Selling in America – Avoiding the Carnage of Direct Marketing

Does this person really think I’m interesting? Does he truly like my work? Does he honestly believe I have a beautiful family?

Having your ego stroked felt good, but now as you lie in bed late at night, a dark feeling creeps into your awareness and the primal instincts that have protected human beings for eons gradually convinces you that you’re under attack. Not by a hungry saber-toothed tiger or velociraptor, but by something much more insidious – one of your own.

Soon, you begin to realize that the person manipulating your ego was vying to achieve a goal, and that his entire persona was nothing more than a meticulously crafted sales presentation – from his fine clothes, to his quick laugh and easy smile. And then that sinking feeling arrives, plummeting you ever deeper into your fears and insecurities – Am I interesting? Am I good at my work? Am I a successful parent?

Typically one can gauge an organization’s priorities by how it utilizes its resources. The same goes for America. By far, the highest paid jobs in America belong to sales professionals, which makes sense since we are participating in a consumer driven economy. America rewards those that keep products and services moving, but as we have recently learned the hard way, lapses in oversight, particularly when it involves sales incentives, can have a crushing effect on society. The benefits of a consumer driven economy are obvious – it’s made America the wealthiest nation on the planet, but the culture of “get rich” seems to have eroded the principles of what America was built upon, and sales professionals are getting the blame.

Is it truly the American way to reward individuals and measure success by one’s ability to push products and services by any means necessary? Utilizing well crafted sales tactics designed to manipulate the human ego, or by outright attacking the fears and insecurities of sensitive and well mannered consumers?

Good marketing organizations know this is not the case, but they are also acutely aware of the fine line between selling the benefits of a product or service and exploiting the egos and insecurities of consumers.

The smooth skills of sales representatives are expected to a degree, but what happens when the pitch comes from a friend?

Blurring the line between family, friendship and building your Multi Level Marketing network.

In the late 1980′s, Tonight Show host Johnny Carson asked his guest, Donald Trump, what he would do if he lost all his fortune. Donald replied “I’d join Amway.” Even though the crowd booed, mainstream America was introduced to the possibility that direct marketing might be a viable way to generate income.

Since then, a barrage of direct marketing programs have been unleashed on society incorporating a variety of products and services. As a result, individuals have been tapping into personal relationships in order to expedite growth and income, which bids the question:

Is Multi Level Marketing a channel for average citizens to gain financial freedom and independence, or an insidious attack poisoning the very fabric that good community is built upon? Are consumer based “relationships” infiltrating the foundation of openness and trust of family and friendship?

The cost of “gaining independence and fulfilling your financial dreams” through direct marketing is often at the risk of losing what is of the highest value to most Americans – the love and respect of family and friends. Not because they disapprove of what you are doing, but because you’ve somehow tainted a personal, trusting relationship – a relationship that may have taken years to build – by reducing them into a consumer.

The claim “word of mouth is the best advertising there is”, which is at the cornerstone of direct marketing, should contain the caveat “unbiased word of mouth”. If someone has something to gain from personally promoting a product or service, it is no longer “word of mouth”, it is simply deceptive advertising. Unless, of course, the salesperson acknowledges the fact that he is benefiting from the sale and perhaps can even offer the same benefits to you. Which leads us back to this – if Multi Level Marketing is presented in an open and honest way that respects and honors the personal relationships it relies upon for its success, does it have the potential of providing significant benefits and rewards for all participants as a viable marketing and income solution? Since my personal experience with direct marketing is limited, I don’t know this to be the case, but I suspect there is a chance it may be true.

Whether they are aware of it or not, most MLM’s operate with some degree of deception. If you want to test this, simply ask a direct marketer (preferably one that has approached you) how much profit he is making. There are many reasons why he may not want to answer, but the fact remains, if someone is trying to enlist your talents, time and effort as a partner into his enterprise he should be prepared to answer all of your questions and concerns to the best of his ability. There are many legitimate “honest” answers to why someone isn’t performing well at the moment in any business, if that indeed is the case.

Hard Selling (see its definition below) has given the sales and marketing industry a bad rap, even as highly targeted and relevant search tools like Google are forcing unscrupulous sellers to clean up their act or be forced into oblivion. While it’s imperative that professional marketers continue to keep the faith and resist the temptation into deceptive advertising, it’s even more critical that the potential carnage of sullied relationships within American communities resulting from unadvised multi marketers be minimized through education, the practice of moral principle and some degree of private regulation.

Hard Selling: (Business Directory.com) “Applying psychological pressure (by appealing to someone’s fears, greed, or vanity) to persuade the prospect to make a quick purchase decision. This approach is justified on the ground that most people are lazy and will postpone making a decision-even if it were in their best interest to make the commitment. This practice is, however, reviled when its sole purpose is the salesperson’s gain at the customer’s detriment.”

Direct Mail Postcards – 6 Questions to Ask Your Postcard Marketing Agency

It seems postcard marketing companies are popping up everywhere these days.A simple Web search for “Direct Mail Postcards” will generate hundreds of businesses, all claiming to be experts. Granted, there are some really great, experienced postcard marketing companies online. But there are also dozens of one-size-fits-all, no-staff, no-support Web-based companies that use only templates and automated software to launch mediocre postcard marketing campaigns for their clients.So how do you tell the difference? One simple phone call.If you’re thinking about using a marketing company for your direct mail postcards, here are 6 questions you should ask your rep before getting started.1. How long have you been in the postcard marketing business?
Get a specific answer for this one. This is a sure-fire way to tell if the company has real experience with direct mail postcards. Even if their company has been around for 20 years, that doesn’t mean they’ve focused specifically on postcard marketing. Direct mail postcards can be tricky business, so you’ll want to make sure your agency has been doing it for at least a few years.2. Who are some of your clients?
This is another great way to tell how much experience your postcard marketing company has. The best agencies will have worked with well-known brands and businesses around the nation. If your company can’t mention one name you recognize, then you should probably look elsewhere.3. Can I see some samples?
Absolutely critical. Be sure to look closely at work that’s already been created by the postcard marketing company. Ask for a few different styles and industries, so you can see how good they are at switching gears for each client.4. Have your clients had any results?
Ask for specific success stories about other direct mail postcard campaigns. Get numbers. In direct mail, a great response rate is often just 1-2%. If the company has reached up to 10% or higher, you know they’re good. If they say something like “45%,” then you know they probably don’t know what they’re talking about.5. Do you handle printing and mailing too?
Many postcard companies only handle the creative work. Others may only execute the printing. If you want to save money, you’ll want to choose a company that can streamline the entire campaign by handling everything. Keep in mind, the company doesn’t need to have its own printer. Many experience postcard marketing companies will have developed relationships with printers and can therefore offer printing services at far less than what you’d pay if you went to directly to the printer yourself. The key thing to remember here is that you’re choosing a company that has experience in every area of postcard marketing, not just one.6. Can you help me with my mailing list?
This is another critical element of your postcard marketing campaign that a lot of companies might not be able to help you with. Your mailing list is key to the success of your postcards, so be sure to pick a company that can a) help you create a strong, targeted list, or b) import the list you already have.

What’s In A Marketing Plan?

Creating a marketing plan for your company or brand can be very intimidating. One of the reasons developing a marketing plan is a tedious process for some people is because if you’re just starting out, you’re not sure what’s in a marketing plan.

A marketing plan should be a creative outline of various strategies you intend to employ when rolling out your product. Marketing plans usually describe how a company intends on relaying its product or messages to it’s target audience. A typical marketing plan can consist of all or some of the following strategies.

What Goes in a Marketing Plan? I’ve included a list of some traditional and newer implemented strategies below:

- Product Placement. This one is pretty obvious, product is placed in high traffic areas or places where a company’s product is likely to be seen by its target audience. Again, the primary goal is to create brand awareness for the sake of sales, traffic (on and offline) or some other call to action.

- Publicity. When done correctly a publicity campaign should accomplish one goal: Getting Attention. Whether you’re seeking attention from the media or the public a publicity campaign should also reveal an acceptable image of your company’s brand. After all, you’re looking to “attract”.

-Social Media. A method employed to create brand awareness with an ultimate goal of driving consumers to a company’s website or storefront through social media interaction. You may have noticed these campaigns on Facebook via company ads and coupons.

- Direct Marketing. A form of advertising and another traditional marketing method direct marketing typically consists of everything to direct mailers you get every week in your mailbox to the persistent telemarketer you occasionally hang up on.

- Sales Promotion. One of the oldest forms of marketing sales promotion is a method used to increase the sale of a product or service. There are several method of sales promotion focused on offering the consumers incentives, rebates or discounts, etc.

- Viral Marketing. A form of promotion viral marketing campaigns are perfect for generating buzz and brand awareness. Companies rely on customers to talk and tell their friends about a product or service. Traditionally done via email, viral marketing has quickly spread to other mediums. YouTube is the perfect place to find viral marketing hard at work.

A good detailed marketing plan should also reflect how the strategies used will benefit the company. For example, if you intend on spending a bulk of time and energy pushing your social media networks, you’ll need to set goals of what the social media campaign is expected to accomplish. What impact did it make? Were people receptive to your company’s message or call to action?

The great thing about creating a marketing plan is that you’re able to customize it. You can start off with a handful of strategies and test them. See what works; you can remove or add more if you find one strategy is working better than the other. Ultimately, the goal of the marketing plan should serve as a guideline for how you intend on getting your company’s name or brand in front of the target audience.