Last Saturday, I jumped in the truck, turned on the radio, and there he was… the local DJ with the used car dealer urging me to “Come on down right now for free pizza, a chance to spin the wheel, and drive away in a certified preowned, like-new car with zero down and no interest… ” I had to laugh.
You know the routine. You’ve heard it. Maybe you even responded to it. But did you really buy a car because there was free pizza? Did you really believe today’s offer was a “once in a lifetime” deal?
No. You bought the car because you needed a car and you found the car you liked at the price you found reasonable. The advertising just happened to connect with you at the same time you had a need or interest.
This is where so many marketers get lost. They confuse communication with selling and adopt a “used car salesman” approach to their communication. It’s dangerous territory. When you communicate “buy now”… especially on a major purchase… you diminish the value of your product or service and, more importantly, you insult your potential customer.
To start with, people are not stupid. If you assume they are, you will treat them that way and they will know it. On the other hand, if you treat them with respect, they will respond with respect. Your message IS your brand, so choose your message carefully. You don’t have to tell people to “buy now”, “call today” or “apply now”. The more you do, the more you act like a commodity. The more you act like a commodity, the less respect your brand receives in the marketplace.
The used car salesman has an image because he acts like a used car salesman. Don’t be that guy.
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Albert Einstein once said, “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” Steve Jobs took those words to heart. Every innovation he envisioned was at first considered absurd, undoable, and generally far-fetched.
Lesson One: If the idea is right and you know it, it doesn’t matter if everyone thinks it is absurd.
When he conceived the idea for The Apple Store, he took it to his board…all smart, successful people who had witnessed his magic first hand…the immediate response was ‘no way’. Gateway was closing stores left and right and no other computer manufacturer had been able to succeed at retail. The Apple Store is now the most successful retail concept in history. More sales per square foot, more sales per store, more profit, than any other retail store selling anything.
Lesson Two: He never took no for an answer.
iPod and iTunes revolutionized and saved the music industry. As brilliant and beautifully simple as the iPod was, it was just a music player with iTunes. And iTunes would be nothing without the consent of the music industry. One by one, Steve personally visited every major music publisher. One by one, he convinced them to give the iTunes model a try. He hoped to sell one million songs in six months. He sold one million in six days. Even in the light of that early success, there were holdouts. Most notably, the Beatles. He never gave up and in 2011, the Beatles joined iTunes.
Lesson Three: Never stop selling.
Steve Jobs was not just a genius, not just a visionary. There are many geniuses in the world who are unknown and have contributed little to our world. Jobs was different. He was a salesman. A Master Salesman. He believed in his product. He believed in its value. He believed he could help people if he could just help them understand. He kept working until they understood.
This, I believe is the real genius of Steve Jobs. He was smart enough to realize that all good ideas must be sold. And the best ideas have to be sold more.
What I’ve learned from Steve Jobs, so far…Never never never stop selling.
The trade show. The bane of every manufacturer’s existence. Exhibits, travel, expensive dinners, sales meetings, more expensive dinners. To go or not to go. What will the competition do this year? There are thousands of articles detailing the finer points of show business. This one asks just one question: Why do you go?
You can spend tens, even hundreds of thousands on the latest hardware, state-of-the-art technology, giveaways, and more but we submit that none of it will matter if you don’t know why you are there. A new client several years ago said they were getting ready for the “big” show. When asked why, the deer in the headlights answer was: “We always go to this show. Everybody (in our industry) goes to this show.” We said, “Why not give your customers a reason to come by the booth and a reason to place orders during the show?” The result: They sold more product at that one show than in the previous 8 shows combined.
Before you go to the next show, make a plan. Sell product, hire reps, get some free press, introduce a new product, kick off a promotion … all of the above. Make it specific and make it measurable. When you get back home, assess your performance versus your goals. It will make the decision about next year’s show a lot easier.
Might even make it easier to order that last bottle of wine on the last night of the show.