Posts Tagged ‘sales’

on market research and advertising

Over my years of working I have worked in sales several times and, in my own businesses, I have had to rely on my own abilities in that area. Knowing what will sell and how to get it in front of those who will buy varies according to what it is you are selling, but the basic principles are the same whether you are standing at your stall in the market or pitching a multi-million pound deal in the boardroom. If you don’t grasp them you will not last long.

This is not about the mechanics of selling though, it’s about some of the stuff that goes on around it. Specifically understanding who will buy what, why and how to get their attention.

Starting with the back end of that, advertising, it has struck me how things have changed. Visual advertising, mainly in the form of TV commercials, but also including billboards and the like, used to have an element of wit and style, but these days they seem to have dumbed down to a point where many are just puerile. If they are intended to make me want to buy the product, they don’t, but worse, they put me off using the company altogether. I vote with my wallet and there are some places where I will no longer take my cash based on their advertising.

Perhaps these companies have researched and tested these adverts; they almost certainly have because the Berkshire Belle amuses herself by taking part in market research and will often warn me that her tablet is about to “make a noise”. Some of the questions that she will then be asked are so off the wall as to be worrying, for example she will often be asked to say what sort of person the advertiser is, and various other oblique questions that are almost impossible to answer with any credibility.

Not only is someone paying shed loads of money for this research, but they will also go on to spend much more on commissioning the commercial and getting it out there. But if the questions are ones that it is not possible to answer with any genuine accuracy then the results will be flawed so what is the point?

As stupid as it sounds people are using this stuff. Perhaps it is because they have paid a lot for it that they choose to believe it; I don’t know for sure, but I have certainly been on the inside of teams who have been using data from this sort of market research and cannot ever recall it being challenged by those making the decision.

I am not saying that all market research is wasted. You do need to know, but be careful with what you get back because people lie in at least some of their answers. Use such data as a guide rather than an absolute and do look carefully at the results that you get when you go to market.

Maybe my criticism of advertising is, in part, due to flaws in the research. I don’t know the answer to that either, but I suspect that, whilst it contributes, the biggest problem is a general dumbing down of society. Our expectations have been lowered so much that we get what we deserve. For me it means that, just as I will not buy from a cold call, I will buy very little that I see advertised on TV.

what’s in a name?

A recent high profile re-brand has caused a bit of a flutter in the industry concerned, so with people talking about it, it must have worked, yes? Read more…

Caveat Emptor – still as true as when the Roman’s coined the phrase

Buyer Beware, or Caveat Emptor as the Romans used to put it, is still very much a truism despite all of the legislation that successive Governments, and the EU, have tried to impose to protect consumers. For business folk, who enjoy less protection with their working hats on than they do as individuals, more care has to be taken over what you are buying and who you are buying from.

Due diligence is a term often applied to this process, and when done well it is applied not just to the initial, pre-contract stage, but also over the duration of the contractual relationship. A while back we had the adulterated meat problem whereby what was being delivered was not what was expected. As this was an end product being supplied to consumers the problem was picked up through random testing as part of the consumer protection process, but apparently not by the purchasing organisation(s) concerned. I saw the other day a large sign in one store saying that all of their meat was 100% British or Irish. That may have been intended to reassure, but it could it doesn’t preclude it being 100% horse, rat, dog or any other sort of meat; caveat emptor again perhaps. Read more…

I love it when a plan comes together

“I love it when a plan comes together” Col Smith used to say at the end of each A-Team episode, almost as though it was a rare event when, having expended thousands of rounds of ammunition and several tons of explosives of the climax (without killing anyone) they had again triumphed. Read more…

business cycles are a just a natural progression

I wrote some lines a few weeks ago about the classic business cycle whereby today’s fad is tomorrow’s derided practice and next year’s next big thing, albeit that in the latter case it will be re-branded to make it new and exciting even if it is pretty much exactly what we used to do. What goes around comes around as my American friends say. Having been asked the same question again last week gives me chance to expand on this a little. Read more…

let’s get rid of the unlimited liability clause

The purpose of contract documents is to set out in as an unambiguous manner as possible the intentions of the parties involved. Clarity should be of the essence, but so many contracts are drafted by lawyers these days are not only impenetrable as to their meaning, but also often contain clauses that make little practical sense. Read more…

the oddest presentation I’ve had to make

It’s a bright February morning as the sales team arrive in two cars, with the low sun shining bright off the disappearing frost. This is a big morning, for they are due to present as one of five short listed suppliers for a deal that will be worth at least £5m over the first three years of the contract on offer and, if they win, there is a lot more that they can do for this client. Read more…

the process is a tool, nothing more

It’s been one of those weekends really. I have had a couple of things come up that have meant some internet research to find a solution to a particular set of problems and so the lap top has taken a pounding, but then so has my patience. Read more…

paying late doesn’t make good business sense

January 28, 2013 1 comment

News last week that one of the suppliers to a global construction giant had elected not to accept any more work from that source because of delays in getting paid should sound warning bells to over aggressive procurement functions. Whilst the news may not have told the full story it is clear that there are moves to stretch payment terms and that many of these are beyond what is reasonable under the circumstances. Read more…

let’s stop using power words in CVs and bid documents

January 21, 2013 1 comment

Last week I got involved in a cyber-debate about the overuse of power words, in this case about their use in CVs, but the principle applies more widely. I have two main issues with this abuse of language; firstly that much of it is transparently nonsense (and therefore untrue) and secondly that it wastes my time. Read more…