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 renters.”
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 Monday.
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 location.”
HOW TO REACH: McHale & Koepke Communications, (440) 542-0080 or www.mchalekoepke.com
How to move locations successfully
Sally Koepke, principal partner at McHale & Koepke Communications, offers these tips to ensure a successful move.
- Contact the Small Business Administration to see if you qualify for a loan to help with the move.
- 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 with.”
- 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 prospects.
- Plan ahead for your utilities and with the postal service.
- Host an open house when the move is complete.
Same great service, just a different name. That’s what AmTrust Financial Corp., 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 www.amtrust.com
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 thing?’”
Free-throw percentage, three-point percentage, turnovers and steals all are used to help take subjectivity out of decision-making and apply more science than art.
The Cleveland Cavaliers organization is taking a similar sort of approach to better targeting its sales efforts. Why waste limited resources on targeting consumers who aren’t very likely to attend a Cavs game? It would be the equivalent of taking half-court shots in a game of H-O-R-S-E: You might make one every once in awhile, but the odds are heavily against you.
Instead, the Cavs, under the guidance of Damion Chatmon, director of database marketing, are identifying the demographic groups that are most likely to buy a ticket and focusing sales efforts toward those groups. The organization took its existing databases and worked with Strongsville-based C.TRAC information solutions to develop a profile of both corporate and individual customers who are most likely to buy season tickets.
“The goal is efficiency,” says Chatmon. “By having a more targeted list of profiles to work off of, the more productive per call we are. Our call-to-sales ratio has increased.
“It’s like a la carte. We are able to provide SIC codes, income, ZIP codes, employee size or sales revenues generated by companies. We can say, ‘We want this sector in Eastern Cleveland or this ZIP code or this group of SIC codes and go after that. We’ve had very positive results. A lot has to be said about the direction of the team and the organization, because we’ve really taken off. The launch pad is hot, and we are going places that have yet to be determined. But a lot can also be attributed to our database collection efforts.”
As a result, when the Cavs buy prospects lists, they only need about 20 percent of the names they needed previously to achieve the same level of sales because they know exactly who is most likely to buy their tickets.
“Our motivation is centered on targeting a more focused prospect,” says Tad Carper, vice president of communications for Quicken Loans Arena. “Our advertising and internal marketing resources are becoming more and more dedicated to targeted approaches to consumers who are more likely to purchase tickets. The more targeted and pre-profiled the person we send the message to is, the more likely sales will respond positively. You are seeing this across the entertainment industry.”
Beside external sources, the organization is also constantly collecting data internally through contests and e-mail newsletters.
“The trend is online sales,” says Chatmon. “Folks are embracing technology, and it is extremely efficient. When news came of the collective bargaining agreement, within 15 to 20 minutes, we were able to blast that to our fan base.”
The data is also analyzed to develop links to related products. For example, those interested in Cavaliers’ games may also be interested in the Mid-American Conference basketball tournament. The arena is doing the same thing with other events: People interested in Shania Twain are likely to be interested in other country singers, so databases can be refined so direct mail and other marketing efforts are directed at those who have the most potential to buy.
“We are constantly looking for similarities in audiences and comparing that to our database,” says Carper.
The Cavs also have to make sure they are using the right medium. A focus group of kids between the ages of 8 and 18 showed that 70 percent were getting their event information through e-mail.
“It comes back to how we can most effectively market to the fans of tomorrow,” says Carper. “It makes all the data even more relevant.”
How to reach: The Cleveland Cavaliers, (216) 420-2000; C.TRAC, (440) 572-1000
- Focus on what your business achieves for its customers. Your brand is no good to you if it isn’t delivering what customers want.
- Take ownership of your brand. Pay attention to customers’ needs, but you should still control what you want your brand to mean to them.
- Be honest. If you don’t believe in your brand, no one else will.
- Keep your brand simple. Focus on a small number of key brand values.
- Be consistent. Every aspect of your business should make customers feel the same way about you.
- Be thorough. Look at all your systems to make sure they help to support your brand.
- Involve employees. Make sure they understand your brand and believe in it.
- Communicate your brand. Make sure every advertisement, brochure and letter helps reinforce the same message. If you have a logo, use it everywhere.
- Meet and exceed what your brand promises. Failing just once will damage your brand.
- Manage your brand. Continually look for opportunities to make improvements. And don’t be afraid to make changes to reflect shifts in the way you do business or new trends in your market.
“All of a sudden it became very apparent that we were just losing touch with our end users,” says Hughes. “Our database had basically diminished because we weren’t selling to (home and business owners) anymore. We were selling through our contractors. ... And so there was kind of a big wakeup call as to, ‘Well, how the heck are we going to market to our customers if we don’t know who they are?’”
For years, instead of focusing on the end-user consumer, the company had focused on forming allegiances with contractors around the country who might use Garland flooring in their jobs. Now the company needed a way to leverage those relationships with contractors to get better access to and more familiar with the consumer. But Hughes hit another hurdle.
“They were their customers, as they saw it, even though they may have been putting our floors in,” says Hughes. “It became very apparent to us that we had to do something to ... allow them to share (their customer) lists with us, and to do so, there had to be a reason why you’d do it. This is when we came up with what we called our cooperative marketing program.”
With the help of Felber & Felber Marketing, the company developed a program called “Garland By” that would enable Garland to co-brand with contractors and installers across the country. Everything would be branded with “Garland By,” followed by the contractor’s name.
“Because they run an independent business and we run an independent business, when it comes to really branding our company and theirs, we’re really in competition,” says Hughes. “Locally, they want to get their name out there, and as well, we want our name out there nationally. So we felt that if we co-branded, did everything with a Garland By Garland By the contractor’s name we would ... no longer be in competition, but it would be cooperative.”
And Hughes had a winning plan to get contractors on board. For participating, Garland would provide each company with myriad marketing materials, including printed materials such as brochures and direct-mail pieces with both companies’ names on them; public relations, trade show and inside sales support; promotional items such as polo shirts, hats and golf balls; and a personalized, co-branded Web site. The kicker was that these companies would only have to pay a fraction of the marketing cost in exchange for sharing their customer lists.
“What we wanted to do was take our expertise on the marketing side and help our contractors, who really don’t spend a whole heck of a lot of money in marketing,” says Hughes. “What we tried to explain to them is that Garland spends about 6 percent to 7 percent of their total sales dollar toward marketing. A service business would never put as much into it as that, but even if we just could get them to use 1 percent of their total sales volume, that would be a good thing.”
The program has allowed Garland to build on the local reputation of each contractor or installer to gain national recognition and reconnect with consumers. Meanwhile, local contracting businesses are seeing booming business from the increased marketing, which assures their loyalty to Garland and keeps their discretionary business coming Garland’s way.
HOW TO REACH: ICS Garland Inc., www.garlandfloor.com
No matter how good the members of your sales team are, theyre still prone to mistakes. That goes for new hires as well as seasoned pros.
Here are five common errors that can harm your companys ability to sell products and services, and ways to avoid them.
How many salespeople have a written outline of what they expect to achieve on a sales call? Many simply walk in a prospects office, plop into a comfortable chair and ask, What is it you need today?
If the prospect knew the answer, he or she could simply grab the Yellow Pages, make a call and fill the void.
Salespeople must know how to apply their knowledge of what they sell to the benefit of the prospect. They should spend time understanding the real needs and wants of prospects before they blindly call. To mine that information, they should try:
- The Internet
- Prospects annual reports
- Prospects industry trade journals and buyers guides
- Noncompeting salespeople who sell the prospect now
- Any records within your company pertaining to the prospect
- The library
- Prospects competitors
- Business publications, such as SBN.
Using a generic (or no) presentation
This is a direct result of problem No. 1. Presentations can be dynamite selling tools if they address issues near and dear to the prospect. If the salespeople know little or nothing about a prospects needs, then they cant give a dynamite presentation.
Reading too many Relationship Selling books
Building positive relationships with customers is a good thing. However, people dont become lifelong pals after one or two sales calls. Pushing the issue too quickly to buddy up may cause some to back off instead. In some firms, there are strict rules against accepting even a lunch from vendors.
Good business relationships develop slowly and are based upon mutual respect. Keep initial sales calls cordial but professional. Develop a good relationship by giving your customers the very best service possible. Being attentive to customers needs so they see you as a dependable problem solver is one of the best ways to develop a long-term business relationship.
A major weakness for many salespeople is that they simply talk too much. When you talk, you are not listening and learning about your prospects wants and needs. Good salespeople should talk no more that 30 percent of the time.
They also should learn the art of asking open-ended questions to keep the information flowing.
Failing to take care of established customers
The best resource for new business is a referral from a satisfied customer. Some salespeople enjoy the chase of obtaining new accounts so much they tend to ignore their established business.
One of the most powerful marketing tools today is good customer service. Customers with problems will tend to call their salesperson when things go wrong. Thats often the person they feel most connected with.
Never allow customers to be treated as poor relatives looking for a handout. They are your companys most valuable assets.
And remember, your best customers are your competitors best prospects.
Ted Tate (email@example.com) is a Mentor-based sales trainer and president of Tate & Associates. He works with business owners to help improve sales results. Tate is the author of Just Sell It, and can be reached at (440) 257-7520.
I recently lost a big account to my competition. My boss says it's my fault because I didn't do enough to ensure the business wasn't at risk. From what I understand, my competitor made an offer they couldn't refuse. It seems there is no longer any customer loyalty. What can I do to ensure this does not happen again?
The best source for new business comes from your current customers. Yet in today's highly competitive world, it seems to be more and more difficult to stave off the competition and keep our customers.
Here are seven habits you should develop to keep and grow the business you have with your current customers.
Habit No. 1: A good client relationship is like a marriage. Make sure your client shares your expectations.
Marriages typically fall apart when expectations are not being met. Similarly, we lose customers because our idea of service doesn't match our customers' expectations, which brings me to the million-dollar question: What degree of service do your clients expect from you?
How do you go about developing this inventory -- determining exactly what your clients expect of you? The answer is simple -- ask them.
Habit No. 2: Your best customer is your competition's best prospect. Treat every customer like a prospect.
Every day you keep a customer, you're one day closer to losing that customer. Do you know what it would take to lose an account? Why did your best customer switch from his previous supplier to you? How will your customers deal with your competitors who call on them?
Ask these questions and be prepared for the worst. Once you know the answers, rehearse your prospect on how to deal with the barrage from the competition.
Resist the temptation to put words in your clients' mouths, as they will always be more committed when it comes from them. If they need a little help, give them ideas on how to handle it but be sure that your client buys in to it.
Habit No. 3: Nobody likes confrontation. Get at the truth, even when it hurts.
Your customers hate to tell you they are unhappy, and you hate to hear it. Nevertheless, your job is to uncover the truth, even when it hurts. How many times have we been less than fully satisfied with a meal at a restaurant, yet when the maitre d' asks, we tell him that everything is fine.
How will you know if your customer has a problem with your company if he or she is afraid to tell you because you refuse to listen or repeatedly explain away the mistake? Make sure the customer knows that it's OK to tell you bad news.
How will you know if your customer has a problem with you? Have a backup -- someone else the customer can go to with complaints. Realize that you are only human, and it's quite possible that one day you could mess up or there could be a misunderstanding. Tell your prospect that, while you aren't planning for that to happen, it could, and that if it ever does and he is upset enough, that you want him to be absolutely comfortable calling your manager.
Habit No. 4: You don't lose customers because of price; you lose them because of stroke deprivation.
Everyone needs to be stroked, and in today's fast-paced, impersonal world, everyone is running around stroke-deprived. The way to keep customers is to ensure that they are getting their fair share of strokes from you. How much do you know about your customer's career aspirations, about his or her personal aspirations? Is what you're doing for your customer's company good for the customer himself?
Keep a fuzzy file on each of your good customers. Know their likes and dislikes. Do things for them -- little favors, e-mails, send news clippings, take them to lunch, remember important dates in their lives. How often should you give strokes? Every chance you get, as long as you can do it with sincerity. Become a fuzzy source of stroke gratification for your clients
Habit #5: Never seek stroke gratification from your clients; only give it.
Oftentimes, salespeople will look for strokes from clients. Your job is to become a stroke source, not a stroke recipient. Get your needs met elsewhere.
Habit #6: Get an IOU for everything you do.
There is a difference between service and servitude. Your customers won't know you are extending extraordinary service to them unless you let them know you are providing it. The more you give, the more you get. Cheerfully provide terrific service but let your customers know when you've gone to extraordinary measures for them.
Sometimes you'll find yourself in a situation in which the customer has a request you cannot fulfill. Manage those expectations up front
Habit #7: Conduct a Chief Executive Semi-Annual Review (C.E.S.A.R.).
A C.E.S.A.R. program is an important way to help keep and grow your accounts. Twice a year, contact the CEO or the ultimate decision-maker at your account in a meeting, via telephone or in writing to find out where you and your company stand and to uncover other opportunities where you can be of service in the account.
Calling at this level does two things: It keeps you more in tune with what the honest feedback is and it doesn't keep you at the lower levels with which you may be accustomed to dealing, day in and day out, to maintain the account. It gets you in front of the chief executive at least twice a year to have good and meaningful dialogue. Larry Lewis is president of Total Development Inc., a Pittsburgh-based firm dedicated to helping companies and individuals improve their sales performance through training and personal development. Send your comments via fax at (724) 933-9224 or visit totaldevelopment.com. Reach him by phone at (877) 933-9110.
For Utica-based Velvet Ice Cream Co. Inc., one came from high above the earth.
Well, not literally.
But a Delta Air Lines traveler from Arizona saw Velvet featured in the airline's Sky magazine and went home to visit Velvet virtually. After looking at the Web site, she decided she just had to try the company's sugar-free varieties -- all four of them, in fact.
''One of the girls came in and says, 'Mike we've got this lady from Arizona, and she wants us to ship some ice cream. What do I do?''' says Mike Dager, president and CEO of Velvet. ''I said, 'No. 1, take the order!'''
Velvet's feature in Sky magazine resulted from the work of Lee Esposito, principal of Lee Esposito Associates, a Columbus-based publicity firm.
It's not the first time Esposito's taken Velvet to the skies; in 2000, the company's Ye Olde Mill, where visitors can see ice cream being made and learn about its history, was featured in the in-flight magazines of Midway and America West.
The magazines suit Velvet's wishes to garner more national publicity.
''Let's face it, at 35,000 feet we have a captive audience,'' Esposito points out.
''In-flights are read, first of all, and what I liked about in-flights is they are designed to be kept. They are taken off the plane.''
Here are some of the tactics he used to get the company featured:
* Have a plan.
''There was a method to the madness,'' Esposito says of choosing Sky, ''and that was a prestigious in-flight magazine, with an airline where Columbus was on the route, where there was a section in the in-flight that did work for the client, and targeting certain months.''
Esposito also knew the magazine generally published toll-free phone numbers and Web sites in some of its features, and Velvet had both.
The article ran as Esposito hoped, in a summer month -- June, which also happened to be National Dairy Month. He also would have been happy with July, National Ice Cream Month.
* Don't give up.
Esposito spent nearly six months staying in contact with the editor of Sky's section called ''The Best,'' where he wanted the article placed.
It's a good thing, too. Initially, the information he mailed to Associate Editor Nancy Oakley was misplaced.
''He called back about the time I was preparing the June issue and suddenly a light bulb went off. He said, 'You can actually go to visit the place,''' remembers Oakley, who works for Greensboro, N.C.-based Pace Communications Inc., which publishes Sky and other in-flight magazines.
The idea fit two criteria of ''The Best'' features: Velvet was a travel destination -- not far, in fact, from Delta's hub in Cincinnati -- and an ice cream cone would be just the right vertical artwork that Oakley looks for in her ''The Best'' section, which suggests items to readers such as art museums to visit or hotel rooms to stay in.
''For this particular instance, I have to credit Lee Esposito,'' Oakley says. ''He was just persistent, but not in an annoying way at all, and timing had a lot to do with it.''
The resulting two-sentence piece, written by Sky, included Velvet's phone number and Web site after its blurb about the company:
''Chocolate, strawberry, butter pecan, black walnut and burgundy cherry are among the 500-odd flavors that Ohio's Velvet Ice Cream Company has manufactured over the years. You can watch the process, sample the wares and check out an ice-cream museum at Velvet's headquarters, a restored 19th-century mill in Utica, in -- where else? -- The Licking Valley.''
Esposito also issued a press release regarding the Arizona customer Velvet gained from the Sky publicity.
* Be flexible.
Esposito offered Sky magazine a product photograph to use with the text, but Oakley says because the magazine enlarges photos and uses them as silhouettes, she often has better luck sending the products directly to a photographer.
The designer wanted something colorful, so the first thought was to use sherbet. Dager nixed the idea, pointing out that sherbet crystallizes as it gets warm. Ice cream would stand up better to the photography studio lighting. In the end, Velvet shipped Mint Chocolate Chip, Butter Pecan and Cashew, and Raspberry Fudge Cordial flavors to the studio in New York City.
The company used the same packing and overnight delivery methods to send the Arizona customer her order.
Having such publicity gives a push to Velvet's efforts to expand nationally, Dager says.
A wholesaler, it sells and distributes its product to retail outlets such as Bob Evans and Consolidated Stores, and to grocery stores including Kroger, Big Bear and Giant Eagle. Velvet also has food service clients such as hospitals, schools and restaurants, reaching 13 states.
Dager continues to hear comments from people who have seen the article.
Shortly after it ran, he got an excited phone call from a Newark Uniglobe travel agent who had seen it on her way to Florida for a national convention.
''We've been getting calls from friends, family, business associates, suppliers that are traveling,'' Dager says. ''It's just amazing what the little press release like that will do for you.'' How to reach: Lee Esposito, Lee Esposito Associates, 421-2701 or firstname.lastname@example.org or www.newsangle.com; Mike Dager, Velvet Ice Cream Co. Inc., (740) 892-3921 or www.velveticecream.com; Nancy Oakley, Sky magazine, email@example.com
Joan Slattery Wall (firstname.lastname@example.org) is senior editor of SBN Magazine in Columbus.
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 www.brokaw.com
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 successful.
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 www.brokaw.com
“The traffic control industry is very cyclical,” says Pollock. “During the winter and certain times of year, it slows down. So we were looking for a way to smooth out the peaks and valleys of our business by offering broader products.”
Since 1989, Signs & Blanks has manufactured finished road signs and aluminum sign blanks for customers ranging from government agencies to private individuals, with an expertise in road, street, and construction and school zone signs. But Pollock thought expanding its marketing offered an opportunity for growth.
“One of the first things we did is we got into doing reflective real estate signs because they offer the Realtor visibility at night,” says Pollock. “What we’ve found is anybody is a potential customer now, whether it’s real estate, construction, contractors, retail stores or restaurants.”
Signs & Blanks invested in a new printer that allowed it to digitally print Realtors’ pictures on signs. Pollock also hired a graphic designer, which reassured businesses of a quality product and allowed companies without their own artwork to have something custom-designed.
“For this company, I’d say (the investment) was pretty significant,” says Pollock. “But I’m happy to say it looks like we’re getting an adequate return for what we’ve put into it.”
As a result of the investment, Pollock expects 8 percent growth in revenue this year.
The company also began marketing to other sign shops, offering aluminum blanks they could finish themselves or finished ones they could resell. The process mirrors its arrangement with smaller municipalities and townships that prefer to purchase unfinished signs so that a local sign business can profit from finishing them.
Pollock says direct mail, and phone and print marketing, in addition to networking, have been key components of his marketing strategy.
“We’ve joined a couple of the local chambers of commerce and also done some donations of signs and banners to try and get our name out,” Pollock says.
Signs & Blanks has also built on its reputation in the traffic sign business to spread into new markets. In its brochures and marketing literature, it has stressed its experience with high-quality materials and attention to detail, hoping customers will recognize a distinct value in its product.
“If you’re able to use techniques or your area of expertise as a springboard for future growth, you have a higher opportunity for success,” says Pollock.
Based on his previous success in expanding markets, the company is now looking to take the expansion a step further Signs & Blanks has started selling trade show displays and expects that to be another potential growth area in 2006.
HOW TO REACH: Signs & Blanks Ltd., (330) 630-0773 or www.signsandblanks.com