How To Diffuse A Competing Ad Campaign

Calculating return on investment of brand advertising is an art. When a commercial is run on electronic media, whether it is TV or radio, the methods used to calculate return on investment include ratings that measure viewers or listeners vs. sales in the relevant period following the promotion. Since I work with companies on more objective ROI calculations based on direct response marketing techniques, you might imagine I question the effectiveness of brand marketing.

An ad agency executive would probably give me a dissertation on what I am missing and it is doubtful we would ever reconcile. I remember the discussion with the Vice Chairman of a major international retailer on the topic of decentralized organized structure vs. a centralized one for administrative services common to multiple companies operating under the same corporate umbrella. It is an issue that is never reconciled. You either have one point of view or the other. There is no middle ground on some issues. I think brand advertising vs. direct response marketing falls into the category of irreconcilable differences between marketers. Back to Coke.

I must admit the most recent ad campaign is awesome. The scenes make me want to go out and buy the product. Correction, they make me want to go out and live the scenes. This is particularly amazing, since I watch very little TV and rarely react to an ad in terms of thinking of making a purchase. One of the current ads being run by Coke is where a senior citizen is shown experiencing Coke for what is supposed to be the first time. The experience of drinking Coke for the first time motivated him to call a childhood idol for the first time and tell her he has always loved her. It also motivated him to run with the bulls for the first time. All first time acts for him. Very well done.

Congratulations to Coke. This is a campaign that links the emotional response to the product. If others have similar reaction to this as me, then the sales numbers should being increasing for Coke during the running of the ad campaign. On the other hand, if I am a competitor I would quickly mass out an end cap displays in my A category stores in A category markets, with pricing at about $1.00 less per 12 pack of Coke and diffuse their entire campaign. Of course I would also attach a bounce back coupon on that same display and link it to a customer contact page on line. When the contact information is filled out, the customer receives additional promotions and gifts on line. Once I have that contact information, I then know I have a person who bought my product and that is a customer whose loyalty I can now nurture and strengthen. This is a strategy that capitalizes on the media ad campaign of a competitor and turns it to your advantage.

Steve Pohlit is a CPA,MBA and has been the CFO of several major domestic and international companies. Today Steve is an expert business consultant focused on helping companies improve their business performance including growing profits, revenues and customers. For a FREE 6 week mini course where you will receive 10 easy to implement action steps guaranteed to increase business revenue and profits by at least 30% in the next 90 days, please visit All articles published by Steve unless specifically restricted may be freely published with this resource information.

Retailers Can Win Customers Without Struggle

Mark Albright, staff writer for the St. Petersburg Times published an article in the Sunday paper on retailers struggling to win back customers. He does an excellent job at identifying the key issues customers face when shopping in many stores. In summary, customers know what they want from their shopping experience and they don’t get what they want most of the time.

Two charts were provided in the article. One showed that 68.4% of those responding to a recent poll said knowledgeable, helpful, friendly staff was the most important criteria for a positive shopping experience. The other chart reported that 50% of the people surveyed reported retail service has gotten worse.

Shoppers have always wanted a friendly environment with knowledgeable staff. What is most alarming is how poorly retailers continue to meet the expectations of their customers. With almost 70% of the customers ranking knowledgeable, friendly staff as most important, why is it that so many retailers continue to be obsessed with having compelling price? Studies have consistently shown and Mark points this out in his article as well, that less than 10% of the shoppers name price as the most important reason they shop a store.

Let’s examine pricing and promotion a bit deeper. The paper that Mark Albright writes for has a daily circulation of 1.2 million. On Sunday, like all large metropolitan areas, the paper is thick. Most of it is advertising circulars. Most have between 4 – 20 or more color glossy pages and this format is used by most of the major retail chains. Stores attempt to show items attractive to the largest number of people and offer special buys or sale pricing. The goal is to drive traffic to the stores.

Normally on a store by store basis, retailers are able to tell how effective a particular circular was by measuring customer count (customers that actually buy), average sale and items sold. Most retailers have these statistics, but there is one critical piece of information they do not have. They do not know who it was that purchased something. They do not know their physical address, they do not know their email address and do not know their customer’s phone number. There are exceptions and I will address those shortly. However, in general, large and small retailers spend huge amounts of money on print advertising to drive customers into their stores and they don’t even know who their customer is. Consequently, they are unable to thank the buyers, hear their comments and suggestions and they are not able to personally invite them back.

Here is a brief summary of the issues so far: consumers want knowledgeable and friendly sales staff and over 90% of them place importance on knowledge and friendliness over price. On the other hand, retailers spend a lot of resources developing promotions based on price to drive traffic to their stores. When the customer gets there, not just the price shopper but the loyal customers as well, the retailer is not properly staffed and the staff that is working is not properly trained and managed. I call this a mismatch in expectations and delivery. The result of that formula is a high rate of retail business failure with stores that fail being replaced by new ones that operate the same way. You know what you get when you keep doing things the same way. What is the solution? Keep reading.

When the subject of price in retailing is mentioned, Wal-Mart’s name always comes up. Here are just a couple of things I noticed about Wal-Mart recently. First they are increasing the number of more upscale items offered. Why are they doing this? It is because they understand that appealing just to the low price crowd long term is a risky business model. No retail chain founded on the low price model has ever survived long term. None. What else have I noticed? The other day I noticed a Wal-Mart banner on the front page of This particular ad was what is known in the Internet Marketing circles and Direct Response Marketing circles as a lead generation ad. I followed it through and noticed interesting “bribes” to get you to register for on line information. You could even categorize the information you were interested in receiving. Wal-Mart promised to give you advance notice of their best deals for the store closest to you. Notice I said store closest to you. When you entered your information they asked for your zip code so they could match you with relevant regional promotion.

Wal-Mart is taking the lead again in building their customer data base. I don’t think they have taken this to the store level, which where it really needs to be implemented. But they are headed in the right direction.

Do you need to have Wal-Mart’s system to implement a similar program? Last September I was testing the implementation of program with a small retailer in a small market. You can review more of the detail of this program at We used incentives as a motivator to provide their contact information. This program was hugely successful in a short period of time and confirmed the value of capturing the contact information of your customers and communicating with them. That is the first step in bridging the gap between what customers want and what retailers deliver. Note: if you are a grocery store, restaurant, nightclub, shoe repair store, dry cleaner or any business that has customers, this applies to you.

If you are a local or regional chain of stores, outsourcing this customer contact program is the most cost effective approach. If you are not sure that is a true statement Email Me and I will prove it to you. National Chains should outsource this program in the test phase and then it is likely that in-house technology will be needed long term. Regardless, it is easy to build your customer list, easy to communicate with them and this communication builds loyalty and value. This communication process is the critical link that breaks down when this process is managed internally. In summary, outsource this entire program initially; bring the technology piece in house if and when that makes sense but keep the communication program outsourced.

Does all of this solve the problem of bridging the gap of what the customer wants and what the retailer delivers? Absolutely not! All of the fundamentals retailers are paying attention to today must continue. Having the right product in the right place at the right time is a good goal. Having staff properly trained and managed is a great goal. But this is the planet earth folks. When all the best logistical systems and human resource development processes fail .. and they will from time to time, a strong binding relationship with your customer will overcome any isolated execution failures.

Are there any examples of anyone doing this more right than wrong? I remember in 1996 when I was in my second year of operating an Internet Service Provider company that I founded. I was focusing on industries likely to benefit a lot quickly from using the tools of the Internet. One of them was mail order. I knew there would be huge benefits to catalogue retailers from using the internet. Of course when I contacted many of them and they had no idea in 1996 what I was talking about. So I let it slide instead of pursuing that idea along with a number of other billion dollar ideas I had in the early days of the commercial Internet.

Today there are numerous examples of catalogue retailers doing a great job of communicating with their customer base. Now the big gains are coming from the “brick and mortar” companies who are communicating like catalog retailers. Who are they? Well Circuit City gets my number one vote. Circuit City sends me wonderful emails in addition to their weekly print advertising circulars. Wal-Mart is doing a good job now that I am on their list. In the catalog retail business, the best is Fredericks of Hollywood. Don’t even ask me why I am on their list but they do a great job. There are other catalogue retailers that have an effective communication program in place. In fact if you order on line from any catalogue company and give them your email address, I would bet you start getting information from them. Even if you don’t order, sign up for some of these lists to see what they send you.

The biggest mistake made by companies that have you in their data base, is dropping your contact information when you have not purchased for awhile. I know of one very popular retailer with a huge mail order division that sends me tons of catalogues but not one email. When asked about this I was told I no longer receive emails because I am not a current buyer. But they continue sending me expensive to print and mail catalogues. Go figure! Recently I was talking about this issue with an author and speaker on retail industry issues and discovered the huge successes several companies are having by aggressively pursuing customers who have become inactive. However, you need to know your customer and have their contact information in your data base to execute any program including this one.

In summary, study the companies that are doing this well. Look at your own business. If you are not sure what I am advising you to do will work, call or email me and let’s “kick it around”. Click to email or go to Retail Profit System for phone contact information. I am so convinced that there is a great need for help in this area I have recently partnered with several business development experts and we have formed a new company that will provide the Internet marketing services retailers and others need. Look for a major announcement soon on this advanced service for helping your business dramatically improve revenue and profits.

Steve Pohlit is a CPA,MBA and has been the CFO of several major domestic and international companies. Today Steve is an expert business consultant focused on helping companies improve their business performance including growing profits, revenues and customers. For a FREE 6 week mini course where you will receive 10 easy to implement action steps guaranteed to increase business revenue and profits by at least 30% in the next 90 days, please visit All articles published by Steve unless specifically restricted may be freely published with this resource information.

But Bill … My Business Is Different!

“If You Hang Out With Coconuts, You’re Going To Be A Coconut.” Rocky

You may not have been in Chicago but if you add this blog to your RSS feed reader you will not miss another article when it is issued. Why is that important to you? Here is one reason.

Recently I invested four days of my time and more than a few bucks with Dan Kennedy, Bill Glazier and over 600 of my closest friends all focused on further developing profit building skills. If you don’t know who Dan Kennedy is then go to this link. If you are in business you need to be reading Dan’s No B.S. marketing newsletter Click on this link for a three month FREE trial

It’s too late to join me in Chicago, but add this blog to your RSS feeder by click on one of the links on the right hand side of this page because you will not miss another article. Since I will be giving you a number of valuable business building principles that came from the Chicago conference your are not going to want to miss any of it. Unless of course you are not interested in growing your revenue and profits.

There are conferences around the world every week. I attend on average 4-6 carefully picked ones every year. Conferences, resources I purchase from other experts and a growing network of very successful business owners form part of the foundation of my continuing professional development.

Now here are a couple very important points. You will benefit by making notes of these points. First: if you do not have a professional and personal development plan then you will have increasing difficulty, growing your business. The obvious answer is to have a professional and personal development plan based on you own strengths, weaknesses and interests. Second: while technology and global markets are advancing at lightning speed, the business and wealth building foundation principles are not changing, they are only being enhanced by different views.

The Profit System that I developed has business and profit building principles at its root. By the way, you can get most of this training absolutely FREE simply by subscribing to my six week course at The conference in Chicago reinforced this point as most of it centered on revenue building business principles that have been around for quite some time. So if they have been around for a long time, why is it that they still need to be taught? Well the facts are that these
principles are almost universally ignored.

What is the #1 foundation business building principle that we spent most of the 4 days in Chicago learning more about?

The Cow

Dan Kennedy told us that he has purchased a cow. Not just any cow but one that had long term value a measured by its ability to produce more cows and it has. So now one cow has produced more cows which are valuable and also produces embryos which are also valuable as they are implanted in other cows and the herd grows faster. The point is it starts with one and with the right action grows into a herd.

The Herd

This is the term used by Dan a lot in reference to the most valuable asset of just about every business. That asset of course is the customers of a business. Without exception, every successful business owner I have met or read about has achieved
success because they have developed a list of customers who trust them.

There are a number of ways to develop customers and in the next article I will cover the ones we spent of our time in Chicago discussing, why they work and what you can start doing now to make sure you are getting the highest return on you investment
in your marketing dollar.

P.S. If you are curious as to the reason behind the title to this article, I’ll tell you. Among the more than 12,000 members of Dan Kennedy and Bill Glazier’s Inner Circle, there is a small percentage of people who say to Bill “but my business is different.” The longer you read my articles and say to yourself “my business is different” the longer it will take for your business to realize its profit potential.

You know it the instant you see the person. It is apparent they have achieved an extraordinary measure of success and have the time to enjoy it. Steve Pohlit is an expert business consultant who developed The Profit System shows business owners how to achieve an extraordinary level of profit and the time to enjoy it. For a FREE 6 week mini course where you will receive 10 easy to implement action steps guaranteed to increase business revenue in profits by at least 30% in the next 90 days, please visit All articles published by Steve unless specifically restricted may be freely published with this resource box.

The Hidden Costs of Employee Turnover

Mike Ullman, the CEO of J.C. Penny since late 2004, estimates the company has saved over $400 million annually by implementing programs to reduce the turnover of valuable talent. Mike has further quantified this cost per employee leaving. Each one costs J.C. Penny about one third of that employee’s annual salary to replace.

If J.C. Penny only loses one third of the cost of an employee’s annual salary when they leave and need to be replaced, they are fortunate. I have seen huge costs associated with employee turnover including the cost of recruiting, training and relocation. There are also the less obvious costs of lost productivity, lost sales and a loss of control of assets.

J.C. Penny operates fairly large format stores supported by district and regional managers. In theory, if a person leaves there is a backup to cover the business while a replacement is found. The reality is that even in that situation productivity is compromised and customer service standards are at risk.

Consider a smaller format store with local or regional retail chain. Often the only backup is none or maybe the owner. I have seen many instances where a store cannot open because of inadequate staffing. When this happens too often, the customer base loses confidence and the profits decline to a point where a store may have to close. Look at the transportation industry where there continues to be an acute shortage of drivers. How many freight companies are losing revenue because they simply do not have enough drivers for their equipment?

In each of these examples, the cost of replacing an employee is far greater than 30% of the departing employee’s annual salary.

In one of the modules of my FREE course How To Increase Profits by 30% or More in 90 Days or Less, I cover key ways to minimize the turnover of valuable people. One is to make sure you do not retain and nurture mediocre performers. That is a major negative influence on talented staff. Another is to clearly define and communicate company performance goals in terms of how they relate to a person’s job and then answer the question “WIIFM” or What Is In It For Me?

Mike Ullman is right on point focusing on the company’s number 2 asset. Employees in retail and many other industries are key to developing a company’s number 1 asset which, of course, is it’s customers. If you know Mike, please compliment him on J.C. Penny’s vastly improved performance and please ask him to visit which is a program that will definitely help him grow profits by customer.

A reminder: the FREE course including the module on human resource development is offered at I wrote the course and the human resource section based on my experience helping numerous clients across a number of key industries including retail, recruit and retain key people.

Steve Pohlit is a CPA has his MBA and has been the CFO of several major domestic and international companies. Today Steve is an expert business consultant focused on helping companies improve their business performance including growing profits, revenues and customers. For a FREE 6 week mini course where you will receive 10 easy to implement action steps guaranteed to increase business revenue in profits by at least 30% in the next 90 days, please visit All articles published by Steve unless specifically restricted may be freely published with this resource box in tact.

Increase Restaurant Revenue With Controversial Ads: CKE Filmed Paris Hilton

Have you seen the Paris Hilton ad for Carl Jr’s Too Hot BBQ $6.00 burger? I have and I received it as a link in an email from my brother. Did I watch it? Yes and in addition to the very nice visuals I noticed there is a link for a screen saver, photos you can save, coupons for $1.00 off the burger (nice tracking device) and an easy to use link for forwarding the commercial to anyone you want. That commercial is already speeding around the Internet getting more exposure than if the networks ran it. Plus the fact it is being banned on commercial TV makes the ad that much hotter.

There are many lessons to take from this campaign and no you don’t need to produce something near pornographic.

Now look at the sales results of their advertising strategy: a 40% increase in sales and 25 consecutive quarters of same store sales increases.

Here are several excerpts from the news story:

CKE Restaurants, which has a reputation for politically incorrect advertising, tapped the sexy socialite for a new Carl’s Jr. TV spot. The problem, according to a source, is the spot is meeting with some resistance from network executives. “It couldn’t be more pornographic,” said the source. “It’s about as racy as I’ve seen.” …..

Set to the song “I Love Paris in the Springtime,” the 30-second spot, via Mendelsohn/Zien in Los Angeles, shows Hilton washing a car “with hoses shooting everywhere and her soaping everything up,” said the source. Touting the BBQ Six Dollar Burger, it plays off her catch phrase, “That’s hot.”

“We liken our advertising to more of what the beer brands do,” said Brad Haley, evp of marketing at Carl’s Jr. (which targets men 18-34) in an interview with Brandweek earlier this year. “There’s a lot of male attitude, personality and edge. Sometimes sex appeal enters into it on occasion. It’s something younger guys are interested in.”

The strategy appears to be working. The 959-unit chain rang up $1.4 billion in sales last year, up from $1 billion, per Technomic, Chicago. It also has reported 25 consecutive months of same-store sales increases.

Developing Effective Marketing Programs and Tracking Return on Investment Is A Key Part of The Retail Profit System (

Aricle Comments and Compilation by Steve Pohlit This article may be republished in its entirety with the inclusion of all information to this point.

Develop A Customer Data Base, Communicate With Them And Beat 85% of Your Competition!

Maybe you don’t want to work that hard, or maybe you have been burned by consultants or maybe you already have a measure of success. No matter what position you are in, if you Do This One Thing you will beat 85% of your competition. If you are in the 15% category already, please email me with a sentence or two confirming how well this works for you. 

What we are about to discuss applies to every business large or small and in every industry. Next, this is easy to do, but it does require some work. Finally, when you do this consistently, you will make more money than you ever imagined. This action is at the core of what makes people happy.

OK, here it is: every business has customers. if you are a professional service business, your customers may be called clients or patients. At the transaction level they are customers. They buy something from you. Some people cross the path of your business and don’t buy. Others you call on and some buy and some don’t. With each action there is a contact and when you have contact you have an opportunity to make a record of that customer or prospect’ s contact information. That record can be as simple as a first name and email address. It may be comprehensive including complete contact information, biographical sketch, business history and so on.

The one thing you must do if you are in business is obtain the contact information of people doing business with you and people who visit with you but have not yet purchased. You must then use this information and let them know you are thankful and you are sincerely interested in continuing the business relationship. Yes, this applies to every business.

One of the questions I consistently receive is the concern of contacting customers using email. Think of it this way, for most people they are going to business to buy something they want. They will welcome properly positioned messages from you. When you communicate with them regularly with messages containing valuable information and offers, they will continue to support your business and tell all their friends about you.

In assisting clients with implementing a customer development plan I have confirmed the importance of a couple very important points: First you must have a clear privacy policy, next you must use a registration process that confirms their interest in receiving information from you (opt-in) and finally they must be able to easily unsubscribe from your mailing list at anytime. I do not recommend telemarketing to your customers. However, an email alerting them to be listening for an important voice mail broadcast can work and should be tested. Email should not be relied upon exclusively. It should be part of a comprehensive marketing strategy.

I offer all potential clients a complimentary call for up to one hour and most prospective clients walk away with five or more ideas they can use right now to grow their business profits. I highly recommend you take advantage of this offer before time constraints make it impossible to continue.

Be well and prosper,

Steve Pohlit  


P.S. For more information visit

Steve Pohlit is a CPA has his MBA and has been the CFO of several major domestic and international companies. Today Steve is an expert business consultant focused on helping companies improve their business performance including growing profits, revenues and customers. For a FREE 6 week mini course where you will receive 10 easy to implement action steps guaranteed to increase business revenue in profits by at least 30% in the next 90 days, please visit  All articles published by Steve unless specifically restricted may be freely published with this resource box in tact.