You send out 1000 mailers to the general public per month but throw away your junk mail without reading it.
You call people at home to set appointments for your business but screen calls or hang up on people that call your residence.
You send electronic sales-related messages to your customers several times a week, but have an Outlook rule set up that directs all incoming SPAM to the trash folder.
You sponsor a local school or civil organization but refuse to associate with or promote them.
We’ve all been hypocrites at some point, some more than others. The important question isn’t if we’ve been one, it’s how often we STILL consciously do it.
Everybody would be doing it. Some days it seems like everybody IS doing it. The number of blogs, podcasts, and online platforms increase every day, and the amount of information at your fingertips increases as well—exponentially. How do you choose who to listen to and how do you apply what they are saying to what you do?
It’s easy for Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuk, Brian Clark, Erik Deckers, Karen Freberg, Ann Handley, Seth Godin, and other influencers to post their thoughts for our reading pleasure, but how can you make something happen as it applies to your own world? After all, you face all kinds of challenges relative to your business that these people don’t, right?
The key to success is connecting with the right people, hearing the right message, filtering the right information, and creating a specific plan that leads your team to victory. Not knowing where to start doesn’t mean you should sit on the sidelines, or worse, forfeit the game.
Building and executing a plan is critical to success and it starts with knowing your opponent. Here’s the part that holds you back: Your opponent—is YOU. Until you let go of all the things the traditional world has taught you about how business works, you’ll never build a plan that will carry you forward when that world lets you down.
It’s possible for anyone to do who has the right attitude—who’s doing something they love that other people will pay for them to provide. That’s the key. Unfortunately, either they have the wrong attitude or they don’t have enough people who want or need what they provide.
Here’s the missing piece of the puzzle: People will pay for an above-average product when delivered by someone who makes them feel special. They won’t always pay for an exceptional product when delivered by someone that makes them feel average.
Turn the hiring process upside-down. Most employers look to fill a role with a body. As recently as 5 years ago, many products and services were not yet considered commodities. Companies maintained leadership positions in their industries by differentiating their advertising efforts. Today, the ad channels are clogged with noise. Consumers aren’t paying enough attention to most brands’ advertising to be able to tell them apart. What does that mean? Differentiation and market advantage must take place BEFORE perceptions are formed about the brand. It must take place at ground level. Enter the new hiring model.
Employers used to hire individuals based on their ability to “get it”. In other words, they hired them and trained them on the features and benefits to prepare them for success–the ability to proficiently overcome a sufficient number of objections to close deals and generate revenue. Many of today’s customers research products and services on their own, essentially addressing concerns and closing deals before they ever seek advice. So how does that change the sales role?
In a nutshell, anyone who wants to serve (not work for) any employer in the future will hire themselves by being passionate about their purpose. They may even create their own roles inside an organization. Traditional companies have rigid job descriptions and hierarchies for keeping people in line and bases covered. In my company, I expect three specific things:
- Unquestionable loyalty to the parent brand to whom I am committed to serving. Without their brand value proposition, my sub-brand does not exist.
- Development of expert understanding of the products and services we provide. That is the only thing that will offer customers the confidence they are seeking when they reach out to us.
- The passionate pursuit of your own identity enabled by consistently advertising your worldview.
What if applicants actually started subscribing to these concepts? How would the labor market change?
There used to be ONE great customer whose caller ID appeared as “anonymous” that I was excited to talk to, that is until telemarketing companies decided to make hiding their phone numbers a best practice.
Playing practical jokes on each other has always been a favorite pastime around our house. Imagine being handed a glass of lemonade that turns out to be limeade, or taking a drink from a pop or beer can that had been filled with water or spiked with a hint of vinegar. If you’ve done these things to anyone, you’re likely recounting the memory of being chased by the targeted person while laughing hysterically. If you’ve been on the receiving end, it’s quite probable that just hearing a relevant word or phrase is enough to cause your taste buds to short-circuit.
That’s exactly what seeing the word “anonymous” on their caller ID does to a lot of people these days.
Every day at least 5 e-mails hit my inbox offering E-leads, warm leads, and hire-to-call leads. What’s more amusing is that many discussion boards are full of posts requesting input on what leads are the best to purchase and what vendors have the best word tracks for getting results.
My best friend introduced me to an artist named Todd Snider, whose lyric, “It’s a circus out there, mama. Your baby’s got the sideshow blues”, reminds me of childhood carnival visits. It’s not hard to picture those companies’ representatives being the same people we’d see on the Midway: “Hurry, hurry, hurry…Step right up!” LMAO.
Brands’ persistence on recommending these vendors demonstrates how entrenched they are in their own traditional worlds. They must be valuable to some people, but answer this question: If shoppers knew they were somehow getting on lead lists that are being sold to companies for prospecting purposes for a profit, how long would those lists be?
What are two of the main reasons a coach calls time out at the end of a half or game? Usually because his team is either winning or losing. Being on the winning side of anything is fun and energizing, so the team is usually amp’d up and ready to celebrate. If they have an insurmountable lead, the bench is cleared and the substitutes get to finish the game. The point is, the coach voluntarily calls timeout to retain focus and maintain order.
What about when the team is losing? Think about the last seconds of any event: A team is down by one goal with a minute left and they have to take the ball the length of the playing surface to get in range to score. The problem is, their opponent has possession. How is the mindset of the losing coach different than the one who’s winning?
Pressure and panic are driving intense planning strategies in a 30-to 60-second huddle. Even though the game is 60 or more minutes long, the outcome is dependent on executing this game plan created on a hand held white board, likely because the coaches failed to accurately anticipate how the game would evolve. The intensity of this discussion is directly correlated to the enormity of the upset that is on the verge of happening.
How do YOU feel today, Coach?
The market is flooded with choices. You want a new vehicle? There are 42 different manufacturers listed on Cars.com. How about insurance? Interested in a house? How many styles, locations, and prices are there?
Where can you research ALL of these things? What can you find out? What if you decide to buy: Can you do it directly or do you need a licensed representative to assist you? If all the licensed representative is doing is finalizing the purchase because it’s mandatory (by law) that they do so, what does their role look like to the customer? What criteria does the consumer use to select the person who assists them?
The point is that all the marketing in the world can’t replace being a real, authentic person. Most people aren’t buying specialized luxury products and services anymore…They’re buying YOU. Perhaps you should begin focusing on differentiating that brand more than the product and service commodities listed on your website.
Why does hearing “Save 15%” trigger the human brain to believe that’s a GREAT deal? Step back and think about this for a second…15% of how much? 15% seems to be the magic number these days, but is it really that significant?
- 15% of $10 is $1.50 (a 22-ounce bottle of soda.)
- 15% of $100 is $15 (a movie ticket and a small box of popcorn.)
- 15% of $1000 is $150 (3 tanks of gas in the standard SUV.)
Okay, so $150 would probably be worth it, but who can’t give up one soda or forego one movie per month and rent Redbox instead?
When I used to wait tables, 15% was the standard tip for really good service. Today it’s considered an insult in the fine dining world to get less than 18%-20%. How about insurance? Saving 15% or more on car insurance sounds awesome until you put some real numbers to it. If your premium is $300 every 6 months and you save 15%, the savings is $7.50 per month, or 25 cents per day.
Twenty-five cents per day is a great deal? Really? How about focusing on the value you receive instead of the incredible amount of savings you’re <NOT> getting? Would you be willing to pay 25 cents a day for over-the-top, personalized service and technology that saves you time?
Seth Godin and I have never stood face-to-face, but his teachings have had a profound impact on my business’ vision. His marketing insights are the inspiration for this blog’s title and content.
“Permission Marketing” completely dismantles every conceivable argument for traditional interruption strategies. The reader is asked to mentally engage in situations where they are being solicited, interrupted, or distracted, all of which successfully trigger emotional responses. At the peak of frustration, Mr. Godin outlines specific rules and steps for integrating an opposite strategy into your daily marketing routine that is centered on relationships instead of interruptions.
Reading “Permission Marketing” once isn’t enough. The concepts presented are so advanced that your head will be spinning and you’ll have no idea where to start. If you follow Seth’s Blog, you know that STARTING is exactly what he wants you to do. Reading the book and placing it back on the shelf doesn’t do anything but delay the inevitable, leaving you light-years behind the few competitors that actually choose to take his visions seriously.
(On second thought, maybe you shouldn’t read it… Being way ahead of the pack is a pretty good feeling.)