Thursday, December 30, 2010

Year End and New Year Marketing

The Past Year

This is the time to review your past year of marketing.

What worked well and why? Can you do that again?

How can you connect with your market one last time this year to remind them of the good times?

The New Year

Plan your calendar of promotions for this new year.

What ideas from the past year will you use again?

What missed opportunities will you pursue this year?

Write your marketing plan now because time will fly again.

George Torok

Marketing Speaker

Power Marketing


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Power Marketing Tip 41: Pulling the Emotional Triggers

The Christmas season drives a spending frenzy, especially in North America. Many if not most retailers depend on the Christmas shopping spree to make their year profitable.

What can marketers learn from this buying madness?

The buying is driven by emotions not logic. Most buyers will apply some logic to parts of the shopping process, but without the emotional triggers, Christmas shopping would be a bust.

This buying fever is viral. Marketers don’t need to convince people to spend money. They simply need to offer choices for how to spend money. That’s a much easier marketing task. Instead of shouting “spend your money” retailers simply need to sing “if you’re going to spend it, you might as well spend it here”.

The predominant mindset of the public is “you have to buy because it’s Christmas”.

The deal killing logic of affordability is often easily sidestepped with the use of credit cards and other “buy now – pay later” plans.

The holidays are a time of many emotional highs and lows. Although love is one of the emotions that fuel the spending and gift-giving, take note of other emotions that contribute strongly to the mix. That might include guilt, pride, greed and fear.

Those emotions are neither good nor bad. They are simply part of what makes us emotional beings. We usually find it easier to see those traits in others.

As marketers, I suggest that you observe the actions of both sellers and buyers. Take note of the approaches that seem to be more successful. Isolate and identify the dominating emotional triggers.

Then analyze your own market. What are the emotional triggers that tend to drive or prevent your prospects from buying from you?

What can you do to enhance or mitigate those triggers?

Think about these questions while you enjoy and witness the Christmas season.

George Torok
Marketing Speaker

Power Marketing Tips

Get your free copy of "50 Power Marketing Ideas" when you register here


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Marketing in Turbulent Times

May you live in interesting times.

Is that ancient expression a curse or a blessing? I think it depends on how you define “interesting” and more importantly how you adapt to it.

If you define interesting to mean unpredictable, challenging and threatening then clearly we are living in interesting times. Business these days is more like shooting the rapids in a rubber raft than canoeing in a duck pond.

It’s too easy to be mesmerized by the danger of capsizing. If you focus on the rocks, that’s where you will go. The secret is to look for and steer to the high water and paddle like a fiend.

Survival is not the goal
If you set your sights on surviving you could slip and sink. If you set your target as thriving then you might flourish.

How do you thrive in these turbulent waters?
Marketing is the result of all the messages that you and your staff send. In fact your staff sends more powerful marketing messages than all the advertising you ever do. Therefore marketing becomes the end result of almost every business decision you make.

Think long term
Don’t make knee-jerk decisions especially about business strategy. Gather as much relevant information as you can. Seek the advice of people you respect. Be clear on your purpose. Examine both the short term and long term effects of major decisions. Once you decide, act quickly and confidently. Your staff will be looking to you for leadership and hope. Be open to course corrections when and as needed while clearly focused on the objectives and purpose.

Prepare for disaster
The fire department prepares for disaster – they don’t focus on it or obsess about it. They think, plan, acquire the best tools and rehearse their response so they can move swiftly when and if needed. Where are you exposed and how can you protect yourself? When you are shooting the rapids it is foolish to save money by not buying life vests.

Review expenditures
Don’t make across-the-board cuts. That’s a political response and just dumb. Instead categorize expenditures and investments into four categories.
Items that are needed because of the turbulent times to keep you above water or deal with disaster. Plus items that generate a good return. These are new or increased expenditures.
Items that are mission critical and need to be maintained as is.
Items that provide variable return. Peg the expenditure level to the conditions and vary as conditions change. Treat it like an exchange rate.
Items of questionable value. Eliminate them or phase them out.

Review training
Review does not mean reduce or eliminate. Training can be more important during turbulent times. This is when your skills and those of your staff should be at their best. You don’t want to be losing sales because of poor customer service or quality control. Categorize your training needs into three categories.

Key individuals that will steer you through the turbulent times. Provide individualized coaching or training to them. Invest strongly in your best assets.

Departments that need to stay sharp and ahead of your competition. Provide group training, tele-seminars or your own attention to improving skills sets.

Staff that need to be motivated and reminded of purpose and the little things that make the difference. Buy them each a copy of a book that best conveys that message. Ask each person to report at weekly meetings on an assigned chapter in that book. Make everyone feel important.

It only takes one person’s mistake or sabotage to sink your raft.

Review advertising
Too many companies stupidly make major cuts in advertising during turbulent times. My guess is that they did not review their advertising during the good times. Categorize your advertising into three categories.

Advertising that is measureable and has demonstrated a profitable return. Continue to measure as you increase your investment in this profitable avenue. Unfortunately too many companies don’t measure their return on advertising or they don’t design their ads in a way that allows the results to be measureable. So they have nothing in this category. A shame.

Advertising that has gained market recognition and that you believe to be working. You just don’t have a clue how profitable this venue is. Start to build in some measurement indicators. Vary the ads and measure. Then increase or reduce investment appropriately.

Advertising that is merely “me too” ads. You bought an ad because your competitor did. It might be a waste of money but you don’t know. Reduce the expenditure or eliminate it.

Build relationships
In turbulent times nothing is more important that relationships. We will warmly remember those who suffered with us or helped us through the turbulent times. Invest strongly in strengthening the relationship with your best clients. Segment your clients into three categories:
Best clients. Divert more attention to their needs. Instruct your staff accordingly. Jump through hoops for these clients. Offer them additional value and services to help them. Communicate with them more often.

Average clients. Maintain service levels and pricing. Attempt to upgrade them to A clients by introducing additional services.

Pain-in-the-ass clients. Don’t let them bully you into reducing your prices. Instead you might reduce your level of service to them. Offer them the choice of upgrading or leaving. You’ll have less stress in your life.

Important note for you
Relationships are more important that branding – especially during turbulent times. When you have the choice to invest in branding or invest in relationships – choose relationships. It is the far more profitable choice for small and medium sized enterprises. Remember that big business invests in branding because they cannot build relationships. Don’t be fooled by the branding hype.

Online Social Media
Don’t hide. Use the Internet to keep your message and name in front of people. If you haven’t yet created your blog, this is a good time to start. Post regular tips, news and positive messages. Register and maintain your accounts on social networking sites like, and Explore the use of and to publish product news and demonstrations. Barack Obama, the US president used these tools to successfully promote his presidential campaign and he plans to use them to convey his messages to the American people and the world.

May you thrive in interesting times.

© George Torok simplifies marketing for the confused and stressed entrepreneur. He clarifies fundamental marketing principles and offers practical techniques. Get your free copy of “50 Power Marketing Ideas” when you register for your free Power Marketing Tips at George Torok is available for media interviews and speaking engagements. Call 905-335-1997.

Marketing In Turbulent Times


Saturday, December 11, 2010

2 Banks, 2 Mistakes, 2 Entirely Different Responses

I visited two banks in the same day with two difference problems and the reception was very different.

Both banks had made major errors with my accounts. But they seemed to approach things differently.

The teller at the Blue bank searched her records on the computer. She asked me a few questions and then stated, “I think I see what happened.” She then asked me to wait a few minutes while she went to speak to a loan’s officer. She apologized.

She returned a few minutes later and said that the loan’s officer asked for me to wait a few more minutes because he wanted to see me.

Sean, the loan’s officer, invited me into his office and explained what had happened and how he would fix it. He apologized. He showed what he did on the screen and gave me a printed confirmation. He handed me his card and suggested that I call him if there were any further questions or problems.

I left the blue bank thinking, Wow. They fixed their mistake quickly. They apologized. And I felt like they were on my side.

Contrast that with the red bank.

Their error was older and not immediately apparent on their computers. So I relayed the details. It was clear to me that the teller did not believe me but at least she spoke to another person about my issue.

The other person – I don’t remember her name or title - met me in the middle of the lobby. She seemed intent on flipping through an outdated paper file. I stated my case. She repeated what appeared in her file. I stated that the file was wrong. Her reply, “I highly doubt it.”

She had just called me a liar.

I ignored her slight and the conversation continued.

“There is an error in your files and I want it corrected.”

“That can’t be done.”

“If the error was made it can be corrected.”

She did not apologize.

But she did offer to give this matter to the branch manager who would not see this file until Tuesday next week. Curious choice of words.

None of that was encouraging. Let’s see what happens on Tuesday.

I left the red bank thinking that I have a battle ahead of me. I hunted for a business card of the branch manager and flipped it over. It said, “Service Excellence”. Let’s see if they mean that.

Do Banks Make Mistakes?
Of course.

How quickly do they admit those mistakes and fix them?

It depends on the bank. So far the score is blue bank one and red bank zero.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Banks & Customer Service

Some people might suggest that the words “banks” and “customer service” don’t belong in the same sentence.

The best marketing that any organization can invest in is customer service. So in difficult times if you have money to spend you should first allocate sufficient resources to customer service. Right?

Yet, it appears that Canadian banks are spending their money on remodeling and advertising instead of customer service.

For instance, within the past few months at least four of the big five Canadian banks have made major remodeling changes around my neighbourhood. RBC completely reconstructed the exterior of their building. It looks like a different building. I think that they chopped a story off. I’m not sure how that helps customer service. TD moved across the road into a completely new building. CIBC opened a new branch in a mall after months of extensive reconstruction. BMO moved across the road into a new building. Yes, it’s a nice looking building and the interior looks nice.

But what does any of that do for customer service?

The TD branch where I do most of my banking has remodeled the interior at least three times in the past decade. Business must be good. I didn’t notice an improvement in customer service.

What have they done to improve customer service?

Have they trained staff?
Have they explained policies?
Have they enhanced transparency to customers?
Have they improved communication with staff?

George Torok
Marketing Speaker


Sunday, December 05, 2010

4 Backdoor Secrets to Add More CEOs and Presidents to Your Network

Do you want to meet more business leaders? Would you like to include more presidents, CEOs, and executives in your active network? Imagine how that would help your career and business opportunities.

The first and most difficult step is making first contact. Here are four creative methods that work. I know because I have successfully used every one to connect with CEOs, presidents and senior corporate executives.

Volunteer for a community cause, program or event that you support. It must be something that you believe in because you will then give your best effort without expecting repayment. That’s when you are at your best. This is where you can meet and get to know business leaders. You might volunteer with your daughter’s soccer team, a community center committee or even a political campaign. CEOs and other executives are regular people and they participate in these community activities.

Some volunteer groups require more of your time than others and some will tend to pay off better than others. Rotary International is a good business connector. Hospital boards will introduce you to community and business leaders. The United Way is a popular charity and powerful avenue to build relationships with movers and shakers. These are just a few examples. There are many other volunteer opportunities for you.

When you volunteer, do it for the cause and the leaders will be attracted to you.

Become a Reporter
CEOs, presidents and senior executives talk to reporters because these business leaders want to convey their message to others. Reporters are a means to do that. So you become a part time reporter. How do you do that? First adopt the mind set of a reporter. They are always looking for a story. Reporters will approach anybody to get their story. When they make contact they are not selling anything – they only want a story – so they ask good questions and then they listen well. Can you do that? It’s tough. It’s a skill. It can be learned and it takes practice.

So how do you present yourself as a reporter? You have several options. You offer to research and write an article for your association, a local publication or a school project. CEOs love to talk to students.

When a local business magazine asked me to research and write an article for them I jumped at the opportunity because of the contacts I would make. The editor suggested that I interview half a dozen people for the article. I called 30 local community and business leaders and interviewed 19 of them. Bonus - the magazine paid me for the article.

Another way to become a reporter is to be a radio interviewer. Most college and universities have a radio station run by volunteers. I have hosted the weekly radio show, Business in Motion, at the local university for more than a decade. During that time I have met and interviewed hundreds of business leaders. After the thirty-minute rapport
they like me and remember me. It’s a good start to a profitable relationship.

Arrange a guest speaker
This is a variation of the volunteer role. Be the person to arrange a guest speaker for your club, association or group. The guest speaker is someone that you want to meet. Be very helpful to your guest speaker. After the event, send that person a nice thank you and offer to help them whenever they need you. Then do it again to meet more business leaders.

Give the person an award. This is a variation of the “Arrange a guest speaker technique”. This works best when the award comes from an organization that carries some credibility. Toastmasters International uses this technique to get powerful speakers at their conferences. The award conveys prestige to the award winner and Toastmasters gets a credible speaker to speak for free at their conference. Both the guest speaker and the organization get some quid pro quo. You benefit when you are the person to nominate and contact the award winner. It’s not necessary to get the award winner to speak at your conference but it helps build the relationship.

© George Torok is the co-author of the national bestseller, “Secrets of Power Marketing”. He is the author of “Your Guide to Networking Success”. Get your free copy of “50 Power Marketing Ideas” at Find more networking ideas at Arrange a speech or media interview by calling 905-335-1997


Friday, December 03, 2010

5 Tips for Introducing Yourself at Your Networking Meeting

Before you say, “Hello my name is…” read these tips to make a better impression at your next networking meeting.

Networking is a process
It is a sequence of events and touch points with your contacts. It is critical that you follow your networking process. It is also important that you make each touch point count. One of the most common touch points is introducing yourself at the networking meeting.

If you want to make the best impression when you introduce yourself use the following tips to present yourself with greater impact. Be a smart networker by making a positive impression every time you speak.

Drink Water
Before you speak drink water – not coffee and never alcohol. Why? Water lubricates your vocal chords, improves your voice and gives you needed fluids that you lose while speaking. Room temperature water is best. Cool water is acceptable. Avoid ice water because it is harsh on your vocal chords. Avoid dairy products (cheese and milk) because that creates phlegm in your throat which makes you gag and cough. Coffee contains caffeine which might make you more nervous and it is a diuretic that dehydrates you. Alcohol both dehydrates you and clouds your judgment. Stick with water.

Emphasize Your Name
While introducing yourself to one person or a group, emphasize your name, so they hear it, feel the respect you have for your name and remember it. State, "My name is (short pause) George (short pause) Torok (smile)." Say it loud enough to be heard. Most importantly - say it much slower than you normally do and smile.

You know your name so you might get tired of saying it. But there are people at the meeting who don’t know it and you want to be sure that they hear it and remember it.

When someone asks you to repeat your name – don’t be annoyed – be honored and state it proudly (for the millionth time).

Make Your Name Memorable
If your name is unusual, difficult to remember or pronounce, say it extra slow and repeat it, 'Torok'. Help them remember it by adding, it sounds like 'tore - rock.' You might add, It means 'Turk' in Hungarian. Or you can call me 'nickname'.

State a funny word that your name rhymes with or spell it slowly.

When you can have fun with your name people will like you more. If you make people laugh as you explain your name, they will remember you.

Stand and Wait for Everyone's Attention
It’s your turn to stand up and give your 30-second presentation at a networking meeting. Stand up. Look proud. Don’t play with your chair. Pause. Wait until you have everyone's attention before you speak. It might take a few seconds. It might seem like forever. When you speak it makes your information seem more valuable - and they will hear you.

Use Action Verbs
When you are telling people what you do, use action verbs and words that paint pictures of results. Avoid using nouns ending in 'tion'. These used to be action verbs. Don't say, "We are in the telecommunication business." Instead say, “We install and maintain phone systems for small and medium sized business." “We specialize in designing customer friendly systems for busy offices with unique needs.” Use the word 'specialize' – it suggests that you are special.

Networking will pay off for you when you are noticed and remembered. Use these tips to speak well and to be better noticed and remembered at your networking meetings.

© George Torok is the author of “Your Guide to Networking Success”. Find more networking tips at Connect with George at To arrange a speech or media interview call 905-335-1997

Get your copy of "Your Guide to Networking Success"


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fortinos Customer Service Report

Who would have thought that buying three bags of President's Choice potato chips at Fortinos could be so annoying?

Who would have thought that the Customer Service counter at Fortinos would be so unfriendly to overcharged customers?

The many signs on the shelf said, “3 for $4.98”

Looked like a good deal. The President’s Choice potato chips at Fortinos are regularly $1.99 each so I could save $1.00 if I bought three bags. I had intended to buy one or two bags but the sale enticed me to buy three.

I picked up three bags, checked out and went home. Then I looked at my receipt and noticed that I had been charged the full price of $1.99. I was over charged by one dollar.

The next time I returned to Fortinos I took my receipt to the customer service counter.

I put the receipt on the counter and pointed out that I was over charged. I then watched what happened next.

On the receipt each bag of chips was listed and calculated at the price of $1.99 even though the second line of each listing described it as “3 for $4.98”. The math didn’t match. I was charged $6 instead of $5.

The first customer service woman looked at my receipt for awhile, looked around and seemed confused. She then asked the second woman behind the counter about the pricing on potato chips.

The second woman approached and proceeded to explain to me about their computer system and the dictates of head office. I didn’t care about either. I only wanted my refund for the over charge. She also spoke annoyingly loud.

The first woman said she would refund me and printed a receipt that she asked me to sign. I asked her, “How much are you refunding me?” It was $1.02 – the difference in the overcharge. At this point I recalled that Fortinos has a policy of giving the item free to the customer if the item scans at the wrong price.

I pointed this out and suggested that because it was a three-for special, I had purchased three to meet their conditions and all three had priced wrong – therefore I should receive all three potato chips bags for free. They should refund me approximately $6.00 that I had paid.

At this point both of the customer service woman started talking at me – explaining how I was wrong, how their computer system works and blah, blah, blah. The second woman was annoyingly loud again. This time I asked her to stop yelling at me. Her loud response, “I’m not yelling.” I calmly repeated, “Stop yelling at me.” She went on to say that she just talks loud. She did not apologize but she did lower her voice a bit.

So far neither of the Fortinos customer service representatives had apologized to me. They seemed to be in a defensive mode.

Finally the first woman offered to call the in-store manager. I patiently waited. The second woman made a call on her cell phone then stated, “The manager will be here in a sec.” “A sec?” I repeated with a raised eyebrow. Clearly this person did not understand the meaning of a sec.

Several minutes later a third unsmiling woman walked up to me. She looked at me and said, “How are you today?”

What an annoying and stupid thing to say. I was clearly not interested in small talk.

Her next question was equally annoying and stupid, “Is there a problem here?”

I asked her who she was. Then she identified herself as the assistant store manager. (No name and her name badge was covered)

Customer Service Tip for store managers everywhere
Approach your unhappy customers with a smile and say, “Welcome to Fortinos, I’m Mary, the manager on duty. How can I help you?”

After I explained what I wanted she started with, “I’ll tell you what I can do for you…”

Another yucky line.

At some point in our discussion, she finally said, the words, “I apologize…” I immediately said, “Thank you and by the way that’s the first apology I’ve heard since I’ve been here.”

The manager responded with, “You’re wrong, I apologized earlier.”

Me, “I said that was the first apology that I heard.”

Fortinos store manager, “Then you weren’t listening.”

I don’t know if she had apologized earlier. Maybe I missed it. Perhaps I was too annoyed by the stupid things she said to hear her apology. Maybe it sounded lame and insincere. Perhaps after 10 or 15 minutes I was simply aggravated at how difficult it seemed to be to buy a few bags of potato chips at the advertised price.

And who should be the better listener – the customer or the customer service staff and store manager.

The Fortinos staff seemed more interested in vindicating themselves then listening to my concerns.

None of the Fortinos people said, “Thank you for bringing this problem to our attention.”
This in spite of the manager saying that she didn’t like this new pricing method.

The Result
I had paid $6 for a $5 special. According to my understanding of Fortinos policy I should have been my full $6. Instead I received a partial refund of about $3. Not a big deal but not consistent with their policy.

If you are buying specials from Fortinos there are two significant changes you should be aware of.

If the special is 3 for $3 you will no longer get the prorated price on one or two. You must buy 3 to get the special price.
If you are buying Presidents Choice potato chips you must buy three of the same flavour to get the special price even though the special is on several flavours.

I wonder how many people have innocently bought and overpaid for the President’s Choice potato chips at Fortinos believing that they would get the special price.

Whatever you do – don’t ask the customer service representative at Fortinos to stop yelling at you.

Fortinos Customer Service Report

George Torok


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Power Marketing Tip 40: Grab More Attention

Grab more attention

Your marketing must grab attention away from your competition. Everything in marketing is measured against your competition. Nothing else counts. And sometimes your greatest competition is complacency or sameness.

Use these four attention-grabbing pillars in your marketing.



The simplest way to stand out is through contrast. Contrast is the opposite of camouflage. Too many businesses use camouflage marketing. They promote in the same places and manner as the competition. There's no contrast, so prospects don't notice them. Camouflage is good for snipers but disaster for marketers. Contrast yourself from the competition by looking, sounding and acting different.


Conflict is the biggest seller of the news. It's attention grabbing, emotional and graphic. You can inject conflict into your marketing by taking a controversial position. Make an offer that upsets your competition. Issue a challenge that stimulates conversations. Pick an enemy to which you are the conquering hero.


Lighten up! We love to laugh. Make your audience laugh and they will pay attention to and remember your message. There's too much distressing news in our lives. You don't need to offer stand up comedy. You only need to make us smile. Volkswagen is still remembered for the funny advertisements that they ran way back in the 60's and 70's.


How can you connect with your target audience? Speak to their interests. If you don't know their interests - you have some research and thinking to do.

When you talk about issues that your target audience is interested in you immediately grab their interest. Discover what interests your best customers by asking them. For example, if you want to grab my attention, talk about personal marketing, presentation skills, marathon running or motorcycles. Those words immediately attract my attention.

Steal attention away from your competition with these four C's.

George Torok
Power Marketing

Power Marketing News

Marketing blog
Visit George Torok's marketing blog for more marketing insights, ideas and comments

Daily marketing tips
Follow MarketingZoo on

Marketing Resources

30 days to more profitable networking
Get your networking skills in shape for better results

Do you want a provocactive, engaging and motivational speaker for your conference or sales meeting?

Do you want an executive briefing for your management team?

Call George Torok 905-335-1997
Toll Free in North America 800-304-1861

Forward this tip to your colleagues who want to gain an unfair advantage over the competition.
Subscribe to Power Marketing Tips here.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Business Networking: Stop Working the Room

Have you approached a business networking event as another “Room to Work”? What a mistake that could be.

Some networking experts might tell you to attend networking events and be prepared to “work the room”. Stop and think about that advice. Is that what you want to do? Is that the first impression that you want to imprint on contacts in your network? That they were just “worked” by you? How would you feel when you have been “worked”?

Stop doing that. It can feel slimy to you and the people who you “worked”. And more importantly it doesn’t help build your business network.

It’s not that those misguided networking experts mean ill for you. Perhaps they are telling you what they did. Maybe they ignored or got used to that slimy feeling. 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. How can that be a good way to build a long term relationship?

RelationshipsNetworking is not about working the room or working people. Networking is about building relationships that are mutually productive over the long term.
Consider these four principles of good networking:

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

Work the Room
You might as well just enter the room – shout your name for all to hear then throw your 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 themselves are guilty of forcing you to work the room. They want to sell more events so they bully you to play their networking game. They announce their 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 or throw your cards in the air.

Real 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 even about collecting everyone's business card. Yes, you should distribute and collect business cards, but real networking goes deeper than that.

Make a Better Business Connection
Sustainable networking starts with making a connection and finding some common ground. Then you work at building a relationship that can last years and build profitable opportunities for both of you. Don’t focus on the event and don’t work the room. Instead, treat the room as a setting. Make some connections and build your network by working the relationships.

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

Stop working the room. Instead, start building more profitable business networks by building real relationships.

© George Torok is the author of “Your Guide to Networking Success: 13 Simple Things to Build Your Profitable Network” Find more free business networking tips at To arrange for a motivational speech or training program visit For media interviews call 905-335-1997

Get Your Guide to Networking Success


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Election sign SPAM

Hello political candidates. Congratulations and thank you for running for office. Please stop SPAMing us with your "sign farms". It looks and feels like a ugly weed patch.

Permission Marketing
Place a sign on a home owners property. That's permission marketing. That demonstrates the connection that you have with that homeowner. That's strong marketing.

Planting your signs on public property and busy intersections is SPAM. It demonstrates disregard and disrespect for the public especially when you plant a row of your signs. How did you decide to plant your signs there? Because others were there? That hardly demonstrates leadership or differentiation. That is Barketing. You're just trying to bark louder that the rest.

Curious that no one has knocked on my door to talk with me during this campaign. We're in most days. The election is only four days away.

PS: Watch for my review of the lawn signs. It might not be pretty.

Election Signs: Questions & Lessons for Marketers

Do election signs win municipal elections?

And if so what is most important? Number of signs; design; mix of small, medium and large; locations…

How are the results of signs-to-votes measured? Has this ever been studied and reported?

I think there are two types of voters – decided and undecided. The undecided fall into two categories – informed and uninformed.

Are informed voters influenced by election signs? Probably not.

So, what is the impact of lawn signs on uniformed voters?

Do uniformed voters select the name on the last sign they remember? Do they select the name that they saw most often? Do they select the name from the sign on their neighbour’s lawn? Does that depend on the relationship they have with their neigbour?

It seems to me that lawn signs are targeted toward the lowest element – uninformed, disinterested and undecided. Is this the segment that decids the election results and hence our government?

If lawn signs are effective advertising then more businesses should use them. Real estate, roofers, driveway pavers and other home contractors use lawn signs. Why don’t restaurants, dry cleaners, travel agents, lawyers and taxi companies use lawn signs? When you feel like Pizza just check out the neigbours’ lawn signs.
Are lawn signs meant to create 'name familiarity'? If so, then only the challengers need signs. The incumbants are already known - if they have been active in the community during their term of office.

What’s the difference between one sign on a residential lawn versus one at a busy intersection? The intersection get’s more views but it is clearly advertising which we have been trained to ignore. The sign on the home-owners lawn signifies support and likely a vote.

The sign on public property might be seen as urban clutter or litter especially when planted alongside many other candidates’ signs. If your opponent has three signs at an intersection would your case be stronger if you planted five or ten of your signs? Is that what it takes to convince voters?

Watch for more posts and photos about election signs.

George Torok


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Store Launch from Somebody??

Somebody is launching a new retail outlet in Burlington, Ontario at Walkers Line and Upper Middle Road.

Somebody has been building this new location for over three months. I run past this location three times a week.

Somebody is spending lots of money to acquire and construct this new building at a major intersection.

Somebody is probably hoping for a good return on their investment. That's what any business investor wants.

Somebody is keeping this new location a secret. There are no signs indicating who is "coming soon". Keeping secrets are not a good marketing strategy unless you make a big deal about your secret receipe like KFC. There is nothing to indicate who is opening in this new location and I find that strange.

My questions are "Who?" and more importantly "Why?"

Both questions are sparked by my curiosity. If I'm curious than perhaps hundreds or thousands of people who pass this location every day might also be curious. Curiousity is a good lead in to marketing. And at some point you must answer the curiosity to make the connection with your prospect.

Curiousity unaddressed is simply frustrating.

It has a drive through so I'm guessing that it is either a bank or a franchise restaurant. Banks are more arrogant so that's my bet. I can't believe that a restuarant could be so stupid to miss the opportunity to promote during contruction.

Why would any business miss such an easy marketing opportunity to promote it's new location? Uncertanty? Arrogance? Insensitivity? Poor planning?

What do you think?

PS: I'll let you know what shows up.

George Torok

Marketing Speaker

Power Marketing on Facebook

MarketingZoo on Twitter


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Power Marketing Tip 39: Lead with Success Stories

To capture attention and convert more prospects into eager buyers - lead with success stories.

Results sell. The purpose of marketing is to make it easier to sell and nothing sells like successful results.

This is even more important during challenging times. If your clients and prospects are hoarding their money you need to attract their attention and their money with success stories.

Clients buy based on their emotions. Success mitigates fears and appeals to greed. Most importantly it offers hope. All three of these emotional changes can persuade clients to buy.

A good success story includes

1 Before picture
2 After picture
3 Catalyst

Before Picture

Weight loss and fitness programs do this well. With words, numbers or images describe the pain or challenge.

After Picture

Using the same parameters show the results as a sharp contrast. The contrast must be clear and be memorable. For example: lost 50 lbs in 45 days; improved business by 15%; saved 12% on shipping costs.


Give credit to the product or service that made the difference.

Where can you find your success stories?

Client Testimonials

A testimonial from your clients is the best source of success stories. Ask your clients how things have improved for them as a result of your product or service. Then ask for the testimonial. Thank them and use the testimonials.

Case Studies

You can analyze results across your client base and report the trends. Or you might conduct an indepth study of one or a few of your best clients. You or your staff might conduct a simple case study. Another option is to arrange for a college or university student to conduct a more scientific study as part of their course studies. The advantage to you is that this third party report carries more credibility. The students often do this at no cost to you.

George Torok
Power Marketing
PS: Forward this tip to your associates.

Power Marketing News

Marketing blog
Visit George Torok's marketing blog for more marketing insights, ideas and comments

Daily marketing tips
Follow MarketingZoo on

Marketing Resources

Proof Reading for your critical messages
Fast and dependable proof reading

30 days to more profitable networking
Get your networking skills in shape for better results

Do you want a provocactive, engaging and motivational speaker for your conference or sales meeting?

Do you want an executive briefing for your management team?

Call George Torok 905-335-1997
Toll Free in North America 800-304-1861

Forward this tip to your colleagues who want to gain an unfair advantage over the competition.
Subscribe to Power Marketing Tips here


Monday, October 11, 2010

Branding Secret: Controversy Sells

Do want a powerful branding strategy? Take a controversial position. Offend someone and attract your target market. But you have to pick your position and enemies carefully. Don’t offend your fans or best customers.

Controversy sells newspapers, books, and movies. You can also use controversy to sell your product, service or yourself. Notice how they often do it in the movie business. The entertainment industry has lots of vivid controversy lessons for marketers.

Controversy can be a powerful branding technique. But it comes with a cost. It means that you will need to take a position. You will offend some and strongly attract those who like your position. Are you willing to be so bold?

It could be as simple as the title that sells the movie. Consider the success of “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” or “Snakes on a Plane”. Both of those titles were vivid, graphic and controversial. People either immediately hated or loved the movie when they first heard the title.

At one time in the entertainment world it was enough to title your program as “The Greatest Show on Earth” to grab attention and get people talking. Today you might need to label your show as “The Vagina Monologues” or “Puppetry of the Penis” to get attention and create controversy.

The Guides for Dummies and Idiots series of books generated attention with the controversial titles. They sold very well. The multiplicity of topics tells you that.

The sensitivity of the content could create enough success in a movie. Consider “Passion of the Christ” and “The Da Vinci Code”. There was little need to advertise those movies. The controversy did all the heavy lifting for promotion. The media was talking and bloggers were blogging. Church leaders were preaching. People were protesting and arguing. What a great controversy.

Along came another movie with content guaranteed to raise controversy, “Death of a President”.

To fan the flames the promoters not only published the usual supporting testimonial reviews – but also the comments from the detractors as well. Let’s hear from those who hate us. What delicious controversy. What terrific and profitable promotion.

And to tilt the readers’ perspective of the views they headed the positive views with the title, “Have seen Death of a President”. And on the other side the heading, “Have Not seen Death of a President.”

The controversy is both shaken and stirred by the strength of the negative comments as well as the sources.Here are the negative ‘testimonials” for the movie, Death of a President:

Have Not seen Death of a President

“I think it’s DESPICABLE.”Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

“I find this SHOCKING. I find this DISTURBING.”Gretchen Esell, Republican Party of Texas“(Director Gabriel)

Range is a SICKO.”Rush Limbaugh

“We’re not commenting because IT DOESN’T DIGNIFY A RESPONSE.”Emily Lawrimore, White House Spokesperson

Powerful words from powerful people. It’s impossible to buy endorsements like that.

Unwittingly those people endorsed the movie by polarizing the controversy. Imagine how many folks would watch the movie because of those powerful negative endorsements.

Controversy sells. Why? Because controversy is one technique for branding. Powerful branding declares both friends and enemies.What people say against you can be powerful promotion.

When you want to create a strong brand in the marketplace first decide on who you want to attract then who you are willing to annoy. This could be the beginning of a strong branding position.

Are you ready to make some passionate friends and enemies? Go ahead, make your brand.

© George Torok helps business owners gain an unfair advantage over the competition. His bestselling book, “Secrets of Power Marketing” is the first guide to personal marketing for the non-marketer. Get your free copy of “50 Power Marketing Tips” at To arrange a speech to your conference or team meeting visit To arrange a media interview call 905-335-1997


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Montfort Grill House Burlington: Restaurant Review

Montfort Restaurant owner in Burlington refuses to honour coupon

Restaurant Review

“We are a franchise and they did this without telling us. That’s why I want to get out of the business.”

Strange words from the owner of the Montfort Restaurant (Millcroft location) on Itabashi Way in Burlington, Ontario.

That’s what he said to me after we presented the coupon for the buy-one-get-one-free offer. He refused to honour the offer. Instead he gave me a flyer with the head office phone number for franchise enquires.

He suggested that I save my receipt and call the Montfort Restaurant head office to complain.

The coupon which we received in our mail box states,

“$10.00 value – Enjoy one complimentary Dinner Entrée when a second Lunch or Dinner Entrée of equal or greater value is purchased.” The coupon listed the two Montfort Restarant locations in Burlington, Brant Street and Millcoroft.

I understood that to mean that if I buy one lunch for $10.00 I would get the second one free. Sounded like a good deal. That’s why we stopped in for lunch on Monday at the Montfort Restaurant in Millcroft, Burlington.

We presented the coupon before we ordered just to be sure that there were no surprises. The waitress baulked at the coupon. I asked for the manager. Then the owner showed up and said, “Can I help you?” Curious that he didn’t smile, greet us, give his name or identify himself. Just that play-dumb line, “Can I help you?” I asked if he was the manager and he answered that he was the owner. He didn’t sound happy about it.

I showed him the coupon and stated that we wanted to use it to get our complimentary lunch.

He said, “No”. He refused to accept the coupon or honour the offer. Instead he suggested that if I ordered a dinner entrée at $15.00 or more that he would give me $10.00 off on the second entrée. I explained that I didn’t want a dinner at lunch time – just a lunch and that I expected to pay $10.00 for one lunch and get the second one complimentary.

At least a few times he suggested that I call the Montrfort head office to complain. I pointed out that any differences he had with his head office was his responsibility to resolve not mine. I just wanted to have lunch.

He had pretended not to know the issue when he approached us yet he had the head office flyer in his hand.

This Montfort Restaurant Franchise owner appeared to be an angry man.

He never apologized.

It was 12 noon on Monday. Only two other parties were in the restaurant. You would think that he would have welcomed the business on a slow day. Our drinks would’ve given him the profit he needed on the sale. He had the opportunity to make friends. Instead he was too angry to care for his customers.

After wasting a lot of time we left without ordering. We spent $30 on lunch at another restaurant in Burlington. That included two drinks. No special deal but at least we weren’t deceived or lied to.

What a shame.

If the restaurant franchise owner treats his customers that way and is that angry at the franchisor then he is not going to be in business for much longer.

We’ve eaten at this Burlington Montfort restaurant several times and we like the food. The service has been good. Imagine our surprise and disappointment at this unfriendly treatment druing this visit.

I don’t know what the problem was. Head office prints and distributes flyers to get more customers in your restaurant and you are angry? We hadn’t been for awhile and the coupon convinced us to go to Montfort instead of elsewhere.

Was there an ongoing dispute between this franchise owner and the franchisor?

Was the flyer deceptive? Perhaps. It offered a complimentary Dinner Entrée yet all Dinner Entrées were priced at a minimum of $15.00. So was this meant to be a $10 coupon or a buy-one-get-one coupon. Don’t pretend to offer a complimentary non-existent Dinner Entrée if your coupon is limited to $10.

Was this simply a sloppy marketing program? Maybe.

Who messed up?

It doesn’t matter. What matters is that this customer left the Montfort and might not be back. I wonder how many other potential customers they have disappointed.

The coupon states that it is valid to December 31, 2010. That suggests that there will be more unhappy customers visiting and departing the Montfort Restaurant in Millcroft, Burlington. When will they learn?

If you want my business don’t lie to me, don’t deceive me, don’t embarrass me, don’t play weasel word games and don’t disrespect me.

When marketing and customer service fight, both lose.

What a shame.

It will be curious to see how quickly this franchise owner gets his wish to be out of the business. Be careful what you wish for - you might get it.

Montfort Restaurant Reviews

George Torok

Montfort Restaurant Review
Millcroft, Itabashi Way
Burlington, Ontario


Monday, October 04, 2010

Your Database: Your Most Valuable Asset!

Your most valuable asset is not the money in your bank account. Your most valuable asset is what you know about your customers - because that will lead to more money in the bank. Money in the bank is good. But it’s more important to consistently generate more. Money in your bank reflects what you did yesterday. Knowledge about your customers determines what you will do today and tomorrow.

If your business depends on strong relationships then you need information to maintain and strengthen those relationships. Maybe that’s why some companies call this process “CRM” - Customer Relationship Management. It’s just a sexy term for simple database management.

Some say that information is valuable. Not by itself. Relevant information about your customers is not only valuable but vital to the growth of your business.

If you know who your customers are – you know whom to call. If you know what your customers want – you know what to offer them. If you know when your customers want it – you know when to offer it. If you know your customers’ challenges you can help them. If you know your customers’ concerns you know how to sell to them. The more you understand your customers’ habits, environment and personality – you can more likely anticipate their needs and wants.

Today it is imperative that you maintain a useful database of customer information. A database is a record of information. Here are a few examples of databases: the yellow pages, a recipe book, a shopping list, a game schedule and a TV guide.

The Rolodex, a simple database system, worked very well However, today technology allows us to get more from our customer databases. We put it on the computer. There are many computer databases you can choose from.

Criteria in selecting your database
Your database is a combination of: name and address book, phone book, journal, bring- forward (tickler) file, idea file, activity planning tool, business map and to-do list.

In selecting your database consider these basic needs:
It should be simple to update information.
Information must be found quickly.
There must be multiple search methods.
If more than one person can update information it must name and date stamp the update.
You can categorize contacts by different groups.
Contacts can be part of more than one group.
You can set date and time sensitive reminders
It tracks history of contact details.

When more people need access to your database you will have additional needs concerning access, security and timeliness.

Typical questions about a customer database:
Who should be in your database?
What information should be in your database?
How can you use your database?
How else can you leverage your database?
How do you protect your database?

Who should be in your database?
Almost everybody. For example: everybody you ever did business with, everybody you expect to do business with, and everybody who might influence those you do or might do business with.

Your database might include clients and prospects, but also: media, suppliers, association leaders, community leaders, corporate executives, associates and competitors. Some of these might also be clients or prospects. But others can influence your clients and prospects. You want to keep track of them – and influence them.

What information should be in your database?
It depends on your business. you might include: details of every business transaction; details of every discussion, meeting, and bid; alternate contacts including assistants, associates and superiors; personal details about family, likes, dislikes, activities, education, alma mater, awards received, association memberships, significant dates; information about their customers; all promises you made to them; all promises they made to you; your feelings about the person and company; notes that trigger your memory about their appearance or character; where you took them for lunch and who paid etc.

Get the idea?

Maintaining your database might feel boring – but the results you get from it can be very exciting and profitable.

How can you use your database?
This is the exciting part. Using your database allows you to think and plan your activity then follow the plan systematically.

Use the reminders in your database to remind you of the next step. For example: depending on the contact, you might set the reminders to tell you to call regarding status in two weeks, send more information in 3 months, or meet to renew the contract in one year. By setting these reminders no one falls through the cracks. Of course you must check your database every day.

When you contact your client or prospect you can quote what you both said the last time, then move quickly forward with your follow-up discussion. When you talk with them you don’t need to rely on memory. Instead you have the details about the relationship on your computer. You can tell them, “You paid for lunch last time - this one is mine.” You can ask them about the project they were working on, their daughter’s soccer tournament or their anniversary vacation in Hawaii.

How else can you leverage your database?
More excitement. Use their past behaviours and buying habits to predict future patterns and behaviours. Remind them before they realize they need you again.

Segment your database into categories. Not all of your customers are equal. Not all of your prospects are equal. So don’t treat them equally. Some deserve more attention than others so allocate your resources and time appropriately. Some you contact every month – some only twice a year. Send special offers to your best customers. Send postcards to your hottest prospects.

How do you protect your database?
This is the most boring part. Until you don’t do it and things go wrong. Then watch the excitement fly. Your computer only works for you part of the time. The rest of the time it is scheming to make your life miserable. Everything from viruses, power glitches, general freeze-ups, and other nasty pestilences that are inflicted upon us by the gremlins of technology.

But you can prevent these pains by backing-up your database – regularly. Backing up your database might seem boring and time consuming. So ensure it happens regularly by making it a habit. Better still make it an addiction. You will thank your foresight one day.

Who wins?
It’s not the information that determines who wins. It is the innovative use of that information that makes you different from your competitors. In the game of chess everyone knows the rules, all the previous moves of the game and all the possible moves. The one who wins is the one who understands the relevance of that information and makes the best use of it.

© George Torok helps business grow. He is co-author of Secrets of Power Marketing. Get your free copy of “50 Power Marketing Ideas” at You can learn more about his speaking and training programs at To discuss your marketing needs and how he can help you call 800-304-1861

Your Database: Your Most Valuable Asset


Monday, September 27, 2010

Please Don’t Lie to Us

Let’s make something clear.

Marketing is not a license to lie.

Just because you are marketing does not mean you can twist or misrepresent the truth. Marketers should tell the truth and tell it well.

Marketing is about presenting your message in the most positive way. But it does not mean that you can lie. You can describe the glass as half full instead of half empty – but not overflowing.

Marketing is about telling your real story. The more warts in your story the more believable it is.

Please don’t tell us that you are number one – if you are not.

Are you claiming to be:

The best!
Number one in the country!
The world’s greatest!

Who says so? Can you prove it?

Don’t say those things unless you can back it up. And be sure to back it up. If you were voted number one by the community paper then state that. Don’t claim to be the nation’s number one.

AVIS is number two and they try harder.

Don’t lie. It’s bad for you. It gives marketers a bad name. And your mother would not be proud.

George Torok

Marketing Expert & Author

Secrets of Power Marketing


Did you apologize?

I didn't hear an apology. Perhaps I missed it.

You said that you would visit yesterday. You didn’t show. You didn’t call. We wondered if we missed you during the 15 minutes that we were out.

You didn’t show up and you didn’t call.

You showed up today and we were not expecting you. The one you wanted to see was out for the day. We weren’t expecting you today.

Yet you insisted that you were expected. Yes, you were expected - yesterday.

Your comment was, “I couldn’t make it.”

And… I waited for it – your apology. You didn't say it. I would have been so easy for you and helped you heal the harm you did.

There was no apology for failing to make your commitment and now we aren't interested in dealing with you. How could we?

George Torok

Personal Marketing

Marketing Speaker


Three Big Lies About Networking -

Three Big Lies About Networking -

Once you know the truth about networking, you can build connections that provide continuous business opportunities.
By Ivan Misner

Ivan Misner is founder and Chairman of BNI, a professional business networking organization headquartered in Upland, Calif. Dubbed the "father of modern networking" by CNN, Misner is a New York Times bestselling author.

Business Networking Tips

Your Guide to Networking Success


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Is There a Brand in Your Stand?

Watch out for the branding gurus. Beware of the branding police who focus only on images of brand. Fire the branding consultants who feel qualified to tell you what your brand should be. Ignore the branding zealots who proclaim “brand or die”.

Good, now that we have frightened off the undesirables let’s address some fundamental questions about branding and offer you some probing questions to consider. That first paragraph demonstrates the three rules of creative positioning as explained below.

Should you have a brand?
Maybe. It depends on the goals of your business. You need to ask yourself some questions. Will the brand give you the return on your investment? Will you invest the resources to claim and sustain the brand?

What is a brand?
A brand is the emotional bond that your clients have with you. Ask your best clients how they would describe you to others. Look for the common message in what they say – especially the emotion. That might be your brand.

Brand is the feeling others experience when they think about you and your product.
Brand can help them think of you first – or better yet – only you. Brand can justify higher prices – or even better – make price a non-issue.

Not Branding
Branding is not about creative logos, pretty fonts and pantone colors. Fire anyone who attempts to sell you that pabulum. Those things are only images. Have you noticed that the successful brands change these images every few years?

Branding is a marketing strategy. It is only one of many marketing strategies from which you might choose.

Is branding an accident or on purpose?
Because branding is about creating emotional messages you are always branding. However, are you aware of your messages, are you consistent and are you effectively branding yourself?

You could create or claim your brand. Dominos Pizza created their brand – “Pizza in 30 minutes or its free”. They own that brand. It’s simple, memorable and unique. Some companies look for an opening and build their business to create that brand. Some companies discover their brand by accident. Feedback from clients, remarks from the media or a competitor’s comment reveals the brand that was hidden in plain sight. In that case it is up to you to claim the brand and run with it.

Avis claimed their brand by turning a disadvantage into their brand when they launched their marketing campaign with “Avis is only Number 2 in rent-a-cars, so why go with us? We try harder.” And with cheekiness they leverage further on their “disadvantage” by adding, “The lines at our counters are shorter.” That brand has been successful for over 40 years.

How do you create your brand?
There are two ways. Like Coke, Nike and MacDonald you could throw gazillions of dollars at it. Or you could use creative positioning. Look for the holes in the marketplace. Go to where your competition is not and claim that position. Take a stand like Harley Davidson, Buckley’s Cough Mixture and Nova Scotian Crystal.

Each of these companies claimed positions in the market the competition was unwilling to take. Folks either love or hate Harley Davidson. Buckley’s proudly claimed that “it tastes awful but it works” along with a money back guarantee. Nova Scotian Crystal is proudly the only Canadian crystal manufacturer and they offer an incredible one year breakage warranty. Drop your whisky glass and they will replace it; no questions asked.

You can read the interview with Rod McCulloch, President and CEO of Nova Scotian Crystal on my “Business in Motion” blog.

Each of these companies was willing to take a position that would drive some folks away while attracting a loyal crowd of fans.

The three principles of creative positioning are best explained by UK entrepreneur BJ Cunningham, who as CEO of The Enlightened Tobacco Company sold a cigarette called “Death Cigarettes”. It was presented in a black package emblazoned with a white skull-and-crossbones logo. Just imagine how this might appeal to the rebels. Everyone except the tobacco companies knew that cigarette smoking was bad for your health. BJ did what none of the other tobacco companies were willing to do. He took a stand.

Cunningham’s three principles of creative positioning:
1. Take a polarized position.
2. Make enemies.
3. Create tension.

Branding starts with market review and self-examination. Standing alone can be scary, exhilarating and hugely profitable. It you are going to claim a powerful brand take a position away from the crowd. Stand where no one else is standing.
© George Torok is co-author of the national bestseller, “Secrets of Power Marketing: Promote Brand You!” He helps entrepreneurs gain an unfair advantage over the competition. Get your free copy of “50 Power Marketing Ideas” at To arrange for a keynote speech or executive briefing visit To arrange a media interview call 905-335-1997


Monday, September 20, 2010

Return My Call Please

Do you wish that more people would return your phone calls? Do you know why they don’t? What to you need to do differently to get more of your calls returned?

Okay. Let’s deal with one question at a time. If you are making sales calls and leaving messages then one of life’s frustrations can be not hearing back from people.

Do you wish that everyone would return your phone calls?

Not necessarily. You only want the right people to return your calls. You don’t want to waste your time with people who don’t want or can’t buy what you are selling. So those folks are doing you a favor by not calling you back. In fact your message should dissuade them from calling you back so you don’t waste time with them.

Encourage the right people to call you by leaving a message that states your unique benefit. Be clear on who you want to call and their interests.

For example, don’t leave a message that simply states your name and phone number with the message, “Call me”, “It would be great if you call me” or “I’d appreciate your call”.

Those messages are vague, rude and annoying. It’s ineffective, because there is no reason to call. Adding “please” doesn’t make it more appealing to call you.

The main question in the mind of the listener is “Why?” The second question is “What’s in it for me?” When you leave a voice message you must answer both of those questions if you want prospects to call you. The resulting conversation will already be heading in the right direction.

Consider these examples:

“For a no-obligation quote to re-shingle your roof call us.”

“Leaky pipes and backed-up toilettes are stinky situations. Arrange your annual free system checkup to avoid messy disasters.”

“How much did you spend on advertising last year? Do want a better return on that investment? Call now for a free evaluation of your advertising choices.”

“Does your business experience highs and lows? Learn how we can supply trained staff when you need it without the costs of hiring and firing.”

Add your phone number. Say it slowly and repeat it to make it easy for people to write it down.

That whole message can be delivered it about 30 seconds or less.

Notice how each message clearly defines who will benefit from your service and why they would want to call.

Do that and you will get more of the right prospects calling you.

George Torok
Power Marketing


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Marketing Advantage: Small Business

Small business has powerful advantages over big business when it comes to marketing. But small business often misses using these advantages because they are seduced into emulating the big corporations.

The typical approach to marketing by big business is to use the resource they have most of - money. Those big corporations tend to throw large lots of money at expensive advertising campaigns because that’s what they know.

If your small business is to survive and grow you must learn quickly to avoid the temptation to act like big sister or big brother. Never go head to head with the mega corporations. You can compete and win by playing your game - not theirs. David did not try to go toe to toe with Goliath, instead he slue the giant with a sling shot. Your small business is a David in a world of Goliaths. Change the rules. Don't wish to be like the giant. Instead, discover the sling shot that will help you claim your marketing advantage.

While marketing your business you would be wasting your time and money emulating big business and subsequently go out of business. Instead of trying to launch an unaffordable advertising campaign, discover and use your unique resources - like the sling shot.

What is Marketing?
Marketing is about sending messages. Everything you do or don't do sends a message. Examine all the ways you can send messages. Advertising is only one way. Big business tends to wear blinders that only allow them to see advertising as marketing. Partly because they have always done it that way and partly because spending large sums of someone else's money is fun and seductive.

How else can you send your marketing messages?

Here are some possibilities you can use:
  • Media news releases
  • Guest appearances on radio and TV
  • Customer service
  • Sponsoring events and awards
  • Holding a contest
  • Volunteering for a community event or business association
  • Networking events
  • Product information seminars
  • Public speaking at special events
  • Exceeding expectations
  • Forming partnerships
  • Through your staff
  • Through your suppliers
  • With the help of your clients
  • Personal correspondence

This list is not exhaustive but it should give you a broader understanding of marketing possibilities. Most importantly all of them cost much less than advertising and with greater impact. In small business you might spend some of your hard earned money on advertising. But remember that it is only one form of marketing and the most expensive. Marketing is part of everything you do.

The most important P's & Q's to mind with your marketing is to be consistent and persistent through all the channels of communication. If you preach about quality but buy the cheapest components you are not consistent. That conflict of messages will destroy your intended message.

It should not take a genius to realize that if you dump on your staff they will dump on your customers. If you lie to your suppliers it is reasonable to assume you must be lying to your customers.

Use your advantages
As a small business owner you have several advantages in the marketing maze. You can build personal relationships. You can use the CEO factor. You have less money and therefore must be creative. You are nimble like the sail boat while the huge ocean liner takes time to change direction.

Closer to the customer
You make the cold calls to prospects, close the deals and follow-up with your customers. You get to know how they think and feel. You know why they bought from you or why not. Try to tell me that the president of the big bank knows what goes on at the front counter. That proximity to your customer gives you a special advantage.

When you launch a new product you can use the information you have gained from your relationships with customers. What is important to them? What packaging is the most attractive? What features are most valuable? You are in the front lines. Ask questions, listen and remember. There is something special about being able to speak to the president. Just try calling the president of your bank or automotive company. You will get the frustrating run-a-round.

Make it easy for your customers to reach you. Return calls - even if it is to say no thank you. Most will appreciate the response. A friend of mine wrote to the prolific science fiction author and scientist Isaac Asimov. Asimov answered his letter. He wrote that my friend's idea had merit but needed improvement. My friend in his disappointment destroyed the letter. I thought, "Wow you got a letter from Isaac Asimov!" My friend did not realize how he might have leveraged that letter.

Make it Personal
Life is personal - so is business. We make buying decisions based on our personal feelings then we find the logic to justify the decision. Don't hide in your office. Your most important responsibilities are selling, and building relationships. Build relationships with prospects, customers, staff, suppliers, and colleagues. We would rather deal with people than with faceless corporations. Even when we must do business with corporations it often is because of the trust built with individuals.

In a small business your character becomes the company culture. Treat your staff with respect and pride and they will show respect to customers and pride in the company. Your customers will feel the pride and respect - and they will feel good about doing business with you.

Build relationships with your customers
Learn their names, their buying habits, and important information about them. Be sure to store this information on your database. Include personal information such as birthdays, hobbies, Alma mater and their family members. Make it a habit of staying in touch with all of your customers by phone or by personal correspondence regularly. Send them hand written birthday cards, postcards, and notes about significant events in their lives.

Use the CEO factor
In your business you wear many hats. That grants you intimate understanding of the company, your customers and the market. Depending on the time of day, you play the role of CEO, sales representative, or shipping clerk, accountant, quality control or telemarketer. When your customer talks to you they are talking to the CEO. Your customers feel special when they can speak to the CEO. Make it easy for them. Be available and accessible. Remember how frustrated you get when you can not talk to the person in charge. Imagine walking into your bank and asking to speak with the CEO? Or when you are shopping for a car just try and speak to the president of the car company. I dare you. Try it and drop me a line on what happens.

Large corporations are falling all over themselves lately to apologize for their misdeeds. You name it - banks, airlines, tire manufacturers, automotive companies. They are putting their CEO in front of the media to say sorry for the bad service, stupid mistakes and faulty product. We are suckers for those who admit their mistakes. We are willing to give almost anybody another chance. Why? Because we all made mistakes and have probably asked for a second chance ourselves. Maybe you have not yet really screwed up with your customers - but it will happen one day and when it does you must say sorry.

The advantage you have when you make a mistake is that we believe it more when you are the CEO. If we know you, we want to forgive you - all you have to do is ask for forgiveness. And when you do - call or send a hand written note. The CEO of the bank or national airline can't do that. You present a human face to your business. Notice how few corporate CEOs are able to be the human face of their company. The skills that enable CEOs to battle it out in the boardroom are not the same skills you need to build rapport with customers. It is so much easier for you to present your face.

When we do business with small companies we like to know the owner. So get out there in the front lines. Volunteer your time in your community, for your chamber of commerce or industry association.

Although a large corporation, Marriot does a fine job of humanizing their business. They have the picture of the founder in every lobby. Although you do not meet the founder or even the current CEO you still feel a personal contact. At the other end of the scale is Holiday Inn. Who is the founder and CEO? Who knows? You pay much more at the Marriott than the Holiday Inn. It's not the beds that make a difference. It is the perception of personal service.

Less Money
When is less money an advantage? When it forces you to be creative. If you have millions of dollars to spend on marketing you might hire some Madison Avenue advertising agency and buy 30 seconds on the Super Bowl game. If your marketing budget is considerably less - say a few thousand or a few hundred, you will have to be creative. You might put extra effort in being nice to your customers. Happy customers are your best marketing agents. They talk about you. It costs nothing and they have much more credibility than a paid spokesperson. When you don't have tons of money to throw at expensive advertising campaigns you should put more effort into the simple marketing techniques like exceptional service, respecting your customers, returning phone calls promptly, guaranteeing results, free advice, contests, …

The best marketing is free marketing. That comes when people talk about you. Do things that cause customers to talk about you. Something outlandish. In the old movie Cool Hand Luke, Paul Newman boasted he could eat 50 eggs. I don't suggest that you eat 50 eggs but maybe you could cook a 50 egg omelet for charity.

If you can't be bigger and stronger be smarter and faster. Be a practitioner of business judo. How many times have you been annoyed by someone quoting company policy? "I'm sorry, but company policy won't allow me to help you."

Company policy is created to protect the company - not help the customer. I get so frustrated dealing with employees who are hired to enforce company policy instead of helping the customer.

You can adapt to customer needs and unique circumstances. When you do, let your customer know that you have intervened with policy to help them in this unique situation. Treat them special and make them feel special.

Sometimes it is smart to provide your customer with something extra at no charge. Send them an invoice for what you would normally charge but with the price stroked out and your hand written note - "Regular fee Waived" or "Policy Over-ruled." Develop your company policy for efficiency and be prepared to change policy to delight your customers. It will be some of the best and cheapest marketing you can buy.

Find the most annoying 'rule' of your business. What do customers hate most about buying your product or service? The most annoying rules tend to be about time and process. Break that 'rule'. It will gain you a loyal following and provide fantastic marketing opportunities. Marketing is about sending messages. Marketing is part of everything you do. Decide on the messages that you want to send. Then review everything you do to be congruent with the messages you want to send.

© George Torok is the coauthor of Secrets of Power Marketing. He helps business owners gain an unfair advantage over the competition. Claim your free copy of “50 Power Marketing Ideas” at To arrange for George to speak to your team visit For media interviews call 905-335-1997

Marketing Advantage: Small Business