Archive for the 'sales and selling' Category

Is it really free?

I’ve always loved this cartoon:

The caption says “It’s free, but they sell your information.”

Heads Down

Sometimes it’s important to turn off all of the “noise” that gets in our way, when we’re trying to do something.

  • Turn off the TV.
  • Turn off the radio.
  • Turn off the RSS Reader.
  • Turn off the phone.
  • Turn off the people around you if you can (close the door to your office, or go hide upstairs or something)

I call this time my “head’s down” time. Like “Hey, my head is down in my work over here. Leave me alone!”

I just spent the last four hours doing work that probably would have taken me 8 hours, if I’d done it in my normal reactionary, distractable nature. Instead I put my head down, and got a lot done.

Figure out how to put your head down, and get more done in less time.

David Ogilvy’s Rules on How To Be A Good Client

I recently read Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy, and thought it was an awesome book about the advertising business, even if it was written in the 60s by a man who started an agency in 1952.

Here are his rules on…

How To Be A Good Client:

  1. Emancipate your agency from fear.
  2. Select the right agency in the first place.
  3. Brief your agency very thoroughly indeed.
  4. Do not compete with your agency in the creative area.
  5. Coddle the goose who lays the golden egg. (provide enough time and resources to do the job well.)
  6. Don’t strain your advertising through too many layers.
  7. Make sure your agency makes a profit.
  8. Don’t haggle with your agency.
  9. Be candid and encourage candor.
  10. Set high standards.
  11. Test everything.
  12. Hurry. (Profit is a function of time.)
  13. Don’t waste time on problem babies (Back your successes and abandon  your losses.)
  14. Tolerate genius.
  15. Don’t under spend. (The surest way to overspend on advertising is not to spend enough to do the job properly.)

Inbound Leads Are Priceless

Love this video:

Dell – Is it shipped or not?

I ordered a new computer monitor from Dell last Friday. Black Friday.

It “shipped” according to Dell, on Monday, 12/1 at 5:17 p.m. (that’s when I got the email from them).

How come at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, they still don’t know what shipping carrier it’s going out on, or what the tracking number is? Or for that matter where it’s being shipped to? (See screenshot below, click for larger version)

Seriously. The item is “Shipped”. I can see that plainly on the order tracking page.
But the Carrier and Tracking Number aren’t available?

I’m in Austin. Dell is in Round Rock. It’s about a 30 minute drive, at most. I wouldn’t mind driving up there to pick up the item too… though I understand that’s probably not very efficient for them to offer…

But seriously, is the item shipped? Or just ready to ship?

Their interface is a bit confusing.

updated on 12/3: The monitor arrived today. I love it, but oddly the “order status” page still can’t tell me if it’s being shipping by a certain carrier (it was UPS) or what the tracking number was. Not a very good customer experience.

Facebook isn’t Media

The next time someone asks you about “monetizing social media” or asks “what about Facebook, do you have a way for us to make money with Facebook?”, send them this article:

P&G Ad Man: “I Don’t Want To Buy Any More Banners On Facebook.”
Nicholas Carlson | November 17, 2008 5:15 PM
Procter & Gamble spends more than $300 million a year advertising its soaps and foods. If Facebook’s going to be an ad-supported business, it needs some of that money.

Too bad then, that Procter & Gamble’s GM for interactive marketing and innovation, Ted McConnell,” just told a conference: “I really don’t want to buy any more banner ads on Facebook.”

“I have a reaction to [Facebook] as a consumer advocate and an advertiser: What in heaven’s name made you think you could monetize the real estate in which somebody is breaking up with their girlfriend?”

McConnell says branded Facebook applications could work, but that mostly, he rejects the idea that Facebook is social “media”:

“Who said this is media? Media is something you can buy and sell. Media contains inventory. Media contains blank spaces. Consumers weren’t trying to generate media. They were trying to talk to somebody. So it just seems a bit arrogant. … We hijack their own conversations, their own thoughts and feelings, and try to monetize it.”

Facebook won’t be able to win over ad buyers like McConnell with its new “engagement ads.” Advertisers want to be seen as providing new functionality on the social network; they don’t want to pay extra for users to comment on their banners.

Here’s what Facebook should do instead. First, extend Facebook Connect to online retail stores. Second, analyze users’ spending behavior and activity on Facebook, make that data anonymous and sell it to marketers. Third, turn on personal ads and charge more than the New York Times does — about $48/week.

Build your own wings

“You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.”
Ray Bradbury (1920 – )
American author

Go for the Kill. Close the Deal. Everything else is a waste of time.

From this week:

Forget the Sale–Go for ‘the Kill’
Create the scenario that can help you establish invaluable business relationships.
By Mark Stevens. September 22, 2008

All across the nation, thousands of salespeople are preparing for sales meetings. Sales calls. Cold calls. Networking sessions. You name it.

All are variations on the same thing. All are wastes of time. All are counterproductive. All are based on clichés taught by “sales trainers” who have never sold anything.

It’s time to change all of this Willy Loman nonsense, toss it in the waste basket and reject it as busy work that leads to the big looming question that haunts so many would be salespeople: “I wonder why I didn’t close the sale.”

A sales classic!

Show up and Throw Up

Classic example of how to “Show up and Throw up”:


The Truth in Ad Sales


[hat tip Sam Harrleson]

Glengarry Glen Ross

Best sales motivation speech ever made:

Glengarry Glen Ross

for closers only!

AppleTV Delayed

Shit. My AppleTV was supposed to ship by Wednesday of this week. Now Apple has gone a delayed the shipment until “mid-March” because they aren’t ready. Shit. I hate it when a company pre-announces stuff. It sets expectations that usually can’t be met. Hope this doesn’t happen to the iPhone. Under-promise and over-deliver is always my motto.

I got an HDTV for Christmas, did you?

I just read a story about HDTV consumer backlash over at Engadget. Pretty good story, and I can totally see where the backlash is coming from. And realize, I thought I knew what I was getting into when I bought the darned thing.

To start at the beginning, I decided I wanted a big flat-scren TV on Christmas day, so that night, I spent time on the couch researching what to buy. Based on one evening’s worth of research (I spent about 3 hours reading) I decided that I was fine if I bought an LCD TV, as long as I bought a Sony, Samsung or Sharp, thanks to sites like the LCD TV Buying Guide and a few other sites I found on Google by searching for flat panel TV reviews and LCD TV review.

Then on the day after Christmas, the wife and I, along with our two-year old and two-month old, headed to the local Fry’s here in Austin.

I ended up choosing the Samsung LNS4095DX 40″ HD LCD TV. I bought that one because it honestly looked the best amongst the 3 or 4 40″ models I was interested in, and Fry’s was having a “one per customer, no rain-check, no exchange” sale on these models, and had knocked about $500 off the price of them. It was a great value, and a good TV by one of my three chosen brands.

We also got a free wall-mount for the TV and a Sony DVD upsampling DVD player with an HDMI output, and a 6′ HDMI cable. Since I was at Fry’s, they offered me an extended warranty. I opted for the 5 year extended warranty with on-site service and repair. I figured these things are big LCDs and something might go wrong. Paying an extra 10 percent to have someone come out and fix or replace the TV if 3 or more pixels go dead in the next five years was a bargain, in my opinion. Of-course, I wouldn’t doubt it if these TVs are less than $500 in five years… but oh well, I felt better buying the coverage, just like I do when I buy the extended Apple Care on my laptops. Total bill: about $2,400, and they loaded the car for me 😉

I got the TV home, cleared out space for it in the living room, and then waited six hours while my wife decided whether or not she wanted to rearrange all of the furniture, and to place the TV somwhere other than where the old one had been. Long story short, we moved all of the furniture around a lot over that six hours, only to move it back to where it had been to mount the TV where the old armoir that held our old 32″ tube-type had been. Typical.

I started to actually hang the TV on the wall around 6:00 p.m., and by 10:00 p.m., I had it installed, and had the DVD player hooked up to it (God would have punished me if I didn’t have something for the two-year old to watch while he drank his first cup of milk while sitting in my lap on the couch at 7:00 a.m. the next morning.) With the DVD player hooked up, I dug through the old armoir and found the Dinosaur movie that he loves, and tested the setup.

Wow! Can I say wow again? Wow!!!!

It looked amazing. Truly amazing.

Then I dug the old cable set-top box from Grande Communications (our cable provider) out of the armoir, and hooked it up. It looked like shit. All of the channels were horrible, and none of them were widescreen. So, I turned it all off, and went to bed around mid-night.

The next day, the two-year old and I watched Dinosaur in the morning. He didn’t seem as impressed as I was at the picture 😉

Then I called Grande, and upgraded to the HDTV package. That required a new set-top box, so I took the old one in, and hooked the new one up when I got home.

Side-note: You need to realize because I was using the free ($129 retail value) wall mount that Fry’s gave me the day before, it was a total pain in the ass to hook up cables to the TV (it’s mounted right against the wall, and there isn’t more than about an inch of clearance between the TV and the wall.) The new HD-Cable box has three video-outs and two audio outs. Ugh. At least the DVD is only one HDMI cable.

So, I get the new HD-cable box plugged in, and guess what. Only about 10 channels come in HD all the time, and then, not even those are actually HD all the time… the local NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox channels are generally only HD during prime-time and during other programs throughout the day, but there’s no ryhme or reason to what’s in HD and what’s not… and the on-screen cable guide doesn’t say “this program is in HD” while you’re scrolling through it.

I now have a cable subscription with like 200 channels, and less than 10 percent of those channels are HD. I pay $100 a month for 10 HD channels and a bunch of crappy looking normal channels. Actually, that’s not fair. The non-HD channels look fine on my non-HD TVs, but on this really nice $2,000 TV they look pretty bad… I’m definitely not impressed by regular cable on HD at this point.

That said, HD quality cable looks amazing on this TV. I watched Texas A&M play Cal in the Holiday Bowl last Thursday night, and wow, it was just amazing. Totally the best picture that’s ever been broadcast in my house. And like I said earlier, the DVD player makes movies look amazing on this new TV too.

But, paying $100/month for 190 non-HD channels and 10 HD channels that aren’t HD all the time is annoying. And, those other channels really make me wonder why every network isn’t broadcasting in HD at this point.

Lesson to the networks and cable channel companies: I’ve specifically set all of the HD channels to my “favorites” on my cable-box at this point, and, I’m watching a whole lot of HDNet and the HD movie channels that come with my little HD package. A lot more than the regular local stations, or the other non-HD cable channels.

In summary, I can totally see why consumers that don’t do their research, rely on in-store sales reps to help them buy an HD TV and then get home to find out they need to buy more to enjoy those TVs might be upset. I’m pretty darned literate about gadgets and technology, and I’ve very unimpressed by my HD experience so-far.

Why I’m done with eBay

Over Labr Day weekend, I went to Tahoe with a buddy to shoot a wedding. It was my first real paid photography gig. Mind you we weren’t getting paid in cash, but we were getting a free 4 day trip to Lake Tahoe over a long weekend. Regardless, the experience was awesome, and, upon my return, I was totally psyched about buying some new lenses for my camera, so that I could upgrade my craft.

(I’m totally sold on the idea that “the difference between a good photo and a great photo is good glass” now)

So, I headed over to eBay last Tuesday, and started bidding. I usually bid on items early in their auction lifecycle, so I can just check “My eBay” to see how the auction is progressing, and jump in at the last minute with my real highest bid, before the auction closes.

I’m not doing that anymore, and I’m totally done with eBay as a buyer at this point.

You might ask “why is that John?”

The reason I’m done with eBay is because on each of the auctions I was bidding, I didn’t win, and as a consequence, I received a “Second Chance” offer to buy the item after the auction closed because “the winning bidder couldn’t pay.”

On receipt of the first offer, I thought “wow, that’s cool, I got a great deal on that lens”. Realize my bid had been about $800 on a lens that retails for close the $1,800. I couldn’t believe I got to buy the lens.

So, I went to eBay by typing in the address into my browser, and logged into My eBay to check the auction there, and something weird was happening… I wasn’t able to find a way to pay for the item I’d “won” as a Second Chance winner…

So, I read through lots of help documents on eBay’s website, and I was pretty sure at that point I was the recipient of a phishing attack.

So, I forwarded the email to [email protected], and sure enough, it was an attack.

What was weird was the fact that the person phishing me knew exactly what I’d bid, and had emailed me at my eBay email address… and had sent me a very professional looking copy of an actual eBay “Second Chance” winner email offer.

I’d been duped.

Once, I can forgive, but, over the past week, I’ve gotten 20 or so “Second Chance” phishing emails. Sometimes two or three on each auction I’d been bidding on.

I forwarded them all to eBay, but somehow I just don’t trust that they’ll actually fix the problem, and I’m not going to put myself at risk by trying to buy something again… It’s just not worth the hassle or time. Not for big ticket items at least.

And the sad thing, is I was thinking of selling some football tickets I have for a game this year that I should be able to sell for a nice $200 or $300 profit per seat on eBay, but, now I’m totally thinking of selling those on something like StubHub instead.

Yeah, eBay, you’ve lost one customer… and that’s the problem. The domino’s start falling with one little push.

eBay really needs to lock down the bidding history and email addresses of their users better. I’m done with it.

Nine things marketers ought to know about salespeople (and two bonuses)

Seth Godin writes: Nine things marketers ought to know about salespeople (and two bonuses). Go read them. Classics, and totally spot-on.

Cold Calling and Jig Saw Puzzles

I just read an article from Sales Training Camp about cold calling. The writer makes a good analogy between cold calling and putting together a jig-saw puzzle. If you’re a sales guy, or sales manager, go read it:

Sales and Rejection by Ryan Sarti

There are some great lessons in that article about how to not take bad cold calls personally, and an important reminder to get a referral from your prospect regardless of their propensity to buy. Good stuff.

The Sales Learning Curve

Ever heard of the “Sales Learning Curve”?

Neither had I… but, I interviewed a guy for a sales rep position yesterday, and he sent me a link to it today. Super cool idea, and definitely something I should investigate a little more.

Every start-up should think about this before they go hire 30 sales reps to take an alpha product out of beta and to the market.


The Best Startup Advice I Have and The Sales Learning Curve

New job on 5/22

Just a note to say I quit my job on Monday. Or at least I gave them two weeks notice.

I start my new job on May 22nd, and will post more then.

I’ll also say that my former company is enforcing my non-compete, which limited the offers I could accept (I had three on the table). In the end, the job I’ve taken is going to totally kick ass, and I’m excited about it (it’s the one I wanted to take anyways) but I wanted those other options open for my own negotiation power… and they’re being dicks about the non-compete.

Lesson learned: don’t ever sign another non-compete. A NDA, or IP-clause, fine… but not a non-compete.

More on the reasons I left and where I’m heading next after I get my last paycheck.

Sidenote: I should be blogging more again soon 😉

One Lucky Advertiser

My friend Mike Orren is offering a crazy promotion to drum up some advertising dollars. And the crazy thing about it is that it just might work.

If you’re a Dallas area advertiser looking for a great way to reach people in the DFW Metroplex, you should take a look at PegasusNews and This promotion would be a great way to stay in front of a truly passionate audience for a long time.

Scaring Your Prospects

Are You Scaring Your Prospects Away? – great read for sales people… don’t sell until you know what value that product brings… ask questions.


Modern Sales Training

Modern Sales Training–What’s Smoke? What’s Real?


Hiring Salespeople

Hiring Salespeople – spot on comments and observations.


what sort of bonuses should you pay?

It’s not about the money – great little post about what kind of bonuses you should pay. I agree with this for every field except for salespeople that are highly motivated by dollars.


Apples-to-Apples Comparison of the “Big Four” U.S. Wireless Providers’ Calling Plans

Apples-to-Apples Comparison of the “Big Four” U.S. Wireless Providers’ Calling Plans – someone actually took time to compare the wireless plans from four carriers against each other… it’s still too confusing for me. I think the carriers like it that way.


Google Ads in Print

This is the first example I’ve seen of Google Ads in Print – it’s pretty easy to tell that Google is making money off the phone calls for sure… those 800 numbers are specifically tied to this ad, and are calling “pay per call” ads. I wonder if they’re also making money off people that type in the URL directly to a browser? And I don’t get what the Sun-Times is thinking other than the fact that this might help them shore up ad revenue a little in the short term while the courts figure out how much money their old bosses stole from them.


The Art of Schmoozing

The Art of Schmoozing — Can I just shout this out loud now: “I LOVE READING GUY KAWASAKI!!!” … ok, got that off my chest… This post from Guy is one great example of why I wish I could work for the man. In fact, if I could afford to, I’d work for Guy with no pay, just to learn from the man.


Be an Individual

“Remember always that you have not only the right to be an individual; you have an obligation to be one.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), U.S. First Lady, U.N. diplomat, humanitarian


How To Use Your Weaknesses To Sell More

In “How To Use Your Weaknesses To Sell More” Jim Logan makes us go through a great excercise:

First, pretend for a moment you’re your main competitor. What traps would you set if competing against your offering? List everything your competitor is likely to say or highlight in positioning your product, service, and company in a way that makes your offering weak and theirs the better option.

Second, stand in the shoes of your prospective customer and list every objection they are likely to raise in evaluating a decision to purchase your solution. This could be everything from lack of time in business to size of capitalization, market share, service and support capabilities, and terms of sale and pricing models.

Now, combine the lists and weigh the most likely objections to your offering…

If you sell anything that requires a face to face meeting, stop what you’re doing, and do this. You’ll be amazed at how much it helps you close sales while still sitting in front of the client instead of having to follow up later (which greatly reduces your chances of closing the sale, btw).

How to be a demo God

How to be a demo God – by Guy Kawasaki.


Need Representation?

If you’re building or launching a new website, and want someone to sell the ads for you (that is, to represent your site) you might want to look at this list: ABC’s of ad networks. Not 100% comprehensive by anymeans (there are plenty of niche networks out there like Active Athlete Media and the Travel Ad Network – just two good examples) but it’s a good list to start with.

Tips for Increasing Sales

Small Biz 101: Tips for Increasing Sales – Part 4 of this Small Biz series. Basics on sales, but basics are always good.


The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint

This is definitely something I’m going to adhere to…

The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint:

“It’s quite simple: a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.”

Why? Because it’s smart, and it works. Every presentation I’ve ever given that was more complicated than a couple of slides was a waste of my time and the audience’s… back to the basics folks.

Tips For Putting An Offer on A Home

Getting To Done: Tips For Putting An Offer on A Home


How to Buy RSS Advertising

How to Buy RSS Advertising: Parts I and II.



Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is? – Frank Scully


Some stuff is just easier bought offline

I bought a new Rainbird sprinkler system controller a few weeks ago, and I blew the fuse that came with it during installation… but luckily, it came with a spare. So, I used the spare after I got it installed.

Now, two-three weeks later, I came home after a weekend trip out of town, and the fuse is blown.

So, I figure I’ll look them up on Google and just order a set of 5, and be done with it (instead of taking the time this weekend to research where the short is and fix it properly, of course)…

Ever try looking for a “#3AG 0.5 AMP” fuse online?

This is what the sprinkler controller calls for… and I need to buy 5.

So, I just spent 15-20 minutes online, looking for a place that sells them.

I found plenty of fuse distributors that’ll sell me all sorts of fuses if I’ll buy lots of 100 or 1,000, but I can’t find any retailers that sell these fuses online, through Google. Amazon doesn’t seem to sell them either. I found a few places that’ll let me order them via a fax order form… I also found a place that seems to have what I want to buy, but doesn’t have a photo of the item that I can look at, so I’m not sure that I’d be buying the right thing… and I don’t want to spend this money twice.

So, I think I’ll check at the local grocery store tonight to see if they have them, and if they don’t, I’ll head to Home Depot, and then an auto parts store, in that order.

Some things are still better bought offline. At least I know one of those three stores will have what I’m looking for.

update: found what I needed this morning at my local RadioShack… and the $2 purchase came with some free advice from the guy behind the counter… again, some things are easier bought offline.

Ten Selling Tips

Ten Great Selling Tips


Keeping Track of Your Prospective Customers

Keeping Track of Your Prospective Customers – good sales approach…. it’s how I work.


Raising Your Odds Selling To Companies

Raising Your Odds Selling To Companies – Great advice.

(0) RSS Feeds RSS feeds – cool. Hat tip to Scoble.


searching through newspapers – online

Performing searches for information today is still a mess. Sure, Google is a great start-point for general information. Yahoo does a great job of giving us search results for commercial queries as well, but pinpointing information about a small company, or the history of a company is generally a tough proposition.

I blame this on the multitude of newspaper companies out there that aren’t listening to their readers needs.

Take this example:

I’m flying to Salt Lake City next week to visit a client… but I’m new to my company, and this relationship, so I don’t have a whole lot of history on this client.

So, I visit their website, to try to learn more about them prior to visiting them. Since they’re a private company, I’m pretty much stuck with reading their Press Releases, which are 95% PR and 5% information. The Press Releases talk about data soft-information… nothing hard about the management of this company, their business needs and goals, or their past success or failures (Contrast that with a public company who at least has to release financial data once a quarter, usually with guidance as well – which can sometimes help you learn more about their business goals in a quick and easy manner).

Strike one.

So, I go to Google and search various different ways to try and find some historical information on this company… I find plenty of references to them online, but in a quick cursory glance (10 – 15 minutes of searching), I don’t find a lot of useful information that anwers my needs.

Strike two.

But, I did find a link to an article that was published by the local newspaper in their city, so I click on that link.

Crap, it’s one of those newspapers that disables pages on their website that are older than 7 days, and moves that content off to an “archive data” provider. So, I’m presented with a “That page has been archived, please search here for that story in our archives” page.

So, I search. And, sure enough there aren’t any articles from the past 7 days with the company name I’m looking for. Then I realize that I just searched through the “free – past 7 days” archive, not through their more extensive paid archive.

So, I search in that search box — and nothing. The search box doesn’t work in Firefox.

Crap, so I fire up Internet Explorer, copy the URL, and search again and I find an except of the story I want to read. Cool, now I’m getting somewhere. I click on that URL. I’m asked to login as a registered user. Ok, I dig it, I’m paying for this article, so I’m happy to register. But, I don’t have a lot of time today, and since I’ve spent 30 minutes at this process already, and I have another meeting in an hour that I really need to prepare for while I eat lunch, I’ll table this until tomorrow, or tonight when I’m at the airport, and we’ll see if I can’t find some more information from a free source, before I go back to paying for the article.

I really wish newspapers did a better job of serving up their valuable content to me through search engines.

What should have happened is that I should have searched Google or Yahoo or whatever, gotten a page that was potentially useful, clicked the link, been told that the article was archived, and that I could pay for access to that article. I should have been able to click on a link from that page that took me straight through the “purchase” process, and to the article I wanted.

I’d pay $5 or $10 for that article (today) if it worked that seamlessly and didn’t take that much time.

I paid $4 to have a librarian at the Houston library find a copy of my father’s obituary from 1989 in their microfiche, make a copy of it, and mail it to me. She said she’d try to find it, when I placed the order over the phone with her, and if she didn’t find it she’d call me back to ask more questions about where it might be found (I knew the date of publication and the page it was printed on from the Houston Chronicle’s archive search – they don’t have those old papers available online today). She also said if she couldn’t find it, there’d be no charge. Why can’t I do that online? Her attention to my needs and service quality was worth much more than $4 (I called a week later and donated $100 to their charity support fund because I was so pleased with her service).

Ugh… Searching for information on newspaper’s websites is still a pain today (it’s 2005 people – get with the program). And this one newspaper’s website is the norm, not the exception. I wish they’d all do a better job of it.

Bad form with appointments

I just got an email from a potential client I’m in Chicago to visit this morning:


I hate to do this to you last minute, but [my boss], who is the person that really wanted to see you, has been pulled into an all day sales meeting, so can we reschedule?


Our meeting is schedule to start an hour from when that email was sent.

Realize that I just flew all the way to see this client, spent 3 hours on a plane (and will spend another 3 hours getting home), a night away from my family… and they want to reschedule the morning of?

That’s crap.

If you’re in the position to meet with sales people that have to fly to come see you. Don’t cancel on them the morning of the appointment unless you have a sick child or family member, and even then, try to find some way to honor the meeting time, or move it to the same day.

And if something does comes up, welcome them into the office, shake their hand, apologize, maybe buy them a cup of coffee and reschedule in person. You’ll get a much different reaction from them, and you’ll get a much better follow on appointment.

Communication Nation

Communication Nation from the founder of XPlane. Gotta spend more time reading this latter.


Catalogs make good sales tools

I just read this great article over on

From those 70,000 catalogs sent to people who had never dealt with us before, we’d earn about $70,000 in sales or just about $1 per catalog. Considering that it cost about a $1 just to produce, print and mail each catalog, you’d be right to bet this wasn’t the best way of becoming independently wealthy! But you know that business after business out there–all up and down Main Street, in home offices and on the internet–are doing the exact same thing. They keep using up their marketing budgets trying to attract new prospects–while forgetting all about their old customers.

Now let me tell you what happened to the catalogs sent to the customers who’d ordered from us before. Those 30,000 catalogs would generate, on average, $450,000 in sales. If you’re paying attention–and you should be now–that’s $15 in sales for every catalog we sent out. I bet you could stand a cool $15 return for every dollar you spent on marketing, couldn’t you? The fact is, catalogs are one of the few marketing vehicles I know that, when unleashed on a list of your past customers, can return a bushel basket full of money. The question now becomes, why are catalogs so effective?

The rest of the article just makes sense. I think if I ever had my own business, I’d definitely print my own catalog and send it to past/current customers, so they could see what else my company has to offer them, in a non-confrontational manner.

I know my wife still looks at just about every catalog that comes through the mail slot on the door every day.

Olivier Travers on Contact Forms

Olivier Travers asks a good question here: Are broken contact forms acceptable?

I say no. What do you say?

And, to point out, I finally met Olivier two weeks ago when he came to visit me in Austin. I wish I could have spent more time with he and his wife.

Tradeshow tips

Gaspedal has posted some great tips for tradeshow attendees. Enjoy.

Should you respond to that RFP?

I’ve been a big fan of Steve Clark since I started reading his stuff a while ago, but his latest post “What To Do When The Prospect Just Wants You To Bid” is great advice for anyone that sells anything where RFPs are part of the process. Enjoy the lesson. Thanks Steve.

Heh… Unique Selling Proposition

This Wizard of Ads article is dead on. If you sell media (any kind) read it and learn.

offering people a lesser choice

Sam Decker gives us a lesson in the art of offering people a lesser choice:

Think about the choices we give customers. On a call, a visit to the site, a visit to the store – in that experience are they presented with an alternative to go up or down on any purchase? Do you have enough choices? If so, as marketers we most commonly upsell. But what if you were to downsell? What if you were to present a lesser choice?

If you haven’t noticed, today’s customers are skeptical. They smell marketing like 3-day old fish. You want to build trust? You want to close a sale? Offer the customer a lesser choice which can demonstrably meets their needs in a meaningful way. Give customers a good, better, best choice. Most people will come in on the good, get excited about the best, and close the sale on the better. Perhaps they will spend money with you again, or spend what’s left in their wallet with you in another way.

Good concept… hard for salespeople to do… if you’re a company thinking of doing this, make sure you reward your sales people to do this. Maybe profit sharing, so that if this concept does work for you, and company profits do go up, everyone shares in that success, versus straight commissions of sales revenues, as that won’t incentivize them to offer the lesser options.

The Long Tail…

I’ve read a lot about the long tail, but nothing as well written on the revenue opportunities of the long tail, as this piece written by Omar Tawakol.

These couple of comments:

“The trick is that their business models allow them to make money on the diversity of interests by aggregating sales, not by averaging out interests.”


“The same dynamic works for the benefit of publishers. Publishers would make just as much money selling their top few audience segments as they would if they could aggregate many of their niche segments.”

Are pretty enlightening. I didn’t think about it, but he’s write. A lot of the success of some of the biggest online-only operations is due to their ability to serve all users needs and interests by aggregating those interests instead of averaging out those interests…