Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Free holiday content for your paper

Here is a gift for all my free paper friends. In addition to my sales training and research duties, I write features for my company. I also have had some success as a freelance writer. Several years ago I wrote and published a Christmas article titled "Miracle on Aisle 3." This non fiction inspirational piece produced more positive feedback than anything that I've ever written. In the spirit of Christmas, I am offering this article to any paper at no charge. It runs about a thousand words. All I ask is that you use my byline and let me know if you decide to publish it.  If you would like to review this article send an e-mail to and I will send it to you. I wish you a wonderful holiday season and a prosperous 2013. Thanks--Jim Busch

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Does your selling style reflect your buying style?

One of the wisest things I've ever read came from the pen of American writer Anais Nin. She said, "We don't see things as they are; we see them as we are." It is human nature to imprint the way we see the world on everyone and everything we encounter. This behavioral quirk can have a direct effect on how we perform on sales calls. We spend our workdays as sales people, but we spend a good deal of our leisure time as consumers. We purchase everything from a pair of socks to a new car, from a magazine to a 4 bedroom home. How we approach making a purchase, our personal "buying style", is as unique as a fingerprint. Some people are impulse buyers and make snap decisions on even major items. Others like to research and deliberate when shopping for something they want. Some of us are price shoppers while others are more focused on quality and brand names.

It is quite dangerous to assume that our customers share our buying style. I have a much deserved reputation for being the world's cheapest man. I drive a 1995 Ford Escort and buy a lot of my clothes at Goodwill. This is great for my savings account, but my frugality hurt my sales efforts when I started in the business. As a young rep, I thought that customers would always be interested in the lowest cost option. As I gained experience, I came to learn that many buyers were more interested in results, or the best coverage etc. They were more interested in advertising that addressed these concerns than they were in buying the least expensive program. Not being aware of a customer's buying style, and your own, can lead to communication difficulties. If the rep is an impulse buyer, they may not understand why a customer needs research to make a decision. Once, I was with a rep who liked to collect as much information as possible before making a buying decision. We presented a program to a customer who immediately responded, "That sounds good to me!" The rep actually had trouble recognizing this buying signal. He said to the customer, "I'm sure you'll need time to think this over." He would have walked away from the sale if I hadn't been there to close the sale for him. The key here is to recognize your own bias and to observe the customer to determine their individual style.

Managers should ask their sales people about their individual buying style. Asking a rep to describe the process they use to purchase a car or other big ticket item will help the manager to understand their rep's individual approaches to selling. By helping our reps to understand how their behavior as a customer influences their behavior as a seller is sure to increase their sales.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sticky Presentations

We live in a crazy busy world. Everyone is constantly inundated with information and sales pitches. This creates a challenge for sales people becasue we have to break through the clutter and make our presentations memorable and impactful. We need to make our presentations "sticky," to get the prospect engaged so that they retain the information we share with them. I like to use  "visual analogies" to sell advetising.

 For example: I was doing a presentation to a customer who advertised in a competitive product to convince him to include us in his marketing mix. I did some research and found that about one third of the market read their product exclusively and almost an equal number read only my paper. The remaining third read both publications. I could have printed out the research and shared the numbers, but in most cases this overwhelms the customer. Instead I bought three cheap clear plastic vases and two bags of Hershey's Kisses, one milk and one dark choclate. I put milk chocolate candy in one vase and the dark chocolate kisses in another. The third vase was left empty. During the presentation I pulled out the three vases and told the customer that they represented the readership of the two local papers. The vase on the left with the silver wrapped candy was my paper, ant the purple wrapped candy on the right was my competitor. I then poured some of each into the empty vase in the middle telling him that this was a more accurate description of the market because a third of local residents read both. I then took the vase of milk chocolate candy away and put it behind my back. I told the customer  "You current program misses one third of your potential customers" and pointing the the mixed vase "you are cutting your exposure to these people in half." This image helped the customer to understand what he was doing much more clearly than any chart or PowerPoint could do, The sight of having his "candy" taken away invoked the natural human tendency to avoid loss. Making my point visually burned this into the customer's brain and helped position the value of my paper. They expanded their budget and now advertise in both papers.

One final point: I first considered using dried beans to make my point but decided to go with the chocolate. After my demo, the client ate some of my"props" and I left the rest for his staff. This small gift made the presentation more memorable and literally left a "good taste in the customer's mouth." Whenever possible use visual analogies to prove the value of your products. Doing so will make what your presentations much "stickier!"   

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Remembering Stephen Covey

This week I learned of the passing of Dr. Stephen R. Covey, author of  The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People plus numerous other books and articles. Covey was one of the great thinkers of our day. I read the 7 habits over 25 years ago and it has had an immense impact on my life and my work.

I have always admired Covey's work because he understood that life is seamless. That it was worthless to become a better business person if doing so costs us our humanity. Dr. Covey's 7 habits offers lessons on being not just a better business person, but how to get the most from every aspect of our lives. He does not teach how to "beat the other guy" but rather how to foster communication and cooperation to develop solutions that benefits all parties involved in any interaction.

Dr. Covey's teaching affirmed the possibility of change and growth as a human being. He encouraged his readers to decide what they wanted from life and to evaluate every action against this yardstick. He believed that we differ from the animals because of our ability to respond rather than react to our environments. He believed in living mindfully. My favorite Stephen Covey quote is that "we should live out of our imagination rather than our history." He believed that we can recreate ourselves and that we can transcend our past and our current situation.

Finally, I commend Dr. Covey for his honesty. His book has remained on the business/self help books bestseller lists for decades while many other books which offered a quick fix have come and gone. He doesn't tell us that we can "double our income over night" or "become a business genius in a week." Covey's book are deep with meaning and require multiple reading to fully grasp their message. He tells the reader that becoming a better person requires hard work and constant effort. Covey tells us that we must achieve a private victory before we deserve to win victories in the world at large. He acknowledges that anything worthwhile must be earned.

I have tried to apply Dr. Covey's principles to my life and to my work. I believe that they have helped me to achieve professional success, but I am absolutely confident that his ideas have enriched my life. Stephen Covey maintained that the best way to absorb his ideas was to teach them. Over the years I have given away dozens of copies of the 7 habits to co-workers and friends. I have taught his ideas in my training classes and coaching sessions. I highly recommend that you read, or reread, the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People as the information it offers is truly timeless.

Several years ago i wrote a series of Link and Learn articles on applying Dr. Covey's Seven habits to selling advertising. If you would like to read these, you'll find them in the Link and Learn archive at

In the 7 habits Stephen Covey tells us that we should "begin with the end in mind." He recommended that as an exercise we should imagine our own deaths, He told us to think about what our families, our friends and our co-workers would say about us. He suggested we keep this in mind and to live our lives so that we will be pleased  with what they say at our graveside. Well Dr. Covey, thank you for all you've given to the world, you will be missed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Three great books for sales people and managers

On my 60th birthday, I asked my wife when I am allowed to become a "crotchety old man--DAG NABBIT!" She said not yet but she'd get back to me. I believe the secret to staying mentally young is to constantly feed the mind with new ideas. I have recently read three books that gave the old neurons a great workout and which offered some valuable insights for anyone in sales or sale management. Here are brief reviews of these books:

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnemen. this book reviews much of the current research into how the human brain functions. This book is packed with studies that delve into the decision making process and the motivations that drive us. Since we make our livings getting others to decide to buy our products or to motivate our teams to do what we need them to do, this book is a powerful tool for advertising professionals. Because of the sheer amount of data contained between its cover, this is not an easy book to get through, but it is well worth the effort.

Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer. I chose Ideas and Eyeballs for the name of my training/consulting business for a reason...I think the key to success in advertising, and in any enterprise, is creativity. Creativity expands the world and helps us to find new ways to help our customers. Creativity is the well spring of value, generating new ideas is what we get paid to do. Jonah Lehrer's book explores the creative process and provides some valuable techniques for creating an environment that encourages the creative process. A easy entertaining book to read, Imagine helped me to understand my own creative processes.

It Worked for Me by Gen. Colin Powell. Like serving dessert, I saved the best book for last. This book is as entertaining as a novel, but still offers some great hands-on ideas about leadership and career success. Whether you agree or disagree with Colin Powell's actions or politics, you must admit that he is an extraordinary man. A ROTC officer from a small public college, he surpassed his West Point educated peers to become the leader of the US military machine and  then secretary of state. This book relates many incidents from his long career and the lessons he learned from them. Unlike many books by those who achieved greatness, Powell doesn't give the impression that he is coming down the mountain with all the answers carved into stone tablets. His title says it all, he is simply relating what worked for him in his long career. He not only writes about what success taught him, but also what he learned form his mistakes. This book is a series of short anecdotal chapters written in a simple conversational style that makes it hard to put down, I highly recommend this book for anyone but especially for those in, or those who aspire to, a position of leadership.


Jim Busch 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Frequency = Trust

I am currently reading Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. This book is a review of current psychological research concerning the human decsion making process and the subconscious. A lot of the material covered in this excellent book is directly related to the selling process and to ad design. Of particular interest was the book's discussion of the "mere exposure effect." As media people we've always known that regular advertising is the key to building a business, this concept explains why frequency matters and provides  experimental proof of its impact on the minds of readers. One study described in Kahneman's book used ads placed in a unniversity newspaper featuring a series of made up nonsense words. Some words appeared just twice, some five times, 10 times and so on up to 50 times. The ads only contained the one word and when inquiries were made about them, the callers were told "the advertiser has requested anonymity." After all the ads ran, readers were surveyed and asked if the words conveyed "good" things or "bad" things. The reposndents expressed "good" feelings about the words that they had seen most frequently and "bad" thoughts about those repeated less often. Psychologists believe that when we are exposed to something on a regular basis and nothing "bad" happens we come to trust that item. In addition to building TOMA (top of the mind awareness), frequent advertising builds trust in the advertiser's business. This trust is particularly important in a tight economy when consumers are reticent to part with their money until they are 100% confident they are making the right decision.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The 142 million dollar question!

The 142 million dollar question--"Why did Warren Buffet spend 142 million dollars on a bunch of newspapers when everyone knows that print is dead?"  Perhaps the answer is that Warren Buffet is not "everyone," in fact he is one of the smartest business people in American history. The secret of Buffet's success is his knack for seeing value that less astute observers miss. While most investors were listening to the "experts" he took a look at the financials of the publishing industry. In his typical understated manner, Buffet said  "I think the economics (of newspapers) will work out OK. It's nothing like the old days, but I think it will work out OK." One of the keystones of Buffet's investing strategy is his belief in buying businesses that provide good value to their customers and fill a marlet need. On this subject he said "Newspapers are still primary in many areas. They still tell me something primary that I can't find elsewhere." Warren Buffet takes a long-term view, buying firms that are positioned for consistent earnings and incremental growth. This is why he chose to prchase a firm heavily weighted toward community newspapers. Here's what the "sage of Omaha" said about our industry "In towns and cities where there is a strong sense of community, there is no more important institution than the local paper." The next time someone tells you that "print is dead", tell them that the most successful business person in the US strongly disagrees. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Advertising in tough times

Customers often ask us, What is the cost of advertising?" The question they should be asking is, "What is the cost of NOT advertising?" The price of advertising can be counted in dollars and cents, the cost of not advertising is immeasurable, not advertising can result in bankruptcy. We are selling the one thing every business needs--CUSTOMERS! Look at this information collected by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB)and reported in the December 28, 2011 edition of the New York Times:

1 in 4 NFIB members believe their biggest problem is weak sales.

William Dunkelberg, chief economist for the NFIB, expressed it this way: "The key to everything is cash coming in the front door." This is what we deliver, customers with cash in their pockets walking in the front door or picking up the phone to do business with our advertisers.

Never forget:

 Nobody wants to buy advertising--everybody wants more customers!
Don't talk to your customers about your paper, talk to your customers about your readers. That is what they really want to buy.

Take it easy, but take it!

Thanks for reading.

Jim Busch

Friday, May 4, 2012

"Escape" Television

When I talk to a business owner who is considering advertising on television (Cable or Local Broadcast) I ask them if they watch "Escape Routes" on NBC. Escape Routes is a television program that was produced by the Ford Motor Company and given at no charge to NBC. NBC could air the program and sell advertising around it, the only stipulation being that the network would not sell any other automotive ads on Escape Routes. This show features a group of young adults traveling around the country in their Ford Escapes and trying to win a new Ford by competing in challenges. This is a full 60 minutes of product placement. Ford decided to go this route (no pun intended) when they looked at the results from their advertising on American Idol. Coke whose products were featured during the show did much better than Ford who used traditional commercials. Ford realized that 44% of US homes now own a DVR (Digital Video Recorder such as a TIVO) This is an 11% increase in ownership of these commercial killing machines over just two years ago.Research indicates that DVR owners fast forward through more than 1/2 of the commercials during the programs they watch. Ford countered this trend by building their products into the show's content but this option is not available to small business advertisers. Thess devices coupled with the growing number of people who are watching TV on their laptops and tablet computers greatly reduces the impact of TV advertising.

These are good points to share with prospects to get them thinking before they commit their budget to television.

Take it easy but take it!

Thanks  Jim Busch

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Trapping ideas

Someone once said that "creativity is the ultimate competitive advantage." This is especially true in the advertising business. Ideas are our stock and trade. As I go through my week I see many things that stimulate my creativity. I see opportunities for new products, a need for a new sales approach or I think about a new sales tool. In the hustle and bustle of the work week, ideas get lost in the midst of a fast paced day. I make a point of carrying an "idea trap." This is a small memo book dedicated to writing down the ideas that occur to me during the day. I suppose more tech savvy people could use their smart phone or  I-pad but a simple notebook works best for me. I don't use this notebook for anything else, no phone numbers, expenses etc. At the end of the week, I go through the book and create files for the ideas I want to act on. This technique keeps me supplied with an constant stream of actionable ideas.

Take it easy but TAKE IT! Jim Busch