Tag Archives: guerrila

Guerrilla Marketing When YOU are the Product

I answered the phone, “Good morning, this is Orvel Ray.”

There was a short silence. Then a woman’s voice, “I’m surprised you answered! It took me back for a moment.”

“Well, if you ever call here, and another man answers, please let me know.”

She chuckled, and then offered, “This is Linda from Washington Speakers Bureau. I’m trying to reach the office of The Guerrilla Marketing Group.”

“You got it. And it’s just me and Denise. Several years ago we built an addition on our house, closed our downtown office, and fired everyone. Now we both work from home, here in the mountains of Colorado.”

“Oh, that must be beautiful!”

“It is. You can come and stay. Now that the boys are grown we have a spare room, and at this altitude, we don’t get much company.”

“I was just shocked that you answered your own phone?”

“Well, who else’s phone would you have me answer?”

Your Identity as a Guerrilla Marketing Weapon

Many experts, consultants, and professionals worry WAY too much about their “professional” image. They think they need an expensive office and a perky receptionist or they won’t be taken seriously. It took years for me to realize that being able to run my business while avoiding the commute, the expense and the hassle of managing a staff, is also a huge credibility builder. It’s a lifestyle most envy.

Image vs. Identity

Guerrilla marketing professionals know that it’s more important for clients know you by your identity, who you really are, rather than to trying to project an image. An image, by definition, is a reflection, a facsimile, a fake. When YOU are the product, your clients want to know who you REALLY are; your quirks, your family, your faults, your hobbies and interests. And they want to know where you live, so if they’re ever dissatisfied they can come punch you in the nose.

Certainly you should dress up on client visits or conferences. But clients prefer a personal relationship, especially with their Trusted Advisers. The more they get to know the “real you” the more they trust your expertise and rely on your advice.

Put your picture on everything

Many years ago, we recommended to a small real estate brokerage that they should require all their agents to include their photo on their business cards. For some of you, this might not be such a good idea, but stick with me here. Today, they’re one of the largest real estate companies in the country. I can’t mention their name, but I believe they sell Moore real estate than any other Company I know.

Guerrilla MarketingThat’s because your brain has a  dedicated area for remembering faces (the Fusiform Face Area, part of the occipitotemporal gyrus). But the part that remembers names (the left hemispheric lingual gyrus) is built for processing language, so it has trouble recalling names.

That’s why, when you go to a networking event, everyone is wearing a NAME TAG. Scientists say it’s because we evolved from troops of social primates. Before the evolution of language, our ancestors relied on faces to discriminate between tribe (good) and outsiders (bad!). So put your picture on your business cards, your stationary, on all of your marketing materials, and most important, on your social media profiles. The more often they see your face, the more familiar (as in family) you become.

And while I’m on this particular soapbox, use a professional headshot. Done in a studio. There’s a reason they call it FACEbook. A picture’s worth 1,000 words, so let’s be very careful what your picture says about you. Business attire, neutral background, cropped close; not some selfie you shot slamming shots with your sister (yes, I have seen it).

Especially on LinkedIn. I will connect with anyone on LinkedIn, UNLESS they put up a picture of their cat; or worse, that scary grey silhouette.

Meet for coffee over SKYPE

If you work with clients remotely, SKYPE is a great way to create a powerful personal connection. And it’s free (Guerrilla Marketing’s favorite word). They see your face, your desk, the junk on your bookshelf. You can share documents, presentations, or your three-year-old daughter singing “Old McDonald Had a Farm.” (Yes, I actually have seen it). It really is the next best thing to being there. And for gawd’s sake look at that thumbnail. How are you framed? How is the light? Makes me crazy when a client SKYPEs me while sitting in front of the windows, curtains drawn wide, and all I see is a skyline and a scary silhouette.

While you’re at it, invest in a high-quality webcam. I use the Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCam (about $250 bucks. Google it). Not because I’m a tech geek, but because a client in Saudi Arabia gave it to me as a gift. You see, when they put our conversation up on the 40-inch plasma in the boardroom, the camera in my MacBook Pro made my face look like a pizza.

Another tip learned the hard way: remember to look directly into the camera. I made the mistake of looking down at my PowerPoint and the client felt like I was staring at her, uhmmm, let’s just say, “jewelry.”

Tell the truth

This big white envelope arrived in the mail. Big red letters on the outside said, “THIS IS NOT A BILL.” Inside, the letter explained, “That was the envelope. THIS is the bill.” So I paid it.

People appreciate when you tell the truth, especially about the little things. I’ve had clients call from Australia at 3:00 AM and ask, “Did I wake you?”

“Well, no. Not yet.”

And yes, I’m writing this in my underwear.

Separate the personal from the professional

Social media is the exception that proves the rule. A teacher who worked at a small Christian college in Texas was traveling in London, standing as a bridesmaid for a friend. The bride posted an iCam shot of the girls sitting around a booth (at the bachelorette party, I presume) with a glass of wine in the foreground. When she returned to Texas, the teacher was fired for “Inappropriate Public Conduct,” a violation of her contract. No she wasn’t DRINKING the wine, or even HOLDING the wine. It wasn’t even her wine. Fortunately Facebook now gives you the option to delete content posted by others that you might not want others to see.

Burj Al Arab Hotel

Gratuitous Burj Al Arab Hotel

The things you DO post should pass the test of professional relevance. If you’re leading an executive seminar in Dubai, then by all means, comment and Facebook and Tweet about it, including gratuitous pictures of the Burj Al Arab Hotel.  Knowing you’re a globetrotter gives you credibility along with frequent-flyer miles.

Better still, put your client in front of a video camera telling us how great the seminar was, and upload it to YouTube. Save the vacation slides for torturing your neighbors when you get home.

You may not know this, but in addition to my speaking and consulting practice, I lead a Batman-like double life, as a drummer in a professional 20-piece swing-era big band. Being a jazz musician doesn’t exactly enhance my credibility as a marketing guru. That’s why I keep them separate. They have their own social media pages and their own YouTube channel, and all my musician friends have to call me “Sticks”… but that’s another story.

Guerrilla Selling – the BUDGET Step

In the last issue, we discussed how to determine what the customer really needs as the first step of our “NaB & CaPTuRe” roadmap: Need, Budget, Conviction, Presentation, Transaction, Reward.

The Budget Step

The second, and most often skipped step in the selling process  is the BUDGET.  As soon as the customer realizes that they have a NEED, they start worrying on how much the solution will cost.  And yet, they hesitate to breach this topic because people are reluctant to talk about money.

In the Guerrilla Selling Seminar, I ask a volunteer:

Orvel Ray:  “Bob. How much money did you earn last year?”

Bob:  “Well, let’s see, if you mean after taxes, then it would be somewhere in the range of, oh, I don’t know exactly, but,. . . uhmmm … something like. . .”

Orvel Ray:  “That’s OK Bob. What kind of underwear are you wearing right now?  Boxers or briefs?”Men's briefs

Bob: “Briefs.”

Orvel Ray:  “Well Bob, would you agree that we have just effectively demonstrated that you would rather discuss your underwear in public than to talk about money.”

This game ALWAYS produces the same response.

While more pronounced in some cultures, this resistance to discussing money is universal.  And salespeople are not immune.  If you ask, point blank, “What’s the price?” most will stutter, stall, and stumble rather than say it out loud.  Guerrillas inoculate this resistance by bringing up the topic of price, and establishing a budget based on the potential value of investing in their product or service.

Once you’ve identified their NEED, you can ask, “How much would it be worth if we could solve this problem?” and, “How much will it cost if things remain the same?”  It’s important to ask both of these questions, because about half your customers will be motivated Toward some future outcome or reward, while others are motivated Away From the threat of some cost or loss.  (People who are Toward motivated buy lottery tickets.  People who are Away From motivated buy life insurance.)  Guerrillas are adept at selling both ways.

Generally people are more motivated to keep what they have than to acquire something new, so another very useful question to determine their budget is, “What have you used in the past?”

Budget Rangefinder

It may be easier to start out by establishing a range, and then narrowing down the budget.

Guerrilla: “What kind of budget do you have in mind for this project, in round numbers?”

Customer: “Somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000.”

Guerrilla: “Closer to $1,000 or closer to $2,000?”

Customer: “Closer to two.”

Guerrilla: “How close?”

Once you have gotten a specific amount, it will be easy to position your product as a good investment, compared to the alternatives, and then focus on benefits.

It’s also useful to ask, “What alternatives have you considered?”  Don’t be naive.  They are talking to your competitors, and if you know their pricing (and you should) then you will know how competitive your offering may be.  Remember that doing nothing may be an attractive option.

Verify their ability to pay by asking, “How do you plan to finance it?” If they say, “I’ll pay cash,” that’s a very strong buying signal.  If you can accept installments, or arrange financing for them, you’ve gained an advantage.

Be prepared to offer strong rationales for the price you charge.  Is it made from more expensive materials?  Is it built to tighter tolerances?  Does it have a longer useful life-span?  Is it labor-intensive?  Does it require special handling?  Is it more environmentally friendly, organic, or Fair Trade?  Does it require less maintenance, or have a higher salvage or re-sale value?

Cost of the Alternative

Recently, I did some sales training for a bearing services company in Houston, and as part of my research, visited one of their customers, a factory that makes cake mix.  This factory is nearly fully automated.  Tanker trucks loaded with flour pull up at one end of the building. Hoses and blowers move the flour into storage hoppers.  Augers measure and feed it, together with all the other ingredients, into big mixing bins.  Huge mixers churn it into the final product. At the other end of the building, machines fold and glue boxes and send them along a conveyer.  In the middle, the product is measured into a plastic liner, sealed, trimmed, slipped into a box, closed, glued, stacked in cartons and then piled on pallets, ready to ship.

This machinery is made up of dozens of motors and servos and thousands of bearings.  And if just one bearing fails, the whole line grinds to a halt.  It costs this manufacturer $90,000.00 (ninety thousand dollars) an hour to shut down, so Mean Time Between Failures is much more important than price. To buy a cheap replacement, or save a few cents on lubricant, simply isn’t economical.  In fact, they want to buy the most expensive, highest quality bearings and lubricants available, and they want them backed up by a technician who is available 24 hours a day!

By focusing on the value rather than selling on price, the guerrilla changes the arena of competition, and virtually eliminates cheaper vendors from the running.  This actually makes it easier to sell at higher prices.

Most salespeople, when challenged about their price, will simply cave.  And nearly two thirds of salespeople will volunteer to cut their price, without being asked, because they do not believe in the value of their product or service.  That’s just stupid.

A simple way to gain confidence when quoting prices is to double your price, whatever it is, then practice roll-playing with a colleague as you justify why they should pay that much.  Then, when you roll the price back for a real customer, it will feel like a bargain.

Stop Waving a White Flag 

As soon as you say, “Our normal price is . . .”, or “Our list price is . . .” then you have already surrendered to the negotiation.  Quote your price in the same tone as if you were telling the time.

“What time is it?”

Two twenty-five.”

What’s your price?”

Two twenty-five.”  No hesitation.  No qualifiers.  No equivocating.

One exception: if you put the word “only” in front of any amount, it sounds like a better deal.  “I bet you could buy the Nairobi Hilton Hotel for only $300 million.”

The About Face

The customer may balk, and say, “Your price is too high.”  Don’t fall into this trap.

Recognize that you do not know what this customer means.  It could mean that he has a cheaper quote from a competitor, or it could mean he can’t afford it, or perhaps he’s just testing to see if the price is negotiable. You don’t know, so don’t guess.   Before you go any farther, ask, “Too high? (pause) When you say ‘too high’, what do you mean; too high relative to what?”

One of my favorite responses is, “We have no argument with those who sell for less.  They know best what their products and service are worth.”

In future installments of this series, we’ll explore each of the steps of “NaB & CaPTuRe” in more detail, and perhaps double or even quadruple your sales.

(This article is part of a series published by Marketing Africa magazine.)

 

Guerrilla Selling – How is it Different?

The ad in the comic book said, “Win a Bicycle.”  I thought it was a sweepstakes, so I filled in the form and mailed it away.

That was early spring of 1963. We lived in a little stick house in the burbs, between the oil refinery and the stockyards.  I was eldest of three children of a single mother who worked nights in a rubber factory.  And I had long since given up believing that Santa would ever bring a bicycle.

seed packetSoon a box arrived from The American Seed Company, full of little packets of garden seeds.  The instructions said I was to go door-to-door and sell them for 25¢ cents a pack (even though you could by the same seeds at the corner store for 10¢).  But I was 9 years old. What did I know?

There were all these rules:  ALWAYS walk on the sidewalk; NEVER walk on the grass.  ALWAYS step back after you ring the doorbell.  ALWAYS say, “Yes ma’am,” “No ma’am,” “Thank you, ma’am.”  I rang every single doorbell in our neighborhood.  Then I crossed that busy street that mother told me not to cross, and visited every house over there, and by 2:00 in the afternoon it was obvious I had no future in sales.  I hadn’t sold a single pack of seeds.

Of course it’s easy it is to give up when you’re discouraged, tired and hungry.  I was taking a shortcut across a vacant lot, and there was this woman in her back yard working the dirt with a spade, putting in her garden.

I yelled at her across the field, “Hey lady!  You don’t need no seed for that garden, do ya?”

She stopped her work, leaned on her shovel and shouted back, “I don’t know; whadaya got?”

“Everything from asparagus to zucchini; what do you want?”

And her next question, of course, was, “How much?”

“Twenty-five cents.”

“Twenty-five cents!!?  Why should I pay twenty-five cents when I can buy them at the corner store for a dime?”

That’s when I started to cry.

“Because I’m trying to win a bicycle, that’s why!”

She bought $9.00 worth.

And what I learned from that one transaction was,  crying works.

The more important lesson was that people who buy seeds, buy seeds.  People who don’t buy seeds, don’t buy seeds.  That’s just the way it works.

And if you want to sell enough seeds to win a bicycle, you have to find all those people.  You look for that hump of dirt in the back yard where they had LAST year’s garden, and if they don’t answer the door, you go back again and again and again, because there are only so many of those opportunities in the neighborhood.

Not only did I sell enough seeds to win the bicycle, (it was a red Huffy, with 20 inch wheels, a banana seat and high-rise handle bars with streamers) but by the end of Spring Break, I had $100 in the bank.  My mother didn’t have $100 dollars in the bank.  And that, for me, was the beginning of what has been a lifetime career in sales and marketing.

Many of those early lessons have served me well.  One day I was showing my box of seeds to a woman and she asked, “How many for a dollar?”

Well, I was only 9 years old, but I could do the math.  “That would be FOUR for a dollar.”

She said, “Okay, I’ll buy a dollar’s worth.”

So at the next door, instead of 25¢, I said, “four-fer-a-dollar.”  And almost everyone bought at least a dollar’s worth.  That simple change doubled my sales.  And I learned that changing one tiny thing can multiply your success.

The next big lesson came when an elderly neighbor asked, “Well, son, what’s this for?”

“They’re seeds for your garden?”

“No, no. I mean, are you raising money for Boy Scouts, or maybe summer camp, or. . .”

“I’m trying to win a bicycle.”

“Okay. Here’s $5.00.”

“But I didn’t get to tell you about the seeds.”

“Oh, that’s alright. I’m too old to keep a garden.  But I’m happy to help an enterprising young man like you.”  (WOW! She called me a “young MAN!”)

So, at the next door I said, “Hi, my name is Orvel Ray Wilson and I need your help.  I’m trying to win a bicycle.”  And sales doubled again.  What that taught me was it wasn’t about the product, or even the price.  It’s all about the customer.

In 1989, I was a touring speaker for CareerTrack, one of the world’s most successful seminar companies, teaching Sales and Customer Service in the US and Europe.  I was approached by Michael Larsen, a literary agent representing Jay Conrad Levinson.  He explained that, in 1984, Jay had written a book called Guerrilla Marketing, and the publisher wanted to do a sequel and call it Guerrilla Selling.  Michael asked if I would be interested in ghost-writing this book.

“Sorry,” I said, “I don’t want to be anyone’s ghost. I want my name on the cover.”

“Jay will never agree to that.”

“How do you know?”

“I’m his agent.  It’s my job to know.”

One of the principles I taught was to never take “no” for an answer unless you’re talking to the real decision-maker.  That’s not always the person who can say “yes.”  It’s the person who can say “no” and make it stick. I said, “Give me Mr.  Levinson’s number and let me hear it from him.”

Guerrilla Selling Ebook - Unconventional Weapons & Tactics for Increasing Your SalesOf course Jay agreed immediately, and Guerrilla Selling became an instant best-seller, and one of the most successful books in the series.  Jay and I went on to collaborate on six more books, and many other projects.  I’ve made a career of making Guerrilla Marketing the most successful marketing series of all time.

 

Marketing and Selling are often confused, but Sales is really a subset of Marketing.  We define Guerrilla Marketing as everything that represents you in the market:  your name, your logo, your reputation, even how you answer your phone.  It’s ALL part of your marketing.

Guerrilla Selling maps the steps customers take when making a purchase decision.  By understanding the psychology of this process, then matching your strategy to your customer, you can make your offering irresistible.

People always go through a six-step process whenever they buy:

  1. Need
  2. Budget
  3. Commitment
  4. Presentation
  5. Transaction
  6. Reward

First, they recognize a Need.  For example, there might be several reasons for buying a new car.  The old car is broken down and not worth fixing. Or they have a baby and need more room. Or they need to transport clients and need something posh. Or they have to travel long distances on rough roads and need a reliable car that won’t leave them stranded.

Many salespeople make the mistake of focusing on the product (the car) while ignoring what the underlying need (basic transportation, more space, more comfort, more reliability). Guerrilla Selling teaches you how to ask just the right questions to reveal their real motivation.

Next, the customer considers the Budget.  How much can they afford?  What’s the payback?  Many salespeople make the mistake of delaying the discussion  about price to the end, while their prospect is worrying on, “How much is this going to cost?”  Guerrilla Selling shows how to deal with prices right up front, then build value for the investment.

Eventually the customer makes a Commitment.   They decide to definitely buy a car from someoneGuerrilla Selling shows you how to discover the commitments that your customers have already made, and align your offering so that you win the sale.

Next, the Presentation step. The customer makes comparisons, reads ads, visits dealers, takes test drives.  This is often the first time they interact with a salesperson.  Guerrilla Selling teaches you how to recognize where your prospect is at in their decision-making process, and give them just the information they need to move forward.

The Transaction is usually thought of as “closing the sale,” but Guerrilla Selling recognizes that this is only the beginning. Guerrillas follow up meticulously to build a long-term relationship with a customer who will buy from them again and again.

Finally, the customer experiences the Reward (more space, more comfort, more safety).  Guerrilla Selling recognizes that this is the real reason people buy, and it’s different for every prospect.  Guerrillas constantly ask, “How did you benefit from this purchase?”  The answers may surprise you, just as I was surprised by my elderly neighbor, who just wanted the satisfaction of seeing “an enterprising young man” achieve his goal.

You can achieve YOUR goal by remembering NaB & CaPTuRe.  The consonants in these two words will help you remember: Need, Budget, Conviction, Presentation, Transaction, Reward.

In future installments of this series, we’ll explore each of these steps in detail, and perhaps double or even quadruple your sales.

“Bribes” for Referrals?

Is it ethical to give a cash/gift or commission for referrals?

Fellow guerrilla Vince Golder posted a question on the Guerrilla Marketing Tips for Small Business forum on LinkedIn, asking:

“I’ve had a couple of debates over the years with people who were quite firm in their belief that any form of cash/gift commission given in return for a successful referral was a bribe!! I would rather pay one of my own clients or contacts a just reward for promoting my business, than an expensive agency or media company.” What do you think?

Let me start by saying that cash, gifts and commissions are three very different things. Each may be appropriate or not, depending on the circumstances. Guerrillas ALWAYS look for appropriate ways to REWARD customers for their business.

As I’ve said before in this forum, the best way to get referrals is to ASK for them. (See my recent blog on the topic, March 4, 2009, below) And only reward referrals if you want to KEEP getting them.

No, it is not a bribe. And no, it is not enough to simply express your appreciation.

A nice Thank You card is a good start, but don’t be tempted to send it by e-mail. Personally, I use Hallmark, because I care enough to ____________________ .

Cash is awkward, so enclose a gift card instead. Coffee at Starbucks, free fries at McDonald’s. Better still, relate to their interests: something from Amazon or Borders for bookworms, or office supplies from Staples to reward the whole office.

If the referral is unsolicited, keep the amount something under $100. For bigger referrals, consider bigger rewards: a bottle (or case) of nice wine, a magazine subscription, dinner for two somewhere special, or the fruit-of-the-month club from Harry & David. You can always take them out, for coffee, for lunch, for a round of golf. We’ve given clients pairs of plane tickets. We once took a dozen people from United Airlines to a Rockies game.

There are two guerrilla gifts you can give to people who can’t accept gifts: flowers and food. For women, send a simple bouquet with a business card, delivered to their office by FTD. A variation is to send a large bouquet (something everyone can enjoy) to the Reception desk, with a “Thanks Everyone” note. And if you send flowers on a holiday, like Easter or Halloween, all the better. If you customer is a man, send roses. Red ones. You send me a dozen red roses with a “Thank You” note, and my wife is going to love me, and I’m going to REMEMBER you.

Food works if you send enough to share. Send Domino’s, KFC, or a monster Subway at lunchtime. Or a big birthday cake decorated with your logo and a big “Thank You” in icing across the top.

A professional speaker routinely pays bureaus 25% commission, but the agent who recommended you sees only a fraction of those funds. So I send the rep a very large box of Godiva chocolates. (Wasn’t it Will Rogers who said, “I never met a chocolate I didn’t like.”)

In another example, Wendy Kruger, with Speakers Platform in San Francisco, booked me for a string of several seminars. I knew that she was a fan of Cirque du Soleil, and a bit of browsing revealed that there was an engagement running in San Jose. So I used the Internet to book a pair of VIP back-stage tickets in her name at Will-Call. She took her boyfriend out for a surprise date, and nobody’s the wiser. (That is just SO California!)

If you’re closing a big contract with a new customer, buy a nice pen. A RILLY nice pen; a Cross or Mt. Blanc. After you’ve signed the paperwork, “accidentally” leave the pen behind. They’ll quietly put in their desk and remember your generosity every time they use it.

If you’re concerned about ethics, give them an award, a brass plaque or silver trophy engraved with your appreciations. It will be given a place of honor on their desk or bookshelf.

Here’s guerrilla work-around; send an age-appropriate toy for their kid. Who would begrudge a child a new toy?

Another loophole: if the item has your logo on it, it’s a tchotchke, not a gift. It’s not a bribe; it’s ADVERTISING. So you can send them a coffee mug or a golf towel or a $200 down parka, or any useful item for that matter, imprinted with your advertising, and they will wear it with pride. And they’ll tell all their friends.

Still not sure what to do? I once received a birthday card that read, “People who say you’re hard to shop for obviously don’t know where to buy beer.”

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