Presented by Peter Lamb, president, Lamb Consulting
A couple of acronyms. First, TLC. No, it’s not Tender Loving Care. It’s Think Like the Customer. Another way to approach it is, think like Amazon. How do they think? Start with the customer and think backward.
Then, TLR. Meaning, Think Like the Reader.
Now, back to basics. Remember selling before the pandemic? Your rule of thumb was, 20% of customers always said no while 80% said yes.
Now, the basics still apply. Customers now are saying, of course, I want to hear from my reps. They are my trusted representatives.
The off-season Festivus Airing of Grievances. But first, your customer wants you to listen to them vent. Let ‘em. What’s next? They want your reps to give them options that will make things better.
Another buyers' mood? I do not want (your reps) to sell me anything. I don’t want to be sold.
To-do list tomorrow morning: Start with “detective selling.” Find out what they read, who their families are. Conversation starter: How did Mothers Day go during this pandemic? Remember you already have this relationship with your customer.
Conversation ongoing. Let them tell you what they’re doing. What, if anything, has been working during this difficult time? What do they believe their biggest marketing challenges are?
Their questions to you. Be prepared for this one: What’s working in other places? But don’t bite right away. Tell them you’ll get back with best practices from other places.
Rethink the rebrand. Peter Lamb recommends a re-think of rebrand and relaunch. Better: Think “restage.” We’re going to re-stage the business.
Cold call protocol — changed. Here’s a different approach: “Good morning: I’m doing a survey for the newspaper and asking how the coronavirus has affected you.” You’re not selling — you’re just doing a survey. Best practice: “Can you spare a couple of minutes?” Go from a quick personal question to a business question: “Have you kept your most valuable customer?”
Charitable chat: Another important question that can lead to a marketing campaign: During this time, what has your business done to make things better?
The non-close close. Don’t end this first conversation trying to make a hard close. Instead, say: I’ll forward this information to my team of “brand experts” — key word! — "brand experts” ... and tell them what you said to me.
Helping your customer message as they open up. Your newspaper can do a great service, messaging what audiences want to know: The hours, the services — and, most important, what they are doing to make things better.
Not just an opening. A Grand Opening! That’s how to position your customers’ businesses. After all this time closed, let’s look at what they’ve done. Your job is to teach them to make it better. You can help people make your message better. You’re the expert.
Pandemic pivot. Make riches from niches! The old model was pursuing real estate, automotive and recruiting. Now: Let’s look at frontline responders. Look at niches making more than they did pre-COVID-19. Look for businesses that are not doing business with you right now.
Businesses helping businesses: Encourage sponsorships from some cash-rich businesses, such as a utility sponsoring a list of the restaurants that are doing carryout or whatever.
Prospects from promoters. Look for advertising niches from your reps. Ask your reps about their passions — their hobbies, their recreational pursuits. Take 20 reps and you’ll get 20 passion projects — and you’ll be amazed at what prospects that can result in.
Record unemployment? An opportunity! Think what you can do as a media organization. Peter Lamb: “We are great at matching people to jobs.”
Key to success? Think like an agency. The companies on the way to success think like an agency: They use data and bundle solutions. The newspaper advantage: We’re far cheaper than traditional advertising agencies.
Homework during stay-at-home: Invest in marketing systems and strategies. Peter Lamb: “You cannot educate others if you are not educated yourself.” Think about it: Your Mom & Pop businesses don’t know how to rebrand or restage themselves. When you can go to your customers and say I’ve learned something, you’ll be listened to and respected.
Be like Mike, er, LeBron: Prepare just like he’s doing during the NBA layoff, putting himself through intense workouts.
You asked: Should papers be offering reduced pricing as businesses open up? There are two trains of thought: We have the value and so we shouldn’t. But that may not be possible now. Peter Lamb’s opinions: Find a way to reduce costs. In the short term, the answer is yes. Get some cash flow and get some revenue — but make that to a certain point only.
You asked essentially the same question: Is there a trend now of relaxing charges? Yup. That’s what Peter Lamb is seeing. It is really, really, really hard when electricity companies, etc., are saying we are not charging. I’d say yes, to perhaps June, but let’s also see what else we can do.
You asked: How about furloughing sales reps? Peter Lamb’s preference is that you don’t furlough, but keep full hours. Even if they are at home, use the reps to do the passion projects. Keep them at full hours.
Want to follow up with Peter Lamb? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.