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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.


-Phil Wrzesinski

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!

Tired of Saying No?

Everyone wants a discount. Everyone wants a deal. They bombard you daily. Can you match this price? Can you give us this break?

You’re tired of saying no. Me, too.

What if instead you started saying Yes?

Yes, I can do that. Yes, I can offer that. Yes, I can do something.

What would it take to say yes? Higher prices and margins? Support from your vendors? Lower expenses? Guts?

There are certain aspects of retail that lend themselves perfectly to saying yes. Food service is one. If you sell food, whether a sit-down restaurant in a fancy part of downtown or an ice cream stand on the boardwalk, you should set your prices high enough that you can say yes all day long to whatever gets asked.

Don’t advertise that you say Yes. Just do it. Say Yes out of the generosity of your heart. You’ll feel better (Yes always feels better than No). Your customers will feel better. They’ll start telling everyone else about your generosity. New customers will flock to see you because of that generosity.

When you say Yes more than you say No you’ll get more customers. Period.

Those of you selling non-consumable goods are tuning out. Stay with me. There is something you can do, too.

Generosity is contagious. You will be surprised what you can give when you start looking to give. Can you give free delivery? Free giftwrapping? Free extended warranty? Free balloons with your logo on it? Free assembly? Free tune-ups? Free shoe laces? Free yard stick? Free gift with purchase? Free information? Free instructions? Free tips? All of that should be built into your business from day one.

When someone asks for something, rather than tell them No, tell them what you can do. Say Yes. It feels better.

(Once again, though, don’t advertise it. Just do it. Give, give, give, and let your customers advertise your generosity for you.)

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Yeah, you might be thinking that you can’t raise your prices enough to cover any generosity. I’m telling you that you can. The formula is in my first Freebie, the one that launched Phil’s Forum Publishing LLC, and it is still as relevant and effective today as it was the day I wrote it. If you aren’t using my Pricing for Profit tips, you’re leaving money on the table and not giving yourself enough room to say Yes.

PPS Notice I did not say “match prices”. You don’t have to match prices to give generously. There are other valuable services you can offer. In fact, you don’t have to give away anything. But if your current strategy isn’t working or you are feeling beat up by the requests, this is another way to go. If you’re in food service, this is one of the best ways to go.

Community Involvement Pays Off

You have already been asked to sponsor seven walks, three golf outings, two spaghetti dinners, a pancake breakfast, and forty-five silent auctions.

Every non-profit thinks your pockets are lined with gold.

And they all promise the same thing. “We’ll put your logo on our t-shirt. Thousands of people will see you.”

Yeah, right.

The only people who see the logo on a charity event t-shirt are other charity event planners looking for potential suckers, I mean, sponsors. No one has ever made a purchasing decision because of a logo she saw on a t-shirt.

But that does not mean you should not be involved in the community and involved in helping out your local non-profits. You HAVE to get involved. If you do not support your local charities then you cannot call yourself a local store.

Here are two ways you can be involved in your community, support local non-profits, and still remain profitable.

First, give out gift certificates freely. For any local non-profit fundraising event, offer a $20 gift card. You are not out anything unless the card is redeemed and most customers will spend more than the amount of the gift card. Think of it as a customer-acquisition expense. It makes the non-profit feel supported and it gets your name out there in a way that guarantees you some return on your investment.

Second, for those groups who want money, not gift cards, hold a special day just for them. Tell them to pick a day that they can promote to all their followers. On that day you promise to donate to them 5% of whatever sales they bring you. Now the burden is on them to advertise your business for you. Yet look at what you get…

  • Publicity for doing something good for the non-profit.
  • A fixed return on your charitable donation.
  • Exposure to a whole new group of people.
  • Stature as a community supporter.

We have done this for different groups for a number of years. It is always a feel-good day, which gives an added benefit to your staff. They get fired up about it, too.

So get involved in your community. They need you and you need them. Pat their back. They will pat yours in return.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS You can even have multiple non-profits on the same day. Our DDA is doing that with all the downtown businesses on Saturday, November 19 (National America Unchained Day) with fifty non-profits signed up.

Doing a Charity Event Right

We just hosted a fundraiser with our local radio stations for Toys for Tots in Jackson yesterday morning. We raised over $6500 in donations of money & toys and all that money was quickly turned into sales at our store. For a one-day event in a market like ours, that was a pretty good day.

In fact, it was a win-win-win. Toys for Tots won because of the incredible exposure and the huge outpouring of the community (not to mention $6500 worth of toys). We won because of the incredible exposure and the $6500 in sales. The kids won because we made a major impact on not just the quantity of toys they will receive but also the quality.

Using a charity as a way to draw traffic is a huge marketing tool. Here is a how-to:

Find a Charity
First, you need to find an appropriate charity. We chose Toys for Tots because we sell toys. If you sell coats, line up with a Warm the Kids campaign. If you sell eyewear, contact the local Lion’s Club. Somewhere there is a charitable group that needs what you sell.

Then meet with the coordinator for your local organization. See if he/she has a radio station that is willing to support them. Local AM talk-radio stations are good for this. Their listeners include lots of business people and community-minded people who are more willing to support local causes.

Plan an Event
Next, have the charity contact the radio station to plan a morning event at your store. For our event we had both the AM and FM stations do their morning shows from our store 6am to 9am. They read the news, announced the weather and talked about the charity all morning long while encouraging people to come to our store or make donations by phone.

But be sure to have the charity make this call. Since they are a charity, they are more likely to get the radio station to do the promotion for free on their behalf. You just happen to be the location of the event.

After that, contact your local bakery and local coffee house. They might be willing to donate coffee & donuts for the free plugs on the air. If not, still support them and buy a few dozen donuts and brew a full pot of coffee. Get some OJ for the kids and non-coffee drinkers.

Set up an Account
Then set up a special account for the charity. That way you can take donations all year long. If someone wants to “tip” you, encourage them to instead make a donation to the charity through you. We actually raised over $500 this way in the past year. (Note: make sure your bank will accept checks from you that are made out to the charity.)

When you have your event date, promote the heck out of it through your own channels, too. FB, website, email, etc. The radio station usually talks about events like this on the air for about a week prior. You should spend at least a week or more promoting it too. Send out press releases. Call/email your favorite reporters.

Be Gracious
And finally, when you get the chance to be on the air, remember to make it all about the charity, Thank everyone who makes a donation. Shout-outs are great, especially when they are community leaders. We had half of our city commission come in this year so on the air we challenged the other half to step up – and they did! Our DDA director showed up minutes later to make a donation, afraid that he would be called out next.

Teaming up with charities is always a positive. It also makes your staff feel good. And at the end of the day, not only will you have done something wonderful for the community that benefited you, too, you will have created a perception of your business as the experts in town.

Merry Christmas!


PS Email me if you want more details of what we did.

New Freebie for Non-Profits

I’ve just posted a new eBook in the Freebies section of my website titled Non-Profit Marketing on a Shoestring Budget.

It’s my notes from the presentation I gave yesterday to the Jackson Non-Profit Support Network about simple ways non-profits can improve their marketing without spending a ton of money.

Thanks, Regina, for the opportunity to speak to your group. They are doing important work and I was glad to have this opportunity to support them.

If you’re in a non-profit or know someone running a non-profit, click here to see what I said.


PS Printing more than one copy – or distributing the free eBooks electronically – is not only legal, but is actively encouraged. Please share the documents in the Freebies Section with anyone you think would benefit. Pass them along to coworkers, colleagues and friends with my blessing. You may also reprint the text in your own writings as long as you credit the author (me:-).

How Much Are You Giving?

Wal-Mart recently announced that it gave $467 million in charitable donations of cash & in-kind gifts to non-profits last year.

Some people will read that and say, “Wow, that’s a lot of money! Way to go Wal-Mart!”

Others will do the math and see that with $401 billion in annual sales for 2009, Wal-Mart’s donations to charity were a paltry 00.12% of revenue. “Geez Wal-Mart, is that all you have to give?”

The bigger question is… Where do you stand? Did you give more or less as a percentage? Are you supporting the non-profits in your town? Are you giving more than 00.12% or are you letting Wal-Mart take the high ground?

I only ask because $467 million is a big number and people like big numbers. You’re not making enough to give that much, but percentage-wise I’m betting you give more. Add it up and see where you stand. If you’re higher, you need to let the community know that supporting you supports them, too. If you’re lower, you have to ask if you’re doing your part to support your community. If nothing else, I guarantee that number will be enlightening.


PS Full disclosure… for 2009 our charitable donations including cash & products totaled 0.55% of revenue – and yeah, I think that’s too low.