life

Ditch the Pitch

Posted in business, corgibytes, entrepreneur, life, management, marketing, marketing basics, personal, roi, sales, small business, success, techniques, Uncategorized, work on September 18th, 2007 by andrea – 5 Comments

phone.jpgWhen I was 16 my dad gave me a gift. Our neighbor had just opened an insurance office down the street and my father got me a job as a telemarketer. Granted, I wanted a new car. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the thought of calling people during dinner to solicit auto insurance quotes. But as I look back, this part-time job shaped my entire career. It’s where I learned that if I wanted to be successful in sales, I needed to ditch the pitch.

My first day of work our neighbor sat me down at my desk, gave me a stack of cards filled with names, addresses & phone numbers, showed me how to dial 9 for an outside line and gave me a pink piece of paper with “the pitch.” My job was simple. Call people and get them to agree to getting an auto insurance quote.

The “pitch” proved to be worthless. This sorry excuse for a script was probably written by some sort of insurance monkey at the corporate office who didn’t know a lick about sales. Here were my first 30 calls:

Andrea: Hi, Mrs. So-and-so. My name is Andrea from Blah Blah Blah Insurance Company.

Mrs. So-and-So: <hang up expediently>

or

Andrea: Hi, Mr. Someone. My name is Andrea from Blah Blah Blah Insurance Company.

Mr. Someone: Don’t you have anything better to do with your time? <hang up>

Andrea: (mumbling under breath so her new boss doesn’t hear) Of course I do. I’m sixteen and could be out partying with my friends.

People don’t want to talk to insurance agents. I was seen as a big fat waste of time. So I decided to try things my own way.

I tried all sorts of things, like:

  • Talking in a (very fake, but I tried so hard) British accent

and

  • Being blunt by saying “Hi, I know I probably just interrupted your dinner and I’m sorry. I’m just doing my job. would you like an auto insurance quote?”

After all sorts of trials and errors, I stumbled upon a method that actually worked.

First a little back story; I grew up in Ashland, VA which is a town so small we actually had a town song that we would all get together and sing at the town talent show each spring (true story). Think “The Music Man” meets “Leave it to Beaver” and you’re close.

So being from a small town I noticed that I personally knew half the people on the list – or at least their children.

I changed my sales pitch to something like this:

Andrea: Hi, Ms. Smith. This is Andrea – I go to school with your daughter Amy.

Ms. Smith: Hi, Andrea. How are you?

Andrea: I’m doing great. How about yourself?

Ms. Smith: Pretty well, thanks. Did you want to talk to Amy?

Andrea: Actually, I was calling to talk to you. See, I have a new job working at Blah Blah Blah Insurance Company. I’m not trying to sell anything. I’m just collecting information so we can send you a quote, followed up by a nice hand-written thank you card and then you can decide if you want to do anything with it.

Ms. Smith: (slightly taken aback) Oh. (usually a pause) How long will it take me to fill out?

Andrea: About 3 minutes.

Ms. Smith: Well, OK. Go ahead.

Yep, it was that simple. Eventually I outsold everyone in the office (and made darn good money).

So why did this method work when everything else failed?

  1. Establishing a personal connection. Once it’s established that you and your prospect have something in common – it takes your chances of closing to a whole new level.
  2. Removing the pressure. No one wants to be “sold.” When is the last time you went to a sketchy used car lot seeking the thrill of being pressured into something you don’t want to buy? Saying “you can decide what you do with it” signaled to my prospects that I respected their time and wasn’t going to pressure them into something they didn’t want.
  3. Cutting ties quickly. Occasionally I’d get the “No, thank you.” My reply was always, “Thanks for your time. Have a great day.” The way I saw it, it was much easier to dial more numbers than it was to convince someone that they really did want a quote. In the end, if a customer is sold because of pressure, the likelihood of them being a loyal customer is greatly diminished.
  4. Sincerely believing in my product. Most of the people who stuck it out to get a quote ended up saving money. I thought this was a good thing, so I felt like I was providing a great value. Later in life, I sold advertising in a low-quality and very expensive print publication. I knew the ads were a bad investment and learned quickly that you can’t “fake” belief in your product. And if you don’t believe in it – you can’t sell it.

What Karaoke Can Teach You About Marketing

Posted in business, corgibytes, culture, entrepreneur, karaoke, life, management, marketing, marketing basics, mistakes, sales, small business, stand out, success, work on June 1st, 2007 by andrea – 2 Comments

woman-singing.gifOK, I admit it – I’m a karaoke junkie. My friends and I go every week. I have a standard set of songs I sing – because I’ve practiced them so often I could sing them in my sleep. I don’t have to worry about going out on a limb – I’ll sound good as long as I stick to what I know.

Last night after singing “Moondance” for about the 98th time the DJ kept me up on stage. “A gentleman has requested Andrea sing ‘Fever’ so we’re gonna keep her up here for one more song.”

What!? I thought, “I haven’t practiced this song. What if I fail? What if I sound terrible in front of this room full of people? No way – I just can’t do this.”

It took some persuading, but I eventually agreed to sing the song. I stood on stage praying that I wouldn’t mess up.

The comfortable feeling I had during the last song apparently decided to go outside and have a cigarette. I held the microphone in my slightly shaking hand when the seductive beat began. I swayed my hips at each pluck of the bass and started to find my grove.

Then a miracle happened (ok, maybe not a miracle – but something pretty cool). I started singing and I was good – damn good. So good I got a standing ovation.

Strutting back to my seat I reflected on what had just happened. Because I had something that worked, there was little incentive for me to go outside of my comfort zone. But because I didn’t take the risk, I missed out on an even better opportunity.

Marketing strategies can fall into the same routine. Year after year companies stick with “what works” because they fear the unknown.

Trying something new is risky. There’s a chance you’ll fail – but there’s also the chance that you’ll have overwhelming success. And if you’re missing out on a standing ovation – doesn’t that make staying comfortable the really risky choice?

***************************************************************************************

Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

The Importance of Customer Complaints

Posted in business, complaints, corgibytes, customer service, feedback, life, management, market research, marketing, marketing basics, restaurant, sales, small business, techniques, viral marketing, word of mouth, work on May 24th, 2007 by andrea – 6 Comments

glass-of-wine.gifI have a friend who bartends at a local restaurant. Sometimes I like to go and have a glass of wine while he’s working to catch up on life. Last week, while enjoying a nice Shiraz, I overheard the owner of the restaurant complaining to the manager about a customer.

“I can’t believe that woman! She came up and complained about how we use too much butter on the vegetables. It’s a restaurant – of course there’s butter. If she didn’t want so much on there, she should have told her server.”

This got me thinking. It’s easy for us, no matter which industry we serve, to complain about our customers who complain. Instead, I think we should be thanking them.

A customer who complains has the guts and the brand loyalty to tell you exactly what you need to do to meet their expectations. Think of it this way….

That same woman could have easily walked out of the restaurant, not saying a word to the owner. Then, since her expectations were not met, she would have most likely spread negative word of mouth, bashing the restaurant and their butter-happy ways to 10 of her friends.

What if this restaurant adopted the mindset of “complaints are just a form of feedback.” The decision to make a change still rests in the hands of the owner – only now he is equipped with the knowledge of what his customers really want.

Just food for thought.

***************************************************************************************

Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Word of Mouth Advertising: Give ‘Em Something to Talk About

Posted in advertising, business, corgibytes, customer service, entrepreneur, life, management, marketing, pr, sales, small business, stand out, target market, techniques, Uncategorized, viral marketing, word of mouth, work on April 27th, 2007 by andrea – 1 Comment

Something to talk aboutEarlier this week I awoke to find my car vandalized. In the middle of the night someone smashed the windshield, stole my stereo and broke the steering column.

Stressed and frustrated I called my insurance company, GEICO. I was dreading the conversation, expecting to speak with a callous insurance agent that couldn’t care less about my situation. Although I had never before filed a claim with GEICO, I developed a preconceived expectation based on the hundreds of customer service reps I’ve been on the phone with over the years.

To my surprise, the GEICO agent (I wish I remembered her name!!!) went above and beyond.

“Ms. Morris” she said, “I’ve noticed that you’ve been with GEICO for over 7 years. Thank you for being a dedicated customer. I know you might be worried about how this will effect your premium. This is covered under the comprehensive portion of your policy and since it’s a not-at-fault claim, your premiums won’t increase. I’d be glad to help you find a body shop in your area and arrange for you to drive a rental car while your car is being worked on.”

Wow. Thank you for talking to me like I’m an actual human being and not just a number. You exceeded my expectations and now I am telling my friends.

The lesson? People will talk if you give them something to talk about.

If you meet my expectations and nothing more – I have no story.

If you are terrible and don’t meet my expectations – I will bash you.

If you are stellar and exceed my expectations – I will praise you. This is the key to Viral Marketing.

***************************************************************************************

Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

The Secret to Spectacular Writing

Posted in ad copy, ads, advertising, blog, blogging, blogs, book, books, business, copy, copywriting, corgibytes, entrepreneur, life, marketing, personal, pr, promotions, sales, slogans, small business, taglines, techniques, Uncategorized, web copy, work, writing on April 19th, 2007 by andrea – 4 Comments

Idea PaintingMany of us search for the perfect words to help sell our product or service. We tweak the recipe until we have a proprietary blend of personality and professionalism. The words jump off the page and the reader feels connected. That is great writing.

I’ve discovered a secret during my career as a copywriter and marketing coach. Toning ideas down is a heck of a lot easier than jazzing them up.

My first few projects started from a logical point of view. I wrote and edited at the same time as most people do. The words were acceptable, but they lacked that certain je-ne-sais-quoi. It needed some sparkle – but adding sparkle to swill isn’t easy.

One day I decided to give my thinking a makeover. I set a goal to find all the outrageous ideas lurking in the far corners of my brain and get them out of my head and onto my computer screen.

I decorated a piece of card stock with silly symbols and the words “JUST THINK” and covered my computer screen. Somehow the paper removed the tiny editor that sat somewhere in my head trashing ideas before they even got to the screen. Since I couldn’t see my work, all my crazy ideas (not just the logical ones) made the journey from my brain, through my fingers and onto the computer.

The result? I discovered many of the ideas that normally wouldn’t have made the cut were more effective than the so-called logical ideas. With a little tweaking and toning down I had writing that worked. The process also saved me time and was fun to boot.

So the next time you’re experiencing writer’s block try covering your screen and opening your mind. Then sit back and watch your ideas blossom.

***************************************************************************************

Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

How to succeed in sales without really trying

Posted in blog, blogging, blogs, business, corgibytes, culture, entrepreneur, future, life, management, marketing, mishaps, mistakes, personal, sales, small business, stand out, work on April 4th, 2007 by andrea – 3 Comments

Fellow blogger Fred Sarkari posted a true-to-life tale of a mistake that I know all of us have made at one point or another – double booking appointments. To read the full story click here.

Fred’s reaction to his mistake and the choice to be upfront, honest, and genuine is one we can all take a lesson from. We will make mistakes – there’s no question about that. The question becomes how do you handle your mistakes?

Do you hide, lie, and cheat? Because if you do – you are making a bad name for all of us who believe in selling with integrity. In addition, unethical sales is hard work – remember Quintillian’s quote, “a liar should have a good memory.” You are actually creating more work for yourself – and you’re busy already, so why would you choose to do that?

Instead, let’s dare to be honest. Let’s follow Fred’s example and reap the rewards of better clients, more referrals, and a cleaner conscience.

Kudos!

***************************************************************************************

Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit www.writeideasmarketing.com.

Receive this blog by e-mail

How to define your target market – motivation vs. demographics

Posted in ads, branding, business, copy, corgibytes, entrepreneur, future, life, management, marketing, promotions, sales, small business, spirituality, target market, techniques, women, work on March 28th, 2007 by andrea – 8 Comments

I recently worked with a client named Jane who is a healer of sorts. When we sat down to analyze her target market, she was mystified. “I don’t know” she said. “I work with both men and women, their age and income is varied and they are of all sorts of different professions – this is why I can’t figure it out.”

As with many entrepreneurs, Jane was focusing on the demographic profiles of her clients which were at best, varied. We looked instead at the motivation of her clients – that is to say, “why the heck do these people come to you in the first place?”

At this point, we discovered that Jane’s clients were very spiritual. They generally had an emotional block and tried various traditional ways to heal, perhaps by visiting a traditional doctor, chiropractor, massage therapist, etc. Bingo!

Motivation defined Jane’s target market. Once Jane began promoting her services to chiropractors & massage therapists, who had a number of well-motivated clients searching for someone like Jane, her phone began to ring.

Big companies are also looking at motivation as a way to segment a target market. One that is rapidly emerging is that of the “Alpha Moms” a group of socially-savvy, hip and type-A mothers.

A recent article in USA Today touts the equity of this target market in companies such as Nintendo, Proctor & Gamble, and GM. More and more it’s the social characteristics and motivation that defines a target market, not the specific demographics.

Start focusing on the needs and motivations of your target market instead of the age & income – chances are, you’ll be rewarded.

***************************************************************************************

Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Writing Copy that Sells – Read How You Want to Write

Posted in ad copy, ads, advertising, blog, branding, business, copy, corgibytes, entrepreneur, life, management, marketing, mistakes, pr, promotions, sales, small business, web copy, work, writing on March 27th, 2007 by andrea – 6 Comments

In today’s world of SEO & meta tags writing online copy can be an intimidating undertaking. Eastonweb’s blog has an insightful interview with Lisa Manyon as she shares her tips and tricks for writing website copy that sells. You can view the post by clicking here.

In my experience, people write like what they read. Many of my clients are insurance companies, associations and technical firms. In the initial interview we analyze why their current marketing material isn’t working. I generally hear something along the lines of “we know it’s bad but we just don’t know how to fix it.”

At this point I assure them that the “blahness” of their current copy isn’t their fault. They’re simply writing like what they’re reading. With so much marketing swill in these industries (especially with the dreaded tri-fold brochures) how could they be expected to write any differently?

If you want your copy to be effective you can either:

  1. hire a copywriter who specializes in promotional copy (insert shameless plug here) or you can
  2. start reading the work of lots of expert copywriters.

I read Lorrie Morgan-Ferraro’s Red Hot Copy almost daily and appreciate her conversational style.

Joe Robson tends to have a more to-the-point style and his website www.adcopywriting.com offers some helpful tutorials.

And if you are working with a copywriter for the web, at least ask about SEO (search engine optimization). At this point it’s almost a requirement to understand the basics of how to weave in keywords to help improve your search results.

Happy marketing.

***************************************************************************************

Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

How to get noticed by your target market

Posted in ads, advertising, corgibytes, funny, life, marketing, small business on March 26th, 2007 by andrea – 1 Comment

Here’s a way to get yourself noticed by your target market. Not sure if it’s the most ethical thing to do. ziggy-comic-ad-from-a-personal-injury-lawyer.gif

The Pick-up Line, The Date & The Marriage – Understanding the Difference between Marketing, Advertising & Sales

Posted in ads, advertising, branding, business, copy, corgibytes, entrepreneur, life, marketing, pr, promotions, sales, small business, work, writing on March 22nd, 2007 by andrea – 3 Comments

Wedding Cake Topper - Sales is like a MarriageAsk 100 marketing professionals about what they “do” and you’ll get 100 different answers. Compound advertising & sales professionals and you end up with a big nebulous cloud of ambiguity.

In my post 101 Ways to Market Your Small Business, I make a reference to the difference between marketing, advertising & sales. Many people have asked me to expound – so here it is.

Imagine you’re a single person and you’re looking to meet that special someone. You go to your local pub since you know that there are many other eligible singles that you could get to know. The process of dating is very similar to the process of converting a cold lead into a client.

In the pub you order your favorite beverage. You notice that an eligible single next to you has done the same. You ask a pithy question to get their attention. If all goes well, you’ll begin to engage them in a conversation. This is advertising – the goal is to get someone’s attention and engage them to learn more about your product. It’s the pick-up line. If you are asking for the sale at this point it can be perceived that your pick-up line is to the effect of “Will you marry me?” In this age of consumer-driven marketing it’s important to allow your potential clients to come to the conclusion that they chose you on their own. Nobody likes to be “sold.”

Keeping with the metaphor – you’ve engaged in a conversation and now you’re ready to date. Chances are you will have to go on several dates before you feel comfortable enough to make a commitment. This is marketing – a series of activities that leads to the sale. On the dates you’ll probably:

  • Go to different places and do different activities. Your marketing mix should include diverse activities as well – grassroots/guerrilla marketing, traditional media, Public Relations, direct-mail, web & pay-per-click….the list goes on and on.
  • Ask for another date. Your marketing materials must contain a call to action – how do you want your “date” to see you again? Make sure they have your pertinent information – phone number and website is a must.
  • Be yourself. By demonstrating your true value you’re ensuring a mutually beneficial relationship where you’ll both be rewarded.

So after a few (probably many) dates you’re both ready to seal the deal and make a commitment. This is the sales process. Asking for the sale is like the proposal – it’s a critical question to ask if you want to progress to the next stage of the relationship. I once had a friend who dated a great guy for eight years and then left because he never asked her to marry him. Don’t let your prospects walk away because you didn’t ask the question. Many sales people rely on tactics to close the sale and I simply don’t believe in them – if you put your time and effort into your marketing the sale should come easy. (When’s the last time you saw a marriage proposal that had an alternative close? “So would you like to get married on April 18th or 21st?”)

If you start “dating” your prospects you will find that you form more genuine relationships and customer loyalty. From that you can start to see the added benefits of referrals and word-of-mouth advertising which is ultimately what you want. Above all, be yourself and have fun in the process. Happy marketing.

***************************************************************************************

Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com