Foolin’ Yourself

Be careful that you don’t get too distracted by things that don’t really matter. Words of wisdom from Seth Godin:

The distraction, the tail and the dog

Your business has a core, a goal, a challenge and a deliverable. There is probably one thing that would transform your project, one success that changes things, one hurdle that’s tougher than the others. What’s difficult, what would respond to overwhelming attention? That’s the core.

Getting from here to there involves making sales, delivering on promises, overcoming the Dip and shipping.

Along the way, there are supporting tasks you can engage in, things you can do to make the goal easier to achieve.

A popular blog might gain attention and then trust and ultimately help you sell more widgets.

A lot of followers online might give you permission to tell a story that gets you better employees.

A vibrant party at SXSW can create buzz that gives your salespeople entree to important meetings.

These aren’t trivial activities. In fact, they’re part of what marketing means today. But…

But if they give you and your team an outlet to avoid the difficult work of achieving your goal (“I can’t go to that sales call, I’m busy uploading pictures of last night’s party to the blog and then tweeting out the url”) then you’re not building, you’re hiding. Rich calls this playing with turtles. The thing is, the turtles are alive, and they’re going to demand a lot from you.

There’s a huge downside here: once your side activity gets going, it will lead to crises (we have an urgent email we have to answer), to feelings of abandonment (hey, you haven’t been on the forum lately!), to irresistible offers to have the CEO speak or get people involved. There will always be a feeling of sunk cost, of opportunities missed and of things on the verge because these are human movements, not paid ads.

Two choices: 1. find a way to make your goal completely aligned with the tactics you use to achieve it. What’s good for your blog is good for your business. or 2. Now that these approaches are working, and working incredibly well, it’s time to come up with boundaries so the tail doesn’t end up wagging the dog.


Clear & Concise

I use this “simplicity” technique with many of my radio clients. Here’s how to do it in your email marketing, from Marketing Profs:

When Plain Is Good

If we were to suggest plain text for your next email campaign, you’d probably laugh in our faces. “The superiority of HTML email to plain-text email for driving response has become an accepted truth in email marketing,” says Mark Brownlow in a post at the Email Marketing Reports blog. “Alchemy Worx, for example, recently demonstrated the power of images: Adding a small, relevant icon to an email boosted total clicks by over 50%.”

But, he argues, there are reasons to consider plain text for the occasional message:

  • HTML has become nearly ubiquitous, and a plain-text message—free from color and images—will stand out like “a blank canvas in a Picasso exhibition.”
  • HTML is associated with one-to-many communications. “Plain text still says ‘personal’ (all my personal email is plain text) and/or ‘important’ (much transactional email is still text-based),” notes Brownlow.

Therefore, plain text might effectively create the feeling of more personal, one-to-one communication, such as for the following:

  • Reactivation campaigns
  • Messages from top executives
  • Messages that address serious or emotional issues

“A good compromise for such emails might be a rich-text approach, with a subdued HTML masthead,” he suggests, “and then plain text in the main message.”

The Po!nt: Plain-and-simple is fine now and then. Under the right conditions, a plain-text message might be more powerful—and effective—than one rendered in HTML.

Source: Email Marketing Reports. Read the full post.

Don’t Stop Too Soon

from my email:

Daily Sales Tip: Create An Account Entry Campaign

It takes 7-10 contacts to crack into a corporate account these days. Most sellers give up after 3-5 attempts.

If you want to set up a meeting with a corporate decision- maker, plan multiple touches from the outset. It takes a while to break through their “busy-ness” and register on their Richter Scale, but it can be done.

You can use multiple formats in your campaign, too: voicemail, email, direct mail, invitations to teleseminars, and more.

Source: Sales trainer/consultant Jill Konrath

Forcing Creativity?

from last year:

Ready, Steady, Innovate!

In a post at the Daily Fix blog, Paul Williams poses this question: “If you were to put a few talented musicians or skilled screenwriters into a room and [mandate that they] write a Grammy-winning song or Oscar-winning blockbuster, could they do it?”

They could try, obviously, and some might even succeed, but prize-winning creative work is not something that can be created on demand. “So why do we put business people in rooms and command them to drum up innovations?” he concludes.

Williams argues that we should think of innovation as the end result, not the process that leads us there. The acclaim is awarded after the fact, when ideas have led to a significant move forward. “You can try to create ground-breaking ideas intended for this purpose,” he says, “but until [the potential innovation is] launched and in use, you won’t know if it is an innovation.”

It’s more productive, therefore, to focus on less abstract and more tangible goals—for instance, brainstorming ways to make a product or process even better.

The Po!nt: “Telling people to ‘innovate’ is the problem,” says Williams. “It frames the wrong issue. The mission of the team isn’t to ‘innovate,’ it is to: ‘Create remarkable ideas that have the potential to induce improvement and change.'”

Source: Daily Fix. Click here for the full post.

Positive Communication

It is a tactic that works….

Daily Sales Tip: Make Objections Work for You

Objections should be sought out and resolved throughout any sales presentation. This allows the salesperson to judge how the sale is going, and to assess the buying motivation of the customer as each feature of the product or service is explained.

Some sales trainers describe this process as “taking the customer’s temperature,” or “trial closing,” and each of these terms describes the process fairly well. I like to call it “teaching the customer to say YES!” I feel if I can get the customer into the habit of answering yes to a series of questions throughout the presentation, when the final question to buy comes, the result will be very predictable.

Source: Sales trainer Bill Fitzpatrick

Weekend Riding

3 of 5 of our jocks on my classic rock station own bikes….

What Do Harley Owners Like To Do?
Percentage of Harley Davidson owners more likely than the average American adult to:

1 Listen to classic rock radio +156 %

2 Own a full size pick-up truck +153 %

3 Be a union member +119 %

4 Own a rifle +102 %

5 Own bowling balls +100 %

6 Attend NASCAR auto racing + 95 %

7 Own a hot tub/whirlpool spa + 94 %

8 Contribute $100+ to charitable organizations + 87 %

9 Own U.S. savings bonds + 75 %

10 Agree that much of advertising is way too annoying + 21 %

Source: GfK MRI Survey of the American Consumer, Fall 2009