“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” – Sounds of Marketing

The Rolling Stones-Out of Our Heads(1965)

When I’m watchin’ my TV
And a man comes on to tell me
How white my shirts can be?

Feature/Benefit advertising has been around for generations. So has our quest to learn whether or not those ‘Improve Your Life Today’ clams are true. Our skepticism of advertising remains high while recall of specific messages continues to plummet.

When I’m drivin’ in my car
And a man comes on the radio
He’s tellin’ me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination 

The old advertising adage ‘Less is More’seems to have been replaced with ‘More, More, More’—more details, more comparisons, more information to sift through.

I can’t get no, I can’t get no
I can’t get no satisfaction 

As is usually the case, frustration leads to change. While consumers are willing to take the time to find the right product or service, we want to decide when, where and how we learn about things. We not only want convenience in making the purchase, we also want to weigh the pros and cons of the product or service at our convenience.

Studies show nearly 70% of consumers now consult online product reviews or consumer ratings before making a purchase. Stories about people turning to Facebook or Twitter to ask friends what they think before making purchases are becoming increasingly common. We want to hear about the good and the bad–the real story as told by real people.

Hey hey hey, that’s what I say 

Customer testimonials have always influenced consumer behavior. Now, access to such feedback is more readily available. What can you do to maximize this opportunity? First, obviously, cultivate a group of loyal, satisfied customers. Ask them to provide testimonials so you can build your inventory of success stories. Make it easy for them by providing a draft testimonial they can review, tweak and approve. Then, spread the word through your customers’ words–online, in selling situations, via traditional marketing and advertising.

Let potential customers know that others like them are satisfied customers of yours.

Hey hey hey, that’s what I say

 

If you have a song suggestion for Sounds of Marketing, please let us know by emailing SoundsOfMarketing@massolutions.biz

 

Clearing Your Desk (And Inbox)

Recently, a colleague of mine teased me about my desk and office being so organized.  He joked that I must not have much to do but ended up asking me how I honed my organizational skills.

Like an Academy Awards acceptance speech, I started off crediting my Mom.  She has always been incredibly organized and taught my brother and me to be so as well.  I was also fortunate to be mentored by some organizational gurus and to work with some top notch administrative assistants over the years.

I’m sure there are many fancy systems for organizing things, but here’s one thing I learned from Mom and others:

A piece of paper (and now an email) should only be touched once through one of the following actions:

  • Act on it immediately.  If something can be done quickly (in less than 15 minutes) and you are not working on an immediate deadline project, act on the task immediately and complete it.  Then, it’s done and off of your ‘to do’ list.
  • If the item needs acted on within the next week and you can’t work on it immediately, place it in your ‘To Do File.’  This file will usually have multiple items in it and should be kept nearby your primary work area.  You should also have a ‘To Do Folder’ on your computer for emails.  The ‘To Do File/Folder’ must be reviewed every day to make sure you are on top of your main priority items.
  • If a task requires action within two weeks and you don’t want to forget about it, place it in your ‘Tickle File.’  The ‘Tickle File’ should be reviewed two or three times each week. Items in the ‘Tickle File’ should have a due date written on them so you know to prepare for the deadline.
  • Delegate or forward the item to someone. Remember to provide specific timelines and action items for the person who has been assigned the responsibility.
  • If it is something important but not actionable, file it as soon as possible.  If you can’t file things quickly, at least file multiple items once a week.
  • Discard or Delete!  You need to get rid of some emails and throw certain pieces of paper away if they are not relevant now or won’t be within six months.  Enjoy discarding and deleting…it should be a liberating experience.

You can fight through the morass of emails and papers that come across your desk.  The key is to touch the piece of paper or email once and then have a plan for it.  And remember to thank Mom for all those things she taught you over the years.

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.

Everybody Loves Quacking

When Daniel P. Amos became CEO of American Family Life Assurance Company in 1990, he closed or sold underperforming operations and focused on the company’s two biggest markets, the United States and Japan, and used the $8 million savings to launch an ad campaign.

At the time, name recognition of the company was only 2%. Ten years later, it was still under 10%. Amos realized he had to do something big. His company was unable to stand out from the crowd of competitors with names that began with “American,” so Amos decided to use the acronym AFLAC and hired The Kaplan Thaler Group to make over the company’s image.

Kaplan created and tested two commercials: One featuring Ray Romano of Everybody Loves Raymond, a top rated sitcom at the time, scored an 18.18% of the people polled recalled the company’s name after watching it. Since the industry average was a 12 score, Amos had a safe option in the Romano commercial.

The second concept consisted of a duck quacking the company’s name. Amos tried explaining the commercial to colleagues, friends, and family. No one got it. But, the commercial scored an eye opening 27 when tested. Amos took a chance on the duck ad and decided to run it for two weeks to see what would happen.

The Aflac Duck ad debuted on New Year’s Day, 2000 and boy did it work. In the first year, sales were up 29% and doubled in three years. Name recognition hit an astounding 67%!

Since you might be thinking – I don’t have millions to spend on creative concepts, expensive advertising and research, – here are some things to remember from the Aflac success story:

 

  • Focus on Key Target Markets with the greatest potential
  • Simplify Your Message – the Aflac acronym vs. American Family Life Assurance Company
  • Make it Memorable: Gilbert Gottfried quacking “Aflac” sounds about right.
  • Touch Emotions: People buy Aflac Duck merchandise!
  • Commit to the Big Idea: Amos sold the concept internally, dedicated the necessary dollars, tracked results and only wears duck ties with his suits!

And remember that although Everybody Loves Raymond, the quacking duck made the difference.

 

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.

“The Best of You” Sounds of Marketing

The Best Of You – Foo Fighters

Ever feel like you’re the dumping ground at work? Peers, subordinates and your boss seem to take advantage of you?

I’ve got another confession to make
I’m your fool

Maybe you feel stuck at the same old job? Or that there’s nothing you can do to change things?

Everyone’s got their chains to break
Holdin’ you

Do you just accept things as they are?

Were you born to resist or be abused?

Or do you jump from job to job and find out the grass is the same shade of green?

Or are you gone and onto something new?

If you feel like you are being taken advantage of or that someone is getting over on you, maybe you need to take a look at yourself as well. Have you admitted your weaknesses and developed a plan to improve? What about enhancing communication with those around you so they understand where you are coming from?

Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you?

Stubbornness gets in the way of improving relationships through open communication. We hold grudges against bosses or peers for misinterpreted comments or focus on a perceived negative outcome without asking someone their thought process. We convince ourselves situations are “win-lose” when that might not be the case.

I was too weak to give in
Too strong to lose

You have the chance to make things right through honest communication and self assessment. Take stock of your circumstances and look first at what you can do to improve. Offer your perspective to peers, subordinates and your boss. Listen to their side of the story and find some common ground. It isn’t easy and takes courage and character.

Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you?

You owe it to yourself to be able to answer ‘Yes.’

If you have a song suggestion for Sounds of Marketing, please let us know by emailing SoundsOfMarketing@massolutions.biz


The Fake Maybe

Marketers love the thrill of getting to ‘Yes!’ and they hate to hear the dreaded “No.” But what about ‘Maybe?’

Savvy marketers realize building relationships through multiple touches is essential to successful marketing. Sometimes the prospect needs more information or isn’t quite ready to buy. They might need to reach a comfort level with you and could move to ‘Yes’ if you can meet their needs or solve a problem.

On the other hand, some prospects are really ‘Fake Maybes’ that can adversely impact sales people, the Sales Director, and ultimately the entire organization.

Sales people begin to count on the business and ‘Fake Maybes’ repeatedly ask for more details, forcing marketers to spend precious time and energy providing information.

If each sales person has two or three fake maybes, a Sales Director might be counting on 15 to 20 sales that probably aren’t going to materialize. The numbers add up and the impact snowballs. The Sales Director pressures the team, people lose confidence and miss their numbers. It’s a vicious cycle.

The solution is to quickly spot ‘Fake Maybes’ and turn them into a ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ That’s right, a ‘No’ is actually better than a ‘Fake Maybe.’

So what are the signals? While each case is a little different, a telltale sign is when the prospect says mildly positive things about your product or service while putting off a firm decision with some sort of objection.

Unfortunately, some sales people continue to make small talk or mention more features of their product or service. Why? There’s no pain associated with talking to the prospect, leaving with a smile and an “I’ll follow-up with you on (Insert Date).” The marketer can enter the call as a ‘Maybe’ on their call report and keep thinking that they might actually close this one.

To overcome ‘Fake Maybes’, sales people should ask fact and emotion based questions and listen intently to both verbal and non verbal responses.

If you have done your Pre Call Prep, you will have a series of open ended questions ready to help you get rid of those ‘Fake Maybes.’ You owe it to yourself to move on to real prospects and provide them with solutions.

Then, you can hear more of your favorite word: ‘Yes.’

 

David M. Mastovich, MBA is President of MASSolutions, an integrated marketing firm focused on improving the bottom line for clients through creative selling, messaging and PR solutions. He’s also author of “Get Where You Want To Go: How to Achieve Personal and Professional Growth Through Marketing, Selling and Story Telling.” For more information, go to www.massolutions.biz.

Nothing But The Real Story

TV Guide named Seinfeld the greatest television program of all time. Not bad for a “show about nothing” as it was originally pitched to NBC by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David and later self-parodied as such in an actual episode.

While the show focused on the minutiae of everyday life, its popularity was driven by our ability to relate to and like the key characters. They seemed believable, real and hilarious. We knew someone like them and even sometimes admitted our own quirks were similar.

Reality TV changed the game and continues to make an impact. Twitter, Facebook and other social media vehicles have touched millions. Customer reviews on Amazon.com changed our shopping process and product placement in TV shows and movies has grown.

Each of these success stories offer evidence that we are interested in the real or somewhat real story.

When we try to communicate our message or convince others to buy ideas, products or services, why not focus on the real stuff that makes us unique? Too often people think the real story is really nothing and thus embellish things. Or they go on and on without making one strong point or leaving a key takeaway. And, listening to the customer is something most people say they do but don’t do well.

Take the time to figure out what your real story is. Why is it relevant to members of your target markets? What will help them relate? Why should they care?

Then draft your message in simple, memorable terms. Break it down to a basic, core theme—What’s in it for Them? Clarity and brevity are essential.

Once you’ve developed your real story, tell it again and again. Use memorable anecdotes, ask questions and listen. Respond by matching the needs expressed with the results your idea, product or service will provide. Or as Kramer’s lawyer, Jackie Chiles, might rhyme: “Help them relate but don’t exaggerate.”

Focus on Less and More: Less talking, more listening, more real stuff. And remember that it’s not a story about nothing. It’s a story about how you can meet their needs.

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.

Are You Over Communicating to Employees?

Organizations large and small spend a great deal of time trying to reach and influence potential customers.

In order to meet or exceed their expectations, employees must deliver a quality product or service while living the company’s core values.

Yet how much time is spent making sure employees understand what the company is striving to achieve?

I’m not talking about the mission statement posted on a wall, although I’m guessing many employees couldn’t recite that either. Does your company clearly communicate core values, strategies and goals throughout the organization? Better still, are you over communicating to your employees? If not, here’s how you can do it:

5 Ways to Improve Internal Communication and Increase Productivity 

1. Develop Simple Key Messages–Decide what to communicate on a regular basis. Some messages are constant and based on company values. Others arise during the course of doing business. Both types need to be clear, simple and easy to remember. Clarity and brevity are not mutually exclusive. Tweeting and texting are popular communication vehicles because we can stay updated quickly and easily.

2. Tell Your Story Again and Again–Senior leaders and middle managers often think repeating a message questions the intelligence of their employees and is a waste of time. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We all process information differently and are inundated with messages in our personal and professional lives. We need repetition of message. Try asking three different people what they remember from a discussion and you’ll see how valuable repetition of message is.

3. Use Multiple Vehicles–Some people read emails, others scan or have a cluttered inbox. Some people take notes at meetings, others don’t. Some see those posters on the wall, others ignore them. Just as successful advertising campaigns utilize multiple mediums like TV, billboards, social and direct marketing, internal communication must use multiple vehicles as well.

4. Communicate Up, Down and All Around–Senior leaders hope if middle management hears or reads a message, it will be conveyed to everyone. Don’t take that chance. Communicate up, down and around the organization to ensure your key messages reach the entire team.

5. Find Out What They Think the Key Messages Are–Once you’ve done the first four steps, you need to find out how well it’s working. Ask multiple people to tell you what they think the key messages are. Be ready for some surprises. Take what you learn and tweak the process where appropriate.

Improving internal communication will increase productivity, enhance your customer experience and impact the bottom line. Start over communicating today.

Learn how MASSolutions can help you over communicate to your employees, click here

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.

“The Middle” Sounds of Marketing

The Middle-Jimmy Eat World

You know how it goes. You think things are ‘o.k.’ at work but you’re not sure…because the ‘inner circle’ seems wary of you…or you just don’t seem to fit in with ‘the culture.’ No matter what you do, it isn’t quite right or good enough…

Hey, don’t write yourself off yet
It’s only in your head you feel left out
Or looked down on

You begin to doubt yourself and dwell on each decision, trying to make the perfect choice…and you wonder what ‘they’ are going to think or say about you.

Just try your best, try everything you can
And don’t you worry what they tell themselves
When you’re away.

‘They’ are in every organization…Some of ‘them’ might even be reading this now but don’t want to acknowledge it. Common traits include focusing on negatives of peers and subordinates, the pack mentality of attacking someone when they are vulnerable, and taking self preservation to ridiculous levels.

Hey, you know they’re all the same
You know you’re doing better on your own
So don’t buy in.

Fight through the nonsense with a ‘back to basics’ approach. Focus on your strengths and follow your instincts to make decisions. Regain your confidence and spend more time living up to your own expectations as opposed to worrying about pleasing ‘them.’

Live right now
Yeah, just be yourself
It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough
For someone else.

Offer creative solutions while ‘they’ focus on finding problems. ‘Their’ pettiness will show through and others will realize what ‘they’ and you are all about.

Just do your best, do everything you can
And don’t you worry what the bitter hearts are gonna say

Lastly, remember your skills, expertise and past successes landed you your current position. Show character by being confident, honest and patient.

It just takes some time
You’re in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be just fine
Everything, everything will be alright

If you have a song suggestion for Sounds of Marketing, please let us know by emailing SoundsOfMarketing@massolutions.biz


Ambiguity Breeds Mediocrity

I have a friend who leads a Human Resources consultancy. He often uses the phrase: “Why don’t employees do what they are supposed to do?” to market his services.  I have often told him that he should add “Why don’t bosses explain what they really want?” to the mix.

When it comes to getting things done with people, ambiguity breeds mediocrity.  Employees and managers alike become frustrated when expectations are not met.  The problem often arises because of a breakdown in communication.  The more ambiguous goals and expectations are, the greater the chance for an average or worse outcome.

However, effective communication is a two way street.

In some cases, employees do not clearly understand goals and expectations and don’t take the time to clarify the situation with their boss.

In other instances, employees are consciously or subconsciously comfortable with the ambiguity.  They avoid clarity and are content to do what they think is necessary because when ambiguity exits, accountability is reduced or eliminated.

On the other hand, supervisors are often guilty of thinking they are on the same page as their team, when in reality they have not provided the necessary specifics to ensure success.  Or they do not empower employees to think and make decisions that could improve outcomes.

Leaders need to provide clear direction and ensure clarity of expectations. They should talk openly with team members about what the outcome of the project should be, when it will be completed, and what employees should do if help is needed or when they hit a road block.

Managers should involve the employees in setting deadlines as well.  Often, employees will offer a tighter deadline than the manager expected.  If they ask for a later deadline, you at least gain an understanding of why they think more time is necessary and you find out sooner rather than later.

Ultimately, leaders should use a combination of communication tactics, rather than just a meeting, email or telephone call.  Combining face-to-face and written correspondence gives team members the benefit of both verbal and non verbal communication, the chance to interact, and specific details in writing.

If you are the person receiving the instructions, you, too, have a responsibility to clearly define the expectations.  Repeat back to the leader what you think is expected and obtain agreement on goals, expectations and action steps to be completed.  Ask what you should do when you encounter a ‘bump in the road’ because you inevitably will.

Move off the path to mediocrity.  Communicate clearly, reduce ambiguity and make a commitment to excellence.

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.

A Few Good Lines

In the movie “A Few Good Men,” Tom Cruise’s Lt. Daniel Kaffee and Harry Caesar as Luther the News Stand Guy have an ongoing battle to spout the best (or worst) cliché. These scenes resonated with some of us because we suffer from cliché overload—we’ve heard too many clichés, too many times.

I realize that clichés are clichés because more often than not they are true.  However, it still bugs me when people take the lazy way out and spout off tired phrases to explain a situation.

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” 

I’ve heard this phrase at least a thousand times from marketers, salespeople, parents who want more playing time for their kids, people who aren’t as successful as they want to be and I’m sure a bunch of other groups that I’ve forgotten.

While this cliché is partially true, it only tells half the story.

Yes, who you know and who you surround yourself with will ultimately shape you and your successes.  But, you have a tremendous impact on ‘who you know.’

Relationships don’t just happen.  They are created by an intentional investment of time and effort.

I’m sure some of you are thinking: “Yeah, right.  So and so got the promotion because he knew so and so…”  There are indeed examples of situations where something like this has occurred. They fall under the Life Ain’t Fair cliché.

For every one of those situations, there are many relationships built by savvy people who understand investing in others is never a waste of time.

As you strive to build meaningful relationships, first try to understand yourself and figure out what you are looking to achieve.  If your goals are self serving, be ready to develop a bunch of superficial and nearly meaningless associations.  However, if you set out to genuinely understand the people you interact with, you could build long lasting and rewarding relationships.

Like most things, it’s simpler in theory than in practice.  The tried and true basics include focusing on others to meet their needs, clarifying expectations, showing personal integrity and making the relationship mutually beneficial.

Make the intentional investment and develop meaningful relationships that lead to success. And, always remember what Jo (Demi Moore) told Lt. Kaffee…wear matching socks.

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.