...today we offer Steve Cuno’s jazz-ish version of “Frosty the Snowman.” Happy holidays from the RESPONSE Agency.
With all due respect to Frosty...
Yeah, what Jon Stewart said
I was struggling to write a suitable rant about the religious bigots who pressured advertisers into jerking their spots from “All-American Muslim,” and the fact that Lowe’s and others actually gave in and did so. But Jon Stewart handled the subject so well, rather than write my own rant, I defer to him — click here. Thanks to Robert Rosenthal of the marketing firm Mothers of Invention, for sharing this link on Facebook, which is how I stumbled upon it.
Ineffective Marketing in 2 Minutes
For its inaugural tablet edition, Deliver Magazine asked Steve Cuno to offer up a two-minute video message for the “Our Last Word” feature. Watch it now by clicking on the “play” arrow above. To download the tablet app, click here.
Don’t tell anyone we told you, but our very own Steve Cuno wrote the byline-less Leader Column in the new issue of Deliver Magazine. Here is the original, longer version, with some crucial (we feel) content that didn’t fit in the magazine’s allotted space. To read the edited version on the Deliver site, click here.
Four letters, yes. Naughty word? Never.
Why CMOs mustn’t be afraid to tell their staffs to go sell.
Although we at Deliver® are not given to profanity, be advised that today’s column indulges repeated use of the four-letter word “sell,” along with the related terms “sales” and “selling.”
Our apologies if we shocked you. Or, if impressionable children looking over your shoulder happened to see the words. We have no wish to offend. Rather, we wish make a point. We think it’s high time not only to stand up for the above-referenced S-words, but to wear them proudly like the badges of honor that they are.
Many marketers bend over backward to avoid using the S-words. Asked what we do for a living, not a few of us prefer words like “marketer,” “communication professional,” “representative,” “service provider,” “product consultant” — anything but sales. The trouble is, there’s always someone who can’t quite make sense of the euphemism du jour. When that person presses us, we find ourselves forced to mutter something about, er, um, well, “getting people to buy stuff.”
Come on, admit it. “Getting people to buy stuff” is selling. Think back to the unit on logic you endured in high school, when you learned that if A means B and B means C, then A also means C. If the purpose of your direct mail is to get people to buy from you, and the only way they can buy from you is if you sell to them, then the purpose of your direct mail is to sell.
You may not personally go door-to-door or spend time on a sales floor. Your job may be strategizing, creative-directing, writing, designing, production-managing, data-manipulating, sorting, account-executiving or what-have-you-ing. But the raison d’être of the direct mail you create is to complete a transaction or generate a lead. Which is another way of saying that your job’s raison d’être is to—guess what—sell.
Chin up! There’s no need to be so darned apologetic about the business we’re in. To be sure, we can call ourselves marketers (and so forth) if we want, and there is no harm in it—provided that we avoid slipping into denial about what marketing truly is. When we fail to concede that we are in the business of selling, we risk mistaking the execution for the goal. Prose that would make our English professor proud and design that draws praise from the art community are all well and good, but if they fail to sell, they are not marketing. And when we refuse to acknowledge as much, we are not marketers.
We are serious about that wearing the S-word like a “badge of honor.” Responsible, customer-oriented selling makes an economy thrive, and making an economy thrive makes society thrive. As any economist will tell you, a sure way to help the world out of a recession, not to mention promote long-term prosperity, is to put money in circulation. Money circulates only when there is buying. And there is buying only when there is selling.
Which means not only can you admit to selling. You can admit to it with pride.
Why do some marketers seem to avoid use of the S-word? One reason may be the utility in reserving “sales” for what customer-contact people do, and “marketing” for what people locked away in corporate departments do. If so, the delineation is fading. Today it’s not unusual even for people on the sales floor to eschew the S-word. Clothing salesperson? Bite your tongue. The high school student working part time for minimum wage in that trendy mall store is a personal fashion consultant.
Another reason may be the association of “sales” with not altogether underserved negative stereotypes. Indeed, abuses occur in the name of “sales” and, to be fair, in the name of “marketing” as well. So here we must make a distinction between selling and hustling. We are all for selling, and wholly against hustling. There is no honor in pushing people into buying what they don’t want, in fooling them into thinking they must purchase what is in fact wholly optional, or in committing them to spend what they cannot afford. Neither is there honor in making false or exaggerated claims that lure trusting people into shelling out for products that do not perform as promised.
Responsible, customer-oriented selling consists of presenting relevant products and services to likely prospects, and persuading them with solid benefits. (If you happen to market — sell — by use of direct mail, pat yourself on the back. There is no better medium for pinpointing likely prospects, or for presenting solid benefits in detail.)
What you call your profession is your business. But let’s proudly own selling as the point of what we do, and allow it to drive our work. And, let’s remind the naysayers that responsible selling as described above is both socially beneficial and needful.
A pat on the head for Purina ONE
Look for QR codes on the front of Purina ONE dry cat food packages. For each person who scans the code, Purina ONE will donate a buck, up to $30,000, to feed shelter pets. You might also visit the Purina One Facebook page and take the “Bowl By Bowl” quiz. The quiz explodes myths about alleged dangers of adopting shelter pets; and for every completed quiz, Purina ONE will donate a bowl of food to a needy shelter (name one that isn’t).
Note to cynics: Yeah, yeah, it’s a marketing ploy, and the donations may be a drop in the Purina ONE bucket. So? No one is making them do this. They could as well keep their $30,000 and sell those bowls of food. But this way, hungry animals get fed, and more shelter pets get homes. I call this a non-zero sum promotion. Good for Purina One, and good for the animals. It’s the kind of marketing we can praise for a change.
Is loyalty to employees who deserve it always economically sound? I dunno. Nor do I care.
There comes a time in business — in life — when, if a party you’re dealing with keeps their commitments, you keep yours. Even if it means passing on an apparent opportunity.
I worked for a firm where that was clearly not the rule. A talented and well-liked art director accepted our employment offer and moved his family to Utah to join us. We were happy with his work. A year or so later, another art director showed up, portfolio in hand. Certain Powers That Be liked her and her portfolio well enough to want to fire the previously-hired fellow and hire her in his place. Fortunately, sanity prevailed, and she was simply added to the staff.
To me, whether the new arrival’s work was better was irrelevant. It’s one thing to fire someone for poor performance. But to fire someone because a more attractive candidate presents? Maybe — maybe — that’s good business, but it’s crappy morals. (Call me naive, but I happen to view crappy morals as incompatible with good business. Unfortunately, crappy morals are not de facto incompatible with profitability. I might add that I am neither rich nor in any danger of becoming rich. So what do I know?)
The incumbent art director’s work was skillful, on time, delivered with a cheerful attitude. He had, in short, kept his end of the bargain. Suppose we dumped him because something better came along. Would the newcomer be secure only until someone else with an even better portfolio came along?
When I opened the RESPONSE Agency 17 years ago, I resolved only to fire people who earned the privilege, and only to lay off people due to economic necessity. I had a chance to prove it a few years after opening our doors. On the eve of his hiring a salesperson who had wowed us all, I asked my sales manager, “What will you do if she outsells you?” He admitted to worrying about it. I said, “If she does, congratulations. You will have hired well and proved yourself a great sales manager. Do not compete with your people. As long as you don’t steal from me or become a jerk, your position is secure. No one leapfrogs over you or replaces you.”
It went both ways. At a time when our still-young agency was in financial straits — every agency has such times in its history, though most won’t admit it — I told him I’d understand if he updated his resume. He replied, “You have been loyal to me, and I believe in this company. Instead of updating my resume, I’m going to get us some new clients and save us.”
That is exactly what he did.
As for the art director? Today he works with us. Jeff is a major component of our success. He illustrates and writes, too. Plus, he is a freelancer. If you’re looking for a good one, click here to check him out.
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