Aug 18 2010


Nine “Do Not” lessons


learned from 30+ years 


of sales-winning advertising


I know, accenting the negative isn’t always the best thing, but if you know what NOT to do, it’s a lot easier to figure out what you can and should do. I don’t pretend to know what you can and should do, but I sure can tell you what I’ve found out that doesn’t work (and throw in a few hints about stuff I know that works better!).

Here’s the scoop:

1. Do NOT advertise that you have integrity, or even about what wonderful integrity-inspiring things you or your business have done. When you conduct business at all levels with a high-trust approach and attitude, you will gain or boost a reputation for integrity that speaks for itself!

2. (…and this is really #1): Here is the single most difficult marketing, advertising, sales and PR challenge to face for all businesses everywhere (yes, you did indeed read that right: “all businesses everywhere”)– ready for this? — Do NOT promote how great you are to the rest of the world. Nobody cares. Well, maybe your mother cares, but nobody else does.

3. Do NOT get too cutesy. Readability must come before cleverness in font (lettering) use and treatments (Italics, boldfacing, spacing, underlining, shadowing, using a horseshoe for the letter “U” or crossed swords for “X” or an egg for “O”…etc.). And don’t trust a designer to worry about readability; most have no training or experience in how to design with and around text, especially branding lines.

4. Do NOT emphasize product and service features. Nobody buys features. People buy benefits. Make sure your marketing, advertising, sales, promotion and PR efforts focus on benefits — on answering the question, what’s in it for me?

5. Do NOT buy into fancy dog and pony presentations that stress how the work a creative service provider individual or organization or group or team can do for you will put you head and shoulders above the rest of your industry or profession. Get rid of creative service providers who seem more interested in winning awards for themselves than in making sales for you. Use performance incentives.

6. Do NOT ever accept a media rate that’s printed on a “rate card” or “rate sheet.” Think of it as the asking price for a house just put on the market this morning. Media people who aren’t willing to work with your budget aren’t worth your time and consideration. There are always other ways to market your business.

7. Do NOT try to hand-off advertising/marketing/PR responsibilities to someone who works with you because they articulate well or can write a mean email. And don’t try to do it yourself unless it’s what you specialize in. Remember that there are two success keys involved: writing skill and psychology expertise. Persuading customer and prospect brains is what it’s all about. 

8. Do NOT communicate too little or too much. Ask prospects and customers what they think the right amount of information is. Have someone who’s experienced at it run a focus group for you to get these answers, and to test alternative marketing approaches. 7 target market representatives for an hour works for this purpose. Give each a $20-$25 value reward for their participation.

9. Do NOT “settlefor ads, commercials, websites, landing pages, blogs, brochures, news releases, or social media executions or strategies that don’t feel right! If you don’t feel sure about something, remember it’s your business. Your gut instinct is your best decision maker.   

                                                            or 302.933.0116 or Hal@BusinessWorks.US  

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You.
 “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson] 
Make today a GREAT day for someone!

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Jul 31 2010

A Money-Saving Marketing Guide

 The bigger they are,


the harder YOU fall


 …but the little guys


can cripple you too!


Here’s the inside scoop on “outside” marketing experts . . . 35 years’ worth of experience and considered judgment for you to chew and digest:


WEBSITE DESIGNERS who claim to have the gift of marketing genius have nada. If they’re older than 14 to start with — even 30-something — they are still probably 14 mentally; and odds are they haven’t a clue about marketing, but have learned to sound convincing about it. Exceptions? Sure. Check my blogroll.


AD AGENCIES know less than website designers. They are heavily invested in winning themselves awards and cornering clients into excessive payments. They have no down-in-the-trenches sense of how to make sales, nor do they particularly care as long as the next big client stands ready on the horizon.

  •      They are particularly skilled at song and dance “dog and pony shows” that tell clients how great it’s going to be but that accomplish nothing to write home about, as long as the next big client stands ready on the horizon.
  •      If you’re looking for artsy or funny or insulting or dramatic ads and commercials that have high impact but make no sales, go to an ad agency. And the bigger the agency, the more it will cost you and the least likely you’ll get the results you seek.

PR FIRMS do have a pretty good camaraderie with numerous media people and can be effective — depending on whether you pay them $10,000 a month or $15,000 a month — at wining and dining and schmoozing editors, writers, and sometimes publishers into considering coverage for the news releases they write and submit for you.

  •      And they certainly know how to play the news release format game, but they rarely if ever are able to capture the essence of your business message and bring about action because they almost universally seem to think they know more about your business than you do. So what comes out is mundane, meaningless babble.
  •      Make them write three test releases and explain why the words in them are the best words and who and when they would submit them to and why.

MARKETING GROUPS will tell you they’ve got you covered, yet only a minuscule number actually realize that marketing is the umbrella and that the functions under that umbrella include sales, advertising, promotion, packaging, pricing, merchandising, PR (public relations), industry and investor relations, customer service, CRM (Customer Relationship Management), website design and development, email and social media promotional activities, employee alumni associations, buzz (word-of-mouth) marketing, and on and on.

  •      Ask them HOW they “cover” you and see how many of these avenues are mentioned.  

MEDIA. Would you have a guy from the slaughterhouse prepare your meals?


SBA SCORE COUNSELORS. SCORE is Senior Corps of Retired Executives. A lot of the world’s nicest, most well-intentioned people in this organization that provides FREE consulting.

  •      Unfortunately, like the federal government they represent, they are completely out of touch with the realities of day-to-day business management, and may as well be on Jupiter for the marketing guidance they provide. Time is money. Don’t waste your time.

     What’s left? Independent consultants and project managers. Probably these folks represent your best choice, but only if you’re careful in your selection. Some of them are just as crooked as many of the others.

     ASK QUESTIONS. Ask for explanations about HOW a candidate thinks about what she or he claims to have accomplished. Ask for examples. Ask why something that worked well worked well and why something that didn’t, didn’t. How confidentially do they offer information? Who are a couple of client types they can suggest for you to contact to confirm.

     Beware of self-proclaimed “experts”

with cookie-cutter solutions!


# # #  

302.933.0116  Hal@BusinessWorks.US  

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You.

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson] 

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

3 responses so far

Jan 11 2010

Hidden Customer Service Salespower

“Customer service begins



after the sale is made!”

–IBM, the early days


Is it just me? I hate the put-stuff-together, 46-fold-road-map-style directions printed in fading gray ink on tissue paper (but in 27 languages!) for products I purchase. Like the Christmas toys that even your child can assemble that kept you up half the night, HO! HO! HO!

And then there are those great power tools from Mexico with instructions that challenge your English-Spanish pocket dictionary left over from trying to deal with the landscapers last summer, when you offered them –por favor– a bowl of eyeballs instead of ice cubes.

You got the tools for putting together that great “Early American” furniture set from China, with instructions in broken English and diagrams to match? Oh, and only 89 of the 92 parts?

Or how about those “E-Z Steps” that accompany the new services you signed up for? You know, the “techy” ones with 11 disclaimer paragraphs of .4 type that protectively entomb a microscopic 800 phone number to call for further information about account activation?

Right! It’s that number you’re allowed to call between 9am and 11am or 2pm to 4pm, Pakistani time. Yup, the same one included in the box of Mexican power tools and Chinese-American furniture, that by now you’ve learned to not mind being left on hold for 45 minutes for the privilege of finally connecting with a non-English-speaking, unintelligible “counselor.” 

Of course by this time, you full well know where you’re going to plug the thing in, and what your plans are for the new drill and saw set as soon as you can Google the counselor’s phone number to get a street address and take the next flight out.


I’m not being multi-cultural-diversity friendly, you say?

Sorry, I don’t think it should have to be a huge time-wasting political struggle just to be a customer a paying customer no less!”


Don’t underestimate the sales power of product and service directions. You need to exercise at least as much care in thinking through and writing (and printing) instruction information as you do for your marketing, advertising, promotion, and sales materials.

A well-written business plan might help you wrangle some financial backing, and some super website content and marketing materials might help you drive customer traffic to your products and services, but customer service (the real thing) starts the minute a customer settles in to figure out how to best use and care for your products and services.

Customer service doesn’t mean you smile and handshake and backpat people through the orientation period that needs to frollow every purchase. (Why do assembly and activation instructions have to be more complicated than frozen food package directions?)

Whatever credibility, integrity and branding value you may have worked hard and spent much to achieve will go out the window in a heartbeat when your customer spreads out the paperwork and finds small-type loopholes in the warranty, a missing or damaged part, no clear diagrams or explanations, stickers that don’t come off…

Make it hard for customers to not be thrilled!


If manufacturers or suppliers aren’t doing their jobs, don’t represent them, OR do their jobs for them because–in the end–your customers are your customers who will boost your repeat sales numbers when you boost your attention to after-sale details, like directions.

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Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You!

Make today a GREAT day for someone! 

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Nov 14 2008

You’re still WHAT? You’re still SELLING?





     Thank you, Paul Simon.  Yes, I may be.  And, yes, you may be too.  But your music is still the best.  And so are my blog posts (for those of you who are reading this, who are marching, even lumbering, along the road to success) if you’re using the posts like pitstops to fill up with sales fuel. 

     Whaaa?  I’m not even a salesperson!  BRRRrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaat!  Wrong!  You ARE a salesperson, even if you’re a ballerina, even if you’re a roofer, even if you’re a brain surgeon, or candy apple maker, or homemaker, or rocket scientist, or truck driver, or school teacher, or priest, or (add your own titles here).  You’ve been selling since birth! 

     ALL OF US are actively engaged in selling and the sales process every waking moment of our lives.  Of course we are.  When we’re not trying to convince others to buy our products and services, we’re attempting to persuade them to buy into our ideas and beliefs and wishes. 

     And when we’re not doing any of the above (like when we’re vegging out in some yoga class or on a nature walk), don’t our minds slip into some self-talk?  Don’t we inevitably tell ourselves to do or feel or say something, or not do or feel or say something? 

     Aw, c’mon, Hal, that’s stretching it a bit don’t you think?  Aha!  And isn’t that little question a mini sales pitch all by itself?  (And that last question as well!)  Probably the longest we succeed at removing our minds from some sales process is when we’re watching some no-commercial-interruptions no-brainer movie, and even then our minds will go slip-slidin’ away (Thanks again, Paul!). 

     How long can you play with a baby or even a pet without thinking about something to buy or sell or convince someone of something related to the baby or pet?

     Here’s what’s important:

To recognize and accept that life is all about sales and that that’s okay! 

     On the opposite end, by the way, it’s estimated that each of us (in the U.S.) is exposed to close to 5,000 sales or advertising or promotional messages every single day.  That’s like a bombardment even if it’s only 2,500. 

     So, what this should tell you is that YOUR sales messages are very easily lost in the clutter, like a sling-shot pellet in the midst of thousands of major explosives (Yes, I too have been anxiously awaiting the 11/23 season preview of the all new “24” TV series, so yes, I am thinking more about edge-of-the-seat firepower than I might ordinarily). 

     Your sales message must stand out, with the right words, the right look, the right feel, the right impact, and the right back-up support (from servicing to warranties and beyond!).  

     And getting to that point requires strong product/service knowledge, strong market and competition knowledge, a burning positive attitude, a contagious sense of humor [See yesterday’s post -HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!- below!], the ability to find a need and fill it, outstanding listening skills, and a willingness (like batters and pitchers) to test and adjust and test and adjust and test and adjust.  Halalpiar    

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