Homer Simpson asks, “What is the Role of Selling?”

“Ok Homer,” I said, “We’ve covered the role of marketing and we’ve covered the role of authentic branding. Now it’s time to talk about the role of selling.”

“Go for it!” Homer urged, “I’m all ears!”

“There are five aspects to the role of selling,”
I explained. “And while the first four won’t come as
a surprise, the last one is sure to be a shocker!”

The Role of Selling Is To:

  1. ENGAGE the brand’s target market
  2. LEARN what they NEED or WANT
  3. MATCH what they NEED or WANT with your brand’s benefits
  4. ACTIVATE their desire to buy NOW to resolve problems
    OR to get what they
    NEED/WANT immediately
  5. FOCUS ON…

I paused and looked at Homer. “What’s the fifth aspect of selling?” I asked. “Uh, to make buyers feel good about buying?” He volunteered. “No,” I responded, “That’s pretty much covered by number three. When they buy something that will help them fix a problem – and it does– they’re going to feel good about buying!”  Right!” Homer nodded.

What if You Buy Something that Doesn’t Give You What You Think it Will?

“But what if they buy something that doesn’t do what they think it will?” He probed.  “What happens then?”  “Homer, you’ve just described a classic case of buyer’s remorse,” I said. “It comes in a few variations.  And when the buyer and seller disregard the fifth aspect of selling, buyers’ remorse is pretty much guaranteed.  Do you want to make another guess at number five, Homer?” I invited.

“Nope,” He said, looking perplexed, “I have absolutely no clue on this one.”

The Fifth Aspect of Selling

“The Fifth Aspect of Selling,” I began, “Is to always think
and assess from the perspectives of “performance” and “outcomes.”  Ask yourself:

– “What  problem will this product or service fix?”

“What tangible improvements will it make in their life?”

Number five is all about gathering and reporting…”
I dropped my voice to a whisper, “Performance Intelligence.”

“Whooo Hoo!” Homer whooped,  “Top secret stuff! Is there a code name for number five, like you have for the other four aspects of selling?” He asked. “I need an easier way to remember this one!” “Sure,” I replied. “An easy way to summarize this is to focus on outcomes.”

5. FOCUS ON OUTCOMES to gather and report “Performance Intelligence”

Homer still looked unclear, so I went on. “To maintain accurate insights into a target markets’ needs, desires, challenges and issues, the front line sales people MUST constantly check and recheck their existing assumptions.”

Homer moved forward to the edge of the couch. “Are you telling me that a target market’s needs – and all that other stuff – change over time?” He asked. “I sure am!” I confirmed.

“Just think, Homer, your needs as a father of three are quite different from your needs as a newly married man.” “That’s true!” He confirmed, looking thoughtful.  “And your needs as a newly married man were quite different from your needs as a bachelor. Right?”  “Oh yeah!” Homer admitted, smiling at the thought of his long past days as a bachelor. “I was quite the catch!” He crowed. “I’m sure you were, Homer!” I smiled.

The Performance Intelligence Cycle

“What do they do with all of this “Performance Intelligence” they gather?” He inquired. “Good question” I replied, and went on to clarify.

“Performance Intelligence is gathered by the people doing the front-line selling, then communicated back to the brand managers. The brand managers then work with the brand strategists to apply this new information to refine the brand’s messages so that they continue to be on-point, relevant and appealing to the brand’s target market.”

Time Changes All Needs

“Well, that makes sense!” Homer concluded.  “And that explains why my cable company keeps sending me different offers for bundles of channels.  What I watch HAS changed over time,” He observed. “I have added channels that Marge and Bart and Lisa like too. And I’ve unsubscribed from the ones we don’t like anymore.”

“That’s a great example, Homer.” I applauded. “Can you think of any more?”

How Homer’s Pizza Preferences Evolved Over Time

“Hmmmm.” Homer was silent for a moment.  Then he got excited and said, “Yes! I just thought of one.” “Great!” I  encouraged. “It’s pizza!” He announced.  “When I was a kid, I loved frozen pizza!” “D’you mean the old fashioned kind that you bought at the supermarket that kind of tasted like the cardboard you heated it up on?” I clarified.  “Yup – that’s it!” Homer nodded. “Well, when I started working full time, I stopped buying those and got hooked on delivery pizza.” “Why the change?” I asked.  “Well, at the end of a long day at work, I didn’t want to shop. I just wanted to eat! And with delivery, I could eat AND watch TV.” Homer grinned.

“And do you still prefer that sort of pizza?” I asked. “Sometimes,” Homer admitted, “But I like a lot of different pizzas now.  Plus we go out to Marge’s favorite pizzeria.  We take the kids to Pizza Hut. And we order from a bunch of different pizza delivery places, ‘cuz everyone has their favorites.” He added. “Do you alternate so everyone gets their favorite now and then?” I inquired.

“That’s right,” Homer said, “Oh, and there’s one other thing.” “What’s that?” I asked. “Well, there’s been a change in the pizza toppings I order as well. And the crust thickness.” He said. “I used to like the spicy toppings, but these days, they don’t like me so much.” I nodded sympathetically and said, “That tends to happen as we get older.” “And way back when, there was only one type of pizza crust.” Homer continued. “I remember!” I recalled. “Sometimes I order thin crusts, for a change. So yeah, my pizza needs and preferences have changed a LOT over the years.”

Applied  Performance Intelligence

“That’s a great story that I think everyone can relate to, Homer.” I said. “Now, think back in time and imagine that a really GREAT salesman from the very first pizza delivery company asked you a few questions – with every delivery – about why you ordered certain types of pizzas.  Then his company used what you told  him to add many of the pizzas you said you liked to their delivery menu. Would you have stuck with just that one pizza delivery company?”

“Wow!” Homers eyes opened wide. “As long as their pizzas tasted good, I would.”

I expanded my point. “And what if – when you bought pizza – they also offered you:

  • Related Free Gifts, like sodas, movie tickets, or DVD rentals?
  • Discount Coupons, to save you money on each order?
  • VIP Points that you could use to get every tenth order for free?
  • Referral Rewards for telling your friends about them?
  • Promotional Items, like pizza cutters or special pizza plates?

“Would that sort of attention make you stick with one company?”

“Definitely!” Homer asserted with a broad smile. “Great – so now you’re clear on the role of selling.  Are you ready for a quiz?”

“I am,” he beamed, “And while you’re at it, I think I’ve got everything figured out.  So go ahead and quiz me on the role of marketing as well.  I bet I’ll get an A+ again, just like I did on the Authentic Branding Quiz!

Homer Simpson asks, “What are the Best Marketing Mediums for Authentic Brands?” Part 2

In answering Homer Simpson’s question “What are the Best Marketing Mediums for Authentic Brands?” I told Homer that many ad agencies and marketing firms push their clients to use the marketing mediums that they prefer instead of recommending the marketing medium (or combinations of mediums) that meet their clients goals of driving sales or attracting new customers.

“Marketing firms and ad agencies do this because using THEIR preferred mediums allows them to engage in  “Vanity Marketing.” I explained. “Which means they use their clients’ budgets to:

  1. Do more of the work they enjoy most, which…
  2. Keeps their “crew” busy, so they are never “unavailable,” and…
  3. Generates numerous entries for the various awards they aspire to win, which…
  4. Attract the clients who let them do more of… (Go back to #1 and repeat)”

Homer asked the obvious question. “How do authentic brands escape the vicious circle of “Vanity Marketing”?”

“The only way to avoid getting trapped,” I said firmly, “Is to develop a detailed target market profile and to be very clear on the mediums your target market DO and DON’T respond to.”

“Uh oh – I hear another conversation coming on!” Homer winked.  “You’re right!” I agreed.  “I’ll give you the short answer now but the long answer on detailed Target Market Profiles really warrants an entire conversation of its own.”

“Excellent!” said Homer, “So, what’s the short answer?”

“A Target Market’s preferred marketing mediums are determined by their:
1. needs  2. values and 3. preferences.
I began.

“And how do we know what those are?” asked Homer. “That’s what we’ll cover off in the conversation dedicated solely to Target Markets,” I replied.  “For now, I’m going to use the venerable company, Reader’s Digest, to illustrate my point,” I continued.

“Readers Digest’s Target Market prefers direct mail over any other marketing medium.” I began.

“Why?” Asked Homer. “Don’t they like TV?” “They do,” I assured him, “But direct mail sells far more magazines and books for Reader’s Digest than a 30 or even a 60 second television commercial.”

Homer looked puzzled, so I carried on with my explanation, “You see, the Reader’s Digest Target Market is made up of older people.  Many of them are retired.  And the Reader’s Digest mailers include lots of elements to read which their recipients find interesting and entertaining.  This Target Market also responds very well to the “gift-with-purchase” sales strategy.  Reader’s Digest knows that!  So when one of their prospects makes a  purchase – they give them something else at no extra cost. Often, that’s all it takes to clinch the sale!”

“What sort of stuff do they give away?” Asked Homer, looking intrigued.  “Well,” I began, “The gifts vary quite a lot.  I’ve seen them give away alarm clocks, pens, cutlery…” I began to count out a list. “Cutlery!” Exclaimed Homer. “Wow! I guess they want you to eat their words!”  He collapsed back on the couch and laughed loudly – fully enjoying his joke.

“Anything else?” Asked Homer when he had recovered. “Yes, this Target Market loves the Readers Digest Contests.” I said. “They can win cars and cash prizes…  Plus, some of the contests offer prizes for childrens’ writing, art and photography, so they can get their grandchildren involved too.”

“I can see why they’d like that part.” Homer said,  “But to me those contests seem like a big waste of time.”  “That’s totally understandable!” I responded.  “You’re a lot younger than
the Readers Digest Target Market, Homer.  And you have lots of other things to focus your attention on… You have a job, a wife and three children at home. You also have a car, so it’s easy for you to get around. And you have a group of friends whom you like to hang out with.”
Homer nodded. “That’s true!”

“Think ahead,” I challenged him. “Let’s say you are retired, and a widower. Your children have moved out and are leading busy lives. They have children of their own.”

“Bart and Lisa with kids? Whoah!” said Homer, shaking his head. “No! No! No! No! No!”

“Yes!” I continued, laughing at his horrified expression, “It’s all good Homer. Bart and Lisa will be adults by then – and you’ll be a grandfather!” Homer relaxed. “That’s ok then,” he smiled, imagining himself with his future grand-babies.  I went on.  “Let’s say you have health issues that make it difficult for you to get out of the house. ”

“Uh, let’s NOT say that, but OK,” said Homer “I get your drift…”  “And,” I went on, “A thick Readers Digest mailer is delivered to your mailbox.  It contains many pages of easy to read, interesting information.  It also offers you:

  • Stickers to peel off one page and stick on another
  • A chance to win a car
  • A chance to win a big cash prize
  • A book that condenses four bestsellers into one
  • Free gifts that you get to keep, even if you return the book
  • A 30 day no-hassle return policy on the book
  • No up front payment – you pay when you’ve “reviewed” the book and decided to keep it.

“Wow,” said Homer, smiling slowly, “I guess if  I was old and housebound, getting a package like that would make me feel like Santa had just stopped by!” “That’s it,” I said. “You’ve got it!”

“So d’you think Readers Digest knows their target market’s preferences and needs? Oh – and how to reach them?” I followed through with Homer,  “Wow, do they ever!” He replied, obviously impressed. “I can see why mailers work better for them than a television commercial would.  They’d get less than a minute on TV. And going though the mailer takes, what? An hour?” He asked. “It could,” I admitted, “Especially for someone who isn’t moving too fast or processing very quickly.”

“So do ALL marketing and ad agencies push their clients to do ONLY the work  they enjoy? Do they all party on their client’s nickel and compete with each other to win awards?” Homer asked, frowning. “Not ALL of them Homer.  No.” I replied thoughtfully. “There are a few that, like MIBOSO Authentic Branding, deliver real value to their clients.”

“How can I pick out the good marketing firms and agencies?” Homer asked. “Or tell them apart from the, er, “Vanity Marketers”?”

“It’s really pretty easy, Homer,” I replied, “You start by looking at the tangible results they have delivered for their clients. And then you validate the facts they provide with the clients themselves.”

“Hmmm,” Homer appeared unconvinced that this would be an easy process. “Can you give me a check list or some specific questions I can use?” He asked.  “I’m not so sure I’d be able to tell if they’re giving me the straight goods or “pitching me”.” Homer made a good point, “Because from what you’ve told me, I have to think that they’re pretty good at getting what they want.”

“Of course,” I said, “I’d be happy to do that! Look for that check list in an upcoming post!”

“Will do” said Homer happily, “I’m not gonna let those “Vanity Marketers” use my money to make themselves look good!” He chuckled and rubbed his hands together. “No siree, Bob!”

“Now that we’ve exposed the hidden biases of ad agencies and marketing firms, are you ready to move on to the role of selling?” I asked.

Homer nodded, then grinned, “Pitch me!” He said.

Homer Simpson asks, “What are the Best Marketing Mediums for Authentic Brands?” Part 1

Which Marketing Channels are Your Target Market Tuned In To?

Homer asked me, “How do you know what your target market is tuning in to?” 

That’s the million dollar question.” I replied. “And it’s a question that all too often does NOT get asked.  When it IS asked, it tends not to get answered very well.”

“Why not?” I could see that Homer’s curiosity was aroused.

“It doesn’t get answered well because it involves numerous agendas as well as multiple conflicting interests, most of which are not disclosed.” I summed up the issues. “And when it IS asked, it doesn’t get answered because marketing firms and ad agencies develop preferences for certain mediums. And when they do that, they tend to recommend only the mediums they LIKE using, over the mediums that their clients’ NEED to use to reach their target markets.”

“Huh?” Homer was looking very confused. “That makes no sense!”

Numerous Agendas and Conflicting Interests Collide

“Actually, it’s quite simple.” I explained. “When a marketing firm or an ad agency gets hooked on a specific medium (let’s say it’s  producing TV commercials) they assemble a crew of subcontractors who specialize in various aspects of TV commercial production. You know all about this Homer,  there’s cameramen, camera assistants, casting agents, actors, make-up artists, wardrobe stylists, video editors, set designers, props people, sound production studios, catering services…”

“Ah yes, the on-set food,” Homer cut in, looking blissful as he revisited his memories of caterer’s food tables.

“When these crews collaborate frequently, they work long hours together, they resolve challenges together, they eat together and they enjoy each others company” I explained,
In short they build strong bonds.”

“Yes, there are a lot of people involved in  TV production,” Homer agreed.
“And at times, it does feel like an extended family!”

“So when that’s what you’re used to doing, ” I  continued, “And when that’s what you like to do, you tend to see every project through a one-size-fits-all lens. Or in this case, through a TV lens.”

“Do you mean that these agencies recommend TV as the marketing medium for everyone?” Homer asked.  “Yes! A client might actually need to use another medium to reach their target market and an agency would sell them a TV commercial instead because that’s what they like to produce!” I asserted.  Homer looked shocked. “That’s dumb!” He exclaimed. “It takes a very
special talent to be a TV star!”

What The Agency Wants Versus What Their Clients Need

“It happens every  day, Homer,” I confirmed sadly.  “And there’s a hidden agenda that provides even more incentive for them to stay stuck in their rut.” I added. “What’s that?” Homer inquired.  “The inter-industry creative awards and honors that ad agencies and marketing firms compete with each other to win.”

The Pursuit of Industry Awards

“Are those like intermural  awards?” Homer queried.  “Yes, exactly!” I agreed. “In intermural sports,  high school and college teams compete against their peers. Ad agencies and marketing firms compete against each other in the same way, “ I said, then added the kicker, “They become obsessed with winning these awards because clients tend to choose the firms that have a long list of awards over those that don’t.”

“Isn’t that the smart thing to do?” Said Homer. “It makes sense to me.”

“On the surface it appears to make sense – yes!  But when you look at who sets up, sponsors, competes for and judges these competitions, it’s very much an “insider game.” I clarified.  “Hmmm,” Homer frowned.
“So the best entries don’t win?”

“What I mean, Homer, is that “best” is a highly subjective measure-
ment.” I explained. “The entries are not assessed based on the target market’s reaction.  So the people the ads are intended to impact don’t get a vote. Nor are they measured on tangible results, like proving that Duff’s beer sales increased 20% over a specific period of time as a result of the commercial produced by Agency “X.”

So how ARE these awards judged?asked Homer.

“Typically, they’re judged based on the preferences and opinions of the industry professionals who are invited to judge them.” I said. “Some of them will like gritty black and white cinematography.  Others prefer product beauty shots, or animation, or busty models, or quirky humor.”

“Oh my!” said Homer in wonder, “So there IS no criteria – it’s just a matter of individual opinion and taste?”   “Yes,” I agreed, “In another conversation on this topic I noted…”

Once opinion has infiltrated … you begin to present your beliefs or judgments as facts.
In truth, they are not based on provable facts, hard evidence or logic.

“And unfortunately, clients who need a specific approach to achieve their marketing goals, such as a print campaign, or a billboard, get “sold” on using the medium that their agency prefers, because…

Using Preferred Mediums Allows Marketing Firms and Ad Agencies to:

1.  Do more of the work they enjoy most, which…

2.  Keeps their “crew” busy, so they are never “unavailable,” and…

3. Generates numerous entries for the various awards they aspire to win, which…

4.  Attract the clients who let them do more of… (Go back to #1 and repeat)”

“That sounds like a vicious circle,” observed Homer. “How do you get around that?”

“The answer to that, my friend” I chuckled, “Is SO obvious that you’re goung to give me a great big “D’Oh!” when I tell you.  Let’s talk about how authentic brands can avoid the vicious circle of Vanity Marketing.”

Homer Simpson Accesses Top Marketing Secrets for Authentic Branding

What is the Role of Marketing?

“What exactly is the role of marketing?” Homer asked. “And why do you keep avoiding my question? Is it some sort of “secret” that I need special clearance to get access to?” he persisted.

“Do I need special protection, like a radiation suit or something? I have one at the plant you know!” Homer chuckles. “Or is it like one of those James Bond secret weapons that looks like an umbrella and turns into an Uzi?”

Homer rolls around on the couch, laughing so hard I expected him to topple off at any second. Fortunately, he did not!

“No.” I countered, The marketing secrets themselves are NOT what you need to be protected from! As an Authentic Brand,
you have the right to access them.

It’s the marketing world’s scum that don’t.  These low life characters pretend to be supporting your brand’s success, but instead, they take your budget, do what they want with it and give you a mere 25 or 30 seconds of pointless, easily forgotten entertainment in exchange.

These are the villains that these marketing secrets will arm you to fight
and defeat.”

“That sounds exciting,” said Homer, “And just a little bit scary…”  “It is scary!” I affirmed. “but it’s better to be forewarned and armed than to be yet another victim.” Homer frowned. “I’m no one’s victim!” He declared loudly, puffing out his chest. “Good!” I responded. “That’s the spirit! Now let’s begin!”

The Role of Marketing is to Deliver…

“Homer, I want you to think of marketing as a massive courier service. Imagine that  it
has fleets of planes, trains, trucks, boats, mopeds and bicycles. Imagine that it also has an expansive  collection of specialty vehicles; rickshaws, canoes, skidoos, swamp boats and
more. Oh, and add in a few caravans of camels and teams of sled dogs for use in extreme weather conditions.

“So if marketing is like a courier service, what is it delivering?” Homer asked. “Great question!” I applauded. “The role of marketing is to deliver the brand’s messages, claims and promises to the brand’s target market via one or more of the vehicles that are known  to be able to reach that target market.

“What happens when they do that?” Homer asked.

There Are Two Objectives:

  1. To raise awareness of the brand with the people most likely to value it.
  2. To predispose those prospective customers to buy the brand, by building
    a relationship with them and letting them know which of their problems
    the brand can fix, and how they’ll find it useful.

“I don’t remember hearing about too many marketing messages being delivered by dog-sled,” said Homer, dubiously. “Maybe not,” I agreed, “But if you were up in Alaska or the Yukon, working at a diamond mine and living in a compound, how would you find out about new brands that could fix your problems or make your life easier?”

How Do YOU Learn About the Brands that Can Make Your Life Easier?

“I don’t know,” said Homer, “Infomercials?” “Perhaps,” I allowed, “But I think that it’s more likely that the people in such places would be an excellent target market for direct marketing.  So I would think they get quite a supply of targeted mailings delivered by skidoo or plane
– and possibly even by dog-sled when it is too cold for planes to fly.”

“The people at the diamond mines could also shop with the Internet,” said Homer “I hear that thing is still around.” I laughed, “Yes, it’s still around, and of course they could learn about new brands on-line, but it would be like searching for a needle in a haystack, as opposed to receiving specific messages that address the issues that matter to them.

And of course, once the brand’s marketing messages persuade someone to make a purchase, whatever they buy would have to be delivered in some physical way. Because we still haven’t figured out how to “transport” goods through the ether. The kinds of “mediums” that can reach through time and space are not the ones we’re talking about.” I smiled, entertained by my play on words.

Homer jumped right in and hummed a few bars from the Twilight Zone theme. “That’s right ” I said, “We’re getting close to living what was once science fiction, but we still have a few unconquered frontiers to explore.”

What are Marketing Mediums?

“Marketing mediums is a fancy term for marketing channels,” I went on to explain. “Marketing channels, or marketing mediums, include  radio, television, newspapers, magazines, billboards, websites, and direct mail.”

“Ha ha – channels – like TV!” Homer laughed. “That’s easy to remember.”
I smiled and asked. “So how do you know which channel to use? How do you know which channels your target market is tuning in to?”

Which Channels are Your Audience Tuning In To?

“ Well Homer,” I replied, “That’s the million dollar question. You’ve nailed it.  And it’s a question that all too often doesn’t get asked. And when it IS asked, it tends not to get answered very well.”

“Why?” asked Homer,  “It seems like a simple question.”
“It’s not difficult to answer,
” I replied, “But because it involves numerous agendas and conflicting interests, it takes some time to explain. Let’s take a break now, then come back to it,” I suggested.

Homer’s stomach rumbled loudly.  “There’s a box of donuts  and some sodas on that table. “ I said, pointing. “Take a couple of minutes to put some sugar into your system, because what I have to say next about those marketing villains will make your head spin!”