Brochures and Websites Don’t Sell. People Do.

New technology leads to better data and more sophisticated analysis.

Sales processes evolve with an increased focus on understanding customers and prospects.

Universities offer majors in sales and sales management.

Yet far too many so called sales people, particularly those in healthcare referral source marketing positions, still think that brochures, websites and other marketing items are what sell their products or services. Or they don’t realize that buying someone food is not marketing.

How can this be? It seems obvious to true sales practitioners that customers buy solutions from people. They don’t buy based on a brochure  or a website. I’m not talking about purchasing a piece of furniture, item of clothing or grill set from We can buy things like that with a couple of clicks online. But when someone has a pain point and needs a solution, they aren’t going to buy based on a leave behind or from a website.

I’m not minimizing the importance of marketing collaterals, websites, mobile marketing, social media or traditional media vehicles. Each can be important to a true integrated marketing strategy. I’m talking about selling to prospects and up-selling existing customers.

Marketers trying to close business need to build and maintain quality relationships. They need to make it about them–their prospects and customers. Ask open ended, fact and emotion based questions. Shut up and listen. Needs match. Deliver what they promise. They need to show that they are there for customers and prospects, not just trying to hit their numbers.

Brochures and websites can be part of the process. But without real Pre Call Prep, ongoing relationship building, asking questions, actively listening and matching needs, those “nice” and “cool” brochures, websites and other marketing tools won’t make much of an impact on the bottom line.



Leadership and Communication Lessons from the NBA

The San Antonio Spurs are headed to the NBA Finals and it looks like Lebron James and the Miami Heat will be joining them.

If that ends up being the case in a week or so, the teams’ supposed contrasting styles will be discussed. I think the similarities in  how they prepare, lead and communicate are more significant than the differences.

The Spurs Tim Duncan and Miami’s Lebron James are the cornerstones of their franchises. Both take a disciplined approach to just about everything on and off the court. Both are known for their deliberate practice towards continuous improvement during and after the season. Duncan and James are also disciplined when it comes to messaging. The  Spurs standout avoids interviews as much as possible while Lebron keeps his PR team happy by staying on message again and again.

Gregg Popovich has been San Antonio’s head coach for 16 seasons. The team has made the playoffs every year and won 4 NBA titles. Popovich also avoids the camera and can be a reporter’s nightmare. During this year’s conference finals, he answered two different questions with the same one word answer: “Turnovers.” Popovich is demanding yet loyal. He makes an impact on his players’ lives beyond basketball.


Miami’s head coach is Erik Spoelstra. If the defending champions close out Indiana, this would be his third straight NBA Finals appearance. Spoelstra will talk about his players a lot, making a point of praising role players and defending his stars. When he’s asked to talk about himself, he doesn’t say all that much. Like Popovich, he understands his role is to privately push and pull the players to get the most out of them. When the team wins, it’s because of Lebron and the guys. When they lose, maybe it’s the coach’s fault. He doesn’t care.


Two winning organizations. Two franchise players. Two coaches who get it. Only one will bring home the NBA championship but both provide leadership and communication lessons that can help us all.

Your 3 Step Plan to Healthy Communication


Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

A recent Kaiser survey asked Americans how they thought the Affordable Care Act would impact them. 57% said they didn’t know enough about the law to say.

In an poll of small businesses with less than fifty employees, 56 percent believe they are required to provide insurance for employees under the Affordable Care Act beginning in January of 2014. Yet these businesses are exempt from the new healthcare program.

Reaching and influencing individuals across the country is certainly a challenge. On the other hand, the story is so big that an array of mediums exist to tell it and we are ready to talk about it.

Small businesses are one of the key target markets of the Affordable Care Act’s communication efforts. Yet it appears many small business owners do not understand how the act impacts their companies.

This blog post isn’t really about the Affordable Care Act. It’s about the importance of strategic messaging and planning for healthy communication.

Whether you need to reach millions, thousands, hundreds or just your own family members, you can improve your communication with this 3 Step Plan:

  1. Plan, plan and then plan. Spend as much time planning for the communication of the idea, event, product or service as you do in planning to create, develop or produce it.
  2. Accept that how you think it should be isn’t how it really is. Just telling someone something a few times doesn’t work. Using only a couple of mediums—“We have it on our website and we tweeted it” or “We sent a press release and some emails plus bought some TV ads”—doesn’t cut it. Repeat your message in multiple mediums.
  3. Pick your favorite cliche and live by it. Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS). Less is More. Make It About Them. Unfortunately, people often don’t adhere to these principles. Some say they do but then can’t help themselves. Clarity. Brevity. Focus on your audience and what they can take away, not on your jargon or corporate speak.

Follow your 3 Step Plan for Healthy Communication. Be disciplined. Start now.

6 Things To Do With Emails

This is the first in a series of three posts based on content from presentations made to college seniors.

While preparing a speech for a group of college seniors, I focused on the importance of a lifelong thirst for knowledge and achieving positive, incremental change. The end result was a presentation with three key themes:

  •  Success, like beauty, should be in the eye of the beholder. You decide what you want to do, how you want to live and what you want to achieve.
  • Potential employers need to know what you are capable of and how you think. Use the Seinfeld PR Approach and tell your story. What you think is nothing can be interesting to others.
  • People will want you on their team if you are organized, efficient and get things done.


For this post, here are some tips to improve your organizational skills.

6 Things To Do with Emails:

  1. Act–Act on it immediately.  If something can be done in less than 15 minutes, act on the task immediately and complete it.  Then, it’s done and off your ‘to do’ list.
  2. Tickle–If a task requires action within two weeks, place it in your ‘Tickle’ folder along with a due date. Your ‘Tickle’ folder should be reviewed two or three times each week with actions taken based on priority.
  3. To Do–If the item needs acted on within the next week and you can’t work on it immediately, put it in your ‘To Do’ folder.  This folder will contain multiple items  and  must be reviewed every day to stay on top of your main priority items.
  4. Delegate–Delegate or forward the email to someone. Provide specific timelines and action items for the person assigned the responsibility. Follow up as necessary on the progress.
  5. File–If it is important but not actionable immediately, create a folder and file it as soon as possible.  If you can’t file things quickly, at least file multiple items once a week.
  6. Delete–You need to get rid of emails if they are not relevant now or won’t be within six months.  Enjoy deleting. It should be a liberating experience.

The key is to touch the email once and then have a plan for it. Use these 6 Things To Do with Emails to become more productive and gain peace of mind.

Quit Achin’ to Be and Make Something Happen

MAS_SocialNet_Logo_500x500Sounds of Marketing
Achin’ to Be—The Replacements

Public speaking ranks as one of our biggest fears. People also dread writing and “putting ideas to paper” or to computer/tablet screen. Creative solutions are put off because of the crisis of the day.

Why do we spend more time worrying about how others will respond to an idea than on the idea itself?

Well she’s kind of like an artist
Sittin’ on the floor
Never finishes, she abandons
Never shows a soul

When we finally begin working on something unique, we are afraid of what others might think. The little voice inside our head convinces us that we’ll bomb. No one will like it. The idea will get shot down. People will laugh.

Well she’s kind of like an artist
Who uses paints no more
You never show me what you’re doing
Never show a soul 

But we should consider the consequences of not offering our ideas, not taking a chance. Keeping quiet and playing it safe might seem better in the short term but in the long run?

She closes her mouth to speak
And closes her eyes to see

The promotion went to someone else. The salary isn’t what it should be.  Every day it’s the same old, same old. Frustration mounts and begins to show. Facial expressions paint you in a negative light. Comments are misinterpreted as complaints.

She opens her mouth to speak and 
What comes out’s a mystery

You were hired or promoted for a reason. Someone thought you were the right pick. Now they wonder what might have been. Unrealized potential. Missed opportunities.

Thought about, not understood

Sadly, the downward spiral leads to even lower self esteem.

She’s achin’ to be

You know what you know so put your ideas out there. Be creative and tell your story. Listen to what others say and watch how they respond. Take what makes sense and tweak your ideas. Ignore the rest, believe in yourself and wait. Someone will get it.

Or not.

Either way, taking the chance is better off than just achin’ to be.

Achin’ to Be Video






But What If It Doesn’t Work?

When we have an idea, one of the first things we ask ourselves is “But what if it doesn’t work?”

How many times does this prevent us from trying something new? How often do we accept the status quo even though we think there has to be a better way?

It’s OK to consider what might happen if an idea doesn’t work as long as we ask two other important questions:

“What if it does work?”

“What do we stand to lose by sticking with the current way of doing things?”

We subconsciously fight change. Our self-doubt and negative inner thoughts prevent us from proposing or implementing new ideas. We avoid or ignore problems and make irrational rationalizations like “That’s not my responsibility.”

Whether you are a team member, middle manager or senior leader, you owe it to yourself and your organization to focus on creative solutions that improve your customer experience, operational processes and overall bottom line.

You have to do your part to foster an environment of creativity and innovation. Challenge assumptions. Offer solutions rather than just pointing out problems. Ask questions of peers, bosses, subordinates and customers. Actively listen and think about what you hear.

Try following the 5 W’s Technique used by journalists, police officers and market researchers.  Ask and answer: Who? What? Where? When? Why?

*Who do you want to reach and influence? Clearly define your target markets. Learn how they think. What makes them tick? Why do they say both “yes” and “no?”

*What are you selling? Not just the mission statement or website copy points. What are you really selling?

*Where do we have a competitive advantage? What makes us different? Why do they want and need us?

*When can we maximize our opportunities? When do they (your target audiences) want and need the solution?

*Why aren’t we making it happen?

Instead of convincing yourself a new idea might not work, ask the 5 W’s. The answers will lead to creative solutions that enhance your customer experience.

Who “Owns” Drew Barrymore?

We  relate to certain athletes and entertainers as being “ours” because they came of age at the same time we did.

Drew Barrymore, who is celebrating her 38th birthday today, is one of those celebrities that multiple age groups call their own. People in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and even 50’s can all make a case that she is “theirs” or maybe that she’s not, depending on perceptions.

It led me to take 10 minutes I didn’t have to Google her.

Barrymore’s first big time role was in E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial way back in 1981 when she was only 6. After a rough patch in the late 80’s and early 90’s, she went on a bit of a run starring in movies like The Wedding Singer, Riding in Cars with Boys and Charlie’s Angels from 1995 through 2000.

During this century’s first decade, she became one of the highest paid actresses commanding $10 million per film for box office hits like 50 First Dates (referenced in my How to Avoid Information Overload and Do More with Less presentation) and showed off her marketing skills as co-creative director for Proctor & Gamble’s Cover Girl.

Recently the actress, producer and director launched her own makeup and beauty brand called Flower, with 181 products including eye shadows and nail polishes priced from $5 to $14 sold exclusively at Walmart.

“We wanted something special. We were not interested in a trend, a celebrity brand that wouldn’t last.” Said Carmen Bauza, vice president of beauty and personal care for Walmart US. “We want this to be here and be here for a long time.”

Walmart needed a celebrity partner with a long lasting image. The Drew Barrymore name and brand are recognized by multiple generations.  The retailer also wanted someone who understands how to create memorable messages and promotions. Barrymore has the track record there too.

Whether she’s “theirs” or “yours,” it’s safe to say Drew Barrymore has built a powerful brand during her 30+ years of celebrity. And she shows no signs of slowing down just yet.

What’s your favorite Drew Barrymore moment? Her  Letterman appearance on his birthday  might make my list…

Happy Birthday Drew.



Better Listening Leads to Better Results

It seems like an organization exists for just about everything. My company belongs to the Society for Healthcare Strategy and the Mystery Shopping Providers Association. I’m part of the National Speakers Association. You can probably rattle off a few that are specific to your industry or area of expertise as well.

So I guess it makes sense there’s an International Listening Association. Their mission is to advance the practice, teaching and research of listening throughout the world.

I hear that.

But I just enjoy their statistics, gleaned from years of studying the good, the bad and the ugly of listening. Here are a few nuggets:


  • 85% of what we know we have learned by listening.
  • 75% of the time we are distracted, preoccupied or forgetful.
  • We only recall about 50% of what was said immediately after we listen to someone talk.
  • In total, just 20% of what we hear will be remembered.
  • Less than 2% of us have had formal education about listening.
  • People listen through one of four primary styles: people, time, action or content oriented. Females are more likely to be people-oriented and males are more likely to be time or action oriented.

Say what?

I’m thinking it means listening is vital to leading, managing, marketing and selling. Your personal productivity and your company’s success will be enhanced via betterlistening. With that in mind, here are…drum roll please…

10 Ways to Improve Your Listening

1.     Let the speaker finish their thoughts, don’t interrupt

2.     Keep an open mind, don’t judge

3.     Listen without planning what you are going to say next

4.     Give feedback

5.     Pay attention to the speakers posture and body

6.     Stay focused

7.     Show respect

8.     Take notes

9.     Make eye contact to keep the speaker at ease

10.   Put as much effort into listening as the speaker puts into talking

Better listening leads to better results. And you don’t even need to join an organization to improve…

Just listen.

“Enjoy The Silence” – Sounds of Marketing

Single(1990) by Depeche Mode

Listen and Watch While you Read

For many managers, now is the time to cram in all those performance evaluations they’ve been putting off. Instead of having conversations on a regular basis about professional development, goals and action plans, the performance appraisal ends up being the major formal discussion of the year.

Words like violence
Break the silence

The goal is to increase the employee’s effectiveness, not to punish him. But apart from the minority of employees who receive the highest ratings, performance reviews are often deflating and do more harm than good.

Painful to me
Pierce right through me

The performance appraisal becomes a one way conversation rather than a true dialogue. The boss seemingly has all the power and sees himself as evaluator while the subordinate becomes the spin doctor saying what he thinks the boss wants to hear.

Feelings are intense
Words are trivial

Since managers tend to avoid talking about problem areas throughout the year, this often carries over to the formal evaluation as well. Direct discussion about weaknesses is replaced with vague generalities and praise is watered down and ambiguous.

Words are meaningless
And forgettable

The company line is that pay is tied to performance. But most jobs have a pay range already in place before someone is hired. Raises are often determined by the boss based on market conditions and departmental budgets more than on the results of the performance evaluation.

Vows are spoken
To be broken

Instead of the year end ‘top down’ performance appraisal, managers should involve employees in decisions that affect them throughout the year. Seek input and feedback from subordinates. Engaging your employees is more meaningful than talking at them during a performance appraisal.

Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm

Bosses also need to put some skin in the game with dialogue that holds both parties accountable. Boost bottom-up communication, tap into employee knowledge and increase worker productivity. Listen more and talk less. You might be surprised when employees aren’t complaining as much to each other about your performance evaluation process.

Enjoy the silence

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Assertive Not Aggressive

Sometimes people are misperceived as aggressive or pushy when they confront others about an issue. Potential solutions and fresh ideas are ignored because the message was personalized and viewed negatively.

In other instances, the message is lost because tone and content move from assertive to personal. Emotions get in the way and prevent a healthy dialogue. Instead of solving the problem, we add to it by forcing our point of view on others.

Assertiveness involves striving for a win-win outcome by clearly communicating your needs, wants and thoughts, while acknowledging the needs of others.

If you perceive someone as aggressive, make sure it is not actually assertive behavior featuring a message you don’t want to hear. We often point out flaws in ‘style’ or ‘delivery’ when people confront difficult issues. It could simply be misreading of the situation or a move into self preservation mode. Either way, productivity and personal growth are tied to our ability to understand when others are offering solutions in an assertive manner instead of misperceiving it as aggressive behavior.

How do we avoid becoming aggressive ourselves?

Most people prefer to be assertive but unintentionally become aggressive due to a combination of lack of preparation and an inability to keep emotions in check.

Before confronting someone, think through or even write down what you are going to say. This enables you to clearly assess the nature of the problem, how it affects you, how you feel about it and what you want to change. Preparation also increases our understanding of where the other person is coming from and reduces our instinct to make it about them rather than the issue.

Listen to other perspectives and be direct and concise when explaining how you see the situation. Offer creative solutions and show a willingness to explore other options.

Being assertive can help you convey who you are and what you are about. It doesn’t always result in getting exactly what you want. But it does show you realize that other opinions matter and that you are interested in improving the situation.

David M. Mastovich, MBA, is the president of Massolutions, a Pittsburgh based Integrated Marketing firm that focuses on improving the bottom line for client companies through creative marketing, selling, messaging and customer experience enhancement.

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