Home » Uncategorized

Category: Uncategorized

A Few Truths on Advertising

I received the following question via email …

“… based on your blog today, when is there ever a good enough ROI to justify advertising?”

I understand the confusion. I did a math equation yesterday that showed how a $400 ad buy might not get the desired results for a company expecting to do $60,000 in December sales. You could draw a conclusion between the ratios of $400 and $60,000 and determine that any ad buy over that ratio would be worthless.

That wasn’t the point.

The real point of yesterday’s post was to get you to ask the question, “Is this the best place to spend that $400?” When you ask that question your possible answers include:

  • Yes, it is. Go for it.
  • No it isn’t. I get a better return elsewhere.

The math was also about spending an extra $400 more so than spending $400 of your already budgeted money.

Here are some Truths about Advertising that might clarify some of the questions.

TRUTH #1

Marketing and Advertising are necessary expenses of running your business. You have to be doing something to get the word out about you. The key is to find the best, most effective ways to reach your audience and convince them to shop with you. The reality for most small businesses, especially indie retailers, is the budget isn’t big enough to do major media buys like the big brands. It isn’t to say that they aren’t effective for small businesses. If you have the budget, radio and billboard have fairly strong ROIs for most markets. But since most stores don’t have that budget, one of my most requested presentations is Main Street Marketing on a Shoestring Budget. (Follow that link and you’ll learn some ways to market yourself that won’t cost an arm and a leg.)

TRUTH #2

Marketing and Advertising will not fix your business. Drawing traffic won’t help your business if the model is flawed. It won’t help your business if the math is wrong. It won’t help your business if your service isn’t up to par with expectations. In fact, all advertising can really do is speed up the process of what is bound to happen. If your model is good and your staff consistently meet and beat customer expectations, advertising will help you grow. If your business model is flawed, your selection is lousy, or your service stinks, advertising will only speed up your demise.

In other words, you have to first shore up your financial strategy, your product selection strategy, and your levels of service before you should spend a penny on advertising. Otherwise you might be heading more quickly down the wrong path.

TRUTH #3

Customer Service is a form of Advertising. Poor customer service will kill your business. Good customer service is actually a neutral. Good customer service is when you meet expectations. You do that and you get a thank you at best. End of transaction. But when you go above and beyond the customer’s expectations your service is a game-changer. It turns your customers into fans and gets them to advertise for you. We call it Word-of-Mouth.

Yes, you can “buy” word-of-mouth. One way you buy it is by spending more time and energy training yourself and your staff better ways to serve your customers. (For other ways to buy Word-of-Mouth, check out this Free eBook Generating Word of Mouth.)

TRUTH #4

Price and Promotion Advertising become less effective over time. The companies that always seem to be offering sales always seem to be upping their game with those sales. Why? We get easily bored with their promotions.

Ten percent off? Yawn.
No payment for thirty days? Zzzzzzzz.

One window company is currently offering a “Buy one window, get the second window 30% off!” promotion. Why don’t they just say “Fifteen percent off all our windows!”? Because thirty is greater than fifteen and they hope you’re either lazy or bad at math. If you’re running Price and Promotion ads you need to keep upping the ante or people will get bored.

Price and Promotion ads also end their effectiveness when the promotion ends. Same with seasonal ads.

TRUTH #5

Branding Advertising increases in effectiveness the longer you run the ads. Unlike promotional ads, branding campaigns are built for the long run. They aren’t as flashy out of the gate, but like the steady drip, drip, drip of a river can eventually carve out the Grand Canyon, a long-term branding campaign can help you create a following that lasts for years. You just have to have the patience to let it work.

Branding campaigns also keep working long after the ads have stopped running because the brand message sticks in the mind. I haven’t run a radio ad in over 20 months, but still people tell me about their favorite ads, especially the one about The Men’s Bathroom (that only aired way back in August 2008!) They also know my slogan, “We’re here to make you smile.” They heard it for over ten years.

The methods for advertising will change (anyone remember Yellow Pages?) but these truths will not. Yesterday’s post was speaking directly to Truths #2 and #3.

If you only have a limited amount of money to spend, the first place to spend it is on raising the bar of your Customer Service.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Wanna know if you’re in the race to the bottom or the race to the top? If all of your events, promotions, and advertising revolve around some sort of sale or discount, you’re racing to the bottom. As Seth Godin asks, “What if you win the race to the bottom? Worse yet, what if you finish second?” If you spend as much money training your staff as you spend on advertising (and all that advertising is about your brand) and all of your events are about customer engagement and education, you’re in a race to the top.

Are You Joining In or Shutting Down?

You’re a retailer in the middle block of a three-block-long shopping neighborhood. The shops on the two outer blocks think it would be great to hold a street festival to draw traffic into the area. They want to close off your block and have food tents and other activities in the middle of the road, effectively cutting off all your regular traffic. Are you excited or pissed?

Image result for jackson mi car cruise
(photo courtesy MLive)

When we had street festivals downtown some of our retailers were behind these events all the way. They planned special activities in their stores, put sandwich boards out front, propped the doors wide open, and celebrated.

Others quietly cursed the events, believing that the event traffic wasn’t going to stop in their store no matter what they did, and since most events were on the weekend, it was going to kill their regular Saturday crowd. Imagine if someone told you they were going to shut you down on your best day of the week, “to draw traffic to your area.” Yeah, it would be hard to support that.

I get both of those reactions. They are both valid and understandable. They are also both expensive and exhausting.

If you embrace the day, you’re adding staff, adding work, spending more time planning and prepping, and doing extra stuff to make the day a success. You’re spending more hoping to make it up with an increase in sales. At the end of the day you’re exhausted.

If you shut down, avoid the hassles, and just take your losses, you lament the lost sales, curse the event organizers, and turn bitter. At the end of the day you’re exhausted.

Either way, your bottom line didn’t likely change much. Either you spent a lot to have a great day or cut expenses to offset lost sales.

In the long term, however, your approach to these events does have a huge impact on the bottom line. Embrace the events and your bottom line goes up over the long term. Ignore them and it goes down.

Sure, Saturdays are big days for retail. If your experience has been that these street festivals and events shut your Saturdays down, you need to rethink how you are working them. You need to rethink what these events are for.

The event organizers plan these events, “to draw traffic to the area.” New traffic. Traffic that might not have come down before. Traffic that needs something more than your shop’s feeble advertising to get them into the neighborhood. Traffic that doesn’t (yet) know you.

You get to use these events to make a first impression on all this new traffic.

The impression you make won’t necessarily translate into sales that day, but it will impact whether those people come back some other day. If you embrace the event and make your store shine, people will remember and come back. If you close your doors and silently curse the event, people will remember that, too.

You will make a first impression no matter what you do.

Your brand is simply your reputation. Roy H. Williams says, “Your brand is every single interaction a customer has with your business, plus how they feel about it.” No matter what your slogans and sayings and advertising and color schemes, if you’re closed and/or uninviting during an event, people will remember and they will have feelings associated with that memory.

Remember, too, that these events make the difference between your shopping area being known as a boring, unimpressive place to not go or a hopping, hip, fun place to go. Is it worth losing a few Saturdays here and there to give you the chance to farm for new customers and give your shopping district a better reputation? Damn right it is!

You’ll be exhausted either way. Might as well be exhausted for the way that leads to better sales down the road and doesn’t make your bitter.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS If all the businesses shut down in the area where the event is happening, you defeat the whole purpose of the event and no one wins. If you’re the one who shuts down because it isn’t good for you, you make it less effective for your neighbor. All boats rise with the tide. If your neighbor starts drawing more traffic, you’ll see a bump, too. You all owe it to each other to embrace the events and make them work for everyone. (And if you don’t like the events being planned, join the committee and start changing those events from within.)

PPS Tomorrow I’ll give you a list of ideas for how to farm for those new customers at an event and get them back in your store later.

Be Her Super Hero

According to USA Today, this will be the year of the Super Hero. More children will be dressed as super heroes tonight than any other costume. In fact, while the generic Action/Super Hero is #1, Batman comes in by himself at #2, Spiderman is #5, and Marvel Heroes come in at #7.

I guess they are right when they say “Be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then be Batman.”

Phil Super Hero 2006

I dressed up for a staff meeting back in 2006. I told my staff photographer (unofficial title) to remember to bring his camera. He took an awesome picture and then surprised me with an almost life-sized version of it on my birthday. I’ve been using that picture ever since.

The theme of the meeting was simple. Be the customer’s Super Hero. I gave everyone a laminated Super Hero ID Badge with a reminder that they had one simple job—the same job you and your team have over the next two months.

Your job this holiday season is to help the customer in any way you can. 

Be her Super Hero by:

  • Finding all the perfect gifts for everyone on her list
  • Reminding her of all the accessories she will need to make the gift complete so that she doesn’t have to make unnecessary trips to get more stuff
  • Helping her come up with creative solutions to difficult problems
  • Making her shopping easy and effortless
  • Giving her time by doing all the extra work like gift-wrapping her packages for her
  • Making her comfortable by taking her coat, offering her a beverage, and making her feel special
  • Taking a load off her shoulders by eliminating whatever stress you can
  • Being a friend, a sounding board, a person to whom she can vent
  • Listening to her and acknowledging her struggles and stresses
  • Recognizing she is busy and has a lot more things to do today
  • Helping her with her little ones
  • Smiling and being genuinely friendly and caring
  • Helping her carry packages to the car
  • Helping her find other solutions you cannot provide

What would you add to this list?

Here is your reminder. You and your team already ARE her Super Heroes. You just have to remember to act like it.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS What is your super power? Mine wasn’t selling toys and baby products. Mine was making parenting easier. When you recognize your true super power, it is easier to be the Super Hero you were meant to be. When you recognize that you are her Super Hero, it also changes the way you approach everything you do.

PPS I still wear a cape whenever I can. My new super power is to make retailing easier—or at the very least, more enjoyable. I may not be Batman, but I get to be myself every day.

It’s the Before and After That Counts

I just finished painting the master bedroom and upstairs hallway. They look fabulous if I do say so myself. There is a definite feeling of satisfaction when you’ve finished painting a room and can see it looking fresh and new.

Painting, however, is not my favorite thing to do. I don’t mind the actual painting. It is all the other stuff that needs to be done prior to and after painting that I don’t like.

Image result for painting prepTo paint the master bedroom I had to remove pictures, mirrors and light fixtures from the walls. I had to remove screws and nails, patch holes, sand those patches, and scour the wall for other blemishes to fix. I had to take down curtains, move out miscellaneous furniture, move the remaining furniture to the center of the room, vacuum the area, and scrub the walls to remove cobwebs. I had to remove outlet covers, lay down tarps everywhere, and collect all the supplies necessary including paint, pan, cup, brush, roller, trimmer, can opener, stirring stick, newspapers to put under the can, paper towel for the occasional oops, and a trash can for throwing away paper towel.

The time it takes to prep the room and then clean up afterwards is longer than the painting itself. Yet, if I don’t prep the room right, the painting won’t turn out fabulous.

It’s like hiring a new employee. 

When you say you need to hire a new employee, the first image most people conjure is the interview. Yet, by the time you get to the interview, the work is mostly done. If you want your hiring to be done right, you have to do all the prep. You have to:

  • Identify your Core Values so that you can hire people who share your beliefs.

“The goal is not just to hire people who need a job; it’s to hire people who believe what you believe. If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money, but if they believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears…” -Simon Sinek, Start with Why, TEDx Puget Sound

  • Create a list of the character traits needed for the job.

“Before you learn the craft, you must first learn the clay.” -Annlaw, Clay Shaper in the book Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander

  • Write a killer want ad that attracts people with the character traits you desire.

“Are you reliable and trustworthy? Positive and cheerful? Friendly and outgoing? Do you love to help others, no matter how difficult the challenge might be? Are you continually seeking to improve yourself, to be better tomorrow than you were today? Are you willing to give up your weekends just to bring smiles to people’s faces? Do you desire to work for a company that believes in the value of education, the importance of family, and the merit of hard work? Are you willing to forgo upward mobility for stability and satisfaction of a job well done? Apply in person at Toy House, 400 North Mechanic Street, downtown Jackson.”

  • Find the right media to place that ad.

We used radio for the above ad, but depending on the job and the traits and how many applicants you want to attract, there are several online sites that work well, too.

  • Create an application process.

Do you want resumes, cover letters, a handwritten application, samples of work? I wanted handwritten applications because handwriting was an important part of the job.

Do you want it done online or in your store? I wanted applications picked up and dropped off in the store so that we could see and interact with the applicants. There are pros and cons for all different methods. Choose yours consciously.

  • Write up interview questions that help you discover the traits you desire.

“Tell me about a time when …” Actions speak louder than words. Get your interviewee to tell you what they have done to see what they will do for you.

“Tell me about a time when you received excellent customer service in a store.”
“Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond what was expected of you in your last job.”
“Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with another employee.”

This is just the prep work you have to do before you sit down across from someone at the interview. Do it right and you’ll get lucky.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Seneca, Roman philosopher

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS The better you prepare, the better your results. It’s true in football. It’s true in school. It’s true in painting. It’s true in hiring. If you need help with any of the bullet points above, let me know.

PPS The “cleanup” afterward is a whole different list that is equally important to making your hire the best. We’ll discuss that next.

What to Do the First Time It Happens

Every July for our Summer Fun Sale we would mark down thousands of old, slow-selling, discontinued merchandise to ridiculously low prices to move out that merchandise, generate some cash, and get ready for the upcoming holiday season. With close to a million dollars in inventory, the process was quite tedious and time consuming. Every single sale price had to be manually entered into our Point-Of-Sale system.

Sometimes we missed one (or three).

The staff was instructed to carefully watch prices as they scanned items at checkout to make sure they were coming up at the sale price, and to make changes immediately whenever a mistake was found. If it didn’t ring up right the first time, it was quickly corrected and the customer sent on her happy way.

Image result for bad retail sale signsYet every single one of us can recall a time in our own lives as customers when something didn’t ring up right and you didn’t go on your happy way.

You get to the register expecting a certain price and it rings up higher. You say something to the cashier. His first response is to tell you that he doesn’t know about the sale or that he can only go by what the computer tells him. His second response is to look you straight in the eye and tell you he doesn’t trust you by phoning for someone else to go check the display. His third response is to tell you that “they” didn’t put the right signs on the display and that the item you had didn’t qualify for that discount/coupon/special deal. Yes, blame it on the faceless “they.” His fourth response is to get a manager who goes through the first three responses all over again before deciding to either give you the discount the signs says you should get or hide behind corporate speak to not give you the discount.

Either way you walk out of the store feeling like a loser.

Do you want your customers walking out of the store feeling like a loser? Of course not. Chicken dinners for everyone!!

Here’s how you do it when you have a pricing mistake.

“Oh my gosh! I am so sorry. Let me go verify what the price is supposed to be.” 

Say all that. Apologize. Go check the price (the above is a safe statement that doesn’t accuse them of lying). Then, regardless of the outcome, give that person the price they expected with another round of apologies for the confusion.

It doesn’t matter if someone did the signage wrong and that item is not supposed to be on sale. It doesn’t matter if the customer was confused because the signage wasn’t clear enough. It doesn’t matter if the customer interpreted the sign to mean something you didn’t intend it to mean. The first time a customer perceives something different than what you intended, you give them what they thought they were going to get. Then you go fix the signs and displays and prices so that there won’t be any more confusion.

Always give the first customer the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t cost you that much in the long run because you keep the customer happy. Plus, you learn quickly how others might perceive your sales or signs, and you fix the problem before anyone else gets upset.

“I’m really sorry about this. Those weren’t supposed to be included in the 25% off sale, but that’s our fault for not putting the signs up correctly. I’ll give you the 25% off on this item. Will that be okay?”

You’re going to make mistakes. Own up to them. Pay for them. Make the customer happy. Then go correct the mistake. That’s the key to winning customers’ hearts.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Even when the customer interpreted the sign wrong, you should still take some of the blame. Make sure your signs, sales, specials are bullet-proof by making them as clear and detailed as possible so that there is little chance of confusion.

PPS Every now and then you get the customer trying to cheat the system. They find an error like improper signage and load up their cart with everything on the shelf. That’s the exception to the above rule. You just better hope it was honest confusion about the sign, otherwise they might have a leg to stand on.

PPPS When you pay for your mistakes, not only do you make the customers happy, you build a level of trust. Your customers will be more likely to take you at your word when you take financial responsibility for your errors.

Two Ears and One Mouth

George Whalin was the last guy you wanted sitting next to you on an airplane. George was a retail consultant and public speaker (and one of my inspirations). George loved retail. A vacation to him meant a trip to The Grand Bazaar in Turkey followed by a trip to their local mall to contrast the old with the new.

Retail Superstars Book

When George sat next to you on an airplane, he peppered you with questions. “What’s your favorite place to shop and why?”

That was the question he asked every flight into Michigan that got Bronner’s and Toy House included in his book Retail Superstars: Inside the 25 Best Independent Stores in America. When he heard the same answers over and over he knew those places must be special.

“The questions you ask are more important than the things you could ever say.” -Tom Freese

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” -Naguib Mahfouz

“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” -Anthony Robbins

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” -Stephen R. Covey

One of the most important lessons George taught me was that every customer has a different need to fill. Every customer comes through the door for a reason uniquely their own. Our job as salespeople is simply to find out that reason. You don’t do that by talking. You do that by listening.

“No man ever listened himself out of a job.” -Calvin Coolidge

“Most people think ‘selling’ is the same as ‘talking.’ But the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of your job.” -Roy Bartell

George got to the top of his craft not because of what he said, but because of what he learned and the relationships he made. He knew how to ask the right questions and listen to the answers. He was fascinated by you. If you ever did sit next to George on an airplane, you probably still would consider him a friend.

“You can make more friends in two months by being interested in them than you can in two years by making them interested in you.” -Dale Carnegie

Ask and listen. Your customers want to tell you why they are here.

-Phil Wrzesinski
wwwPhilsForum.com

Image result for fired up! selling bookPS I got all of the quotes for today’s post from a new book called Fired Up! Selling. It is the best quote book I have ever seen. (Disclaimer, I was one of over 1000 judges that got to help select the quotes for the book so I might be biased, but with that many business people choosing the quotes, you know the quotes are going to resonate. No, that is not an affiliate link. Just me telling you this book is cool and will make a great gift for someone you know. Shop local.)

The Biggest Thing That Needs to Change

I kept my email address from Toy House. I kept it partly because I have so much history with that address I didn’t want to lose, partly because so many people have it and still use it to get a hold of me, and partly because I don’t really like the Gmail platform. Even though I’ve sent hundreds of emails out letting people know Toy House is closed, I still get emails from vendors every single day.

I got one a couple of days ago with a simple question that made me stop and ponder …

“What is the one biggest change that has to happen in your industry for you to be successful?”

You know me. A profound question like that requires an equally profound answer. Unfortunately, I didn’t have one.

Oh, I had answers …

  • Vendors not competing directly with retailers by selling direct online
  • Communities not giving huge tax breaks to corporate stores and distribution centers unless they give it to all sizes of businesses opening up including indie retailers
  • Transparency in pricing so that a “sale” is actually a sale, not just some inflated discount off a never-used, super-high price that is completely unrealistic

I wasn’t sure any of them were profound as much as simply wishes that likely won’t come true.

Vendors will stupidly compete with their retailers despite the many examples around them of companies who failed miserably doing so. They see the short-term dollars, get consumed by immediate greed, and hurt the very retailers they need to survive in the long run.

Communities will continue to give the giant retailers tax-break incentives to build in their town, hoping upon hope it will spur further development, not realizing that they are bankrupting the future of their community while destroying the identity of their community at the same time.

Thanks to JC Penney’s colossal failure with their everyday transparent pricing, and the addictive nature the customer gets from thinking he or she got a deal, the mark-it-up-to-mark-it-down philosophy will exist until the apocalypse. You’ve been trained by the department stores to never pay full price for clothing (and almost everything else), even though you do every single day because their “sale” is a false one designed to make you feel good. It’s the one tool in the retail toolbox everyone knows how to use.

It took me two days to find the answer I thought would have the most realistic impact on the indie retail channel …

  • Retailers more focused on training their staff to sell and serve rather than just run another discount

The big chains have gotten rid of all sales and service training. First, it’s too expensive. They are all in a cost-cutting frenzy to try to stay profitable with the shrinking margins and growing competition. Second, they don’t have enough staff to make it worthwhile. Third, they are wasting tons of money chasing the wrong things (like omni-channel retailing).

Most indie retailers don’t do any training on sales and service. First, they don’t know how. Second, they don’t have the time. Third, they don’t think it will make a difference. Yet pretty much every indie retailer that decided to hire someone to teach them and their staff how to sell has seen growth.

This is where you can have the most lasting impact for your business. This is where you can stand out. It isn’t enough to just be smarter about the products than your competitor. Thanks to the Internet, your customers are already pretty darn smart about the products. Learning how to take care of your customers better, however, pays better than anything else you might spend your money on.

It pays better than advertising. One universal truth of retail is that it is cheaper to keep a customer than find a new one. Plus, the better you take care of your customers, the more word-of-mouth referrals you get. If you have to choose between spending to advertise and spending to train your staff, you’ll get greater returns spending on your staff.

It pays better than an eCommerce site. Even the buy-online-pick-up-at-store concept doesn’t change the bottom line for the better. It only cannibalizes your in-store sales while eliminating your best bet for creating a lasting relationship with the customer by taking your staff out of the equation. No one has ever bragged to a friend about an amazing experience they had at a self-serve checkout lane.

Invest in on-going sales and service training for you and your staff. This is the biggest change I would like to see in the indie retail industry.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS I’ll leave you with one more profound quote from Richard Branson … “Train people well enough so they can leave; treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” 

The Value Equation

As customers, we are often quick to ask the question, “How much does it cost?” That’s what we want to know. Get to the bottom line. Why? Why do we go so quick to the price? The answer – The Value Equation.

The Value Equation is this … Does the Perceived Worth of an item equal its Actual Price?

We beg for the price because we are always at least subconsciously calculating Perceived Worth on everything we see. We’ve been doing it our whole adult lives. We do it shopping for groceries. We do it shopping for tools. We do it shopping for clothes. As we walk the store we attach a Perceived Worth to everything we see. (If we don’t want it, the PW is zero. If we might want it, we attached a price to it and check to see if we are right.) 

When the Perceived Worth equals the Actual Price, we put the item in our cart.

The surprise is often in finding our Perceived Worth is far higher than the Actual Price. The first question we usually ask when that happens is, “What’s wrong with it?” or, “Is this marked down?” Sometimes we think to ourselves, “Wow, it must not be as good as I thought it would be.” Before we buy the product, we have to answer those questions satisfactorily.

That’s why it is easy to under-price yourself to bankruptcy (or at least leave serious dollars on the table.)

The other problem is when your Perceived Worth is much lower than the Actual Price. You either totally dismiss the product as being “out of my range” or you wonder what you missed in your evaluation of the product.

Take, for example, the SPOTLIGHT ON MARKETING & ADVERTISING class I am offering. I have to find that sweet spot of a price that fits what you believe a class like this should be worth.

I start by taking cues from what other similar programs charge. For instance, Bob Negen’s Whizbang Training two-day Retail Success Summit this summer is currently $997.  My buddy Tim Miles just announced a one-day workshop with Roy H. Williams, himself, for $1250. (By the way, I highly recommend both programs, and, no, I don’t get any kickbacks from these links.)

My workshop is $250* for a half-day —similar to Bob’s price for two days. Some of you will look at the price and see that it is about what you’d expect to pay for other, similar types of training. Some of you will look at the price and ask, “Where’s the value? What do I get in return?”

So I also look at the benefits you will get from the program. For instance, in this four-hour program you get:

  • Eight ways to market your business with little or no money at all
  • How to get free publicity from the media
  • How to craft a message that gets noticed, remembered, and acted upon – three things that are incredibly hard to accomplish in today’s fractured, over-saturated media world
  • How best to use the media of your choice (and tips on how to choose the best media for your business)
  • Four ways to generate more Word-of-Mouth advertising than you ever thought possible
  • One year of advertising support including help with your message, your campaign, your media buys, or wherever you have questions or need advice.
  • Half-rate discounted tuition for any future programs I offer through Jackson Retail Success Academy™.

Some of you will still balk at the price. That’s okay. I know I won’t convince everyone.

Some of you will think that seems like a pretty fair trade for $250 and four hours of your time.  You’ll sign up now for the class on Tuesday, June 20th.

Others will wonder why the price is so low for all that you get. Most of you in that frame of mind have either been to one of my programs before or live in a city where prices for stuff like this are just a bit higher than they are in Jackson. Remember, Helping Others is one of my Core Values.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

*PS If your business or you personally have taken one of my workshops through the Jackson Retail Success Academy™, you qualify for the Half-Price Alumni rate of $125.

PPS Why the half-price tuition for JRSA™ alumni? I believe strongly in continuing education. Now that I make my living speaking and writing, I am reading more blogs and books on speaking and writing, and I am attending workshops to learn all I can in those fields. I want to encourage anyone who takes one of my workshops to come back for refreshers or other programs, or maybe send a staff member to learn more. Plus, you’re always looking for a better deal. You know these classes are worth it at almost any price. Half-price just makes you feel good.

MOST ADS SUCK Book Excerpt – Chapter 3

Here is the the third chapter from my new book MOST ADS SUCK (But Yours Won’t). (Please follow the previous link to my Indiegogo Campaign to pre-order the book.)

The first two chapters deal with the big revelations that Most Ads Suck and The Message Is More Important Than the Media. Chapter 3 is when you discover the first of six principles for making your ads less sucky.

Chapter 3 – Don’t Look or Sound Like an Ad

“If you want to waste a lot of money on advertising, just target exactly the right audience and then make an offer that fails to move them.” – Roy H. Williams

The alarm clock startles you awake. Maybe three hours of sleep? Your brain still won’t let go of your new revelations on advertising. As you get dressed for the day, you make a mental note to pay closer attention to the billboards along the drive to work. You’re also going to listen intently to the ads on your favorite radio station. You’re going to try to figure out what they are doing wrong and how to make them better.

The music winds down and two voices you recognize start talking in a phony conversation, one you know would never happen in real life. Before they even get to the punch line your mind has already wandered, thinking about how many ads are using those same voices. Before you realize it, another ad, this time with only the male voice, is droning on over a loud back beat about some biggest sale ever—just like they did last week. You laugh at that gimmick, wondering if anyone even cares. Pretty soon the whole advertising block is over and you can’t remember a single company, just that they all sounded exactly like all the other ads you’ve ever heard.

None of them could hold your attention for more than a few seconds. None of them said anything interesting or memorable. You started thinking: if you really are bombarded with 5,000-plus advertising messages a day, your brain must be hard-wired to ignore them all. Otherwise you would have to remember some of them, wouldn’t you? Even if you aim a fire hose at a teacup, there still is bound to be some water in that teacup at the end.

Once again you start rubbing the back of your neck, wondering if it could really be that simple. “Could it be,” you ask, “that our brains are wired to filter out anything that looks or sounds like an ad? Could it be that we immediately shut down and turn our focus elsewhere when a regular, boring ad comes on the air?”

You remember the groans that came up at the Super Bowl party when the local ad blocks ran. Those who were actually interested in the game finally got a bathroom break. Even though you know the local Ford dealer personally, you still ignored his ad and used the time to critique Ford’s national ads.

You get out of your car at work and hastily write your thought down on a piece of scrap paper.

Principle #1: Don’t Look or Sound Like an Ad

It makes sense. The best ads from your Super Bowl party didn’t look or sound like anything you had seen before. They were interesting, said interesting things, and had interesting images. You liked the ones that surprised you. You liked the ones that moved you. You hated the ones that pitched you. You looked away from the ones that were just as phony as the usual fare the rest of the year.

“Why don’t companies write creative ads the rest of the year?” you ask yourself.

You start thinking about all the auto ads you’ve ever seen. A vehicle on a mountain road, or doing donuts in the desert, or simply driving with a scenic background followed by a sales pitch of $299 down, $299 a month. How many car companies have run a variation on that ad? All of them, you guess. And all of them have the same small print about professional drivers on closed circuits. Gee, even if you buy their car, you don’t get to enjoy it the way the commercial portrays that you should.

Same thing with the drug ads. A few seconds of flowers, swimming pools, and active, happy lives, followed by enough disclaimers on the side effects that make you think you’d rather die because it would be more humane than taking a drug that you still aren’t sure what it fixes.

And if you hear the words “mouth-watering” about some cheap restaurant chain one more time, you fear you might throw something at your TV screen. The steaks you order from those places never look quite the same as what they show you. In fact none of the food ever looks like the ad. Yet all of the restaurant ads show you staged food and people having fun, laughing while dining. All. Of. Them.

There hasn’t been a restaurant ad that made you interested in visiting since Wendy’s ran the Where’s the Beef? campaign back in the late 1980s. They all look the same and you ignore each and every one. Oh sure, the Taco Bell Chihuahua was funny, but that didn’t get you to make a run for the border.

You’re adding a third item to your list for the stuff you want to tell all these companies.

  • Most Ads Suck
  • The Message Is More Important Than the Media
  • Don’t Look or Sound Like an Ad

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS There is still time to make a donation to my Indiegogo Campaign to help get this book printed. Chapter 4 digs a little deeper into the Where’s the Beef? campaign and why it was so memorable and effective.

PPS The contents of the book are only one-fourth of the content you’ll get when you take the Spotlight on Marketing and Advertising class on Tuesday, June 20th. Not only will you feel like you just earned a degree in advertising, you’ll get one full year of advertising support.

Spotlight on Managerial Success – The Class!

You’ve hired a manager. Someone to help you run the day-to-day operations of your business. Someone to be in charge when you aren’t there. Someone to handle personnel issues and make sure all the tasks like stocking, straightening, cleaning, and serving the customers gets done. Someone to schedule (and train) the staff. Someone to give you the free time to do your jobs of buying inventory and drawing traffic and crunching numbers and plotting strategy.

You want a manager who is Reliable, Hard-Working, and Decisive.
You want a manager who is Compassionate, Empathetic, and Service-Oriented.
You want a manager who can build a Team, Communicate Effectively, Teach and Resolve Conflicts.

They have to bring some of those skills to the table. That last line of skills can be taught.

Here is the program I have designed to teach those teachable skills to you and/or your managers.

First we’ll start off the morning by doing some Team Building exercises, both to break the ice, and to show you how to incorporate such exercises into your training programs. You’ll learn a handful of activities you can run yourself, including how to choose the right activity for the level of your group, the steps necessary to build a team the right way, and the techniques used to apply the lessons from the activities to the actual workplace. This is the stuff big corporations pay big bucks for. This is the stuff I did almost exclusively in the late 80’s and early 90’sand incorporated into all my staff trainings over the years at Toy House.

Second, we’ll spend some time doing Communication exercises that help you become a better listener and a better, more clear communicator. You’ll learn how to make yourself easier to understand, how to persuade people to see your point of view, and how to get your directions followed more precisely. Poor communication is most often the cause of breakdowns of teams. It starts with you. Get this right and you have won more than half the battle.

That will get us to lunch. We’ll take a break.

After lunch we’ll delve into identifying and fixing problems. You’ll learn how to settle Conflicts between staff members that makes everyone feel valued. You’ll learn how to get others to buy-in to your philosophies and ways of doing things. (You’ll learn skills that top FBI negotiators use to always get their way even while creating a win-win situation.) Plus, you’ll learn how to keep your team motivated to do their best work. Here’s a big hint – money is not the only or even the best motivator. In fact it ranks fourth. You’ll learn the other three in this class.

Finally, you’ll design your own training programs both for new hires and for continued training & development of your current team. You’ll learn skills that help you Teach in a way that everyone remembers. Some people are born to teach. Others have to learn. You can learn.

If you are the owner and you have a manager…

Ask yourself how much time you would save having a manager trained in those skills.
Ask yourself how many headaches you would save having a manager trained in those skills.
Ask yourself how much money you would save having a manager trained in those skills.
Ask yourself, would you be willing to give up your manager for just one day to save all that time and money and headaches?

The first SPOTLIGHT ON MANAGERIAL SUCCESS class will be in Jackson, MI on Wednesday, April 26 from 8am to 4pm.

Because this is the inaugural class, the regular price of $250/business has been lowered to only $50/person. Yes, only $50/person!

I am offering it through the Jackson Retail Success Academy™ in association with Spring Arbor University. The class will take place in the Hosmer Center for Entrepreneurship at the SAU Downtown Jackson campus. (Take this class and you’ll become a JRSA™ Alumni which gets you discounted pricing on many other JRSA™ offerings.)

Space is limited to the first 18 people to register. Click here to sign up today.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS If you’re not in Jackson or can’t easily get to Jackson, get in touch and we’ll figure out how to do this training closer to your home.

PPS If you’re not sure if you should take this class, answer this question. Do you manage three or more people? If you said Yes, take this class.