Thursday, June 24, 2010

Trash 2 Treasure: Creative Pricing Strategies For Profitability

Most people pay for recycling pick-up. My local printer gets paid for it. He has a large dumpster behind his shop where he tosses all his scrap. The recycling company pays him by the pound and takes it away for him free.

Once upon a time, auto repair shops paid companies to take away their used motor oil. Today, several companies sell waste oil heaters so the shop can cut their heating bills and eliminate their disposal costs.

Some restaurants pay a company to take their used cooking oil. One IT company out West pays local restaurants for the oil in computer maintenance services. Then uses the cooking oil to run their biodiesel fleet.

In his book The 1% Windfall: How Successful Companies Use Price to Profit and Grow, Rafi Mohammed tells a story about fly ash. Fly ash is a byproduct of coal-burning power plants. Usually it ends up in landfills, but one smart company found that adding 15 - 20% fly ash to cement can produce stronger concrete -- at a significant savings over the cost of a traditional cement mix.

The problem was that many contractors didn't what to pay a fair price for the fly ash. Until one executive decided to mount a strong education campaign pointing out the savings, the strength, and the ecological impact. The result? Over a two-and-a half year period, the company's operating profits have doubled.

Takeaway: What hidden profit-center are you overlooking?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Down Field: Balancing Your Sales Tactics With Sales Objectives

I started my career in sales & marketing as a teenager.

In fact, I put myself through college, in part, by doing telemarketing -- in the days before call screening and the Do Not Call Registry.

It was a great, though painful, learning experience.

One lesson it taught me was that what sounds great in the executive suite doesn't always work in the field. That's echoed in my work even today.

I worked for several of the largest telemarketing operations in the US. And at each, there was a terrible tension between HOW they wanted me to do my job and WHAT they wanted me to achieve.

At one job, I was told to stick to the script and make sales.

I wouldn't have minded sticking to the script, if it worked. But the script was worthless. It was written by some guy who had never made a telemarketing call in his life. It was stiff, lacked cadence, and was unpersuasive.

So I improvised. And I got called into the office.

"Stick to the script," I was told.

"Do you want me to make sales or stay on script?" I asked.

"Both," my boss retorted. "We're testing scripts."

"So if I don't make any sales, I'll keep my job?" I asked innocently wondering why I got chose as a guinea pig.


"So, doesn't that say you want sales over script?" I asked quietly. "I'm over quota when I'm off-script."

"OK. Just try to stick a little closer to the script," my boss replied throwing up his hands.

I felt for him. He was stuck in the middle trying to appease both his supervisor and make his sales targets. But my paycheck depended on closing sales not running experiments. As is should be.

Takeaway: When you set a goal, don't tie your sales force's hands. And never, ever, ever, lose touch with the field.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Go Hawks!!!

Go Hawks: Teamwork works in sports -- and sales...

By the time you get this, I hope to be in the Midst of the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Victory Parade with PJ. It's been a long wait. The Hawks haven't won the Cup since 1961!

It's trite but true: teamwork is as important in business as it is in sports.

Just as the unsung goalie deflects shots with little or no fanfair, the marketing team quietly generates leads and referrals.

Just as the MVP draws attention by his strategies and actions, the sales star earns respect by using strategies and actions to close sales.

Separately, they're good.  But when they're united ... great things are possible.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Timing is Everything...

I just stumbled on an email with an expired Memorial Day coupon. I didn't read the email in time to use the discount. I assume I'm not alone. It's of small consequence to me, but a potentially big loss for the advertiser.

If "location, location, location" is paramount in retail marketing, then "timing, timing timing" is the key to successful email marketing.

A recent survey by email marketing service SilverPop found that "both B2C and B2B marketers said sending emails at the right time was the top tactic they employed last year. Recognizing the importance of messages arriving in inboxes when recipients are most likely to have the time and inclination to respond..."

So, what's the best day to email? Historic studies say Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. ConstantContact says Monday is the new favorite. But I believe the best approach is to test your list. Every market is different. What works for selling socks, won't necessarily work for selling socketwrenches.

Test your timing. Send emails on different days each week and review your open rate, click-thru and other response rates. The people on your email list will tell you by their responsiveness what day works best for them.

Takeaway: How can you know the best day to email? Testing, testing, testing.