- YOU. Everyone cares most about themselves. They care about their life, their job, their problems and their reputation. Make everything you do in sales or marketing about them. Take a look at your elevator speech, your pre-approach letters, your website, your brochures. Rewrite everything and remove the “I”s and the “we”s and replace them with you and your. Make it about them. YOU will see better results.
- NOW. Create a sense of urgency. A related word, “Urgent” is powerful as well. Make your message relevant in this moment. Make your solutions active in the present. People want action now, not empty promises for something in the future. People hate to miss out and NOW and Urgent create a sense of a limited time offer. Everyone is wired to care more about losing things than gaining them. “Instantly” is another cousin in this family of creating the sense of immediacy. We live in a world of instant gratification. Creating a sense of urgency NOW will create action.
- FREE. The number one word in advertising and sales and I so wanted to leave it off this list. But how can I leave it off? Everyone wants something for free. It’s a powerful word that will grab your customer’s attention every time. It can even change their buying habits. It never loses its power. It’s also very relevant to what we sell in the promotional products world. We create FREE offers for our clients, thus empowering them to use the most powerful word in all of sales and marketing. Do not assume that your customers already know this. Show them how they can use the power of FREE by offering a promotional products to reward a new customer, to create loyalty among existing customers, to draw traffic to their business or their trade show booth, to get people to sign up for their newsletter or opt-in to their email or any number of great objectives. You may even want to offer them something for Free for ordering from you.
You are a marketer and you are a sales professional. If that is a true statement then you use words to market and to sell. Words have power and you need to use them properly. Weak words equal weak results. Powerful words create powerful results. Choose your words carefully whether spoken or written. Here are three that you should use and use to their full effect.
Here’s the deal. Problem solvers always make money! No matter what the industry. No matter what the economy is doing. No matter what. If you can get out of the product selling business and into the problem solving business, you will always be in demand and you will always be able to make money. Here are five problems that you can solve.
If you’re willing to commit yourself to continuing education by spending an hour per week of research and reading, to attend the great education and professional development being offered by your regional association, by PPAI, by ASI and even your suppliers, and by logging in to the many available webinars around these topics, you can become a problem solver. If you choose just one of these five problems and commit to becoming the best problem solver in your world, you will rock your world. You will rock your sales and you will rock your income. Find the Pain. Be the Aspirin.
If you want better answers, ask better questions. It is impossible to serve your clients and create value for them unless you have a thorough understanding of their organization. Information gathering should be personal, conversational, tailored to the person you are speaking with in the moment. When and how you ask should also be based on how well-known the company is, the position of the person you are meeting with and how much pre-approach research you have done. I recommend that you use the internet, the library, LinkedIn and other sources to gather information before your meeting. Some of these questions you may already know the answer to and you will be able to impress the prospect with your diligence.
When you ask better questions, you get to know where you can be looking for opportunities. You can proactively recommend programs and solutions aimed at their particular problems. When a client sees that you are focused on solving their problems, that you have put some good thinking into their challenges and that you provide solid marketing advice, they see a professional. You will find that even if your proposal is not quite ready for prime time, that they will respect how you think and will open up even more with you about what they are working on and what projects are in the pipeline.
For better answers, ask better questions.
_Become a Marketer. The 4 P's of Marketing Plus.
Throughout my volunteer service to the industry's association, many people have made comments about the demographics of our practitioners. When you look out over a promotional products trade show floor, you may be struck by the lack of diversity, by the balance of attendance by gender, and by the relative aging of the people in the industry. That is not to say that we have no young people. I'm excited about the crop of new, young energy entering our ranks and stepping up into leadership roles. But the fact remains that for the most part, a good number of us have celebrated at least one birthday where our more cruel friends have brought black balloons and "over the hill" pins.
I've always pointed out that for a large number of people, our industry was not their first career. Among our ranks you'll find retired military, parents returning to the workforce, former bankers, former teachers and former corporate ladder climbers. All of whom have discovered our wild, wacky, crazily creative, frighteningly frustrating, ultimately rewarding and addictive world of stuff! So for many of us, marketing may be a new discipline and advertising something we paid attention to only during one big football game per year. (Go Giants, Go Patriots - I don't have dog in this year's fight). I think this is why my CAS-required courses, Advertising and Marketing Overview Parts 1 and 2 are so wildly popular (and being required also helps!).
In classic marketing curriculum, four critical elements are identified as being components of marketing:
Product: There must be a product or service for marketing to take place. We may take it for granted that our product is our ability to source products for our clients. What is it that you are offering? A product, service or offering must meet a need in the marketplace. How much time have you spent really digging into defining what need you are filling in the marketplace? What problem do you solve? Why are you the best solution to that problem? What pain do you take away for your clients? Why are you the best pain reliever? Find the Pain. Be the Aspirin (or Tylenol, or Advil, or Morphine)! If you can solve problems and take away pain, you have a viable product. If you can solve problems and take away pain for clients, they will never shop you, will be loyal to you and will view you as an indispensible member of their team.
Price: Every marketer must have a pricing strategy. For Wal-Mart, this strategy is lowest price, always. For Nordstrom, it is never discount except for two and only two sales per year. For credit card companies it may be 0% interest for the first year (and then 25% thereafter, lol). What is your pricing strategy? I contend that just as product sourcing is not a good product, the lowest price is not a good pricing strategy. Having the lowest price is a race to the bottom and a zero sum game. Zero sum game is a fancy business writer phrase meaning there are no winners. (Now if I can somehow work in paradigm into this article, I'll have a MBA-speak bonus blog!). Define your pricing strategy understanding that it is not how much that you sell that matters. It's how much you can keep. Profit is the life blood of your business. But profit must be earned. You must be solving problems and adding value. See "product" above. Instead of a discount strategy where you reduce the perceived value of your offerings, you could try a value-added strategy. A value-added strategy always gives a little more — whether that more is service, product, measurement, publicity, or other support you can offer to solve problems and relieve pain.
Place: Traditionally, our "Place" has been in our buyers' offices or maybe a showroom. Today, many buyers prefer the place be on their computer screens. How have you adapted to that shift? How is your "place" defined? How do you set it apart from anything your buyers have ever seen before? Rain Forest Cafe, took a restaurant and turned it into a jungle adventure experience. Is there a way you can turn your showroom into an experience? Distinguishing yourself with ultra creative open houses, with a trade show experience in a parallel target industry, with a web experience that makes your clients' jobs easier are a few ideas of how you can work on your third "P" and make Place a competitive advantage. Even your visits to your clients can be a Place Experience if you focus on how you can bring positivity, creativity, innovation and smiles into their offices every time you visit.
Promotion: How are you making your clients' and prospects aware of the powerful solutions that you offer? You are in the promotion business. Hopefully, you are not just in the products business. As a promotion expert, your work on your own promotion marketing should be communicating constantly that you know what you're doing. If you can market yourself creatively, your prospects will see what you can do, will recognize how you caught their attention and will want you to do for them what you do for yourself. If you want to sell more trade show traffic building solutions, put on a trade show or participate in one and show your clients what you've got. If you want to sell more direct mail campaigns incorporating creative products, put together a direct mail campaign for your distributorship. If you want to sell loyalty programs, put together a loyalty program to reward your best customers. If you want your clients to have a promotion budget and spend it, have yourself a promotion budget and spend it.
These are the classic four 'P's of Marketing. I like to add People, Purpose and Passion for a total of seven. When you get very clear about the first four and engage your people around your vision and give them something more than business like a Purpose or Meaning to their daily efforts, you can inspire a Passion that will drive your business to new levels of success.
Paul A. Kiewiet MAS CIP CPC