Saturday, May 30, 2015

Always Have a Second Pair of Eyes

I came across this sign while delivering some baby furniture the other day.


Three lessons...

  • Never let your high school drop out make your signs. 
  • Always have an educated person proof read your signs before you put them up. 
  • Don't trust spell-check.

Enjoy your weekend smile.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Had the flavor been Spinach Souffle, I might have thought they had done that sign on purpose. A little humor can go a long way. But humor is like nitro glycerin. It can blow up in your face if handled poorly.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Teaching Your Staff to Listen

"I'll have a poppy seed salad, half-size, with a baguette and drink for here, please."

"Okay. What salad would you like?"

"Poppy seed. Half-sized."

"Okay, what side? You can have chips, baguette or an apple."

"Baguette."

"Would you like a drink?"

"Yes."

"Will this be to go?"



You can imagine this exchange. Maybe you have had this exchange. This is word for word the exchange one of my employees shared with me from a recent lunch break.

Listening is a far underrated skill that needs to be on your list of traits.

Fortunately, there are ways to train listening skills. Here are two exercises you can do with your staff to help them work on their listening skills.


REPEATING THE QUESTION

Pair up your staff and have one ask the other person random questions. Before the other person can answer, he or she must first repeat the question back to the one asking. Have them each ask four questions of each other.

Your staff will get two benefits from this. First, you get them trained in the process of repeating and paraphrasing the question back to the customer. This technique forces them to listen and also clarifies what the customer really wants or needs. They will be better able to solve the customer's problems.

Second, they will get to know more about each other, so it becomes a team building exercise as well.


WHY I LIKE WORKING HERE

Have the staff pair up again. Have each person tell the other their favorite reasons for working here. Let them know that they will have to tell the group what the other person told them.

This also has two benefits. First, they have to listen to be able to repeat. Second, when you are all done, everyone will have heard everyone else telling them why they like working at your store. Talk about a major morale boost!

After doing both of these exercises, talk about the importance of listening, repeating back, and clarifying. Challenge them to practice the repeating back all day every day with every customer until it becomes habit.

Not only will their listening skills improve, so will their morale and your sales.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS I had an advertising sale rep who used this repeating back technique almost to the point of annoyance. Here is the deal, though. He never made a mistake. He never got it wrong. He always did exactly what I wanted. I appreciated it so much and was crushed when he retired (early because he had done so well as a salesman with that technique).

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Chasm Between Early Adopters and Early Majority

Back in 1962, Everett Rogers introduced us to the Diffusion of Innovations that shows how people enter the market for any given idea, product or service. There are five groups of people who look at new ideas and products distinctively different. The percentages shown are consistent across the board in study after study. Here is a quick definition of these groups through the prism of the smart phone industry.



Innovators: They don’t find what they want on the market so they make it. They didn't get what they wanted from the new iPhone 5S so they hacked into the programming and made their own apps and programs.

Early Adopters: They want the newest, latest, most unique. They loved the iPhone 5S, couldn't wait to get their hands on it. Yet, there they were standing in line one year later for the iPhone 6+ because it was newer and more unique.

Early Majority: They want the new, too... but only after it has been proven to work. They prefer tried and true over new and unique. They bought the iPhone 5S, but three to six months after it launched and have proven itself. They’ll get an iPhone 6 eventually, but probably not until it is time to upgrade.

Late Majority: Unlike the Early Majority, these people are waiting until it feels like everyone has one. They will only buy the iPhone 5S because they found a great deal on it, and figured they might as well join the crowd.

Laggards: They aren't buying a smart phone. They don’t need one. Oh, they might get one, but only after all other options are completely gone. They will buy the iPhone 5S when they have no other choice.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR MARKETING

The chasm you see in the chart is the monumental mind-shift that takes place between the Early Adopters (EA) and the Early Majority (EM).  The EA want their product now. They want “new and unique” and don’t care how much it costs. They’ll pay full retail to get it first. To them, the words “tried and true” are the kiss of death. The EM’s, however, live for the words “tried and true”. They want the proven item, the easily available item, the commodity.

If you try to market to the EA’s, you will completely turn off the EM’s. Words like new, innovative and unique are scary to the EM’s. If you try to market to the EM’s, you will completely turn off the EA’s who don’t care about tried and true.  In other words, you have to choose which of these two groups to market, then make sure your message and your offerings are tailored to that group. If you try to reach both, you’ll reach neither.

If you try to market to the Late Majority (LM) or Laggards, you’re just a fool. The LM’s only want the commodity at a discount. The Laggards don’t want it at all and only buy it as a means of last resort at the cheapest price.

You can look at the five groups like this…

  • The Innovators push the development of the product forward. 
  • The Early Adopters buy that new product as soon as it is available. 
  • The Early Majority buys the commodity version of that product. 
  • The Late Majority buys the discounted commodity version of that product. 
  • The Laggard only buys the discounted commodity version and only when forced to buy it.

The profit margin, therefore, is in selling to the EA’s. The volume is in selling to the EM’s. Everyone else is a race to the bottom that you can’t  (don’t want to) win. The choice is yours, but it is definitely a choice you have to make. Otherwise you will be stuck in the chasm between the two with ineffective marketing to both of them.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS One other thought I have been having on this topic... My toy and baby customers turn over so fast that even the tried and true product to me can often feel new and innovative and unique to a brand new mom-to-be. In other words, if you have a fast-changing market, don't throw out the tried-and-true products just yet. They may be new and unique to your new base.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

A Simple Tip to Change Your Customer's Lasting Impression



I figured this time it would be different. This time I was handing the cashier $33 for a $32.53 bill. This time I was only going to get change back. This time they wouldn't place those bills in my hand first, then dump the change on top of those bills so that it could slide off the bills and onto the floor, the counter, or the road beneath the door I couldn't open in the drive-thru lane.

I was wrong.


He placed a receipt in my waiting hand, dumped the change onto the receipt, then watched with apathetic disdain as the two pennies slid off the receipt, rolled back across the counter and fell somewhere below his feet. With a half-hearted apology, he bumbled around under the counter until he found the two pennies. I was ready to leave, already pissed off that no one ever taught him this simple trick.

Place the coins in the hand first, followed by the bills, followed by the receipt.

First, if you're counting back change - something you should learn to do - then you will always do it this way.

Second, it is far easier to grab bills while holding coins than to grab coins while holding bills. Try it.

Third, this is usually one of the last impressions a customer has of your store. If that impression is your half-hearted apology, or worse, her having to scramble on the floor to get her money back, then you aren't sending her out on a positive note. She will have that bad taste in her mouth next time she decides where to shop and she won't even know exactly why she chose not to go to your store.

It isn't all that hard to train. It isn't all that hard to do. It seems like a small thing, but because of where it happens in the grand arc of her experience, it takes on a larger significance.

I didn't want to wait around for two pennies. But I did, getting more frustrated with every passing second. I didn't even want the receipt in the first place. I used to try to teach these cashiers the right way to do it, but decided that wasn't my job. Nowadays I just shake my head and make note of which businesses could use a training program (hint: every fast food drive thru, almost every chain store on the planet, and way too many indie retailers).

It is simple to give the change first. Plus, it makes a difference in the lasting impression she has of your store. Why more stores don't teach this technique is beyond my understanding. Wouldn't you think big chains like Subway would know this?

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS This is a non-negotiable for my staff. During training they are told that if they are ever caught giving back the bills first, they can seek employment elsewhere. There is no excuse for not doing something this easy the right way each and every time.

PPS Although I teach them and encourage them to count back the change, I am not as tough on that particular skill, so long as they hand over the change first. They instead say something to the effect of, "Your change is $1.58. Here is the 58 cents. Here is the dollar."

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I Want Your Business in My New Book

Have you downloaded the free eBook Making Your Ads Memorable? Getting people to listen/read/see and remember you is the first step in advertising. Getting them to take action is the second step. Most people fail on the first step and then wonder why the second step never happened.

The guide is fairly straightforward and simple with a couple of examples. The price is pretty good, too. Free.


Those of you who have downloaded it have asked for more. More explanation of the techniques. More examples of those techniques in action.

Just for you, I am working on a new, expanded book that will jump into the deep end of each technique including how and why they work. I plan to include many examples of each technique.

I could easily just make stuff up for fictitious companies and call it good. But I believe it will be a better read if I use real companies and real people trying to meet real needs with their advertising.

I want your business in my new book.

All you need to do is send me an email (phil@philsforum.com) with the following stuff...

  1. A quick description of your business (include contact info, taglines, etc)
  2. What you hope to accomplish with your advertising (draw traffic? sell a particular product? get into the top of a customer's mind?)
  3. Three unrelated words (English and recognizable and suitable for the FCC, please)

I will take your info and, using the techniques I describe, write a 30-second piece of ad copy around your advertising goal incorporating the three words.

Why the three words? Two reasons:

  • To show you how you can be more creative than you originally thought
  • Because using interesting words in unique combinations gets attention

If you send in a submission you will get...

  1. First right of refusal. You can tell me yay or nay if you don't want what I've written to be in the book.
  2. Freedom to use the copy for your own purposes. Yes, I give you the copyright of the copy I write for you. No charge.
  3. A free copy of the book once published. 
  4. Publicity from being in the book.

I think that's a fair exchange. Don't you?

I already have a handful of submissions. I need about twenty more to tip this project. Will you be one of the tippers?

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS You don't have to be a retailer to send in your submission. In fact, I've already received submissions from life coaches, writers, and teachers. This will be a fun book to read that will help a lot of small businesses get better, including yours. Take three and a half minutes and send me an email. The only tricky part will be coming up with three words.

Monday, May 11, 2015

How to Get Customers to Fall in Love With Your Products

Dr. Ross Honeywill says there are two types of customers - NEO's and Traditionals. Traditionals are all about the Price. NEO's, however, care more about Design, Authenticity, and Provenance than Price. Get the NEO to fall in love with the product and you'll make the sale.

Roy H. Williams says there are two types of customers - Relational and Transactional. Transactional customers are all about the Price. Relational Customers, however, are looking for someone they can Trust who will lead them to the right products they can fall in love with.

The Diffusion of Innovation says there is a big chasm between the Early Adopters and the Early Majority. The Early Majority want the tried and true commodities that have a proven track record. They will go wherever they can find the best deal. The Early Adopters love the new and unique and have to have the latest, greatest, regardless of price.

You can discuss the nuance between the three theories until the end of the earth and never fully reconcile them into one theory.

Or you can pull out the one thing all three agree on and run with it all the way to the bank.

The money is in getting your customers to fall in love with your products and your store.



FALLING IN LOVE

Remember falling in love? You don't analyze it. You don't weigh out pros and cons. You don't look at the features and benefits.

You draw smiley faces. You doodle his name on the worksheet you were supposed to turn in. You imagine what it will be like to be together. You visualize walking hand in hand. You picture the two of you on a date, at the park, in the movie theater. You see the future of you with this other person.

Bob Phibbs says that customers who are shopping are in a different mode than customers who are buying. Customers who are shopping are in analytical mode. They are gathering info, measuring and weighing options. Customers who are buying, however, have to get out of that mode and into wonder and love. They have to see themselves already owning and using the product.

In other words, they have to fall in love with the idea of owning the product.

You have been wrongly taught for years that your job is to give your customers information. Features and benefits, features and benefits, features and benefits. In today's online world, they already have most of the information they need before they set foot in the store. Your real job is to get them out of analyzing the product and into visualizing already owning the product.

You can do that two ways...

Ask Visualization Questions:
  • How do you see yourself using this product? 
  • What are your plans for this product? 
  • How will this look in your home? 
  • Where do you see yourself using this? 
  • What is your ultimate goal for this item?
Use Assumptive Statements and Questions:
  • Most everyone who buys one of these gets a second as a backup. Do you want to get two today or just the one?
  • Would you like me to giftwrap these items while you finish shopping for the rest of the list?
  • You're going to be really happy with your choice of that product.
  • When you get this home, to make sure you get the full use out of it, be sure to...
Before you start thinking those sound snarky or sneaky or gimmicky, remember that your customer came into your store looking to solve a problem or fill a need. Your job, therefore, is to help her solve a problem or fill a need. If you leave her in analytical mode, you won't solve her problem or fill her need. She'll leave in search of more information and most likely have someone else solve her problem or fill her need.

If you make her fall in love with the product, you'll make the sale, whether she is a NEO, a Relational Customer, an Early Adopter, or any other label you want to give her.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS You still need to know all the information. In part, so that if she has faulty information, you can correct it. In part, because she may need one or two more pieces of information to help her visualize the product properly. In part, so that she will trust you as the expert.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Avoiding the Discount Mentality



Everyone wants a discount. Everyone wants a deal. Everyone wants a coupon. Or so you might be led to believe.

One of my employees went to a fast food restaurant and said, "I'd like a three-piece strips, a biscuit, and a small drink."



The employee answered, "The drink isn't included with that."

She responded, "That's okay, I want a three-piece strips, a biscuit, and a small drink."

He replied, "But the drink isn't included."

She said, "I don't care if it is included or not, I want a three-piece strips, a biscuit, and a small drink."

He replied, "But the drink isn't included. You'll have to pay extra for the drink."

This went on for several more exchanges until the clerk finally got her what she wanted. He had no concept of how to take care of a customer if it didn't fit into his special value meal buttons.

Unfortunately, his actions aren't far from his experiences. There are many customers out there who would have not gotten the drink because it wasn't part of the bargain. They would have ended with the strips and biscuit or chosen something else that included a drink.

That is the Discount Mentality that has taken over much of America. And it is reinforced and fueled by retailers all across the country who only offer customers the bundles, deals and specials. 

Don't be that store.

There are also a large swath of shoppers who are more like my employee, who know exactly what they want and how they want it. They are willing to pay extra for the drink, because to get it any other way is to not get what they want.

While the rest of the world caters to the Discount Mentality...

  • You need to find and hire employees who don't think that way. 
  • You need to train your team to first give the customer exactly what she wants (and then worry about any specials or deals). 
  • You need to create a store where falling in love with the product is more important than fitting a budget or a price. 

You do that and you'll have plenty of customers willingly paying extra for the drink. They're thirsty for a store that gives them exactly what they want and how they want it.

Be that store.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS For those of you who have read Dr. Ross Honeywill's book One Hundred Thirteen Million Markets of One, you'll know that I am talking about selling to NEO's. I'll show you how to get customers to fall in love with your products in the next post.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Super Heroes aren't Born, They are Made

I saw the new Avengers: Age of Ultron movie last night. Loved it!! I love the super hero movies in general. But some people are complaining that it is becoming over-the-top.

Avengers: Age of Ultron copyright Marvel Comics, source IMDB.com

It seems like every few years they reboot the franchise for our beloved super heroes. We've had two different Spider-men and five Spider-man movies since 2002, yet another reboot is scheduled for 2017. Fantastic 4 is getting a re-do this summer. And lord knows, Batman has gone through so many do-overs that you would need a stadium to host a party of everyone who has ever played the role.

Do we really need all those genesis stories?

I say yes! The genesis story is most often my favorite of the super hero movies because it reminds me of one simple truth...

Super Heroes are not born, they are made.

Oh sure, they may be born with super powers. But powers alone don't make you a hero. You have to learn to harness those powers and use them for a purpose. They have to be trained to grow into that hero role.

Every retailer wishes they had a super hero team working the store. You just have to put in the effort to develop that team.

  • First, you have to find those people with the super powers you want. (The Interview)
  • Then you have to train them to use those powers for the purpose of growing your store. (The Training)
  • Finally you have to get them to use those powers in conjunction with the other super heroes on your team. (The Continual Education and Team Building)

No small task for sure. But not impossible, either. You just have to put on your Nick Fury eye-patch and start assembling your team.

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS Yes, this is a different metaphor than the usual one I use for building your team. But the steps in creating a team of super heroes are exactly the same as the steps for creating a Work of Art. It all starts with having the right raw materials (super powers).