manager at The Lubrizol Corp.

“You would be cutthroat, and
you would not want the other
members to get the benefits,”
Burns says. “Most of the commodities we’re buying are not of
strategic importance. We’re buying the stuff everybody uses that
no one of us considers a strategic advantage. You don’t have
that distrust of each other.”

In addition to trust, you also
need to accept both the good
and the bad that come with
being part of a team.

“If you and I are both in a consortium, your problem is my
problem, also,” Burns says.
“There needs to be that all-forone type of mentality. If we’ve
got 10 members and we’re each
doing 10 percent of the total,
and one of them starts having
problems or issues, I might say
that’s not my problem. But if I
do that, all of a sudden my volume is 90 percent of what it
used to be because that person
dropped out, and now I’m not
getting as good a price as I
might have gotten.

“There does need to be the
realization of speaking for one
another and helping one another.”

HOW TO REACH: The Lubrizol Corp., (440) 943-4200 or

Packing up

After eight years of leasing office space, Sally
Koepke knew it was time to make a change.

“We sat down and did the
math, and it was staggering
what we spent on rent,” says Koepke, principal partner at McHale & Koepke
Communications. “We could
have owned a building had
we made that commitment
eight years ago. We decided
we wanted to be owners, not

The firm began looking at
locations on its own, then
got a real estate agent
involved in the search for the
perfect location. The firm
used the same real estate
agent who had helped find
its original office space in
Beachwood because he
understood the firm and
what is was looking for in a
new location, Koepke says.

“We wanted a building that
had a lot of light,” she says.
“We wanted it to be open,
inviting and conducive to the
creative environment.”

McHale & Koepke eventually found a location in Solon,
but even though employees
knew about the move from
the beginning, many were
still apprehensive. But by
showing them the new location and sharing how it
would benefit the firm, the
company’s leaders got
employees to buy in to the
transition, Koepke says.

By being upfront and getting employees involved in
the process with things such
as picking wall colors,
designing a new logo and
preparing the logistics of the
move, the firm made the
transition a smooth one.

“Whenever anyone feels
involved in a project, they
are going to take ownership
of it,” Koepke says. “So everybody felt a part of this move,
and offered good comments,
suggestions and solutions.”

Another important part of
moving is hiring an office
planner who can offer suggestions about placement of
office items and make sure
everything in the new space
is up to code, Koepke says.

“A good office planner who
understands your business
can help design space to
your goals of what your business does,” she says.

The key to a successful
move is planning and organizing, Koepke says.

“Several weeks in advance,
we had a packing day, where
things we wouldn’t need
until after the move were
packed up,” she says. “We
created a master layout of
the new space, then provided it to everybody so they
could code their boxes. Each
space and cube had a number. It was ideal. Everything
was coded so it correlated to
the work areas, then the
movers knew exactly where
to put everything when they
got (to the new building).”

Being organized and limiting work assignments the
day the move began helped
the firm complete the move
over one weekend and be up
and running the following

Koepke says it’s vital to
keep the lines of communication open during a move,
not just with your employees
but with clients and potential
clients, as well. The firm sent
out an e-mail blast about a
month before the move,
announcing its new location
and contact information,
then sent another one a
week before the move.

The move has provided the
firm with a new, fresh work
environment and saved it
money in the long run.

“We would have had to
renew our lease and throw
money out the door,” she
says. “It wouldn’t have hurt
our business to stay there,
but doing what we did definitely gave everyone a new
look and feel. It’s a beautiful
spot here — more conducive
to what we do than the old

HOW TO REACH: McHale & Koepke Communications, (440) 542-0080 or

How to move locations successfully

Sally Koepke, principal partner
at McHale & Koepke
Communications, offers these
tips to ensure a successful

  • Contact the Small Business
    Administration to see if you
    qualify for a loan to help with the

  • Hire an office planner.
    “Once you communicate what
    you do and how you envision it,
    they can take your thoughts and
    articulate it into a floor plan,”
    Koepke says. “There are critical
    things you want to take into consideration that they can assist

  • Don’t try to move by yourself. Hire a moving company,
    and if you have cubicles, have
    the company you bought them
    from move them. “Our company
    was able to take a look at where
    we were, where we were going,
    and be able to understand if we
    needed to order any new items,”
    Koepke says.

  • Make sure essential computer files are saved to disks or
    to some other type of storage.

  • Label everything. “We took
    our floor plan and assigned each
    area a number,” Koepke says. “It
    was simple, and that made it
    easy to know where all the supply room stuff went, our backup
    CDs went, our art files went and
    the kitchen supplies went.”

  • Give advance notice to your
    customers, clients and

  • Plan ahead for your utilities
    and with the postal service.

  • Host an open house when
    the move is complete.

Time for change

Same great service, just a different
name. That’s what AmTrust Financial
., formerly Ohio Savings Financial Corp., wanted to communicate
through a marketing campaign announcing
the bank’s name change.

But getting that simple message across
took a lot of time and work, says Debbie
Martinko, AmTrust’s public relations director.

She said the most important thing to
remember is the impact the change has
across the board.

“There was not one single line of business
that we have here or one single department
or employee that wasn’t impacted by it,”
she says. “Internally and externally, know
that you have to think about every single
thing because it does impact every single
aspect of your business.”

In early 2006, the bank’s leaders decided
to go forward with the name change. The
bank has been known outside Ohio as
AmTrust for years, so the name was only
changing in Ohio.

The bank formed a name change committee consisting of representatives from
each department in the company to discuss
the process. But committee members were
to keep the news quiet until the bank sent
out a formal communication to employees,
which was done in early 2007 through letters and postings on the company’s
intranet. Once everyone had been notified,
employees received a list of answers to
anticipated questions.

“We wanted to control the message getting out to our customers so we were ready
once the word started to get out to customers,” Martinko says. “Everybody hears
something. Somebody who works here
talks about it, and somebody comes into
the branch and says, ‘I hear you are changing your name. What does that mean?’ So,
we put a list together of standard responses to that.”

Along with meetings within each department, the name change committee met
every week and communicated openly if
there was a problem in the process.

“That was the touch point for everything
so that everybody was on the same page
with the entire project,” Martinko says.

Internally, the company didn’t want to tie
itself to a specific date to announce the
change. Instead, it told people the date of the change would be in the spring.
Eventually, April 23 was set as the official
date — a goal that the company met.

Martinko says it was important to set a
specific date.

“Without a date, the team doesn’t stay
motivated to keep taking care of things,”
she says.

Customers received letters before the
marketing campaign started to alert them
that the bank’s name was changing. Once
again, the key was to reinforce that nothing
but the name was changing.

“The letters we sent to every customer
probably are what really worked the best,”
Martinko says. “We didn’t take the chance
that they would see the TV ads or the newspaper ads or hear it on the radio. Sending
them the information upfront was beneficial.”

Because the bank normally only runs
small print advertisements, it hired Marcus
Thomas LLC to help with advertising.

But even with outside help, Martinko says
AmTrust’s attention was strongly focused
on the name change marketing campaign,
forcing other projects off to the side.

“From the date of the name change going
forward, we had about an eight-week
media schedule,” she says. “Within those
eight weeks, it was strictly name change.”

And all the careful planning and attention
to detail paid off in a successful transition
to a new name.

“It’s really rewarding to see it all come
together,” Martinko says.

HOW TO REACH: AmTrust Financial Corp., (216) 736-3480 or

Out with the old

Part of the challenge of communicating a name change is defining how long
to reference the company’s old name in
marketing materials.

At AmTrust Financial Corp, formerly
Ohio Savings Financial Corp., that is
Cindy Flynn’s job. The senior vice president/chief marketing officer says that
task could have been easier, but the
bank had not done enough research
upfront to establish awareness of the
Ohio Savings name.

“You want to know where you stand
with the old name,” Flynn says. “What is
the awareness today? Then, going back
up into the marketplace a couple months
into the name change and asking consumers, ‘Do you know that Ohio Savings
is now AmTrust?’”

To find out if the marketing campaign
to raise awareness is succeeding, Flynn
says she would like to take a random
sample of people in the marketplace,
with a target of finding that 65 to 75 percent of those polled knowing that Ohio
Savings is now AmTrust Bank.

“We are thinking we will carry it
through the summer and maybe into the
September time frame,” she says. “And
get a sense from our branches and from
our customer service calls we make
every day. Getting a pulse on, ‘Are people really understanding that this change
has taken place and this is a positive

Know your consumer

The biggest mistake that businesses
make in trying to market themselves
is that they don’t start with the consumer in mind, says Bill Brokaw, founder,
president and CEO of Brokaw Inc.

“If you think of the best brands — Apple,
Microsoft, Toyota — they have a single-minded vision and they’ve gotten everybody to
drink the Kool-Aid regarding that,” Brokaw
says. “That’s based upon who they are and
who they want to be. The best marketers
start with their consumer. Know your consumer inside and out, and know their needs
and their wants. That’s where it starts.”

Brokaw Inc., a marketing and public relations firm, has released a 26-page booklet
titled, “How to Brokaw,” which takes a colorful look at the common mistakes made in
marketing and offers insight on how to successfully make a name for yourself.

The following are excerpts from the booklet that offer truths about great advertising:


  • Great advertising begins with a clear,
    measurable marketing goal. What are we
    trying to do here? Increase same store sales?
    Put butts in seats? Glue eyeballs to Web
    pages? Drive commuters into the guardrail?


    Quite possibly, we’re trying to do several
    things. If so, we need to prioritize. Next, we
    need to answer the question, ‘How much
    can we reasonably expect the advertising
    to accomplish?’


  • Great advertising is based in human truth.
    It identifies a unique aspect of the brand/person relationship. It reminds people of their
    habits, beliefs and desires. And when done
    correctly, it causes the target audience to
    think, ‘I’ve done that. I’ve felt that.’



  • Great advertising is simple. And focused.
    We believe an idea is strengthened by
    everything that is removed from its execution, not added to it. Today’s consumer
    uses a sophisticated technology to interpret advertising. It’s called a bullshit meter.
    And the surest way to set it off is by blab-bering about yourself. The truth requires
    few words. And even fewer visuals.



  • Great advertising surprises you. Think
    about it. Every day, you wake up at the same
    time, go through the same morning routine,
    drive the same route to work and work on the
    same challenges, day in and day out. It’s no wonder people enjoy surprises.


    On top of that, consider how you engage
    with advertising. Our radars are finely
    tuned to identify advertising and to avoid it.
    Advertising that doesn’t surprise equals
    advertising that doesn’t get noticed.


  • Great advertising taps into your emotions. There’s an old saying: ‘People
    remember one-third of what they read,
    one-half of what they hear, but 100 percent
    of what they feel.’ Although advertising is
    not brain surgery, it is brain science.


    Every human decision is routed through
    the amygdala, the seat of human emotion.
    When we weigh potential outcomes of a
    decision, we are predicting the emotional
    consequences. If we can glue our message
    with emotion, we have a better chance of
    being remembered and ultimately selected.

Brokaw says that what advertising is really about is convincing consumers to take a
leap of faith. “You’ve got to give your potential customers confidence to take that leap
of faith and award you the business, anything you can do to demonstrate that you
have a real passion for that customer’s
business or that customer as an individual,”
Brokaw says. “Be a good listener. Be a good
fact-gatherer. Be a detective and be curious. Know what you don’t know.

“We know what we don’t know, and we
know what we’re good at. We can’t be all
things to all people.”

HOW TO REACH: Brokaw Inc., (216) 241-8003 or

Building relationships

The best salespeople are those who
can endear themselves to their customers by forming a caring and responsive relationship, Bill Brokaw says.

“Knowing when to lead and knowing
when to follow,” Brokaw says.
“Endearing that person’s trust. Come in
with an idea. … You’ve got to delight
your customers. It’s really more about
the relationship. It’s more than being
incredibly persuasive or slick.”

Brokaw is founder, president and CEO
of Brokaw Inc., a marketing and public
relations firm that has released “How to
Brokaw,” which offers tips on the best
practices to reaching your customers
through advertising.

Salespeople must be truthful, empathetic and resourceful, and do what they
say they are going to do in order to be

It is also important to bring up values
in the early stages of discussions with
potential clients.

“You need to open yourself up,”
Brokaw says. “I’ve noticed the more
candid you are, the more they will open
themselves up to you. That’s where trust
ensues. The only way you can do that is
through talking and open communication.”

At the same time, salespeople must
remember whom they are working for.

“Sometimes, you wind up working for
the client and you forget whose interests
you may need to hold near and dear,”
Brokaw says. “Doing what’s in the best
interest of the client is sometimes not in
the best interest of the company you are
working for.”

HOW TO REACH: Brokaw Inc., (216) 241-8003 or

Expanding from within

SearchPath International’s Tom Johnston leads a program that encourages franchisees to be

A company in the business of franchising
need not look any further than its own
franchisees for a great way to expand, says Tom Johnston, president and CEO of
SearchPath International.

“The best salesperson you can have for a
company is somebody who has already come
in, looked at what you’re doing, decided to
move forward and purchased a franchise,”
Johnston says. “That’s helped us grow the
company quickly, hit the market with a lot of
credibility, and it’s helped us keep our corporate overhead down because our franchisees
are also our sales force.”

The key to making a franchise referral program work is ensuring that the existing franchisees have the right tools to identify and
recruit new franchisees who will help the
company continue to grow.

“The right way to do this is not to go out and
say, ‘Hey, do you want to buy a franchise?’”
Johnston says. “We follow a very traditional
recruitment process.”

Johnston says that as a talent acquisition
professional services firm, SearchPath is very
familiar with recruiting. But the steps to
acquiring talent apply to any type of franchising organization.

“The first thing you normally do is you talk
to them and find out where they are in their
life,” Johnston says. “What are the things that
are important to them? What, ultimately, are
they trying to get to? The proverbial question
I always ask is, ‘Where do you want to be
three to five years from now?’”

Johnston says it comes down to “being able
to truly identify the needs, both emotionally
and financially, from a career point of view.”

Recruiting is obviously a vital part of a franchise referral program, Johnston says. But
one mistake companies often make in developing a program is building it around a territorial concept.

“The reason why many of the franchises
were built on territory when they first started
doing business had nothing to do with anything other than long-distance [phone] rates,”
Johnston says. With “the cost of doing business back in 1975, when you were doing
recruiting, you wouldn’t allow anybody to
make long-distance phone calls because they
were two or three dollars a minute. You did
all your business locally.”

With advances in technology and with the
world becoming smaller every day, territorial
boundaries should no longer be an obstacle to growth, Johnston says.

“Unless you are fortunate enough to get a
very large territory in a desirable area, I think
you run into a problem,” Johnston says. “It’s
creating restrictions that make it almost a

One enticement that encourages franchisees to be recruiters is to make them master franchisees, meaning that they get a percentage of the franchise fees and royalties for
bringing in new people rather than paying
that to someone else.

“They get short-term and long-term revenue,” Johnston says. “We look at the opportunity to create these master franchisees,
where they have a vested interest in helping
the people that they bring in to be successful.
We build that in as part of our support network.”

Franchise referral programs can be “very,
very aggressive,” Johnston says, but they can
also be very simple.

“Even if it’s just, ‘Hey, if you run across
someone who you think would be a good
referral, send them on in and we’ll send you a
gift certificate, or we’ll give you a couple thousand bucks,’ it can’t hurt,” he says. “The people that have bought in to your organization
that are happy and doing well, they are your
best salespeople.”

HOW TO REACH: SearchPath International, (216) 589-0431 or