Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Seven Marketing Myths that Devastate Business

What marketing myths have you “learned” or are you being fed? Marketing has its own dogma - outdated beliefs and mumble jumble all intended to protect self-declared marketing mandarins. Marketing should be helping you get your key messages out - so you can grow, sell more and win more business.What should marketing do for you? Help you sell more. Period! Don’t get fooled by the self anointed marketing gurus who try to sell you blood letting marketing mythology.

Watch out for sacred marketing rules that only seem to protect the marketing mystic without helping you grow your business. Beware of the marketing bureaucrats who seem to be missing the point of marketing. Depending on what business you are in, marketing must help you sell – product, service, membership, investment, participation, and/or support.

You can get past the myths of marketing. You must get past the myths if you want to out-market your competition.Where do you start busting marketing myths? Study these seven marketing myths. Understand them and grasp it as bane against those marketing zombies and business blood suckers.Business killing marketing traps myths you must avoid.

1. The “talent” trap

The myth is that you should hire “talented” people.The reality is that you should never rely on talent. It runs hot and cold. It subjects you to the whims of prima donnas. Instead – build your business by following systems.

2. The “build a better mousetrap” fallacy

The myth is that you should build a better mousetrap – then wait for the crowd to arrive.This is an old myth. The reality is that you need to market. The difference between the financial failure of Van Gogh and the success of Picasso was marketing.

3. The “find a need and fill it” myth

The myth is that you should find a “need” and fill it.This myth is still taught by many business schools. The reality is that people don’t buy what they need. They buy what they want. Your marketing challenge is to make your customers want what you sell or to sell what they want.

4. Myths about the media

Too many business owners believe that the media hates business.That is not true. The media is a business. The media will help you if you help them. What they need is information and stories. Your marketing challenge is to convey your stories to the media in a way that they find interesting and worth repeating.

5. The myth about “how to be number one”

It is surprising that whenever I ask this question of business owners many answer, “Deliver the best product or service.”The reality: To become number one, create your niche. Your marketing challenge is to find and claim your unique niche.

6. The fallacy about value

Value is not what your engineers create or your accountants can measure.There are two elements to total value – real value and perceived value. Your marketing challenge is to maximize the value you deliver from both elements. Be very clear on the importance of perceived value to your clients and the growth of your business.

7. The “lucky break” myth

Stop hoping for the lucky break.Success is never the result of the lucky break. I learned this lesson from the hundreds of entrepreneurs and CEOs that I have worked with and interviewed over the past decade.The reality is that success results from following good systems. Even an imperfect system is better than none. This is especially true of your marketing.

The above might be the most dangerous marketing myths that you must be aware of, and prepared to avoid.The Greek and Norse Myths make for wonderful fantasy. But if you base your marketing on myths – your business will soon be a forgotten fantasy.

© George Torok is the co-author of Secrets of Power Marketing. Get your free copy of “50 Power Marketing Ideas” at George Torok works with business owners to give them an unfair advantage over the competition. He helps you unlevel the playing field. Arrange for George Torok to work with you by calling 905-335-1997 or visit


Friday, August 12, 2011

Customer Service Sucker Punch: How Can I Help You?

Have you noticed that this phrase does not often mean what the average person might think it means.

It’s a deception, a feint, a sucker punch phrase wielded by customer service managers.

A sucker punch is an old boxing term. The fighter in the red trunks lowers his right hand thus leaving an opening. His opponent, the fighter in the blue trunks notices the opening and excitedly moves to take advantage of the opportunity. But Blue fails to notice Red’s cocked left hand. Blue ignores caution and springs forward for an expected easy win. But Red catches Blue with his ready left. Red destroys Blue who walked into the sucker punch.

Customer service managers seem to be using this same technique on their customers. Instead of helping customers they sucker punch them.

I recall the times that I have been approached recently and asked, “How can I help you?”

At the grocery store I explained the overcharge at the customer service desk. I explained the math on the precise refund that I expected. They had different math. One of them searched for the store manager. I waited while I noticed the two of them conversing for several minutes. When the store manager approached me she said, “How can I help you?”

Come on. She already knew. What else where they talking about? She did not help me. Instead she preached company policy. She even chastised me for not listening to her every word. She wasn’t there to help me. She was there to get rid of me. Why pretend that you are offering to help me? Why say such misguiding words?

We presented the coupon at the restaurant and the server refused to honor the terms. So we asked to speak to the manager. Several minutes later a grim looking man approached our table and stated, “How can I help you?”

You guessed it. He was not there to help us at all. He did not introduce himself or even try to be friendly. He also refused to honor the coupon for his franchise restaurant. He complained about the franchisor. He was never there to help us. Why did he open with that deceptive phrase?

I called about my cell phone account. After speaking with the first company representative I indicated that I was unhappy with his answer. He offered to connect me with someone else who could help me. I waited several minutes. Finally the second person came on the line and said, “How can I help you?”

I responded, “You already know what I want.” Her quick response was to tell me what she could not do and repeat company policy. She was less friendly than the first representative. Clearly she already knew what I wanted and did not need me to explain it again. Her responses to my questions were either, “I would not”, “I’m not allowed” or “I will not”. She didn’t help me because as she pointed out, “Nobody can.”

Why are customer service people asking, “How can I help you?” when they don’t mean it?

Perhaps the words have no meaning to them. They’ve been trained to parrot the words without understanding and internalizing the meaning. Like the service staff that say “Have a nice day” but say it without warmth or conviction. Maybe like the cashiers that say, “Did you find everything that you were looking for?” I once responded, “No” and proceeded to tell her what I was looking for. She looked at me as if I was a leper. She made no effort to help me. Instead she mumbled something about “maybe next time”. Of course, I’m now trained to ignore that question at that store. I mumble something in reply.

Maybe customer service people believe that they are actually helping the customer by stating company policy. Perhaps they believe that customers only complain because they aren’t aware of company policy. Once the customer knows the policy the customer will feel helped and enlightened. Hmm, not sure I want to smoke that drug.

Or those customer service managers have been encouraged to process customer complaints as bothersome fleas. They might be rated and promoted based on the lessening of official customer complaints. Head them off at the pass and they never become official complaints. Then, the answer to reduce official customer complaints is to work on your sucker punch.

“How can I help you?” Ha – ha! Got you sucker!

© George Torok is the co-author of Secrets of Power Marketing. His book is published in seven countries. To receive your free copy of “50 Power Marketing Ideas” visit To arrange a presentation for your team visit www.Torok or call 905-335-1997

Customer Service Sucker Punch: How Can I Help You?

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