Somebody Tell Lord Leverhulme

William Hesketh Lever

Lord Leverhulme: William Hesketh Lever

Half of my advertising is wasted, and the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” I’ve seen that quote attributed to a great number of people. My research indicates these words to have been first uttered by William Hesketh Lever (1821-1925), the 1st Lord Leverhulme. He was better known on this side of the pond as one of the original Lever Brothers.

Marketers today still wonder what he wondered.

Which Half is Wasted?

At the risk of sounding arrogant, I know.

Let me explain.

The seminal study of media usage was conducted by the legendary researcher Alfred Politz in February of 1966: The Politz Study Of New York Radio.

Politz studied the patterns of listening to the top ten radio stations in New York City. He detailed the number of people who listened to the radio for one quarter hour per week, the number who listen for two quarter hours per week, and so on, through the heaviest users. He then collapsed the listener distribution data into quintiles (equal fifths).

Until Politz published his study, media buyers only needed two basic figures: the number of people who tuned in at least once each week, (cume persons) and the number who were listening at any given point in time (average quarter hour persons). Fairly straight ahead math could then be used to calculate how long (Time Spent Listening) the average listener tuned in.

Why Basic Arithmetic Doesn’t Work To Measure Audiences

Before 1966 media buyers were satisfied to know that the average listener tuned in for, say, 20 hours per week. After the Poliz study we learned that the heaviest users, (the top 20%), will stick with their favorite station for a full 60 hours per week. At the other extreme the lightest quintile would listen for only 2 hours per week.

Within each quintile the average listening might look like:

60 hours
21 hours
11 hours
6 hours
2 hours
20 hour average

Other studies confirmed that consumers of other media were also not equal. This same pattern occurs in television viewing, reading of newspapers and magazines, and even the reading of outdoor signs. Each medium has very heavy consumption at the top quintile, which grows progressively lighter as each additional quintile enters the equation.

Politz made us aware that every single consumer was a different human being. Some were heavy users of media. Some not so much.

Effective Advertising Frequency

The next step in our understanding came in 1979 when Mike Naples authored Effective Frequency, The Relationship Between Frequency And Advertising Effectiveness.

In a project commissioned by the Association of National Advertisers, Naples evaluated the data from a number of existing studies of consumer behavior. He concluded that the first and second exposures to any ad were not effective in persuading a shopper to buy. Naples stated:

By and large, optimal exposure frequency appears to be at least three exposures within a purchase cycle.” He concluded “The central goal of productive media planning should be to place emphasis in enhancing frequency rather than reach.”

Media planners everywhere started combining Naples goal of three exposures with Politz audience distribution observations. The new Holy Grail (and 80’s media buzzword) became “Effective Frequency.”

Using the ratings services cume persons and quarter hour average persons, along with the math developed by Group W Radio from the Politz study, media buyers determined that there is an optimum number of exposures to an advertising message for each listening audience. *

How to Find That Optimum Advertising Level

Let’s explain the concept with a hypothetical radio station. Our hypothetical station has 111,800 cume persons listening each week, and 16,700 average persons of during during weekday prime time. These 111,800 people listen for an average of 5 hours per week. The optimum number of ads to reach this audience is 17 per week.

That schedule of 17 ads should reach 84,705 different listeners at least once. It will completely miss the remaining 27,095. Of those who do hear the ads, 21,646 of those listeners will hear only a single ad. 12,825 listeners will hear only 2 of them. Thus, the Effective Reach, the number of listeners who will hear 3 or more ads, will be 50,234, or roughly 40% of the cume. That makes sense. Here’s why.

Achieving an effective frequency of 3 with each of these five quintiles of listeners requires a schedule of:

First Quintile: 3 ads.
Second Quintile: 17 ads.
Third Quintile: 29 ads.
Fourth Quintile: 53 ads.
Fifth Quintile: 184 ads.

Let’s Start With the Bottom Quintile.

What do you pay per ad? How much would you have to pay for 184 ads per week? I’m willing to wager that you can’t afford a long term schedule of 184 exposures per week.

Perhaps you could stretch the budget enough to afford 53 ads. That’s a schedule which could motivate the fourth quintile. Congratulations. You’ve broadcast enough ads to persuade quintiles one, two, three, and four.

We Now Have Another Problem.

The first quintile only needed 3 ads to “get it.” Run 50 additional ads per week once they understand your message, and it’s highly probable that you’ll irritate those listeners. Annoy them this much and they’ll refuse to do business with you. Somewhere around ad number 17 they’ll split to some other radio station. **

Dogone it, you’re just never going to get them all. Customize your schedule for the heavy listeners and the light listeners will miss your ads. Plan to impact light listeners and you’ll repel heavy listeners. From one end or the other, you’re going to miss half.

Which Half Should We Attempt to Reach?

Wizard Of Ads ® Senior Partner Roy H. Williams suggests that on most radio stations 21 ads (plus or minus 2), each week will give you the greatest impact from the least number of dollars invested. You will effectively reach about half of that station’s audience.

Of course, you’re going to miss the other half of the station’s audience. There’s no way around it.

Question: On which of the listeners is the advertising “wasted?”
Answer: Any that won’t be exposed to our ad three or more times.

Somebody Tell Lord Leverhulme We Have His Answer.

We’re going to reach quintile one, quintile two, and about half of quintile three. We’re going to “waste” our ads on the other half of quintile three, and all of quintiles four and five.

However, some good news: the light users of one radio station tend to be the heavy users of another. And the average listener tunes into 3.6 stations per week. Find stations which share the same cume listeners, run 21 ads per week on each, and start getting spectacular results – assuming, of course, that your message is compelling and your offer is appealing.

Oh, and one final caveat. Depending upon the purchase cycle, as few as 2% of those people will be “in the market” on any given week. You’ll need to run this schedule next week to get the people who are ready to buy next week. You’ll need to run it the week after that to reach the people who are ready to buy that week. You’ll need to… well, you understand. You’ll need to run it every week that you intend to keep 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 your optimum advertising level? Drop Chuck a note at [email protected]. Or call him at 304-208-7654.




* All figures based on Radio’s New Math, © 1978 Group W Radio.



** Program Directors HATE ads which run in double digits daily. Of course, Program Directors also know that about the time the Disc Jockeys say that they’ll puke if that song plays again, the listeners are just learning the words. Through the nature of their jobs Disc Jockeys have long Times Spent Listening.

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Bragging Rights

Today I’m choosing to bring to your attention several recent notworthy accomplishments of Wizard of Ads® Partners.

Although this is current information, what follows is not news. News is (allegedly) impartial. I can’t be impartial about these people… I’m much to proud of them.

Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg

How much more profitable could your web site be if more visitors actually made a purchase? The first web marketers told us that a two percent “conversion ratio” was acceptable, probably because that two percent number has been thrown around the direct marketing camps for so many decades.

Then, along came Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg. They posed a simple question:

In direct response an unsolicited offer is sent to a large group of people. But when shoppers land on your web site, we can presume that they already are interested in what you have to offer. Why should you be satisfied with a two percent return among qualified prospects?

Their new book, Call To Action reveals the tested methods they’ve used to improve that conversion rate by multiple orders of magnitude for their Fortune 500 clients. Read what Web Marketing Today had to say about this book.

Call To Action is an overview of the principles and tactics of conversion rate marketing. Wizard Academy Press has a special pre-publication offer: purchase three copies of this 314 page hardcover book for only $13.95… and the publisher pays the shipping. At this price, ($4.65 each) you could buy one for yourself and give the other two as gifts. But be sure to order quickly. This is, remember, a pre-publication offer, and it’s only good until May 1.

Michelle Miller

The Wednesday, April 20 issue of Media Bulletin lists the most influential and best-read blogs in the country. And among the top three in marketing and advertising? Michelle Miller’s Wonder Branding.

It’s no surprise to anyone who knows Michelle that people pay close attention to what she has to say. She’s one of the world’s top authorities on marketing to women. Her study of the female brain, detailed in The Natural Advantages Of Women, explores and explains female traits like emotion, passion, intuition and nurturing. It’s available in audiobook format from Wizard Academy Press.

Juan Guillermo Tornoe

The Hispanic Marketing & Communications Association has just announced the addition of Juan Tornoe to their board of directors. The Association is a national not-for-profit professional association dedicated to Hispanic marketing excellence.

You can read more of his work at his Hispanic Trending blog, which features news and commentaries related to Hispanic Marketing in the US. If any part of your market speaks English as a second language, you probably should bookmark this site, and refer to it often.

Mike Dandridge

One of the most significant motivations for a customer to do business with you a second time, is the way you treated her the first time. At Wizard Academy we refer to this as the Personal Experience Factor. One of the newest Wizard of Ads® Partners, Mike Dandridge, knows how to create a PEF so amazing that it will make your business truly worth advertising.

Mike explains that the world inside your door is the place where you succeed or fail in meeting your customer’s expectations. His book, Thinking Outside the Bulb – The Art of Creating an Amazing Customer Experience is all about revolutionizing your business from the inside out. Read some of Mike’s specific recommendations at Business Turnaround.

Steve Clark

When you focus on determining your client’s needs, you may very well discover that what you sell isn’t the answer to the client’s problem. Steve Clark says the correct solution is to recommend someone who can help, even when that recommendation costs the sale.

Not your typical sales trainer, is he?

Steve’s New School Selling is helping sales professionals all over the country to achieve their goals with new skills and the ability to sell the customer the way the customer wants to be sold. He’s the author of Cultivating an Abundant Mentality. Watch his Online Video Introduction.

I hope you can see why I’m so proud to be associated with these people. I can, without hesitation, recommend every one of them.

There are currently 43 Wizard of Ads® Partners in Canada, Austraila, Sweden, England, and across the US. Each partner is a specialist in a different area of marketing. The individual partners’ expertise is pooled and made available to all Wizard of Ads® clients.

If you have an owner-operated business, consultation with a Wizard Partner can be one of the most valuable business tools available.

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Passing The Torch (Torching The Past) Part 2.

Verisimilitude. (ver-a-sim’-il-i-tood) Noun. “The appearance of truth.”

It’s the word that could make you rich. But first, a quick history lesson.

When the Baby Boom generation came of age they rejected many of the values of their parents’ generation. Consider dress and presentation, for instance. If Dad kept his hair short, Junior grew his long. If Dad wore a white shirt, tie, and dark slacks to the office, Junior wore paisley, or tie-died shirts over his jeans.

In approximately six short years our whole society had accepted, and adopted, the new style. By 1969 even grandmothers wouldn’t be caught dead dressing as they did in 1963. Much like styles in clothing, advertising didn’t make it through the following decade unaffected.

Ads targeting the WWII generation tended to be factual statements of benefits (“More iron than a pound of calf’s liver“), or slice-of-life dialogs (“Oh, Mrs. Olson… I just can’t brew a good cup of coffee“). By the late sixties, advertisers were dropping features and benefits and playing to the Boomers self-esteem. Sexual innuendo became common (“Does she, or doesn’t she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure“), as did a greater awareness of the women’s movement (“I can bring home the bacon, cook it up in a pan, and never never let you forget you’re a man“).

Why dwell on the last passing of the torch? Because it’s a predictor of the current demographic shift. It’s creating a change in our society of equal magnitude. As I pointed out in Part 1,

At the peak of the Baby Boom, there were 74 million teenagers. Today there are 72 million teenagers ready to take over the world.”

This emerging generation is rejecting many of their parents values. And, just as the coming of age of the Baby Boomers effected every aspect of the rest of society, so too will the emerging generation change society again. By the end of this decade, grandmothers will be wearing hip hop influenced clothing. Within just a very few years, marketing which targets these new consumers will be motivating all of us.

Your current marketing plan? It’s probably useless.

Those advertisers who are successfully reaching the emerging generation are doing it differently than they did even two years ago. The new communication is unscripted. It’s real. And you get the distinct feeling that you know the people delivering the message.

Here are some examples of that new communication. Click in the link to hear the radio ads in MP3 format, or the streaming videos as QuickTime movies:

Clayton Homes Radio Ad
City Perk Radio Ad
Star Pawn Radio Ad

Robbins Brothers OVI
Michelle Miller OVI
Champ Software OVI

These people are real. They own or manage the businesses featured. They are speaking from the heart. Do you believe them?

Do you believe Glenn when he describes the quality of his manufactured homes? Do you believe Sharon when she explains helping young men do a better job of proposing marriage? Do you believe Al when he says he puts love and quality into his coffee?

Would you choose to do business with these people? If you were as transparent in your communication, would other consumers choose to do business with you?

Wizard of Ads® Partner Rex Williams expressed it this way:

“Your customers want a truthful representation of you and your business. They sense your honesty when you pause to search for just the right word. They feel the authenticity of your quirky glance across the room. Congratulations, you’ve just pulled back the curtain and revealed to the world who you really are… and they love you for it.”

Start examining the way you communicate with your customers. (Hint: pay close attention to the way they communicate with each other.) Today’s consumers aren’t just buying what you sell, they’re buying you. They’re buying verisimilitude. In the coming decade, it’s the word that could make you rich.

Remember there is opportunity at every time of change.

Senior Wizard of Ads® Partner Roy H. Williams has six solid recommendations for advertisers preparing to do business with the emerging generation. Download your free copy of Marketing In 2005 And Beyond by clicking on the link.

Online Video Introductions were created by Wizard of Ads® Partner Rex Williams, at his Sunpop Studios while the rest of the industry was still making tightly-scripted industrial videos. You might want to consider an OVI when you budget for next year’s marketing plan.

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Passing The Torch (Torching The Past) Part 1.

Care to be alarmed? The way you’ve been marketing your goods and services is about to fail. Not suddenly, not dramatically, but surely, completely, and inevitably. The aging of the Boomer generation is changing the nature of the market. By necessity it’s changing the nature of marketing, too.

The Boomers were the “me” generation. They were pampered, and catered to, in a way that previous generations never understood. Marketing to the Boomers was driven by the understated message “everybody else has one, you deserve one too.” That message isn’t working very well, anymore. It will continue to be less and less effective.

The sheer size of the Baby Boom generation has shaped almost every facet of our society for the last half century.

  • The parents of the Baby Boomers, enjoying a post-war economic boom, doted on the Boomers. In the process they contributed to the success of Mattel, Tyco, Hasbro, Ideal, Tonka, Wham-O, Parker Brothers, and Milton Bradley.

  • The co-incidence of the unbridled growth of television broadcasting during this period brought us the first children’s programming both as education and entertainment.

  • We saw local taxes affected by the enormous growth in the number of schools and teachers as the Boomers hit the five and six year marks.

  • As the Boomers hit adolescence, they had more spend-able income than any previous generation, and spent it on clothing, make-up, and entertainment.

  • In early adulthood the Baby Boomers had a dramatic effect on social mores. Couples living together “without benefit of clergy,” or having children out of wedlock… concepts which would have horrified their grandparents… became common. Equal opportunity started leveling the paying field (pun intended) and eliminating gender bias in employment.

  • Over the next decades, the sheer size of the Boomer generation drove purchasing trends in automobiles, housing, and again, entertainment.

  • Recently the Boomers have forced demand in the stock market, investment real estate, and health care.

Wait a minute. What happened to entertainment?

For the first time, network TV isn’t meeting their entertainment preferences. And the networks don’t seem concerned. Consider this to be evidence of the fading influence of the Baby Boom generation.

The staple of prime-time television since the beginning of network programming has been the situation comedy. Seen any new situation comedies recently? It appears that they’ve all been replaced by “reality programming.” Sitcoms were watched by Baby Boomers. Today’s audience doesn’t relate.

At the peak of the Baby Boom, there were 74 million teenagers. Today there are 72 million teenagers ready to take over the world. Their motivations are vastly different from those of their parents… in fact, different from their older siblings.

As Senior Wizard of Ads® Partner, Roy Williams, said in his Monday Morning Memo of December 15, 2003:

AOL and are the Kerouac and Salinger of the new generation that will soon pry the torch from the hands of Baby Boomers reluctant to let it go. Tupac Shakur and Eminem are the new Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley and the Boomers’ reaction to them is much like their own parents’ reaction to Chuck and Elvis. But instead of saying ‘Take a bath, cut your hair, and get a job,’ we’re saying, ‘Pull those pants up, spin that cap around and wash your mouth out with soap.‘”

Boomers rejected conformity. Today’s teens reject pretense. Words like “amazing,” “astounding,” and “spectacular” are heard by today’s teens as as we hear the adults in the Peanuts® cartoons: “Wah wah, wah wah wah.” Tested marketing methods which have worked since WWII are no longer pulling the predictable results that experienced marketers have grown to expect. As you might suspect, this is leaving a large number of experienced marketers perplexed at the new reality.

In the past, decisions-to-purchase revolved primarily around features and benefits. All you had to do was explain why your product was better than your competitor’s. The new trend in decisions-to-purchase is based on shared values. Today’s customers aren’t just buying what you sell, they’re buying you.

To succeed in the new marketplace, your messages must reveal who and what you really are. It’s going to take courage, and a different way of communicating.

Today’s kids are a savvy, streetwise generation. They want it real. They don’t expect perfection. They demand truth. It’s going to be harder and harder to win these kids as customers through advertising alone. It’s going to be nearly impossible through traditional advertising.

What are you doing to prepare for your new customers?

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How Big Is Your Reputation?

Here I sit in Victorville, California, on a working vacation. The lovely Mrs. McKay and I are taking some time to visit all three of our daughters (and play with the grandkids), and I’ve had the privilege of speaking before several Southern California service organizations this week.

Yesterday I was the guest speaker at the weekly meeting of Victorville, California’s Victor Valley Marketing Group. I’ve known about half of these people for years. I used to be a member of this group. Of course, there were only 30 of us then. In the last three years the group membership has doubled.

When I went through the steps of creating an advertising budget, my long-time friend Bob Sole, owner of Express Blinds, asked a pertinent question: “Once you’ve created a budget, how long do you have to advertise at that level before enough people know about you that you can cut back on your advertising?

I don’t believe that you ever can. In fact, if your business is successful, you’ll probably be investing ever-larger sums in advertising. Here are two reasons why.

The purpose of advertising is largely to expose your business to people who don’t pass by and see you on a daily basis. The best thing that you can do to promote your business is to locate in the busiest intersection in town, then hang out a “now open” sign. Find an area with enough traffic, and you may not need to advertise at all. Most of us though, don’t have prime locations. The farther we locate from where people naturally congregate, the more we need to use other means (ie: advertising) to remind those people to come and do business with us.

One of the realities of any community is that it’s a continually changing entity. And no matter how great your location was ten years ago, the population and traffic patterns have probably shifted to some other prime location in the last decade. Perhaps you’ll find it makes sense to relocate every eight to ten years. A number of national grocery chains do that with their stores for this very reason. Then again, you may find that its more cost effective to simply keep inviting people to your current location.

The second reason is that people move. According to the United States Postal Service, approximately 17% of the people in any given community relocate each year. Run the math and you’ll find (worst case) that after ten years only 19% of the people who “knew” you a decade ago still remember you. Add a small growth in population, and that figure can drop by a couple more percentage points.

This brings out an odd contradiction, doesn’t it? The faster your community’s population grows, the more money there is in circulation. That usually means more business happens by default. Long term, though, it also means that you’re becoming lost in the crowd.

Look around town. Are some of your old customers disappearing? Are new people moving to town? Have the traffic patterns changed in the last decade?

Can you afford to assume that enough people have heard about you to quit inviting them into your business?

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Relational, Not Relationship

In a conversation with a collegue in the graphics industry I claimed that all buyers act in either transactional or relational mode when purchasing anything.

He said “I don’t. I don’t drive across town to save a few cents, and I certainly don’t have a relationship with any place that I shop.”

Relationship? No, you probably don’t. Relational does not equal relationship. But, if you choose to shop somewhere for reasons other than price, you’re operating in relational mode.

Perhaps you choose a grocery store for it’s produce. You don’t read the paper for the specials before you shop. You don’t bring “cents off” coupons to the store. You don’t even have one of their affinity cards which, at check-out, they’ll swipe through the till to “save you $6.23 this trip.” You are there because you like their produce department. You’re acting relationally.

Perhaps you don’t know the store manager’s name. You’ve never seen pictures of the cashier’s kids. You don’t even know whether the produce manager is married. You don’t have relationships with these people. You shop at their store in a relational mode.

Do you buy your gas at the station on the corner because it’s convenient? You’re shopping relationally. Do you choose a dentist because he concentrates on elimination of pain? You’re shopping relationally. If you watch Good Morning America instead of the Today show because you like Diane Sawyer better than Katie Couric, you’re shopping relationally. (What? You don’t think that investment of your time has a cost?)

You can shop relationally without ever maintaining a relationship.


Have you ever been told something new that rings true with every fiber of your being? Wizard of Ads partner Steve Clark had that effect on me within the first hour of his New School Selling workshop.

Our society has changed, and people’s reaction to salespeople has changed with it. The old “closing techniques” don’t work any more… at least, not as they once did. Steve demonstrates why they never will again, what does work, and even addresses such issues as the conflict between doing what’s best for the client and maximizing revenue for your company.

As someone who’s been directly involved in sales and sales management for the last two decades, I can tell you that I’ve never been so impressed with any sales training system, and I’ve been through quite a number of them.

The next class at Wizard Academy is May 19-20. You can sign up for it here. And if you make your living selling, you probably should.

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Fearing Customers

When I was 16 and my cousin Kelly was 15, we were both enthusiastic about becoming scuba divers. (Interestingly enough, we both did about six years later). However, my story takes place in 1969 when Kelly found an ad in the back of a magazine for “military surplus wet suits… only twenty-five dollars.” Wow. Twenty five bucks, huh? Kelly sent ’em a Postal Money Order and waited.

Three weeks later some kind of loose fitting plastic “suit” arrived, looking straight out of a contagious germ lab. Not sure what it was, but a wet suit it wasn’t. Kelly tried calling the vendor, but never got anyone to answer the phone. He wrote a total of three letters, first asking for the correct merchandise, and later asking for a refund. He got nowhere, and finally gave up. It became a lesson for him, and frankly for me as well, to be very skeptical when purchasing anything.

I suspect that most people have had a similar experience. People worry about buying from businesses with whom they don’t have a relationship. Think about it from your potential customer’s perspective. Every purchase decision carries a risk that it might be the wrong decision. Will your product or service perform as promised?

Without a guarantee the customer assumes all of the risk. And when that’s the case, it’s likely that she’s going to pass on the opportunity to do business with you, no matter how much she truly wishes to buy.

However, when the business makes an unconditional satisfaction guarantee, the business takes over the worry and the risk. That makes it so much easier for any prospective customer to buy.

Of course, it’s obvious why more businesses won’t offer a guarantee – unconditional or not. They fear that too many people will demand satisfaction. They fear that truly satisfying a customer costs too much.

Ouch. Fearing your own customers. What a terrible perspective from which to try to attract new business.

Let’s look at the big mail order companies for a minute. Pick up any catalog from Sharper Image, Land’s End, Victoria’s Secret, LL Bean, or Damark. Check out the web sites of Gateway Computers, the Casual Male, or Sears. They all know that buying something long-distance, from someone the customer has never met, can be scarey. These companies wouldn’t be as profitable as they are without those guarantees. Humm. If they are profitable BECAUSE of that guarantee, what do they know that you don’t?

Perhaps it’s as simple as believing in their products and their customer service.

If a customer contacted you right now and said “I’m dissatisfied,” would you tell her that all sales are final? Or would you try to exchange, repair, replace, or even refund? How often does that happen? If you worry that advertising your willingness to make sure your customer is happy might open floodgates of dissatisfied customers, you probably shouldn’t be advertising at all. You should be fixing your company. (C’mon… are there really unhappy customers who haven’t thought of complaining? Trust me, you don’t have to worry about giving them the idea).

Most companies accept that it’s in their best interest to satisfy each customer. Make this a focal point of your advertising. To the extent that you have the courage to aggressively tell the world, you’ll enjoy a competitive advantage over your competitors who continue to fear their own customers.

Let me tell you a related story from Wizard of Ads® partner Michael Keessee. One of Michael’s clients, a service business, (hairdresser in this case) offered unlimited access to their services for a monthly flat fee. The first reactions from the individual beauticians was along the lines of “What? Are you crazy? Let a customer be able to come in here for all of the expensive coloring, and cutting, and treatments for only one fee? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Michael’s client implemented the new pricing, and immediately signed up thirty new customers. Only one of the new customers has “taken advantage” of the client. She’s come in about four times a month. Ten of the new customers don’t come in at all some months. The other nineteen have showed up pretty much as walk-in customers would have. From a strictly numbers viewpoint, 3% are marginally profitable, 64% are of average profitability, and 33% are exceptionally profitable!

Six months into this experiment Michael’s client is scouting for additional locations.

Would you take on thirty new customers, if you thought that one of them might be marginally profitable?

Offer that unconditional guarantee. You’ll get the new customers.


Senior Wizard Roy H. Williams is teaching his Ad Writing 101 class at the Wizard Academy in two weeks.

This class is incredibly valuable to business owners who are getting more involved in the marketing of their businesses. Roy starts with finding the right idea, and ends with writing to keep clients sold. I recommend this class highly.

Contact [email protected] to find out how to attend.

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Hippocrates Golf Lesson

As an advertising practitioner, I see a lot of crap masquerading as well-thought-out marketing. I’m reminded of Hippocrates instruction: “First, do no harm.“*

Every day we all see advertising campaigns that harm the advertiser’s image, damage his credibility, and even convince shoppers to avoid his products or services. When I think of the number of copywriters, copy chiefs, creative directors, account executives, and even clients themeslves who’ve added their initials to these ads as they gathered approval along the chain of command, I’m amazed.

First, do no harm.

This should be required of everyone in my profession.

I also realize that the client is going to have the final say, and that sometimes our clients are determined to do exactly what we advise them against.

What do we do when faced with a client who’s going to do things his way? Do we cut loose and protect our own reputations by refusing to be associated with ineffective, weak, or even harmful advertising? Or, do we stay and try to keep the impending damage to a minimum?

I compare this dilemma to a golf lesson. If the instructor recommends a five iron, and the pupil insists on using a wood, does the instructor tell the student “Do it my way or I’m walking?” Or, does he say “If you insist on using that wood, remember to get your stance solid, keep your left arm stiff, keep your head down, keep your eye on the ball, and remember to follow through?”

I faced that exact situation this week. My client owns an Italian restaurant. His service is amazing, and his food is prepared fresh, from scratch, daily. These are strong advantages on which to build a campaign. He, however, insists that we must tell people all of the items on his menu.

I’m trying to make his restaurant stand out from all of the other eateries in town, and my client wants to tell people that at HIS Italian restaurant they serve lasagna, spaghetti, pasta prima vera, and fettucini Alfredo.

I have never known consumers to be fascinated with a long list of products.

In my heart of hearts, I don’t believe the ads he’s demanding are going to get the results he’s expecting. He may see an increase in business, but I don’t believe he’ll be getting the maximum impact from his advertising investment.

I like the guy. I want him to do well. I know that I can make him better ads than he can do for himself, even when they’re largely lists of dishes from the menu.

But if he already knows exactly what his ads should “sound like,” he really doesn’t need me.

I just hope he remembers to get his stance solid, keep his left arm stiff, keep his head down, keep his eye on the ball, and he remembers to follow through. *

“First, Do No Harm” Is Not in the Hippocratic Oath. You’ll find that Wizard of Ads ® partners are quite particular about is accurately sourcing the information we pass along. When I started to write this article, I believed that “first, do no harm” was from the Oath of Hippocrates. I was surprised to find that the oath never contained those words.

It appears that Hippocrates did originate the phrase, but in another of his writings: “Epidemics.” In book two, section eleven, a translation from the original Greek reads Declare the past, diagnose the present, foretell the future; practice these acts. As to diseases, make a habit of two things—to help, or at least to do no harm.”

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My Father’s Example

Last Thursday I was sitting in an Austin seafood restaurant with Wizard of Ads ® partners John Cassidy-Rice (Wizard of Ads, England) and Dave Young (Why We Blog). I mentioned that my father is my hero. “He’s the man I want to be when I grow up,” I told them.
To the best of my knowledge my Dad has never said an unkind thing about another human being. The closest thing he’s ever come to criticism of any one in my presence was “I don’t think I’d have done it that way.”
I’ll come back to Dad in a moment. First, though, let’s follow up on The Keg Steakhouse and Bar in Fort Worth, which I wrote about on February 4. You recall that my wife had become a customer evangelist for The Keg after just one visit. I shall now confess that I’ve become one, too.

After our first visit, I got a postcard in the mail. The postcard front had a collage of photos of folks eating and drinking and having a good time.

It had The Keg’s address and the words, “Just a short note to thank you, Chuck!”
Flip it over and it said: “Thank you for joining our guest list. We take pride in serving great steaks and making our guests feel really comfortable. We look forward to seeing you again soon Chuck.

It was signed “Cheers, Aldo Boada, General Manager.” I’m rather impressed. Nice follow-up.
Then, I got the birthday invitation. It opened with: “Happy Birthday Chuck!” and then promised a delicious present from The Keg Steakhouse & Bar.

On the flip side it reads “We invite you to come to The Keg Steakhouse & Bar during the month of March and enjoy a complementary Sirloin Steak (9oz) and Lobster Dinner. We look forward to helping you celebrate your birthday, Chuck.”

This one didn’t have Aldo’s signature. It closed with The Keg’s address and phone number.

Wow. Free steak and lobster dinner. No “only good between these hours” or “buy one, get one.” Just a simple “celebrate your birthday with dinner on us.” Pretty impressive.

Of course, we all know that I won’t be celebrating my birthday alone. The Lovely Mrs. McKay will accompany me. Perhaps we’ll invite our friends Kim and Roger to meet us there. So, they give away one dinner and sell three more. I know from a similar program that I set up for Richie’s Diner in Victorville, California a few years ago that they’re likely to make a modest profit on this promotion… even after giving away one of the more expensive items on the menu.

The Keg rocks!

Ok, back to dinner with John and Dave in the Austin seafood restaurant. As we were getting ready to leave, William the waiter handed me an envelope. On the front it says:

Are you hooked yet? Just to make sure, we’ve stuffed this envelope with shameless ploys to reel you back in.”

The back is sealed with a sticker which reads: “You’ve hooked a big one! But… to claim your catch you must open the envelope at the table on your next visit. Come in between March 20th and April 20th to celebrate your big catch.”

The fine print at the bottom of the sticker states: “Envelopes that are not opened at the table are not valid. Contents of the envelope valid March 20-April 20, 2005. Not Valid on 3/27/05. May not be combined with any other offer. Limit one per table.”

Humm. I’m somewhat skeptical. First, the envelope doesn’t feel “stuffed” with shameless ploys. Second, I have to come back and make another purchase to see what’s inside.

As you might guess, I didn’t bring it back between March 20-April 20. I opened it when I got to the parking lot. The envelope contained a letter and a coupon.

First, the letter:

Dear Guest,

“Congratulations on your big catch! The (restaurant) team wants to thank you for being a great guest! We hope you consider (restaurant) your very own fishing spot – a place where the surroundings are as comfy as your favorite flannel shirt.

“We’re excited about our new menu selections. If you haven’t had a chance yet, we recommend our savory new Campfire Ribs, flavorful Tilapia Ponchartrain, or tender NY Strip. Let us know what you think of the new items. And remember your Fish is our Command ®, so if there is anything you’d like we’ll be happy to make it just for you.

“We’re also working on a great happy hour.. So if you haven’t had a chance to try our (restaurant)-Rita made with real citrus juices, your chance is coming.

“Again, thank you for being our guest! If there is anything that my self or the (restaurant) team can do to improve your (restaurant) experience, please let us know. We want your time with us to rock.

“Best Fishes, (name) Chef Manager.”

Humm. A blatant sales pitch. Oh, well, let’s see what I’ve won.

(In my best Ben Stein voice): Wow. A free appetizer.

Can’t have the oysters, though. And it isn’t good on March 27. That’s Easter Sunday, I believe.

Interesting, isn’t it. Here’s a seafood restaurant that has a great atmosphere, friendly and helpful wait staff, and excellent food. Not expensive, but certainly not your neighborhood coffee shop. With tip, we dropped about $100, and all enjoyed the meal.

Had it not been for the envelope they handed me on the way out, I’d probably be writing to you about the seafood restaurant three Wizard of Ads ® partners enjoyed in Austin. Instead, I’m telling you that I’m miffed. They’re trying to bribe me with an appetizer. I have to come back at a time of their choosing and purchase another dinner to get it. And even then I’m restricted in my choices… in case I’d pick one that costs too much.

This is a critical point: I am not upset that they didn’t offer me a free meal as The Keg did. Not at all.

I’m upset that they’d assume I would sell my loyalty and my time for the price of a cheap appetizer.

And they cheapened my memory of that evening.

To quote my dad, “I don’t think I’d have done it that way.”

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Customer Service Equals Two Letter Grades

Have you ever heard of The Keg restaurant? How about the third season of The Apprentice? They will be forever linked in my mind.

I spent last weekend in Cincinnati, where my brother-in-law is responsible for my current case of projection TV envy. His is incredible! Crisp. Detailed. Over 100 inches wide. We watched The Apprentice in high definition. I will confess that there’s something fascinating about seeing The Donald larger-than-life when he says “You’re fired!”

Seems the two teams had been assigned to fixing up and running a couple of run-down motels on the Jersey shore. The each had $20,000 for renovation, and 48 hours in which to do so.

In my opinion both teams did a less than spectacular job of making those rooms acceptable. No one bothered to clean the carpets, for instance. The judging was done by guests who had spent the night. They were asked to rate the facility and its staff on a scale of 1 – 5.

Here’s where it gets interesting. The street smart team, Net Worth, may have actually produced better looking rooms. Net Worth was judged by the guests at an average 2.92 out of 5.0. The book smart team, Magna, with no better facility, managed a rather impressive 3.96 on that same scale.

The difference? As the guests checked in, the Magna team personally invited them to come out and join a party at about 8pm. They hung around the pool, drank a few beers, and made everyone feel as if they were part of the group. This sense of belonging added a full 1.04 to their score. Another way to score it was: Magna 79.2%, Net Worth 58.4%.

Humm. So, personal attention, treating customers as if they’re important, was the difference between a low “C” and an “F.”

Our weekend in Cincinnati ended. The Lovely Mrs. McKay and I packed our bags, kissed everyone goodbye, and with one last wistful look at the brother-in-law’s TV we flew back into DFW. Early flight… long layover in Detroit… we landed hungry. Pulled off Loop 820 on the way home for a quick stop at Best Buy, and noticed “The Keg” steakhouse on the other side of the parking lot.

I knew nothing about The Keg. I’ve never seen any advertising for the place. They had NO image in my mind. My first impression of The Keg was “This is a nice place for special occasions.” It’s not a restaurant I’d have chosen when I was hungry and in a hurry to get home. But, we were already there. We were definitely hungry. We opted to “spoil” ourselves and stay for the prime rib.

As the hostess seated us she asked if we’d ever visited them before. When we said “no,” she pulled out a couple of quick forms to add us to their mailing list, and to make us eligible for a free steak and lobster dinner on our respective birthdays. Our waiter, Chad, introduced himself and took our drink orders. Then the manager on duty, Brandon, came by with huge prawns in cocktail sauce. He introduced himself, and said that Chad had informed him that it was our first visit. Would we please accept this shrimp cocktail with his complements?

The food arrived, and was wonderful. Chad had recommended a three-cheese butter for my baked potato that moved my diet from “way of life” to “fond memory.”

Now, again, this would not have normally been a place I’d have taken the Lovely Mrs. McKay for anything short of a special occasion. But then, they treated us as if we were special. She’s now occupied identifying even more special occasions so that we can justify a quick return.

The moral? The same as the Apprentice episode. Customer service can raise your grade by at least 20%. When the product is marginal, but the service is good, customers will perceive your overall value to be fair. But when the product is good, and the customer service is even better, you turn your customers into evangelists. They’ll be winning people over for you. We hadn’t even left the parking lot before the Lovely Mrs. McKay was on the cell phone making the first of two calls in which she raved about the place.

Do people not do business with you because they don’t know about you? Or is it because they do? It’s what my partner Roy Williams calls the Personal Experience Factor.

My complements to Dustin Marshall, the General Manager of the Keg Restaurant, 5760 Southwest Loop 820, Ft. Worth. I’ve never met the man, but I’ve met his staff, and together they run an excellent facility.

What makes people do the things they do? Can advertising really change how customers think and feel? The simple truth is that most advertising isn’t working like it should. But why not?

BUSINESS OWNERS – You’re invited to a free, all-day seminar to be held April 5 at the Wizard Academy in Austin, Texas, entitled, “Advertising: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why.” This seminar will answer your questions about what to expect from the marketplace this year and beyond.

For more information, call 512-295-5700 or email [email protected].

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