Empathetic Selling

 

3D Character and Umbrella

 

“Empathetic Selling” ©2014 Paul Edgewater All Rights Reserved

empathy |ˈempəθē|

noun

the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

 

sympathy |ˈsimpəθē|

noun ( pl. -thies)

1 feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune : they had great sympathy for the flood victims.

• ( one’s sympathies) formal expression of such feelings; condolences : all Tony’s friends joined in sending their sympathies to his widow Jean.

 

What we are doing here is empathizing with the consumer not sympathizing.

It has been said that if we can see the world from John Q. Public’s eyes, we can sell John Q. Public what John Q. Public buys.

Everyone likes to get an education, but no one likes to be schooled. When we are selling, we are educating our prospects. If and when they have concern or an objection to our proposal (erroneous or otherwise), it behooves us to educate them gently. Dale Carnegie taught us that “A person convinced against their will, is of the same opinion still.” Tom Hopkins teaches a great method to address this; it’s called the ‘Feel-Felt-Found” system.

If someone raises a concern, immediately agree with them and tell them, “I know how you feel.” Incidentally, you can say this with conviction because they indeed shared their concern with you, ergo you know how they feel. This works because it takes the ‘fight’ out of the prospect. The last thing they expect a salesperson to do is not throw a clever rebuttal back at them. It also shows them that you are listening to them and acknowledging their concern as valid. We then follow up with something akin to, “most folks I speak with have felt the same way.” This lets the prospect know that they are not the only ones with this concern. The last part of this equation is to preface your response with, “But what we have found is…” and here you can list all the reasons why your prospect need not be concerned. Take special note of the word “we” in:

“But what we have found is…”

If you say instead:

“But what I have found is…”

…your prospect will still feel as if they are being schooled. Present your facts as if your are both on the journey of discovery together and that you’re not preaching to them from on high.

If you skip the ‘Feel-Felt-Found’ method and go right into your rebuttal, it’s going to feel like a game of ping-pong to your prospect. They will think you have a ‘canned response’ for everything they say and you’ll lose them. The ‘Feel-Felt-Found method gives you an opportunity to really hear them and give them the best solution for their needs and wants, which is what selling really is all about.

 

Transference of Enthusiasm with Experiential Marketing

©2013 Paul Edgewater All Rights Reserved

You started a company offering a product or service that you believe in strongly; something you knew had alluring features and useful benefits that outweighed its retail cost. The concept of your product or service was so exciting to you that it kept you up nights. You wanted to share it with the world and you couldn’t contain your enthusiasm. You knew that if you could transfer your enthusiasm for your product or service to the marketplace, almost everyone would feel as you do about your offering and gladly purchase it from you.

As Peter Drucker said, “There are only two basic functions in business; Innovation and Marketing”. At this point, you have the innovation part down. Now the marketing part kicks in. How do you do this? What are the best ways to inform and educate potential customers? Will your website, Facebook or Twitter page convey this enthusiasm? Will traditional channels do the trick, i.e. print, radio and TV media? Maybe you can advertise on YouTube? How about signage, such as billboards or other placards? Finally, let’s not forget experiential marketing; high quality, face-to-face interactions with brand ambassadors (at Busy Bee Promotions, we call our BAs ‘BEEs’ or BEE-As). The best approach is to implement as many marketing techniques as your budget allows (that are applicable to your offering) and then measure the results of each. All of the above can communicate enthusiasm, but in this article, we’ll examine experiential marketing, as it’s the most effective way to transfer enthusiasm for your offering to the marketplace.

There is no substitute for face-to-face, human interactions. One enthusiastic person communicating with another person will always have far more impact on the marketplace than any static advertisement, or web presence will ever have. It’s akin to the difference between seeing a band live and seeing a billboard for the band; there is no comparison. When marketing with BAs the trade-off is that the cost-per-interaction is higher than other methods, but the conversion to sales or other opt-ins is so much greater that the curve is in favor of the brand ambassador. Suffice it to say, the key to having a successful transference of enthusiasm with a street team of BAs is to have the right team; a dynamic, vibrant and energetic team that shares the enthusiasm you have for your offering and can effectively communicate that to your marketplace. With every interaction they have, your market penetration will grow exponentially.

For more on the value of word-of-mouth marketing, read the “Face-To-Face Book” by Keller and Fay. I highly recommend it.

The image below is courtesy of: http://www.3sdcmetro.com/2013/02/15/how-to-keep-your-enthusiasm/

Image

Copy, Creative, Themes & Tactics That Need To Go Away PART VIII

“…Reason #47…” © Paul Edgewater All Rights Reserved

I think I wanted to punch a hole in a wall the very first time I saw this on television. It was about 10 years ago and it was at the very beginning of an ad campaign (a fictitious name will be used to protect the identity of the offending company). The very first spot of the campaign this particular company aired was;

“Reason #47 why you should use Wilson Widgets…”

Here’s the problem: There weren’t 46 reasons cited before reason #47. They just started with reason #47. Let me dissect why this happens and why you may want to avoid buying products and services from companies that do this. This ploy targets two types of people; dummies and bigger dummies. The dummies think they must have missed the first 46 spots and they need to get on board—now. They think to themselves:

“Boy, if they’re on their 47th spot about this product/service, it must be great! Honey, let’s go buy some before it’s too late.”

The even bigger dummies think:

“How sardonically funny and clever; “reason #47”. I’m sure there are at least 46 other reasons to buy this product/service, but their marketing folks decided which reasons to air first and it just happened to start with reason #47. Kind of like Star Wars didn’t start with episode one. I’m sure time was tight and they couldn’t reshoot this spot and say it was reason #1. They just needed to get it out on the airwaves—now.” 

Who thinks this is cool? Who falls for this? Answer to both questions: No one reading this book does.

Thank you for your time!

Check back soon for part VIX!

Copy, Creative, Themes & Tactics That Need To Go Away PART VII

“In A Word” © Paul Edgewater All Rights Reserved

I am more than happy to slay this one with far more than one word. How many times have we heard something like exhibit A; “Why do I drive a German car? In a word: Quality engineering.” Excuse me, but that was more than one word. Of course I could be mistaken. Let’s look at this together—just to make sure I’m not missing something. Let’s see, after the promise to address the query—with a solitary word—as to why someone would chose to drive an automobile with Teutonic lineage, I see the word “Quality”. Okay, there’s one word. But wait; is that another word immediately after the one and only word we were expecting? Why yes, I believe it is. Upon closer inspection, I’m definitely seeing the word “engineering” after “quality”. Would it have killed the copy writer to instead use exhibit B; “Why do I drive a German car? Two words: Quality engineering.” I really need to step back away from this one and walk around it because it confounds me. I’ve seen and read adverts that set up the tag line with the preface “In a word:” and then actually make the statement in one word; cool. But that would only account for 50% of the spots that use this cliché. Frankly, I like when there is an opportunity for this kind of brevity. Less is more in advertising after all.  Perhaps it is this desire for brevity that copy writers cling to this ploy—even when it isn’t in the cards to get the point across in—well—a word (Did that annoy you? Good. I’m still making sure you’re still paying attention). Instead of reworking the spot that may have been entirely based on the threadbare, “in a word…” tag line, they sneak a second word (& sometimes, yes, a third word) into the copy, hoping that the reader/listener/viewer only pays attention to the subject and not to any superfluous adjectives, or the other way around. I’m sorry but an adjective is still a word in my world and there is nothing wrong with exhibit B. In fact, it’s more powerful because the word “engineering” without a favorable adjective could just as well be “crappy engineering”. Just ask anyone who drove a Yugo or Trabant back in the day (if they survived the experience). Moreover, is it really that bad if two or more words are used? With all this said, inserting the preface, “in a word”, adds three words of copy; brevity indeed. Should this type of copy be banished from advertising? In three words; yes it should.

Thank you for your time!

Check back soon for part VIII!

Copy, Creative, Themes & Tactics That Need To Go Away PART VI

“Real_____For Real People” © Paul Edgewater All Rights Reserved

Not too much needs to be said about this one. An example of this type of copy is used by a flea market in the suburbs of Chicago who’s slogan is, “Real bargains for real people.” Nothing against people who go to flea markets, but the message here seems to be that only people who go to flea markets (or people who need or want to save money) are the real people amongst the rest of us animals, space aliens, cyborgs and robots who don’t mind paying full price. I’ve been to a few flea markets in my day and I can assure you that it was not an experience akin to Pinnocchio’s metamorphosis from a wooden toy to a real boy. My DNA double helix escaped the experience without being mutated into a homo sapiens-because I was fortunate enough to have been born a real person in the first place. Note to copy writers; anyone who can read, see or hear your copy is a real person and we’re not impressed.

Thank you for your time!

Check back soon for part VII!

Copy, Creative, Themes & Tactics That Need To Go Away PART V

“The Female Reveal” © Paul Edgewater All Rights Reserved

In these commercials, very often we see several scenes showing a very skilled rider on a motorcycle, who’s putting the bike through its paces and beating another, obviously skilled rider in a competition, the viewer is then to be “shocked” when the winning rider removes her helmet to reveal that it was a beautiful and feminine woman the whole time at the helm of this otherwise manly machine. Not only is this as predictable as the rising sun, it is completely demeaning to women. Because the intended reaction these advertisers are trying to illicit is to shock the (male) viewer by smashing an assumed and antiquated assumption that only a man could know how to ride a motorcycle like that. Note: this assumption is held only by the agency or client—not you, the viewer. You can substitute the motorcycle in the commercial with any other activity that requires that a helmet be worn, which can conveniently conceal a beautiful head of female hair. What in the world is the message here? On the surface it is to challenge the spurious assumptions of the viewer. We, the viewer see this rider put their motorcycle through its paces and outperform other riders; I mean, what else could we possibly assume? It’s a male rider and a manly one at that, right? But wait, we weren’t even questioning that. We were engrossed in the action, interested in the motorcycle and seeing ourselves (us males, that is) doing the same thing with that magnificent machine. Wait—what’s this? Of for the love of God! That was a woman this whole time?! She just took off her helmet after winning the race and is showing this world full of Neanderthals that a woman can beat all these men—at their game. Can you say “adding insult to injury”? Is nothing sacred? Wait—that’s not enlightened thinking. What company is this commercial for, Honda? They must be telling us that today, women can do anything. Well, let’s all go out and buy Hondas and hopefully I can hold my own when some mysterious, leather-clad and androgynous looking figure appears on the motorcycle next to me at a red light. Maybe if I channel Alan Alda whilst dropping the clutch, this mystery challenger to my masculinity and virility will show me mercy. After all, did I not buy a product from the company that showed me the light?

I’ll remove my tongue from my cheek now. The sales message is lost because the assumption being made is that everyone watching this commercial is a chauvinist pig and has either forgotten the countless Gloria Steinem appearances on the Donahue show, or is too young to remember them (if you’re the latter, thank your lucky stars). This may have been cute and clever in the ‘70s when it first started happening, but the ‘70s are a long time ago. In closing, were Alan Alda and Loretta Swit cool in the ‘70s? No. Were Burt Reynolds and Sally Field? Yes.

 

Thank you for your time!

Check back soon for part VI!

Copy, Creative, Themes & Tactics That Need To Go Away Part IV

The “Challenge” © Paul Edgewater All Rights Reserved

    When Pepsi launched the Pepsi Challenge in 1975, it was novel; it was different. It was perceived as gutsy and adventurous, which it was. The distant, number two fiddle in the cola wars (Pepsi) was taking on the number one fiddle (Coca-Cola). As far as an ad campaign, it worked. Whatever your preference is, be it Coca Cola or Pepsi (mine is Coke—hands down), the campaign was memorable. It took on a life of its own. It was re-launched every few years and for the most part, was a successful ad campaign every time it was implemented. It may have lost some of its luster over the years, but it was still honest & effective every time it was introduced to a new, well—Pepsi generation—of consumers (see how annoying that is? Just making sure you’re still paying attention. See: http://wp.me/p1vziS-n). The last time I was aware of it being pushed hard was in 2000. There was a little 10’X 10’ tent set up at a few of the events our company was executing that year. It was great to see the challenge live and participate in it. However a little challenge goes a long way. Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to get through a day where we don’t hear of the latest “challenge”. More often than not however, it isn’t a company pitting itself against its arch rival in an honest blind taste test with consumers as it was with the Pepsi campaign. It is the company challenging the consumer to find flaw with its own product or offering. It goes something like this:
“The Blowhard Box Spring Challenge; if you find the same mattress priced lower anywhere else, we’ll refund you double the difference in price”.
Allow me to translate:
“We’re a mattress store & like all mattress stores, we sell a proprietary line of mattresses that can’t be found anywhere else. You see, when ACME Mattress makes this beauty sleep 2000 for Blowhard Box Spring, they call it something else at the Mattress Monster down the street. In other words, we’re challenging you to a game where you the consumer, can never win. Since nobody else sells the Beauty Sleep 2000, you won’t be able to find a better price anywhere-guaranteed.”
It’s this kind of underhanded marketing that has jaded consumers look the other way when the word “challenge” is thrown into the equation. Think about it; when you are home from work, tire and kicking back on the sofa after dinner, are you watching television itching for a challenge? Do you want to throw down every time you’re challenged to find a better price? If so, you have a lot of spare time and energy and do not represent the average consumer. I can assure you, when you need tires for your car you aren’t looking to face off with the service manager at the local new car dealer in a bout of mixed martial arts because his company challenged you to find a better deal on a set of tires that are unavailable anywhere else. You just want new tires and want to end up on the winning side of the limited-shaft-principle. I know when I’m veggin’ at home watching television, I’m not looking for a challenge. I want to relax and be entertained. I’ve worked hard all day and I don’t need to take the Oreck challenge. I already know my vacuum cleaner sucks (notice: no “well” http://wp.me/p1vziS-n). If I took on the challenge, I would end up feeling like a dumb dumb for buying what I bought. You want a real challenge? I challenge Mr. Oreck to get in the ring for 18 rounds of bare fisted, early 19th century pugilism with Gentleman Jim Colbert. That would be more entertaining than to give Mr. Oreck the opportunity to rub it in my face that his vacuum is better than my SUX2002, thank you. If the goal of these faux challenges is to actually chastise the consumer, then it’s mission accomplished for 90% of these “challenges”. If on the other hand the goal is to sell more products or create new customers, then its definitely mission-not-accomplished. Just give us the features and benefits then go away. If you can do that, while at the same time being mildly entertaining, funny, memorable and motivational, then more power—and—money to you. When Pepsi challenged us, there was the very real possibility that people would choose the competitor’s product-and they often did. Fortunately for Pepsi, when the cameras were rolling, more people chose Pepsi than Coca Cola and the rest is history. What’s more, if Coca Cola was picked 2 to 1 over Pepsi in those early Pepsi Challenges, those ads never would have seen the light of day. Of course, that victory only represented an increased market share for Pepsi and little else. Coca Cola is still king in the world market as a recognized brand, but eating into their market share at any level can be considered success, but I digress. That was the only simple and pure “challenge” this author knows of.
To recap: If you have a product or service that your are comfortable would defeat your competition, go ahead and put together some sort of challenge. Just make sure it’s a challenge where not only you company wins, but more importantly, where the customer wins.

Thank you for your time!

Check back soon for part V!

The Calf Path

“The Calf Path” ©2011 Paul Edgewater All Rights Reserved

I’d like to share one of my favorite poems with you; it’s by Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911). It was written around 1893 and the message is still as relevant today as it was then. In fact, I believe the older this work gets, the more profound it will become. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

THE CALF-PATH

By Sam Walter Foss

One day, through the primeval wood,
A calf walked home, as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as all calves do.

Since then two hundred years have fled,
And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.

The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bell-wether sheep
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bell-wethers always do.

And from that day, o’er hill and glade,
Through those old woods a path was made;
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged, and turned, and bent about
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because ‘twas such a crooked path.
But still they followed — do not laugh —
The first migrations of that calf,
And through this winding wood-way stalked,
Because he wobbled when he walked.

This forest path became a lane,
That bent, and turned, and turned again;
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street,
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare;
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.

Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed the zigzag calf about;
And o’er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They followed still his crooked way,
And lost one hundred years a day;
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.

A moral lesson this might teach,
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.

But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf!
Ah! many things this tale might teach —
But I am not ordained to preach.

Wasn’t that great? I think the message is clear. Just because something has been done a certain way for years or generations, doesn’t mean that it should continue to be done so. Apply this thinking to your business and the current state of the economy. Sure there are a lot of reasons we’re in the fix we’re in and this blog isn’t out to place blame, but we as individuals and as entities in the form of businesses—large and small—can shake things up just by doing things differently from time to time.

Seth Grodin in his powerful book “The Purple Cow”, tells us how the television industrial complex is dead and how advertising on that medium is far from what it used to be in terms of effectiveness. He offers up a lot of great suggestions in the way of completely changing the approach we take to marketing our products and services. I highly recommend buying and reading this and all his books. He’s an excellent author and knows his stuff. He opens the door to our deep-thinking-abilities and makes us jump off the beaten (calf) path and try something new; the same way our friend Mr. Foss urged us to do 118 years ago. That Mr. Grodin’s book is about cows and Mr. Foss’ poem is about calves is strictly fortuitous.

Of course, it’s not just a valuable lesson for business. It can be applied to myriad aspects of life. Our personal or societal habits or beliefs can be other areas of attention. How many beliefs or habits hold us back from self-actualization? We’ll never know unless we step back and see how many actions we take or don’t take are blindly guided by what we take for granted. It’s almost always a good idea to shake things up a bit.

I’ll take this opportunity to offer up the services of Busy Bee Promotions. If you have never outsourced any of your marketing and promotional efforts to a company that specializes in it, you will be pleasantly surprised with the results. What type of results can you expect? A lot of attention from the marketplace is one. We’ll make your product or service stick out in the crowd like a giraffe in a field of mice and a lot of new and potential customers beating a path to your door will be the result. You may be skeptical and that’s good; just be sure to apply that same skepticism to the ways of the past. If your phone isn’t ringing off the hook and your front door isn’t always swinging open and closed with the processionary march of new paying customers, then try something new & allow me to add; don’t just try a variation on a tested theme either. Go for broke and do something that will really shake things up. For instance, you could have Busy Bee execute a publicity stunt for you that will put on the evening news and morning papers. That’s free media time & that gets you customers. You can’t make the news without doing something outrageous. Let us be that vehicle for you. Of course, that’s just one idea; browse around our site. Check out our other services on the “It’s About YOU” page. These times call for bold decisions and a break from the past. Allow Busy Bee Promotions to be your partner for the years ahead and for setting—then swiftly smashing—the precedents of the future.

http://www.busybeepromotions.com

Thank you for your interest!

Paul

The Entrepreneur part 2

entrepreneur-001

 

“The Entrepreneur” ©2006 Paul Edgewater All Rights Reserved

Part 2

I left off part one proclaiming that being an entrepreneur is actually playing it “safe” as opposed to getting a “real job”.  You may now be asking yourself,

“How can this be? Isn’t there great risk involved with being an entrepreneur?”

Yes and no. Like all great truths, this is a simple concept, but not necessarily an easy one to get your arms around. To paraphrase Earl Nightingale* who stated in his recording “Success In America”, there are so few people in this world who actually take the risk of putting it all on the line by starting a business based on an innovation or a new concept, that when you become an entrepreneur, there isn’t much competition as far as the numbers are concerned. This is absolutely true. Let me add, if you settle for an “real job” and an average life, you’ll get it and you’ll have plenty of company too.  And there is nothing wrong with this per se.  We are fortunate enough in this country to live in a socioeconomic system that allows for someone to be comfortable and well fed without extraordinary effort. That’s great. Though by choosing what initially seems to be the path of least resistance (i.e. the “real” job), you put yourself and those who depend on you, in the precarious position of having very little, if any economic safety net. When there are layoffs due to tough economic times, there is a lot of competition for these common positions with average payoffs. So this latter course of action is in fact the risky one. If however, you want to do something special, like providing a rare and valuable product or service to the market place, you’ll be in much smaller company. When you encounter the set backs (and you will), they will still be challenging, but there will be only a handful of other entrepreneurs vying to take your place in your chosen industry, not the hordes we see in the ubiquitous soup lines and job fairs during economic downturns. As long as you provide a very marketable and in-demand product or service, it’s feasible that you as an individual entrepreneur or as a company will be perpetually viable no matter what the economy is doing. So this course is indeed playing it “safe”.

Thank you for your interest!

Paul

*For more information on the “Dean Of Self-Development” Earl Nightingale, go to:

www.earlnightingale.com

The Entrepreneur Part 1

“The Entrepreneur” ©2006 Paul Edgewater All Rights Reserved Part 1 The following definition of “entrepreneur” appears on the desktop dictionary of my mac: entrepreneur / noun / a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so. That’s a nice start, but if you were a young person and at the commencement of your life in the business world, would that definition inspire you to become an entrepreneur? My guess is probably not. Taking it to heart, one might be compelled to play it “safe” and get a “real” job (more on that in part 2). Being an entrepreneur is so much more than that definition would suggest. There are tremendous highs and lows in this arena and this definition doesn’t even scratch the surface. A Fortune Small Business article from March 2006, highlighted the proliferation of entrepreneur classes being offered by our nations’ colleges. There has been ongoing debate as to whether or not being an entrepreneur is teachable skill or a viable curriculum for that matter. According to the article, the now-late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, said that it’s not a teachable skill but (former) Jetblue CEO David Neeleman asserted otherwise. My take would be that no skill is easily taught to someone without a native interest in the given subject. If for instance, you aspire to be a Physician, you can learn and retain all the data you need to know to earn the title of MD. It’s not easy, but you’ll do it. If however, you have absolutely no interest or desire to become a physician, you will not, or cannot be taught. How in the world would all that information traverse the chasm of your indifference? It wouldn’t unless the checkered career of an incompetent physician mired in litigation is what you’re after. That said, if you want to be an entrepreneur, you can be taught, if you don’t, you cannot (just make sure your teacher is actually an entrepreneur and not an inexperienced idealist who has never started (or ran) a successful business-from scratch (if someone purchases an existing business, very often they are ‘business owner,’ not ‘entrepreneurs;’ big difference). You’ll be wasting time and money. We only get one chance in this life to become what we would like to become and we won’t waste our years in the study of subjects that don’t captivate us unless it is forced upon us. Which brings me to my point. If you really don’t want to be an entrepreneur, then don’t force it. You will have very a hard life. It’s a hard life even when it’s what you strive for and you succeed at it, let alone if you experience the foundering that befall so many others. If on the other hand you yearn to be master of your fate and captain of your soul, it is indeed the path in life with the best odds for joy and success. You already know in your heart of heart if that is the life for you.  If it is, learn as much as you can in school and from us gray beards, who have been in the trenches, so as to avoid making some of the same mistakes that we have.  In the end this is playing it safe*! *More on this in part two. Thank you for your interest!

Paul