The Only Marketing Advice Gary Bencivenga Says He May Give on His Deathbed

“If I were on my deathbed about to wheeze my last breath,” says Gary, “and you asked me to

sum up in a single sentence the most important marketing secret I could bequeath to

you before I kick the bucket (or bedpan), here is what I would whisper in your ear,

hopefully without giving you anything contagious.

It’s a 9-word sentence I first read in the book Reality in Advertising by

copywriting genius Rosser Reeves. This one sentence made fortunes for Reeves’

clients, as well as my own, and for scores of other marketers wise enough to apply it

rigorously…”

This was how Gary Bencivenga, one of the top-three copywriters still alive today, began his controversial blog post.

And then dropped the bombshell…

“A gifted product is mightier than a gifted pen.”

Many marketers argue the customer should be the preoccupation of the copywriter. But Gary says it’s the product that determines whether the ad will be a winner or not. The product must engage your attention as a copywriter.

And when you look deep enough, the wisdom of his statement begins to emerge.

Also, in Ghana there’s this saying that…

“A good product sells itself.”

It implies, once a product has its own inherent qualities that customers want, then the marketer’s job is easy. It’s merely researching and telling the whole truth about the excellent product, how it solves customers’ problems.

It’s the secret that propels journey of any copywriter into stardom. He doesn’t have to fake qualities which don’t exist; he merely tells the facts as they are – creating a smooth transition from one benefit to another.

Above all, the copywriter makes those benefits the product offers come alive.

Gary, master of metaphors, illustrated his point with an equestrian metaphor in this fashion…

“You are a jockey. If you want to win more races, by all

means hone your craft. But even more important, learn how to spot and get yourself

assigned to faster horses. That’s a big part of building your reputation and career

success.

You want your name associated with winners, not losers! Cultivating a jockey’s

eye for winners and then campaigning to ride them is one of the most rewarding

skills you can develop…While you can’t carry a flawed product—or a slow horse—on your back to glory, great products, like champion race horses, will put you in the winner’s circle consistently.”

As marketers, our job is not to invent product qualities.

At best, we are to guide manufacturers into making great product, based on our understanding of the market; products that customers will crave for. Our main duty is to communicate the benefits of the product to customers…in plain and simple language.

Once you have selected your winning product, consider all angles of it. Saturate yourself with the product information.

If you can, strive to know the product more than its maker!

Gather at least three times more information than you need for creating your copy. The reserve material is a source of inspiration.

It will boost your confidence. It’ll ignite your creative powers.

But where should you start from?

Start by asking all possible questions about the product.

Here are 10 question Gary suggests copywriters should use to reveal all the benefits of a product.

These are the starting point of any assignment.

  1. Why is this product made the way it is?
  2. What consumer problems, desires, and needs is it designed for?
  3. What’s special about it—why does it fulfill a consumer’s needs better than the competition?
  1. Who says so besides you?
  2. What are your strongest proof elements to make your case believable?
  3. What are all the product’s best features and how does each translate into a consumer benefit?
  1. If you had unlimited funds, how would you improve this product?
  2. Who are its heavy users—the 20 percent who generate 80 percent of sales?
  3. What irresistible offers might trigger an explosion in sales?
  4. What premiums can be tossed into the mix to press your prospects’ hot

buttons?

If you have a great  product to market, then you will find that you copy almost writes itself.

It flows.

It’s like running water. You only need to direct its course to the desired destination.

And it will get there.

Never invent features and benefits for any product when they don’t exit. That’s not your job as a copywriter.

Instead, identify a winning product and sing its praises.

Why?

Because when you do, you’ll realise your yoke is easy and your burden is light.

 

 

 

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5-Step Selling Strategy That Can Make You a Top Sales Professional….Your Crash Course in Face-to-Face Selling

Selling is easy, if only you know how to do it.

Harry Browne proves it by his five-step strategy for selling anything at all. There are all sorts of fallacies about selling. These are the very things that make it look extremely difficult. To be successful as a sales professional, you need to banish those wrong ideas from your mind.

What are some these fallacies about selling?
1. Selling is warfare between the seller and the buyer. No, it is no such thing. It’s rather a barter trade between the seller and the buyer. The seller gives the best possible thing the buyer desires. And the buyer too gives what the seller wants — that is money. If you view selling as offering value in exchange for money, it will never be warfare between you and the buyer. And you would never resort to aggression when selling anything.

2. You must never take ‘NO’ from the buyer. That is not true all. If you truly believe you offer value, then you needn’t bother when the buyer rejects it. Perhaps he doesn’t value the same thing you consider valuable. But why worry yourself over one person who doesn’t value what you offer? There are more prospects you can sell to. Remember that, unless both you the seller and the buyer agree that your exchange is profitable, there will be no sale.

3. You can always make people buy what they don’t want. That is not entirely correct. You may succeed a few times to do that, but only a few times. There are obvious dangers to this kind of mindset. First, you can’t get repeat customers and referrals that way. Second, people will soon know of you and try to avoid you or frustrate your efforts. And for ethical reasons, you wouldn’t want to be treated that way, so why treat others that way?

4. You must be a great talker to sell well. Not true. In fact, a good sales professional only leads the prospects to do much of the talking about their own problems. That is the basis of the sale. What you should have as a salesperson is a listening ear. A salesperson is one who listens to people’s problems and provides them with solutions for a fee. So if you keep talking without listening, how would you hear and know the prospect’s problems?

Going by Harry Browne’s selling philosophy; you find that selling is a natural process. You don’t need to be who you are not. You don’t need to be aggressive, or lie, or be dishonest for you to be successful as sales professional. You are a solution-provider. You simply give people what they want for themselves and they reward you with money for doing them a favour. Period. You shouldn’t expect to be able solve everybody’s problems with what you offer. You will be able to give some people what they want – those are your prospects.

To begin with, this 5-step strategy that is based on these points….
One, all human beings do things and buy things because they want to meet a desire that will make them happy.

Two, every human being has unique desires (motivations) he wants to satisfy.

Three, a happy eager customer is one who has seen how his inner desire (motivation) can be satisfied through buying a certain product.

So where do you come in as a salesperson? Your duty is to identify what the inner motivation of the customer is and show how your product satisfies that desire. If you can do this, there’s no reason why the customer won’t buy what you offer.

So the simple principle of all types of selling is…
‘Find out what a person wants and give him exactly that — through your offer.
Or as Harry Browne puts it… ‘Find the prospect’s motivation and appeal to it.’ And the secret to finding a person’s motivation towards what you offer is the problem he faces in relation to your type of service or product. So if someone hates delays in the banking hall, then your offer should be tailored towards quicker banking transactions. If your prospect doesn’t like the noise from his bed, then you should offer a solid bed which doesn’t make noise when he rolls on it. If a person values knowledge, show him how your books make him more knowledgeable in a particular subject.

Haven’t you ever experienced any of these ‘strange’ things before?
Have you ever seen your friend buy something you consider too expensive and of little value, but this friend of yours was so excited about the thing beyond reason? Your friend’s inner desire was different from yours. And she found that buying that thing would satisfy her desire. Simple as that.
Again, you may not understand why a man goes to a certain shop to buy items which cost double of what he could have bought them elsewhere. For all you know, he likes the attention he gets from the salesperson, or he simply admires the girl at the counter! That’s his motivation.
You can’t fight a person’s motivation. You can only use it in your favour. Always aim to satisfy that motivation when you’re selling.

Now here is the 5-step strategy that Harry Browne has used to boost his sales career. See how easy it is to use. Let’s briefly look at the process below…

Harry Browne’s 5-Step Sales Interview:
Step 1 – identifying the prospect’s inner desire and motivation
Everybody has a motivation for undertaking any project, for engaging in any activity and for buying anything. Your success of selling to this prospect what you offer is largely dependent on his motivation. If you appeal to the right motivation, then you can get the sale. You can guess what that motivation is. And if you are right, you get the sale. But why guess when you have the opportunity to know what his true motivation is. The prospect is before you – ask him. Yes, that’s the only way you can be sure about it. But don’t take it literally. You need to ask the right questions to get the right answers. You can’t simply ask a prospect, ‘what’s your motivation concerning x item?’ If you do, you won’t get the right answer.

Here are some questions you can ask…
1. For Life Insurance, ‘What’s your greatest concern about your family’s wellbeing in the future?’ or ‘What would like to put in place to secure the future of family from the uncertainties of life?’ Such questions will trigger some wonderful answers. Just listen and take note of them. No answer is correct or wrong and none is too stupid. They set the basis for you to make the sale. So listen. And ask questions to know more.

2. For a car salesman, ‘What’s the most important feature of a car to you?’ or ‘What do expect from your dream car?’

3. For real estate, ‘What type of house do you consider a perfect home?’ ‘How should a house look like to suit your taste?’

4. For a career advancement programme, ‘What makes an ideal/perfect job to you?…and what obstacles must you remove to get it?’
Your introduction may be something like this…
‘My name is Cyril from Persuasive Advertising. And you are? I’d like us talk about how you can get the ideal job you want. Do you have some time for this? Okay, thank you. I’ll make it brief.
But before we begin, may I ask what you consider your perfect job? And what is standing between you and that job right now?’

Step 2 – Confirm What You Thought You Heard.

How easy it is for us human beings to misunderstand each other! As a salesperson, misunderstanding your prospect only frustrates your selling. So you must confirm what you thought the prospect said about his motivation…his inner desires. Mr. Browne says this where you summarise the terms of your sale. This is the step you confirm whether you can solve the prospect’s problem with your offer. If you realize from this stage that your solutions can’t meet his desires, then excuse yourself and move to the next prospect. But if you realize that what you have will solve his problem, then move to step 3.

For example…
In the case of a car, you may say, ‘From what you’ve told me so far, I gather you want a car that is sleek and has a terrific speed on the road. Is that right?’ If the prospect doesn’t agree with you, then you go back to Step 1. Probably you got his motivations wrong. Find out his motivations again. But if he agrees with you, then proceed to Step 3.

Step 3 – Introduce your product
This is where you now begin to talk about what you have to offer, because you know what solution the prospect is looking for. At this point, you must discuss only the benefits of your product/service that will meet the prospect’s desires. Present the product or service in terms of what the prospect values. Tell him the part of your product/service that will make him happy. Resist the temptation to talk about other irrelevant features. Instead concentrate on what matters to this prospect. Discuss all the angles of what the product / service can do for the prospect to make him happy. If your product offers twenty benefits, but your prospect cares about only three of them, then deal with those three important ones. Leave the rest out unless the prospect asks you about them. Don’t dilute an effective sales interview with so many benefits. Sometimes, many features/benefits reduce the credibility of the claims you make about a product.

How to do it in practice…
Still for the car, you may say, ‘I’d like you to have a look at this brand new Mercedes Benz. It has just what you expect from your dream car. Consider its sleek style. Isn’t it splendid? And it can accelerate to 250 miles per hour in one minute. No ordinary car comes close to this feat. Just what you said you wanted.’

Step 4 – Handle Objections and Concerns about Your Product/Service
An interested prospect may have a few concerns about your offer. Don’t panic when he questions about your product/service. Answer them as honestly as you can. Don’t lie about the ability of your product. Be honest and open. Don’t dismiss any question as irrelevant. If it was irrelevant, the prospect wouldn’t raise it.

Mr. Browne’s proven formula for handling such concerns is…
Listen…Agree…Suggest.

He says you must first of all listen to what the prospect is saying. Don’t judge his answer as stupid or unreasonable. Just listen and understand it. After you have listened and understood the answer, agree with the prospect. Tell him he has raised a valid point. When you agree with anybody, the person sees you as a friend and then he willing listens to you too. When you are sure you have his attention, suggest a way that concern can be handled. Use the opportunity to alley all fears about your product. Go out of your way to solve his concern. Show him that you genuinely care about his total satisfaction. You’re not just there to take his money. You want to solve his problem. When all the prospect’s concerns have been addressed, you move to the final step.

Step 5 – Ask for the Sale
You’ve gone through all this trouble for one thing — to get the sale. If you clearly showed your prospect how your product/service was going to solve his problem, then your closing of the sale will be easy. You don’t need to talk volumes, because the prospect himself wants what you’re offering him. Some prospects may just ask you how much your product costs, in a bit to hurry the process. But if your prospect doesn’t ask for the product at this stage, ask him to do it. Your question should be framed as a logical conclusion of your discussion.

Some questions for closing sales are:
‘From our discussion, I can conclude you would want to open a current account with our bank right now. Is that correct?’
‘From your responses, I gather you want to place an order for a new mattress right away. Should I then proceed with the order?’
‘Is it okay with you if I go ahead and process your order for the brand new Mercedes Benz car, black colour, four-wheel drive, and auto-steering, right now?’

Expect these peculiar situations occasionally
How do you handle a situation, where a prospect tells you to present what you have, without listening to you? Simply explain that your product can do a number of things, but you want to save time by dealing with what may be relevant to him. So now you’d like to first know what his current situation is. Could he take a few minutes to explain that to you? Then quickly start with Step 1 of the sales interview.
Sometimes, the prospect may be busy, or he may be in a hurry for a meeting. In that case, tell him you’d like to schedule another meeting with him at a more convenient time to explain things well. Ask him what time he’d like you to come back. Never be in a hurry to talk about your offer. Get to know the prospect’s motivation before you offer anything.

The mark of great salesmanship is not your swiftness at selling people oranges when they want bananas. It’s rather your ability to discover the wants of people and satisfy them through what you offer.

It’s time for you to discover wants and sell to those wants. Do just that and watch your sales figures explode.

Have a fulfilling sales career!

(Sorry for the rather long blog post. I didn’t have time to write a short one!)

 

 

How to Building Trust in Your Marketing Message

Trust is a central point  in marketing. Without trust in your message and your product, the whole exercise of marketing is fruitless. But the question is:

How do you build trust in marketing?

You can do that in so many ways. But for purposes of this article, let’s look at these areas:

*Use testimonials – yes, this is an old technique and yet it still works. These testimonials are praises from past satisfied customers. Your word against a customer’s word, who do you think people will trust? Of course, the past customer. After all, he is the one who has tried your product or service before. Nearly all human beings depend on the experience of other people to make their decisions. This includes their buying decisions. We all want to experience the good things other people have experienced and avoid the unpleasant ones. So there’s no doubt testimonials carry tons of persuasive weight in marketing. But is it all testimonials that will do? Of course not. Any testimonial that stinks of manipulation and hints of insincerity is counterproductive. Testimonials should come from the heart of the customer and be sincere. They should not leak traces of ulterior motive.

So how do you make testimonials really solid marketing pieces, ones that are credible? Here are a few things that will be helpful:

  1. Use full names of customers for testimonials – with their permission.
  2. Give location of customers and contact details, if possible. The chief aim of testimonials is to show proof that real human beings have benefited from your service or product. This why you should consider including some details so that past customers can be contacted to confirm their experience with your product or service.
  3. Provide their job descriptions and titles. Authority carries marketing weight. Titles such as Doctor, Engineer, Professor etc. all add a lot of weight to your claims. Don’t forget that.
  4. Use specific testimonials, but not general ones. A good testimonial should spell out clearly how your product or service helped the customer achieve a particular thing. Achievement must be shown in terms of real figures and percentages and within a particular time frame.

*Show measurement – tell customers how they can measure the effectiveness of your product/service. What instrument can they use and what’s the scale of measurement? How does it compare with the standard in the industry? Show, don’t tell.

* Get and display the endorsement of experts and authorities on your product/service. It’s needless to say that these people should be seen as people who have no ties with you – no family, social or business relations. Any hint of some relationship with you reduces the credibility of their claims.

*Throw a challenge – Invite customers to put your claims to the test. Tell them your integrity is on the line. If it fails your trust is lost. And you don’t want that to happen.

*Include a good guarantee policy. Tell the customer what you stand to lose if they’re not satisfied with your product/service. Absorb any risks from their side. Make it easy for them to trust you.

*Seal it with your name and signature, if possible. No one wants to be identified with an inferior thing. So by giving the product your name or embossing the label with your signature, you demonstrate your trust in it. You trust it so much to lend it your identity. You aren’t ashamed of it.

There you have them – some common ways you can build trust in your marketing efforts. On the pitch of  selling, trust is everything. Once you lose it, you can forget about great sales figures.