Sunday, January 18, 2009

Perseverance (Part 2)

Last June I wrote a post about one of the greatest sports icons of our time, Tiger Woods. In that post I asked a question, "When do perseverance and determination actually hurt your brand?" Tiger has been out of golf and out of the spotlight for more than 6 months now. He is one of the major endorsers for Nike, Buick, Gatorade, Gillette, Accenture, EA Sports, and the PGA Tour.

As I stated in the previous post, this situation presented an amazing opportunity for marketing researchers to study the impact of a celebrity on a brand. Tiger is one of the largest sports celebrities in the world so I would imagine his impact would be much larger than some others, but it will be very interesting to see how these companies are affected by his return later this year.

If anyone in marketing for these companies stumbles across this piece or if anyone has some insight into how or if there is a study for this please let me know. And, please share it with marketers around the world. Thanks and enjoy your day!


Friday, January 16, 2009

I Need More Convincing

Yesterday I received an email newsletter from For Rent Media Solutions. I enjoy receiving these email newsletters from my vendors as they generally have good industry information, new data, or just information I need to know.

In yesterday's message there was a post titled "Magazine Ads Increase Web Traffic By More Than 40%." Just after reading that title I had to dig further. WOW, that's a big number, and I'm curious. As I read, the article pointed out the data was from the MPA (or Magazine Publishers of America), and they provided a link to the full report for the data.

Now they really had my attention. I love juicy data, and I was looking for a convincing reason for print to have a resurrection. As I began digesting the full report I quickly became disappointed. While the study they share is interesting and the analysis of the conclusions are explained well, I struggled with three issues in how the study was relevant to For Rent.

1. I have never considered For Rent Magazine a "magazine". It's not one of those publications I see on coffee tables or in rest rooms, and people do not read it for entertainment purposes or subscribe to it (that I know of). It is a book of listings.

2. The data generated for this study was from non-real estate related businesses, and I could not understand how the products they studied could relate to apartment homes.

3. The studies used for the data were run from 2003-2007. It's 2009, and so much has changed.

That being said, I challenge For Rent to help us all understand more about this study and how it relates to our industry in 2009. The summary For Rent made from the full report did not make it clear for me, and I'd like for them to expand on the findings. I would also enjoy anyone's thoughts on the topic, or statistics you can share from your own experiences with print driving Internet traffic.

Thanks and enjoy your day!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wayne Gretzky Is Your Inspiration

I was fortunate enough today to participate in a meeting with my company's president. The theme of the meeting was marketing, and the CEOs that are a part of this group were asked to invite their Head Marketing Nerd. Thus, the invite.

I probably don't attend enough non-industry related seminars and training, and I must say it was a nice change of pace. The presenter for the day was Mitch Gooze'. Mitch was an engaging speaker and allowed great participation from the group. The main theme for the presentation was comparing marketing and sales to design and production. He asks the question, "While production would not be expected (in most cases) to redesign a widget due to a design flaw, why do we expect sales to fix what is essentially a marketing flaw?"

Let me further explain. What he is trying to say is that there is a disconnect between marketing and sales. The sales team is trying to sell something that the marketing team has not clearly defined. He explained, on the marketing side we must connect the "Who Buys?" and "What are they buying?" to the sales side or "How are they going to buy it?" The message the sales team is receiving in many cases is conflicting or is inspired by them and not by marketing. Marketing should be the team clarifying the Who? and What? while sales is concerned with the How? Too often marketing has not made the message clear and sales is then responsible to fix it themselves.

So, how is this accomplished. Talk to your customers. Find out why they buy your product or service. It's our job to understand what our customers needs are, and if you've been in a business for a number of years you might think you know but in reality you don't. After you find out more about your customers you can give your marketing the direction it needs, and communicate that properly with your sales team.

Part of learning more about your customers should help you to innovate, improve, and stay ahead of the curve. Mitch shared a story about Wayne Gretzky that I just loved. Wayne was once asked, "Why are you such a great hockey player?" He responded, "I skate where the puck will be." Wayne made a choice, and just like Wayne we have a choice in business. We can educate ourselves and anticipate where the puck will be, or we can follow everyone else and chase after the puck. I'd rather play like the great one.

Enjoy your day!


picture courtesy of bobdylan_8 at

Monday, January 12, 2009


A couple days ago I changed the background for my Twitter page, and if you ever read this blog you'll notice I've changed the design here as well. Now this isn't because it's 2009 and time for a new start, it's because of something I learned early in my business career at Toyota.

Kaizen defined is "Continuous Improvement". You will see some schools of thought redefine it as "Six Sigma" or "Lean Thinking". Just Google kaizen and you'll see a number of results. I'm writing this post to just explain the way I define it.

Kaizen for me is innovation, challenging ideas, and change. Part of my blog title and description of what this blog is all about is my obsession with kaizen at every touchpoint. I just can't tolerate "that's the way we've always done it." Join the kaizen train with me. There's always a better way.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I No Longer Give a #&%! About Your Closing Ratio

That's right, it deserved an explative. Why in sales do we get caught up on this number? My question is how many sales did you get today (or this week)? I don't care how many times you picked up the phone or how many people you demonstrated your product to in order to get that/those sale(s) as long as you get them.

Why, Mark, why? Because you're all full of #&%! when you tell me how many calls or leads you had anyway as you're afraid to have a low closing ratio. We've been holding you to some magical closing ratio number, and it's time to stop. I love interviewing new sales candidates or managers and they tell me that they have a 50% closing ratio or higher. I call BS! How is that exactly measured anyway? Is it based on people you actually demonstrated your product to? Is it based on everyone that inquired? Does it include people that are interested in a product that is out of stock or not immediately available?

And given all that criteria, what really matters? I think two things matter.

1. Getting the sales to achieve the goals set for yourself and management.

2. Recording every single call, visit, or inquiry of any kind that comes in.

I believe these are the key measurements needed for selling and marketing a product. And that's why I no longer give a #&%! about your closing ratio.

Enjoy your day!