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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
<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:
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.
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."
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."
<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:
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.
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.
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."
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:
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:
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com -- the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.