Monday, October 14, 2013

Double your pleasure

Many customers look at advertising as an "either/or" proposition. They will advertise either in the daily or the weekly paper. They will do cable or print. This attitude stems from a desire to save money and they see reaching the same consumer twice as a waste of money. There are two reasons why this is penny wise and pound foolish. First, each media attracts a unique readership. While many people may access multiple media, few are touched by all the available media in their area. By leaving your paper out of the mix the "thrifty" advertiser misses readers who may be the ideal customer for the product or service they sell. The best way to ensure the success of your business is to reach as many potential customers as possible. The customers that they reach in one media that they do not reach in another represents their unduplicated reach.

Advertisers should also ask themselves,  "is duplication necessarily a bad thing?" Customers assume that when a consumer sees their ad, it is love at first sight. That they will jump up out of their chair and head for the advertisers business as soon as they see their ad. This is a very unrealistic view of  how advertising works. Most people take much more convincing. The more often they see the customer's message, the more likely they are to recall their name. After a while the consumer begins to associate the business with the products they sell. The more often a consumer sees the customer's name and is exposed to their message, the more likely they are to patronize the advertiser's business. I argue that far from being an unnecessary waste of money, that duplicated reach actually provides the advertiser with a significant benefit.

I hope you found this post valuable. Please feel free to post your thoughts on this subject in the comments section and to pass this blog along to others.

Thanks for reading.

Jim Busch   

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Lazy Reader

Henry Ford once said, "Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably why so few engage in it." Henry was ahead of his time. Modern scientific studies have found that human beings naturally try to keep their thinking to a minimum. We seek "Cognitive Ease" because as Mr. Ford had guessed, thinking is the hardest work we do. Though it only makes up about 2% of our body mass, the brain consumes up to 20% of the energy used by our bodies. Because of this disproportionate use of resources, we have evolved strategies to conserve energy and limit our processing of information. This is why it is so important to make sales presentations and ads simple and easy to understand.

Using laser technology researchers can precisely track where a reader is looking on a page. These studies have shown that readers will skip over an ad that is crowded or too complex. Readers prefer an ad that is easy to follow and clearly offers them a benefit. The same is true of a sales presentation. FMRI studies, which track brain activity, show that most people  "zone out" when presented with too many facts or if the presenter is too hard to follow. Salespeople who present only one or two ideas at a time and who use analogies and other tools to help the prospect understand their message will be far more successful than someone who buries them in information. In presentations, more is certainly less.   

Obviously we need to get our customers thinking about our products. The best way to do this is stay completely focused on the customer's needs and desires. If we can use simple presentations to demonstrate how our products can help the customer, they will be more than willing to invest the energy required to consider our proposals.

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this post or found it useful please feel free to pass it along.

Jim B.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Time Warp Questions

I am a powerful believer in the power of questions. A skilled sales person can use questions to steer the direction of a conversation and to reveal the prospect's "hot buttons." Great sales people prefer to ask questions rather than make statements. Research has shown that the more the customer talks, the more likely they are to buy. Questions are the tool that gets them talking.

In addition to revealing the customer's business situation and needs, questions can be used to reveal the customer's motivations and their purchasing patterns. For this purpose I like to use what I call "time warp" or "origin" questions. These are questions that ask the prospect to go "back in time" and tell you why they did something. When I meet a prospect for the first time, I like to ask them, "So, what led you to get into the whatever business?" Their answer tells me a lot about their personality and their goals. If they say, "I like being my own boss, the guy I was working for was doing shoddy work and I like to take pride in what I do," I know that I need to talk to them about promoting quality rather than price. If, on the other hand, they say, "I knew I could beat any body's price," I know to go the other direction. What led them into business, reveals a lot about the prospect and how to sell them.  

In competitive situations if you ask a customer why they are advertising in a competitive product, they may see this as a personal challenge. They may think you are attacking the competitive media and therefore attacking their decision to go that route. I find it is far better to say something like, "I'm glad to hear that you see the value of advertising, many of my customers also advertise in the XYZ. Can I ask what led you to go with XYZ?" This accomplishes several things, I defuses a potentially tense situation, it tells the customer that there is no reason that they can't advertise in both media and helps you to uncover their advertising goals. This is a way to gain insight into the thought process they use when purchasing advertising. I often use a follow up question like "You said that one of your goals was to increase your carry-out business. Have you accomplished this?" Rather than challenging the competitor directly, this gets the prospect thinking about the other media's performance.

"Time warp" questions are non-threatening because they take the issue out of context. They force the customer to step back and look at their situation from a distance. These questions can be used to remind customers of their goals and their dreams. Putting them in this frame of mind makes them much more receptive to you ideas on how they can achieve their objectives.

On another note, I recently started a new blog featuring some of my favorite quotes. You can check it out at The first post will explain this blog's rather "geeky" tile.  As always, I welcome you comments, feedback and ideas. Thanks for reading.

Jim Busch

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The "IKEA Effect"

In the 1940's and 1950's, American food companies began making cake mixes. To make a cake, all the housewife (it was the 50's) had to do was add water and bake. These mixes were convenient, quick, and easy to prepare; the only problem was that nobody bought them. Market researchers found that they were "too easy," that women wanted to feel like they were making an effort to feed their families. The companies removed the powdered eggs from the mix, changed the instructions to "add 1 egg," and the problem was solved. The act of breaking and adding an egg made the family cook feel like she was part of the process. Psychologists have dubbed this behavior the "IKEA Effect." This is based on the fact that people overvalue IKEA furniture because they can point to a bookcase with pride and say "I built that!" The act of assembling a piece of furniture engages them physically and emotionally. This gives them an enhanced sense of ownership that far surpasses their feeling for a piece that was delivered ready to use.

What does this have to do with selling advertising--everything! If we can get a prospect involved in creating their program, they are much more likely to buy it and much less likely to cancel. My company uses software from Tactician Media to map out a customer's coverage area. I will take my laptop into a call and locate the customer's business on the map. I hand them a pencil and ask them to point out where they would like to sell their products. I keep adding these to the map. When I am closing the sale, they often tell me they want to cut the cost. I take them back to the map and ask them which areas they would like to cut. Since they have personally chosen the areas, they have a hard time cutting them out. In the ancient days before laptops, I would use a similar method with a blank map and a highlighter

Another technique I use is getting the customer involved in designing an ad for their business. We work together to determine what consumers need to know about them. I ask a lot of questions like, "What kind of art do you think would work the best?" This engages them fully and like the map example above, they are very reluctant to cut anything out.

You can use the "IKEA Effect" to engage customers and get them to take ownership of their advertising. When they are involved they are less likely to quibble about price or to cut back. When they are involved in the process, you are no longer talking about "an" ad; you are talking with them about "their" ad.


Jim B.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Have I told you lately why you love me?

We all know the 4 "W's" of information gathering: Who-What-Where-Why. Working with sales people, I have found that far too many reps and copywriters get so bogged down in the the first three of these that they forget to make use of the 4th, and in my opinion most important, "W" the why. Selling advertising is all about motivation. We have to figure out what will motivate someone to buy an ad and then we have to design an ad that motivates their customers to patronize them. Motivation is driven by "why's." Why should I advertise? Why should I advertise with you? We need to answer these questions on every sales call. We need to answer these questions even if the customer doesn't ask them. When I am working in the field, many reps do a great job with the "who:" I am from the Pennysaver. They cover the "what:" I have this special home improvement tab. And they do a great job with the "where:" it is delivered to every home in your local community. Where their presentation falls apart is on the "why." They give their customer all the details on pricing, ad sizes etc. but fail to tell the customer that the special section will bring in new customers and MAKE THEM MORE MONEY! I believe this omission stems from the fact that they understand how advertising works and they assume that the prospect shares this insight. They think that everyone knows that if you deliver a marketing message to 10,000 homes that some of these people will become customers. Reps need to explain this to their customers and explain the "why" of advertising. Mr. Customer, This special section will be of great interest to your potential customers, by telling these people about all the great services you have to offer, you will generate a lot of calls so that your crews will be busy when the weather breaks. This is a great way to make sure you have a profitable start to the season.

The same thing is true with your customer's ads. Scanning through our publications I see many ads that tell me everything that the customer sells. I read through lists of dozens of pizza toppings in 6 point type. I see cartoon pizza flippers and the customer's name at the top of the layout. What I fail to see in many cases is a "why." Is the customer's food good? Do they have great prices? Great service?" To be effective an ad must tell the reader what they should do business with the advertiser. Research has shown a headline as simple as "Best Pizza in Town" will greatly enhance the response to the advertising.   

Don't make your prospects or your readers have to figure out for themselves why they should do business with you or your client. Every time you give anyone a "who," a "what," or a "where" make sure that it is accompanied by a clearly stated "WHY!" "WHY" should you do this--because YOU'LL MAKE MORE MONEY!

Thanks for reading--Jim Busch