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

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Mac's WTF Nun and Goat Poster


The nun worships the new ice drink from Mac's.

And the goat?

If this poster doesn' make you laugh you got your knickers on too tight.

This marketing program from Mac's is clearly targeted at Catholic teens.

If you think that this poster is offensive then it was not targeted for you. The target audience will laugh at this poster and not understand your angst.

Who buys ice drinks? Teens. Not nuns and goats.
And will these teens cast off their "good Catholic education because of this poster?"

It they do, it was not a good Catholic education.

George Torok

Mac's WTF Nun and Goat

Mac’s WTF nun with goat

Mac’s Convenience Stores came out with another bold marketing campaign to promote their new ice-drink WTF, but they blinked.

This time Mac’s Convenience Stores was promoting another ice-drink. Instead of Bloody Zit the new flavour was WTF. What the flavour?

Again Mac’s spoke directly to their target market – teens. And to Internet and text messaging teens WTF is code for What the F**k. Controversy is a powerful branding ingredient.

Good on Mac’s. A strong positioning that reaches their target audiences and ticks off those outside the target market – parents of teens.

Mac’s produced a poster for in-store display. The poster showed an image of the new WTF Froster cup floating in the air and surrounded by an angelic halo. The cup has the letters WTF on it. Below the Froster cup image was a nun on her knees clearly worshiping the magnificence of this angelic vision. Next to the nun was a goat.

I don’t understand the significance of the goat. But, the combination of the nun and the goat both worshipping the floating cup made me laugh.

Again Mac’s Convenience Stores hits a direct bull’s-eye with its target audience!

It this case the target is not just teens in general but more specifically teens at Catholic schools. Because, those teens already make jokes about the nuns at their schools and churches.

Once again Mac’s launched a great branding and viral marketing campaign. They knew their target market. They were bold. But this time something went wrong. Mac’s got cold feet. Within a week of launching this poster Mac’s killed the campaign. They pulled all the posters and any acknowledgement of the campaign period. Mac’s is pretending that their WTF Nun with goat poster never existed.

What happened? The folks at Mac’s already experienced negative feedback to their Bloody Zit promotion. So what part of the negative feedback this time surprised them? They had to know that this poster would offend parents, Catholics and other moral right wingers. Jerry Falwell is dead, thank god, so it was not him and his moral majority.

Kudos to Mac’s and its creative marketing folks. Shame on the Macs management for blinking. You had a good marketing idea. Let’s see how your target market rewards you for wimping out.


George Torok
Power Marketing

CEO Feedback

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bloody Zit - Mac's Convenience Stores

Bloody Zit - Mac’s Convenience Stores

Mac’s Convenience Stores knows how to reach their target market - teens. Who else is so easily temped into convenience stores? I remember when Mac’s was known as “Mac’s Milk” but who buys milk there now? When I want milk I go to the grocery store.

And have you noticed that the grocery stores are not full of teens? They are full of adults buying groceries. So the teens are a ripe target for Mac’s because the adults aren’t going there.

What did Mac’s do to really grab the attention of teens? They launched a new flavour ice-drink – Bloody Zit. Both disgusting and brilliant!

The disgusting part of Bloody Zit is obvious. The brilliance might need explanation.

It is brilliant because the teen years are the zits years. Brilliant because teens have been making jokes about zits for generations. Brilliant because any thing to do with zits is disgusting. Brilliant because teens like to be disgusting especially to parents and other adults. So the more disgusting you can be the more teens like it.

And Mac’s reaped the rewards. Sales jumped! This was a short focused campaign that directly spoke to the target market and alienated the non-targets (parents).

This campaign worked because it both was strong branding and tapped into viral marketing.

A strong brand elicits strong positive emotions from the target and strong negative emotions from those outside the target market. And the stronger the negative for the non-target group the more the target group like it.

Viral marketing is spread by word of mouth and gains a life of its own. That viral life is not controllable and you must be willing to let your market go with it. You might be able to predict some of the outcomes of viral marketing, but not all.

The viral marketing part was the unknown that teens might say about Bloody Zit. Will it become a challenge, “Who will be the first to taste it?” Will it become a badge of honour? Will it become code for some new teen phenomenon?

Want a refreshing drink? Squeeze your zits first. (Yuck, how disgusting!)

George Torok
Marketing Expert

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Flick off again

Flick Off Again

I was asked again about the power of controversy in marketing in general and the “flick off” campaign in particular.

The “flick off” slogan rates high on the branding meter because it:

a. zeros in on the target market - teens and 20-somethings
b. is memorable and has a secret meaning to the target audience
c. is controversial, especially to the non-target group

To evaluate this slogan one must consider the target group. Consider the demographics. Anyone who lived through the depression and WW2 already knows about conserving resources. The boomers learned to be more socially and environmentally conscious. The teens and 20-somethings are mostly spoiled and cynical. The only way to get them to flick off the lights is to make it cool.

This slogan and the endorsement from Richard Branson do just that.

The reaction from the political opposition is predictable. The objections from the non-target group is meaningless. Imagine if this campaign can get teens to do something that their parents have (or should have) been yelling at them for years to do – “Turn off the flicking lights!”

Flick off!

George Torok
Marketing Specialist
Best-selling author of Secrets of Power Marketing

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

What does Marketing do?

What does marketing do?

An interoffice softball game was held every year between the marketing department and the support staff of one company.The support staff whipped the marketing department soundly.

To show just how the marketing department earns its keep, they posted this memo on the bulletin board after the game: "The Marketing Department is pleased to announce that for the 2006 Softball Season, we came in 2nd place, having lost but one game all year. The Support Department, however, had a rather dismal season, as they won only one game."

I found the above on Rick Spence's Canadian Entreprenuer Blog.

It's a cute anecdote and nicely illustrates the role of marketing. Notice that there are no lies in that memo. Marketing is not about telling lies. It is about demonstrating how your product or service is superior. Highlight the positive of your position while diminishing the competition. Good marketers don't play fair.

Rick Spence, thanks for this gem.

George Torok
Secrets of Power Marketing

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Marketing for Your Career

Marketing is not just for business owners and marketing departments. Regular working folks need to market themselves. And don't wait till you are out of a job to start marketing yourself.

Marketing oneself should be an integral part of every employee’s career development plan. Sometimes it is not just for career development but also job sustainability. Yes, you need to be marketing yourself and your value just to hang on to your job.

The purpose of your internal marketing is to demonstrate your value and your efforts to increase your value. Here are a few ideas on how you can market yourself within your company:

Volunteer to train staff.

Volunteer to be part of testing or implementing new technology.

When you read a good business book, recommend it to your boss and colleagues.

When you complete a course or seminar send a copy of the certificate to your boss.
Interview the CEO for an article in the corporate newsletter.

Take leadership roles in your professional association and give the boss a copy of your association newsletter.

Stop griping and avoid the whiners and complainers. (You are who you associate with.)

At least once a month go above and beyond the call of duty.

The above came as the result of being interviewed by my colleague, Sharon Bar David. She is a specialist in employee resilience. Learn more about Sharon Bar David and resilience at her blog.

George Torok
Personal Marketing Expert

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Marketing Defintions

Marketing Definitions

Marketing is about sending messages. Everything you do or don’t do sends a marketing message.

Permission marketing
This term was made famous by Seth Godin. The opposite of permission marketing is interruption marketing – which according to Seth has been the standard marketing practice of the past century. Permission marketing means asking before you speak.

Social marketing
Social marketing (also called cause marketing) has been around for decades. It breaks down into two versions; business marketing that piggy backs on a social issue and marketing to promote a social issue. Some of the issues include the environment, equal rights, poverty, animal rights, community, children, health…

Network marketing
Network marketing was the renaming of multilevel marketing made famous by Amway. What was once called multilevel marketing became network marketing. It has nothing to do with networking. And they keep changing the term to ward off the stigma that seems to quickly attach itself. It’s called something else now.

Marketing research
Marketing research is the high priced label given to the task of finding out what people really want and what do about it. It means asking good questions, listening and taking notes.

Marketing guru
Someone who wrote a book or few about marketing and charges you a lot of money to tell you what to do with your marketing. If you invested enough time and thought you would probably figure it out on your own.

Marketing company
Usually just an advertising agency. They used to proudly call themselves ad agencies. Maybe they want to feel and project more value with the marketing label. They still create and sell you ads. Some of them help you get media exposure. Usually called PR firms. (Public relations)

Viral marketing
Cool name. Like a virus – it has a life of its own. It means marketing that others do for you. Read the post about the Flick Off campaign for a good example.

Guerilla marketing
A term made famous by Jay Conrad Levinson. The idea is based on guerilla warfare – when a force that is inferior in size and resources can beat a vastly superior opponent with the use of creativity, flexibility and focus.

Monkey marketing
If gorillas can market then why not monkeys? Some folks market like monkeys – just screeching and moving on when they get bored.

Amoeba marketing
Strip away the nonsense and follow the simple basics. What could be simpler than an amoeba?

Online marketing
Marketing online is any marketing that you do on the Internet.

Offline marketing
Offline marketing is everything else.

Offside marketing
Happens with the marketing department gets out of control and chases marketing awards instead of focussing on the business needs. Should be a firing offense. Just ask Donald Trump.

Marketing department
In many corporations they are composed of graphic designers who create and/or buy ads.

Marketing budget
Often a number you are too embarrassed to reveal. (Unless you are Coke or Nike)

Marketing degree
Sometimes just a worthless piece of paper, unless you want to work in a marketing department or for a marketing company. (See above definitions) Also valuable to help you become a marketing professor – so you can teach the same useless stuff to others.

George Torok
Marketing author

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Marketing Purpose: Three Things

Marketing Purpose: Three Things

Marketing should do one or more of these three things for you.

1. Grab attention

2. Demonstrate value

3. Build relationships

The best marketing would do all three things. The least might do only one. And useless marketing would do none of the above.

Test your marketing against these three criteria. And rate your marketing for each purpose. Rate your competition for each and compare your relative position.

George Torok
Co-author of Secrets of Power Marketing