Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The difference between wanting your business and earning your business

In October, I left the promotional products industry that I had been involved with for over 15 years.  I have hundreds of friends and relationships that I've developed through the years.  Most of which are kept alive thanks to Facebook, Linkedin and hopefully the occasional face to face meeting. 

It wasn't a surprise to me that for the first few weeks as people found out about my leaving the industry that so many of my acquaintances offered to provide any promotional products I needed.  It wasn't even a surprise that so many people who hadn't spoken to me in so long only wished me well so that they could remind me they could meet my needs.  No, what surprised me was the fact that only 1 promotional products business person did anything more than ask.

Mike Rodin, of Impact Promotional Marketing in Iowa, has not once asked for my business, but the first promotional products order I place will be with Mike.  The reason is simple. Mike has earned my business by actions.  My first week, I received a "goody box" full of items imprinted with the Impact logo.  Useful items ranging from pens, padfolio and other useful office items.  It was a great gift and very nice to receive in my new office.  Since I hadn't yet raided the office supply cabinet, I've been using imprinted items from Impact every day.  Very smart!

I called to thank Mike and then he asked for my logo.  I told him I didn't have the budget to buy anything yet but he insisted.  The day before Christmas, I received a package of nicely embroidered high quality items with my company's logo on it.  

Mike has done more than ask for my business, he has shown me why he deserves it and created a loyalty to him before I ever place an order.  Mike's investment of time and items was more than a few bucks but wasn't a huge investment overall. If more salespeople offered value first to earn business, I think they would spend less time chasing deals that never occur and losing deals to lower price competitors.

My compliments to Mike Rodin and his team at Impact Promotional Marketing in Iowa for their approach.  Mike has been a friend for many years and now will be a vendor as well.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Am I insane? Are print ads a better value than online ads?

When's the last time someone told you print ads were a good investment?  I haven't read it in any books or even magazines or newspapers!  In fact, they all continue to promote the incredible value of online advertising.  And they are right to promote the value of online advertising, it is great.  But print ads are still a very important part of the mix and depending on the product, can be a very good value.

Most marketers love online because they can show "real results" to their bosses.  But are these results real?  "Hey boss, I got 200 clicks and it only cost $200!".  That's pretty good and something I'd be happy to hear.  Of course, I'd like to know more about the clicks and in most cases you can learn some information but you still can't pinpoint who actually clicked.  So unless the person takes action, you've measured the wrong thing. You've measured the click which makes the marketer feel good but results are still unknown.  But, it does feel good and we can "assume" that increased sales came from those clicks.  But, we are assuming.

Do not misunderstand, I am a huge fan of pay per click and online advertising.  But it isn't the panacea it is being made out to be.  Think about this.  Revenue per page view at YAHOO for ads is somewhere between $.90 and $1.31 right now.  That's an expensive view, especially when people have learned to tune out the ads (except for those really cool mortgage ads where the shadows are dancing, I can't ignore those!).  Compare that to the cost of an ad in the local paper or flyer or even a local magazine.  Assume the cost per page is $4,000 and the magazine goes to 10,000 people.  Pretty easy math, the ad cost you .40 per view.

Hogwash you say, because most people don't read the ad in the magazine.  But they do online?  Think about it the next time you view a page online and ask yourself how many of the ads do you really see?  Do you see more in your local paper/magazine/flyer?  Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Online is critical to advertising strategy, especially the search results on Google.  When people are searching, you need to have your ad in the paid results set for RELEVANT searches.  You need to have your site optimized for search and your landing pages ready for your customers.  But sometimes you need to drive traffic to your site and your business the good old fashion way.  Print ads.

Admittedly, I am biased. I recently became the CEO of Maryland Pennysaver which is the largest weekly advertising circular in Maryland reaching over 800,000 homes in 50 markets each week.  MD Pennysaver has loyal repeat advertisers who get great results from their advertising because of the weekly exposure and high readership engagement levels at a very low cost for advertising.

Create time and budget to do both online and print ads and work with a firm who understands both.  Both have good value if you advertise in the right places.  For consumer advertising, a weekly circular delivered via the mail is a great low cost option that has high readership engagement. For business to business advertising, trade magazines are fantastic.

As with all advertising, it requires a good mix of advertising to be successful.  You have people who never read print and others that don't get online.  You have more that use both.  Reach them in each media as often as possible and don't get hung up on the traffic or # of views/clicks and more than you get identifying the # of readers. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why Yelp Should Be Afraid of Four Square

Four Square?  No one uses 4square but a bunch of geeks.  True that may be but it is a growing bunch of geeks and that is why I finally decided to try it out.  I still don't love the tool but I'm getting used to it.  But like all technology, I try it out to see how I can apply it in my business or how it may change the dynamics of other technologies.  In the case of Four Square, I doubt I'll use it too long, but for now it's interesting.

The most interesting part of Four Square to me is the loyalty from it's user base.  People are constantly checking in and competing to be mayor for areas.  So I asked myself, as I usually do, "how will they ever monetize this?"  It didn't take me long to see a great opportunity.

YELP.COM is a service getting a lot of attention right now, both good and bad.  I personally don't trust or use YELP but others do and some day they will get their act together.  But unlike YELP, Four Square has loyal customers who regularly tell the service where they are in real time.  Adding businesses across the country and nearly proving they are visiting the business.  It isn't hard to imagine how Four Square will add the ability to properly rate (as opposed to the current SHOUT feature) the business you are at.  Then, they monetize that information for people who aren't Four Square users but want to see what the most active users who ACTUALLY VISIT (no bribery issue like YELP) the places think of the places.

For me, I'm already more inclined to use information from Four Square than I am on YELP.  For millions of others who haven't heard of it or don't understand it yet, they will.  So YELP either needs to do something drastic to compete, buy Four Square before it is too late, or go by the wayside as the new kid on the block gains momentum.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What Amazon needs to do to keep the Kindle #1

The Ipad, the Nook, Sony E-reader, the list of competitors goes on and on.  Feature comparisons are helpful but currently Amazon has a hole in their strategy that no one is talking about.  It's so obvious that I frankly can't understand why it isn't being discussed more.

I understand why Amazon is reluctant to change their strategy as it has ramifications to their overall business model as well as their profit margins.  It would also require them to create alliances with competitors.  Yet, it is something I think they need to do to stay #1.  If they don't, they are violating one of the basic business rules of all times.  Distribution.

Think about where people buy books.  Sure, many of us buy our books online but those are the planned purchases.  It's the impulse buy that I see as a big threat to Amazon.  People buy books at many retailers including retailers in the mall.  All the other e-readers have no problem including their product at most any retailer including bookstores in the airport.  But not amazon.  So I can' touch, feel or play with the Kindle like I can with the Nook, e-reader or eventually the overhyped IPAD.

Amazon needs to partner with some retailers and allow them to sell the Kindle in retail stores including stores in the airport.  In fact, I think a kiosk in the airport may be the smartest move Amazon can make.  Instead of me picking up a new book at the airport, I pick up a new Kindle as well as the new book.  Impulse buys are so important to retail and especially to books. People pay full price for books in the airport and would be happy to recognize their ability to save money overtime and their ability to download books anywhere and anytime (except on the plane!).

And that is where the Kindle does seem to still excel.  It's distribution model once you have the actual Kindle is quite good. 

Amazon has done and is doing a great job, but putting Kiosks in the airport and partnering with select retailers to carry the Kindle will go a long way towards keeping the Kindle #1 as the competition heats up.  If they don't, there is a strong chance that the rule of distribution will cause it to lose the leadership position.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Social Networking Keynote Presentation

I'm very excited about my keynote presentation at the ASI Dallas Show February 3rd, 2010.  I've attended many social networking / social media presentations and read nearly a dozen books on the subject.  The majority of the presentations and books focus on the subject at a macro level.  But they don't distill it down for the average sales person or small business.

I've taken the best of what I've read, heard and my own personal experience and created a powerful session that will help every salesperson from any industry maximize their sales by utilizing social media to:
  • Improve the cold call closing ratio from 1 in 100 to 1 in 10!
  • Identify key contacts at target companies
  • Creating relationships with people who you don't know
  • Avoiding the mistakes most people make in social media
  • Using social media to improve Google rankings.
 A few of the key tips:
  • A quick and easy way to identify all your customers birthdays and make it special
  • A fun way to connect with clients on a very personal level
  • How to spend only 10 minutes on Twitter each week while creating contacts
  • Using LinkedIn in ways that most people never think of
 I don't pretend to be a social media expert.  There are thousands of them out there.  Instead, I'm a business person who knows how to get things done without the hype and on a low budget.  

If you are in the Dallas area February 3rd, 2010, look me up on twitter (www.twitter.com/daledenham) and I'll send you an invite to the presentation. 

Come with an expectation of actionable information, not hype.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Video 101

I attended a great session by Geiger Becky Blair on Video 101. While I don't do a lot of video, I think people wanting to do some basic personal or professional videos will benefit from some of the tools she mentionend.


Kudos to Becky.