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Preference and Profitability

On Steve's Mind - Ideas and Action Steps for Next-Level Business Results

There are many ways to drive profit. One way is to be the low-cost provider, or be the most efficient company in your marketplace. However, the most lucrative way to drive profits is through customer preference. When your customers prefer

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Posted in Brand Harmony, Commitment Compass, Motivate Committed Customers

Bricks and Mortar as a Metaphor for Marketing

On Steve's Mind - Ideas and Action Steps for Next-Level Business Results

Here are two kinds of statements I have heard from executives over the past few weeks: “People think they can do business over text or email, but that will never work as well as interacting directly with someone, face to

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Posted in Brand Harmony, Commitment Compass, Motivate Committed Customers

Welcome! How to Onboard Employees to Your Brand

On Steve's Mind: a Newsletter

I believe this: Your external brand can never be better than your internal brand. What this means: Your employees’ understanding and beliefs about your company is a limiting factor to what your customers can understand and believe about your company. A comprehensive and effective

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Posted in Brand Harmony, Commitment Compass, Inspire a Committed Team

[VIDEO] The Power of the Brand

Your brand is a tool you can use to drive results. Watch an excerpt from my keynote speech at LINE-X’s National Franchise Meeting. Watch the keynote video: The Power of the Brand Related Posts: [Video] Cutting Through the Clutter is

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Posted in Brand Harmony, Motivate Committed Customers

[VIDEO] Come Together to Create Success

Come Together was the theme of AVI’s National Sales Meeting. Marketing and sales speaker Steve Yastrow inspires and motivates the audience to bring the theme to life! Watch the keynote video: Come Together to Create Success  Related Posts: [VIDEO] Let Employees

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Posted in Brand Harmony, Commitment-Driven Impact, Inspire a Committed Team

[VIDEO] Habits Help Your Company Thrive

Help everyone in your company be the brand by developing a set of company habits– actions that every person in your company believe are important to their personal success and business results. Marketing and sales speaker Steve Yastrow shares compelling

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Posted in Brand Harmony, Commitment-Driven Impact, Inspire a Committed Team
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Enjoy a Successful 2018 by Planning Backwards

Latent ProfitIf you want to have a successful year, don’t start out by focusing on what you want to do in January. Instead, determine where you want to be next December. Businesses often confuse movement with progress. Every day, billions of work hours are wasted on movement that is not headed toward lucrative goals. Yes, it’s a virtue to be action-oriented, but it’s important that your actions have a purpose. Identify your goals for the year, so you’ll be heading in the right direction. Start out 2018 thinking about what you want to be celebrating next New Year’s Eve. Imagine that it is December 31, 2018, and you and your colleagues are happily congratulating each other on an amazing year. What is it you are celebrating? Imagine the reports you are looking at as you wind down your last workday of 2018. Let’s say you were impressed at your increased sales. Where did they come from?
  • More frequent purchases from your best customers?
  • Larger average purchases from customers?
  • Customers buying a larger mix of your products and services?
  • New customers buying from you for the first time in 2018?
  • More sales from certain referral sources?
  • Certain channels performing better than ever?
  • Promising sales from new products and services that you’ve recently introduced?
Maybe your margins are up. What’s driving the increase?
  • Customers accepting price increases?
  • A different (and better) mix of products sold?
Perhaps you see bigger net profits. Why are they up?
  • Higher margins?
  • A strong topline driving economies of scale?
This exercise of “bringing the future forward” will help you identify the most significant areas of untapped potential in your business, and allocate your (scarce) resources to their best effect. Once you’ve outlined your goals, you’ll be able to form an action plan, by asking these questions:
  • Which customers (or customer groups) will help us achieve these desired results?
  • What marketing, sales, service and operational steps should we take that will motivate these customers to act in ways that make us money?
  • How do we engage all of our employees in creating compelling customer experiences that also motivate these customers to support us?
Work backwards. It’s the best way to move forward to your goals. One of Yastrow and Company’s goals this year is to inspire more referral sources. In part, we’re doing this by initiating more personal conversations with influencers, like our newsletter subscribers. Want to talk about some of your business goals for 2018? Drop me a line: steve@yastrow.com.

How Will You Ring in 2019?

On Steve's Mind: a Newsletter
Here’s a challenge many B2B companies face:
  • Clients ask for one point of contact, a person who is always accessible and is familiar with their issues.
  • But, from the company's perspective, that request is impractical.
How to deal with this conundrum? Brand HarmonyFortunately, the answer is not to overstaff your customer service department so you can have an expert on call 24/7 for each of your clients. What you can do: Focus on giving customers most of what they really want, but have it delivered by a high-functioning, collaborative team.

What customers really want

When a customer says "I want one point of contact," what they are really saying is, "I want instant access to someone who knows me, knows my business and is empowered to help me." Ironically, it's difficult for one person to do this, even though clients often ask for one point of contact. One person can't be continuously available, and, in most companies, it's difficult for one person to be a comprehensive information source. So, it's actually more likely that you can give customers what they really want by using a well-executed team approach.  However, you'll have to overcome these common perceptions about teams first:
  • Team members don't have or can't find relevant client information
  • Teams are disjointed and don't communicate with each other
  • Individual team members aren't empowered to solve problems

How a team can function as one point of contact

Your client will see the team as one point of contact only if the team's interactions with the client are integrated and seamless. Much like a jazz group improvising a tune, the team needs to be alert to what each other is doing, creating a unified "performance" for the customer. Simply put, you need to orchestrate your interdependent interactions with the client. Here are some tips to make that happen:

1. Talk as a team about your clients

This seems pretty basic, but is often overlooked. Spend time as a team reviewing the client's business, the client's business with you, and information you have learned about your contacts at the client company.

2. Record and share important client information

Each time one member of your team interacts with a client, that person will gain knowledge that will inform future interactions. If each of you records that client information, and if each of you references this client information in future interactions, you will be able to demonstrate a shared understanding of the client. Also, be sure to share new information you have learned every time you meet as a team.

3. Demonstrate interest and ownership of the relationship

Recently, one of my clients was receiving complaints from one of their customers about not having one point of contact. As we dug into the issue, we realized that the real problem was that when other team members spoke with this customer they acted like they were "filling in." They didn’t act like this was "their" customer. When we coached these team members to act like they were vested in the relationship during customer conversation, their reactions were, "Oh, that's what you want me to do? Ok."  No one had ever instructed them about how to interact in these situations, but once they knew what to do, it was not hard for them to adapt.

4. Create encounters, not transactions, in every conversation

Once your team members recognize that they should demonstrate interest and ownership in the relationship, the next step is to coach them on how to create a relationship-building encounter every time they speak with a customer. To do this, your team members need to ensure that every interaction is:
  • A listening-fueled conversation
  • Personalized to this customer
  • Patient and empathetic
By conducting the interaction in this way, the client won't feel "short-changed" if they talk with someone other than the person they expected. It will feel natural, productive and relationship-building. These are basic, easy-to-execute principles, but it's also easy to mess them up. Discuss these principles as a team, and always be aware of what the experience of working with your team looks like from your client's point of view. You don't need to apologize for not having one point of contact. Be clear and confident as you describe the team approach, demonstrating to your client that this process gives them better attention, and creates an overall better experience.

4 Steps to Build Customer Service Teams that Wow Customers

Before you can influence or persuade all of your business's important customers, you have to know who they are. Here's my Definition of a Customer:

Customers, Defined

Why would your customers love you? What would make people feel so passionately about your company that they would feel privileged to be your customer, ignore your competition, and plead with their friends to do business with you? These are the key questions for your brand. This is where all discussions of your brand should start and end. Why would our customers love us? This is not, of course, how branding is typically considered. Just talk to people about the concept of branding, or Google the word "branding." What you will hear and see is a lot of talk about "positioning" and "presenting." You can't position and present yourself into a meaningful relationship with a customer. You can't talk a customer into loving you. My work in branding has for years used the following principle:Your brand is not what you say you are, it is what your customers believe you are. This teaches us that to create a brand strategy we need to determine what we want our customers to believe before we determine what we are going to say. (... which is, let's face it, 180 degrees from the way most branding is done.) This principle is as true as ever, but it is possible to misuse it. For example, you might say, "We want our customers to believe we serve them with honesty and integrity." Yawn. Who cares? Where's the love? We must aim much higher. We must ask the question "Why would our customers love us?" and then we must pursue this question until we have a compelling answer. This question seems easier for some brands than others. For example, my client Rancho La Puerta, has a pretty clear idea of what makes customers fall in love with them. After 71 years of helping people transform their lives, tens of thousands of repeat visits from loving customers, and two years in a row as Travel + Leisure magazine's "World's Best Destination Spa," Rancho La Puerta has a good sense of the magic it creates and why people love it. But most of us don't run spas. Most of us don't give us our customers massages, delicious, healthy food and transcendent mountain hikes. It's harder for us to create the love, because our products and services aren't nearly as innately lovable as Rancho La Puerta's. Guess what? It doesn't matter. In my consulting practice, my team and I work with lots of companies whose products don't seem, on the surface, to be exciting, yet whose customers are in love with them. I have seen people be in love with insurance agencies, printing shops and landscape companies. I have had customers describe powerful emotions about all kinds of companies, even those without a glossy sheen that catches your attention from afar. Every one of us has a lovable business. All of us are capable of doing things that are extremely meaningful to customers. Just think how different your business would be if your customers loved you. Engineers would storm into purchasing managers' offices and say, "I don't care what your procurement rules are, I NEED to hire Westshore Tool & Die for this project." Wives would say to husbands, "I don't care if they're more expensive, Kishinev Builders is the only company we are going to allow to remodel our house." People would say to their colleagues, "Are you nuts? You're not doing business with Acme Computer Services? Call them now!!!" Your company is outstanding. It is worthy of so much more love than the bullet points on your brochure suggest. Brand positioning and a mission statement rarely aim high enough to describe this love. They rarely ask, or answer, "Why would our customers love us?" Start addressing this question right now. Aim high. You will identify what would make your customers love you, and then you be that much closer to earning that love.

Steve Yastrow

Why would they love you?

On Steve's Mind: a Newsletter
Brand Harmony The invention of advertising was a boon for sellers, merchants and craftsmen. Ads allowed them to delegate some of the hard work of customer communication to newspapers, signs and, eventually, radio, television and other media. In the last 20 years, digital communications like email, online advertising and social media were added to this list. What a convenience-- You can delegate customer communications and focus resources on other important things like making and shipping products. I love these conveniences. We can talk to more customers, more frequently, than ever, and the powers of these media increase every day. Internet advertising even lets us create ads for specific customers instantaneously, based on their past browsing or shopping behaviors. Here's the challenge: You can never delegate your most important customer communications, because they are human. No matter how good your ads are or how adept your social media programs are, your customers will still be moved more through human contact than by contact with inanimate objects like ads, brochures, emails or social media posts. Consider your own experience. What companies do you love doing business with, and what companies do you despise doing business with?  In how many of these cases have your feelings and opinions been driven largely by human interactions, such as those you have with restaurant servers, call center customer service employees or airline gate agents? Now consider your customers. What kind of human interactions do they have with your company?  Are your employees' encounters with customers causing those customers to love your company more, or less?  Have you over-delegated the process of customer communications to inanimate marketing communications? It's not surprising that human communications would be the most important customer communications. After all, we've been looking at ads for a few hundred years and have been exposed to internet marketing for a few decades, yet we've been interacting with other humans for a few million years-- actually, longer when you consider how many eons our social structures have been evolving. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule that human interactions are the most powerful forms of customer communications, such as online companies like Amazon. But your company is not Amazon, and your customers care about the interactions they have with your people. Here are some questions to ask about your business:
  • Do our employees understand our brand promise, and are they equipped to deliver on that promise, with enthusiasm and effectiveness, as they interact with customers?
  • Is our marketing team focused on the human communications our company has with customers, or do they work only with non-human marketing communications?
  • Is management concerned about the human interface of our company, or do they view this as an abstraction, an afterthought, or something other people should worry about?
At Yastrow and Company, we find that each year our practice focuses more and more on the human side of marketing, sales and customer experience.  There is a simple reason for this: It's where our clients' customers are focused. It's not hard to know what's important in a business when you pay attention to what customers care about.

Marketing is Mostly Human

On Steve's Mind: a Newsletter
Latent ProfitIt’s Sunday afternoon, and my one-year-old granddaughter has fallen asleep in her stroller. I just stopped into Whole Foods to let her snooze, which she is doing as I’m writing. Here’s what else is going on around me while Adina naps: Whole Foods is busy.  The check-out lines are full, people are filling to-go containers with salads, soups and pre-made entrees, and the coffee bar has a line. Today isn’t an aberration; it seems every time I go into a Whole Foods Market I have to wait in line at the register to pay. Remember the pejorative nickname people once used to describe Whole Foods?  “Whole Paycheck.” Yes, Whole Foods’ prices are high, but my (admittedly) empirical observation is that it doesn’t seem to hurt them. A quick search for the company’s recent financial data supports this empirical observation. Since 2009, Whole Foods’ revenue and gross profit are up more than 50%, while operating income, net income and earnings per share have more than doubled. So even as we have spent more money in their stores, fueling impressive sales growth, we have enabled Whole Foods to make an even higher profit every time we visit their stores. Giving them our “whole paycheck” must not be worrying us. So what’s the lesson in this? You are more worried about your prices than you customers are. Nearly 30 years ago, I attended a conference by a guy who called himself “The Pricing Advisor.” One clear message I remember from The Pricing Advisor:“The most common pricing problem is not that your prices are too high, but that they are too low.” Customers base their purchase decisions on many factors, one of which is price. If the other factors under consideration are not clearly understood, compelling or differentiating, the customer focuses on price. If they are, the customer has other reasons to buy, and your prices can be higher. In my workshops, I frequently hear business leaders say, “My customers just care about price. I wish they would focus on something else.”  My answer: Give them something else to focus on. Clearly, Whole Foods has given plenty of people something to focus on besides price. And Whole Foods is not alone. Look at any retail mall in America, and notice that very few of the thriving stores base their customer promise on price. Even consider a company like Wal-Mart that actively promotes price; when you visit Wal-Mart, how frequently do you choose the lowest-priced item on the shelf? You deserve to charge higher prices to your customers, because you deliver them something of value. If you encounter price resistance, don’t reflexively lower your prices. Instead, look for ways to more effectively communicate a clear, compelling and differentiating story to your customers. Over the next week, pay attention to the purchase decisions you make, for your business and personal life. How often are you choosing the option with the lowest possible price?  Not much of the time?  Doesn’t your business deserve the same consideration from its customers?

You’re More Worried About Your Prices Than Your Customers Are

When you interact with a customer, three things can happen. The relationship can stay the same, get worse, or get better. Learn how to improve your customer relationships by creating relationship-building encounters.

Create Relationship-Building Encounters

You're on the way to meet with a customer, and you want the sales call to go really well. How do you get yourself ready? Below is a three-minute downloadable audio recording you can use to get yourself in the mindset for a great sales call. The message: Ditch the Pitch! It's important to ditch the pitch you if you want to have an effective sales call, for the simple reason that your customer does not want to hear your sales pitch! The recording gives you three simple steps to ditch the pitch:
  1. Think input before output
  2. Go with the flow
  3. Let a shared story emerge through the conversation
It's really not hard... it just takes practice. Why not start with your next customer meeting? Download "Three Minutes Before Your Sales Call" Audio

Steve Yastrow

   

Three minutes before your sales call

People usually scrutinize advertising promises carefully, reacting to each claim of "new and improved" with "prove it to me."  But it's election season, that season where people decide to believe the most ludicrous claims that can possibly be crammed into a :30 second spot.

"Candidate A has ties to Z."

"My opponent, candidate B, said C that proves Y."

"If elected, I pledge to do C because I believe in X."

I’m not a political commentator, so I will never offer any opinions or views on particular politicians on this blog. But I am a marketing commentator.

So, to sort through this craziness, I want to suggest a simple “rule” for how to interpret political advertising:

Scrutinize political advertising the way you would scrutinize car advertising

As you watch a political ad, imagine that the product is not a candidate, but a car.  Imagine that every nasty thing said by one candidate about another is a Lexus dealer saying something nasty about an Accura dealer down the street.

“Our rival’s lending policies are unfair to middle America.”

"Our cars will get you to the moon, and save you money!"

Would you believe any of this? Of course not!

"If you buy my car, I pledge to bring you prosperity, even if it requires me to suspend the laws of economics and physics."

"My opponent may claim that his car is made in America, but can he prove it? Show us the bills of lading!"

Each political party and most candidates are guilty of this. And we citizens suffer, not only because we don't get accurate political information, but because we have to suffer through these ads if we choose to have the television on.

The only winners?  Ad agencies, who get to suspend standards of good communication and lower the bar on truth, producing anything that looks or sounds good to a citizenry suspending its sense of judgment.  This may even be more fun than working on Super Bowl spots!

Don’t vote for that car

On Steve's Mind - Ideas and Action Steps for Next-Level Business Results
“We don’t have time for strategy. We need to make some money now.”Latent Profit

“Strategy is all about theory. What we need is action.”

 These kinds of statements, while common, are misguided. Strategy is definitely about action, and it is certainly about making money. In fact, one of the key reasons most companies aren’t performing well is a lack of good strategy. Strategy isn't supposed to be about theories and three-ring binders gathering dust on office shelves.  Strategy is about defining a game plan that directs each action taken by people at your company-- all day, every day. Imagine a football coach telling his team, “We don’t have the time or energy to create a game plan. Just go out there, try hard, and score some touchdowns.”  Seems ridiculous. So why does the same thing not seem ridiculous for businesses? Here are a few recent examples of how strategy work with my clients turned into instant money-making action:
  • While working with a client on a comprehensive strategy to improve their service and support business, we realized that the company’s service contract renewal process had significant problems that were limiting renewals. While working on this comprehensive strategy, the company was able to immediately begin improving the renewal process.
  • I recently spent a day with executives from a company that markets two similar product lines, which aren’t well differentiated from each other and tend to compete with each other. Although it will take longer than one day to create a workable product portfolio strategy for this company, this meeting generated three strong ideas that could be implemented right away to limit the customer confusion and margin erosion that currently plagued the company.
  • During a phone call earlier this week with a CEO, he and I identified some near-term action steps, based on strategic work his company has done, that will enable him to pump some life into a sluggish quarter.
So how can strategy make you money… now?

Do the Right Things

As management guru and philosopher Peter Drucker taught us, effectiveness is mostly about ensuring you do the right things. When I see companies with weak strategy, I always see that they focus their efforts on things that aren’t really that important. Your resources are finite, so let good strategy ensure that you allocate those resources to doing the right things. Follow this checklist to stay on track:
  • Are you directing your efforts towards the most promising drivers or results?
  • Are you focused on the right customers?
  • Have your strategies not only helped you know what you should do, but what you shouldn’t do? (A “to-don’t list” is one of the most helpful things good strategy can help you create.)
Consider this: Do you and the people in your company have a strong strategic framework that ensures people spend their time doing the right things?  If not, think about the time that is being wasted in your company… right now.

Cutting Through the Clutter

Companies without strong strategies tend to communicate with their customers through disjointed, confusing messages. The result is that customers are confused, and aren’t sure why they should buy from these companies. When a company has a clear brand strategy that defines what they want customers to think about them, it is more likely that they will create communications that are clear, compelling and differentiated. Are you clear about what differentiates you in meaningful ways? Are you clear about what you want your customers to think about your company? Consider this: Does your company have a very clear and well-developed strategy for what and how you communicate with customers? If not, how do you expect for customers to be at all interested in paying attention to your messages, let alone be motivated by them? How confused might your customers be… right now?

Strategy Creates Culture

I once heard someone say, “Strategy eats culture for lunch.” While culture is one of the most important things that can drive a company’s results, strong company cultures don’t just pop into existence spontaneously. I have seen that the strongest company cultures are not just those that “feel good” to employees, but those where employees feel that they understand where the company is heading, and they feel like they play important, personal roles helping the company get there. When employees understand your company’s strategies, and feel they are part of efforts to realize those strategies, your culture will be stronger and your employees will be more productive. Consider this: Do your employees know where your company is headed? Do they feel like they are contributors to your future, and do they care about your future?  If not, what kinds of actions and behaviors might they be engaged in that are not productive and effective… right now? You can’t be everywhere at all times to control everything that happens in your company. Let good strategy work create a game plan that directs everything that happens, including the things that can happen to generate results… right now.

Strategy Should Make You Money Now

Companies are often very careful about who has access to information.  Distribution lists are carefully considered.  Columns are deleted before printing.  Approvals are required before sharing data. Sometimes these rules are breached, and sensitive data falls into the wrong hands. But … what do you think does more damage in your company, information getting to too many people, or information not getting to enough people? I think most companies have this backwards. Don’t be so careful. Give more access, not less, because information helps people decide and act. In most cases, you are causing more damage by protecting information than you are by sharing it. Err on the side of share.

Err on the Side of Share

Today's issue of my newsletter is called Moments with Presence. The basic idea:  Your customers live half a million minutes each year, and remember only a few of them.  Will they remember the moments they share with you? Please share your comments!

Newsletter: Moments with Presence

Copies in hand, I left FedEx Kinko's yesterday at about 6:15PM. Within five minutes I realized that I didn't have my phone.  I returned to Kinko's less than 10 minutes after I left, but my phone wasn't there.  I searched the parking lot at dusk, as a wet, cold early Spring snow was poured down on me.  I went back into Kinko's again.  I searched the parking lot again.  I looked under the seats of my car about seven times. No phone.  I went to my cousin's house and called my wife, Arna, to ask her to be on the alert for a call if someone found my phone - after all, she's first on my speed dial.  By the time I talked to her she had already received a call from a woman who found my phone, in Kinko's.  "I didn't trust leaving it with the people at Kinko's so I took it home with me," the woman said. "Where do you live," asked Arna. "Schiller Park." Schiller Park is more than a half-hour away, 45 minutes in this wet, slippery snow. Think about this for a minute. She was a customer of FedEx Kinko's, but didn't trust their employees enough to leave a stranger's phone with them.  She thought I would be better off driving an hour and a half round-trip than risking that a FedEx Kinko's employee might steal my phone. What about the FedEx Kinko's experience made this woman, who obviously is human and caring enough to want to get my phone back to me, not trust them at such a basic level? Could it be as simple as cold, transactional, perfunctory customer interactions?  Is there nothing FedEx Kinko's could have done to earn the lowest threshold of trust from this person?  Or, could they do a better job of putting a human face on their employees, so customers won't think they are potential criminals?

45 Minutes, each way, in a snowstorm

Relationships are ongoing conversations. I'm thinking about my ongoing conversation with my friend Ed, at a meaningful moment in his life. Do you have ongoing conversations with your customers? (If the video doesn't show up in your RSS reader, please click through to the post on yastrow.com)

Drivercam: Ongoing conversations

True Loyalty isn't created because one business offers customers a better deal than their competitors offer.  True Loyalty happens when a customer has deep, meaningful, unquestioned beliefs about a company they buy from or a product they buy. Today's newsletter, I believe I am loyal to you, focuses on the connection between belief and loyalty.  I'd love your comments, below.  Do you agree with me?

I believe I am loyal to you

On Steve's Mind: a Newsletter
My new book, Ditch the Pitch is coming January 12. And the book trailer is here today! I’m excited to share it with you. We wanted to tell a different kind of story with this book trailer—and show you the humorous side of ditching the pitch. Please share this video with people in your network. Watch the Ditch the Pitch Book Trailer

Watch Now: Ditch the Pitch Book Trailer

The front page of the business section of yesterday’s New York Times carried a story about the $213 million dollar first quarter loss generated by United Continental Holdings, the parent of United and Continental Airlines. If you unfold the paper to see that the back page of that section, you will see, printed inches from this story on the same side of the same piece of newsprint, a full-page ad for United Airlines. The front page of the first section of the same paper carries a story about how the recession has caused sales of eco-friendly consumer products to plummet, claiming that American consumers’ allegiance to green is fickle, at best. If you unfold the paper to see the back page of the front section, you will see, printed inches from this story, a full-page ad for Macy’s eco-friendly cosmetics. Looking at those two pages unfolded in front of me, with harsh news stories set next to pretty ads that cost United and Macy’s tens of thousands of dollars, reinforces how unreal advertising is when set next to the actual world we live in. Communicating a message to your customers is a very tough challenge in times of message overload and a skeptical public.  You may need to advertise, but avoid the pitfall I see companies fall into all the time: The mistaken belief that the work is done as soon as the ad copy is written.  Just because you say something, you can’t assume that your customers will believe it. They don’t read your messages in a vacuum, with their full, committed attention. They weigh your boasts and promises against everything else they see in their crowded field of vision. As I was writing this post I browsed further into the same edition of the New York Times.  I saw an article on page 3 of the business section that describes how revenue at the New York Times was down 58% in the first quarter, due largely to the drop in advertising revenue. Next to this article was a review of Morgan Spurlock’s new movie, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, which opened last night in a few cities.  (Not the one I'm in now)  The movie, as many of you already know, is a movie about advertising product placement funded totally by advertising product placement.  Based on the trailer, which I’ve seen, it looks like the movie will point to the absurdity of having your business’s success depend on “capturing eyeballs,” “cutting through the clutter” and “getting our name out there.” I remember hearing that an educated person in Elizabethan England read an amount of material in his or her life equivalent to that in a daily edition of the New York Times.  If that person had read yesterday’s Times he would have been able to learn a great deal about the truth of advertising's waning power in our times.

Truth in Advertising

Your business is brimming with potential. But you can’t chase every opportunity because, the fact is, you have limited resources. Check out my recent video “Think Beyond Low Hanging Fruit” for more on how to choose the best opportunities to focus on in 2019.

So… are you actually focusing on the most lucrative opportunities in your business? Does your leadership team agree on the best opportunities? Are you allocating your company’s resources to unleash the potential of these new opportunities?

The actions your leadership team takes to unleash this potential, acting together, with intention, toward a common goal will determine your success in 2019.

How Will You Unleash Your Untapped Potential In 2019?

On Steve's Mind: a Newsletter
Networking is the foundation of any salesperson's success. Watch my networking video to learn how you can be a welcome networker in any situation-- professional or personal. You just have to practice Ditching the Pitch. Watch the video: Ditch the Pitch to Network! Share your networking success. What is the most unusual scenario that has led you to a new customer? Was it as unexpected as my father being sold at a funeral?

[VIDEO] Ditch the Pitch to Network!

Steve Yastrow reveals a shocking revelation-- no matter what you do, you don't create the profits in your business! Watch as he reveals how success is made at the AVI National Sales Meeting. Watch the keynote video: Surprise! You Don't Create the Profits in Your Business 

[VIDEO] Surprise! You Don’t Create the Profits in Your Business

Who comes before what. "Who" your customer is comes before "what" you want to sell them.

Who is This Customer?

Talk about your customers, not about yourself Here's the best way to ensure that your customers don't pay attention to your brochures, ads, web sites, press releases and sales presentations: Talk about your products and services and about how great your company is. Seriously, in your life as a customer, are you ever impressed by other companies' self-congratulatory, chest-beating marketing copy? I'm not. And I think I'm a pretty typical customer.

Sorry, but your customers don't care about your story

One of the most important principles marketers need to recognize is that customers don't care about companies' stories. Customers care about their own stories. If your company, in its marketing communications, spends too much time talking about its products and services, your customers will spend very little time paying attention to what you have to say.

Ultimate Copywriting #1: Talk about your customers, not about you

If you want customers to pay attention to what you have to say, talk about them, not about yourself. Since they care a lot more about themselves than they care about you, doesn't it makes a lot more sense to talk about what your customers care about? What does this mean, "talk about your customers, not about you?" It means that your copywriting needs to focus on the impact your products and services have on customers, not on who your company is, or what it does. I just saw a TV ad where Delta Airlines claimed to be one of the biggest airlines in the world. So what? What good does that do for me? Look at 100 websites. Their copy will be highly focused on the company behind the website, not on the impact they have on their customers' lives or businesses. "About" pages, a reflexive staple of modern web design, are typically filled with self-centered braggadocio that is soporific for all but the most caffeinated readers. In the next issue of this newsletter, which will be published on June 5, 2012, I will share a tool that Yastrow & Company uses to focus a company's story on its customers. It's called theBrand Pyramid. Stay tuned.

Ultimate Copywriting #2: Have your customers talk about you

It's obvious that a customer's comments about a company will be much more credible to another customer than any comments that company makes about itself. For years, our best tool in this area was the customer testimonial. Now we also have the social web. As Paul Adams writes in his new book Groupedwebsites are evolving to be less about content delivery and more about people's interactions with each other. "The social web" is becoming "the web," as Adams writes, catching up with the way our offline world works, where people spend a lot more time listening to each other than they spend listening to what companies have to say. To maximize the effectiveness of your marketing communications, do everything possible to make it easy for customers to talk about you. Make customer comments and reviews as easy as possible for other customers to see. Make it possible for customers to connect with each other. Ask customers if they would agree to be references for other customers. If the previous paragraph scares you, then you have bigger problems! In this day and age, your customers are more powerful communicators of your message than you are. Raving fan customers are the key to effective marketing communication, as long as you are able to enlist those raving fan customers to be part of your "marketing department."

Ultimate Copywriting is a goal; get as close as you can

Of course, it's not always possible for you to focus all of your copy on your customers and for your customers to do all the talking about you. But it is a valuable goal to strive for. Look at ultimate copywriting as a gold standard, at which you are aiming. At any point in the marketing communications development process, look for opportunities to shift the content of what you say about your company to the impact that you have on your customers. And also be looking for opportunities to have your customers be the ones praising you.

Steve Yastrow

Ultimate Copywriting