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Hidden Networking (And Why it is Important)

Call me Admiral Graybeard. This summer I will be heading up a fleet of Interlake Sailboats on the waters of Stony Lake for YMCA Storer Camps. I’ll be spending my mornings on the water (and my afternoons typing away at my computer.)

Image result for ymca storer campsYou could call this a return to my youth. I did spend the summers of 1974 through 1981 as a camper there. You could call this a return to my high school and college days. I did work there as a summer camp counselor from 1983 to 1987. You could call this a return to my early career. I did work there full-time teaching Team Building through wilderness and experiential education in 1990 and 1991.

I call this an example of Hidden Networking.

When I say Networking, most business owners immediately think of Chamber events and other B2B meet-and-greets as the only networking they might do. I know. I used to think that way, too. Here’s a dirty little secret …

You’re always Networking.

When you go to the bank or gas station or grocery store or out to eat, you are networking. When you volunteer to help out at the school or church, you are networking. When you meet people at a social gathering, you are networking. It just isn’t as open and obvious.

Although you can call me Admiral, my boss this summer happens to be someone who took my Daddy Class at the local hospital. His boss, the person who hired me, knows me because my boys have attended the camp as campers. I was up at the camp a couple weekends ago to do some volunteer work organized by an old friend, when the idea sprang about.

You never know when or how a connection will benefit you. I may have a connection to the camp through being a camper, staff member and parent. But I made the connections to the people who hired me through teaching a class and volunteering to help a friend.

Hidden Networking is the quiet connections you make daily. Sometimes it is more powerful than big networking events.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS You’re already doing Hidden Networking. I just want to give it a face and a name so that you would do it more openly and consciously. Make sense?

PPS One big perk besides spending my summer on the water is that I get the flexibility to still do workshops and seminars like the Spotlight on Marketing and Advertising workshop coming up June 20th (that gives you insight into how to make any and all kind of Networking work best for you.)

Spotlight on Marketing & Advertising Class Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Here is your chance to learn the equivalent of a degree in advertising in just one night. As one MBA professor told me after sampling the material, “No one is teaching this stuff even at our level, and it needs to be learned!”

If you are a small business owner, you should take this class.
If you are an entrepreneur, you should take this class.
If you are a student studying business at any level, you should take this class.

SPOTLIGHT ON MARKETING & ADVERTISING 

Next Class: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 – 6pm to 10pm

Tuition: $250 (Half-price for any businesses that are JRSA™ Alumni)

Famed retailer John Wanamaker said it best, “Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The problem is, I don’t know which half.” Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on advertising every year. Most of it poorly.

This Spotlight covers everything from how different types of advertising work to the best ways to use social media to marketing on a shoestring budget to learning the secrets to getting the press to talk about you. You will learn best practices for marketing your business whether your ad budget is $500 or $50,000. You will learn how to create memorable messages that move customers toward your business and you toward your goals. You will learn how to get far more out of your advertising dollars than any of your competitors.

When you take this class you will get…

  • Better, Smarter, More Effective Advertising – You’ll learn secrets that only a handful of businesses know that get greater results per dollar than any of your competitors.
  • One full year of Advertising Support including help finding your message, creating a campaign and buying ad packages
  • A Network of current and previous JRSA™ graduates for support and encouragement
  • Half-Price Tuition for any future JRSA™ programs

Click here to sign up for the class.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Yes, this will include the material from my new book MOST ADS SUCK. That will only make up about 25% of the material covered. If you have a business to market, this will be the best money you’ve spent on “advertising” ever.

Most Ads Suck Book Excerpt – Foreword

I promised you some excerpts from my new book MOST ADS SUCK (But Yours Won’t). Like all good books, the best place to start is the beginning. Here is the Foreword …

(Cover Art Not Final)

Foreword

Who will use this book? Anyone who writes content to persuade including web content, ad copy, magazine articles, emails and newsletters, and even speeches. If you write to persuade, you’ll find this book relevant and useful. If you write to connect, you’ll find this book relevant and useful. If you write to spark change, you’ll find this book relevant and useful.

The character who leads you through this book is you. You’re like me in your curiosity and desire to learn—that’s why you’re reading this book in the first place. You lead yourself through the first eight chapters discovering new ideas and revelations as you go. I will take over in Chapter 9 to show you by example how the principles you learn in this book apply to all different types of businesses, including yours.

You will still need to bring a few tools to the table to make this book work best for you. Most importantly, you have to know your Core Values. For the purpose of this book, you will have the values of Freedom, Curiosity, Diligence, and Education. You will use your own Curiosity to explore the concepts of how to make your advertising more effective. You will use Diligence to do the research you need to give yourself the tools (Education) to write your own content in your own words. That will give you the Freedom to succeed in your business without being led blindly down fruitless paths to more boring, useless, ineffective advertising. My own Core Values are Having Fun, Helping Others, Education, and Nostalgia. See if you can spot them throughout this book.

I first presented this information at the Jackson Retail Success Academy™ back in 2011. Fourteen frying pans later, it is an audience favorite because the applications are endless. You will find yourself using the principles in this book for far more than advertising. You’ll see the influence of this book in all of your writings, presentations, sales calls, and trainings. In fact, I have a ten-minute TED-style talk centered around how Chapter 4 applies to all levels of communication. (I’m still waiting on a true TED or TEDx event to call.)

I want you to share this book. I expect you to dog-ear some pages, underline some passages, write your own notes in the margins. I also expect you to pass this book along to your friends in a similar position as you (or preferably, buy them a copy of their own). I expect you to take exceptions to different principles based on your own experiences. That’s why I call them principles instead of rules. (And also because you’re the kind of person who hates the word “rules” and would immediately try to find ways to break them.)

I especially expect or even encourage you to find fault with many of the sample ads in the back of the book. That’s okay. As Roy H. Williams taught me many years ago, an advertisement is like a magnet. Its ability to attract is in exact proportion to its ability to repel. If you feel any emotion at all towards the ad samples, I will have done my job. If you really don’t like them, I challenge you to write better ones. Send them to me. I would love to read them.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS You can pre-order a copy of this book by supporting my Indiegogo.com Campaign. (The more pre-orders and support I get, the faster this book gets into your hands.) Stay tuned for Chapter 1 tomorrow …

The Heart Opens the Wallet

You bought your first car because you fell in love with it. You bought your first house because you fell in love with it. You married your spouse because you loved that person. Every major purchase in your life was ultimately decided by your heart. Facts and data play a role, but the heart opens the wallet.

So why do we fill our advertising with tons of facts and data?

Probably because you were told the best way to make the sale is to hammer home all the features and benefits. Yeah, I read that book, too. Yet features and benefits are for people in an analyzing mode. As long as they stay in analyzing mode, they won’t ever make the purchase. You want them in a buying mode. You have to speak to the heart to get them beyond analysis.

Maya Angelou said it best, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Your job as a salesperson is to get people to feel good about the product. Your job as an advertiser is to get people to feel good about a company. Your job as a small business person is to make people feel good. Period. Break it down like that and it simplifies your job.

I ran this ad as my sole radio ad for the 2005 Christmas season …

“He left Detroit 9am Christmas Eve. Some store somewhere had to have the one item his sweet little six-year-old wanted. Six cities, seven stores later he stood travel-weary across the counter from me. ‘I suppose you don’t have any Simon games either.’ As I handed over the last of my Simon games, he smiled and said, ‘God bless you!’ Believe me, He already has. Merry Christmas from the Toy House in downtown Jackson. We’re here to make you smile.”

It was a feel-good ad. It didn’t talk about our many services. It didn’t talk about our huge selection (heck, the Simon game wasn’t even on the market that season.) It didn’t give our extended holiday hours or our address, phone or website. It didn’t even mention the store until the very end.

But it worked.

We ran that ad in 2005 and had the busiest Christmas season ever! We ran it again in 2007 and surpassed 2005 by a wide margin.

Why did that ad work so well? It spoke to the heart. It made you feel good. It hit on four of the six principles in my new book Most Ads Suck (But Yours Won’t).

  1. Don’t look or sound like any other ad
  2. Tell a Story
  3. Speak to the Heart
  4. Speak to Your Tribe

You don’t hear radio ads like that. The opening line of most ads turns you off. The opening line here gets your interest. The story draws you in. The ending makes you feel good. The ad was also about Nostalgia, one of my Core Values. It spoke directly to the people who share my values-people who also are nostalgic. Did people remember the ad? Oh yes! Not the details, just the feelings. Just like Maya Angelou said they would.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS You can pre-order the book MOST ADS SUCK by clicking the link. You can even get me to write a couple ads for your business (check out the perks for supporting the campaign.) Just ask yourself if your “best Christmas season ever” is worth the investment.

PPS That ad is based on a true story that happened to me back in 1980. It was one hour from closing time when this man approached my counter displaying all the hand-held electronic games. Only one minute earlier my mom had laid a Simon game at my feet from a canceled layaway and said, “See if you can sell this before we close.” Talk about timing! Besides saying, “God bless you!” over and over and over, this large, travel-weary gentleman hugged me right across the counter. Tears were flowing for both of us as he shared his story. I’ll never forget that man or that story (a story that hasn’t been embellished once in the last 37 years because it doesn’t need it.) You have a similar story that, once you tell it, that story will get people to fall in love with you all over again.

The Power of Storytelling

“Phil, the Marshall Community still talks about your presentation on advertising.” That’s the message I received late last night from Scott Fleming, the head of Marshall Area Economic Development Authority. Scott hired me to do the presentation based on my new book Most Ads Suck. I did the presentation a week ago and he is still receiving positive feedback. He’s going to help me promote this presentation to other groups like his.

Phil presenting for Marshall Area Economic Development Authority

One of my favorite parts about doing this presentation is the stories I get to tell. I told the story of a jeweler in rural Washington. I told the story of a couple of my trips to Wizard Academy. I told the story of the copywriter and the frying pans. I told the story of how I made Sheila cry on her birthday (Shelia and I laughed about that story last night at a high school band concert her daughter and my son were in.) I told the story of my first Christmas Eve working at Toy House at the age of fourteen and how I should have known then that I was destined to make people happy. I told the story of my boys plummeting to certain death in the fastest, ugliest sled ever created. I told the story of how customers used to approach me at the grocery store to ask what was going on in the men’s bathroom at Toy House.

Not only do stories make presentations more powerful and memorable, stories do the same for your advertising and your business. In fact, one of the six principles outlined in my book and on stage is Tell a Story. Stories fire up the brain differently than simple facts and figures.

Here is what other people are saying about stories …

Jonathan Gottschall, author of The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt tells you, “Stories powerfully hook and hold human attention because, at a brain level, whatever is happening in a story is happening to us and not just them.” (10-16-2013, www.fastcocreate.com)

Rachel Gillett says, “When we read a story, not only do the language parts of our brains light up, but any other part of the brain that we would use if we were actually experiencing what we’re reading about becomes activated as well.” (6-4-2014 www.fastcompany.com)

Pamela B. Rutledge, Ph.D., M.B.A. writing for Positively Media, “Stories are how we are wired. Stores take place in the imagination. To the human brain, imagined experiences are processed the same as real experiences. Stories create genuine emotions, presence (the sense of being somewhere), and behavioral responses.” (1-16-2011 www.psychologytoday.com)

Catrinel Bartolomeu says, “Unlike statistics, stories trigger emotions—actual physical and chemical changes in our body.” (11-10-16 www.contently.com)

Yes, stories change you physically and chemically. Stories happen in your brain as if you were in the story yourself. Stories are more powerful than data.

Start telling stories in your advertising and you will start seeing a different, better result.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Please help me get this book printed. Go to the Indiegogo Campaign and make a donation today. Not only will you get an autographed copy of the book, if you make a large enough donation you can get a live webinar, or even a half-day workshop at your place for you and your fellow business owners.

PPS Here is the meta of all metas. One of the companies featured in the Samples chapter of the book is a company that tells your story for you in the form of a magazine for you to use to advertise your business. In other words, a story about telling stories for advertising features advertising stories about a company that writes stories for advertising. That will make your head spin!

Help Get This Book Launched!

Back on April 3, 2015 I wrote a blog about an idea that had been swimming around my brain for my next book. It was going to be about how to write more creative and interesting advertising copy. I was already presenting on the topic. My Making Your Ads More Effective presentation was a smashing success. It was time to put the ideas together.

I asked for companies to submit their information to me to use for writing samples of ad copy for them. Several companies sent me their info. Unfortunately, my life got a little crazy and I never got around to writing that book.

I am glad I waited.

On March 1st this year I finally started putting words together. New ideas were flowing. New revelations were popping up left and right. I started out with the four rules I had been teaching in my presentation. Then I realized “rules” wasn’t the right word. I know you. If I tell you there is a rule, you’re the first person to try to break it. So now I call them principles. (You’ll still try to break them. Now you just won’t feel so bad about it, or good, for that matter.)

As I wrote, I realized there were six principles, not four. Six principles and two revelations. The biggest of those revelations is that Most Ads Suck.

You know what I mean. We spend one day a year watching ads – that first Sunday in February when the Super Bowl is played. The other 364 days of the year we do what we can to avoid ads. Hulu and Netflix? Check. DVR set to record? Check. Satellite Radio? Check. Aux cord for Spotify? Check. Digital Ad Blocker? Check.

One day a year the ads are palpable. One day a year the ads are worth watching. One day a year we tune in. The rest of the time we tune out.

As all good books do, this one took on a life of its own. I needed a guide to get through these two revelations and six principles. I found the perfect guide. You. The book starts with You at a Super Bowl Party. From a simple revelation at the party, you go on to teach the world how to create better, more memorable, more compelling, more effective advertising. You teach the world how to write content that isn’t boring. You bring to light the principles that show how small businesses like yours don’t need fancy Madison Avenue ad agencies to grow your brand.

The book is written. It is in the editing stage. Next comes layout and design, cover design (the picture above is a temporary representation), formatting for print and digital, and printing. Those things cost money. I need your help to cover those expenses, plus some marketing expenses. I launched an Indiegogo Campaign for the book yesterday. It goes until the end of May. Please follow the link, make a donation, and share this with your fellow business owners, your local economic development professionals, your chamber director, your DDA director, your local ad salespeople, and anyone you know who is or works with small businesses.

I’ll be posting excerpts of the book over the next few weeks. Please help by making a donation.

Thanks!

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS When you go to the Indiegogo site, you’ll see the perks you get for donating. The simplest one is that you’ll get a signed copy of the book mailed to you the day I bring them home from the printer. The coolest one is that you could hire me for a half-day workshop on the topic of your choice for a fraction of the cost of doing it outside this campaign. Thank you for your donations!

Making Your Ads More Effective

Next Thursday I will be doing a seminar for the Marshall Area Economic Development Authority called “Making Your Ads More Effective”. This is one of my favorite presentations because it includes a few lucky (brave?) souls who submit advertisement they have used previously and I give those ads a makeover. It is also one of my most vulnerable moments.

That’s always been the fascinating thing about being a speaker. I get to stand on stage and tell you what to do with your business. Then I walk away. I get paid whether you do anything or not. I get paid whether what I say helps you or not. You don’t always know if the speaker knows what he or she is talking about. You don’t always know if the speaker has walked the walk or if this is just some interesting theory and you’re the guinea pig. You don’t know if what the speaker is teaching actually applies to your situation or not.

Any good speaker will convince you with pre-determined data and facts and anecdotes and testimonials that what they are teaching works. In this case, however, I take it a step further, using not my own stories and data but your stories and data. For me, that makes it even more fun and challenging.

My next book just went to the editor yesterday and is based entirely on this presentation. The book title is, “Most Ads Suck (But Yours Won’t)”. It includes six principles I have uncovered from years of trial and error and years of study that make ads more memorable and effective. It includes scientific information, stories, and observable phenomenon taken from the real world of advertising. It includes samples from a wide range of companies from around the world. It includes everything I will be teaching to the fine people of Marshall this coming Thursday morning. It show how you can apply these principles to your web copy, your social media posts, your print campaigns, and your broadcast media.

The last time I presented this information, one member in the audience was an MBA Professor who acknowledged that none of this was being taught in their program but every one of their students needed to hear it. (We’re working out those details.)

In a few days I will be launching a crowdfunding campaign for this book to help cover the costs of editing and formatting and layout and cover design and printing costs. To entice you to help fund this, you’ll be able to pre-order copies of the book with your donation. Those of you willing to donate a little more can even get a free webinar or phone consultation or remake of your own advertising. Those of you willing to donate a lot can get me to visit for either one-on-one consultation or to do a workshop or seminar in your town.

The amazing thing to me as I was doing research for this book was how many of these principles the major companies who spend millions of dollars on advertising get right, and how often they also get it wrong. Some of the principles are common sense. Some, however, are counter intuitive. As I get the manuscript back from the editor I will be posting excerpts through this blog. In the meantime, if you’re curious about what the book and the presentation are teaching, contact the Marshall Area Economic Development Authority and see if they’ll let you in the door.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS One of the six principles is to make sure your ads only make one point. Don’t try to clutter your ad with too many points. The average casual listener will barely ever remember one, if that. This is one of the biggest mistakes I used to make in my advertising. Once I solved it, results started soaring. As homework, I want you to listen to the ads on your car radio. Seriously listen and see how many points each advertiser crams into each ad. Leave me a comment below with some of the worst offenders you hear.

The Power of the Smile Story

Every staff meeting started with “Smile Stories”, moments since the last meeting when we did what we set out to do and made the customer smile. Some of my staff wrote notes to themselves to remember all the stories. Others wrote notes to each other to remind them of their stories. At some meetings we spent three or four minutes sharing stories. At other meetings we spent ten or fifteen minutes. I never capped the time on this part of the meeting. It was too important.

Toy House Character Diamond and Core Values
The Toy House Character Diamond – our Core Values that drove our business.

The Smile Stories served multiple purposes.

First, they kicked off the meeting on a positive note. When you open a meeting with good news, it makes the people in attendance more open to listening and sharing. When you open with bad news you put people on defense and they clam up. So always start your meetings with something to celebrate.

Second, the Smile Stories got everyone into a sharing mood. If your meeting is simply for the purpose of telling people something, don’t meet. Send out a memo or an email. The reason you bring people together to meet is to allow for give and take, back and forth, engagement with your audience. Our Smile Stories got the staff engaged and talking early on, which always led to more engagement when we got into the training segment of the meeting.

Third, the Smile Stories reinforced our purpose. Our stated purpose for Toy House was, “We’re here to make you smile.” When we celebrated Smile Stories, it was clear to the staff why we were there and what we were supposed to do.

Fourth, the Smile Stories reinforced the training the staff had already received. When we shared stories of how we made customers smile, we were using concrete examples from which others could learn. Often the staff would even mention how a technique we discussed at a previous meeting worked well for them. Often within a story I would find a teachable moment that I could use to strengthen what we were already learning.

The first step for making your meetings with your team better is to figure out your “Smile Stories”. Find that and you will see your meetings, training, and productivity start to rise.

I’ll be covering this and a whole bunch of other tools for making your meetings something your staff looks forward to attending at the SPOTLIGHT ON MANAGERIAL SUCCESS workshop on April 26th. Looking forward to seeing you there.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Stories are more memorable than facts and figures. My new book coming out later this spring cites numerous studies that show how we remember the feelings we get from stories as if we lived them ourselves. Stories are also better teachers. It is no surprise Jesus spoke in parables. We learn best by example. Stories are concrete examples of abstract principles and ideas. We’ll also be covering the power of the story in this workshop.

 

What Your Website Needs

You’re not going to do it yourself. You’re too busy. You have ordering and managing your inventory, hiring and training your staff, processing all the paperwork, creating and executing an advertising campaign, and all the other stuff like merchandising, selling, and even cleaning the bathroom on your to-do list. The last thing you want to do is learn how to build your own website.

I get that.

Instead you’re going to hire someone else, tell them what you want and trust their expertise to get it done. A good web designer will ask you a few questions, maybe even get you to write some of the content. A great web designer will dig a whole lot deeper.

Your website is the most important tool in your advertising and marketing toolbox. It is often the first contact someone has with your business. It sets the mood, creates the expectations, and tells people what you believe. It is the salesman who is working while you’re tucked safely between the sheets after a long day of unpacking boxes and putting out fires. It is the yellow pages of information that helps people find when you’re open, where you’re located, and what you offer. It is an expectation of today’s digital natives that you will have a mobile-ready website that answers all their questions.

To help you find that great web designer (or maybe turn a good one into a great one), here are a few things you should know your website needs.

GOALS

Your website needs to have an overall goal, a purpose. Is it to drive traffic to your store or drive sales on your eCommerce pages? Those are totally different sites. You have to decide which one. Your goal has to be clear on every single page what you want people to do.

Speaking of every single page, each page should also have its own goal, or more importantly its own call to action. What do you want someone viewing this page to do? Click on a link to another page? Make that clear. Call the store? Make that clear. Buy a product? Make that clear. Go back to the Home page? Make that clear.

VALUES

Simon Sinek, in his famous TEDx talk said, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”

What do you believe? What are your values? Do you spell out those beliefs? Roy H. Williams is getting all of his clients to rewrite their About Us pages and spell out their beliefs. (Mine are spelled out here. The Toy House’s beliefs were spelled out here.)

You need to make your beliefs known. You need to let your Core Values shine through on every page. Your best customers will be those who share your values. Speak to your tribe. Let them know you are here.

YOUR CUSTOMER

Make it about your customer. Think about all the reasons why your customer would visit your site. Are you solving your customer’s needs? Are you answering her questions? Are you making her life better, easier, more fun, more convenient? Are you speaking directly to her? Imagine one customer in your head, your best customer. What does she look like? Talk like? Act like? Write all of your content directly at her and no one else. Speak to her in her language. Assuage her fears. Make her feel comfortable. Let her know that you understand her and you will make her life better. Make her the true star of your website.

Now go find a great web designer (or become one yourself – there is power in being able to tweak your content any time you want.)

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Yes, you can actually have eCommerce and drive-traffic-to-the-store on the same website. You just have to have different landing pages and different calls to action for the different ways those two different customers might search your site. It takes skill and an amazing web designer to pull it off. If you don’t have that (yet), choose one or the other and make it work.

 

Happy Valentines Day (or Harnessing the Power of the Heart)

People don’t buy products. They buy feelings. You aren’t selling toys or pet supplies or carpeting. You’re selling joy, contentment, pride, satisfaction. You’re selling the way someone feels after she makes the purchase. You’re selling the heart. For you, every day is Valentine’s Day.

How would your business change if instead of selling products, you decided to sell joy? Pure, unfiltered, even-the-toes-are-tingling joy. How do you sell joy? How do you service joy? How do you show off joy? Sure changes what you say to the customer, doesn’t it?

“You’ll find joy because…”
“This will bring you joy when…”
“The joy is in…”

Maybe you sell nostalgia. Here is an ad I wrote for the 2006 Christmas season (one of our best ever)…

Christmas Eve, nineteen sixty-five. He didn’t know if he would make it. Nine months of active duty, he missed his family. And he was an uncle now. His sister had a baby girl, a precious little child for which a stuffed animal from an airport gift shop just wouldn’t do. As his dad picked him up in the family sedan, he asked, “We got time to stop by the Toy House?” “Of course, son. Welcome home.” Merry Christmas from the Toy House in downtown Jackson where Christmas magic happens.

The big box stores sell commodities. That’s the race to the bottom. You sell emotions. That’s the race to the top. The key is to know which emotions you are selling. Get that right and you’ll own the hearts of all your customers all year long without having to buy them chocolates or flowers.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS We sold Nostalgia, Fun, Education, and Help. Wanna know what you should be selling? Read the article Understanding Your Brand and then download the Branding Worksheets. Email me if you get stuck.