Marketing Tips

Be Smart

  1. The Salesman Is Your Enemy: His only goal is to make you spend a lot more money than you need to. Promptly disregard any and all advice that comes from his mouth. Most deadly could be his advice on the content of your ad; repeat--do not pay any attention at all to his advice.
  2. Decide If You Should Be In The Book In The First Place: Call several of the companies currently in your classification an ask them how their ad is doing for them. You may not want to reveal your real identity! If other companies aren't getting any results, you may want to skip being in the book altogether.
  3. Size of Your Ad: If you're a major competitor, your ad needs to be at least average size for your classification. If you have to choose between size and color (due to your budget), ALWAYS pick a bigger size instead of extra colors. Buy the biggest ad your budget can afford.
  4. Avoid Extra Colors: Spot color is fine. Try a white background and black text. NEVER buy four just adds extra expense... without extra results.
  5. Focus On Benefits: No one cares who you are until they know what you can do for them. Your ad should contain a headline that instantly draws the reader in, then separates you from your competition. Never put your company name as the headline. Fax your current yellow pages ad in to us for a quick evaluation.

Do's and Do Not's

  1. Avoid "Off Brand" Books: Yes, they will give you a lot cheaper price than the more well known books... and there's a reason. They typically don't have the readership and/or distribution of the big boys, which means that if you're lucky, one of the 13 people who actually uses the book will call you.
  2. Don't Fall For The "Internet Ad Included For Free" Ploy: These guys love to make you think that getting a listing on their internet book is going to make you a quad billion dollars. But the fact is, internet yellow pages has not arrived yet. People still love to grab the book and open it so they can find places that are close to home and that they can trust. Check back in 2 years, maybe this will change.
  3. Change Your Name To Aardvark Services, Inc.: Different books arrange ads different ways. Some put them in alphabetical order. Others go by seniority--whoever's been there the longest gets the best spot. If the book goes by alphabetic order, consider changing your company name to something that's in the A's or B's... the closer you can get to the front of the book, the better.
  4. Make Sure You're In The Right Category: If you're an attorney, it's pretty easy to know what category you should be in. But not so for all businesses. If you sell toner cartridges, do you go under "T" for toner, or "P" for printers, or "C" for copiers? Do this, whatever you sell, randomly call 25 likely prospects and ask them... "If you were looking for toner cartridges, what section of the yellow pages would you look?" Let your prospects tell you where to be--don't guess!!
  5. Don't Waste Your Real Estate: Don't spend time, money, or effort telling people stuff they already know. If you build fences, don't say "We build fences." Instead, spend your real estate talking about what prospects need to know about fences, and what you do that makes you a better value than your competitors


  1. Use A Real Headline--Not Your Company Name: By far the biggest mistake people make in the yellow pages is using their company name for a logo. There is a reason people are looking in the yellow pages--it is because they don't know who to call. Don't think that your name will influence them to call. It won't. Instead use a headline that communicates solutions to problems. The 3 Biggest Problems You'll Have With Most Plumbers, And How AAArdvark Plumbing Overcomes Them All.
  2. The yellow pages are a zero sum gain situation: A certain number of people are going to go to the yellow pages each month for any particular product or service... meaning there are only so many calls that are going to be made. The big question is how many calls will you get versus your competition. If you get more, someone else gets less. If you get less, someone else gets more. You cannot create additional callers. Eighty-four percent of people who go to the yellow pages contact a business listed there and 49% of them actually go on to purchase something from one of these businesses.
  3. Don't Assume The Sale: Why do 84% contact a business, but only 49% buy? Easy--because the other 35% of the time business do a lousy job of converting the prospect into a sale. You should create a script that your receptionist uses to instantly communicate the advantages of doing business with you to confirm what they saw in your ad (assuming you wrote your ad the right way!) so they have confidence to move forward!
  4. Evaluate Other Ads: Before placing an ad, find out how it's working for your competitors. This means doing ad survey calls to each of the competitors listed in the yellow pages. Ask them, "How is you ad working? How many leads are you getting? How many leads are your competitors getting?" This will give you a good understanding of your competitors' current yellow page situation and whether or not you can or should place an ad.
  5. Answer The Dang Phone: Whatever you do, make sure that when somebody calls you, somebody is there to take the call! How many times have we all called a business only to find an answering machine on the other end of the line?! What percentage of the time do people actually leave a message? ZERO! Have a person there to handle the calls!

Plan Ahead

  1. The Bigger The Better: Sure you can save a few pennies by sending out the little postcards like your grandma used to send you when she went on vacation... but why would you want to? Bigger postcards get seen easier and therefore get responded to better. Don't trip on pennies on your way to earning dollars. 6" x 11" is best; 5.5" x 8.5" is acceptable.
  2. Headline Goes On The Address Side: Sometimes you'll see postcards with big splashy full color backs, and dull, dreary black and white fronts. Don't do that! Postcards always get delivered address side up (duh! Think about it) so you've got to make sure that your most powerful message (visually, headlines, etc.) goes on the address side. Imagine trying to make an impression on somebody by showing them a picture of your foot instead of your face--SAME THING!
  3. Color Matters: Speaking of color, you've got to make something that captures some attention in that big stack of mail. Black and white just won't cut it. Make sure your colors are bold, vibrant, and reinforce the message you are communicating. For instance, pink wouldn't be a great color for the new bodybuilding gym... but it might be for your day spa. Use color. Use discretion. Use common sense.
  4. Test Conservatively Before Rolling Out: What if you sent 10,000 postcards and just got 1 tenth of 1 percent to respond? How much money would you make? Before you answer that question, don't go there. Here's a better question: What if you sent out 100 postcards and nobody responded? Would it break your bank? What about 1,000? 10,000? Always start small and grow it from there. If you mess up small, it's easy to recover. If you mess up big, you just lost a lot of money.
  5. Hit Em' Hard, Hit Em' Often: After testing, consider pounding. Pounding your prospects with postcard after postcard after postcard. They're cheap enough to use in heavy doses if your situation is right. Just make sure that you have a good offer so people can respond and take the next step.

Know Your Market

  1. Get Inside John Smith's Brain: The surefire best way to write a great headline is to figure out what thoughts are going on inside your prospects' brains; then extract those thoughts and put them on paper. To do this, find out what his biggest problems, frustrations, and annoyances are (with regard to what you sell), then discover what your prospect says about that. For instance, if you're a plumber, one thing John Smith is thinking about in terms of plumbers is "I hope I don't have to sit around all day waiting for the stupid plumber to get here!" Boom--there's a great headline. Extracted right from his brain.
  2. Read The Tabloids: Looking for some good headlines that interrupt and force people to read? Go to the grocery store and stand in the checkout lane and read the tabloids. Granted, the headlines are unbelievable, but you can find some pretty interesting ways to phrase things people are actually thinking.
  3. Be On The Lookout At All Times And All Places: Get your scissors and glue out; time to play cut and paste. Take the Sunday newspaper and look through all of the ads and news articles. See any headlines that really catch your eye? Cut them out and paste them in a notebook. Now you have your very own "headline bank." Next time you need a good headline, open your notebook and let these verbal nuggets spur your thinking.
  4. Ask John Smith What He Thinks: Before you get too excited about a headline you've written, slow down and put an extra safeguard in your marketing process. Take your top 5 (or 10 or 30) headlines and write them on 3 x 5 note cards, one per card. Then show the headlines to as many people as you can find who are willing to take your little test and ask them which one strikes them the most. Only show 5 at a time, then put a "tick" mark on the back of the one that is chosen. If you have more than one group of 5, repeat the test with each group of 5, then ask which of the "winners" they like best. Do this with 15 to 20 people and you'll almost always see patterns emerge. This ought to tell you something...

Sales People

  1. Duplicate Your Efforts: Don't waste your time running around chasing down prospects. Times have changed. Don't even bother trying to see twenty prospects face to face every day. Instead, implement a marketing system that consistently educates your target market to the advantages of doing business with you. This allows you to be in more than one place at a time...which is good for business.
  2. Make Extensive Use Of Marketing Tools: Create paper reports, audio CDs, or DVDs that contain your perfect sales pitch. These reports will sell the prospect...because people are seven times more likely to believe what they see, hear and read than what you tell them. Plus, you don't have to worry about how you feel on a given day...just let the stuff sell for you.
  3. Make Sure Every Contact Advances The Relationship: If you call a prospect, make sure you're giving new, useful information... Don't become what I call "the annoying little voice on the other end of the phone..." You know, the one that says, "You ready to buy yet?" and nothing else. Instead have additional, educational information available or additional marketing tools that you can offer to the prospect. If you are selling windows, say to the prospect, "I just read an article in the Morning News about the local power company and their proposal to raise prices by 14%--AGAIN. I'm going to pop a copy in the mail to you... by the way, are you a customer of that power company?" See how that opens the door. Takes more time and effort, but like they say, "they don't hand out large trophies for small efforts!"
  4. Show Up Armed With Evidence: People believe what they see, not what they hear. And that's not necessarily because they think you're lying... its because they know that sales people will stretch the truth to get the sale if necessary. Sales people will highlight the good and ignore the bad. Salespeople will exaggerate capabilities and minimize problems. You may say, "well that's not me," and you very well may be right. But here's the key point: The prospect doesn't know you from Adam, and will assume the worst until you can prove otherwise. To compensate, don't rely solely on verbal pitches; back up everything you say with hard-core evidence presented in black and white (okay, color is fine too).
  5. Look The Part: Wondering what the appropriate attire is for that big sales call? Here's a tip: if you're debating between one level of dress/attire and another that is "more formal," always go with the one that's more formal. It can't hurt to look a little BETTER than the prospect expected. A business suit is almost always appropriate unless you're selling hay to farmers, and even then the suit would get you remembered! Polo shirts are acceptable in many situations, but personally, I wouldn't take a chance on "acceptable." Never forget the axiom that "You never get a second chance to make a first impression


  2. Be Careful With Reverse Type: Reverse type is light-colored type on a black background; in many cases it's hard to read,especially if its the main text of an ad or website. The eye is conditioned through years of reading to expect black words on white paper (or screen), and reversing that out usually makes for an uncomfortable experience. You can use reverse type, however, in headlines and coupons to make shorter blocks of text stand out more.
  3. Leave Enough "White Space" In The Ad: There is nothing wrong with having a lot of text in a marketing piece (provided, of course, that its interesting and relevant), but make sure you leave enough white space around the paragraphs and headlines to give the reader some room to "breathe!" Otherwise, your reader will experience text-based claustrophobia and avoid your ad at all costs.
  4. Something Else Interesting About Reading: The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer inwaht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas thought slpeling was ipmornatt."
  5. Understand Reading Habits: The combination of the human eye and brain can scan and absorb the content of a typical 8.5 x 11 printed advertisement in about 2 to 3 seconds. And in that critical 2 to 3 seconds, the reticular activator is running that content through "relevant and/or important" filter to see if its worth spending any conscious bandwidth on. The brain does NOT have to read each word or sentence to know what is going on. To that end, it is absolutely critical that your ads make the most important and relevant pieces easy to see and understand. They should flow in a logical manner from the top to the bottom of the page, and they should allow the reader to know exactly what you want him to think and do,all in a split second.

Trade Show Booths

  1. Use A Headline: The banner you hang on your booth should not state your company name in huge letters; rather, it should read as a headline. The headline should call out to the reader to get him thinking about important and relevant issues related to what you sell. Consider using questions or, how to, headlines to pique readers interest.
  2. Seed The Entire Market: Give out a free report or audio CD that educates people to the advantages of doing business with your company. Give the report to everyone...even if you're not sure if they're a potential customer. Then, when they read or listen, the prospect will qualify (or disqualify) himself...then call you.
  3. Use A Pre-Show Promotion To Build Traffic: If possible, get a list of attendees who have pre-registered for the tradeshow and send them something that will make them want to come visit your booth. Here's a good idea: Send a scratch off card that has a potential free prize under it, but that the attendee must wait and scratch in your presence at the show to claim. This can bring in, depending on the show, hundreds of people who otherwise would have just moseyed on by your booth.
  4. Size Does Matter. Get a double booth if you can afford it, and get an "island" booth if you can afford that. Bottom line is that the more space you have, the more likely you are to get noticed. Little tiny booths are generally reserved by little tiny companies. Nothing wrong with that if that's what stage of business you're in right now,but as soon as you can graduate up, do it.
  5. Use Advertising Specialties: You know, stuff like pens, magnets, caps, etc. Just make sure your ad specialties have a headline on continually sell the advantages of doing business with you. Don't be stingy either,go ahead and give them out to anyone who shows up to your booth; don't try to hoard them for "only real prospects." Avoid things that are cheap but worthless, like cheesy tall mesh ball caps like your granddad used to wear, or generic coffee mugs with your name on it. My favorites include things with utility value, like: leather coasters, letter openers, post it notes, rulers, and so forth.
  6. FOLLOW UP!!! Don't be the doofus who spends a fortune to show up at the trade show and gather a thousand business cards only to never let those leads see the light of day again! Instead, utilize the MYM Hopper web based software that allows you to automatically send out pre-scheduled emails and postcards with NO EFFORT AT ALL.

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