Show and Tell More to Sell More

Just got back in town to Pittsburgh, from two glorious weeks throughout Italy and Switzerland.

Ugh!  What a state of depression I’ve been in since! Can’t wait to go back!

We saw some amazing, breathtaking sights such as the Sistine Chapel, The David (I’m a big Michelangelo fan), The Vatican, Pompeii , the Amalfi Coast, Capri, and much more.

However, one man/woman made creation that simply took my breath away as a marketer was the Gelateria (gelato) stands and stores throughout the various Italian cities we visited. They seemed to be on every street corner!

And, what a merchandiser’s dream of flawless execution.

Believe me, even if you were a severe lactose intolerant individual, you’d cave in to any one of these Italian gelato taste bud blowing experiences.

You would not be able to resist it!







As these pictures show, the merchandising of these Italian Gelateria’s are without peer. And, the taste delivers on the merchandising promise.







My question then is, “What are you doing with your merchandising to create a brand experience such as these Gelaterias?”

P.S.: For a great tour guide for Italy, the Holy Land and more, check out Fr. Anthony Nachef’s Proximo Travel. And, tell him Steve Wayhart sent you!


New iPad Wine List Rocks

I got my new iPad back in May – a moment in time I’ll always refer to as my “Christmas in May” and am having a love affair with it.

Sure there are things about the iPad that I wished it had, but the positives outweigh the negatives.

When I started to play with the iPad, I started to think thought long and hard about how we can apply it to improve our client’s business.

We do a ton of hospitality marketing work and this past summer, one of our great clients, Kevin Joyce owner of The Carlton Restaurant in Pittsburgh had closed his restaurant for two months for a much needed remodel after 25 years in business.

Kevin called me to go over some new ideas to kick off the new restaurant with a bang –  especially since his reopening was scheduled to take place on Wednesday, August 18 – opening night of Pittsburgh’s new Consol Energy Center with a concert by Sir Paul McCartney.

One of my first thoughts, was what could we do to:

  1. Reaffirm the fact that The Carlton has the biggest and best wine lists (15+ year Wine Spectator Award winner) – Great Wine is a big USP for the restaurant
  2. Complement The Carlton’s new 450 bottle wine library – the restaurant’s soul
  3. Showcase the fact that The Carlton offers the best wine dinners in Pittsburgh

In a snap, we thought, “Create an iPad Wine List to replace The Carlton’s 45 page paper wine list.” Using an iPad wine list would create a “halo” effect of flawless contemporary execution of the Carlton’s 45 page paper wine list and separate them even more so from the pack of restaurants they compete against.

As an aside – I know I may be biased, but I think The Carlton i the best restaurant in downtown Pittsburgh and I thought that fact to be true long before I started working for them…anyway…

Instinctively back in May, we Googled “iPad wine list” and could not find any U.S. restaurant using iPads for menus, but we found a great story about an Australian restaurant that swapped out its menus for iPads.

Kevin and I must have been doing a “Vulcan Mind Meld” at the time, because when we called him, he said he saw the Aussie story  and was ready to rock.

Our iPad wine list is not as aggressive as the Aussie menu – we prefer to walk before we run with the wine list first then potentially move to the food menu – but I can tell you that the iPad has significantly improved The Carlton’s brand image of Pittsburgh’s premier dining and wine establishment and improved wine sales too – customers love it!

We’ll soon cut a brief video explaining how the wine list works, but know these things:

  1. The iPad can be used to help lift your business
  2. Look for products and/or service executions that create brand “halo” USPs
  3. It’s better to phase in technology improvements to your business to flawlessly execute and gain an immediate WOW from your customers before someone else comes along and steals your marketing thunder and you look like a market follower and/or a “me too” brand**
  4. Great clients make great marketing firms

**Note: In the time we started to work on and launch The Carlton’s iPad wine list, there have been major news articles about iPad wine lists in use at Central Park South Gate restaurant (7.2.10),  Bones in Atlanta (9.13.10), III Forks in Jacksonville (8.11.10), but hey The Carlton had the first iPad wine list in Pennsylvania! More news to come as we continue to improve our iPad wine list effort.


You Take Dollars to the Bank

…not percentages.

Following yesterday’s post about testing, someone asked me about testing promotional offers and wanted to know which has more appeal, a dollar off coupon or a percent off coupon.

After saying, “Test them both,” I told him that in my experience a “dollar off” promotion typically outsells a percent off promotion. Dollar offs, BOGOs (buy one get one free, cash rebates etc.,) rock harder than a simple percent off promotion.


One big reason.

Money talks and you know the rest.

It’s far easier for busy people (aren’t we all) to understand the value of a dollar figure vs. calculating percentages.

But hey, don’t take my word for it

Check out this Marketing Sherpa article which supports my view and highlights how one brand’s test proved that its dollar off promo delivered 170% more revenue.

Test people test.  And, always remember you take dollars to the bank not percentages.

Sampling, Freemiums and Marketing Lagniappe

We work a lot in the restaurant and hospitality and retail industry. And, I’m amazed at how many businesses lack a sampling or “Free” taste test component in their marketing operations plans.

In 2008, Arbitron  studied product sampling (Arbitron product_sampling_study_2008) and over one-third (35%) of those who tried a sample bought the product during the same shopping trip. And, nearly 60% said they would buy a product after trying it.

Sampling, which reaches 70 million consumers every quarter, “is both effective in making new customers aware of products, while also establishing a firmer identity with those consumers who have considered the product before,” said Carol Edwards, svp of sales at Arbitron’s out-of-home media department, in a statement.

The survey segmented consumers into three areas: acquisitions (those new to the product), conversions (those willing to buy it after sampling it) and retentions (those who had previously purchased the product).

Check out these sampling results:

  • 85% of retentions who sampled a product said they would purchase it again compared to 60% of conversions.
  • Almost half (47%) said they would now look to purchase it.
  • 28% of respondents received a free sample in the past three months. Of that group, 64% said they accepted the sample.
  • Nearly a quarter of those polled (24%) said they bought the product they sampled instead of the item they initially set out to purchase.

Freemiums are another terrific way to generate customer interest and involvement by offering a product or service for free (e.g., software, educational webinar etc.) while charging a premium for advanced or special feature.

For example, I offer free marketing advice through my Blog, however for more specialized marketing consulting advice I charge a fee. And, it helps drive leads.

Marketing Lagniappe occurs when a brand offers a customer something for free and unexpected when they buy something – surprise and delight occurs. Stan Phelps’ new book due this Spring (can’t wait to read it – nice helpful Web site too) will highlight 1,001 “something extras” such as Doubletree Hotels’ practice of giving warm, delicious chocolate chip cookies.

Stan’s five R.U.L.E.S. for effective lagniappe are that these free offers need to be Relevant, Unexpected, Limited, Expression, Sticky.

I couldn’t agree more and plan to take a harder look at my client’s marketing plans and bake a little sampling, freemiums and/or lagniappe that surprises and delights into them. You should too.


Don’t Serve Pepsi-Cola

no_pepsiI never quite left the restaurant marketing industry, but over the past few 18 months, I’ve jumped back into it head first.  I’m loving every minute of it too.

I’m blessed to work with some great clients from first rate hospitality companies, to white table cloth power lunch places to traditional old school steak and chop houses.

Getting back up to speed in the industry has been fun and exhilarating and surprisingly not that hard.  With the Internet, it’s so easy to do research and one of the really cool Web sites I visit to get ideas is  Chow.Com.

I came across this video on Chow’s “Obsessives” Channel featuring John Nese the owner/operator of Galco’s Soda Pop Stop in LA. John offers about 500 pops all sourced by him from every corner of the world. He does such a great job of selling his merchandise because he offers pop he believes in and loves. And, you will too.

This 13 minute story is worth your time but, don’t watch it if you’re drinking a Pepsi or a Coke because you won’t enjoy what you’re drinking. If you sell “Pepsi-Cola like” products – that is, products like everyone else, John will motivate you to offer unique stuff that will make your customers smile and come back for more.

I’m amazed – you’ll be amazed – by how much he knows about his products (flavor profiles, sources, partners) and his industry (high fructose corn syrup vs. cane sugar, recycling etc.,) and how he uniquely caters to each of his customer’s unique niche/s.

Sure wish he was closer to Pittsburgh, because I’d be ordering from him all day long.

However, I do plan to place a few orders in the future. Check them out.

I love this guy!


Show And Tell Marketing

 Life's a Pitch and Then You Buy!


I enjoyed reading this article in the LA Times about Billy Mays whose loud, enthusiastic, direct response pitches for brands such as OxiClean, Kaboom and more have made this Pittsburgh native a millionaire and "the most successful direct-response
salesman in TV history."

As a marketer, I've followed guys like Mays and Ron Popiel (even read his book) and I've admired how they can sell! Mays' deliver is always interesting to me, although his loud voice upsets my wife – I know what he does works because of the number of products he represents – net, he'd not be on the air if he wasn't moving products. And, now Mays' is starring in a realith show called "Pitchmen" which debuts April 15th on the Discovery Channel.

The lesson Mays, Popiel and others like them have mastered is something you can too.  It's something you learned way back in Kindergarten and that's the skill of "Show and Tell."

Successful pitchmen like Mays knows that if you can repeatedly demonstrate clearly and consistently (hears wears the same outfit in every pitch) why your product or service works better than others you will win more sales – simple as that.

The next time you go on a sales call, make sure you're prepared to Show and Tell Well!

I guarantee you'll close more business than if you simply "Telled Well!"


Product Sampling Builds Sales


Product sampling reaches 70 million consumers every quarter, and
one-third of customers who try a sample will buy the sampled product in
the same shopping trip, according to the “Product Sampling Study” by Arbitron and Edison Media Research, reports MediaBuyerPlanner.

According to Arbitron, sampling also drives huge gains in brand awareness
and loyalty. In fact, 58% of those
surveyed report that they would buy the product again.

Consumers were grouped into three categories:

  1. Acquisitions, or those
    who were new to the sampled product;
  2. Conversions, or those who had
    heard of the product but had never bought it;
  3. Retentions, or those
    who had previously purchased the product.

Fully 85% of the Retentions and 60% of the Conversions said they
would in the future purchase the sampled product; samples encouraged
nearly half (47%) of the Acquisitions to purchase the product in the

“This is exciting news for marketers and advertisers who are looking
for alternative ways to make an immediate as well as long-reaching
impact on consumers with a high return-on-investment,” said Carol
Edwards, SVP of sales, Out-of-Home Media for Arbitron.

“This study enforced that the sampling approach is both effective in
making new customers aware of products, while also establishing a
firmer identity with those consumers who have considered the product

The study also found as follows:

  • 28% reported that they have been offered product samples within the past three months.
  • 64% claimed that they had accepted product samples: 66% of
    Acquisitions accepted samples, as did 63% of Conversions and 63% of
  • 35% claimed they purchased the sampled product on the same day: 26%
    of Acquisitions bought the product right away, as did 19% of
    Conversions and 31% of Retentions.
  • 24% of those surveyed claimed that a sampled product had
    specifically replaced an item that they had planned to buy: 20% of
    Acquisitions were planning to make the switch, as were 33% of
    Conversions and 18% of Retentions.

About the study:
Arbitron and Edison Media Research conducted a national telephone
survey from January 18 to February 15, 2008. 1,857 respondents, ages 12
and older, were selected at random from Arbitron’s 2007 fall
diarykeepers. In geographic areas where Arbitron diarykeepers were not
available (representing 8% of the population), a supplemental sample
was interviewed through random selection.

P.S.: This chart from eMarketer shows that College Students thinks Product Sampling rocks their world!

Sampling for College Students