Friday, December 02, 2011

Big S'Mac 2...

Yesterday,  I wrote about LivingSocial's Big Mac half price offer [].

LivingSocial, the smaller social couponing website rival to Groupon, is owned in part by Amazon. In an attempt to wrestle the industry lead from Groupon (who has about three times as many subscribers) LivingSocial has been taking big risks.  This one with McDonald's may cost LivingSocia some cash -- and some cache.

The offer that was to cap at a million booklets has been extended today with less than a quarter million takers.

Why the problem? In an unusual move, the company is issuing printed booklets instead of their usual print-at-home offers. This may be take the impulse buyers out. They want to buy it now and use it tonight.

The type of offer is somewhat limited by focusing on only Big Macs. (I prefer the Quarter Pounder. But I haven't eaten at McDonald's for I don't know how long. And given a burger choice, I'd visit BK.)  I get the impression more adults frequent McDonald's these days for their specialty drinks or prefer the healthier fare on their menu.

The bigger problem is that I think LivingSocial probably has a million coupon books in a warehouse somewhere ready to ship. This makes the fiasco an even bigger black eye for LivingSocial.

The whole social couponing world is interesting. It tends to slant younger and draws into businesses a lot of discount shoppers with no loyalty.

So, my guess we'll see that Big Mac offer online for a while to empty the warehouse. So walk, don't run to and see where the numbers are right now.

And be aware that this could happen to your business if you overpromise. Much better to underpromise and overdeliver.

And I'll keep you posted on this marketing tale. I'm one of those 250,000 takers. (So, if you find Big Mac and fries coupons in your stocking from me this year, you'll know the backstory.)

Big S'Mac....

I haven't had lunch, yet. So, I'm a little hungry. Maybe that's why this
story caught my eye....

Crain's Chicago Business reported that LivingSocial and McDonald's are
offering a special promotion today: $26 worth of Big Macs and fries for
$13. (If you're feeling hungry, too, you can get in on the deal at: .)

What makes the story interesting is that Groupon and McDonald's are
based in Chicago, but LivingSocial has managed to broker this deal right
in Groupon's backyard.

Groupon, which went public with an IPO last month, has seen it's stock
price decrease. So it seems LivingSocial, with about a third of the
subscribers of Groupon, has worked this deal to put their name in
headlines and try to boost it's subscriber base. They want to smack the
competition while they appear down.

So, what does this mean to you (other than a good deal if you like Big Macs)?

It means that just because your competition may be bigger than you,
there are still opportunities to position yourself to make a leap forward.
A good way to do that is to ride on the coattails of a big brand. Perhaps
it will have a halo effect on your brand.

Or it could become an embarrassment.

McDonald's is capping the deal at a million. As I write this, 152,440
people have signed up for this deal. That seems like the deal isn't
generating all that much excitement.

I'll give my follow-up on this when the deal is over.

Meantime, I thinking about Burger King...

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Your First Day Back...

I'm at the AAEX / SEMA tradeshows this week. If you were here, too, I
hope you had a great show.

Every year at this time I write the same basic tip. Hope it serves as a
reminder to not let all your hard work as an exhibitor go to waste ...

Your trade show or special event is over. Great! Time to breath a sigh
of relief and catch up on things.

Whoa! Not so fast.

Consider using your first day back like it's your last day at the event.

It's easy to get so swept away catching up that you put off following up.

But what's more important? The day-to-day grind -- or reminding that
hot prospect that you're the one exhibitor out of hundreds they met that
they want to buy from?

Take a moment to jot a quick thank you note, send a catalog, or ship
that sample you promised. Don't let your follow-up get fouled up by
competingpriorities. Set your priority on contacting the hottest
prospects  first and working your way down the list.

How do you know who's hottest? You should use a lead sheet that asks
questions that will help you, like:

When do you plan to buy?

How many do you plan to buy?

Are you considering any other brands?

This is also a good day to make notes on improvements for next year's
show while everything is still fresh in your mind.

But above all try to avoid calling anyone you met at the trade show
the first day you're back.  After all, they'll probably be as swamped
catching up that day as you'll be -- tomorrow.

BTW, If  I don't call you today please don't be offended, be inspired.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

I'm Baaack....

I’ve been busy with lots of new projects, training and writing
assignments. That’s why you haven’t heard from me for weeks. Sorry.

But I’m back with lots of new tips, like this one...

Customers will not buy from you unless they trust you.

Sales trainer Orrin Rudolph points out that every relationship, be it
business or personal, has a trust bank account. For example, we trust
our best friends because they’ve proven trustworthy over time.

The same is true in personal selling and marketing relationships. Every
interaction with a customer builds a deeper trust. Every purchase a
customer makes that goes well puts more trust in that account.

One day, whether you like it or not, things will go wrong. An order will
be delayed, a product will break, you’ll make a mistake ... whatever.
And when that happens, if you’ve built a solid trust account with your
customer, they'll draw against that trust you've built. They’ll be
understanding, forgiving, and keep doing business with you.

But if you don’t have anything in your trust account, you risk losing
that customer.

So it’s best to practice integrity and good customer service every time
you interact with a customer or prospect.

Trust me on this.

Takeaway:  Keep making deposits in your customer’s trust bank.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tooling Up....

Like most guys, I like tools.

In fact, judging from Beth's collection of kitchen gadgets and cookbooks, women like tools, also. But they don't call them "tools".  A tool is just an item that makes a job easier -- or in some cases possible. 

In sales and marketing, we have tools, too. Each tool has a unique purpose. But, sometimes we don't have all the tools we need. Or we use the wrong tool and complain it doesn't work.

The other day on a houshold project I didn't have my tin snips, so I used a hack saw to cut a piece of sheet metal. It took forever. It wasn't the tool's fault, it was mine for using the wrong tool.

Likewise: a flyer isn't a closing tool and a salesman isn't a lead generator. They may be able do the job, but they aren't the most efficient tool for the job.

Want to boost sales? Perhaps it's time to retool your marketing...

Takeaway: How many tools are in your marketing tool box? Are you using them properly?

Tell us what tools you're using.  Take our survey.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Do you only communicate with customers and prospects when you're
selling something?

Think about that.

How do you feel about people who only call you when they need
something.  Can't they call you to congratulate you, catch-up or connect?

Here's an example: I pulled up to the drive-up window at my bank
yesterday and was surprised (I promise this isn't another bank rant).
Actually,  I  was pleasantly surprised...

"Hi, this is Susan. I'll be right with you," came a voice over the speaker.

After a minute or two the voice returned.

"Sorry about the delay Mr. Sasso," said Susan.

After another moment her pleasant voice returned.

"Thank you Mr. Sasso. Anything else today?"

"Uh, no. Thanks," I stammered.

"Have a great day!"

I drove away stunned. Lately every bank visit has included a flier or
a verbal sales pitch for another bank service or to request a referral.
Susan was just ... nice.

Are you always pushing for more sales with every customer encounter
(both in print or in person)? Upselling, cross-selling, and asking for
referrals are all very important aspects of marketing. But they aren't
the end-all-be-all.

Sometimes it pays just to take a moment to be friendly and wish your
customer well. Never underestimate the power of a real, genuine
human connection.

Takeaway: Sometimes the best sales pitch is no sales pitch at all. What
have you done to connect with your customers today?

Friday, July 08, 2011

(Baby) Food For Thought...

Baby food is not marketed to babies. It's marketed to mothers. If a
mom likes the marketing message -- and the taste, they'll buy it.
"Mother knows best", to turn a phrase.

Baby food is not the only thing that's not marketed to the end user.

Sometimes that's good. Sometimes that's bad.

For example, if you owned an automotive repair shop, your technicians
would be responsible for buying their own tools. But you are
responsible for supplying shop equipment (lifts, tire changers, etc.).

Yet, often shop equipment is marketed to the end user (the
technician), but not the final decision maker (the shop owner /
manager). Sometimes that's the same person. But  not always --
especially in larger shops.

It's best if you consider the person writing the check when you
create your sales and marketing messages. You may need to get a buy-
in from an influencer, but the check signer / decision maker may have
different priorities. You need to know who the final authority is and
connect with them.

In sales, you want to connect with that decider -- especially in a
corporate situation with layers of management to wade thru.

Takeaway: Sometimes it's easy to lose site of the opinion that's most
important. Who makes the decision on what you sell?  Are you
connecting with the right person or people?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Final Bank Rant....

O.K. by now you're probably sick and tired of my boring bank rant.   So am I.

So let me wrap this up with a lesson on the most important word in customer service...

Finally Beth and I scheduled time to go to the bank together to close several of our accounts because they were costing far more in fees than they were paying in interest. The most frustrating account was my son PJ's savings account. Most banks don't charge minors. Apparently my bank usually doesn't either.

The bank manager was short-staffed, so she is serving as a personal banker when we visited and I got to enjoy her delightful company again.

I complained about the charges on my son's account. She was quick to blame Someone Else.

"Someone didn't set this up right," she replied knitting her brow.

"They didn't charge his account any fees for the last 12 years," I retorted. "So, I assume 'Someone'  made the mistake a couple months ago."

"Someone made the mistake when you set up the account,"

"OK, this isn't about blame. This is about protecting my son's money."

"It says here that you're the custodian on the account ..."

"Yes. But if the account wasn't sent up correctly as a minor's account, there wouldn't be a custodian. Would there?"


"Mr. Sasso, what would you like to do with this account?''

"Close it."

"Is there something about our service you're unhappy with?"

I'll save you the rest of the exchange. She credited the fees back. And she warned me against other big bad banks with hidden fees. But one thing she didn't say was "Sorry."

Mistakes happen. Most customers are forgiving of that. But without an "I'm sorry" it's hard to forgive.

Takeaway:  An simple apology can go a long way to smooth over most mistakes. It costs nothing but it's worth a lot to your customer.

Friday, June 24, 2011

In The Mood, Part 4....

My “bank rant” continues from last time. 

I walked into my bank after complaining about fees and faced a
well-designed promotional message on the door:

“Earn $240”

All I had to do was open a new account. The fine print turned me from
intrigued to irritated:

“New Customers Only.”

Someone in marketing wasn’t thinking. Aren’t 99% of the people walking
in the front door current customers? What message are they sending:
“YourLocal Bank: Raising Your Fees To Give Your Money To Our New

After my transaction, the teller rubs salt in my wound by handing me a
flyer and asking me to refer a friend so THEY can get $240 for opening a
new account.

How does that make a loyal customer feel? How would it make you feel?

Wouldn’t a better approach be to pay me $120 for a referral and my
friend $120 for switching banks?

Takeaway: Are you treating new customers better than existing ones?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In the Mood, Part 3....

Sorry it's been a while since my last marketing tip. I've been busy on client projects and some surprises I plan to unveil in a couple of weeks.

Let's head back to my bank where my branch manager closed one of my Money Market accounts (rather than waive the bank fees). During this interaction, her staff has been trying to cross sell me while I'm obviously steaming over the fees. Look here for the backstory.

Often customer service people are encouraged (more like forced) to cross-sell customers on every contact -- even if it's during a complaint. The theory: if a complaint is resolved well, a customer may upgrade or buy an add-on from your. But not every problem resolution turns out well. And it's not the best time to sell a customer when they're angry with your company or staff.

My recommended approach requires an added step but will get better results.

Don't try to sell a client anything when resolving a problem. Your job is to be apologetic and responsive. Period.

A day or two after your problem resolution, contact your client to see how they felt about the resolution of the problem.  Focus on the resolution, not the problem. Ask them to rank your responsiveness on a scale of one to six.

If they rate you 3 or lower, ask them what your company could have done better (be sure to separate the company as a whole from the employee). Note their answer and thank them for their input.

If they rate you 4 or over, thank them for their patience with your company while you resolved the issue. Ask is they had any advice to improve the resolution experience. Again note their answer and thank them for their input.

Then comes the opportunity to build your relationship with the customer. Explain that your company is very sorry for the mistake and would like to offer them a discount on a future purchase as your apology. Ask permission to mail or email them a special offer as your thank you for their continued business (like a certificate good for X% off their next purchase).  Then send them a thank you note with the special certificate. (Be sure the offer is not something you offer anyone else.) 

In general , you'll increase your overall customer satisfaction and add to your overall sales.

Meanwhile, Beth and I are going to the bank soon to close out more accounts. I'll let you know how turns out in my next tip.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

In The Mood Part 2....

Last tip, my banker offered to close my Money Market account rather
than waive bank fees for a loyal customer of 30 years. But he's too
busy to even close the account, so he escorts me to the branch
manager's office.

The saga continues...

The branch manager shook my hand and offered me a seat.

"So, what is it you need today?" she says smiling.

"Do I have to repeat my story?" I asked. "I thought you were briefed.
Let's just close my business Money Market account."

"OK. Which account is that?" she asked.

I pull out my list of account numbers and again point to the one
I think it is.

"OK. This one?" she asks pointing to her computer monitor.

"No that's my personal Money Market ... No that's not it either ...
Yes, that one," I say guiding her along. She begins the process of
closing my account, then pauses to ask a question...

"Excuse me. Who does your payroll?"

"Your business banker just asked the same thing. What does that got
to do with...?"

Then it dawns on me. They both want to sell me on a new payroll
service. They make a referral fee by pointing me to their partner.
Here I am complaining and they're trying to sell me more junk.

"I'm very happy with my payroll service." I reply.

Then the branch manager notices I have an old business checking account.

"You should be in our new Green Business Checking," she begins. This
entails changing automatic deductions, closing my account, and opening
a new one. More time and hassles than I want to deal with today.

"Listen," I said trying to stifle my anger. "I'm busy. I'll think about
it and get back to you ... on my schedule."

I was not in the mood to buy anything new. Why did they keep trying to
sell me stuff?

The theory is: If a business resolves my problem well I'll have such a
positive feeling about them that I'll want to expand my relationship
with them.

The theory is wrong.

That only works when a business exceeds customer expectations -- like
when the Apple Store fixed my Mac for free on the spot. The bank,
however, did not exceed myexpectations. They didn't even seem to care
about me. They had no time to help me, but plenty of time to sell me
stuff. Why would I consider buying anything today?

Even if they resolved my problem, why would that excite me? They were
my problem. What would suddenly put me in a buying mood?

It is the rare problem resolution that shifts a customers emotion.
Even then, pitching a sale can take the edge off all the positive
feeling. (I bought a new OS from Apple because I was so delighted,
not because anyone asked me to.)

There is an approach that can turn a problem resolution into more

More on that in my next tip...

Takeaway: A dissatisfied customer is rarely in a mood to buy more from you.

In The mood...

Brace yourself for a rant.

It's been a long time since I've been reminded how much I loathe my bank.
But the other day my strong dislike boiled over into absolute hate.

Not that I dislike their tellers who are always friendly and know my
name, or their marketing which is pretty well done. What I hate is their
policies, fees, comparative low rates, and inflexibility. Until now the
hassle of change has outweighed my dislike. But friendly can only go so

It all started when I marched into my bank armed with printouts from
competitors websites and a strong frustration. It ended when I left the bank in a fit of fury.

The business banker escorted me to his desk and offered me a seat. I
explained my issue.

"You charged my Money Market account $10 for not having a minimum balance."

"Which account?" the banker asked.

I handed him a list of about a half dozen accounts I have at the bank and
pointed to the one I though was the one. He rifled through all five of my
accounts before he found the one with the charge.

"Yep. There it is," he said. "What do you want me to do?"

I stared at him like he was from Mars.

"Reverse it." I replied. "And can you set things up so I can avoid it in
the future."

He scanned the screen mumbling.

"Who does your payroll?" He finally asked.

"Does that matter?" I asked. "I have a payroll service. My issue is your
fees, not theirs."

Some more scanning and mumbling.

"We'll it seems you've been with the bank for a while..."

"More than thirty years. Over twenty of those with a business account."

"Let me talk to my branch manager."

I strategically spread my printouts across his desk while he was gone,
displaying bank logos and notes like "no minimum balance," "great
interest rate" and a half dozen other things.

When he returned he offered to close my account.

"I've been with your bank over 30 years, I have multiple business and
personal accounts with you and your solution to this is to close my

"Yes sir," he replied. "It's all I can do."

"I use that account to save money for things like taxes. Do you get that?"
I asked.

"Without the minimum in the account you'll get charged again next month."

"Isn't there anything you can do to overwrite that? Other banks do that,"
I said waving my hand at my printouts.

"I'm sorry," he replied. "I have a conference call in a few minutes. Our
branch manager can help you with this. Would you follow me?"

Guess what I'm thinking at this point?

Just wait. It gets better.

More next time...

Takeaway: A bad product and unhelpful employee can undo the best marketing.

* This account has been compressed and fictionalized for brevity and

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bleeding Edge....

Marketing technology is moving at breakneck speed.

Take the mobile web. In the fourth quarter of 2010, smart phones outsold computers for the first time ever. Do you know what that means to you as a marketer? Chances are a competitor does.

And today using cutting-edge technology is not always bleeding-edge expensive.

For example: want to connect with smartphone toting prospects? You can build an app (expensive), create a mobile website (less expensive), text them (cheap - use code D342202 50 free units with, or use a QR code (free).

A QR Code (short for Quick Response) takes a smart phone to a website, video, or even places a call for them.

Let's try it. Scan the QR code below on your smart phone. It will take you to a quick three question survey. (Search for free QR code reader in your apps store. I use Red Laser on my iPhone. Red Laser also does UPC and EAN codes):

Don't have a smartphone. Or don't want to hassle with an app?

Go to (or which is free url shortening technology).

Takeaway: Is your marketing forward-thinking or looking backward?

Friday, March 11, 2011


Remember when I thought I cracked my tooth and had to schedule an emergency visit to my dentist?

It gets worse.

I'll spare you the grizzly details. The dentist is awesome, but suffice to say it was not a pleasant event. And the bill hurt even more. 

Procrastination is costly. 

In the same way it's costly in sales and marketing. It's best to consistently be advertising and prospecting and not put it off until your sales are withering.

I am often called to help a business when it's too late for me to do anything but the last rites. 

Marketing's magic takes time to work. I can't boost your Google ranking in a month. I can't build sales brand awareness in a week. I can't generate sales leads in a day.

Preventive medicine tends to have better outcomes than CPR. It's the same in marketing.

It would have been less painful if I'd gone to a professional as soon as I sensed the need with my tooth -- or even before that for a check-up.

And, unfortunately, the Tooth Fairy doesn't visit grown-ups...  

Takeaway: What have you been putting off? Ads? Website updates? Cold calls? Do it!

Friday, February 18, 2011


Whether you're promoting a drawing, a contest, or a coupon it's important to create a sense of urgency.

Most people are so busy they'll put off almost anything until the last minute. And I mean almost anything.

Today, for example, I just made an emergency appointment with my dentist. I've been putting off fixing a lost partial filling for a while. This morning, I lost the rest of the filling -- and I think I cracked my tooth. I was even going to put the emergency visit off until next week -- except I'm in a little discomfort.

Perhaps I'm over-the-top, but I think you have many customers like me. (I've been meaning to join Procrastinator's Anonymous, but I keep putting it off.)

So, I suggest you make your deadlines or expirations obvious, even obnoxious.

Don't use small print. Use big type and bright colors so no once can miss it.

I have a wastebasket full of promotional offers that have spoiled because I didn't notice or remember the expiration date.

Another great way to get customers and prospects to not neglect your promotional offer is to make the deadline memorable. Holidays are good memory pegs. People also are more likely to remember and respond to a deadline or expiration date on the last day of a month over the first. (i.e. March 31 vs. April 1).

Psychologically I think that works because you know you can't wait until next month. Or maybe you just think about it more. I really don't know why it works. But in my experience, it works.

Try to make it as hard as possible for your target market to put off doing business with you. Even make it a little painful to put it off.

Ouch! Oh yeah, I've got to get to an appointment...

Takeaway: Give your prospects an incentive to act now. And make your promotional deadline memorable.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Chicago-based Groupon is the fastest growing company in the world. 

Groupon (a combination of "Group" and "Coupon") has succeeded by making coupons hip. Their business model is simple: email members a chance to buy one exclusive discount offer a day at a featured retailer or restaurant and split the revenue with the advertiser. It's win-win-win: members get deep discounts, advertisers pay nothing, and Groupon makes top dollar for their services. Advertiser make their money on add-ons and repeat business.

The smart brand has relied on social media and social networking for it's growth.

I get it. I'm a Groupon member.

Groupon is also know for a quirky persona and offf-beat sense of humor.

That quirkiness has got them into PR trouble with an ad campaign launched during last Sunday's Super Bowl.  Critics say the spot featuring actor Timothy Hutton  is insensitive to the oppression in Tibet.

So, after trying to make excuses for the spot, they've decided to pull the entire ad campaign. Quite a misstep for their first TV ads for a company that turned down a $6 billion buy-out offer from Google and may and launch an IPO in 2012.

So, what's that all mean to you?

Be careful not to offend customers it can sour your relationship.

Takeaway: Think twice before you speak -- or advertise.

Friday, February 04, 2011


About 21" of snowfall here in Chicago has eaten into my work schedule. Shoveling out has left me no time to create a new tip for this week. So, I've created a remix of a tip from my 2006 blog archives:


My first car was a1972 Chevy Chevelle.

It was gold and primer gray. I lovingly tried to restore the decaying car with fibre glass repair and Bondo until the rust hole in the back floorboard became big enough to lose a passenger. I continued to drive that car, as I put myself through my second year of college.

One summer, the muffler fell off in the middle of traffic. I stopped, jumped out, threw the muffler in my trunk and drove on.

The next day, I visited the local "Rick's Quick Stop Muffler Shop"  It's slogan vowed: "We'll only replace what's needed."

At the counter I met Rick, the shop owner. He welcomed me, gave his tech my keys and offered me a cup of coffee. After a few minutes the tech called me into the bay to look at things.

"You need a whole new exhaust system," he said. "Look at that hole there, the thing is falling apart. I don't want you breathing all that carbon monoxide."

I took my key and firmly tapped at the area around the pin hole he showed me. It was solid. I continued tapping my way up and down the exhaust system. It was solid.

I quietly walked back into the waiting room. 

"So, should I write up an order for you?" he asked. 

I brought him back and tapped along the area from front to back.

"Your tech said I need a whole new system," I said. "This looks like it will last longer than the car to me. What do you think?"

"Well, I want my guys to sell stuff, you know," he replied.

"Sorry. Not to me," I replied. "I want you to "Only replace what's needed." This car isn't worth a new system. If it lasts me to the end of summer I'm happy."

Rick begrudging did as I asked. The car lasted another year and I lived.

There's sometimes a conflict between "selling stuff" and "serving customers". And that tension often can destroy long-term gains for a quick sale. 

Perhaps the book "The Ultimate Question", puts it best: "Bad profits are about extracting value from customers, not creating value" for them.

Creating value creates fanatically loyal customers.

I know at least a dozen people who, without being asked, rave about Costco (a hero in the "Ultimate" book). You'd think they were paid to shop there. "High quality, low price," is the retailer's mantra.

But providing value isn't always about low prices. My fellow Apple Computer fans pay a premium for what we feel is an unparalleled user experience. The value outweighs the price tag. Apple has created the kind of value that builds loyal customers at a premium price. And they are consistently profitable.

In the new economy of 2011, customers are demanding more for their dollar. They don't want to get "snowed". And if you take advantage of today's connected customer, it will end up on social media review sites, like 

Rick's muffler shop is no longer in business. In fact, I think my old Chevy lasted longer than his shop did. Sad. He made a good cup of coffee.

Takeaway: How can you increase the value of your brand? What sales or marketing techniques do you need to change? Are you being 100% forthright to earn 100% of your customer's loyalty?

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Year, New Beginnings...

Don't you love a story of redemption?

That's what made the YouTube viral video of Ted Williams, the homeless "Man With The Golden Voice," the first and biggest feel-good story of the New Year.

Chicago-based Kraft Foods capitalized on that vibe by asking Williams to be the new voice of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

Listen to his mellow baritone voice in the last 10 seconds of this new Kraft spot that debuted Jan 9th on ESPN:

It was a brilliant PR maneuver that gained the brand and the company a lot of goodwill and tons free media coverage.

But Kraft had to move quickly to make it work. They had to be able to act without wasting days of decision making, focus groups, and analysis. If they had waited a few hours or even minutes longer the story would have been over. Or Ted might have been the voice of another brand.

Did Kraft have anything to lose?

Sure. Maybe. Williams could have been a creep or had a violent criminal past. A quick background check likely minimized that risk upfront.

Otherwise, it was a risk worth taking. It wasn't a long term contract. It was a few hours of recording and 10 seconds of airtime. Even if Ted fell back to his old lifestyle, who could fault the company for helping someone who had fallen on hard times?

I'd love to shake hands with the PR person who saw the opportunity and congratulate the executive who greenlighted the decision.

The whole story makes me hungry for some Kraft Homestyle Macaroni and Cheese. You?

Takeaway: Are you ready to act quickly when a great marketing opportunity approaches you? Are you aggressively looking for opportunities? And are you more focused on making money or making a difference?

Monday, January 10, 2011


Sorry, I haven't published my blog since my neighbor, Uncle Tony passed away at the end of November. He was my Great Uncle and a great guy.

This tip, based on an except from my June 2009 column in Professional Distributor, is dedicated to and about him. (He was a creative, generous, and funny man and is sorely missed...) 


My Great Uncle Tony first helped his dad as a fruit and vegetable peddler during the Great Depression when he was only nine years old. He remembers setting up stock, running orders and cleaning-up. Sometimes, he even drove the truck! 

More than once, my Great Grandfather, Pa, would use him to cross-sell items that he’d overbought.

“A lady would shout down for a bag of oranges,” my uncle said. “The old man would have too many apples, so he’d send me upstairs with a bag of apples.The lady would see the bag, and yell at me. She wanted oranges. So, I’d go back down and tell Pa. He would send me back up with the oranges — and the apples again. The women would usually buy both.”

Although I’m not a fan of sneaky sales tactics, I must admit it’s a funny story and a fairly innocent technique. The point is you need to make cross-selling, upselling and add-on sales an integrated part of your sales and marketing strategy. You can even use these techniques to blow-out your old or excess inventory. Bottom line, if each customer buys just a little bit more, the incremental sales can make a big difference in your bottom line -- with little or no extra cost.

Takeaway:  In good times or bad, asking for a bigger order can generate a bigger sale.