Friday, January 18, 2008

Need Customers? Go Get 'Em!

By Timothy Wenk

In our society there are two kinds of people. MarketERs, and marketEEs. The people who create and disseminate marketing messages, and the people who receive (we hope) and react to those messages.

In marketing, there's a fundamental truth that is counterintuitive: "The initial spark that leads to the vast majority of transactions, emanates from the marketER."

When I say that truth is counterintuitive, I mean the typical consumers or potential customers believe the 'opposite.' What they believe would appear to be perfectly reasonable. Something like, "Back off marketers! If I want to find something, I'LL go out and I'LL find it for myself. Your ads and other marketing efforts have no effect on me. I will behave in exactly the same way (buy or not buy the exact same things), with or without your marketing efforts." Again, that seems to make perfect sense.

The average marketEE believes this: "The initial spark that leads to the vast majority of transactions, emanates from the marketEE."

Problem is, this is incorrect.

And if you market your small business as if it IS correct, you are making a fundamental mistake. Possibly a fatal mistake.

The truth is, the most effective marketing happens when the marketER reaches the marketEE, not the reverse. Further, the marketER must reach the marketEE, whether the marketEE wants to be reached or not! I know that's a bold statement, and it flies in the face of 'modern,' so-called 'permission marketing.'

But let me build my case...

Here are two words which, if you take heed to the lessons they can teach you, could change your business for the better: END CAPS. End caps, as you may know, are the ends of the aisles in stores. Let's take supermarkets, for example. Ask any supermarket manager why the end cap 'real estate' is so valuable. He or she will tell you, whatever item is placed there 'automatically' sells much better than otherwise. How much better? Well, one manager I spoke to said it's a boost of about 60%. Same item at the same price as the one sitting on the shelf where it usually is. He said, if the item's on sale, it's an increase of 100%, compared to the same item, at the same lowered price, on the 'regular' shelf!

Think about that. Buy merely putting a product in front of the consumer's face -- whether he asked for it or not -- produces an increase in sales of 60-100%. The ONLY difference is creating that 'initial spark.'

Here's another example: Your local newspaper. Let's agree that the ads therein are effective to a certain degree. Keeping that degree of effectiveness in mind, let's try an experiment. Let's rearrange the paper's format. Let's put all the ads in one section, and all the news in another section -- and let's try that for several months. What would be the result? Answer: The paper would go out of business. But why? Of course, because everyone would read the news section, and ignore the ad section, which would cause the ads to LOSE whatever effectiveness they had before the change in format. To the consumer, the ads are an unnecessary annoyance. If the audience is given a choice about viewing the ads, they will choose NOT to view the ads, in general. In other words, the effectiveness of the ads is dependent on their intrusiveness. Now I KNOW no one wants to hear that, but it's true.

Here's another example: McDonald's. You already know everything there is to know about McDonald's. You know (pretty much) where they are, how to find one, what their menu is, what the food tastes like, how much it costs, what you 'experience' will be like when you go there, etc. If you wanted to eat at McDonald's, you certainly would have no problem doing so. So, why do they advertise? What in the world could they POSSIBLY tell you in an ad, that you don't already know? The answer is, telling you something you don't already know is not the PURPOSE of the ads. Bugging you is. Bugging you repeatedly.

Because McDonald's knows (and so should you), "The initial spark that leads to the vast majority of transactions, emanates from the marketER, not the marketEE."

If that's NOT true, then McDonald's is wasting millions on ads every year! But it is true.

Let's put it this way: What would happen to McDonald's if they were to STOP bugging you repeatedly? They would go out of business, because ALL 'sparks' (bugging) would then emanate from the competition -- and the vast majority of the transactions would go to them.

It's a shame, but so-called internet marketing has made this consumer's myth even stronger. The temptation to rely on search engine and pay per click marketing comes from believing (incorrectly) that the group called, "my potential customers" is exactly the same group as the one called, "people already searching for what I offer." That's not so. That's thinking like a consumer.

Let me ask you this: Have you ever been to McDonald's? Have you ever been to

The lesson here is, don't market your small business using a "consumer's mindset." Realize it is YOUR responsibility to send out as many 'initial sparks' as you can. Don't wait for your potential customers to come looking for you, believing they will behave in the same way (buy the same things), with or without your ads. Look for ways to DELIVER your marketing message -- yes, even without your potential customers' "permission." And, most of those ways can be found OFFline.


Timothy Wenk, marketing consultant, can be reached at 518-448-6642 and .

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