Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Leads, not Brand

If the name of the company you run happens to be Pepsi or IBM, possibly even Mercedes Benz or The Mayo Clinic, get your checkbook out because you're about to cut another one to make sure your brand is at least as good as it was yesterday.

If you're running a company that won't be discussed this evening on CNBC and you're spending money on marketing, that money better be coming back with some friends. I like to call these "friends" leads.

I have a tough time with the billions spent on branding though I can't deny every study shows when the Big Boys slash cash on branding, their sales goes down. Possibly I'm jaded for when I ran my spots for my multi-national/basement headquarters during Super Bowl 39, the only result I witnessed was a call from a guy named "Vance" in Fresno, telling me he might like to "maybe, ya know, talk and stuff...later in the year when things settle down..".


If your marketing doesn't generate leads that can be measured and managed, spend the money somewhere else. Spend it on the people who produce for your company, whether in their making your product, servicing your product or consistently selling your product.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Selling to Strangers

This anecdote has a happy ending, so sit tight for a moment.

If cold calling strangers in the middle of the work day is what you do or ARE TOLD TO DO to "generate leads", you better pack a good-sized lunch.

I have made thousands and thousands of these types of calls through the years because I was told if I didn't, I would be escorted out the door. Good grief.

For the record, my voice projects very well, I speak clearly, am very effective with cadence, intonation and can make the guards at Buckingham Palace laugh. That said, if you set up a contest between myself and, say, a reasonably intelligent cocker spaniel that speaks English, and asked us to make 5,000 essentially random cold calls to sell widgets, I would win the contest...but BARELY.

We would each, by pure luck, get about the same number of live decision-makers on the phone who happen to need widgets that day or very soon(Grand Total:not many). I would win, however, because in that 2 second window after they say "hello", I would fare much better. My opponent would likely be engaging in some unsavory personal hygiene at all the wrong times so I'd take home the steak knives.

Bottom line: I lose, the dog loses and the business loses because it is a terrible way to sell products or services. It also completely destroys the morale of even the good people you may hire because EVERYBODY has a finite amount of arrows they can take in the face. People have their breaking points, robots do not. (Speaking of robots, the guy who played "The Robot" in Lost in Space, Bob May, died three days ago. That one hurts. It was like the day we lost Brando AND Don Corleone.)

So, as a business, what do you do? I am in complete agreement that we must connect with a significant amount of buyers to sell anything...and that includes using the telephone...alot.

(An aside:I am a HUGE proponent of clever guerrilla marketing. On short money, I have made it work more than once. You ask how? See above re: Buckingham Palace.)

So, if I'm on your payroll, we need to be reaching out to prospective customers who don't know me or our company in relatively large numbers, ideally in concert with a cost-effective guerrilla marketing program that is demonstratively working.

Here's the good stuff: I will be connecting with prospective buyers every day who don't know me BUT THEY THINK THEY DO (and there is not an iota of deception at work here). That's what I do; that's what I teach.

How's that work?

I get paid not only for results but what I know. I could put the whole program in print, right here, and know that people would read it, think "hey..that's a good idea" and then NEVER DO IT. They'd go right back to doing what they do...and that's just fine, if it works.

If the phone is not ringing (and I know for many, it's not), somebody better figure it out.