I quit marketing so I could sell!

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Lets get something to eat!

By Paul Lesieur Minneapolis Remodeling

marketing hotdogAs my 12 year old says to her friends “Whaz up”? I’m saying this to you, “Whaz up” marketing pros? With your help we now have 2 person companies spending money so they achieve national branding, never mind the fact they work in a 20 mile radius of their shop. We convinced people to build presentation books so when they drive up in their $40,000 truck with $6,000 worth of graphics they could make such a good impression that the $3656 job they were selling would be a slam dunk. And just to make sure we aced the competition we promoted the use of multimedia advertising to shoot a dart at 100% of all living creatures on planet earth. Damn! We got it down.

As you could tell, I’m not a marketing pro, I own one of those small companies and I’m done piling on cliches in an easy to read font. Gone are the “quality, factory trained, experienced, exceed your expectations platitudes”, not entirely, but I have started the process. Gone is my  branding initiative, that is something that comes by itself after you’ve focused all your efforts into following your vision. You don’t just have a meeting, vote on a mission statement, pick a nice logo and call the printer. That’s what we do now, and its not working. Sure branding is important and I would recognize a Coca Cola can in the bushes at 50 yards. But were not there yet. So what am I going to do?

When I was a kid we had a very popular restaurant in my home town, they served Hot Dogs. You didn’t say lets get a Hot Dog in Waterbury, you said “Lets go to Frankies”. When you got there you stood in line behind a banker standing next to a biker standing next to a Nun who was solidly pushing the bus driver that was reaching over the Mayor to get the mustard. Frankies secret was simple, good Hot Dogs, a menu that stayed the same, he was  consistent. It took 5 minutes to get a Hot Dog, not 4, not 3 1/2. About 5. If you wanted faster you went to McDonalds, but McDonalds was now so popular that it took 9 minutes to get fast food, and Frankies Hot Dogs still took 5. Why is that? Franky had it down, he didn’t improve, what he did was working. He sold Hot Dogs, not fast Hot Dogs.

Frankies concept was simple. Make good tasting Hot Dogs and hand them over in 5 minutes. Also another lesson Frank taught me was, when you hit your saturation point at your place of business, you open another Hot Dog joint, Frank now has 6 Frankies. His marketing costs? I never saw a Frankies coupon, I never saw a newspaper ad, he has one line in the phone book and the employees wear Frankies T-shirts, I’m guessing one of his sons has a marketing degree and so the employees got T- shirts. Hell, I have a Frankies shirt, $12.95 for the shirt, $3.50 for the dog, add fries and a Coke and you get change from a twenty. But the best part isn’t the food, which is great, its simply fun going to Frankies.

Now my point, and how did Franky get started?

It was after World War 2, the country was winding down from its war production efforts and people were getting married and having kids, so his timing was great. Frank opened his first stand on a busy bus route, to this day there is a bus bench in front of Frankies. But Franky knew little about marketing, but he did know how to make a great Hot Dog and he used square buns to hold the dog. That’s it! Lets go to Frankies for a Hot Dog, yeah,  isn’t that the place that has square buns?

What can the rest of us do. I’ll tell you one thing I’m doing, I give potential clients a half pound on my fresh roast coffee beans. No brag book, no fridge magnets, forget the cheap pens or the expensive color ads. Coffee!

How do I get my name out, cold calling sometimes, I write articles, I give seminars, I contact people and ask if I could help them in a way they are not getting serviced. I don’t brainstorm and guess what people want, I flat out ask and wait to hear which slot needs to be filled. I know I still need to market in the more traditional ways, but ask anyone and they will likely tell you they are spending more and getting less from their marketing efforts. That’s why I’m grateful I’m not a marketing pro, I can simply ask what people feel is missing and see if I could fill that need. If I was a pro, I would rely on the skills I learned while being educated in the marketing field, I would be working very hard to fine tune and smartly market to attract clients. Which does work, but its getting so expensive to market in the traditional sense that it isn’t always cost effective.

Here’s what I think, and argue this with me if you wish. Marketing works, but its all over the board success wise. But everyone likes getting a gift, a half pound of coffee is a gift, a calendar  with your logo is not, its advertising. People also like things simple, if I were selling marketing I might simply offer a potential client a coffee and a donut, then I would ask them if they like the donut and why, then I would ask them how they would market this donut if it were their product or service. You would get the actual reasons and not the rhetorical reasons and also the beginning of understanding how your client sees his role in promoting his service.

Does this make sense? To me yes, all I’m trying to do is have people remember me, in 5 years I may be known more for good coffee than my remodeling. I hope its both, but either way, I want to be remembered. Simple is where I’m headed. Kitchens, coffee, and WOW!

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