Monday, January 30, 2006

Happy Ground Hog Day – Happy New Year of the Dog

How are you leveraging these special dates in your marketing?

These special days are free marketing resources for you. You can leverage them to stand out from the competition.

Did you send Christmas cards to your clients? That’s nice – but how does that make you stand out? Have you considered how many others did the same?

If you want to be noticed, do something different.

Why not send a Ground Hog Day greeting?
Why not send a Chinese New Year greeting?

Do something special for your customers. And use these specials days as the excuse.

Be where your competition is not. Celebrate what they don’t. Don’t bother wasting your time and money doing the same thing your competition does. It doesn’t differentiate you.

Learn more about Punxsutawney Phil at

Learn more about Wiarton Willie at

Learn more about Chinese New Year at

And of course you can tap into the hype about Super Bowl

George Torok

PS: Happy Ground Hog Day

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hyundai vs. the memory of the Pony

Hyundai vs. the memory of the Pony

So Hyundai is producing excellent cars. They won some awards. And they are telling everyone about it. That is good marketing; but big deal.

What is holding people back?

Think 1984 to 1995. Remember the Pony?

Yeah – too many of us do. How can we say this in a nice way? It was a piece of garbage. At least that is my opinion. I remember when the Pony came out. I even remember considering buying one. Yes, I was that desperate in those days. I also remember how the resale value of the Pony hovered around the resale of the Lada: A couple hundred dollars.

First impressions count. And if our first impression of Hyundai is crap how do we make the transition to excellence?

I think that Hyundai hasn’t figured that out yet.

First impressions are strong.

Look at how long it took for Toyota and the Japanese auto industry to overcome the stigma of cheap and low quality. Decades! They did it through persistence.

Is Hyundai trying to follow the same formula?

Sometimes what worked in a different time does not work today.

Sometimes you need to think and be radically different.

What can Hyundai do?

Well – if the problem is the lingering image of the Pony – then maybe they need to destroy the image of the Pony.

Figuratively and literally.

Instead of trying to ignore the obvious, Hyundai might consider leveraging the past.

Yeah – embrace the Pony and blow it up.

Smash a Pony event.

Assuming they can find any remaining Pony’s – hold special events. Invite customers and prospects to visit their Hyundai dealer – take a test drive then smash a pony with a sledge hammer.

Hyundai might even consider a TV ad where they blow up a Pony. Imagine the buzz that could create for them.

Come on – every car manufacturer shows scenes of their car zooming along the road. – Boring!

Smash a Pony!

It might even be worth it for Hyundai to produce some more Pony’s just for this promotion.

George Torok

PS: I love my Hyundai XG 350

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

How the travel industry disguises the real price

Let’s assume the price of your product is so high that it frightens your customers off.
Maybe because of the rising costs in your industry or maybe you are just not price competitive.

So if the price is scary – don’t scare them – don’t tell them.

Instead you might disguise the price.

How do you do that?

The car retailers have been doing this for decades. Instead of telling you the price of the car – they advertise the monthly payment. “Wow - you think - all that luxury for only $400. I can afford that.” Of course the reality is that it is $400 per month for four years and at the end you own nothing. But $400 is a lot less frightening then $30,000.

The travel industry is disguising the price quite imaginatively.

First they list prices without taxes. Yet the taxes seem to add another 20 % or more to the final price. They have been doing this for quite some time so most of us automatically look at the price and add taxes. Yes – deception creates cynicism and reduces trust.

Of course this approach might impress some, fool some, and annoy others. I was mostly annoyed. You decide.

As I skimmed the vacation ads in the newspaper, the ad from Sears Travel caught my eye

Cuba from $85 /month

Of course Cuba for $85 is what registered in my mind. Closer examination revealed that the real price was $1,020 plus taxes for a package that was offered elsewhere for $578 (plus taxes of course). (Sunbeach Hotel – flight from Toronto)

Suddenly $85 did not look so good.

I’m not judging whether it is right or wrong to finance your winter vacation. That is up to you. But I think that it would be nice and more than fair to know the real price – without bringing out the calculator and net present value formulas.

Then I noticed a different approach from Sunwing vacations.

$526 off per couple

And in smaller print - $264 per person

I could not find what the real price was. Maybe it was there but I got tired of searching.

But hey, Mexico for $526 certainly caught my eye.

At least had an honest approach.

Their ad headline was

Sunshine in six easy payments

Then they listed the packages along with real prices – or at least real prices before taxes. Sigh.

So how much is it really going to cost for a winter vacation?

And yes – there is a point where clever marketing crosses the line to pure deception.

(Sources for these examples - Hamilton Spectator and Toronto Star - Saturday Jan 21, 2006)

George Torok

PS: I have recently learned that “All Inclusive” doesn’t mean “All Inclusive.” Apparently there are different interpretations of that term. Some might surprise you.

PPS: Hope you enjoy your winter vacation.

PPPS: Hope you understand the real price before you book it.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Las Vegas Casino Rules

Las Vegas rules for Power Marketing

Las Vegas Casino Rules

Q. What did I learn from Las Vegas?
A. The casinos win most of the time.

Q. Why do they win most of the time?
A. Because they follow systems.

Q. Why don’t they win all of the time?
A. Because no system wins all of the time.

Q. Why are they happy winning only most of the time?
A. Because they win a lot.

Q. Why don’t the players win more?
A. Because they don’t have systems that are as good.

Q. What is the lesson here?
A. Use a good system to win most of the time.

George Torok
Power Marketing Systems
Marketing Coach

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Best Marketing

The best marketing is when other people talk about you.

Why is that the best?

Because that is the most believable.

We seldom believe what you say about yourself. But we often believe what others say about you. So the question is, “What can you do to get others talking about you?”

There are a few things you can do.

Do something unusual. Because we talk about the unusual – the really bad or really good customer service.

Encourage your customers to talk about you. Ask them and reward them for testimonials. Then leverage your testimonials.

Brag about your customers. Make them feel special.

Make it easy for your customers to talk about you. Offer them a forum. Give them paper, pen and writing desk.

George Torok
Power Marketing Systems
Marketing Coach

Monday, January 16, 2006

Selling to Small Business

If you are from “large” business (where does that line start?) you probably need some help when selling to small business. There are major differences between selling to a billion-dollar company and a $5-million company.

So where does large business get help in selling to small business? Talk to someone who intimately knows small business.

Imagine if you could talk to someone who has researched, analyzed and championed small business for over a decade. One who has sat down and run open forum discussions with fast growing small business – some of which quickly became large business. One who ran a small business unit as part of a large business.

So who is this guru of selling to small business? Rick Spence, the former editor and publisher of Profit Magazine. It is unusual for an editor to also become publisher of a corporate-owned magazine. During his tenure he transformed the magazine from “Small Business Magazine” to “Profit”. A major name and focus change. Over the years he reviewed, interviewed and met with hundreds of business owners. He learned what makes them tick (and talk). He studied their goals, their dreams, their problems and their needs. (He even wrote a book, Secrets of Success from Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies.)

Rick left PROFIT a few years ago (though he still writes a column there) to become an entrepreneur himself. Last month he launched a blog, Selling to Small Business ( ) to help other marketers serve small business better. He says it's all a part of his mission of championing small business: "When the banks, tech firms and service providers better understand business owners," he says, "they are much more likely to offer products and services that entrepreneurs need, at a price they can afford. So everybody wins!"

Recently, Rick has blogged on The Seven Simple Rules for Selling to Small Business, what motivates entrepreneurs, what stresses them out, and how big marketers get it wrong. It makes for a fun and informative read for anyone in marketing.

I know Rick, and he's very open about encouraging dialogue and comments on his blog. (He does that on his other blog, too, Canadian Entrepreneur .) Rick is even offering to let other people post articles on his blog if they have something to say about marketing to small business. You can contact him at

(By the way, one of Rick's key lessons is to be very careful about calling your prospects "small business". That may be what they are, but it may not reflect their owners' mindset. Rick quotes one business owner who says, "A small business is any business smaller than my business").

George Torok
Marketing Specialist

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Million-Dollar Homepage

Just when you thought that all the million-dollar ideas were taken, makes a million dollars for a 21-year old student.

Visit the site to learn more. You might read it, then shake your head and wonder, “why didn’t I think of that?”

This idea is brilliant in it’s uniqueness, simplicity, low risk and huge return. Copycats are imitating but with unimpressive results so far. Being first is risky but most often gives the best return. And like the Pet Rock some things only work once.

The concept – create a one-page site and sell small ads by the pixel. Minimum order is 100 pixels – i.e. 10x10 pixels. That is small. Each ad is linked to the advertisers website. With a total of one million pixels on the page – the potential is one million US dollars in sales. A bodacious goal. But very little to lose.

This is also a rags-to-riches story. Alex Tew, the 21-year old student who conceived and implemented this idea started it because he needed money for tuition. Looks like he will have a lot of money left over for other things. I wonder how many parents of college kids will send this article to their little darlings.

Congratulations Alex Tew!
Congrats for thinking big and taking the chance.
And thanks for inspiring others to do the same.

George Torok
(Shaking my head and thinking, “Damn, why didn’t I think of that?”)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Start your New Year with Good Questions

Here are some questions to kick you into the New Year.

What were the smartest decisions you made last year?

What were the dumbest decisions you made last year?

Examine up to three of each.

Then ask yourself, “Why?”

Why did you make those smart decisions?

Why did you make those dumb decisions?

While it is important that you make smart decisions – it is even more important that you know the difference and why.

“Why” is the learning point for you. If you know why you made good decisions or bad decisions – then you will learn how to fix the bad and replicate the good.

“Why?” is the most important question you can ask yourself while reviewing last year’s performance.

George Torok
Marketing Specialist

Marketing Coach

Thursday, January 05, 2006

BMW Sales in Canada

How many new cars did BMW sell in Canada in 2005?


Is that a lot? It depends on who you are comparing to. Compared to GM or Toyota - that is starvation. But compared to BMW sales for the previous years - that is fantastic. And they should want to celebrate.

But how do you make that number look big to the public that is used to reading or thinking in bigger numbers?

That was the challenge that BMW must have wrestled with; their solution is fantastic and amazingly simple. Isn't it funny how well simple works?

They bought a full page ad in the Globe and Mail and filled it with stick counters. You know the way a person in prison might count his days by scratching a line on the wall. Usually four vertical lines with a horizontal line through them - making a group of five. BMW did something similar - in groups of ten.

The page is eye-catching. It made me wonder, "What is this?" So I took in the small BMW logo in the top right of the page - and down at the bottom in simple and small print was the explanation.


I can't write the horizontal line but this will give you the idea.

llllllllll llllllllll llllllllll llllllllll llllllllll lllllllll llllllllll llllllllll llllllllll llllllllll llllllllll llllllllll
llllllllll llllllllll llllllllll llllllllll llllllllll lllllllll llllllllll llllllllll llllllllll llllllllll llllllllll llllllllll

George Torok

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Batman Begins - Powerful Lessons for Marketers

Batman Begins - a powerful movie. Why?
Powerful lessons for marketers and communicators.

Watch the movie with a stopwatch and a notepad.

Notice that the camera shots are from two to a maximum of seven seconds long. Seven seconds is the longest shot. Most of the shots are around three seconds. And many of the seven second shots are zooming in or out.

What does that mean to you? That seven seconds might be all you have to hold your listener's attention. Go ahead see how much you can say in seven seconds. If it is all in the same "shot" you might have lost your listener.

How long did it take you to read this post? Yeah - start thinking seven second shots for your message.

George Torok

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Years Resolutions

New Years Resolutions are the dumbest things to say.


Because most do not commit to them. So why make a "promise" that you do not believe in? Because someone asks, "What is your New Year's Resolution?" And you feel obligated to respond. And you reply with some weak "do good" thing to gain acceptance.

Stop making stupid New Year's resolutions now. It is dumb.

Instead set realistic goals for yourself - with realistic plans to reach those goals.

Be clear on why you want that goal - that is the motivation.

Then write how you will get there. That is your plan. Which could be a 30-day, 91-day or five year plan. Be real. 91-day plans are most realistic - not too close - not too far.

Set clear goals and plans. Stop talking about New Year's resolutions.

George Torok

Post Alpha

Post Alpha - a new marketing blog

Just recently I remarked to a friend that, "Blogs are for hobbyists and dabblers. Serious business people don't have blogs. They have real websites."

So here I am starting my own blog. Why?

Well if you only have a blog presence on the Internet - then you are not serious about your business - be it a for-profit or non-profit business. So if you are operating a blog because it is easier than a website - then you are not serious about whatever you claim to be doing.

But I recently learned that a blog might be a good add-on to your Internet presence. Yes, your blog might help promote your website - and your business.

I invite you to learn how you might use your blog to promote your business.

George Torok