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How to Reach the Ballantyne Market

 

Strategies and Tactics You Must Follow NOW to Tap the Potential of the Rapidly Growing Southern Suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina.


 

By Scott Martin

Publisher, Ballantyne Magazine

© Scott Martin, 2011

© Scott Martin Creative Services, Inc. 2011

 

A Geographical Note

 

The title of this manual is How to Reach the Ballantyne Market. The term Ballantyne is used somewhat loosely, at least from a geographical standpoint. Ballantyne Magazine covers the following areas:

 

  • Toringdon
  • Blakeney
  • U.S. 521 corridor in Lancaster County
  • Parts of Pineville
  • Arboretum
  • Parts of the NC 51 corridor
  • The 2,000-acre core of Ballantyne

 

The manual thus covers these areas[ECB1] .
How to Use This Manual[ECB2]

 

Now for some stern stuff. This manual is the copyrighted property of Scott Martin and Scott Martin Creative Services Inc. It is intended for the exclusive use of people who purchase it and for the current advertisers of Ballantyne Magazine, a publication that Scott Martin Creative Services Inc., publishes in collaboration with The Bissell Companies Inc. It is not available in a digital format. It MUST NOT, under any circumstances, be photocopied. It MUST NOT be given to a person or an entity that has not paid for it or who is not a current advertiser in Ballantyne Magazine. Penalties include possible criminal prosecution and civil litigation.

 

Scott Martin

Publisher, Ballantyne Magazine

Owner, Scott Martin Creative Services Inc.

 

A little about me and some career highlights in writing and publishing:

 

  • Born in the United States; spent formative years in Canada, then England
  • Was Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; earned a degree in English and comparative literature; and held several leadership positions with campus extracurricular groups
  • Moved to Charlotte in 1990
  • First job: copywriter for Ivey’s Department Stores (now Dillard’s)
  • Freelance writer for several years
  • Author of over 15 books, including one that got into the top 1,500 (of over 4 million books) on Amazon
  • Editor and publisher of SouthPark Update
  • Director of communications for The Bissell Companies
  • Manager of custom publishing for The Charlotte Observer
  • Publisher of SouthPark Magazine
  • Founder of Ballantyne Magazine (2000)
  • Direct-response copywriter
  • Ghostwriter/collaborator
  • Volunteer soccer coach for Charlotte United Futbol Club
  • Twice chairman of the School Leadership Team at Myers Park Elementary School

 

Introduction

 

Several things have happened in my life that have left a lasting impression. Here are the three most important ones for the purposes of this manual:

 

  1. In 1990, The Bissell Companies, a commercial real estate development company, contracted me to rewrite a rezoning request for a 2,000-acre tract of land far [ECB3] south of Charlotte. The land was called Ballantyne. Even then, I knew Ballantyne would be something dramatic and special. The County Commission approved the rezoning request.
  2. In 2000, The Bissell Companies asked me to publish a magazine about Ballantyne. I imaginatively titled it Ballantyne Magazine.
  3. In 2005, I met Andrew Wood, golfer and former Karate School magnate who is now the owner of Legendary Marketing, the most successful and results-oriented golf and resort marketing company on the planet.

 

What does the third event have to do with the first two? Good question. Besides being a magazine publisher, I am also a professional direct-response writer. I write books, manuals (like this one), and direct-response advertising copy for sales letters and Web sites. I started to write copy for Andrew’s company in 2005. Since then, I have been totally and completely changing everything in my professional life based on the Legendary Marketing system.

 

Andrew has developed a marketing system for golf courses and resorts that, if followed, produces astounding results. It’s not hocus-pocus. It’s not wrapped in jargon. It’s not difficult to understand. Andrew has based his system on common sense, results, experience, and the science of advertising. If you visit Andrew’s offices in Lecanto, Florida, you will not see the awards for creativity that most advertising agencies crave so desperately. However, you will find the following:

 

  • Extremely satisfied clients
  • Courses, resorts, and now non-golf companies beating a path to his door for his expertise

 

Andrew and his team would much rather have results than awards. So would I.

 

In working with Andrew and his associates on various projects, I have learned the Legendary System inside and out. I have also used it to build a database of over 550 opt-in subscribers to a new product I just started, Ballantyne Magazine Weekly. That’s over 550 subscribers in just eight weeks. A staggering result that amazed even the people at Legendary.

 

Bringing the Legendary System to Ballantyne

 

I started Ballantyne Magazine in 2000. There were approximately 10 advertisers and 32 pages. Today, there are close to 80 advertisers and 100 pages. Needless to say, other publishers look at the magazine and start to salivate. As soon as the magazine appears, my competitors (digital and print) bombard the advertisers. My competitors may want to take away my advertisers, but  the magazine has been solid enough to keep advertisers happy and we have a lot of repeat business. However, about two years ago, I started to ask myself this question:
What can I do to make advertisers understand that the money they spend in Ballantyne Magazine is the best marketing investment they make?

Before asking that question, Ballantyne Magazine had been like every other magazine. I had provided a medium to reach a defined market and produced the magazine competently. I had printed the number of magazines I said I was going to. I ran the advertisements the way my advertisers wanted. The magazine published when it was supposed to be. It included editorial content the readers generally liked and enjoyed.

 

But, as Andrew Wood likes to point out, the definition of insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

 

Actually, Wood wasn’t the first to say this[ECB4] , but who cares? It’s a great quote and it applies to the way I was running the magazine. The area was growing and so was the magazine was growing. The advertisers generally were happy, but how I worked with them had always been the same :

 

  • I ran the advertisement.
  • I sent a bill.
  • The advertiser paid the bill.
  • I had no idea what sort of result the advertiser got from the advertisement (nor did the advertiser in most instances).

 

I had been running my publications this way since 1992. I knew things had to change.

 

Why?

 

The advertisers’ success determines the magazine’s success.

 

It’s no secret to anyone that Ballantyne Magazine’s financial success depends solely on advertising revenue. There are no subscribers. Yes, I have started a weekly e-mail and a new Web site is on the way, but the business model remains the same: get readership and sell advertising.

 

Last quarter, I decided to bring the Legendary Marketing system to Ballantyne specifically to help advertisers become more successful. Much more successful. This manual details the Legendary Marketing system and how to install it so that you significantly increase your revenue and your business in the Ballantyne area.

 

Ballantyne Magazine’s Role

 

“Scott,” you ask, “isn’t this manual just an advertisement for Ballantyne Magazine?”

“You’re about 18 percent right,” is my reply. Only one magazine reaches Ballantyne like Ballantyne Magazine[ECB5] but in the Legendary system print advertising is just one piece of the plan. It’s a vital piece, but there are other things you must do — as you’ll find out in this valuable manual.

Magazines like Ballantyne Magazine rarely get national advertisers. In fact, I rarely get regional advertisers. It’s a shame, but that’s stuff for another manual. Looking at my current list of advertising businesses, the overwhelming number are like yours (and mine!):

 

  • Locally owned
  • Small, micro-, or owner-operated
  • Highly entrepreneurial

 

You are likely:

 

  • Passionate about your business
  • Extremely busy
  • Extremely good at what your business offers
  • Worried about competition
  • Unsure about a specific marketing plan or not currently implementing one
  • OK when it comes to accounting

 

I can’t help you with accounting. I hate dealing with that stuff, so I just hired a brilliant accountant plus an efficient bookkeeper. Life is a lot better now.

 

Here’s a statement you will find interesting (assuming you’re not an accountant):
You know a lot more about accounting than you know about marketing.
“Scott,” you say, “you’re crazy.”

 

Let’s take a little quiz.

 

Accounting

 

  • Approximately how much did you pay in income taxes last year?
  • How big was the bill your accountant sent you for preparing your 2007 tax returns?
  • What is the current rate of sales tax in Mecklenburg County?
  • Do you get a deduction for health-care costs?
  • Do you get a deduction for rent and office supplies?
  • What was your total revenue in 2007?

 

Even I, an accounting idiot, know the answers to the questions above. I’m sure you know the answers as well.

 

Marketing Questions

 

  • What was the precise return on your marketing investment in 2007?
  • How many telephone calls did your best 2007 advertisement create?
  • How much revenue did your best ad produce?
  • How many sales prospects/leads do you need in 2008 to reach your sales goals?
  • How often should you or do you contact your best customers?
  • On your Web site, how many times do you tell your prospective customers to call you?
  • How big should your e-mail database be to reach your annual revenue goals?

 

Get my point?

 

One reason you know more about accounting is that you legally have to. If you get the taxation thing wrong, the government could levy big fines on you or shut you down.

 

However, marketing[ECB6] , not accounting, is the key to your business’s ongoing success. But if you’re like most small-business owners, you know more about accounting than marketing.

 

Marketing strategy is easy … you have to keep your current customers coming back and you have to find new ones. However, executing this strategy is difficult unless you follow the plan in this manual.

 

My simple request:
Trust the system in this manual more than you trust your accountant.
Think about it.

 

Until I started working with Andrew Wood, I thought I knew a lot about advertising and how to write great advertising copy. Andrew, never one to beat around the bush, told me that I had some ability but that I needed to read more, learn more, and write more. He also told me to learn and understand the Legendary Marketing system. I have done everything Andrew asked me to — and then some.

 

In fact, I make a point to visit Andrew and his team at least four time a year to learn more. I learn more about marketing and sales in one dinner with Andrew Wood than I could learn in 80 hours with any so-called marketing consultant or expert in the Charlotte area. Andrew is all about results. I’m that way now. You must be as well. Think: “Results, results, results. RESULTS.”

 

Plan A vs. Plan B

 

Ballantyne Magazine now offers two different approaches to advertising in the magazine.

 

Plan A (Old School)

 

  • You sign an advertising contract with Ballantyne Magazine.
  • You tell me what you want in the advertisement.
  • I run the advertisement the way you want it.
  • I send you a bill.
  • You pay the bill.
  • We all wonder if the ad was a success.

 

Plan B (Based on the Legendary Marketing System)

 

  • You sign a contract with the magazine.
  • You get this manual for free (a $1,750 value).
  • I introduce the concepts of the Legendary Marketing system.
  • You read and digest this manual and adopt the system.
  • We come up with a plan.
  • We put the plan into action.
  • I make myself available at pretty much any time to answer any marketing-related questions.
  • We track results and make changes to get even better results.
  • I guide you through the technology maze.
  • PLUS, at no extra cost, I am available to write direct-response, results-oriented advertising copy for your Web site, e-mail blasts, advertisement in the magazine, and even direct mail.

And the amazing thing? Right now[ECB7] , for a limited time, Plan B costs the same as Plan A.


We’re All in This Together

 

Before my 30th birthday, I had been laid off, let go, downsized, rightsized, whatever you want to call it, no less than three times. After that, I spent five years working for a large daily newspaper in the Charlotte area (that shall remain nameless[ECB8] ), and while the money was good it was a thoroughly miserable experience.

 

So in 2000, I left to start Ballantyne Magazine. I know what it’s like to run and market a small business. I know that it’s a labor of love that often leaves you feeling beaten up and smashed in. But I love working for myself, and I love the opportunity and challenge of building a business. And I love that I don’t have a clueless person above me telling me what to do. I really love that.

 

I want your business but, more important, I want you to succeed. I want your business to be the most successful of its kind in the United States. And I want you to feel that the money you spend with Ballantyne Magazine gives you the best return on your investment of anything in which you invest.

 

All you have to do is follow the system!

 

How does the system work? At the bare-bones level, here’s what we will do:

 

  1. Use the advertisement in Ballantyne Magazine to drive people to your Web site.
  2. Use the Web site to provide benefit-laden information and collect e-mail addresses.
  3. Contact the e-mail list at least 14 times a year.

 

That’s the system at its very simplest. There’s lots more we can (and should) do and there are some keys to execution, but just successfully doing the above will make a positive difference.

 

Creating a Strong Marketing System

 

Whether you operate a golf course, hair salon, or hot tub outlet, the fundamentals of a strong marketing system are the same:

 

  1. Establish your desired result. What do you want to accomplish?
  2. Diagram and plan the marketing plan.
  3. Detail clear benchmarks. What are the intermediate goals?
  4. Assign accountabilities. Which position within the company will do which task?
  5. Author a plan based on time.
  6. Quantify results.
  7. Establish marketing standards. Think quantity, quality, and behavior.
  8. Document the plan for your business.
  9. Get everyone involved in the plan.

 

Ready? Let’s get started. First, we’ll destroy some common marketing and advertising myths.

 

Part I
Learn the Foundations of Marketing

 

Chapter 1
Marketing Myths, Lies and Misdemeanors

 

As a small-business owner, you have likely heard a lot about how you should market your business. Advice comes from everywhere. You get advice when you go to the dentist. You get advice when you go to the supermarket. You get advice from advertising sales people. I don’t know what sort of advice you have received over the years, but I know there are several misconceptions people consider to be truth. Before starting the Ballantyne Marketing system[ECB9] , I would advise you to “empty the trash” and start some fresh thinking. In this chapter, I’ll cover:

 

  • The secrets of successful marketing in the Ballantyne market
  • The biggest marketing myths and why these might be holding back your business
  • Why more copy is better than less
  • Why results are more important than people liking your advertisement or Web site
  • The true importance of big circulation numbers (or claims)
  • Why, in most cases, you should not copy your competitors

 

Why Most Small-Business Marketing Fails

 

You are about to take a risk, especially if you have been unclear about your marketing. Even if you have some sense of clarity about how to market your business, I’m about to ask you to start over. Before doing this, I need to prove that many of the marketing “truths” you have heard or have been following are boldfaced lies. Remember:

 

There is no place for myth or personal prejudice in a comprehensive, results-driven marketing system.

 

As I said in the advertisement for this manual, the system is not based on Zen or “out of the box” thinking. It’s not based on trendy business-speak. It’s based entirely on strategies and tactics that have worked before for other small businesses.

Here we go.

 

Six Marketing Myths

 

Myth 1: People don’t read any more. Garbage! Or as a former principal of mine would say: “PURE, UNADULTERATED BOULDERDASH!”

 

If people are genuinely interested in what you have to offer, they will want as much information as possible; in fact, they won’t be able to get enough information. There’s a popular magazine devote to running called Running. Why? Running may seem like a simple form of exercise to most people, but to runners it’s different. Runners want as much information as they can possibly get about running, which is why there’s a magazine about their hobby and numerous Web sites and books. Runners even send monthly newsletters to each other.

 

Myth 2: The more people like your ad, the better your ad is. It’s not about whether your ad is pretty or not. It’s about two things:

 

  • Does it follow the time-tested methods for drawing a response?
  • Is it placed in the right magazine or newspaper?

 

Having an ad, Web site, or even a direct-marketing campaign that looks good is fine. But that’s not the point. The point is to design marketing that motivates targeted prospects to take the action you want. Do you want to win design awards and have people tell you the ad looks good, or do you want the phone to ring? You must design the advertisement specifically for the people you think will purchase your product or service. Remember, your goal is to get people to take an action that leads to a sale.

 

Myth 3: Reaching 200,000 people is more effective than reaching fewer people in a very specific area. OK, I’m totally biased here. If you want to reach the Ballantyne market, why advertise in a publication that reaches 200,000 people, most of whom are not interested in Ballantyne? If you want to reach a certain geographic area, advertise in a publication that reaches that area.

 

“But what about local sections and zoned sections?” you ask. They’re fine, but certain zoned versions of certain publications only reach a certain number of people. To reach enough people in your geographic area who will be interested in your product, the magazine you choose to advertise in must saturate your area. If the ad is written properly and follows the rules [ECB10] of direct-response advertising, the people interested in your product will come to your store, call your office, or go to your Web site. Then you can start to get even more targeted.

 

Myth 4: Don’t offend anyone and don’t exclude anyone. A good advertisement subtly excludes people who are not good prospects for your business or service. You don’t want to be rude or offensive, but you don’t want phone calls from people who will just waste your time.

 

Myth 5: If all your competitors are doing it, it must be good. You’ll do it, too. If all your competitors’ ads generate epic results, go ahead and copy them. But most advertising I’ve seen is literally designed to fail or produce subpar results.

 

Myth 6: You should spend a small fortune making sure that your business is at the top of search engines’ results. If you run a business that sells model trains in the Ballantyne area and you want to be the first result that pops up when someone types in model trains Ballantyne in a search box, you can spend a small fortune making sure it happens. It’s not the greatest investment if you’re the only model train store in Ballantyne.

 

What if you’re in residential real estate? Even I have to admit that popping up first in results for real estate Ballantyne would be a big plus. But there are downsides to exclusively marketing this way:

 

  • It’s an expensive beast you have to feed constantly. The cost is often out of small businesses’ reach.
  • It may seem proactive, but it’s actually reactive to the person who uses a search engine. Do you want to go to your market directly, or do you want to hope a customer performs a search?
  • It’s a moving target. The rules of the game change almost daily — as the search engine specialists will tell you as they present another weekly bill.
  • It’s too competitive. You can quickly be outspent.
  • You aren’t really building a solid marketing foundation.

 

As you’ll discover in a later chapter[ECB11] , there’s a lot you can do be successful in the search engine game without hiring an expensive search engine specialist. And once people get to your site, what happens? Will the site work for you or against you? Usually, a search engine specialist won’t help you come up with a site that performs multiple marketing tasks and sells what you have to offer.

 

Like everyone else, I use search engines frequently. It amazes me that people spend a fortune to get me to a site that rates an F in marketing. It may look pretty, but it fails to produce a result, whether it’s collecting information or making me do something that leads to a sale.

 

Why Small Businesses Fail

 

Those are just a few of the many mistakes intelligent business people make when it comes to marketing.

 

Here are 20 additional reasons most small-business marketing fails:

 

  • The business does not collecting enough data, such as e-mail addresses, names, and the like.
  • It fails to do enough with the data. You can automate this process.
  • The business’s Web site is ineffective, failing to follow the time-tested rules[ECB12] of direct-response advertising. A Web site is supposed to sell, sell, sell! Yet most Web sites, even the beautiful ones, do absolutely nothing to generate response and revenue.
  • It does not track results.
  • The ads that the business produces doesn’t work because it breaks all the rules.
  • The ad looks good but fails to produce an action that leads to a sale.
  • The business has no process for how make a sale once a client or customer arrives, whether in person or by e-mail.
  • It fails to follow up because it has no plan for following up.
  • A business simply copies its competitors’ advertising. It could be making the same mistakes its competitors are making. (If the competition is bringing in tons of business, however, they’re following the time-tested methods that work and you should be following them!)
  • Brochures, advertisements, and letters are written in boring, generic corporate-speak that wouldn’t motivate a drunk to leave his sofa to get a beer from the fridge.
  • The business offers discounts and gets into devastating price wars and coupon battles instead of stressing benefits and adding value.
  • Budgets are based on a percentage of gross revenue instead of being based on revenue goals. (More on this later[ECB13] .)
  • The business does little or nothing to differentiate itself from the competition.
  • Service could be better. About 80 percent better.
  • The business does not do nearly enough to keep existing customers on the ranch. Remember, there are plenty of poachers and cattle rustlers who want to invade your ranch and steal your customers. Do not assume that customers will stay with you just because they like you.
  • The business confuse loyalty programs with discount programs. Loyalty is earned, not bought.
  • It fails to outsource the things they are poor at, like marketing or accounting or cleaning.
  • It fails to use existing automation to help its marketing.
  • The business doesn’t spend enough time on marketing, even though without successful marketing it will fail. Read everything you can about DIRECT-RESPONSE advertising and marketing and ignore everything else … especially stuff written by business consultants who claim to have a revolutionary way to market stuff. Why experiment? There’s nothing new in direct-response marketing. You just do what’s worked before.
  • The business does what it has always done because it’s comfortable. Remember our statement from earlier:

 

The definition of insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

 

Which of these 20 things are you doing?

 

I have done them all!

 

But now that I understand the mistakes I have been making and I’m working to turn things around and follow the system, better results are starting to occur.

 

My Confession

 

For more than 15 years, I have been producing three successful niche publications, two of which I started. In two years, I doubled the size and advertising revenue of the first magazine, which covered the SouthPark area. I started the second, also in the SouthPark area, from scratch; it was profitable in its third issue, a result almost unheard of in the publishing industry.

 

I started Ballantyne Magazine in 2000. It had about 10 advertisers and a distribution of about 15,000. Today, the magazine has about 80 advertisers and I just got a bill for 40,000 copies — a big bill. People like the magazine, and I get very few complaints. It helps that all three magazines have served excellent[ECB14] areas that grew rapidly. I’ve gotten the content mostly correct, and that helps, too. It also helps that I’ve had some really excellent people working with me. But …

 

To this day, I really don’t know the precise response and results advertisers have received. I can’t tell you the exact return on investment (ROI) an advertiser received from a specific ad. Well, that’s not strictly true. A few months ago, I met with an advertiser who had tracked the response based on surveys. Surveys are sometimes inaccurate, but at least the advertiser had made the effort. In this instance, a contract that cost the advertiser about $7,000 generated about $10,000 worth of business directly attributable to the advertisement. This particular business was selling a relatively high-ticket item. The ROI was actually decent, given the product.

 

Now, I can’t blame the advertiser for not liking this ROI, but I pointed out that the business the advertising created could (and should) lead to a lot more business from referrals. That’s the beauty of even one response to an advertisement: it can lead to a lot more business. Advertising is a catalyst, a beginning, not a finite act.

 

I can’t remember what the advertisement looked like and I can’t remember the copy. But I doubt that it was direct-response–oriented, and I doubt that it followed the generally accepted guidelines for direct-response advertising. Still, the result was good. However, the advertiser was not happy and wanted more.

 

In 15 years of publishing targeted magazines, I have never paid close attention to the results advertisers have received. Sometimes I get a sense of whether an advertiser is happy when it’s time to renew a contract; that’s where the rubber meets the road in my industry. Sometimes advertisers aren’t trying to get a direct result; they just want to get their name out into the marketplace. Sometimes I find that advertisers haven’t received any trackable results. Other times, advertisers tell me the response is “really good,” but they don’t know any more specific information.

 

Am I the only publisher on the planet who really doesn’t know what sort of response advertisers are getting on a very specific level? Of course not. In fact, I’d wager that the executive vice president of advertising for The New York Times doesn’t know the response an ad on page 15G generated. I’d wager that the advertising representative who sold the space and put the ad together doesn’t know. Ditto the advertiser. There are three reasons for this:

 

  • They don’t want to know, because the response might be poor.
  • They didn’t put the ad together to measure a result.
  • The ad representative doesn’t care because that’s not his job; his job is to sell advertising space, not measure results.

 

So I’m not the only publisher who does not know the precise results advertisers get from advertising in a publication.

 

This has to change.

 

Most Ballantyne Magazine advertisers are small-business owners who watch every penny they spend very carefully. I know how it is: I’m a small-business owner, too. The magazine’s success, as I’ve stated earlier, depends entirely on the advertising’s results. The way I see it, I have two responsibilities when it comes to the advertising side of publishing the magazine:

 

  • Measure response.
  • Help advertisers get the best possible response and maximize their ROI.

 

I’m the only publisher I know who’s willing to travel this road. Why? It’s risky. It’s possible that advertisers won’t get a response and will blame it on the magazine. I’m willing to take the risk, though, because I believe in the marketing system in this manual. I know it works. I’m also willing to take the risk, because the magazine’s future depends on the success of the small businesses that advertise in it.

 

As[ECB15] publisher, I am responsible for helping you succeed through the creative application of proven marketing techniques, strategies and tactics.

 

Chapter 2
The Ballantyne Market

 

I could bombard you in this chapter with pages and pages of demographic information. I could tell you how the Ballantyne market stacks up when it comes to how many flat-screen televisions people will purchase in the next five years, how many ironing boards they will own, and how many SUVs they will buy. I’m not certain you really need to worry yourself with all that detail. I can tell you where you can find that information if you think you really need it. But here are the three most important pieces of information you need:

 

  • The current average household income in 28277, the main Ballantyne ZIP Code, is about $110,000; in 2012, it’s projected to be over $130,000.
  • At least 5,000 new households are predicted move to the 28277 area by 2012.
  • The population is projected to increase from about 50,000 to over 65,000 by 2012.

 

That’s lots of newcomers and lots of disposable income. And that’s just in 28277. Explosive growth is taking place outside 28277 in the following areas:

 

  • Providence Road, south of I-485
  • Waxhaw
  • Weddington
  • The 521 Corridor south of Ballantyne
  • Marvin

 

These are areas Ballantyne Magazine reaches. If you want to get new business, you need to reach these areas, too.

 

You can spend hours looking at the demographics, but there’s no significant difference between Ballantyne’s consumers and businesses and any other suburban market’s consumers and businesses. People want to know as much as possible about products and services in which they are interested.

 

Because there are so many newcomers to Ballantyne, a significant portion of the population is looking for basic services. They want these services to offer value and excellent service. They’re willing to pay a little, and sometimes a lot, extra for ease. Many of the ultimate decision makers (UDMs) are parents looking for services and products that will benefit their children. Some new residents are “half-backers,” those who moved to Florida, didn’t like it there, and decided to move to the Carolinas, often to be near their children and grandchildren.

 

The fact remains, however, that it’s more important to focus on the marketing fundamentals I detail in this manual than the demographics. If you get the fundamentals correct, you will build a database of the demographic you strive to target. Because the magazine saturates the area, you can be sure you will reach the people you want to. Then you have to persuade and motivate them to go to your Web site, place of business, or both. You collect the data. You convert the data into leads and sales. The magazine continues to push people to you, and the cycle begins again. That’s a simplistic version of the Legendary Marketing system, but it’s more important to put this in place than worry about how many people in 28277 will buy a DVD player in 2010.

 

Just remember these key facts:

 

  • The current average household income just in 28277 is about $110,000; in 2012, it’s going to be over $130,000.
  • In 28277, the main Ballantyne zip code, at least 5,000 new households will move in by 2012.
  • The population will increase from about 50,000 to over 65,000 by 2012.

 

And only one publication reaches this market: Ballantyne Magazine.

 

Now let’s get into the meat of the Legendary Marketing system. Follow this, and you will likely achieve significantly increased revenue.


Part II
Define Who You Are in the Ballantyne Market


Chapter 3
Compare
Yourself to the Competition

Benchmarking. Some marketing people use this word to describe comparing yourself to the competition. You need to start your marketing program with benchmarking, whatever your business.

 

There are three stages to benchmarking:

 

  1. Find tangible numbers that describe your current performance.
  2. Measure intangibles, like how you stack up[ECB16] against your competitors.
  3. Take stock of the resources you already have in place.

 

Here’s a sample survey page:

 

Sample Survey

 

Ranking: 1 = Lowest/not much, 10 = Highest/a lot

 

How much business are you getting right now? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

 

How much business are your three nearest competitors getting?

 

Competitor one 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

 

Competitor two 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

 

Competitor three 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

 

How ready are you to handle an increase in business right now?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

 

Once you put all the pieces in place, how will you rank against your competition?

 

Cost-wise, where do your competitors rank in the current marketplace?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

 

How well-known is your business? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

 

How well-known are your competitors? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

 

How much do your competitors charge for their services or products?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

 

Take this survey based on how things are today. Then take it again based on where you would like to be. This is part of the goal-setting process.

 

Tracking Progress

This short survey is the first step in tracking progress and measuring results. Of a magazine’s 100 or so advertisers, it’s highly likely that only five actually track the results they get — which is just what magazine publishers want (except yours truly). Whether the five businesses that track results are happy with the response, at least they know exactly what they are getting for the ad, which may cost $1,000 to $10,000, depending on the publication.

 

Once your marketing system is in place, you’ll start to track results. Here are the key parameters:

 

  • What is your leads-to-customers conversion rate? Of the 100 people who call or visit your facility, how many actually make a purchase?
  • What does it cost you to bring a customer in the door (factors include ads, phone calls, follow-up letters, commissions, and time)?
  • How long does it take to turn leads into customers? How many times do you have to contact them?
  • Do you have a written, structured process by which this process actually happens?
  • How could you shorten this time?

 

A Tracking System for Everything

 

You must have a tracking system so you know your exact response to everything.

 

It’s not good enough to say, “Well, I have a sense that the ad in the Shenley News did pretty well.”

 

You must know exactly how it performed financially based on what it cost compared to how much revenue it generated. The next time the sales representative for the Shenley News comes by, you can tell the rep you’re not interested anymore. You can point to actual numbers and send him or her on his way. And if it’s working really well, you can bump up the frequency or the size of the ad. Either way, you’re working off real numbers, not guesswork.

 

This is exactly how I want it to be for Ballantyne Magazine. I want you to be able to say, “I got this ROI on my latest ad.” If it’s poor, we’ll change your advertisement until it gets a result. If it’s good or even great, we’ll stick with this approach.

 

The same applies for your database, whether it’s for e-mail or regular mail. What are the results?

 

What Sort of Business Do You Want?

 

Throughout this manual, I’ll use a wedding business analogy to illustrate the points. There’s a reason for this: I have helped golf courses and resorts increase their wedding business, which can be extremely profitable, through the use of the Legendary Marketing system. But what applies to a resort or golf club trying to get more business also applies to pretty much any other business in the Ballantyne market.

When it comes to businesses and their marketing, there are two certainties:

 

  • No business can cater to everyone.
  • Each and every business can reach somewhat to get customers who are close to its current business.

Weddings as Hurricanes

 

In helping clubs and resorts get more wedding business, I encourage them to think of a wedding like a hurricane. The goal is to define yourself in the market. Here are the different wedding hurricane categories:

 

  • Category one. Small, intimate wedding receptions, up to 50 people. Modest catering, probably not a sit-down meal. Background music[ECB17] . Might be perfect for second weddings.
  • Category two. Larger than category one, up to 100 people. Slightly better catering. Perhaps a sit-down meal. DJ possible.
  • Category three. Up to 200 people indoors and out-. A bit more complicated to organize. DJ probable. Band likely. Extensive food, but probably not a sit-down dinner.
  • Category four. Up to 300 people. More complex operation when it comes to add-ons, such as extensive floral arrangements. Band. Sit-down dinner.
  • Category five. Around 300 people but could go as big as 1,000. Sixteen groomsmen. Sixteen bridesmaids. An all-out, unlimited budget blowout. A well-known band. Sit-down dinner. Open bar. And all the add-ons

 

Which category will you target? Who will you be within that category?

These are two tremendously important questions that only you can answer.

 

Going through this exercise has helped me tremendously with Ballantyne Magazine. Instead of being just a magazine that strives to tell readers what’s going on in the world of Ballantyne, it’s now becoming something more: a publication that strives to help its advertisers get more revenue by implementing a marketing system with the magazine as the catalyst.

 

Next, we will develop your unique selling proposition (USP), something that’s hugely important.

 

 

Chapter 4
Define Your Unique Selling Proposition

 

A unique selling proposition (USP) is perhaps more vital to your success than the size of your store or business, the quality of your product, or the people you have hired.

 

You must set yourself apart from the competition with your USP. With a great USP, you will have a strong foundation for the rest of your marketing.

 

The characteristics of a great USP:

 

  • Must scream to your target consumers or clients, “Buy this and you will receive this specific benefit!”
  • Must be one that your competition does not, or cannot, offer.
  • Must be strong enough to attract new customers to your business.

 

Your USP is the foundation of your marketing and advertising. It’s the unique advantage you use to sell your products and services. Your USP is your reputation.

 

Don’t Be Like Everyone Else

Ask yourself this question:

 

What makes you different and better from your competitors?

 

Let’s go back to weddings. If you look through the many wedding guides that exist in most markets, you’ll find them full of advertisements for places to hold weddings. You will notice they all pretty much say the same thing, using the same words. They have pretty much the same photographs.

 

These facilities are wasting their money advertising. Who are you trying to reach? What can you do? What can’t you do? You need to answer these questions to get started with your USP. See the worksheet at the end of this chapter.

 

But I Don’t Want to Restrict Myself!

 

It’s a mistake to think that you will be restricting your business by defining more closely who you are. A good USP distinguishes you from the competition. And does much more than define who you are in the market: it can keep the tire-kickers away. For example, if a wedding location positions itself as hosting the best intimate weddings in New York City, then people looking for a category five wedding won’t call, which saves everyone time and money.

 

Enhance What You Have

 

Let’s say that a golf course resort competes for weddings with 10 other daily-fee golf courses, all with pretty much identical clubhouses. If all of them currently offer wedding services, they probably say things like “a great place for a romantic wedding” or “we can take care of all your needs” or “a beautiful place for your special day.” However, if you can differentiate yourself by saying you’re the number-one wedding destination for vegans and hippie chicks, then you have most certainly separate yourself from the competition.

 

Admittedly that’s going a bit far, but you get the picture.

 

Here’s another example. The Miami area has any number of well-conditioned golf courses, probably well into the hundreds. One of them is Doral Resort and Spa, a blue course[ECB18] at a resort so close to Miami International Airport that it sometimes seems like a 747 is about to land on the 10th fairway. However, the resort titled its rather ordinary blue course the Blue Monster. And that’s all it took. Suddenly, people were lining up to play the course, and Doral was able to charge a premium to play it even though it’s not really anything special as a golf course. Trust me, I’ve played it and it’s mediocre at best.

 

One more example: Let’s say you own a small ski lodge in Aspen, Colorado. Aspen is not well-known for being a budget destination, yet your ski lodge offers remarkably reasonable rates. You can also hold weddings. Make your USP something like: the affordable Aspen wedding.

 

Aspen is a dream wedding destination any time of the year, yet most people think they can’t afford it. This USP defines what the lodge offers and contradicts a common misconception: that Aspen is for billionaires only.

 

Stake Your Claim

 

First come, first served! Dave Pelz was not the first golf instructor to specialize in the short game (chipping, putting, etc.), but he was the first to make it his USP. Thus he claimed that space.

 

Perhaps your lodge isn’t the only one in Aspen that holds affordable weddings. It doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you stake your claim.

 

Let’s Build Your USP

 

Here’s how to built a concrete, bulletproof USP. Solicit as many opinions as possible from associates, clients, customers and others about what makes your business special and different. Answer these questions:

 

  • People tell us that our business is special because …
  • We’re the only business that can/could …
  • We are the best/could be the best because …
  • The thing we are/could be proudest of in our business is …
  • When it comes to our business, the one thing we do/could do is …
  • People remember/will remember our business because …
  • The most unusual thing about our business is/might be …

 

Home in on the one thing that will really set you apart. Just one thing. Not two or two and a half. ONE. I just helped a golf course in Iowa with its USP. It turns out that the general manager, the guy who really runs the course, is a former greenskeeper. That’s not unique, but it’s rare — especially in Iowa. It also means great conditioning. So the USP is great condition because the general manager is, at heart, a greenskeeper. Here’s the headline I wrote for its new Web site based on that USP:

 

At Whispering Creek, the General Manager Is a Former Greenskeeper … So the Golf Course Has to Be in Great Condition!

 

That’s great stuff, if I may say so myself! As you can see, everything flows from the USP.

 

Several years ago, Dudley Moore starred in movie about the advertising business, Crazy People. In one of the fake ads, someone came up with a headline for Volvo cars:

 

They’re Boxy … But They’re Good[ECB19] !

 

That’s a tremendous USP. No other car manufacturer would ever lay claim to that one. Of course, in reality, Volvo’s USP is that it’s the safest car. Most other cars are safe, maybe even safer than Volvo. But Volvo was the first to emphasize safety. It laid claim to that part of the market, and for several decades people bought Volvos even though older models were among the ugliest cars ever built.

 

Many car brands, many brands period, fail because their USP is a moving target. One year, they are big and luxurious. The next year, they are small and sporty. And the next year, they are all about safety.

 

Be Able to Back Up Your USP

 

Let’s say you’re a golf resort in the wedding business in a big market and you decide to make your USP the best place for vegans to have a wedding. In the wedding business, that would certainly make you stand out. However, if your resort has a steak house, claims to serve the best hot dogs this side of Chicago, and has a chef who has fried every vegetable he’s ever seen, the vegan USP probably isn’t the best USP. But if you have a vegetarian clientele, a top vegan chef, a golf shop staff that dresses in tie-dye, and carts that run on biodiesel, then the vegan USP is fine. You can back it up.

 

Perhaps more important, your USP must have a benefit. The benefit for that course in Iowa is consistently great greens, something golfers are willing to pay a premium for.

 

People often buy because what they are buying provides a benefit or overcomes a problem. For vegans, finding a vegan-friendly place to have a wedding might be difficult. Think about how your USP helps customers overcome typical problems in your business.

 

In fact, a good exercise is to list the problems your business helps customers overcome. I’m changing how Ballantyne Magazine operates to help small businesses solve a major problem: not having a dependable, reliable, and consistent marketing system.

 

Example Wedding USPs

 

Let’s look at some more wedding-related USPs:

 

  • Fox Lake Country Club is the perfect place for the truly traditional wedding.
  • Looking for the totally dependable wedding location? Call Rucker Lodge.
  • Morgan Hills Country Club specializes in glorious outdoor weddings.
  • Panthers Lake Resort is the top wedding location in Atlanta. It’s perfect if you have lots of out-of-town guests.
  • Hurney Hills may be a serious golf club during the week, but on Saturdays it’s home to the most festive and fun weddings in Des Moines.
  • If you want a wedding that’s easy to plan and organize, come to Peppers Mountain Golf and Country Club. All you have to do is show up.
  • For the best wedding food in the state, choose Foster Lake Golf Club.
  • For a genuine “Old South” wedding, complete with genuine plantation house, come to Myrtle Plantation in Smithville, Georgia.
  • Need a wedding spot for you and 800 of your mother’s best friends … without spending a small fortune? Come to Delhomme Resort.
  • Come to the Minter Lodge in Aspen and get married on the slopes or on a cliff. It’s the perfect wedding destination for those who love the outdoors.

 

These are all make-believe examples, but they are a lot better than “a great place for your special day.” Or, “the romantic place with lots of flowers.” There is something unique, or potentially unique, about every resort. However, few resorts truly emphasize their USPs. Few businesses truly emphasize their USPs. I know Ballantyne Magazine hasn’t really done this in the past.

 

And we wonder why we don’t get as much business as we should!

 

Where’s the USP?

 

A quick look through a 400-page wedding planner publication in a midtier market shows a total lack of USP. Some ads copy and my ratings of the USP (on a scale from 0 to 10):

 

Ad Copy Rating Comments
This day is all about you. Exceptional. Indigenous. Experience. 0[ECB20]  
A Visionary Dining Experience. 0[ECB21]  
Celebrate in Southern Splendor 2.5 A bit better, but still pretty muddy
For a Royal Celebration. 0 This was for a converted firehouse. Go figure!
For Your Special Event 0[ECB22] A funeral? A prison release party?
The Flavors and Ambiance of Europe. 0 Which flavors? What ambiance?
The only part of the to do’s is the I Do. 3 Better. Stresses the ease of the wedding.
Making moments to remember. 0 What sort of moments? Kodak moments? Rainy moments?
Classic Elegance … With Spectacular Views 4 Stressing the view is a bit better. It’s at a club at the top of a skyscraper.
A setting for occasions of distinction. -10 Worst ever[ECB23] .
Beautiful surroundings for her. Unlimited excitement for him. -20 Absolutely terrible given that this is at a NASCAR track.

 

Testing Your USP

 

Once you have your USP, ask these key questions ask frequently:

 

  • Are your graphics and copy in tune with the USP?
  • Does the USP enhance your position in customers’ minds?
  • Is the delivery consistent?

 

In Summary

Trying to be everything to everyone is a sure way not to conquer your portion of your industry. Remember two key things about your USP:

 

  • What is the word or statement you want to own in your customers’ minds?
  • What one thing do you do, or could you do, better than anyone else around? Once you have found a solid USP that produces results, stick with it. You’ll have plenty of people who approach you with requests that perfectly match your USP. You will also have people who want something that’s close to your USP and maybe some who want something totally different. But if being a vegan wedding destination works for you and the business pours in, don’t change your USP to “Have you tried our roast suckling pig? We cook the WHOLE pig!”

 

As the old saying goes:

 

Dance with the one who brought you.

 

And what Ballantyne Magazine’s USP?

 

Helping small and midsized businesses generate more revenue in the newcomer-rich Ballantyne area.

 

The[ECB24] Problems We Solve/Want to Solve Are:

 

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

 

The Benefits We Offer/Want to Offer Are:

 

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

 

 

We Are Unique Because:

 

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

 

Go through this worksheet, and you’re well on your way to creating your USP.

 

Chapter 5
Create a
Marketing Budget

 

Let’s take a brief time out to talk about the marketing budget and pricing. If you are serious about getting more revenue, you will have to spend some money. A marketing consultant might use a big word like “investment” for what you will have to spend, but let’s not get jargon-y. The reality is there’s a cost and there’s a commitment. However, one goal of the Legendary Marketing system is to maximize your marketing budget’s effectiveness. You are more than likely spending money on marketing right now, but it’s just as likely you are not tracking results and getting a sense of where you are getting the best results.

 

If you follow the system in this manual, you will soon stop spending money on things that don’t  work. This will likely save you thousands of dollars each year.

 

The key to deciding how much to spend on marketing is to be proactive. Some companies simply say, “OK, everyone, we’re going to spend 2.5 percent of our annual revenue on marketing. That will have us swimming in business.” Needless to say, that’s outdated thinking.

 

Match your budget to your goals, not the other way around.

 

Let’s look at things in the reverse:

 

  • To get the revenue you want from your customers, you must close the sale.
  • To close the sale, you must have people who want what you have to offer.
  • To get people who want what you have to offer, you must have leads.
  • To get leads, you must communicate frequently with a targeted database, advertise, and do some additional marketing to get people to your data-collection point (your place of business, your Web site, or both).

 

For budgeting purposes, the place to start is the first item: coming up with a realistic closing ratio. Be conservative with your estimate. Very conservative. See the end of the chapter for some budgeting worksheets.

 

Using the Data to Create a Budget

 

Based on your worksheet numbers, you now have a sense of what it will take to create the leads you need to meet your revenue goals. Printing and mailing a postcard might cost $100 to $150 if you have 500 current customers. If you generate 20 leads, that’s excellent. If you close two of those leads, you’re doing well. If each lead generates $500 in revenue over the course of a year, that’s a pretty decent ROI.

 

The lifeblood of a business-to-consumer (B2C) business is people coming into the store. The lifeblood of a business-to-business (B2B) business is leads. Just as a ski resort can never have enough snow, a publisher [ECB25] can never have enough leads or people walking through the front door. So don’t set marketing budget numbers based on something arbitrary, like five percent of current or anticipated gross. Set your marketing budget based on performance or lead generation.

 

Base your budget on your financial goals, not on a percentage of last year’s income or, worse, a mythical number an accountant hands you. If you get into a discussion about budget, pull out the worksheet and explain the numbers logically. Accountants love numbers presented in a logical, systematic format. But remember, once you generate the leads, it’s up to you and your staff to close the deals so you exceed the conservative closing estimates. (I talk about how to close leads later in the manual[ECB26] .)

 

Pricing

 

When it comes to what they charge, very few businesses take the time to determine what their pricing structure should be. Instead, they get into price wars with the competition. The result is declining revenue, even if there are more customers. If your overhead is fixed, there are three ways to generate more revenue:

 

  • Attract more business.
  • Charge higher prices.
  • Get existing customers to buy more often.

 

I cover attracting more business extensively in this manual. This section discusses charging higher prices and maximizing revenue from correct pricing. The last item, getting existing customers to buy more often, is related to attracting more business, but is covered in its own chapter [ECB27] in this manual.

 

Part of ideal pricing comes from your goals. In a perfect world, you should be at full capacity based on parameters like space, associates, and so forth. If you are currently at that level, you should be able to increase your prices. You may lose some business to price, so you must generate more leads so you can book more business to fill in the empty slots. However, you will be charging higher rates for that new business — provided you have a marketing system in place.

 

Say No to Price Wars

 

Because competition for business is intense in many markets, it’s tempting to get into a discounting war. Remember that the goal is to differentiate, not discount.

 

If you’re in a seasonal market, you may need to discount on occasion. If you’re a resort or a similar business and you can get 300 room nights out of a wedding, you may want to bend a little on the ballroom price, but this should not be the norm.

 

How Much Do You Want to Make?

 

Believe it or not, very few businesses ask themselves this question when they decide on pricing. Too many businesses simply base their prices on cost plus some percentage, then they see what happens at the end of the year.

 

A good way to start the pricing equation is with how much you think you can realistically make. And there’s nothing necessarily wrong with charging significantly more than the competition. There is some reverse psychology at work here.

 

In economics, it’s called conspicuous consumption. People often assume that just because something costs more, it’s going to be better. And with some products (like weddings), people don’t always think and buy rationally. (Golfers are price sensitive, brides are not!)

 

There is no rule about what you can charge in most industries. If people want a lower price, they have options. However, the world is full of businesses that have decided to charge two or three times as much as their competitors purely to drive more revenue. Is a dentist who charges $20,000 to replace your smile any better than a dentist who charges $5,000? Probably not. But many people will go to the one who charges $20,000 because they assume that dentist must be better. There’s nothing wrong with being the dentist who charges $20,000.

 

There’s another economic theory here at work as well. It’s called the Pareto Principle. Simply put, the theory states that 20 percent of entities get 80 percent of the revenue. You want to be in that 20 percent! How you price your business is part of getting on the right side of the Pareto Principle.

 

And once you have set your prices, you should not, as a rule, discount.

 

But the Competition’s Killing Me!

 

You’ll want to check your competition’s prices. Your USP is particularly important here, as you’re trying to differentiate yourself from your competition. But even if your USP is good, you’ll find it difficult to charge twice as much as your competition. To differentiate yourself further from your direct competitors without discounting, you need to add value. You need to do this based on what your business offers that’s particularly appealing.

 

For example, it’s an added value to me when I walk into a store and someone asks me what I want or how they can help. It’s a bonus when that happens in less than 60 seconds!

 

There must be over a hundred ways that even the smallest business can add value. Write them down on the next page. Ask your staff and associates to come up with ideas.

 

The pizza business is all about discounts and coupons. But the pizza place I like the most, Papa John’s, is starting to add value instead of discounting. For example, instead of 25 percent off my order, I get a carryout card that provides me with a free pizza after my fifth visit. The deal I go for is an second pizza with a full price one. It’s sometimes a fine line between discounting and adding value, but you want to strive to add value.

 

How Ballantyne Magazine Adds Value

 

Take a look at what I’m doing with Ballantyne Magazine. I never come off the rate card, and I’m probably one of the very few publications in the Charlotte region that does not. The only discount is a five percent discount for paying by credit card, and that’s just a cash flow thing. It’s also a convenience to many advertisers. Advertising agencies get a discount, but that’s an industry standard. Also standard is providing a frequency discount. Apart from these standard practices, I offer no discounts[ECB28] .

 

I add value (and provide ease) by offering advertising production in the price of running the ad. And now I’m expanding the added value by offering this manual and exclusive access to the Legendary Marketing system. As you’ll discover later, advertisers who make use of this system get my writing expertise at no additional charge. I’m simply striving to add more value than my competitors can offer without resorting to discounting.

 

And, more important, I’m striving to help my advertisers succeed.

 

If you can, try to work with your vendors and suppliers. They can often help you add value inexpensively.

 

When it comes to adding value, be aggressive and creative based on what your business does best and what seems to excite customers. Add items that add value, fun and uniqueness. Again, be creative.

 

The Best of the Best — and the Most Expensive

 

Plenty of companies in an array of industries, such as corporate jet charters and safaris, have unabashedly positioned themselves at the very highest end of their markets. They offer all the bells and whistles, the top stuff, the best of the best. Their aim is to cater to people who have so much money that they don’t really care about it — and to people who like to pretend to be that way. These companies charge, and get, princely sums. Depending on market size, you may be able to claim this space, but you will have to provide everything at top levels.

 

A Final Word About Pricing

 

Don’t waste the time and effort you put into developing your business by getting into a discounting war. Develop your USP. Determine how much money you want to make from your business. Add value. Be different — and better. Go after a segment of the business that’s underserved. Be creative. But avoid discounting! It’s a downward spiral.


B2C Budgeting Worksheet

 

1. How many people came into the store last year?

2. How many people bought something?

3. What was the closing ratio?

4. What is this year’s revenue goal?

5. How many people must come into the store to meet the revenue goal, based on the closing ratio in question three?

6. How many repeat customers will come in?

7. How many referrals will come in?

8. How much will the referrals cost per person?

9. How many people who have visited your Web site will come in?

10. What is the proportionate cost (e.g., 25 percent of site cost)?

11. How much revenue do you expect from mailing to current customers?

12.How much will it cost?

Postcard  

Brochure 

Letter  

Envelope  

Postage and mailing  

Design/creative  

Total  


B2B Budgeting Worksheet

 

1. How many clients did you have last year (phone, Internet, referral, walk-ins, e-mail, etc.)?

2. How many clients bought something?

3. What was the closing ratio?

4. What is this year’s client goal?

5. How many leads do you need to meet the client goal, based on the closing ratio in question three?

6. How many leads from repeat clients do you expect?

7. How many leads do you expect from referrals?

8. How much will the referrals cost per client?

9. How many leads do you expect from your Web site?

10. What is the proportionate cost (e.g., 25 percent of site cost)?

11. How many leads do you expect from mailing to current clients?

12.How much will it cost?

Postcard  

Brochure 

Letter  

Envelope  

Postage and mailing  

Design/creative  

Total  

 

Workbook:

100 Ways My Business Can Add Value — Without Spending a Fortune or Offering a Discount[ECB29]

 

Chapter 6
Identify the
Ultimate Decision Maker

 

In most instances and industries, the UDM is a woman. A few retail outlets where this might not be the case:

 

  • Hunting stores
  • Golf shops
  • Ferrari showrooms
  • Ski stores
  • Outdoor stores

 

And that’s pretty much it. In fact, some retail consultants believe that women make up to 85 percent of all buying decisions. In the wedding chain of command, the bride has significant influence on most decisions. However, her mother and her father may also have some influence. Sometimes, the UDM is both the mother and daughter, with the father footing the bill. In other cases, the bride and groom pay for everything. When it comes the rehearsal dinner and some of the engagement parties, the groom and his parents are involved.

 

One key to getting more business and making more from that business is to identify the UDM and the UDM dynamic.

 

Everything you do and produce should be geared toward marketing to UDMs and what they want and need. You had better get to know the UDMs.

 

One of your jobs as a marketing specialist (which is what you are becoming) is to identify the UDMs and keep them on track.

 

Even though you probably aren’t in the wedding business, you will still find the rest of this chapter useful. It’s about dealing with difficult customers. This skill is an important part of marketing.

 

Dealing With Bridezilla (and Mother of Bridezilla…and the Friends of Bridezilla)

 

Choosing a wedding location and organizing the wedding are extremely emotional tasks for the bride, her mother, and the families of the bride and groom.

“Scott, tell me something I don’t know,” you say, especially if you’re already in the wedding business.

 

For most brides and their families, the wedding reception is the most involved and largest party they will ever organize. And the most expensive.

 

For some brides and their families, the goal is to outdo every other wedding the guests, especially friends, have ever been to. For the mother of the bride, this can be particularly important: She wants to show her friends that her daughter’s wedding and wedding reception are significantly bigger and better than anyone else’s!

 

This type of flamboyance and one-upmanship is a fact of life. On top of all this, there may be pressure from those paying for the wedding, to stop spending so much money!

 

When emotions, money, organization, love, and stress come together, the result can be a type of person called bridezilla. Here is how Wikipedia defines this person:

 

Bridezilla (a portmanteau of bride and Godzilla) is a generic term used to describe a difficult, unpleasant, perfectionist bride who leaves aggravated family, friends and bridal vendors in her wake. A bridezilla is obsessed with her wedding as her perfect day and will disregard the feelings of her family, bridesmaids and even her groom in her quest for the perfect wedding.

 

Nice!

 

During the tour of your wedding facilities and the signing of the contract, the bride and her mother may have seemed totally pleasant and sensible. But after signing the contract, the bride may morph into bridezilla and her mother may morph into motherzilla. And what’s particularly pleasant about the two is that bridezilla and motherzilla will sometimes work together against you, then a few minutes later they’ll work against each other and you. Then they may turn to a third party, like the bride’s friend (friendzilla), to provide additional advice (and hassle).

 

A Potential Double Whammy

 

Bridezilla and associates will be difficult and demanding. What’s worse is they may go into the marketplace and attempt to ruin your good name. Brides have friends who are also thinking about getting married and brides’ mothers have friends whose daughters are thinking about getting married. And they talk to each other.

 

Whether you’re offering your facilities on a shell-only or a full-service basis, bridezilla, motherzilla, and friendzilla can make life extremely difficult — if you let them.

 

Spell Things Out Clearly

 

Dealing with bridezilla starts with getting to her before she becomes a problem. During the initial facilities tour and during the closing meeting, you may realize that the bride and her family will be difficult. Signs of potential trouble include:

 

  1. Excessively negotiating price
  2. Trying to go off-menu without documentation
  3. Threatening to go elsewhere
  4. Having a negative attitude about everything

 

Veteran wedding planners, who have dealt with any number of extremely difficult people, will tell you it’s vital to detail everything you will offer and everything you won’t offer. This must be part of the contract.

 

Head Her Off at the Pass

 

Troubleshooting is another part of the process. It can start with a Q and A on your Web site or in your wedding brochure packet.

 

The Q and A

 

Q. What types of weddings do you typically have at Foster Farms Country Club?

 

A. We specialize in traditional country club wedding receptions for weddings of up to 500 people.

 

Q. What do you organize? What do we organize?

 

A. We are a full-service wedding facility. We offer a full menu of services. We take care of catering in-house, but we also use approved vendors, many of whom have provided services for several years.

 

Q. Do I have to be a club member to hold my wedding with you?

 

A. No. However, a member must introduce you and will also sign the contract.

 

Q. Can I bring my own caterer?

 

A. No. We cater in-house exclusively.

 

Q. What about a photographer?

 

A. As long as the photographer is on our approved list of vendors, you can bring your own photographer.

 

Q. What if a vendor is not on your list?

 

A. The vendor can apply to be on the list.

 

Q. Do I have to sign a contract?

 

A. Yes. It will include all the details about the wedding so everyone is on the same page during the planning process. This helps avoid any confusion.

 

Q. What happens if I want to change something?

 

A. The country club can decide to honor the contract and not accept any changes. However, if we allow a change, there will be a change fee.

 

The Q and A should also let the bride know that you are in charge, using subtle language. To avoid dickering and constant mind-changing, make the change fees extremely high and list it in the contract.

 

Detailed Menus and Packages

 

Another key troubleshooting tactic is to offer highly detailed menus and packages. They[ECB30] should allow some flexibility but should also clearly indicate everything you will supply. During the planning process, regularly meet with the bride to go over details. This will help you be proactive and deal with any problems as they arise.

 

Scripts for Dealing With Bridezilla

 

Finally, create a script of what to say when bridezilla starts making your life difficult.

 

Let’s say it’s about two months from the wedding and you get a call or an e-mail out of the blue from the bride. She says that everything is going really badly, even though you know everything is going according to plan. During the conversation, simply listen as much as possible. Then say this (this can be an e-mail response):

 

Amy. I’m sorry that you feel that way right now. Our goal is to make sure your special day will be just that — special. I can’t go over all these issues with you right now. I would like you to detail, in writing, everything that is a possible problem. I will look over the list, revisit your contract from our file, and get back to you within three working days. Before sending your list, you may want to double-check the contract as well.

 

At this stage, you haven’t gotten into an argument, you’ve asked for specifics. You’ve also initiated a cooling-down period.

 

If you’ve planned everything before the contract signing and if the contract is watertight, then you can respond to the bride’s list like this:

 

Amy, I’ve gone through the items you mentioned on your list. I have also gone through the contract. I would respectfully say that we went through all of your items of concern before signing the contract.

 

Because we have to plan things well in advance to provide you with the best service and to honor everything on the contract, we will have to go with what’s detailed in the contract. There is, of course, an option to cancel the contract. You would be free to find another location. However, your deposit will not be refunded; the deposit on the contract is $12,000. Should I go ahead and cancel the contract?

 

Tweak the script based on how your facilities operate. The important part is specifying everything, down to the type of olives you’ll have available for martinis. The key is having a contract with a checklist that goes into serious detail.

 

Do not give into bridezilla. Do not argue with bridezilla. Be able [ECB31] to pull the plug on the wedding. Bridezilla will not like this and will not want to have to book somewhere else and lose the deposit. Be consistent with motherzilla and fatherzilla if they rear their heads. Before you sign the contract, remind everyone that to make changes, they will have to pay a hefty fee or cancel the contract.

 

According to one wedding expert consulted, increasingly friendzilla starts directing traffic, the like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain. If you sense this is the case, you need to ask the bride whether it’s her wedding or her friend’s.

 

It’s one thing to say that you’ll be tough with bridezilla. It’s quite another to be able to follow through, backed with a contract that has her signature on it. This will prevent a screaming match.

 

Conclusion

 

Think about how you’re set up to deal with your business’s equivalent of bridezilla. Spelling things out and troubleshooting are part of marketing, as you’re managing your expectations and your customer’s. Meeting expectations is one definition of marketing.


Part III
Generate Leads and Make the Phone Ring

 

Chapter 7
Lead Generation

 

Here’s a question that may make you smack your palm against your forehead:

 

How often do you let your database know about what you have to offer?

 

The answer is probably never. In the unlikely event that it’s something like once a year, you’re ahead of the game. That’s the beginning of your database.

 

Let’s work backwards for a minute:

 

  • To get business, you must sell (close) the business.
  • To get people to sell to, you must have leads.
  • To get leads, you must advertise or, better still, communicate regularly with your database.

 

Your database can never be big enough, so your advertising must help you generate a bigger database. Here’s something hugely important about your database:

 

The business with the biggest database wins.

 

Right now, we’re at the very beginning: building that database to generate leads. It’s all about mathematics at this stage. To put it another way, it’s all about the science of marketing.

 

It’s a percentage deal. For every 1,000 people on your lead list (database), only 10 will contact you, depending on the product or service. Of that 10, which is a good result, on average you’ll convert one to a sale — and that’s doing well. If you have a database of 5,000 potential leads and you communicate to them, you should get 50 leads. (This varies depending on the nature of your business.) Your goal is to make your database as large as possible.

 

Build Your Database

 

One way to build a database is to purchase lists of people you think might be interested in your product or service. But that’s shooting with a shotgun rather than a rifle[ECB32] . The ultimate goal is a database of people you know are interested in your product or service.

 

Build an E-mail List or a Postal Mail List?

 

If you can organize both, all the better. However, if you have an accountant breathing down your neck, you may have to stick to just e-mail. It’s always best if you can get e-mail addresses to build your database; you’ll save significant time and money on mail and postage.

 

If you are an upscale business, you may want to use postal mail, as it can portray a better image — although technology can make an e-mail look upscale. Because your database in a smaller market may be slightly smaller, postal mail may be more cost-effective. However, if you can get big numbers in an e-mail database, e-mail may be the only realistic option.

 

Get People to Your Web Site

 

The best, most effective way to deal with an e-mail database is to set it up through your Web site.

 

Through your current Web provider, you should be able to build an opt-in e-mail database. (If it doesn’t, change your Web service so you can build this e-mail database.) All of your advertising should now be geared to driving traffic to your site so people sign up to your list.

 

If you’re part of a national business through a franchise agreement, you may be able to access the company’s e-mail list. Check on this right now! We could be talking about millions of e-mail addresses, which could result in you being swamped with leads. A great problem to have.

 

Add to the Database…Every Day

 

Every successful business finds a way to increase the database every single day. A good way to begin the day is by adding a few names to your database. And a good way to end the day is to add a few more names to the database.

 

Target Groups and Organizations

 

Let’s jump back into the wedding business for a minute. In a number of midsized to large markets, groups have formed, comprising young adults (ages 23to 35 or 40 years old). Perhaps they call themselves “Young Affiliates” or “Young Vegans” or “Young Lovers of Opera” or something with young or first in it.

 

The people in these groups are likely starting to think about getting married in the not-too-distant future. Meet the people who head these groups, and do just about whatever it takes to get their databases. The bonus is they’ll likely be electronic.

 

Think of some groups or organizations you can target.

 

Speak to Groups

 

One of the best ways to get free publicity is to speak to groups. When speaking to these groups, harvest e-mail addresses and traditional addresses. Use a free drawing if you can.

 

More Ways to Generate Leads

 

Depending on how much time you have, how aggressive you want to be and how creative you are, there’s plenty you can do to generate leads:

 

  • Rent a booth at a mall.
  • Get a booth at a store.
  • Use lead boxes.

 

Try to place the lead boxes where prospective customers will shop, which is just about anywhere. Where will they be especially effective? To get people to drop a business card in the box, offer a clear USP and a clear, irresistible offer. For example:

 

Getting married soon? Drop your business card in this box and get a free 20-page wedding planner!

 

The more enticing you make the offer, the better. Irresistible offers are another pillar in the Legendary Marketing system. We’ll talk more about them in later chapters.

 

Chapter 8
Telemarketing for People Who Hate Telemarketing

 

Say telemarketing, and most people justifiably think about rude, obnoxious salespeople who call trying to sell cruises and other items precisely at the moment you’re sitting down to eat or to watch your favorite TV show.

 

And it doesn’t take a survey to deduce that about 99.999 percent of people would rather have razor wire threaded through their noses than make what they consider to be unsolicited telephone calls. For success in many businesses, it’s not absolutely vital to make calls to current or prospective customers, but it certainly helps. Being able to get on the phone to build your database and let people know directly about your products or services is a way to accelerate the sales process.

 

Yet telemarketing isn’t the most effective way to generate leads for every business. It works for the slightly aggressive business owner who really wants to get a significant amount of business relatively quickly. Some businesses hire a telemarketer, while others rely on third-party telemarketing services. If you do this, you’re taking the cold-calling route. I’m not certain this is the best way to reach the Ballantyne Market. Once you have a lead that includes a phone number, however, telemarketing can be extremely effective.

 

To be successful at telemarketing, you must have a plan and a watertight script. It also helps to have an end result in mind. Are you striving to make a direct sale, prequalifying some leads or setting up an appointment where you can close the sale?

 

Who Will You Call?

 

Initially, the goal of calling people you might not know is to:

 

  • Build your database
  • Let people know you’re offering a new product or service
  • Let people know you are doing things differently or have made some type of improvement or change
  • Get referrals

 

The more ambitious businesses will have someone who is more aggressive when trying to secure business. For example, this person will see an article in the newspaper and will be the first to call the person in the article.

 

Follow the Script

 

Let’s say you’re a golf club that’s just getting into the wedding business, and you want to let local wedding and event planners know that you now offer wedding receptions at your club. If you’re terrified of making calls, you could look them up on their Web sites and send an e-mail. But these people could be tremendously important for your business, so it’s best to make a personal call. Your first call is to Christina Jenkins, who runs a local wedding planning service.

 

If you happen to get a receptionist or partner, you should start with:

 

Hello. This is Sara Thomas with Panthers Run Golf Club. May I speak with Christina?

 

By announcing your name, you have bypassed the horrible “Whom shall I say is calling?” However, you may get the equally horrible “What’s the nature of the call?” Here’s how you should answer that:

 

We’re now offering our club as a wedding destination, and I would like to introduce myself personally to Christina.

 

Once you get on the line with Christina, here’s what you might say:

 

ST: Hello. Christina. This is Sara Thomas with Panthers Run Golf Club. I won’t take much of your time. I wanted to tell you personally that we’re now offering our large, conveniently located clubhouse for weddings of up to 200 people. This is something brand new for us, and I’d like to add you to our list of people who would be interested in the facility. Do you prefer regular mail or e-mail?

 

CJ: Actually, e-mail would be best.

 

(You get the address.)

 

ST: Thanks. In a few weeks, I’ll be inviting you to an open house, so look for the invitation. After the open house, we’ll offer a round of golf for you and three others on us. You can use it even if you don’t play golf. Do you have any questions right now?

 

CJ: No, but thank you for the call.

ST: Thank you, and I look forward to meeting you personally.

 

You never know, the wedding planner may ask, “Are you available on May 12?” You never know what will happen when you shake the trees. Telemarketing is shaking the trees.

 

If you get voice mail, use the script above and tell the prospect you will call later to get an address. Remember to leave a call back number. Keep a list of people you’ve called and who you need to call back. You can set this up on a spreadsheet or old-fashioned index cards.

 

Now let’s say you’ve made a major change to your golf club. That change provides you with the perfect excuse to call. Here’s a sample script:

 

ST: Hello, Christina. This is Sara Thomas with Panthers Run Golf Club. I will only take a few minutes of your time. I just wanted to let you know that we completely renovated our ballroom recently. We think it’s now an even better place for weddings. I’d like to add you to our list of people who would be interested in the facility. Do you prefer regular mail or e-mail?

 

CJ: Actually, e-mail would be best.

 

(You get the address.)

 

ST: Thanks. In a few weeks, I’ll be inviting you to an open house, so look for the invitation. After the open house, we’ll offer a round of golf on us. You can use it even if you don’t play golf. Do you have any questions right now?

 

CJ: No, but thank you for the call.

 

ST: Thank you, and I look forward to meeting you personally at the open house.

 

Building your database and getting leads by phone (that sounds better than telemarketing) is much easier if you have a script. You can tweak the scripts above, but it always helps if you have a script in front of you.

 

Follow Up Leads

 

Once you get leads from the boxes, your database, advertising, and your phonebook listing, it’s time to follow up. This is not pure telemarketing, but it’s close and thus there should be scripted. Here’s a sample with Mary Dalton, a bride-to-be:

 

ST: Hello, Mary. My name is Sara Thomas with Panthers Run Golf Club here in Bismark. I received your name from Xxxxx through Xxxx, and I understand you may be interested in learning more about what we have to offer here at Panthers Run.

 

MD: Yes.

 

ST: First of all, do you have a sense of how many people might be coming to the reception?

 

MD: About 200.

 

ST: Great, Mary, that’s a good number for us. If you have your calendar available, I’d like to invite you to visit the club in the next few days. What works for you?

 

MD: Next Tuesday evening.

 

ST: Excellent. I’ll see you then. And if you can give me your address, I’ll send you some information about our club. Do you prefer e-mail or regular mail?

 

(She gives her address.)

 

ST: Thanks. And one more thing: We are a popular wedding destination and we get booked well in advance, so it helps if you have some dates in mind. That will help you make sure that you have a weekend here. We can hold the date for up to a month if you like, with no obligation. Do you have any questions right now?

 

MD: No.

ST: Great. I’ll see you on Tuesday! I’m looking forward to it.

 

But what if Mary says she’s expecting 500 people and you can only handle about 250 legally? If you have a network of fellow clubs and resorts and know someone who can handle 500 of Mary’s friends, say, “Mary, I may be able to help you. Can I call you back?” Then call the person who can handle that number and take the referral fee, if that’s how you have your network organized.

 

Notice that this script has an element of pre-qualification for size. And it gets Mary thinking that she needs to get moving, or she’ll might miss out on a prime date.

 

Once again, there are lots of successful business owners who abhor telemarketing and never want to do it. However, there are also a lot of successful business owners who owe their success to generating leads and gathering information over the telephone. I’m a poor cold-caller, but I’m good at following up solicitation letters and e-mail with an organized and semiscripted telephone call. And that, in my book, is telemarketing. The only difference between my form of telemarketing and cold-calling is that I’ve taken out the cold, which is always a good idea.

 

When I call people I don’t know, I’ve first contacted them by e-mail or letter. I also go into the campaign with the knowledge that hearing no a lot means that I’ll soon hear a yes, but only if I call people who have a specific need for my service.

 

As you can imagine, I spend thousands of dollars each year on services like printing, graphic design, and photography. I get a phone call from a printer’s salesperson about once every four months. I can’t remember the last time I received a phone call from a freelance writer or graphic designer asking me if they could send me something.

 

Too many people today hide behind e-mail. I think it says something about people who want to do business with me when they take a few minutes to call and introduce themselves professionally. I’m not talking about calls I receive from some distant country. I’m talking about telephone calls from a professional who specializes in a service or product I’m currently paying for to help me create my product.

 

E-mail Inquiries

 

Once your Web site is set up, you’ll start to get e-mail inquiries. Some will ask for general information. Others will ask specific questions that you can answer directly or for which you can send your PDF brochure. However, simply providing information is not enough. You need to turn this lead into a live person who will buy something or sign a contract.

 

If the person has listed a phone number in the e-mail, call that person directly to answer the question and make the invitation using the script above. If there’s no phone number, use this script:

 

Thank you again for the e-mail. What’s a good time to call you to set up an appointment? What’s the best number to reach you at?

 

Many e-mail clients and Web site hosts can organize autoresponses to inquiries. These responses need to be scripted and organized. They need to have:

 

  • A clear benefit that will lead to a sale
  • An irresistible offer
  • A reason to take the next step that leads to a sale

 

Make sure the message has no typographical errors.

 

You Will Love the Phone

 

Plenty of people will make your life difficult on the phone. Sometimes it will seem like a waste of time. And, yes, people will hang up on you. However, very few of your direct competitors will get on the telephone and call to get leads or follow up on leads. Why? Because they are likely as terrified of telemarketing as you are.

 

Telemarketing will help you build a database and will result in direct sales. Having a script helps significantly. It will help you overcome your fear of telemarketing and help you sound more professional.

 

Remember, you aren’t calling randomly, trying to sell cruises or Alaskan timeshares. You have a legitimate, targeted reason to call. You’re shaking the trees by calling — and that inevitably leads to new business.

 


Telemarketing Workbook

 

Write your script for initial contact with a prospect. Remember, one goal is to prequalify. Another goal is to get the UDM to visit your store or set up an appointment.

 

 

Chapter 9
Print Advertising

 

Most print advertising is a massive waste of time, energy, money, and trees. As I wrote earlier in the manual, I wish I knew what sort of results my advertisers were getting from their ads in Ballantyne Magazine. The advertisers may have an idea. I know that most advertisers get a response, because most renew and we get a lot of new advertisers each issue. But some advertisers don’t renew, and one reason the ads didn’t  produced a result is that they didn’t follow some of the fundamental rules of advertising.

 

From this point forward, I’m going to strive to get every advertiser to “follow the fundamentals” and to track results. If you want an image/branding ad, that’s fine. But why not have an image/branding ad that produces a result as well? Yes, you can have it both ways.

 

The other day, I picked up a 400-page bridal magazine. It’s packed with about 300 ads, none of which stands out. I’m not joking. Not a single advertisement stood out in any way, shape, or form.

 

If you’re in the wedding business, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t advertise in wedding guides or other media. In fact, if you were to take a more scientific approach to how your ad looks and what it says, you’d be more likely to stand out. The fact that every other wedding ad looks the same and is ineffective presents a big opportunity to generate leads and interest so you can close on the leads.

 

This chapter, then, will help you:

 

  • Evaluate where you should spend you print advertising dollars
  • Negotiate for better position and price.
  • Capture the reader’s attention.
  • Write response-driven copy.
  • Prove your value.
  • Create compelling and irresistible offers.
  • Test your ads for effectiveness before they run.

 

Just ignore the second item!

 

Science Not Art

 

Most ads fail because the headline fails to grab the reader’s attention. Research shows that 90 percent of readers never get beyond the headline. If a reader actually gets beyond the headline, the copy fails to turn features into real benefits. It’s no surprise. The person who wrote the copy probably hasn’t actually read anything about how to write compelling advertising copy that makes the reader do something.

 

Remember this incredibly important fact; it applies to everything you do when it comes to marketing your business:

 

People buy for emotional reasons backed up by logic.

 

The person reading about your business or product or service is asking a vital question:

What’s in it for me?

 

You’d think every word of every Web site, print advertisement, direct-mail letter, radio ad, and brochure would be written to answer this question. It isn’t, and that’s why so much advertising is a total waste of money.

 

What Makes a Successful Print Ad Successful?

 

Let’s go back to that 400-page bridal magazine. Yes, a photo of a beautiful bride in a beautiful dress is an image for the ages, but it’s difficult to distinguish yourself when every other ad has a photo of a beautiful bride in a beautiful dress. Poor layout is also a common mistake. But even when an ad is good, the lack of a call to action ruins it.

 

Enough bashing and teeth-gnashing. A good ad starts by heightening the prospect’s interest in your product or service. Below are nine key factors to print ad success. Read them, then read them again. We’ll incorporate them into your next ad in Ballantyne Magazine so that you get a result!

 

Respect Every Inch of Printed Space

 

Paper is white gold. Remind yourself constantly that people buy for their reasons, not yours. Too many ads include useless phrases like, “for the perfect day,” “the time of your life,” “a glorious occasion.” None of these will motivate anyone to call or visit a Web site. In addition to clichés, the logos tend to be too big, the pictures don’t relate to headlines, and there’s a lot of worthless, empty copy.

 

You Must Capture the Reader’s Attention in Three Seconds

 

Your headline must offer a clear benefit almost immediately. What does your business or product have to offer your customers? How will it benefit them? The headline should be based on your USP. It can offer a direct benefit like, “The Best Wedding Reception Value in New Jersey.” Or it could ask a question like, “Why Is Panthers Run Golf Club Booked Each Weekend for Weddings?” These headlines are significantly better than “For the Elegant Wedding.”

 

The Picture Must Get the Reader’s Attention

 

A picture alone will not sell your company’s products or services. The goal of the photo is to get people to read the copy. So it should match and augment the headline. In a crowded magazine, you need to stop people in their tracks without being too off the wall. If you run a wedding facility, you could have a photo of two people getting married while parachuting, but unless you offer that particular wedding, it’s just a gimmick. For the most part, headlines work better if you place them below the photo. If you use a caption for the photo, don’t tell readers what’s in the photo. They can work that out for themselves. Use that space to get them to read more copy; the best way to achieve that is to restate the benefits.

 

Learn the Difference Between Benefits and Features

 

An ad that lists two or three key benefits is significantly more effective than one that lists lots of features. For example, instead of saying, “all-inclusive catering plan,” you should say, “Our menu options are all-inclusive so that there are no surprises, and the bar stays open for 90 minutes after the bride and groom depart the reception so the rocking party can continue unabated!” Now the reader is thinking of the benefit of not getting any nasty surprises when it comes to the catering bill.

 

There’s nothing wrong with ads that are full of copy. There’s a lot wrong, however, with ads full of meaningless waffle about meaningless features peppered with meaningless clichés. Make the benefits sound exciting, fun, unique, and the best in the market. Remember: What’s in it for me?

 

Back Up Claims With Proof

 

People are skeptical when it comes to advertising. The best way to overcome this skepticism is with testimonials. Use real names, titles and photos.

 

Make the Ad Easy to Read

 

Once again, go with the science. English is read from top to bottom and from left to right. People find it easier to read fonts they’re used to; small type may eliminate readers over 40. Avoid colored backgrounds at all costs, as they make the type more difficult to read. Please don’t tell me you want white letters on a red or black background.

 

Include an Offer

 

Some people think an offer cheapens things. On the contrary. Let’s say you’re in the wedding business, and you organize a deal with a local formalwear store. The offer in the ad is, “Take a tour of our facility and receive 10 percent off formalwear rental for your group — whether you book with us or not.” Or partner with a travel agent and run this ad, “Book your wedding reception with us, and we’ll pay your airfare for your honeymoon!” Be creative and add value. Don’t discount.

 

Tell the Reader to Do Something

 

Believe it or not, plenty of ads never ask readers do anything. Guess what happens? Readers don’t do anything. Use strong calls to action that tell readers what to do: “Go to our Web site right now and get your free wedding planner.” “Pick up the phone right now and call …”

 

Put the Ad to the Test

 

You could test your ad by showing it to friends, people at the club, and resort guests. But be warned: They will tell you to do things that break all the scientific rules of advertising. Below is a more scientific way to test the ad.

 

Headline Test

 

Does the headline promise a clear benefit? Or does it pose an interesting question or make a provocative statement?

 

Picture Test

 

Look at each picture in the ad. Will it capture your prospect’s attention? Does it clearly differentiate you from everyone else? If you sell fun wedding receptions, does the ad show people, particularly the bride, having fun at a wedding reception?

 

Copy Test

 

Is the copy written specifically for the most probable prospects? Does it state what’s in it for the bride or the UDM? Read two sentences of any printed piece, then ask, “So what?” This must be based on what will interest the potential customer, not the writer.

 

Typesetting Test

 

Ask the following questions:

 

  • Does your caption talk about a benefit?
  • Can you back everything up?
  • Are the testimonials good?
  • Are the type styles easy to read?
  • Is the ad designed so that it follows a natural path for English, from the top left to the bottom right? (If you advertise in the Japanese version of Ballantyne Magazine, is it designed[ECB33] ?)

 

Call to Action Test

 

Do you ask readers to take action? Do you tell them to do what you want them to do?

 

Tracking Test

 

Do you use a unique Web address or a unique phone number to track success? If not, why not? Don’t you want to know the ROI?

 

Sample Print Advertisements

 

The following print advertisements are for wedding facilities. Note that all these ads have clear messages in the headlines. They’ve been designed and written to stand out from the crowd. They don’t include photos. Think of the best type of photo that would work for these ads, that’s part of the exercise here.

 

Note also that these are thumbnails and still need a graphic designer’s touch. Don’t worry if you don’t have a graphic designer in house or don’t want to spend the money to hire one; you can negotiate for the magazine to tidy up the ad to your specifications. We’re just focusing on the copy now.

 

Each ad has a crystal clear call to action, either go to a Web site or call now. There’s also an offer that should be impossible to turn down. And there’s plenty of copy. In the wedding business, the bride and her family are organizing something big and important, and they want as much information as possible. Advertisers should give it to them in a benefit-laden fashion that makes them want to pick up the phone or start texting away frantically on their BlackBerrys[ECB34] . And remember your USP. It all starts with your USP.

 

A Diamond Ring and

a Four-Diamond Resort …

The Perfect Match!

 

Book your wedding with our family at

BigTree Resort — for the ultimate in pampering and service!

 

A diamond ring is the ultimate symbol of commitment. A AAA four-diamond rating assures you that BigTree is committed to making your wedding day as flawless as your diamond.

 

Once you have decided on the type of wedding and reception you would like, leave everything else up to our team of wedding planners, who will fuss over the details like you were one of our children walking down the aisle. That’s what we call four-diamond wedding service.

 

“I felt totally comfortable leaving everything up to the people at BigTree. This is what they do. And everything was beautiful on the day. Everyone had so much fun.” — Kristina Blues, Joliet, Ill.

 

Weddings at BigTree Resort are so popular that weekends get booked well in advance. Sometimes up to a year in advance. So call Julie Jenkins, our wedding coordinator today at (xxx) xxx-xxxx. Or e-mail her right now at julie@bigtreeresourt.com. Remember: BigTree’s popularity means that it’s vital to call well ahead to reserve your weekend. Visit BigTreeweddings.com and download our free four-diamond wedding planner today!

 

You and Your Groom Are Vegans,

And the Bridesmaids Are Hippie Chicks.

Now What?

 

America is generally a pretty good place for vegans, and it’s a pretty good place for hippie chicks … until it’s time to get married. You can keep the parents happy by doing the whole formal thing, with the black tie, the ring bearer and the bridesmaids’ dresses that will never be worn again. But is that what you really want? To be more specific, is that what you really want to pay for?

 

Here at Rucker Farms, we offer decidedly non-formal weddings in a pristine setting well away from the city. We’re near Burlington, Vermont, so we’re easy to reach all the major metropolitan areas in the northeast. And we’re a destination resort. So all you and your guests have to do is park the hybrid on Friday, enjoy the festivities, and leave on Sunday. We have well-appointed log-home–style chalets and cottages on site for guests, plus a beautiful lake that’s a perfect romantic setting, even if everyone’s in shorts and tie-dye. We have plenty of brides who want this type of wedding, and that’s just fine by us. Actually, it’s what we do.

 

All Rucker Farms’s food is organic, and we have a full vegan menu available. In fact, it’s our most popular choice. Receptions in “The Barn” are (in)famous; we even have a roster of local and regional jam bands if that’s what the couple wants instead of a Frank Sinatra imitator or disco DJ.

 

If a traditional, formal wedding isn’t for you, call our resident hippie chick wedding specialist, Rosalie Minter, at (xxx) xxx-xxxx. Because we offer  one-of-a-kind weddings, we book up pretty quickly. Call or e-mail now. E-mail Rosalie at rosalie@ruckerfarms.com. By the way, Rosalie can help you organize just about everything, so all you have to do is show up. Book before June 1 and we’ll organize a biodiesel bus to bring your friends from a New England city of your choice. At no charge to you. Call us today at (xxx) xxx-xxxx.

 

The Totally Awesome Traditional Wedding …

Without the Totally Outrageous
Traditional Price

 

You got engaged, then you decided you wanted the all-out mega-wedding. Black tie. 16 bridesmaids. 16 groomsmen. Sit-down dinner. Everything. And then you found out what it would cost.

 

Fortunately, there’s Williams Ridge Golf Club in Sacramento. We specialize in traditional and formal wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners, and engagement parties — all for about half what a typical country club charges.

 

We’re not a private country club, but we look like one, smell like one, and have all the bells and whistles. And not only are weddings more affordable at Williams Ridge, they’re more fun!

 

“Thank goodness we found Williams Ridge! Everything was well-organized, and it was a fraction of the cost of other spots.”

— Janie Augustiniac, Sacramento, Ca.

 

We book up early, sometimes over 18 months in advance, so call our wedding coordinator, Juliana Cole, right now at (xxx) xxx-xxxx. To prove that we’re all about saving your money, Juliana will give you a $250 dress-fitting certificate for McFox Wedding Wear just for taking a tour of the clubhouse. Use it whether you book with us or decide to go elsewhere. You can also e-mail Julie at julie@williamsridge.com.

 

Why Are Weddings at Lucas Acres Golf Club So Much Fun?

 

There’s a simple answer to that question. When we got into the wedding business, we decided that the most fun wedding for a bride should be her own. So we kicked down the doors of normal wedding convention and asked ourselves this question:

 

If we were having a reception for ourselves, what would we do to make it the best party ever?

 

That’s the approach we take at Lucas Acres. We ask you what you want, then we strive to customize your event so that it’s not a reception, it’s a party. We don’t dictate to you. You dictate to us. Then we throw one seriously epic shindig.

 

Our reputation means we get a lot of requests for information and we get booked up well in advance. So call our wedding specialist Misty Wharton at (xxx) xxx-xxxx right now. And when you come out for a tour, ask about our free champagne offer. Then get ready for some big-time fun.

 

The Affordable Aspen Wedding

 

Is that a typo? Who put “affordable” and “Aspen” in the same sentence? The answer is the Alpine Chalet, an Aspen landmark just two blocks from the gondola in the heart of downtown Aspen, Colorado.

 

We can accommodate intimate weddings right here. And you’ll have the reception in our Mountain View Room with its expansive panoramas of Aspen Mountain, Aspen, and the Elk Range. It’s very quietly one of the most beautiful settings for a wedding anywhere in the Rockies. Your guests will be delighted[ECB35] to have an excuse to visit Aspen and delighted to learn that our comfortable and spotless rooms are very reasonable — especially as part of one of our sensibly priced all-inclusive wedding packages.

 

Weddings in Aspen are wonderful any time of year. In winter, everyone can go skiing. In spring, it’s white-water[ECB36] . In summer and fall, hiking and golf. There’s something magical and special about a wedding in Aspen. Especially when it’s affordable!

 

Weekends at the Alpine Chalet book quickly. So call Scott Minter right now at (xxx) xxx-xxxx to get more information. And make sure you visit ACAWeddings.com. Do you have a bigger wedding in mind? We can probably handle it with the help of our partners in Aspen. And don’t forget to ask Scott about a free night in the bridal suite at a nearby five-star hotel when you book a wedding with us.

 

North Dakota Wedding Planner[ECB37] or Guns & Ammo?

 

If you’re a wedding-related business, where should you place your advertisement? Should you be in a wedding planner magazine, a local newspaper, a holistic health magazine or a local women’s magazine?

 

Or should you be in Guns & Ammo?

 

If you were in the latter with a wedding ad, you would certainly stand out! You might also get a response. But probably absolutely zero leads of any worth.

 

The choice is difficult and a wrong move could be costly. You could sign up for four issues in a quarterly publication and discover that you’ve flushed $10,000 down the drain.

 

Begin by going back to your budget. What sort of lead generation do you need and what sort are you expecting from your print advertising? If you run an advertisement in a magazine that claims to reach 3,000 brides who are all about to choose a wedding reception, you will do well to get 20 calls, even if your advertisement is excellent and follows all the rules in this chapter.

 

People who sell advertising in newspapers and magazines are famous for coming up with big readership numbers. They back them up by printing those big numbers in a media kit (the document or package that contains all the information about advertising). Some of the bigger publications have their numbers audited by companies, which check the publication’s documentation. But even this process is fraught with anomalies; the newspaper or magazine pays the auditors, not always an objective situation.

 

Yes, all advertisements help with branding — getting your name out there. But your ad’s goal must be to generate qualified leads. Somebody might say, “I saw your ad in Guns & Ammo,” but that’s not good enough.

 

Part of the science of advertising is tracking what sort of response your ad receives. If you decide to experiment with a certain publication, use a toll-free number that’s unique to that ad. Use a Web site or e-mail address that’s specific to that ad.

 

If you’re interested in a publication that targets your market, ask the sales representative about specific competing businesses that track their response from their ad in the publication. If the ad rep cannot come up with anyone, your ad will be a guinea pig. That’s just one of the many reasons I’m encouraging all advertisers to move to a more direct-response model.

 

If your business offers a product or service that provides a genuine benefit and you want to reach the important Ballantyne market, I’m confident I can get a response. But you must follow the recommendations and guidelines in this chapter.

 

Please don’t come to me and say, “I got no response,” when you ignored even one of my recommendations.

 

Daily Newspapers

 

In most U.S. markets, the best way to reach your target demographic is to use the daily newspaper. And that’s due to the sheer volume of readers. However, on any given day only a small fraction of the readership will be interested in what you are selling. And the frequency necessary to run in a daily newspaper makes it expensive.

 

The Plan

 

  • Plan your print advertising in the fall for the upcoming year.
  • Base your plan on the number of leads you need to generate.
  • Base placement on results that similar businesses have received from similar publications.
  • Put all the numbers on a spreadsheet.
  • Follow the rules of advertising/copy.
  • Track results.

 

This is a much more scientific way to place advertising in print media. Tracking the results will make it even more scientific. If you do just the above, you are miles ahead of your competition.

 

Buying Advertisements

 

Some publications will readily bargain over price. The more successful ones may not. You can negotiate something with just about every publication, however — especially when it comes to adding value.

 

If you aren’t getting a price break (which is fair enough), negotiate the following:

 

  • Preferred placement
  • A discount for paying ahead of publication
  • Access to mail lists/databases
  • Free ads on the Web site
  • Discounted or free  reprints
  • Additional copies

 

Be careful about demanding editorial mentions and about magazines that offer editorial consideration as a carrot — unless it’s a pure advertising magazine or a special advertising section. Readers can easily spot publications that sell themselves. They don’t read them as much or as enthusiastically as they do publications that maintain editorial integrity.

 

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t discount — for a number of obvious reasons. However, I do to try to add value, and I listen to ideas advertisers have about additional things I can do to help them. But I don’t let advertisers dictate editorial content and I’m willing to lose the occasional advertiser because of this.


Ad Creation Workbook

 

Photo that shows your USP:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your USP:

 

 

 

Headline (with the benefit included in your USP):

 

 

 

 

Subhead (with more about the USP, optional):

 

 

Body copy (remember, benefits over features):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call to action (tell people to do things):


An Advertisement for Ballantyne Weekly

 

You probably noticed the advertisement I recently ran in the magazine encouraging people to sign up for Ballantyne Magazine Weekly, my new e-newsletter for the Ballantyne area. Let’s take a look at it:

 

 

 

  • Photo: In an ideal world, I would have liked to find a photo of the woman working on her computer — smiling, of course. But I chose this photo because I’m trying to attract this demographic to the weekly. At least at first.
  • Headline: It’s pretty basic, but it offers two clear benefits: convenience and prizes.
  • Body copy: “What’s in it for me?” asks the reader. I stated the major benefits again. The chance to win some great prizes. A goody bag of stuff from local businesses. Plus weekly information on an area that’s changing really quickly. And there’s another benefit: It only takes a minute to scan the ad — a good benefit in a world where e-mail is taking over our lives.
  • Irresistible offer: I’m giving away a lot of gift certificates to Ballantyne Resort. But people are signing up. And the more people who sign up, the better.
  • Calls to action: Language like “go to” and “sign up now” and simple directions.
  • Design: Simple, on a white background in an easy-to-read font.

 

Now that I look at this ad more seriously, there are two things missing: a full testimonial and better use of space. Still, by following the system I’ve produced a successful print advertisement. The response has been excellent, so I won’t make any major changes to this advertisement.

 

Chapter 10
The
Direct Mail Campaign

 

There’s a reason your physical mailbox is full of direct-mail solicitation.

 

It works.

 

It’s also absolutely trackable. There’s nowhere to hide. Either you get the results or you don’t. So for golf clubs, credit card companies, car dealerships, and so many other businesses, direct mail is a great option — even with the arrival of e-mail. But what if in your business the UDM is a moving target?

 

Let’s continue with our club example. In the wedding business, the bride gets engaged. She then takes about two months, if that, to make a decision about the site for the wedding reception, the rehearsal dinner site, and perhaps a place for engagement parties. By the time your direct-mail piece reaches the bride, she’s moved on to the next decision. However, if you’re trying to get banquet or outing business at your club, you can target local organizations that will hold an outing or a banquet at least once a year and send mail to that database. Yes, people will move and there will be some attrition and churn, but it will be fairly easy to build the list, then maintain its integrity and consistency.

 

Ideally, your database should contain both e-mail and regular mail addresses. (We’ll talk about how to communicate via e-mail in a later chapter[ECB38] . If you go with regular mail exclusively, aim to send something to this database 14 times a year. Why? Because that’s the number of times L.L. Bean sends something to its customers. And arguing with L. L. Bean (and the hundreds of catalog companies that try to keep up with it) is just crazy.

 

Getting Started

 

Even if you’ve been sending some mailings to an old database, it’s time to start fresh. Here’s an annual plan that I wrote for a golf club that wants to get more wedding business.

 

Direct Mail Annual Plan

 

  • Month 1: Four-page introductory letter with brochure and mail-back card
  • Month 2: One-page letter with the full wedding menu
  • Month 3: Photographs of a recent wedding showing everyone having fun
  • Month 4: Letter [ECB39] full of testimonials
  • Month 5: Letter[ECB40] that describes wedding-related activities that you can hold, including engagement parties and rehearsal dinners
  • Month 6: One letter [ECB41] detailing weddings that have taken place at the club, and another[ECB42] letter telling the story of a bride’s fairy-tale wedding at your club[ECB43]
  • Month 7: Same as month three[ECB44] .
  • Month 8: A letter[ECB45] detailing wedding tips and the latest in wedding etiquette and trends
  • Month 9: A Q and A interview[ECB46] with your wedding coordinator or a local wedding planner
  • Month 10: A story[ECB47] about a mother and her daughter and why they chose your club
  • Month 11: One letter[ECB48] listing vendors and how you go about approving them, and a second[ECB49] letter listing weddings and wedding-related events at the club[ECB50]
  • Month 12: Same as month four[ECB51]

 

You can tweak and adjust as necessary. Write everything with your USP in mind. And remember, you are writing everything to get a result — specifically a lead that you can turn into a sale.

 

Because Ballantyne Magazine reaches the Ballantyne area so successfully, a placement in the magazine can take the place of four to eight mailings, provided the advertisement follows the rules in the earlier chapters. However, every business that wants more revenue from the Ballantyne area should consider some direct-mail advertising. It’s more expensive than e-mail, but if organized properly, direct mail is more likely to be read and you’re more likely to get a better response. It’s also an excellent idea for businesses that specifically want to target other businesses.

 

What Should I Include in the Direct-Mail Letter?

 

What you include is not as important as how you include it. What does that mean?

 

You can put together a package that includes a beautiful brochure, a 12-page letter, and a coupon for something and get absolutely no response. Or, you can send a package with a simple double-sided letter and all of the following:

 

  • An envelope with teaser copy
  • A great headline
  • Excellent copy (see chapter 9)
  • A clear, compelling (irresistible) offer
  • A reply card or other call to action

 

This package will likely get a positive response.

 

Here are the rules for every piece of direct mail:

 

  1. Grab the reader with the envelope. The envelope teaser must make the UDM open the package. For example, if you’re sending photos of a recent wedding or a list of people who have had weddings at your club recently, try “Find Out Who Recently Had the Best Weddings at Panthers Run!” If you’re sending out the introductory package, your USP should provide the backbone of your copy: “You can have a traditional country club wedding for half the cost of one!”
  2. Make the copy relevant. The copy can be long, but it must be relevant. Start with a great headline. (See the example in the next few pages.)
  3. Incorporate a story into the copy. Tell an emotional story that will appeal to the UDM.
  4. Have a conversation with the reader. Speak with the UDM friend to friend.
  5. 5. Include testimonials.
  6. 6. Include benefits.
  7. 7. Have a great offer.
  8. 8. Tell the reader what to do.

 

Sample Direct Mail Letter

 

First, the setup. Panthers Run offers wedding services at about half the cost of similar golf clubs. It makes its money on the backend by organizing everything from bands to lodging for out-of-town guests.

 

The letter is part of the first package a semi-private country club sent to its new database. The database it created contains these types of vendors:

 

  • Members of your club
  • Wedding planners
  • Event planners
  • Ministers, rabbis, and priests
  • Former brides
  • Newspaper social columnists
  • Local magazine editors
  • Bridal store owners
  • Wedding photographers
  • Jewelers
  • Florists
  • Formalwear rental stores
  • Bridal registry specialists at local department stores and other locations

 

Envelope Copy

 

A traditional country club wedding for half the cost! OPEN NOW to learn more!

 

Letter Copy

How Panthers Run Golf Club Helped Mary Williams Have the Wedding of Her Dreams … For Half the Usual Cost

From Sara Thomas, Director of Weddings

 

Growing up, Mary Williams dreamed about her fairy-tale wedding … 16 bridesmaids in drop-dead gorgeous dresses and 16 groomsmen in white tie and tails at an elegant country club. And every single friend and family member has a wonderful time … eating, drinking, and dancing until the wee hours of the morning.

 

When boyfriend Nicholas proposed to Mary and she said yes, she instantly thought about her dream wedding. She knew that plenty of traditional country clubs in the Seattle area could host Nicholas and Mary.

 

The only problem?

 

The cost was EXTREME. Nicholas and Mary and their families could afford it, but, being sensible people, they didn’t think it made sound financial sense to spend that much money. So Mary started to look around for a discount option. She quickly became depressed as she found herself looking at the Elk’s Club (with its one bathroom), a disused discotheque, and a middle-school gym.

 

At[ECB52] one stage, Mary tearfully told Nicholas they should just drive all night to Las Vegas to get it over and done with.

 

Then Mary Found Panthers Run, The Affordable Alternative

 

Thankfully, before driving to Nevada, Mary ran into an old friend who had held her wedding reception at Panthers Run.

 

Mary discovered that a full, all-out wedding reception at Panthers Run costs just a fraction of one at any other country club in the Seattle area.

 

So she contacted me at (xxx) xxx-xxxx and booked her weekend. She had her fairy tale wedding and is currently living happily ever after! In fact, Mary used the money she saved to put a down payment on their starter home!

 

Home of the Easy Fairy-Tale Wedding

 

Mary was traveling coast-to-coast just about every week of the year. She had limited time to worry about all the wedding details. So I organized just about everything. All with her blessing. (If you’re a professional wedding planner, don’t worry, I would be delighted to work with you, not against you.)

 

Mary was able to show up and enjoy her reception knowing that everything was handled and organized. And she saved all that money. You could say that Mary had her cake and ate it too! Call me to see how much you can save. (xxx) xxx-xxxx.

 

Panthers Run can accommodate up to 250 people inside, and we can expand that number to 500 by setting up a climate-controlled (and watertight) tent outside.

 

Mary Is Just One of Many Happy Brides!

 

Delores Uttley was another bride-to-be in the same position as Mary Williams. Here’s what she said about Panthers Run[ECB53] :

 

Everything was truly wonderful. Panthers Run is the one wedding location where you get a country-club setting and country-club service and have everything taken care of … They made a difficult process incredibly easy.

 

You can book just the food, beverages and facility, but most of our brides ask me to organize everything, from wedding invitations to arrangements for out-of-town guests to golf for the groomsmen. We can even host the rehearsal dinner and your engagement parties.

 

While most of our wedding receptions are formal, some are informal and every wedding is unique.

 

Ask About Free Honeymoon Airfare!

 

That’s right, book your reception here then book your honeymoon through one of our five travel agent partners, and you’ll get free honeymoon airfare — even if it’s all the way to New Zealand! That’s up to a $2,000 value!

 

Book now by calling me at (xxx) xxx-xxxx or e-mail me at sara@panthersrun.com. DO IT NOW, as weekends book quickly at Panthers Run because Mary is busy spreading the word about how much money she saved and how much fun she had. For photos of her wedding, and others, visit panthersweddings.com.

 

Sincerely,

 

Sara Thomas

Wedding Specialist

Panthers Run Country Club

 

P.S. Everyone who comes to Panthers Run for a tour gets a $200 certificate for a dress alteration at one of our exclusive wedding dress partners. Use it whether you book with us or not. Call me right now: (xxx)-xxx-xxxx!

 

Notice that the letter has all the ingredients[ECB54] . Also, each page ends with a half-finished sentence so the reader goes to the next page[ECB55] . The USP is strong, and the free airfare offer is rock solid. In fact, it’s irresistible. And it’s something the club won’t have to pay for. The travel agency springs for that one. Plus, there’s a really good offer for the bride. A typical wedding dress alteration can cost at least $250. And to top it off, there’s a call to action on every page.

 

Nuts and Bolts

Don’t worry if you don’t have the office staff to organize direct mail. You can hire a local mail house to take care of the actual work. And if you’re still not sure about writing a direct-mail letter, hire a local writer or find one online. If you’re a current Ballantyne Magazine advertiser, I’d be happy to write it for you. Just call me at (704) 358-8090. No matter who writes the letter, make sure the writer follows the rules[ECB56] of direct-mail marketing listed earlier. And hire a proofreader to find any ugly typos.

 

What Sort of Response Should I Expect?

 

This may come as shock to you. but the USPS periodically fails to deliver bulk mail. It’s possible that only 9 out of 10 items will reach the final destination. Some direct-mail practitioners say that a three percent response is good. In reality, it’s more like 0.5 percent. So make sure you do three things:

 

  • Build a rock-solid database of prospects.
  • Follow direct mail’s rules when creating packages.
  • Mail 14 items a year.

 

A Final Word About Direct Mail

 

The beauty of direct mail is that you can control exactly what you say, how you say it, and who it reaches. And you can determine how successful it is.

 

Perhaps your very first letter will produce just the result you want, and you will have so much business that you don’t know what to do with it all. That’s unlikely. It’s more likely that you will have to experiment and tweak your approach. Don’t stand still with direct mail. Build your database. Stay in touch with reputable list houses. See which letters and offers produce the best results. If in doubt, stick to the rules listed in this chapter.

 

Chapter 11
The Web Site

 

Perhaps this should have been the first chapter in this section. Why? Because a Web site should be the foundation of how you market your products and services. Your site is terrifically important, not least because your advertisement in Ballantyne Magazine is likely going to point people to your site. Maybe you feel that your site is fine because you hired a top advertising agency or Web design firm to build and maintain it. Maybe they understand that a Web site is a primary marketing tool, And maybe they don’t. How do you find out for sure?

 

Answer these questions.

 

  • Does your Web site reflect your USP?
  • Do you have at least two different ways to collect data on your site?
  • Can you make changes to your site anytime you want, without calling anyone and without any epic computer experience?
  • Can you do e-mail blasts anytime you want?
  • Does every site page have compelling copy that asks for action?
  • Can prospects make requests on your site, and can you preprogram the site with sales letters that automatically follow-up on all requests?
  • Does your site offer a media section where visitors can download high-resolution pictures, logos, and fact sheets when they want instant information on your business?
  • Do you use a full-color electronic newsletter to stay in touch with the electronic database[ECB57] ?

 

If you answered “no” to more than two of these questions, your site is not as effective as it could be . Not only must your Web site look good, it must also perform.

 

If your Web provider can’t provide the functionality, find one that can. When you meet with your old firm or interview new ones, use an approach based on the information in this manual to build the perfect Web site — for any business.

 

The Data-Collection Machine

 

Your site should have at least two data collection points. Motivate people to win something to get their e-mail address, such as gift certificates for Ballantyne Resort. The better the offer, the more e-mail addresses you’ll get.

 

Compelling, Detailed Information

 

Provide as much information as possible geared to motivating people to action. Each page must be a sales pitch. Advice about copywriting in chapters 9 and 10 applies to Web copy, too. Remember: a sales pitch. a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Features no,; benefits yes. Testimonials. And a strong call to action.

 

Easy to Navigate and Easy to Read

 

Put the navigational menus at the top or on the left.

 

The 24-Hours Work Day

 

Your site should work for you, all day, every day. For example, collect information online. Don’t make visitors print out a form then fax it in.

 

Automatic Follow-Up and Content

 

As soon as visitors ask for information online and click “submit,” they should receive an automatically generated e-mail thanking them for registering. The e-mail should follow all the rules of direct-marketing copy.

 

It should also be easy to update your Web site with photos of recent events and fresh copy.

 

Search Engine Optimization

 

Ensuring your site is found by search engines is a moving target and perhaps the biggest reason you should hire a Web firm that’s more oriented to marketing than building pretty sites. Do you need to spend a fortune to make sure your site comes up first in the search engines? Not necessarily. Your Web firm should be up to date on how to get better search results — without sending tons of cash to Google and the other major search engines. This topic changes week to week. But remember that this marketing system is proactive; waiting and hoping for people to find you online is reactive. You must drive traffic to your Web site.

 

Total E-marketing Functionality

 

Your site must have excellent reporting tools so you can measure your success. You must also be able to track e-mail success — just like you can track success from direct mail.

 

Easy Site Updates

 

You should not have to call anyone to update your site. You should be able to update your site, even if you only have basic computer skills. You should not have to pay to do this.

 

Good-Looking

 

Notice that the site being good-looking is far down the list, after the functionality. Print ad rules apply here, as well. Make the site clean and clear, and remember that English reads from top to bottom and from left to right. Highlight the four most important products or services at the top of the site page.

 

Expandability

 

Your site should grow as your business grows. It should be reliable and protected. Your Web firm should have all the redundancy and security contingencies covered,.

 

Ballantyne Magazine can help you with a Web site built by Legendary Marketing. And for current Ballantyne Magazine advertisers, I will write the site copy at no charge.

 

What Should Be on Your Site Pages

Home Page

 

  • USP
  • Great headline
  • At least 400 words of copy
  • Testimonial
  • Call to action
  • An irresistible offer (to collect e-mail addresses)
  • Key search engine words
  • Four buttons that link to the most important site sections

 

“About Us” Page

 

This page should elaborate on what makes your business special and different. Write it like a direct-mail letter, with lots of calls to action. There should be a call to action that directs the interested party to the request-information page at least every fourth paragraph. This page should also include testimonials, contact information, and a place to sign up for your offer or contest.

 

Offerings Page

 

  • What you offer and whom you serve
  • What types of business you handle
  • Testimonials
  • Call to action
  • An irresistible offer (to collect e-mail addresses)

 

Testimonial Page

 

There’s nothing wrong with a quote from several past UDMs.

 

Photo Page

 

Show plenty of photos if you’re visually oriented business.

 

Details Page

 

This page should include a full list of all the services you offer, everything anyone could ever want to know about what you do and what you offer — plus the benefits.

 

Request-Information Page

 

Don’t call is a “contact us” page. Instead, have the UDM fill out a brief form that has some level of prequalification.

 

Chapter 12
The
Opt-In E-mail List

 

Spam is an ugly thing. Everyone gets it, despite all the best efforts to filter it out. It’s not rare for people to get junk e-mail for “enhancement” products — in Russian. For some reason, according to the spam I receive, I have a lot of friends in Kenya, all of whom are ready and willing to send me $25 million. Today. All I have to do is send them $25,000. This type of spam is downright dangerous. People are “phishing” for your personal information. Pure fraud.

 

As a business owner, you can rent or buy e-mail lists to send your messages to, but this puts you in potentially difficult legal territory. If people complain about you, you could face serious problems. The United States has strict regulations on sending commercial e-mail in the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003[ECB58] .

 

If you want to send regular e-mail about your business, your best bet is to build an opt-in e-mail database. This is perfectly legal. People actively ask to receive information from you, and you provide them with the option of unsubscribing at any time. However, I’m not a lawyer; you should check first with yours to make sure you are following all applicable laws.

For now, let’s focus on how you can get UDMs to give you their e-mail addresses.

 

Note: Some spam comes from unscrupulous people who sell e-mail lists. Tell UDMs that you will not sell their e-mail addresses. Ever.

 

Ways to Get Opt-In E-mail Addresses

 

  • Contests. Have people enter a contest where you can win something big, such as a free vacation to Cancun. And give them something just for entering.
  • Free downloads. How about a wedding planner for an e-mail address? Not a bad trade.
  • Free planning software.
  • Added values.[ECB59]
  • A free humorous e-book.

 

As with all direct marketing, see what works. Experiment. Be creative. Do not worry if one carrot doesn’t work. Try another. And if you find something that really works — ride the wave!

 

Chapter 13
E-Marketing

 

Direct mail is excellent if used properly. Advertising should generate leads and trips to your Web site. PR creates awareness. However, in today’s BlackBerry environment, opt-in e-mail is precious, and you must treat it with great care. And you must know what to do with it. This chapter discusses:

 

  • How to connect with UDMs using e-mail
  • Ways to avoid spam filters
  • Ways to use e-marketing effectively
  • How to create an e-newsletter
  • How to personalize messages
  • How often to e-mail your list

 

It’s a fact: People under age 40 hardly read newspapers anymore — at least not the print version. They will continue to read magazines that target their areas of interest, but they won’t read newspapers. This only emphasizes the importance of that opt-in e-mail database.

 

However, the same marketing rules and principles apply to e-mail! You must have a USP. You must have testimonials. You must have a call to action. You must tell the UDM what to do. You must stress benefits over features. And you must still pound away with an irresistible offer.

 

List Servers

 

A list server is essentially digital database technology that manages your list. Your Web provider can help you with this. Remember, you must offer subscribers the chance to unsubscribe.

 

Avoid Spam Filters

 

Some spam filters capture opt-in e-mail. That’s life. Here are several ways to foil the filters:

 

  • Avoid suspected spam terms: free, you won, amazing, special offer, savings, promotion and so on
  • Be careful with subject lines. Do not use free in all caps; start the subject line with free, guaranteed or dollar amounts; or put the subject in all caps.
  • Use capitalization carefully.
  • Keep the e-mail simple.[ECB60]
  • If you send a newsletter, let subscribers know that it’s an e-mail.
  • Keep message size between 20K and 40K.
  • Use a signature.
  • Don’t mention spam law compliance; only spammers do that.
  • Just use the word unsubscribe to unsubscribe.
  • Double-check with a lawyer to make sure you are in compliance with CAN-SPAM.

 

Fourteen Times a Year!

 

Remember that L.L. Bean sends out 14 direct-mail pieces (usually catalogs) to its customers each year. In chapter 10, there’s a plan for sending 14 direct-mail letters and what should be in them. You should also send 12 to 14 e-mail messages to your database. These missives can be similar to the direct-mail pieces.

 

Alternatively, you can author a monthly e-newsletter[ECB61] , which is basically a newsletter in e-mail form. Don’t panic if you don’t have the software to create one. Your Web provider can do that. But the content is up to you. Just remember this vital point:

 

The goal of your e-newsletter is to build relationships with current and prospective customers and to get them to send you new business. It’s not just to look good.

 

The key to a good e-newsletter is to inject the personality of you and your business into it. If the writing side terrifies you, hire a writer. Once again, you can call me at (704) 358-8090.

 

You must also find a way to show what you’re trying to tell your UDMs. This should augment your USP. If your USP is the vegan wedding thing, show photos of vegans[ECB62] having a great time at the wedding. Maybe include recipes for vegan wedding reception appetizers. Use your imagination and creativity. But remember to include all the rules of great copy. In each e-newsletter, have a way for readers to get in touch with you directly via e-mail and tell them to contact you.

 

****For First Time Opt-In Visitors****[ECB63]

Why Not a Thunderbolt E-mail Campaign?

 

Thunderbolt marketing is pounding away at targets with a succession of direct-mail letters, sometimes up to 12 letters in 12 weeks. It’s often very effective.

 

Why not initiate a separate 12-week thunderbolt e-mail campaign targeted just at people who registered on your Web site[ECB64] ? You can even set up the opt-in registration so that you have a precise sense of where the UDM is in the decision-making process. Depending on how many new opt-in e-mail names you have, you can decide to organize an automated plan or personalize each e-mail.

 

You can make the campaign 12 weeks or 8 weeks or 12 days or 25 days or whatever — until the UDM waves the white flag. It all depends on how aggressive you want to be and how aggressive you can be. Once again, experiment with your market. Push as far as you can. Your prospects will tell you when you’re being obnoxious. However, your signed contracts will also tell you what sort of frequency works. There’s nothing wrong with running the schedule below every other day or even every day.

 

The 12-Week Thunderbolt E-mail Campaign

 

  • E-mail 1: Automatic response to people who opt in. Include what you promised as the carrot.
  • E-mail 2: Testimonials.
  • E-mail 3: A story about a successful customer who used your business.
  • E-mail 4: Your USP.
  • E-mail 5: Related products and services.
  • E-mail 6: Your irresistible offer.
  • E-mail 7: Photos.
  • E-mail 8: News about other UDMs who signed up.
  • E-mail 9: New products and services.
  • E-mail 10: Latest trends in your business.
  • E-mail 11: Added value[ECB65] .
  • E-mail 12: More call to action information.

 

Direct-mail marketing is excellent, but, ultimately, opt-in e-mail marketing is faster and, when it comes to some products and services, more in tune with your UDMs. Experiment with it. Drive people to your Web site with your print advertising. Drive people to your site with direct mail. Get them to sign up. Then make sure you e-mail them frequently[ECB66] .


Chapter 14
The
Brochure

 

Newspapers are steadily losing subscribers all over the country. Some might say it’s content. Some might say they’re just old-fashioned and in the way. But the real reason that newspapers are losing subscribers is that everyone is going online for their news.

 

Any why not?

 

It’s easier, cheaper, and more timely. All over the country, printers are finding that Web sites are replacing brochures and printed materials.

 

Does that mean that you should join the hordes and go all digital and not print a brochure?

 

That’s not an easy to question to answer. The best way to answer it is to go back to your marketing goals and your marketing budget. Have you put together a budget based on direct mail, a Web site, and e-mail communication? If you have a brochure now, how often do you hand it out? How often do  people actually ask for it?

 

Who are the UDMs? If they’re older people, they might be offended if when they request a brochure, you say, “I’m sorry, but that’s really old-fashioned. Only old fuddy-duddies like you still want one. And all you’re going to do is throw it away or line the bird cage with it anyway!”

 

Of course, you wouldn’t say that, but you get the point.

 

If you are a seriously upscale business, you should probably have a brochure and printed materials. You can’t get away with a piece that looks mediocre. Bur if you’re a middle-of-the-road business, you may be able to get away with a basic glossy pocket folder with some basic materials inside. Once again, ask yourself how many leads and how much business your current brochure generates. If it’s a lot, you need a brochure. If it’s not much, you may be able to go all digital. In a pinch, you can always print your Web pages.

 

Create Your Brochure

 

Your copy should tell your message to the UDM. Include all the key information, and use the rules of marketing copy. Organize every paragraph so the reader does something. By this stage in the manual, you should know the other elements to include:

 

  • Testimonials
  • Your USP
  • Clear calls to action
  • Simple English
  • More copy, not less
  • An irresistible offer

 

The headline must include a clear benefit. Use captions under all the photos. Use strong subheads. Stress benefits over features — over and over.

 

When you hire the graphic designer to design your brochure, show him or her the section in this manual about guidelines for print advertising. Point out the section on simple fonts, clear type on a white background, a clear image, and so on. Very few graphic designers — even the ones who have won awards — understand marketing.

 

Your images should also show what you want to tell the UDM. The lead photo on the front page should show your USP’s benefits. If you’re in the wedding business and you’re the place for big formal weddings, show a photo of a big formal wedding. If you’re the place that keeps the groom’s mother from killing the bride, show a photo of a mother and bride hugging. If you’re the place for Grateful Dead weddings, show Dead Heads. If you’re the spot for small, intimate weddings, show a small, intimate wedding. If you’re a beach wedding specialist, show people getting married on the beach.

 

There’s no need to go bananas with a brochure just to try to look cool. The printer may try to up-sell you on die-cuts, different sizes, varnish and other items. You don’t need any of these add-ons to look good. Do you want to look cool, or do you want action? You can get the latter and still look good.

 

The good news is printing technology has changed dramatically in the past few years. You can now print a small number of brochures and inserts relatively inexpensively with new digital printing presses. Instead of having to buy a run of 5,000, you can now buy a run of 250 just as economically. This leaves more money in your budget for a quality graphic designer or more direct mail. After you have printed your brochure, send it out in a direct-mail package to your database.

 

Your graphic designer can also turn your brochure into a PDF that you can e-mail to UDMs. Make sure the file is condensed so it won’t be too big an attachment. The younger UDM will go for this. The older UDM will want the brochure.

 

The brochure is a waste of time, money and trees if it’s just pretty and nothing else. It must motivate the UDM to call, go the Web site, take a tour or hand over a nonrefundable deposit. Look at your L.L. Bean catalog or one of the other big catalogs. There’s a clear photo of what you are buying. Check out the copy with a benefit-laden headline. The phone number is on each page, along with the Web site address. The best catalog by far, in my humble opinion, is SkyMall, which you get on an airplane. Why do I like it?

 

  • Clear photos, most showing a benefit
  • Headlines that clearly tell you about the benefits
  • A lot of copy about the product
  • A call to action
  • An offer

 

The next time you’re on an airplane that has SkyMall, take about half an hour to study how it’s selling what it sells. That catalog moves a ton of product.

 

Set up a separate toll-free number and a separate Web address[ECB67] for your brochure. That way, if it doesn’t pull its weight, you can point out the ROI based on leads that it generated to your boss when he or she asks you why you haven’t reprinted it. And if it’s cranking out leads that become firm contracts, you know to reprint it!

 

Brochure Alternative: Streaming Video

 

Instead of a brochure, why not have a video production company create a short video of what you do? You might think this would be comically expensive, and it could be, but today’s technology lets you produce short videos relatively inexpensively.

 

You don’t have to be a screenwriter to write the video. The production people can do that. But show them the golden rules of copy in this manual. Some video companies are “artists” who only care about how the final video looks. The video must include the same components as all your other materials. You know what they are by now, but just in case you have to show them to the video people:

 

  • Testimonials
  • Your USP
  • Clear calls to action
  • Simple English
  • A story
  • An irresistible offer
  • Benefits, not features

 

Have you ever seen an infomercial? While you might not want your video to have the same tone as an infomercial that sells professional chef knives or a treadmill that promises a 60-pound weight loss in two weeks, it should have all the same elements — tastefully organized. The people who organize and produce infomercials know exactly what they’re doing. They’re successful professionals, and you can learn a ton from how they sell stuff. They could sell sunlamps in the Sahara. Tell the video people that you don’t want a video, you want an infomercial. Better still, tell them that the goal of the video is to get the UDM to call, e-mail or visit.

 

If the video people get all excited, great. If they don’t, find someone else. Instead of a brochure, you can hand a UDM a video. You can make it iPod compatible for the younger UDM. You can stream it from your Web site.

 

Now it’s time to close the sale and collect a check!


Part IV
Turn Leads Into Revenue

 

Chapter 15
The Art of Selling

 

Now that you have a steady flow of leads, it’s time to get down to the business of closing. A large resort once asked a marketing consultant how it could increase its sales with one easy step. The consultant’s reply:

 

Train your people how to sell!

 

That’s why this chapter and the next are incredibly important. No matter the business, if you know how to sell, how to overcome objections and how to close, you’re well ahead of the game. Very few, if any, of your competitors will be as adept as you and your staff at getting UDMs to sign a contract or hand over a check or credit card number.

 

Becoming good at selling does not mean you have to become a telemarketer who calls at dinner time or that you have to become a pushy salesperson or that you have to morph into someone you are not. It just means having a methodology, some scripts, an optimistic attitude and a plan — all while being yourself.

 

There’s no need to act, no need to tell lies, no need to get pushy and no need to do anything silly, illegal or rude. You just have to be yourself. How hard is that?

 

Sincerity Sells

 

If you believe in your product and your USP, your sincerity will shine through the sales process. However, you must feel comfortable selling. If you’re uncomfortable, the UDM will be uncomfortable. Part of being comfortable is dealing with three great fears:

 

  • Fear of money
  • Fear of responsibility
  • Fear of failure

 

You must put these behind you.

 

Fear of Money

 

If you’re a salesperson for a high-end product or service, you’ll be asking the UDM for a lot of money. Some people are afraid to ask for a lot of money, so they don’t ask. And you can’t ask for the business without letting prospects know how much the product or service is going to cost. With weddings, it can sometimes be a little easier because the UDM isn’t going to pay the bill. That’s the job of the father of the bride. Right?!

 

However, if the UDM is at the stage where he or she is checking out your product or service or is getting out the checkbook, the UDM knows it’s probably going to be expensive. Wedding UDMs know the ballpark ranges going in. If you feel it’s something you couldn’t afford or wouldn’t pay yourself, don’t worry. The price is the price, and it’s up to the UDM to decide whether it’s worth it. It’s your job to communicate the price. If you have a problem saying that renting the ballroom is $25,000, practice saying it a few times. And remember that a portion of that $25,000 is likely going to end up in your pocket if you have a commission scheme — which you should.

 

Fear of Responsibility

 

A lot of office workers around the world spend a lot of time looking busy. They plan. They sit at their desks. They move paper around. They look at the computer. They create minor problems that they have to solve. They write memos. They twiddle their thumbs.

 

They achieve absolutely zero.

 

Good salespeople make the most of their time. And even though they’re already good at managing their time, they constantly strive to get better. If they have a little spare time, they build their database or read books about sales and time management. They treat their time like gold and are extremely productive — so that they have more free time. Time management and fear of responsibility are connected.

 

Here’s what Dean Smith, the famous University of North Carolina basketball coach said about the fear of responsibility:

 

A disciplined man is a free man.

 

Live that quote every day. Be organized. Set up appointments. Close. Follow the plan.

 

Take responsibility for your own actions, time management and results.

 

Fear of Failure

 

Good salespeople aren’t afraid to hear no. Good salespeople understand they have to be hearing no a great deal because no salesperson in the world hears yes all the time. It’s a percentage thing. If you hear no nine times for every time you hear yes, you had better hear no a lot!

 

The mistake people make is to take it personally. You have to ask for the business. The UDM will say yes or no. Perhaps the prospect will say maybe, but ultimately he or she has to make a decision one way or another about what you’re selling.

 

Good salespeople know that if they have a great product and there’s a need for it, their marketing and sales efforts will pay off. Good salespeople also know that somebody may say no several times before saying yes.

 

If you’re flying in a Cessna 182, which has one engine, and the engine fails, you have a problem. In that instance, you should be terrified of failure. But if a UDM says no to you and you’ve done everything you could to get him or her to say yes without being obnoxious or holding a bazooka to the prospect’s head, move on and welcome the next UDM to your business.

 

If you’re in sales and you had a day when all 10 of your UDMs said no, then you have a right, as a human being, to feel a little down. But that’s nothing compared to stress lots of people experience every day. Imagine you are live a town in Kansas and one day a tornado wipes everything away, including your house. Now that’s a problem. If a prospect says no, the prospect is not rejecting you. He or she is simply deciding to reject what you have to offer and go somewhere else. When the UDM says no, look him or her in the eye, say thank you, and follow up with a letter saying thank you for the opportunity.

 

If you let your ego get in the way and act hysterically or annoyed, the UDM will tell all his or her friends that you’re mean and ugly, and you will start to develop a bad reputation.

 

Let’s say the UDM says no to you, goes to the business across the road and discovers that the business does not have what you have to offer. Guess what? The UDM is going to come back to you with a yes. But only if you’ve been professional and courteous when he or she said no.

 

How Not to Deal With Rejection

 

You: So are you ready to book your date with us?

 

UDM: No. I really like your facility, but I’ve decided to go with Muddy Hollow Farm. I just booked with them.

 

Long silence.

 

You: That’s the worst decision you will ever make. The food is terrible there, and you’ll get killed by bugs and probably develop malaria. I hope you roast in Hades.

 

Click.

 

How to React Professionally

 

You: So are you ready to book your date with us?

 

UDM: No. I really like your facility, but I’ve decided to go with Muddy Hollow Farm. I just booked with them.

 

You: What an excellent choice! I know the people there, and they will take great care of you. If your date should change or something should not work out there, I hope you’ll call me. By the way, is it possible you might give me the names of the people who will be organizing the rehearsal dinner or any engagement parties? What’s the best way to contact them?

 

The UDM, perhaps feeling a bit guilty about saying no, would probably love to give you the contact names that you so elegantly and eloquently requested. It will make the UDM feel better and help you with fresh leads.

 

In the script, you are being persistent. Yes, you have probably lost the big fish, but you have built a rapport. Keep trying until you hear you aren’t going to get any business at all.

 

Five Reasons to Be Persistent

 

Never, never, never, give in. — Winston Churchill

 

To join the ranks of truly successful salespeople, you must be persistent. Here’s why.

 

  • UDMs do not always know what’s in their best interests at first. You may have new information that will educate them. Keep plugging away, trying to find out information and educating them.
  • Prospects may be reluctant to change or make a decision. Help them realize what procrastination may do.
  • UDMs often become confused. Or emotional. Or emotional and confused. Provide them with a clear path to enjoying the benefits of what you have to offer. Here’s another time when having a USP and being organized really helps.
  • UDMs have priorities. You must help them get their ducks in a row so that your business moves up their list.
  • Some UDMs are not ready to commit. You must remain in the forefront of their thoughts while they’re in the decision-making process. That’s why your Web site and your thunderbolt e-mail campaign are so important. Stay in touch during that decision-making time without being obnoxious.

 

E-mail Tips

 

Believe it or not, more of the sales process is taking place via e-mail. One wedding planner in a large southern city recently organized a big wedding with a couple in New York City. The couple never visited the wedding site and did everything via e-mail — from going through the sales process to organizing the actual ceremony and the reception. Marriage by BlackBerry!

 

As a modern, hip salesperson, you must be able to sell via e-mail. This is great for those who are a little shy but bad for those who hate writing. Here are some general e-mail tips:

 

  • Remember the rules of copy, and try to include all the major components in each e-mail.
  • Keep your e-mail short and to the point.
  • Ask for the business at the appropriate time.
  • Don’t rely on a spell-check tool for typos. Double-check your e-mail for spelling and grammar. If you’re still unsure, have the person in your office who is the best at writing check your work or provide you with simple templates.
  • Keep attachments small.
  • Keep up with your inbox.
  • Be courteous and polite.
  • Use a small signature.
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question, reply that you don’t know but will find out, then get back to the person via e-mail.
  • Most important, use all the normal procedures for sales as detailed in this chapter and the next.

 

Building Rapport

 

Rapport is simply being yourself and bonding with the UDM so he or she treats you as a person, not a salesperson. For various reasons, people have phobias about salespeople and, initially, they will not trust you.

The key to overcoming this is to have a short script for the first in-person contact. But before you actually meet the UDM, you can do plenty.

 

Let’s return to our golf club example. Call or e-mail the day before to confirm the appointment. Tell the prospect how much you’re looking forward to meeting her. If weekends are booking up, remind her subtly of that fact. This will accelerate the process and could even turn a maybe into a yes.

 

Every day, let all staff members know that you have a UDM coming at a certain time. That way, if the UDM gets slightly lost and ends up in the cart shed, one of the cart boys will know what’s happening. Some clubs are hard to find; if that’s the case with your club, what happens when the UDM ends up in the maintenance shed? Tell your superintendent to get his staff to escort UDMs directly to the clubhouse.

 

Train all your staff to know exactly what to do if a UDM arrives in the wrong place. This could make all the difference. For example, it makes a great impression if the cart boy escorts the UDM personally to your office instead of offering confusing directions. During that walk or cart ride, the cart boy can talk about how much fun it is to have a wedding at the club.

 

Take the receptionist out of the equation. Be waiting personally in the lobby or the most impressive part of the club or resort. Have your cell phone with you in case the UDM is lost or late.

 

Rehearse the UDM’s name over and over before the meeting. Make sure you pronounce it correctly. There’s a big difference between Meegan and Megan — especially to Meegan and Megan. If your general manager (GM) can be there for the initial greeting, that’s an impressive touch. He or she will not have to be there for the entire time, just the initial greeting.

 

If you have a notice boards outside or inside, put “Welcome Jennifer!” on it. This level of detail makes all the difference and is 20 times better than having a prospect wander into a reception area or into a room marked ‘sales’ and have to search for someone. Remember that the UDM is probably looking at four or five spots similar to yours — so this scripting will set you apart.

 

Here’s what you should say as soon as you meet the UDM, Jennifer Stills:

 

DM: Hello and welcome to Muddy Hills, Jennifer. I’m Dee Morgan. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! It’s wonderful to meet you in person. This is our general manager. John Williams.

 

(Introductions.)

 

JW: Dee is going to take excellent care of you today, but if there’s anything I can help you with personally, here’s my card. Feel free to contact me at any time.

 

Depending on how aggressive you want to be, the GM can remind the UDM that weekends are booking up quickly:

 

JW: Oh, one more thing. I’m sure Dee told you that our weekends are getting a hair tight for you’re your timeframe …

 

DM: Yes, I mentioned that.

 

JW: Great. Jennifer, I hope you have a wonderful tour. Once again, it was a pleasure meeting you.

 

GM hands over cards and leaves. Note: if the UDM is wearing a coat, have a resort staff member available to take the coat and hang it up unobtrusively.

 

DM: If it’s OK with you, we’re going to go to my office first to go over a few things then take a tour. Does that fit in with your schedule?

 

Address the mother of the bride or any additional person, if necessary. Make sure you use her name — formally, unless told otherwise.

 

Appearance

 

If you are asking someone to spend thousands of dollars on a wedding reception, you should be professionally dressed. Today, business casual might be acceptable, but still most people in the hospitality industry wear suits. Women have more latitude, but they should be looking professional.

 

Do not have bad breath. A men’s magazine recently asked women what turns them off. One woman answered: “I don’t care if you have a jet. If you have bad breath, I’m not interested!”

 

Cell phone, BlackBerry, and the like: OFF!

 

The Office

 

In many clubs and resorts, the ownership has relegated its sales staff to dank, dark, airless offices that are full of clutter. If that’s your office, do not take the UDM there. You can have a “show” office for all the sales staff or a special meeting room. Why not a special wedding sales room? Hang photos of past brides, weddings — things that accentuate your USP and show what type of weddings you have had.

 

To heighten that sense of urgency, you can even have a wall calendar with open weekends and booked weekends — all duly noted. This should be placed exactly where the UDM can see it.

 

Once you are in the “office” have one of the staff members come in and ask if the UDM would like something to drink. This keeps you from having to leave. Once again, this is part of the script. Think of this initial presentation, the whole meeting, like a well-rehearsed, award-winning play. Think Disney. Broadway. You get the idea.

 

Remember to use the UDM’s name as often as possible. Pitch your voice around the level of the UDM can be a useful tactic to build rapport; so can matching her body language.

 

Where Is the Planning At?

 

Once in the office, build rapport further by asking her about the groom, how far they have come, and current plans. Through e-mail and phone calls, you may have a sense of where they are in the decision-making process. but ask some questions that orient you their thinking:

 

  • “So, Jennifer, what do you have in mind as your dream wedding?”
  • “Where would you say you are in the decision-making process?”
  • “What attracted you to Muddy Hills?”

 

While you listen to answers, hold eye contact and acknowledge the answers.

 

The goal of the first 10 minutes is to get to know the UDM further, make her feel comfortable, make her understand that you are professional, and create a sense of urgency subtly.

 

By now, you have built rapport and, through a specific, rehearsed plan, have overcome the “Oh no. Not another salesperson” syndrome.

 

In the next chapter, you will learn about making the presentation, overcoming any objections, and—most important of all—closing.

 

Chapter 16
Presentations, Objections and Closing

 

Let’s take a second to remind ourselves of something that’s incredibly important:

 

People buy for emotional reasons backed by logic.

They also buy because you can solve a problem.

 

Thus during the presentation, objection and closing phases, it’s tremendously important to remember that you have to:

 

  • Appeal to emotions.
  • Make everything logical.
  • Find the problems, then solve them.

 

If you have followed the plan for getting leads in the door and have a good stream of qualified prospects coming to your business, you have done well. You are ahead of the game.

 

But all that work is useless if you fail to close. If you’re running hurdles, you don’t want to fall at the final one.

 

Once again, you need a script and a plan. In the last chapter, Dee Morgan, the salesperson, built rapport with the UDM by following a script. In fact, it was more of a well-rehearsed play where the whole team was involved.

 

You generated the leads by following a system. Now it’s time to follow another system. This chapter will cover:

 

  • Giving the presentation/tour
  • Uncovering and isolating objections and problems
  • Dealing with objections
  • Spotting closing signals
  • Closing

 

Throughout this process, you will be asking as many open-ended questions as possible. These are questions that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. Note: once again, I have used selling a wedding destination as the model.

 

Make the Presentation Sizzle!

 

If a part of your club is particularly well known, make that the first stop. Perhaps it’s the bridal suite. Take a photo of the UDM or have a staff member do this.

 

If you have a video presentation, play this in the biggest meeting room available. While taking the UDM on a tour of the club or resort, stress all the important things: Your USP. The offer. The benefits.

 

The tour should be scripted so that it proceeds logically through the wedding, from service to reception. Also introduce rooms or facilities for rehearsal dinners and engagement parties.

 

Your presentation script the presentation should do everything it can to appeal to the UDM’s emotions. Point out where couples get married, and talk about the beauty of a ceremony at sunset instead of “This is where you will get hitched.”

 

Your video, if you have one, should also appeal to emotions. Show brides crying. Mothers crying. Fathers crying. People hugging. People laughing. People getting silly and having fun.

 

As you tour each part of the facility, have benefits and questions rehearsed for each stop. For example, let’s say you want to show off the main ballroom:

 

DM: Jennifer, the great thing about the Harrow Ballroom is that we can handle a lot of people comfortably. Nobody will ever feel squashed in, and we set up three bars so that nobody has to wait in line for more than a few minutes, even when it’s really busy.

 

The acoustics are really good, so the bands always sound great in here. It’s a lot of fun. I know we’ve gone over some of these details by e-mail, but tell me about some of the logistical issues that are worrying you.

 

Perhaps the bride will reveal that she has 16 bridesmaids and she doesn’t know where to get everyone’s hair done. If you have a spa on property, that’s a no-brainer. You may be able to bring in a stylist, or you may be able to organize a shuttle to the local salon. Little things like that can be big things to the UDMs.

 

Perhaps the UDM is overwhelmed and terrified by the organizational aspect of the wedding. You can find out about this by asking a simple open-ended question, like “How much have you thought about the organizational part of the wedding?”

 

That question is bound to get the emotions going — especially if you’re meeting with the bride and her mother. Here’s a great chance to appeal to emotions backed by logic:

 

DM: You know, Jennifer, we have lots of brides come here who find the whole thing overwhelming and even a little terrifying. It keeps some people awake at night. When it comes to weddings, everything we do here revolves around making this easy, simple, and fun. We can literally take care of everything, from the invitations to the honeymoon. Other places have some of the things we have, and other places have more of the things we have. But, in the end, brides choose us because we offer peace of mind and simplicity so that your wedding is fun. So that all the family members aren’t beating each other up during the planning!

 

At the end of the tour, for additional impact, you could have the GM show up unannounced to see how things are going. It’s always impressive when the top executive or owner takes a personal interest in what’s happening. The GM can ask an open-ended question that may reveal something you did not know. Or, with a smile and in an excited fashion, he can ask, “Well, Jennifer, are you ready to pick a weekend?”

 

The UDM may be more willing to give the GM information than the salesperson. The GM can also excitedly mention the added values you offer, like a free honeymoon flight for booking or the coupon for dress alterations just for visiting:

 

JW: I’m sure we have mentioned this, but that free honeymoon flight promotion is really popular. A couple who got married here last weekend just left for New Zealand!

 

Noting Objections and Problems

 

This may be a good time for your UDM wish to take a break. During that time, write down any objections or problems you detected. Then it’s time to get to the office for some closing.

 

Ask for the Sale

Back in the office, you need to return to the script:

 

DM: Well, Jennifer, what did you really like and what did you not like?

 

As you listen, nod in agreement and say “That’s great” when she lists the things she liked. When she talks about the things that she did not like or concerned her, these are the objections.

 

For each objection, you must have a scripted reply. Major companies like Disney and Ritz-Carlton use this approach. Why? It works. There are five important things to remember when you dealing with objections:

 

  • Listen carefully. Do not interrupt. Sometimes the UDM will talk herself out of the objection right away.
  • Thank her for brining up the objection. This shows that you are here to help.
  • Never argue.
  • If the objection is unclear, ask more open-ended questions.
  • Deal with the root of the objection.

 

Convert Objections to Benefits

 

From time to time, an objection may surprise you or be totally new to you: “I don’t like the color of the carpet in the main ballroom.”

 

However, most objections should be ones you have heard before. So be ready with a benefit-laden answer for each objection.

 

If the UDM does not bring up any major objections, it’s time to  go to the wall calendar.

 

DM: OK, Jennifer, let’s take a look at a weekend in September or October. At this stage, we don’t have to make any decisions about menus or wedding planning or anything else specific, such as bands. We will ask for a deposit. Here’s how it works…

 

Holding a Date

 

From your end, one of the primary goals of the visit should be to get the UDM to write a check or hand over a credit card, and book a weekend. Make it simple, with just two options. These could be:

 

  • A firm, nonrefundable deposit that locks in a weekend
  • A deposit that goes into an escrow account initially, then becomes firm after two weeks or the date is lost

 

Option one should be a set amount. Option two should be a minimum amount that’s only known to you. You can be flexible with option two. For example, you can offer the option of writing a post-dated check for a few days from now. You can ask, “What sort of deposit are you willing to pay at this time?”

 

If you have a deposit that will become nonrefundable in a certain timeframe (option two), you have provided the UDM with the peace of mind that she has a date. The fact that you have a sizeable amount of money in an escrow account ready to go firm puts her on the clock and motivates her to a yes or no within a specific time.

 

Remember, there are just two options for deposits and they are crystal clear.

 

As you target a few dates, you’ll start to discuss the cost of the wedding and the terms. You must be very careful to be as simple as possible and not get into minute details, like china patterns.

 

At this stage, present two plans, three at most. Quote general price ranges and tell the UDM the final price depends on final decisions she makes.

 

You can give your three plans fancy names, like the Rose Petal Plan, the Hibiscus Plan, and the Muddy Hills Plan, but you present them as a plan A, plan B, and plan C. Or better: good, better, and best. Or better still: economy, business class, and first class.

 

Do not show her detailed plans at this point, because they will be distracting. Say:

 

DM: Jennifer, there is some flexibility, but we basically have three plans for a wedding with about 200 guests, which, by the way, is a perfect number for us. Our Rose Petal Plan is for heavy hors d’oeuvres and an open bar and is $75 per person. Our Hibiscus Plan is basically the Rose Petal Plan, plus extras like a DJ, a champagne toast, and other items. It’s $100 a person.

 

The Muddy Hill Plan is for a sit-down banquet with all the extras, the finest linens and china, and so on. It’s actually the best value at $130 a person.

 

Let’s say you hear this objection from the UDM once you ask to secure a date:

 

JS: It’s just too much money. Isn’t there something you can do?

 

At this point, the UDM is either trying to negotiate, or is someone who can’t afford your wedding services or just won’t pay that much. You need to find out which she is.

 

DM: Jennifer, weddings are expensive and our average bill at the end of the day is around $75,000. The least expensive we’ve had was $40,000. Is that in your price range?

 

If she answers “yes,” you can book a weekend and get a deposit. You will need to explain exactly what she gets with that price. If you are seasonal, you need to explain that the wedding will not be in her chosen timeframe.

 

If that’s still too much, discuss a smaller number of guests. Mention all the added values and benefits, and bring in your USP again. If it’s still too much, you need to part company — as friends. You can refer Jennifer to another location that will be much less. You might even be able to pick up a referral fee.

 

If the UDM says that $40,000 is in the price range, she probably wants to negotiate. How much you are willing to negotiate is up to your ownership and the general manager. If you can negotiate, you need to have some instant cards you can play. Start with:

 

DM: OK, Jennifer, which plan do you think you will want to go with?

 

Work from that point. If it’s the Rose Petal Plan, offer an upgrade to better wine or top-shelf liquor, something from the next plan up. Ditto for the Hibiscus Plan. Move the economy passenger to business class and the business-class passenger to first class — within certain parameters. If you are particularly aggressive, you can tell Jennifer that you are happy to do the upgrade but you need a deposit today.

 

If Jennifer wants the first-class Muddy Hill Plan, you’ll have to add some value. Perhaps you upgrade the DJ to a band.

 

Despite all your best efforts, though, you will likely hear:

 

JS: Well, I really like Muddy Hills, and I have really enjoyed my visit. You have really gone out of your way, but I’m just not ready to commit right now.

 

DM: That’s fine and certainly understandable. Is it because you want to look at other facilities, or is there anything specific that is making you hesitant?

 

If the UDM says she wants to look at other facilities, that’s likely code that you are too expensive. If she answers the latter question, you can address the objection and move to picking a date and asking for the deposit.

 

Either way, if she’s still not ready to decide, here’s what you should say:

 

DM: I know you will look at some other places, as you should. But is this a place where you would feel comfortable having your wedding?

 

JS: Yes. It’s wonderful.

 

DM: I know it’s a big commitment. And that’s why we offer the escrow deposit plan. In my experience, it’s really important to have a date locked in so that you have some peace of mind. Let’s pick two dates right now that I will hold for a week. Today is Monday so we’ll speak on Tuesday of next week, if not before. I’ll need a check for $xxx that I’ll take to the bank on Wednesday. If you tell me on Tuesday that you want to firm up a date, we can do that. If you tell me you’re still not ready to commit, I’ll send you a check that very day. But things get booked up quickly in this market, and I’d like you to leave here at least with a couple of dates in your back pocket.

 

If this does not work, then you have done all you can for today. Close with:

 

DM: I certainly understand, Jennifer. It’s a big, big decision. I’d like to stay in touch. How can I do that in a reasonable fashion?

 

You must also ask for information about who’s organizing the rehearsal dinner and who’s organizing any engagement parties.

 

If the UDM commits to the nonrefundable deposit and firm booking, you can go through all the details on the spot or you can wait. Later in the manual, we’ll discuss ways to add value and ways to add revenue.

 

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

 

As you leave for the lobby, one of the staff should present the photo that you took earlier in the tour in a frame. If you offered a coupon to take the tour, that should be presented as well.

 

Thank the UDM with the same high level of gratitude, whether she has made a commitment or not. Remember, the UDM will talk to other UDMs. She may also find that every other location pales in comparison to Muddy Hills, and she may call back. Send her a thank-you note that same day — whether she decides to go with you or not.

 

Other Closing Methods

 

There are many ways to skin a cat[ECB68] :

 

  • The straightforward close. This is the model used above, except instead of asking for the business directly, you steer the UDM toward picking a date.
  • The assumptive close. “Jennifer, it seems like Muddy Hills is the place for you. Would you like to pick a date?”
  • The alternative close. You offer the UDM a choice between yes and yes. “Would you like to book you wedding for month A or month B?” “Which deposit option would you like?” “Which wedding plan would you like to book?” This is also known as A vs. B.
  • The Ben Franklin close. This one can be particularly good for the UDM who is considering several different locations, which many are. You basically ask the UDM to write the pros and cons for your location; you can extend it to other locations. Give the UDM lots of help with the pros and address the cons as objections.
  • The minutes or cents close. If a total wedding fee is too much for someone to handle, break it down by the number of guests. You should start your pricing this way.
  • The reverse close. This one is particularly aggressive, and you have to be able to back it up. It works well if you have a UDM who is looking at a number of locations. Before setting an appointment, ask if the UDM is going to other places. If she says yes, tell her that you are too busy and too booked up with weddings to book appointments with people who aren’t sure they want to commit to your property. When the UDM is told that she can’t take a tour, that may motivate her to change her mind — especially if she is keen on your location.
  • The Colombo close. This refers to the famous TV detective. Just before leaving, ask the UDM to clear things up for you one more time. Ask why the UDM decided to go elsewhere. She may well open up with a real reason at this point.
  • The puppy close. This is a version of the two-deposit close. You give the UDM a chance to make a final decision while you keep her deposit in escrow for a certain period.

 

In Closing

 

The techniques and plans in this chapter and the previous chapter can turn just about anyone into a closer.

 

Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it refutes the common argument that salespeople are born, not made. In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite.

 

Every business is different. The business’s culture and the owner’s goals will determine things like how aggressive you should be. Set up your system based on this system, then refine it constantly based on results. The only mandatory part of presenting, overcoming objections and closing is to have a plan and scripts. The more you can add sizzle and create a Broadway production, the better off you will be in the long run.

 

Successful companies of all sizes have the sales process mapped out and have their sales people well-trained and organized. If you are a small business, you can use the same sales and closing techniques as any big company.

 

Several years ago, I went into a men’s clothing store just to see what was going on in the store. I was running a magazine that covered the area. About 20 minutes later, I walked out having bought a shirt for over $100 — and it was on sale!

 

The store owner, in addition to running an excellent store, knew and understood how to make a sale. More specifically, he knew how to move someone from just looking to buying something. That store owner clearly had a plan. He was not going to let me “just look.” One of the objections I had was that the sleeves were too long. He sorted that out, and the sale price helped to overcome some sticker shock. I still have the shirt. To be honest, I’m not sure that I really like it, but I admire the salesmanship!

 

Chapter 17
Phone Scripts and E-mail Sales

What happens when someone calls your business? This happens less often in the digital age, but how you and your associates answer the phone can make a difference. It won’t make the sale for you, but poorly answered phones will make a bad impression that could lose you the business. It’s like the U.S. Open golf tournament: You can’t win it on the first day, but you can certainly lose it on the first day.

If you’re in the wedding business, here’s what your receptionist should say when someone calls about weddings:

 

Receptionist: Hello, this is Legendary Country Club. How may I help you?

 

UDM: I’d like to get some information about weddings.

 

Receptionist: Absolutely. This is a wonderful place for weddings, and we very much appreciate that you’ve called. Our wedding coordinator is Susanne Winter; I’ll put you through to her right now. If you get her voice mail, leave a message and she will call you back, usually within 24 hours.

 

When the UMD gets through to Susanne’s line but gets voice mail, what will the outgoing message say? Try this:

 

Thank you for calling. This is Susanne Winter’s voice mail. I would very much like to hear about your wedding plans. Right now, I’m away from the phone, so please leave your name and phone number. If you haven’t already, please visit our Web site, legendarycc.com. That’s legendarycc.com. Thank you!

 

If a prospect gets through to Susanne right away, she should have a script for first-time callers that prequalifies them a bit and gets them to make an appointment:

 

SW: Hello, this is Susanne Winters, wedding coordinator.

 

UDM: Yes, I’d like to check on your availability for a wedding.

 

SW: Certainly. Have you visited our club?

 

UDM: I have not.

 

SW: We’d love to have you out here. But first what date did you have in mind?

 

At this point, whether you say yes or no to a specific date depends on how close it is to the current date. If it’s in six weeks and you’re booked, you’ll have to say no. However, if it’s a year away, then you have some wiggle room, even if you’re booked:

 

SW: We have that date tentatively booked, but it’s not set in stone. Why don’t you come by, and we can see about that date and maybe some others close to it? Do you have some time in the next few days?

 

Don’t say that you have availability if you don’t. But things can change in the course of a year and part of your job is getting prospects to see the club and getting those who are unsure or who have something tentatively booked to firm up their dates and hand over a check.

 

The Rest of the Associates

 

Everyone in your business should know exactly what to say when answering the telephone. Why not write a script for them?

 

Business by E-mail

 

Partly due to a change in culture and partly due to a fear of salespeople, more UDMs are using e-mail to communicate with salespeople. Some are even bypassing the official spiel and just using what they’ve heard from others and what they’ve seen on your Web site. You had better be prepared to do business via e-mail. Here are some pointers:

 

  • See if you can get the UDM away from e-mail and into your place of business. Then follow normal procedures.
  • If you can’t get her to tour your place of business, set up a telephone appointment. Follow normal procedures for closing.
  • If the UDM wants to stick with e-mail, stick with e-mail. Don’t push the point. You can then stick with normal closing procedures — just through e-mail. You have to get a sense of what the UDM likes and what she doesn’t. You have to overcome objections via e-mail. You have to close via e-mail. Use your normal closing techniques.
  • Keep your e-mail short and to the point. Read your messages again to check for errors.
  • Include a short signature.
  • Pound away at your USP and the benefits you offer.
  • If you want people to send you deposit money through your Web site, set that up through your Web provider. Make sure it’s secure. You can also use PayPal.

 

It may take some time to get used to sales via e-mail, but you will soon get the hang of it. And if sales are going on via e-mail, then they are going on by message board and instant messaging, too.

 

Technology has put people out of business or out of work, and it has turned some products into commodities. That’s life. However, it has created new opportunities for marketing and sales. Embrace technology and you will make more sales. Get phobic about it and you’ll soon be out of a job. The younger UDMs expect you to be technologically up to date.

 

Ultimately, it’s not the technology that matters so much as the person and the marketing plan behind it. The technology is just the vehicle for the rules of copy, lead generation and closing. With more UDMs embracing technology, your Web site becomes that much more important.

 

Chapter 18
More Clients, More Referrals

 

You have successfully created new sales and contracts. However, your work is just beginning. You must now obtain referrals.

 

Your marketing system should be thinking about leads before, during, and after the contract signing. Here’s how that can happen:

 

  • Once you have closed with a UDM, you can ask if he or she knows of any other UDMs who may have a need for your product or service.
  • If you are in the retail business and have a repeat customer, you can ask for referrals. You can even add a bonus or benefit for a referral.
  • You can set something up on your Web site to encourage referrals.
  • Send out an e-mail blast that encourages (and rewards) referrals.
  • Organize a direct-mail campaign to current clients that encourages referrals.

 

Remember, lead generation never stops. It just rolls on and on. You must always be adding to your database, always creating leads.

 

When is the best time to ask for a referral?

 

Anytime!

 

Be Specific When Asking for Referrals

 

When you collect a referral, try to get as much information as possible. Get answers for who, what, when, where, why, and how. A UDM is probably offering the referral because she likes the next UDM. However, knowing as much about the referral can make a difference.


Part V
Create Additional Revenue

 

Chapter 19
Promotions, Free Publicity and Random (Digital) Thoughts

 

Your marketing program must include routine efforts to get the name of your business into the local media as often as possible. A big story about your business can generate a ton of leads. Publicity is free advertising, but it’s not totally free. It takes work to get the publicity.

 

While any advertisement you place in a magazine or publication must have impact and produce the result you want, a favorable article can be much more valuable. Readers are naturally skeptical about advertising, but they tend to trust articles. This chapter will tell you how to get good media exposure and how to make the most of it after it comes out.

 

Getting publicity starts with understanding that you are making a sale. You need to have a hook, and you need to emphasize your USP. The person you are selling to is the journalist, and journalists are a unique type of individual. And that’s meant in the nicest possible way!

 

Some journalists are extremely professional and organized. Most are not. Many are lazy. Some are terrible writers. However, each journalist faces what insiders call “the monster”: the constant need to find enough quality news to fill the publication each time.

 

The good news is that if you develop the habit of staying in contact with journalists, you’ll probably be one of the few companies making the effort. And developing this habit is much easier if you use basic technology like e-mail. However, relying totally on e-mail is a mistake.

 

What Can You Expect From Publicity?

 

With an ad, you are in total control of content and placement. With publicity, you are not. That’s a potential drawback, as what appears in the media may not match exactly what you do. But that’s the way it works. Journalists, even the lazy ones, don’t simply copy and paste press releases.

 

I’m Advertising. Shouldn’t I Get Free Publicity?

 

The answer depends on the publication. Some publications tie editorial directly to advertising. Others maintain a Chinese wall between the advertising and editorial.

 

In the former case, readers usually work out what’s happening, which can lessen the article’s impact. So if the magazine operates this way, make sure you get your fair share of editorial consideration. Demand to from the advertising sales rep, who should manage this for you.

 

If the publication keeps advertising and editorial separate, don’t throw a tantrum when the media outlet one day features your archenemy … that doesn’t advertise in the publication.

 

In the better publications, there is supposed to be this division between editorial and advertising. If you develop and maintain a system for generating publicity, you will soon get publicity. The last thing an editor or journalist wants to hear is: “I’m an advertiser, therefore you should definitely cover us.” That will get you unofficially blacklisted very quickly.

 

Be Proactive

 

If a major department store burns down, every news media outlet will cover the story. The department store will get the publicity without sending out press releases. However, about 90 percent of news stories come from businesses and PR professionals being proactive.

 

Who Are You Trying to Reach?

 

Your goal should be to keep the name of your business and the services and products you offer in the media at least once a month. Depending on the size of the media outlets you’re trying to reach, several people will want to know what’s happening at your business.

 

With a large newspaper, start by looking at the sections. The sections that may want your information include social/celebrations (usually a Sunday section), business and general news. The key person in the social section will be the social editor. In the business section, find a rank-and-file business editor. For the rest of the paper, find the managing editor; he or she will send the information you send to the right person … theoretically.

 

Once again, the key is developing and building a database. But you have to go one step further. In today’s digital world, many PR professionals rely on an impersonal approach to sending out information: blasting e-mail to organized lists of e-mail addresses. This generally annoys journalists, who get anywhere from 30 to 200 e-mail a week that have nothing to do with anything that’s relevant to their paper and their readership.

 

Beginning with a formal letter, invite the key editor to your business. Call to follow up personally. Take him or her out to lunch. At the lunch, simply introduce yourself and ask about the best way to approach the editor or journalist. Some are old-fashioned and want press releases mailed. Most will want e-mail. All will be interested in photos. (We’ll discuss this later in this section.)

 

The most important thing for you to do during the lunch is listen. Find out what gets the editor or journalist fired up. Then send him or her the right items.

 

15 Minutes of Fame

 

It’s relatively easy for just about any company to get one article written about it. However, a publication won’t simply reprint that article every time. One of the keys to getting frequent publicity is to offer news about your business. Things change at every business, so make sure the publication knows about your news. This can be as innocuous as a new sous chef joining your team. Or it could be a high-profile person that you’re hosting.

 

Remember, send news that’s relevant to the publication’s readership.

 

Ways to Get Publicity

 

Generally, the smaller the publication, be it newspaper, radio station, TV station or Web site, the easier it will be to get publicity. Start with the smaller outlets. They will appreciate your attention, as most companies and PR professionals bypass smaller places. Larger outlets are tougher to crack, but it’s possible, even probable, if you follow these six steps.

 

1. Ride the Wave

 

Hook up to current news or a trend. Let’s say you’re in the wedding business and notice that more grooms are getting involved in wedding planning. You can send a press release about this. Perhaps there’s a big celebrity wedding coming up; you can send a press release commenting on the wedding. If you are hosting a major wedding, with all the bells and whistles, ask the bride and groom if you can submit the story to the local media. Or maybe you’re hosting a groovy vegan wedding; see if you can let the media know. Think about trends in the news and try to wrap your news around them.

 

Think about news, major and minor, at your facility. Perhaps you are just getting into the wedding business. That’s news. Perhaps you are changing the way you organize weddings. That’s news. You have renovated your facility. That’s news. Maybe you are hosting twins who are getting married at the same time. That’s news. You are celebrating 5 — or 50 — years of weddings. That’s definitely news.

 

What you think of as normal or routine might be news. You just don’t know until you send something or make a call. The worst that can happen is the journalist deletes the e-mail or says no. He or she will still appreciate the fact that you’re trying and, consciously or unconsciously, will remember you when a quote or some type of help is needed.

 

2.  Create Your Own News

 

By creating something that didn’t exist before, you are automatically newsworthy. Perhaps it’s a list of 10 things people in your field should do. Another way to create publicity is to give an award. Maybe it’s a local volunteer of the year.

 

Many newspapers and periodicals have best-of lists. Find out how they work and make sure you have a good shot of getting to the top of the list.

 

3.  Generate Publicity

 

Stunts. When the Russian Mir space station crashed to earth, Taco Bell ran a related promotion. If Mir hit a target with the Taco Bell logo floating in the South Pacific; the chain promised everyone in the United States a free taco. This generated a lot of publicity.

 

What can you do at your business that will generate publicity while complementing your USP? Have some fun with this. Whatever you can organize will likely get some publicity.

 

4.  Give Talks and Speeches

 

A great way to get the word out about your business is to speak to groups. Though you should target groups that primarily comprise people in your line of work, mixed groups will not hurt you. Newspapers include lists of meetings that local groups are holding.

 

Contact the president or chair to see if you can speak. Have a specific topic that will benefit the group. Gear your talk around trends and your USP. Make sure your speech fits the time window the group has offered. If it’s five minutes, make it five minutes. If it’s 15 minutes, make it 15 minutes. Take materials with you for those people who are interested in what you have to offer; they will approach you if they are interested.

 

You can also make your speech funny. A good topic might be the world’s greatest disasters in insurance. A number of professionals in various businesses have become very successful by speaking regularly in front of groups. And many of them were initially very reluctant to do so.

 

“But, Scott, I’m terrified of speaking in front of a crowd!”

 

If you are among the five percent of the population that is comfortable speaking in front of a crowd, skip this section. If you are among the 95 percent that is generally uncomfortable or even petrified, start with Toastmasters, an organization that meets regularly in just about every community in the United States to help train people to speak. Go to http://www.toastmasters.org for more information. (There’s a Toastmasters group in Ballantyne.)

 

The key to speaking is to speak to the correct groups. If you are in the wedding business and you have the choice of speaking to the local Touchdown Club or the local Junior League, take the latter. Target women’s groups as much as possible. And remember: Get those e-mail addresses! Build your database!

 

5.  Be a Columnist

 

Look for local publications that cover your industry or reach your target audience, and volunteer your services as an expert in your field. You’ll need to come up with a different topic for each column ,and you’ll need to submit these to the publication’s editor. Be patient. It could take several months of gentle nudging before an editor will say “Yes, this is what I want.”

 

If you are uncomfortable writing, hire a freelance writer to ghostwrite the piece for you. Make it as easy as possible for the editor, who will simply want the piece ready to go to press with very little editing. Some magazines and Web sites love to have columnists, while others, like Ballantyne Magazine, do not like to have columnists.

 

If you don’t find success establishing yourself as a columnist, start your own column through a blog[ECB69] or e-newsletter. (Check out chapter 11 for information on getting your blog site found.)

 

6. A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

 

Newspapers, magazines, and other publications love high-resolution photographs. Party shots are especially popular, so if you have a social event, hire a photographer and invite local media.

 

Then submit the photos to the publication. This might be the best regular publicity you can get. If you do just one thing publicity-wise, this should be it.

 

Hire a PR Professional

 

If all the above sounds like a lot of work, it can be — especially at first. Setting up the system and staying in touch with the requisite contacts requires constant care and feeding. There are two ways to minimize the work. One is to hire a PR professional. The other is to make routine PR work part of the responsibilities of a new hire or an administrative person. If you are a larger business, you may want to pursue the latter, beginning with the process and system in this chapter.

 

If you plan to hire a PR professional or  firm, you can expect to pay from $2,000 to $10,000, a month and the firm will want a commitment of at least half a year. If you decide to interview firms, consider the following:

 

  • Look at past results.
  • How good are their personal contacts?
  • Be careful if they overpromise; PR is not an exact science.
  • See how closely they follow the plan in this manual.
  • How savvy are they when it comes to technology (blogs, etc.)?
  • How creative are they when coming up with new and interesting ideas? Could they come up with something like the Taco Bell stunt?
  • Ask for references from other companies.
  • Are they over-reliant on technology? Are they meeting key journalists and editors face-to-face?

 

At the lower end of the price scale, a PR firm will get your system up and running and complete the basic tasks. At the upper end of the scale, the company will also organize speaking engagements, write the speeches, and complete a fuller program, as described earlier.

 

Use Your Publicity After the Fact

 

Getting the publicity is just part of PR work. Assuming that it’s good, using it after the fact is just as important. Plenty of people will likely see the article about you, but make sure you get and keep copies. Here’s why:

 

  • Frame the piece and put on the wall of your office or closing room.
  • Copy the clippings, and include them in all your materials.
  • If the piece appears online, e-mail the link to your e-mail database.
  • Keep a pressroom section on your Web site that has past articles and press releases and high-resolution photos of staff and facilities.

 

The Personal Touch

 

Editors and journalists get bombarded with e-mail, phone calls and requests from people who want free publicity. Many companies and PR firms rely too heavily on badly targeted e-mail. There’s an important PR industry phrase you should keep in mind: face time. This is the time you or your PR company is able to spend one-on-one with key local editors and journalists.

 

Lunch is vital — so long as you are relevant to their beat. At least once every six months, make sure you get face time with the journalists you’re trying to reach.

 

The Wild World of the Digital Age

 

What about forums, Web sites, and other ways people can learn about you? There are hundreds of forums on the Web. Experiment. Find two or three that are relevant to your type of business. This may require an afternoon or two of surfing. You may well find prospects online who are actively looking for your type of business. If you hire PR professionals, ask if they are savvy about forums and other current digital communications. Keep in mind: surfing forums is the type of work an administrative assistant can complete as part of daily work.

 

In Summary

 

Publicity can be incredibly powerful — if initiated and used properly. Using a personal touch when approaching journalists and editors makes all the difference. And be specific. There’s no point sending wedding information to Guns & Ammo.

 

The basics still apply: Your USP. Building a database. Sending out something different 14 times a year. Making the sale — to the journalists.

 

And most important: Publicize your publicity[ECB70] !

 

Chapter 20[ECB71]
Your Speech Outline

 

Let’s say that you have 15 minutes to speak at the end of a Junior League lunch. If you have a microphone, speak into it, raising it to chin level. If you aren’t using a microphone, speak the person in the back of the room. Here’s what your speech should include:

 

  • Thank the chairwoman/emcee and thank the group for the opportunity to speak (30 seconds).
  • If you haven’t been formally introduced, introduce yourself (30 seconds).
  • Tell a brief funny story or tasteful joke. Make it a story about a wedding disaster (two–three minutes).
  • Mention the type and level of service you offer at your club. Bring up your USP (60 seconds).
  • Talk about wedding trends you’re seeing; aim to drop some jaws (five minutes).
  • Talk about how to make a wedding easy, or relatively easy ( minutes[ECB72] ).
  • Announce a charitable donation to the organization, if appropriate (30 seconds).
  • Announce a special offer for registering. Tell people to register (30 seconds).
  • Thank the audience for the opportunity to speak, and tell people to register (60 seconds).

 

Chapter 21
The Art of Upselling

 

Have you ever noticed how a car’s base price can be $20,000, yet the one on the showroom floor is $25,678 because of the special radio that picks up radio stations on Mars?

 

And how about vodka? Vodka aficionados may disagree, but there’s not much difference between a basic vodka and a vodka with a pretty bottle label; the best vodka is supposed to have no taste at all. Yet in bars everywhere, the canny bartender manages to upsell the drinker on the vodka with a pretty bottle label.

 

Upsell Your Packages

 

During the closing process, one way to upsell is to have a good, better, and best approach to the services and products you offer. Some UDMs will be on a very strict budget and will want to stick with the good plan, and you have to respect that. Others will want to go all out and will head straight to the best plan. Most, however, will go with the better package, so make sure you price it so you make a good profit. The best package should be priced well above better and offer all the bells and whistles.

 

No matter which the UDM chooses, always offer the best plan as part of the closing process.

 

Ask for the Business

 

Don’t assume the UDMs you meet with want the best or the good plans. Looks can be deceiving, and the UDM with the expensive car and clothes might just want the good plan. Ask. The worst that can happen is the UDM says no. You can’t upsell unless you have a plan, and you certainly can’t upsell if you don’t ask for the business.

 

Chapter 22
Benefits of Advertising
in Ballantyne Magazine

 

Ballantyne Magazine is much more than a publication to place an ad in. It’s a marketing system that will help you increase revenue in the all-important Ballantyne market.

 

I hope this manual has whetted your appetite for improving your marketing and, thus, your revenue. As I wrote earlier, I’m in the process of adopting the marketing system in this manual to improve revenue for the magazine. It’s already helped me to sign up well over 600 people [ECB73] for my weekly e-mail. That’s a huge result. To get started, I am offering the following to advertisers as part of their advertising contract:

 

  • Advertising production (following the model)
  • Copy for your Web site — written to produce a result
  • Access to Marketing Commander, Legendary Marketing’s proprietary Web site system
  • Help with getting the system up and running with one meeting once a month to help with progress
  • Copy for one direct-mail piece each quarter
  • Copy for e-mail and brochures (if necessary)

 

Advertisers receive these benefits so long as they are current and so long as they sign a 4x contract. Call me at (704) 358-8090 to get started.

 

 

Part VI
Put the Plan Into Action

 

Chapter 23
Follow the Plan

 

Stick to the plan in this manual — ignore everything else![ECB74]

 

If you’re already organizing some marketing, you may have heard some of the following:

 

  • People don’t read anymore.
  • If people in the office like your ad, it must be really good.
  • Reaching 100,000 people in the local paper is typically more effective at generating revenue than mailing to 500 people you know for a fact are interested in wedding facilities and services.
  • You don’t want to exclude or offend anyone with your advertising.
  • If all your competitors are doing it, you have to do it, too.

 

Let’s address these.

 

There are more bookstores selling more books than ever before. If someone is trying to decide where to hold a wedding reception she will remember for the rest of her life, she will read a ton about places that host wedding receptions. You cannot give them enough information.

 

Design ads specifically for the people you are trying to reach. If people in the office don’t like it, point them to the section of this manual that details how to create an ad that produces results.

 

People who sell advertising for a living, whether it’s print, radio or television, love to boast about numbers of readers, listeners or viewers. Not all of them are liars, but it’s much better to reach 500 people you know will influence decisions about your product than to reach 100,000 people who don’t really care.

 

Advertising and marketing should prequalify your prospects. For example, if your club can hold no more than 100 people, you waste your time taking people around for a tour if they are going to have 750 guests.

 

Finally, you aren’t trying to keep up with the Joneses, you’re trying to beat them and, specifically, be more profitable. So be different — and better.

 

Failure. Why?

 

A lot of people fail with their marketing. Here are 20 reasons why:

 

  • They don’t collect enough names.
  • They don’t do enough with the data they collect.
  • The Web site is pretty, but it doesn’t collect data or get results.
  • They don’t track their advertising. They have no idea what works and what doesn’t.
  • Their ads are awful[ECB75] .
  • They run campaigns that people say look good but don’t get the phone to ring.
  • There is no written sales process, no scripting, no training. When people call up for wedding information, the person who answers the phone often sounds clueless.
  • Follow-up isn’t automated or systemized. So follow-up is poor.
  • They are afraid to take a risk or be a lot different.
  • Brochures, ads and letters are written in boring, generic corporate-speak and wouldn’t motivate a drunk to leave his seat to get a free beer.
  • They discount instead of adding value.
  • The head office hands down a budget that’s based on what an accountant thinks will work. A marketing budget should be based on what you want to achieve. (See chapter 5.)
  • They fail to set themselves apart from their competitors.
  • Service is not as good as they think it is.
  • They fail to thank customers with letters, gifts, and the like.
  • They confuse loyalty programs with discount programs.
  • They fail to outsource the things they can’t do or do badly.
  • They don’t capitalize on available automation technology.
  • They don’t spend enough time working on marketing then wonder why nobody calls.
  • They keep doing what they have been doing, hoping it will create different results. Insanity!

 

Don’t panic or do something rash if you recognize your marketing in any of the above. Very soon, everything is going to change — for the better. Just follow the system, which comes from one of the few advertising agencies that bases its fees on results, not awards.

 

Workbook

List the marketing myths you are following in your current advertising and marketing:

List the myths you see used in competitors’ advertising, nationally or locally:

 


[ECB1]the core Ballantyne area is listed above; redundant here

[ECB2]I’ve edited this section for grammar, style, etc. But if this is a legal notice, I’d advise making sure it meets legal standards to protect your copyright (if you hadn’t already planned to do so).

[ECB3]Or if you know how many miles south, that might be impressive

[ECB4]I’ve seen this quote attributed to Einstein and Ben Franklin and can’t get a definitive answer. Might be best to dance around the issue.

[ECB5]This actually says there’s a magazine that reaches Ballantyne the same way BM does. Not sure how BM reaches Ballantyne, but maybe: “Only Ballantyne Magazine truly reaches Ballantyne,”

[ECB6]I know underlining is a classic direct marketing technique, but I fear it looks dated. The underline is supposed to represent italics when ital is unavailable, so I feel they give the same emphasis

[ECB7]If your book will have a long shelf life, how will you limit this? Do you want to be specific here, with a date?

[ECB8]Didn’t you mention it on p.7? The Charlotte Observer?

[ECB9]Legendary Marketing system?

[ECB10]consider “best practices” if you’re not comfortable with the idea of hard-and-fast rules.

[ECB11]alt: in chapter X

[ECB12]again, consider best practices. It insinuates success rather than militant rules.

alt:  [ECB13]in chapter X

[ECB14]excellent in what way? Popularity? High income?

[ECB15]The only way I could keep this statement on one page and keep it consistent with others like it was to make it 46 pts. You may want to shorten the statement or work with your layout person to get it all to fit.

[ECB16]do you mean reputation? brand evangelization? Might help to be a bit more specific.

[ECB17]Or perhaps “canned music.” “Musak” is a brand.

[ECB18]what does this mean? will nongolf audiences understand the reference?

[ECB19]My online fact-check was inconclusive; some resources (notable imdb) say, “They’re boxy, but they’re safe.” You may want to check the actual movie, if you haven’t already.

[ECB20]Add comment?

[ECB21]Add comment?

[ECB22]I’m guessing your intention was to give it a zero

[ECB23]The next is rate worse. Change this to -20 and the other to -10? Or edit comments? Why is it so terrible: it’s blandness? it’s vagueness?

[ECB24]Moved this to the end of the chapter because the reference to it said it was at the end.

[ECB25]or some other B2B business that avoids using the word “business” again and creates a vivid picture in the reader’s mind.

[ECB26]alt: “in chapter x”

[ECB27]alt: chapter X

[ECB28]A sentence about how breaking the industry standard would mean a loss of business?

[ECB29]Is this copy coming?

[ECB30]No examples in this file.

[ECB31]“willing and able”?

[ECB32]I don’t understand this metaphor. Is a rifle more precise than a shotgun? Aren’t they similar types of guns? Will your audience understand the metaphor?

[ECB33]What path should it follow for the Japanese version.

[ECB34]Maybe a line about how heavy copy is not for every industry?

[ECB35]thrilled? for a variance from delighted later in the sentence?

[ECB36]White-water what? Rafting?

[ECB37]Didn’t find this title online; if it’s fictional, consider putting a real title in here to balance with G&A.

[ECB38]alt: in chapter X)

[ECB39]Is the # of pages important here?

[ECB40]Is the # of pages important here?

[ECB41]# of pages?

[ECB42]# of pages?

[ECB43]How far apart should these mailings be?

[ECB44]should these be new pictures or the same?

[ECB45]# of pages?

[ECB46]# of pages?

[ECB47]# of pages?

[ECB48]length?

[ECB49]length?

[ECB50]Timing between letters?

[ECB51]new testimonials or same?

[ECB52]This is nicely done!

[ECB53]It’s style to remove quote marks when you block a quote like this, but I wonder if it’s worth putting them back in, from a marketing perspective, to keep the feel of Delores talking?

[ECB54]Consider listing them again, to remind readers

[ECB55]The book is most likely a different size than a standard letter page, so this would be difficult to tell.

[ECB56]golden rules brings to mind social behavior and seems at odds here.

[ECB57]consider adding: Does your site allow visitors to sign up for your e-newsletter on every page, quickly and easily?

[ECB58]FYI: You can read more about CAN-SPAM here: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/canspam.shtm. It overrides any state law.

[ECB59]such as what?

[ECB60]How so? Can you give an example for those unfamiliar w/ email?

[ECB61]an e(electronic)-zine is a Web-based magazine, as opposed to an e(mail)-newsletter, sent over the Internet.

[ECB62]How can you tell they’re vegans from the picture? vegans having a great vegetarian meal?

[ECB63]?? Is this an example of something?

[ECB64]So you wouldn’t sent direct mail at the same time? You may want to spell that out.

[ECB65]such as ??

[ECB66]Moved last sentence to end of last chap in this section.

[ECB67]A whole new site or just a unique landing page?

[ECB68]The visual of skinning a UDM didn’t seem complimentary

[ECB69]Blog posts can be pushed out to subscribers via RSS feeds but not by e-mail. There are search engines that specialize in blog content

[ECB70]No chapter 20 on trade shows.

[ECB71]This fits better here thematically, I think.

[ECB72]There wasn’t a number in the original.

[ECB73]I thought you said over 500 in the beginning, but I can’t find that ref. now.

[ECB74]such as what? Perhaps all other marketing “advice”?

[ECB75]Can you be specific here? The ads don’t target the right consumers; they don’t have a USP; or…?

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Written by ballantyneweekly

December 27, 2010 at 6:35 pm

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