call to action

How a Call to Action Started a Country

April 18th is Paul Revere day. In honor of Mr. Revere’s epic ride, I like to talk about calls to action. Working in the title industry, you may think having a good call to action is not a big deal, you’re wrong.

My post last week talked about connectors and Paul Revere. Being a connector is great, but Revere also knew his audience. He spent years developing relationships with them. He had built credibility with them and when the time was right, he knew what to say to elicit a specific action.

You’d think 239 years later, we would be better. Instead, it looks like we’ve regressed back to the Marketing Stone Age. How many times have you seen Facebook Ads, postcards, or tweets, without any buildup or establishing any credibility simply ask for the sale. There’s no set up, there’s no romance, it’s just give me your money. Has everyone forgotten how to write a call to action?

Staying with the theme of Paul Revere, if you view Revere’s ride as a marketing campaign it would look like this: He spent years developing his lead list (colonists willing to fight for freedom). He spent equally as much time building credibility with them. When he delivered his call to action, it was specific and very clear.

Marketers could certainly learn a lot from this example and what a good call to action can do. When done poorly, no time is spent building an audience, even less time building credibility, and then a very unclear call to action. We are then surprised to find our call to action didn’t generate any sales.

As Revere was riding from city to city, his message was simple “The British are coming”. That single message was able to generate a specific call to action.

Revere didn’t ride into town asking the colonists to: a) fight for freedom b) pack up your stuff and leave town or c) go back to bed and ignore this offer. There was no way the colonists could ignore his offer. They knew it was coming, they were ready for it, and when he delivered it… they acted.

Another aspect of his call to action was the sense of urgency with the offer. As he was riding through towns during the middle of the night he made it crystal clear that the colonists need to do something immediately.

His call to action did not imply they could do something tomorrow or next week. The call to action had incredible sense of urgency and he was able to motivate his target audience into acting as soon as he made the offer.

He wanted people to grab arms and fight for freedom. How many times have you seen unclear calls to action? In one part of the offer you may see click here, in the same ad it’s a different click here button asking to do something different. The message is too confusing and with confusion comes…nothing.

Your call to action needs to be very clear and lead them to do one simple thing. If you approach this from a systematic standpoint imagine a conveyor belt. The conveyor belt goes in one direction, down the sales funnel.

Your call to action should be a gate that your customer passes through, not a fork in the road. Anytime you’re writing sales copy, your message needs to be very clear and only ask your customer or potential customer to do one thing. Don’t ask your marketing piece to do too much. I have made this mistake myself and it ends up in the garbage.

Paul Revere

It’s Who You Know

Everyone has heard the expression; it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. That thought struck me right between the eyes when I was helping my Daughter with some history homework. They are studying the American Revolution and Paul Revere’s infamous ride to wake up the Colonists to warn them that “The British are coming!”

One my curses in life, is that I have this knack for remembering the weirdest stuff. As my Daughter was telling me all about Mr. Revere, I happen to remember the story of William Dawes. Who is William Dawes you ask? So do most Americans.

One of the things we talk about in Real Estate is to be the “go to” person in someone’s circle. It’s always nice to be “that guy”, the guy that knows who to call when you need something. One of the goals in our business is to be viewed by your clients as a connector, or the person who knows people.

If you need a good flooring person, you want your clients to think of you to recommend a good man/woman for the job. Knowing the right person to call makes you more valuable to your client, and we all know, the more valuable you are… the better.

Part of your unwritten job description is to know a good lawn guy, pool guy, flooring guy, kitchen guy… this list goes on forever. If you know the right people and know how to spin referrals they come back to you tenfold.

A lesson to be learned here is if you cannot answer the question “do you know a guy who…” or have the phone number to the guy I just talked about; it might be time to carry that kind of list with you. I carry mine in my phone, labeled: pool guy, flooring guy, plumber guy… you get the idea.

Here is a tip for you; rather than trying to remember who my roofing guy is; I keep him in my phone under roofing guy and his actual name in the notes tab in my contact screen. This way I just have to look up roofing guy and not have to remember his name.

So who is William Dawes? William Dawes took the southern route outside of Boston to sound the alarm that “The British Were Coming!” back in 1775. So why is Paul Revere legendary and William Dawes lost to history?

Paul Revere was a connector, within minutes of arriving in a town he knew exactly who to talk to. Revere would be in and out of a town in minutes and have church bells ringing, minutemen reaching for the muskets, and entire communities preparing to fight for freedom in the coming hours.

William Dawes was not a connector. He would ride into a city and not have a clue where to start. Town Elders and Minutemen along southern route woke up to the sound of musket fire from the British Army having never received the alarm.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Both men had the same story to tell. The delivery of this message was of grave importance and had incredible sense of urgency. One man knew who to talk to and the other didn’t. One man is famous for doing his job and the other… well my guess is that you didn’t know who he was until this post.

While this may be a stark contrast between being a connector and not, in a tough market it could be the difference between a paycheck and not having one.


What is a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

You finally get to talk to that Realtor that you have been stalking for months. This is the agent you have been dreaming about, your Moby Dick. If you could only land this one, it will put everything right with the world.

Well Captain Ahab, before you land your own whale, you need the right tools. Although I didn’t remember this in the book; Captain Ahab’s spear was tempered with the blood of his crew. It was a symbol that it wasn’t just Ahab landing the whale, it was a team effort.

Consider the spear as your USP. It’s the first real impression your whale has of you. It’s the answer to the question; “Why should I do business with you?” Miss this one and everything else is irrelevant. So what makes up a good Unique Selling Proposition?

A USP should first answer that that tough question; why do business with you? Most good customers are also very smart and can smell fear… and crap, a mile away. Your USP should not include phrases like; “we have great service” or “we have great pricing”… because when I hear that my first reply is “OK, so do the other 5 guys that called me this morning”.

We are talking about a Unique not a Universal Selling Proposition. If your USP contains words like service or pricing, you are playing the “me too” (following what everyone else has) game. You need to look at what you, or your team, is great at doing, something specific. Terms like service are too broad and you wind up being one of the five other guys that called, not the one your whale chooses to work with.

Your USP needs to say who your target audience is and what you can do for them.  Remember what I said about a team effort, what is your team going to do for them? For example a USP saying: We are a boutique Title Company that helps Realtors with marketing, not advertising, marketing”.

This USP has announced who your target audience is and what you can do for them. Notice that this USP also tries to engage a follow-up question.  When working properly and asked correctly, you typically get 1 of 2 questions in response; What’s the difference? Or how do you do that?

When hear one of those questions, you are off to the races.

Here are two other great examples of OUTSTANDING USP’s.

  • Domino’s Pizza – When they first opened their doors their USP was; Fresh, hot pizza, delivered in 30 minutes or less.  Notice what is missing from the USP? It’s the word GOOD.  They are not saying anything about how good their pizza is. It’s not gourmet pizza, it’s not pizza that is going to impress your friends… they are saying it’s going to be here in 30 minutes or less.

Think about Domino’s first target audience, college kids. In some cases, college kids who are back from the bars or at the very least don’t want to wait to eat. The USP was targeted directly at them. If you want hot pizza fast there was only one place that you would call.

  • FedExWhen it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. Talk about being direct. Use someone else if you don’t care about what you’re sending, but if you want to be sure, you’d better use us.

FedEx was so effective with this USP that the company became a verb. Think about your office for a second. How many times have you heard someone say; I’m going to FedEx it, rather than say I’m going to overnight delivery this package. Most people say they are going to FedEx it, even if they are using a different overnight carrier, talk about an effective USP!

Your USP should be one the first things you develop when creating your marketing strategy. It’s the rally cry of your team. It’s THE one thing that separates you from everyone else in your market. If you can nail it, selling becomes easier, focus becomes more clear, and most importantly your customers understand what you do better than anyone else.

Service Pryamid

How to Bring Value to Your Clients

Welcome to the Beyonddonuts blog. In our first post I wanted to convey the spirit of why this site exists.  For the past twenty something years, I have been surrounded by affiliates of the real estate industry. For the first twelve years I was the customer and the last twelve I have been the affiliate.

As the owner of a Title Company, one of my goals has always been to improve the customer experience. The long standing joke about account executives, or anyone in marketing, has been that they are just donut delivery folks.

They have a delivery route, bring in the donuts, and the orders come rolling in. While that is certainly one way to develop business, I don’t think it’s a lasting model.  Our customers need and frankly should expect more than a cheerful good morning and some deep fried breakfast treats.

To develop lasting relationships with clients you need to have a different approach. The figure below is a pretty good illustration of how a lasting relationship is created.  Our marketing needs to go beyond donuts and provide value to our customers if you want to grow your business.

Customer Service Pyramid
Customer Service Pyramid

The lowest level of the pyramid is meeting expectations. This is a pretty straight forward premise. You have a product, they have a need and they send you the order because you were there. Thankfully in most of our collective industries, the expectation bar is set pretty low. In other words, just don’t screw up the order and there is a good chance you will get another order.

Real value is created when you go beyond completing the order.  When you go deeper with your client and start providing solutions to what they need you start creating loyalty with them. In order to achieve this next level of success you have to actually have conversations with your clients.  These conversations need to include something most sales people are very poor at doing… listening to your client.

Ask questions like what is holding you back from being more successful? Or if there was one thing we could do that would make your life easier, what would it be? You don’t need a laundry list of questions, keep it simple and manageable… what’s the one thing? When you start appealing to their desires you are off to the races, because many of your clients are going to have the same desires.  When you start to provide answers to these questions you are providing solutions at an exponential rate. One solution can be offered to multiple clients.

After you ask this question enough, you will be able to anticipate what their needs are or will be in the future. That is when you move into the highest level of the pyramid and start to create Raving Fans.  These are the clients you dream of. These are the guys that are talking to other potential clients and they start to sell for you.

My wife and I just finished watching the movie Steve Jobs, …I liked the book better. Jobs was a master at anticipating what the customer wanted before they knew they wanted it. After his return to Apple think about the products they released; iPhone, iPad, and the iPod were all products Apple launched with the mindset “you haven’t seen this, but you can’t live without it. Steve Jobs lived within the highest level of the pyramid and think of the number of raving fans Apple has.

Another benefit of asking these questions to multiple clients is that your clients are going to be at different levels in their business and an answer to one question might be an answer to a question another client hasn’t even thought of yet… the illusion of anticipation has now been created with second client.

Marketing Strategies beyond donuts for Title Companies