Peter Sandeen

Peter Sandeen

Contact: phone +358 41 433 0144 / Email (contact {ät} petersandeen {dot) com) / Twitter / Google+

5 Steps to More Effective Customer Service

What does effective customer service mean?

Effective customer service provides what the customer needs, and it does it efficiently. There are many reasons why investing some time and money to organizing your customer service well, is worth it.

1. Your customers will be happier, which leads to more customers and sales. Great customer service creates referrals, bad customer service creates complaints.

2. You’ll save a lot of work hours, if your customer service is efficient. Looking for information always takes time, but a good system can reduce that time significantly.

3. You don’t have to compete on pricing only, when your customer service is great. There will (almost) always be someone who’s cheaper than you, but if your customer service is great, you don’t have to be quite as cheap.

How to create efficient customer service

If you follow these steps your customer service will become more efficient.

Step 1 – Identify common questions

In most situations, at least 80% of all customer inquiries are about a few simple problems. When you reduce the time it takes to handle these questions, you save the most time.

Create an FAQ of these questions, which is easily found on your website. Not all people will find it, but it’ll still take a lot of your workload away.

Take preemptive measures to have less of these problems. Product functions are a common reason people contact customer service. You could revise the manual to be more clear, or create a demonstration of the functions to educate your customers (maybe a video on your website, which works as an advertisement too).

Step 2 – Create systems for common questions

The common questions you can’t answer in an FAQ or a demonstration, take the most time. Do whatever you can to create systems that streamline the handling of these issues.

Customers can often do much of the work on their own. You can ask them to fill a form on your website that asks all the necessary information, so you can take care of the problem quickly. People usually feel good when they see that you’ve thought about their problem enough to create a web form for it. It creates certainty that you’ll be able to help them.

Step 3 – Make your life easier

If you’re presented with a hundred different problems each day, you’ll learn to appreciate an intuitive system for finding answers. You can hit two birds at a time, when you create an intuitive and extensive support website. If you answer all the common questions and many of the less common ones on your website, and it’s intuitive to use, most customers will find their own answers. And when they don’t, you can do it for them easily.

Step 4 – Handle less information

One of the corner stones of efficient customer service is the amount of information you need, to solve a problem. The less you need, the better.

Your customer database should have all the information about your customers. Not only their name, address, and phone number, but everything you know about them. Most importantly, which products they own. You’ll then only have to ask for their name to have most of the information you need to solve their problem.

Step 5 – Ask for feedback

Many businesses forget the benefit of asking for feedback. There’s no better way to understand what your customers want. They’ll tell you how they want to find answers, what works for them, and what doesn’t. You can build your new, more efficient customer service on that feedback. You’ll make your customers happier, and you’ll save time (which leads to saving money).

Do you have other ideas about efficient customer service? Share them in the comments below.

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How to Sell More – 3 Simple Steps

Sales people are constantly asked for larger sales, higher conversion rates, and better customer service. What if you could accomplish all that, at the same time?

It’s actually relatively simple. Here’s what you do. And yes, I’m fully aware of the simplicity of these steps. Most sales people just don’t like them, so they don’t use them, even when they understand how effective they are.

Step 1 – Contact your active customers

Active customers are those customers who either have a subscription-like deal with you (they pay you weekly/monthly), or you’re currently negotiating a deal with them. Offer them some additional services, products, or features. If you manage to create a relevant offer, they’re likely to buy it. But only if it truly is relevant for them. Upselling is by far the easiest way to create larger sales.

Step 2 – Contact hot leads

Hot leads are prospects who have recently bought something from you, or have asked for some information. After active customers, hot leads are the best customer group you have. Again, create an offer that’s relevant for them, and price it well. You can convert hot leads into customers more easily than any other ones.

Step 3 – Contact cold leads

Note that I said, “leads”, don’t start cold calling. Cold leads are customers who bought from you in the past, or asked for information a while ago. They’re unlikely to buy anything immediately, but if you can make a relevant offer, they’ll come back sometime. The point is to offer them what they wanted.

Is that it?

You can’t expect everyone to buy something, but your odds are still much higher. And you do accomplish the three tasks: higher sales and conversions, and you take care of customer service. Basically these simple steps make you the ideal sales person ;)

If you decide to contact them through email, read the short series on email customer contact first.

Do you have other ideas or more steps you should take to sell more? Share them in the comments below.

Joint Marketing – 3 Forms of Joint Marketing

What’s joint marketing?

Joint marketing has a few different meanings. Here I’m writing about the idea that two or more companies join their marketing efforts. This is the least used and least discussed form of joint marketing. But it may be the best thing you can do for your business.

The advantages of joint marketing are compelling. The costs are smaller, when they’re divided. And if done well, it will create greater rewards for both businesses.

There are many ways to join marketing efforts, from TV advertising to content marketing. Which marketing method to use depends of the situation.

There are a three different situations where joint marketing can be used naturally and effectively.

1. The products complete each other

This form of joint marketing is used the most. It has the most obvious benefits and almost any company can use it.

Example 1: A car company and an insurance company could easily use joint marketing. When you buy a car, you’ll need the insurance as well.

Example 2: A knitting yarn producer could team with a needle company. Until you have a nice stock of needles, you need to buy new ones for each knitting project. And many knitters are eager to try every new needle available to find “the perfect” needles.

2. The products are related

This form of joint marketing is close to the first one. The difference is that in the first form the products need each other, but in this form they only complement each other.

Example 1: A real estate agent and a furniture store. When you buy a new home, you probably want some new furniture.

Example 2: A gym and a training shoe producer. You’re unlikely to buy a new pair of shoes every time you go to the gym, but the products are still closely related. Joint marketing could easily benefit both.

3. The products share a buyer persona

This form of joint marketing is taking its baby steps. You might’ve seen some advertisements where the principle idea is used.

Example 1: A clothing line and a band can share the same buyer persona. Though clothing companies have sponsored artists for a long time, I haven’t seen this form of joint marketing used effectively, more than occasinally.

Example 2: An organic food store and a book store often share a buyer persona. That buyer persona is the ethically aware university student who’d rather eat organically, and who reads for pleasure and because of the studying.

Your imagination is the only limit when you think of ways to use joint marketing to your advantage. The only principle: The marketed products need to add to the value of the other, in the marketing effort. So, they don’t actually have to be related, but the advertisement should be somehow more valuable to the prospect, because of the joint marketing.

If you have examples or ideas to share, I’d love to hear them. Write a short comment…

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Buyer Personas – 9 Steps to Profiling Buyer Personas

What are buyer personas?

Buyer personas are the individual and identifiable groups of people who buy your products. For example a stereo store has at least three important and very distinct buyer personas.

Stereo store example:

1. Those looking for a better stereo system. They’re usually men and they generally don’t mind the appearances of the stereo system. Instead they want the ability to listen to LP’s, radio, and CD’s, and just relax with music. They’re not satisfied with their current stereos, so they’ve decided to pay a little more than what they paid for the previous set. But they do have an understanding about the price range they’re looking into. They’re not the most  patient customers, but they probably don’t need the products immediately. They like the feeling they get when they buy a new gadget.

2. Hi-fi enthusiasts. A group of almost solely men, who will spend a lot of time pondering the purchase. They’ll test every possible product at their home. They’re interested in technical specifics. They enjoy the process of testing more than the purchase. They like to talk about their preferences and hear the sales people’s ideas, but they don’t believe anyone but themselves. Price is very important; the higher the better, they’ll often buy the most expensive option they can afford … and then some.

3. Women (apologies for the generalization, this is just one buyer persona) looking for something that will satisfy their men’s desire for new gizmos, and their own sense of esthetics. They’re very price concerned. Only technical specifics are less important than the actual sound quality.

These buyer personas aren’t extremely specific, but they give you the idea of what a buyer persona means. Different buyer personas are looking for different things, so you should treat them differently. And not only in the sales situation, but in your marketing too.

How to profile buyer personas

Firstly, all the people who visit your store or your website aren’t buyers. Base your assessment of your buyer personas on buying customers, not browsers, yourself, thieves, or friends visiting you. But what should a buyer persona define? And remember: you’re like to have more than one buyer persona for your business; specify as many as you can think of.

1. Gender. I realize this may feel awkward for some people, but you should know the gender of a specific buyer persona. But only if it’s possible. Some buyer personas are not gender specific.

2. Age. The age of a buyer persona is the simplest part of the profile. The age of a person tells you a lot abut them. How you view the world and what you prioritize, depend largely on your age.

3. Profession. In B-to-B business you know the profession of the buyer. But in B-to-C business this may not be so obvious. But if you can find a common profession or a status of a buyer, you can make your buyer persona profile much more accurate. It’s also very important to know how well they understand your product, are they professional users of laymen.

4. Financial situation. This is one of the most important aspects of the profile, so make sure you get it right. Don’t concentrate on your customers’ bank accounts, but make note how much they’re willing to pay. And how easily they make the decision to buy; it tells you how important your products are for them.

5. Purpose. Why do they buy your products? Some products have more applications (like fabrics) than others (nail clippers). The purpose of your product is the core of your marketing. If you don’t know what your customers use your product for, you can’t market or sell it effectively.

6. Education. How well-educated is the buyer persona? The educational background makes the profile deeper. It can help you figure out how they process information. Do they understand graphs, statistics, and study results, or are they more concerned with customer testimonials and simplified features.

7. Free time. How do they spend their time? Common hobbies, interests, TV shows, even eating habits can get you closer to them. You cannot know your buyer persona too well, so even these small details can prove to be valuable.

8. Buying decision. Which factors they take into account when they make the decision to buy? Price, features, ease of use, customer service, and resell value, can all play a part in the decision. If you don’t understand this part of your customers, your marketing can only work if you get lucky.

9. Shopping habits. What else do they buy? This is important when you start creating your business network. What else can you offer to them, and what else are they looking for.

What to do with a buyer persona?

When you have detailed buyer personas, you can, and you must, use them in your marketing. Here’s a few ways to use buyer personas in marketing.

1. Address specific people. When you know your buyer, you can talk to him/her directly. You don’t have to say, “you” when you can say, “25-year old man, living in the suburbs”.

2. Address specific problems. Talking about a specific problem is more engaging than a general problem. But it only works if you address a problem your buyers have, so you need to know your buyer personas first.

3. Address specific beliefs. You can create a feeling of being talked directly at with beliefs. For example, “This product is healthy.” is less engaging than, “Your children need more vitamins, that the school system doesn’t provide.”

4. Pinpoint accurate placement. Placement is a key to effective marketing. When you understand your buyer personas, you know where they are, and how to reach them at the right time.

5. Showcasing the right price range. If you market a product a buyer cannot afford, they won’t buy it. And they’ll be left with a belief that you’re over priced for them.

There’s one more thing…

Understanding your buyer personas isn’t enough to create effective marketing. First you need to understand your story. Then you need to understand your customers (more than just the buyer personas). And only by framing your story correctly, you can create an effective marketing message.

If you don’t know sure you understand all the steps, I’ve created a free guide to Premeditated Marketing, that describes in more detail these aspects. And a couple more aspects, equally essential for effective marketing.

I can also recommend David Meerman Scott’s book “The New Rules of Marketing & PR” if you’re interested.

I’d like to hear what your buyer personas include. Do you think of something that wasn’t discussed here? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Danny Iny Is a Liar – Just Like Me

Who’s Danny Iny and what’s the lie he tells?

Danny Iny is the co-founder of Firepole Marketing and the author of “Engagement from Scratch“. I respect his expertise, and he seems to be a very nice guy. But he does lie.

The lie he tells is that you will make more money with your business if you read Firepole Marketing blog, subscribe to their marketing course, and read his book. Is that a lie? Yes, of course it’s a lie. Studying marketing makes no difference to your business, no matter how much you read.

Unless you actually use the ideas you get from reading a blog or a marketing course, you’re stuck. The idea that reading his posts would do anything more than explain an idea, is a lie.

Does Danny Iny actually say it would do more than that? No, he doesn’t. But that’s the implication and the idea he sells. So, is he a liar? Yes, but not more than any other smart marketer.

Who am I and how do I lie?

My name is Peter Sandeen. I’m the founder and writer of Affect Selling and the author of “Premeditated Marketing“. I am also a liar.

Here’s the lie I tell. “Your company culture, which is the core source of business success, will improve by reading this blog. You’ll also get lots of referrals, enough to grow your business, with the ideas I share.”

There’s a true story behind my lie (as is behind Danny Iny’s lie). I share effective ways to improve company culture, motivation, and creativity at work. And you will learn how to craft focused marketing that will create sales and referrals for your business.

But again, if you don’t act on the ideas I share, your business will stay the same.

Is lying okay?

As Seth Godin explains in his book “All Marketers are Liars“, marketing is telling a story, that transforms into a lie the customers tell themselves.

It’s totally okay for a marketer to tell a story they believe. I believe your company culture will improve with my ideas. And I’m sure Danny Iny believes you will become a better marketer with his ideas. So, these “lies” are okay.

But you can’t market a product with a story you don’t believe yourself. That excludes factual errors and false promises. A straightforward lie isn’t okay, but a story that leads you to a conclusion, is the essence of marketing. And that conclusion is rarely the same as the facts, making it a lie that you tell yourself.

So, Danny Iny is a liar, but there’s no way he could realistically avoid it. He could say, “I write about my marketing ideas.” That would be factually most accurate, but that’s not a story worth telling.

How do you lie?

Lets say you sell cereals. Your product will compete with all other cereals, unless you tell a different story. You could use an exotic ingredient (soy, seaweed, etc.) to produce the cereals, and then tell a story about health, exotic flavors, individuality, and so on. As the customer you’d transform that story into a lie, “When I eat these cereals I will be healthy.” That’s a lie, the cereals won’t make you healthy. They’re just slightly less bad for your health than normal cereals.

Understanding the story you sell and how it transforms into a lie, is the most important key to effective marketing. The guide to Premeditated Marketing is based on that idea. If you don’t know exactly what your story is, how your prospects will interpret it, or how to frame it to be effective, check out the guide.

What’s your story? And what’s the lie your customers tell themselves? Please, share your story in the comments below.

PS. Danny Iny has a business partner, Peter Vogopoulos. They’ve founded Firepole Marketing together and they both write there. I only wrote about Danny Iny here because I’ve had more contact with him, and it would be awkward to always write “Danny Iny and Peter Vogopoulos”.

PPS. My first guest post at Firepole Marketing was published today.

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The 44 P’s of Marketing

The four P’s of marketing is a common starting place for planning marketing. But marketing is much more than your advertisement. Everything you do is a part of your marketing.

The 44 P’s of marketing is a more comprehensive list of things to consider when you market anything.

1. Packaging

Packaging is one of the four P’s of marketing. If no one notices your product, no one will buy it. And if no one wants to buy your product after seeing it, no on will buy it. Many companies spend millions in packaging design. And for some huge brands that’s a sound investment.

Whatever you sell, you need to think about the packaging. If you sell a service, the packaging means the way you and your employees look, your website, and everything else your customers see of you before the purchase.

2. Pain

Do your potential customers have fears associated to your product? In most cases they do, even if they don’t know it.

For example people who buy a car fear accidents, high maintenance costs, pollution, and what the car does to their status. If you don’t know what they fear, you may easily induce fear instead of using it to your advantage.

3. Pandemic

Is there a reason why people would spread your advertisement or story? You cannot create an advertisement, which would certainly go viral. But you should try.

Create something highly valuable or entertaining and people will gladly spread it. Content marketing is in part so effective because of this.

A wonderful example is Toyota’s Swagger Wagon. Toyota created a rap music video for a car (Sienna SE), which went viral. At the time of this writing over a million people had seen it. It wasn’t certain that so many people would see the ad, but it was likely. It’s really entertaining, so why wouldn’t you tell your friends about it?

4. Part

This is one of the core aspects of marketing. What’s the part your product will play in the customer’s life? If it’s an important part, people spend more time thinking about their options; you can’t hard sell a house through advertising. Your marketing has to fit your product into the part it plays in the minds of your customers.

5. Party

Is there a group of users that form a tribe that customers can join when they make the purchase? Users’ discussion forums, private meetings, or special content?

People want to belong to groups. These groups are often the best marketing tools you have. They help other members with problems, and intensify the feeling that you provide something meaningful.

6. Pass-along value

Will the product hold its value? You can of course market and sell successfully products that are meant for one time use only. But you need to take this into account.

Resell value is most important in expensive purchases. I’m surprised car manufacturers don’t use this to their advantage. “Our cars hold their value better than any other cars.” That would make a difference to me. Would you listen? Unless you’re a Rockefeller, you’d probably pay attention.

7. Peers

Are there others using your product? Social proof is maybe the most effective way to gain trust. Social proof is relatively easy to deliver. Quotes, pictures, videos, recordings… Use an image of the person who refers the product. It makes the recommendation more effective.

When you provide social proof, you lend the credibility of that person to your product. So, a well-known person providing the recommendation is always better than a “nobody”. But a “nobody” is much better than no social proof at all. It works because people want the certainty that a decision will pay off. If someone has already took the risk, and proved it to be worth it, there’s more certainty.

8. Perceptiveness

Intuitive products, especially technological products, are a pleasure to use. There’s nothing more frustrating than to know you can do something with a product, but you just don’t know how.

Apple’s computers and iPhone’s are so popular because of this. They work, as you’d guess them to work, if you’d never touched a computer before.

There’s probably no better example of this than a poor one. After 9/11 a company decided to create a parachute for such situations. They were invited to demonstrate the use of the product in a TV-show. What happened, was that they couldn’t figure out how to put on the parachute. And you’re supposed to do it in seconds when you see a plane coming your way… As far as I know, the product was never released.

9. Personas

This is one of the core ideas of marketing. Marketing should always be directed to a specific group of people. “Specific” doesn’t necessarily mean a small group, but a clearly defined group. Unless you understand who buy from you, you can’t target them with your marketing.

Create buyer personas for each different buyer type. You can then target your marketing straight to them. Understanding your buyer personas is detailed in the guide to Premeditated Marketing.

10. Picture

A picture says more than a 1000 words. People notice pictures more easily than words. Especially close-up pictures of people’s faces capture our attention. This is why women’s magazines nearly always have a close-up picture of a face on their cover.

To understand a phrase, you need to read it. To understand a picture, on an intuitive level, you only need to glance at it. Reading takes time, glancing doesn’t. Don’t expect people to take the time to read.

There’s a great rule of thumb for moviemakers, “70% of information should be conveyed through pictures (the rest with sound).” Use the force of pictures to tell your story whenever possible.

11. Pilot

People want certainty and there’s no better way to get certain about a purchase, than to test the product first. You wouldn’t buy a car without test-driving it first, would you?

The larger the purchase the more important this is, but even the smallest purchases are easier when you can put your mind at ease. If, for any reason, you cannot offer a free trial, at least offer a nearly free trial and a money back guarantee.

AWeber, the email list company, does just that. They charge $1 for the first month of service. With this they discourage people to sign up for the service if they’re not serious about the purchase. But with a 30-day money back guarantee they make the investment irrelevant.

12. Placebo

A placebo is a fake medicine, given to some patients (without their knowledge) to test the effects of a real drug. If there’s no difference between results, the real drug doesn’t actually work.

You cannot sell a placebo. You might be able to sell it for a while, but sooner or later you’d be caught. And this doesn’t apply to medicines only. Whatever you sell has to be authentic. Your product has to meet the expectations people give to it.

13. Planning

The most important part of marketing is the research for it. Understanding your story, your customers, and the general situation takes time. And most people don’t spend enough time planning.

You can spot a poorly planned marketing message instantly if you know what you’re looking for. It’s not clear on what it’s selling, it’s not directed to anybody in particular, it doesn’t catch your attention, and so on. Do your planning well, and you’re halfway ready for marketing (check out 25. Premeditation for the next half).

14. Planting

It’s said, you believe what you hear/see 10 times. This is why unnoticed marketing can work. Exposure to a product, brand, idea, or whatever else, creates familiarity. And when in doubt, people choose the most familiar option.

To plant an idea into your prospects’ mind, you need to reach them through different channels. Whenever you consider using multiple channels for marketing, consider your buyer personas carefully; you need to reach the same prospects with all channels.

15. Playfulness

You’re marketing message doesn’t have to be playful. But you do need to consider the mood of it. An advertisement without emotion will never work. Using emotion is a necessity.

But which emotion should you use? “People walk towards, and run away.” People will generally work harder and more rapidly if they’re avoiding something bad, than if they’re working to gain something. But if you associate negative emotions to your product, no one wants it.

You can use all emotions and moods in marketing. You just need to understand how your prospects will understand and associate the emotions.

16. Pleasure

How will your product make the user’s life happier? People strive for happiness and they make decisions based on that. Unless they believe your product will make them happier in some, way for some reason, they won’t buy it.

Sometimes the message is as simple as, “Our new pizza tastes good!” Good food and happiness are closely related in our minds. But in some cases the connection isn’t as clear, “The new content management system makes handling projects more efficient.” But still the promise is the same, “Buy this product and you’ll be happier.” (see 21. Positivity).

17. Plot

This is the most important P of marketing. I’ve even created my marketing guide around this concept. In a sense all other P’s of marketing are a part of this.

Marketing is storytelling. Nothing more, nothing less. You don’t (and you can’t) market a product, service, person, or anything but a story. It’s the story of your product that you’re marketing.

The story tells what the product is, what it does, how it feels, is it good, what kind of a person uses it, and so on. It’s much more then the facts.

You tell your story with your marketing. If people don’t believe your story, they won’t buy your product.

18. Politics

A charismatic figure is a good marketing trick. Steve Jobs with his presentations sold more Macs than the Apple marketing department. People want to be “lead”. A trustworthy leader is more than social proof. People intuitively believe a leader to have a positive vision for the future. And they want to follow the leader to that vision.

19. Porn

People and all other animals survive only as long as they reproduce. The need for feeling attractive is embedded into us. We avoid anything that makes us less attractive, and we go to great lengths to look gorgeous.

Pretty much anything and everything can be marketed with sex. And pretty much everything is marketed with it. The few advertisements that use less-than-perfect-looking models stick out because of that. But even those ads often sell the feeling of being attractive.

Consider if users will feel more attractive because of your product. If that’s possible, consider using that in your marketing message. But you still need to be remarkable enough to be noticed (see 41. Purple Cow); there are already too many shampoo advertisements that look alike.

20. Positioning

Positioning is one of the basic four P’s of marketing. It has a couple of angles to it. First: you must notice a marketing message, to be affected by it. Second: positioning changes your message.

You wouldn’t pay for ad space under a bridge. There’s no one there to see your message. So, no matter how little you pay for it, it’s a waste of your money. At the same time you probably know (at least you should know) the best places for you marketing. Places where your potential customers will notice it. And remember that not all of your customers use the same medias.

Where your message is, affects the message itself. A trusted place like a newspaper will lend a part of its credibility to your message. This also works the other way around. Low-trust placement will take away your message’s trustworthiness.

21. Positivity

Leave a feeling of control and positive determination. Even if you use fear as a motivator, people should feel positive because they know what to do next (buy your product that will help them).

22. Praises

Reviews work as positive reinforcement for the action the customer should make. Reviews by trusted sources provide proof for your story. They take away the feeling of risk that’s always present when you buy something.

23. Prediction

This includes many of the other P’s of marketing. What do you predict will happen if you buy a product is the most important question you ask yourself when you decide whether or not to buy something. Even if you’re only thinking about the next 5 minutes, the prediction determines your decision.

24. Preference

If your potential customers use a competitor’s product, you need to convince them to take a risk. People feel safe with a product they’ve used. They’re unlikely to switch to your product without a very convincing reason.

You can compare your product to the other one, to illustrate the differences as well as the similarities. The similarities can turn your product from unnecessary risk to worth checking out.

You can also go for a more aggressive approach. Break your competitors product. Obviously I’m not suggesting vandalism. Break the competitive product, like email is breaking fax. Either make a product so superior that people will voluntarily make the switch, or if you’re a cell phone operator you could get the iPhone exclusively. That would “break” AT&T for many people.

25. Premeditation

No body can ever guarantee the success of a marketing campaign. But premeditation will make the success much more likely.

Before you ever launch your campaign you should become the devil’s advocate. Look closely at all the aspects of your campaign. If there’s anything you haven’t considered, do so before you start to market your product.

26. Press

Social media is the press of the 21st century. If you want your marketing to work, you need consider how to tie it to social media. Competitions, giveaways, etc. are all great ways to engage people through social media.

27. Pressure

Create a sense of urgency. People are reluctant to act, and the longer they wait the less likely the action becomes. Time-sensitive offers are just one way to create urgency.

Another effective way to create pressure is to appeal to people’s sense of status. “Be the first…”, “Your friends already do it…”, “If you’re smart, you’ll…” You can use this egoistic side of people, to create pressure.

28. Preview

The purpose of marketing is to have your potential customers imagining themselves using your product. If they create this preview in their heads, you’re a lot closer to getting a lead.

This is another reason why you should use pictures in marketing. It’s easier to create a mental picture based on pictures, than words. This is also a very powerful sales technique: have the prospect imagine using the product, and have them describe how it feels. In both cases, they get the good feeling of having your product. Deciding not to buy after that experience, feels like they lose something.

29. Pricing

Pricing is one of the basic four P’s of marketing. Understanding what people are willing to pay for your product is essential. Even if you nail every other P of marketing, the pricing can screw up the whole thing.

A low price lessens the product’s perceived value. It can even lower the perceived value below what you’d expect from a free gift.

But if your product is too expensive for your customers, they won’t buy it. When a customer is choosing between two products with near identical qualities, pricing becomes very important. And the cheaper one usually leaves the shelf.

30. Priest

Nothing has ever been marketed as well as religions. The reason religions have succeeded so well, is the understanding of their audience’s worldview. Priests, prophets, cult leaders, and all spiritual leaders fit their words into the beliefs their listeners hold.

Changing the worldviews of your audience is extremely difficult. It takes too much time and resources for most companies. Instead of changing the beliefs, shape your message to fit the beliefs your audience holds. This is one of the concepts discussed in my free marketing guide.

31. Prince

Like the small girls who dream of a prince who comes to pick them up, all people dream about something. A product that answers a common dream will succeed.

You might dream about status: a BMW can answer that dream. It could be about your family: a travel agency can fulfill that one with a family holiday. Or maybe you dream of the perfect music experience: many hi-fi sound companies attempt to turn that dream into reality. You need to know the dream you’re fulfilling.

32. Principles

People have their own principles. And they generally hold on to them tightly. Your marketing message cannot oppose these principles. Instead you can use the principles to your advantage.

You like your principles and you like others who share the same ones. This applies to products as well as people. You like products that reinforce your principles or at least work in accordance with them.

33. Product

The product is yet another one of the basic four P’s of marketing. A great product is much easier to market for several reasons. There are more good things to market. It will create word of mouth marketing. It will exceed customers’ expectations. And so on.

34. Production

Ethical and ecological factors are becoming more and more important. If your product has any positive ecological or ethical ideologies, production methods, or aspirations, you should mention it. These things aren’t important to everybody, but a growing number of people make their decisions based on these factors.

35. Prominence

Marketing needs observers, people to be affected. If your marketing message isn’t displayed prominently enough, it will fail. You’re most likely to notice something when you want to notice it. Features in newspapers, blogs, radio, TV, and other medias are therefor much more effective than paid advertising placements.

People have learnt to avoid paying attention to advertising. Content marketing is becoming more important because of that. Provide useful content as your marketing material, and people will not only pay attention to your “marketing” but even search for it.

36. Promises

A purchase is always a risk. You as the marketer should do whatever you can to make purchasing your product seem less risky. A specific and simple to understand promise creates the most certainty for the customer. Say something like, “It will last at least 5 years, no matter how you use it.” Not even “5 year guarantee” creates the same certainty, even if it means the same thing.

37. Proof

The reason many advertisements for medicines present doctors, is the authority and trust they create. People trust doctors when it comes to medicines. Use a trusted expert or a scientific study to demonstrate your products features, and hardly anyone will question the trustworthiness.

38. Properties

Some product properties are always necessary for a customer. If any of these properties is missing, you can’t make the sale. Identify what are the most important properties for your target audience. Then make sure that these properties, or at least the ones that aren’t absolutely obvious, are presented in your marketing.

39. Prosperousness

People are very aware of their perceived status. They’ll go to great lengths to defend their status. Marketing should make an implied promise of a status increase. With some products (cars, clothing, jewelry), the status aspect is obvious. But all products affect the feeling of status in some way.

40. Protection

Another way to make the risk of a purchase seem less intimidating is to promise help. For example you could effectively market a computer with the promise of customer service. Convey the idea that if anything goes wrong, someone will be there to help.

41. Purple Cow

Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow is about being remarkable. If you’ve seen a thousand cows, you think they’re boring. But if you then see a purple cow, it’s interesting. You need to get people interested, otherwise no one will buy your product. There are always many ways you can be remarkable. Your specialty can be something about your product or your marketing, as long as it gets you noticed.

42. Purpose

Why do people do charity work? They do it because of the purpose the work gives them. They feel they’re a part of something bigger than themselves. But giving purpose isn’t reserved for charities. You can easily market an ecological product with the feeling of purpose, “This book is printed on recycled paper that saves natural resources.” You could just as easily use ethical or political reasons.

43. Push

Your marketing should always push people into taking action. You can successfully create the desire, but still fail at creating action. Ideally you create enough push with the other P’s of marketing. But some things create push more than anything else. You could for example show people buying the product (also social proof), or provide a map to the nearest store that sells your product.

44. What’s the last P of marketing?

What should be the 44th P of marketing? Share your idea in the comments below.

Writing this list took a lot of time. I’d really appreciate it if you’d share it with your friends, thanks.

Management vs. Leadership – What’s the Difference?

Management and leadership are often thought of as synonyms. There’s a significant difference between management and leadership.

Wikipedia describes management: “… the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively.”

It’s possible you think that’s the description for leadership, but it’s not. But what is leadership then?

What is leadership?

Leadership is often seen as a part of management. But I can just as easily see management as a part of leadership. And you don’t need employees to be a leader.

Leadership is easy to understand through the characteristics of a leader. Here’s three most important qualities leaders embody.

1. Leaders have a vision of a future. They believe in their vision and they’re ready to work towards that future even without help. And they spread the idea in any way they can.

2. Leaders are good with people. Leadership is based on trust, which the leader gains by providing to the followers what they want. Only someone who understand people, can give them what they want.

3. Leadership requires charisma/enchantment. Charisma and enchantment don’t necessarily mean attractive looks. Voice, speech patterns, eye contact, clothes, and of course the words used, are often more important than looks. I recommend “Enchantment” by Guy Kawasaki (my review) if you’re interested in enchantment.

If those are most important measures of leadership, then what is management? I wrote earlier this week about manager’s role. To sum it up, managers work to enable a future. Managers take a goal, created by their leader, and then use the available resources to accomplish that goal.

Difference of management and leadership

Simply put leadership is empowering people to work, management is enabling the work. The difference of management and leadership is blurry and difficult to see in practice, because most managers embody some characteristics of leadership. And many leaders work as managers, or at least deal with their goal’s management issues.

Managing requires you to interact closely with your employees/subordinates/followers. Leadership on the other hand is possible without personal contact to your followers. Or at least contact to a small part of your following can be enough.

Personal contact is the easiest and most effective way to create a following, but leadership is first and foremost based on the idea, or the future, the leader believes in.

The only reason I categorize articles about leadership under management, is simplicity. I believe there’s a significant difference between management and leadership, but I also believe managers should understand how to lead.

Many schools teach management/leadership/etc. including degrees like bachelor of science in organizational management. And I guess you can learn a lot from them, but only if you choose to do so…

What do you think about management and leadership? Are they synonyms? Is one included in the other? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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Review: Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions by Guy Kawasaki

Rating: 5/5

After reading a few pages I knew I’d love this book. My belief turned out to be justified. The book is about enchantment and it is enchanting.

Guy Kawasaki worked at Apple when the first Macintosh was released. He’s job was to be the “chief evangelist”, marketing to put it simply. Later he’s worked for and started a few companies and written several books.

Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions is his latest book. It describes, in wonderful detail, what makes something enchanting. It explains how you can be enchanting, make your product or company enchanting, and how to resist enchantment. And it is all done in an enchanting way.

The structure

There isn’t a plot to the book. Rather it tackles one aspect of enchantment at a time. This works perfectly well, though I usually prefer books written in “story” format.

Guy Kawasaki obviously knows exactly what he writes about, the book is a pleasure to read. Ideas are reinforced with examples, expert opinions, and studies.

Because of the simple one-idea-at-a-time structure, I’ll use the book as a reference book for a long time. Though I think some of the chapters and headings could’ve been a little more descriptive to make finding single ideas easier (fortunately there’s an index at the back that helps with this).

It almost seems as if there’s nothing about enchantment that isn’t described in the book. But still you’d like it to be longer, just to keep reading.

What is enchantment?

Guy Kawasaki describes enchantment: “Enchantment transforms situations and relationships. … It changes skeptics and cynics into believers.”

An enchanting person is someone you instantly trust. Someone who’s example you want to follow.

An enchanting product is one you believe in and tell all your friends about. One you’re willing to defend if others threaten its idea.

Apple is probably the most obvious example of an enchanting company/brand. They have a loyal following of enchanted people. Whenever a new product is released millions read the news.

But what makes Apple enchanting?

How to be enchanting

This is what the book does so well. It gives you an endless list of ways to be more enchanting. All the usual ways to interact and common situations are explained.

Want to enchant customers? Explained. How to create a movement? Explained. Want to score points in the eyes of your boss? Explained. How to use Twitter enchantingly? Explained. And so on and so on.

The risk with this kind of a book, or any business book, is to be too theoretical. Guy Kawasaki manages to mix in just enough theory to be trustworthy, but not too much to be boring.

Throughout the book, it’s clear the author understands and lives what he teaches. He uses examples of his own experiences, but not too many to seem arrogant.

Who benefits from the book

I’d say anyone who is in contact with other humans, will greatly benefit from reading this book. It’s one of the few books I’m sure to read again… and again.

As far as I know, no one has written a more comprehensive book about enchantment. Though many have written about social behavior and other related topics, no one describes what creates that sudden feeling of enchantment.

If you want a more theoretical view to enchantment or to just understand it better, there’s a list of books Guy Kawasaki recommends. But reading “Enchantment” will be enough for most people.

The end

As I wrote this post, I realized just how enchanted I was by this book. I could’ve gone on and on about what I liked about it.

To be honest the book isn’t perfect. But the flaws are small:

  • I would’ve liked colored pictures for example. I think colors would’ve made the book more enchanting ;)
  • And I hoped for a short checklist of the most important ideas. After reading the book, I have too many ideas and a short “where to start” checklist would make taking action easier.

Buy the book

Buy hardcover from Amazon

Buy audiobook from Audible (click here for a free trial = one audiobook free)

The Most Successful Product Launch Ever – Modern Warfare 3

The most successful product launch ever is currently Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. It’s a video game that created over $775 million in revenue in five days.

You could say, “Wow, Activision made $775 million in five days!” But you’d be mistaken.

They didn’t make that in five days, five weeks, five months, or even five years. It took them over eight years. But most businesses never make that much money. So, what made Call of Duty so successful?

Road to a successful product launch

1. The product is and always has been the best. The first game in the series was released October 2003. Since then many have tried to copy the game, but with little success.

It’s not that Call of Duty would be the best video game. It’s just the best in its niche.

2. Listen to what customers want. The developers behind Call of Duty have always listened to their customers. They’ve asked for opinions and read online forums, to understand what they can do better in the next game.

They’ve always delivered a better experience than before. The market leader is the market leader only as long as they keep getting better.

3. Their product becomes more valuable as more people use it. Most people enjoy the multiplayer part of the game more than anything else in the game. In the multiplayer you play against other people. So, the more people play the game, the more people you have to play it with.

There are some similarities to email. If you’re the only one with email, it’s useless. The more people have email, the more important it becomes. And because email is so popular, fax is becoming obsolete. The same thing can be seen in video games. If your friends play a certain game, you want to play it too because no one’s playing other games.

4. Pre-release hype. When Activision announces a new installment in the series, it creates buzz among players. They want to see how the new game will be better than the last one. Video clips, developer interviews, etc. all create something to talk about. And something to wait for.

Since the game is so popular, it takes a minimal effort to create buzz. Loyal customers and industry media’s do it for free. As the release date comes closer, more trailers and other content add to the anticipation. By the release time, everyone who want’s the game, knows when it’s released.

Would you add something to this list? Share your ideas in the comments.

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9 Things Employees Want from a Job

Employees as customers is an idea most companies have never heard of. And most companies that have heard of it, haven’t thought about it.

If employees are a company’s most valuable asset, then the idea makes perfect sense. You should treat employees as customers, as if you were selling something to them. And actually, you do sell something to your employees.

Employees are customers

You could simplify this idea and say, “Employees buy money from their employers, with their time.” In other words the time you spend working acts as the payment for your salary, which is the product you buy.

But it’s not that simple. You don’t pay with just time. And you don’t only get money as a reward.

You often spend more than half of your time awake at work. Fortunately you get more than money for that. Or at least you should.

If you’re unable to provide other “products” (rewards) for your employees, they’ll go somewhere else. This is especially true of your most talented and motivated employees. Other companies are happy to give them more than just money.

What else do you sell to your employees

So, money isn’t the only “product” your employees want from you. Certainty, appreciation, purpose, relationships, growth, challenges, opportunities, the list goes on.

The customer is always right, and the law of demand states you must provide what your customers want. So, you need to provide what your employees want.

That’s true if you want your employees to do their best. It takes a fraction of a second from a customer to notice whether or not someone likes their job. And that reflects to how well they do their job.

An unmotivated employee won’t spend time learning new skills. They won’t find creative solutions to problems. And they have no reason to stay loyal to their employers.

What employees want

Here are the basics of what employees want from a job.

1. Money. Unless you employ millionaires who are only looking for experiences, you have to pay your employees enough. Note that “enough” isn’t the same as “the most”. Other factors play a larger role in choosing where to work once you get paid “enough”.

2. Certainty. One of the basic human needs is certainty. How much of it you need varies from person to person. But for most people, work is the one place that should offer fair amount of certainty.

3. Challenges. The opposite to certainty. A job that never challenges you, is boring. And a boring job is worse than an uncertain job, for most people at least.

4. Appreciation. Usually the best way to motivate employees, is to show appreciation. People usually work harder for a status increase than a raise.

5. Purpose. The most satisfying jobs are those that offer a purpose you believe in. Charities work only because they offer a purpose for their volunteers.

6. Growth. People generally want to grow as humans. For as long as your job makes you a better person, you’ll enjoy it. This is closely related to opportunities.

7. Opportunities. Not everybody wants to be the CEO. But most people like the possibility to be promoted. Or at least to have influence on what they do on a day-to-day basis.

8. Relationships. Some people like to work alone, but most want to have people around them. Stronger relationships at work usually increase productivity.

9. Rhythm. Since working takes so much of your time, it also creates a rhythm for you life. Most enjoy this, as it adds to the feeling of certainty.

Think of at least one way to offer more of each of the things on the list. You’re guaranteed to increase productivity through motivating employees more.

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