Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Niche is in the "Name"

Well it's sort of in the name, in this case it is in the title. While this post is about the imporance of a title it also lets you realize how important a "headline" is.

I found this book in the Public Domain "Sustaining Grassroots Community-Based Programs:
A Toolkit for Community- and Faith-Based Service Providers" , that's not how or why I found it. It reminded me of this true story about E. Haldeman-Julius. E, Haldeman-Julius was a book publisher in the 1920's, and he would take authors books that were not selling and edit them for length and retitle them with a marketable title. I can't remember how short he required the title but it had to grab the readers attention from a one page ad in a magazine where there were, I believe 100 other titles listed.

Here is a better description straight from Gary Halbert's newsletter about the Little Blue Books: "The story of the Little Blue Books offers up a treasure trove of marketing insights that is pure gold. Here are the details: Once upon a time, way back in the 1920's, the Little Blue Books were born. They were, all in all, a collection of some 2,000 titles. All the books had a blue cover and measured 3-1/2 by 5 inches. Most often they contained 64 pages, although sometimes they went up to 128 pages. The content of the Little Blue Books was wide and varied. They covered everything from Shakespeare to the Debate on Birth Control. Many of them were self-help books of the "How To" genre. They were sold in large ads that appeared in many of the major newspapers and other publications such as Colliers and the Saturday Evening Post. They sold for a nickel (5 cents) and you had to buy at least 20 of them with every order.

Now listen: Do you remember when Playboy magazine first hit the newsstands? Remember the technique of how to buy it? Remember how you'd go to a newsstand and grab copies of Life and Look and maybe the National Geographic and a couple of others and then you'd pick up a Playboy and hide it in the middle of all those others when you went up to the cash register?

You do remember all that? Geez, time sure passes, doesn't it? Well, since a person had to buy 20 Little Blue Books at a time, that meant he could anonymously sandwich in an order for what he really wanted to read or learn about with all that stuff society was telling him he was supposed to be interested in." Gary Halbert

After E. Haldeman-Julius had sold over 100 million of these little books, then he wrote a book titled "The First Hundred Million". The late great Gary Halbert talks about it in his newsletter Now when Gary wrote he didn't use a filter on the metaphors, the sexism of that era comes through loud and clear. I used to love whistling at the girls, now I have heard it is considered a form of sexual harassment, so much for that compliment method. Gary was a brilliant copywriter and Dan Kennedy says this about Gary, "When he would focus, he was so much better than me it aint even funny." Dan Kennedy, if you could hire him to write a sales letter, would start with a $25000 dollar fee and 3 to 15% of the gross.

The book I mentioned earlier is in the public domain, although I did not read all of it, merely skimmed it, it has good marketing advice and I wonder what Haldeman-Julius would have called it. "How to Be Successful as a Non-Profit" comes to mind.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Customer Service as a Niche

Probably anyone reading this could give boat-loads of personal examples of their own on why "they too think this is a niche". We've all felt the sting of bad service, shoddy merchandise and under-performing products.

We(my wife and I) used to go to Hollywood Video all the time, normally renting 3-4 videos per week. Two things happened, 1.We got stuck with a late charge... twice for the same dam video that we inadvertently had put off watching, then returning. 2. We watched a movie that was so bad that I had asked for a credit, the movie really sucked. They said, "Tough bounce, they only rent the movies, they don't make them. Well between the two events we sort of got a "chip on our shoulder" about renting movies from them. So we went from spending $9-12 per week(40 weeks per year at $9 = $360) to ordering them off cable or just buying a dvd. I think "indifference and smugness" in retailers or just the failure to allow individual clerks a bit of leeway by management costs businesses many customers. How could Hollywood Video have kept us as a customer and maybe even boosted their bottomline? How about looking at our past history of renting when we are right there in front of them? "Oh geez these guys are really good customers, how about giving them a break and not only forgiving half a dozen late charges but that video they thought sucked, how about giving them a two movie credit?"

Have you ever done this dumb move? It's really dumb and I am guilty of it.
For a long time I was going to the deli at various grocery stores and buying sliced turkey, chicken or whatever. Every once-in-awhile I would get some meat that must have been 'bad' when I brought it home, at $8 or $9 bucks a pound and usually two pounds per week that added up. Well on one occasion I took it to Customer Service and they acted like I was the first person that had ever gotten bad meat from them... 'So I must be lying.' They refunded my money but grudgingly. This second one was "the dumb move that I spoke of earlier, that I was guilty of", I got some bad turkey and brought it to the deli and the guy pointed out that I had bought it at another store... which was true. I felt so stupid, so small, so dumb. But guess what? That was a Customer Service moment, not only did I end up going to the other store I refrained from going to that store for two months. I don't know about you but I spend quite a bit for our family of three each month on groceries. If that customer service person would have realized, "This guy's an idiot but we like his money and we don't want to alienate them from our store so we can donate some meat at 'our cost' and keep a steady customer..." Simple. Easy. We spend thousands and thousands each week on store ads, how about a few dollars to keep this guy from "losing face".

Starbucks, when we first started stopping they would automatically put whip cream on top of our drinks, or at least ask. Then they stopped atomatically doing it. Did they stop because of 'their employees forgetting to ask?' Or did most customers not want the whip cream? I don't know but big business's like them have success from 'systems' and one of them should be what to ask every customer every time. Burger King, Whataburger and McDonalds are made up of systems but they all have low-end of the totempole employees, kids just starting out, first time job candidates. They are failable as we all are. What I love though is getting a sack full of condiments (ketchup, salt, pepper, etc.) and ZERO napkins. "I wonder if when they make the various size sacks at the sack manufacturer if they could throw in one napkin for the tiny sacks and two for the mid-size sacks and 4 for the larger sacks if that would be a new smart system?" I would like it.

Well if you have some great or not so great customer service moments please throw them in the comments below.

Mike Feddersen

Friday, October 17, 2008

Getting Out of Your Niche to Get Into Your Niche?

I was reading this post on creativity and imagination by a guy I follow on twitter, he recommended I go see an expansion of that idea by this other guy, Jim Canterucci. Jim's blog talks about suscribing to 10 random magazines. Here is what he said, "On a panel of Organizational Development professionals recently, Steve Bond of Nationwide Insurance related a tip from one of his old bosses.

Each year the executive randomly subscribed to ten magazines. He read these magazines for a year, bringing the perspectives from the eclectic compilation of publications to his life and work.

The executive reading Teen Vogue, the social worker reading Guns & Ammo seems strange but provides an insight into the bigger world we live in. You don't have to agree with all positions, just be able to relate to them.

A cheaper alternative - hang out at the book store magazine rack or the library for a couple hours each month.

Don't forget what you read online. Subscribe to some things that may be opposite of your traditional/stereotypical views. For example, tech geeks reading about medical breakthroughs may inspire the next Google. Or, a librarian reading about retail merchandising may come up with a great idea for displaying books.

Diversity of thought allows the brilliance to rise to the surface." End post

By the way that blog of his has tons of great stuff on it I recommend you go there and gleen all you can.

Interesting post, it expands on something Robin Elliot, the Joint Venture broker trainer speaks of when he was talking about reading biographies of famous people like Winston Churchill. Robin said, "When I read what Winston wrote, I am reading what Winston was thinking when he wrote it so I am sort of thinking like Winston was thinking."

Also Dan S. Kennedy mentions that Earl Nightingale said, "Studying on any subject for an hour per day for a year will make you an expert on any subject within one year." Dan also says "If you follow the Paretto Principle 80/20 or 95/5 there isn't much competition doing what they need to be doing to stay on top in their field."
I don't know what current figures for Amazon are but several years ago they mentioned that 85 percent of their sales were purchased by people intending them as a gift so of the 15 percent that are actually buying for themselves few are your competitors.

You know I would think if the above is true on magazines and books, then it also has to be true of blogs by various professions and interests. Definitely cool.

So how does all this help you?

1. By reading magazines, books or blogs that aren't in your field of expertise you are allowing your mind to learn how those people may think and talk. By learning that language you may be able to direct your marketing messages for alternative markets. I read that of two income families, the lady of the house spends 80 percent of the combined total income. Maybe you could use a little help relating to women. Another person I follow on twitter is Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero, her website helps people, men and women, learn how to market to women. She is holding a workshop on this in November, 2008 and for those of you that can't make it she has books and CD's on creating copy for women.

2. By stretching your mind with various other perspectives and philosophies you learn how to think differently.


Monday, October 13, 2008

How Can "Anal-Retentiveness" Be a Niche?

I was out looking at the list of people wanting to follow me on twitter when I came across this post and it hit me that there is a marketing niche within the problem. You can go to Tina McAllister's site and read it there or I have included her post here for your viewing.

The Curse of Perfectionism
I think my son is pretty darn near perfect.

If perfect means being utterly kissable when you first wake up in the morning and have dragon breath. And you wake up grumpy after a nap and whine about every single little thing. And you cry when the puppy scratches you even though you were the one teasing the puppy in the first place.

Yeah. That kind of perfect.

That’s a cute sort of perfectionism. Which I think most kids have. “Cute perfectionism” is what I’ll call it. Come on, people…let’s create a new buzz phrase!!

But there’s a perfectionism that isn’t cute. And it’s called being an unrealistic, anal-retentive freak. And there are some people I know who need to let their A-type shield go and just embrace the mundane like the rest of the free world.

I have a client who is cursed with perfectionism.

It’s okay. He doesn’t read my blog. So it’s not like I’m going to hurt his poor little type-A feelings or tick off his anal-retentive side.

This client won’t let his pursuit of perfectionism go.

And it’s driving me mad.

I edited his book MONTHS ago. And he’s still not finished.

Because he keeps adding.

And adding.

And adding.


Mind you, his field of expertise is a constantly changing animal. It’s scary to put things in print when they just might change within weeks or months and then you have this book, something in print, making you look like a doofus. I get it.

But seriously, this is out of control. His book should have gone to print about 4 months ago. At the worst, with his anal tendencies, 2 months ago. And yet, he is still tweaking it and getting it ready to send back to me.

I have thoughts (and suggestions) for you perfectionist whack jobs out there. But I don’t want them to get lost at the bottom of a long rant, so I’ll just save them for my next post. Because, yes, they are useful tips for perfectionists and how they can get their sanity back and use the changing field to their advantage.

So…are you cursed with the need for perfection?

« I am surrounded by lazy people…

One Response to “The Curse of Perfectionism”
AZMike Says:
October 13th, 2008 at 9:56 pm

As a marketer, you should help him use this quirk in his favor.

Let me explain, I follow Matt Furey, and he sent me an email letting me know about Charles Dicken’s from “A Tale of Two Cities” fame, among others. Well ol’ Charles and a number of top writers of his day sold their manuscripts by the chapter. Some actually would have a rough outline of the story, probably a chapter list but then each week or month or whatever they would sell their followers a new chapter. The story being written on a weekly business.

Now I am not suggesting your guy should dole out a chapter at a time, but how about using his “ever-changing” industry to his advantage? Release the book, have in the sales copy for the book or as a nice attractive bookmark included in the book or both a Nice notice that says, “Hey, you and I both know our industry changes so fast that just like computers, what is ‘State of the Art” today is tomorrow’s bargain sale merchandise. When you buy this product you get updates. You get access to my private website and monthly hardcopy newsletter with all the most recent updates, industry trends and even some inside scoops mailed to you.” All the client needs to do is fill out a form, (Name, Address, Email, Phone, etc).

You could use the constantly changing climate of his as his “strongest selling point”. Use that anal-retentiveness in your favor, his favor.

Dan Kennedy is one of the guru’s I follow and try to pay attention to. Dan made the comment once that he had never learned how to get a steady stream of clients coming into his “sales funnel”. Dan wrote his books to help with that but he still constantly was manually filling the pipe. Well Dan is quite successful, some say he’s worth 25 Million (I bet it is more). Dan sold off his resell writes to one of his students… Kimble? And when he had been doing with Bill Glazer for awhile he wanted to cut back on his workload so he sold his “No B.S. Inner-Circle Newsletter” to Glazer. It was probably a pretty sweet deal for Dan, he is a marketer and world class copywriter. Well I had heard the first year Bill had it he tripled the size of the members and he did away with the lowest rung(silver) of the Inner-Circle membership(except for Paul Hartunian?). How did Bill grow this so fast? Bill gave away three month memberships to the newsletter, people paid $9.95 for the shipping and unless they cancelled they were put on “auto-till”. So after 3 months the free membership turned into a 39.95/month program.

This is another point you and your client can use, Bill used host-beneficiary relationships that Dan Kennedy himself had established but never capitalized on. Dan had various levels of his Inner-Circle, the top being Platinum(Around $32,000 per year with a limit of 18 memberships). These were held like 3 or 4 times per year, great big Masterminds with all members sitting around letting everyone else in on everybody’s secret marketing steps. Well Bill took the newsletter to all of these marketers with their own individual followers, as well as the other levels of the Inner-Circle(Gold and Gold+). There was some sort of agreement where those members that endorsed the Glazer-Kennedy Inner Circle to their followers received a cut of everything those New members bought. Who are the host-beneficiary relationships in your clients business that he could be endorsed to their followers?


P.S. Also on getting the contact information, you could have your client find three or four Joint Venture partners that share that information and pay for the manufacture/delivery of those ‘updates’ and in return they get a 1/2 page ad delivered to this “hungry market’.

______________________________________________(End of Post on Tina's site but not end of this post.)_______

I may be stretching the idea that this is a marketing niche but it has to stretch your mind a bit. What might have been the advice you would give Tina? Here is the link to her post if you want to add it there.

Already Have a Niche? Just Suffering From Writer's Block?

I followed a couple of good writers to a great internet resource where you can tap into a 24/7 brainstorming session whenever you need it. While you provide the match that will light the fuel already waiting there, if you 'massage' the faintest of your ideas into their search engine, out pops ready made ideas of what you could write about. If you really need help you can read the articles, than go put them into your own words. Just the titles alone could get most of you writing for hours.

So what's so great about "Ezine Articles"?

What is your niche? "Running"? I punched in running and article after article came up, 565 articles. All kinds of topics within running, like "How to Start Running" or "How to Avoid Knee-Injury While Running". Whatever your niche, whatever your field there is liable to be an author that has written something similar to what you could write about. On a search of PR (public relations) I stopped counting after 750 articles; would you ever expect a title "How Important Photography is in PR"?

For all you Social Networking Maven's there is a truck load of articles on any and all of your favorite networks. Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Classmates, etc.One site lists over 140 sites, they are full of creative, smart, funny people that can stimulate your writing projects right and left.

Whatever block you may have had should easily be overcome just by taking elements or words from any of your own past articles and plugging into their search engine on their site.

Ezine Articles has much more than just articles galore, they have "How to" help, a forum, blog, etc. Ezine Articles CEO, Chris Knight welcomes your questions.


Success in the Candy Aisle

Sunday, September 19, 2004
Success in the Candy Aisle
I was talking with two of our Mastermind partners just a couple days ago and we decided we were each going to find some group of people (a market) to create a product for. Then on Monday the 20th we will meet for comparing notes and Brainstorming products for those groups.

This process is similar to going to the snack or candy aisle at the grocery or convenience store and not having a real particular favorite (like a Snickers candy bar) that you plan on getting. There are literally dozens and dozens and dozens of candy bars, probably 100's of candy bar choices. Then there is gum, I chew Trident Original flavor so that is an easy choice for me. On candy bars though it is another matter, usually it would be a Nestle Crunch Bar, but if they had a frozen candy bar section I would go for a Whatchamacallit, when frozen they are hard to beat. I used to do frozen Snickers but my teeth prefer the Whatchamacallits' now. Now in the candy aisle candy bars and gum are only 2 of the categories with all those choices, there usually is dozens and dozens of other items that you have enjoyed before like licorice (Twizzler's, Nibs, Red Vines, etc.), hard candy (Sweethearts, Jawbreakers, etc.), what about items that are sort of junk food but sort of okay? Like beef jerky (Hickory Smoked, Mesquite, Teriyaki, Slim Jims, etc.) or Sunflower Seeds (They used to come just one flavor, but now they have Original, Bar-B-Q, JalapeƱo Hot Salsa, Honey Roasted, Reduced Sodium, Ranch and Nacho Cheese).

Then there are the chips; Doritos has Nachos Cheesier, Guacamole, Taco, Salsa Verse, Ranchero, Salsa, Four Cheese, Cooler Ranch, Spicier Nacho... and there are probably others and we haven't even started on their 3-D variety. Then their our all the varieties of Lay's, and the varieties of Pretzel's, and Sun Chips, and gheesh!

So when trying to figure out a snack has all these choices and hundreds more, frozen varieties, fruit varieties, drinkable varieties (isn't that what Starbuck's is all about?) there is little wonder that when you are trying to figure out what group of people you want to market to, it is such a daunting chore?

The hot shot's in marketing will tell you to "get rich in YOUR niche", what if you never really had a niche? Evidently I am one of those, since I was 10 years old and could scrub parts or clean shop floors or "push cobs into a blower"(that's a whole niche by itself) my dad had me working. I should probably go into the industry I have been trying to get out of for so long, doesn't that sound like and oxymoron? Why would you want to go into something you have been trying to get out of? Familiarity? Because you understand "most" of the language? Maybe because you already have a foot in the door there? Maybe it isn't so far from your comfort zone?

There, I did it again. What did I do? I gave myself yet another choice of groups to market to, didn't I? Is it any wonder when we were in school the teacher gave us daily assignments that those went sort of okay, but when they gave us a report to do of our choosing it was done at the last minute or handed in late?

Maybe getting "rich in your niche" is so easy we make it hard? T. Harv Eker has a video tape out, from 1994, called "How to Generate Hot New Business Ideas" or How to Generate Million Dollar Ideas Every 60 Seconds. In the video he gives a guideline of how to generate these hot new business ideas:

1. Find a business that is "Right For You", that suits you. Why? Because if you are going to be successful you are going to spend a lot of time there in your business. So "Doing What You Love" will be a lot easier than "Doing Just What May Make You Money".

2. There are two main motivators, everything we do is motivated my these two: Gaining Pleasure or Avoiding Pain. And for most of us avoiding pain is more of a motivator than gaining pleasure. Example: Avoiding the pain that may come from a sales call that might lead to more sales calls that might make you wealthy (gain pleasure) is avoided because sales calls can lead to no's that we have somehow linked to pain.
Problem Solving because problems create opportunities, where you see problems you will find people in "pain". What do people want to avoid? Pain. They don't have to be big problems, they might be little inconveniences, irritations and annoyances.

3. Improve anything (At this point in the video he has everyone in his meeting take out a sheet of paper and for 60 seconds he has them list the physical items in the room that they can see.) Then he asks, "Is there room for improvement of any of these items?" Items on my list included: DVD's, DVD Player, Clothes, TV, Couch, Chairs, Lamp, Coffee table, books, air conditioning (the wife likes to turn it down to freezing while she naps), cat hair, etc.

4. Look for Change: Changes in technology, changes in social interests, changes in the law, etc. A change in social interest was an example of a buddy of his that was a professional dancer, he noticed when line dancing started coming out and he created a video to teach people how to do line dancing. A Law change was one on all businesses having to have a CPR chart on their premises, a guy he knew laminated up a ton of these and direct marketed them to businesses (they had to have them). Shift in technology could be how DVD's have come out so popular or if you ever shop ebay how everyone is selling a "how to make money selling on ebay" course. The first ones probably made some decent money.

5. Model a Proven Winner: Copy a Concept (Harv had seen in a magazine about the fitness boom in Los Angeles, he travelled there, saw how the person was selling the equipment, came back to Toronto and started his own. Copy a product, yogurt, pretzels, Hawaiian ice, etc. Take advantage of the "lag time" between when something is hot in New York or California and when the rest of the country discovers it.

6. Niches (A niche is a small area.)
According to him there are 6 types of niches and they all start with "P".

Examples he gave were of the store "Sharper Image", it started as a catalog and someone decided to turn the catalog in to a retail store. Or a product like pizza, pretty much a low budget item, well California Pizza Kitchens started "Gourmet Pizza's" and they just kept opening stores from the profit flow, then PepsiCo bought them and they started selling them in the frozen food aisle at your supermarket.

So we are back to creating our niche, our market, above are a few more methods to help you develop a market with. Good luck and God bless.