To Sell, Understand Customers’ Pain

Corporate Angels

Corrections or additions?

This article by Bart Jackson was prepared for the

September 26, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights

reserved.

Online Content Fills Business Niches

Website? Oh Lordie, all god’s children gotta have a

website. Doesn’t matter what’s on it. But it’s a guaranteed given

for boosting sales, marketing, and keeping up. Gotta have one.

In the vague swirl of mysticism surrounding the Internet lies a world

of half-true mythology unrivaled since Homer’s Iliad. Every

self-appointed

pundit, it seems, holds some miracle elixir for the contents of your

web page. If you are fascinated, or desperate to take advantage of

the new online publishing tools, you will want to attend the Trenton

Forum for Interactive Publishing’s kickoff seminar

(www.trentonforum.com)

"The Role of Content Online: Beyond the Buzzwords," on

Thursday,

October 4, at 3 p.m. Business people, publishers, marketers, editors,

writers, everyone involved in publishing on the net is invited to

bring their woes and ideas before the panel of veterans at Thomas

Edison College’s Kelsey building, just next to the State House in

Trenton. Cost: $50.

Organized by Trenton-based, web content publisher Tramp Steamer Media

in coordination with Thomas Edison College, this will be the first

in a series of quarterly seminars aimed at providing a networking

and discussion forum for those who publish on the net. Founder of

the Trenton Forum for Interactive Publishing, Mark Feffer, feels that

these seminars fill the much needed niche of sharing for those who

are groping their way through this new, but terribly vital medium.

The web page-developer Flywire and net hosting company Weblications

agree and have joined actively as co-sponsors.

The panel is comprised of a powerful group of those experienced in

all publishing media. Speakers will include Tom Baker, who

helped

launch The Wall Street Journal’s Interactive Edition, Darrell

Delamaide

whose career has taken him from the hard copy of the Herald Tribune

to online giant AOL, with a stop as Bloomberg Bureau Chief in between.

Also speaking is Rebecca Lieb, who is the executive editor of

E-commerce and marketing for Internet.com Ellen Cannon, editor

for Bloomberg Custom Publishers will moderate.

"Never more than these past two weeks," says Cannon, "have

we seen the benefits of the net’s immediacy in reporting."

Nowadays,

she says, most informed people see print and the net amiably blending

to provide readers with a total picture. It is not new media versus

old, but rather an overlapping of the instant update with a deeper

perspective. While Bloomberg’s net services offer you the

as-it-happens

state of your portfolio or the twin towers rescue, the print

periodical,

Investing, which Cannon edits, can temper your frenzy with a calm

overview of the social, political and economic factors under

consideration.

Despite having a foot in each camp, Cannon still holds a strong print

and publishing allegiance. Following a Delaware childhood and

graduating

from that state’s university in 1976, she charged up to New York —

home of magazines. Over the years, Cannon has worked on the launches

of no fewer than eight magazines, including Entertainment Weekly,

the Australian edition of People, and the ill-fated TV Cable Weekly.

When Bloomberg Publishers sought a person to start up web interactive

print magazines, they called Cannon.

The problem of immediacy complemented with perspective was exactly

one she had wrestled with when writing for Time magazine which came

weekly into the mailboxes of a nation that watched nightly news on

TV.

Baker says the flexibility of the web hastens our whole cultural pace

culturally. It fills that important middle ground, exceeding the TV

and radio sound bites with its full text articles, yet it is updated

more swiftly than the print periodical. However, he says, if web

publishing

is to work, it must be held to the same standards as the other

publishing

media.

Baker is a firm believer in the proverb: that which is given too

freely

is esteemed too lightly. It is a process he has observed first-hand

professionally for decades. Coming from Gary, Indiana, to attend

Princeton

University (Class of 1976), then Columbia University for an MBA, Baker

planted himself in West Windsor, becoming a confirmed Easterner. He

began working for the Dow Jones marketing department, then the Wall

Street Journal, and has been an interactive publishing consultant

for the last nine years.

"We have just come from a wonderful period where people could

read any screen full of info totally for free," he says. "But

people were getting only what they paid for — mounds of unedited

stuff. When we began the Wall Street Journal’s Interactive Edition,

the whole project began with the assumption of charging a user fee.

This immediately raised the expectation of quality."

Baker insists that web pages in any business or field which launch

as a defensive obligation just to "keep up" are doomed to

failure. So the question arises: where is the money going to come

from? Certainly, following the ad-driven formulas adopted by other

media already has proved a very slippery footing for builders of the

information highway. Yet the battle cry of "Keep Our Net Free"

has hindered many publishers trying to make an honest buck.

The Forum speakers adamantly hold that many very profitable publishing

niches still remain. Among them are:

The Business Tool. The most popular and obvious method

of web page revenue comes from businesses casting a small investment

upon the Internet sea to receive hopefully manifold baskets of

increased

sales. Marketing methods have sharpened exponentially via the full

range of Internet capabilities.

"However," Cannon is quick to point out, "while web access

remains a necessity for success, content is the key." Too many

firms just take their sales brochure and slap it on a web page.

In-house

or out-sourced, web page publishers must take advantage of the

interactive

capabilities and offer more than a version of their catalog online.

Business communication. The ability to send stockholders

everything from annual reports to daily updated messages has brought

a boom to business publishing. Both large and mid-size companies now

hire out their communication needs to such interactive publishers

as Tramp Steamer and Bloomberg, which offer full online publishing

provided by a complete staff of planners, editors, and writers.

Archival purposes. "Let’s say several months ago I

saw an article in Premier about Steve Martin," hypothesizes

Cannon.

"I ignored it then, but now I’d like to read it. I would be

willing

to pay to have that article brought instantly onto my screen without

having to save months of old musty issues." It is like your public

library, with the convenience of being in your bedroom. Will people

pay merely for convenience? Just look at 7-11.

Entertainment-Plus-Information. "Napster is gone

forever,"

says Baker. "I foresee people paying to obtain their favorite

music and entertainment off the net." The successful ones, he

says, will again use the net’s full capabilities. Amazon.com, through

all the E-commerce plummeting, has remained a strong and enormous

retailer because it has become an information source as well. Books

are reviewed, explained. and linked to other readings. Amazon reviews

are now quoted on thousands of book jackets.

Most agree, it will remain very difficult for the new

stand-alone

interactive publisher to make a go of it, whether she is selling

reading

matter or a tangible product. Those who are allied with some existing

business or publication will fare better. But this should come as

no surprise, says Baker. "You are being held to high standards.

People are paying to see what you publish and you must put up

something

worthy of their allegiance."

It might just be that online publishing, like its predecessor, print,

must begin at the beginning. It must relive the days of the old

penny-newspaper,

where ads offered virtually no revenue and the public would pay only

for the quality of your product. Perhaps the net must take up the

new motto "Kill ’em with Content."

— Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
To Sell, Understand Customers’ Pain

I can establish rapport with a chair," says Georgann

Occhipinti. Co-founder of Avant Consulting in Piscataway, Occhipinti

advises companies on getting the most out of all of their

teams, including their sales teams. In sales, she says, establishing

rapport is essential, but it is only a beginning.

Occhipinti holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rutgers and

a master’s degree in industrial psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson.

She speaks on "Get the Pointers You Need to Close the Sale"

on Thursday, October 4, at 8 a.m. at the Middlesex Chamber’s Business

Over Breakfast meeting. Occhipinti’s business partner, Fred

Teger

also speaks. Cost: $30. Call 732-821-1700.

Before going into consulting, Occhipinti worked for American Home

Products and then for Met Life in human resources positions. She has

been in consulting since 1993, and co-founded her firm in 1998. She

says the biggest mistake salespeople make is in trying to "sell

something rather than build a relationship." In her view, touting

the attributes of a product or service must always come second to

human interaction. She offers these five tips for successful selling:

Develop rapport. Take the time to get to know your

customers.

"If a person feels rushed, reschedule," says Occhipinti. It

is more important to have enough time — easily two half hour

sessions

— to strike a person spark than to hurry through a presentation.

Find a buying motive. Rapport is important, but

discovering

why a prospect needs to buy is indispensable. "If a person doesn’t

believe there is a need for a service, there will be no sale,"

says Occhipinti. "If a person doesn’t understand he needs your

service NOW, if he’s vague or hesitant, you’re getting nowhere."

You have to mine for what customers want to change, she says. You

have to hunt for the thing that is holding them back, limiting their

profits, keeping them from achieving goals. It is only when you know

this that you can make a case for your product or service.

Establish the customer’s attitude toward change. Once

you have found a customer’s need, you have to find out if he is

willing

to invest in your product or service to fulfill that need. "Are

they willing to invest in your product to improve something?"

is how Occhipinti puts it. "If not," she says, "you may

have an admirer, but not a sale."

Determine the value of change to your customer.

"Quantify,"

says Occhipinti. Go in with numbers. If your service cuts down time

by 20 percent, calculate the dollar savings. List every single reason

for making a change, and attach a savings figure to each.

Ask for an order, not for permission. After carefully

laying the groundwork for a sale, "You don’t have to ask for

permission,"

says Occhipinti. "You’ve made such a strong case," she says.

The decision should be a given, but you do need to ask —

confidently

— for that order.

Drawing upon her education in psychology, Occhipinti says sales boils

down to "knowing about people; knowing what keeps them up at

night."

Top Of Page
Corporate Angels

<d>New Jersey SHARES (Statewide Heating Assistance

and Referral for Energy Services) will help pay the utility bills

of New Jersey households who are suffering financial hardships caused

by the World Trade Center tragedy. Grants of up to $750 on natural

gas bills and up to $250 on electricity bills to eligible households.

New Jersey SHARES is a not-for-profit with a board comprised of

representatives

from utilities and social service agencies. It administers grants

for utility bill payments.

"Eligibility will be based on need, not income, so a temporary

financial hardship resulting from a lost job, lost income, or injury

related to this disaster could qualify an individual or family for

a grant," says Larry Savitsky, executive director.

Apply for grants through a social service agency or call 866-657-4273.

To make a tax deductible donation to this effort send checks payable

to New Jersey SHARES, 121 Shelly Drive, Suite 2A, Hackettstown 07840.

Among the contributors to the "Remembrance and

Reflection"

event at Liberty State Park on Sunday, September 23, were the

Alchemist

& Barrister Restaurant of Witherspoon Street, Nycomed

Amersham

at the Carnegie Center, Russ Berrie & Company on Route 33,

Williams

Companies on Farber Road, Jersey Fresh Program of the

department

of agriculture, and Thomas/Boyd Communications of State Street

in Trenton. Christopher and Dana Reeve were the hosts, and Ray Charles

and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra provided entertainment.

Capuano’s Restaurant in West Windsor donated 10 percent

of lunch and dinner sales from September 23 to 25 to the American

Red Cross.

Princeton Center for NLP offers a free support group to

cope with grief on Mondays at 7:30 p.m. at Angel’s Touch, 3800

Quakerbridge

Road (at Young’s Road, near the Wawa). Call 609-689-3748 or E-mail:

nlpprinc@optonline.net.

Holistic Life Center is accepting donations of items to

support the relief effort at 614 Route 130 in Hightstown, next to

the car wash. Call 609-448-7727 for hours that the center is open

and what items are still needed.


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