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"