The Civic Cycle – Michael Drew’s ‘Pendulum Presentation’

A few months ago, I saw Michael Drew lead what he calls his ‘Pendulum Presentation’. He calls it that because of the notion that, every 40 years the economy swings between a more selfish, idealistic cycle and then back to a more civic, community cycle. Michael is a bit of a genius – having gotten over 65 books on the New York Times best seller list. This is worth watching.

What do you think? Are we really in a civic cycle? If so – what do you think it means for our businesses?

 

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How to Organize Sales Pages to Avoid Overwhelm – Mark Silver

Mark Silver is my favourite person in the world of marketing these days. Brilliant man. So I was incredibly flattered when he featured me (something he tells me he rarely does) in a post about sales pages on websites.

To read the article – click here.

 

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Darth Vader tells you where to go . . .

Key Lessons from this video: Make your ads funny enough that people want to share them. Make your ads remarkable. Make them so cool that I want to share them with all of my friends because it will make me look good to them. Imagine how many people looking for a GPS system for their car wouldn’t have even known about this fun option without this video being watched over 2 million times.

 

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Upselling – A Funny Story

Key lessons to take from this story – we often don’t get curious about what people are really after when they buy something from us. We just sell them what they came for instead of slowing down the convo to explore why they want it. At it’s crassest – upselling is ‘would you like fries with that?’, but at it’s best it’s a deep interest in helping people get a complete solution to their problems.

A young guy from Alberta moves to Vancouver and goes to a big “everything under one roof” department store looking for a job. The Manager says, “Do you have any sales experience?”

The kid says “Yeah. I was a salesman back in Alberta .” Well, the boss liked the kid and gave him the job. “You start tomorrow. I’ll come down after we close and see how you did.”

His first day on the job was rough, but he got through it. After the store was locked up, the boss came down. “How many customers bought something from you today?

The kid says “one”. The boss says “Just one? Our sales people average 20 to 30 customers a day.

How much was the sale for?”

The kid says “$101,237.65”.

The boss says “$101,237.65? What the heck did you sell?”

The kid says, “First, I sold him a small fish hook.

Then I sold him a medium fishhook.

Then I sold him a larger fishhook.

Then I sold him a new fishing rod. Then I asked him where he was going fishing and he said down the coast, so I told him he was going to need a boat, so we went down to the boat department and I sold him a twin engine Chris Craft.

Then he said he didn’t think his Honda Civic would pull it, so I took him down to the automotive department and sold him that 4×4 Expedition.”

 

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Ten Story Revealing Questions

Whether it’s a product or a service – people are very curious about and reassured by stories. Your story is often at the heart of your credibility. They want to know what makes you so good at or so passionate about what you do. Stories humanize things. Stories connect people. No one wants to hear pitch (maybe Donald Trump, but the man isn’t well . . .). People want to hear stories.

1)    What got you started doing what you do? What drove you to do this? What was the moment when you realized you just had to start this business?

2)    Why did you choose to go about it the way you did?

3)    How did you go about developing your particular approach to the problem?

4)    What were the major obstacles or hardships that got in your way as you built your business?

5)    What have you experienced in your life that gives you the ‘street cred’ to do what you do?

6)    If you’re David with your business – then who is Goliath?

7)    Why are you so passionate about what you do?

8)    Who has been your Obi Wan Kenobi? Which mentors or teachers have most inspired you in this work?

9)    As you look back over your life – what are the primary questions you’ve sat with, struggled with? What are the different elements you’ve been trying to balance or weave together?

10)    If you had to sum up your life in three chapters, what would the chapter titles be and what would they each be about in one sentence?

 

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Free is a Dirty Word

By Corwin Hiebert, an entrepreneur from Vancouver, Canada, who specializes in strategic event design, marketing, and creative talent management. His company, Red Wagon Management, produces and hosts CREATIVEMIX – Vancouver’s Ideation Conference. You can follow Corwin at www.twitter.com/corwinhiebert

I’m convinced that the most offensive word in the event business is “FREE”, specifically when it refers to free admission for an event. Unless you’re new to capitalism, I think you’d agree that the word “free,” more often than not, communicates a lack of value. Whether or not an event can handle a zero-dollar ticket is often beside the point. What is, in fact, being communicated when no monetary commitment is required for an event is that expectations should be low.

When someone registers or plans to attend an event that is free they automatically assign that activity the category of “maybe.” If they are not liable for not showing up then it’s no big deal in their eyes. But it’s a big deal for you, the event planner. Your event plan can be seriously impacted when attendance is such a variable.

Consider the poor success of a Facebook invitation. I haven’t seen any official statistics but, in my experience, it’s a miracle even if 1% of the confirmed attendees from a Facebook event actually show up. Sure, there are the exceptions, such as mass bike rides and water gun fights, but event promotion via social marketing tools invokes little to no commitment. And when the commitment level is low it is that much easier for someone to bail.

Discounts are dangerous too. I come across this one all the time. As an event planner you know that fear, that gut-wrenching feeling, of having empty seats and you’ll do anything to fill them. Too often, prices are hacked and slashed to get people in the room. If you discount remaining tickets, you’ve got a couple liabilities on your hands. First of all, you’ve just filled the room with people who have lowered expectations. These low-paying people can skew survey results, create a negative vibe in the room, and may not be the right people for the event. The second liability is that your pre-existing registrants will go berserk on you and demand refunds, thus lowering your overall revenue and negating the funds you just earned by bringing in the cheapies. It’s a trap. Don’t discount. Add value, don’t lower it.


Helpful Tip:
Offer deals to event registrants only. When trying to increase attendance, focus on the people who have already registered for your event. By providing a discount on additional passes, they’ll be motivated to bring their own friends.

By Corwin Hiebert. Be sure to read his event planning eBook, Eleven and a Half Ways to Help Make Your Next Event a Huge Success. The downloadable PDF is only $3 when you use the special promotional code eventbrite2. Purchases can be made at http://www.redwagonmanagement.com

 

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Promote the Why

By Corwin Hiebert, an entrepreneur from Vancouver, Canada, who specializes in strategic event design, marketing, and creative talent management. His company, Red Wagon Management, produces and hosts CREATIVEMIX – Vancouver’s Ideation Conference. You can follow Corwin at www.twitter.com/corwinhiebert

In the midst of all the planning, we event managers often have the difficult task of leading the marketing effort for our projects. Generating demand for an event is no simple task, but it’s even harder when we spin our wheels promoting the wrong thing. When advertising efforts focus on registration (and ticket sales), they are a liability rather than an asset to the marketing plan because they require the most difficult type of commitment from our target audience: a financial decision.

Event promotions that overly emphasize registration details (price, discounts, deadlines, special offers, etc.) are in fact eliciting the simplest reaction possible: one of dismissal. Instead of trying to appeal to a potential attendee’s pocketbook, we should focus on piquing their interest on an experience they can’t easily find elsewhere. When we message our event in such a way so as to build up their expectations, we can minimize the advertising noise and create more meaningful collateral. Content-rich e-mail blasts, blog posts, tweets, updates, posters, and press releases are far more successful than ones full of registration pitches. By planting in their minds an image or emotion of what they will do, who they will see, and what kinds of memories or benefits they’ll receive, we’re connecting people to the true value of the event, not the cost.

Marketing collateral shouldn’t be that different than from verbal promotion. Think of it this way: if I were in a massive auditorium, standing in front of my target audience, and had 10 seconds to convince people to attend my event, I would not say something as moronic as, “Hello people, our big event is just $25, plus tax of course. So would you please sign-up today?! It should be lots of fun and, if you register right now, we’ll give you the early-bird free drink special package.” Silly, I know! I’d speak to what makes my event special and why people should want to be there; I wouldn’t even bring up the price. Posters, e-mail campaigns, advertisements and the like are a waste of time and money if I spend too much space promoting registration.

It’s common for sales people to be trained to elicit the word “yes” three times from their prospects before asking them if they would like to buy. Event marketing should take on the same tactic. If we can show our target audience that our event will meet at least three of their felt needs, that the pricing is reasonable, and the registration process is simple, then I think collecting their money will become the easiest task in our event plan.

Here are some helpful tips for your next event marketing effort:

1. Smaller is better. Decrease your need for ticket sales; adjust your budget and event space and focus on critical mass.

2. Less is more. Ensure your collateral is simple and visually compelling. Don’t get into the details; that’s what your event website is for.

3. Push it to the side. When sending an e-mail campaign, use an HTML template that has a sidebar—highlight your registration links and details separately from your primary message. With the majority of your e-mail body focusing on building excitement, your invitation will be perceived as subtle yet well-connected to the value of the experience you’re offering.

4. Use testimonials. Promote positive feedback from attendees at a previous event. Make sure you list their names (and their companies if possible)—anonymous quotes are useless.

5. Feature faces. Use images from previous events showing people having a lot of fun (they should be close-ups of faces, not a documentation of the activity).

6. Build partnerships. Develop a small, loyal affiliate base from people or groups who benefit from a successful event. Highlight them, and their stories, instead of always talking about the event. Treat them well, and they’ll become ambassadors who are passionate and motivated to spread the word. Be a fan of theirs and they’ll return the love.

7. Add value, don’t discount. Consider removing early-bird rates or special offers—set the value of the event and stick to your guns. If you need to boost sales, add benefits and give attendees more for their money.

Primetime marketing space shouldn’t be gobbled up with the details about dollars and deadlines. Instead, put the effort into creating a meaningful call to action. Dial down the registration hype and beef up the “why” hype.

By Corwin Hiebert. Be sure to read his event planning eBook, Eleven and a Half Ways to Help Make Your Next Event a Huge Success. The downloadable PDF is only $3 when you use the special promotional code eventbrite2. Purchases can be made at http://www.redwagonmanagement.com

 

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The paradox of promises in the age of word of mouth – Seth Godin

A brilliant blog post from Seth Godin that speaks to the heart of word of mouth:

Word of mouth is generated by surprise and delight (or anger).

This is a function of the difference between what you promise and what you deliver (see clever MBA chart at the bottom).

The thing is, if you promise very little, you don’t get a chance to deliver because I’ll ignore you.

And if you promise too much, you don’t get a chance to deliver, because I won’t believe you…

Hence the paradox.

The more you promise, the less likely you are to achieve delight and the less likely you are to earn the trust to get the gig in the first place. Salespeople often want you to allow them to overpromise, because it gets them through the RFP. Marketers, if they’re smart, will push you (the CEO) to underpromise, since that’s where the word of mouth is going to come from. I have worked with someone who is very good at the promising part. She enjoys it. And when the promises don’t work out, she’s always ready with the perfect excuse.

This is a great strategy if you have a regular job and the excuses are really terrific, but if you need internal or external clients, it gets old pretty fast. It certainly doesn’t lead to the sort of word of mouth one is eager to encounter. Surgeons have this problem all the time. They promise a complete, pain-free recovery and work hard to build up a positive expectation, particularly for elective surgery. And the entire time you’re in bed, in pain, unable to pee, all you can do is hate on the doctor. This is one reason why recovering from failure is such a great opportunity. If you or your organization fail and then you pull out all the stops to recover or make good, the expectation/delivery gap is huge.

You don’t win because you did a good job, you win because you so dramatically exceeded expectations.

 

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16 Questions To Design Your Irresistible Offer

Here are sixteen questions you can ask yourself (and your chosen audience) to design offers that are irresistible. They’re the same questions I ask of all my clients when I work with them.

1.    What’s the product or service or special promotion you’re offering (in plain english)? If it’s a service – how many sessions and how long will each one run? If it’s a product – how many, how big etc?

2.    How much does it cost?

3.    Who is the target market (if any) you’re trying to reach?

4.    What are the major problems this product or service solves? What happens that makes them start to think about buying what you sell?

5.    What is the major result/benefit/outcome that this product or service gives?

6.    What is most important to your target market when buying the type of thing you sell? In terms of the product/service – but also the process they have to go through to buy it. What do they want and what don’t they want (again – not just in buying from you but in terms of buying from your industry – buying the kind of thing that you sell)?

7.    What do you do to give your clients what they want (see answers to the above question)? What are your standards, policies, procedures and processes you use to maintain a level of excellence in what you do? We often assume far too much here. Tell me all the details, all the lengths you go to.

8.    Is there any evidence you can show to prove all of this?

9.    What are the common frustrations, annoyances and hassles people have when buying the kind of thing that they sell? What are the horror stories people have about dealing with your industry?

10.    What are the 5 biggest risks that people perceive about doing business with people like you?  Are they afraid they’ll look stupid? people will laugh at them? that it won’t work? That you’re a cult? This is the time to get real and honestly assess what fears (realistic or based on myths) might stop someone from taking the step to do business with you.

11.    What are the values that you seek to embody as a business? Prove to me that you’re in this for more than the money. Where do you go above and beyond to live your green, ethical, spiritual or community based values? Why should I feel good about myself for doing business with you? Be specific.

12.    What is it that you think most people don’t see or appreciate about your business that you wish they did? What are the tiny details they don’t get to see? What’s the extra effort you’ve put in that seems to go unnoticed?

13.    What do they need to know (see or hear) in order to feel confident that they making a good decision when buying what you sell? If your best friend in Australia was buying what you sold – and couldn’t get it from you – what would you tell them to look for to protect them from an unpleasant buying experience? What questions would you have them ask? What are the telltale signs of an excellent or a very bad business in your industry? What criteria should they use to determine whether what they’re about to buy is of good value?

14.    What else is it that makes it so irresistible? Why is it more than worth the money? What makes it better than the competition to your clients? What’s so different about it? How do you give them what they want but not what they don’t want? I want you to convince me, make your case, show me the evidence, tell me a story etc.  Help me understand why I would want to pay you my hard earned money for this.

15.    What are the three best testimonials you can send me for this offer?

16.    What are the three best one paragraph long stories or case-studies you could provide for this offer?

 

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