Winning on Purpose

Little Johny knew he'd risked all and become 'king of the beach'
Little Johny knew he’d risked all and become ‘king of the beach’

Do you know what you need to do in order to win?

On purpose?

I don’t mean what feeling you need to have, or what attitude you’d like to adopt, what the latest book has told you to do, or what the latest technological marvel is that you need in order to ‘make it’.

Maybe there is some other chicanery that might convince you that you are doing something useful for yourself or your business, when actually, things couldn’t be further from the case.

 

In my experience, the number one reason a businesses fails is lack of focus.

Thats right, not lack of hard work, or lack of funding (though this is a major issue in itself) or lack of sales or lack of many other things that might in themselves be problems. Lack of focus.

Or more precisely, being so busy you don’t do the things you need to do in order to succeed.

Sometimes you know what those things are, but don’t want to do them. Because they are hard to do, complicated or take a long time. Sometimes something much more interesting comes up that you’d rather spend your valuable time on.

You spend time on ‘make work’. Chatting to ‘contacts’, networking because it feels like selling (it’s not) driving around the place to meetings you must be at, even though nothing ever comes of them.

All this while you put off doing the things you know you need to be doing. Like cold calling, or writing that proposal, or following up on that bad debt. You know, all those messy, awkward, difficult things.

Or maybe like a lot of people you are too busy!

Too busy to do the things you need to do in order to make a difference to your business. Whether its yours or the one you are working for.

Too busy to take a moment to plan the next week, month or quarter. Too busy to look up to see what problems you are about to hit square on. Too busy to deliver on the things you’ve already promised you’d deliver.

Or maybe you are too busy to be able to spot the next opportunity when it presents itself.

Worse, sometimes you don’t know what it is you need to do in order to win. Thats when you have a real problem.

In that case, you just work harder and harder and spend more and more time stressing about winning, when you in fact have no clue what success looks like, or indeed how to get it.

You need to have a laser like focus on what it takes to succeed. What you need to do to win. How much you need to sell, or who you need to see, or what problems you need to deal with.

And then deal with them.

Don’t put it off. There isn’t any other work that’s more important than the work you do to ensure you win.

Do things on purpose.

Rather than letting things happen to you, make things happen for you!

Don’t allow the distractions to drag you away from doing the things you know you need to do in order to make things go well for you. Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

Do the things you want to avoid early in the day, get them done, feel that achievement, and go on to enjoy the rest of your day, making sure you are doing other things that lead to success. Make sure you are not allowing lack of focus to edge in, and steal away valuable time and resource.

And if you really don’t know what it takes to win, you’d better learn, fast.

 

All Sales Problems are Management Problems

Face it, you should be selling more.

You’d like to make more money, you’d like to increase your market share, you’d like to get one over on the competition. You need to increase cash flow!

But your commercial director is telling you times are tough. Rates are under pressure, and the competition is doing crazy stuff to win business.

Your sales manager tells you that the team are working so hard they are wearing themselves out! They are struggling to find new leads, and once engaged in the sales process everything takes longer then ever to progress.

Or maybe you are your own seller? You do everything in your ‘one person band’ including product deliver, finances, accounts and everything else, and there is never enough time to devote to finding the next client or even to properly look after the ones you already rely on.

Selling is hard, times are tough, people harder to get hold of these days, buying is automated, margins are being squeezed, your suppliers are driving increasingly hard bargains, you’re no good at negotiating, you never know how to introduce yourself, the competition do such a good job, recruiting good people is really hard, you don’t pay enough to attract the right talent, marketing don’t supply the right leads, your website is rubbish, your CRM system is antiquated, your sales collateral is out of date, your inbound strategy is flawed, your pricing isn’t competitive, your product set is below par, you don’t have enough awareness in the market place… The list goes on.

All or some or none of these things maybe be true. But thats not the point.

‘He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else’ (Benjamin Franklin)

Either you manage the sales team or the sales team manage you. Either you mange your sales process, or the sales process manages you.

All sales problems are management problems.

Hire, train, and retain the best people in the market. Have a sales philosophy. Something that will stand up to the most demanding scrutiny. Have a plan – what you need to do in order to win – and make sure your sales people (or you yourself) stick to the plan.

Its that simple. And that difficult.

I can guarantee, that unless you are literally the ONLY player in your market, someone is taking cash off your table, by out promoting you and out selling you.

What are you going to do about it?

(With thanks as ever to my mentor in all things Dave Gifford)

How to get more customers

I’ve had an email from a lovely lady called Christine who offers a very modern service. With more people working remotely and not wanting to get tied up in bricks and mortar offices, her ‘Virtual Assistant‘ services sound like a dream come true for busy executives.

But like any new business Christine needs to attract customers. And not only attract customers, but attract them on a consistent basis. This sort of thing can often be feast or famine…

Its a well trodden road for new businesses. People start up a new business, and full of the first flush of enthusiasm spend money on getting set up and getting ready to go, only to stand back a week or a month later and wonder where their revenue is going to come from. They maybe do a bit of networking, or send out an e.shot, or maybe even use Facebook and Twitter.

A few customers, come along, and often, because they are small businesses, and by definition don’t have much in the way of resource, the attention turns to dealing with the customers they’ve won. Which results in the flow of new business getting choked off. Which means in a few days, weeks or months, they are back at square one.

Winning, and consistently winning new business is the hardest part of the job for even big business – just look at Tesco – so there is no reason why it should be easy for small businesses.

I think ‘in bound sales’ is a very attractive method to try, seemingly easier to do than ‘out bound’, but in my opinion, nothing is more effective than getting out there and talking to your customers, and learning what they really need.

But whichever way you favour, the trick is to think about customer acquisition differently. This is the magic ingredient if you like.

Instead of thinking of yourself as a virtual assistant, as in the case of my friend Christine, or a flower shop, or a drum tutor, or whatever it is your business is, you need to think of yourself as ‘Vice President in Charge of New Business Generation!’

There are two types of business, as my mentor Dave Gifford would say, new business and repeat business – and one doesn’t come without the other. There are many ways to arrange sales for your organisation. You could adopt an approach of being highly differentiated, such as Christine, or maybe an exclusive art dealer. This means you will deal with relatively few, but high value customers.

Or you can take a leaf out of the discount retailers handbook and trade on price. That means being the absolute cheapest you can be, which means you have to be the cost leader to win as well. Often a position open to only the biggest businesses.

But irrespective of which approach, you still need to find new customers.

I’ve often seen new businesses set up and position themselves on the high end / differentiated end of the market, only to panic when the customers don’t start to flow in.

Mistakenly thinking this is because they are too expensive, they often drop their prices in desperation. They may well be too expensive, but this in itself isn’t the reason they aren’t attracting customers. And all they have done is eat into their margins. So as well as struggling to sell anything, they are now finding it increasingly difficult to turn a profit.

The easiest way to position something is through price. People generally think expensive things are good quality and high value, and cheap things are poor quality and low value. So pricing high quality things at a low price often confuses the customer. Worse, people know there is no such thing as a ‘free lunch’. So they simply don’t believe the claims of the business that sells top quality stuff at low low prices. Making it even harder to sell  – a vicious circle!

It’s better to stick to your price, one that demonstrates good value, and allows you to turn a profit (which most people don’t object to either strangely enough) and concentrate on bringing in the customers.

Put another way, simply dropping prices is not enough. And sometimes its even counter productive.

Selling is easy.

There, I said it! Selling is easy!

You just need to know what the customer wants, and how much they want to pay for it, and then sell them that.

The trick is talking to enough customers.

Whether that’s ‘Face to Face’ as a good old fashioned sales rep, on the telephone as a sales canvasser, or through a high tech website based content marketing operation, using the latest social media marketing techniques.

Talking to more people = more sales. Period.

Asking more people to buy from you = more sales. Period.

It’s a fact that most sales operations fail, not because they are too expensive, or the product isn’t good enough, or the marketing let them down. It wasn’t because the economy was busted, or that credit was hard to get. It wasn’t because the sales person wasn’t a good enough negotiator.

It was because they didn’t see enough people.

There isn’t a single sales problem that can’t be solved by seeing more people. The very first thing you should do when concerned about the strategies you employ to win business, is try to get a sense of whether you are doing enough. Or doing whatever it is consistently enough?

It’s not your website (unless it physically cant get traffic to it) its not the product, its not the price. Its not the promotional materials. Its not the location. Its not any of those things! Its just that you aren’t talking to enough people.

The point is that most people would rather mess around with their website, or the marketing mix, or tweak the advertising rather than do more canvassing, or make more calls, or see more people, or whatever else it takes to win. The chances are, you know how to win business already.

It takes time, and it’s messy, and that’s why you don’t do more of it.

Clearly you have to have all these other bits right. You have to have a differentiated product, and you have to understand your market. You have to understand how pricing works and how it can reflect on your  product or your  brand, and you have to know when to discount and when not to etc.

But ultimately, to get more customers, you need to make more calls.

And that’s the bottom line.

 

 

 

 

 

How to ask for BIG money!

british_money_185257
Big Money

One of the biggest weaknesses I see in sales people, whether they are new to the job or dyed in the wool veterans, is a problem when asking for ‘big’ money.

The stutter on the price, or the hesitation is bad enough. But I’ve even heard sales people tell a prospect to ‘sit down’ because the price is coming and it’s clearly going to knock them off their feet! Or worse,  they start to go there with discounts before the price just asked for has even sunk in…

The one idea to get your head around is the link between price and value.

The issue is that if we think there is a problem with the price, or we think that the thing we are selling is expensive – it means we don’t value it. And that’s clearly problematic for the person we are asking to buy.

Business is a battle for the mind

The fastest way to position a product is through price. You don’t need expensive advertising campaigns or loads of PR. You don’t need website links or social media chatter.

Basically, if something is ‘expensive’ I perceive it to be good. 

If something is cheap, I perceive it to be not so good.

All things are relative, and your perception of reality IS your reality.

If I am considering cars for instance, I intuitively understand the ‘premium’ pricing of a Lamborghini or a Ferrari sets it apart from the day to day ‘run abouts’ of a Ford or a Fiat.

Interestingly, many of the cars in today’s marketplace are actually owned and made by the same people. So for instance, Ferrari is owned by Fiat. Volkswagen owns Bugatti. At one time Ford owned Jaguar and so on.

In reality, the difference in these products is very slight. They all take us from A to B. They all do it with four wheels and an internal combustion engine. They all run on air filled tyres and have some kind of exterior shell to protect us from the elements.

The only REAL difference in any of them is the price! And its the price that helps us understand the value the sellers are trying to convince us these products deliver.

Everything else is just buyer justification. Once we have decided we want to buy something everything else from the packaging to the warrantee is designed to justify the purchase to ourselves.

Ever thought about insurance?

Even the briefest investigation into our once  a year purchase must lead to the conclusion that its a huge gamble to buy insurance? The actual chances of something going wrong, heaven forbid, are really small – which is why the insurance companies are able to make so much money!

We bet against ourselves having problems with our cars, or houses or holidays or health, and for the vast majority of people nothing ever happens. And the insurance company keeps the money.

We justify it by asking ourselves ‘what if’?

I justify buying new golf clubs by telling myself they will make me a better golfer. I justify buying new clothes by telling myself I need look good to feel good. And so on.

And inexorably tied into our feelings of want and need are the prices of things. When we buy something that we want to make us feel good, a new car or a computer or a piece of jewelry – we intuitively understand that more is more. The higher the price, the higher the perceived value.

On the other hand, if we have to buy something we need for other than purely hedonistic reasons, like insurance, we want to get it as cheaply as we can. We don’t value it in the same way, but we convince ourselves we need it, so we want to drive the cost down as much as we can.

Is it like that for your product? Are you selling something luxurious like fast cars? Where the high price is actually an aid to your ability to sell? Or are you selling something like business services or marketing? The value of which is much harder to ascertain?

What you have to grasp is that according to the value sets we have all grown up with, the more expensive something is, the more we automatically perceive it to have value (generally speaking).

Actually under pricing yourself or your product or stumbling over the price / cost implies that you think its expensive. This so fundamentally undermines your efforts its not true. If you want to paint a picture of a highly valuable product, you need to do little else other than price it highly, and then come over as completely confident in that price.

You know that feeling that the sales people are weighing and measuring you when you walk into the Porsche garage? That’s exactly what happens! The prices there are really helping the sales people. If you can’t afford them you shouldn’t be there.

If you have to ask the price, you're in the wrong place!
If you have to ask the price, you’re in the wrong place!

If you can, then you are a bona fide prospect. In fact the psychology of the purchase is that you get a lot out of the fact that most people cant afford that car. That’s probably why you are buying it in the first place!

How much?! 

Ultimately, the reason you cant ask for the big money, or your stumble over the price is because you think that the product you are selling is ‘expensive’. In other words it isn’t valuable enough.

You don’t have faith in the thing you are selling in the first place. Therefore your chances of actually convincing the prospect of value are very slim indeed.

Go back to basics. Why are you selling what you are selling? How does it benefit the customer?

Look for success stories you can share with your clients to ‘back up’ your claims and the pricing structure that is attached to your product.

Speak to some of the more experienced people on the sales team. What do they think of the price? How do they ‘justify’ it to themselves? Never mind the clients!

Programme yourself to believe, and you will believe.

“Buyers only buy when buyers believe” (Dave Gifford). And you have to make them think that you believe, in order for them to believe.

And if you cant convince them?

Fake it until you make it.

All the world is a stage, and all the sales people players!
All the world is a stage, and all the sales people players!

Sales is about performance. Telling stories and turning the dial up on your language and approach so that you can convince the client you mean what you say is pure performance.

Asking for the cash is no different. Just do it. Practice saying it. Practice saying it until you can do it without that psychological stumble or the reflexive offer of a discount before the client has even asked for one!

The subconscious isn’t discerning. If you tell it something often enough you start to believe it! Ask for the cash with enough conviction for long enough and before long you’ll believe every word you say.

Otherwise, maybe you shouldn’t be selling it in the first place?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Start a Business

clear waveI’ve just been fortunate enough to catch up with a good mate who having had his hand somewhat forced, has decided to start-up his own company. He’s been made redundant, and while I don’t have any stats to back this up, I’ll bet that’s how most one man bands and other types of SMEs are formed.

And more power to him – It’s a great response to a potentially devastating situation. 

Here is a plug for him actually, he is setting up as Clear Wave Productions. He will basically make any type of audio you might need. Anything from a film sound track with a newly minted and bespoke musical score to a series of corporate answer phone messages.

He’s also got a nice lineon ‘elearning’ modules that come with a spoken element (they have to be recorded and produced – that’s what he does) and also has a great deal going on video production too, if that’s more what you need.

Anyway, when we met up we fell to discussing what he’ll need in order to make this a success. Like a lot of people in these situations, he has a tremendous passion and an outright market leading skill for what he does…

But is that going to be enough? 

Here’s what he has got:

Passion – he loves what he does, and this shines through when you speak to him.

Expertise – He knowledge is unparalleled. If you have an audio related issue, he can solve it, no question.

Contacts – Built through years of doing a similar job for someone else, he has a network of potential customers all lined up.

A music library and logo / website and other marketing collateral – Almost as a by-product of what he does and what he loves, he has built this up over the last few years and is getting some decent organic success from it. Plus, he can leverage this, his own product, in terms of his new business. Without getting too technical, it’s a great starting point for what he wants to do.

It sounds like a great start doesn’t it? But will this loose arrangement of skills and opportunity result in a money-making, bill paying, career defining business for the long term success of him and his family?

Well, I know plenty of people who have started with less…

But let’s think for a moment about what he hasn’t got. Which incidentally was the subject of our conversation. I can’t help him design a sonic logo or a musical identity or a direct a professional voice over, but I can point the way to structuring the more prosaic elements of what he’ll need to do!

A plan – He has the components, but he hasn’t pulled it all together into what the banks would recognise as a business plan. He has built it organically over the years using his own money, and he is now in a great position to kick it all off – but where does he even start?

An elevator speech – This is a way of very quickly identifying the crux of his offering and communicating that to potential customers.

Competitive Advantage – Listen, I know he is a great guy, and exceptionally good at what he does. but how does anyone else know that? How can he quickly demonstrate to a potential customer what value he provides. How does he distinguish himself from the opposition / competition?

A Sales Process – For instance how does he go about identifying who to talk to, initiate a conversation with them, offer a solution to them, and then close a deal? For that matter how does he go about writing an order for them? What are his legal obligations and protections within his contracts?

Come to that, how does he make sure he’s going to be paid? 

A marketing strategy – Who is he talking to? What does he need them to do in order to buy from him? Why should they do it? How much can he charge – what are the potential markets and products he could utilise? Where should he be based? How does he get the product to market? Where can he grow? What research his available on his potential clients base?

Whats his communication plan? How is he going to tell those people he doesn’t have a personal relationship with about his business and what it can offer.

And what about Social Media? For me, a killer opportunity these days, for any new business, is the ability to harness the power of the social web. He can position himself as a ‘thought leader’ in his industry in front of the whole world-wide market for his services through the application of some very simple ideas*.

I think he was a little overwhelmed with the scale of the conversation, and I have promised further chats to make sure I can talk him through some of these big ideas. But can you guys see what I mean?

Are these the relevant questions that need to be answered by someone starting up in business today?

What have I missed? what other ‘delights’ do the first few months on his exciting journey hold for him? Let me know in the comments!

Oi14*As an aside for a moment – if you are interested in social media marketing, and especially what it can do for your business then you need to go to The Oiconf – (The online influence conference, not an affiliate link) if you are anywhere near Cardiff, Wales in April.

If you want to do it for yourself, as well as reading this blog (ahem) then I recommend the following resources supplied by my good friend Mark Schaefer 

Mark Schaefer
Mr Mark Schaefer

Mark’s Businesses GROW blog – genuinely everything you will ever need to know about social media marketing, for free. 

The Tao of Twitter – Mark’s seminal book on Twitter – this is the best-selling book in the world about Twitter and you’ll see why after 5 minutes. Plus is will only take you 90 minutes to finish it.

Social Media Explained – Mark’s latest book. Essential reading for senior executives / MDs / business owners looking to start out in social media marketing. Literally an instruction book that can be followed page by page. I intend publishing a full review of this book shortly. 

(While both these books mention me and Marks friendship I make no return on talking about them or linking to them. They are just that good!) 

 

 

 

 

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Stop Complaining!

Moment of the Park, Debrecen
Lifes too short! Moment of the Park, Debrecen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Seriously, stop it.

It really annoys me (Irony alert!)

We all seem to have fallen into the trap of believing complaining is in some way a god given right. On top of that we also immediately expect some sort of major recompense for our perceived injury. It’s almost like people are afraid they’ll miss out if they don’t complain!

The trouble is, complaining all the time leads to more complaining.

Everything from bad service in a shop, to your employers failure to spot your brilliance. Even some poor soul and their personal tribulations seem to be fair game. And it seems half of what we complain about has nothing to do with us.

Complaining about someone else’s kids running riot? Butt out. Not your problem. You have no idea what that child, or the parent is going through.

Try some support instead? An understanding smile or shrug of the shoulders might help lots.

Whinging about some drunk on the bus, or in the street? Yes, maybe its early to be inebriated, but are they doing any direct harm to you and yours? Are they going to have any impact on your day at all? No?

How about having to deal with whatever it was that has impacted them to the point they feel it necessary to get drunk in the first place? Homelessness? Abuse? Poverty? Mental illness?

Nah.. Me either.

I’m not saying you should reach out, I just mean keep your nose out, and have a bit of respect. We are talking about fellow humans here. No matter the state they are in.

And my favourite compliant? The one you make in work about your career. About how it’s not fair. Or you were over looked. Or someone has it in for you. Or you just don’t get the breaks.

Or if you’re in sales like me, how the deck always seems to be stacked against you.

It’s not your fault the economy is shot right? No reason why the calls you make to the same old people over and over again shouldn’t nett you as much revenue as that hotshot new girl who never seems to be in the office and is always breaking the rules.

You know, the girl who is the favourite of the sales manager?

Don’t get me wrong. I love a bit of complaining sometimes. Over serious stuff. Like arguing over my child’s access to education. Or the way a huge corporate deals with me or my family. And I’m really good at it too. I work in the media, and you don’t want to mess with me baby…

But its important to stop yourself sometimes, and ask: who’s ‘fault’ is this really?

Is anyone actually at fault? Or is it just the universe having its regular laugh at our expense? Is it someone else’s problems that have conspired to spill over into our sphere of awareness.

Most importantly, whats the outcome of the complaining going to be? What is it going to achieve? Is it going to change anything? Or is it just going to heat up the atmosphere further, and worse, indoctrinate you into believing your can’t achieve whatever it is you have set out to achieve.

Because that’s the biggest problem here. Abdication of responsibility. If its someone else’s fault, there is nothing I could have done about it.

Missed out on a promotion? Not my fault, he was a real creep and its all about who you know..

Didn’t close the deal? Well the client didn’t call me back, and then she went on holiday…

Before you know it, you’ve programmed yourself to get shafted on a daily basis.

You begin to accept that bad things happen (which they undoubtedly do) and you can’t actually do anything about it. Or at least that its someones else’s responsibility to do something about it.

Not true.

This is the whole point: it’s what you do about it that counts. Its how you react to the problem that defines you.

The following terms have sort of worn out a bit and may be aren’t so fashionable as they were a while back, but I still try to live by them.

‘Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions!’

If someone comes to me and asks if they can press the trigger on their plan to over come an identified issue, its rare I will refuse them. And how do you think the organisation will then regard that person? The do-er, not the complainer?

‘If you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem!’

You’re either on the team or you’re not. You’re either going to help, or hinder, to support or tear down. We don’t need poison in our organisation. If you don’t like it fine! There are no bars on the windows.

Have some personal accountability.

Take responsibility for YOUR actions, and start to think about how to over come, not who to complain to.

Life is sometimes full of many real and major tragedies. The people who deal with these are invisible to us yet should be inspirational. The grieving who go back to work, the injured who keep getting up and going again, the bereft ‘winning small’ every day to keep themselves going.

The reality is we have nothing to complain about. We who are endlessly lucky. We are whole and hale and healthy.

Take the chance you have, don’t wait for someone to invite you. And don’t complain about the fact you don’t have the chance, try and do something about it.

Stop complaining, be grateful and take action – don’t let things happen TO you. Make them happen FOR you.

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They say selling is dead…

William A Clark buying a newspaper, circa 1906
William A Clark buying a newspaper, circa 1906 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People say selling is dead. its always been a bit of a dirty word in the UK. But I’ve always had admiration for those organisations and people that have done it well. And as far as I can see, its not dead at all – its just much, much harder than ever to do, so you’d better get better at it – fast!

It strikes me that there are essentially two opportunities to reach potential customers and influence them to buy your product  before they buy someone else’s product – Or to ‘sell’, as you may prefer to put it.

1 – When they are ready to buy

2 – Before they are ready to buy

The Way Things Were

I appreciate that may sound pretty simplistic, but think about it. Why were newspapers so powerful back in the day? Think about the classified pages. Need a car? Or a house? Or a plumber or an Electrician?

The other part of the newspaper was devoted to what was called ‘display’ ads. And these two ad types, classified and display, are as good as any other example to describe what I mean.

If you are looking for a product or service, you would turn to the classified section right? Makes sense? And its also easy to see how Google have basically decimated the classified sections of newspapers, and other traditional media, by offering a much more interactive and real time ‘classified’ or listings service.

In Google land, you can also gather reviews of the product or service  talk to your social networks about the choices you are considering making, and research and research to your hearts content.

Google has also brought the market places of the whole world to within a touch of a button, vastly increasing choice.

Then there was ‘display’ advertising. The aim being two fold. To either prompt someone to consider a product or service if they hadn’t already been doing so, or more likely, to sort of ‘tee up’ a future purchase. Much of the other traditional media is also devoted to this type of advertising  TV, Radio, Posters (Outdoor) etc.

It goes like this. TV plays endless messages about FMCG products like washing up liquid directly into your brain, and then when you enter the supermarket, in buying mode, you are already programmed to purchase the product you recognise or identify with most.

English: American family watching TV (cropped)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Way Things Are

But again, along came the internet and mobile screens, and with it came massively fragmentated audiences. Its no longer possible to capture (literally) the entire available audience with one TV purchase. Different people and different markets now behave with distinct differences.

People spend their time on social media, watching TV through numerous channels on multiple screens on multiple platforms, reading watching and listening to ‘on demand’ as well as broadcast media all over the place, anywhere in fact, other than where and when they traditionally would be found doing it!

Technology seems to have the answers to the fragmentation problem. Target people by demographic and behaviours. Target by inclinations, gender age etc etc.

It’s all designed to help you reach your audience as efficiently and cheaply as possible, but as tradition would have it, before they are ready to buy.

To the uninitiated it seems like an easy solution to age old media buying problems. Basically, let Google do it for you. Or Facebook. But as is always the case, its not as easy as that.

Google Chrome
Google has the answer! (Photo credit: thms.nl)

CPMs for the best ad slots are horrendously expensive, as has always been the case, and there is still no guarantee that having reached the holy grail of the clearly defined audience that they will buy from you. Or these days, with so many messages cluttering up our news feeds and  entertainment channels, there’s no guarantee they will even consume the message.

So where does that leave us?

Well, its the same question as its always been really. How do you get people to respond to YOUR directory listing or classified ad when they are ready to buy?

And, how do you intercept them and convince them you are the answer to their future retail or service based problems?

It was ever thus…

The Way Things Will Be

And the answer is the same as its always been too. Its either about brand or having the most compelling reason to buy. And today, those two ideas are increasingly inseparable.

The brand plan was developed over years of broadcast media dominance and as I mentioned earlier, is about programming consumers to believe a certain product, or a provider of that product, is in some way either superior to the competition, or in some other way more highly aligned with the customer.

And the compelling reason to buy is about telling the customer why your product or service or company is the one to chose, out of the plethora of competition out there.

And by telling them, I mean directly telling them. Speaking to them. There two ways to go here too. Either through understanding exactly what channel you can reach them through and crafting a message that will speak directly to them. Or physically speaking to them.

For a lot of high end, big ticket purchases we still prefer to speak to a human to find out that final detail in the search for the correct product, or for the reassurance that we are doing the right thing.

Those among you that are a little.. er… more experienced, like I am (!) will recognise these same steps have always been required. When all we had were newspapers and TV and radio.

The steps are the same, but the tools are much more complex. The ability to reach people is hugely magnified. We know where they are and what they are doing, and in a lot of cases what their predilections are too.

But these insights bring with them an enormous resistance to the advertising message, much more than was ever the case. As people push back against the intelligence that brands have on them and the demographic pictures the brands build and boxes that they are slotted into.

Advertising Pays
Advertising (Photo credit: canonsnapper)

We abhor interruptions like never before. Inappropriate communications are enough to convince us to stay away from a brand forever, and most consumers these days spot  commercial messages before you’ve even had time to get your content marketing blog / video / podcast out of the blocks.

There is even a FaceBook page dedicated to ‘Condescending Corporate Brand Pages‘ that wrap sales messages up in embarrassing and awkward ‘content’.

So the reality is that its harder than ever to do the things we’ve always had to do to get business done. To sell.

Its harder than ever, and it’ll only get harder as time goes on and consumers get more and more sophisticated and less and less forgiven of old fashioned unsophisticated and clumsy selling.

Get better at it, or get out.

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