Your Prospect and Customer Information – Your Business Lifeline


Original Self Published Design for Testability BookOnce upon a time I wrote a book. It was actually my 2nd book but the first one I published on my own. I wrote it in a weekend on an IBM Selectric® typewriter. Yes, this was before computers so I guess I’m dating myself here. And the diagrams in the book were hand drawn using templates. Archaic, huh? But that’s what we had in those days.

I had discovered that increasing circuit complexity was driving test generation costs through the roof. And I knew the tricks needed to solve that problem. Thus the book. Everyone thought I was nuts trying to sell a 77-page book for $95 (in 1978 dollars!). But I had a hunch. So I spent $1,800 for an ad in Electronics Test magazine (see Media Selection for Your Target Markets for a related topic) and I sold enough books to put me into the teaching and preaching business for over a decade.

I decided, however, that I wanted to broaden the reach of my company by having the book published by a “legitimate” publisher and advertised and sold through that publisher’s distribution channels.

Design to Test Book - 2nd EditionThus came this version that sold for $39.95 to the “mass market,” such as it was at the time.  And Van Nostrand Reinhold did indeed sell more of these books than I did. Three times as many, as a matter of fact, in the first year. So everything was going great, right? Not so fast.

Take a look at the chart below to see what happened financially. While unit sales tripled, income from those sales dropped from an 80% gross margin to a 15% commission rate. That cut from $80 per book to $6 per book reduced revenues by $62,000 per year!

Some deal, huh? Now look at what happened to seminar revenues. They dropped by a factor of four — from more than $200,000 per year to less than $50,000 per year.

Revenue Comparison ChartSo what happened? Where was the disconnect in this strategy for broader distribution? It can be summed up in these two pictures:

Moral of the Story A Total Contact Disconnect





Strategies that look sound at first blush really need to be examined and vetted to make sure that they do not have hidden unintended consequences.

Have you ever had a similar experience? If you have it would be great if you’d be willing to share it.  Your comments are solicited and thanks for reading.

P.S.: You can view the whole presentation from which these slides were taken here.

The Business of Selling Likes, Follows and Views

Shotgun Marketing ImageI am a bit confused. I’ve been getting emails and social media messages lately from companies who want to sell me untargeted likes, follows and views.  For $30 to $100 (or more) they’ll get 1,000 or 2,500 or more people to like my Facebook business page, begin following me on Twitter or viewing my videos on YouTube. What I’m confused about is why on earth I would want to gain likes, follows or views from people from all over heck and gone who most likely have absolutely no interest in doing business with me.

In days past I’ve “bought” lead lists for snail-mail and email marketing campaigns and used them with varying levels of success. But in all cases I was using targeted lists, where I specified genders, ages, income levels, zip codes, occupations and, depending on the sophistication of the lead list seller, even whether or not they were dog owners, boat owners or mobile home residents. So I knew that the message I would be sending had at least some chance of being of interest to the people on the list.

When you are doing a proper job of marketing planning and strategy development, doing some research on market niches where your products or services might be needed is basic to the process. So is identifying the characteristics of the people who make up the target markets so that you can hone your message to resonate with them. And, depending on where you sell your products or services, geography is a fairly important element as well.

And these people want me to buy untargeted likes, follows and views? I think not. Even if they did have such nice things to say about my website and how they’d love to have lots more people see my content because it is so special. Baloney! I bet they have robots that troll the web for any and all new websites, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platform account holders and postings to YouTube (and probably Pinterest, Vimeo, SlideShare, etc.).

Given that their automated systems can very cheaply send messages to virtually the whole world of people on the internet, they’re going to get some customers. People who don’t have a clue about real marketing. And yet these sellers of likes, follows and views are smart marketers who make excellent use of untargeted lists simply because they know that there are enough suckers prospects out in the world that they’ll reel enough of them in to sustain their own business. So for them, and maybe for a worldwide company looking to build brand awareness, untargeted lists might just work.

But will they work for you or me? How much new business will you get from having 2,500 random people having clicked a button?

I’d sure like to hear your opinions on this topic. Your comments are warmly solicited.