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

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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
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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