Invisible Insurance

Bugging, Selling, or Prospecting?

Making Marketing Plans

Advertising: Message First

PR Tips

Increasing Sales Effectiveness

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Peter J. Mladineo and Barbara Fox were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on September 30, 1998. All rights reserved.

Picking Up Speed

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Invisible Insurance

<B>Michael Leibowitz, certified life underwriter, thinks a business should insure itself pretty much the same way an individual would. A business needs pretty much the same insurances a person needs, but there are a few notable exceptions.

Leibowitz, who runs Abacus Insurance Agency at 1600 Perrineville Road in Monroe with his son Jordan Leibowitz, lectures on business insurance at SCORE on Tuesday, October 13, at 6:30 p.m. at the Summit Bank Training Center in Jamesburg.

He cautions businesses not to overlook two types of insurance that don't quite have human parallels:

Workers compensation insurance. While sole proprietors or partnerships aren't necessarily required to have it, any business with employees or any corporation must have it. "Usually a business can get a business owner's policy that's packaged like a homeowners policy, which includes coverage for property and business liability."

A business, he reports, can be fined up to $5,000 per incident if they don't have it, and the fines are doubled if a violator has underage employees. "They have to have it, but a lot of them don't," says Leibowitz.

Employment practices coverage. It protects a business being sued for all the fashionable indiscretions of the day, such as wrongful termination, sexual harassment, and discrimination. An EPL policy, Leibowitz explains, would cover up to $100,000, $500,000 and $1 million, with deductibles of $2,500, $5,000, or $10,000. "I just quoted one to a dentist and in his case the premium would be less than $1,000," he says. "If you have millions of dollars of coverage it's not an outrageous amount."

But Leibowitz admits that Abacus hasn't successfully sold any EPL policies thus far. "This coverage is very hard to sell," he says. "When you mention it to them they just look at you with a blank stare."

But then again, their time might have come. "Those items are not covered by standard policies," says Leibowitz. "If Monica sues, this insurance policy would have covered it."

Register for the $15 workshop at 609-520-1776. Leibowitz can be reached at 609-395-8800.

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Bugging, Selling, or Prospecting?

Many an entrepreneur has failed to succeed because, as they say, they don't like to "bug" people. They like to do the work, but they don't like to sell.

"It isn't a matter of `bugging' people," counters Nunzio Cernero, director for center of training and development at Mercer County Community College. "It's being persistent."

To psych yourself up for being persistent, he says to think of selling as prospecting, with all the gold-mine connotations that come with that word. "For every 50 people you contact there might be 10 presentations, and out of that, two sales. Persistence makes the difference." Over the years, when he looks at sales records, inevitably the person who does the most "prospecting" has the most sales.

Just doing direct mail is not enough. Get back to your original prospect list on a regular basis. He cites Blaine Greenfield, who recommends passing out four cards a day, writing four letters a day, making four calls a day. "What I find to be most effective is literally knocking on doors to pass out cards and using the telephone," says Cernero.

The average entrepreneur, Cernero says, doesn't know how many calls it takes to start. "It can take two years to prime the pump." After that comes the flood. "And then, what I hear is, `I don't have the capacity.'"

"But you can use all the persistence you want, and if you are going after the wrong people, it is not going to work. You need to know who your target market is. Many entrepreneurs spread themselves way too thin. They go after markets that are remote."

For those who see selling as a kind of a demeaning occupation, "I tell them the fun part is taking the money," says Cernero. "And I also tell them we all want to be sold. We want somebody to give us a little action."

Cernero (609-586-4800) gives a sales workshop on Tuesday, October 6, at 3:15 p.m. for Trenton Small Business Week. Call 609-396-7246.

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Making Marketing Plans

<B>Jim Morris-Lee echoes Nunzio Cernero's insistence on accurately identifying your target market and your competitive advantage. You can't do a marketing communications plan until you do.

"So many people go into business and service occupations and don't consider who else is like them, and what the differentiation is," says Morris-Lee, He went to Temple, Class of 1976, took graduate classes at Wharton. He founded his own seven-person agency nine years ago in Rosemont. He was scheduled to speak at the Small Business Survival Group meeting on Wednesday, September 30, at 8 a.m.

A marketing communications plan is more basic than a mere ad campaign. It gets to the heart of your business plan and includes competitive analysis,, which is needed, he says, "to be sure you are not doing any harm."

"Whether you do it yourself or not, it is really important that this job gets done," says Morris-Lee. "Even if you have a home-based business, you can bring someone in to do this at least once a year." He suggests hiring a low-fee graduate business student who is eager for the experience.

A marketing communications plan includes these essential elements:

Statement of program objectives which might be sales improvement, market share, or improved market penetration -- anything that can contribute to a quantifiable result.

Situation analysis, an overview of products or a description of services, a market background plus an overview of the total marketing environment, the competitive environment -- how many people are competing for market share or sales within a particular product or service environment, and the constraints of the product or the service or the geographical area.

To get these facts, you need to do secondary research and primary research. Secondary research can involve looking at your competitors' websites, analyzing trade magazine ads, and procuring sales literature. "You are really comparing who the companies are, what they say about themselves, and how effectively they communicate what they say about themselves," says Morris-Lee.

"But how does anyone have any assurance that competitors are doing the right thing either?" he asks, rhetorically. "That's where you need primary research. We have found it doesn't have to be a budget-busting exercise. At least in business to business environments, telephone interviews are relatively easy and economical." Calls to past, current, and future clients are essential.

The creative strategy takes the research, the situation analysis, and the objectives and turns them into creative concepts and themes. If an agency is doing this plan, it makes recommendations for what media tools to use.

The budget, of course, is the big constraint. "People naively assume that an agency will tell them what they are supposed to spend," says Morris-Lee. "But you should be able to tell the agency exactly what you have to spend." The agency may, of course, inform you that you are woefully underspending in line with the goals you have set. At least you know.

Morris-Lee suggests that a company should look for an ad agency by paying three agencies to recommend a marketing communications plan. The usual procedure is to get recommendations for free, but that's like comparing apples and oranges, he argues. When you don't know how much time each agency spent on its pitch, you can't tell how expensive they will be in the future.

"We have moved to fee-based communication plans unless we have an ongoing relationship," says Morris-Lee. "Instead of giving away the plan to win the account we charge for it."

And anyway, why should an agency give away its best ideas? Far better, he says, is to spend a little upfront money, put all firms on an equal footing, and ask for a reasonable accounting of their time. Then choose.

Morris-Lee can be reached at 609-397-1911, and the Small Business Survival Group at 800-326-5515 .

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Advertising: Message First

Marshall McLuhan, meet Mike Patterson. Patterson, the sales manager for Nassau Broadcasting's WPST and WHWH, challenges the age-old assertion that the medium is the message. Successful advertising, Patterson maintains, is all about the effectiveness, not the frequency, of the ad. "One of the things that really gets overlooked in advertising today is the message," he says. "What am I trying to say to people reading my ad or listening to my commercial? Is the message compelling? Does it trigger a reaction when they look at it, hear it, see it, feel it, whatever? Does it make a statement? Does it move people out of a comfort zone?"

A graduate of Lycoming College (Class of 1987), Patterson, 35, got into this business six years ago after spending the first part of his career in the restaurant industry. "I came in off the street as broken kitchen manager," he says. He speaks at the Trenton Small Business Week on Tuesday, October 6, at 10:30 a.m. at the Masonic Temple in Trenton.

Patterson puts his faith in the 80/20 rule -- 80 percent of the advertiser's consciousness should be devoted to the effectiveness of the message, 20 percent should be focused on the scheduling of the ad or the commercial. "I've seen people with a phenomenal schedule and a lousy message get no results and people with great messages and limited budgets for advertising get huge results," he says. "It just comes down to who they are talking to and what are they saying."

Advertisers often blame ineffective ads on their medium, and Patterson takes them to task over this. "We take all the heat for it and we shouldn't," he says. "Ultimately it's the client's decision to know what his product is, who he's talking to, what his competition is doing, why people are buying his product or not buying his product at his store. If he knows all those things then he can be a little more compelling putting his ad together. It's about triggering people to make a buying decision at your location."

A roadblock to effectiveness is planning, he reports. Often, commercials and ads are worked into their respective media under the pressure of the deadline. "It all goes out the window when somebody needs to be in on Thursday and today's Wednesday," he says. "Nobody wants to know about the message, they need to get it in."

Another important kind of preparation Patterson notes is evident in one of the more successful ad campaigns in modern history -- the commercial that said, "Attention hemorrhoid sufferers."

"If you had hemorrhoids you'd remember that commercial," says Patterson. "Preparation H probably built a huge cash cow out of the product, just from that line alone. Is every commercial going to be like that? No, but that's how you have to think. Eighty percent of my time should be based on how I am going to get people to think about my product. We have the theater of the mind to play with."

Patterson also takes exception to the idea that good advertising should create a need. "That is absolutely not true," he says. "Advertising answers the need."

Patterson's divergent philosophies have run him into some client resistance, but this is usually overcome after the incredulous clients' commercials run. "The true selling factors are the results that happen when they let us do it," he says. "Because results sell. The question goes back to did the client really know what he wanted to say to his customers."

Call 609-396-7246 for more information. Patterson's number is 609-419-0300.

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PR Tips

At the Trenton Small Business Week conference Juanita Johnson of Village Communications and Richard K. Rein of U.S. 1 will offer tips on how to get your company highlighted in the media. Most start-up business owners think that's a great idea since it is free -- a bargain compared to the costly advertising mentioned above.

But, as Rein points out, getting noticed doesn't happen by accident. And once you are noticed, you have to know how to handle the media. That's another challenge. He offers these tips:

1.) Good public relations begins with good personal relations. Just as good organizations empower everyone to be a salesperson and a customer service person, so should you make sure that everyone on your staff has some basic PR sense, especially when they happen to answer the phone and a reporter is on the other end.

2.) Understand the journalistic distinction between a good subject and a good story. "Many PR people try to sell publications on important subjects, not realizing that journalists are interested in compelling stories with beginnings, middles, and ends."

3.) Make an effort to know a publication before you pitch a story to it.

4.) Make sure captions are attached to photographs and make sure your phone numbers -- business and home, preferably -- are attached to everything you send.

5.) Make it easy for journalists to do what you want them to do. Don't assume, for example, that every publication is going to be able to open your electronic file. Instead of sending an attachment via E-mail, include the release in the basic message area that everyone can read.

6.) Don't ask journalists to do your work for you. If you want to know whether or not a press release was used, get the publication and read it.

7.) When in doubt send it out. Most journalists consider themselves to be in the information business. What your press release looks like, how it is transmitted, whether it includes a color or black and white photograph are all secondary to what information it contains.

8.) Return reporters' phone calls.

Richard K. Rein is available at 609-452-0038. Juanita Johnson of Village Communications is at 609-637-0199.

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Increasing Sales Effectiveness

Why don't your people sell more? According to John Punyko, president of the Sandler Sales Institute in Princeton, there are five major weaknesses separating the winners from the losers. His advice: if they have too many weaknesses, don't hire them in the first place. If they do or they are already employed, work with them to overcome them. The weaknesses:

1. Unsupportive buying habits. When your salesperson makes a personal purchase, does he shop on price? If you expect your people to close within four sales calls and your new hire can't buy anything in fewer than 10 trips to the mall, there's a problem. A salesperson's "buy cycle" should mesh with his or her company's sales cycle. Overcome this weakness and reap 50 percent more business.

2. Queasiness about money. Some salespeople crumble under the weight of a big deal. A $50,000-a-year salesperson who is actually worth $200,000 can become one once they get past their money block. Overcome this hangup and reap 30 percent more business.

3. Need for approval. Some people go into sales to make friends. They live for the words "we really like you." But the best salespeople aren't afraid of rejection; they know that reps who live for approval don't take necessary risks. Most salespeople crave acceptance, so this is a most difficult hurdle. Overcome this need and reap 35 percent more business.

4. Self-limiting "Record Collection." Look for the hidden messages that play in a person's head. A salesperson who hums, "it's OK not to close," won't top the charts until they change the tune. Overcome this distraction and reap 25 percent more business.

5. Emotional involvement. If a salesperson loses his cool, he's not hearing the customer. Fear sets in. The Kurlan Sales Force Profile has found that even good listeners make the mistake of getting wrapped up in what they're hearing and need occasional lessons in levelheadedness. Overcome touchiness and reap 20 percent more business.

For Punyko's workshop for Trenton Small Business Week on Tuesday, October 6, at 3:15 p.m. call 609-396-7246. Punyko's number is 609-452-2722.

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