Watch Your Language

Helping Businesses Grow

How many languages do you think you speak? Presumably you have English in your language repertoire and possibly some additional ethnic languages like Spanish, French, Italian or German. Or maybe Swedish, Danish or Norwegian.  Or maybe Japanese or one or more Chinese dialects. The more languages you have, the better you are able to communicate with those who might become your friends, business acquaintances and possibly customers as well. But are the ethnic languages, if you speak them, the only ones besides English that you speak? Probably not.

You have your regional language — words and phrases that are particular to the city, state, region or country where you live. Soft drinks are typically “soda” on the West Coast of the United States.  They are “pop” on the East Coast.  “Regular” coffee in the East has cream and sugar.  Not so in the West. People “paak the caa” in Boston, while in Texas they might have used “typerwritors” to compose letters before computers. In the U.S. you might be asked if you would like a wake up call in the morning when you check into a hotel. In the U.K., you’ll likely be asked if you’d like to be knocked up in the morning.

You also have your professional language(s). If you are an electrical engineer, you are familiar with terms like volts, ohms, amps and watts. These measure are quite foreign, however, to a cook who uses teaspoons, tablespoons, cups and pinches. If you are an accountant, terms like debits, credits, assets, liabilities and equity have very specific meanings. Their meanings might vary considerably to a small business owner not formally schooled in the actual language of accounting. And just try to get a homeowner considering the purchase of a new something to understand the nanoseconds and picofarads that were traded off during the design of that new toy.

It’s important to consider your language when you craft your marketing message(s), because what works great in one circumstance can fail miserably in another. Remember the Chevy Nova story, where in Spanish “nova” translates colloquially to “doesn’t go?” There are lots more examples like this where not enough attention was paid to the language, literal or not, of the potential consumer.

Effective communication is not what it is you are saying to the person listening to you. Nor what you think you are conveying with your language. It is what the other person is actually perceiving from your language. This, among other reasons, is why expert marketers test language before using it widely, do “a/b” tests with message headlines and convene focus groups to gauge prospective customer reactions to various marketing messages.Knocked-Up-Cartoon

Does what I’ve said here make sense to you?  If not, I’d sure like to know from you where I may have misspoken. Thanks for reading. Your comments are hereby kindly solicited.

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 Power of Planning

The Power of Planning:  How to stop throwing darts in the dark — a short video.  Text is below.

I have some words for you today on The Power of Planning. If you don’t have a formal marketing plan you are most likely wasting time and money in your marketing efforts. You’re like someone throwing darts at a dartboard while in the dark. You might hit the board occasionally, but it will be by sheer chance. Do you want to be someone who depends on sheer chance for success? Do you think throwing darts in the dark is a good way to score points? Is your business growing as fast as you’d like? If not, and you don’t have a formal marketing plan, you might want to stop throwing darts in the dark. Get rid of the dark.  Call me for help with your marketing planning. I’ll help you see the light and grow your business through better marketing strategies. Visit now for more information. Stop throwing darts in the dark!

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,

Marketing with Face Time Not Facebook

As the online marketing gurus implore us to put more time, effort, and money into marketing via websites, blogs, ad words, and social media, we sometimes lose sight of the value of face-to-face networking for building our businesses.

There are even more opportunities to meet other business people now than before online networking existed, but you have to take the leap from online to offline marketing. Social media can be a valuable tool for establishing initial contacts with people whose talents and interests match your needs or your clients’ needs, but its relationship building value is easily overestimated.

How efficient is social media in establishing real relationships? The core of any marketing effort is a plan to build trust, and the most effective way to build rapport is through a handshake and eye contact. Social media is, ironically, inherently not social. It puts us behind a computer screen, and away from human contact.

Let us get together, away from the screen. It could be breakfast or lunch, an after-hours mixer, an open house, a business leads meeting, or any number of venues. You can learn more about a person in a five-minute conversation than they would ever post on a social media profile. If you have not already made in-person networking a core part of your marketing plan, you will be amazed at how productive and fun these meetings are.

Groups on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Meetup, are facilitating an increasing number of face-to-face meetings in groups as diverse as you could imagine. While there are literally hundreds of them, the good news is that they are searchable, so you can find the right groups for you.

What kinds of groups and meetings do you find most valuable? How do you make time for face time? Where do you find the groups that you attend and people you meet? Please post your comments and share what works for you.

If you would like more information about groups that might be of interest to you, please let me know.  I will point you in the right direction.

Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for your comments.