Saturday, April 19, 2008

Persuasion—a Powerful Tool

Without the ability to persuade people to agree with your ideas and propositions, your attempts to influence others will be ineffective and your success will be unpredictable. In order to get the end result you desire from a given situation, seek to further your knowledge of the art of persuasion. Whether you want to influence others in business or personal matters, the power to persuade is the most important tool you can add to your arsenal.

In my many years in the sales profession, I have observed human behavior, a subject that fascinates me greatly. I learned that a deep understanding of people’s motivations is the most powerful tool anyone can use to persuade others. My experiences so far have led me to record and document a process that has created repeatable and predictable success for people who desire to get YES.

Take the following example: I recently helped a colleague create some promotional material for a community organization that she runs. In need of funds, she had decided to approach local store owners for donations, so she showed me the first draft of her pamphlet.

She had created an impressive flyer that spoke about the organization, its purpose, its achievements, and its future plans. I could see that a great deal of work had gone into informing prospects of the organization’s background as well as other formal information. It was detailed and well organized, but it was completely ineffective in terms of persuasion power.

My colleague wrote the document from her point of view. She focused on issues that were important to her and paid little attention to the fact that the business owners she planned to approach may not share her interest. In the dangerous fashion of those who do not consider their customer, she had created something that many of them would never even read all the way through.

A mental shift was necessary in order to create a persuasive pamphlet that would inspire local business owners to answer her call to action. As one example, instead of beginning the pamphlet with a call for contribution, she would have been more effective by opening with a paragraph that included a benefit statement.

Evaluate these two opening statements:

1) “Contribute and Help Support the Arts in your Local Community.” 2) “ Become Known in your Community as a Generous Supporter of the Arts.”

The first statement is a plain request for contribution; the second clearly leads with a benefit to potential contributors...esteem, recognition and reputation. One is far more persuasive than the other.

When you consider the first statement, it may seem obvious that contributing to a local community organization will have all of the great effects promised in the second statement. Naturally, everyone knows that when a business sponsors a community organization it will automatically be given a prestigious standing as a local contributor, a good reputation for “giving back,” and a favorable opinion in the minds of local patrons. However, leaving this information to be intuitively figured out by the prospect is a big mistake.

What if your prospect does not figure it out? What if your prospect does not make the connection? Within your proposition, your prospect is looking for benefits; things he or she will get out of performing the action you are proposing.

When your prospect makes a final decision, it will be based mostly on his or her perception of these benefits. The only way you can be certain that all the benefits you feel your proposition offers are taken into consideration is if you clearly explain these benefits instead of hoping that the prospect will simply understand them.

Try this exercise to help you construct a more persuasive proposition.

  • Plan out what you will say as you present your product, service, idea, request etc.
  • Visualize yourself having a conversation with the prospect about your proposition.
  • Every time you make a point, picture your prospect asking the question, “Why would I want that?”

  • Doing this exercise, you should come up with answers that directly reflect what the prospect will gain from agreeing to your proposition.

    Remember, in trying to persuade, your prospects are always wondering how your proposition will serve them. Approach your prospects by clearly communicating what is in it for them; this is more likely to heighten interest in your proposal and improve your chances of getting a “yes”.

    About The Author:
    Alvin Day is a guest writer on Pavansut. After 27 years leading Fortune 500 companies to earn millions of dollars, Alvin Day now simplifies the success principles to help people achieve and prosper in business and job. Get his free eBook, Ask and You Shall Receive -- visit this website:

    Read More Articles from Alvin Day:Alvin Day's Articles on alvinday4free.comArticle Source: thePhantomWriters Article Submission Service

    Umbrella Branding

    Martin Lindstrom has a nice story about Brands and sub brands on Ad Age wite. Check it out here. Moral of his story is that if one is creating a brand family, it benefits the family if there is some link between the mother brand and the baby brands. He gives examples of the iXXXXX brand names adopted by Apple.

    While this can be positive in most cases, there can be a downside to umbrella brandin. For instance, an ill advised product launch with a connected name can end up tainting all the other connected brands.

    Friday, April 11, 2008

    Flood of Ideas - Starbucks

    Whoa! Did you see that? If you haven't its worth the trip to the MyStarbucksIdea website. They have received a flood of great ideas from customers. Most of course are simple requests for improvement of service, but some are great! I especially like the one about a round condiment center with a refrigerated well for cream and milk. Now, this idea is so worth while I am surprised no one came up with it before - I mean, no supplier of furniture to Starbucks came up with it before.

    But thats the thing about tapping into your customer insight. Let the customer tell you what they want, and help them make your service better.

    Kudos to Starbucks for doing this. The flood of ideas is an indication of the power of Starbucks brand. Their customers want them to succeed and don't mind sharing their great ideas with them.

    If you are a company with customers, this should be replicated in your company.

    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    Strategy To Save Starbucks

    Have you noticed a change at Starbucks?

    We already know the story - company looses its focus and expands into categories it has no business being in, and market punishes it by taking away the business. Starbucks board has wisely decided to put their faith once again in their chairman and chief entrepreneur, Howard Schultz who was responsible for the franchise becoming a household name. Well, Mr. Schultz talked to Maria Bartiromo from Business Week, and you can read it here. From marketing perspective, Starbucks is doing a few things right. But a few more need to be done. Here are my suggestions on this matter.

    Problem: Brand dilution: If Starbucks stands for coffee and a community ambiance, get rid of all that crap in the stores. You want to sell music, fine. But lets not have that get in the way of a great coffee experience. You want a community like feel, offer free internet and people will stay longer. You want to sell a few t-shirts? Fine, sell them. But put a limit to it. You are Starbucks, not Walmart.

    Brand dilution is a serious issue for Starbucks and just removing the horrible stench of grease is the first step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.

    Problem: Product Innovation: Starbucks was known for coming up with creative product lines. Of course its not possible to come up with an altogether new product like frappucinno, but its possible to keep coming up with good coffee! Lets hope Pike's Peak is just a start of this trend. Starbucks needs to add newer coffees to the menu, and not newer chachkas they are selling at the counter.

    Problem: High Price: When times are going great, no one minds spending a little extra for a good cup of joe. With looming recession critics have complained that Starbucks products are priced way too high for average Joe to afford. And Starbucks has responded with Pike's Peak - a new coffee at a lower price point. Big mistake in my opinion for this is an admission that Starbucks prices are high. And Starbucks is in danger of having Pike's Peak cannibalize the high priced coffee on the menu! After all, no one is going to go for a cup of French Roast, and then add a cup of Pike's peak to their order because its cheap. Rather, they will want to try the new cheaper coffee and stick with it if they like it.

    A better strategy would have been to offer a few specials during certain times of the day to drive business in. Have a breakfast "happy hour" or two. This would have helped in two ways.

    One, at the time when most people are searching for a cup of coffee, this "discounting" of beverages becomes an incentive for them to come into Starbucks - in other words, it increases the traffic.

    And two, it takes away customers from the competitors like MacDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts, thus adding new customers to the roster. Mr. Schultz doesn't believe that he is loosing customers to MacDonald’s, and perhaps he is right. But this strategy brings in customers who may have been interested in Starbucks but are no longer coming there because they can get satisfactory coffee at MacDonald’s.

    The breakfast "happy hour" strategy is an easy fix for a recessionary economy because it helps the customer over come this temporary price hurdle. Its good for Starbucks because while its revenue per cup might go down, its overall revenue will stay the same or go up on the shoulders of all those new customers who will come in.

    There, those are my two cents on the matter.

    Tuesday, April 08, 2008

    Learning Spanish - At the bank

    Spanish pod

    Quero haser un deposito > I want to make a deposit
    (sounds like quero aaser un deposito)
    Quero > I want (comes from verb querer)
    Haser > to make
    Un > a
    Deposito > deposit

    Llene esta formulario > Fill out this form
    (sounds like jiene esta forma)
    Liene > To fill (llene el tanke, llene esta forma)
    esta > this
    formulario > form

    Me presta su pluma? > can you loan me a pen?
    Pen > pluma
    Su pluma > Your pen
    you loan > presta (to loan > prestar)
    Loan to me > me presta

    Claro > sure, Of course
    Claro actually means clearly

    Sunday, April 06, 2008

    Woodworking Question On Making A Trellis

    Hi woodworkers, got a novice woodworking question.

    I am planning to build a trellis in the back yard to cover a patio about 22 feet in length and 16 feet in depth (width). Although the patio touches the house, I want to make the trellis free standing. The question I have is this... Can I support 24 foot boards without really needing any more than four posts towards the ends?

    Will the trellis be strong enough to support a swing on one end? A swing that can support two grown ups? If you have any ideas, I would welcome them!

    Update: OK got some feed back from some wood workers, and first, this would not be called a trellis, but a pergola. And their recommendation is that that there would be a need for additional support posts in the middle. But I have decided to attach it to the home just to make it easy and more elegant pergola.

    Happy Gudi Padwa!

    "Gudi Padwa, Neet Bol Gadhawa" to all my Marathi friends! Uday, Medha, Minal, and others will recognize this because this festival is celebrated widely in Maharashtra. The beauty of Hinduism is its flexibility, allowing individuals to adapt the religion to their own interests. So, while Hindus celebrate new year around Diwali, in Maharashtra Gudi Padwa is considered to be start of the new year, the start of the Marathi calendar, and a very important festival. Abhi has written a nice summary of the festival here. As is expected, wikipedia has a very nice entry too!