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Santa, Christmas Selling & The Most Valuable Gift

Friday, December 23, 2022

Santa, Christmas Selling & The Most Valuable Gift

SANTA CLAUS has done his share to boost brands and sell every imaginable product, as a star of stage, screen, shopping malls and advertising. He first appeared in ads in 1840, and the most commonly depicted Santa --- red suit, black boots, big white beard – was created in 1863 by cartoonist Thomas Nast for ads. In an ad I found from 1952 for the Roadmaster bicycle, it only slightly pre-dated the year I got mine for Christmas. Made in Cleveland just like me.

It consistently astounds me that more businesses don’t use Santa as their spokesperson/salesman during the season. He’s the most famous and beloved celebrity of it that can be used for blatant commercial purposes, free. You might make a note and start a file for next year.

As an aside, in watching TV I found myself landing on QVC, and thought about my last interaction with them around last Christmas season. Last time I truly watched them, they had four hours of Christmas decorations. And guess what I discovered: some company has perfected battery-operated outdoor decorations! Huge wreaths, trees, what have you, full of little lights that flash, set to timers to come on and off automatically, and look ma, no cords. One set of batteries lasts from Thanksgiving to New Years. Who knew? Maybe you. Not me.

Bang, $418.00. I hadn’t ordered anything from QVC in 3 years, but with name and phone number, zap, up came my entire record including all three ship to addresses, billing address. I’d jotted down an item number wrong; no problem; given the hour I’d seen the item, she found it in less than two minutes. Without being asked, told me the item was in stock. She was pleasant, efficient. I bought five items from them faster than I can get through the check- out line at a Walgreens.

QVC is a living, breathing, dynamic demonstration of selling done right, though, and if you don’t at least occasionally watch, you’re skipping out on a free seminar. There’s a formula to what they do. It is moveable.

I have two points. One, people so love to buy so much that there is an entire TV channel with no programming other than products they can buy shown, demonstrated, talked about, callers calling in to talk about; a non-stop Tupperware® party for millions, and were it Nielsen rated, it would be #1 in ratings much of the time. Anytime you start thinking consumers have lost their love of buying – and being sold to, you’re wrong – tune in and count the numbers of each item sold per minute, multiply it by the dollars of each item. It’s all there on the screen. If your own customers aren’t buying and loving it, maybe it’s ‘cuz you aren’t creating the right environment for them or offering an entertaining enough buying experience or bringing them products and services they really want – or missing on all three.

Two, QVC’s buyers tune in pre-determined to find something to buy. That comes right from the home-party business of which QVC is derivative. People go to home-parties pre-determined to buy something. Mail-order catalogs get close to this: people page through an entire catalog devoid of content but for things to buy, to see if there’s anything they want to buy. Put together properly, the gifts tied to size of order and order form send them back through the catalog a second time, if they find one thing to buy, in more dogged search for a second thing.

Most businesses have the opposite selling situation: they have prospects coming to them, meeting with them trying not to buy. And most make no attempt to alter this, instead relying purely on playing a numbers game and/or brute force selling overcoming resistance. A lot of people in my world of infomarketing, for example, insist on drawing people to tele-seminars, webinars or events to learn and then, at some point, switching to a commercial; same with live seminars – for years, I’ve gotten clients to invite people to calls expressly about a product, service or to “preview” an event, for the purpose of deciding whether or not to buy it. To bring potential buyers to a ‘discovery day,’ already knowing all about the thing, its price, and there to buy. In the investment real estate business, I had a client who – every Wednesday night – put on the equivalent of a Tupperware® party in a remodelled store; 100 to 250 people there to buy properties; he on stage, presenting 30 or so properties. No ‘seminar subterfuge.’ These days, anybody can run their own QVC online, for their invited customers, pretty easily.

A lot of people have a lot of fear about blatantly inviting people to a sales event. Wonder why? They may not admit being afraid to themselves or others. But their behavior says they are. I grew up in a business where everything was about blatantly inviting (and often dragging) people to a sales event: the opportunity meeting or recruiting meeting. They knew they were coming to be sold. In one company, they were told to bring $5,000.00 with them so they could buy if they chose to – and ideally, to bring it in cash. This was a concept I got comfortable with before I turned 18. Others are not so fortunate. It is foreign and uncomfortable and intimidating to them. Make no mistake: it’s about YOU, not the customers.

In a broader contest, this is about three things: (1) access to buyers, (2) marketing and sales skills you have justifiable confidence in (not empty ‘positive thinking’), and (3) guts. What I call ‘the brass balls factor’ separates winners from losers as much or more than any other factor.

The second item is something we obviously work on here. Month to month, strengthening your skills, in all the ways that skills can be strengthened: awareness of new/better methods, instruction, demonstration and example, repetition, and direction to resources and tools. If you are not very deliberately and actively invested and involved in strengthening your skills month to month, by the way, please don’t expect your income to grow month to month either. Such wish is not only unreasonable, it’s unethical. It’s a way of trying to scam the universe: I’m not worth any more than I have been, but I’m still going to try and take more money from you. The universe’ll kick you in the balls when it catches you trying to pull that one. It accurately views you as thief.

The first one (access to buyers) can be helped by being here as well. You will be taught and harangued about list-building and relationship-building, the need for herd and fence around your herd; of putting yourself in the ‘income at will position’ so that you can ‘send the bill to the herd.’ But that third thing. Santa really can’t drop down the chimney and leave that under your tree. That’s a gift only you can give you.

THE GIFT OF INDEPENDENT THINKING. All other beasts operate 80%, 90%, even 99% on instinct and narrow, pre-programmed responses to stimuli, and have little inherent ability for rational thought, and little opportunity to develop it or utilize it. The Million Dollar Dog has a fairly accurate clock in her head but only has opportunities to use it by coming and nagging at meal times to be fed, and coming to fetch me if I haven’t emerged from my basement office by 5:00 PM.

Uniquely we humans are very different, yet most squander the difference by behaving like dumb animals. Easily provoked by stimuli. Operating superficially. Matters raised here, in this Letter, for example, are summarily rejected by most rather than thought carefully about, in the same way the Dog rejects offer to go out on the back deck on a cold, rainy autumn day. Fine for her; she has no need or incentive to do so. We have needs only we can address by initiative and incentives for using our ability to think, sometimes leading us to going out on a cold, rainy day for good reasons. Acceptance of anything you are told or of your first knee-jerk reaction to it without obtaining information to support reasoned thinking about it makes you a dumb dog.

If you won’t utilize the gift of your brain and its ability to reason, you might as well waste the gift of upright mobility too, and crawl around on all fours – never risking an injury by falling. It’s easier.

In consulting, I strive to restrain myself from telling somebody what to think, instead presenting pros and cons and facts of different scenarios and challenging them to navigate them by their minds. It would be easier to do the former. It’s more complicated to do the latter. No one trying to relieve you of the inconvenience and difficulty of doing your own thinking is without an agenda. Ever. And rarely is their agenda your best interest, except by rare coincidence. THINK! REASON!

FROM CARLA & I: Happy Christmas Season and End of Year. Happy New Year, but a couple handfuls of days away. We Celebrate You! And gratefully thank you for being here.

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