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 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!”

Homer Simpson Aces Authentic Branding Test

In our last chat, Homer asked me, “How do I know WHEN to sell, market or brand?”

And while we spent some time discussing the Role of Authentic Branding,
we didn’t have get around to covering the roles of  marketing or sales.

Yesterday, Homer dropped by to finish that conversation. “Hey Homer!”
I greeted him. “It’s good to see you again!” Homer smiled and flopped down onto my sofa.

“Now before we start on this conversation,” I began, “Tell me what you remember from our conversation last week when discussed the role of Authentic Branding.”

“It’s too early for a test!” Homer protested. “It’s only 10 am!”

“Is there a better time?” I asked.

“Nah, it’s always too early for a test. OK…I’ll do it now.”

Homer looked thoughtful.  Then he held up his hand and began to count off points on his fingers.

“The role of an Authentic Brand … firstly, is to communicates clearly what it is and what it is one of.”

“Right on Homer,” I encouraged, “Can you give me an example of that?”

he replied. “Duff’s is beer and beer is an alcoholic beverage.”
He paused and then added, with a reflective smile. “A most excellent alcoholic beverage!”

“Anything else?” I probed.

“Yes, an Authentic Brand has something special about it that makes people choose it over other brands.” He hesitated and then went on to ask. “Would that special thing about the Fox Television brand be that it broadcasts The Simpson’s?”

“That would certainly contribute to what makes Fox unique, special and different from other broadcast networks.” I agreed.  “Good example, Homer!”

“Point three,” Homer continued, folding back his third finger, “An Authentic Brand appeals to the people who want and need it.” He hesitated, “Or is it that the Authentic Brand gives them something they want or need?”

“It’s a bit of both, Homer.” I answered. “For example, The Simpson’s target market faces the same challenges that you, your family and friends do.  So watching The Simpson’s characters work through these challenges gives your target market the benefits of:
1. normalizing their challenges (they see they’re not alone in their struggles)
and laughing at them,
both of which minimize them.”

Homer scrunched up his face. “That made my brain hurt!” He objected.
“Can you say that in a way that’s less painful?”

“Of course,” I replied, sympathetically. “Watching your show makes your target market feel better.” “Phew!” Said Homer, taking his head out of his hands. “That made me feel better – now I can think again.”

“Are there any other roles that an Authentic Brand fulfills?” I asked.

“Yes. OK. On to point 4.” Homer folded his thumb in on top of the three fingers he had already counted down. “All I have to do is keep being me, and that keeps my brand authentic.”

“Right again!” I confirmed. “An Authentic Brand is believable and credible.”

“Last one!” Homer said smiling happily, then he shook his fist at me. “What’s wrong?” I asked, confused by his conflicting gestures. “Nothing!” Homer grinned cheekily, “It’s just that I’m all out of fingers and thumbs so I’m counting point 5 with my fist!” We laughed as he shook his fist again, to emphasize his intent, then went on to say…

“Point 5 is that an Authentic Brand is consistent. So as long as I keep being me, and my writers don’t get any dumb ideas about making me do dumb things,” Homer shot me a narrow eyed look, clearly recalling our conversation about him running off to Montreal with another man.
“As long as I stay consistent, I’ll stay on-brand!”

“That’s right!” I agreed and went on to add, “I’m very impressed!
You really got a lot out of our last conversation!”

He smiled and shot me a quick grin. “I guess it takes an Authentic Brand to know one! Ha Ha!”

We both chuckled for a minute, then Homer sketched some rapid forward circles in the air with his hand… “So let’s get on with the show, Ms Authentic Branding Guru…What’s the role of marketing?”