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Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem

I was a little harsh last week on a radio station for playing eighteen commercials in a row. I said they were purely paying lip service to their advertisers (their customers) by putting them into a block that long where it would be hard to stand out and be memorable.

Yeah, part of that stand-out-and-be-memorable burden lands squarely on the shoulders of the advertiser, but the radio station did them no favors. From the outside it looked like the radio station was trying to decrease their customers’ chances of success and thus decrease their chances of being repeat customers by scheduling the ads in the least effective way.

What was really happening was the radio station was choosing between two distinct and different customers with distinct and different needs. They were choosing listeners over advertisers.

Image result for listening to the radioThe radio station needs listeners. Those are as critical to the station’s success as the advertisers. Without listeners there are no businesses lining up to pay to reach those listeners. Therefore, radio stations develop programming designed to attract the most possible listeners. Gimmicks like 25-minute rock blocks are designed to attract listeners and keep them from switching channels.

When you’re the only station in your market playing your genre of music, those gimmicks are unnecessary. But when you’re competing with other stations playing the same music, the fight for listeners is real. The winner gets to charge more for advertising. Unfortunately, if the winner, in the process of getting listeners, convinces the advertisers that radio doesn’t work,” they not only bring their own station down, they ruin it for other stations as well.

There is a parallel to indie retail.

If you fail to service a customer in your independent retail store, you jade the experience of shopping local for that customer, affecting her propensity to shop at other local stores.

Here is where the parallel gets interesting …

Most radio stations have no clue that scheduling eighteen ads in a row is hurting their paying customers. Most radio stations have no clue that writing boring, sounds-like-everyone-else commercials is hurting their paying customers. Most radio stations have no clue that scheduling ad campaigns that don’t reach the same listener at least 3x per week are hurting their paying customers. They get so focused on their listeners that they forget to take care of their customers.

The radio stations think that just by having their advertisers on the air those businesses will grow leaps and bounds thanks to the listeners they have attracted. (That’s the sales pitch they give you.)

Most indie retailers have had no training on customer service. Most indie retailers have invested no money into training programs or services to help increase the level of service they offer their customers. Most indie retailers have no formal training program for their front line staff to help them be better servants and salespeople.  We get so focused on the products, prices, and promotions we offer that we forget that our real goal is to service the customers.

Most indie retailers, however, believe they offer better customer service than their competitors and that if they just have the right products, their customers will be happy.

How? By accident? Just because they “care” more?

As an indie retailer you have a much easier opportunity to offer better service than your competitors. First, you have a better customer-to-sales-associate ratio. That allows for more one-to-one sales (assuming you have more than one person working at all times.) Second, you often have the owner—someone passionate and thoroughly knowledgeable on the products—on your sales floor. Third, you can take on the mindset of being awesome, compared to the corporate giants who are just trying not to be lousy.

Whether you take advantage of that opportunity or not, however, is a choice as clearcut as whether a radio station runs eighteen ads in a row.

Here is a place to start.

Two weeks ago I did five presentations at the Independent Garden Center Show on selling and customer service (which go hand in hand). Those presentations were:

  • The Meet & Greet: Working the First Step to the Sale
  • You’ll Score the Sale with Assumptive Selling
  • How to Push for the ‘Yes’—Without Being Pushy
  • Ten Mistakes that Sideline the Sale
  • Yes You Can Get Millennials to Shop in Your Store

Over the next two weeks I will be posting the notes to these presentations in the Free Resources section. Each time I post a new pdf, I will write a blog that focuses on different ways you can teach these concepts to your sales and front line staff. Knowing it yourself and teaching it to your staff are two different beasts.

(Note: those were the titles I used at the IGC Show. The bold words will be in the titles of the pdfs as I post them.)

Not only will you and your team raise your own bar of customer service while selling more at the same time, when your customers run into their friends who won’t shop local because of their experience somewhere else, your customers will be saying, “Oh, then you need to go to …”

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Okay, maybe this time I am being a little harsh on the retailers. Here is the thing. If a retailer ever thinks he or she knows it all, that retailer is part of the problem, not the solution. I spent six months researching those five topics above and learned things in the process I wish I had known years ago. I also learned better, more efficient ways we could have done what we were already doing. Even if it is tweaks around the edges, when you take on the mindset of personal growth and individual growth, it will help your business growth.

PPS I understand the balance for radio stations between catering to the listeners and catering to the advertisers. It is a fine line every advertising-revenue-based entertainment venue must walk. But if radio stations would start by looking at how best to help their paying customers, they might just find a way to create programming that serves both needs. Imagine the radio station where you didn’t mind listening to the ads because they were interesting, heartfelt, memorable, fun, and helpful. Heck, a station like that might just get a few more listeners regardless of their musical genre. Likewise, if a retailer would start by looking at the best ways to service a customer, that retailer would know exactly what products, prices, and promotions make the most sense.

Are Your Ads Standing Out or Getting Lost?

Last Monday I had to rent a van to move some furniture for my son’s new apartment at college. While the rental went smooth, as did the delivery of the furniture, I did something I hadn’t done in a while. I listened to FM radio. In my vehicle my phone is connected via Bluetooth so I listen to my own playlists. In the rental van I didn’t have that opportunity.

I tuned in a classic rock station out of Lansing (94.9 WMMQ) until it broke up as we got closer to Ann Arbor. There I was able to get a classic rock station out of Detroit (94.7 WCSX – yeah, didn’t have to move the needle much). 

Image result for old radio in carOn the ride home, as 94.7 was breaking up, I switched back to 94.9 just as a song was fading out and an ad-block was starting. Nine minutes and eighteen 30-second ads later, the commercials ended and the station started up a 25-minute rock-block.

Nine minutes of advertising! Eighteen advertisers all in a row!

Two days later and I can only remember one of the ads. It was about a golf scramble. I don’t remember when, where, or who it was supporting. I just remember that it didn’t make me want to play golf or support the charity (the only two reasons you would overspend for an outing like this).

The other seventeen ads had nothing memorable. There was a cheap poke at men being stupid, although I forget why. I’m pretty sure there was a car ad with a bunch of numbers thrown at me for how much down, how much a month, and how much interest over how many months if I was an employee. There had to be a drug ad because I distinctly remember being bombarded with all the legal fine print talk of all the ways this drug will make my life worse.

That’s it. That’s all I can remember of eighteen advertisers in an ad block I listened to intently.

How much do you think someone who doesn’t care about advertising is going to remember?

This isn’t a knock on radio. (Although if I were an advertiser on that station, I would be drawing up my contract to make sure I was never in a block longer than four minutes. It is hard enough to stand out among eight commercials, let alone eighteen.) This is a knock on lack of creativity and lack of understanding just how much we tune out advertising.

If you want to get someone’s attention, you have to say something unexpected. If you want them to remember you, you have to make them feel something—anything—happy, sad, angry, nostalgic, or even frustration!

I might have remembered your ad if you ran something like this …

I served them ice cream. 8:30 in the morning and I served my staff ice cream. Some looked at me like I was crazy. Others dug right in. Yeah, I’m a little unconventional that way. Kinda like how we staff the store. I have more staff on the floor than stores double our size. Some think I’m crazy. Others love it. There’s always someone available to help you. It takes a little more ice cream, but it’s worth every scoop. Toy House in downtown Jackson. We’re here to make you smile.

Or this …

She almost fell out of the pew. Her pastor actually called Toy House the Promised Land for kids. Right there in front of a packed church. The lady on her left leaned over and said, “You work there, don’t you?” She nodded. The lady leaned in again, “I love that place.” She couldn’t help but smile. “Me too,” she whispered back. It’s the promised land for kids and adults. Just ask the lady sitting on your left. Toy House and Baby Too in downtown Jackson. We’re here to make you smile.

Your advertising is up against a bunch of obstacles. First, our brains are wired to tune out all ads. Second, we purposefully do what we can to avoid ads. Third, your ad is competing to be seen and heard among thousands of other ads.

  1. Boring doesn’t cut it.
  2. Data doesn’t cut it (see rule #1)
  3. “Me too” ads that sound like everyone else’s ads doesn’t cut it.
  4. An ad that doesn’t connect emotionally doesn’t cut it.

Get me interested by saying something different and original. Then make me feel something. That’s how ads truly work.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS This doesn’t just apply to radio ads. This applies to Facebook and all other social media. This applies to your email newsletter. This applies to the posters you put up in your store about upcoming events. Do something surprising, unexpected, and heartfelt. It doesn’t cost you more—but it does make you more.

PPS This actually is a knock on radio, this station specifically. Just like your goal is to get your customer to want to come back, the radio station’s goal is to want to get their advertisers to sign up again. When a radio station puts this many boring ads together in this long of a block, they are simply looking at their advertisers as short-term money. That’s a lets-pay-some-bills block, not a lets-make-our-own-customers-happy-because-their-ads-are-effective block. I would hate to be a salesperson for this station because they are creating a huge base of businesses who “tried radio” but didn’t see the results. Don’t create a bunch of customers who “tried your store” and don’t ever want to come back.

Your Advertising Media Reference Guide

Here are links to the recent posts on how to best use the different advertising media. Like I said before, all advertising works and all advertising doesn’t work. It depends on two factors, how you use the media and what you say (work on that last one first, then pick the media best suited to say it.) You’re going to want to bookmark this page and share it with your fellow business owners. Before you spend a penny on advertising, spend a few minutes reading these posts.

Television – The Super Bowl of Ads: Television is a powerful branding tool and a powerful direct marketing tool. The downside is it is expensive and people spend as much time and energy trying to avoid TV commercials as they do trying to see TV content.

Radio – The Marathoner: Radio works best for long-term branding campaigns. You can reach a lot of people at a reasonable rate. You just need a great copywriter to craft the kind of ads that can get people’s attention. Boring ads that sound like everyone else are where most radio dollars are wasted.

Billboards – The Drive-By Advertising: In terms of eyeballs per dollar, billboards are one of the best values out there … As long as you can tell a heartfelt story in one picture and six words.

Does Newsprint Even Exist Anymore? Even though it has fallen out of favor with most advertisers, newsprint (whether in print or on a screen) advertising can work if you remember to create the ad the same way a journalist creates a story. You need an engaging picture and a killer headline to grab someone’s attention with this passive media.

Magazines – Speaking to the Tribe: Magazines are newsprint without the daily frequency or the large readership. That’s the downside. The upside is that the niche readership of the magazine means their readers are already qualified members of your tribe. Speak their language and win their hearts.

Why Email Works (And When it Doesn’t): One of the more affordable ways to reach your current customer base to get them back into your store. This post includes tips for getting better open rates and more traffic in the store.

Shares, Comments and Likes (How to Get Facebook to Work for You): Social media is exactly that—social! When you learn how to have two-way conversations and how to reach customers in a way that makes them interact, you’ll find the time you spend on social media is finally worthwhile.

Websites – The Silent Salesman: In today’s retail landscape where everyone has the Internet in their pocket, you need a website. Here are some tips for how to build a website worthy of your brand.

Direct Mail – Do the Math: Direct Mail is for Direct Marketing. You need a relevant offer at a relevant time to a relevant audience to make it work. You also need to know the math to see if the ROI is worth it. This post shows you the math.

Yes You Can Buy Word-of-Mouth Advertising: The most effective form of advertising is Word-of-Mouth. It has always been that way. This post shows you where to put your “advertising” money if you want to get people to talk about you.

Google AdWords – Wasted Money or Well Worth It? When you have a great solution and can convince people of that on a single web page, you can get a lot of customers through Google AdWords. If you don’t have a great solution or cannot communicate that solution well, you can blow through a lot of money quickly with little to no effect.

Mobile Marketing – Winning the Transactional Customer Today: Mobile marketing works well for making a Direct Marketing offer, but be careful how you use it. If you have a “deal-of-the-day” or are a restaurant with daily “chef’s specials” it can be highly effective, but as a branding tool, it won’t get the job done.

Movie Ads, Placemats, Yellow Pages, and More: Here are some of those other more obscure and/or obsolete media someone may try to pitch you. Be wary.

If there are other media you are considering that aren’t covered here, let me know. I’d be happy to explore the ideas with you. As always, if you ever have a question about your marketing and advertising, whether it is about your message, your media choice, or anything else, send me an email.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS If none of these forms of advertising are in your budget, go to the Free Resources page and download one of my Marketing on a Shoestring Budget pdf’s. You’ll find a few more tools to throw into your marketing and advertising toolbox.

Radio – The Marathoner

I love my radio sales reps. Seriously. I have Linda to thank for turning me on to Roy H. Williams. I’ll never repay that debt. Scott and I still play golf. When I see Mike or Stacy or Fanny any of my other reps, we stop and chat like old friends. The good reps will do that. I was blessed to have some great reps.

The great reps also understand things like frequency. They know that for my ad to be successful, not only does it have to be impactful and tell a great story, it has to be heard several times by the same people in one week. The goal is for the same ears to hear my ad at least three times each week for as many weeks until they are in the market to shop for my goods.

Radio Ads, Toy House, JacksonThat is the beauty of Radio. Unlike Television, where viewers change channels faster than a butterfly changes direction, Radio listeners tend to stick with one channel through multiple commercial breaks. Sure, satellite radio and music services like Pandora and Spotify have eroded some of the ears on radio, but that can be said about every medium. The one difference is that the people still listening are “still listening.”

The advantage of radio is that people don’t fast-forward through the breaks. They don’t look away, or run to the bathroom, or go get some food. Their ears are always open. They listen with some regularity, whether it is the morning drive, at the office at work, or while getting dinner ready for the kids.

The disadvantage of radio is that most people don’t actively listen to radio. It is background noise while driving, working, or cooking. Most people are doing something else when they listen to the radio. That means you have to say something truly interesting to capture their attention. Boring ads that sound like everyone else’s ads won’t get heard. They just blend into the background.

Because of Radio’s strengths, however, it makes a great choice for long-term branding campaigns because you can reach a lot of ears with a lot of frequency for a lot less than most media. The key is to make sure your schedule has that frequency of three per week, and that you run it at that pace for at least as long as half your purchase cycle before you can expect traction.

Now, please understand that many radio advertising salespeople don’t know about the frequency of three. I know this because I have sat through many presentations done by radio salespeople. In one such presentation, after the video they showed, you had to be on Valium to not want to sign up for radio. But the package they tried to sell me had a frequency of only 0.5/week. They were dumping their unsold inventory on me through this package, and it wasn’t going to help anyone but them!

You have to be adamant about getting enough frequency. Fortunately, because I had such wonderful radio sales reps, I got the chance to sit down and explore different packages to see what kind of frequency I could get. Roy H. Williams, aka The Wizard of Ads, taught me that running 21 ads per week ROS (Run of Station), I would typically get pretty close to the frequency I wanted. Unfortunately I didn’t always have the budget for that. I found, however, that if I ran ten ads, two per day in back-to-back hours, Monday through Friday, I could get my frequency. I didn’t reach as many people, but I reached them well enough. (Roy also taught me that you can try to convince 100% of the people 10% of the way or 10% of the people 100% of the way—they both cost the same, but have wildly different results for you.)

If you want to run a radio branding campaign here are some tips for making it more effective.

  • Buy a schedule that gives you a frequency of three per week for the same people hearing your ad. (Your sales rep can help you with that, even a bad one.)
  • Buy a schedule that is at least 50% as long as the purchase cycle for your industry. (Longer if you can. In fact, the longer a contract you buy, the better rate the station is willing to give you.)
  • Create ads that are far more interesting than whatever the person is already doing while listening to the radio. (Remember that radio is a background noise more often than a primary channel.)
  • Change your ads (but not the emotions or message) at least once a month. The more creative and impactful your ads, the more often you should change them.
  • Don’t buy a station just because it is the top ranked station in your town. The top-ranked station often charges the highest rate. Why? Because they can. The funny thing is that often the difference in the number of listeners between #1 and #4 is not that significant, but the rate card varies greatly. A good ad salesperson will tell you how many people you’ll reach for the dollars you spend. Find the best value. (Pro note: the number #2 station in a particular format in your town is always more willing to negotiate rates than the #1 station. Give them a one-year commitment and you’ll be surprised the deals they can offer. You’ll still reach a whole bunch of people—without spending a whole lot of money)
  • Don’t buy a station just because that station has “your demographic”. Your customer base is not a demographic. It is a psychographic. It is the people who share your values and beliefs regardless of age, income, or education. You’ll find them on almost every station.
  • Don’t ever buy a prepackaged deal until you know it has the frequency you want at a price you can afford.

If you plan to be in business a long time and have the budget for it, Radio makes a nice long-term partner to run that business marathon with you. If you’re looking to get on and off like a ride at the state fair, it probably isn’t your best bet.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS While Radio is best suited for long-term branding campaigns, if you want to use it for an event or sale, do what Roy taught me. Schedule the ads beginning with one hour before your event, and then schedule backward in time running one ad per hour (two, if they’ll let you) until your budget runs out.

PPS Often times sales reps will throw in “live remotes”, special events where the deejay visits your store and reports back to the listeners several times an hour to tell them how much fun he is having. While fun to have that happen, unless the deejay is a huge celebrity, they rarely draw a crowd. And if they do, the crowd is there to see the talent, not you. That’s okay. Just make sure that what they say on the air to the 99.99% of the listeners who didn’t stop by is on point with your message. That’s the true value.

PPPS Thanks, Linda! You are the best!!

The Myth of the Call to Action

I took a little walk down memory lane. Started reading some of the old radio ad copy I wrote back in the 90’s. My goal today was to talk to you about the pros and cons of the different media options you have for advertising. Sometimes, however, you pull on a thread and it unravels in a whole different way than you expected.

Image result for radioHere is an ad I used on the radio twenty-two years ago …

Ad Copy Winter 1996

Hi, this is Phil Wrzesinski from the Toy House in downtown Jackson. You’ve heard me talk about the many wonderful toys we sell here at the Toy House. I’d like to remind you that we’re more than just a great toy store. Our hobby department has everything you need for your trains, planes, rockets or models. Plus, our staff are experts able to answer your questions and make sure you get exactly what you need. Our baby department has all of the new, safe, quality products for infants including everything from cribs that convert into beds, car seats & strollers, and over 100 different bedding patterns. We offer baby registry, special orders, and a ten-month layaway on infant items. If you’re working on a project for school, check out our craft and science departments. And, if you need a new bike, we’ll assemble it for free and inspect it after 30 riding days. You see, at the Toy House we want to make your shopping as easy as we can by offering free giftwrapping, layaway, delivery, and a friendly, knowledgeable staff. So come visit us at the Toy House on Mechanic Street in downtown Jackson.

Looking back at this ad through the lens of the six principles that make an ad more effective, I was actually pleasantly surprised. Sure, this violated the Make Only One Point principle big time. It didn’t Tell a Story or Speak to the Heart, or Speak to My Tribe.

But even in an ad all about “me”, I used the word “you” quite often. Considering I had zero training and zero understanding of how ads worked, seeing this ad made me happy.

Don’t get me wrong. This ad sucked. About the only thing going for it was the conversational tone that didn’t sound like all the hype ads of that day, plus the frequent use of the word “you”. It also told you specific actions you could expect (“we’ll assemble it for free and inspect it after 30 riding days.”)

Contrast that ad with this one fifteen years later …

The Promised Land November 2011
She almost fell out of the pew. Her pastor actually called Toy House the Promised Land for kids. Right there in front of a packed church.
The lady on her left leaned over and said, “You work there, don’t you?”
She nodded.
The lady on her left leaned in again, “I love that place.”
She couldn’t help but smile. “Me too,” she whispered back.
It’s the promised land for kids and adults. Just ask the lady sitting on your left.
Toy House and Baby Too in downtown Jackson. We’re here to make you smile.

It certainly doesn’t sound like an ad. It tells a story and speaks to the heart. It speaks to the tribe. You’re smiling in agreement if you’re already a fan of the store. It only made one point, and it wasn’t about “me”.

The one thing many pundits will tell you it is missing is the Call to Action. The first ad said, “So come visit us …” Without a call to action, how can you measure the results of the ad? About the closest thing to a call to action in the 2011 ad is to, “ask the lady sitting on your left.”

I started running ads like this in 2005. That same year I hired a statistics class at a local university to do a survey for me. One of the questions the students asked was, “Name all of the places in Jackson that sell toys.” We were named about 66% of the time. Two-thirds. One-third of the population did not think about us as a place to buy toys—even though we were one of the largest independent toy stores in America and had been around for 56 years.

In 2007 we did the same survey. Our name recall had jumped to 74%. More interestingly, 88% of the people who named us as a store that sold toys named us first (compared to only 69% in the first study). Not only were we more top-of-mind, we were more top-of-heart. That’s how I measured the results of ads like that one.

I wasn’t in business just for today. I was in business for the long run. I didn’t want a call to action that got you in today, only to forget about us tomorrow. I wanted to win your heart and be not only the first place you think of, but the first place you wanted to visit.

Knowing that distinction changes the way you advertise.

Some media work better for immediate calls to action. Some work differently for sales than they do for branding. Before we start exploring the different media, I thought that concept might be worth visiting.

Thanks for joining me on memory lane. You never know where it might lead.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Yes, I used a lot of radio. Not because it is the most effective form of advertising, but because it was the best fit for my market, my budget, my talent, and my goals. What will work best for you may be completely different based on all those factors.

All Advertising Works (And All Advertising Doesn’t)

“Who are you trying to reach?”

That’s pretty much the opening salvo in every advertising salesperson’s repertoire. Give them your answer and voila! “That’s exactly our listeners/viewers/readers!” Then they show you some study that “proves” their advertising works.

Westwood One, a major radio company with stations across the US, commissioned a study to show the ROI of radio advertising. Of course the results were quite promising. Are you surprised that a study by a radio company would show that radio advertising works?

“The only statistics you can trust are those you falsified yourself.” -Winston Churchill

My Yellow Pages salesperson showed me a similar result that when asked where they would go to search for a new business, 87% of the people surveyed said, “The Yellow Pages.” Granted, this was when the Internet was still in its infancy. But it was still false because it asked the question, “What would you do?” instead of, “What did you do?”

Here is the funny thing about advertising …

The advertising salespeople are asking you a question to which you invariably give the wrong answer, yet their response is still accurate.

“Who are you trying to reach?” The right answer is …

People who share my Core Values and believe what I believe.

“That’s exactly our listeners/viewers/readers!”

Of course, all the other media reach those people, too. They also reach a bunch of people who don’t share your Core Values or believe what you believe. You need to target your message, not your media choice, to reach the “right” people.

Roy H. Williams, aka The Wizard of Ads, says time and time again that he has never seen an ad campaign fail because it didn’t reach the right people, but he has seen many fail because they didn’t say the right thing.

Although your advertising salesperson doesn’t know he is asking the wrong question (or, frankly, an irrelevant one), that question is not what will derail the success of your advertising campaign. It is the second question he asks (or sometimes fails to ask) that is the real crux of the matter.

“What do you want to say?”

If you cannot answer that question, he’ll put together some template of an ad that sounds like everyone else’s ads and you’ll be lost in the shuffle, unremarkable and unremembered. (You should read Roy’s post on Template Advertising. Go ahead. I’ll wait.)

How you answer the second question is the biggest difference between a successful campaign and a waste of time and money. Every form of advertising works and every form of advertising doesn’t work. It is all in how you use them.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS How you answer the second question isn’t the only difference between success and failure. Each media has its strengths and weaknesses. We’ll explore some of those in the coming days.

How Many Ways are You Marketing & Advertising Your Business?

One of the segments of the SPOTLIGHT ON MARKETING & ADVERTISING workshop coming up Tuesday, June 20th focuses on the many different media you can use to market & advertise your business and their respective strengths and weaknesses. It dawned on me that I have used many different forms of media out there for Toy House over the years.

Here is the short list off the top of my head of all the ways I marketed & advertised Toy House the last twenty two years …

  • Newspapers
  • Newspaper inserts
  • Online News
  • Magazines
  • Radio
  • Internet Radio
  • Broadcast TV
  • Cable TV
  • Local TV
  • Billboards
  • Direct Mail
  • Email
  • Website
  • Online and Print Community Calendars
  • Facebook
  • Google AdWords
  • Yellow Pages
  • White Pages
  • Networking
  • Press Releases & Public Relations
  • Discount Business Cards
  • Twitter
  • Road signs
  • Trade shows
  • Giveaways
  • Sponsorship
  • Coupon Books
  • Off-site Presentations & Events
  • Decorated Delivery Van
  • Wearing logo shirts in public

I’m sure there are a few more I forgot.

The point here is to open up your mind to the idea that there are many ways to advertise your business. You don’t have to do all of them. In fact, you would need a dedicated marketing & advertising team and a huge budget to even attempt to half of them the right way. Instead, your best plan is to choose a few of these and do them better than your competition.

Sign up for the class and I’ll show you how to use each of the above the most productive way and help you figure out which ones will help you grow your business the right way—all in just four hours (I’ve done it before so I know I can do this for you.)

Here’s the fun part … That is only about half of what you’ll learn in this class.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS There is one big myth I want to dispel right now and that is the notion of “Mixed Media”. The myth is that you need to spread yourself as wide as possible in as many different media as possible so that you hit the same people from many different angles to help them remember and think of you. Wrong! The stuff you see with your eyes goes to a different part of the brain than the stuff you hear with your ears. The different media rarely ever connect in the brain as one unified thought. The most effective marketing is when you dominate one medium so well that people think you own it. That was the biggest mistake I made for years. Our marketing & advertising got better when I pared it back to the media I could use best.

Using My Super Powers

My boys and I saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 earlier this evening. We are Marvel Studios junkies. Even the bad ones were good enough for us. I’ve always been fascinated by super heroes, especially their powers and how they use them. I am firm believer that we all have super powers within us. Maybe not the ability to fly or super-human strength or making fire shoot from our eyes. But we have talents that, when harnessed properly, become amazing powers.

I have learned that one of my powers is the ability to take complex subjects and make them understandable.

Independent retailers have to master a number of skills to be successful.

  • You have to be good with your Products – knowing your products inside and out, knowing how to relate to customers, knowing which products to sell and how to sell them.
  • You have to be good at Marketing & Advertising – knowing how to get the word out to people that you are the place to shop.
  • You have to be good at Financials – knowing how to manage your cash flow, maintaining profit margin, keeping expenses in alignment with sales.
  • If you’re a large enough store you have to be good with People – knowing how to hire, train, and manage a quality team.

Those are the main legs of the retail business – Products, Marketing, Financials, and People.

I used to say I was good at three, just don’t ask me about Financials. Then the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) asked me to do something unthinkable. They asked me to write a book about the financials of a toy store called “Financials Made Easy.”

They said if anyone could do it, I could. I told them if they changed the title to “Financials You Can Understand” (because no one could make it “easy”) then I was their guy.

In four months I learned and understood more about Financials than I ever thought possible. The book is one of my favorite writing projects because I had to take a topic I barely understood myself and translate it into the language of non-accountants everywhere. (My accountant friends who helped proof-read the book for errors were amazed as much as I was at how well it turned out.)

The book is proprietary property of ASTRA. You have to join ASTRA to get a copy. But the knowledge I gained in the process helped me tremendously at Toy House and also in my teachings through Jackson Retail Success Academy™ and PhilsForum. Later that year I did my first workshop on the topic. One of the attendees said her accountant had been trying to teach her this stuff for years, but this was the first time it finally made sense.

I have now presented several times on the topics of Retail Math, my least favorite and least experienced topic. I’ll be doing both a beginner and an expert breakout session on elements of the book at the upcoming ASTRA Academy in June.

I tell you this because I want you to understand the reasoning behind writing the book Most Ads Suck. Unlike Financials, I love Marketing & Advertising. I took over that element of Toy House in 1995 and began experimenting, trying different things to see what worked. I began studying advertising and reading different authors who spoke on advertising.

My radio sales rep Linda McDougall gave me Roy H. Williams’ first book The Wizard of Ads. I was hooked immediately. I ordered the other two books in his trilogy the very next day. I also became a huge fan of Seth Godin and joined his now defunct website triiibes based on his book Tribes where I met people as passionate about marketing and advertising as I was. I started using stuff I learned from Roy and Seth and Malcolm Gladwell and Gary Vaynerchuk and Daniel H. Pink and Guy Kawasaki and others.

Not everything I learned worked for me. I had to mix and distill and tweak and measure and test. But when it did work, it was magical.

I wrote this ad in a few minutes one Sunday afternoon in July 2008 …

I couldn’t believe it. They were taking customers into the men’s bathroom. Yes, my staff was taking men and women, young and old, into our men’s bathroom. And they were coming out laughing, smiling, oh yeah, and buying, too. I guess when you have a product this good, you just have to show it off however… and wherever… you can. The men’s bathroom… Gotta love it!  Toy House in downtown Jackson. We’re here to make you smile.

I didn’t ever think about not running it. It told a story. It made you laugh (emotion). It grabbed your interest. Yeah, it mentioned the men’s bathroom, but not in a bad or seedy way. Yeah, it never mentioned the product (if you remember the previous blog, you know that feelings are more important than facts.) Yeah, it went viral big time.

The ad ran in August 2008. Two times a day, Monday through Friday, for four weeks. That’s it.

The first day it aired, the DJ started talking about it live on air, wondering what was going on in our men’s bathroom. The second day, all the DJ’s on all the related stations were talking about it – including one of the stations that wasn’t even running the ad! By day three even the local TV talk show host was speculating on that ad. All fall my staff and I would get asked at the grocery store or the gas station about what was going on in the men’s bathroom. In March 2009 one customer stopped in and asked me because, “All we talked about at the adult table at Christmas Dinner was was going on in your men’s bathroom.” And she lived two hours away!

When people are talking about your ads weeks and months after they aired, you made memorable ads. When people are asking you about your ads even when you’re not in your store, your business is at the top of their minds. When people talk to their friends and family about your ads, you know you made an impact.

That ad wasn’t a lucky accident. It was years of study and testing. It was years of trial and error. It was millions of dollars spent learning what moves the needle and what doesn’t.

The book Most Ads Suck (But Yours Won’t) is me using my super powers to take something as complex and nuanced as Advertising, that I have spent twenty years studying and actively doing, and make it understandable. This is me at my best helping you become your best. I am asking for your support to help launch this book.

My super power is to make it understandable. I’m counting on your super power to make it happen now.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS The principles in this book don’t just work for radio ads. The principles apply to billboards, print ads, television, direct mail, email, social media, pitches to investors, political speeches, and anywhere else where you need to persuade someone. If you haven’t yet pre-ordered the book through my Indiegogo campaign, there are plenty of links above.

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.

Write Your Ad to One Specific Person

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.

I talk a lot about speaking to the heart of your customer. But which heart? Too often we try to include as many people as possible in our ads. We write them to reach the widest audience. But the wider we cast our net, the shallower the net can go.

If you really want to snag the best customers, you have to go deep, not wide. Write your ad to one specific person in the language that he or she will understand the most.

The ad above was written to anyone who has a loved one who has served in the military. They got that ad. They got it deeply. Others may not. You might not. But I wasn’t writing to you.

My buddy Rick says (and I paraphrase)… You can blast your ad to Everyone, but in the process you won’t reach Someone. I would add that you’ll end up moving No One.

Write your ad to Someone, not Everyone, and speak to that Someone’s heart.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS The best example I’ve ever seen is the store Bras That Fit. Yes, they sell bras in hard-to-find and custom sizing. Yes, they sell primarily to women. Yes, they sponsor an ESPN Radio talk show. Sports. Men. Bras??  Their message is simple… “Hey guys, tired about hearing your wife complain about her bra not fitting?” They are targeting a very specific group – married men whose wives complain about their bras – and it works!

PPS Before you write anything, know exactly who you are targeting and what you want them to do. Tim Miles calls that the Relevance. Speak to me in my language and the ad instantly becomes relevant to me.