Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Guilt

Christmas Guilt

How much money did you spend this Christmas? And how much of that Christmas spending is the result of your guilt? And of the gifts you receive how much of that will be the result of guilt?

We would like to think that Christmas is a time of love and peace-on-earth wishes. There is no question that those thoughts are present. However I believe they are the not the drivers of the Christmas season. Guilt is.

From a business perspective, the Christmas season is about shopping. Most retail businesses count on the Christmas shopping season to make or break their year. And that retail success spills over to manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, logistics providers, advertisers, hospitality…

Even the church counts on your guilt to attend their Christmas service and your Christmas contribution. How many “good Christians” do you know who attend church once a year – at Christmas because of guilt?

In today’s economy if there was no mad frenzy of shopping there would be no Christmas for many businesses and their staff. Instead there would be massive layoffs and bankruptcies.

So guilt is good for the economy. If you are still feeling guilty – spend more money. The stronger your guilt – the more you should spend. Have you ever wondered why the Mafia are so extravagant for their rival’s funerals? The one who bought the biggest flower arrangement must have been the one who whacked the deceased.

The marketing lesson is that guilt is a powerful motivator.

How can you use guilt to your marketing advantage?

George Torok

Marketing Expert

Motivational Speaker

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Marketing: You are being watched

You are being watched

Hello. If you work in customer service you are being scrutinized. You are being examined and your business is being judged. Perhaps you don’t own the business but it is still being judged based on your performance.

If you own the business are you aware of how your staff influences the perception of your business?

It’s the little things that annoy or delight your customers.

Consider these experiences on a recent ski trip to Ellicottville, New York.

Most of the chair-lift attendants cleaned the seats of snow – yet some ignored the snow covered seats. That few left us with wet bottoms. It only takes one or a few to make the experience a bad one. Do you know how annoying a cold wet bottom is?

As we paid for our onion soup the cashier pointed out that we could have bread with our onion soup. She was so good that she walked over and reminded the guy at the soup station to put out some bread. We were delighted to have her speak on our behalf. Then we waited several minutes as he wrestled with the plastic wrap before he finally sliced several pieces of French bread. Mean while our onion soup was getting cold. And he didn’t apologize for his slow service.

It was billed as the most popular place in town – so we dropped in for a beer. We sat at the bar and ordered a beer. While sitting there we examined the menu and decided that we would eat dinner here. We told the bar tender that we would eat and would move to a booth. Instead of thanking us for our business he rolled his eyeballs. I guess we inconvenienced him.

Imagine that – customers annoying the customer-service staff.

George Torok

Marketing Systems

Motivational Speaker

Friday, December 21, 2007

Dirty Hotel Glasses

Dirty Hotel Glasses

Do not drink from the glasses in your hotel room! The little paper cap on the glass does not mean that the glass is clean or sanitized. It seems that the hotels have been scamming us.

Before you visit another hotel watch this video exposĂ©. And if you are relaxing in your hotel room right now – be prepared to puke.

This revelation is certainly both a problem and an opportunity.

How would you react to this marketing opportunity?

I welcome your comments.

George Torok

Personal Marketing

George Torok in the media

Friday, November 23, 2007

Testimonial Power - The Economist

Testimonial Power – The Economist

Client testimonials rock! They are one of the most powerful marketing tools you can use. If you aren’t using them – why not? If your excuse is that you don’t have client testimonials perhaps there’s a big problem with your service.

If you have great service but don’t know how to collect client testimonials then we can discuss that in a future post. In the mean time here is a powerful testimonial that you might enjoy for The Economist magazine from the king of the world. No, not James Cameron – the real king, the guy with the most money.

The Economist

“The magazine I spend most of my days reading.”
Bill Gates, Chairman and Founder Microsoft

It’s a great testimonial for a few reasons:

Everyone knows Bill Gates.
Bill Gates is respected for his business acumen.
Bill Gates is a very successful business person.
Bill Gates is considered a global leader.
The people who are inclined to read The Economist magazine would likely be interested and influenced by what Bill Gates says.

First, my congratulation to The Economist for continuing to publish a first class, no – world class publication. I have read it for years.

And second congratulations for obtaining such a powerful client testimonial.

Now let’s be clear – The Economist did not pay Bill Gates for his testimonial. He is neither an entertainer nor athlete eager to shill for the highest bidder. This is his honest opinion given freely. That’s why client testimonials are so powerful and why they are better than paid celebrity endorsements. Don’t tell Nike that. Somebody might get fired. And they might save millions.

So why is this testimonial from Bill Gates so effective for The Economist?

Because The Economist is similar to Bill Gates. The Economist is respected for business acumen, is very successful and is a global leader. The Economist couldn’t have found a better spokesperson.

What is the message of the testimonial? If you want to be successful like Bill Gates – read what Bill Gates reads – The Economist.

And the secondary message is – if you want Bill Gates to notice what you are doing or saying – put it in The Economist.

George Torok

Read my client testimonials

Read testimonials about my book

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Enterprise: Is it Safe?

Enterprise: Is it Safe?

How well are you addressing this question for your clients? Perhaps you seldom hear this question however it is often on the mind of your clients. They want to know: “Is it safe to use your product? Is it safe to deal with your company? Is it safe to buy from you?

Security is an operational issue. Feeling safe is a fundamental marketing issue. It’s one thing for the engineers and technicians to design and create a secure system. It’s quite another thing if your clients don’t feel safe about it.

The technical side of security is logic based. Feeling safe is an emotional state that is influenced by perception. And perception is based on our perspective and emotional state. Perspective is based on a mix of: purpose, experiences, knowledge, ability and risk tolerance.

Perspective and emotions are constantly changing. That’s the challenge for you. Feeling safe is a gray zone and it is relative. At one time a secure world meant that the USA had thousands of ICBMs pointed at the USSR while the USSR pointed back with their horde of nuclear daggers. Today a lone suicide bomber can make us feel unsafe. You might feel safe in your home until there is a break-in. Depending on what has happened recently in your favourite vacation spot you might feel safe or unsafe about visiting. Feeling safe often has little to do with security.


Read the rest of this article in the November 2007 issue of Enterprise Magazine.

George Torok is a regular contributor to Enterprise Magazine and has been for the past eight years.

Subscribe to Enterprise here.

Learn more about Enterprise magazine here.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Networking: Stop Working the Room

Networking: Stop working the room

Too many networking experts tell you to “work the room”. Stop doing that. It feels slimy for you and the people who you “work”. Is that the first impression that you want to imprint on contacts in your network? That they just been “worked”? How do you like it when you have been “worked”?

It’s not that those misguided networking experts mean ill for you. They are just telling you what they did and perhaps they got used to feeling slimy. That’s what often happens when one doesn’t know better or stop to think about what they are doing. They just rationalize it with mantras like, “no pain, no gain”. Sometimes slimy people are not bad - they just stop thinking or caring about how they appear to others.

Networking is not about working the room or working people. Networking is about building relationships that are mutually productive.

Networks are built on trust.

Networking is built on relationships.

Networking is built by connecting with people.

Networking is about people – not rooms. And people don’t like to be worked.

Otherwise you might as well just enter the room – shout your name for all to hear then throw you business cards into the air – and then leave with a flourish. You worked the room and let everyone know how little you thought of them. And you did nothing to build a strong network.

Sometimes the event organizers force you to work the room in their attempt to fool you regarding the real value of the networking event. They announce the game – In the next five minutes give your business card to as many people as you can. What a stupid game. If you wanted to do that you would have been better to place an ad in the newspaper. Networking is more about quality then it is about quantity. Networking is not about giving out your business cards to everyone in the room. Networking is not about collecting everyone's business card. That's not networking.

Networking is about building a network of people you know and trust and who know and trust you.

Stop working the room. Start networking.

The next time some "networking expert" tells you to work the room – tell them. “I didn’t come here for the room. I want to connect with people.”

George Torok

Promote Brand You

Personal Marketing

Networking Guide to Success

Friday, November 02, 2007

Personal Marketing is Profitable Marketing

Personal Marketing is Profitable Marketing

How personal is your marketing?

Why is personal marketing important to you? Because personal marketing translates into profitable business. It is more profitable because you spend less on mass marketing and get a higher revenue from your target customers.

Personal marketing means connecting with the person. How do you do that?

Smiles, friendly greetings, using their name

Build stronger relationships

Say thank you and congratulations

Helping vs selling

Not hiding behind corporate mission, policy, titles, hierarchy or protocol

Collect and use client testimonials

Write and send note cards and post cards

Direct contact

Treat staff like people

Treat customers like guests

Study and understand the values of your target market

Make your marketing more personal and more profitable.

George Torok

Personal Marketing

Motivational Speaker

Corporate Spokesperson

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More Yellow Pages Ads Mistakes

More Mistakes in Yellow Page Ads

Yellow page advertising seems to generate a lot of mistakes. Why?

My guess is that it is because of the way many business owners think about their yellow page ad. They believe that they must be in the yellow pages because the competition is there. They believe yellow page advertising costs way too much. They’re not sure how well (or even if) its working. Yet they invest so little in measuring, analyzing, planning and designing their yellow page ad.

Every time the Yellow page ad sales rep comes to visit the business owner just can’t say no and doesn’t know the right questions to ask. The Yellow page ad rep intimidates the business owner by offering options like color, sizes, outlines… The Yellow page ad rep doesn’t help the business owner create a better ad. The rep simply pressures the buisiness owner to buy a Yellow pages ad.

Here are more of the sins that I discovered in the Yellow page ads:

Centering text
Including company logo
Including useless images (most are useless)
Including useless photos (most are useless)
Including photos of staff or founder (a special category of useless photo)
Background Shading
Background images
Too many different fonts
Using decorative fonts
Putting “Sales and Service at the top”
The business name in the largest font
Trying to reach more than one market
Print too small
Too much text
Using all caps for anything other then business name
Too many boxes within the ad
Using the word ‘quality’
Association member logos – other than BBB
No call to action
Credit card images (doesn’t everybody take them?)

George Torok
Yellow Pages Advisor
Power Marketing
Marketing Tune up

Friday, October 26, 2007

Secrets of Success

Secrets of Success

If you are in Vancouver on Tuesday October 30, stop by the SOHO conference. If you are an entrepreneur it is the event you must visit.

My presentation, Secrets of Success, is in the Visa room at 11:30. I guarantee that I will offer some secrets of success. In addition I have a special gift for attendees. I’m sure that we won’t be able to address all of your questions during the presentation – so talk to me after or give me your business card.

And why can I offer you Secrets of Success?

I know a lot of successful people. It’s not about me. It’s about what I learned from the success of others. I’ve interviewed over 400 business leaders. I’ve worked with many successful business owners. And I have lessons from my own success and failure. You can’t talk about success without addressing failure.

What Secrets of Success will you learn by attending this presentation?

The myth of balance
The importance of systems
The power of confidence
How to get from good to great
Lessons from Las Vegas

And there are more Secrets of Success.

See you at the SOHO conference in Vancouver on Tuesday, October 30, 2007.

George Torok

Secrets of Success


Motivational Speaker

Monday, October 22, 2007


What’s in it for me?

What do you want me to do?

Two simple questions that many sales people have problems understanding and addressing.

And everyone is in sales – even the Dalai Lama is selling a message. He gets it. Listen to him speak.

What’s in it for me?

When you send a message by email, phone or print – first address your audience with what is in it for them. If you don’t address that in your first or second statement then they will not listen or read the rest.

Here is where most could learn from SPAM – in most cases the subject line tells us what’s in it for me – a bigger body part, a smaller body part or an approved loan. Simple clear and understandable. If I’m interested I will read on – if I don’t, I delete it.

Tell people what’s in it for them – quickly, simply and cleary.

Imagine that you receive a phone message like this, “Hi this is Joe, Call me.”

If you don’t know Joe, why would you waste your time to call? Joe couldn’t be bothered to tell you why you should call him. I bet that Joe whines to his boss, “I called but nobody called me back.”

You don’t owe Joe a thing. Don’t waste your time trying to educating him. Poor stupid Joe.

The second question is, “What do you want me to do?”

Do you want me to call you?
Do you want to meet with me?
Do you want me to register for a seminar?
Do you want me to order your product?
Do you want a link on my website?

Stop being mysterious and tell me what you want from me.

Because I don’t have the time or inclination to decipher your cryptic message or pry your offering from your lips.

Just answer two questions for me:

What’s in it for me?
What do you want me to do?

Because if you can’t do that – there is no way I will contact you.

Of course even if you answer those two questions I might not call you and that’s a different issue. No one said that life would be fair.

George Torok

Marketing Tips

Networking Secrets

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Intimidate Your Competition

Intimidate Your Competition

Why should you intimidate your competition?
You probably recognize that in war or sports it is a good idea to intimidate your competition. Why? Because if your competition is afraid of you – you have already won.

In his 3,000 year old classic book, The Art of War, Sun Tse pointed out, “All battles are won before they are fought.”

I believe that Sun Tse was right. I believe that he was talking about purpose, preparation, and positioning. Each of those are important and we can discuss in future posts.

Watch this video of the New Zealand rugby team, All Blacks, as they intimidate their competition before the game. Imagine if you are the competition standing at the other end of the field watching this Haka dance that is clearly delivered to intimidate you? If you didn’t visit the bathroom before entering the field I bet you will want to run off the field to change your pants after being subjected to this intimidation.

Intimidation is about creating fear, uncertainty or doubts.

In any competition that is all it takes to lose a battle, a game or a sale.

Business is clearly a competition. It is never about playing fair. It is about winning. Are you intimidated by your competition or are you intimidating them? If you are not imtimidating your competition - why not?

Stop being intimidated – start intimidating! Start winning more.

Intimidate more!

George Torok

Power Marketing

Marketing Speaker

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

National Post: Small Business Launch

The National Post launched it's new Small Business section on Monday, October 15, 2007. This is Small Business Week. This is a weekly feature that will run every Monday for Small Business. This is a significant recognition of small business. Canada's other national business newspaper (Globe and Mail) only talks about small business every three months.

Watch for my marketing tips every week in the National Post Small Business section.

George Torok
Marketing Expert
Small Business Consultant
National Post contributor

Thursday, October 11, 2007

SOHO Business Conference Vancouver

SOHO Business Conference Vancouver

Attend the SOHO/SME Business conference and EXPO in Vancouver on October 30, 2007. This is the 11th year for the SOHO business conference. Vancouver was the original site of this SOHO conference which has spread to Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa.

What is SOHO?
Today it means small office and/or home office

SOHO used to be only associated with the SOHO red-light district in London, England and the SOHO area in New York City described as South of Houston street.

Today SOHO is clearly about small business. Sensitive to the time demands of SOHO business this conference is a one day affair. Folks in SOHO just don’t have the time to attend three-day or week-long conferences like their corporate counterparts.

If you work in SOHO and you are in Vancouver on October 30, be sure to attend the SOHO/SME Business conference and EXPO.

Here are the details for you:
Event: SOHO/SME Business conference and EXPO
Date: October 30, 2007
Location: Fairmount Hotel, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Why should you attend the SOHO conference in Vancouver?

Hear lots of powerful business speakers that can help you grow your business.

And a very special treatGeorge Torok (that’s me) is delivering a special presentation Secrets of Success. This presentation is different from my marketing presentation. This presentation offers insights and lessons from my 400 interviews with business leaders, consulting, world travel including some special lesson from Las Vegas and success lessons ingrained from personal pain and triumph.

See you in Vancouver at the SOHO conference. Stop by and say hello. If you tell me that you read about this on my blog I will give you a free copy of my bestselling book, Secrets of Power Marketing, while supplies last. I will probably bring a half-dozen copies.

See you in at SOHO – the conference – not the red-light district.

George Torok


Marketing Specialist

Motivational Speaker

Bestselling author of Secrets of Power Marketing

Monday, October 08, 2007

Richard Branson has Chahones

Richard Branson has Chahones

Richard Branson has chahones and he likes to show them off. Here he is running nude in the waves. Sir Richard thrives on challenge and controversy. He is the billionaire that has retained or reclaimed the boldness and brashness of a teenager. (How many boomers remember streaking?)

He is a billionaire so he is worth studying. The question is, “Is he a billionaire because of his antics or is does he partake in his antics because of his billions?”

Perhaps it is a bit of both.

So what controversial stunts has Richard Branson committed?

Running nude from the ocean surf
Supporting the Ontario government Flick Off campaign
Parachuting into the city
Posing in a wedding dress

As a corporate spokesperson Branson is superb. As a corporate brand he is invaluable. The Virgin companies do not need to hire celebrity spokespersons because Branson is a celebrity. Whatever Branson does gets noticed because Branson does things that get noticed.

Sir Richard has chahones. How many corporate CEOs can stake that claim?

George Torok

Friday, October 05, 2007

Complaint Procedure

Complaint Procedure

One revealing way to test your marketing is to test your complaint procedure. Marketing is supposed to send messages about who you are and what you represent. Marketing is more than just listing your products. Marketing conveys your values, style and substance.

One way to test your values is to test your complaint process. Do you have one? Is it easy for customers to use? Do you hear and listen to your customers’ complaints? How do you act on them? That says a lot about your values.

Investigate how easy or difficult it is to complain to your company.

Do you treat complaints as valuable market research?
How do you encourage customer complaints?
How do you reward customer complaints?

George Torok

Marketing Specialist

Host of Business in Motion

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Satisfaction Guarantee

Satisfaction Guarantee

Who offers you a 100% satisfaction guarantee? Would that make it easier for you to decide where to buy?

And more importantly, do you offer a satisfaction guarantee to your clients? If you don’t - why not?

Why don’t you promise to make your clients 100% satisfied with your service? Are you afraid that you can’t deliver?

If that is not the problem – then promise to deliver satisfaction or else. That promise might make you stand out from your competition.

Of course - if you can’t deliver satisfaction – don’t promise.

A satisfaction guarantee is a powerful way to remove the risk from your client’s buying decision.

George Torok

Marketing Specialist

Canadian Motivational Speaker

PS: George Torok offers a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee for all speaking engagements.

Friday, September 28, 2007

No Christmas Cards

Do not send Christmas cards to your customers.

This has nothing to do with being politically correct. It is about getting the best return on your marketing.

Think about why you might send Christmas cards to your customers. The only reason is to build relationships with your customers. That sounds like a good idea. So why do I tell you not to send Christmas cards? Because it is a waste of time and money.

The purpose of any marketing you do is to differentiate yourself from the competition. If everyone else is sending Christmas cards what’s the point of you doing the same? You won’t stand out. Your customer probably won’t even remember that you sent a card.

Instead, what should you do?

Send cards at other times of the year – when no one else is sending cards.

For example, you could send New Years cards to kick off the year. You might send cards for the first day of spring to celebrate new growth and new hope. Send a birthday card on the anniversary of Elvis’s birthday. Depending on your market you might celebrate mother’s day, father’s day or grandparents’ day.

Pick your event and celebrate it every year. And why not build the relationships with your customers by sending them greeting cards or postcards more than once a year?

It is hard to sustain a relationship with only one contact a year.

George Torok
Marketing Specialist
Motivational Speaker

Friday, September 14, 2007

Die Hard - The Jackal

Die Hard – Die Harder

Bruce Willis meets the Jackal.

The remake of the movie, “The Jackal” featured Bruce Willis as the Jackal.

As a fan of the original “Day of The Jackal” movie and a reader of many books about Carlos the Jackal I was excited to watch this movie. I still enjoy watching this movie.

I believe that this movie showcases Bruce Willis as his best as an actor. I never thought of Bruce Willis as a great actor however he shines in this movie. Most of the time, he plays the cold hearted mercenary killer. That is mixed with his masquerades as the fat Canadian saying “eh” and the cute American gay. That was interesting to watch Bruce kiss another man on the mouth. Certainly not die hard material. But of course Bruce was considered a gay sort of name for awhile. That was why the original TV series on the Hulk used David as the Hulk’s alter ego and not Bruce his real name.

So what’s my point?

You can recycle good themes. What sold once will sell again. It might need some repackaging. If fact we are witnessing a lot of repackaging lately and very little novelty. Of course if it was done 30 years ago and your audience hasn’t seen it – it is novel to them.

Hollywood does this very well. Look at the TV shows from decades ago that became new movies – Beverly Hill Billies, Addams Family, Superman, Lost in Space, The Fugitive, Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, Mission Impossible…

I know there are more but my memory deceives me.

If you want “new” marketing ideas dial back 30, 50 or 200 years and see what you come up with. Don’t be afraid to resurrect old themes to leverage your marketing. A theme from 30 years ago has both nostalgia and novelty.

I wonder when they will come with an Ed Sullivan movie.

George Torok

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Proof Reading Tips from Daphne

Every good marketer needs a good proofreader. Enjoy these proofreading tips from the creator of Perfect Edit.


Daphne's tips for proofreading your work:

Read it aloud and also silently but always slowly.
Read it backwards to focus on spelling.
Use a spellchecker, but don't depend on it.
Point with your finger to read one word at a time.
Don't proof every type of mistake at once - proof at separate intervals for spelling, grammar, consistency of word usage, etc.
Make a 'to-do' list of things to watch for as you edit.
Double check little words, they are often interchanged - e.g. or, of, it, and is.
Don't use fluorescent lighting while proofing.
Listen to music while you work!

Daphne at Perfect Edit

Only a fool proofreads his own work.

Don't be a fool. contact Daphne at Perfect Edit for your written materials. Sometimes I try to save time by bypassing my proofreader - and that is when you will find errors in my material. Silly me.

George Torok
Marketing Coach
Co-author of Secrets of Power Marketing

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Marketing Speaker Report

Audiences Report on Marketing Speaker, George Torok

Read what they said after hearing George Torok speak:


"CPSA presents over 150 events across the country in a year and you are the most professional speaker I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with."
Ann Babej
Canadian Professional Sales Association

"My sales brokers were not only presented with excellent, usable material that they can apply in their daily work, but they were also thoroughly entertained – what a rare combination."
Dan Lawrie, CLU, C.F.S.B.
Dan Lawrie Insurance

"This has been the most productive seminar our association has ever held. Totally captivating from start to finish."
Doug King
Ontario Monument Builders Association

"George entertains with more useful, behavioral insights and tips usable today than any other speaker I’ve heard through TEC and elsewhere."
Bob Michener
Campbell, Michener & Lee

"You have a gift."
May-Anne Leeder
Molson Centre for Innovation


Are you ready to hear this motivational marketing speaker?

What business owner do you know that needs the wisdom of this marketing expert?

What association do you know of that craves this kind of audience feedback?

Contact George Torok at 905-335-1977

For more information about the Power Marketing programs click here.

Read what CEOs and company presidents said about George Torok.

Read about the associations George Torok has worked with.

Learn more about the marketing coaching programs.

George Torok

Executive Coach
Motivational Speaker
Canadian Marketing Specialist

Friday, August 31, 2007

Canadian Marketing Expert

Canadian Marketing Expert

I’m Canadian and I’m proud of it. And yes my expertise is marketing. Does that surprise you? I’ve been called a marketing expert by both Canadian and international media. They label me as a marketing expert but never as a “Canadian marketing expert”. Interesting.

My book, Secrets of Power Marketing, became a Canadian bestseller within the first six months of publication. That is good for Canadian business. The book is published in at least seven countries at last count. That is good news for marketers around the world.

There’s nothing wrong with being a Canadian marketing expert. In fact there might be an advantage to being a Canadian marketer.

Americans have been accused of being the capitalist pigs of the planet. No question American entrepreneurs have shaped the past millennium – especially the likes of Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, Sam Walton and Bill Gates.

It’s been suggested that Canadians have an understanding of the American way of business – fast paced, edgy and short term focused.

The further east you go on the planet the longer the planning seems to be focused. Whereas Americans seemed to be focused on current quarter profits the Japanese are reputed to plan 50 years out.

Canadians are strongly influenced by our American neighbours, (Canadian spelling). And Canadians do tend to better understand and appreciate the perspective of other cultures. The USA has always been known as the melting pot for its citizens. Make everyone the same. Canada is proud of its cultural mosaic. Try to understand and respect the differences. Neither system is perfect but it does lead to different approaches to dealing with people and business.

In Europe, Africa and Asia Canadians are often seen as a kinder gentler American.

Marketing principles are the same around the world. Why? Because there are some undeniable fundamentals about human nature. Marketing tactics will definitely vary around the world because of different cultures, language and religion. Tactics vary within a country depending on the target group.

When I speak to Canadian audiences about marketing they often ask me if I am American. I guess that is because as a marketing expert I am often too edgy for Canadians. When I speak in the USA they always know that I am Canadian. (No I don’t say “eh”)

So yes, I’m Canadian. And yes I’m known as a marketing expert. And I see nothing wrong with that combination.

George Torok
Canadian Marketing Expert
Co-author of Secrets of Power Marketing
Member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers
Member of the Canadian Professional Sales Association

PS: Enjoy my Canada Day Articles

Yellow Page Ads - mistakes

Yellow Page Ads - mistakes

I’ve had several questions from my clients about Yellow Page Ads. What are the common mistakes regarding Yellow Page Ads?

Designing your ad to blend in with the competition.
Not understanding what your prospects are looking for.
Putting your business name at the top of the ad.
Putting your slogan at the top of the ad.
Putting too much in the ad.
Using too much colour.
Using reverse print.
Not standing out.
Not grabbing your target market.
Not measuring the results of your ad.
Not thinking like your prospect.
Ignoring the other ads.
Not including a call to action.

George Torok
Marketing Specialist

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Telephone Abuse

Telephone Abuse

Are you abusing your customers with your telephone messages?

Too many business owners forget how important the telephone is as a marketing tool. Maybe that is because the telephone is not normally listed in your marketing budget. Yet it can be so powerful and so cost effective. It only takes a little thinking and training. How you use your telephone determines the message you send and feelings you create for your customers.

I agree with the following advice from, the "Master of Influence with Ease", Jeff Mowat. Go ahead check your telephone hold-message and follow this good advice from Jeff Mowatt. And find one additional piece of advice from me.

Common Blunders with 'Please-hold' Messages

If your company's in-bound calls are routed to a call-centre, check to see if your 'please-hold' recording includes any of these blunders:

"Due to overwhelming demand all our agents are busy..." This company is overwhelmed. Sounds like they're out of control and don't know what to do.

"Due to high call volumes..." I guess management wasn't expecting many customers to call. Or they're just incompetent at handling high demand.

"Your call is important to us..." They start the interaction by insulting our intelligence and lying. If our call was that important to them, they'd find a way to have someone pick up the phone.

Better to simply state, "Thank you for calling ABC Corp. Please remain on the line and you will be served faster than by redialing. Waiting time for the next available agent is approximately x minutes." It's to-the-point, informative and unlike the others, doesn't add insult to the injury of being on-hold.


Jeff Mowat always offers good practical advice when it comes to selecting and using the right words at the right time. That’s why I follow his advice.

The above is an excerpt from Jeff Mowatt’s weekly ezine, Influence with Ease. You can register here.

If you are guilty of telephone abuse please stop it because your customers might stop calling you.

Addtional Telephone Advice
And if you are sending a caller to hold, send them directly. Don’t make them wait for several rings before putting them on hold.

George Torok
Marketing Specialist
Motivational Business Speaker

Friday, August 24, 2007

Your Name can make or break you

Your Name can make or break you

Do you know the song by Johnny Cash titled, “A Boy Named Sue

The song starts out like this:

“My daddy left home when I was three

And he didn't leave much to ma and me

Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze.

Now, I don't blame him cause he run and hid

But the meanest thing that he ever did

Was before he left, he went and named me ‘Sue.’”

It’s a catchy tune with an “ah shucks” theme.

The song points out the influence a name might have on a person. The logic for the absent father in naming his son Sue was explained in this verse:

“And he said: ‘Son, this world is rough

And if a man's gonna make it, he's gotta be tough

And I knew I wouldn't be there to help ya along.

So I give ya that name and I said goodbye

I knew you'd have to get tough or die

And it's the name that helped to make you strong.’”

Most parents study books of names to find the right sound and meaning for their child. If they had more than first and last name they might even write down the initials to check that it doesn’t form some inappropriate acronym.

Don’t ask me how and why Frank Zappa named his children; Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuuhka Rodan and Diva Thin. I imagine there was more than one day when those kids wished they were named Sue – even the boys. Even his albums had better names.

I’m lucky. My parents called me George and I am quite happy with that.

If only business owners invested more thinking in how they pick their company names.

Law firms have the worst names. The names sound boring, unimaginative and unmemorable. Most of them sound the same. It’s all a variation of Smith, Smithwicks and Smithers. Don’t they realize that people can generally only remember one name? Cleary, Cher and Madonna understand that.

There is the horde of entrepreneurs like Bob Smith, (imaginary person) who name their company BS Enterprises, (because they don’t know what they will sell and don’t want their customers to know either; BS and Associates, (because they want to sound bigger and might have associates one day) or BS Services (because they think that keeps their options open and they heard that the service sector was growing).

Let’s look at company and product names in future posts. The topics that come to mind are good and bad examples, the criteria in picking a name and the challenges.

Here is an interesting and helpful website on the topic of business names. The company is named Strategic Name Development. A good name because it tells you what they do. Their website has some helpful articles and background on language and words.

Their blog is named Name Wire – another good name because it is easy to remember and fits nicely with what they do.

George Torok
Marketing Specialist

Co-author of Secrets of Power Marketing
Host of Business in Motion

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mattel Toy Recall is Marketing Opportuniity

Mattel Toys mistake is opportunity for you

Good news and bad news both present opportunities to be leveraged to get good news for you. The example of Mattel’s Toy Recall is highlighted in this message from Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound.

Mattel's Toy Recall

Mattel's second toy recall in less than two weeks presents publicity opportunities galore for smart Hounds:

--Pediatricians and other medical experts can offer advice on what parents can do if they think their children have been exposed to hazardous toys.

--How do you take toys that have been recalled away from childrenwithout resulting in temper tantrums from them and long explanations from you?

--Can your company, agency or school offer other alternatives to entertain kids? What about simple home-made toys you can make yourself?

--How can parents best protect their kids against dangerous toys and jewelry? Consumer experts can comment.

--Should we be more suspicious than ever of anything with a "Made in China" label? Let journalists know if you have manufacturing experts who can comment on this topic.

--If your company makes things that are used by children, what kinds of safety regulations do you follow?

--Mattel did a lousy job of damage control when this crisis hit. If you're a crisis counselor or PR expert, what do you think the toy maker should have done?

--Mattel has warned that it could announce more recalls. That has led some experts to question the fate of the Mattel brand in the wake of the bad news. Branding experts should offer comment on how this crisis might affect Mattel.

Reprinted from "The Publicity Hound's Tips of the Week," anezine featuring tips, tricks and tools for generating freepublicity. Subscribe at and receive by email the handy list "89 Reasons to Send a NewsRelease."

Joan Stewart is a former journalist so she knows her stuff. Lots of good ideas there for savvy marketers to get your share of free media exposure.

George Torok
Get The Unfair Marketing Advantage
Read Secrets of Power Marketing
Get your copy of the Networking Success Guide

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Bring Back the Brand

Brand Come Back

Bring back the brand. Is that a good choice? Here is an intriguing news article about the planned come back of the brand Pony shoes.

I was interviewed by Jennifer Davies of The San Diego Union Tribune for this article about the planned come back of Pony shoes.

Pony sneaker brand seeks a return to its glory days
By Jennifer Davies

August 12, 2007

The comeback is a central theme in American life. Celebrities stage comebacks all the time, as do disgraced politicians and injured athletes.

Is it possible for a brand to do the same?

That's the key question for Pony, the once-hot sneaker brand that in its heyday counted Pelé, Dan Marino and Muhammad Ali among its stable of celebrity endorsers.
The Pony brand, which has bounced around between owners since the late 1970s, was recently bought by Infinity Associates, an investment group that previously acquired Converse Inc. in 2001.
Read the rest of Brand Come Back article.

Jennifer Davies of the San Diego Union Tribune has written a helpful article about the challenges of bringing back a brand.

From what I heard, Pony is too broad in their brand resurrection. Bringing back an old brand is more successful when the new brand is focused. It seemed to me that Pony was too wide with their brand resurrection. Pony seemed to be targeting casual, fitness and teens. There is little in common among those diverse groups.

George Torok
Brand Specialist

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Knock, Knock

Knock, knock

It happened again.

I answered the front door - which was an interruption. It always is. Why don’t door knockers understand that they are interrupting? I was not waiting for the visit.

As a marketer I am always interested in what salespeople are doing and saying. But I don’t have much patience. And I can be more edgy then some. Yet I have some empathy because I knocked on a lot of doors as a sales person, fund raiser and political campaigner.

I opened the door.

“How are you today?” (A stupid opening.)

“What do you want?” was my reply.

He then backed several steps away and mumbled something I didn’t hear.

When he had retreated to a safe distance he recovered, “Hello, I am Roberto. We are doing a lot of business in your neighborhood and my boss sent me.”

“So who cares?” was my reply.

Then Roberto backed up even more and replied, “I’m sorry” and then he walked away.

I don’t know if I wanted what Roberto was selling. I don’t know what Roberto was selling. He clearly didn’t understand that I wanted to know what was in if for me before I would listen to anything else he had to say.

Poor, stupid Roberto. He didn’t know how to describe what he was selling – because he failed to clarify it in the first few seconds of contact. He failed to capture my interest.

He wasted my time by asking, “How are you today?” That question is both an insult and waste of time. I knew that he didn’t care “how I am today” yet he pretended to care. I was insulted by that. Too many telemarketers still start their call with that phrase.

I was interrupted and then he wasted my time by telling me his name and a stupid lie that they are doing a lot of business in the neighborhood. So by that point I didn’t like him or trust him. And I still didn’t know why I should listen.

After he wasted the first critical seconds of our contact I posed the question, “So who cares?” A question for which he was not prepared because he retreated. That was a question – not an objection. He had not told me what he was selling and refused to tell me. A question is just that – a question. I asked a question – gave him an opening - and he failed to pounce on it. Have you noticed how some sales people shut down when you ask them a direct question?

Poor, stupid Roberto. He failed to engage me in the first critical seconds of contact. I wonder if he will play back that scene and analyze it so he can correct his behavior for next time. If not then he wasted his time as well as mine. At least I got a story for my blog.

So what can you use from this incident?

1. Questions might just be questions.
2. Always be prepared for your worst questions.
3. Be prepared to adapt to different styles of your listener.
4. Time is a valuable resource – don’t waste it.
5. The first few seconds of contact can make or break the sale.
6. Ask yourself “So who cares?” before you deliver your sales presentation.

For more tough questions and a Marketing Tune Up contact;

George Torok
Marketing Agitator

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Marketing Art or Science?

Marketing Art or Science

Is marketing an art or a science? The answer is yes. Marketing is both – an art and a science.

Marketing Science
Marketing is a science because marketing is about understanding and influencing behaviors. Psychology, the science of behaviors, studies how people react to certain stimuli in predictable ways. This is similar to Newton’s’ third law – cause and effect.

Marketing Art
Marketing is an art because marketing is about appreciating the nuances of human behaviors. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty is art.

Marketing Science
Marketing is a science because marketing is about measuring and analyzing the numbers. How many do you reach? How many read your message? How many do you convert to buyers? How much do they spend? How many buy again? These are numeric questions and answers and important to the success of your marketing.

Marketing Art
Marketing is art because marketing is creating a demand for your product. Some of that demand is immediate and some of it is in the future. You can try to use science to predict the future part but you might pick a number based on art. There is always an unknown aspect that we attribute to art.

Marketing Science
Marketing is a science because the most common question is “How much money should I spend on marketing?” The business owner and the accountants want the answer to this question. It’s a good question but the more important question is, “What return can you expect from your marketing investment?”

Marketing Art
Marketing is an art because there is the issue of branding which is difficult to measure. To generate a good return on your marketing investment requires a creative approach. That means apply the art of marketing.

Of course the argument of science versus art over marketing could go on. Is it art? Is it science?

I believe that many marketers try to portray marketing as art. And hence they give up responsibility for their marketing programs. They suggest that marketing is all chance. Instead it is a science that should draw upon the art. Don’t let art dictate the direction of your marketing. Use science to determine major decisions and use the art for the nuances.

Is marketing a science or art? I believe that it is both art and science. Most importantly the science should lead and measure and the art should inspire and create.

That is the art and science of marketing.

George Torok
Marketing Specialist

Get your free copy of the "50 Power Marketing Tips" when you register for the Power Marketing Tips.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Viral Marketing

Viral Marketing

Viral Marketing is so powerful because it is like a train building up speed. Once it is moving you can’t stop it without derailing the train. It takes a lot of steam to get the train moving. And it is difficult to stop.

Viral marketing is apply named because, when done right, it spreads like a virus. The term viral marketing might be too graphic for some because it brings to mind the viral spread of disease such as the bubonic plague, typhoid, and AIDS.

None of those viral diseases are nice things. But a virus in your marketing is powerful and can be hugely profitable.

Viral marketing is about spreading your message through networks. Some networks are more efficient than others. Meetings, family gatherings, community groups, religion, phone calls, peer pressure, media, email and blogs. Viral marketing is by persistence, passion and purpose.

The growth of almost every religion was the result of viral marketing. Every social change is the result of viral marketing.

The growth of Rock and Roll was because of viral marketing. Rock and Roll wasn’t big business until big business noticed the success of Rock and Roll despite the actions of the establishment.

The American Revolution was sparked because of viral marketing. The end of the Vietnam War was the result of viral marketing. Neither was a military decision. Nelson Mandela was freed from 28 years of prison by viral marketing. It is also likely that the Soviet Union was destroyed by viral marketing.

The success of viral marketing is determined by critical mass. And critical mass is determined by numbers and the power of the individuals. The power of the individuals is determined by their ability to connect and influence.

When John Lennon suggested that the Beatles were more popular/powerful than Jesus Christ he was correctly pointing out that power. The popularity of the Beatles was the product of viral marketing. Why else would anyone remember where they were the day that John Lennon was shot? Why else would so many people revere the Beatles 35 years after they disbanded? Viral marketing.

The reaction to the introduction of New Coke was viral marketing in action. A powerful critical mass rebelled against the corporate decision. Drug use has grown because of viral marketing. The explosion of cell phone use is the result of viral marketing.

Viral marketing can help you. It can also hurt you. If you plant and fertilize the seeds of viral marketing you must listen to the virus. Because viral marketing is about planting seeds, fanning the growth, letting go and watching what happens.

Are you ready for viral marketing? Ready or not it’s here. The real question is how might you leverage viral marketing to work for you.

George Torok
Best-selling Marketing Author
Marketing Consultant
Executive Briefings

Friday, July 13, 2007

Port Dover & Friday 13th

Port Dover – Viral Marketing

Port Dover & Friday 13th. What image does that stir up in your mind? Port Dover, Ontario is a sleepy little cottage town on the northern shores of Lake Erie.

If you are a motorcycle rider then you might know that Port Dover is the place to be on Friday the 13th. This week Friday the 13th falls on July 13, 2007. Port Dover expects to receive up to 100,000 visitors. Many of them will arrive on motorcycles. Some will stay for the day and many will stay for a few days. For the town of Port Dover that means a huge influx of business. There is an important marketing lesson in this.

Port Dover used to be a sleepy little fishing village on Lake Erie. Lake Erie Perch makes a delicious meal. Port Dover still has a small fishing industry. When you are in Port Dover you might eat at the Arbor which is famous for its foot long hotdogs and fries. (The fries are not a foot long.)

How did this Port Dover Friday the 13th thing start?

From Wikipedia
“Since 1981, there has been a tradition of motorcycle enthusiasts gathering in the town of Port Dover on Friday the 13th. Chris Simons and approximately 25 friends, through word of mouth, got together at the Commercial Hotel, now known as Angelos of Dover. It was in November and it was Friday the 13th. They decided they should do it every Friday the 13th. On May 13, 2005, an estimated 75,000 bikers and spectators crammed into Port Dover.”

This is a great example of viral marketing in action. Because a group of 25 motorcycle riders got together on Friday the 13th in 1981 a tradition has blossomed. Twenty-five blossomed into tens of thousands. That’s how viral marketing works. Word of mouth and it takes time. Predictions are for 100,000 visitors this Friday 13th in Port Dover.

I often advise my clients to claim one day of the year for their annual promotion. This is even better because Port Dover claims Friday the 13th which comes up two or three times a year.

George Torok
Marketing Expert
Motorcycle rider
Port Dover Friday 13

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Who says you can't be different?

Who says you can't be different?

Perhaps you think that you can't make your website stand out and sell your product without high tech upgrades.

Then look at this site that author, Miranda July , created to sell her book, "No one belongs here more than you".

Congrats to Miranda July on your boldness and creativity!

George Torok
co-author of Secrets of Power Marketing

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

National Cremation Society - Deception?

National Cremation Society

Who is the National Cremation Society and how can you join? You can’t. It is not a society. It’s a business. Does that shock you?

It appears that the National Cremation Society is no more a society then Bruce Willis has hair. Well yes, Bruce did once have hair but the National Cremation Society was never a society. So in that comparison it is Bruce Willis “one” and National Cremation society “zero”.

The National Cremation Society is not a society. It is a large corporation. It is owned by Service Corporation International (How’s that for a vague and unfriendly sounding name?) Service Corporation International is so big that they proudly claim to be “North America’s largest provider of funeral, cremation and cemetery services”.

They are like a Walmart, Microsoft or General Motors. How would you like your funeral or cremation handled by Walmart, Microsoft or General Motors? Doesn’t sound too intimate and personal when you are considering a very personal event - your death.

I am all for business making a profit and I support creative marketing. But I believe you should not lie. Calling your business a society seems to me jumping way over the line in terms of ethics and just plain deception. Some folks call that lying. Me too.

Is Service Corporation International being deceptive by calling their cremation service the National Cremation Society? I think so. What do you think? When you hear the word society what do you think and feel? Community and trustworthy? Maybe that is what Service Corporation International is counting on. And if you were deceived by that one word don’t feel bad. Now you know.

Imagine your outrage:
Imagine if Microsoft called themselves the “National Software Society”?
Imagine if a bank called itself the “National Savings Society”?
Imagine if the local drug dealer named his business “National Addiction Society”?

Each of those would be clever - and deceptive.

When I think society I imagine one of charity, community group or non-profit-association.

Why does the National Cremation Society need to be so deceptive in their marketing? Maybe what they offer is not such a good deal. Maybe they are trying to justify their products, service and prices on the basis that they are a "society". Maybe they are not nice people at all.

George Torok
Marketing Agitator
Marketing Myths

What does Wikipedia say about society?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

CAPS Toronto Speaker's School

CAPS Toronto Speaker's School

This post is for attendees at the CAPS Toronto Speaker's School held June 23, 2007.

If you attended the CAPS Toronto Speaker’s School then this is a reminder and summary of some of the key points from my presentation. If you did not attend this one-day program that these notes might make less sense to you.

If you attended my presentation at the CAPS Toronto Speaker's School then you can probably guess why I’m posting this notice. It’s all marketing.

As a long time member of CAPS and the Toronto chapter in particular I was delighted to offer my hard learned lessons on how to get more traffic to your website. (CAPS is the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers.)

My presentation was entitled, “Profitable Marketing Strategies”.

There are only two ways to increase profit – increasing revenue and decreasing costs.

Increasing revenue through your website means one or more of increasing targeted visitors, and improving conversion. You might add increasing prices and up-selling. I believe that those two are just variations of conversion.

In this presentation I focused on attracting more targeted visitors to your website.

Here are a few tools that you should use to help you examine websites and their search success:

Google – the number one search engine.

Overture Keyword Selector Tool – use it to learn the total number of searches in the previous month for a word or phrase on Yahoo. Estimate searches on Google by multiplying by three.

Link – use it to check the number and nature of links to a website. Be sure to check your competition.

Watch for more notes from my presentation to the CAPS Toronto Speaker's School on this blog.

Blogger’s Manual
As promised I will provide a free copy of the Blogger’s Manual as soon as it is complete. That will be within the next two weeks. Visit this blog to learn when it is available and obtain your copy of this ebook on the “How to’s” of blogging. Watch for it!

George Torok
Member of CAPS Toronto
Marketing Specialist

Click for more information about CAPS. (Canadian Association of Professional Speakers)

Click to read about upcoming CAPS Toronto events.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Visa Small Business Conference in Montreal

Visa Small Business Conference

Did you attend the “Visa Small Business Big Thinking Conference”? It took place in Montreal on Monday June 4, 2007. If you missed it then read some of the key points from my presentation. If you attended the conference then you might check your notes to ensure that you captured these critical points.

I was delighted to be speaking to the eager entrepreneurs at the Visa Small Business conference on how to get more from budget-effective marketing.

Here are some of the learning points from my marketing presentation: It was a packed room and an explosive session. The presentation was both entertaining and enlightening.

You cannot - not market. Everything you do is marketing.
Being good is not enough. You must actively sell and market yourself.
Success is the result of doing little things consistently well over time.
Observe successful people and ask yourself, “Why do they do things that way?”
Success in business comes from following systems.
A system is a process to get to your goal.
A system is built on a key principle.
Systems beat talent.
You are responsible to manage the perceptions of your prospects.
The image of success is a perception determined by your display of confidence.
Focus on your strengths.
Build relationships by saying “thank you”.
Get the media to call you the expert.
Print media exposure has more credibly and is easier to leverage.
Sell to people’s wants – not their needs.

That’s it for now. Of course there was more. The attendees at the Visa Small Business Big Thinking conference received the full presentation. You only get the bullet points here. Perhaps you might attend the next Visa Small Business conference next year.

If you attended the Visa Small Business conference then feel free to comment on this blog post. I welcome your comments and questions.

Visa will be posting more notes, photos and comments on their website in July. Visit the Visa Small Business Conference site to see more.

Rick Spence was the content provider for this Visa Small Business conference. He arranged for all the speakers. The program especially featured Quebec entrepreneurs. He is former editor of Profit Magazine so he knows a lot about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. Learn more about the Visa Small Business conference by reading his Canadian Entrepreneur blog.

George Torok
Marketing Specialist
Presenter at the Visa Small Business Conference
Co-author of Secrets of Power Marketing

Friday, May 25, 2007

Marketing Principle: Wants not Needs

Marketing Principle: People buy what they want – not what they need

Marketing 101: The marketing professors preach “Find a need and fill it”. Terrible advice! Don't you believe that crap. Of course the marketing professors have no skin in the game. They don’t need to market. They can afford to collect their salary and spread common lies.

If you took a marketing course, if you have an MBA or if you are studying marketing please challenge your professors. Your success depends on it.

Challenge your marketing professors to examine the difference between needs and wants.

“Professor I propose that people buy what they want – not what they need. It is not enough to find a need and fill it. Success in business is about understanding, filling and creating wants.”

Memorize that line. Rehearse it. Be prepared to deliver it to your marketing professors, marketing department and marketing agency. Then shut up and listen to what they say. Pay particular notice it they scrim or are vague with their answer. That should trigger alarm bells for you.

Unless you have the cure for cancer nobody needs what you sell. No one needs you, your company or your product. There are plenty of alternatives. So if that was the essence of your business plan to your bank – no wonder they turned down your request for a loan.

People buy what they want – not what they need.

Need more evidence?

Who needs to go to fitness clubs? Unfit people. Who joins? Fit people.

All dog owners need to go for obedience training. Why don’t they go? They don’t want to.

Nobody needs to go to Las Vegas. Yet why do so many go? Because they want to.

Who needs a big screen TV?

How many teenagers really need a cell phone?

Who needs a camera in their cell phone?

Who needs personalized ring tones for their cell phone?

Who needs to buy coffee from the drive through at Tim Hortons?

Who needs a Big Mac from McDonalds?

Get the picture? If you want to succeed in your business focus on wants not needs. Wants are about emotion. Wants are logical. And emotion beats logic every time.

Marketing principle: Sell to wants not needs.

George Torok
Marketing Specialist
Co-author of Secrets of Power Marketing
Author of Your Guide to Networking Success

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Visa Small Business Big Thinking

Visa Small Business Big Thinking Conference

Perhaps you might think that the words "Visa" and "small business" don’t belong in the same phrase. You might be wrong.

If you are in Montreal on Monday June 4, 2007 stop by the “Small Business Big Thinking” conference organized by Visa. And if you are not planning to be in Montreal maybe you go so you can attend this one-day conference organized by Visa for small business.

You might ask, “What does Visa know about small business?” And that would be a good question. That might be why they have partnered with large and small business to produce this one day conference.

Most prominent on the side of small business experts is Rick Spence, former editor and publisher of Profit magazine. Spence’s presence, savvy and contacts is enough to inject a practical amount of business street-smarts into this conference.

And then there are many other entrepreneurs who just made a pile of money. Maybe you never heard of them. They don’t care; they are still raking in money. And they are willing to tell you some of their secrets – but of course not all. Maybe you should listen up.

My dear friend and mentor, Peter Urs Bender said, “A fool can learn from no one and a wise man can learn from anyone.”

And yes I will be making a special appearance at this Visa Small Business Big Thinking conference. I will be speaking in the Buzz Marketing session at 11:00 am. And I will host a table for the ‘Meet the Pros” luncheon. Call me a fool if you want – but you can learn a lot about marketing from me.

Rick Spence is a valued friend and he invited me at the last minute so I checked my calendar and agreed to be there. Besides, Montreal is a beautiful city and entrepreneurs need all the help they can get.

See you in Montreal at the Visa “Small Business Big Thinking” conference on Monday June 4, 2007.

George Torok
Marketing Specialist
Motivational Speaker
Publisher of over 300 business articles

Learn more about the Small Busines Big Thinking conference in Montreal

Sunday, May 20, 2007

WTF Virus Spreads

The WTF Virus Spreads - Lock up your teenagers.

Viral marketing is marketing that is spread by others. It could be the main steam media, bloggers, social advocates, radicals, cultural subgroups, community leaders, protesters and/or politicians.

The attraction of viral marketing is that it spreads quickly and almost effortlessly. The viral marketer only needs to flick the spark and fan the flames. The danger of viral marketing is that once you create it, it takes on a life of its own. You can’t control the direction or the acceleration. Viral marketing is like a forest fire or viral outbreak efficient at spreading and difficult to control.

Read the book, “The Tipping Point” to see how a marketing virus can work as a powerful marketing tool. Paul Revere’s viral message, “The British are coming” is one example.

A recent example of viral marketing in action is the teen-targeted campaign launched by Mac’s Convenience Stores in Ontario to sell new flavoured ice-drinks (called Frosters). The new flavours are “WTF” and “OMG” which most teens know mean “What the F**k” and “Oh my Gawd”. In addition to using vulgar product names Mac’s promoted the new flavours with a provocative poster featuring a nun and a goat bowing in the presence of the cup of WTF.

Many adults didn’t know the meaning. But as they are learning some are pissed. (Some folks are easily annoyed.) Emotional support and protests are two contributing elements of a viral marketing campaign.

To be successful this virus only needs to drive one summer of ice drink sales. Last year it was Bloody Zit. This year it is WTF.

So who else is spreading the WTF virus?

Dropping the f-bomb
From Friday's Globe and Mail
May 18, 2007 at 9:06 AM EDT

The purple brew is called "WTF" - a common acronym for "what the fuck" used in instant-messaging chats and text messages - and it's causing a stir in communities across the country. Earlier this week, residents in Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins, Ont., threatened to boycott Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., the parent company of Mac's, about what they see as an offensive advertising campaign.

Read “Dropping the f-bomb” at the Globe and Mail (Notice the long list of comments posted.)

Teen tells premier 'FLICK OFF' poor choice
Timmons Daily Press
Editorial - Thursday, May 10, 2007 @ 10:00

(Editor's note: The following is an open letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty from 14-year-old Timmins teen Jesse Fontaine.)

I am a home-schooled Christian, living in Timmins. I am currently completing Grade 8, have an interest in politics and last year won the Short Story Category at The Daily Press Literary Awards. According to a Mac's convenience stores representative, the "WTF" is supposed to stand for "WHAT'S THE FLAVOUR" but we all know that the "WTF" on the cup implies the vulgar phrase "WHAT THE FLICK" (I used "Flick" because I don't use the "F" word that Mac's, M&M Meats and Subway intentionally, or otherwise, represent with the "F" in the "WTF" so proudly posted at their stores.)

Read this article in The Timmons Daily Press

OMG. Mac's Froster campaign leaves bad taste in some mouths
Brian Kelly
Sault St Maire Sault Star
Local News - Wednesday, May 16, 2007 Updated @ 7:28:28 AM

Mac’s Convenience has included popular acronyms used online that have foul language in its latest promotion to market its Froster fountain drink. Signs posted above the beverage machine read WTF, OMGWTF, RUNTSOMGWTF for small, medium and large sizes. The website,, describes OMGWTF as “the commonly accepted Internet abbreviation for Oh my God, what the f---” while the acronym WTF “generally stands for” What the f---. RUNTS means Are you nuts?

Read the rest of OMG article in the Sault Star.

Mac's Talks Dirty
May 10, 2007
By CSD Staff

Frozen drink's promotional campaign takes heat for interpreted vulgarity.

Along with the negative attention the poster is getting for its interpreted blasphemy, Mac's Froster drinks are also raising controversy for the "WTF" printed across the cups. WTF is a frequently used abbreviation made popular by instant and text messaging. Some imagination may be required to figure out the acronym.

Mac's has protested that the "F" stands for "Flavour," instead of the four-letter expletive, however, the names given to the medium- and large-variety of Frosters--titled with the abbreviations "OMGWTF" and "RUNTSOMGWTF" respectively--imply otherwise. "OMG" is text message slang for "Oh My God," and "RUNTS" is short for "Are you nuts?"

Read the rest of Mac’s Talks Dirty at Convenience Store Decisions

League protests 'blasphemous’ TV program milk ad
By Deborah Gyapong5/17/2007
Canadian Catholic News (
OTTAWA, Canada (CCN)

The Catholic Civil Rights League has been successful in getting the Mac’s Milk convenience store chain to withdraw “offensive” posters for its Froster’s campaign.

“The poster features a goat and a model dressed in traditional nuns’ clothing, appearing to gaze heavenward at the drink, which is festooned with the letters: “W.T.F.” (The company’s official line is that this stands for “what’s the flavor.”)

Read the rest of this article at Canadian Catholic News

What the Huh? Mac's Convenience Stores Running Offensive Froster Ads
By John-Henry Westen
LAVAL, QC, May 9, 2007

Mac's Convenience Stores, the most popular convenience stores in Canada, with a strong presence in the United States as well, have launched what many are seeing as a highly offensive advertising campaign for their frosted carbonated drink - froster.Posters seen in Mac's store windows feature a nun kneeling with her arms raised and a sheep at her side. Above the nun, to which she looks adoringly, is a shining froster with the initials WTF below.

Read the rest of What the Huh? at

Looks to me like the WTF virus is spreading fast.

George Torok
Co-author of Secrets of Power Marketing

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Gazette reports on WTF Nun campaign

Montreal Gazette reports on the WTF Nun campaign

Edgy or over the edge?
Ads targeting hard-to-reach young consumers can land a company in hot water - just ask Couche-Tard
Published: Saturday, May 19, 2007

The nun kneels beside a lamb, her arms outstretched toward the heavens.
She gazes longingly toward the golden light - and at the image of an orange frosted drink emblazoned with the letters: "WTF." WTF is teenage text messaging and online lingo for "What the f---." Surprise, surprise - online forums and blogs and conservative Christian groups were having a field day this month debating and denouncing the ad, created for Quebec depanneur giant Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.'s Ontario convenience stores.

Read the rest of this article at The Gazette


The stores operate as Mac's Convenience in Ontario. Notice that Mac’s is getting the media coverage for the controversy they created. But they seem to have lost the urge to run with this viral marketing. They pulled the "WTF Nun" poster. If they had kept the poster up for a bit longer teens would have gone to the stores just to see the poster. If fact teens have even bought copies of the poster. These things have a short half life. Mac’s just did not think this through enough. I guess the management at Mac's is getting too old and cautious. Maybe Mac's should get out of marketing to teens. Leave it to marketers with bigger cahones.

George Torok
Co-author of "Secrets of Power Marketing"
Marketing specialist, consultant and business speaker