Social Networking in the Working World

It is so easy to take part in the social networking world when you are just a student. What you had for breakfast, where are you now and the many other foibles don’t seem to matter that much.

Then, look at the people who have had some really bad things happen to them when they too participated. The lady who lost her job because she was partying while on Medical Leave, the guy who bad-mouthed his boss…

Well, I don’t know where my friend got this, but I thought it was a really interesting decision tree to share with everyone. So, take a look and let me know what you think.

Coupon Deal Sites in Singapore

Did you hear that Groupon might be in trouble? Did you also hear that a lot of coupon sites are still coming up?

Isn’t that strange? For example, in Singapore, there are more and more coupon sites and deal sites coming up. Of course, many of them come and go. Some last a while and disappear, while others tend to stay on for a bit. Some have even been expanding.

Why do some coupon sites fail while others succeed? Why do some deal sites have so much activity while others are like ghost towns?

Niche.

Yes, proper appreciation and understanding of your marketing niche is critical. If you are able to understand your customer’s needs and wants, if you are able to identify them and them position yourself correctly, you are in. Otherwise, you are out.

Take a look at these sites from Singapore and see if you can spot those who will be still around in a year’s time!

How is your relationship with your agency?

I just read a short but interesting post over at Marketing Agency Talk titled: “Does The Agency Model Still Work?“.

This has gotten me thinking about how our business has evolved over the years. It is quite true that while we used to have regular clients who work with us no matter what, such instances are rare today. Most clients know what they want and they also know that there are plenty of choices out there.

Worse, with the technologies evolving so quickly and the possibilities expanding everyday, it is almost impossible for any agency to be “excellent” in every aspect. This then results in clients working with multiple agencies across a wide spectrum of marketing needs.

As a small agency, this is particularly telling, as we will not be able to hire all the specialist talents needed. There are, of course, workarounds that we can employ. But the fact remains that a whole plethora of skills are needed and that no single agency will be able to have a monopoly on them.

But what is the core to your success with clients? I would hazard a guess and say that most likely, it is the relationship of trust and goodwill that keeps the business going. If you are able to maintain that, you will have a chance to be the main go-to agency, the cog in the wheel, so to speak.

Do you agree that it is essentially the good relationships you have that keeps your agency going? Or your skills, or both?

Go Get Business, Go GREEN – Part 1

Let’s face it, we are living in a world that is more than just competitive, competition today is so intense that it is no longer enough just to be “good enough”.

Most of us must have heard that in order to be noticed, we must have a USP, a strong Unique Selling Proposition. Much easier said than done. But there is an alternative. Rather than try to aim for a single big-bang, hot potato type of advantage, you can build your value by incorporating smaller values.

We would like to share with you a simple, mini-series on how to “Go Get Business”. In this first part, we want to incorporate a very simple, low cost, and yet high impact approach – Go Green.

Many people are becoming more and more conscious of the importance of preserving the delicate balance of our environment. Going green is becoming one of the checklist items for many people. Most people understand that for small business owners, it is going to be hard to be “green certified”. But people appreciate every effort that is put into this.

Take for example the business card. Today, with email, websites and even Facebook, many people don’t really exchange business cards any more. But no matter what, a business card remains a staple for businesses. It is just a fact of life, for now. Imagine, if your staff carry eco-friendly business cards, how will that affect the way your clients and business partners see you?

Immediately, there will be a positive attitude towards you. They see you making an effort to make the world better. Yes, it is a small gesture. But it is through such small actions that great things can be achieved. People understand that, and your contribution in this way means much to concerned people. Even those who are not personally concerned by green issues will give you the thumbs up.

This is one nice way to put a little distance between yourself and all your competitors. After all, if you are able to take time to bother about something as trivial as using a green business card, your clients will feel that you will put even more care in handling their needs.

While it is true that we can never eliminate all business cards today, we can do a small part in at least making sure we don’t add to the ecological burden.

In our next installment, we will be talking about how you should go mobile. Meanwhile, go green!

Burger King Retiring it’s King Mascot

The Burger King’s King Mascot is supposed to lure young men into the stores to eat more burgers.

I am not a man. Still, I wonder if the men really resonate with the King? Seriously, guys, will you respect a weird bloke that puts on a creepy plastic mask who enjoy lurking outside you window or next to your bed? For sure, a woman will not find him at all desirable.

Using a mascot to represent your brand is great. Just look at the contribution of Mickey Mouse from Disneyland, Tony The Tiger from Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes Cereal, Great Root Bear from A & W Root Beer & Restaurants Burger and of course, Ronald McDonald from McDonald’s. But the King mascot of Burger King? While I have no evidence, I seriously doubt His Majesty has enriched the vault or the image of Burger King since 1955.

The King was first spotted on the sign at Burger King’s first store in Miami in 1955. During the last 55 years, the King has undergone various makeover including going animated in ads and running with a crew of other food-themed royalty like “Sir Shakes a Lot.” So far, he was most distinguished in the NFL broadcasts. His Majesty was digitally included in the real NFL footage and of course, he must be seen scoring touchdowns. The King even performed the “Lambeau Leap”. Real cool for a king eh?

Not so cool when Burger King announced the retirement of the King in August 2011.  Reportedly, Burger King has been badly lagging behind its main competitor, McDonalds’, both in popularity and sales, as well as Subway and KFC for many years. Targeting just the men doesn’t work anymore because lots of them are out of jobs or tight with money during this economic tsunami period. So mums and kids are the new target audience. Immediately, this calls for a different ball game with the King being booted out unceremoniously. It is a wise move as I’m pretty certain mums and kids don’t like scary looking man bouncing up and down around them. Eeeek!

Anyway, let see how long the King will get to enjoy his retirement. This is not the first time the King has gone for a holiday. In 1989, Burger King got him to take a vacation so that the “Kids Club Gang” can have the playing field. The King returned in triumph in 2004 when the company hired Crispin Porter + Bogusky, known for its edgy work, in 2003. CP+B dolled up the King and gave Burger King an edgy campaign, just look at the “Wake Up With the King” TVC. Sadly, it just didn’t help capture market share from it’s competitors. Still, Burger King keeps its faith in it’s King, until now.

Over the years, we have not seen Ronald McDonald touting burgers nor have we seen Energizer Bunny making lots public appearance. Perhaps , these companies are just letting their products do the talking. And Burger King decides to take a leaf from there. They intend to let the freshness of their products do justice. That’s good. I always prefer Burger King’s burgers to McDonald’s, though I wouldn’t say the same of the french fries. Anyway, I doubt Burger King, and its customers, will miss the King very much. I won’t at all. However, I’m eagerly looking forward to see what the new agency, McGarry Bowen, come up for Burger King in 2011 and beyond.

Sales Copy That’s Too Good To Be True – as published by KB Affiliate in 2007

You’re Good. But Are You Too Good to Be True?

When you read a well crafted, long, sales letter on the web telling you how “I made $341,000 and so can you…”; how do you feel? This guy promises to reveal his secret. He also promises that you can do it too. He even promises to guide you step-by-baby-step. This is your wish come true. This is what you have been looking for through all your surfing online. You are desperately trying to believe that the promises are true. You want to believe so badly, your finger trembles as your mouse hovers over that “Buy Now” button. Why do you hesitate? What is holding you back? Go for it!

What is wrong? What is missing? The three key components of the advertising maxim Attraction, Interest, Desire, Action (AIDA) are all there. There was attraction, interest and desire but no action was taken. And that missing piece means a failure to convert traffic into sales.

Somehow, the link between the product pitch and the buyer action is missing. In the off-line world, other than broadcast media and printed collaterals, we can depend on sales people to make a difference. Telemarketers, sales consultants and relationship managers can easily add a personal touch to push the sales through. They can use convincing words, encouraging smiles and a warm handshake. In the online world, the keyboard and mouse is the only means of interaction between you and your buyer. Words are all we have to complete the sale when the traffic is flooding through our gates. Why is it a major constraint?
1) YOUR PROSPECT CAN’T DISCUSS or NEGOTIATE WITH YOU and
2) THEY CAN LEAVE WHENEVER THEY WANT.

Online, your sales letter is all you have to convince visitors to take action to become buyers. So why do some sales letter fail to move us to take that final step of making a purchase? They are convincing, compelling and persuasive, often with evidence of earnings (eg, ClickBank’s cheque, PayPal’s Statement) and testimonials from successful buyers.

Let us stop to think about this for a moment. Testimonials from lots of successful buyers might seem convincing at first glance, but then, who are they to you? Do you really know them? Can you really trust that these testimonials are as truthful as you would like them to be? Are the ClickBank cheques real? We questioned their credibility and integrity. We doubt the authenticity of the testimonials. Remember when you were young, mummy said “Don’t talk to strangers…”? This habit of mistrust continues to live in us even though we are no longer tied to mummy’s apron-string. There is no relationship between us and the seller. Buying from a stranger is psychologically uncomfortable and frightening, and that convinces our logical mind that it is commercially unsound and financially hazardous. The missing link here is a relationship build on trust, credibility and good faith.

How can you build trust, credibility and good faith online? We need to go back to basics. At the heart of it all, we need to remember that even though we are selling online, ultimately, we are still dealing with real people. It is a person sitting on the other side of the wire reading your sales letter. And it starts right there. Between you and him. Man to Man. Woman to Woman.

Surprisingly, one of the most important and yet most often left out, pieces of information people look for in a sales letter is this – WHO sent me this letter? You will never trust a faceless corporation. You want to know that there is a door you can knock on when your washing machine fails. You want to know there is a number you can call and speak with someone when your travel tickets fail to arrive. People look for other people. Therefore, it is always important to first introduce yourself. Before you can be “Mister Guru”, you first have to earn the respect to be called “mister”.

We are people guided more by emotions than logic, likes and dislikes, prejudices, and lots of other stuff. When we look at a guru or a leader, another human, we have questions in our minds and are filled with doubts and skeptism, “What is he like?”; “What does he want from me?”, “Is he pulling wool over my eyes”, “Is he for real?”

Before you even try to sell your product, you have to sell yourself. If I do not know you, if I do not like you, do not doubt that I will never buy anything from you. Because, if I neither know you nor like you, it is very unlikely that I am going to TRUST you. You will be surprised that building trust could be as simple as revealing who you are. By showing yourself as a real person could be all it takes. Then, you can start to talk about your “guru” status, or accomplishments; then you can start to sell. A successful sales person can turn a stranger into a friend within one conversation. So can you. If you need some tips how to do so, go read some of Brian Tracy’s books for starters.

If building trust is a starter, the content is then the entrée. How do you cook up a sumptuous entrée and have people begging for more? You can find more tips in Brett McFall’s “How to get more prospects to trust what you say”. These insightful tips were shared during the World Internet Summit Singapore in November 2006:
1. Use your photo in your sales letter and add a caption
2. List your experience and qualifications
3. Case studies about you or your company
4. Reveal full details about your company
5. Honest copy revealing true intentions
6. Educational/problem solving copy
7. Use specific numbers in your facts and figures
8. Prove your claims
9. Plenty of helpful photographs to aid understanding of your products and services
10. Virtual tour of your product and service
11. Hands-on demo
12. Free sample
13. Include a list of customers
14. Testimonials to explain your credibility
15. Media Coverage
16. Press coverage of you and your company
17. Strong guarantee

Even if you do not spot a handsome face; it is still a wiser choice to include your photo. Have you not scrolled the pages looking for the product owner’s picture, trying to figure if he is for real? I do that all the time. Genuine buyers like to know who they are buying from. They want a connection, if not an interaction. You will have to study your market and audience if a “casual” you would be better off compared to a “tie-and-suit” you. A photograph will shorten, if not bridge, the gap between you and your buyers.

Another important element in building trust is proving the claims. This is very important and most difficult especially if you are a newbie selling a product for the first time. You can successfully eradicate concerns, doubts and skeptism if you can list the credentials of the professionals and laboratories who verified your products, publish relevant reports, letters and statements, and provide a link to trackback. You can also provide your product to other marketers who are committed to be successful online. Let them test drive your product and their success stories would be your case studies and testimonials. Very often, prospective buyers will read the testimonials of John Smith or Mary Jones very carefully. Curiosity, skeptism and a genuine intention to buy would prompt them to run a google search. They correctly assume that there must be some kind of online presence if the testimonial givers are indeed genuine successes. Buyers will immediately conclude that it is bogus or a hoax when is the search yields no results. But why let the buyers run a check? By providing them a link to the testimonial giver’s website, you are telling them you stand fully behind your product and your words. Very few internet marketers do this. It will be great if your protégé put up a video clip. You can then include that same clip as part of your testimonial. Tell your testimonial givers that it is a win-win scenario. Curious people who call upon them to check on you might decide to buy from them after all. Being a serious internet marketer, I’m sure these testimonial givers are already in your affiliate programs.

With hoaxes and scams lurking around, it’s no wonder that people are more and more cautious. We have to face up to the fact that no matter how sincere we are, there will always be people questioning our integrity. You cannot please everybody. You just have to put up with undeserved rotten eggs thrown at your path. Look at the recent “Feed the Children” Challenge that internet guru Stephen Pierce accepted during the World Internet Mega Summit Singapore 2007 held from 26-29 May 2007. Some netizens said it was a scam, while some accused him of using that as a bait to sell more of his book “The Influence of Third Power”. Yet, we, the participants at the auditorium witnessed the presentation of USD100,000 to a local TV celebrity. Did the hoo-ha die down because of that? Somewhat, but never quite completely.

Let your product deliver the results. Results don’t lie, numbers reveal the facts. When you have established your credibility in this small world, start to develop more relationships with your affiliates and end-customers, gain increased recognition because your product actually delivers results; you and your product will not be too good to be true.

Snail Mail Promotion is Not Dead Yet

Do you read all your emails? Not all, I expect.

A typical answer from those who receive tens or hundreds of emails from all kinds of people everyday will be: “I just read those emails from friends, colleagues and networks I’m with and delete the rest.”

Plus, spam filters don’t work all the time. I’m sure you get your fair share of Viagra, penis enlargement, breast enlargement, replica watch offers in your InBox every day. I’m certain you just delete them without reading. And sometimes, even when the title is rather inn0cuous like “A Proposal” or “Staff Recruitment Offers”, you would choose to delete the email because you don’t recognize the name on the email address, yes?

It is not surprising that response rates for email based marketing campaigns are hurting, especially when marketers only have one line of text in the subject field to make an impact. Having said that, email marketing is far from dead. Imaging if you have a 25,000 database and this is a click rate of 10%, you still have 2,500 pairs of eyeballs attracted by your offers.

What I like to say here : Don’t ditch email marketing, however, supplement your campaign with good old direct mail. In recent years,  many marketers choose to re-connect with those consumers who don’t read e-advertisements  in their InBox, and this has resulted in the resurgences of physical (or snail) mail. A flyer left on the table gets seen several time a day, usually unintentionally, and effortlessly; not the email. Naturally, marketers who have deep pockets and are willing to splurge on creative copy and design and huge print-run stands to gain lots.

In short, snail mail promotion need not slow down just because we have modern communications methods online.

Marketers, We Sell Hope and Lots of Hopes

In the factory we make cosmetics; in the drugstore we sell hope.
~ Charles Revson

Yet many marketers failed to understand that it is hope that we are selling, not the features of the products.

I couldn’t said it better than Seth Godin‘s

The magical thing about selling hope is that it makes everything else work better, every day get better, every project work better, every relationship feel better. If you can actually deliver on the hope you sell, there will be a line out the door.

Hope cures cynicism. Hope increases productivity. Hope needs no justification.

Having that said, selling hope can be tricky, like walking on thin ice.

While Charles Revson has succeeded, President Obama has not lived up to his promise.

Charles Revson’s Charlie fragrance was the first perfume to feature a woman wearing pants in it’s advertising campaign. What is Revson’s selling actually here? That Charlie can make a woman looks better and feels even greater? And, even dressing up like a man will not discount her femininity ans sensuality at all? Some women buy cosmetics and fragrance to look better, however, I would dare say ALL women are hoping that these creams, lotions, paints and pleasantly smelling water will actually make them look better. Hope needs no justification. Hope certainly increases productivity as  Charlie raised Revlon’s net sales figures to $506 million for 1973 and almost $606 million in 1974.

In a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004, presidential candidate Obama rallied the party with the challenge: “Do we participate in a politics of cynicism, or do we participate in a politics of hope?” With economy still faltering, there is an increasingly feeling that the change that USA has experienced since 2008 is a downhill trend. Does that mean the President has to talk less about change and more about hope to secure a 2nd term?

Marketers, when you write your advertisement copy, don’t bother to list the features of your TV set using big 14-point font size. Save for the fanatics, the average Mr Smith and Ms Jones are not going to catch your technical jargons easily.  You are much better off painting  a vivid future picture of the outcome, benefit or results of buying and enjoying your product. Tell them their ROI, “You can really feel that you are in a movie theatre even when you didn’t install any surround sound system.” Share this with everyone in your team especially those sales consultants on the ground. Too often, I heard many well-rehearsed speech that might as well be Latin to me. Give me benefits, outcome and results anytime. If not, at least sell me the hope of being nearer to them.