“It's better to have one friend that's swimming up stream than ten who are going with the flow.”
by Alexander Berardi

You call THAT Marketing?0

Posted by Alexander Berardi in Uncategorized (Monday October 11, 2010 at 12:27 pm)

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In my last CounterThink marketing post we looked at defining your market—as in: Who is your market?

We saw how mainstream thinking causes us to view our market way too narrowly, focusing on the decision maker— the actual consumer of our products and services. As a result, we spend too much of our time, energy and money trying to reach that decision maker.

I showed you how, CounterThinker Ray Kroc, through his clown of a mascot, built a hamburger empire by reaching a whole new group of people—those who may not have had the money or ability to buy what he was selling, but had the power to influence the buying decision of the people who did.

This week, as we further examine how CounterThink affects marketing, I want to change your thinking about the term “marketing” itself.

How do you define Marketing? Do you think about marketing as being simply a function of sales and advertising? Do you think of it more creatively? More Expansively? How you define marketing can have a dramatic impact on how well your business is doing.

Walt Disney, another great CounterThinker, looked at picking up litter, scraping chewing gum off of sidewalks and the much-talked-about nightly routine of repainting all the fenceposts in the park, not as a function of maintenance, but as a function of marketing.

Imagine a father of three, sitting on the edge of the bed in his hotel room picking melted chewing gum out of the crevices of his favorite pair of sneakers with a bent coat hanger, after having just spent a long, exhausting day and 700 bucks— on admission, food, snacks, drinks, ice cream and souvenirs. I don’t care how much fun the family had that day, the last thing that guy’s going to remember about the happiest place on earth before he lays his weary, overspent head on the ow is that damn chewing gum.

Disney knew that the physical appearance of an establishment plays an important psychological role in the customer’s perception of the overall experience. And Ray Kroc felt the same way.

The success architect of the Mc Donald’s empire once described consistency and clean restrooms as “marketing.” Although, during my last visit to the Golden Arches, it became glaringly apparent that Kroc’s latter concept might not have been fully grasped by his successors.

Look, I don’t care what Richard Carlson’s goofy book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” says. As far as I’m concerned, not sweating the small stuff is great advice for the Masses of Asses who will strive for mediocrity and barely attain even that much. If you want to rise to the top, in any endeavor, you’ve gotta sweat the small stuff.

“Little hinges swing big doors.”

As CounterThinker, W. Clement Stone, the self-made billionaire-philanthropist and father of the Positive Mental Attitude movement—best known for his trademark pencil-thin mustache and flamboyant bow ties— used to say, “Little hinges swing big doors.” And swing them they do—either open or closed, depending on your attention to detail.

People are drawn to CounterThink live events and seminars, to my newsletter and to this column because they want to expand their thinking, their income, their business, and their opportunities. But I find that the majority of people’s thinking—especially, the way they think about the way they think— is way too limited.

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Here, we’re talking specifically about marketing. And as usually is the case, the context in which most people think about marketing is waaaay too narrow.

Generally, too little thought is given to things like: the physical appearance of the business— the consistent spotlessness of the tabletops, seats, ketchup bottles, windows and restrooms. What does the outside of the building look like as potential customers approach—is it clean and inviting? Does it appear safe and well-lit? And how about the package you’re shipping out? How does that package look when it gets into the customers hands— after having made its way through the shipping process?

I recently bought a few pairs of very expensive athletic socks ($90 a pair) from an online vendor. The socks arrived in a plain white, Tyvek envelope and the product boxes inside were crushed beyond recognition.

Yeah, I know, they’re socks… and crushing a pair of socks isn’t gonna hurt ‘em. But the damn socks were ninety-bucks a pair! And what really got me goin’ was the packing list crammed inside the crumpled box that read: “Packed with Care by George W.” Ya gotta be kiddin’ me, right?

So, even though there’s nothing wrong with the product itself—I actually really like the way the socks perform—I’m already searching out a new vendor for my next four pairs. With one simple, little screw-up that business lost a potentially good customer. And unless he’s reading this article, the owner may never figure out why—worth thousands of dollars in lifetime sales (see the chapter on calculating Lifetime Customer Value in my “Managing by the Numbers” series). I’m just guessing here, but I don’t think that’s the outcome the marketer had in mind.

How about testimonials? Do you use them to their utmost? Testimonials, as those of you have been following me already know, are the lifeblood of marketing. Without properly structured testimonials—from happy customers who are already enjoying the benefits of your goods or services—you’re leaving the bulk of your prospects unconvinced.

A lot of savvy marketers use testimonials, but most really fall short in their full context and application. A few CounterThink strategies include using testimonials on your invoices, statements and even on your collection and dunning letters. I’ve proven in my own businesses that testimonials actually improve collections on receivables and reduce delinquent accounts.

Do you routinely include a photo of your smiling customer—having fun with, and enjoying the benefits of your product or service? How about video and audio testimonials? Do you record your customer’s impromptu feedback after just experiencing your product or service for later use on DVD, Websites and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and You Tube?

Do you keep testimonials coming even after the sale has been made, the service has been delivered and the product has been consumed? Doing so will serve to enhance the new customer’s perception of satisfaction with the buying experience—they see and hear all the great things others are saying, and feel as if they should feel the same way. The continued, diligent practice also results in less returns and refunds. Testimonials should be included in everything you put out to the public. And they are so important we’ve started working on a new educational program in the CounterThink Marketing Series— Marketing with Testimonials. (If you’re interested in participating in the research, or want to reserve a pre-release copy, drop me an email: sandy@counterthink.TV)

People love surprises. So, do you give them a little surprise when they buy from you? Is there a little something waiting for them—Cajuns call it lagniappe—that appears with seemingly random regularity, like the 13th roll in a baker’s dozen?

My wife owns, among other businesses, a specialty niche boutique for women. She gave me a little resistance when I first suggested that she start handing out pieces of individually-wrapped gourmet, European chocolate to everyone who came into the store—the expensive kind, not those crappy little kisses.

I can understand her reluctance. After all, with an average transaction of $36 and a candy cost of about $1 a piece, it hardly made any sense—from a bottom-line standpoint—especially when I insisted that her salespeople also hand out chocolate to shoppers who didn’t buy a thing, or even to those who came in to return a previous purchase. But I’m a CounterThinker, not a bean counter, so it made perfect sense to me. Here’s why…

Chocolate is the No. 1 most craved food, and women are the ones most likely to crave it. The sugar in chocolate triggers the release of a nerve chemical called serotonin that results in an overall sense of well-being. The sweet taste also releases endorphins in the brain, giving us an immediate euphoric rush. The pure cocoa butter in good, expensive chocolate gives it a velvety-rich texture and the high cocoa content enhances the flavor and aroma—stimulating yet another nerve chemical called galanin—which satisfies our fat craving and provides what scientists have termed, a moment of ecstasy.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine— compounds that provide an instant mental boost, and phenylethylamine—which stimulates the nervous system, increases blood pressure and heart rate, and is said to produce feelings similar to that of an orgasm.

As a marketer, I can’t think of any better feeling I’d want my customers to associate with my business. So, the way I figure it, a nice piece of chocolate just might keep them coming…ya know, back.

So far, the little chocolate experiment has been quite a hit.

It’s all about looking at marketing in a broader, more creative context then one would typically feel is necessary. That’s what makes it CounterThink, and that’s what makes it work so damn well.

One of the things I’ll keep doing here is trying to expand the way you think about everything—including your business, your opportunities and your possibilities. And in the coming weeks, months and years you’ll find an eclectic mix of ideas, examples and strategies—some of which, I suppose, you might expect, and hopefully a few that you might not.

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