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.