Confusion? Or Clarity?

Bob Hoffman

Bob Hoffman of The Ad Contrarian

Why Can’t Marketers Talk Straight?

The language of advertising is inexact in order to avoid clear thinking and precise meanings.

Bob Hoffman, contrived phrases, gibberish, fuzzy definitions, branding, engagement, conversation, imprecise discourse, clear thoughts, exact meanings, Richard Feynman, Mayan hieroglyphics, Ad Contrarian

Read More

High Frequency Advertising

Read More

Stuffing the Golden Goose


A number of years ago the late Fred Murr asked me, “How old do you want to be when you retire?

I said, “I don’t know. Seventy five, maybe?

He asked, “Are you serious?

I said, “Fred people retire and they DIE!

Exit Strategy

I love my job. I’m going to keep on doing it forever. Well, I don’t intend to stick with the job until I die. But I do intend to do it for a long time because I’m enjoying what I do.

But we all need to create an exit strategy from the companies we own and operate for a couple of reasons. One of them is the bulk of our wealth may be tied up in equity in that company, and its going to be very difficult to retire without taking it with you.

So, let’s talk for a little bit about what you need in an exit strategy.

When Will You Sell, and for How Much?

You’re going to need two numbers. The first is, you need to know how much to sell your company for. And the second is you need to know when you’re going to do that. So, you need an amount and a timetable. And once you have that any good marketing consultant can help you get there.

What’s the amount? It’s a sum big enough that you could invest it, live on the interest, and never touch the principal. There are a few other strategies, too, but that one’s my favorite.

If you’re going to be retiring by selling your company, the first thing we need to do is figure out how much money you need to retire on. And the second thing we need to figure is will your company sell for that amount.

For most of us that answer is “no,” and we’re going to have to grow the company to create enough wealth to sell the company for enough that we can then spend the rest of our time with the grandkids, or pass it along to the kids, or sell it to a total stranger for cash, or help the employees to buy you out. But one way or the other you need to plan your exit from the company.

I don’t care if you just started your business yesterday, or if you’ve been doing it for 30 years. Trust me, you need to plan what’s going to happen when you no longer choose to come to work everyday.

What Do Buyers Want?

Investors who might be interested in your company are looking for three things:

  1. Operational Excellence
  2. Consistent Growth (with no surprises)
  3. Predictable Cash Flow

The first thing in determining your selling price is to figure out exactly how much you’re going to need. And whether you take it as a salary, or owner distributions, or investor dividends, you’ll have to replace that much money.

Planning Resource

I’ve prepared a resource. It’s downloadable, just click on the resource link. It will help you to figure out exactly how much you’re going to need to live on and what you need to sell the company for to be left with that much.   I don’t intend to take you through this piece because quite honestly it’s pretty straightforward and the steps are quite simple.

Case Study – Beckley Imports

Steve Beckley, owner and operator of Beckley Imports, Des Moines, IA.

Let me instead tell you about my client and friend, Steve Beckley. He called me some time ago. He’d participated in a group call that I was hosting and said, “Chuck, can you hang on the line when everybody else hangs up?” I did. He said, “I need your help. I need to create another million dollars in top line sales in order for me to sell this company in three years.”

I said, “I’m flattered that you think I can help you with that, but you’ve caught me at a time when I’m maxed out on the time I have available. I can’t help you now.” He called back the next month. And the month after that. Until finally I said, “Steve, my schedule has just opened up.”

I flew to Des Moines where Steve Beckley owns and operates Beckley Imports.

At the age of 22 Steve Beckley was the Service Manager of the local Mercedes dealer. He quit. He opened his own shop. A single bay.  He worked on import automobiles. Steve’s belief was that people who paid a lot of money for a precision automobile would be willing to pay a little bit more to keep it operating at peak efficiency. And he was proven right.

They kept on growing. He now has a state-of-the-art, 15-bay facility in Des Moines.

Starting the Research

I joined him there. We spent three days digging through how his operation works. Where do customers come from? How long do they stay? Where do they go? Which ones are very valuable? Which ones are not? We mystery shopped his competitors.

I said, “Steve, I love the postcard campaign you’re using to draw customers in. The only suggestion I have is they all say the same thing – ‘Dear Import Auto Owner.’ I promise you somebody that drives a BMW does not consider himself an import auto owner. He considers himself a BMW driver. Anybody who’s got a Rolls Royce doesn’t consider himself an import automobile owner.”

We redid those postcards so that the Saab owner got one that said, “Dear Saab Owner.” And the Mercedes owner got one that said, “Dear Mercedes Owner.”

One of the things I loved about working with Steve is he implements. I gave him that recommendation on the 10th of February, and by March he had the new postcards out. He called me about the 7th of April and said, “Chuck, we’ve just had our best month in the history of the company. We are $50,000 above where we predicted we’d be for the month.

Then in April we were up about $50,000. In May we were up about $50,000. If you annualize that (and I quickly did) we were $600,000 on our way to that million he needed.

I looked at it and said, “Steve, you’ve got one customer leaving out the back door for every two you’ve got coming in the front door. What’s happening?

He said, “Well, some people sell the car and don’t need us any more. Some trade it in on a new one and now they’re covered under the factory warranty. Some of them leave the community or they die. But, you’re right. That is an awfully high turnover.

So, we studied the operation, we came up with a customer retention program, and cut the attrition to about half.

Well, now we’re getting very close to that million a year, and it hasn’t been a year yet.

Owning an Asset, Not a Job

Steve decided the next thing he must do is take himself out of the picture because nobody wants to buy a job. They want to buy a company that is functioning well without outside supervision. So, he hired a manager. A very good manager. And that manager did things so well that the staff started saying, “Steve, do you think you could go home? You’re getting in the way.

Steve took his mother to Turkey because she’d always wanted to see it.

The he visited an orphanage in Africa that he’d been supporting for a few years. He brought his tools this time and spent the next two months fixing and tuning up every Range Rover automobile they had. That was the only brand they bought.

When he got back to America a couple of his buddies said, “Get your bike out.” They rode their Harley’s from Des Moines to Seattle and back. They stopped at some national parks along the way.

Then he called me. And he said, “Chuck, I’ve decided not to sell.” I asked “Why is that?” “Because I’m now making more money than I’ve ever made in my life, and I don’t have to go to work any more.

Revising the Exit Strategy

Steve has hit on something really important.

The exact attributes that make your company attractive to a buyer also make it a great company to own and operate.

If you don’t have an exit plan, it’s time to start one. You need to run through the material in the Stuffing the Golden Goose booklet to calculate how much money you’re going to need to support yourself in retirement. Once you have the amount you’ll need and have determined the timetable, get a good marketing consultant to help you bridge the gap between them.

I’m Chuck McKay. For most of us the company we own and operate is the biggest asset we own. You need to start planning your exit from that asset. I hope you learned something today. We’ll see you next week.

Download your copy of Stuffing the Golden Goose.

Read More

PowerSOARINGTM One Day Intensive Seminar

How High? How Fast?

You Started With Your Inner Circle

Your first customers were your neighbors, your family, your friends. But they already bought.

How Much Should You Spend on Promoting Your Business?You have a lot of Facebook “likes,” but too few sales; a few dozen Twitter followers, but too few customers.

You’re discovering the scariest part of entrepreneurship: recognizing that you need to advertise, but having no idea how much to spend inviting new prospects to come do business with you.

Sink, or Crash

Spend too little and no one is persuaded. Your cash slowly dribbles out as your company sinks into indifference and obscurity, leaving no mark, quickly forgotten.

But spend too much and you burn through all of your operating cash in a glorious imploding fireball, leaving a crater where your company used to be. Briefly noted. Still quickly forgotten.

But, when you find that very narrow sweet spot in which every dollar you invest in new customer acquisition flies off into the world, and returns with several of his friends, you have one of the most powerful tools available to small business.


It can turn small companies into big companies The key is learning which of the five primary local marketing strategies applies to your unique circumstances, and applying the exact marketing spend to keep you flying higher and higher. How high you soar, how fast you get there is completely within your control.

You’ll learn to maximize the return on your marketing investment whether your company manufactures, wholesales, retails, or provides services. Best of all, by creating this plan you’ll acquire a transferable skill which will help keep you in the black for the rest of your entrepreneurial life.

PowerSOARINGTM poises you for the kind of sustainable growth that every owner dreams of, but shockingly few achieve. It helps every dollar to provide maximum impact. Can you afford anything less?

You Will Learn:

    • The two largely ignored factors which will leverage your marketing investment, and predict whether you’ll have greater success with traditional mass media, direct response, or face-to-face direct sales. Some workshop attendees are astonished to learn they shouldn’t be spending any money on advertising.


    • Which of the five local marketing strategies best applies to your firm, and how that choice will affect the timing of every advertising expenditure. This isn’t taught at most business schools, but it’s critical to successfully persuading prospects to consider buying from you.


    • Why your location must, must, must be considered part of your marketing budget. Is there such a thing as a location so perfect that no advertising is necessary? How can you know for sure?


    • What every duck hunter knows that many business owners don’t think applies to marketing. It’s so obvious you’ll never questions this decision again.


    • Why the single most important factor in planning any marketing budget isn’t even one of the common considerations. This realization will change the way you think about marketing for the rest of your career. (It can also increase the effectiveness of new customer acquisition by orders of magnitude.)


  • When you should seek the services of an advertising agency or marketing consultant. How to choose an advisor that understands and accepts your goals and marketing strategies, and most importantly, how to manage that relationship.


As An Added Bonus

Budgeting Tool Screen ShotPowerSOARINGTM participants will have a full year’s access to our online Budgeting Tool.

This tool automatically calculates the appropriate budget amount for each month of your marketing plan. (Some participants have told us access to the Budgeting Tool is worth the entire cost of this training.) You’ll leave with a plan of the caliber you would normally pay an agency thousands of dollars to create for you.

Seminar Price and Our No-Excuses Money-Back Guarantee

This all-day, plain English budgeting and financial planning business course is only $295. The price includes all course materials, access to the Budgeting Tool, and our no excuses money back guarantee: if by our lunch break you haven’t already learned enough to justify the modest cost of the PowerSOARINGTM intensive workshop, simply turn in your course materials and we’ll refund the cost of admission.

Sold Out

No Seats Remaining

The San Diego PowerSOARINGTM Seminar is sold out. Based on the enthusiasm we’ve seen for this material, we’re planning a follow up seminar in first quarter of 2015.

Click Here to stay informed. We’ll add you to our waiting list.


Seminar Presenter: Chuck McKay

Chuck McKay talkingChuck McKay, has spent the better part of three and a half decades helping owners of small businesses and professional practices find the most effective ways of acquiring new customers.

Chuck is the author of Fishing for Customers and Reeling Them In (now in its fifth printing) and The Net Effect – How to Pull in Netloads of New Retail Customers for FREE with Local Search Marketing. Along with 49 of America’s other top marketing experts contributed a chapter to Wylie and Sons Mastering the World of Marketing.

Chuck has owned and operated radio stations and a weekly newspaper, and has been featured in the Washington Post, Jewelers Circular Keystone, and HQ Magazine.

Read More

The Second Biggest Mistake in Customer Acquisition – (the Strawberry Jam Theory)

It Wasn’t Really a Question

What my new acquaintance actually said was, “I know it takes money to make money, but promoting my business doesn’t feel like investing, and I can’t afford too many more bad rolls of the dice.”

The implied question was, “What should I spend on marketing?”

What Does it Cost to Acquire a Customer?

The concept is simple, but the answer isn’t, mainly because it costs less to attract shoppers who are physically close to your business than those farther away. It’s one of the topics we’ll be covering in detail at the PowerSOARING™ One Day Intensive Marketing Seminar coming to Hera Hub in San Diego.

The easiest way to explain this may be with jam, and toast.

Pretend Your Marketing Budget is One Tablespoon of Strawberry Jam

toast and jamSpread over half a slice it covers the bread with a thick, generous coating of strawberry goodness that’s evident with every bite.

On Two Slices of Toast it Starts Getting Thin

And if you wanted to spread our delicious strawberry jam over seven and a half slices of toast, well, the result will be disappointing every time.

There’s just not enough jam for a satisfying coverage of that much toast.

Strawberry Jam in the Real World

Whether you’re an esthetician, an attorney, or run a smoke shop; whether you weave custom rugs, or fit custom toupees, the concept works exactly the same way as jam on toast.

Today, let’s consider an HVAC (heating and air) contractor in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

  • Half a slice of toast in this case would equal all of the homes within half a mile of the shop – 2,132 households.
  • One slice (one mile) includes 5,002 homes.
  • At a two mile radius from the shop that number of households jumps to 20,268.
  • At five miles the number of households has grown to 74,804.
  • And within a 7.5 mile radius the household total has reached 146,585.

How Do We Reach All Those Homes?

We’re going to rely on one of the oldest forms of traditional media: direct mail. We’ll send a postcard to all of the homes around our shop promising heat when it’s cold, cool when it’s hot, and lightning fast emergency service.

What’s Our Budget?

For illustration, let’s say our tablespoon of jam would let us deliver postcards to 150,000 homes.

Hey, that’s great news! Everyone gets a postcard…

…But No One Gets a Real Taste

One tablespoon of jam spread across seven and a half slices of toast doesn’t provide any flavor. Worse yet, the jam arrived before the bread finished toasting.

You see, most homeowners don’t think about hiring a heating and air contractor when their system is working. They don’t even think about heating or air until their system breaks down and, with a loud kerchunk, the toast pops up.

If we send our mailing out in April we have to hope it arrives just as someone’s heating or air conditioning system fails. We also have to hope they become very uncomfortable very quickly. Because if they don’t have any issues until July they’ll never remember we offered jam when there was no toast.

That tiny morsel of April sweetness was effectively gone before anyone bit into it.

The Solution? Less Toast

5,002 postcards, one sent to every home within a mile of our business, will leave enough budget to print and send 144,998more cards.

What do we do with them? Simple. We send them to the same 5,002 homes a couple of weeks later.

And again ten days or so after that.

In fact, our budget will permit us to reach those homes 30 times over the next 12 months.

Why only 5,002 Homes?

Those other households are simply too far away for cost-effective reach.

We could try to reach 146,585 households once each. Mathematically, in a single contact, we’re likely to convince them only 3 percent of the way to picking up the phone and calling for help.

But with 30 ongoing reminders we could instead reach 5,002 homes 100 percent of the way to becoming customers. (And when I show you how to get the Postal Service to deliver those cards for as little as 18 cents each? Oh, my. Life does get sweet!)

When you understand how to send your marketing dollars out into the world, and have them bring several friends when they come back home, you get to decide your own growth rate.

How high do you want your company to fly?

How fast do you choose to get there?

Who Knows This Stuff?

Chuck McKay standingAt the risk of sounding immodest, I do.

I’m Chuck McKay. I’ve spent the better part of three and a half decades helping owners of small businesses and professional practices find the most effective ways of acquiring new customers.

I’ve condensed all of that experience into a replicable system we call PowerSOARING™.

You apply different variables to the system based on your own situation.

It will become obvious that building a brand that customers think of when they need what you sell requires a different strategy than asking for that sale right now.

You’ll learn to budget differently as a startup than when you’re at the top of your market.

But regardless of your standing in that market, the PowerSOARING™ One Day Intensive Marketing Seminar teaches proven techniques for “right sizing” your company’s marketing budget.

Right Sizing your budget helps every dollar to provide maximum impact.

Can you afford anything less? This may be the best $295 investment of your professional career.

How High Do You Want to Fly?



Reserve your seat before midnight on November 1st to get an hour of free one-on-one coaching with me.

Together we’ll fine tune the marketing plan you’ll create during the PowerSOARING™ Seminar.

PowerSOARING email header

Read More

How Do Skeptical Business Owners Outlast the Averages?

A young radio salesperson told me of her frustration in getting business people to buy advertising.  “I know I can help them grow their businesses,” she said.  “How do I get them to let me try?”

That’s a tough one.  All the enthusiasm a young media representative can muster won’t convince a mature buyer to try a new idea.  Any business owner whose firm has survived longer than the 7 year small business average has learned to be skeptical.

The Main Reason for Buyer Skepticism

SalespersonIt doesn’t matter that the young salesperson has good intentions and acts ethically.  If she sells mass media, targeted media, online or social advertising, the company she works for has taught her selling, not marketing.

She’ll typically watch a series of training videos on writing proposals, overcoming objections, and closing techniques.

If you are in charge of a company you can also base your business in a different city by using a virtual office service for a city like Bristol and using that address for your business so that it looks like you are based there.

Then her new boss will hand her an account list and rate card, give her an enthusiastic pat on the back, and tell her to “go get ‘em, Tiger.”

I’ve Met Some Gems Among Advertising Salespeople

You probably have, too.  But like all gems, they’re rare.

You’ll recognize them when they say, “I’ve been studying what’s worked in other markets, and I’ve found something that you should see,” or perhaps, “Did you see the article in your trade publication about customer retention?  I brought you a copy.

You’ll also recognize the good reps as those who don’t fear asking, “What’s the result of the new campaign?  How are sales compared to last week?  Last month?  Last year?”   Sales reps who avoid the accountability discussion fear that any bad news will cause the advertiser to cancel their advertising.  Those focused on achieving results will want the bad news, too.

Oh, one more clue: the really good media reps don’t feel compelled to bash their competitors.  They can fearlessly and enthusiastically say, “Wasn’t that well done?  That’s one of the advantages they have for companies like yours.”

Tried That Already – the Second Reason for Skepticism

The experienced buyer of advertising has already tried most of the rookie’s “new ideas.”  Through trial and error experienced advertisers repeat advertising methods which tend to work, and avoid those which don’t.

But experience is an expensive way for anyone to refine their marketing.

Wouldn’t knowing with certainty which types of message delivery work best with each business category remove costly experiments and quickly get your advertising into black ink?

Wouldn’t a thorough understanding of how much to spend delivering your marketing messages shave years off that trial and error education?


I’m Chuck McKay.  I’ve condensed over three and a half decades of study, measurement, and applied theory into a replicable system called PowerSOARINGTM.  How high do you want to fly?  How fast do you want to get there?  It’s all under your control.

Your local sales rep doesn’t understand what you’ll learn in the PowerSOARINGTM One Day Intensive Marketing Seminar.  And that’s OK, because you will.

PowerSOARINGTM works with the Internet, with radio, with Cable, with broadcast TV.  The principles are effective whether you advertise in local newspaper, the local shopper, or direct mail.  PowerSOARINGTM techniques are firmly rooted in the science of customer acquisition, and don’t vary by medium.

Here’s a Typical Question

If you double your ad budget, will you get twice as many customers?

Once you understand the fundamentals of PowerSOARINGTM the answer is simple. Customers come from only three sources.  They are: location, referral, and advertising.count to three (1)

  1. Location may be physical, or it may be easily found on the Internet. You can (with major investment) relocate, but it won’t be quick or easily accomplished.
  2. Referrals happen when you’ve treated existing customers well. This is also totally within your control, but it takes a huge amount of time to change what people say about your company.
  3. Advertising that you do today can draw new customers immediately.

But advertising can’t change your location.  It doesn’t directly create referrals.  It can only effect advertising-driven sales.

Let Me Give You an Example

A business in a great location might simply put up a sign which says, “open for business.”  People drive by and see the sign.  Some pull in.  Some of those buy, and tell their friends what they just bought.

But a business in a poor location has to compete for shoppers’ attention, then say something so compelling that shoppers will turn the car and drive to that poor location.

The first business may only get 10 percent of their customers from advertising.  Will spending another 10 percent double their sales?  Nope.  That’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?

The second business gets only 30 percent of its customers from location and referrals, and 70 percent from advertising.  Can doubling the ad budget double this company’s customer count?  Still not likely*, (see footnote) but it will certainly have a greater effect because of the greater proportion of this firm’s advertising-driven sales.

Told you this stuff was simple.  (But it still amazes me how few advertising professionals ever think this through.)

As long as you’re in business there will be great deals in every market, every season, and every medium.  This information, preparing you to act with certainty, will change your career.  It will forever affect the way you promote your company and attract new customers.

But It Won’t Take Years to Learn

In the PowerSOARINGTM One Day Intensive Marketing Seminar you’ll learn how to tell those offers which will actually draw new customers from those which will only deplete your wallet.  You’ll also learn exactly how much to spend (and how often) on the kind of message vehicle most likely to produce great results.

PowerSOARINGTM poises you for the sustainable growth every owner dreams of, but few achieve.  It helps every marketing dollar to provide maximum impact.  Can you afford anything less?

Seminar Price and No-Excuses Money-Back Guarantee

This all-day, plain English budgeting and financial planning business course will be held on Thursday, November 13 in Hera Hub’s beautifully equipped conference room at 9710 Scranton Road, Suite 160, in San Diego, CA.  Reserve your place, now, for only $295.

The price includes all course materials, a full year’s access to the Fishing for Customers Budgeting Tool, and our no excuses money back guarantee.  If by the lunch break you haven’t already learned enough to justify the modest cost of the seminar, simply turn in your course materials and we’ll refund the cost of admission.

Shall we get started?

How high do you want to fly?



* Footnote: two reasons that I said “probably” not.  The first is the length of a purchase cycle for what you sell.  (3 to 4 years for a new car.  8 years for a new mattress.  1 or 2 days for dining out.)  Longer purchase cycles take longer for advertising to affect sales.

But we covered the second, and more important reason, last time.  The farther shoppers are from your business location the more expensive it becomes to persuade them to come shop with you.   Each additional shopper costs fractionally more than the previous one.  Yes, additional advertising can pay off handsomely, but it will never be in the same proportion as the increase in ad spend.

Bonus Footnote: want to watch the average media rep squirm?  Ask the “If I double my budget” question, then hush and wait for an answer.
Power Soaring Final-Grey

Read More

Friends of PowerSOARINGTM Page

Hi, Friend:


No Seats Remaining

The San Diego PowerSOARINGTM Seminar is sold out. Based on the enthusiasm we’ve seen for this material, we’re planning a follow up seminar in first quarter of 2015.

Click Here to stay informed. We’ll add you to our waiting list.

Read More

How to Communicate Abstract Concepts in Your Presentation

You are stressed about your upcoming presentation.

You have spent countless number of hours looking for the right image for this slide but it is just not happening. It is now midnight and you are sitting in bed with your laptop. Undecided. Unsure.

You shake your wife awake. “Honey, which one better says teamwork’? This clipart of stick figures holding hands and standing around the light bulb or the businessman shaking hands with the guy holding the globe?

If you are making a pitch that involves jeans, cars, or new homes, I will safely assume that you will insert images into your presentation that has to do with the pitch: models wearing your jeans, pictures or videos of the cars, interior and exterior of your new homes. Because the pitch is for things and ideas that are tangible it is relatively easy to decide what image to show in your presentation.

What if you are dealing with an abstract idea?

But what do you do if you have to sell the value of something as intangible as divorce attorney services for women? What do you do if you are the attorney who needs to communicate that client satisfaction ratings are very important to his practice? Does he flash slides of bullet points? Blocks of text with long explanations of what they do? Graphs? Charts?

You could, just see it here. But then you run the risk of boring people to tears. There is nothing worse than watching a presentation you have to read. (Unless the presenter is reading it for you. In that case you could have an imaginary race to see who gets done reading faster. You will probably win!) A better way is to find an image, a cartoon, an illustration or a diagram that conceptually shows what you cannot show in reality.

There is an attorney who did just that. Take a look at this picture. It captures the emotion of what you should feel when you hear the words, “We specialize in divorce services for women.” The point is made that this attorney gets you results and if you are a woman in need of their services, you would be well served by this firm.

Let’s take a look at another example

Let’s say you are leading a team that is having a hard time with changes that the company is going through and your job is to communicate and help them understand that the changes are inevitable. Now this is a pretty tough intangible topic to show with images but if I were to try, maybe I would build an image of a clock with the arms of the clock taped down so that they cannot move. The analogy conveys that just like you cannot make time stand still, you cannot stop evolution and change.

Let’s say that the intangible concept you want to convey is the amount of choices we have in our world today. There are multiple ways to do that visually because choice is a relatively easy concept to convey visually. You could show a full isle in a supermarket, or you could show a view of restaurant row with all the different choices of restaurants available to you. On the other hand you could choose something abstract like a butterfly hovering over a field of flowers, unsure which flower to drink nectar out of!

So how do you come up with ideas for images when the concept is abstract and intangible?

Let’s say you have to do a presentation on Customer Service skills. If you type in, “Customer Service” in the search box of the stock photo site, you will get a ton of clichéd images of people shaking hands, people talking over the phone or people in a meeting.

But you are surely looking for something more original and clever aren’t you?

Your search for original and clever images is going to need some deeper visual thinking.

There are three ways of thinking about this visually.

1. Think about emotions

(How does it make you feel?) What emotions do people feel when they get good or bad service? Do they get mad, or sad? Do they feel disgust at being treated badly? Pleasantly surprised when they were treated exceptionally well?

2. Think about reactions

(How do you react to it?) What happens when people get good or bad service? Do they speak with someone higher up? Do people write letters and emails to the company? Do they tell their friends on Facebook or send a tweet? Or maybe they just never go back and ‘boycott’ that business!

3. Think about results

(What happens as a result?) How does it end? What is the rest of the story? Does the business get more fans on Facebook because of your glowing review? Does their Yelp page get a ton of hits? If it did not end so well, does it affect their stock price? Do they publicly apologize to the consumers?

Now take those words that you came up with and use those search terms to look for the right image. Or ‘build’ an image that visually conveys exactly what you want to communicate. Because sometimes, no matter how hard you look you may not find the exact image. But how best to do that will be another blog post!

To summarize

When you want to find the right image for an abstract concept, thinking about and finding words that make you feel those emotions, reactions and results will give you a much richer set of images to choose from than you get from the clichéd images you will get from typing in the abstract idea that your presentation is based on.

Let’s do this together and share in the comments below, shall we? The abstract word we will be working on is “character”. So think about ‘character’ in terms of emotions, reactions and results, both positive and negative and post your new words or phrases below in the comments!

Sam Thatte is a Presentation Coach who helps you to become memorable and persuasive.

Stumped for examples of thought provoking images? Call Sam Thatte Presentation Design – (760) 383-1010.

Read More

The Customer’s Buying Process – Systemic Marketing™ Part III

Tire Sale

Tire Sale Sign

There tend to be two schools of marketing. The creative and the scientific.

Imagination and mathematics.

Right brain, left brain.

At least, it looks that way on the surface.

Marketing Yin & Yang

Some highly effective marketing uses evocative imagery.

“Melts in your mouth,”
“Cleans like a white tornado,”
or “Where’s the beef?”

Some is a bit less exciting.

“click here to learn more,”
“save 13 cents on your next purchase,”
“Dear Fellow nature lover.”

But truly effective marketing uses both. First the math. Then the imagination. First the who, and what. Then the how and why. And that makes sense, doesn’t it?

A marketer identifies the target market, measures responses, and calculates ROI. Then he provides the creative team with very specific direction: “Here’s what we know about the prospect, what we believe to be her motivation, and the offer we’re going to present.

The creative folks, the copywriters and art directors, focus on that customer profile. They detail our prospect’s life. They account for her time, her activities, and her choices. They find correlations in her other purchases.

And then they create “We are Farmers, dum te dum dum dum dum dum,” or “What it feels like to chew 5 gum.”

But it always starts with detailing, and measuring the buying process.

Tread Wears, “Blowout Worry” Accumulates

Eventually, the tread wears down on every tire, and every automobile requires replacement tires.

In most cases the wear happens gradually.

An early stage buyer notes that wear is accumulating on her tires. She’ll file that observation away into her subconscious as something that will need attention sometime in the future.

Her subconscious will, through reticular activation, allow tire ads to pass the mental filter which helps her to tune out the thousands of advertising impressions she’s subjected to each day.

What Runs Through The Shopper’s Mind?

At minimum (“Humm. Tires are showing slight signs of wear.”) she knows she can put off the purchase decision. Not feeling any pressure to buy, but aware that it will eventually become necessary, those lower price offerings from Mr. Tire Store Owner will appear more attractive and better hold her attention.

As the tread continues wearing, she’ll think less about price, and worry more about safety. As you might expect, the closer she gets to “OK… I’m scared to drive any farther on these tires,” the less price acts as the primary motivator.

Then there are those cases in which the tire catastrophically fails. When that happens, she will make a purchase. Probably today.

Purchase Trigger

It may be growing worry. It may be performance failure. It may be because she’s leaving in a week to drive across three states on her family’s vacation. It may be that she came across an unexpected tire sale. It may be an unexpected salary bonus. But something will happen that causes the owner of that car to decide it’s time for new tires.

We call that event a purchase trigger.

A trigger is a change in perception on the part of the shopper.  Its the realization that the actual discomfort of NOT owning has become greater than the perceived discomfort in making the purchase.

Triggers happen to different shoppers at different times, but all shoppers experience similar triggers.

That’s the fact which allows us to design customer acquisition programs.

Once we determine a strong appeal to an early stage shopper (say… reduced price), that appeal will be equally attractive to a different early stage shopper next month. Yet another completely different early stage shoper will be attracted with that same appeal the month after that.

Likewise, the appeal which works to attract this month’s late stage shoppers (perhaps safety, or guilt about safety) will work with other late stage shoppers later this year.

And when our primary appeal meets with a prospect’s strongly felt need, it acts as a trigger, moving that prospect to the next step, perhaps all the way to completing the purchase.

What Steps does the Shopper Take?

The specific shopping steps will be slightly different for every business. Some purchases are made on a whim. Others require research and the approval of a committee. Some buyers initiate purchase orders. Others simply pay cash.

Our tire shopping prospect likely goes through nine separate steps to buy tires.

Tire Customer Buying Steps

Tire Customer Buying Steps

The Sales Process is Always Similar, but Never the Same

So far, we’ve described the buying process, which begins with the shopper feeling a need.  Is the selling process the same?

Usually, its not.

The selling process begins when the seller identifies the buyer as a new prospect, and attempts to get her to engage.

And other than advertising, the seller has no control over communication with the prospect until she identifies herself.

In our tire purchase example the buyer has already taken five independent steps before the  seller knows she exists.

But detailing the customer’s steps between the first interaction with the seller, and the completion of the purchase, are what allow us to standardize the process.  It’s what allows us to set our marketing on  “Cruise Control,” when we’re fishing for customers.

Your Guide,
Chuck McKay

Marketing consultant Chuck McKayYour Fishing for Customers guide, Chuck McKay, gets people to buy more of what you sell.

Got questions about detailing your customer’s shopping process? Drop Chuck a note at [email protected]. Or call him at 304-208-7654.


Read More

Reach vs Frequency – Systemic Marketing™ Part II

curb number

Curb Number

A young man shows up at your door.  For only ten dollars he’ll paint your house number in florescent paint on the curb in front of your house. Feeling no need for glow in the dark numbers on your curb, you pass on the offer.

The next day a different young man makes a similar offer. Again, you refuse.

He’s followed that afternoon by a young woman with virtually the same offer. Will you buy from her?

Believe it or not, you’ve just determined whether frequency or reach is of greater importance as a driver of sales.

Reach Trumps Frequency

In Systemic Marketing™ – Customer Acquisition on Cruise Control, we discussed the advantages of creating a a Marketing Cruise Control, a system to increase your marketing efforts in slack times and keep your company operating at capacity.

But the first decision is how to increase those efforts.

For decades media planners, buyers, and salespeople have argued whether it was more important to reach more people with your message (offer), or to deliver that message with greater repetition to the same people.

There are good arguments for both, but common sense will guide us to the following conclusions:

1. The more relevant the message, the more likely people are to notice it.
2. The simpler the message, the less repetition necessary for a prospective customer to “get it.”
3. Once a prospect has decided to purchase (or not), additional exposure to the message (during this purchase cycle) is pointless.

What should our original young man do to sell more fluorescent numbers? Go door to door on your block again? Obviously he should choose another neighborhood and make his offer to new potential customers.

And likewise, if you’re going to set up a Cruise Control system for customer acquisition, you won’t prompt additional sales by again offering the same people what you sell.* You’ll need to boost the number of people who receive your offer.

How to do the Boost

Don’t increase the number of ads in the same section of the newpaper you’re currently using. Put your new ads in a different section.

Don’t run additional ads in the local TV six o’clock news. Run new ads in the 10 o’clock news. Run new ads on another TV station’s six o’clock news.

1. Add a schedule on another radio station, or another TV station.
2. Add another section of the newspaper. Or another paper.
3. Post a billboard in a new neighborhood.
4. Send postcards to a fresh list.
5. Telemarket to a fresh list.
6. Expand the radius around your business and distribute more door hangers or flyers or yard signs in neighborhoods you haven’t been “working.”
7. Increase your pay per click budget.

You may be tempted to pull ad dollars from the media outlets you’ve been using, but if you unhook the engine, how long can we expect that train to keep rolling? And substituting an unknown return from a new media outlet in the place of the known ROI of a tested outlet only increases risk.

Systemic Marketing™ maximizes cash flow by eliminating speculation.

Everyone Has Opinions

Media people, printers, and your brother-in-law may feel qualified to opine about your marketing. Especially when you’re adding media to expose your message to additional prospects.

Your new media representative will want to make a strong positive impression in hopes of keeping more of your business. The printer will assess your need for additional flyers, or direct response packages as an opportunity. They will offer to produce new and/or different ads. Don’t let them do that.

By the time you’ve implemented a Marketing Cruise Control, your message will have been tested, refined, and polished. Everything from the offer to the choice of words to the colors, fonts, and images will be selected because they work better than those you tested them against.

And testing always works better than opinions when you’re fishing for customers.

Your Guide,
Chuck McKay

* OK. This is not completely true. But increasing the frequency of the message costs much more than it generates in additional sales for reason number three above. Most of the people exposed to your message will be those who’ve already decided whether or not to buy.


Marketing consultant Chuck McKayYour Fishing for Customers guide, Chuck McKay, gets people to buy more of what you sell.

Got questions boosting the number of people exposed to your message? Drop Chuck a note at [email protected]. Or call him at 304-208-7654.


Read More
Page 1 of 41234»
Copyright © 2004-2021 Fishing For Customers | Log In | Terms of Use | Privacy Statement | Legal Statement Follow us: Facebook