A Tale of Two Word Videos

For his current effort (editor's note: is album the appropriate word here?), Weird Al Yankovic posted eight videos in eight days. Two of these posts covered word use, but only one seems to have resonated with viewers.

In Word Crimes, which uses Blurred Lines for its notes, Yankovic reviews several grammar mistakes. Stan Carey, among other bloggers, responded with criticisms of the grammar mistakes mentioned in the video. According to YouTube, the Word Crimes video has been seen 12.5 million times.

In Mission Statement, which probably uses a Crosby, Stills, and Nash song for its notes, Yankovic roughly sings a song comprised of nothing more than corporate jargon, clichés, and other nonsense. This song appears far more powerful in pointing out the ever-increasing amount of empty phrases included by, well, nearly everyone. This video, not surprisingly, has garnered only 712,000 views.

At least two explanations could exist for the disparity in views. One, copy editors, journalists, and writers are more likely on Twitter. These people pushed the video on other social media platforms. Nearly two weeks since Word Crimes was posted, the hashtag reached 91,075 unique Twitter accounts. This reach remains impressive. Conversely, Mission Statement lacked an associated hashtag.

Two, most people use at least one of those phrases derided and dismissed in Mission Statement. People, as a general rule, do not appreciate even gently teasing of their integration of corporate speak into general vocabulary.

It is too bad that Mission Statement failed to garner more views because it marks a more creative effort in terms of both words and image.

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Mission Statement video

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Word Crimes video

Mavs Owner Says Major in Sales

In a recent blog post, Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban offered his thoughts on sports management as a major and as a vocation. The money thought:

Everyone majors in sports marketing. There is no more worthless major. Every school seems to have a major in sports management. Why do the schools and kids think that across the tens of thousands of graduates from these programs there is going to be a job than even comes close to paying off their student loans. Do the math.

Lets say there are 120 top pro teams. This article (sic) says there are about 12k sports marketing grads each year. The competition for jobs at pro teams is so brutal that we don’t have to pay much. Yet schools keep signing up kids. If schools want to have any value to sports teams they should offer degrees in Sales. (sic)  Not sports sales. Just sales. Teach kids to sell and they can get jobs anywhere anytime. Teach kids sports management and you improve their chances of getting a job at Fridays.

Cuban makes a good point. Indeed, he made the same point in his book.

I do agree with his point about selling as a skill that can be used for the duration of a career. Regardless of career arc or vocation, the skills associated with selling, if learned and honed, will prove to be invaluable.

Uncle Mark says major in sales, kids.

For a Twist on a Customer Acquisition Model

In several courses, I have introduced and discussed the idea of (a) a logic model, and (b) a twist on the attribution model. I am still working through this idea, but feel it is formed enough to warrant a post. The logic model offers a simple and graphical approach to showing behavior because the marketing manager can move the customer through a purchasing process where the outcome requires some sort of measurable value. These outcomes could include:

  • Purchase
  • Completing a form
  • Downloading an app
  • Reading a white paper
  • Watching a demonstration vidcast
  • Participating in a webinar

These outcomes should provide some measurable value. As to the exact value - except purchase - I am leaving for a different entry and discussion. For now, I am focusing on purchase.

A logic model requires probabilities of outcome behaviors, or customer actions. The probabilities can be developed from prior efforts. For example, to develop probabilities for a an email campaign logic model, the marketing manager should examine ratios, or probabilities, from previous email campaign. From the prior effort, the probabilities for opening the email, clicking the link to the website, and making the purchase could be determined.

Next, I add a layer of complexity to the logic model by incorporating only direct revenue and costs of the campaign. I attribute the campaign cost only to those customers who purchase as a result of the campaign. I treat the remaining amount of campaign cost as residual, or waste in a pejorative sense of the word.

I calculate a net marketing contribution for the campaign by subtracting cost of goods sold, or cost of merchandise sold, and the attributable campaign cost from the attributable sales revenue. With this figure, I can determine the marketing ROS and the marketing ROI, or ROMI, for this campaign. These figures are preferable because I am only considering the customers who purchased and not the customers who exhibited all behaviors except purchase.

At this point, the effort remains incomplete. Instead of an exact amount for purchase, a better model would use a confidence interval. Similarly, a better model would report a power value to determine the probability of a type II error would occur. Hence, the model could be testable. That is, a research or analyst could compare expected to actual with a t-value.

Revised Reading List for Sales

For MKTG4990 students, your reading list for Wednesday, Jan. 29, and Monday, Feb. 3, is available.

  • Wednesday, Jan. 29
    Ending the War Between Sales & Marketing
    From Sales Obsession to Marketing Effectiveness
    Making the Major Sale
    What Makes a Good Salesman
  • Monday, Feb. 3
    A General Theory of Marketing Ethics
    The General Theory of Marketing Ethics
    Why Good Managers Make Bad Ethical Choices
    Chapter 5 from your textbook
  • Except for Chapter 5, and Hunt and Vitell (1986), all articles are available by clicking on "Readings" link that appears under the "MKTG4900" heading in the right menu.

    You should expect a quiz on both dates that covers all readings.

Prompt to Bring Planners

For MKTG4100 and MKTG4990 students, please bring your paper planners for class on Monday, Jan. 27. For MKTG3100 students, please bring your paper planners for class on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

 We will add all due dates, and discuss all assignments. Remember, you want to be time rich, working from a position of strength, and not time poor, working from a position of panic. Look ahead, but take it one day at a time.

A Good Impression Kit

The sales kit contains needed information for a sales representative to conduct a meeting with a client. It could carry business cards, a planner, samples, contracts, a file with background information on the client, and other materials related to the client and the meeting. In this vein, the sales kit becomes part of the sales representative effort in impression management. This observation serves as context for a response to a wonderful question in relation to the project for the Sales course.

A student asks:

I sold advertising space for my high school yearbook and did not need a sales kit. Won't a prospective advertiser be turned off if I start a meeting with a sales kit?

After spending some considerable time thinking about the question, I offer some thoughts related to this question starting with the question and then considering the observation.

  1. Regardless of product and situation, you need a kit. The contents of the kit will change but the need will not. A successful sales representative always carries her kit because she is prepared to meet with a client.
  2. You will impress your client with the contents, and organization of your kit. Your kit signals to the client that you are ready for this meeting.
  3. You are a detail-oriented person. Given the previous point, your client will most likely take notice of your level of detail. You are a sales representative who can be trusted to cross Ts and dot Is.

Ultimately, your sales kit reflects who you are. It signals that you are a professional and are prepared for this meeting.

As to the observation, I offer this thought. Many businesses, especially in smaller towns, will reserve promotion dollars for these type of requests. These businesses are not buying advertising. They are engendering civic pride.

In my retail management course, students wrestled with a similar request. The students, though, considered it from the perspective of the business (i.e., the client) and not the student (i.e., the seller). A few students turned down the request. Of those students who did agree to purchase some amount of promotional activity, all wondered about the value of the promotional activity.

Without a sales representative (along with his or her complete sales kit) to communicate the value of this opportunity, many businesses (i.e., clients) did not spend as much as they could have. That is, dollars were left on the table.

Preaching the Benefit and not the Feature

My name is Dr. Michael Levin. I am in my fifth year at Otterbein. During my second year, I realized that my courses needed to move from the 3-exam-and-project format to a student-centered, student-focused learning experience where content knowledge is applied immediately. Admitting you have a problem is the first step. Finding a solution is another matter.

At the next conference, I stopped at every booth and table to talk with sales representatives from various simulation, textbook, and software companies. Interpretive's Clayton Shumate (and later Tim Sams) stuck out in the crowded room because Clayton explained why his product could help me and my students.

For example, when showing the report screen, Clayton said that students could check their results, and share this information with their group members without waiting for the next class meeting or for the professor to distribute the results. Hence, students remained in control of their performance.

YES! I wanted to scream each time Clayton explained each benefit.

After the conference, Tim followed up with me and, gently but firmly, asked to provide a Webex demonstration. Tim's maintained the benefit, not the feature approach throughout the demonstration. I was excited as Tim walked me through their solution for faculty looking for a student-centered, student-focused learning experience.

I agreed to incorporate their simulations into two courses that I taught. The students, however, completed the sale by purchasing the license from Interpretive.

Tim or Clayton continue to preach the benefits of Interpretive's simulations to rapt faculty at conferences, converting more to become Interpretive faithful.

Clayton (left; not pictured) preaches to faculty (pictured) about Interpretive's benefits

Training Genius Sales Representatives

A recently leaked document discusses how Apple trains its Genius and other store personnel. While some outlets focused on the terminology from this manual, the empathy portion should draw interest from, retail managers and sales representatives alike. Gizmodo provides the money overcoming of objection quote:

Customer: This Mac is just too expensive.
Genius: I can see how you'd feel this way. I felt the price was a little high, but I found it's a real value because of all the built-in software and capabilities.

This technique remains a solid approach to overcoming a customer's objection. Apple's attempt to overcome the objection is not revolutionary or the sign of the apocalypse. However, the company's use signals that their floor employees engage in a lot more selling activity and process than most people would allow.

Perhaps this emphasis on sales technique rather than store design could explain Apple's stunning retailing success. If that's the case, then former Apple retail chief and current CEO at J.C. Penny, Ron Johnson needs to emphasize more role-playing activities among floor personnel and less merchandise layout.

iOvercome - How I handle iObjections