Monthly Archives: July 2012

When the Truth Hurts

When the Truth Hurts
I pay strict attention to every detail on voice mail, email and any form of communication. In part, I do this to understand more about the personality style of the person I’m communicating with in the absence of body language and other face-to-face personal style clues.
But I often wonder about executive assistants or voice mails and emails that send the wrong signal.
For example, when I place a phone call to someone at 3:30 in the afternoon and the receptionist says "I’m sorry, he’s still out for lunch" I think a better signal could have been sent.
Or when I call at 10:15 in the morning and the voice on the phone says, "Mr. Jones has not come in yet today," I wonder, is he in a meeting, or simply tardy.
Even though both of these replies might be the truth, wouldn’t it be better to simply say the person I’m trying to reach "is unavailable right now"? Do I need to know that they take extended lunches or arrive late for business?
And then there’s the out-of-office email reply on July 23 that says "I’m away on vacation until June 29th"…are they really away until next June or have they not checked their email since last month?
In Search of Excellence author, Tom Peters, said "Sometimes when I see the impact of ‘little things’ on an organization, I conclude there are no ‘little things’."
Is it time to revisit the way you and your staff handle messages?

What Is Your Market Share?


What Is Your Market Share?
In a recent survey of local advertisers we asked what questions local business owners would ask of a marketing consultant. One of their questions was, “How do I measure my market share?”
A very important question indeed, particularly when you consider the doubling effect of market share. You see, local advertising generally does not affect market size, but it dramatically affects the advertiser’s market share.
Advertising won’t make more people buy cars or get a haircut; however, it can persuade the marketplace to buy from you instead of your competitor.
The ‘doubling effect’ occurs when your advertising persuades a customer who usually buys from a competitor to switch and buy from you. For example, if I had my hair cut at the same shop the first week of every month but switched to your salon this month, the net difference between your business and your competitor’s would be two haircuts, not one. That is one your competitor lost plus one you gained, making a net difference between each salon two haircuts, not just one.
And because advertising generally does not increase market size, its real measure is market share. Your overall market may be down 10%, but if you’re only down 2% you’re doing something right….your market share is actually up!
The answer to, “How do I measure my market share?” is not quite as simple. In larger ticket or larger volume operations the data is usually readily available through government or industry association statistics. But for smaller businesses or niche markets, it’s a little tougher to measure.
In our Seven Ways to Estimate Market Share, method number one is to, “Talk to your suppliers.” They generally have a good handle on who is buying what and can often give you a pretty good idea how your industry is doing overall and what your share might be. Those with integrity won’t tell you how a specific competitor stacks up, but they will share with you an estimate of your share.


Click here for me to deliver our free Seven Ways to Estimate Your Market Share.

The Nicest Lie

The Nicest Lie

If you are working with the real decision-maker in an organization and they turn down your proposal because "it’s not in the budget", you’ve just been lied to!

Business owners often find it easier to turn you down by blaming their budget rather than your station, your idea, your audience or your price.

You often use the same escape tactic. When a clerk approaches you in a furniture store and asks, "Can I help you?" you’ve learned it’s easy to get rid of them by simply saying "No thank you, we’re just looking." ‘Just looking’ is a nice lie. No one takes time out of their busy schedule to ‘just look’ at furniture if they have no intent or money to buy.

Here is how I know that "it’s not in the budget" is a courteous lie if you are dealing with the real decision maker:

1.) Who makes the budget? The real decision maker! It is their budget and they can change or add to that budget whenever they want to.
2.) Business owners by definition, make investments with the expectation of getting a return on their investment….that’s what they do for a living. When you are told "it’s not in the budget" they’re really telling you, "You have not convinced me I will get a significant return on my investment."


Your job is to uncover the reason they feel that way and return with a better customer-focused presentation that does convince the business owner she will get a return on her investment.
NOTE: If the person you are presenting to really cannot change or increase the ad budget, they are not the decision-maker, only the budget-allocator.

Hypocritical Pricing


Hypocritical Pricing
          Would you agree that being customer-focused, or placing customers’ needs first in your marketing strategy, is essential to building a sustainable business?
          Would you also agree that the airline industry probably has one of the least customer-friendly reputations in all of North America?
          If you agree somewhat to these two statements, would it seem reasonable that a customer-focused organization would adopt the airline industry’s supply and demand pricing model?
          Supply-and-demand pricing and customer-focused marketing models are incongruent with each other.  The airline industry uses a supply and demand pricing model, gouging their customers when customers need them most, like at Christmas, and selling at a loss when most don’t need to fly.
          Customers know that fuel and crew costs do not go up with passenger demand and they resent being gouged when they need the airline most.
          Ironically, this same pricing model is also responsible for one of the most financially troubled industries in North America today…four out of six major airlines are in bankruptcy protection!!
          I have yet to hear a convincing argument that supply and demand pricing and customer-focused marketing are compatible models.
          Advertisers do not receive more value, more audience, better service, more brand awareness or more sales because we are nearing sold-out positions, just as they do not receive less value, audience, margins or service when you can shoot a cannon through your log.
          Marketers who default to supply and demand gouging or discounting do so for one of two reasons:
1.) They do not care about, or have confidence in, the value they deliver,
2.) They have not trained their sales people to sell their product for what it’s worth in slower demand seasons resulting in the need to make up for that weakness in high demand seasons.
          Oh, I almost forgot one other reason for hypocritical pricing….followersyndrome… “We have to sell cheap in slow times because our competitors do”, is not an excuse that leaders use.
          Selling is simply an exchange of value. The seller delivers value and receives value (money) in exchange for that value.  It is not ‘selling’ if the seller does not realize value too.
          If you have made a conscious decision to engage in customer-focused selling, then you must build your rate grids around value…..value to your customers, and value to your stations, 12 months of the year.

A Helping Hand vs Risk


A Helping Hand vs. Risk
          You have probably heard me say, “All decisions originate in the heart and are only rationalized in the head.” We use several colourful stories to illustrate that quote in our presentation to persuade advertisers about the emotional pulling power of broadcast advertising in their media mix.
          But the heart and the head are often at odds with each other. I recently made a heartfelt decision to hire a person, to give them a helping hand and a second chance.
          I had known them to be successful in their past, but I was also acutely aware that since that initial success they had made some poor choices that impacted their career negatively.
          But as we told advertisers in one of our recent SoundADvice marketing tips, “Emotions often trump logic,”  the mind does find ways to rationalize a need’ in what our heart wants us to do.
          I justified hiring this person, in part, because I do believe in helping others and giving people a second chance. But I also rationalized it because in the past, the loyalty and effort I have received in return for my humanitarian actions has often come back to me in spades. So I told my heart, and my business partner Angela, my decision was ‘logical.’
          In one recent case, the decision I made from the heart and rationalized from my head was very disagreeable with the standard practices I uphold within my company.  It was a huge mistake that cost me financially and perhaps tainted my reputation as an astute business consultant.
          Will I ever take another risk?
          I’m not ready to give up on helping people when I can, although I’ll certainly be more judicious in my rationalization process in the future.
          This experience certainly validates what we’ve been telling advertisers, “The heart really is more powerful than the head.”