It’s All About You

You are important and you know it. But does the person trying to sell you something know it?

One of the basic lessons of marketing is ‘sell benefits not features’. In other words, tell the customer what’s in it for them. Yet how often do you receive an email, letter, tweet, flier or even a personal call that fails to tell you why you should buy? You can probably find any number of examples that don’t even use the word ‘you’.

Here’s an example from the world of theatre: ‘This show is unmissable.’ OK but why shouldn’t you miss it? What particular rvalue will be added to your memories were you to have this experience? What empty hole will there be in your life if you choose not to see the show?

Maybe it’s a moving play. So you’ll very likely be crying at the end. Better bring tissues.

Maybe it’s a funny play. So you’ll be laughing. Better bring an oxygen supply in case you can’t get your breath.

Maybe it’s a musical full of hits. So you’ll be tapping your feet, clapping along, dancing in the aisles, reliving your youth. Better bring a defibrillator.

The fact that it’s an award winning, long running, critically acclaimed work of genius is very reassuring but so are any number of shows you wouldn’t dream of seeing.

A survey found that the word most commonly used in tweets that were retweeted was ‘you’. Copy- even if it’s only 147 digits- should tell you a story in which you are the star. That story should describe vividly what will happen to you when you go to see that particular show. It should fire your imagination.

If at the end of the story, you say that’s not for me, at least you’ve made an informed decision. Think of all the potential customers like you who never even started on the journey because they were given a list of features and couldn’t be bothered trying to work out the answer to the most important marketing question: what’s in it for you?

This blog was written by Paul Seven Lewis, owner of the marketing consultancy The Lewis Experience and former Head of Marketing and Operations at The Mayflower Theatre. You can connect with him on Google+ and LinkedIn.

Three Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Pricing

£5.00 or 4.99? £5.00 or 5.00? £5.00 or £7.50 or both? Subtle differences maybe but they can make a big difference to your sales. In her recent post Francesca Nicasio nominates three questions to ask before you set your prices.

The first is whether you should use the old .99 trick. Of course it’s clumsy and no sensible person will be fooled by it but the fact is, according to research quoted by Francesca, twice as many people bought one particular product at 1.99 as 2.00. Although it goes against all common sense, our brains are programmed to notice the left bit of the price more than the right. Also, people associated .99 or .95 prices with bargains. But (and there’s always a but) if you’re competing on quality, your customers are more likely to associate round prices with quality products.

Then there’s the matter of the pound sign. Francesca describes an American restaurant that found customers spent more when they left the $ sign off the prices. Not enough of a sample to draw definite conclusions but maybe the sign reminds them that it’s real money they’re spending.

Finally, Francesca reminds us of the importance of choice. As I’ve mentioned before, customers love, no, need a choice. Some will always pay top dollar, some will go for the cheapest and so on, but most will plump for the middle. In fact, if your customers are always going for the highest prices, you’re probably not charging enough. Offering a range of prices gives your customer something to compare with and reassures them that the price they choose is reasonable. I think the trend to price a handful of the ‘best’ theatre seats at a very high price is a good one. It makes the previous top price seem like really good value. And, if you’ve over priced them, you can always sell your best seats off cheaper at the last minute.

Check out Francesca Nicasio’s blog here. Take a look at my 7 Tips on Effective Pricing.

This blog was written by Paul Lewis, owner of the marketing consultancy The Lewis Experience based at Hampshire Workspace, and former Head of Marketing and Operations at The Mayflower Theatre. You can connect with him on Google+ and LinkedIn.

No Comment Says It All

Harriet Harman’s response or rather lack thereof to the Daily Mail’s stories about her connection to a paedophile organisation shows exactly what not to do when faced with a PR disaster.

It is of course tempting to ignore adverse publicity or a complaint and hope it goes away. This can work. If there isn’t really a story in the first place, a reporter may float it just to provoke a response and if no-one rises to the bait, there is no conflict and the story dies. I’ve been on both ends of this.

On one occasion a publicly funded body began providing services in competition with one of my clients, a private commercial company. I doubted much could be done to stop them but I thought there was a chance of some publicity for my client so I persuaded them to write a complaint to the local newspaper. It was printed but my hope that the other party would defend itself and we could garner further publicity was dashed. Perhaps we would have been more successful if we’d talked to a reporter about our grievance.

More recently a subsidised organisation with which I’m associated was attacked in a letter in the local press. I was all for responding, on the grounds that it gave us an opportunity to counter the criticisms and  talk about all the good things we do.  I was outvoted and we reacted with dignified silence. I appreciate that it can be a case of ‘least said, soonest mended’ but I still worry that, since we didn’t deny it, some readers will think what was said was true.

You can understand why Ms Harman or her advisors might have thought that the Mail was simply trying to smear her and any comment was only going to keep the smear going. She may have thought that the chance of persuading Daily Mail readers that she was right and the Mail was wrong were remote.

The trouble is, the Mail was confident it was on to something and Ms Harman’s lack of response i.e. apology became the story. In my experience, unless you are absolutely sure your silence will kill a story before it gets into the public domain, you must respond. That response must acknowledge any mistakes or wrongdoing, apologise if necessary, then swiftly move on to a positive story about the changes that have been made and the good work now being carried out.

In Ms Harman’s case, she could count on the support of other media, who hate the Mail more than they hate her. She could explain how these vile people came to be affiliated with the organisation she worked for, regret that they were ever able to do so, show that she was not in any way sympathetic to paedophiles and go on to speak of the good work both of Liberty and herself in combatting child abuse.

I’ve always liked a complaint or a bad news story because it gives a great opportunity to talk about all the positive aspects of your organisation. Yes, it may bring attention to a complaint that some people might have missed but, in these days of social media spreading every little rumour let alone genuine bad news, that’s a forlorn hope. At least when you respond to stories, letters and tweets, you are retaking control of your brand image.

This blog was written by Paul Lewis, owner of the marketing consultancy The Lewis Experience based at Hampshire Workspace, and former Head of Marketing and Operations at The Mayflower Theatre. You can connect with him on Google+ and LinkedIn.