Success Doctor



Magical Marketing Strategies for Creating an Endless Stream of New,
Repeat, and Referral Business

Copyright © 1998 Michel Fortin, Ph.D.



A recently understood segment of marketing is the immense power behind categories. Often, many businesses build their entire marketing strategy around a particular brand and its better benefits, only to have it all go down the drain in the end. Remember the New Coke? In the 80's, Pepsi conducted what they called Take the Pepsi Challenge, or the Pepsi Taste Test. Coke, on the sidelines, saw the results and heard from their own research that a newer, better tasting brand would take the market by storm. Three years later, not only were they forced to reintroduce the older version under the banner Classic Coke, but they also had to eventually wipe the new Coke out. Better is not always better.

In the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Ries and Trout made what I believe to be the most powerful notion ever conceived in the world of business, in that marketing is not a battle of products but a battle of perceptions. My mentor used to tell me that Perceived truth is more powerful than truth itself, and I agree. For instance, a large airline company recently conducted a survey among its passengers in order to perform some marketing research. And to the question, If your food trays were dirty, would you assume that the airline also does poor maintenance on its engines? the answer was, as illogical as it sounds, yes for an overwhelming 86% of participants! Marketing is all about perception.

The greater portion of my business development career has been in cosmetic surgery and medical practices. I often ask doctors this question: Look at the leaders in your field. Are they famous because they're busy, or are they busy because they're famous? For example, a particular hair transplant doctor is one of the first surgeons in Canada to perform this type of surgery and has been instrumental in the popularization of hair transplantation. In addition to the fact that he maintains a portfolio of celebrity patients, he is widely recognized among the public to be the best surgeon there is, and that, whether he is indeed the best or not. However, cosmetic surgery is a matter of artistic ability and not of historicity let alone fame. But you see, when people perceive you to be the best, it is much more powerful than being the best in the first place.

If you have a product or service that is the best or that you perceive as being the best, it may not be a shared perception among your target market. However, whether your product or service is better than your competition or not, if people perceive you as a leader in your field or category, they'll automatically assume that you're the best. People will often say, They must be the best, 'cause they're the leaders! Now, all of this is fine and dandy, but you're probably wondering at this point how in the heck you can accomplish this yourself.

Before I show you how to do that, let me give you an example. If I asked you who was the third person to fly over the Atlantic in a solo flight, many of you are not history buffs and would more than likely be stumped with that one. However, most of you know that Lindbergh was the first person to fly over the Atlantic. Being the first, he comes to mind immediately. So, rather than ask you who was the third person to fly over the Atlantic, if I asked you the same question but rephrased in another way, as in Who was the first woman to fly over the Atlantic in a solo flight? Of course, it's Amelia Earhart.

This is the power of self-appointment. One of my favorite marketing gurus is Dan Kennedy, author of the best-sellers No B.S. Business Success and No B.S. Sales Success. He stresses that You don't need someone else's permission to become successful. When it comes to marketing, he is absolutely right. Many people try to compete and may even get the first commandment down pat, but where they often fail is in creating top-of-mind awareness by drowning their image in a currently known category – or ladder, if you will.

Everybody knows who is the first in some category or another, but rarely do people remember who's second, let alone third. And one of the biggest faults businesspeople have is in attempting to market themselves as a better firm, with a better product or service, at better rates. Let me share with you a secret that might shock you – if I haven't done it already: Nobody cares. Nobody cares if you're the best or #1. NOBODY! Even when people say they have chosen a firm over another because they have a better product, they only think they do and were initially attracted to that particular company for other reasons – probably at a subconscious level – or, in the very least, they will not stay with that firm for long.

People want the best, the newest, the freshest, the leading product or service in any given field. And when I say the best, I don't necessarily mean the best but what people perceive as being the best. So, what do you do in order to produce this effect? If there's no category you can be first in, create one. As Dan Kennedy said, you don't need other people's permission to do that. Creating your very own category is powerful because it is impossible for your competition to copy you.

Look at your background. Look at your clients. Look at your specialty. Are there any awards you and/or your products or services have won? Are there any unique references or endorsements you can obtain from local celebrities or famous clients? Do you or your company possess any special accreditation, certifications, or memberships in specific groups? Are you the first to cater to a specific target market? For example, you might be a travel consultant selling business trips that cater exclusively to financial institutions and brokers. You might market yourself as the first to serve the financially inclined, the world leader in business trips for bankers, we take the risk out of travelling for those who deal with it everyday, or the financier's travel agent. Don't be the best in some category, be the first in one!

Before we go to the next Commandment, I must share with you a small tip that is relevant to both the two first commandments. Do you have what is called an elevator calling card or speech? And if so, does it create instant, top-of-mind awareness? An elevator calling card is what you say when you introduce yourself and it usually includes a sentence or two (30 words or less) that states concisely and effectively who you are and what you do. How do you do that? Think benefits. Why should your clients hire you? Why should they buy from you? Why should they even listen to you? And better still, why should they remember you at all?

When you introduce yourself to people, are you telling them who you are and what you do? If you do, please take this advice: You must stop it right now! I know, I know. You're probably thinking, What? He wants me to stop telling people what I do? But how will they know who I am let alone remember me?

Before we go further, let me explain what I mean. In my seminars, I teach something I call the Ketchup Principle. Let's say you've just met a salesperson and, after introducing himself, gives you a presentation. He is dressed absolutely impeccably, gave a perfect spiel, and conducted a more than perfect meeting with you. But all throughout the encounter, you couldn't stop but notice that he had a little spot on his tie, a little ketchup stain if you will. Two weeks later, however, if I would ask you, What do you remember most about your meeting with this man? More than likely, the first thing that would pop into your mind is – yup, you guessed it – the ketchup stain! Now, as the old saying goes, You never get a second chance to make a first impression! This applies even to the simplest of things, such as names. How often have you met people only to forget their names only moments later? So, the bottom-line is for you or your firm to stick in the minds of the people you've just met. Again, it is not so much that you need to persuade this potential client (or potential referral of clients) to do business with you. The trick is to have you in your prospects' consciousness at all times.

Therefore, when you introduce yourself, use your unique name and tagline, as well as the benefits of the results you provide, and not just what you do or the name of the firm you work for. For instance, don't say, My name is Mike Fortin. I do consulting work or I am a marketing consultant. Rather, say, My name is Mike Fortin, the Success Doctor. I help businesses create endless streams of new, repeat, and referral business. (By the way, that's my elevator speech!)

Not only will it arouse interest but it will also make your name stick in their minds, which is what you really want. That person will either remember you when needing what you have to offer, refer you to others when the opportunity presents itself, or talk about you openly, especially when people that person knows bring up the subject. That's the power of what I call Crazy Glue for the Mind!

Here are some other examples. If you're a computer consultant specializing in network solutions, don't say, My name is Elaine Wilson. I am a computer consultant specializing in local and wide area networks. Instead, say, My name is Elaine Wilson of Network Magic. I am a consultant helping corporations improve their operational efficiency and bottom-line profits by solving their computer network headaches. Don't say, My name is Jack Vidoli, and I am a management consultant specializing in accounting processes. Rather, say, My name is Jack Vidoli of A Knack with Knumbers. I specialize in helping firms save time, effort, and money by simplifying their accounting systems. Now, do you see the difference?

This in itself puts you in a whole different category, but I must stress the importance of being the leader in a category and using it in all your communications, especially when giving your elevator speech. If you're not the first in some category or another, be the first in one you've created.

The Power of Words to Increase Sales

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