Glitz, Gilt or Gold?

Glitz-Gilt-Gold Which of these three words most closely describes the kinds of products or services that you or your company provides to its customers? It makes a difference when you think about your target markets, your messages, your packaging and pricing and your media selections (among other things).

Glitz, an extravagant and often tasteless display of wealth, is often associated with the newly wealthy. These folks put on garish, ostentatious airs in an effort to impress their peers or their public. They want to provoke envy and feed greed. Glitz is pretty easy to recognize.

Gilt can often be used to turn ordinary objects into glitzy things that shine with false value. Or it can be used effectively to put just the right sheen on an object of art that has real value. Gilt has no intrinsic value, other than the minimal amount of gold used in its application, but it may have considerable artistic or aesthetic value. Or practical value, such is in the gold plating of electrical contacts for maximum conductivity.

Real gold, on the other hand, has real intrinsic value in today’s world based on its scarcity and the demand for that scarce resource.

What do you sell or provide? If your customers are those who want glitz, you’ll want to get your messages to them via media such as fashion magazines, give-away bags at celebrity events and ads in high end publications that cater to the rich and famous.  With the emphasis here being on famous. They want the world to know that they can afford all the glitz in the world, useful or not.

If your customers want gold, you’ll most likely reach them through referrals. They often have no desire to be glitzy or to show off their wealth. They just want to enjoy it and they travel in circles with similar folks often from old or earned money. They are not usually showoffs and they most definitely usually avoid glitz like the plague. The silk underwear might cost thousands but it is worn underneath the expensive but understated suit or dress — not on the outside!

And then there is gilt. This is where things get tricky. Your product or service needs to be attractive enough to warrant the attention, however brief, of your prospective customer if you are to have any chance of making a sale. And gilt, by itself, is neither good nor evil, given that it is used effectively and the underlying product or service provides real value to the customer at a mutually acceptable price. If this is your type of offering in the marketplace, and the vast majority of products and services do fall into this category, you have your work cut out for you in terms of coming up with the right strategies for your markets, message and media.

If you’d like to share your thoughts on the words above, I imagine many readers would like to know them. Opinions one way or another are welcome.  Let us hear from you.


15 Question Silent Marketing Test

Would you hire a consultant who will listen to your issues and opinions, repackage them in a fancy report and feed you back reinforcement of your opinions? You would, and rightly so, if you were absolutely convinced of the rightness of your position and simply wanted a fancy report to use as a sales tool to your upper management. But if you really want help in determining what you really should be doing in your marketing efforts, you might want to think about hiring someone who won’t necessarily agree with everything you have to say.

I got to thinking about that the other day and this little video is the result of that thinking.  Enjoy!

Let me know what you think by leaving your comments on this post.  I’d love to hear from you.


The Power of Positioning

Positioning is one of the many “P”s in the list of multiple “P”s associated with marketing.  If you haven’t given much thought to how your product, product line or service is positioned, you might want to do that.  And remember that positioning is not what you think you are saying to your prospects and/or customers, but rather what they perceive as your positioning. Because no matter how clever you try to get, prospect/customer perception is reality as far as they are concerned. Watch this video.

Think about a commodity product like gasoline. ARCO positions itself as a supplier of “good” gas for your car at the lowest price. Chevron/Texaco positions itself as a supplier of GOOD gas that will keep your car’s engine clean and prolong its life. There is no mention of price. ARCO sells a lot of cheap gas at (relatively) low margins. It aims for the frugal consumer. Chevron/Texaco probably sells less total gas per location than an ARCO station but has (relatively) higher margins.  It aims for the more affluent consumer. Both companies are making billions of dollars per year in profits.

Both companies are selling the same product.  A product that serves the same purpose. Yet they are clearly positioned differently.  And both positions seem to be successful.

Think about a company like Starbucks.  They don’t position their cup sizes as small, medium and large.  They are tall, venti and grande. You might bristle at paying $3.15 for a “small” mocha when you can get one at McDonald’s for a lot less. But for a “tall” one?  Well, that’s a different thing altogether. Coffee, chocolate syrup, milk, whipped cream, cup. 12 ounces. The differences?  Positioning and, of course, price (which is another one of the critical marketing “P”s).

There are many other examples of positioning for maximum market share and maximum profitability. If you have an example you’d care to share, we’d love to hear about it. Please do leave a comment.  And think about your product, product line and/or service positioning. It is truly important. Thanks for reading (and watching).


The Instant Strategy Session Offer

NOTICE:  This blog post is promotional in nature.

Getting the right marketing planning and marketing strategy consulting help doesn’t have to be a long, difficult process. Many times it’s possible to solve a whole host of problems and answer a whole slew of questions in an hour over coffee in an informal atmosphere. Check out this quick video.

That’s what the Instant Strategy Session is designed to do for you.  You bring your questions — and $125 — and I’ll buy the coffee at a time and place here in Portland that’s convenient for you. And we’ll get into it.  We can talk about any or all of your questions, problems and issues.  From basic marketing planning to messaging to social media implementation to media selection. Let me help you grow your business.

If you are not in Portland, we can do it by phone, email or video chat.

Call me today at 503-877-4609 or use the Contact Form to schedule your session.


9-1/2 Rules of Marketing

I recently had the opportunity to hear Cathey Armillas, author of The Unbreakable Rules of Marketing, speak about her 9-1/2 rules of marketing and I have to say that I was impressed. Impressed first with her ability to boil a very complex subject down to a small number of specific reminders for all of us in the marketing world and impressed secondly by her ability to explain the reasons for those rules.

For those of you not familiar with those rules, I present them here (with Cathey’s permission):

1.  Consistency beats ability 
2. Perception is reality
3. Be creative or die
4. The medium is not the message
5. Work hard to keep it simple
6. Give love to get love
7. Emotions rule the world
8. Go big or go home
9. Everything is marketing
The 1/2 rule:  Know the rules and now when to break them.

I share these rules with you because I think they make a lot of sense.  Too often we get caught up in tactics before we work out a real strategy. Or know what our unique message is.  And who needs to hear that message.

In my marketing plan and marketing strategy consulting work, I emphasize the need for setting the goals before establishing the strategies and, especially, before executing tactics. It was gratifying to hear Cathey reinforce that philosophy.  She is clearly not in the “fire, aim, ready” class of marketing strategists who don’t find out what your business is all about, who your target markets are, what you really need to do and how you need to do it before recommending a course of action.  She will question the heck out of you to get to what you are really all about before attempting to help you build a strategy. Very professional.

Cathey’s Rule 6 — Give love to get love — is really the reason for this blog post. She gave of herself this morning and I wanted to share her wisdom with you. I’ve included a link if you want to buy her book.  It’s a good investment.  And no, I don’t get a commission!

Thanks for reading and please don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts about this post with me. I look forward to hearing from you.

The Power of Free

The word “free” in your email subject line can get your electronic missive sent to the recipient’s spam folder in a hurry. But free is a powerful draw in many ways. I’ve become acutely aware of the power of free over this past week because I’ve heard and read so many examples and seen so many offers.

I use MailChimp for my newsletters. It is free. Unless I exceed certain numbers or want extra features.  Then I’ll have to pay the way I would with other email programs. But if I got to the point where I needed to pay for these features, would I switch email programs or just pay MailChimp (where my cleaned list resides, my templates reside, my learning curve has been conquered, etc.)? I think I know the answer.  You probably do to0.

I use ZoHo for my customer relationship management (CRM) purposes.  It is free.  Unless I exceed certain numbers or want certain extra features.  Then I’ll have to pay the way I would with other CRM programs. If or when I get to the point of exceeding those numbers or needing those extra features, will I switch to another program or stay with the one I started with?

I just got an ad for free video project production and hosting. Up to a small number of videos with a modest bandwidth allowance for people viewing them.  If I start with this company, am I likely to switch later?  Not likely!

When you go to the grocery store you get free samples of stuff to taste. Even at Costco, where you can try pizza, cheese, crackers and all kinds of other things while you buy paper towels and paper plates. Do you need that special artichoke-parmesan dip?  No, you don’t.  But it sure tastes good.  Might as well get some while we’re here spending a lot of money anyway.

The local bakery gives you bites of breads, cookies, muffins, cupcakes and other pastries. The deli department at the grocery store gives you samples of meats, cheeses and salads. Do these sample increase their revenues?  You bet they do!

How many free e-books have you downloaded in the last month or so?  Or free videos?  All of these free things are designed to entice you to buy the products or contract for the services of the sellers.  They want to give you a taste of what they can do for you so that you will feel comfortable committing to the paid product or service. Not enough info for you to do everything yourself, mind you, but enough to get you to realize that the result you get will be better with some professional help, experience and advice than you’d get doing it on your own.  And probably faster, too, than if you have to do all the research and learn how to do what an expert has done many, many times.

So think about free. Not only its impact on you, but its potential impact on your business if you can find the right thing(s) to give away. An interesting proposition, don’t you think. Comments solicited. One free gift card to your favorite coffee shop for you if I like your comment best.


The Power of Involvement

Have you ever given a presentation designed to persuade some people to pursue a particular course of action and been met with silence and blank stares from your audience members?  In plainer language, have you ever given your sales pitch only to have it fall on blind eyes and deaf ears?

If this hasn’t happened to you, you either (1) haven’t given enough presentations, (2) are so charismatic that everyone hangs on your every word or (3) you learned early on in your career the value of involvement. The most successful marketing and sales professionals know deep in their guts that they must get the prospect/customer to open up and respond to them during each and every interaction. Even negative responses provide information and additional opportunities to overcome objections or uncover new needs or wants.

Those who market and sell products or services for a living, which is almost anyone in business, have been taught from day one to ask open-ended questions.  Not “May I help you?,” which provides only two answers, one of which you don’t want. More like “How may I help you?,” which gives the prospect or customer the chance to articulate his or her needs or wants.  Not “Would you like to buy now?,” which still has one answer you don’t want and calls for a decision the other party might think is fraught with risk.  More like “Do you think the walnut or the mahogany style would look better in your living room?,” where a simple preference answer moves the prospect ever closer to the ultimate buying decision.

I had the opportunity recently to give a presentation to 20+ people at a lunchtime networking meeting. I’ve watch and given hundreds, if not thousands, of presentations and I know that succeeding depends very heavily on audience involvement. Beginning a presentation with a question relevant to the members of the group is one of the simplest and best ways to evoke participation as early as possible during your presentation. So is dividing a group in half and getting them to compete with each other using questions or game-style presentation methods, which is the method I used for this occasion. And it was a big hit according to the feedback I received.

How do you know what kinds of questions to ask?  You have to do your homework!  You have to know what is likely to pique the interests — or set off the passions — of the members of the group to whom you are speaking.  So research is a vital element in the preparation of your message to your listeners. Because the wonderfulness of your graphics and the slickness of your presentation style will buy you nothing if it is not perceived to be relevant by those on the receiving end of it.

The same is true for any and all of your marketing tactics. Or do you have another opinion?


Some Thoughts on Borrowed Interest Advertising

I have got to admit that I’m not normally a big fan of borrowed interest advertising. It’s not very original and can even be downright illegal. But I also have to admit to being a big fan of whoever puts together the DirecTV television ads.  I think they’re creative and funny and I’m going to borrow some of their ideas in case you haven’t seen the actual ads.

Are you depressed because you aren’t getting enough business?  If you are depressed, you’ll probably participate in webinars designed to show you how to increase your sales. This will make you go do the things you learned about in the webinars.  But they won’t always work. And that will frustrate you. So don’t just listen to webinars and become frustrated.  Call Jon Turino for help in growing your business through better marketing strategies.

Are you finding that spending lots of money on the latest Internet marketing fad isn’t working for you? If so, you’ll probably spend lots of time finding the next Internet marketing fad and spending a lot of money on it before finding out that it isn’t working for you either. And that can make you broke. So don’t just chase the latest Internet marketing fad.  And don’t go broke. Call Jon Turino for help in growing your business through better marketing strategies.

Are you trying to market to one audience using techniques designed for another audience and getting frustrated because that strategy isn’t working? If so, you’ll probably spend a lot of time and money trying to figure out which messages work with which media to market successfully to multiple audiences. And you’ll probably be spread so thin that you won’t really know which things are working and which things are not.  And that can be very frustrating. So don’t do this to yourself.  Call Jon Turino for help in growing your business through better marketing strategies.

Are you getting the message I’m trying to convey?  If not, my borrowed interest approach isn’t working with you.  This could be because you aren’t really paying attention as you read this. Or because your sense of humor is not as fully developed as it could be. Or because you’re not thinking about how different approaches to getting your marketing message out to your prospective customers might be more effective than what you are currently doing. If it is the latter, don’t get frustrated by this.  Call Jon Turino for help in growing your business through better marketing strategies.

Get rid of the old ways that aren’t working for you.  Call Jon Turino for help in growing your business through better marketing strategies.  You won’t be nearly as frustrated and you won’t go broke.

COmments, please!

The Synergy of Collaboration

We’ve got a small group here in Portland called HUB that was formed a few months ago by a couple of solo entrepreneurs who wanted to get out of their home office spaces and work side-by-side with their friends, associates and colleagues in a communal setting. As those who do work from home in one-person enterprises know well, it can get lonely and you can really miss the synergy that comes from being able to bounce ideas off one another.

These folks found a copacetic coffee shop with free WiFi and the group has now grown to anywhere from six to ten participants on any given Friday from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. It’s kind of a loud, exuberant and chaotic atmosphere in the coffee shop, the caffeine factor notwithstanding. People are not working on joint projects.  They’re doing their own work on their own projects or getting caught up on tasks that haven’t been completed yet. But they are talking to each other, asking each other questions and getting answers they wouldn’t get when working alone.

Someone working on a website might have a question about search engine optimization.  And there’s usually someone in the group who knows more than a little about that subject.  Another might be wrestling with a graphics issue, or placement of a graphic in a web site, and there’s usually someone in the group who is able and willing to help. It’s not all just computer work, however.  There’s discussion about social issues, pets, kids, organizations, projects and a host of other topics. With work getting done in the process.

If you work alone most of the time, perhaps a group like this would be of value to you.  I know that it is of great value to me even though I can participate only once or twice a month. You’ve got to be willing to give of your time and knowledge during the sessions but you’ll get payback in droves from those you help. New ideas, new techniques, new relationships and new business possibilities abound.  For their really is synergy in collaboration.

If you’d like more information on this group, let me know via a comment on this blog entry or the Contact page on my website and I’ll put you in touch with its founders.


The Value of Experts

The Value of Experts

Expert key image

I am continually amazed that the more I learn, in general, the less I seem to know about specifics. I wonder if my brain will hold only so much and then overflow the older stuff. Case in point: creating an important message for social media or email consumption.

Over the weekend, I got a call from someone on the East Coast looking for the “free, quick” consultation I offer on my website. He was having trouble crafting a short message for Facebook describing what his company offered and including a call for action that stressed benefits rather than features. He had a start but wasn’t happy with it. I asked some questions, visited his website and wrote a three-sentence post for him that thrilled him. He wanted more work that day, but I told him he’d exhausted the “free, quick” offer and that help with his follow-on projects would cost him.

I don’t know if he’ll pay anyone for the follow-on work or not. But I do know that if he does decide to pay for it, I’ll be the first person he calls. And I’ll get the work. Because I did a good job for him on a quick freebie, he knows that he’ll get expertise and value on a longer, working consulting job.

That story brings me to the topic of the value of paying for experts. I have an email message that needs to go out in the next couple of weeks to over 1,200 people. I consider that message critical to the launch of an important new activity and I spent a lot of time working on it contents. And then I did something really smart: I hired someone else to make it right. Based on my skills above, which clearly show me to be more than capable of doing things for myself, why would I do such a thing?

Forty-eight hours later, I had my answer. The passive voice that had crept in a couple of places was replaced with the active voice. The right words were converted to anchor text and the links were inserted where they worked the best. The flow of the message was improved, as was the call to action. I have got to say that I just hadn’t, and maybe even couldn’t, have paid as much attention to those details as did my expert copywriter. She punched up the words and grammar, optimized the message for search engines and made it far more appealing, in my view, to my intended audience. I really think the improved version will work much better and I’m happy to pay my expert for her work.

Are there things you aren’t so good at when you try to do them for yourself? Things you don’t use quite as critical an eye when producing for yourself than you would for a client? Then do what I did: hire someone else to do them for you. If you’re a marketer, why are you doing accounting work? If you are an accountant, why are you trying to play marketer? If you’re a designer, why are you trying to manufacture things yourself?

The value of an expert can mean the difference between the success and failure of your venture. Don’t take chances to try to save a few dollars. It may not even be penny-wise, let alone pound foolish. Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your”war stories,” good and bad, and so would my readers I’d guess.

P.S: The copywriter who helped me on this project is Ms. Kristin O’Neill,