Category — Advertising & Marketing
Today’s post was inspired by a newsletter I received via email from a company which I am not only a client of, but a big fan of. Because I truly care about their product and believe it to hold great value to many people all over the world, I shot them off a quick email to alert them to this so they could do even better. And at Optum Consulting, that just might be what we do best - take companies and products that are already great and make them that much better.
In the bigger picture what we are talking about in today’s post is something we call AVOIDING LEAKAGE. Look for past and future posts regarding this concept specifically. But in short, for the purposes of this post, â€œLeakageâ€ is a term we coined at Optum Consulting that refers to that moment when your customers or potential customers â€œsee throughâ€ one of your sales techniques or methods and it gives them a negative feeling instead of a positive one.
Oftentimes the consumer is not even aware of it. It is something that takes place subconsciously in the consumerâ€™s mind and they aren’t even sure what it was exactly but something just turned them off. So instead of a sale, you get a â€œno saleâ€ or a “walk away” or a “hang up” or a â€œdeleteâ€ or even worse an â€œunsubscribe.â€ Now sometimes the customer IS aware of it. They know exactly what it was that turned them off. They notice something that just seems a bit â€œoffâ€ and it turned them off â€“ such as when a company makes the mistake of advertising â€œthe lowest price everâ€ for a product in one piece of sales literature but that customer also happened to notice that they offered an even lower price a few months back, or in another piece of literature that was sent to a different database and they just happen to be signed up to both databases. That’s leakage in a nutshell and you want to avoid it at all costs.
There are hundreds of mistakes a company can make in their sales literature and sales methods that can cause â€œLeakage.â€ Again, look for a more detailed examination of it in past and future posts. But you get the idea.
Today we will be discussing just one of those. And it can easily be summed up by the following words: STOP SELLING if you really want to SELL MORE of your product. Selling has always been a turn off to consumers. It is one of the enigmas of being in business. How to sell your product without actually SELLING. Or at least without letting your customer feel as though they are being SOLD TO.
One of the ways companies used to â€œsellâ€ was to â€œthreatenâ€ their customers with â€œSupplies limited!â€ or â€œAct Now! Product Going Fast!â€ We call this technique â€œstressing urgency.â€ It used to work. And in some cases it can still work. But not very often anymore. Only in the lowest-value-product markets. Late night TV infomercials are good examples of products that still use this method. But even they are smartening up to the ever-smarter consumer and the new methods that are necessary to sell to them.
June 12, 2008 1 Comment
One of the things that we do a lot of here at Optum is help individuals and companies with their web presence and email marketing systems. The advent of Web2.0 technologies has changed everything very quickly. And things continue to change at a rapid pace. Luckily we have a solid team of five who specialize in just that and are absolutely obsessed with technology. Not with keeping up - but staying ahead. 2008 is a special year for a few of us because it is the tenth anniversary for three of us. I hired two of these guys way back in 1998 and they are still working for me today ten years later. That says a lot about each of us.
Right now the Internet is changing at a faster pace than it ever has before and it is for a variety of reasons. One of them is because more and more people from all over the world have access to it. And number two, technology is becoming easier and easier to use and manipulate - therefore more and more people than ever before are creating software, platforms, applications, widgets, and operating systems than in the recent past when “software developing” or “computer programming” was a trade that was in the hands of the very few.
Now we’ve got “third-party apps” becoming the hottest property on the net in weeks being developed by teenagers at home after school “just for fun.” And the truth is, it is fun to see what everyone will come up with next each day. At some point we will cover widgets and third-party apps and all that other fun stuff i a future post. But in the meantime, if it all “sounds Greek” to you, shoot us an email. We will help. Whether it is building your website from start to finish, helping upgrade your already existing website to a more modern dynamic Web 2.0 platform, helping you promote it and gain more exposure and visibility, helping you start or maintain a customer email address database and start doing regular email blasts to your customer base, or simply helping you understand what all this stuff means, it is one of the many things we do here at Optum Consulting. We aren’t good at it. We are great at it. And we are great at it not because it is our job - but because we absolutely love it and therefore choose to make it our job. And in fact, as many are now discovering in generation x and y, the key is not to have ONE job, but to have many hobbies - things that you LOVE doing and being a part of that just also happen to make you money. Speaking personally, this is what Optum Consulting is for me. It was a passion that I turned into a business because the business was already there. It was already coming to me. So I simply opened the doors and accepted it.
It is the same for the other members of our graphics, internet, and technology team here. These are guys who eat, sleep, breathe, and live technology and design. These are guys who send you IMs at 4:30AM about a new blog plug-in that they just discovered - and disturbingly YOU also happen to still be awake and sitting behind your computer. That is passion. Which is what we bring to every client we work with.
Let’s cut to the meat of this particular piece because this is important stuff. I’m going to give you a quick overview of the paradigm, a few dos and don’ts and if you want more information just shoot us an email.
Number one and most importantly, if you own any kind of a business, and that means even if YOU yourself are the product - such is the case with web designers, models, actors, etc - then you need to be doing two things: staying in regular contact with your customer base, and constantly searching out ways to find new customers. Print ad campaigns and direct mail are the old fashioned traditional way of doing this. And yes we still recommend this method to some of our clients depending on their business model and customer demographics. But these methods have slowly been on a downward spiral because they are expensive compared to email campaigns and newsletters. Call them eZines, email blasts, webzines. It’s all the same. But it is certainly a less expensive alternative than snail-mailing a printed newsletter to thousands or millions of customers. As I said, it all depends on who you are and what you are selling.
If you are not sending out regular emails to your existing customer base, call us now. We will help you set it up. It is not expensive nor difficult to do and it is easy to teach you or we can do it for you. So do not be afraid of it. (i cannot tell you how many people I speak to on a daily basis who don’t do this simply because they are intimidated by “starting it.” Once i explain how easy it is, they feel much better and they off on their own in no time. It is an imperative aspect of your overall business plan.
If you are already doing this, here are some tips. There is a tendency today for individuals and companies to make one or more of several mistakes when sending out emails to their customers. One of them is to not send them out regularly enough. Bad move. Choose a date, perhaps once a month, bi-weekly, or every two months and implement a regular schedule. Do not waver from it. Your email can be something as simple as offering a few simple tips, offer a sale, or update your customers on your latest news. But you have to keep your name or your product’s name in the eyes of your customers or your potential customer’s eyes on a regular basis.
May 11, 2008 1 Comment
I received an email this Mother’s Day from a company whose products I admire and enjoy. But it was so downright blasphemously “selly” and “me me me,” that it immediately caused their reputation to drop a few notches in my eyes, and caused me to lose “just that much more” respect for them. (I have copied and pasted their ad at the bottom of this post to hammer the message home so that you dear reader can truly benefit from the lesson learned by their unfortunate mistake.) In this day and age when anyone and everyone can do, make, and sell exactly what you or your company does, your reputation and the respect and admiration you have from your select customer base is by far your most valuable asset. That is why it is imperative that when considering how or when you might take advantage of a holiday as a potential advertising opportunity, you put good thought into it.
Obviously the first consideration is going to be “Can this holiday afford our company any additional sales compared to any other normal day.” Many companies choose to take advantage of holidays by holding one-day “holiday sales.” Often times it works. Consumers like holiday sales. But it depends on what sort of business you are in and what kind of holiday it is. Remember that “holidays” in and of themselves are an odd paradigm. Some are related to specific religions. Some are related to country and patriotism. Some started out as just covert advertisements themselves and took on a life of their own — Mothers Day is an example of one of those. But who isn’t going to support a special day to celebrate their mother? Originally created as a way to sell more greeting cards as the story goes, it turned out to be not such a bad idea afterall. But a company needs to be very careful in how they use Mother’s Day, or any holiday for that matter, as an advertisement opportunity.
A florist could have a field day with Mother’s Day. And they should. A simple “Show your mom how much you care this year by sending her a lovely bouquet from some of the most beautiful new bouquets in our collection, and save 20% if you order before Wednesday” is guaranteed to boost sales and not offend anyone. One can safely assume that a real estate company or a hardware store wouldn’t necessarily benefit from such an ad campaign. And they’d be smart to realize that and not do anything at all.
Sending out an email to advertise your company or your products on a holiday, any holiday, is tricky business. Many companies choose to take the conservative approach and not do anything. This is a safe approach. Not always the best, because you may be missing out on a big opportunity. But at least you aren’t risking offending anyone nor risking your most valuable commodity — your reputation.
What kind of business you are and what sort of product you sell is what determines how you take advantage of potential profit opportunities in holidays. A law firm is not going to offer its clientÃ¨le a holiday sale. Neither would your local doctor. But they can still profit from holidays by simply sending a greeting card to wish you and yours a happy holiday. This is good business. If you are in business, almost any business, no matter the size, it would be a good idea to initiate and set up a holiday greeting strategy starting right now and put it into action from this point forward. It is an easy way to do two very important things: Number one, it shows your customer that you care and that you appreciate their business. Number two, it is an easy way to put your brand in their attention field if even for a few brief seconds. They are reminded that you do indeed exist. And when needed, you are there for them.
Choose the holidays that your company feels aligned with and more importantly the ones that you believe your customer base feels aligned with. Then decide on how you are going to communicate with them. Could be a card. Could be an email. Might even be a sale, depending on your product and business. But make it short and simple, knowing that your customers, for we are ALL customers, are receiving a lot of these.
May 11, 2008 No Comments