Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ground Crew...

My marketing tip last week hit a raw nerve.

My point was: putting your advertising in a holding pattern because of the recession is dangerous -- if a plane circles too long it will run out of gas.

Let's look at that more this week...

One reader pointed out the impact on others: "Take too long to land and the ground crew may go home. And who wants to land at an abandoned airport?"

Another angle was: The media people can only spend what they have: "Buy from us, so we can buy from them so they can buy from you."

Another: Why does a retailer that doesn't advertise always advertise their going out of business sale? (How about a "Going Out FOR Business" sale?)

And finally: Advertising is on sale today. Stock up.

Takeaway: The longer you wait to resume ad spending, the greater the potential long term damages.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Holding Pattern...

My office is a few miles from O'Hare Airport.

PJ loves it. I do, too. It’s fun driving past the airport watching the long line of planes queued up in the sky waiting to land. (It looks like a huge connect-the-dot puzzle.) When landing planes come so close you almost want to duck.

Exciting to watch things happening from the ground. Not so exciting if you're on a plane in a holding pattern.

And that seems to describe advertising today: in a holding pattern.

Jeff from New Equipment Digest used that plane analogy a while back. Then he took it a step further...

"If you stay in a holding pattern too long, eventually you run out of gas," he said.


Many marketers have slashed ad spending -- waiting for the recession to end. But the less they advertise, the less they sell. So, is less spending the solution? Or is it perpetuating the length and depth of this recession?

In fact, I'm so convinced advertising can change things that I'm launching an aggressive, targeted direct mail campaign for Sasso Marketing. [Here’s the first mailer in the series…)

Why not join me? Maybe if we all spend a little more on advertising we can make the economic recovery really take off.

Look around you: great ad deals are everywhere. Take advantage of one.

Takeaway: Advertising fuels sales. So, what happens when you run out of fuel?

Monday, June 15, 2009


One day a prospect called to ask for my help.

He launched into a long-winded spiel about owning two companies, the evolution of his businesses, and everything short of his life story.

I listened. And listened. And listened.

The more he talked, the more I realized he felt he needed to sell me on working for him. Red Flag One.

He told me what great work I did. He kept trying to flatter me. Red Flag Two.

He told me his product was so great he hardly needed to do any marketing. Red Flag Three.

He took a breath. I broke in.

"Thanks for thinking of me, but I can't help you."


Suddenly, he was speechless.

"I don't see a fit," I said.


"I don't think I can help you.' I explained. "I won't take a client if I don't think we'll both profit from the relationship."

He was stunned. Apparently no one had ever turned him down before.

Why would I turn away a customer?

Two reasons: One, I really didn't think I could help. Two, the more he talked, the more he unsold me. I realized if he felt he had to sell me on working for him. something was wrong: he was hard to work for, he had no money, or his product was flawed. Maybe nothing was wrong. but I didn't want to take the risk.

Not that he was dishonest. He sounded very honest and sincere. He just talked too much and said too little.

Takeaway: More words sometimes creates more doubts.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


When we were newlyweds, Beth made Thanksgiving dinner for my family.

To accommodate our Italian heritage, she made a side of pesto.

Hoping to surprise my father, she handed him the plate of pesto and penne.

My dad just stared at the green sauce on his pasta.

"What's this?"

"It's pesto," Beth replied.

"What nationality is that?" he asked.

"Uh, it's Italian, Dominic," she said.

"That's nothing Italian I've ever seen before," he replied.

Beth was heartbroken.

She assumed Italian was Italian. But my family is from Naples. Pesto is from Genoa. The difference is about 400 miles --and that's a world apart epicureanly.

We often make the same mistake in marketing. We tend to clump together like demographic groups assuming they're the same. That can lead to cultural insensitivity when dealing with ethnic groups, gender groups, geographic groups, age groups, and the like.

In fact, it even happens with occupations. You might assume "mechanics" work on cars. That's the wrong word. Mechanics work on heavy-duty trucks. Technicians work on cars. Some technicians find being called a mechanic insulting.

And not all technicians are the same. Some are driveability experts. Others work on brakes and suspension. Still others specialize in performance and racing. Each is very different. In fact, even the jargon they use is different.

Knowing the subtle differences can help you better connect to a culture or subculture. It can also help you identify under served niches and tailor your product and marketing to their special needs.

It’s kind of like knowing Neapolitans eat red sauce. And that they call it "gravy".

Takeaway: Cultural sensitivity can make or break a sale.