Top Communicators Have `Likability’: Ozana Castellano

Overcoming Common Sales Objections

Guerrilla Marketing

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring were prepared for the

April 11, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Taking the Horror Out of Selling Fiction

After five years of work, Brian Keene is ready

to devote himself full time to horror. "Ghosts and werewolves

were my love since I was a kid," he says. Now a marketer for a

credit card company by day, and a writer by night, Keene has just

given the two-week notice that will free him to take his writing to

the next level.

Keene speaks to the Garden State Horror Writers on "Guerrilla

marketing for writers," on Saturday, April 14, at 11 a.m. at the

Monmouth County Library in Manalapan. Free. Call 609-443-3438.

At one point in his life, Keene, a Baltimore resident who drifted

into sales after a four-year hitch in the Navy, thought he was

destined

to be "cursed forever as a traveling salesman, going from job

to job." His routine was eight or nine hours of selling, followed

by long writing sessions every night and every weekend. "I only

sleep four or five hours a night," he says.

The fruits of his labor include a book, "No Rest for the

Wicked,"

which will hit bookstores in May, stories that appear on CD-ROM horror

anthologies, audio books, a website (www.briankeene.com), numerous

stories and articles in print publications, and contributions to

horror

genre webzines.

As Keene worked on his writing technique at night, he came to realize

that he was honing equally important skills at his day job. "Any

writer can sit down and write a story," he says. "The trick

comes in selling the story." Succeeding at writing, Keene is

convinced,

is "only 50 percent talent." The rest is skillful — and

relentless — self-promotion. Keene devotes two hours a day, every

day, to marketing. He shares some of the strategies that got him to

the point where he can depend solely on writing income:

Paper the world with business cards. Just a simple

business

card, printed with the author’s name, the name of his book, and

perhaps

its ISBN number, can drive sales. "I go into Borders and put my

card in every best seller there," says Keene, who cheerfully

admits

to being tossed from the stores upon occasion. He knows this technique

works because a number of his fan letters come from readers who tell

him they were reading another author’s book, saw his card, and bought

his book. He says a friend of his, a webzine publisher, went from

a paltry audience to a top 10 ratings in his Internet niche, horror

fiction, within one year by dropping business cards absolutely

everywhere

he went.

Movies are an especially productive venue for business card seeding.

"I would hit the theaters for movies like Hannibal," Keene

says. "Put business cards on every seat." This technique,

he says, "exposes you to other than the hardcore fans."

Writers

in, say, romance, or Medieval history, or dog breeding, might not

reap much benefit from placing business cards at a Hannibal screening,

but could be on the lookout for films their target audience would

enjoy.

Hold readings in a forest. Readings are a good way to

build recognition, and writers should not limit themselves to

showcasing

their work only at bookstores. Keene has held readings at Halloween

"spook nights," in comic book stores, at shopping centers.

"Look for an opportunity outside of the ordinary," he says.

While he has not yet done this himself, he suggests that a horror

reading held at midnight in the Pine Barrens would draw an audience.

Get listed with local news services. Keene has let scores

of newspapers, magazines, radio stations, cable networks, and Internet

sites know he is available to comment on all things horror-related.

"When Stephen King was in the accident, the local paper called

me," he says. "I had only met him once, but they quoted me

as `local author’." The trick here, he says, is to let the news

outlets know that you are not just seeking coverage for your latest

book, but rather are happy to give your time to speak on any

development

within your genre or area of expertise.

Volunteer. For the first three years of his writing

career,

Keene devoted lots of time to working without pay to build up his

name recognition. "For one year, I was associate editor of the

Masters of Terror website," he gives as one example. "I

invested

16 hours a week, and made no money, but I reaped 20 times what I put

in." The website became the "number one horror webzine out

there," he says, and its visitors saw his name, and bought his

book.

Create a marketing database. "It is extremely

important,"

Keene says, "to compile a database of people who will buy your

work." He now regularly sends press releases to 425 people. Some

are press contacts and others are fans, whose E-mail addresses he

adds to the database as soon as they write saying they enjoyed a

story.

Still others are editors who have rejected his work. He says the fact

that he promotes his own work has earned him a second look by editors.

He believes they like the idea that if they publish him, his releases

may build traffic for their publications or websites.

Keene finds writers receptive to his marketing strategies.

"These

days, writers don’t expect just to write," he says. For many,

it’s either get a day job, or learn to be a publicist as well as a

novelist.

Top Of Page
Top Communicators Have `Likability’: Ozana Castellano

Ozana Castellano describes herself as an "ESL

child."

She and her family arrived on Long Island speaking Croatian and

"and

not one word of English," when she was 11 years old. Within six

months, she had learned how to communicate in her new language so

well that "no one could tell I wasn’t born here." Now

Castellano

has found her dream job, training employees of area corporations how

to succeed in their careers by mastering the language of business

communication.

Castellano teaches a six-session course on "Communicating with

Power and Style" beginning on Monday, April 16, at 7 p.m. at

Mercer

County Community College. Cost: $128. Call 609-586-9446. She also

speaks on the subject on Thursday, April 19, at 6:15 p.m. at a free

meeting of the Association of Women in Science at Wyeth-Ayerst in

Monmouth Junction (732-274-4607); and on Friday, April 27, at 8:15

a.m. at the Princeton Hyatt for Administrative Professionals Day,

co-sponsored by Mercer County Community College, among others. Cost:

$129. Call 609-586-9446.

A graduate of Hofstra University, Castellano received an MBA from

St. John’s University, and began her career in retail management.

She then taught undergraduate business courses at Adelphi, and started

a career coaching business, through which she prepared clients for

job interviews and helped them write more than 1,500 resumes. Arriving

in New Jersey in 1997, she went to work for Mercer County Community

College, where she teaches in the business and communications

divisions

and in the Institute for Training and Development, and does corporate

training for the Center for Training and Development.

A West Windsor resident and the mother of two girls, one an eighth

grader and one a junior in high school, Castellano says her work at

MCCC is "the career of my life." It’s a perfect fit, she says,

both for her lifestyle and for her talents.

In her courses, Castellano tells students they need to use

communication

to make people like them. "Likability, that’s the magic

bullet,"

she says. "When you have that you gain credibility." Then,

"even if you fumble, you’re forgiven." Here are her

suggestions

for achieving that happy state:

Watch your eyes, and the rest of your body, too. "You

can lie with words, but non-verbal cues give you away," says

Castellano,

who reports that 93 percent of meaning is derived from non-verbal

communication. "When verbal and non-verbal cues conflict, people

believe the non-verbal cues," she says.

You can say you’re dying to hear what the boss wants to say, "but

if your eyes stray to your watch, you’re saying `I’m not really

interested,

and I’m not listening’." Similarly, if you blink too much, you

will be perceived as a liar no matter how strongly you protest to

the contrary. "Nixon blinked excessively during the Watergate

hearings," Castellano says. "It’s normal to blink 10 to 20

times a minute. Nixon blinked 30 to 40 times."

While rapid blinking suggests you are toying with the truth,

scratching

your head or biting your lip leads listeners to believe you are not

confident. Ditto with wringing your hands.

Perfect your greeting. Upon meeting a person for the first

time, look him right in the eye, offer a firm — but not too firm

— handshake, and include his name in a short greeting. In her

classes, Castellano has students practice a handshake. Few things

are as off-putting, she says, as a limp handshake. Some men taking

her courses confess to using a weak handshake with women. This is

no good, she says. The same solid, confident handshake should be

extended

to everyone. But avoid a bone crusher, she says. It conveys your

desire

to exert control.

Offer up the thing listeners most want to hear.

"Nothing

is as sweet to a person’s ear as the sound of his own name,"

Castellano

says. "Make sure you learn the name correctly, and repeat it right

away." In our multi-cultural society, this is not always easy,

but it is essential. Saying a name right after you first hear it is

the best way to start to memorize its pronunciation. Then use the

name many times during each conversation.

Avoid "sprinkler eyes." Eye contact is what will

make you a star. Castellano has her classes name public figures who

are great communicators. Asked for her own opinion, she hesitates

not at all. "Bill Clinton," she says. "His magic bullet

is that he can be in a crowd of 100 and make each person feel he is

his favorite. Leaving Monica Lewinsky out of the picture, that is

his charm." He, and other expert communicators, reel in a crowd

through expert use of their eyes.

Achieving eye contact is fairly simple in a one-on-one situation,

but is trickier with a group. Here is how Castellano says it should

be done. "Look at someone for three to five seconds, then slowly

go to someone in a different part of the room. At the end everyone

feels connected to you. Everyone thinks `he likes me best.’"

Holding the eye contact for a decent period of time is key. Those

who spray their glance around, darting from person to person too

quickly

have what Castellano calls "sprinkler eyes." Rather than

building

rapport, they risk being seen as furtive.

Become a great communicator and you will succeed in your career,

Castellano promises. It will make you likable, and that, she says,

is everything. She uses "Fiddler on the Roof" to back up this

assertion. "Tevya," she says of that play’s hero, "was

a Russian Jew. His youngest daughter was marrying a non-Jew."

All of Tevya’s friends and relatives were horrified that he approved

of the union. "I know," he said. "I know, but I like

him."

If the prospective son-in-law’s defect had been so much as a hangnail

and Tevya did not like him, Castellano is convinced there would have

been no marriage.

Top Of Page
Overcoming Common Sales Objections

When young people who want to break into sales

consulting

ask Isabel Kersen, an industry veteran, how she got started,

she tells them her career path no longer exists. "There’s no more

getting there by doing it," she says. When she began training

salespeople back in the early 1970s, "there were no courses in

instructional design, in human resources management," says Kersen,

who began her work life as a teacher.

Kersen runs Performance & Learning Associates in Secaucus and has

trained more than 3,000 salespeople in many industries. "I’ve

done them all. There’s nothing left." Kersen speaks on

"Handling

Price Objections" to the New Jersey Association of Women Business

Owners on Monday, April 16, at 6 p.m. at the Clarion Hotel in Edison.

Cost: $37. Call 732-828-3394.

Kersen graduated from the City College of New York in 1955 and earned

a master’s degree in English from CCNY. Only after decades of work

did she go back to school to study the discipline she had been

practicing.

She obtained a doctorate in human resources development from George

Washington University, because, she says, "I was curious. Was

there something I hadn’t picked up?"

What she found was "a lot of theory that explained why I did what

I did. I had been going on instinct. I would say `trust me. This is

what works.’" Armed with a formal education in her discipline,

she works the same way, but can now offer complicated rationales for

her advice.

Kersen got into sales consulting entirely by accident. She had been

teaching English when a fellow teacher recruited her to do some

writing

for Xerox for three days. "I found I loved it," says Kersen,

who worked on the Xerox project for three years. Corporate work

followed,

including stints at Hertz and 14 years as vice president for a U.S.

subsidiary of Loreal International. Then, four years ago, she decided,

"enough with the corporate nonsense," and started her own

business.

Beyond being irritated that upper management often made decisions

"without understanding, or caring, about people in the

organization,

about whether the decisions made their jobs harder or easier,"

Kersen wanted more freedom to, among other things, manage her own

travel. "That is a horrendous part of corporate life," she

says. "I am so sick and tired of hotel rooms." Consulting

on her own still requires travel, but Kersen says she can now plan

it better, avoiding the 75 percent travel that was sometimes required

when she was a corporate employee.

As she does travel around training salespeople, they consistently

tell her their biggest problem is handling price objections. The

challenge

of turning this obstacle into a positive cuts across all industries.

The strategy Kersen teaches is always the same. Her tenets:

Don’t buy it. Often when sales prospects balk over price,

"it’s just an opening gambit for negotiations," Kersen says.

In other cases, the objection may cover a prospect’s lack of funds.

An initial grumble about price should in no way spell the end of a

sales pitch.

Ask what `No’ really means. "Clarify the

objection,"

Kersen says. "Know exactly what the person means when he says

`too expensive’." It could mean he thinks he can get it for less,

or that the price doesn’t seem to indicate good value, or that the

item just isn’t in the budget. The salesperson has to ask.

Be a friend. "Convert the objection to a

question,"

Kersen says. "Okay, I certainly understand price is a concern.

What is it about the price that is a concern?" This leads a

prospect

into giving details, and it allows the salesperson to be get further

information without becoming confrontational. Once the specifics are

out in the open, the salesperson continues in the same vein, saying

something like: "So if I understand correctly, your question is

`Can I get the same for less?’ Is that your question?"

Answer objections, but don’t gloat. Repeat the question

process as often as necessary, using each `No’ as an opportunity to

pose a new question. A key point, Kersen says, is to refrain from

ever — really ever — proving the prospect wrong. You may be

able to pull out hard data showing that he is all wet in thinking

XYZ Corp.’s product is cheaper in the long run, but, says Kersen,

"he won’t like you."

Top Of Page
Guerrilla Marketing

<B>Jim Lenskold has gotten to know a lot of

entrepreneurs

in the four years since he started a marketing business catering to

the needs of start-ups. "They’re all the same," he says.

"They

all think all they have to do is build a great product." Not so,

says Lenskold. He has seen a number of young businesses run out of

money before they were able to get the message about their new product

out to a market that would bring them some revenue.

Lenskold is the founder of Lenskold Marketing Group, a nine-person

company based in Morristown. He speaks on "Struttin’ Your Stuff:

guerrilla marketing techniques for growing companies," at the

Venture Association of New Jersey, on Tuesday, April 17, at 11:30

a.m. at the Westin, Morristown. Cost: $45. Call 973-631-5680.

Lenskold joined AT&T’s marketing strategy group right after that

company

began operating in a competitive environment. In his nine years with

AT&T, he started up the company’s acquisition marketing and retention

marketing groups, and was responsible for a number of its campaigns,

including True Savings and True Rewards. He liked the work because

it gave him a chance "to be entrepreneurial within a large

company."

But Lenskold, a 1985 graduate of Rutgers who earned his MBA from

Rutgers

while working for AT&T, wanted even more of an entrepreneurial

experience.

He left AT&T to start a systems integration company, and stayed with

it for four years before succumbing to the entrepreneurial itch again

and starting up his marketing company. "That’s where my strength

and my passion is," he says of the field. And, what’s more, his

latest venture "is not only a start-up, but works with

start-ups."

From his experience in building companies, and in working with other

start-ups, Lenskold has come up with five principles for launching

new initiatives. All take into account that new companies have a

critical

need to win customers, but also have limited budgets. Lenskold’s five

principles:

Don’t underestimate barriers to market share. "A lot

of time, people say `Conservatively, we’ll get 10 percent of market

share’," Lenskold says. Start-ups get these numbers from benchmark

studies, but forget, he says, that the benchmarks are for established

companies. Start-ups are up against much greater odds. "As a new

venture, you’re seen as a risk," Lenskold says. "You don’t

have any real credibility." Many dot-coms made this mistake, he

says. "They were heavy on awareness, but didn’t get across

perceived

need and value."

To minimize a perception of risk, start-ups may need to offer their

product for a very low cost. "Practically give it away to get

sales," Lenskold says. Other strategies for making customers

comfortable

enough to take a chance include entering into partnerships with

established

companies and picking up credibility through speaking engagements.

Understand the customer’s world. Entrepreneurs, one and

all, are absolutely sure there will be a tremendous demand for their

product. "They’re all convinced all they have to do is open the

door, wave the product, and people will buy," Lenskold says. But

everyone is now so overwhelmed by sales pitches through any number

of media that entrepreneurs have to realize it is not easy to cut

through the buzz.

To do so, entrepreneurs need to think carefully about their prospects,

and their prospects’ priorities. "If it’s the top executive, he

may look at profitability," Lenskold says. "If it’s someone

lower down, he may worry about what could go wrong." Tailor the

pitch to customers’ concerns.

Go after smaller markets. The entrepreneurs who come

through

Lenskold’s door most often start out thinking their product will solve

everyone’s needs. Maybe so, but, he tells them, "You have only

so many dollars." He suggests that most new companies conserve

marketing dollars by aiming at being a big fish in a little pond,

or at most in two or three ponds. Customers can be targeted in any

number of ways — by age, geography, interests, or perhaps

industry.

Once a target is selected, Lenskold says entrepreneurs’ strategy needs

to be: "Let me make sure this group hears my message over and

over." Once the message does get through, there will be word of

mouth. Soon, there will be momentum, and the new company has a shot

at being a leader in its target group.

In choosing the target group, Lenskold suggests it can be a good idea

to look at profitability. "Some groups spend more," he says.

"And some require less customer service." It’s also smart

to go for a group where competition is weak.

Budget smart. "There is a cost for a learning

curve,"

Lenskold says. "Not all marketing works with all groups."

This is especially true in the technology field, or for any company

introducing a new product. The more revolutionary the product, the

more customers have to be educated, the more trial and error will

have to go into marketing. "I’ve seen businesses run out of money

just as they’re moving up the learning curve," Lenskold says.

Try test marketing. The natural tendency, Lenskold says,

is for companies to go all out on one type of marketing, and then,

when that doesn’t work well, start all over in another direction.

This is not only expensive, but can be fatal to attempts to attract

further funding. If investors see a company is not getting results,

they hesitate to put more money into the venture.

With test marketing, however, a company can try many types of

approaches

all at once, and generally for far less money than would be sucked

up by two or three ineffective marketing campaigns. A relatively small

sample population — maybe 50,000 people — can provide insight

into what works well, and what doesn’t. Divide the 50,000 people into

10 groups, Lenskold suggests. Five of those groups could be sent

direct

mail, and five "something quite different," maybe online

media.

The message sent to each group would be different, giving a company

an opportunity to see which generated the most sales. With 10

scenarios,

Lenskold says, the chances of finding one that works is pretty good.

And, he says, "you only need one to work."


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