Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pyromaniac Businesses Get Burned

G'day friend,

So, I was reading this articles at Cracked.com that a friend posted on Facebook.

In the article, there was this fire department in South Fulton (Obion County, Tenn.) who has an annual $75 fee for emergency services (like, um, your house being on fire). Anyway, the man, Gene Cranick, had not paid this fee.

When he came home to find his house on fire, he called... but they wouldn't come. They said he hadn't paid the fee, and so they wouldn't come save his property.

Mr. Granick, seeing the error of his ways, offered to pay them the FULL $75 to come out now. They refused - they said it would cause people never to pay unless there was an emergency actually taking place.

Pure Stupidity Kills Businesses

There are certain times, my friend, when you have to accept the good... and the bad. Sure, Garick might've been a cheap bastard and not paid his fee/coverage for the year. But right now, when he needed the help and was willing to pay... now would've been a good time to show him how much of a BENEFIT it is to have something like, I dunno, a fire department on hand.

However, they went about this demonstration poorly. And I'll explain the better way to do it in a moment.

First, I'll show you the negativity that followed this display of poor business practice.

1) They pissed one guy off royally (who will tell everyone he knows from that day forward how the POS Fulton Fire Department let his property burn)

2) They more than likely generated a whole s*** storm of bad press. I haven't research enough to know this for sure, but I am almost positive.

3) Lost a potentially RAVING customer and advocate for their company.

4) Demonstrated utter stupidity and strengthened the image of "Cold Cash Capitalism," which is taking a beating from every direction

... And I could go on. There is so much wrong here.

So, what is the better way to have handled it?

They could've said:

"Mr. Garick, I'm sorry to hear that. We'll come out and accept your payment for the remainder of the year now, and try to save your property."

Then, they should've HAULED ASS out there and put out the fire. Supposing this got done, they ask if they can go on record with him and have a news piece published:

"Fire Department Comes To Man's Rescue"

The story would go into detail about how Mr. Garick had neglected to make his payment. He returned home on xx/xx from to find his house burning. He immediately called the Fulton Department who, despire Mr. Garick having not paid for his annual coverage, sent out a truck and accepted payment on the spot.

The fire chief had this to say, 'Mr. Garick is very fortunate. We try to take care of our citizens here. We don't do this normally, but I'm hoping all the people who have not paid will see this as an example of why it's so important.'

Mr Garick was thankful, 'You know, I had never really cared. I thought, 'How could it happen to me? My house won't catch on fire.' I was expecting the worst when I called the fire department - but instead, they came through and I was able to salvage most of my things.'"

Wow. That's a heckuva lot better than, "Fire Department Lets Man's House Burn Due To Non-Payment."

At least, for the company. Reporter's probably like the latter more.

Anyway, keep this in mind. Yeah, you have to draw the line somewhere - but if it's between drawing the line and getting a customer... Make the right choice.

Over and out,

Angel Suarez

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Marketing Lesson Learned By Watching Horrific Car Crash

G'day friend...

So, there we were. My 3-year-old daughter and I had to run to the store to get some milk and juice. While waiting at the red light on a busy intersection, there's a loud series of honks and then...

BBBBRRRRRKKKRRRRAAAAAWWWWW

(I know, but that's actually what more crashes sound like)

And before us, we watch a black SUV collide with a small, white car. It looked like a 92' Ford of some sort, just in design. The paint was chipped; a pretty worn out vehicle.

Anyway, the black car actually flipped 2 or 3 times before landing on its side. It was a wreck - literally, the SUV was so beaten, it was definitely beyond repair.

I think you would have a similar result if you found something mangled by a bear.

Slowly, after a moment, the driver's seat of the white car pops open (the black and white car are less than 3 feet from each other).

Out comes a young girl, maybe in her early 20's. She stumbles a few times and looks around. From where I was, I saw this look in her eye of, "What now? What do I do? What just happened?"

And Then... The Most Amazing Thing Happened...

You may have seen this event unfold before. I am willing to bet money you witnessed the same magical thing.

Dozens of cars pulled off the road. People poured out of them, cell phones in hand, jogging towards the crash. Perfect strangers coming to another stranger's rescue.

One older man with a red winter cap on jogged towards the woman asking, "Are you OK? Are you alright?!" Then he carefully led her off the road, arm around her shoulders, to a safer spot.

Then, around six people came together and PULLED the damaged, unhinged door of the SUV and helped the passengers.

The light turned green. I just watched. My daughter asked me, "What's going on, daddy?"

So I said, "People are being helping eachother."

Now, what could I have possibly taken away from this? Better yet, what can YOU take away from this.

One powerful fact. One fact misanthropes and cynics always say is utter crap.

People Are Generally, INHERENTLY, Good!

What does this mean?

OK, a few examples:

I believe it was Trevor Crook who tells the story of a picture framing business he was hired to consult for.

He tried this tactic: send $50 checks to a list of people. It may have been past customers - I don't recall specifically.

Anyway, these were CHECKS. And those were REAL $50. And they send them to atlest 25 people. So at the very least, there were $1,250 on the line, not counting the printing and mailing costs to send these checks.

The point of the campaign was to bring people into the store and use those checks as discounts from their picture frames.

Do you know how many people cashed the checks instead of buying the frames?

Not a one. Not a single one.

Another decent example is one of John E. Powers, an ad-man of the Old Order (the first six-figure copywriter).

Let me quote Claude Hopkins to relay the story...

“A clothing concern was on the verge of bankruptcy,” says Hopkins. “They called in Powers, and he immediately measured up the situation. He said: ‘There is only one way out. Tell the truth. Tell the people that you are bankrupt and that your only way to salvation lies through large and immediate sales.’

“The clothing dealers argued that such an announcement would bring every creditor to their doors. But Powers said: ‘No matter. Either tell the truth or I quit.’

“Their next day’s ad read something like this:

We are bankrupt.

We owe $125,000 more than we can pay. This announcement will bring our creditors down on our necks. But if you come and buy tomorrow we shall have the money to meet them. If not, we go to the wall. These are the prices we are quoting to meet the situation.


“Truth was then such a rarity in advertising that this announcement created a sensation. People flocked by the thousands to buy, and the store was saved.”

Interesting, eh?

Of course, lots of people went because of the low prices, the savings they would have. But I am also betting there was some small iota that just wanted to help. They saw someone/something in danger, it asked them for help, and they responded.

I'm sure Powers knew this, too. There are more layers to WIIFM (What's In It For Me?) than there are onions, my friend.

The reason I am making this such a big deal is... so many people are terrified of doing little things. They don't want to guarantee, because they're afraid they'll go out of business in a day by being "taken."

Think about it. What have you not done out of fear of your customers eating your business alive?

Let me tell you this: what ever reason you're hiding behind... is most likely horse-shit. (Oh my- profanity).

Sure, there are things you should be careful about. For example, don't guarantee gutters will be in-tact for five years. Why? One hurricane or high wind blows through, rips off 100 gutters... and now what? How many do you have to replace out of your pocket? But heck, this isn't even about your customers scamming you. It's about Mother Nature kicking you in the teeth.

The truth is, you can generally depend on people to do the right thing. You can usually bet they won't do something to your business to cheat you.

Gene Schwartz once said: "...people really want to be liked. They want to be nice, they want to be happy, and they don't want to hurt others." (Read "How To Win Friends and Influence People" to see the proof).

And please, don't spit the nonsense about wars, death, rape, whatever. Those are all exceptions to the good things people do everyday.

So, keep this in mind. Take it for a spin.

And the next misanthrope you meet, just punch 'em in the teeth.

Over and out,

Angel Suarez

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Why Hookers Need Pimps, Part II: Hooker's Rebellion

G'day friend,

So, I was thinking the other day about my "Why Hookers Need Pimps" post. If you haven't read it, you should. A lot of good, very useful information there to set you on the road to better marketing and selling.

If you haven't read it, go here: http://young-buck-marketer.blogspot.com/2010/11/why-hookers-need-pimps.html

And then come right back.

OK, now, I am assuming you're up to speed. Pressing forward...

I realized there are more similarities to the seller/pimp-customer/hooker relationship than I at first imagined.

Truth is, all sellers are pimps. All buyers are hookers. The problem, though, is that many sellers become "abusive" pimps.

No, I don't mean your baby-power B**** slapping your clients... not in the physical sense. But to some degree, you may be.

How You Make Dealing With Your Company A Pain, And Not A Pleasure

Listen - you're not the government. People don't have to deal with you if they don't want to. They aren't threatened with jail if they refuse to buy your product(s)/service(s) and give you money.

No way, bubba.

So, logically... you want dealing with you to be 95%+ pleasant, and 2% not-so-great (if they go over the return policy, a product doesn't arrive when it was supposed to, product is damaged, doesn't meet expectations, etc).

Believe it or not, once a customer has bought into your Kool-Aid, they'll stick around... as long as you don't make an effort to drive them away.

The Art of Pimp Slapping Your Clients

OK, what happens if a pimp beats on his ladies too much, too hard, too often? Well, three things:

1) She leaves his slap-happy ass for another cane wieldin' daddy (who probably breaks the previous pimp's nose) (Goes to a competitor)

2) She gets together a bunch of other angry hoes and kills him (Boycotts your business - spreads words about your con-artist ways

3) She sticks around for the abuse because she's scared and eventually takes it to a higher level for one reasoner or another - the Popo's (police)(She gets together attorneys and other unhappy clients for a potential class action lawsuit)

None of those sound particularly appetizing, right?

But it does happen. I've seen it happen.

But let me be clear: it only happens when every interaction your client has with you is unpleasant

Here are a few examples of "slaps":

1. Charging for something and not telling them ahead of time the charge will appear

2. Not IMMEDIATELY refunding for an overcharge

3. Not immediately refunding their money for a returned item

4. Making the buying process a headache

5. Giving your customer a sub-standard product and telling them it's "gold" in your materials

6. Having apathetic or poor customer service

7. If something does go wrong, not keeping them up to speed at each step

8. Quoting "policy" at them (and calling it policy)

9. Not "rewarding" them for good behavior

10. Over promising, under delivering (kinda like #5)

11. Not quickly and efficiently replacing a lost or damaged item (never leave it to UPS or the carrier - you're pretty much sending your customer to a dark cavern from which they'll never return if you do)

12. Not fixing a problem if their order CONSTANTLY yields lost or damaged items (if you're getting daily phone calls in the 10+ range of people's items being damaged on arrive, you've got a MAJOR problem)

13. Not going above and beyond the call of duty when something goes wrong

14. Making them go through the CUSTOMER SERVICE HELL (which is worse than voicemail hell)(I'll explain this more in a future blog post)

There you have it. Those are the biggest, most common "Customer Slap Tactics" I've seen. And I know. Before entering into the copywriting/marketing world, my wife and I both had customer service jobs.

I personally know what major complaints customers have.

So, here is my advice: print out those "14 Slap Tactics" and go through them. If you have a company, make sure you're not doing ANY of them. If you're a consultant, make sure your client stops doing them.

I'd also pick up a copy of "Word-of-Mouth Marketing" by Jerry Wilson. A great book.

And then, check out www.Zappos.com. I personally know people who've bought from them (I'm not in the market for shoes right now). And everyone is happy. They avoid those 14 Slap Tactics like the plague they are.

Keep them in mind. You'll be glad you did.

Over and Out,

Angel Suarez

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How To Stop Being Your Prospects Ghoul in the Dark

G'day Friend,

It always amazed me how few people try to use personality... in any of their written communications. I mean, real character. People have just been brought up to believe this whole writing thing must be analytical and formal. Otherwise, you don't get taken seriously.

I can see where they're coming from with this belief.

After all, nobody takes the consummate prankster seriously, right?

If you were the class-clown in school, you'll know this firsthand. The "class-clown" was the comic relief. You didn't put much stock in what he said.

But I'm Not Talking About Being Funny As Having Character

The truth is, everyone looks at one extreme end of the spectrum - the class clown - and thinks of how they feel about him.

He's ridiculous.
He shouldn't be taken seriously.
He is never serious.

On and on, so forth.

So, what lies on the other side?

Well, the analytical guy with zero personality. He's just "about the facts." He doesn't put any spice on his food. No sugar with his tea, see?

And most people, not being well-learned salesmen or copywriters... they don't know the truth. And the truth is...

"No Matter Who You're Writing To, THEY Want To See Who YOU Are!"

For example...

In just about every marketing test I've known of, a personal voice (Me, John Jay, the president of the company) outsold and outperformed the cold, corporate front (We at Smithinghouse Partners and Associates).

Why? Because as Dan Kennedy said: "People like to deal with people."

OK, here is an example that just happened to me recently: I have a female friend who who was trying to get a job.

She wrote up resumes, put down all the standard BS, and then asked if I'd be so kind as to take a gander.

Well, I did.

Same dry, boring, informal collection of "objectives" and "skills" as every other job seeker.

Cut through the clutter. No matter what, you have to cut through the clutter.

Your headline does this. Your opener. The teaser copy on the envelope. The lack of teaser copy on the envelope.

Whatever. You get attention. You find a way for the reader to STOP in her tracks feel compelled to read what you've sent her.

Anyway, I spiced this things up.

I created a VOICE for her to use. I added personality and even made offers (in forms of promises, or things like free labor as a "test-drive").

The result?

She Got A Job The Next Day!

She told me there had been companies who called just because her resume impressed them so much.

And another job she went in for to be interviewed... hired her on the spot!

How did she get in that room?

Because she gave them a reason to bring her in.

The truth is, people want to talk to other people. That's all. They're scared of nameless, faceless creatures. Think about it - most of our horror stories we're raised with are ghostly ghouls we can't see, lurking in the dark.

Have some character! Give them someone to relate to. Give them a person who understands them. Because in the end, no matter how much you talk... a company can never understand another person.

But a living, breathing, fat, pink human being can. (This is also why having a live customer service line, instead of voicemail hell, is important for so many people).

Anyway, that's enough for now.

Take away: don't say we, say I. And inject some life into your communication.

Ya' dig?

Over and out,

Angel Suarez