“Sell Me This Pen” The Right Way

Last week Brandon and I had the pleasure of helping out at Campbell Collegiate with some mock job interviews. We were pared with students from grades ten and eleven and grilled them on their skills, interests, and experience as we attempted to find a student we would “hire” to work at Strategy Lab. Being the weirdo that I am, I asked almost exclusively out-of-the box questions like “Who do you think would win in a fight between a silverback gorilla and a grizzly bear?” and “How would you describe the colour red to someone who’s never seen colour?”. One test I used for every candidate was the old-school Jordan Balfort challenge: “Sell me this pen”.

Traditionally this is used to develop persuasive, cold-call sales techniques which is more than a little sleazy, but there was method to my madness. At the beginning of the day we were given free Conexus-branded pens (thanks guys!) and as I handed one to each interviewee to sell me I was hoping against hope that someone would think big enough to use the Conexus brand in their sales pitch.

As far as TED Talks go Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” has been used to death in marketing circles to the point where it’s almost become a tired cliche. I stress “almost” because I think it’s truly timeless and I get something new from it every time I watch it. My interviews with these kids were the most beautifully perfect embodiment of the “Why-How-What” concept.

What?

The majority of the students immediately tried to sell me on the different features of the pen like the stylus, the grip, the ease of use, etc. The bells and whistles that made it a good pen among pens, but didn’t really make me want to buy it. I mean, if I already have a pen why would I shell out money for this specific one? They were trying to sell on the “what”.

How?

A handful of the interviewees told me all the things I could do with the pen. Doodle, write notes, draw pictures, you name it. They positioned the pen as a means to an end and something that would solve a problem I had. This went one step beyond just showing off the features because they were identifying something I needed to do and trying to sell me the solution, or the “how”. But I wasn’t satisfied.

Why?

One student out of eight took the bait. It’s my second last interview of the day. I hand her the pen and she thinks for a while, then turns to me and asks “Can I use the Conexus logo in my pitch?” Up until now no one had even seemed to notice the logo, so I start to nod excitedly. “Well I would probably ask you first if you were a Conexus member, then I’d tell you that by buying this pen you’d be supporting us so we can help more people”. I’m freaking out at this point. Finally, someone sold me the “why”.

Here’s the moral of the story. Modern marketing requires us to not only show off the features or solve people’s problems, but to actually connect with them and make them feel something. There’s a reason paid programming “As Seen on TV” ads seem almost laughable these days. There’s a reason the practice of trying to convince people buy something they aren’t in the market for seems inherently sleazy. Creating a belief or a community or a world-changing vision creates intrinsic motivation in your customer base to not only buy from you, but to love you. Once you have that, you’ll never need to market again.

Read more from Conrad Hewitt.

Sales is dead; long live sales-selling

Sales is Dead, Long Live Sales | eps 59 #inthelab


In school we were taught that sales is one of if not the most important function of business. Without sales you don’t exist. Sales people made the most money, had the best schedules and took the most time off. It was good to be a sales person.

Sales rules all.

 sell me this pen!

Then it went overboard, movies glorified the best sales people, ABC! ALWAYS BE CLOSING! Don’t forget “Coffee’s for closers!” I would repeat lines from the Wolf of Wall Street but they’re far too vulgar.

Then something happened. These amazing sales people seem more like sleazy used car sales people than glorified titans of business. Read more

If Vacuum Cleaner Sales People No Longer Exist How The Hell Do They Sell Vacuums

If Vacuum Cleaner Sales People No Longer Exist How The Hell Do They Sell Vacuums?

Ask Dyson or Roomba.

You don’t sell by selling anymore, you sell by doing something different.

Different enough to get someone to talk about you. That’s it. Not different to be goofy, no, different to be top-of-mind in your market space. That spot is left to the most innovative companies in the world, and you can do it too.

Vacuum cleaner sales people no longer exist. At one time what a great profession! Think about it, you choose your own hours, you get exercise while working, you get to meet new people all the time and you choose how much money to make. Based on the amount of hours you put in, you can make a lot in a very little amount of time.

You can see why many people went into this profession, good wages, fun work, what more could you ask for. The better you could manipulate sell people on a vacuum, the more money you were to make. The problem is that way of thinking doesn’t work anymore.

i am the future

Read more

7 Buzzwords You Need to Stop Using at Business Meetings & in Life in General

7 Buzzwords You Need to Stop Using at Business Meetings & in Life in General

We all have come across those winners in meetings that love to use the latest business buzzword. You know the ones? They recite words and phrases you know they just heard for the first time while watching the Dragon’s Den last night.

You realize soon after school that the vocabulary you use has very little to do with your life and is more so correlated with pretentiousness. Yet the words below are used everyday, some times more than once, in offices and during meetings all over the world in hundreds of different languages. Well I’m sure other languages have their own overused meaningless terms that tend to follow the commerce crowd.

Before you start remember these are just opinions, please don’t be offended. Instead add your own overused word or phrase. Heck lets make this list longer!! Comment below with yours!!

Let's form proactive synergy restructuring teams

1. Synergy

The obvious one. Just stop it. Nothing says I’m a first year business student than using Synergy on purpose in a sentence. The exception to the rule you say? There is only one. Unless you work in the Easton Hockey stick Museum and you’re referring to my gold 2001 Easton Synergy Hockey stick you should never ever use the “S” word in a sentence.

 

2. Networking

Just a fancy term for people who don’t know how to make friends. Pro tip, stop networking and start doing things that matter. Volunteer, run for a board, help a non-profit, coach, be a big brother, do something that isn’t easy. Just showing up to an event and putting on a name tag isn’t hard. Volunteering countless hours for a great cause is a brilliant way to make new friends.

Do ANYTHING other then go to specific events just to “meet” people for the sake of a business relationship. Yuck. Read more

Why You Don't Need a Marketing Strategy

Why You Don’t Need a Marketing Strategy // eps 50 #inthelab

Why You don’t Need a Marketing Strategy

How many small startups have a marketing strategy? I’d venture a guess as very few. No I don’t mean a “marketing plan” I mean an actual strategy with tactics, objectives, and intended outcomes. Rarely do startups care about marketing because if you have to rely on marketing to make your product or service successful you’re not going to be.

How many recent extremely successful products or services have grown exponentially because of a marketing strategy? I’d guess very few. The reason something catches fire is one part luck and one-part remarkability.

Remarkability: The odds that someone will talk about your company, product, service or organization.

Most business owners think of marketing as logos and commercials when really it about getting people to spread your story. There’s nothing traditional about marketing in 2016.

You don’t need a marketing strategy. A lot of people will tell you you do. Professors of marketing, those who’ve never practiced their theories just taught them in the classroom are the worst at spreading the lies about why you need a marketing strategy.

They’ll say you can’t be “off brand” and that every communication you make needs to be consistent.

“Mind your four p’s!” they’ll tell you, even though three out of the four are almost obsolete or useless for your company. Price, Place, Product, Promotion.

Marketing needs to start at the beginning of the planning process of your product or service.

I love the Seth Godin quote “Advertising is the tax for the unremarkable.”

Advertising is the tax for the unremarkable Read more

Google Adwords Image

Why You Should Be Using Google Adwords Featuring Mitch Gallant || Eps 36 #InTheDealership

This week’s #InTheLab I get to interview Mitch Gallant, Marketing Manager for the Capital Auto Group. I’ve worked on and off with him and his team for around 4 years now. Mitch is brilliant when it comes to online marketing let alone Google Adwords. This talk is mostly focused on Google Adwords.

“Buying a car is a hassle! That’s probably why buying a car is one of the most researched industries on the internet.”

Mobile traffic is more valuable than desktop traffic

Read more

When-do-you-begin-marketing-your-start-up

When Do You Start Marketing Your Start-up? Episode 10 of #InTheLab


This week on #InTheLab, the Strategy Lab video series, we answer questions from a couple views.

Question 1 from Shalyn: Read more

How do you design a logo?

How Do You Design a Logo? – Episode 8 of #InTheLab

 

Eddy Alvaro

If you need a logo designed, better call Eddy!

Episode 8 of #InTheLab I get to talk to Eddy Alvaro, a design, dance, and digital professional from Regina who has a brilliant way of looking at designing your next logo. Eddy has a brilliant eye for design. In everything he creates he takes into account who the audience is, what he’s trying to get out of them and determines the minimalist way to get there. He’s a creative mastermind who takes the personality of an organization and captures it in a logo. Read more

A calendar can be a social object

Episode 6 of #InTheLab – What’s the Future of Marketing?


What is the future of marketing?

The answers simple, social objects Read more