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The one strategy that will make your marketing sing

The one strategy that will make your marketing sing

February 22, 2009

Keep your marketing and advertising messages simple.

This is a strategy most business owners and even marketers neglect.

They try to do too much. You can't ask any marketing medium to do more than one thing at a time. However, many people try to educate, sell, persuade and discuss several points all in one message. That's a recipe for disaster. When writing a headline, for instance, they'll try to include so many points in the headline that they miss the whole point. It's confusing. Too many messages suffer from what I call menu-itis.

Walk through a mall or down a busy street filled with storefronts and you'll notice quite a bit of menu-itis. They highlight all of the various products and prices they offer in their store windows. It happens in many other businesses too. Look at someone's business card the next time they hand it to you, and you'll see if they have menu-itis. Are they selling financial services and annuities and retirement plans and 401(k)s? Or, you may get a card from someone in the service industry that says, 'We do: plumbing, heating, air conditioning, restoration and we fix appliances.'

There's nothing as powerful as one clear crystalline message that sings like a note, a beautiful note played by a symphony, as opposed to a cacophony of sounds that all crash together.

Never sell more than one thing at a time, unless you happen to be using a catalog, or a group of closely related items. Even so, it's best not to try to sell more than one thing at a time. Try to do that one thing thoroughly, especially if you're in a service business.

How one marketer increased response from 2% to 12%

Marketing Researcher Sheena Yyenga proved this point at an upscale grocery store called Draeger's in Mineral Park, California as reported in the New York Times. She wanted to find out what would increase sales: giving more options or less options. The results were startling. In test number one, she set up only six different exotic jams to do a free taste test. She then wanted to see how many people would purchase the jam. In test number two, she offered a greater variety ' 24 different jams to taste test ' and watched to see how many people would purchase them. By giving more people more choices, she only confused the issue. Just 2% of the customers purchased when offered 24 jams. When the selections were narrowed to six jams, 12% of the people purchased. She increased sales by 6 times simply by limiting the number of choices.

In another research study, an Internet-based company that sold numerous products decided to eliminate 54% of its offerings, as reported in the Journal of Marketing. In doing so, they actually increased their sales by 11%, simply by dropping the number of choices. Avoid the temptation to offer too much.

The secret to sales: next stepping

Of course, you never want to sell just one product either. You just don't want to try selling them at the same time. The key is to create a progression of sales when you have multiple products. I call it 'next stepping.' It's the process of moving customers from on sale to another. It's an invaluable principle that most companies don't do because they're too busy to think about it. Next stepping means never leaving a client until you move them on to a next offer. Simply put, it's an ongoing process of asking, 'Can I?'

'Would you like fries with that? ' Would you be interested in learning more about our extended warranty plan to protect your investment? ' Would you be interested in our premium plan, which offers even more benefits for only $9 more?' These are all examples of next stepping. But they are just one step. Your goal is to develop an ongoing relationship with your customer beyond just that sale.

Next stepping means that you'll never get off of the phone or finish a conversation or even make a sale without moving that customer into the next step.

You'll always send the person a follow up email, make another phone call, and create a tickler on your daily planner for some day in the future where you will send them something. Make the relationship ongoing.

Let me give you a wonderful example of next stepping in which you actually develop a deeper relationship with your prospects and customers with each step.

How one company brought in a 93% response rate and generated more than $60 million


It was done by the CIT group and it was a multi-step campaign that went after a very small group of chief financial officers and high level executives in corporations. The CIT group wanted them to take out commercial loans. Listen to how they next stepped them through the use of irresistible bait. First, the CIT group sent executives a glass case with the names of 3 baseball Hall of Famers: Willie Mays, Alex Musial and Mickey Mantle but they included only one certified, autographed ball from Willie Mays. The other two spaces were empty. Now you might scream, 'Wait a minute, they are giving away hundreds of dollars without a person even saying yes!' But they created an empty hole that was begging to be filled.

Who wants two empty holders sitting where two autographed baseballs could be? The nature of man is to strive towards completion! And by calling for an appointment, they could complete it ' almost. Remember, this is next stepping.

When prospects called to set up an appointment, they received the next ball. They received the last ball when the rep gave them an estimate for commercial financing. The offer was so irresistible! 'Why not get an estimate? I'll be able to complete my set.' An overwhelming 93% of the people of the prospects said yes to this third and final step.

This promotion created total sales of over $60 million. What a beautiful job of keeping the message simple and next stepping.