Archive for the 'Marketing Glitz' Category


Management Strategies, Marketing Glitz No Comments »


Dear Manager,

Do you remember walking into an office for the first time for an important meeting? How important was that first impression to you? My guess is that in a flash you knew immediately if this was a company with which you wanted to do business. First impressions speak in a language all their own. Just how important are your visibility and image to your success in the marketplace? Could yours be dated – is it time for a review? Our presentation is critical to our current and future success. It’s our savings account!

With time, our image can often be taken for granted. What would someone surmise in the first thirty seconds if they were to walk into your office right now? Do you find yourself pushing hard to do a last-minute clean up in anticipation of visitors? Does your place of work suggest you simply don’t care? Walk in with fresh eyes. Would you be impressed?

There are individuals who obviously thrive in the world of making an overstated impression. While this approach is beyond my comfort zone, I have to admit that their sense of theatrics has certainly gotten my attention! A reasonable portion of our overall budget should be devoted to our image and visibility. How can we put our best foot forward?

Let’s step beyond our personal office and focus on other areas of high visibility that may need an update. Is your reception area neat and pleasant, or is it cluttered with several days worth of UPS deliveries? Does your receptionist fully understand his or her value to your organization? Is their personality uplifting and enthusiastic, or is it a downer? Do first-time callers and long-term customers receive the same warm greeting?

Receptionists are our gatekeepers. While they are often skilled in
diverting unnecessary and nuisance calls, we cannot expect them to be mind readers. Have your receptionist take a name and message from each and every caller, regardless of its nature. Without knowing all circumstances of each call, how many opportunities have been lost due to our desire to avoid gate crashers?


Do you have a receptionist at all? A pleasant, confident greeting establishes the tone and level of professionalism for you and your office. The value of using automated answering systems has been highly exaggerated. Consider maintaining a specific line open for your customers’ use that provides an immediate and helpful human voice.

Regarding telephone voice, I will never forget hiring a receptionist who had recently moved to the Pacific Northwest from an area of the country with a different accent. I soon began receiving calls from my sales associates and customers, pointing out that “the person who answers the phone can’t pronounce your name.” This individual was the only scenario worse than an automated attendant!!


I’ve found that every five to seven years it’s time to give your image an update. Why not begin with a new and exciting approach to your logo? Times change, tastes change; there can be nothing more revitalizing than a timely, well-planned face lift. (We all know we’re going to need one of those sooner or later!)

Find a designer(s) who can “get into your head” and convey the true feel of your company. Ask to be provided with a number of options and logo variations. The right image can be a very powerful reflection of your organization. Relatively reasonable in cost, this single makeover can dramatically impact your image. Incorporate your new look into all your stationery, signage, brochures and trade show promotion.

If there is an area in which to consider an overstatement of your image, it should be at trade shows. Your greatest opportunity to impact a client’s perception is in “your home.” Keep in mind that your sales people and your trade show presentation will comprise 75% of your customers’ perception of your organization. I have always believed that (within reason) a trade show is your greatest opportunity to present yourself as the most dominant player in your category.

This can be done with a very reasonable (well, maybe semi-reasonable) budget. Find individuals within your organization who have a flare for design, merchandising and the ability to create the unexpected. Invest in affordable creative and effective props. Remember, your objective is to promote innovation and excitement, not just eat up footage with two-story monoliths.

Manufacturers, more than anyone else, need to assume high image visibility through name recognition. Where better to begin than with your current end-user? How is it that the average consumer will know one manufacturer by name and search it out, while others seem to go completely unnoticed?

Don’t let the use of point-of-purchase advertising be an afterthought! If it works for the “big guys” it can certainly work for you. Your signage and point-of-purchase materials are the most effective means of getting your name in front of the customer. Make them innovative and eye-catching, as they reflect the enthusiasm and flair of your product. Provide them at no cost, and with every purchase.

With the instant and global opportunities available on the internet many new options are now available. The most effective use I’ve seen has been in the promotion of products in conjunction with a listing of locations, by city, where these products can be purchased. How better to have a heightened role in your customer’s success, as well as your own? “We can put you on the ‘net!” can be a great selling tool in the field.

Sales agencies also have specific and substantial reasons to maintain their image and visibility. For example, I was actually asked to represent a major new manufacturer a number of years ago simply because their current sales team chose not to stop by the manufacturer’s booth at a national trade show! Extreme, but true.

Trade shows are obviously a great opportunity for manufacturers and sales agents to get to know one another. They are also an excellent environment in which to cultivate the image and visibility of your sales agency. Make every effort to know your competition well – their products as well as their key management. You just never know … these relationships may become even more valuable in the future. Good business suggests a broad knowledge of the market and a position of strength for all future unforeseen circumstances.

For both manufacturers and sales agencies, word of mouth is probably your greatest source of visibility and image. Unfortunately, a poor image often speaks louder than one of integrity. Reputation overrides all other surface efforts in image promotion.

Manufacturers and sales agencies have a great responsibility from top to bottom to maintain the values of the whole. Sometimes it’s wise to set aside the signage, logo, and trade show and take care of your personal image first! Your image and reputation follow you everywhere; it is found in the words that follow in your path.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2009. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM


Management Rewards, Marketing, Marketing Glitz No Comments »


Dear Manager,

As individuals, we would never consider defending ourselves in a court of law; the outcome’s too risky. We would never consider performing surgery on ourselves; simply too much blood. We would never consider risking our personal net worth with an amateur; those winter nights can be cold on the streets!


I am constantly amazed by the willingness of management to risk their hard-earned profits in areas where they hold little or no expertise. While it may seem very exciting, creative and (with some rationalization) motivated by increased profitability, management can too quickly come to the conclusion that “we can make those.”

Management then proceeds to make “those,” often without a basic knowledge or understanding of why or what “those” are. Substantial amounts of capital are often “invested” in a project or product that, with more inside knowledge, could have been more wisely invested, or not invested at all!

Consider this scenario: Management asks their staff to figure out how to make “those.” The staff proceeds, finds a resource and gains what surface knowledge they can. The new resource is very excited to assist (perhaps motivated by its own profits), offering encouragement and support for the project to the staff members.

Management is very enthusiastic, and it is the objective of the staff to please management. In most cases the staff carries minimal personal risk, as the final decision to proceed is always that of management. Given this scenario, does management have all the valuable information it needs to make an informed decision? The entrepreneurial spirit has taken hold with limited awareness of the down side – it’s the unknown that will kill you.

In many cases, thousands of dollars have been flushed away for lack of timely, product-specific information. All of a sudden, there seems to be more to making “those” than was initially anticipated. This is certainly a trap for small companies, and has put many out of business. It is also a fundamental flaw for large companies who rely too heavily on their past success.

Just because you have succeeded in one area, there is no reason to believe you can automatically succeed in an area outside of your given expertise. In fact, your previous success alone will rarely serve your needs in any new endeavor. Instead, your confidence may provide you with false security and ultimately betray you.


I believe that in most cases, unnecessary risks are taken as a result of management’s failure to calculate the collective strengths and weaknesses of the organization. When I think of a management team, I think of it in relationship to ones involvement in a college or university. College students spend four or more years developing a major. This major becomes a personal strength, and is what they are individually noted and recruited for upon graduation. Along the way, these same students have developed a minor, enhancing their strengths and overall value, both personally and in the marketplace.

Individuals within a management team should be looked upon from a similar perspective. Each member has major and minor strengths which define their capacity to contribute to the organization. These may have been developed through a college curriculum or over a period of years in their careers. It goes without saying that for each individual on our management team there are classes that simply have not been attended!

This is no reflection on them individually. Just as we each have major and minor strengths, there are many areas in which we have no knowledge. All too often, individuals cross their own line of expertise at the very great expense of their organizations. Pride and ego play a role for all of us, yet it is self awareness and good judgment that will save the day. It is our responsibility as managers to not only have a true understanding of our own capacity, but to maintain a full accounting of the individual strengths and capacity of our staff.


These are the words that management should translate to their staff. Without an expert, how can we possibly proceed? There will certainly be instances where a staff member is capable of providing you with very good advice, and in most all cases it will be human nature for them to provide you with their best advice regardless of its true value. Make them prove to you that they can consult with you like an expert!


Without question, the most under-utilized management resource is a consultant. I have personally invested and lost in areas in which I had no business assuming I could succeed. If I had simply proceeded with a bit more caution, been more patient in the process, and demanded of myself that I find a qualified individual to assist in the early stages, thousands of dollars could have been saved. Once again, would we risk our own personal financial future with an individual who has little or no expertise? In retrospect, the greatest lesson learned was to insist upon the use of only expert advice.

The first dollar invested in any new endeavor, let alone in solving an ongoing problem, should be in gaining timely information and options of how best to proceed. A minimum of 5% to 10% of any new product development budget should be set aside for consulting services. It would be very interesting to see how often this single investment would save the balance of the 90% to 95%!


With the need for protecting personalities, multiple priorities and increasing our profits, we are often too close to the center to maintain our objectivity. If for no other purpose, this is the first reason to hire a qualified consultant. A consultant’s sole objective (and professional future), is based on their ability to provide you with their major on a focused task. Their objective is to perform for one individual: you.

Because we cannot financially afford a staff of qualified experts in the many areas that impact our business, I believe all organizations should make use of consultants in some form. Be it in marketing, product development, customer services, key account development, employee management or computer technology, the list of consulting resources goes on and on.

First, define those areas of your business that, from experience, carry what I call the nagging anxieties. Are you absolutely confident in all aspects of your business? We all have areas that we know are not performing well. Now define the primary role or objective an expert in the field could provide.

Now is the time to pull out all of your resources to find the right individual to assist you. This can be accomplished first by looking within your own industry, researching companies who seem to excel in your areas of concern. Does your staff have an area of strength that could assist in their needs? Could an exchange of these resources be accomplished without a compromise to your organization? Next, look into the option of asking a retired executive from your industry or a similar industry to assist in a specific objective. The resources are there.

Initially, a little pride may need to be swallowed by staff members, and a few egos will need to be left at the door. If there is an unwillingness to freely assist and participate in management’s objective to provide the very best product or service possible to their customers, they have firmly planted themselves in a position as part of the problem.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2008. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM


Marketing Glitz, Sales Management Abundancy No Comments »


Dear Manager,

As I suggested in a recent issue of INTERPERSONAL, the timely and accurate flow of information is crucial for all knowledge-based management – we can never have enough! While I have touched on the flow of information FROM our associates and customers, there is equal or greater value in the flow TO our associates and customers!

A challenge for all management is meeting the need, and finding the discipline, to share this quality information. Are you satisfied with the level of information you currently provide to your sales associates? We all agree that we have information that needs to be shared. Is this being accomplished by design, or by default? Have you found an individual talented enough to effectively interpret the meaty topics that will provide the broad-based knowledge desired by your field associates? Allow me to speak from experience: writing a consistent and informative product is very difficult! Dare I ask . . . . . . . .


We have all seen in-house newsletters come and go. While they are usually introduced with great fanfare, initial enthusiasm seems to fade after a few issues, once again creating an information wasteland. How much information is too much?

More important than content alone, the newsletter must have the ability to convey its thoughts effectively from its reader’s perspective. Without this element, newsletters are simply scanned and tossed aside. We no longer have time for a product that does not inform and inspire us. Topics that will consistently sustain interest in the field include:

Field tested issues that provide specifics related to your products.
Timely product updates with a focus on new introductions.
Detailed examples of your associates’ successes.
Encouraging fellow associates to explain productive concepts.

While most in-house newsletters contain valuable information, many simply become a means of self-advertising. To consistently hold your reader’s attention you must:

• Insure accuracy of all information provided.
Address miscalculations and decisions that simply did not work out as planned.
Limit over-promotion; fight the urge to “rah-rah.”
Balance empathy and reality with the many successes that deserve emphasis.
Develop an entertaining theme and style to the letter.


One of the most creative approaches to the theme and style of a newsletter was that of a company owner I know who recruited his long time friend, Uncle Jack, to assume the position of Sales Manager and “Company Spokesperson.” Uncle Jack was admittedly from another place in time – an era of daring do – yet still had his own way of effectively sharing his message.

Jack was from the old country where they say, “Let’s get down to brass tacks!” Jack was never reluctant to make his point in the most direct and fearless manner possible. No Sales Manager in their right mind would have had the courage to suggest what Uncle Jack got away with promoting; his favorite phrase being, “For crying out loud, what in the world is going on here?!”

You may have realized by now that Uncle Jack was really the owner’s imaginative approach to gaining the attention and inspiration of his sales staff. Jack’s tongue-in-cheek tirades were not just entertaining. Using Uncle Jack, the owner created a vehicle to address challenging issues that would have been considered too direct or inappropriate presented any other way. Jack eventually retired, but is called back on occasion to share his candid views.

Newsletters should be founded on timely information, quality topics that are easily incorporated at field level and an entertaining approach that maintains the reader’s imagination. To answer an earlier question, you can never provide too much information or have too much contact with your field staff, as long as you are providing them with a quality product.

If you have failed with a newsletter in the past, you have only failed in its fundamental concept. The need continues, and your participation is essential to a well-informed and productive staff.


There is no greater means to create immediate impact for your sales team than a well organized and well orchestrated sales meeting. If you are looking to gain momentum with shared information, this is a great option. I have attended many of these meetings, and have noted aspects that will provide a productive gathering for all participants:

• The level of planning and the organization of your topics should be obvious. Provide a solid agenda to participants that establishes priorities for the meeting. If a lack of focus and preparation is detected, the question will be asked: “Who called this meeting?”

• Address difficult topics up front. Be sure to assume responsibility for areas that are within your ability to improve. Discussing difficult topics establishes your awareness of their concerns, and may open doors for further discussion of more sensitive issues.

• Recognize individuals, as well as the group, for their effort and success. Top performers never seem to receive the recognition they deserve!

• Create a recurring theme. This approach will draw your presentation together, allowing the participants to translate its objectives to the field. Create a story, or tell your story.

• Provide specific time for participation; involvement creates energy. Also provide adequate time to take short breaks. Attention spans have limits! Short breaks help to sustain focus.

• The use of your sales staff in presentations is a great option. Information is often of greater value and topics seem more relevant when offered from an admired peer. Don’t get caught up in your own voice.

• There is nothing worse than hearing an individual review topics that have been presented on a previous occasion. Where possible, create the element of surprise, the unexpected, and the favorable news. Everyone enjoys the enthusiasm created by good news.

• Build anticipation during the meeting regarding your entire presentation. Is there more unexpected and favorable information to be presented?

• Plan an opportunity to let your hair down. Sales meetings are demanding by nature – include a fun event of group participation whenever possible.

Remember, a solid agenda suggests a respect for your participants’ time. It establishes confidence in your presentation and creates a shared responsibility in meeting its objectives.


Over the years I have conducted and participated in forms of communication that have been very effective, and others that have not. While content should be our number one objective, it is our approach to the communication that will ultimately determine its success.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2008. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM


Management Rewards, Marketing Glitz No Comments »

Vol. XXV

Dear Manager,

What more can any manager ask than to have the most up-to-date, field-tested information at their fingertips? How do we create systems and develop the resources to ensure the flow of accurate and timely information, allowing us to make informed decisions critical to our organizations? How do we supply information to individuals “in the trenches” that will assist in our mutual success? From my experience, management receives less than 50% of the information most critical in making decisions. Over the years I have seen effective programs to enhance this flow of information to the benefit of manufacturers, sales agencies, field associates and their customers. TIMELINESS is essential in a fast-paced market; we make decisions using the information we currently have. Is it enough?


Manufacturers have some of the greatest need to gain timely, market-driven information yet, without a proactive role, have the least opportunity. Their offices are often geographically detached from the day-to-day reality and consumer-driven aspects of their products on a national basis. Certainly, sales information is tabulated as consumers send in their votes in the form of orders. Sales figures can easily be misinterpreted, however, as they do not address the reasons behind a product’s success (or lack of it). Why is this product selling? Are there areas of the market where it isn’t selling? What changes would make the product appealing to more consumers? Decisions are being made without all the knowledge needed to make an effective judgment!

On a quarterly basis, knowledge-based management needs to develop systems to insure the information they are reacting to is the closest possible to market reality. When effectively approached, I sincerely believe this information is easily attained; someone is simply waiting to be asked. In varying degrees, some information does get through the pipeline. When was the last time you took an aggressive approach to maximize this resource?

All managers need to acknowledge human nature’s role in the communication process. These principles include:
• Field representatives are often reluctant to share what may be perceived as a negative perspective. It is much safer to tell the manager what they believe the manager wants to hear.

• Field representatives are independent by nature. When properly asked (and often compensated), they are much more likely to assist and participate.

• Time for a field sales representative is always at a premium. Requests for long, drawn-out meetings or detailed, time-consuming reports will not be favorably received.

With these thoughts in mind, there are some very effective forms of communication that are well received and incredibly valuable in benefiting all parties. I have found the most useful tool to be a questionnaire.


Begin by developing a format and establishing a time frame for distributing your questionnaire, i.e., once per quarter. Secondly, emphasize your desire to gain the valuable input of your sales people regarding their market perceptions and field knowledge. Thirdly, emphasize your need for candid feedback, explaining that anything less is of no advantage to anyone. Finally, attach a $20 bill to each questionnaire as a gesture of your understanding of their time and value to this project (a touch of guilt never hurts in encouraging participation, either!).

Your questionnaire should be no more than three to four pages in length. Your questions should be direct with limited space to respond; three or four lines are normally adequate. I suggest that, for the most part, completion of the questionnaire should take half an hour or less. I would encourage, but not require, participants to include their name at the end of the questionnaire. This will assist in developing a core group to call upon in the future. A self-addressed stamped envelope for its return is also a nice touch.

Once you have received this information, ask your marketing, product and creative team to analyze the results. I absolutely believe you will be both very pleased and much better informed for having done this. If you receive responses from 100 field associates, this insightful, manufacturer-specific, field-tested information was provided to you for $2000.00. By all accounts, this is a very cheap thrill!

In addition, you have drawn your organization together as a whole; everyone now feels much closer to the process for having participated. Be sure to share highlights of the questionnaire with the participants, as well as a few of your plans to react to the opportunities and concerns that were addressed.

Over the duration of your quarterly questionnaires you will begin to develop an awareness of those individuals with a high degree of natural insight, an ability to candidly and eloquently voice their thoughts, and a strong willingness to participate in this process. These individuals should make up your core group. If you find their information to be consistently useful, develop a second-generation vehicle to reward these participants and gain further insight into your business. Conduct a three or four day President’s Council in your offices or, if you are looking for a bit of flair, a warm resort would certainly reward these participants.

I also strongly suggest that participants be compensated financially for their involvement. It would not be equitable to reward your most talented advisors with a loss of field income, while those whose input had less impact are not only home earning an income but will eventually gain benefit from their peers’ participation. We have a tendency to take advantage of (and take for granted) those individuals who are the most gracious with their time and most capable of assisting in our needs.


There are other ways to gain and share information that are convenient and effective for manufacturers. I believe the most effective use of voice messaging is to develop a blind box, with a toll free number, to promote the sharing of suggestions, quick thoughts and timely issues. This should be made available to all interested parties including sales representatives, field sales managers, customers and, in certain instances, consumers.

When a sales associate comes to me with a terrific suggestion, my first question is always, “Have you passed this on to the manufacturer?” Very often, they have not. In most cases, a call to the factory means a commitment to a twenty-minute conversation they are unable to take time for. With a blind box it becomes a three-minute commitment and is now worthwhile.

Proper emphasis on this type of field input can be a wonderful source in this age of information. Can you imagine the response if every twentieth call to the blind box was somehow rewarded? The flow of information would be ongoing and tremendously effective in taking the pulse of the marketplace.

A second use of voice messaging is the establishment of a rep-accessible message box with recorded information regarding the best-selling products, product outages and new product information. The manufacturer’s message can be updated on a weekly basis and is an excellent way to promote communication through short, focused topics applicable to field representatives.

I have seen the implementation of these concepts succeed, yet am at a loss to explain why more factories do not establish these and other types of information channels. In all honesty, it is very rare. Could it be that owners and managers do not generally accept suggestions well? Can professional managers make critical product and marketing decisions without an information system that lends itself to a comprehensive view of their products and market?

While it is our desire to stay in touch, in reality it simply does not happen. By creating additional means to communicate, we establish a new emphasis and commitment to gaining critical information to insure greater success and stronger decisions for our organizations. The failure to use these systems is the failure to take full advantage of one of your greatest resources.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2008. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM