Tuesday, December 23, 2008

If it looks like SPAM it is SPAM

If it looks like SPAM it is SPAM

Below is an excerpt from an unwanted email that got through my SPAM blocker and filters. The sender manually authorized their email address to get through.

Notice that the opening line boldly stated that "This is not SPAM." And they they gave a lame excuse.

There are legal definitions of SPAM And those vary by country. Generally SPAM is massive emailings to lists of names that have not asked for the email. This email wrongly claimed to have a right to send me their "information". There was no link to allow me to unsubscribe from their list. They falsely claimed to be an organization that doesn't exist but might sound official. No snail mail address was given.

If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck...
Attention! This is not SPAM and this letter is delivered according to the legislation since the e-mail address is in open access

The Canadian Drugs Medical Association

blah, blah, blah .... The selling text and links to their site have been removed.

Respectfully, The Canadian Drugs Medical Association

The links went to a Google Groups page that was selling the usual drugs.

I use the SPAM blocker called SPAM Arrest which works very well.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cycle City Declares Bankruptcy

Cycle City in Burlington declares bankruptcy

My motorcycle dealer is bankrupt. The notice in the newspaper screamed that message and announced the two-day bankruptcy sale. By “my” dealer I mean the one where I bought my motorcycle.

Naturally I was unhappy to read that news because now I would have to look elsewhere for motorcycle service. My bike is a Suzuki and Cycle City was the only Suzuki dealer in Burlington.

I attended the bankruptcy sale and noticed that there were some real deals on motorcycle clothing and accessories. I picked up a $40 manual for $10. The bikes were already gone.

A lot of bargain hunters were picking up deals. I noticed one of the owners behind the part's counter dispensing friendly advice to a customer. At least he didn’t seem bitter about his failed business venture.

While browsing about the store I heard at least one person comment on the bankruptcy that “it was a sign of the times.” I couldn’t help but wonder what this bankruptcy might be really a sign of.

Here are some of the random thoughts that occurred to me.

When a business fails in tough times – the people responsible absolve themselves of responsibility and blame their failure on the economy. Yet they claimed responsibility for their growth in a growing economy. Why were they so smart in a growing market and so blameless in a declining market? GM, Ford and Chrysler demonstrate this “not my fault’ syndrome well.

The current owners bought the business less than two years ago. I believe that it was a father and son team. After the previous owner ran the business for over 20 years which included some bad times why did it fail now? Did the new owners pay too much for the business? Were they qualified to run this type of business? What assumptions did they make that blindsided them? What part of the business did they neglect?

The fastest growing segment of motorcycle buyers is the aging baby boomers. These are folks who have grown their own business or career. They have money to treat themselves. Their children have probably left the nest and the mortgage is manageable or nonexistent. If they want a motorcycle they will buy one. If they are downsizing their expectations then they are more likely to buy a Suzuki instead of a more expensive Harley Davidson.

I bought my motorcycle from Cycle City in Burlington more than three years ago. I have never received a communication from them. That includes the previous owner as well as the “current owners”. They did not remind me to come in for my spring tune-up or winter storage program. They never invited me to their open houses or demo ride days. Why did they not realize that their greatest asset is their database of customers? When the new owners started – a note, email or phone call would have made me feel important. But none of that happened.

As a midlife renewed motorcycle owner I was aware of gaps in my motorcycle knowledge, so I asked clarifying questions when I bought accessories. The parts manager at Cycle City was annoyingly sarcastic when I asked him to explain the benefits of the special oil. Customer service can make or kill your business. I wonder how many other customers that parts manager pissed off.

I wondered if the new owners of Cycle City understood the changing nature of their business. Did they really know what business they were in? The answer is not “motorcycles”. Nobody buys a motorcycle because they need it. They buy because they want it. And the competition for your customers’ money is not necessarily other motorcycle dealers.

Even if sales of new motorcycles were declining – that would not kill the business. In the business of selling rolling stock – automotive, motorcycles and farm equipment – there are two ways to make profit. That is the sale of used goods and the sale of service. Those are the profit generators in these types of business. Competition for new goods is so competitive that little profit is made on that. The value is in the customer database. What else can you sell them?

What other programs, events or value did they offer to the clients on their database? Judging from what I received from them – none. Smart business owners offer their clients extra value – value that the competition hasn’t even thought about yet.

Cycle City used to have a pretty good website. It was especially good for their listing of used bikes. But lately I can't even find it when searching on Google. And the new owners didn't seem to upgrade the web presence. If you're new - we expect you to offer something new. Imagine if they posted a YouTube video every month.

I’m sorry to witness the bankruptcy of Cycle City in Burlington. But let’s be real. It’s not about the economy. Businesses fail because of mistakes by the business owners. Some learn from their mistakes. The rest of us can learn from the mistakes of others.

George Torok
Motorcycle Rider
Marketing Expert
Motivational Business Speaker


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Power Marketing Tip 14: Volunteering

Power Marketing Tip 14

Leverage your volunteering

Volunteering can be productive marketing especially in troubled times. A small investment of your time and effort can pay back profitably.

How do you get the best return from your volunteering?

Select your volunteer work on these two criteria

The primary criterion is, "Do you believe strongly in the cause or program?" You will need to tap your personal motivation to sustain you through challenging obstacles. And folks will see you at your best.

The secondary criterion is, "Will you receive positive marketing exposure to your target audience?"

If only the first criterion is met then it's not marketing - just community service. And that is okay as long as your expectations are clear. In troubled times there is usually a greater demand for volunteers.

If only the secondary criterion is met then you will probably do it half-heartedly and thus fail on both accounts.

Some of the ways this can work

Relationship builder
Supporting a charity is warm and fuzzy marketing. Those who like and respect the charity will like and respect you for your volunteer work.

Networking opportunity
When you work closely with other volunteers you can connect easier with folks who might not normally take your call. You get to build relationships around a common cause that can fuel business relationships later.

Media Exposure
There are two roles that get the media exposure. The most time consuming role is president or chairperson. The more profitable role is the public relations person. Of the two the latter is the easier role and it allows you to establish relationships with your media contacts that you can continue to leverage long after you left that role.

Referral Network
As membership or recruitment person you have the greatest opportunity to connect with new and prospective members. As the first friendly face to connect with them you have the advantage of making a lasting impression. That builds your name recognition within the organization.

Show me the money
If you are a fund raiser that will force you to contact prospects, condition you to ask for the money - and it will show you where the money is.
There are many ways to volunteer.
There are many organizations that welcome volunteers.
By volunteering you can help others and yourself.

George Torok

Power Marketing

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Monday, December 08, 2008

What a Difference a Decade makes to Marketing

What a Difference a Decade makes to Marketing

Imagine that you could continue to market successfully the same way for ten years. Do you like that thought? Well delete that daydream because it just isn't so. Welcome to marketing 2008. It's more threatening, more promising and more exciting. Buckle your seatbelt, take your motion sickness pill and be prepared to be amazing. Because that is what you need to compete today.

Still the Same

Of course some things remained the same. Let's establish our foundation before we venture into the swirl of the Time Tunnel.

The fundamentals are the same. That's what makes them fundamentals. Marketing is still closely intertwined with selling and the purpose of marketing is to help you sell more. Marketing and selling are both strategies to help you make a profit. In fact marketing was and is a fundamental responsibility running through every function of your business.

Read the rest of What a Difference a Decade Makes to Marketing

PS: This article was originally published in the January 2008 10th anniversary issue of Enterprise Magazine.

George Torok
Power Marketing


Friday, December 05, 2008

Power Marketing Tips 13: Your Worst Dressed List

Power Marketing Tips 13

Your Worst Dressed List

Mr. Blackwell, the creator of the famous annual lists "Blackwell's Best Dressed" and "Blackwell's Worst Dressed", died this past week.

He was an out-of-work actor who went into fashion design and produced his own line of clothing, House of Blackwell. Yet he is well known internationally for his annual lists. His fame demonstrates a few good lessons for marketers.

What can you learn from Mr. Blackwell's best and worst dressed lists?

It cost him nothing to create the lists - just some creative thinking and boldness.

First published in 1960, here was a powerful example of what we now call viral marketing. It was controversial, cost nothing, garnered free media coverage and created a buzz. His comments were cheeky, colorful, brief and quotable.

Although he created and published two lists the better known one is "Blackwell's Worst Dressed".

Why? Blackwell rated and berated the rich and famous. Most of us secretly like to expose flaws in others, partly because we sometimes feel guilty about our own flaws. And we enjoy it even more when the rich and famous are the butt of our jokes.

The Worst Dressed list contained all the incendiary elements of gossip - which is the original viral marketing. Those elements are: controversy, repeatability and opinion. There is one other element to gossip - that is the assumed superiority of the gossiper by expressing judgment upon others.

Mr. Blackwell was the first to create these lists. There have been and will be more imitators but they will always be seen as copycats.

By publishing these lists he established himself as the expert. The best and simplest way to become number one in your market is to create the niche. Coke, McDonalds, The Boston Marathon and Sir Edmund Hillary are number one in their markets because they were first.

How might you use this in your marketing?

Create a list of mistakes, errors, and disasters. Then show prospects how you can help them avoid those traps. This could be a one time list or like Mr. Blackwell you could publish your annual list.

George Torok

Power Marketing

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