Sunday, May 11, 2008

Secrets of Successful Events

Events are a powerful promotional strategy that can be utilized to heighten brand awareness, drive traffic, and close deals.

Events can be utilized by a business, company or organization to bring its brand to life with the purpose of demonstrating product- or service- offerings to consumers who are likely to subscribe, purchase, lease, vote, apply, advocate or influence. The goal of a properly planned event is to attract targeted consumers to the desired venue at a particular point in time and funnel them into the sales pipeline.

Event planning is time consuming and many marketers focus most of their time on event ideas that will entertain, excite or educate consumers. Remember, a productive event is one that drives sales. Even the most well executed event that attracts hundreds of visitors is a failure if it does not create consumer activity, or at a minimum, raise awareness among the target consumer group’s opinion leaders and influencers. Therefore, it is imperative that the event attract the right people.

To be successful you have to:
Get your target market’s attention by generating excitement.
Give them a call to action with an attention grabbing offer.
Create a lasting impression to build your brand with effective collateral material.)

Later this month, Kirkwood will publish a booklet, Secrets of Successful Events, that details the top ten secrets to planning successful marketing events. The printed version of the full-color booklet comes with a Budget Calculator that will enable event planners to develop and execute a successful event within the confines of a budget. Readers will also learn ways to offset expenses and generate income with Joint Marketing partnerships.

To reserve a free e-booklet in PDF format or to pre-order a printed full-color booklet with Budget Calculator, send an email to

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Getting Butts in the Barstools

The number one question I hear from developers is: How can I convert browsers into buyers? Last week, a client simply said, "Let's get butts in the barstools!"

In order to convert qualified purchasers, a development needs a straightforward sales process, an understandable pricing plan, and a defensible market position. However, a prospect needs one more thing in order to buy--'a sense of urgency.' In this blog, I will explain the first three prerequisites to securing a sale, and I will explain how to create the magic that you'll need to seal the deal.

1) A straightforward sales process
Establish goals for a each prospect visit. Visit #1: Obtain prospect's contact information, Identify their motivations for moving, Present community concept, Tour model(s), Identify a reason for Visit #2. I have found a great soft close to be: 'Are you interested in learning about our Reservation Process?" If not, offer to tuck a Written Reservation Policy into their marketing package for later reference. Sometimes, all that is needed to move a sale forward is the next step in clear sight.

2) An understandable pricing plan
Prospects need to be able to understand the pricing schedule. Are corner units more expensive? Why? Are upper floors more expensive? Why? Are there any 'values' created by this pricing strategy? If several levels of finishes or interior packages are offered, purchasers need to understand what is included in each package with a firm price attached. If it can be helped, do not approach every sale as a custom unit that requires backroom pricing. Transparency is key to earning the trust of the prospect and to moving the prospect forward in the sales cycle.

3) A defensible market position
Know your competition's strengths and weaknesses as well as you know your own product's. It is important to stay up to date with the competition's latest incentives, amenities, and standard specifications. When you have this information, you will be able to identify how your product can help the prospect attain their goals, while respecting their budgets. When you show a prospect how your product compares with the competition, you save your prospect hours of homework. Most importantly, you clear confusion that keeps a sale at bay.

4) A sense of urgency
Why should your prospect buy right now? If you can't answer this question, then I guarantee you that your prospect will not take action. Prospects need to feel like people first, and customers second. Make a prospect want to visit you, to interact with the product, to learn more. Become a problem-solver and a solution-finder. Extend a special offer in writing to your prospect such as 'one free Asko washer & dryer installed side by side in master laundry room' with purchase agreement dated on or before April 20, 2008. Sign it. When you find ways to keep open dialog with a group of prospects, you will find that you have created your own momentum. And, multiple offers definitely increases a buyer's sense of urgency, don't you think!

Friday, April 4, 2008

PR Strategies Before Groundbreaking

Marketers and public relations professionals need long-term communication programs that facilitate the public's acceptance of a project and lay the groundwork for future sales. So, what do you do during the months and possibly years between Project Announcement and Final Approval?

Here are 6 Ideas on how to Stay Connected While Moving Your Project Forward

1) Create and launch a three page website the day the project is announced. Include Home, FAQ, and Contact Us. Respond to every incoming inquiry.

2) Before entering the public approval process, identify stakeholders including neighborhood organizations, local business or merchants associations, universities, schools, and non-profits who will have an opinion about your project.

3) Make personal contact with each stakeholder group. Meet to discuss how your project may assist the organization achieve their goals. With some, you will agree to disagree. With others, you will discover powerful alliances, and opportunities for support.

4) During project approvals, create a blog where neighbors, business owners, citizens and stakeholders can express their opinions. Cross link to website. Add the blog address on all correspondence.

5) Stay connected. Read the local newspaper--both printed and online versions, and associated blogs, if any. Respond to any inaccuracies by writing a factual letter to the editor.

6) Would the perfect project please stand up? Admit the shortcomings of your project, while emphasizing the strengths. Explain how your project will benefit the community as a whole, even if it displeases a select few.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Are the Benefits worth Paying for?

When developing a new product or service, are you product- or customer-focused? If you are product-focused, you will devote time to tweaking and refining the product so it works, can be manufactured cost effectively, and outperforms its competitors. If you are customer-focused, you will think about who will use the product, how the user will interact with your product, and what problems the product will solve.

There are hundreds of gadgets or service programs available in the marketplace. The true measure of success for a new product launch is: Does it sell? The only way a product or service will sell is if it benefits the user in concrete, measurable ways and if the product's pricing can be justified. That is, the price needs to make sense to the purchaser, considering what she is gaining, and what she is giving up.

I've been thinking about what a new condominium elevator building is truly selling. On the face, these condominiums offer purchasers the opportunity to:
  • Simplify their lifestyle (buyers want to start over, often after a life change) Benefit = Fresh Start without old baggage
  • Downsize (buyers want to avoid lawn maintenance & house chores) Benefit = Less Work and Worry
  • Freely travel (buyers can lock up and leave) Benefit = Freedom

Now, I translate these opportunities into measurable lifestyle benefits:

  • For the Simplifier, the old choice had a monthly cost (principal + interest + property taxes + insurance) which was paid to the bank; there was also an emotional cost associated with it. Ask, 'How much does a Fresh Start cost?'
  • For the Downsizer, home maintenance costs time, money, and effort--either the effort to do the work, or the effort to manage the household. Again, the cost is measured financially and emotionally.
  • For the Traveler, the old choice (probably a single family residence) hindered the owner's ability to travel or visit family and friends. This is an opportunity cost that is difficult to measure. Freedom is priceless!

During the product development phase, it is important to keep customer-focused. With Customer Driven Design, a product evolves as a response to a stated or silent customer need. As marketers, it is our job to discover what really makes our customers tick. What really matters to them. When we understand this, and the value they attach to these issues, we are able to create solutions that enhance lives.

Have you discovered a silent customer need? In what ways have your products or services enhanced lives? Share it on the blog!

Monday, March 31, 2008

What is New Marketing?

I am reading David Meerman Scott's book, 'The New Rules for Marketing & Public Relations.' This book has made me stop and think about how marketing and public relations has changed over time. Certainly, podcasting and blogging are new ways to communicate.

Meerman Scott argues that these new methods have changed the 'rules' for marketing. I disagree. I believe that new media provides new opportunities to reach consumers and opinion leaders directly, but the rules of marketing are the same. To be truly effective, one must know who one is communicating with, and provide messaging that resonates with that person. Mass messaging does not work. A diluted message that is meant to speak to everyone, speaks to no one.

One way to bring a niche consumer group to life is to create a lifestyle board. Before you get artsy, you'll need to gather baseline data. Utilizing internal customer information, or your team's best guesstimates, create a Profile for each target consumer group including age range, income, ethnicity, and home ownership status.

Then, pull psychographic profiles from online sources such as You will then be able to add interesting details such as: drives luxury automobile, frequents Macaroni Grill, golfs weekly, travels internationally, or eats fast food.

Using the information above, identify magazines that cater to your target consumer group. Go to a newstand and purchase several of these magazines. Read the articles to find out what matters to them. Cut out captivating photographs, visuals, and words. Create a collage for each target consumer group and mount to foamcore. This tool will be very useful when you need to write copy, or decide upon a delivery method for your message.