Marketing P.A.I.N. – Part 5, Testimonials and Comparisons

Most models of effective advertising list getting attention as the first step.

Doesn’t it stand to reason that your communications will become powerful when your prospect recognizes that you’re talking to her?

That’s the purpose of the Marketing P.A.I.N. Concept – to identify the discomfort your prospective customer is already feeling; to address that pain, and in so doing put forth an advertising message that she will recognize as relevant to her.

Targeting the early stages of pain will help prospects know of you weeks, months, or even years before they recognize a need for what you sell. The largest number of people will be exposed to your message. This is the concept behind Top-Of-Mind-Awareness and building your “brand.”

But advertising your goods or services for so long before they’re needed, ratchets up the expenses. You’ll have to continue advertising for a long period of time to make Pain Stage 1, or even Pain Stage 2 payoff.

Targeting later stages pays off much more quickly.

The triggers to purchase occur more frequently. That’s the good news. The bad news is the pool of available prospects is much smaller. Effective marketing at Stages 3 or 4, must be much more specific.

At Stage 3, shoppers are sorting options.

They’re dealing with the reality of constant discomfort, and considering the perceived value of options to make the pain stop hurting. What’s most likely to catch and hold their attention? The story of someone who had their exact problem, and eliminated it.

At Stage 3, an appeal like this one from Nutrasystem becomes highly relevant. And a celebrity admitting she also shares our prospect’s pain helps to elevate the awareness level.

The other thing common to Stage 3 ads is the comparison between solutions. You may remember cleaning products that get out the stain, better tasting coffee, or the gasoline additive that adds six mpg to your car’s mileage. Or, this example from Apple Computing.

Mac: Hello, I’m a Mac.
Vista: Mac has issued a salutation. Cancel or allow?
PC: Allow. And I’m a PC.
Vista: You’re returning Mac’s salutation. Cancel or allow?
PC: Allow.
Mac: What gives?
Vista: Mac is asking a question. Cancel or allow?
PC: Allow. He’s part of Vista, my new operating system. PCs have a lot of security problems, so he asks me to authorize pretty much evertything I do.
Vista: You’re pointing out Vista’s flaws. Cancel or allow?
PC: Allow. I could turn him off, but then he wouldn’t give me any warnings at all. That would defeat the purpose.
Vista: You are coming to a sad realization. Cancel or allow?
PC: Allow.

Not all comparisons are obvious. This one from the Ladders sneaks up on you.

If you think about it, this is the trouble with most job search sites. When you let everyone play, nobody wins. Join the Ladders. The premium job site for only one hundred K plus jobs, and one hundred K plus people.

When you’re targeting a prospect at Stage 3, help her to see you as the solution by directly identifying her issues. Help her see herself doing business with you. Help her remember who you are and how to get in touch with you.

Your Guide,
Chuck McKay

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

Questions about focusing on the issues your customers care about may be directed to [email protected]com. Or call Chuck at 304-208-7654.

If you know someone who would find this article useful, please share it.


Marketing P.A.I.N. Series

Part 1, Relationships
Part 2, What Do People Want?
Part 3, Advertising the First Stage of Pain
Part 4, When People Realize They’re Hurting
Part 5, Testimonials and Comparisons
Part 6, Make It Stop!
Part 7, Tie It All Together

Part 8, Message Frequency, Media Choices, and Tracking

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Marketing P.A.I.N. – Part 4, When People Realize They’re Hurting

There are three ideas critical to the Marketing P.A.I.N. concept.

1.Nobody buys anything until she becomes aware that the absence of that thing in her life causes discomfort.

2.Your prospective customer will be much more likely to pay attention to your advertising when you match your marketing message to her specific stage of pain.

3.While the degree of pain is a recognition of intensity of the need felt by your prospect, the stage of her pain is an acknowledgment of her awareness of that need. These two ideas are independent of one another.

Let’s clarify those points.

First, we’re referring to the feeling caused by physical or emotional distress as “pain.”

Why call it pain?

Truthfully, because P.A.I.N. becomes a straightforward acronym.

M.I.S.E.R.Y. does not.

E.M.B.A.R.R.A.S.S.M.E.N.T. is nearly impossible.

Whatever you choose to call this awareness (discomfort, longing, loss, disappointment, anxiety, embarrassment, or in our case, pain) people don’t buy anything until they recognize the feeling caused by a lack of it in their lives.

Second, out of self-defense against information overload, most of us ignore everything that doesn’t appear to effect us directly. (Some estimates have us exposed to thousands of marketing impressions every day). Matching your message to her stage of pain immediately tells our prospective customer that you’re speaking directly to her, about things that matter to her.

And finally, our focus on the Stages of Pain is based on the prospect’s awareness of need, rather than on the depth of the need. Stage 2 pain is not a greater intensity than stage 1. It is a greater understanding that something is lacking in her life. The magnitude of pain is personal, but people’s reactions to pain are similar and predictable. You will recognize the stage of pain by the actions a person takes.

Now, on to Pain Stage 2.

At the second stage, people are becoming aware of their discomfort. This awareness is generally a slow process, and is often only grudgingly admitted.

Typical Stage 2 messaging is “Let us tell you all about us.

A much more salient Stage 2 message is “Do you have this problem?

Early stage buyers need to know you can help them, even if they don’t yet have the vocabulary to ask the critical questions. Sometimes people don’t realize their discomfort until you point it out.

Advertising at Stage 2 should concentrate on your prospect’s new awareness of the problem. At Stage 2, the single thought we wish to plant in people’s minds is, “we understand, and can relieve your pain.”

Here’s a great example of an ad that makes people aware of their own discomfort. The Sherwin Cody School of English ad “Do You Make These Mistakes In English?” ran for 42 years, only changing the typeface and photo from time to time to keep it updated. (Now THERE’s a return on investment we can all envy). Click the ad to enlarge it for easier reading.

This ad from Cash Call addresses people who have come up a few bucks short before payday.

Need some cash to stay afloat? Cash Call wants to get you the cash, fast, without collateral because we trust you. Just call 877-860-CASH. And remember, make sure you can afford the monthly payment before you borrow. Make the cash call at 877-860-CASH.

Though the target in our next example also needs cash, JG Wentworth’s end user is a more qualified prospect – one who owns an annuity. As is typical of Stage 2 prospects, Wentworth’s candidate is just becoming aware of the possibilities.

Announcer: A JG Wentworth Success Story.
Felecia: A few years ago I inherited an annuity from my grandfather. I started receiving monthly payments from his insurance company.
Announcer: Recently Felecia’s employer moved to another state, and she was left out of work with lots of bills to pay.
Felecia: I heard about JG Wentworth through TV ads.
Announcer: I told Felecia that they helped thousands of annuity holders get their cash now.
Felecia: And they made it really easy.
Spokesman: Its your money. Use it when you need it.
Voice Over: Call 866-447-0910.

Once you’ve determined that your most profitable customers are at Pain Stage 2 ( just becoming aware of the nature of their discomfort) make it easy for them to get information from you. Make it easy for them to see themselves easing their pain by buying from you.

And remember that any medium can carry any message. These Stage 2 examples used television and magazine ads to deliver the words. You may find, though, that other media with less mass might convey your message more efficiently.

Consider the return on advertising investment should you choose to employ signage, newsletters, brochures, specialty advertising, or public speaking as alternatives to radio, television, newspaper, and outdoor ads.

Your Guide,
Chuck McKay

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

Questions about focusing on the issues your customers care about may be directed to [email protected]. Or call Chuck at 304-208-7654.

If you know someone who would find this article useful, please share it.


Marketing P.A.I.N. Series

Part 1, Relationships
Part 2, What Do People Want?
Part 3, Advertising the First Stage of Pain
Part 4, When People Realize They’re Hurting
Part 5, Testimonials and Comparisons
Part 6, Make It Stop!
Part 7, Tie It All Together

Part 8, Message Frequency, Media Choices, and Tracking

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Marketing P.A.I.N. – Part 3, Advertising the First Stage of Pain

A brand is a trademark or distinctive name identifying a product or a manufacturer. Branding is the process of raising awareness of the advantages of a particular trademark, and building strong emotional ties between customers and products.

The advantage in building a brand is that people ask by name for what you sell. The disadvantage is that they’ll buy when they want to, rather than when you wish to sell.

But if your prospective customer feels no discomfort, she will feel no incentive to buy. Not your brand. Not anyone else’s.

Truthfully, the vast majority of people at any given point in time feel no pain. They have no interest in what you offer. They consider your ads a nuisance. They wish your ads would go away. And that assumes that you managed to catch their attention at all. And yet, effective branding happens at Pain Stage 1.

Branding strategy targets people who are not yet aware of discomfort.

Why would you advertise to those non-prospects?

To increase the reach of your advertising.

The broad, all-inclusive lack of focus in the message, “eliminate your pain by purchasing our product/service,” doesn’t allow the targeting of specific audiences. Ads for pregnancy tests, for instance, will be exposed to retired men as well as to women of childbearing years. Ads for weight loss products will reach thin people. Ads for cars will become familiar to children.

At Stage 1, your message reaches “everyone,” and waits for some of them to experience a triggering event. People’s status occasionally changes, and for some, an event will occur which places them firmly in the market. Some women of childbearing age will need a pregnancy test. Some thin people will overindulge over the holidays. Children will grow up, and some of them will purchase automobiles.

Combined with top-of-mind awareness caused by your advertising, this new perception of need will lead them to look you up in the white pages, rather than looking up your business category in the Yellow Pages.

Typical Stage 1 messaging is “We Want Your Business.”

A much more effective Stage 1 message is “If you ever need us, we’re here for you.

My favorite example of a successful Stage 1 advertising campaign is Roto Rooter. For the last five decades their message has been “When your drain clogs, we’re a phone call away.

The company’s Public Relations Manager tells me they refer to their campaigns as “grudge marketing.” Paul Abrams describes this mindset as, “We’re the company people call when they have drain problems. People know us by name, but they resent being forced to call.

The public knows Roto Rooter’s name because of the consistency with which the company’s advertising exposes the mythical “everyone.” Roto Rooter knows eventually some drains will clog.

Here’s a sample Roto Rooter ad from 1968.

When stopped up drains get you down, why wait, watch, and worry over home remedies that just don’t work? Next time remember to call the expert, your professional Roto Rooter Man. (jingle) When Roto Rooter comes, that’s when your troubles go. When Roto Rooter’s here, that’s when your troubles disappear. Call Roto Rooter, that’s the name, and away go troubles down the drain. Roto Rooter sewer service.

A more contemporary version of “When you need us, we’ll be here,” is demonstrated by Countrywide Mortgage.

Countrywide’s delivery is solidly at Pain Stage 1. The strategy is simple: get the attention of homeowners, and plant in their minds the idea that Countrywide can bail them out of a financial shortfall. Then wait for some of those folk to need the cash.

Homeowners, want to refinance and get cash? Countrywide has a great reason to do it now. A no cost REFI. It has no points, no finance fee, no credit reporting fee. And no third party fees. No title, escrow, or appraisal fees. Absolutely no closing costs, so you wind up with a lot more cash. Call now and ask for a no-cost REFI. We’re America’s number one home loan lender, and no one can do what Countrywide can. (Announcer) Call one, eight hundred, six four one, seven one three six.

As we’ve already discussed, advertising what you sell at Pain Stage 1 is the most costly of marketing options, but it also offers the largest potential number of sales, and profit. The combination of 75 million American homeowners and a tight economy promises a huge payoff for Countrywide.

Matching your advertising message to the degree of pain your prospect feels will make your ads more effective.

In Part 4 we’ll look at focusing your message toward people who already feel the discomfort. We’ll help them to realize that buying from you is the surest way to soothe their pain.

Your Guide,
Chuck McKay

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

Questions about focusing on the issues your customers care about may be directed to [email protected]. Or call Chuck at 304-208-7654.

If you know someone who would find this article useful, please share it.


Marketing P.A.I.N. Series

Part 1, Relationships
Part 2, What Do People Want?
Part 3, Advertising the First Stage of Pain
Part 4, When People Realize They’re Hurting
Part 5, Testimonials and Comparisons
Part 6, Make It Stop!
Part 7, Tie It All Together
Part 8, Message Frequency, Media Choices, and Tracking

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Where Are The Goal Posts? Where Is Your Team?

Imagine yourself the quarterback of a football team. You understand the game. You know what the goal looks like, and how to score.

There’s only one problem. You don’t have any idea of where you are on the field.

You could be on your own 30-yard line. On the other hand, you may be within ten yards of your competitor’s goal.

What should your next play be?

Should you rush up the middle?

Should you try for the long forward pass?

Should you call in the place kicker?

Truthfully, you can’t answer this one. If you tried, shame on you. You’re gambling the future of your team without any idea of where you are or where you’re going.

Navigating Without Landmarks

I was recently discussing this tendency of business owners to “shoot blind” with Wizard of Ads © partner, Michael Keeseee, who directed me to the February 19 issue of Fortune Magazine, and an article titled The Pepsi Challenge.

“Nooyi also gave a pivotal presentation to the board in 1998 – just as the heat from Coke was becoming unbearable – that dissected the rival’s business model and made a persuasive case that its double-digit growth was not sustainable.

It was a tour de force,” says Enrico, who is convinced that “at that moment the PepsiCo board understood Coke’s business model better than Coke’s board did.” Four months after the presentation Coke stock peaked at $88 and began a long downward slide.”

Can you imagine knowing your competitor’s business so well that you could predict how that competitor will react to various changes in the marketplace? What might Coke do if the price of corn syrup went up by 10 percent? Could Pepsi know which preemptive moves to take for that, or for any other business eventuality?

Based on their stock prices since 1998, the answer appears to be, “yes.”

But, if you’re not one of the big guys…

OK. Granted, the world’s a different place for two corporate behemoths who can afford hundreds of analysts each to do nothing but gather business intelligence and study each other.

But, I remember a weekend in 1979 in which the general manager of the company I worked for took the entire management team away for the weekend. Our mission? To presume the next Presidential election’s possible outcomes, and to predict our competitor’s actions under each scenario.

I don’t believe it was coincidence that over the next two years we grew 17 percent and 22 percent respectively.

How well do you know your competitors? Do you know where your goal is? How accurately can you gage your own field position?

Can you afford not to sequester your key employees for a weekend of brainstorming, before you next go 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 understanding your competitors as well as they do themselves? Drop Chuck a note at [email protected]. Or call him at 304-208-7654.

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Surprise and Delight

My first post-high school employment was with Howard’s TV Repair. Howard had a pretty good understanding of human psychology. He insisted that we clean the outside of each television set repaired in his shop before it was returned to the owner.

It never took long. Less than 60 seconds to Windex the front of the picture tube, and maybe another three minutes to wipe the dust and fingerprints off the rest of the set. (It always amazes me, even today, how much dust, cigarette smoke, and other schmutz accumulates on the ‘tube and dims the picture).

When we’d fire it up for the owner, the usual comment was, “Wow. That looks good!

Why am I thinking of Howard today?

Because I just received a postcard from the shop that did extensive repairs on my truck. It was a nice “thank you,” and it arrived within 48 hours of the work being completed.

I paid $437 for repairs to the steering linkage. (Well, more correctly, $420 for the steering linkage, and $17 to replace the windshield wipers).

I picked the truck up at 5:30 pm, and drove it home into the setting sun, squinting through the dirty windshield. Now, granted, it was that dirty when I delivered the truck at 7:00 that morning. But, still, they paid enough attention to note the rubber was shot on my blades, and completely missed the filthy glass on which that rubber sat.

To the best of my knowledge, Howard never repaired any vehicle other than his own. However, I have no doubt that under his supervision no vehicle would be returned before the mats were vacuumed, the dash wiped down, and the glass cleaned.

And here I sit looking at this postcard.

The shop did good work. I’m not upset with their price. And yet, it would have been so easy for them to delight me with four minutes of extra, unexpected attention to the little things.

I don’t know what you sell, or what services you offer, but isn’t there some nicety you could do for your customers to surprise and delight them? I’m not talking about discount coupons or loyalty cards or even a free gift with purchase. I’m talking about just doing something nice. Something that could generate incredible word of mouth.

Something like:

  • The complementary hand sanitizer at the checkout of Mi Tierra Mexican Restaurant in Southaven, Mississippi.
  • Behive Music in Fargo loaning an amplifier for that night’s gig to a guitarist who’s amp was in their shop.
  • As one of California’s major fires worked it’s way up the Cajone Pass, the daily phone call to out-of-town owners of rental homes managed by Blue Star Properties of Victorville. (With evacuation on everyone’s mind, Ben Lamson’s crew minimized every owner’s worry by providing the latest information, and showing they were on top of the situation).
  • The Cincinnati O’Charlie’s Restaurant waitress who, slammed by the after church crowd, still noticed a lady with a walker coming around the side of the building, opened the side door, and found her a seat immediately.
  • The cleansing wipes provided by the Kroger Grocery in Portsmouth, Ohio so that shoppers can wipe down the handles of the shopping carts.
  • The taxi owned by El Torrito Restaurant in Evansville, Illinois, painted with their logo, that the restaurant parked by the street during the day and used in the evening to take home customers home who had spent too much time in the cantina.
  • The U.S. Postal Service repackaging my magazine when the cover tore, in order that it arrive without additional damage.
  • The complementary coffee served to those customers waiting to be seated at the Bob Evans Restaurant in Columbia, South Carolina.
  • The customer service representative of Chase Bank in Huntington, West Virginia who called the new customer with the name of a blues band looking for a bass player that his new-to-town customer had asked about the day before.

Do you have any personal examples of delightful customer service?

If you don’t mind, hit the “comment” button and tell us what the business did for you, how it made you feel, and roughly how many people you told about it.

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A Good Ad

Big and Tall Clothing Sign

Big and Tall Clothing Sign

For years I’ve said (and I have not been kidding) that the problem with most advertising is it’s written by the advertiser.

A typical small business ad makes a major feature of the name of the business. In newspaper the tendency is to make the business name the biggest thing in the layout. On radio the rule seems to be insert the name every ten seconds. Television? Put the name full screen for the last five seconds of the ad and make sure people know directions to the store.

But, for just a minute, let’s pretend that your business is a big and tall men’s clothing store, and that I’m a prospective customer.

We can assume that I don’t have any interest in having you try to sell me things I don’t want. We can further assume that I don’t want to pay more than a fair price, and that I wish to be treated as if I’m important. Those are just the generic concerns.

Suppose that I’m six feet eight inches tall. I now have additional concerns: I don’t want to shop for clothes that don’t fit. I don’t want to find clothing designed for a much smaller man, even if it has been manufactured in my size.

Let’s look at your ad and see what it says.

Your name is the headline. You have a photo of your family, who apparently do double duty as your staff. Your ad tells me how long you’ve been in business, your address, phone number, your hours of operation, and a list of the product lines you carry.

What your ad has not addressed is any of my issues. Actually, your ad hasn’t said anything to catch my attention. I find this amazing. You’re trying to attract me, and other people like me, but you insist on talking about yourself.

And suppose, for just a minute, that I’ve decided I need a couple of white business shirts with French cuffs. Suppose that I see your ad, come to your store, and discover that you only stock casual clothing for big and tall men. When I discover you don’t have what I want, and walk out, you’ll probably claim the ad “brought in the wrong people.”

Don't set me up for embarrassment.  Do you carry my neck size?  Say so in your ad.

Don't set me up for embarrassment. Do you carry my neck size? Say so in your ad.

You only got lookers instead of buyers?

Hummm. Does this happen to you a lot?

Of course, even bad ads will usually produce some business. If you have clothing that is in high demand, and there are enough big and tall men, some of them will respond to your ad and will probably buy something before they leave.

Of course, a great many more will be spreading their business among your competitors, because their ads are interchangeable with yours.

Or maybe they just chose the store with the most convenient location.

Advertising is too expensive to waste.

As expensive as advertising is, shouldn’t we strive for the greatest possible return on investment?

Your self centered ads are not persuasive. I don’t care that you’re the biggest, the oldest, the most popular, or that you will not be undersold. I, your prospect want you to talk to me. I want better advertising, more salient advertising from you.

Let’s consider what makes an ad effective.

  • A good ad is about the customer.
  • A good ad speaks directly to a specific group of people, in language they use, about concerns those people have recognized.
  • A good ad sells benefits, and explains exactly what each benefit does for your prospect. It is honest, and believable.
  • A good ad is built on a simple concept, conveys its message clearly, and leaves one easily remembered thought in the mind of the prospect. It makes the prospect remember the product, or the advertiser, instead of the ad.
  • A good ad is distinctive, and easily recognizable. It helps to build a positive image for the advertiser.
  • A good ad conveys a sense of urgency. It has a clear call to action and tells the prospect what to do next.
  • Suppose, instead of making your name the headline, you ran an ad that with a headline that said “Are you as tall as Larry Byrd, and can’t find shirts long enough to stay in your pants when you reach for the top shelf?

    I know, I know. You’re going to tell me you can’t run an ad like that, because when you talk to the tall men, you don’t let the big men know you have shirts for them, too, and as much as you’re spending for this ad you’re not going to leave anyone out.

    So, here’s my question. Who you think is reacting to your current ad? Who feels it’s speaking to them? (Hint: announcing you stock both big and tall men’s clothing doesn’t mean you’ve said anything of interest to either).

    Are you ready to kick your advertising into high gear?

    Then talk to me, your prospect. Talk about the things I think are important. Talk about exactly how you’re going to help me.

    And please stop thinking that the only “benefit” I care about is price. You must have more to offer than low price when you’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 articulating your value, and making sure people know it? Drop Chuck a note at [email protected]. Or call him at 304-208-7654.

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    Advertising and Air Conditioner Sales

    Air Conditioner

    Window AC Unit

    Bear with me as we set up the facts of this story.

    This story is true. It actually happened. The people and the company involved are very real, but shall not be named. If they must have a name, call them . . . oh, let’s call them Little Brother Bob’s Hardware.

    L.B.B.’s Hardware has several stores in southern states. Each summer they stock, and sell, window air conditioners. Not too long ago, the company partnered with HVAC specialists from as an implementation of their expansion and consolidation program. 

    The company had tradionally offered an incentive program for superior sales performance when it came to air conditioners. Each month’s quota was set at 110% of the sales from the same month a year ago. If any store outsold its quota of air conditioners, there would be a bonus of $25 per additional unit. The bonus money would be pooled, and the store’s manager could distribute to employees according to their contribution.

    The Advertising Started

    They bought ads in local newspapers. They passed out flyers in the stores. They mailed those flyers to the regular customers of each store.

    First month: the store in our little tale sold 16 units over quota, and earned a bonus pool of $400 for the manager to distribute to assistant managers and salespeople.

    Second month: 20 units over quota. $500 bonus.

    Enter the Contractor

    In the first week of the third month a local builder came in to the store carrying one of the flyers.

    He explained that he had just been awarded a contract to remodel a local hotel. He wanted to purchase 200 identical window air conditioners, and wanted to know how quickly he could arrange delivery of such a large number of units. He also mentioned that he’d purchased the same number of air filters from

    The manager called L.B.B.’s Hardware’s home office.

    Home Office Reaction

    The home office took over the sale and dealt directly with the customer.

    Within 48 hours a new bonus program had been implemented. Effective immediately, the bonus potential was capped at $500 per month.

    In three years since the new bonus program has been in effect, Little Brother Bob’s Hardware has never again exceeded quota. At least, not this store.

    Most of us see a cause and effect relationship in this example.

    Do you have a bonus program for your salespeople? Is the program working with, or working against your advertising? How do you know? A strong repellent can cancel a great bait when you’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 incentives which reinforce your advertising?  Drop Chuck a note at [email protected]. Or call him at 760-813-5474.

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    Emotions VS Logic

    You’ve no doubt heard that people emotionally decide what to purchase, and then use logic to justify that purchase.

    Can a product be sold on emotion alone?

    Yes. Usually to children.

    Children desperately want to fit in. The easiest way to entice a child is to present your product as the one purchase that every other kid is getting.

    Truthfully, does anyone need shoes that light up at each step? They don’t even flash a light in the direction the kid is traveling. Instead, they light up to show where he’s been.

    When I was a kid, everybody had streamers – long strips of colored plastic attached to the plastic grips on bicycle handlebars. They flapped in the breeze and were absolutely useless except to show all of the other kids that you had ’em.

    And if it weren’t for other kids owning them, could there be any justification for Pokemon cards?

    Bigger kids, even sixty-year-old kids, still feel this pressure to belong. They’ve just become much better at justifying their purchase choices. As I said, they’ve learned to use facts as if the facts were how they came to the decision. It’s seldom the case.

    But, for a minute, let’s consider the other extreme.

    Can a product be sold purely on logic alone?

    Yes, it can, if it’s a commodity.

    Commodities are interchangeable mass-produced, unspecialized products like gasoline, rice, airline seats, and pork bellies. Since they’re all virtually identical, one buys them from a strictly transactional mindset: by dividing benefits by price. More benefits, lower price, better deal.

    But, for everything else we buy, emotion plays a major part in our decisions.

    Emotions, or Logic?

    So, which is better?  Should you use emotion or logic to sell your products and services?

    It’s a trick question. You need both.

    Your ads should provide emotional appeal to help shoppers to choose your offering; and then back the decision up with solid facts they can use to explain their purchase to anyone else.

    A Fictitious Example

    Nothing warms and protects you like genuine leather. And nothing else will look so good on you, either. Ajax Leather jackets are exceptionally flattering. They can be worn for business, but you’ll find them equally comfortable for causal wear. The first thing you’ll notice as you slip into a lined Ajax Leather jacket is the weight. This jacket won’t wear out in a lifetime of use. Secondly you’ll admire the strong zippers and snaps and the quality of the stitching. But you’ll probably choose it because it looks so good on you. Step in to the Ajax Leather store and step out in style. Ajax Leather on Bovine Boulevard.

    More will take the bait if you give them the intellectual rationale they need to justify the decision they wish to make emotionally. Help your customers to buy when you’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 combining logic with emotional appeals? Drop Chuck a note at [email protected]. Or call him at 760-813-5474.

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    You Can’t Bore People Into Paying Attention

    Yellow Pages

    Yellow Pages

    I’m uncomfortable with most clever or creative advertising. Clever and/or creative is dangerous, because it’s too easy to get sucked into the creativity, and forget that our purpose is communication and persuasion.


    If your attention is drawn to the cleverness of the ad, rather than to the product, it’s a bad ad.

    Today, however, that same warning applies to dull ads. Our purpose is communication and persuasion. You’ll do neither by boring people.

    About a week ago I received a phone call from a representative of a nationwide yellow pages publisher, who said “Hi, Chuck. I’ve been handling Abraham’s yellow pages advertising since he first opened his business fifteen years ago. When I called him today he gave me your number and said I should deal with you. His ad is ready to go.”

    I asked him to fax me a copy. When he did, I rejected the ad, and told him I’d submit a different one later that day.

    Chuck,” he said, “this ad’s ready to go. You don’t understand yellow pages. What’s important in yellow pages is size and position. The bigger the ad and the closer to the front of the category the more likely it is to be read.”

    A Larger Ad Will Be Noticed

    Is he wrong? No, not completely. When all other factors are equal (as they never are in real life) a larger ad will be noticed more easily than a smaller ad. And there is some evidence that being listed earlier in the category improves the odds of being noticed, too.

    However, a bad ad won’t be read regardless of size or postion. Adding color won’t ad to your persuasive ability, and getting noticed does not directly lead to persuading anyone to buy. Size, position, or color don’t communicate a message.

    You’ll recognize a bad ad by it’s focus.

    Bad ads are about the advertiser. Good ads are about the customer. A bad ad says “This three stone diamond pendant is only $299 just in time for Mother’s Day.” A good ad says “She’ll kiss you like you’ve never been kissed before.”

    What’s the most important part of any ad? The headline. It draws attention and naturally leads the reader into the rest of the ad. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

    The ad which had been faxed to me used my client’s logo as the headline. Can’t you just see a potential customer’s eyes glazing over as she sees page after page of yellow pages ads with business name after business name as the focal points of those ads? Unfortunately this kind of design is all too common in the yellow pages.

    Think about this: people go to listing media when they have a problem to solve. They go to the business category that seems most likely to address their problem. Page after page of business names makes the customer do all of the work. And make no mistake, trying to figure out whether your business can help IS work.

    The name of your business doesn’t say anything of interest to a customer searching for a solution to her problem.

    Make it easy for a prospective customer.

    Make your headline promise a big benefit, which will naturally pull the reader’s eyes to the rest of the ad. Once the customer is confidant that you understand her immediate need, include your name, address, and phone number – at the bottom, where they belong.

    How does this story end? I re-wrote the ad.

    The headline now promises a benefit to the reader. The information that the client had been “serving the community for fifteen years” was replaced with body copy and an illustration which expands on that promise. Finally the client’s logo was reduced to a reasonable size, and his address and phone number were placed at the bottom of the ad, where they become the last thing a potential customer reads.

    If she’s been persuaded, she’ll now pick up the phone and call.  Is there a better outcome when you’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 making Yellow Pages advertising more effective? Drop Chuck a note at [email protected]. Or call him at 304-523-0163.



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    How Will Advertising Affect My Sales?

    You have a new store. It’s ready to open to the public. What’s the first thing you should do?

    You should hang out a “Now Open” sign.

    People will drive by and see the sign. Some will walk in to see what you have to offer. Some will buy. Then, depending on that first experience, some will come back to buy again, and some will recommend you to other customers.

    You advertise to reach people who never drive by.

    I bring this up because a very common question is, “If I spend money on advertising, what will I get back? Can you guarantee I’ll see any results at all?

    To that I have to answer “Maybe.”

    Let’s look at the variables.

    Your traffic driven sales will depend on location. Your repeat sales and referral sales will depend on customer experience. Your advertising driven sales will depend on the salience of your message, your share of voice, and the frequency of delivery of your message.

    If you had a high profile location, perhaps the intersection of two major highways, your sales may develop like this:

    1) Traffic Driven Sales . . 70%
    2) Repeat Sales . . . . . . . 16%
    3) Referral Sales . . . . . . . 5%
    4) Advertising Sales . . . . .9%

    That high profile location, coupled with the experience your customers have shopping with you, can determine as much as 91% of future growth. The last 9% will come from effective advertising.

    Consistently well done advertising could also effect the number of people who normally just drive by, but today decided have decided to walk in.

    Perhaps you don’t have a prime location, but are instead a neighborhood store on an average street with average parking. Your sales could develop this way:

    1) Traffic Driven Sales . . .19%
    2) Repeat Sales . . . . . . . .36%
    3) Referral Sales . . . . . . . 14%
    4) Advertising Sales . . . . .31%

    Sometimes business people expect that if they increase their advertising budget by 10% that they should see a corresponding 10% increase in sales.

    Under the best of circumstances a 10% advertising increase in our first example would boost sales by slightly less than 1%. In our second example our best possible outcome would be a sales boost of slightly more than 3%.

    You’ll note that I said “best of circumstances.” We’ve assumed that your competitors aren’t increasing their spending or increasing the relevance of their message.

    It also assumes that you don’t have any new competitors.

    Most businesses aren’t willing to advertise aggressively enough to maximize sales and gain significant market share.

    This provides a major opportunity for those who are.

    Which are you?




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