Secrets from the Lost Art of Common Sense Marketing by Brad Antin and Alan Antin

Common Sense Marketing

RATING: 8/10…READ: January 27, 2011

Common Sense marketing contains 12 overlooked “secret” ways to improve your marketing. The tone is very conversational and feels like a friend is talking to you. The authors were proteges of marketing guru Gary Halbert. An overlooked book that’s highly useful.

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Secrets from the Lost Art of Common Sense Marketing:

When a business fails to respond to the marketplace, the marketplace stops doing business.

The recession will cost you the EASY sales. You know, “the gravy”

You are in the marketing business:

-You’re not a doctor…You market medical services

-You’re not a plumber…you market plumbing services

-This is true without exception; no matter what you sell, how you sell it, or to whom you sell it.

Marketing is everything your customer or potential customer sees, hears, smells, feels, tastes, thinks, or even wonders about your business.

The true foundation upon which all great marketing is build is the unselfish desire to do good for your customers. The actual marketing, on the other hand, is simply that they know about it.

A business has only two functions: to serve it’s customers better than anyone else, and to make a profit. If it fails in either one of these functions for any length of time, it will surely perish.

1. Don’t answer your own questions

-When your business needs a shot in the arm, or if you need some advice on how to get more customers, the best consultants that money can buy are FREE. They’re your own customers

-The only reason that customers do business with you is to fulfill some need or desire that they have.

-Find out what these needs are and fill them better than anyone else, and you’ll own your entire market. Your competitors will never know what hit them.

-You have to start by realizing that you can’t be all things to all people. You’ll just de diluting your efforts if you try.

-You can (make that must) be certain to fill all of the needs that your customers have that are consistent with who you are and what you do.

-Ask them, “what is the most frustrating or inconvenient thing about doing business with my company, or any other company in this business?

-What single thing, no matter how small, bothers them the most about doing business with _____(fill in your type of business)?

-If it’s not important to your customers, don’t do it. For example, if you find that your customers only want bargain-basement merchandise, you don’t need to stock much of the higher-end goods.

2. Every business needs an S.O.B. (Statement of Benefit)

-This is a concise statement which tells everyone the single most compelling advantage they will gain by doing business with your company. It is what makes you unique and sets you apart from everyone else in the business. It tells the world what you do that puts you “head and shoulders” above all your competitors.

–It could be that you carry three times the selection of any other dealer.

–It could be that you only practice one specific specialty

–It could be that you are open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

–It could be that you stock only the top of the line highest quality goods.

-All too often, businesses adopt a S.O.B. that makes an empty, meaningless statement. Like “The lowest prices in town,” or “the best service around.” Don’t do this.

-If you really have the lowest prices, and you decide that this kind of S.O.B. will allow you to command your market niche, present it in a factual, provable way rather than an empty boast.

–Find out how much cheaper you are than your competitors. Include the exact dollar or percentage difference in your S.O.B.

-Don’t use your S.O.B. to merely brag or boast about how good you are:

–The customer doesn’t care about your successes.

–He doesn’t care if you’ve got the newest equipment

–He doesn’t care if you’ve won industry awards

–He doesn’t care if you’re the oldest, most established firm in town.

-S.O.B. Example: “Why have the pick from 3 or 4 widgets when Widget City always stocks 35 different widgets at discount prices?

–“The only way to get a widget repairman to your house faster than calling Wally’s Widget Repair is to have him move into your guest room.”

–“Discount Widgets will sell you any widget in stock for 11% less than any store in town. And we’ll prove it.

–“Global Foods carries 946 different hard-to-find ingredients for the 2,500 most popular gourmet recipes in the world.”

-It certainly wouldn’t do you any good to totally dominate a certain niche in your industry if there aren’t enough customers that fall into that niche.

-Don’t forget that the market is always changing and evolving. A perfect market niche today might be dead in a year or two.

-When you decide on your S.O.B., make sure it’s in sync with your own personality and ability.

–We couldn’t serve the “nothing matters but the price,” market even if we wanted to.

-If you make no promises and deliver nothing, it’s bad, but if you do make promises and don’t deliver on them, it’s much, much worse.

3. Why talk to just anybody when you could be selling somebody?

-The masses don’t buy your products and services, individuals do!

-Every ad needs a headline! The headline is actually an ad for the ad.

-But if the ad doesn’t immediately start to deliver what the headline promises…they’ll move on.

-Ex. “1 out of 14 homes in our city will be burglarized in 1992. We’ll carefully watch over your home and family for only 67 cents a day.”

–“If you want to sell your home; Here’s eleven important ways to get more money out of your home, and sell it in half the time.

–“Amazing new hearing aid helps you hear what you want to hear and cuts annoying background noise by a whopping 93%.

-You advertising is read by one person at a time, it should talk to one person at a time! No, make that SELL to one person at a time!

-Sometimes the most effective sales message is not the most “politically correct” message.

–Ex. “Are you more than just another pretty face? Generous creative businessman wants to fin a hot, sexy woman with a good sense of humor.”

-In any selling situation, you should always concentrate more on selling the ‘FOXES’ and don’t worry about offending the ‘DOGS’! [Gary Halbert]

4. Don’t let your advertising be all show and no go!

-Almost all advertising falls into one of two types…Image advertising (the show) OR Direct Response Advertising (The Go)

-The only reason a business would advertise is to get more customers, and sell more products or services.

-The focus of most image advertising seems to be “me, me, me.” The advertiser is suggesting that the prospect buy from “me” without ever telling the prospect exactly what’s in it for “him.”

-In short, image advertising concentrates more on cultivating customer attitudes than stimulating customer action!

-Generally speaking, image advertising is a worthless and wasteful expenditure of a company’s assets.

-Since image advertising by its very nature, does not provide any tangible way of tracking the results (if any) that it generates, these awards (Clios) are given out based solely on creativity and originality.

–The question of whether or not the campaign made any money for the client never enters the decision. How ridiculous!

-A direct response ad doesn’t waste any time or space making empty boasts about the company running the ad. Instead, it concentrates on making a sale.

–First, it makes a specific offer to the prospect.

–Then it makes a complete and compelling case for the product or service being offered.

–Then it proves to the prospect that the product or service advertised will solve some problem in the prospect’s life or provide some valuable benefit to him.

–It provides hard, specific numbers, facts, and statistics, as well as testimonials from other customers or respected people to validate their claims.

–Then it tells the prospect the reason why this offer is so good and why the company is able to make such an attractive offer.

–It tells the prospect exactly what to do next to gain these remarkable benefits or solutions.

–Then it creates urgency by telling the prospect that he must act now in order to gain these important benefits, and why this offer is so limited, either by time, or by the quantity available or what’s being offered.

–And finally, it contains some way for the business owner to track exactly what sales or customers were generated by that particular ad.

-YES – this is a sales pitch! Good advertising is just salesmanship. It’s simply salesmanship MULTIPLIED!

-Remember…Your advertising is just another salesperson.

-When you’re writing an ad, ask yourself “Would a “world class” salesperson say that?”

-Don’t think, for a moment, that this will make your ads too long.

–People will always read what interests them (even ads), but they will not allow you to bore them in print.

–If someone is not interested in your product or service, they’re probably not going to read your ad whether it is long or short.

-Only put into your ads those things that will help motivate a prospect to buy. Nothing else.

-Remember the “acid test.” If a salesperson would think it’s important to say, say it. If not, don’t.

5. The Value of a Good Education:

-Educating your prospects and customers is the most powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal.

-If you use half-inch steel instead of quarter inch, your ads should tell them.

-If you only use the very best components in your manufacturing process, your ads should tell them.

-If you search the world for the most unique or valuable goods, your ads should tell them.

-Just as a “preemptive” strike is when you strike first in such a way as to prevent your opponent from striking back, “preemptive” advertising is when you advertise something in such a way as to make it difficult (or impossible) for your competitors to strike back.

-Teach him to fish and then sell him a bunch of fishing gear.

–Write a special report about your services

–Teach them all about all of the options, even those that you may not offer. Explain the pros and cons of each. Don’t use technical jargon, but don’t talk down to them either.

–Put on a series of FREE seminars.

–It should build your credibility as an expert in the field. Mention your years of experience, or areas of special study, or industry awards, or that you’ve published articles in various trade journals, or anything else that helps establish you as the expert.

–Keep it educational, don’t turn it into a two hour sales pitch, or you’ll simply irritate the attendees.

–Make sure to capture the name and addresses.

-You should call or write your customers often. You should continue to show them that you are working hard for their business.

-When a new product comes out, send them advance notice and offer them a special introductory offer.

-Whenever you hear of a new use for your product or service, send them a letter explaining how they can take advantage of it to further increase the value of doing business with you.

-Remember, the only way to keep your customers is to keep communicating with them.

6. Tell them WHY, and then they’ll BUY!

3 reasons why prospects wouldn’t buy from you:

-First, they may not want or need what you’re selling: If this is the case, you shouldn’t be “talking” to them anyway.

-Second, they truly can’t afford what you’re selling

-Third, they simply don’t believe you: You haven’t established enough credibility with your prospects. And one of the best, most effective ways to establish this credibility is to let them in on your inside secrets.

-If you are offering a product at a particularly low price, tell your prospects why.

-If you are offering a special deal because you just bought a large shipment of factory closeouts, tell them how the price for these goods is usually X dollars, but that you just bought the entire final production run from the factory, so you got them for much less.

-If your prices are higher, tell them the reason why: Maybe it’s because your widget lasts 10 times longer than the average widget so you back it with a lifetime guarantee; or that your widget requires less maintenance, or has lower operating costs which saves X dollars over its life so that it actually ends up costing its owner less to use.

7. Put your money where your mouth is!

-“If after your purchase this product, you feel, for any reason, that it fails to live up to our promises (or even it does and you just change your mind), simply bring it back to us and we’ll immediately and cheerfully give you a 100% refund of the purchase price. No questions asked!”

-The longer people have to do something, the greater likelihood that they will forget to do it. *don’t get us wrong here. We do not recommend or condone in any way that you use this technique to trick people into getting stuck with your product or services.

-The “puppy dog” close: tell them to take it [your product] for the weekend (without paying for it) and if, on Monday morning, they decide they don’t want to keep it, simply bring it back and they’ll owe you nothing.

-Suppose you sell camcorders. Produce a video that teaches customers how to shoot better home video. Or 101 new ways to use a camcorder.

-If you sell microwave ovens, publish a special recipe book.

-If you sell suits and jackets, give them a free garment bag or $10 discount for dry cleaning.

-If you don’t educate the customer about the tremendous value that you are giving them FREE, it won’t carry any weight. Any advantage that could have been gained will be lost.

-They get to keep the bonus if they return the product for a full refund.

8. The only votes that count are the ones that are bought and paid for!

-Every ad, every sales letter, every promotional piece you run should be coded with an extension number, department number, operator number, or some other code number so you can identify which ad generated which sales.

-The log should include any information that might be important later. It should at least have a copy of the ad, the code number, the date it ran, the results it generated, the placement in the paper or magazine of the TV station, time, and show that it aired on.

-The only votes that count are when somebody buys something. That’s it. Nothing else matters.

-If you test one ad against another, and you change more than one factor (such as headline, copy, offer, price, etc.), the results become almost meaningless.

–How to lose 20 pounds of fat in 30 days without dieting. For information, call 555-1234. Ask for ext. 101

-We usually like to spend about 85% of our marketing budget on our control ads, and save 15% of the budget for testing.

-Often, that 15% doesn’t generate enough sales to even break even, but it’s a fairly cheap way to get some very important information.

9. Life (and business) is a big parade!

-Unless one of your test ads beats your control, that control should remain your main focus.

-That control should get the lion’s share of your ad budget. And it should continue to get the lion’s share of the budget until a test ad beats it.

–Sure, you’ll get sick of seeing the same ad time after time.

–Sure, your employees will get sick of that same old tired ad.

–And yes, even some of your customers will tell you that they’re sick of that same old ad.

—But don’t change it until you’ve got something better.

-You (and your staff) will always tire of an ad before your prospects do because you see it every time it runs.

-No matter what stage of life you are currently going through, you usually notice advertising that is directed at you and seldom notice the advertising that isn’t.

10. Everyone loves the circus, but no one likes to jump through hoops!

-The largest share of customer attrition is actually a cost of doing business poorly

-They left because they thought you didn’t care about them.

-Is your business fun? (like going to the circus) / Is it easy? (or must they jump through hoops.)

–It’s impossible to make doing business with you too easy…

-It’s impossible to make doing business with you too convenient…

-It’s impossible for you to make doing business with you too much fun…

-It’s impossible to do too much for your customers…

-If you are going to give kids a half-pound of candy, it’s better to add candy (start small and add) then put on a bunch of candy and take away.

-Laundromat into a party place: added snack bar, beer tap, carried all detergents, cleaned all machines, added pool tables, tv, music.

11. The after dinner mint!

-Call, write, or visit your customer within the first 24 hours of their purchase.

-It’s a post-purchase reassurance call” that could provide you with an annuity that will pay you dividends for years to come!

-The time span between the customer making a purchase and when he or she first starts using the product: time for buyer’s remorse.

-The post-purchase reassurance letter or call is not fundamentally different from a good sales presentation. In fact, the only difference is that you’re not trying to sell them anything new. ++further educate them about the product they just bought, offer help, etc.

12. You can’t move forward without your back-end!

-First answer these questions about your business:

1. How much is the average sale?

2. How many times per year does the average customer buy?

3. How many years will the average customer continue to buy (assuming you keep him or her happy)?

4. How many people will the average customer tell about your business?

5. What percentage of those referrals will become customers?

For a mythical drycleaner:

A. Average Sale                                                            $15

B. Number of sales per year (2/mo)                        24

C. Number of years customer buys                                    4

D. Number of referrals from customer                        5

E. % of referrals that become customers                        25%

F. Gross sales per year (A x B)                                    $360

G. Gross sales over life of customer (F X C)                        $1,440

H. # of referrals that become customers (D X F)            1.25

I. Gross sales for total referrals (G x H)                        $1,800

J. Total Value of satisfied customer (G +I)                        $3,240

What about if they are unhappy:

A. Value of a satisfied customer                                    $3,240

B. Studies show that a dissatisfied customer                         12

tells an average of 12 people

C. % of those negative referrals that don’t                                     25%

become customers because of it                                                4

D. Lost customers because of negative referrals (BxC)            3

% of referrals that become customers

E. Value of lost customers as a result

of negative referrals (A X D)                                                $9,720

F. Total cost of one unhappy customer (A+E)                        $12,960

-Get every customers name, address, and phone number! Start doing it right now —via newsletter, contest, email list, etc.

-Market to your existing customers the same way you marketed to get them to become your customers in the first place…and ask them for more money.

-If you have a restaurant, it’s simple: invite them to come back and sample a special new entrée, or offer them a free dessert, or bottle of wine with dinner.

-If you have the additional products or services already, great. If not, find other products or services and arrange to offer them to your customers.

–Make absolutely certain that any “outside” products, or services that you endorse to your most valuable company asset (your customers), are provided by honest, ethical people, like you.

–Make sure that your customers are treated as well by these “joint-venture partners” as they are by you. After all, they are your customers, and they’re only buying based on the trust that you worked so hard to earn.