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Posts from April 2010

April 29, 2010

April Moleskine Wrap-up

Well, here is the April Wrap-up done Moleskine-style (it is clickable) a la Erica Glasier.

To give it the prominence it so rightly deserves. CLICK HERE to see the full sized image in all its glory.

And Erica ... again, thank you so very much!

april moleskin

By Erica Glasier

April 26, 2010

The Truth About Truthiness—Part 2

As discussed in that last piece, processing fluency is the phenomenon of a people seeking the simplest explanations to things and accepting those as true. And, so long as that simple explanation does not contradict a core belief, the person believes it.

Now, what does that mean for us as marketers?

  1. In any ad, presentation or press release, focus on one or two points that you want a person to remember.

    For those of us on the agency side, it can be a particular challenge in dealing with clients who are understandably proud of all they have done AND want to include all they have done in their marketing materials. In fact, cramming your message with all available information will, in all likelihood, keep readers from getting even the one or two points you wanted to get across in the first place. Studies have shown that “excess” information is not only forgotten, it sparks the forgetting of other information as well.

  2. If you can help it, don’t try to change minds, try to inform them.

    Changing a mind involves (if you will excuse the terrible grammar) “unlearning” and then “relearning” on the part of the audience. Or, worse yet, it can spark “forward blocking”—a cognitive process whereby a person hears something that contradicts a previously held belief and they shut out any additional information.

    Confirm their closely held beliefs and incorporate your message into something that fits within that. For instance, if you are introducing a new drink that is supposed to compete with Coke, don’t tell Coke drinkers, “Coke is terrible,” tell them “If you like Coke, you are going to love XYZ drink.”

  3. Take your one or two points from point #1, communicate them in a way that fits point #2 and then REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT.

    As you well know, frequency enhances the ability to recall the message. Frequency also enhances ease of retrieval of the information, which makes it more believable.

April 23, 2010

Psychology & Social Media (Part III)

Our hearts raced.

Our friend picked up the phone.

anon“You smell bad!” we said in unison, masking our voices in creepy falsetto. Then we slammed down the phone and laughed.

I was a tween in a time before the ubiquity of Caller ID/Display and prank calls were in vogue. I was slightly ashamed of what we were doing, and yet we made the calls, and our ability to do this ugly, passive-aggressiveness and hurtful thing was facilitated by one critical factor: anonymity.

Without this cloak we were kind to our friend with whom we, clearly, had some issues. There were certainly more effective and decidedly more respectable ways to address our problems. Did we have the emotional maturity to do so? Clearly not. And the lack of identity gave us free reign to express our feelings honestly – and distastefully.

The benefit of online anonymity is often provided in the extreme. It enables users to offer information or perspective without fear of retribution or recrimination (e.g. whistleblowing, expressing political points of view under repressive regimes). Stigma is also a consideration: a person might be hesitant to attach their name because the revelations might lead them face discrimination (e.g. at their workplace for certain points of view or for their sexual orientation) and someone, for instance, who experienced sexual abuse or is dealing with depression might want to comment on a blog post or forum to express solidarity – but not if it meant revealing their identity to everyone.

Of course many anonymous remarks don’t fall under these categories. And while online anonymity, which has long been a contentious issue, allows for the expression of honest points of view, it is also an appropriate shelter from which to fire off damaging or defamatory remarks. It is theorized that “Good Lamps Are the Best Police” and anonymity - and even the illusion of anonymity - provides a cloak under which to operate, and is an excellent sanctuary for those wishing to use the internet for hateful comments, intimidation and character assassinations.

Recent occurrences have once again thrown this issue into the spotlight. There are, as just a few examples, a court case which requests the unveiling of anonymous posters who made defamatory comments, a newspaper which revealed their discovery that the anonymous comments on their site which were “disparaging a local lawyer, were made using the e-mail address of a judge who was presiding over some of that lawyer’s cases", Anonymously authored blogs exist, as do as skewed Amazon reviews made under a pseudonym and social sites or applications that encourage anonymous feedback.

The sad truth is that people sometimes comport themselves differently when their identity is not known. Even those comments which express honest dissenting opinion frequently lack respect when posted anonymously. The anonymity adds yet another layer of distance from the other party: without the person in front of you, you can avoid considering his/her emotions and possible reactions, but now that you that your identity is also concealed, it is easy to dispense with any civility at all.

Take for instance a comment on a blog that remarks something such as:

"This post makes it clear you are a complete moron. I would be embarrassed to be you."

How? Why?

With anonymity the opportunity is presented to phrase even one’s legitimate opinions in an inconsiderate and scathing way. Were there an obligation to attach one’s name - and all the reputation that may go with it - the user might be more inclined to take into account the other party’s humanity and feelings and rather than release vitriolic comments, perhaps provide constructive criticism.

Scott Rosenberg of Salon.com makes the argument that moderation rather than “real names” would help to encourage responsible discourse. This makes good sense with respect to online conversations not descending into “barroom brawls” but does not address the difficulty in distinguishing between true and untrue statements made online. And, without attaching identity, there is also no way of gauging the perspective/conflict of interest of the party.

Writes Randy Cohen: “’Says who?’ is not a trivial question. It deepens the reader’s understanding to know who is speaking, from what perspective, with what (nutty?) history, and with what personal stake in the matter.

Certainly, anonymous posters aren’t the only ones who write distastefully or choose to grind their axe online. But this allowance does grant a great deal of power without responsibility. Power on its own can be a dangerous intoxicant. Without repercussions it becomes even more worrisome.

Recall the question: “Would you kill someone if no one would ever know you did it?” Replace “kill” with “defame” and you have a fair concern for the internet age.

div

Note: If would like to recommend articles or books, please feel free to suggest in the comments, or contact me through my blog or on Twitter.

April 19, 2010

Analyzing Competitive Ad vs PR Spending

Measuring the effectiveness of your PR process is not a simple task, especially if you don’t have the budget for PR-coverage subscriptions. Just as challenging is demonstrating that your organization is better than the competition with leveraging PR to save on ad spending. Following is real-world method to handle these chores. Use Demand Metric’s Competitive Ad vs. PR Analysis Tool to start tracking your media coverage and benchmark your ad/PR-spending ratio against your competitors.

Benefits of Analyzing Competitive Ad vs. PR Spending:

  • Competitive Insight - tracking ad placements and PR coverage provides a framework for discovering ad spending benchmarks within your competitive environment, and allows you to examine how PR is being leveraged. You may discover that one competitor is heavily pushing a certain message, or that another is deploying a pull strategy based on product-feature benefits.
  • Save Money – organizations that effectively use public relations can save volumes of money that would otherwise be spent on advertisements.
  • Better Leverage Public Relations – by determining how your competitors are leveraging public relations in their media mix, you can learn how to become more proficient in this area of demand generation.
  • Measure Ad/PR Effectiveness - the first step in measuring a marketing program is to document the activities that are involved. Proactively monitoring your most important industry publications will provide a basis for tracking leads and sales that results from advertisements and press releases.

Action Plan:

  1. Assess Value - consider the value that a focused advertising/PR tracking initiative would provide your organization. If you are being asked to conduct competitive analysis, this is one section not to be missed.
  2. Assign a Task Leader – it will become someone’s job to flip through each trade publication upon delivery to identify which competitors are placing ads or generating solid PR. Try to leverage an inexpensive resource for this task.
  3. Customize a Reporting Tool – use our downloadable Competitive Ad vs. PR Analysis Tool to kick-start this process internally.
  4. Select Relevant Publications - narrow the scope on your measurement process to only those publications considered core to your industry. Add your list of publications to the ‘Instructions’ tab of the analysis tool.
  5. Determine Starting Point – you may wish to backdate your analysis to previous issues, especially if you are trying to assess competitive ad spending benchmarks. Use the same start date for each ‘Competitor’ tab to ensure you are comparing apples to apples.
  6. Document, Document, Document - list the publication, page reference, ad or article size (pages), article/ad topic area, journalist, Ad or PR, and estimated value of the piece. Use standard pricing for PR mentions, and discounted pricing for ads, if and only if, you identify a repeated pattern.
  7. Analyze the Data – visit this analysis tool on a quarterly basis and total up the estimated value (or spending) that is being done industry-wide, and determine the ratio of ad spending to PR for you and your competitors.
  8. Discuss with Senior Management - share your insights in a management meeting and discuss strategies that you can use to improve your ad/PR spend ratio. Focus on ad/PR content to get a gut-feel for competitive strategies.

Bottom-Line:

Not all organizations are effectively using PR to save money on advertising costs. Start tracking your ad/PR spending in relation to your competitors to demonstrate the effectiveness of your PR capabilities. If you aren’t using PR at all, strongly consider reading our report Building Successful PR Campaigns to get started.

April 18, 2010

Web 3.0 Please God ... make this stop.

By Peter Mosley
<rant>
This article is rife with sensationalism, trite snippets and sound bites. Sadly, it has no relevant connection to the Net.

I will not denigrate NOW Toronto  regardless of their political views nor their chock-full-of-escort-ads section and ad revenue - what I will put down is this search for something to say about the future of the Net. Oh and for all you folks who read NOW Mag denigrate means to put down (Borrowed from Bob Newhart!)

Ok, I am old. 59 years old, in fact. 

The Net has been around as long as I have. It was created in 1951. So was I.  And since 1951 it has done just fine regardless of the Web 2.0, Social Media and now Web 3.0 labels folks want to create. If you were not there since the beginning, trust me, everyone and their brother, sister, cousin, wierd old Uncle and son-in-law has tried to port over Shovelware online. It is a virtual mall, it is a magazine, it is DM, it is a record label, it is cheap TV etc etc etc etc (Notice 4, count em, 4 etc!) It is none of these. It is the Net. If ya want to see someone NOT getting the Net, watch someone spouting these tired, hackneyed terms.

In this article, for the record, lets just point out that there is no such thing as Web 2.0. The underlying intent of Mr O'Reilly's coined phrase was that the web had changed. The best explanation I have heard was that when the web came along we put our word docs there. We hyperlinked to them. Then we got fancy after a while and put up all sorts of jumping bunnies and throbbing gristle in these docs. But we were simply serving up documents.
When the Web changed it changed fundamentally. We were able to have all your your data talk to all my data. Think Excel vs Word. Google is the best example of this. Hold on, I must stop and sigh. I do love Google. 
Anyway, je digress ...  this new Web NOW talks about - in the guise of Apple and the iPad is so not new. AOL did all this in the 80s. A closed-circuit-go-to-my-server-dial-up-thing and we will pretend it is the Net (Don't ya just love a tmesis?) On AOL you are not really online. Just like a Bulletin Board System was not online. 

Apple is an amazing company - the digital centre of your life. Hell, I know it's mine. My iPhone, my iPod, my MacBook Pro, my desktop iTunes, Logic  etc etc - Oh, I want an iPad, and will get one. Not right this second, mind you, but I will get one. I look at it as the ultimate interface and control device. Imagine controlling Logic with that device. [le sigh ... ]

As for the Net - it is still wonderfully simple and elegant and slightly broken. The Cluetrain written in the late 90s really spelled out all of this - please have a peek  http://cluetrain.com/. Sadly, most new-comers have neither read, nor heard about this. When folks mention the net as a conversation The Cluetrain coined that BTW, they say this with absolutely no concept of what an online conversation really is. It is not the real world modality of you in a mall chatting with your friend. It is much more. It is a way for you to be at one end and me at the other. And the plain truth is that the more shit we have in the middle the more the conversation is devalued. Apple is not building a conversation tool. They are building a digital interface. Avec neat apps.

The idea that Apple is, or will, take over the Web or make something that emulates an 80s AOL is laughable.

If it wasn't for Apple there would not have been the proliferation and wonder we saw online. Most folks built all the early sites on Macs. I was part of MAGIC - the Macintosh Awareness Group in Canada which turned into one of the very first ISPs. Apple was and is the easiest way to get online. Full stop. 

Apple is doing what Apple does best. Increase shareholder value. And if they could do that supporting gambling and porn they would. But they don't. They have amazing products - I use em daily - and their closed-circuit culture is just that.

iTunes arguably the best music delivery system. Their stores, real and online, the new bookstore and all of the wonderful stuff they put out, well ...  le sigh encore.

Stop with the BS!


</rant>
Posted via email from mose's posterous

April 15, 2010

Brand vs Commodity

Recently on Linkedin in the Brand and Communication Management Group there was a lively discussion. By lively I mean 15 pages representing 265 comments. There was some incredible thinking. You should do yourself a favour and check out this group.

I thought it would be interesting to port this over to One Degree and see what you think?

The question was posed ...

Can you describe, in one sentence or less, the difference between a brand and a commodity?

Here are some of the responses to get the juices flowing!

  • Remember a brand is not what WE say it is, it's what THEY say it is. 
WE = manufacturer/company THEY = Consumers

  • Brand has a face while commodity is faceless

  • A commodity becomes a brand when it establishes an emotional connection with a consumer!

  • A brand is a sum of attributes while a commodity is only it's characteristics.

  • A brand fulfills an emotional need, a product fulfills a practical need.

  • A brand is the difference you remember, a commodity is a product without a difference.

So lets hear it! What say you?

April 14, 2010

Search Engine Strategies Toronto June 9-11, 2010

Search Engine Strategies Toronto

http://www.searchenginestrategies.com/toronto/

June 9-11, 2010
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The Run Down...

Your update on all the newest announcements to SES Toronto 2010 (June 9-11). Don't forget, early bird pricing is available to save you some serious coin. Use 20DMAT discount code when registering and save even more!

SES Toronto Agenda is Now Live

Even more important than show dates is the content itself! So take a break, be relieved and check out our Agenda preview. Session titles are now available to give you a sneak peek on what's headed your way at SES Toronto.

Keynote Announced

Maile Ohye, Senior Developer Programs Engineer for Google, has been announced as one of this year's keynotes bringing her technical insights to bear for Google in 2010.

Did you know?


In a new survey of Internet users by Opinion Research Corporation for Adfusion (an article based advertising network) it was found online articles was a key driver in leading to product searches and services.
Online articles that include brand information - 53%
E-mail offers - 51%
Sponsored search engine links - 40%
Banner ads - 28%
Pop-up ads - 19%
Our Favorite Sessions

While we are still waiting for more content to come in, you'll want to keep an eye on the following 3 sessions as these continue to be the highest rated, tracing cutting edge topics for 2010 specific to Canada.
  • Canada-Specific SEO & PPC Issues
  • Augmented Reality: A New World Order
  • 21 Secrets of Top Converting Websites

Register Now

For information regarding exhibit space or sponsorship opportunities, contact our Sales Department at sales@searchenginestrategies.com or call +1 212-457-4993.

For questions regarding registration, please e-mail our Registration Department at registration@searchenginestrategies.com or call +1 212-457-7906.

April 13, 2010

NISSAN Canada creates a viral hit with the Sentra SE-R

Nissan Canada, in partnership with TBWA\TORONTO, has created a unique video designed to highlight the joy and excitement of driving a Sentra. The SE-R Project, which can be viewed at SERProject.ca, is a fast-paced ride conceived to get people to view, comment and share the spot. The video was viewed more than 400,000 times In one week
 
The creative strategy was to produce entertaining, branded content that would captivate viewers while driving passion for Nissan in Canada. The SE-R Project achieved this by using a radio-controlled (RC) car as the hero of this action-packed video. The video, which was seeded on April 5th, has garnered more than 400,000 views and appears on more than 200 blogs.
 
“We were looking for a compelling way to show off the Sentra SE-R,” said Mark McDade, Director, Marketing, Nissan Canada. “ We also knew that the typical car ad wouldn’t be entertaining enough to get people interested and make this spot go viral.”

The Making of SE-R Drift

April 12, 2010

New Biz!

wkrp


Let's talk a moment, shall we, about New Business. "Yeah, yeah, yeah!!! New biz,new biz,  new biz!!!!" (They all scream salivating heavily!)



I believe the time is just about perfect for all us little cowboys and cowboy-ettes to start thinking that "Well, maybe there is a damn light at the end of the tunnel!" And, it ain't the train...you know the rest of that saying. The econo-clypse is passing and time to get back into the game.



"New Business, you ask? "Yes!" I exclaim emphatically! And not the recession type (Where your Uncle Herman happens to strong-arm a Lodge Brother in order to give you a taste of his retail clothing, storm door emporium and deli account...) I'm talking about New Business. The real stuff.



Here's a couple "Rules of the Pitch."  



  1. You never, ever, ever win an account in a pitch - you only lose it.
  2. 
If you are an incumbent agency - decline to pitch. Full stop. No exceptions. (Well, a couple but more on this later.)


  3. If you're going into a pitch and you are unsure whether you will win. You've already lost.


  4. Research, homework, more homework and then more homework inside info and investment spending (Notice I didn't say spec here!) wins new business.
  5. Always drive the new biz effort from your position of strength. Not simply what happens to fall into your lap.



Now, let's expand on these ramblings...er, I mean truisms...or well, truth be known ... crusty-salty-old-dog-urban-lore-chestnuts.



1. You never, ever, ever win an account in a pitch - you only lose it.


If, for whatever reason, you are in a shoot out or make the finals in a pitch-a-rama and you haven't got, in your little sweaty hands, inside information, have at least three quarters of the decision making team on your side or have absolutely positively researched and developed the "right" plan of attack and nailed it beyond belief (That is generally seen when the VP Sales and The VP manufacturing start hugging, celestial choirs are heard in the background and the CEO starts to cry during your Dog and Pony!) well, don't be surprised when the other guys win. Because they have probably gotten all of the above and then some. Ask a quick question "What kind of relationship do I have with the key decision maker at the prospective client?" "Oh yeah, you know ... what's his name."



2. If you are an incumbent agency - decline to pitch. Full stop no exceptions.
Without fail incumbent agencies just don't win. Unless there's major miracles like agency mergers and takeovers will, in fact, give an incumbent a leg up. But if you have an account and the client calls for a review it certainly isn't because you are the reason they get up in the morning to go to work. Something is definitely rotten in Ads-ville. And quite frankly the cost, time and effort spent against a long shot ... well, that's not why we're in business. Is it?



3. If you're going into a pitch and you are unsure whether you will win. You've already lost.
How can you run your business on a long shot or gamble? The big picture here is to grow your business. If you haven't gotten a really good read on what the prospective client wants, how they want it, why they want it and where you fit in, you are wasting a lot of time. I would recommend revisiting your New Biz strategy and try more growth from existing clients and their connections.



4. Research, homework, more homework and then more homework inside info and investment spending (Notice I didn't say spec here!) wins new business.
And I love this part. Agency X has a design on some new biz. What do they do? They scour the rags and see who's up for a review. Well a/ that's too late and b/ if you read it in the papers how the hell do you think you're going to get an advantage!

Let's look at where new biz comes from.
1. Existing business...it costs roughly (I say roughly because I can't be bothered to look this up...and you guys don't want a page of stats) 6 times as much to get new business as it does increasing your business from an existing account

2. Relationships of many kinds with your customers and their customers and associates. With suppliers and associates and lastly with your network.

3. From the sky (As in dropped in my lap!)
I really like 1 & 2. 3 I'm always happy about 3 but don't put it up as collateral at the bank.



5. Always drive the new biz effort from your position of strength.

And new biz should be approached from your viewpoint. Like, hey man what's your agency's USP eh? Like, do ya do retail? Or financial institutions or drug companies? Hi tech or cars??? 

Then if ya don't have a USP...get one. And if ya do "What the hell are ya pitching some retail coffee chain if you specialize in financial service related companies or industrial hi-tech?"



Look at your organization. Where can a new piece of business fit in. Are you light in media? Do you have hot-shot suits? Are you known for your creative? Look at the departments and see where a new piece of biz will fit with the least amount of investment and change... "Hey we are doing a ton of media specialization in this category...it's really similar to that type of industry... Hey we won't have to reinvent the wheel or staff up to meet their needs... or better hey we have a ton of expertise in this type of advertising "Who needs this type of advertising?."  And don't forget you make money by driving out costs.



Now, a very important element is time... and timing. First designate resources to the task. Have a NEW BUSINESS department or at least a person with appropriate funding.

Someone sitting on the phone cold calling doesn't provide the best results.

Nor does it bode well if the CEO has to do all the cooking, bottle washing and selling.

Know that it costs money. I do not believe in spec but I do believe in advertising (Yeah, you should be advertising too!) and I do believe that stuff costs. Furthermore if you don't have a specific person handling this type of activity and a decent budget, it either gets lost in the shuffle - especially if some other day-to-day stuff gets in the way, and it also falls prey to on again off again strategic thinking. Because lot's of times the agency owner who ends up doing this is busy paying bills, hiring and firing and putting out assorted fires.

Now a word ... about research. You want to beat another agency. It's easy. Out-work them. Out research them.



Primary Research

Interview the prospective client - at as many levels as possible. And if they are reluctant to sit with you and your key personnel for a few meetings either you are being used as "Well we'll give the account to my brother Joe, but we better get a couple of others in here to make it look good." Or these guys don't take what we do seriously. Both reasons prevent you from getting close to your prospect and should send up huge red warning flags. 
Interview their food chain up and down ... suppliers, customers, channels of distribution ... even competitors (and that is very interesting because who knows how many of them might need an agency ... because I believe you are after this prospect because you have specialization.

God forbid someone recognizes this and snaps you up before their competition does. 
Any organization that is involved with your prospective client should be investigated. (Associations, Securities Commissions - if a public company - community groups and trade shows and conferences within their industry.



Secondary Research

Search the press-clipping services and retain a research company to provide you with detailed packages.
 Utilize the media monitoring companies for samples of ads the company has done and get a full rundown on media spending (by category, spending by month, by region, by product/brand and full category overviews - look for trends!) And talk to the media. Trade mags are the best for this type of info. These guys have some pretty interesting information if you can tap it.

 Talk to somebody at the old agency (somebody always knows somebody - ask around.) and find out what the scoop is. Why the change? What happened? Mind you, don't take all you hear as gospel truth. After all, they probably just got fired.



And then, if you can try the product or service yourselves. Really look at what this prospect does for a living. Get under their skin. Think like they do.



Does this make any sense? I hope so. I have seen so many great agencies that should have won clients but didn't because they didn't understand the process. It has nothing to do with pretty pictures charts and slick presentations. It has to do with results and relationships. If a client is assured that you know his business, that you understand him and see the future you're a winner.

Also I believe the client doesn't care what you did for Blogs & Company last year. They want to know what you're going to do for them ... tomorrow.



This certainly is a "skim-the-surface" going-over of a very, very important subject and I don't take this lightly. 

Take care...and don't take any prisoners.

April 08, 2010

Consultative Selling Part III

The Art of Negotiating

“When selling you never get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate for.”

Definition: Negotiation is a mutual exchange of concessions, which provides both buyer and seller with a profitable deal, or a win-win situation.

How is Negotiating Different?
 
Fundamentally, negotiation is different from all other methods of reaching an agreement, such as: persuasion, accommodation, compromise, and confrontation.
 
Negotiation is based on the premise that both sides will win and commence a long-term business relationship.
 
Following is a summary of other agreement methods:
  • Persuasion - implies that one party knows best and will therefore impose his/her will on the other. It does not usually promote lasting relationship because it colors all future transactions with tension and distrust.
  • Accommodation - this is a one-winner strategy, where the weaker party gives in.
  • Compromise - is a nobody-wins strategy as each side usually gives up something they didn’t want to. This method promotes suspicion.
  • Confrontation - describes a situation where both sides initially refuse to budge. The result is that either one side surrenders or no deal is made.
Golden Rules of Negotiating
  • Ensure Prospect is Sold in Principle - never enter a negotiation if the prospect is not sold in principle. Remain Calm - be calm, cool, and collected as possible.
  • Remove Emotions - top negotiators are cold/clinical.
  • Have a Plan - prepare for your negotiation by understanding your best-case scenario, fallback position, and
  • Never Give Anything Away - instead of just giving concessions away, make sure to always trade them and get something in return.
Negotiating Strategy
 
The sales negotiator must first decide on a strategy, based on:
  • The needs of the customer
  • The strengths of the selling company’s position
  • How much the selling company wants the order
Preparation for a negotiation should include:Analysis of previous history
  • Analysis of buying company’s needs & objectives
  • Defining the sales objectives
  • Planning the negotiation interview
  • Costing of what you can afford to give away
  • Estimating the value of concessions to the buyer
Skilled negotiators do not start by making their best offer. Instead, they test the other side by various tactics. During this exchange, each side takes an initial stance.
 
During the subsequent bargaining, each side moves towards a prepared fallback position. The final agreement will normally depend on:
  • The relative skills of the negotiators
  • The strengths of the buying/selling companies
  • The intensity of each side’s needs
When the buyer takes their initial stance, the sales negotiator should take their own initial stance at a point equidistant from the sales fallback position.
 
Structure of the Negotiation Interview
 
The salesperson should seek to take control of the negotiation. If control cannot be assumed immediately, the salesperson should keep cool until the opportunity arises.
 
Following is a suggested structure for a lengthy negotiation.
 
The salesperson should attempt to set the mood by:
  • Stating “why we are here.”
  • Stressing mutual objectives
  • Being confident that an agreement will be made
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Avoiding dominant questions
  • Avoiding distractions
  • Letting the other party respond with their overview
Background
 
Discuss the history of the deal and let the other party respond with their perspective. Do not state issues in such a manner that the other party will react and start to argue.
 
Defining Issues

 
Agree on the items that are in scope for the negotiation. Do not discuss any points until all issues have been identified. If the other party surprises you with an unexpected issue, remain calm. Question, makes notes, but remain neutral at this stage.
 
Select Issues for Discussion
 
Once all issues have been defined, create an agenda. The order of the agenda should be well prepared. The following considerations will provide a guide:
  •  Start with a Bridge Issue - consider starting with a minor issue that can be easily agreed and promotes an atmosphere of partnership.
  • Make Concessions Early - make concessions early and seek concessions on later, more important issues.
  • Work up to Key Issues - prioritize your agenda such that you deal with all the minor issues in the early stages of the negotiation. This is a good method for avoiding a heated negotiation right from the beginning.
Refining the Issues
 
This is the process of discussion, offense and defense, giving and receiving, persuading and bargaining.
 
Fallback
 
Each side approaches their fallback position. If the positions are identical, this will be a short, painless process. If not, more bargaining will be necessary.
 
Settlement
 
This is when an agreement has been reached in principle.
 
Closing Techniques
 
Definition: closing is a natural conclusion to a well-presented sales argument.
 
Most organizations feel that they need to have better “closers.” Although closing is an essential part of the sales process, research has demonstrated that effectively developing implicit needs to explicit needs exponentially increases close rates.
 
Generally speaking, closing should be used to affirm that value has been shown. The classic line “always be closing” makes sense if you consider that effective salespeople trial close after each and every feature they present.
 
In many cases, a successful sales call will involve 5-7 trial/final closes.  A trial close is a stepping-stone to the final close, and usually confirms that the prospect sees value in a particular aspect of the solution. For example, a trial close might be: “do you see how this part of our product can save you time?”
 
Following are some closing techniques:
  • Direct Close – simply asking for the order.
  • Assumptive Close – assuming prospect is ready to buy.
  • Choice Close – providing two purchasing options.
  • Silent Close – waiting for the prospect to respond.
  • Final Objection Close – closing on final objection.

April 07, 2010

Earl Woods asks his son a few questions before Tiger's return to golf.

Lately I have ranted about the lack of brilliance in advertising and the seeming pablum we must endure. I am eating my words.

This NIKE spot leaves me speechless. It takes unbelievable courage to do something like this. This is as close to the power and breath-taking clarity of the Toscani ads Bennetton ran years ago. Wow.

Watch it now

User experience a primer

Over the years I have given lectures in different areas ... email marketing, presentation skills, creative development and one of my favorite topics ...user experience.

While I was with marchFIRST, formerly USWeb/CKS I developed this for my clients. This was presented many times for The CMA.

 

Consultative Selling Part II

Business Communications
 
There are many types of business communications such as introductions, appointment confirmations, meeting follow-ups to document agreed next steps, and order confirmations. Salespeople often rush to send their communications without spending a few minutes to ensure that their communication will have the maximum impact possible.
 
A well-constructed business communication, such as an email or introduction letter, can be effectively described as a sleeping salesperson. Each communication should be strategically used to confirm what has been agreed and close the prospect on the next part of the sales process.
 
Equally important, each communication should be structured to have an introduction and a call to action. It is recommended that standard email drafts be set up to ensure consistency of electronic business communications.
 
Consultative Selling Process
 
All businesses need customers who are confident that they made the right decision to buy. In many cases, prospects feel that they bought under pressure, and invariably end up canceling their order.
 
To mitigate this risk, salespeople need to work in partnership with their prospects to lead them to the right decision for their organization, regardless of whether or not that means a sale. The focus becomes the customer’s needs, and your ability to provide a solution for their needs.
 
Following is a sales process guaranteed to win business:
  1. Introduction to Establish Rapport
  2. Provide Brief Value Proposition
  3. State the Agenda for the Call
  4. Probing Questions to Identify Implicit Needs
  5. Further Questions to Develop Explicit Needs
  6. Present Solution to Explicit Needs
  7. Handle any Objections
  8. Ensure Prospect is Sold in Principle
  9. Negotiate Terms to Mutual Agreement
  10. Get Commitment for the Sale
Neil Rackham’s bestseller SPIN Selling provides an excellent framework for developing consultative sales process in any organization. Based on research of over 35,000 sales calls, this methodology is based on the most research ever conducted on the sales process.
 
At its core, SPIN selling is all about converting implicit needs into explicit needs. Implicit needs are statements of problems, dissatisfactions, and difficulties. Explicit needs are specific customer wants and desires.
 
It is the satisfaction of explicit needs that leads to a successful sales call. The goal of SPIN selling is to convert surface-level implicit needs into deeply rooted explicit needs.
 
To convert implicit needs into explicit needs, Rackham suggests using the SPIN framework, which is an acronym for:
  • Situation – questions designed to gather facts.
  • Problem – questions to identify challenges
  • Implication – exploring the impact of problems.
  • Need-Payoff – discussing the value of a solution.
Use a SPIN Selling Tool to further develop appropriate questions for your organization.
 
Additionally, create a standardized Sales Proposal and Sales Presentation template that you can quickly modify for new opportunities.
 
Once your funnel starts to fill up, use an Opportunity Pipeline Tool to report expected revenues, and document where accounts are in the sales cycle.
 
In order to effectively use the SPIN Selling methodology, salespeople must further develop their active listening skills. Most salespeople are great talkers, but the exceptional star sellers tend to be even better listeners.

Following is a comparison between strong and weak listeners:
 
Strong Listener                            Weak Listener
Open Body Posture                      Closed Body Posture
Leans Forward                              Leans Back
Interrupts to Understand               Interrupts to Speak
Maintains Eye Contact                  Looks Around
Nods & Acknowledges                  No Interaction
Sits Still and Relaxed                    Fidgets and Acts Restless
Restates and Paraphrases           Talks Over
Takes Detailed Notes                    Doesn’t Take Notes
Asks Great Questions                   Doesn’t Ask Questions
 
Although SPIN Selling prevents many objections that come up in the buying process, there will always be some concerns or questions that need to be answered before a prospect will be ready to move forward.
 
Following is a simple 4-step approach for effectively handling objections and getting back to the sales process:
  1. Soften - empathize and agree with the customer. Some examples include: “I understand.” or “I agree with you.” or “that’s a valid concern.”
  2. Confirm - paraphrase their concern to demonstrate understanding. For example: “so what you are telling me is that you need.”
  3. Respond - use an objection response to present a valid argument that can alleviate the customer’s concern.
  4. Close - following your response, a trial close can be used to bring the discussion back on track to the sales presentation. For example: “do you see how we can alleviate your concern? Great! Are you ready to move forward?”
Use an Objection Response Tool to determine how your top salespeople overcome common objections.
 
Following are some objection handling techniques:
  1. Feel, Felt, Found - agree with the customer that many customers have “felt” that way in the past, what we have “found” is that by [insert response], our clients have “found” that.
  2. Yes, But. - this is an empathy statement by agreeing with the objection followed by – “but have you ever thought about.”
  3. Restate & Qualify - paraphrase the objection to establish whether the objection is REAL or not.
  4. Convert to Question - if you need some time to think about your response, one technique is to ask a question of the prospect to buy some time.
  5. Isolate Objection - ensure that all other objections have been covered, and then work to isolate the most difficult objection and close on that one.
  6. Boomerang - make the objection the exact reason they SHOULD buy.

Part III The Art of negotiating and Closing techniques tomorrow

April 06, 2010

Adopting Consultative Selling

Competitive Positioning
 
How a prospect competitively positions your company is a critical factor when engaging in the buying/selling process. Fundamentally, positioning is about aligning your business with theirs, so that a clear synergy can be visualized by the prospect.
 
When there is a perfect fit between organizations, selling becomes much easier because the in the early stages of the sales cycle the prospect mentally puts your organization ahead of the competition, in principle. Therefore, it is essential that the prospect is comfortable with the salesperson, and correctly positions your company.
 
Many organizations discover value by using a Competitive Analysis Tool to: evaluate industry competitors; understand competitive advantages and differentiation points; develop a competitive map and a competition matrix.
 
To effectively position your company, determine the following:
  • What are your genuine competitive advantages?
  • How can we differentiate our products?
Competitive positioning is all about gaining a competitive edge in your market. It goes beyond understanding your prospects’ needs and must incorporate knowledge of your competition to ensure your product is favorably differentiated among many competing options.
 
 Product Knowledge
 

While it’s true that deep knowledge of all products/services comes with time and effort, there are methods for quickly understanding the key features, advantages, and benefits of your solution.
 
  • Feature: these are components of your product/service that have been developed to deliver value to the customer. An example would be “practical tools” like this one.
  • Advantage: these are implicit benefits resulting from the features, but are not necessarily beneficial to all prospects. An example would be .saving time. by using a .practical tool. template. Note that this advantage is only a benefit when a prospect needs the particular tool shown.
  • Benefit: a benefit is an advantage of a product/service that fulfills the explicit need of a prospect. For example, a restaurant offering a featured lunch that arrives in 10 minutes or less would be advantageous to some, but a real benefit for those who need to be back to work in 30 minutes.
Use our Feature, Advantage, Benefit Tool to quickly map out the most salient points for your product/service offering.
 
Key Account Planning
 
Every organization has key accounts that are responsible for large amounts of revenue or have a large growth potential.
 
Account planning allows you to work backwards from annual sales targets to determine which actions need to be taken to achieve your goals & objectives. Additionally, account plans provide measures that can be monitored and managed.
 
Following are the components of an effective Key Account Plan:
  • Corporate Overview - a brief description of this account
  • Hierarchy - where does power lie in the organization?
  • Opportunity Size - how much revenue can you attain?
  • Current State - what does this account buy now?
  • Goal State of Account - what is your vision for growth?
  • Account Objectives - specific, measurable objectives.
  • Account Action Plan - step-by-step action plan.

Use a Key Account Planning Tool to determine where your revenues will come from.

Part II Business Communications & Process coming tomorrow

 
 

April 05, 2010

Social Media Revolution

I found this from a Tweet by @CoutureCreative.

Here is the YouTube Link

April 02, 2010

Establishing Credibility: The Truth About “Truthiness”

If you have ever watched The Colbert Report, the on-air persona constructed by Stephen Colbert often talks about “Truthiness”, a word created by the entertainer to refer to a phenomenon of “if something sounds true, it feels true and so therefore must be true.”

The term was coined to parody how misinformation often becomes “common knowledge” or “gospel truth”—particularly in politics. But as marketers, we are the promoters and guardians of credibility for ourselves, our companies, our products and our clients. We cannot be effective if we cannot establish credibility.

So, what’s the truth about truthiness?

In the world of consumer psychology, truthiness is known as “processing fluency”. In other words, the simpler something is to understand, so long as that thing isn’t an obvious contradiction to firmly held beliefs or experiences by that person, the more likely that person is to accept that thing as true.

Humans, as a species, are lazy. Let me re-phrase that. We conserve our mental and physical resources as much as possible. So, when looking for information, we typically look until we find something that satisfies our basic needs and then call it a day—often without fact checking, seeking out alternative viewpoints or sources or otherwise “kicking the tires.” Think of our political views. If you are a liberal, do you often read conservative columnists to get all points of view? If you are a conservative, do you consult liberals?

If you do, then mazel tov, but you are very much in the minority.

What reinforces “truthiness”?

Congruence with previously held attitudes.

In politics, if someone from your party of choice says something, you probably take it as fact. In consumer goods, brand attitudes are the dominate force. If you think Sony makes the best consumer electronics, when you see a new product from them, you are highly inclined to believe that product is the best—even without looking at another brand or product review from a third party.

What conflicts with “truthiness”?

Motivation and contradiction.

If people are highly motivated, they will seek multiple sources of information. Often, the moderator of motivation in consumer goods is risk. And the two greatest sources of perceived risk in consumers are experience and price. The less people know about a product or brand, the less secure they feel.

Perceived risk also correlates with cost. If you love BMWs and have always wanted a BMW, you are probably still going to look at Consumer Reports before plunking down $70,000. But if you love Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, you are probably not going to do exhaustive research before plunking down three or four bucks for a pint.

Additionally, if a person is confronted with information that runs counter to their expectations and beliefs, they will be slow to accept it as fact—no matter how simple the information is.

What does all this mean for marketers?

In my next article, I will get into applying what we know about Truthiness/Processing Fluency to achieve the highest impact with your customers and prospects.

John Dinsmore is a marketing consultant based out of Cincinnati, OH where he is also pursuing a Ph.D. in Consumer Behavior. He can be reached at dinsmojb [at] mail [dot] uc [dot] edu or www.PiledHighMarketing.com

April 01, 2010

Psychology & Social Media (Part II)

What constitutes an attack on the web and why does it happen?

FacesSome situations are very clear while others can be interpreted differently from the angle at which one views or is participating.

One thing is certain, online communication may not parallel offline life. And it doesn’t always match the user’s “true self” or intent either.

A common rule of thumb in Computer-mediated-communication is that you view the other party as standing in front of you during the conversation. The inclination then is to be more careful, both in tone and in wording.

Psychologist John Suler refers to the online propensity towards the opposite as “The Online Disinhibition Effect”[1] whereby people “act out more frequently or intensely than they would in person” (as well as self-disclose more).

The assumption with alcohol (which has a similar dis-inhibitory effect) is that we need help in loosening our tongue, and that the “true self” emerges under these conditions. Suler points out that that, in terms of online communication, this may not be the case:
“The self does not exist separate from the environment in which that self is expressed. If someone contains his aggression in face-to-face living, but expresses that aggression online, both behaviors reflect aspects of self: the self that acts non-aggressively under certain conditions, the self that acts aggressively under other conditions. When a person is shy in person while outgoing online, neither self-presentation is more true. They are two dimensions of that person, each revealed within a different situational context.”[2]
Further, many consider making negative comments more acceptable and less severe than enacting such behaviors offline. One reason is that there are often no real world repercussions (especially when the commenter is anonymous) and for those wanting to bully it is a perfect vehicle.

I can't see you ...

But not all intents are as malicious, sometimes there is simply a “lack of awareness” for the other party’s emotions.  Additionally, offline,“[t]he self-conscious emotions of shame, guilt and embarrassment” are shown to “play an important role both in regulating our everyday interactions and also alleviating interactions that have been disrupted.”[3] But online it is easy to post harsh words as “[t]ext communication offers abuilt-in opportunity to keep one’s eyes averted.”[4]

Avoidance of attacks or negative judgments is why some people choose to not post (for instance, a YouTube video, or not to have a blog), or why some may even opt to shut down their online presence on a social site pursuant to an onslaught of negativity. To consider the impact that just one “bad apple" can have, think about the way one person’s presence in the offline world can lend negativity to an environment. Just as a workplace can be tainted by the behavior of one colleague so can one’s interest in participating in online discussions be dampened by interactions with one person. What was once a comfortable and positive haven can rapidly morph into a minefield, one where a user may question each decision to post or spend unnecessary time dealing with a fallout.

Insult is in the eye of the beholder.

In a Master’s Thesis which studied of concept of “flaming” on YouTube [5], the author, Peter J. Moor, pointed out that interpretation was key. Just as in email, lacking knowledge of the sender and/or his/her body language leads to interpretation of message other than was intended. While some comments were made to insult the party, in some instances miscommunication was also present. Referring in this case to those posting videos on YouTube, though it can well apply to other forms of online communication (e.g. blog post comments, twitter responses etc.):

“posters may think too often that comments are primarily aimed at them, and they may think that comments are intended to be offensive or provoking when they are not. Also, they may interpret comments different from their intended purposes ...”[6]

A telling example discussed in the paper played out as follows:

“Thompsen describes how some of his ideas in a philosophical discussion are met with disagreement. The sender of the reply, who is called “B” and is known to Thompsen in real life, expresses his disagreement and ends his message with “Sorry, but knowledge/experience/reality in any formulation shouldn’t be subjected to that sort of crap.” (p. 54). Thompsen is not sure about the intent of this reply especially because the word “crap” is used. He feels frustrated and offended, which he makes clear in a reply to B. When B responds, it appears that his first reply had no offensive intent at all. Also, the word “crap” was wrongly interpreted as such: “Of the "crap" line, well, I have been hearing that line used about the kind of work I do for a long time now from hard-core quantitative types and I guess it just rubs off. Don’t take it personally.” (p. 61).” [6]

Another part of the thesis examined appropriateness of the communication, in that what one group would consider offensive another would deem completely acceptable. Within these communities, logically, the insult wasn’t, in fact, an insult. Interestingly, once we cross communities in any sense, we encounter these difficulties. But what constitutes a community? Family dynamics have some bearing on a person’s communication style (e.g. confrontation, non-confrontation). And different social circles have various way of interacting. Think for a moment of your circle of friends. You wouldn’t dare mix some of your connections - who wants to risk the fallout that could occur when "Gentle Dave" is faced with “Evil Steve’s” remarks?

Similarly, I have a friend with whom our method of affection is to insult each other as viciously as possible. It’s a game, a form of improv – and we’re aware of it . But were we to deal with everyone in this capacity, we’d soon find ourselves without work, or friends. Different jokes for different folks, I think they say. Since, we don't know all folks and their different styles of communication, nor intent, what can we effectively surmise during online confrontations?  And how do we instill an awareness of how things may be interpreted?

On to you.

[Part 3 will appear... soon]
--

Notes and Sources:

*For the purposes of these articles, let’s assume the term “online participation” and similar refers to "social media" (i.e. public and interactive communication), but mainly blogs, forums, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Ning etc.)

Note: If would like to recommend articles or books, please feel free to make suggestion in the comments, or contact me through my blog or on Twitter.


Resources:

[1] "The Online Disinhibition Effect", John Suler (PDF)

[2] Ibid.

[3] "The role of shame, guilt and embarrassment in online social dilemmas, Asima Vasalou, Adam Joinson, Jeremy Pitt (PDF)

[4] “The Online Disinhibition Effect”, Suler (as above)

[5] “Flaming on YouTube", Peter J. Moor (PDF)

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

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