Thursday, August 31, 2006

Your Weekly Marketing Tip from Sasso Marketing....


I stood in the store aisle overwhelmed with snack decisions. Did I want
candy? Chips? Nuts? I'd skipped lunch. I was pretty hungry. What would hold
me over? I studied labels.

I could get an ounce more Whatchamacallit for the same price as a Snickers

But I'd never had a Whatchamacallit. What if it wasn't any GOOD? It could
just be more empty calories and I'd still be hungry.

I chose the Snickers. The package promised: "It's so satisfying."

But this tip isn't about packaging. It's about comparing options. Media

In advertising, most ad agencies compare print media by studying CPM (Cost
Per Thousand). I think it's a bean-counter's measurement. It shows what
you're paying to reach a thousand pair of eyeballs. Eyeballs that may never
even look at your ad. Or may not care what you're selling.

To be fair, CPM can analyze a readership demographic against your target
market. So, if your target market is auto repair shop owners, it can tell you
how much you're paying to reach them verses technicians. So it's not like
comparing candy bars with chips.

But CPM can't measure intangibles -- like is it any GOOD? Does it get READ?
How LOYAL are readers? How RESPONSIVE are readers?

That's the kind of insight you get from a specialized ad agency. As experts
in a field, we understand the marketplace. We know the publications -- not
just the formulas. We actually READ these publications. We talk to their readers.
And we know what works. And what doesn't.

Is your ad agency looking beyond the numbers? Perhaps it's time to
look for something more "satisfying". If so, you know how to reach me.

- Phil Sasso

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Eye of the Beholder....

Since we got our new dog, Aslan, I've had a problematic two weeks. (And it's nothing to do with the pup -- yet!)
It started when my glasses broke the day we went to pick up our dog.

Since I can't see without my glasses and I was due for an exam, I made an appointment the next morning at a "One Hour" eye care center in a major mall.

The "One Hour" process took so long, I had to return to get my glasses that afternoon. (Beth had to drive and we had to get home to let the puppy out after 4 hours!)

A few days later, I realized I'd contracted conjunctivitis -- probably at the eye doctor.

I called that night and was told to stop in anytime after 10 the next morning and they'd take me right away. When I got there at 10, I was informed the doctors were all out at a meeting until after noon. When I returned after noon, some woman backed into my van while I was waiting for her parking spot. I again had to wait to see a doctor and then wait to file a police report.

I returned a few days later for a checkup with my entire family (since Beth now had pink eye, too). We waited patiently for 45 minutes before I made a little scene by talking to the store manager (repeating "pink eye" as often and loudly as possible) -- until I was quickly escorted to a exam room to keep me from frightening customers.

Needless to say, a lot of my time has been wasted waiting, lately.

Harvard Business School professor, Felix Oberholzer-Gee, wondered if he could reduce waiting by buying time. So, he did a field study in an airport by offering 500 people various amounts of cash to let him cut in line.

He reports: "The data clearly show that you are more likely to be able to jump the queue if you offer more money .. but [most] people who let you cut in will not accept your money. [Students and women were more likely to pocket the cash.] Their behavior is motivated by a norm that says you should help others when they are in need ... Monetary incentives "work" in this instance because people read them as a sign for the needs of others. How hurried are you, really? If you offer $20, you must be really hardpressed for time."

In the end, Obertholzer-Gee concludes that customers would accept a premium-priced service that allows customers willing to pay expedited treatment as long as other customers did not have to wait longer as a result of the special service.

Although I realized I was I paying a premium to get my glasses in an hour from this firm I guess I also expected a shorter wait to be served.

What expectations do your customers have on waiting for service from you? Are there expedited services you can offer to those willing to buy time?

- Phil Sasso

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sell More By Setting Limits....

Want to sell more of your product or service? Set a limit on what your customers can buy. Really! I know it sounds counterintuitive, but research indicates that setting limits actually makes consumers buy more than they otherwise would.

For instance, in a field study by the University of Illinois, shoppers grabbed 3 or 4 cans of soup when it was advertised on sale with no limit. When the the ad read "limit 9" people bought twice as many -- an average of 7 cans each!

Why is that? Much the same way a deadline creates a sense of urgency and gets consumers to "buy now", setting limits creates a sense of scarcity and gets consumers to "stock up". Also, by setting a limit, you create a sense that this discount is really a great deal and that you must set limits to avoid being overwhelmed with demand. But you'll notice in the field study, the price never actually changed.

Although sales doubled for the researchers, this won't always happen. Obviously the limit you set has to be realistic and stretch the customer, without seeming overly generous. I suggest you begin by determining the average quantity historically purchased at a sale price and then set a limit at 50% more than that.

The same limit-setting technique that works in consumer marketing, works in business-to-business marketing. I once used this technique with a slight twist to market an entrepreneur course in partnership with University of Illinois at Chicago. The postscript on the direct mail letter read: "For the best learning environment, class size is limited. So, contact us immediately..."

What can you do to set limits and encourage customers to act quickly?

- Phil Sasso


Nothing beats a hands-on demo. After all, seeing is believing.

That's why I believe in "Show and Sell" in advertising. Whenever a product's benefit is visual, I like to show it.

One client's adhesive was extremely strong and flexible. So we showed a body builder twisting a glued item. The photo stopped you. The copy sold you.

Sometimes one picture can't tell the story.

One client needed to show how his "silent jackhammer" chemical cracked concrete in 3 steps. So I used 3 numbered photos with captions. The photo stopped you. The copy sold you.

Sometimes you need motion you can't get in a print ad.

To demonstrate one client's handtools, we created a miniwebsite with animation on the landing page demonstrating the tool at work. The photo stopped you. The copy sold you.

But sometimes you can see the benefit directly. So you need to think creatively.

For example, when a client's product tripled productivity. You could see that in a product photo. So I showed a man with 6 arms. Again, you guessed it, the photo stopped you. The copy sold you.

Let me help you visualize the benefits of your product or service.

- Phil Sasso

Friday, August 25, 2006

Searching 4U2...

A lot of my friends are into organic food.

Myself, I'm just into food. Organic. Synthetic. Gourmet. Ethnic. Raw. Cooked. Healthy. Junk.

Whatever fuels my body and tastes good makes me happy.

But I do prefer organic in one area: search engine results. Organic results are the ones based on the search engine's unique algorithms to best match your search. Organic is the opposite of the ads. And experts say the top of the organic results are the best place for your website to appear -- even over pay-per-click ads.

Last tip I mentioned pay-per-click advertising, a.k.a. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) can cost from a nickel to $100 per click. The pro: you only pay for clicks. The con: click fraud. Target Marketing (June 2005) reports that 15-20% of SEM is prey to click fraud according to Click Defense ( Some are competitors unethically wasting ad budgets. But 70% are websites generating revenue from search engine network partnerships. (More about networks and affiliates next tip.)

Organic rankings aren't prone to click fraud. But they do face other potential scams. Firms providing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) charge sizable fees with slick promises of top rankings -- but no guarantees. Few deliver. And those that do are very pricey.

Is it worth it? It depends on how key SEO is to your overall marketing strategy. How much of your business is driven by customers looking for you vs. you targeting them, building long term relationships and getting referrals?

In most situations, I suggest brand-building over expensive SEM or SEO programs.

Why? Do a little experiment for me....

Google "advertising and marketing speaker" (with quotes) or click:

Which website would you click? Is it because it's #1 or because you recognize the name/brand?

Personally, I'd pass a dozen top sites for a known brand. Wouldn't you?

- Phil Sasso

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Canceling each other out...

Some customer service departments need an attitude adjustment. Some
leave me in awe of their incompetence.

My assistant, Pat's, daughter recently moved her satellite TV service
(which shall remain nameless) to her new home. Hook-up was just in
time for her soccer-obsessed husband to follow the World Cup. But
workers left cables exposed promising to bury them the next day. They
never returned.

A few days later, without notice, her service stopped. She spent an
hour on the phone being bounced from person to person hoping to
resolve the problem. She ended up canceling her service in disgust.
And no one voiced any concern. When she asked someone about burying
the cable, they refused -- because she was no longer a customer!

Later she got a call offering to sign her up again. At a higher price!

Chief Marketing Officers rank customer value, loyalty and affinity
just behind revenue growth and market share as the top three metrics
of a marketing group's performance, says a survey of 414 CMO's by the
CMO Council.

Yet, it amazes me how much money companies waste on sales and marketing
getting new customers only to throw it away with poor customer
service and customer retention programs. It's like arduously bailing
out a sinking row boat and not taking a moment to stuff a rag in the
gapping hole to stop the problem. How much more growth would they
have if they could both add new sales AND reduce attrition?

And do they really think disgruntled customers don't tell anyone else?

Just look at the story above....

- Phil Sasso

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Terrible Tech...

I may be an expert at marketing automotive tools and equipment. But that doesn't qualify me as an automotive technician.

My tool box is full of various Spec Tools rackets and screwdrivers. I have a Ferret Instruments Worklite and a Snap-on undercar creeper. I know how to use them. But that doesn't mean I know when to use them.

A few weekends ago my car was overheating. My local shop was booked for the day. So, feeling handy, I popped the hood and rolled up my sleeves. My first theory was a leak -- so I opened the radiator. It was full.

My next theory was a stuck thermostat. I grabbed my wrench and pulled the two bolts holding the thermostat in place. Antifreeze poured out on my driveway. I'd forgotten to empty the fluid.

With a lot of knuckle-busting, I pulled the thermostat and replaced the hose. I stepped in the car expecting victory. The battery was dead.

I jumped the car. Within minutes it was overheating again.

As I was cleaning up I realized it was the water pump. I popped the hood.

The belt had snapped. So, not only was the water pump not working, so was the alternator. That's why my battery was dead.

I had wasted almost an hour and was no closer to fixing it. A technician who does this everyday would have seen the problem in seconds and probably solved it in minutes.

People who do something everyday are better at it. It's true for auto mechanics, it's true for marketing professionals.

Having Photoshop won't make you an artist. Owning Word won't make you a writer. Being a great salesperson doesn't necessarily make you a great marketer.

We don't just own the tools of the marketing and advertising trade. We use those tools to develop marketing solutions every day.

That's why I spend most of my time doing what I do best -- and leave fixing my car to folks who do it every day.

Need a marketing tune-up? Drop me an email or give me a call. I'd be glad to show you which of my marketing tools can help you reach your sales goals.

- Phil Sasso

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


The other day a telemarketer tried to bully Pat into getting through to me. He pretended I was expecting his call. I didn't know Albert, but I took his call anyway.

"Hello, Albert! Long time no talk," I answered the phone. "How are you? How are the wife and kids?"

"Did .. uh .. did we talk last week?" Albert replied a little taken back by my greeting.

"No. I don't know who you are or what you're selling," I replied, "But by treating my assistant as you did you've lost the sale already. Sorry."


You don't have to be Einstein to get what I call the ³Law of Reciprocal Sales Actions². "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction" (O.K. it¹s Newton, but you get the point.) The harder a salesperson pushes, the harder the prospect will pull back.

Hard selling is hardly effective.

It's easy to understand when you¹re the one being sold: The more overly-friendly the salesperson is the less friendly we feel inclined to be. The more pushy they are the more resistance we want to put up. Action/reaction.

It¹s not like an abrasive salesperson wears down our resistance to buy, it¹s more like they just tend to wear on our nerves. And although hard sell works on some people in some situations, it alienates most and loses more sales than it earns. When someone is pushy, human instinct is to back off with the same degree of energy. The more they try to force the sale, the more resistance they¹ll get.

That¹s because we like to buy from people we like and respect, not people who bully us.

How can you help a salesperson determine if they are coming off as aggressive vs. assertive? Role plays? Nah. Most salespeople hate them. And few people act naturally in those unnatural situations. I suggest you observe the salesperson in the field. But don¹t concentrate on the salesperson. Study the prospect¹s reaction. Watch their face in-person, listen to their intonation on the phone. Are they pulling back?
Sometimes salespeople find themselves on autopilot and just deliver their pitch forgetting to focus on the prospect¹s attention and reaction. As an objective third party, try not to get involved in the selling. Think of yourself as a scientist studying and noting reactions.

Gosh, I never expected my high school physics class would tie back into marketing. Maybe I should consider a marketing tip on Newton¹s 1st Law of motion: Inertia.

- Phil Sasso

Monday, August 21, 2006


"The crust on this one is just right," said Beth, "The sauce is a
little flat."

"Yeah, I think I like the other sauce better," I replied.

The topic: Pizza. The place: Addison Illinois' 5th annual Slice of
Addison Pizza Competition a few days ago.

For $1 a slice attendees can sample various kinds of pizza from
nearly every pizzeria in town.

"I think the pizza gets better every year," Beth said.

"I just know I try more slices every year," I replied.

Competition is a good thing. It benefits everyone: customer and
marketer alike.

Benefits to the customer are obvious. But how does it benefit the

There's several ways, but the main one is that it grows the whole pie
so everyone can get a bigger slice.

For example, look at bottled water. Did you remember seeing bottled
water when you were a kid? I don't. Yet, from 1990 to 2000, U.S.
bottled water sales tripled to 5.7 billion gallons. In 2005, the
total hit 7.5 billion gallons for a total of more than $10 billion
dollars in sales, according to Beverage Marketing Corporation. That's
26.1 gallons per person per year or more than any other beverage but
carbonated soft drinks. And H2O sales keep growing. The competition
is actually fueling more sales by promoting the market segment.

So the next time you find yourself complaining about the competition,
maybe you'd be better off sitting down and writing them a thank you
note. After all, competition is inevitable, so look at the bright
side, they are helping you grow the pie. All you need to do is
sharpen your marketing skills so you slice off a little wider slice.
(Or call me and we can equip you with the tools you need to grow
your market share.)

Back at the pizza competition, John's Pizza swept the juried awards
and Nardi's Tower of Pizza won the people's choice again. But
everyone won in the long run. Think about the hundreds of pizzas
that friendly competition sells for everyone!

- Phil Sasso

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Heads Up...

We've begun posting a "Bad Ad of the Week" on a bulletin board here at Sasso Marketing.

This week's "Bad Ad" has an astronaut shaking hands with a child in a wide open green field. The headline: "Be there." The subhead: "For the Grand Opening of our Franklin Park Branch." If you look closely you'll realize the ad is for a bank.

I think it's a big waste of money. The headline and visual don't work together. And it's a confusing message. (If you understand what the astronaut has to do with the Grand Opening, please let me know. Are the bankers saying their tellers are spacey? Are their banking fees out of this world? Are their mortgage rates skyrocketing?)

In a good ad, the headline will attract readers and be remembered. (Relevant humor can work. Like: "We find more leaks than the CIA" for a leak detector.) A good ad has a graphic that stops you for a second longer. (An "invisible man" ad got us talking recently.) A great ad will have a good headline and good graphic working together. (An ad we did once had a Photoshopped image of a blimp carrying a semi truck. Headline: "There are better ways to reduce tire wear." The copy explained. The ad generated double the usual responses for the advertiser.)

Five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy of an ad.* That means if you can get your unique selling message across with just your headline and graphic, your ad will be more influential. But don't neglect the 20% of the people who read your ad. They are most likely reading your ad because they are interested in your product! Give them enough information to move to the next step.

My point? Get your message across quickly with a strong headline and graphic. Let the body copy fill in the details.

Don't and you may end up on our "Bad Ad" board!
*SOURCE: Engel/Warshaw/Kinnear,1987