Another characteristic of old, outdated, traditional media. . . Accuracy.

May 2017

Recently, all the rage is over the abundance of information readily available online via internet searches, social media. e mail blasts, and on and on.  There are dozens, and probably even hundreds of different outlets to promote business offerings through new digital media, and it is exciting.  We have have new methods to instantly reach out and communicate with our customers while sitting  in the recliner sipping morning coffee, or sitting poolside on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  These ways to advertise seem to have captivated the minds of many business owners trying to reach potential customers.

Here’s the rub, on line out reach is  great, but a very high percentage of the information distributed through those media is wrong or outdated.  In many cases, nobody polices it or updates it.  Just last week,  I came across a local online directory of sorts that serves the same market that I’m trying to eke out a living in.  Out of 42 business names on the list that met the search criteria, 9 were out of business, the names had changed, or other information was wrong.  That’s over 20% inaccurate.  You would never tolerate a traditional broadcast media running one out of every five commercials wrong, and we would never think to even try such a thing.

On another occasion, earlier this year,  I found a listing in the on line phone directory for a gentleman that had passed away in 1985.  The odd thing there is, not only had it not been updated, but somebody actually would have entered that outdated data at some point in time after his death, since the internet wasn’t around in the mid eighties.  Although,  it was accurate in a sense, in that they had him listed as being 117 years old.    My guess is, a reverse search of the address listed where the guy once lived, say if you were looking to buy a house, might prove to be just as unfruitful.

No doubt you have already searched a topic and started reading a post, blog an article, only to discover later on that it was like ten years old.  Finding accurate, current information can be challenging sometimes to say the least, and this is among publishers with good intentions.  We’re not talking here about folks who write stuff designed to amuse or deceive.  Don’t believe me?  Search your favorite pro team’s schedule.  You’ll get the current year, along with links to old website pages that are still live  with schedules from previous years.  Some of the sites are even reputable ones that you recognize, so it’s very easy to start planning a day trip to go to the stadium and catch a certain game, only to realize you were viewing a 2013 schedule and didn’t look close enough.  Because information seems to never go away after it’s pertinent, and continues to appear in searches, online marketers put the burden on the user to decipher what is valid, and what is not.  By comparison, broadcasters can get into big trouble if they knowing deceive their audience.

Traditional  electronic media that are licensed by the federal government have a much higher standard of accuracy and accountability, and people expect that of their radio and television stations.  Consumers  assume that if it is on the air, it’s true, and by and large, it is.  Nobody has to worry about 20% of the morning or evening news stories on any major media being wrong or outdated, or a fifth of the commercials aired during those  newscasts  promoting products and services that don’t exist anymore. It doesn’t happen.  People depend on what they see and hear from traditional mass media outlets. Even the Yellow Pages in the old days would update their phone book each year.  While somewhat obsolete, the information contained in the old school phone books was virtually guaranteed to be true and accurate.  Not so with their new newfangled reincarnated cyber versions of themselves.

 

When formulating where to invest ad dollars, and I am totally in favor of including new media in your advertising mix, but you have to weigh the value of being involved with a media that is 100% accurate and dependable, versus one that has to be checked and verified for accuracy.  It’s kind of like the quality versus quantity thing.  Both media are good, so long as you buy it right, and know what you are getting.  It’s certainly still worth something to be included among other outdated or false listings,  but there are some real draw backs.  For one, you are depending on the consumer to sift through the info and eventually make a correct buying decision about your business, and you don’t have control over that.

Mark Peterson is available for business performance/marketing consultation.  For an appointment. call 724-846-4100.

 

 

 

 

 

Shut up and lick the Stamps . . .

What good does it do to complain?

As near as I can tell, nobody ever got rich by complaining. Recently at a trip to the post office, I became agitated myself at the counter worker’s constant complaining and bad mouthing his employer, the U.S. Postal Service. Granted, it was the holiday season, and it did appear like he was short handed, but still, what good can possibly come out of complaining? Not only was his situation not going to be rectified, but he was speaking to people, who at best didn’t care about his situation and at worse, could potentially call this boss and create a real problem for him. He was complaining to the very people who write his paycheck, the postal customer.

There are many issues going on here that need to be addressed:

  1. Negativity doesn’t sell. If the post office had a competitor for regular mail, this branch would be in danger of chasing it’s customers away. People like to shop in an inviting friendly environment.
  2. Input is great, but talk to someone who can help. If there are problems with your system, speak to the ones who have the power to change it. Everything else is just gossip.
  3. Don’t hire bad apples. In his tirade to a previous customer in line, the postal worker commented that he was supposed to have gotten his lunch an hour ago, and that’s exactly why he had quit his previous job, at another area post office. Stating that “They pulled the same crap.” Seems to me, a little checking up on the guy, especially since he was in the same company already, would have revealed his shortcomings in this area.
  4. Don’t forget why you are there. Companies make money, and workers get paid when the cash register rings. Disturbing the cash flow pipeline for any reason is not only selfish, but downright malicious, and stupid for that matter.
  5. Go help. There were other workers in the back of that post office, and I assume a supervisor among them, who were letting this guy fail. If need be, get out there in the front line and save the day. Don’t wait to react when you get a negative phone call, or forgive the pun, letter mailed from a customer to you.
  6. Take action. If need be, get rid of the cancer in your sales force. Today his lunch was late, tomorrow, he will need to leave early for a court hearing, next week, his equipment won’t work right and on and on. Tough action and short term pain have long term benefit. Don’t be a coward and tolerate sub par and damaging behavior.

Do people believe what they are told? You bet.

And the more they are told something, the more they begin to believe it as being absolute fact, regardless of whether or not they have first hand knowledge or observation.

This was played out before our very eyes and ears during this past month’s primary elections in Beaver County, PA. Don’t get nervous, this column isn’t about politics, or the candidates themselves, but observations about how perceptions about the candidates drive voter’s decisions. As many of you know, there were at least a couple of county wide races that ended with surprising results. Underdogs and newcomers defeated long time incumbents.

How did this happen? Simple. They asked and convinced people to vote a certain way be promoting an idea, or agenda that got traction. Now, where have we heard those concepts before . . . hmmmmm. Much like any business, or event promotion, a few basic advertising truths prevailed:

  1. The message was repeated over and over to a specific group. In this case, voters from the same party. In your case, it’s the age group and lifestyle of your most likely buyers.
  2. The message was believable. Voters rarely do their own research, just the same as your buyers having to depend on you to provide the information about why to buy from you.
  3. The messages were spread to other voters through word of mouth. Just like when you create and sell a product, your buyers will share good or bad experiences with other potential customers.
  4. The messages contained specific information about advantages to be gained for the voter. Much like your commercials should explain your certain unique selling proposition.
  5. No means of promotion is overlooked, including the good old fashioned direct person to person solicitation. Politicians have known for years that winning requires a completely exhaustive effort. How much more could and should you be doing right now to achieve the same level of familiarity and saturation about what you do? Every event, every community gathering, every opportunity to talk to others is a platform for you to promote what you have for sale.
  6. No one method of reaching the voter or consumer is sufficient. People have five senses to gather information, and candidates running for office tend to do a pretty good job of sending material to all five through different media and personal interaction. You too, should use everything at your disposal to create an impression about your business.
  7. There was a call to action. Finally, a deadline was communicated. Quite simply to vote on election day May 19, 2015. Always make sure your offerings ask for action. Ask your customers to buy, and tell them, when, where and what you want them to do.

Maybe our elected officials have already helped us in ways that they didn’t even imagine! It’s time to use their example and start a campaign of your own., an advertising campaign designed to create a perception that what you sell has better value than your competitors.