Free Marketing Advice - 2015

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I’m putting tips and lessons on hold this month. Instead, stopping for a brief moment to reflect on what I’m thankful for during this special time of the year.

I encourage you to take a break in your day and spend some time focusing on what makes life special for you, and what would change if you weren’t around.

I’m privileged to play the role of Clarence the Angel in the December production of “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Lebanon Community Theatre. Clarence has to prove to Everyman George Bailey that his life has great value. One line he utters reflects on that notion –

“Strange isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many lives, that when he isn’t around it leaves an awful hole, doesn’t it?” If you are special to others, you are blessed. Be thankful for that. Sharing brief comments on specific life categories:

I’ve returned to the classroom this month teaching Sales and Sales Management. Each time I do this I review useful advice from my favorite “sales” author Jeffery Gitomer. His books are both witty and wise, and full of good advice. For instance, if you are in a situation where you have to persuade someone to buy into an idea you believe in, it may require a presentation to a group or individual. Here are some Gitomer tips entitled “Some stuff is ok, some is not ok…”

It’s OK – to use notes or props; to use compelling slides: to stumble; to be real; to be excited. However –

It’s NOT OK – to be nervous; to be unprepared; to be unrehearsed; to pander to the audience; to make excuses; to ramble on about yourself; to ramble on about nothing and assume anyone is interested; to tell your story unless it relates to your audience.

Like many of us in late September, I took the time to listen to Pope Francis as he experienced a wonderful week in the USA.

I was particularly stuck by his message on the power of doing “the little things” to make relationships special. The lesson was primarily directed at families, but in a real sense it applies to how we all conduct ourselves in the business environment.

“Little Gestures” can sometimes mean the difference between success and failure, but the trick is to not work at it.

All businesses are in the “customer service business” first and foremost. And the “little things” we do must be from the heart, with no strings attached.

I remember ruining a young boy’s prized hockey poster when the laminator in my Mail Box Etc. store in North Carolina failed. I asked the boy and his mother to give me a week.

You owe it to them to keep your business thriving. The more they understand where you’re coming from, the better chance you have to keep the connections alive.

Understanding, to me, starts with a clear market-focused Mission Statement (as opposed to a product-focused Mission Statement). It makes it clear to everyone touched by your business that you are focused on fulfilling customer needs. The customer, not your product or service, is king.

Here’s one small example from the text I use (Marketing an Introduction/Kotler and Armstrong). A Mission for Facebook – which is more effective?

If you have an unfulfilled marketing need, let’s confront the challenge together in a no obligation meeting, in your office or over lunch, your choice.

How would we work together? Here are some suggestions:

After a break the last few months, I returned to the classroom in June to teach Selling and Sales Management for Elizabethtown College. So the July Morsel focuses on the topic of “Sales”.

The text I use does a good job of taking the student through the process of “needs discovery”, planning and delivering a productive meeting with a buyer, and closing a deal.

But there is a missing link in the process – what does it take to get the meeting in the first place?

By nature, sales people are not big fans of “cold calling”… so it behooves you to figure out a way to connect with the decision maker, or at least someone who can give you a better chance to make a deal happen. This challenge is articulated in a book called SOAR Selling by David and Marhnelle Hibbard. Google this and look for some very helpful YouTube training videos.

Over the years my career has evolved from primarily advertising and sales promotion responsibilities to a point where editorial writing is occupying a healthy percentage of my professional life. This involves both writing and supervision of freelance writers.

I was recently asked by one of my clients to share some writing tips with the other writers. Here are some of them for our June Morsel:

  • When you write, focus on the audience. Think of it as a letter to a friend. Set a goal to tell the story in a memorable way.
  • Keep the terms simple and understandable. Stay away from “jargon” and “buzz words”. Write conversational English.
  • Watch your style. Keep it simple and don’t “show off” your vocabulary unnecessarily. Mark Twain once said “I never write ‘metropolis’ for seven cents, because I can get the same price for ‘city’. I never write ‘policeman’ because I can get the same money for ‘cop’. Simple language connects”.
  • Let your enthusiasm for the message shine through.

I’m on an “operation downsize” mission at home this year. I spend time each Saturday in my basement, filling one or two trash bags consistent with a “pecking away” inventory reduction plan. That’s where I re-discovered one of my favorite books, which I read originally in 1999. It’s called The Cluetrain Manefesto, written by a team of four authors.

I was struck by how relevant that book is today. It’s based on the basic idea that Marketing is conversation. Think way back to biblical times. Marketers sold their wares directly to customers at the Ancient Bazaar. Many years later, the “new” communication called advertising filled the airways and space with one-way messages. “Modern” marketing flourished with product-oriented directives.

In my quest to stay on top of my profession, I keep my antennae up to better understand how people think and behave when faced with decisions about what products and services they want to include in their lives.

One thing that works for me is to seek out new thinking when it comes to understanding how to address consumers with marketing messages by segmenting them behaviorally (As opposed to categorizing them broadly as demographic or geographic segments).

I found such thinking in an article by Kellie Cummings published on a website I like, She calls this approach mindset segmentation.

If you believe that change is good when appropriate, here’s some good advice. Change the way you approach marketing your business, from a product oriented to a market oriented perspective.


Product oriented – Home Depot. “We sell tools, and items for home repair and improvement”.

Market oriented – “We empower consumers to achieve the homes of their Dreams”. Facebook – Which approach do you relate to? “We are an online social network”. (Product oriented)


When we talk about marketing strategy, we usually express thoughts in terms of B2B or B2C.

But the reality for success today is to focus direction on P2P (People to People). This mindset of course means figuring out how to maximize a Social Media based marketing strategy. It’s a good idea to increase your Social Media marketing knowhow.

No one likes to be “sold to”. That’s why successful marketers create useful “content” to aid customers and prospects in making their own informed decisions.

Engagement often leads to marriage. Budget conscious small businesses know that it takes a like-minded marketing partner to help you plan for success. Mutual trust and understanding grow with time as the marriage evolves.

My “business book of the month” is Engagement Marketing by Gail F. Goodwin, the CEO of Constant Contact. Goodwin focuses on the theme of finding meaningful ways to engage customers and prospects over the long term. The consumer focused message is more important than the number of followers you attract on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. It’s like word-of-mouth on steroids (my interpretation) because the technology at your disposal can take word-of-mouth to the next level. Goodwin explains the Engagement Marketing Cycle has three steps:

  1. Deliver a WOW experience, so that customers remember your small business with a positive feeling.

SkyLimit Marketing

SkyLimit Marketing
19 Springhouse Drive
Myerstown, PA 17067

Tel:  (717) 269-0288
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