How to Find Value in Sports Sponsorship

What’s true about the evolution of marketing tactics, just like in publicly traded stocks, is their value (or impact) changes over time.

Just 50 years ago the most valuable companies were department stores like Sears, industrial businesses like US Steel, and low-tech pioneers like Polaroid and Kodak.  

In the marketing world, the daily newspaper used to be the dominant source of information, and the most popular solution for advertisers.  

Today the most valuable companies are in technology, they make software like Oracle and Salesforce, or run digital platforms like Amazon and Uber — connecting people with information, products, and services.  

In the marketing world, the value (and popularity) of digital and social marketing has exploded, while the value of print marketing has plummeted.

But there is one marketing tactic that is seemingly timeless, because its value has never diminished, and today may be at its pinnacle — and that is — sports sponsorship.  

Why?  Because there has never been more demand for content — and there have never been more ways to consume content.  

What I mean by content is the entertainment you watch, and listen to, or read in various kinds of media like TV shows, movies, sporting events, concerts, viral videos, music from the radio or from streaming services like Spotify, articles from websites, blogs, apps, and other news providers.

All of it consumed on a growing number of devices and platform like our smart phones, TV’s, desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and even watches.

Therefore, the amount of money invested in content has never been greater, Netflix alone spent over $6 billion on entertainment for their subscribers in 2017.

ESPN, a part of Disney, spent about $6 billion on just the rights to air live sporting events — the most valuable of all content.

The Value of Live

Live sports are the most valuable of all content because it’s rare now for people to share the same entertainment experience at the same time.

Most of us are plugged into our personal (on-demand) feed of entertainment, delivered by our favorite device.

Intelligent marketers covet reaching folks sharing experiences at the same time because it’s a more efficient and effective way of engaging customers. 

Think about the Super Bowl in 2018, advertisers paid over $5 million PER thirty-second commercial (in part) because over 100 million people were tuned in at the same time.  

Live sports, especially Football, Basketball and Baseball, translate well to every media — they are safe for anyone to watch —and they elicit an emotional connection unlike any other type of content.

Sports work well in TV, Radio, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and are ideal for streaming.  Also, they provide compelling content and analysis for printed publications like magazines, newspapers, and programs.  

This means flexibility in creating effective and affordable campaigns for sponsors.

Sports are also safe — meaning when a business invests in sports sponsorship, they don’t have to worry about being associated with anything obscene or politically offensive — a growing concern especially in the digital marketing space.

A Shortcut to Making Your Business Unique and Compelling

One of the biggest challenges facing business owners today is figuring out how to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

How can your law firm, furniture store, HVAC company, or auto dealership stand out from your competition?

Most businesses say the same things in their advertising: How long they’ve been in business, how well they serve their clients, and that they’re locally owned and operated. 

Rarely are these features unique, and rarely are they compelling enough (on their own) to attract customers.

Sponsoring a pro or college sports team is a shortcut to the hard work it takes to develop a unique selling point.  

You gain access to a team’s most valuable asset — their intellectual property.  This means you can proclaim your business an official partner and incorporate their logos into your own advertising.  

This creates instant credibility and a connection to their fan base, the community, alumni, university leadership, faculty and students.  

Nobody understands this better than the beverage industry.  

Pepsi may not taste like Coke, and Miller may not taste like Coors, but they are similar. 

That’s why these savvy marketers engage with college programs and professional franchises in just about every city — because it makes them stand out AND it instantly connects them with a large pool of customers.

How to Market Your Business to Other Businesses

If you’re a business selling products or services to other businesses (a B2B), sponsorship is an especially good idea. 

B2B’s have a smaller target audience — other businesses. And there are fewer ways for them to advertise — which is why they often employ salespeople.

Ads in business journals and trade publications can only be as effective as the message or offer in the ad.

So, if you’re an official partner of a respected athletic program, and cleverly weave this into your marketing, suddenly you have a more compelling message.    

Ice Miller is a law firm based in Indianapolis, IN. And they work with many colleges in the state of Indiana.  

The ad below ran in a local business journal — but I modified it slightly — I inserted the logos of four prominent universities above their headline “build partnerships.” 

Which version of this ad do you believe would have more impact? The one with or without the implied partnership and logos?    

If you sell services or products to a college or university, you’d be wise to invest in an athletic sponsorship.  

Why?  Guess who attends games and pays close attention to their athletic programs?  

University leadership, administration, trustees, influential alumni, and decision makers within each school or department.  Also, students, their parents, visiting teams, visiting administrators, fans who are business decision makers, and the community.  

If you want to do business with the college or university, you’d be wise to invest in an athletic sponsorship.

Why? A sponsorship with a college athletic program is the single most impactful and efficient way of engaging these decision makers.  Period.  

Furthermore, you can invest in hospitality opportunities where can meet and interact with these leaders and decision makers. 

Universities also have ENORMOUS economic impact on their communities.

If you operate a business in a college town, you’d be wise to invest in some kind of sponsorship — or risk having a direct competitor gain this advantage — and risk losing out on a large source of existing and potential clients.

How to Get a Return on your Sponsorship Investment

All it takes is a little effort, and some common sense.

If you buy a sign and put your logo on it — and that’s all you do — it will be tough to measure the response.  

I’m not saying it won’t work, people will see your logo. Some will buy your product or service just because of that sign — but it’s still tough to measure.

Now, what if you add a clever little offer just below your logo?

What if a customer could download a coupon or some helpful research from your website? Now we have something more measurable!

Here are some other ideas (and there are many more) you can use to help develop a sponsorship likely to generate a measurable return on your investment:

Create a branded product, for example, Toyota has an Indianapolis Colts branded truck.  Ford has a Texas Edition truck.  

The Indianapolis Colts Toyota Tacoma Truck

You can brand anything with an athletic team. A furniture dealer could develop a branded recliner with logos and beverage holders.  Fans love to buy stuff with their team’s logo on them.

Have a coach or current or former player endorse your product or service.  Before Peyton Manning ever threw a touchdown pass, Indianapolis auto dealer Bill Estes signed him to an endorsement contract, and reaped the rewards of that partnership as Manning’s career took off.

Not everyone can afford a celebrity spokesperson, but you can probably afford a former or current player or coach, and this instantly distinguishes you from all your competitors. 

Offer a discount on your product or service with a win  or a loss — or some specific score.  The more you gamble the more interesting this becomes to fans. In many cities where Papa John’s operates, when the local colleges or pro team wins, fans win 50% off their next pizza!

Put your name on it!  Let’s say you own a lawn services company — name the football field — call it LAWN PRIDE FIELD! 

Lawn Pride Field @ Ball State University’s Scheumann Stadium

If you own a professional services firm and want to entertain clients and rub elbows with business leaders — put your name on the suite level or premium seats, or even create a special section for VIP’s.

Share Content — as I explained earlier, sports content is valuable, so become a sponsor of replays, or the play of the game, or a special video feature. Then SHARE IT on your own social media feeds.  

Ball State Sports Link is a student run program that produces video series and reports on Ball State’s athletic programs

Watch your audience organically grow by being the source of great content from a respected athletic program or franchise.  

One of the Best Ideas Ever

Many years ago, an NFL executive named Jim Steeg was inspired by a Wilson tennis racket.  He noticed a giant “W” on the strings signifying the Wilson brand.  

Steeg took that idea and emblazoned the NFL shield on the nets behind the goal posts at the 2003 Super Bowl and in Pro Bowls from 2002 to 2004.  A few years later Allstate picked up the idea and now sponsors over 100 colleges and football events each year.  

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This an example of an awesome idea we know is influential but may be difficult to measure.

How to Recruit the Best Talent

Historically low unemployment is a great thing for our country, but the number one complaint I hear from business owners is finding and keeping good people to work for them.

This is not just a white collar problem; it spans the entire spectrum of employment. From local retailers and restaurants, to shift workers and truck drivers, all the way up to professional service firms.

And the greatest untapped resource of talent is at colleges across our country.  From students who need part-time work to fund their college education, or find work because college is not working out, or the future salespeople, doctors, lawyers, bankers and accountants.  

An intelligent and efficient way of introducing your company to these potential recruits is by engaging with them through their collegiate athletic teams.

Sure, there will always be career fairs and on-campus interviews. And just like a needle in a haystack — you won’t be memorableespecially to the graduates who truly do have choices.  But what if these recruits knew about your company BEFORE they met you? And they thought of you in a different way, as someone who supports their beloved basketball or football team and might be cool to work for?

Chances are, most of these student have never heard about your insurance firm, or bank, or software company, or whatever … unless you’re with a big national brand with lots of name recognition. 

Something as simple a sign in an arena will put you on the radar of more potential qualified candidates than just about any other form of recruitment marketing.  And it will be less expensive. 

This is pro-active recruitment marketing.  It’s about the long game. Because by the time you’re forced to spend money to fill your talent pipeline, it’s already too late.

A sports sponsorship won’t flood your HR department with a pile of resumes. But in the long term, it will align your business with something near and dear to the hearts of thousands of future adults who will need jobs.

How to Be An Effective Seller #5: Invest in Training and Education

Learn to work harder on yourself than on your job

Tony Robbins

All you have to do to earn more money in the same amount of time is to become more valuable

Jim Rohn

What separates amateurs from professionals, losers from winners, average from exceptional, is training.  And coaching. 

Consider the impact coach Bill Belichick has had on the New England Patriots. Before his arrival, no Super Bowl wins.  Since his arrival, six Super Bowl wins.   

As I transitioned from radio into TV advertising sales, I realized there was a great opportunity to make money ahead of me.

I was being paid 100% commission to sell a monopolistic product, and our clients spent an average of $50,000 per year – more than double what my average radio advertisers were spending. 

Before this my only training was from my newspaper advertising days.  Occasionally management would bring in consultants to go out on sales calls and teach us the basics of selling.    

Most of what I learned came from trial and error, and helpful mentors, and by emulating other successful salespeople.

But I knew this wasn’t enough, I knew that to separate myself from the pack and maximize my earnings I needed professional guidance.   

I decided to step up my selling game and invest in training with my own money. 

It’s different investing your own money in adult education, much different than paying for college or grad school.  There are no loans, it’s 100% cash, and it means you actually pay attention, attend class, study, and learn. 

There were two sales training programs I focused on – I’m sure there are others – but I would still recommend these two.

Dale Carnegie Training:  Foundational Sales Training

Dale Carnegie was a public speaker, lecturer and aspiring actor.  While broke and living in New York in the early 1900’s he began teaching public speaking to adults at the local YMCA.   

His courses became a hit across the country, and he went on to write several books.  Published in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People sold millions of copies and continues to sell today.  It was broken down into 4 parts:

  1. Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
  2. Six Ways to Make People Like You
  3. How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
  4. Be a Leader – How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

Dale Carnegie training is more entry level, more foundational.  In a nutshell, it’s a reminder you can catch more bees with honey than vinegar.

Warren Buffett famously credits his Dale Carnegie training with helping him overcome his fear of public speaking.

Everyone can benefit from going through their programs.  Crew Car Wash, an Indianapolis based car wash chain used to send all front-line employees through Dale Carnegie training.  I think it’s one of the main reasons for their success.

To this day, you encounter clerks who greet you with a smile, are dressed neatly, are unfailingly polite, consistent in their scripts, always asking for an up sell, and thanking you for your visit. 

Their car wash is impeccably clean – devoid of litter and oil spots – landscaped beautifully, and features stuffed animals dangling around to surprise and delight youngsters.

Dale Carnegie teaches the fundamentals of salesmanship.  They teach you how to present yourself and communicate in the business world, and this basic etiquette is as important to selling as blocking and tackling is to football. 

Sandler Sales Training:  Graduate Level Sales Training

Dale Carnegie taught me the fundamentals, but Sandler Sales Training was my graduate degree in sales.

The biggest distinction between Sandler training and, well, pretty much all other sales training is – they teach you to not act like every other salesperson. How do they do this? 

Sandler fosters your killer instinct.  Most salespeople want to be liked by their prospects.  Psychologically they’re more concerned about seeking approval than closing the sale.  And this is why they’ll give up on a sale rather than lean in and fight.  

They teach that prospects are not your friends.  Rather, prospects steal your time and information, and they lie, and they are constantly manipulating you.  And you should manipulate right back or you’ll never win.

Selling is one of the few professions where manipulation is expected from both the seller and the prospect. 

There are few professions where manipulation is considered an acceptable practice.  All sports for example, employ manipulation tactics to gain an edge on their opponents. 

In football they manipulate through deceptive play calling, strategy and signals.   Can you imagine a quarterback telling the other team what play he’s calling in a football game?  

Lawyers manipulate through rigorous cross examination, finding loopholes in the law, and by presenting your version of the story.  Do you really want your lawyer telling a jury your whole truth?

Chances are, most of the time when you buy something, you’ve been manipulated in some indirect way. 

When you buy groceries, you’re manipulated into believing the store you chose (and the products you purchased) may be cheaper, healthier or more delicious than at competing grocers.  They manipulate through store aesthetics, visual merchandising, advertisements, and by training their employees to up-sell. 

In a corporate setting manipulation is done through leverage – like a family relationship, or a referral, or some inside knowledge that gives you the upper hand.

This manipulation isn’t illegal, or unethical, it’s part of the game in the exchange of goods and services in our economy. 

David Sandler’s hallmark tactic is the up-front contract.  Before you spend time presenting any solutions, you come to a series of mutual agreements with prospects about the decision-making process.

How much pain does the prospect have?  And is she really motivated enough financially to solve that pain?  Are you even a good fit from a budget and solution standpoint?  And are you 100% clear on what the decision-making process looks like?   

No presentation is made until those issues are understood, so you can be assured a decision will be made, wasting much less time.  This leads to more no’s, but you end up finding more yes’s by quickly moving on from the unqualified prospects.

Most salespeople present to everyone, and often too early, then have to wait and hope for an answer that may never come.  Leaving them dangling in the wind like a bed sheet on a clothesline. 

Sandler is also different from other programs because they understand nobody learns much in a seminar.  People get charged up and motivated in seminars, but the effect usually wears off.

Sandler training meets weekly, and you become a lifetime member meaning you can attend training classes anytime and anywhere.  It’s a similar model to joining a gym with locations across the country, like Lifetime Fitness.

It was the most transformational training I’ve ever been exposed to and it cost me over $10,000.  And I didn’t have the money, in fact, I was deeply in debt.  I put it on my credit card, and they billed me in installments.  But it was 100% worth it. 

You Should Read and/or Listen

Another transformational habit I developed was instead of watching or looking at any kind of news in the morning, I now read a book.  I don’t read much more than one or two chapters per morning with my coffee.  But I learn so much, and it starts my day off on a much more positive and productive note.

I read mostly self-help books on sales, marketing, investing, business, history, and more.  And I have learned so much by just reallocating a few minutes of my morning to ingesting positive content.

When  driving I prefer to listen to music or sports talk, I just want to zone out.  But as often as possible I force myself to listen to some type of inspirational audio programs.  Podcasts, audio books, training materials.  Just something positive and uplifting about goal setting or sales. 

Here is a list of 10 books that influenced how I sell:

Discover Dan Kennedy, and start with these four books

  • Magnetic Marketing
  • No B.S. Sales Success in the New Economy
  • The Ultimate Sales Letter
  • No B.S. Direct Marketing

Tony Robbins, I like to listen to Tony while I’m driving and this is the one I revisit the most:

  • Awaken the Giant Within

Zig Zigler is classic, very inspirational and folksy:

  • Goals: How to Set Then, How to Achieve Them
  • Secrets of Closing the Sale

Sandler Sales Training has published some great books, this is my favorite:

  • Prospect the Sandler Way by John Rosso

Dale Carnegie

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People

Vash Young was an insurance salesman who inspired Dale Carnegie

  • The Go-Giver

The great thing about reading books is you’ll find out about other books that inspired the author. With every book I read I probably buy at least one more book based on those recommendations.

The price of the information in books pales in comparison to their value.  You can buy life changing information for $20 or less in a paperback book on Amazon, and have it delivered the very next day.

How to be an Effective Seller #4: Qualifying

Time is money, and you’ll never understand how true this is until you make your living from selling.

Identifying and qualifying your best prospects is one of the most important factors in becoming a successful salesperson.


Because it determines where you spend your precious time.

Every product or service has characteristics that determine who your most qualified prospects will be.   

Early in my career I sold newspaper advertising, waaaaay back when most people read a newspaper every day.  This was before the internet changed the game.   

In addition to being popular, newspapers offered a variety of advertising options affordable for any sized business. 

There were inexpensive classified ads, or big display ads running in the news or sports sections. Ads could run in sections targeted to particular areas of the city, and there were printed inserts that could be targeted by zip code.    

Newspaper Characteristics:

  1.  Mass audience  
  2.  Broad or targeted geographic reach
  3. Affordable advertising options for every type of business
  4. Affordable or free production (production means creation) of ads

These characteristics determined it was efficient for me to call on just about any retail business. 

If a business wanted the general public to buy their goods or services, then it was justifiable for me to call on them.

I would go to any commercial building or strip mall and call on every business.  And it worked great, I won awards and routinely led the sales department in opening new accounts.     

Greener Pastures

In the newspaper business, the pay was OK, but regardless of how many millions of dollars of advertising I sold, my earnings were capped.

This drove me nuts, proper incentives are the heartbeat of any successful selling organization, and if you cap good salespeople they will leave for greener pastures.

I was ready to test my selling skills in a higher stakes game, one that paid me only when I sold, and placed no limits on what I could earn.    

This for me was radio advertising.  It paid 100% commission.

And even though I had great experience from my newspaper days, I was a rookie in the radio business, and I had to start from scratch.  This meant no salary, no existing accounts, and very little guidance. 

In order to eat, I had to sell.  

My first year was extremely tough, I took a $40,000 pay cut and almost had to declare personal bankruptcy. 

But I still loved it, because I was learning about radio and helping business owners with their marketing.  And now I was in show business!  Well, kind of.    

Newspaper Prospects are not Radio Prospects 

Newspapers (most of them) are about journalism, ethics and news. 

Radio stations (most of them) are about entertainment.  The ones I worked for had shock jocks, Rock n’ Roll, and sports. 

But enjoying my work and getting paid were two very different things.  I quickly discovered it wasn’t efficient for me to call on every business like I did at the newspaper. 

My radio stations had their own set of characteristics that determined who was a qualified prospect.

Radio Characteristics:

  1. The 3 stations I represented appealed to men ages 25-54
  2. To be on the radio, you have to produce a radio commercial, and it’s a barrier because it costs money and takes time
  3. Listeners are very loyal to their stations, programs and favorite DJ 
  4. Radio can be affordable because it’s a targeted media

I discovered the best way to find qualified prospects was to listen to other radio stations.  This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many salespeople in this business spin their wheels elsewhere. 

Existing radio advertisers are already sold on radio, and they already have commercials produced.

Another qualified target were business owners who were fans of our stations, because they love to hear their own ads and support their favorite programs.  

Radio Advertisers are not TV Advertisers

After selling radio for a few years I noticed how much money was being spent on TV advertising.  TV stations also paid their salespeople on straight commission, and the earnings potential was much greater.

In Indianapolis where I worked, the 4 major broadcast stations (ABC/CBS/FOX/NBC) took in more advertising revenue than all of the radio stations combined.  Fewer salespeople, more money, straight commission, you do the math!

Based on my selling success in newspaper and radio I landed a job with the local CBS station.  And I quickly realized my former radio clients were not good prospects for television advertising. 

Why?  Primarily due to cost.    

It costs more time and money to create a television commercial than it does a radio commercial. Also broadcast TV airtime is more expensive for a variety of reasons.   

And most business owners, especially those who advertise on the radio, have an underlying assumption that the cost of TV is prohibitive.  Blame the Super Bowl and the hype surrounding how much those commercials sell for.

I had to qualify a new set of potential prospects for television advertising. 

Local Broadcast Television Characteristics:

  1. Like big newspapers, broadcast networks like CBS reach a large audience over a wide geographic area
  2. TV costs more than newspapers because there is the no way to geographically target ads 
  3. The cost of producing a commercial on TV is more expensive than radio because you are dealing with video in addition to audio
  4. The cost of broadcast TV airtime is generally more expensive than individual radio stations because the audience is larger

Like radio, it was more efficient to target other TV advertisers because they already had commercials produced.  

Also, broadcast TV was often purchased on behalf of clients by advertising agencies, so advertising agencies would become targets as well. 

I determined I would only call on businesses who could serve a large geographic area like auto dealers, HVAC companies, grocery stores, and department stores.

Also, I determined it would take $10,000 per month minimum to run an effective schedule on our station.  Doing the math, that equates to $120k per year.  A business would need to gross $5M or more per year to afford an advertising spend of that size. 

Why?  We knew that most retail businesses spend between 3 – 5% of their gross sales on advertising.  In a $5M business, that equates to about $150,000 allocated to advertising.    

You might ask, how did you determine sales volume and find these types of businesses? 

Reference USA

There are many tools out there to find your prospects and gather intelligence.  LinkedIn, Zoom Info, Google, company websites, trade journals, and more.  I won’t go into all of them here because it’s already been done.

But there is one source of information I find many salespeople have never heard of, and that’s too bad because it might be a better resource than anything else. 

Reference USA is operated by Infogroup, the leading source of business and residential data in the United States. 

And Infogroup sells access to their vast database to Libraries, who use it as a tool to recruit members.  And if you are a member of a library and have a library card, this amazing resource is available to you for free. 

You can find information on:

  • 24 million U.S. businesses
  • 1.5 million Canadian businesses
  • 675,000 doctors and 180,000 dentists
  • 50,000 new U.S. businesses (added weekly)
  • 89 million residents (U.S. Standard White Pages)
  • 12 million households (Canadian White Pages)
  • 235 million consumers
  • 300,000 U.S. new movers and 100,000 new homeowners (added weekly)

Business Information Includes:

  • Company name 
  • Phone number 
  • Complete address 
  • Key executive name 
  • SIC Codes 
  • Employee size 
  • Sales volume 
  • Business expenditures 
  • Geo-codes for mapping 
  • Fax and toll-free numbers 
  • Website addresses 
  • Franchise and brand information 
  • Headline news
  • Email addresses 
  • Business credit rating scores 

Residential Information Includes:

  • Median household income
  • Median home value
  • Latitude/longitude
  • Percentage of owner-occupied housing

No matter what you sell, it’s worth taking the time to identify the characteristics of your product or service that will lead you to complete a profile of your ideal customers. 

The profile will usually be a combination of the following:

  • Type of industry or business sector using your product or service
  • Gross Sales volume
  • # of employees
  • Geographic
  • Who’s making the economic decision to buy your product or service.  Is the CEO? Or is it a VP or director?  Or do they hire professional buyers like advertising agencies or consultants?  It could be multiple people. 

Without this you are flying blind, and wasting time, and therefore wasting your own money.   

How to Be an Effective Seller #3: Play Dumb

Don’t Act Like a Salesperson

Have you ever been in charge of buying anything for a company? 

Ever been in a situation where salespeople call you every day?  I have.  And I can assure you, very quickly, you build up a shield of armor. 

I can also say, from personal experience, the salespeople who break through this armor are those who persist, and are thoughtful, and show vulnerability.

If clients don’t view you as threatening, they’ll feel more comfortable and be inclined to meet with you.

When a client is comfortable, guess what, they are more willing to share their problems, problems you can hopefully solve. 

Vulnerability Builds Credibility

You have a huge advantage early in your sales career by not being an expert, or having any product knowledge, something you may think is a disadvantage. 

But it’s not.  

It’s why I place this rule of “being dumb” so early on my list of effective selling tips.

Before you become an expert in what you sell, before you learn the industry jargon, and technical specifications, and the features and benefits, you’ll do something much more important with your clients:  You’ll listen.   

Even more important, you’ll disarm them by not acting like you know everything.  This vulnerability triggers a natural instinct in people, and they will try to help you. 

Avoid Confusing Language  

In just about every industry or profession there are terms and language unknown to the outside world.    

I worked in the media industry most of my life.  Have you ever heard of a CPM (cost per thousand), or CPP (cost per point), or HUT (households using television), or AQH (average quarter hour)? 

Probably not, yet salespeople in my industry commonly use these terms to sound smart in front of clients.

And clients may nod their heads acting like they understand, but they don’t, they just don’t want to look stupid. 

The use of industry jargon and technical words creates discomfort and confusion. 

And the net result of confusing anyone in the selling process is no sale.  

Learning and Listening

I will never forget a story from my sales training many years ago.

A department store hires a young salesclerk and assigns him to the section of the store selling portable heaters and other hardware. 

It happened to be a frigid winter and there were a lot of customers trying to keep their homes warm. 

This kid was far from an expert in portable heaters.  So, instead he listened intently to his customers, seeking to learn from them. 

He worked patiently with each person to figure out the best heating option for their home.

Eventually, they would figure out the right solution together and the customer would make a purchase, no closing necessary. 

As a result of his disarming nature, patience, and willingness to listen, his sales skyrocketed.

His numbers were so good the store manager enrolled him into their management trainee program.  There he learned all of the latest sales techniques and product knowledge.   

And next winter, another cold snap, and our new management trainee was ready to sell.  No one had more technical know-how on portable heaters than this kid.

But a funny thing happened, instead of listening to his customers, he spent more time trying use the techniques and share the knowledge he learned in training.

Instead of making customers feel more comfortable, their guard went up, because now it felt like they were being sold to.

His sales cratered, even in a record cold winter.  Because nobody  likes to be sold to – people only like to buy. 

Be Like Detective Columbo

You might remember a popular television series starring Peter Falk as Detective Columbo, a homicide detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. 

If you haven’t watched it, and are serious about a career in sales, I strongly encourage you to check it out. 

Detective Columbo had a unique approach to solving crimes. He wanted suspects to believe they were smarter than him. And instead of treating them with disrespect, he established rapport with them. 

He was chatty, often sprinkling in details about his personal life.  He was unfailingly polite and would address everyone as “sir”, “ma’am”, or “miss” .

He wasn’t socially polished, and his demeanor was unassuming. He presented himself as a simple man easily impressed by the West Coast movers, shakers and celebrities who were his suspects. 

He wore a wrinkled beige raincoat over his rumpled suit and tie.  Instead of a police issue sedan, he drove a beat-up convertible. 

He didn’t even carry a gun. 

His suspects were dismissive of Detective Columbo after their first meeting, because he didn’t look or act like someone capable of catching them – they saw him as inept.

Suspects became comfortable around him, and his relentless curiosity allowed him to tease out incriminating evidence.

Often, they were so exasperated by the end of his investigation they would end up confessing. 

You should act like Detective Columbo when selling.

You don’t have to wear messy clothes or drive a beat-up car.  But you should recognize the psychological advantage of disarming your clients by not acting like the typical salesperson. 

You should swallow your ego and allow the client to be the big shot in your conversation. 

This is how you truly uncover pain and learn what solutions are needed to close a sale.

Nobody was threatened by Detective Columbo, and when their guard was down, suspects would willingly share information, secretly thinking there’s no way this dumb detective will ever figure it out, and then he’d arrest them.   

Clients don’t have to believe you are dumb, just that you’re there to learn, and when they feel you are there to learn, they’ll teach you how they like to buy.    

If you’re a new salesperson just starting out, you should feel empowered by your lack of experience and knowledge and just go out and learn from as many clients as possible.

How to Be an Effective Seller #2: Embrace the Power of the Hustle

If you sell for a living, making calls on qualified strangers is a must. And a lack of doing it effectively (and frequently) is typically the reason for failure. 

When I was selling advertising in my college newspaper, it was easy as long I made enough sales calls.

There was intrinsic demand for newspaper advertising, because they held a monopolistic advantage.

That’s why I stayed in the ad selling business and joined The Indianapolis Star, the largest daily newspaper in Indiana. 

The hustle ethic I developed in college served me well because nobody at The Star worked very hard.  It was like unionized labor for salespeople. 

I once overheard the Director of Sales proclaim just by answering the telephone the paper would take in over $100 million dollars per year. 

I was not deterred, and spent each day calling as many prospects as possible.  By sheer volume I was guaranteed to outsell everyone else. 

And it became a reality when I won salesperson of the year twice in just four years on the job.

Business Owners are Busy

Embracing the hustle means optimizing your time and making that extra effort to get a potential client’s attention.

Most salespeople give up after just a few attempts, and put little thought into their outreach.

But here’s a fact, people who have the power to buy products and services – the decision makers, or economic buyers, or owners of businesses etc. – they are inundated by bad salespeople every day. 

And the only way to get their attention is through repetitive yet thoughtful outreach.

What I mean by repetitive is it may take a dozen or more different attempts per client.

What I mean by thoughtful is doing some research and providing rationale for why anyone should meet with you.

Over the years I developed a strategy for how much activity I needed each day to be successful; I call it The Power of Ten, and it gave me a benchmark to achieve selling success. 

Why the Power of Ten Works

Because 10 is a good number for just about any type of sales position, unless you’re a telemarketer.     

Your 10 daily touches can be a combination of meetings with new or existing clients, and cold outreach efforts like phone calls, emails, letters, and canvassing (stopping into a business). 

There are 3 primary reasons why you should have a set number in mind for your daily activity. 

First, one day, you will feel like you’ve run out of people to call on.  And when this happens, you look back and find new ways to creatively reach out to the people you’ve already called on

Very rarely will you land an appointment with a highly qualified prospect in just one attempt.  It should take multiple attempts to get their attention. If it’s too easy, then you should be worried.   

Remember, you are 1 of 30 or more salespeople trying to get a client’s attention on any given day.    

Secondly, any more than 10 calls per day turns you into a telemarketer.

The Power of Ten is not for telemarketers. It’s for outside salespeople who should embrace their creative freedom to use multiple media to influence prospective clients.

For instance, sending a cold email – with no research or rationale, to someone who’s never heard of you – doesn’t count. 

However, if that email contains rationale, based on research you’ve conducted on that business, on why they should consider meeting with you, then its worthy.  

Below is an example of an email I sent to a high-ranking executive who gets hundreds of emails a day from salespeople, he’s never met me or heard of me, and he responded the same day:

Hello Rick,

I’m the new XXXXX @XXXX.  XXX just took over XXX – we are now part of the same team who helps you @ XX and XXX.  Jerry XXX suggested I reach out to you. 

XXX has zero partners in the XXX category.  There is a real opportunity here to establish a foothold and possibly even own the category for a relatively small investment.

From what I can see you have 6 maybe 7 offices where XXX has influence, here is a link to a recent study on the Economic Impact of XXX and surrounding counties:  http://www.examplelink

We would love to develop some ideas for this upcoming XXXX – but If budgets are long allocated would you mind visiting with me in January? 

Thanks for your consideration XXX – and have a great weekend.

Shane, thank you for your email and it good to hear that you have partnered with XXX. 

We would absolutely entertain an opportunity to work together!  Let me reach out to my Advertising team and have them reach out to you. Hopefully, we can get something set up in the near future to talk through 2019 and what opportunities might be available for both of us.
Thanks for your email and we will be in touch.

Since you’re only doing 10 touches per day, spend time making each one thoughtful and creative. 

Some days you’ll run out of time developing your creative approaches – it’s OK – quality over quantity is the point. 

After a while you can use the same language in all of your outreach. And start developing scripts and automating your processes increasing your efficiency.

At the end of this post I’ll share with you an opportunity to download proven materials, scripts, and tactics that help me increase my response to emails and phone calls. 

And Thirdly, there is a psychological benefit to limiting your efforts to 10 calls per day.

At some point you need a break.  And If you spent the time to do 10 meaningful outreaches – regardless of the results – you’ve done a good days’ work.

To summarize the Power of Ten:

  1. Make 10 outreaches per day, every day, Monday – Friday.
  2. These outreaches are a combination of appointments, calls, emails, canvassing and are either related new business development, up selling and/or retention. 
  3. The primary goal of outreaches is to secure appointments to present solutions and close sales.

If you would like to learn more about the scripts, language, systems and tactics I use to get response to my emails and phone calls, you can purchase my guide “How to Land More Appointments with Prospects” by emailing

How to Be an Effective Seller #1: Sell Something you Believe in

About My Selling Credentials

I’ve been in sales and business development my entire professional life. 

I never had the desire, academic chops, or patience to become anything else.  I took the LSAT and my score was so miserable I’m embarrassed to even share it. 

Truth is, I am an introverted person. I shouldn’t be attracted to the selling profession.  But according to my parents and grandparents, I have a good personality – and good manners – which are helpful in selling.

There were other factors that led me into sales: I had bad grades, I was the class clown, I have the attention span of a gnat, I’m not unpleasant to look at, I have some hair, I’m a snappy dresser, I like to golf, and I’m competitive. 

And most importantly, without a graduate degree, professional aspirations, or entrepreneurial ambitions, selling was the best path for me to earn good money.

Here are the sales positions I’ve worked in:

  1. Account Executive for The Ball State Daily News (newspaper advertising sales)
  2. Account Executive for The Indianapolis Star and News (newspaper advertising sales)
  3. Account Executive for Time Inc. (magazine advertising sales)
  4. Account Executive for 3 radio stations (radio advertising)
  5. Account Executive for a CBS Local TV station (TV advertising sales)
  6. Account Executive for Ivie & Associates (selling marketing services to businesses)
  7. VP of Accounts for Ivie & Associates (same as above)
  8. Account Executive for an NBC Local TV station (TV advertising sales)
  9. General Manager for Ball State Sports Properties (corporate sponsorship sales for collegiate sports)

So, I’ve been around the block, and learned a few things over the years.  Not to brag – but everywhere I’ve sold I’ve been successful.  In some cases, I’ve been the top seller among many, and even won some awards.   

In the coming weeks, I will share what I believe to be the 10 most important ingredients in becoming a successful salesperson.

#1:  Sell Something You Love or Believe In

In college, needing to make beer money, my interest in advertising and newspapers led me to a student job selling ads for our school newspaper – The Ball State Daily News.  And it may have been the worst way to start my sales career.

Why?  Because newspapers (this was the late 1990’s) were still the dominant advertising media for local business.  Before Google, Craigslist, Facebook, Snap Chat, and other digital media companies devastated print advertising.

It was so easy. 

Selling ads in a college newspaper – to a business in a college town – wasn’t rocket science.  We had a monopoly on the campus audience.  And I exploited our dominance.

The key here, I also loved the product

The key here, I also loved the product.  I devoured newspapers every morning since I was a kid eating bowls of Captain Crunch cereal.  There were no smart phones, laptops, or tablets. 

Secretly, I wanted to be a journalist.  But there were too many smart people vying for those positions, and I knew a job as a reporter didn’t pay much. 

So, I sold ads, and discovered it was the highest paying student job on campus.  I not only loved the money, I loved that I was supporting journalism, and I was also supporting students learning how to be journalists!

This made selling more of a mission, and it didn’t feel like a job, it felt like service.   

It’s About Service

First, I was serving advertisers by introducing them to new customers. Second, I was serving our journalists because the advertising revenue paid for their expenses. And third, I was serving our readers by funding the gathering of the news they wanted to read. 

Contrast this with selling something I wasn’t interested in, like pharmaceuticals, or industrial widgets, or medical devices – selling something I didn’t have a passion for would have made it more difficult to overcome my shyness and call on strangers.

In order to be successful in sales, you have to call on strangers

The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith:

In order to be successful in sales, you have to call on strangers.  Strangers who don’t necessarily want to talk to you. 

And you may have to repeatedly call until these strangers are convinced you won’t go away.  And if they agree to talk to you, finally recognizing your dogged persistence, they’ll often discover you have a solution to their pain and buy something.

This is so much easier to do when you believe in what you are selling.  Not just a fake belief, but a true interest and passion for the product or service you represent.  

I have always had a passion for journalism, advertising, and marketing, so I have stayed where my passion was fueling my sales efforts. 

In my next post on becoming an effective seller, I’ll dive into “Embracing The Art of The Hustle”.

Why Selling Is Important

Some people believe selling is a god given skill.

It’s not, you can develop this skill quite easily.  Anyone can get better at selling by changing how they look at the concept of selling.

You may never achieve rainmaker status, the highest level of selling, but you can develop sales skills that will help you immensely in life, and in business, and in finding a mate.  And I hope my story helps you. 

The greatest benefit to having the ability to sell is it distinguishes you from the majority of the workforce.

It’s an extra arrow in your quiver of arrows making you a more marketable employee.  And if you ever dream of owning your own business, selling others on your idea will be helpful.

I find many people are afraid of selling for or one or more of the following reasons:

  1. Their personal appearance is less than flattering; overweight, bad teeth, out of shape, bald or balding etc.
  2. Introverted personality, shyness
  3. Lack of knowledge and/or respect about the importance of the sales process in any business
  4. Feel their advanced degree and education (doctors and lawyers for example) make them exempt from selling

Here’s some truth.  If you send two women, one stunningly beautiful and the other of average beauty (both with equal selling skills) to sell the same product to a man, the beautiful woman will win that sales contest 100% of the time.

Here’s more truth, good looking men can more easily sell to women than other women. 

Beautiful people have advantages over everyone else in this world.  But looks are a very small part of effective selling.  Looks may get you in the door faster, but skill is what closes a sale.  Skills that you can develop.

Why? Because ultimately – decision makers value solutions to their problems.  And if you can get their attention, listen, uncover their pain, and provide a solution, it won’t matter what you look like. 

How an Introvert Can Sell

I personally struggle with being an introvert. I’d rather stay in the comfort of my own home or enjoy the solitude of a golf course than do any anything social. 

But social shyness and business shyness are two very different animals.

It’s OK to be socially shy, but when it comes to business, it’s about your survival. 

And if eating and supporting a family isn’t motivation enough to break out of your shell – then nobody can help you. 

You have to help yourself in this instance.  The motivation to survive – and thrive – should trump all shyness in the business jungle.   

How do you do it?  By assuming a different identity for your social life and business life. 

Christopher Reeves as Clark Kent in Superman

Being shy and awkward at home like Clark Kent is fine, but when you dress for work you must turn into Superman – or Wonder Woman – a fearless version of yourself ready to do battle in a fierce capitalistic world of business. 

Chistopher Reeves as Superman in Superman

I find that many professionals like lawyers, doctors, and accountants dismiss the idea they need to sell.  Why else did they spend all those years in school studying? 

But the most successful and wealthy professionals develop a healthy respect for the selling process. 

They must win clients before they can attain partnership status or build their own practice. And they do thy by skillfully selling.  

Why Selling is HARD

There are three foundational marketing principles underlying any successful business:

  1. Continued customer acquisition
  2. Conversion and Sales Optimization
  3. Customer Retention and Referrals

The most important, difficult and expensive of the three is customer acquisition.


Because … until someone, somehow, in some way – convinces a business, government, non-profit organization or person to part with their money – absolutely nothing would transpire in the world of business.    

And because the selling process takes time, and customers are finicky, there’s endless competition, habits and trends change, leadership changes, governments and laws change. 

It takes patience to develop a relationship, to win trust, and deliver a solution.  It takes persistence, drive, skill and psychology. 

The Indians tried to create rain through rituals and prayer.  Man tried to create rain through science. In the business world, rain is made through methodical and strategic sales and marketing efforts. 

And for those who can consistently sell at the highest levels, they are the true rainmakers. 

The Rainmakers and The Fulfillers

Very generally, there are two kinds of people in this world, rainmakers and fulfillers.  Those who can sell, and those who can’t – or don’t want to, for a variety of reasons, I call them the fulfillers. 

The vast majority of our planet is on the fulfillment side. They are the specialists, or subject matter experts, or number crunchers, and managers.  Their jobs are to fulfill and manage the obligations of the sale. 

Fulfillment of a sale is vitally important because it’s what retains and grows clients.  But the selling part is much more difficult.   

In his book Million Dollar Consulting, author Alan Weiss calls fulfillers – “delivery people”, and makes this point:  “If anyone tries to tell you … that delivery is the key to client success, I’d remind them that delivery people are more common than garden weeds, and rainmakers are rarer than Sasquatch.”

The process by which you are compelled to buy a McDonald’s cheeseburger and Coke has evolved from a sophisticated team of sales, marketing and merchandise folks – fulfillers trying to drive traffic into McDonald’s retail locations. 

The delivery of the meal is also fulfilled by the franchisor, who pays handsomely for the brand and system that delivers a Coke and cheeseburger to her customers.

The one who developed the idea, licensed it, financed it, and sold it to the masses was Ray Kroc, the rainmaker in this scenario.    

Ray Croc, Founder of McDonald’s

The car salesperson – or realtor – who start with nothing – and go on to build successful careers must develop rainmaking skills to succeed.

The finance person at the dealership, or the title agent at the title company, are the fulfillers of their sales.  The realtor and car salesperson generated the rain.  

While working at a Division One collegiate athletics program I witnessed true rainmaking from their athletics director – Beth.  You’d think an A.D. would be consumed with wins and losses, not so much.  Her mission was fundraising. 

Her focus was on raising money (making rain) to fund scholarships and build state-of-the-art athletics facilities designed to attract recruits and coaching talent. Which in the long term will lead to more wins for the program.

In my next series of posts, I am going to focus on the sales profession and what I believe to be the 10 most important ingredients into becoming an effective salesperson.

How to Be an Intelligent Investor – And Advertiser

Featured on Inside Indiana Business

I believe the core principles of value investing in the stock market also apply to the world of advertising.  Whether you’re buying stocks, or advertising, the goal is the same: create a profitable return on your investment.  And in each activity, there’s a speculative factor with no guarantee for success.  Anyone can buy stocks, or bonds, or advertising; it is the intelligent buyers who find value where nobody else is looking.    

Value Investing

In 1949, legendary investor, Benjamin Graham, published one of the most popular books ever written about investing in the stock market, The Intelligent Investor – The Definitive Book on Value Investing.  You may know one of his most loyal followers – Warren Buffett. 

Graham’s searched for gaps in the intrinsic value of businesses and the prices of those businesses, then took advantage of those gaps by purchasing stocks or bonds in these companies at a discount.  These deviations in value often occurred because the prevailing herd on Wall Street (and the media) didn’t favor a specific industry or category of business.  When these enterprises were out of favor, or boring – yet still profitable and dependable businesses – their stock could often be bought below the fundamental value of the business. In plain terms, the companies were undervalued by Wall Street.  

For example, remember the dot-com bubble in the late 1990’s?  This is when the herd on Wall Street speculated excessively on dot-com businesses while profitable but untrendy businesses saw their values stagnate and stock prices sink.  

Become an Intelligent Advertiser 

I find most business owners today are quick to dismiss traditional or offline media as a viable option to market their business.  When I refer to offline or traditional media, I’m talking about everything but the internet.  Generally speaking – print (Direct Mail, Newspapers, Magazines) and broadcast (Radio and Television).

How can I blame them? For years they were restricted to boring newspaper ads, dreary direct mail, and seemingly ancient radio and television.  A lot of business owners think traditional media tactics are too expensive, wasteful, and difficult to execute profitably.  

Many businesses are handing over their marketing duties to younger adults who have very little exposure or interest in traditional media.  Or, they hire digitally-focused advertising agencies with zero experience – or interest – in anything offline or traditional.   

The marketing universe is consumed by propaganda in trade publications, newspapers, white papers, research studies, books, commentary and interviews with industry leaders – all focused entirely on social and digital media trends.  

Good news, this creates opportunity for the intelligent advertiser.  Offline media is very much out of favor.  Not because they don’t work, but because they had their bubble, and it burst many years ago.  While digital and social media attract the spotlight, I urge you to consider the significant underlying value in traditional media.  

If we were to compare advertising tactics to the stock market – you might classify offline media as an old blue-chip stock cranking out reliable profits and dividends for its investors.  Kind of like IBM, or Chevron.  Far from sexy, but profitable, and a classic value investment because the price of traditional media has never been lower.  

There have never been more ways to spend money on advertising than there are today.  And many “experts” give digital and social media far more credit than they deserve for their true influence on consumer behaviors.  Many digital solutions are wonderful, but just as many are faddish, unproven, wasteful, and fueled by hype.  

In case you hadn’t noticed, every major digital or social media company – from Facebook to Google to Amazon to Apple – all invest a considerable sum into traditional media.  

So much marketing advice these days comes from people who are rebelling against traditional media. They have a vigor and desire to disrupt (and I applaud and support their efforts), but this clouds their judgment when they won’t consider all the available options. Professional marketers and service providers who ignore how to execute successful marketing in traditional media are basically shunning the lowest-hanging fruit of potential success.

The Bottom Line

I’m not saying you shouldn’t invest in digital marketing or online infrastructure.  The point is: don’t get caught up in the hype, and don’t dilute your already small advertising budget (in comparison your national competitors) with a bunch of unproven digital and social media tactics – unless those tactics truly are the right solution.  In the pursuit of value, Intelligent investors and advertisers don’t have a bias toward any advertising tactic, the only metric that matters is return on investment.  

Shane Nichols is the General Manager of Ball State Sports Properties for Learfield Communications and the author of The Intelligent Advertiser, The Definitive Guide to Finding Value in Local Broadcast Media.

How to Win Business and Influence People Part 1: Use Better Bait

Featured on Inside Indiana Business

Read Parts 2 & 3 of this series by following these links:

If your goal is to show a positive return on your invested marketing dollars, there are three key components of your marketing strategy that must work in harmony:  The math, or the media buy – the merchandising, or how you maximize transactions – and the messaging, or your creative.  

I believe the most important element is the messaging — what are you saying in your paid media to get a response from prospective customers? Anybody can buy media, the intelligent advertiser takes the time to develop a unique selling point, which may ultimately influence the media they use. And with the growing number of advertising options, this is now more important than ever.  

Here is a very common scenario, you spend a lot of time and effort on where to invest your marketing budget, spend even more time negotiating rates, and now it’s time to submit your ad.  Problem is — you’re busy running the business — so you decide to repeat last year’s ad.  

This is probably the most common mistake in all of advertising, a failure to take the time and effort to develop a unique selling point or actionable offer that will resonate with your target audience.  Because once you have the foundation of a truly unique selling point, it can be used forever.  

If your ad wastes precious airtime or space on any of the following features, then you probably won’t get a measurable response to your ad: 

  1. How long you’ve been in business 
  2. Having a family-owned business 
  3. Being locally owned and operated 

Notice that your national competitors can’t use any of these features in their advertising, and it doesn’t seem to hurt them one bit! 

Try spending one day paying attention to as much TV, radio and print advertising as you can stomach, and you’ll be stunned at how many businesses claim one or all three of these clichéd features. 

Bottom line: Spending money on ad space or air time and not utilizing it with some type of offer or unique selling point renders your investment unmeasurable.  

Your message should be 100% about getting a direct, immediate response from the small number of customers who are ready and able to buy at that moment.  And then, getting contact information from those who will buy – but aren’t ready yet.

Branding is for manufacturers with deep pockets like General Motors and their Chevrolet brand of cars and trucks. Response driven advertising is for the local Chevy dealer who sells the cars and trucks. 

For example, instead of just advertising a low monthly payment, Hare Chevrolet in Noblesville, IN features the “Sisters of Savings” who help you save money in their catchy radio commercials. 

The Sisters of Savings:  Courtney Cole and Monica Peck  

Testimonials from customers describing how you helped solve their problem or impressed them with your service are among the most effective forms of messaging. 

Indianapolis hair restoration clinic, PAI Medical, developed an effective and unique campaign when they started recruiting popular local DJs to endorse their service and products.

They find DJs who have thinning hair, restore their hair, then feature the successful transformation through testimonials on radio, television, and billboards. It’s a potent combination, especially when you hear your friendly DJ describe on-air how it improved their life.  

Celebrated author and master direct-response marketer Dan S. Kennedy offers great advice in his book, The Ultimate Marketing Plan. He advises taking a stack of 3×5 index cards and writing down every fact, feature, benefit, promise, offer component, and idea on each card—until you have exhausted everything you know about your business and direct competitors. Then try to prioritize these items by what is going to be most compelling to your customers—and by what makes you stand out from your competition. 

This doesn’t mean you have to become an experimenter or innovator – instead, be an adapter – and implementer.  Pay attention to unique approaches that are working from entrepreneurs in your industry in other markets and make them your own. 

How to Win Business and Influence People Part 2: Be A Better Merchandiser

Featured on Inside Indiana Business

Read Parts 1 & 3 of this series by following these links:

If your goal is to show a positive return on your invested marketing dollars, there are three key elements of your strategy that must work in harmony — the math, the merchandising, and the messaging.  

In part one I emphasized how important it is to create a unique selling point or compelling offer so you can generate immediate response and track your advertising.  In part two I’ll focus on how important it is to maximize opportunities created by your advertising — also known as merchandising.     

Imagine this scenario: you operate a successful grocery store in a thriving neighborhood. Through a partnership with a local dairy farm, you have an exclusive opportunity to sell a very popular brand of organic milk for half the price of your competitors. A truly compelling and unique offer.

You capitalize on the opportunity and double your usual advertising budget for the month. You also quadruple your order with the dairy farm and create more space near the entrance of the store to display the milk.

The response is tremendous. Sales of organic milk triple, and your average sale per customer reflects this, but the increase in sales is exclusive to the milk. You also attract hundreds of new customers who are not regular shoppers, but you find a lot of them purchase only the milk. It appears your regular customers are doing their usual shopping and adding just the milk, and new customers are also cherry-picking your store for this one item. 

This is an example of a failure to merchandise. The failure occurred in a few areas. Although you were smart to increase advertising and the amount of product you ordered, you failed to capitalize on the surge in store traffic. 

Maximizing sales opportunities from customers ready to buy your merchandise or service is one of the least expensive tactics to grow your sales. 

By displaying the milk at the front of the store, you didn’t invite customers to experience the rest of your store and other merchandising efforts. If the milk had been placed at the rear of the store— you’ll notice that all dairy products are as far from the door as possible—you would have forced customers to walk the entirety of your store and be exposed to other selling opportunities. Who knows, half of the customers might have picked up two or three other items on their way to get milk! 

In addition to placing the milk in the wrong part of the store, you didn’t surround it with displays for complementary items such as eggs, cereal, and bacon, to increase your basket size or overall sale.

What if you own home service business, and whenever your coupon runs in the local newspaper you receive 10–20 calls — which is great and means you took the time to develop a compelling offer!  

However, the person answering your phone is not trained or prepared to handle leads, they think their job is to just to be a receptionist. In fact they are juggling several other duties as well as answering the phone.

They have no script, no process to follow, and no customer relationship software to record the caller’s information for future marketing opportunities. Half of the time, the calls go to voicemail.  This is a failure to merchandise by not creating a process to manage in-bound calls.  

In another example, let’s say you operate a furniture store, and from a pure merchandising standpoint the store is physically arranged to maximize sales in every possible way.  The hottest sale items are in the back of the store, there are multiple displays of entire furniture sets so customer can visualize what their new bedroom, family room or kitchen will look like.  

But, compared to some of the newer national chains who sell the same type of furniture, your store is dated.  The carpet is old, the lights are dim, the ceiling is low, and the parking lot has potholes.  This is a failure to merchandise by keeping your infrastructure up to date.  

Investments made into your physical and digital infrastructure are often expensive and difficult to commit to, but often pay dividends for many years.  So the cost essentially can be spread out over 5 or 10 years depending on the type of improvement.  

The Secret To Getting More Response From Your Advertising

There are A LOT of things that need to go right before you succeed in advertising.

First, you need to buy the correct media, at the right time, and at the right level of repetition.  

Then, be sure your store, website and employees are ready to maximize any response to the advertising.  

And finally — you must create an appealing offer or unique selling point so people have a reason to respond.   

And, the definition of success is getting a measurable return on your investment, not “getting the word out.”

The secret to getting more response is to have multiple offers that appeal to all customers in the buying process for your product or service.  

In addition to focusing on those ready to buy — engage the larger pool of customers not ready to buy yet — who may buy in the future.  

The illustration below is a typical buying funnel starting with Awareness, then Interest, then Desire, and finally Action.

At any given moment there are people ready to buy your product or service — people ready to take Action.  Depending on your type of industry, only a small percentage of a given population will be Action buyers, the vast majority are in the other stages.  

My sales coach Matt Nettleton owns a Sandler Sales Training business in downtown Indianapolis, and he is great at appealing to people in every stage of their buying process (for sales training). 

Low threshold offers

Matt often advertises free books, white papers and other research as a free gift to people who are interested in learning about Sandler Sales training techniques.

These non-buyers are willing to provide their contact information in exchange for this valuable information, but they’re not ready to interact with anyone in person.  

The more helpful and valuable this information is will determine how engaged the customer becomes with your business.

Do them a favor, share some secrets about your business while they do their research, and they’ll reward you later with a purchase.

Medium threshold offers  

Matt also conducts free seminars encouraging potential clients to sample his services at no charge.

These events attract people further along in the buying process, beyond Interest and moving towards a Decision.  

They’re willing to experience a higher level of commitment, to physically interact with someone.  This type of personal interaction gives Matt a great opportunity to convert people into buyers.

A no obligation invitation to experience Matt’s sales training class for free

High threshold offers

Matt also conducts paid seminars, like this Sandler Sales Training Boot Camp.  People who sign up for this are are ready to take Action

These customers are ready to buy and the question your ad should answer is — why should they buy from you?

The rationale you give for why they should buy now shouldn’t be: how long you’ve been in business, or that you are a family and/or locally owned business. Nobody cares.

This is about grasping the bigger picture. Anybody can attract the “now buyers.”

Intelligent advertisers recognize the greater value in the ENTIRE PIPELINE of prospects.


How ESPN Ruined Monday Night Football

On September 21, 1970, the ABC television network first aired Monday Night Football in primetime, and it was an immediate hit — capturing over 30% of the entire US TV audience, and would remain a top 20 primetime program for decades.  That is, until ESPN ruined it.

In 2006 when the MNF contract was up for renewal, ESPN grossly overpaid the NFL while giving up the right to feature the best games, and replaced popular veteran announcers like Al Michaels and John Madden with lesser known anchors from Sportscenter.

The Worst Games

ESPN pays almost $2 billion per year to air just one game a week — Monday Night Football.  To say they overpaid is an understatement — they didn’t even get a Super Bowl as part of this package.  It’s nearly twice what NBC pays to air Sunday Night Football.

When ESPN closed this billion dollar deal some of its top executives believed they were buying the schedule of the previous Monday Night Football package — which usually featured one of the top games of the week.  But NBC cunningly negotiated this feature away.

Sunday Night Football became the NFL’s premier prime-time package, giving it the best games and the right to steal the best matchups from Fox and CBS.  ESPN basically gets the leftovers, and it’s unfortunate because not only is it their loss, it’s ours too — because Monday nights aren’t as fun as they used to be. 

How did this happen?  Well, in part because the relationship between the NFL and ESPN has been rocky over the years.  ESPN considers itself a journalistic enterprise and many of their journalists have been — and continue to be — critical of the NFL, particularly on the concussion issue.  I champion journalistic voices not only in sports, but in government, politics and business.  But in the world of sports entertainment it’s risky to criticize an organization (The NFL) who controls the most popular live content on the planet.

The options for where the NFL can sell their content is growing daily — and at the end of the day – ESPN is just another cable network — another platform in a sea of platforms eager for content.  In an effort to take a positive step in building a better relationship, ESPN basically took whatever the NFL was offering while negotiating the MNF contract.

In Broadcast vs. Cable, Broadcast usually wins

NBC’s Sunday Night Football has been the #1 ranked show in all of TV for nine straight years.  When ABC aired Monday Night Football — even as the network struggled with ratings overall — it was a perennial Top 10 primetime program.  During the 2017 regular season, ESPN’s Monday night games averaged a record-low 10.8 million viewers, according to SBD. That was down 6 percent from the previous season.

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 10.03.18 AM

There are bigger trends at work here — all TV ratings are trending downward.  People are cutting their cable cords, buying antennas, and subscribing to more streaming services.  There are simply more options than ever when it comes to entertaining ourselves.  

Monday Night Football also changed platforms, moving from the ABC broadcast network — available to pretty much every household in America for free with an antenna — to ESPN — a cable network requiring a subscription to access their content.  This drastically reduced distribution and availability to millions of viewers — now you have to pay to watch MNF.

NBC built a franchise for Sunday Night Football out of thin air and created the #1 program in all of primetime.  I attribute that partly to the undervalued power and distribution of broadcast television.  Also NBC is brilliant at promotion, and production, and they understand primetime games deserve primetime talent.

A Lack of Star Power

NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle’s idea behind MNF was to promote football to the masses, and to make it even more interesting they added star power to the announcing booth.  When MNF debuted in 1970 it showcased the popular personalities of Howard Cossell, Keith Jackson and Don Meredith.  ESPN’s latest lineup features Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten, Booger McFarland, and sideline reporter Lisa Salters.  If you are a casual fan of the NFL and don’t watch Sportscenter or ESPN religiously, it’s likely you’ve never heard of these people.

Below is a list of MNF announcers over the years and pay attention to who ESPN put in the booth in their debut year — a wonderful but mild Mike Tirico alongside a very good Joe Theisman alongside Washington Post Sports Columnist Tony Kornheiser.  We went from Al Michaels and Jon Madden, superstars of football broadcasting, to a Sportscenter anchor and a newspaper columnist.  They are all wonderfully talented professionals, but ESPN took the fun out of Monday Night Football and turned it into a nerd fest of jock talk.

As Don Meredith famously said in the show’s heyday, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.’’

1970Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith
1971Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith
1972Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith
1973Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith
1974Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, Fred Williamson
1975Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Alex Karras
1976Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Alex Karras
1977Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith
1978Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith
1979Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, Fran Tarkenton
1980Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, Fran Tarkenton
1981Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, Fran Tarkenton
1982Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, Fran Tarkenton
1983Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, O.J. Simpson
1984Frank Gifford, Don Meredith, O.J. Simpson
1985Frank Gifford, O.J. Simpson, Joe Namath
1986Al Michaels, Frank Gifford
1987Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf
1988Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf
1989Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf
1990Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf
1991Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf
1992Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf
1993Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf
1994Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf, Lynn Swann
1995Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf, Lynn Swann
1996Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf, Lynn Swann
1997Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf, Lesley Visser
1998Al Michaels, Dan Dierdorf, Boomer Esiason, Lesley Visser
1999Al Michaels, Boomer Esiason, Lesley Visser
2000Al Michaels, Dan Fouts, Dennis Miller, Melissa Stark, Eric Dickerson
2001Al Michaels, Dan Fouts, Dennis Miller, Melissa Stark, Eric Dickerson
2002Al Michaels, John Madden, Melissa Stark
2003Al Michaels, John Madden, Lisa Guerrero
2004Al Michaels, John Madden, Michele Tafoya
2005Al Michaels, John Madden, Michele Tafoya, Sam Ryan *
2006Mike Tirico, Tony Kornheiser, Joe Theismann, Suzy Kolber, Michele Tafoya
2007Mike Tirico, Tony Kornheiser, Ron Jaworski, Suzy Kolber, Michele Tafoya
2008Mike Tirico, Tony Kornheiser, Ron Jaworski, Suzy Kolber, Michele Tafoya
2009Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Ron Jaworski, Suzy Kolber, Michele Tafoya
2010Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Ron Jaworski, Suzy Kolber, Michele Tafoya
2011Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Ron Jaworski **
2012Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
2013Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
2014Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
2015Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
2016Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
2017Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
2018Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten, Booger McFarland, Lisa Salters

8 Simple Steps to Help you Estimate A Return on your Advertising Investment

Imagine this. 

One day, while sitting in your office and dreaming of ways to make more money, you call up a stock broker and buy several thousand dollars’ worth of stock in TBD Corp. 

The thing is, you are not a professional investor, far from it, and outside of bull markets (when everyone wins), most of the stocks you pick LOSE MONEY! 

And, your decision to purchase TBD Corp. wasn’t based on any research.  Not a single piece of data.  Not even a glance at CNBC.  

Frankly, you winged it, and relied on gut instinct.

Sounds crazy, Right?  But guess what, this is how most business owners buy their advertising. 

Nobody, well, maybe some people buy stocks this way, but they shouldn’t.

So, why the heck would you buy ADVERTISING this way?

Well, in advertising, gatekeepers (media companies, ad agencies etc.) guard the most helpful research.  Stock market investors, however, can access an abundance of helpful research from a variety of sources absolutely free.

For example, without even logging on to their website, I’m able to access all kinds of helpful research from Vanguard (a large mutual fund company) about any stock or mutual fund in the US. 

At my finger tips are charts, news, financials, shareholder details, price history, earnings reports, analyst opinions and much more. 

You would assume, in the world of advertising, with advances in technology and access to information, a business owner (like you) would be able to find research (like this) designed to help (you) make better decisions.

But you’re wrong.

The advertising marketplace is shadier than a rain forest.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”.

John Wanamaker (1838-1922) opened one of the first and most successful department stores in the United States, which grew to 16 stores and eventually became part of Macy’s.

You can’t and won’t find this information anywhere because:

  1. Gatekeepers (ad agencies/consultants/research services) don’t want you to have it and they make it so expensive no business owner (other than an ad agency or consultant) could justify the cost. 
  2. This limited access to research creates the illusion that most advertising cannot be measured by the common person, or in many cases, creates the belief it can’t be measured at all. 

Wanna know what’s crazy?

BILLIONS of dollars are spent each year on advertising without any consideration of past or future performance.

And worse, without any regard to its return on investment. 

This is partly due to the amount of “brand” advertising that exists in the marketplace today. 

If you’ve been fooled into believing that “branding your business” is a wise marketing strategy, then I have some penny stocks I’d like to sell you. 

I’m not saying building a brand or branding your business is a bad idea.  If you have a budget like Coca Cola and Budweiser – then by all means brand away. 

But most businesses don’t and instead should start thinking about their marketing budget differently. 

Every campaign should start with projections on potential profit, and I will show you how to do this with a simple formula. 

And this starts with having measurable and compelling offers in your advertising.  (More on how to get response to your advertising here:

This approach isn’t perfect, nothing is, but it beats blindly spending money and hoping for success. 

Or even worse, being taken advantage of by an advertising agency or marketing consultant who are often afraid to take responsibility for the results. 

What You Need to Know and How to Get it

In the graph below, I’ve projected a return on investment for a local TV campaign – a media that many people believe is tough to measure.   

In order to do this, you need to collect some information from your media vendor and apply it to metrics you should already know (or learn) about your business. 

  1.  Determine the verified effective reach:  In the simplest terms this is the number of people who see your ad at least 3 times per week.  This used to be (back in the 80’s) the prescribed amount of exposures to make sure people saw and understood your message/offer.  But today, in our increasingly cluttered advertising world, it’s not enough. However, it’s a good starting point to determine who is effectively being exposed to your ad and your media vendors can supply this so just ask!
  2. Determine the number of buyers in the market: Depending on the industry, about 1 to 3% of the population are in the market and ready to buy your product or service on any given day.  To be safe I usually assume 1.5% so multiply your verified effective reach by .015 and that becomes your pool of potential sales.  This is not represented in the graph but should be in all ROI calculations. 
  3. Establish a reasonable response rate:  Successful direct-mail campaigns generate a 1–3 percent response rate. You can expect a similar response from “buyers” if you have a good offer or compelling message.  Always be conservative and stick to 1 percent. (In the graph please note I used less than 1 percent because I was dealing with a mass media like broadcast television in a major market like Indianapolis, IN. If you operate in large city and are using mass media you should follow this approach as well. Your estimates should always skew conservatively.)
  4. Determine your average revenue per customer: What is your average sale?  If you added up an entire year’s worth of transactions and divided by the total number of transactions – what is that number?  The higher the better!    
  5. Find out your closing ratio.  This varies by industry and also depends on how well your salespeople are trained. The higher, the better!
  6. Estimate the gross revenue.  Number of closed leads resulting in your earlier calculation multiplied by the average sale.  
  7. Know the full cost of your campaign.  Airtime, space, creative and production costs, also costs related to digital for example if you have to create a landing page or update your website.
  8. Calculate the ROI:  Take your projected net profit and divide it by the cost of the campaign including any production or creative costs then multiply by 100.  For example, if you bought a single share of stock for $500, then sold it for $600, you would calculate ROI as follows: $100 (Gain) divided by $500 (initial investment) = .2 x 100 = 20% return on investment.

When it comes to business, it’s all investing, and you can choose to be an investor or a speculator, it’s your choice. 

If you use this simple formula before purchasing your advertising media you will have a better understanding of whether or not the campaign is likely to work, and be profitable   

How Your Small Business Can Profitably Attract New Customers

I’d like to tell you a story about Bob. He owns a modest golf practice facility — also known as a driving range — in Muncie, Indiana.

Muncie is a mid-sized college town with about 70,000 residents, smack dab between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne in rural Northeast Indiana.

At Bob’s Driving Range you can hit golf balls at colorful targets of varying distances, or chip and putt on multiple practice greens. And, cold Indiana winters are no excuse to avoid practice because Bob has heated hitting bays and variety of indoor practice areas.

Bob has a helpful staff of PGA certified instructors, he sells a mean cheeseburger (and other snacks), and offers a great assortment of local craft beer (and domestic beer).

But Bob also has a marketing challenge, and that is how to attract new customers — reliably and profitably.

He doesn’t have a big budget, just one (remote) location, and competes with several other facilities (and golf courses) who offer similar services and products.

Bob’s run ads in all kinds in newspapers, community magazines, church bulletins, little league programs, billboards, park benches, on the radio, and even took a crack at some Google and Facebook ads.

But nothing works, at least not reliably, and for sure not profitably.

Where Should Bob Start?

The first thing Bob should do is pause. Stop everything.

Cancel all contracts and advertising spending.

He should spend some reflective time away from the business and brainstorm about what makes his business unique.

Celebrated author and master direct-response marketer Dan S. Kennedy offers great advice in his book, The Ultimate Marketing Plan. He advises taking a stack of 3×5 index cards and writing down every fact, feature, benefit, promise, offer component, and idea on each card — until you have exhausted everything you know about your business and direct competitors. Then try to prioritize these items by what is going to be most compelling to your customers — and by what makes you stand out from your competition. 

Bob needs to figure out what is UNIQUE about him and his business — and if he can’t come up with anything, then create something unique. And forge this unique idea or quality into an offer (or bait) that makes him stand out from every other practice facility.

As a golfer and a fisherman, Bob knows you can’t attract fish without tantalizing bait — fish like worms, people like free stuff and/or VALUE.

And, since Bob already knows who he wants to target — Golfers — it makes sense for him to appeal to ALL GOLFERS. From the youngster with their first set of clubs to a single digit handicapper always honing their game.

And he shouldn’t dismiss the folks who are interested in learning golf, but haven’t yet for whatever reason.

So after much thought and consideration, Bob comes up with this idea:

At Bob’s Driving Range …. THIS MONTH ONLY …. all new customers get a free golf lesson from a PGA Certified Instructor …. there is absolutely no obligation we just want you discover how rewarding the great game of golf can be …. visit and check out our free report: Top 5 Ways Anyone Can Improve their Golf Game …. and if you like what you read …. schedule a free lesson …. ALL skill levels are welcome ….. first time golfers, children, weekend duffers, and even skilled players …. You wouldn’t try learning how to swim without some help …. same goes for Golf …. so give it a try you have nothing to lose …. AND …. I’ll throw in a free bucket of balls so you can practice what you learned after the lesson!

He also came up with:

Hey You …. the guy on the couch ….YEAH you …. It may be cold outside but that’s no excuse not to practice …. Are you tired of never improving? …. And starting over from scratch every spring? …. Tired of never gaining any ground on your golf buddies? …. It’s summer ALL YEAR ROUND at Bob’s Driving Range in our heated indoor practice facility! …. And for a limited time …. you can purchase a VIP Practice Pass for 25% OFF! …. That’s right, I can only sell a limited number of these each year or I’d go out of business …. It includes unlimited practice time and golf balls …. 3 free lessons with the PGA Professional of your choice …. and if you sign up before February 28th …. I’ll throw in Dozen New Titleist Golf Balls for FREE …. Hurry and get your’s while they last …. Go to and find out more about our VIP program AND check out…. also free of charge …. our top 5 practice tips that will dramatically improve your game.  

The only point of Bob’s bait or offer is to get a response. PERIOD. So if Bob has to give away free stuff to get people’s attention, then he should!

Bob’s offer (or bait) should make people feel like they are taking advantage of him — and maybe they are. Otherwise nobody will notice.

But that’s good, because their first experience with Bob may leave them feeling a little guilty, which may compel them to come back OR even better, buy more stuff on their first visit!

Once they become a customer — A SATISFIED CUSTOMER — Bob has their contact information, and the powerful ability to resell them for life through social media, email and regular mailings.

Mining his database of existing customers is the least expensive and lowest hanging fruit for Bob to continue growing his business.

This is the real payoff.

In golf terms, this is very much about the long game, or the lifetime value of the customer. While the short game (the first sale) is important, it is much more important new customers thoroughly enjoy their first visit so they come back again and again and again and again.

Oh, and refer their friends.

Another powerful component of Bob’s bait is his appeal to all golfers AND his low threshold ways of interacting and learning about his products and services.

Some people will be ready to buy, most won’t.

So offering extensive and helpful information through lower threshold means — like a website — will accommodate these not-ready buyers and nurture them along their buying journey.

People who aren’t ready to buy don’t want to interact with any pesky salespeople.

That’s why Bob’s website has a lot of helpful information about his offers, his facility AND guides from his PGA instructors on how anyone can improve their game.

“Any idiot can sell things to the ready-to-leap-now buyers, so it usually pays poorly and can even be a path to bankruptcy despite success at it. The wealth is in the (management, development, and ultimate monetization of the) not — yet ready buyers.”

Dan S. Kennedy, No B.S. Information Marketing Letter #86, December 2018

What Media Will Work Best?

Now we’re going to talk about how Bob can pick the right kind of media. And much of it depends on the type of business he is operating.

Bob’s Driving Range is a niche retailer for golfers and he can attract these golfers from all over the Muncie area.

This will greatly influence where he should invest his advertising dollars. If Bob operated a Heating and Cooling business, and he serviced homes in Muncie, his advertising would need to appeal to a much broader audience: Homeowners who live in Muncie.

As I described earlier, Muncie has a population of about 70,000 residents and there are PLENTY of advertising options.

They have their own newspaper, radio stations, cable system, shared mail services like Money Mailer, billboards, buses, park benches, and get their broadcast TV signals (NBC etc. and additional radio stations) from nearby Indianapolis.

And (of course) there are many digital things Bob can and should be doing — like having the basics search and social media covered, especially making sure he is listed in all directories and maps.

Here is a post where I go into this topic more in-depth:

Assuming Bob has those bases covered, he still needs to reach golfers, and believe it or not, when properly executed with good bait, especially in middle America where the population skews older, incomes skew lower, and the trends and fashions of the bigger cities and coasts don’t matter: Traditional media will still be the best answer for acquiring new customers.

The local newspaper might be a smart choice. While the print circulation has dwindled the actual readership between print and online is still very robust (about 50% market penetration or 35,000 readers per day).

Bob could buy ads appearing simultaneously in the print and online edition for a reasonable investment — around $500 per day.

And in all advertising, repetition is key, so Bob should buy 3 days per week costing him about $1500 per week. More on repetition in advertising here:

Problem is — only a small portion of these readers are golfers, so let’s do some basic napkin math:

Cost Per Week = $1500 allowing Bob to effectively reach 35,000 readers.

Per the graph above we estimated about 9% (or 3,150) of the total readership are golfers

A reasonable and conservative response rate to Bob’s awesome offers = 1% which nets him 31 new customers (3150 x .01).

Bob’s average sale is $25 and multiply it by 31 paying customers equals about $775 in gross sales.

So for a $1500 investment Bob gets half of it back and 31 new customers. Not bad if you consider the lifetime value of each customer, but also not great, and I think we can do better.

Muncie has good radio stations too, and luckily there are 2 stations who reach the majority of the population. Since these two stations have more reach than the newspaper, our pool of potential golfers will be larger.

Here’s some napkin math:

A schedule on just 2 radio stations will reach 75% of adults or 52,500 people and cost $2,400 per week.

Per our research earlier we assume 9% of those adults play golf or 4,725 golfers.

1% of those golfers respond to Bob’s offers (48 golfers) who spend an average of $25 per person equaling $1200 in sales

So Bob earns back about half of his investment and 48 new customers. Again, not bad, but not great.

I hope you see a pattern here, mass media won’t be a profitable investment for a niche retailer like a driving range. In fact, Bob would be LUCKY to recoup 50% of his investment in most cases.

However, if Bob should have a big annual blowout sale where manufacturers from all of the major golf manufacturers were present (Calloway, Taylor Made, Adidas, Titleist) and a famous professional golfer like Tiger Woods (doesn’t need to be Tiger) was doing a demonstration for the public — THEN — Bob should pull the trigger on some mass media like radio and newspaper. The appeal and potential to profit would be much broader beyond his smaller target of golfers.

Another option is SHARED direct mail. Bob could insert a coupon in a Money Mailer or Val Pak in Muncie for about $700 per month and reach 30,000 homes. Again here is the napkin math:

For $700 Bob reaches 30,000 homes — of which 9% are golfers (or 2,700 households). Of those golfers, 1% respond to his ad (2700 x .01) or 27 new customers who spend an average of $25 each for a grand total of $675.

This is actually worth doing as he’s breaking even. Bob should employ this tactic regularly if he continues to get this kind of response.

Now let’s consider actual direct mail, meaning Bob sends his offer via post card to a verified list of golfers, a list he procures from a list broker who knows the addresses of all the Muncie area golfers based on their magazine subscriptions, google search history, credit card transactions, travel etc.

Bob’s own research (based on a simple Google search) concluded about 9% of the 70,000 adults in Muncie are golfers, and when Bob talked to a mailing list broker, sure enough — they too had about 6,300 golfers (or 9% of the population) on their rentable list.

By the time Bob pays for the list, and the printing, the stuffing of envelopes and the postage, the cost per letter will be around 40 CENTS PER PIECE (conservatively), or a total cost PER MAILING of $2,500 (40 cents x 6300 = $2520).

Let’s again assume Bob gets a 1% response meaning 63 new customers spend an average of $25 resulting in $1575 in sales.

Bob realizes for a niche business like his, direct mail is an expensive customer acquisition tool — just like mass media.

Another option is Cable TV, and like Bob’s business, Cable TV is a very niche business.

They have channels devoted to every conceivable hobby including cooking, history, tennis, basketball, nature, news, science, animals, football, soccer, home remodeling, and GOLF!

Thank you cable television and thank you Golf Channel!

With help from the cable folks — and for free (or for very little cost) — Bob produces two different :30 commercials featuring each of his amazing offers — then buys a bunch of commercials on the Golf Channel.

He ignores the conventional wisdom from his well-meaning sales rep and only buys commercials in LIVE PROGRAMMING or LIVE EVENTS.

Why? Because Bob is a golfer and he knows live events are exciting, and they have the highest ratings, and most viewers don’t tape or record or DVR live programs.

Bob knows the most popular events are live coverage of PGA golf tournaments, and live news programs like Golf Central (The Golf Channel’s version of Sportscenter).

Bob is able to buy 3 commercials per hour (a dominating presence) in ALL (and just) the live programs for about $600 per month.

Now for some napkin math: In any given month, the Golf Channel reaches 80% of all golfers in Muncie (verified by our friendly cable salesperson).

Since we established there are roughly 6,300 golfers, 80% equals 5,040 golfers.

If, very conservatively, Bob garners a 1% response, he will win 50 new customers spending an average of $25 each for a total of $1250 in gross sales.

That’s 50 new customers, $1250 in gross sales, for a cost of $600 AND a 108% return on investment!

DING DING DING DING DING! We have a winner!

This is how Bob, a small town driving range in a cold winter climate can determine where to invest his advertising money, by doing the math ahead of time. And most importantly, developing really good bait — with offers appealing to buyers in every step of their purchasing process.