Friday, March 31, 2006

Microsoft – trying to appear small

Who’s the king of the castle? Ask around – who is the richest person in the world? The answer is automatic – Bill Gates.

Who’s the biggest company in the world? Again the automatic response is Microsoft. In fact calling Microsoft big is like calling Kate Moss good looking.

So if you are the biggest in the world – why not trumpet that from the ramparts? - Because we tend to mistrust an entity that is too big. We believe that huge corporations are impersonal behemoths and most of the time that is proven true.

As reported in the Toronto Star, Microsoft has decided to make itself look less big. They will “spend $150 Million (US) per year on an ad campaign to fight an image as a ‘huge’ company”. Isn’t that funny?

Many growing businesses try to look bigger than they are. Why? - Because the perception is that bigger often looks more successful, therefore better.

So what do you do when you are the king of the castle - the biggest company in the world?

Well, if you are Microsoft you try to look smaller.

Maybe you noticed the big banks trying to look ‘small and friendly’. In most cases they are neither yet they try.

What are your criteria for a small and friendly company?

The first few for me are:

Everyone knows the name of the president.
I can talk to the president.
The president will answer my calls.

George Torok

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Barketing Defined

Barketing Defined

A few posts ago on this blog I introduced the term “Barketing”. Since then some of you have expressed an interest in that term and asked for further clarification.

Where did the term originate?
Right here on this blog. This is the first time in public.

How did the term come about?
I credit Sam Horn for stimulating my thinking into creating this term. It was while attending a workshop that she (yes, Sam is a she) delivered for the Toronto chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers. Sam showed us techniques for creating powerful and unique titles, headlines, tag lines, brand terms and catch phrases. Learn more about Sam Horn.

One of the techniques that Sam Horn explained was the creation of new words formed from the combination of two or more words that described the idea you want to get across: A powerful marketing tool for all of us.

She also showed the technique of taking a keyword and substituting the first letter of that word with each letter of the alphabet.

I followed her advice with the work “marketing” and derived “barketing”. It happens to fit two of her “new word” techniques.

What does Barketing mean?
Let’s start with the root words – bark + marketing

Bark: The harsh sound uttered by a dog

The barking of a dog is often repetitive, annoying and loud. When accompanied by growls it is a sure sign of an angry dog. The barking is usually intended to threaten, demand attention or appear more ferocious. Have you noticed how the bark of a small dog seems more annoying? Barking is always a one-way message. It is not a conversation. Just try talking to a dog barking at you. When you tell it to shut up it seems to bark louder.

Marketing: Marketing is about sending messages. The messages are intended to help you sell your product or service.


Barketing is annoying the market (your customers) with your message attempt.
Barketing is sounding like the rest of the pack.
Barketing demonstrates a “dog sniff dog” mentality.
Barketing is attempting to send a message without regard to the receiver.
Barketing is trying to out-shout the competition.
Barketing shows no finesse.
Barketing is for the dogs.
Barketing is just noise.

Bottom line
Are you just barketing or are you truly marketing?

George Torok

Monday, March 27, 2006

How do you treat the customers who care about you?

That might be a trick question.

Who are the customers who really care about you? The ones who tell you what you are doing wrong. They are trying to help you.

How difficult do you make it for them? How well do you encourage them to give you constructive feedback? How do you reward them for their effort? (It is always an effort.)

Maybe you thought that customers who complained are your worst customers. They could be your best. They are concerned enough to tell you what you are doing wrong. They care. If they did not care they would just leave you and say nothing.

So, how do you treat them? Do you put up barriers? Do you have gatekeepers prepped to block them? Do you have policy keepers arrogantly standing in the way? Do you have front-line staff defending their customer non-friendly ways?

If you think you are delivering perfect service because your complaints are down – maybe it is just too damned frustrating to get a complaint through to you.

Recently I received the third defective video camera from a supplier. I just got tired of complaining to someone who doesn’t seem to care. So I did not return this third camera.

Imagine how many customers you chased away because of their frustration of trying to get through to you.

George Torok

Friday, March 24, 2006

Follow-up – what a great concept.

It’s not the concept that counts – it’s the follow through.

In the past year I have made three major purchases, new windows for the house, a motorcycle and a gas fireplace insert.

We were happy with each purchase, (I was especially happy about the motorcycle – read that story here).

We were so happy about the windows that we wrote the window company a very nice thank you letter that would make a fabulous promotional piece for them.

Yet – not one of them followed up with us.

The windows company did not even say ‘thank you’ for the fabulous letter I wrote them.

The Motorcycle shop never called nor wrote to ask about how I was enjoying the bike.

The fireplace company never checked to see if everything was ok.

We love every purchase … but….

What’s the matter with people?

Is business too good?

Don’t they see my business as more than a one-time purchase?

Do they need some bad years to realize the importance of follow-up?

The letter to the windows company was a gift. You know they don’t get that every job – yet they failed to thank me for it. Plus they never called to see if everything was okay. They never stopped by to have a look around.

So here is the dilemma: When I am asked by a neighbor, friend or colleague about where to buy windows, a fireplace or motorcycle – what should I say?

George Torok

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Bark, bark, bark!

Is that how your marketing sounds?

Or is it woof, woof, woof?

You know the same old boring message shouted from the castle walls.

“Buy from us – we have the best service, best price, best quality, blah, blah, blah…”

Your message sounds so much like your competition that the only way you can be noticed is to bark louder.

Stop barking – start being different.

Please stop barking. That’s not marketing – that’s only barketing.

You know that a barking dog is not your friend. Maybe your customers figure the same thing when you bark at them.

Maybe you need to start wagging your tail to invite your customers to buy from you.
Maybe you need to play “throw the stick”.

But barketing won’t do it.

Please stop barketing.

George Torok

Monday, March 20, 2006

Permission to Market

Seth Godin called it Permission Marketing.

It is a simple principle yet so many don’t get it.

There are two parts to this principle.

1. You have the right to market your products and services.

2. You must respect the rights of others.

The first part is that you have the right to sell yourself. We expect it. So stop being shy about it. Be proud of who you are and what you offer.

The second part is the more important part. You must respect whom you market to. Respect their time, judgment and values.

You don’t need to agree with any of those – just respect them.

Permission marketing is about respect.

If you don’t respect your customers – why should they buy from you?

How can you demonstrate that you respect your customers?

Ask their permission to continue.
Give them a sense of control.
Ask them genuine questions.

Ask them if this is a good time to talk.
Ask them when you might contact them again.
Ask them about their concerns.

Most importantly – ask questions and listen.

Then act on what you hear.

George Torok

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I like you - you are crazy like me.

The temperature outside was –9 Celsius

Minus 9 Celsius!

That’s 16 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale.

Far below freezing on any scale.

So why was I outside?I was running. In fact I was running 20k along a hilly route.

Why?Training. To get ready for the big race. A 30k race.

Why did I want to run this race?Short answer - Just because.

For about two hours I ran up and down the hills – got to the really big hill – ran down and up – rested for a few minutes then turned around and ran back.

Why?Training for the 30k race.

What did I learn?

I noticed about 60 other runners along the way, most running in groups and some alone – like me. Most waved to me or said hello verbally or visually.

Why is that significant?

This is the learning point.

We relate to people who are like us. We especially relate to people who have suffered or are suffering the same pain as us.

So the other runners on this day knew that we had a common pain. That we collectively had trained and continued to train – despite the fatigue, pain, cold and hills to run an incredibly long and painful race. Maybe some even thought, “you are crazy like me.”

Yes – we could relate to each other – if even for a ‘few-second’ greeting.

To build stronger relationships in your business – find ways that your prospects can relate to you. Show them how you are similar.

George Torok
Running in the cold

Monday, March 13, 2006

How can George Torok help you?

If you are serious then we should talk – after you complete the marketing audit.

Depending on your vision, goals and resource, I might help you by:

Delivering an inspirational speech at your sales meeting.

Delivering a workshop for your sales and marketing people.

Delivering a comprehensive coaching program for your key people.

Do my programs work?

Read this.

“Secrets of Power Marketing helped us increase our business 3,000% - and that was from just one client.

This client had been giving us about $10,000 annually, in business, for the past six years. We were frustrated with this amount because we knew there was more business available.

After attending George Torok's program we applied a fresh and innovative approach with our client. We immediately used his ideas to grab attention and boost credibility. We continued to follow his marketing system to build relationships and offer more value.

Listen to the numbers. That client doubled the first year and has doubled every year for the past five years.

‘Secrets of Power Marketing’ enabled us to better service our client and build a positive working relationship.

‘Secrets of Power Marketing’ was the magic key for us."

Richard Maude,President
Ad Plus Promotions Inc.

Call me – only if you are serious.

George Torok

Friday, March 10, 2006

Sponsorship Marketing

Why should you sponsor?Because it is a friendly way of “advertising”. If we like what you sponsor then we are more likely to like you and what you sell. And if we like you we are more likely to buy from you.

What should you sponsor?So pick your cause – a charity, social issue or community group.
Pick an event – a fundraiser, community event or gala.
Pick a group – a business association, team or social group.

From a marketing point of view – the question is, will the people who participate reward you with enough referrals, business or good will? Some of this payback is long term. So one of the extenuating circumstances is – do you support this cause enough to lose money on it in the short term?

For example: I sponsored my daughter’s soccer team. Did I expect a full return on my investment? No – not really. I needed less than one sale to pay back. I was happy to support my daughter and proud to appear as a sponsor. If I got business from it that would have been a bonus.

Sometimes you sponsor just for the exposure. For years I was a wine sponsor at the Chamber of Commerce President’s Gala – a black tie affair. I did not expect business from it – just recognition and prestige.

Here are my sponsorship criteria: (A no for any one will disqualify the sponsorship)
1. Relative cost to exposure.
2. Target audience relative to my best prospects.
3. Number of sponsors and my relative exposure.
4. Do the other sponsors lift my profile?

Relative cost to exposure$500 for exposure to 10,000 is far better then $100 for exposure to 200 – all else being equal.

Target audience relative to my best prospectsMy best prospects for my seminars are business owners of mid-size companies. So, 100 business owners are a better return than 1,000 front line customer service reps or 10,000 students.

Number of sponsors and my relative exposureBeing one sponsor among three is much better then being among 20 sponsors.

Do the other sponsors lift my profile?
If the other sponsors make me look bigger or more impressive by being associated with them, that helps me. For example, I would rather be a sponsor along with Microsoft, Chase Manhattan Bank, Accenture, Coke, and McDonalds than to be associated with a group of sponsors like Unknown Consultants, Everyday Franchise and Local Taxi Cab.

Should you sponsor?

Who should you sponsor? That is the more important question for you.

Sponsor and enjoy

George Torok

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Thank You: The Greatest Marketing Secret

Say ‘Thank you’ more often - and mean it.

Sounds simple – but I wonder how often you hear it. Do you hear ‘Thank you’ often enough? Do you read ‘Thank you’ often enough?

When was the last time you gave a gift and did not hear thank you?
When was the last time you held open a door and did not hear thank you?
When was the last time you paid your bill and did not hear thank you?

How did you feel when you expected thank you but did not hear it?
Why do you think that is?

We want to be appreciated. We want others to recognize our sacrifices, courtesies and generosities.

We want to hear ‘Thank you’.

The Learning Point
If you want to hear thank you – so do your clients, prospects and colleagues.

Who did you thank today?
Who will you thank tomorrow?
Who else will you thank this week?

Say thank you – and mean it.
Say thank you in an appropriate and meaningful way.
Say thank you often.

Thank you

George Torok

Monday, March 06, 2006

T-Shirts & Embossed Pens Can Out-Perform TV & Internet Ads

According to a study by Marketing Sherpa the $16.9 Billion Promo Products Industry is quietly raking in nearly three times more ad dollars than internet advertising.

Why is that? Their research shows that 76.1% of the consumers studied said they could remember the brand name of a company that gave them a promotional item in the past year -- versus 53% who could remember a TV or print ad from the past month, and even fewer recalled an online ad from the past week.
Promotional products are an old standby in our hungry-for-attention marketing world. Your name and logo on a golf shirt, coffee cup, or portfolio might get you more sales then spending the same money on Internet ads.

A friend of mine, Rick Maude, who owns a promotional products business, assures me that his business keeps growing. It seems that the race is on – to offer something new and different to put your logo on and get your message out there.

If it has been a while since you looked at putting your name on promotional products – view the online catalogue at

Marketing Sherpa, Inc. is a research firm publishing Case Studies, benchmark data, and how-to information for marketing, advertising, and public relations professionals.

You can visit their library of articles, reports and case studies at

You can view the summaries and some of the full articles free. They are, after all, a research firm. I do enjoy many of their case studies.

George Torok

I invite you to visit my recently revised site

Friday, March 03, 2006

Top 40 under 40

What a great idea.

Canada’s Top 40 under 40
According to

Canada's Top 40 Under 40TM is a national program founded and managed by The Caldwell Partners to celebrate our leaders of today and tomorrow, and to honour Canadians who have reached a significant level of success but have not yet reached the age of 40.
The program is designed to promote mentorship and professional development by introducing these leaders to the established business community and promoting them as role models for young Canadians.
In choosing the recipients, the Board considers the nominees' achievements in the following areas:
Vision and Leadership
Innovation and Achievement
Community Involvement and Contribution
Growth / Development Strategy

You know it is a great idea when you see so many imitators. I don’t know who was first but I found several 40 under 40 recognition programs. Here are a few.
Western Australia 40 under 40

The National Law Journal 40 under 40

Chicago Business 40 under 40

Ottawa Business Journal 40 under 40

Boston Business Journal 40 under 40

Now here is a slight variation:

Forbes Magazine under 40 Billionaires

I checked; my name isn’t there. I guess for two reasons.

The Point – when you find a good idea, copy it.

Of course I don’t know what the magic of the number 40 is; SO why not a 30 under 30, 20 under 20, 60 over 60 or 50 at 50?

George Torok

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Read Enterprise Magazine

Entreprise Magazine

Here is something that you should read.

I have been writing a marketing column for Enterprise magazine for at least five years.

If you are in Canada and own a small to medium sized business you should be reading this magazine. The publisher Hayden Bradshaw consistently produces a first class business magazine.

Published five times a year. You can pick up Enterprise Magazine from Chapters and Indigo at $4.95 a copy – or save 25% and subscribe directly. For less than $20 a year you get a fabulous business resource.

Not only should you subscribe for yourself – but also reward some of your best clients or colleagues and order a subscription for them. That is less than $20. What a great way to help those special people remember you. And you could call them after every issue to point out an article that you liked, or question them about what they liked. It would cost you more to take them to lunch.

The current issue features Internet Security.

And my article is titled, “Zig Zag: Win by Being Unique”
13 areas of your business to address in standing out from your competition.

Register for your subscription to Enterprise Magazine here


George Torok