A young researcher in biomedicine talks to his professor. The professor suggests that he take part in a research project in which he will have the opportunity to learn about a new technique. The first technique is about determining the size of proteins. Unfortunately, the technique is quite old, so the young man isn’t really enthusiastic. He asks if there’s anything else, and the professor proposes isolating antibodies. The young man is reluctant because the method is invasive. It requires injecting a rabbit with a foreign body so that it starts producing antibodies which are to be isolated later. You need to draw the rabbit’s blood until the poor thing bleeds to death. The young man doesn’t like the method because he’s not particularly fond of killing rabbits.
Despite this the student wants to know where the research would take place. “Dear colleague, you’ll need to go to New Zealand for a couple of months, and the scholarship is also quite generous.”
The young man replies: “Great, I’m really interested in this method. When do I fly there?”
Are you trying to find the connection between this story and marketing? There’s none. But the story is real. The young man has just told me the story himself. People like listening to stories; we remember them. Stories sell. Perhaps this story has made you think about what’s ethical and where the limits are?
Luckily enough I work in sales and marketing. I’ve never conducted tests on animals and never will. I do carry out a lot of tests, but only on people J. In sales and marketing – as in science – those who frequently test win.
And don’t judge the young man. Bear in mind that the steak you enjoyed so much last night had been freely grazing on open meadows but a day before.
Selecting the right type matters. If you want to sell more, it’s important that your readers can read what you have to say. Magazine articles don’t sell, but it’s in the magazine’s interest to attract as many readers as possible. Magazines sell whatever is in their articles, but if readers don’t read them, they won’t be satisfied in the long run.
If the article’s laid out like the one in the picture, you can be sure that readership ratings are going to be low. Twice as many people would read the same article if it was published on white background in black type. This fact has been proven for so many times in direct marketing. Good old David Ogilvy says on p. 21 of his book Ogilvy on Advertising!:
“I recently counted 49 advertisements set in reverse (white type on black background) in one issue of a magazine, many years after research demonstrated reverse is difficult to read”. Drayton Bird claims the same; everyone who knows something about direct marketing says the same.
You know that I know something about direct marketing. I’ve read plenty of books and articles on the topic, and we conducted over 150 direct marketing tests last year. I attended numerous lectures on the subject at the biggest annual publishing event in the world – the Folio: Show (http://www.folioshow.com) which attracts magazine professionals from around the world. Reverse type reduces readership ratings. Period. No exceptions. By the way, if you work in magazine publishing, you should attend the Folio Show at least once every five years.
We all agree on this – reverse type reduces readership ratings. This kind of type is good for shorter passages of text, perhaps a headline, but certainly not for the whole text. All of you who read the marketing guru’s diary know better. And if you’re ever in the situation to decide on a text layout, remember this entry. It seems that designers aren’t taught that at school. Marketing gurus teach you that. To get this kind of knowledge you need to attend expensive lectures, or simply read books which are much cheaper. You just have to work a bit harder.
But why do these things still happen? Because those who design don’t read and don’t attend seminars; they copy their colleagues who likewise don’t read, and they improvise. Because magazine professionals don’t depend on readership ratings as much as – for example – catalogue sales professionals. You won’t find such layout in a Neckermann mail-order catalogue because they care how much they sell. They know that white type on black background is difficult to read – if readers don’t read, they aren’t going to buy either. Ultimately, weaker sales spell less profit and hungry children at home.
The concept of unique selling proposition was invented by Rosser Reeves in the 1950s. Those who can say why a customer should buy from them and not from the competition, sell more.
Unique selling propositions should be unique. If both you and your competition claim you have the lowest prices, then this isn’t your unique selling proposition. What do most Slovenian sellers claim?
Look for something that you can offer to your customers, but your competition can’t.
Look for something that customers appreciate and you competition doesn’t have.
Here’s an example from a street in Krakow, Poland. Competition among street artists is fierce and they all fight for the passer-by’s change. But only this couple takes pride in having performed for the pope, and they have a photo to prove it, too. This is one unique selling proposition that their competition certainly doesn’t have.
Most Slovenian entrepreneurs should take a week off and think about what really separates them from the competition. This would really pay off.
Have a look at some pictures from Krakow.
A silver street artist
A bronze street artist
One more silver artist with a sword
A window from which Pope John Paul II addressed youth
A few Communists are still around
Your guru’s looking in the distance
In Austria, of all places. At the edge of an Austrian village, a police officer popped out from behind a bush and pulled me over. He jumped out like a squirrel. He said I was going too fast – 50 mph in a residential area. I had to use the whole range of my negotiation skills and we finally agreed – a fine of 35 euros. My brother recently paid 125 euros for doing 43 mph in Nova sela.
OK, my brother was guilty, but I wasn’t. J It’s true that I was driving though a small village, but the speed limit was exceptionally set at 20 mph that day because of a village party. They put a sign “end of all restrictions” at the end of the party. I took the sign seriously and floored it. But then a police officer appeared out of nowhere saying: “Sorry, I’m just doing my job.”
I saw he felt guilty for it. He knew I was right. Probably most of his victims that day hadn’t even noticed the sign, and I was able explain to him why I drove that fast.
But what does this have to do with marketing? A lot. Police officers are smarter than most entrepreneurs. They put radar detectors on busy roads, with higher chances of catching perpetrators. They hide radar detectors in the part of a residential where there are no houses or residents. Long straight stretches of road with a bush to hide in. I wrote about it some years ago, you can look for the entry.
But it’s perfectly fair that they got me. It only took me six hours to drive from Prague to Ljubljana, so I must’ve driven too fast. But not where they got me. I thought about proving my innocence with my GPS unit, but I changed my mind after I’d checked the statistics.
It must have gone crazy because it said that I’d been doing 251 mph! But I really don’t understand why I paid only 35 euros. A special price for gurus?
Now that I’ve mentioned Prague, have a look at some photos and read my next entry.
I like awarding street artists; they appreciate it.
Andy Warhol anywhere we go.
Prague Funfair Orchestra
There are more tourists in Prague that Czechs.
Would you pay 1,000 crowns (40 euros) for a 40-minute sightseeing tour of Prague by car?
“It depends what kind of a car we’re talking about,” would be the correct answer. How about a 1934 Škoda convertible, 3 gears, non-synchronous transmission?
I couldn’t resist such a ride. How does this Škoda entry relate to marketing?
Because those who’d come up with the idea of driving tourists around in old Škodas and Tatras knew how to make something from nothing.
A slow and noisy ride in a roofless car is charged ten times more than the most ordinary ride in a cab. Isn’t this good marketing practice? I think it could work in Ljubljana, too. I’m already browsing the web to find an old Škoda.
I could drive tourists around Ljubljana on weekends. 60 euros for a 30-minute tour. Let’s say ten tours on Saturdays and ten on Sundays, and I’d earn 1,200 euros per month which means 12,000 euros in ten weekends. This should cover the costs of car maintenance and the driver, shouldn’t it? OK, I admit it’s only a draft business plan, but in my opinion it could work.
Ervinator, my blogging mate, could you come up with 10,000 euros, and we could buy an old Škoda together?
I would hire a student to drive the car, of course; 3 euros per hour and he’d love the job. I just need to find the right car on eBay and a co-investor interested in the project.
I took a photo of this horseman in Budapest, but such statues can be found in almost every city. There are plenty of monuments in the world, and they are mostly there to honor big leaders, and an occasional poet.
Have you ever wondered why monuments never celebrate committees, juries, or any other teams? Why is there always one horse and one horseman, never a whole troop?
The reason is simple. Nothing in the world happens without a true leader. This applies to sports, politics, business… all walks of life. There’s one man and never a team behind each brave deed, behind all progress. Of course, leaders organize and motivate their team, that’s why they’re leaders in the first place – to lead, to show the way, to motivate, to bring out the best in their team.
The situation is similar in sales and marketing. One person should lead a project and the responsibility should lie with them. Wherever the decision-making process is split among many, the decision that’s been made is wrong and usually too late.
Too many cooks spoil the broth.
We drove through the town of Ribnica today and had to stop for a couple of minutes because of road works. My wife noticed an interesting plaque on a house, which said “Insured by Yugoslavia”. It seems insurance companies of the previous century really knew how to advertise their services.
Why is this kind of advertising good?
- Because without a doubt, all the villagers – and an occasional passer-by – notice the plaque.
- Because the neighbors see it.
- Because the neighbors then discuss their insurance policies and their advantages, and support their choice. This is a good example of word-of-mouth.
- Because if one house is insured soon there are going to be more. You know how it goes in Slovenia – if a neighbor did it, I have to do it too.
- Because the plaque says that the house has a good master.
- Because it discourages competitors’ sales representatives (on the other hand, it might invite them, too).
Later I asked my father about the plaque and he said that his father’s house had a similar one, a Vzajemna insurance company plate from before the War. It seems all insurance companies used to do it. The idea itself is nothing special; it’s been used by companies from other industries for quite some time now.
Think about it for a while. You must’ve noticed that almost every inn has its name written on a sign that also advertises beer.