Archive for the ‘blogging’ Category

What Do Customers Want?

By John Foust

We all know that sales people should sell benefits. We know that advertising should emphasize benefits. And we know that people buy benefits.

What kinds of benefits do customers want? According to Don, who has been in the advertising business for many years, “It all comes down to: more, better, faster or cheaper. You can talk about other things, but if you don’t show them how your product or service offers at least one of these four, they’re not going to buy.”

Let’s take a look:

1. More: When you’re preparing for a sales presentation, ask yourself if your publication has more coverage than in previous years. Can you offer advertisers more ads for the same dollars? Do you offer extra marketing or analytical services that may appeal to certain businesses?

“When you’re thinking of ad ideas in this category,” Don said, “the most obvious example is a two-for-the-price-of-one offer – or buy-one-get one free. This tactic has been around for a long time, because it works so well.”

There are plenty of other choices. As you’re gathering information, look beyond pricing. Find out if your advertiser has additional services. Or new locations. Or expanded business hours.

2. Better: Every business claims to be better than the competition. The challenge is to be specific. Two questions: (1) Exactly what is it that makes your widget better? (2) Can you communicate that without using the word “quality?”

In my opinion, “quality” is the most overused word in advertising. Usually, it doesn’t mean anything.

Do you know what distinguishes “quality construction” from other types? Do you know the characteristics of “top quality service?” Do you have a good understanding of what “better quality” means? Neither do I. And neither do your customers.

Now, this is not to say that “quality” should never be used in selling or advertising. Just don’t use it in general terms.

3. Faster: We live in a get-it-done-now age. E-mail, texting, speed dating, overnight delivery, drive-in windows – it’s all a reflection of our demand to get things in a hurry.

While writing this paragraph, I did a Google search on “consumer demand for speed.” The search generated over 4 million results in .14 seconds. That’s point-one-four seconds. What took so long?

Healthcare has its own version of speed dating. A medical organization in Texas has a program to help people choose primary care physicians in five-minute interviews.

When it’s time for an oil change, I usually go to a place that offers fast service. Why should I wait an hour somewhere else, when it can be done in 20 minutes? Same oil, faster service.

On the highway, “speed kills.” But in the marketplace, “speed sells.”

4. Cheaper: “Price can be a huge motivator,” Don said. “Even with luxury items – or premium advertising space – people like to get bargains.”

The key is to provide specifics. How much can your customers save? How deep is the discount? How long will the sale last?

(c) Copyright 2012 by John Foust. All rights reserved.

John Foust has conducted training programs for thousands of newspaper advertising professionals. Many ad departments are using his training videos to save time and get quick results from in-house training. E-mail for information:

Sailing/Selling Close to the Wind

Here’s a fun read  for sales people, ad/media buyers and other newspaper advertising professionals.

If you are familiar with sailing, you know that you can’t sail into the wind. You can sail at angles to the wind, and you can sail with the wind behind you, but it’s physically impossible to sail directly into the wind. If you try to sail too close to the wind, the boat will go “into irons.” Your forward progress will stop, the sails will flap loudly, and the boat may even move backwards.

Experienced sailors have been in irons enough times to know how to avoid it – and how to get going again, after stalling on the water. They can tell by the feel of the boat when to make adjustments in rudder and the sail. It’s all part of sailing.

Sailing and selling have a lot in common. In a sales presentation, it’s also impossible to sail directly into the wind. If your prospect is countering what you are trying to communicate, you have to adjust to the situation and change direction.

While some resistance comes in the form of clearly stated objections (“The price is too high.”), other negative reactions can be expressed in non-verbal terms (such as frowns or closed body language) or general disagreement. Here are some steps to keep in mind, as you adjust your sails:

1. Acknowledge the issue. This brings to mind the standard Feel-Felt-Found formula (“I understand how you feel. Many others felt the same way, until they found…”). While this three-step formula can be effective in addressing specific objections, it has been around for so long that many prospects have heard it hundreds of times.

Even so, the formula emphasizes the importance of getting in step with your prospect. Instead of saying “I understand how you feel,” say something like, “I understand completely that this issue is important to you.”

2. Say why you understand. This goes beyond Feel-Felt-Found – and adds depth to your response. For example, you can say, “This issue is important to you, because you want to make the best use of your budget (or another stated issue). It’s serious business to consider the possibility of re-allocating those funds.”

3. Ask for clarification. Encourage him or her to expand on the issue. Say something like, “If you don’t mind, help me better understand your ideas on this.” You can even restate the other person’s concern and ask if your impression is correct.

4. Listen carefully. This is crucial. For years, sales people have been programmed to talk. But in this case, talking is equivalent to aiming into the face of the wind. You’ll go into irons, for certain.

Drill down. Without pushing, keep probing for clarification. Sometimes, you can simply say “Hmmm” in a curious, non-threatening tone of voice.

5. Look for points of agreement. As you listen and learn, you may find that the other person’s resistance is not as much of a deal breaker as you initially thought.

By taking a non-confrontational approach, you’ll put some wind back into your sails.

(c) Copyright 2012 by John Foust. All rights reserved.

John Foust has conducted training programs for thousands of newspaper advertising professionals. Many ad departments are using his training videos to save time and get quick results from in-house training. E-mail for information:

How to Engage the Newsroom and Community to Improve the Content of Journalism

The annual meeting of the World Association of Newspapers took place on Oct. 14, 2011 in Vienna, Austria. Eric Newton, Knight Foundation’s Senior Advisor to the President, held an interesting speech to the World Editors Forum. Newton talked about how digital tools improve newspapers. He elaborated on how digital journalism engages the newsroom and community to improve the content of journalism. Without a doubt, print is still very important and thriving in Canada but Newton’s speech is a great read on some contemporary discussions. Click here to read the transcript with some excerpts from Newton’s speech.

Why Blogging for Companies is Effective

eMarketer recently posted an interesting article with some encouraging, if not surprising statistics, about blog use.

According to ‘Corporate Blogging goes Mainstream’, an estimated 34 percent of US companies will use a blog for marketing purposes this year. This number will grow to 43 percent by 2012. In addition, nearly two-thirds of US journalists reported they used blogs to publish, promote and distribute what they wrote.

“Blogging… still has many strengths such as including full control over branding and advertising, integration with all corporate web properties, no limits on post length, and the existence of a full, easily searchable repository of information,” the article explained.

At we certainly see the potential. The informal tone of a blog post enables a relationship to be developed with our readers while also allowing for information sharing to be optimized. We can write blog posts to tell you about our most recent news, provide advice on how to improve the effectiveness of your adverts, and include articles about the great work community newspapers throughout the country are doing.

If you like our blog, why not also follow us on Twitter.