Doug Weaver

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.


Somewhere in the packaged goods hall of fame there’s a plaque to the executive who found out how to double his company’s shampoo sales by adding a single word to the package. Up to that point, the instructions for using said shampoo were straightforward to the point of parody: Lather. Rinse. Our erstwhile marketing genius suggested that adding the word Repeat to the formula would get customers to use up the bottle twice as fast.

Damn! Marketing was so simple then.

Most sellers end their meetings right before things get good. Prime information and qualification don’t happen until a closing question gets asked. In a short, time-efficient workshop, Upstream Group can walk your team through the process and role-play the very-real-life scenarios they face in the market. Reach out today. The consult is free.

It makes me wonder, though, why the overwhelming majority of the proposals and ideas and RFP responses we crank out never even suggest the concept of Repeat. We build every program and concept to happen exactly once. There’s never even a suggestion of year two or how we’ll reinvest the data and do it again. 

Have we so internalized the campaign nature of advertising that we just can’t imagine continuous business? Or is the revolving door of talent at agencies and the constant reshuffling of agencies by clients to blame?  Hard to say for sure, but if we’re not designing and asking for the second iteration or the second year, then we are making the bed that we’ll sleep in… exactly once.

When I lead sales workshops, I challenge teams to diagnose a potential client problem or issue and then prescribe a solution to the client using a single sheet of paper: show them graphically how you would arrange your products and capabilities to solve the problem. Sometimes these charts look like funnels or customer journeys or timelines. But almost without exception, there’s never an arrow or loop that suggests what happens next.

Can the data gathered or profiles developed be put back into the system for even more success? How does the program you’re developing learn and get smarter as it runs? We don’t know – and they certainly don’t – because we never ask or suggest such a thing.

Multiple times a week I hear from ad technology, audience and data companies who all seem to be running toward some kind of SaaS (Software as a Service) model. I know there are a lot of legitimate reasons to package and price their products this way. But I also wonder if they aren’t motivated by the staggering cost of replacing business every year. When you start each year with a base of zero, locking your customers into long term contracts must seem quite appealing.

One more thing to consider. If you haven’t thought through how your products will help the client in year two, why would they ever buy them in year one?


The Killer E’s


Given the information-density and the significant IQ averages in our business, I suppose it’s understandable that there would be some ambivalence about saying “I’m in Sales!” Indeed, if you look at the business cards of those who are clearly in sales, you’d never know it. From business development to client partnerships to strategic account lead, we’re clearly going to great lengths to avoid the S-word.

When it comes to what we actually say we’re doing, the linguistic gymnastics gets even more impressive. We don’t say were going in to sell, or ask for money or persuade the customer to buy our stuff. No, we fall back on three verbs that I call The Killer E’s: Educate, Evangelize and Entertain. If you’re a sales manager or CRO, start listening for these verbs: they’re a pretty good sign that your seller isn’t going in with a clear purpose.

Most sellers end their meetings right before things get good. Prime information and qualification don’t happen until a closing question gets asked. In a short, time-efficient workshop, Upstream Group can walk your team through the process and role-play the very-real-life scenarios they face in the market. Reach out today. The consult is free.

Educate. This premise is often based on good intentions: but as we know, the road to hell is paved with them. If I just explain a lot of information to the customer about our product, our company, our research insights they’ll respect us and eventually buy us. The problem is there’s no point in most of it. We educate but then forget to say …and here’s what you should do about it right now.

Evangelize. You see this a lot in organizations where there’s a charismatic founder or leader. Touched by the holy message, others in the team try to share it with the same zeal. But evangelism is even more flawed than education. By nature we’re trying to crawl into the heads of our listeners and alter their beliefs when we should really be trying to change their behaviors. No customer is ever going to say, You know I really believe you! And because of that I think now I’m going to do this! If in your missionary fervor you aren’t clear about both the urgency to the customer and the path forward, you’re done.

Entertain. This is something we do wrong in a myriad of ways. Sizzle reel videos, fancy demos, slick capabilities presentations, elaborate case studies all end up being entertaining distractions – distractions from the business conversation, the qualification of the opportunity, the hard questions. Several years ago, one of my customers was under pressure from their sales force for a comprehensive product demo. Once it was released, sales actually went down. Once you turn your customers into an audience and it becomes your show, not many good things happen.

Beware of the Killer E’s. When you hear them, it’s often a sign that something other that sales is happening: something that’s not going lead to either commitment or revenue.

If you’re a qualified sales leader and want to talk about the next era in our business, you might like to attend Seller Forum on Wednesday March 18th in New York, reach out now for your invitation.


Citizens.


Last week in this space I offered the hope that publishers, advertisers, agencies, platforms and ad tech companies would make better choices now that the much-abused Cookie was being taken out of service. I suggested that someone should be in the room advocating for privacy and honesty. I also hope we’ll reconsider who we serve and how we think about them.

Consumers? Impressions? Unique IDs? Traffic? No. Citizens.

Several years ago, an adtech and data firm asked me to moderate a panel on privacy at one of their conferences. I agreed, provided we could populate the panel with actual people – civilians who visited our websites, watched our videos, looked at our ads, bought stuff. Setting aside the fact that this was first time many in the audience had ever discussed privacy with anyone outside of our business, the insights were remarkable.

Most sellers end their meetings right before things get good. Prime information and qualification don’t happen until a closing question gets asked. In a short, time-efficient workshop, Upstream Group can walk your team through the process and role-play the very-real-life scenarios they face in the market. Reach out today. The consult is free.

“Who said it was OK to target me?” asked a business owner from Nassau County. “What am I getting out of that deal?”

“Don’t tell me the internet is free,” said a teacher from Queens. “I pay money every month to get online.”

“I get it and I’m OK with ads,” offered an electrician from Jersey. “But don’t you think you guys are overdoing it and poisoning the well?”

These were not Luddites or radical consumer activists. Just Citizens who’d been overlooked and taken for granted for one hell of a long time. They’d been treated like numbers on a spreadsheet, anonymous cogs. And they were fed up.

Something remarkable happens when we begin framing the people at the center of our world as Citizens. We start to grasp our responsibility for giving them a decent environment. We become stewards. We make fewer careless assumptions about what we can get away with and start asking what’s the right thing to do.

I haven’t kept in touch with the Citizens from that panel. But I would guess that they, like so many others, are spending a bunch more time on Facebook and Instagram – in spite of the fact that scores for trust and privacy on those platforms are bottoming out.  They probably reason that if they’re going to get jerked around they may as well get jerked around in an efficient, predictable environment.

Now we’ve got a chance to start again. We can win those Citizens back. As the amazing Rishad Tobaccowala writes in Restoring the Soul of Business, we can close out the age of Too Much Math, Too Little Meaning. No more carpet bombing with the same dumb ads. Less content and more facts and real information. No more careless use of data. No more thoughtlessness about the environment we steward. 

That’s no way to treat Citizens.

If you’re a qualified sales leader and want to talk about the next era in our business, you might like to attend Seller Forum on Wednesday March 18th in New York, reach out now for your invitation.


Better Choices.


Pssst… Hey… Cookies are going away. Pass it on…

OK, so maybe this has been the longest goodbye since BREXIT. But now, given the announcement by Google that Cookies will be made obsolete on the Chrome browser within two years, we’ve finally got some punctuation. The “sell-by” date on cookies has been made plain.

There are thousands in our business – with much bigger tech chops than mine – who can debate and discuss the technical minutiae and micro-implications for the winners and losers. My purpose here is not to debate those questions, but rather to try and influence the next set of technology decisions.

Most sellers end their meetings right before things get good. Prime information and qualification don’t happen until a closing question gets asked. In a short, time-efficient workshop, Upstream Group can walk your team through the process and role-play the very-real-life scenarios they face in the market. Reach out today. The consult is free.

The Cookie was invented on the fly for a rather innocuous purpose. The dumb old web servers of yore had no way of distinguishing one server request from the last or the next. Without each browser having this “sense of state” the server could not tell whether it was ten separate users or the same user doing ten things. Without something like the Cookie, online commerce and other everyday functionality were largely impossible.

But then something very predictable happened. Either ignorant or unconcerned about the potential for misuse, the tech community hugged the flag of libertarianism and disavowed any moral ownership for what they had built and continued to build upon. Did anyone ever step up and ask, Hey… is this really OK? We had essentially created a surveillance technology that covertly monitored and recorded the online travels and behaviors of a few billion people. But no, nobody ever asked that question.

I know that, in light of Facebook officially sanctioning lies by political candidates, a pair of shoes following you around the web may not seem like much. But it was the same civic blindness and moral ambiguity that drove both decisions… and will drive many more in the future. Is there a place in the boardrooms and billion-dollar campuses for moral and ethical questions? Who will raise the values on which our best decisions will be made or call out the social and ethical implications of shortsightedness?

Just because we can does not necessarily mean we should.

At our next Seller Forum gathering we’ll be discussing the specific implications for publishers; how they can pursue richer, more truth-based businesses in the post-Cookie era. I believe there’s a very real possibility that this is another step in a march toward authenticity, first-party relationships and the value of the publisher/reader/programmer/viewer relationships.

I also believe that we too quickly forget our bad decisions and the bad decision-making that generated them.  I hope there will be someone in the room to advocate for privacy and honesty. I hope someone is there to ask the hard questions.

If you’re a qualified sales leader and might like to attend Seller Forum on Wednesday March 18th in New York, reach out now for your invitation.

 


Words Never Uttered!


Because we can all use a laugh, I’m re-sharing one of the most popular Drifts I’ve ever posted. Feel free to add your own examples of “Things No Customer Has Ever Said.”  And have a great day.

“I just wish there had been more PowerPoint.”

“That was great! Could you play that sizzle video one more time?”

“So, you’re really that much bigger than your competitors? Who knew!”

“Wait… don’t leave yet. I haven’t really committed to anything.”

“Forget what I paid last time… let’s start fresh.”

Most sellers end their meetings right before things get good. Prime information and qualification don’t happen until a closing question gets asked. In a short, time-efficient workshop, Upstream Group can walk your team through the process and role-play the very-real-life scenarios they face in the market. Reach out today. The consult is free.

“Would you look at all those logos! Wow, if those companies are buying from you then I’d better get on board too, right?”

“Oh absolutely! Bring a whole bunch of your managers to the meeting. It’ll be so much more productive that way.”

“Wait… you mean you’re the leading company in your space?  Heck, I had no idea!  That changes everything!”

“You know, we’re just talking way too much about our issues. This is feeling a little too much about us.”

“Hey Jenny… call everyone in here please. This guy brought in his general presentation and I don’t want anyone to miss it.”

“I’m sorry, but there just weren’t enough acronyms and buzzwords in this for me.”

“Are you sure those are all the products you have? I’ve got more time.”

“Would you mind flipping back to that slide with the map of all your offices? I forgot whether your APAC headquarters was in Singapore or Hong Kong.”

“I’m actually just telling you that we’re waiting on direction.  You actually don’t have a chance in hell to get this but I just hate when things get awkward.”

“I was confused but those cylinders, arrows and triangles really sorted things out for me. Thanks!”

“Tell me more about your founder! He sounds like a fascinating guy!”

“You’re launching a new site? Well by all means come on over!”

“You say your CEO is in town? Shoot, that hardly ever happens! Of course I’ll make time on the calendar.”

“Wait… that’s it? It’s over already? Are you sure you don’t have a couple more slides?”