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Saturday, August 9, 2014

(SALES) Why People Hate To Advertise


The game is called Word Association. Two words, Ready? ?Advertising.? Here?s the second word ? ?Sales.? Quickly, what is the first word or set of words that come to mind? I?ll wait.

Sadly, for most people, the first words that come to mind are not positive. They are words of negativity, distrust, and disdain.

I?ve spent the last 27 years of my career selling; but worse, selling advertising. I?ve conducted hundreds of seminars for advertisers. One of the first things I ask participants to do is, ?Raise your hand if you love to advertise.? Generally, not a single hand goes up. Then I say, ?Raise your hand if you hate to advertise.? Every hand goes up.

With a perplexed look I ask them, ?You hate to advertise? You know this is a seminar about advertising, right?? That gets a chuckle? but here?s what is going on: passionate people, people very good at building widgets or providing a service, have no clue about how to market and advertise their products or services. Worse, there are people supposedly servicing these advertisers, running around, paid a commission for what they sell, and claiming they know what they are doing. But their life expectancy in the business is less than two years. No wonder clients need to attend seminars.

When people tell me why they hate advertising, it usually boils down to these four things:

1. They don?t know how to do it.
2. When they do it, they don?t know how to measure it.
3. They?ve tried it before and it didn?t seem to work.
4. They don?t have the patience to let it work.

?The truth is, it isn?t advertising that I sell ? it?s cars, boats, banking services, kitchen remodeling, and steaks at a great restaurant, etc.,? Claude Hopkins says in his 1923 book about advertising, Advertising is Multiplied Salesmanship. ?I was helping my clients make more sales calls. More sales calls = more sales.? Fairfax Cone, of Foote, Cone, and Belding said it this way: ?Advertising is what you do when you can?t go see someone. That's all it is.?

David Newman in his great new book Do It! Marketing: 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits, and Crush Your Competition says that, in his experience, there are 10 reasons that entrepreneurs fail. Five of the 10 relate to marketing/advertising:

1. Delivering a great product or service but being terrible at marketing and sales.
2. Not getting the right kind of marketing or sales help in time, or at all.
3. No differentiation ? trying to market ?me-too/same-o/lame-o? boring stuff.
4. Over-investing in fancy business cards, websites, and overly broad advertising.
5. A lack of expertise and thought leadership in their marketing focus.

"Advertising" and "sales" are not dirty words. They are the driving forces of economic growth and prosperity in our world today. Without advertising, sales are sporadic and left to chance; without sales, businesses fail and people lose jobs. Advertising is the glue that puts buyers and sellers together and keeps the economy running.

Much has been written about what it takes to be great at sales. In my experience, when you take away the fluff it boils down to three things:

1. Empathy
2. Expertise
3. Problem-solving skills

Empathy is the ability to understand; to put yourself in the client?s position and identify with their challenges or frustrations. You are seen as empathetic. The more you prepare in advance for your calls with articles and questions specific to industry-related issues and how they relate to your client, the better. Empathy is careful listening and following up with questions that indicate understanding and concern.

Expertise is being known for what you know. Kevin Eismann is my attorney. I asked him how he can charge me $300 an hour? He smiled and said, ?Because I know stuff you don?t know.? I have to hire him and pay him if I want his expert services.

Problem-Solving Skills. Chris Lytle and I end our live sessions with this rule: ?To know and not to do, is not to know.? You can have all the empathy in the world, you can be seen as an expert, but unless you can solve your prospects? problems, you?ll never earn their business.

What could you do starting today to demonstrate to your clients that you have empathy, expertise, and problem-solving skills? Are you an expert in advertising? Do you study every day to maintain your expertise? Are your clients aware of this expertise and your problem-solving skills?

Advertising works. Happy clients ? clients getting results ? don?t cancel. They can?t afford to.

Billy Crystal played Mitch Robbins in the movie City Slickers. In the final moments, after his exhaustive search for meaning and purpose, his loving wife tells him, ?It?s okay, you can quit your job as an advertising salesman.? He smiles and says, ?No, I?m not going to quit my job. I?m just going to do it better.?

You can do it better, if you want.

Jeff Schmidt is EVP and partner with Chris Lytle at Sparque, Inc. You can reach him at,, Other ways to connect:


(8/6/2014 11:38:55 PM)
Very insightful!

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