Watching The Clock

By: Dan Kennedy on: June 9th, 2009 12 Comments

The ‘secret’ reason long copy usually out-sells brief copy, and lengthy sales letters out-sell short ones is simply time. The longer the prospect stays in my store…

The more time he invests in my proposition, the more likely he is to buy.

The best catalogs are designed to keep the person paging through them for the longest possible amount of time. The best stores keep customers in them for the longest period of time possible – which the FAO Schwartz store in Vegas has tackled many different ways; three floors, slow escalators with brilliantly conceived signage that sells, the opportunity to buy 30-minute use cards to play all the games on the 3rd floor, the environment itself, a maze of specialty stores within the stores, salespeople who engage you (not clerks), even a soda fountain and sandwich/snack counter, so you need not leave for food. The best sales letters keep the reader reading for as long as possible. It’s why we use multi-media: letter, CD or DVD — it expands the amount of time the prospect invests with us. The best web sites are designed to involve the visitor and keep him there.

I’m amused when clients fall into the grip of competent technicians who are marketing nincompoops. The fools tell the clients that their sales videos should be no more than seven minutes long, audio CDs ten minutes at most. In one of my business fields, professional speakers are even fed this nonsense: keep your demo reel short. All the opposite of the ideal:

find ways to create so much interest

the person will stay with you, keep listening,

keep watching, keep reading.

The more time invested, more likely to buy.

In good old fashioned nose to nose, toes to toes, mug to mug selling, first in peoples’ living rooms, then B2B, in offices, I quickly learned what many such sales warriors know: likelihood of closing goes up in 15-20 minute increments. If I’m there for 2 hours, I’m not twice as likely to close as if there for only 1 hour, I’m three to four times more likely to close. That’s why the in-home guy selling pots

n pans or encyclopedias, etc. unpacks and has stuff strewn all over the place; it expands the time he’s there.

Of course, you can overstay welcome, unsell the made sale. In each selling situation — on stage, face to face, in a tele-seminar, in print, online, etc. — there is a specific “sweet spot” where sales peak; stop short or go long, suffer. For my basic

Magnetic Marketing’ speech, it was 90 minutes. I could get good results in as little as 70, up to 120. Less than 70 or more than 120, the sales drop off dramatically. But for the most part, most people stop way, way short of the point where maximum sales occur.

There is link between time invested and likelihood of buying.

The highest earning auto salesman I’ve ever known always took prospects to his office first, for conversation; then out to look at cars; then to test drive; then back to the office. Why not right out to look at cars? 15 more minutes. That’s why.

But what about…

Today’s shorter attention spans.

Age differences – younger buyers, shorter attention spans

My customer’s different… ..he’s very busy, won’t read a book…

Blah, blah, blah.

Look, all these things are real. Yes, today, everybody’s busier, there are fewer readers and fewer people reading as a matter of course, younger buyers do have shorter attention spans. But the correct answer is not to sacrifice what’s effective, not to merely surrender. The answer is to be more interesting and compelling.

A few years ago, ABC-TV was in the dumper. Fourth of the four networks, no hits. And series TV had given way to modular TV. Shows like CSI, CSI Miami, CSI New York, CSI Poughkeepsie, LAW & ORDER, LAW & ORDER SVU, LAW & ORDER CI, LAW & ORDER PMS, etc. are all designed so you do NOT need to follow them week after week. The story line begins and ends in each show. Each episode is self-contained and free-standing. And because of their success (as well as, admittedly, higher syndication longevity and value), the prevailing viewpoint in network television was that episodic, serial shows were dead. ABC, desperate for a breakthrough, went contrarian – and hits have emerged that are, in fact, serial: Desperate Housewives and Boston Legal, Sunday night winners.

My point is simply this: it’s less about modular or serial, as it is about interesting and compelling. And purely in terms of sales effectiveness, who’s evidencing greater power? — the writers, actors, etc. behind a show so fascinating viewers calendar it and make a point of being home to watch each episode, or those whose viewers feel comfortable with missing an episode?

Sometimes we are legitimately constrained by weight for a direct-mail piece, or space in print advertising, the 28 minute limit for the infomercial. But more often, marketers unnecessarily imprison themselves, with self-imposed time limits far short of their real time limits for their sales presentation and the prospect’s buying experience.

Sometimes we are legitimately constrained by very practical operational considerations. In my old seminar business, selling to chiropractors, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists and veterinarians, we found the 3 hour evening seminar far easier to get attendance for than the full day, and it allowed the speaker to travel each A.M., work every P.M., thus fitting five seminars and five cities into five days (vs. three in five if full days). So, essentially, operational considerations exerted control over sales considerations. But more often, operations controls sales when it shouldn’t. The first, best way of thinking is to determine what situation will optimize sales, then try and figure out how to create that situation. More often, marketers decide on the situation that suits them or their employees or fits some industry norm, then try to create sales within its parameters.

A mistake made at Caesars Palace: they built a gigantic, new 4,000 seat showroom for Celine Dion. Next to it, is a giant Celine Dion store of souvenirs, music, clothing, etc. But the people exit the showroom down steps next to the store. They should be forced to exit through the store. (Disney rides, like Tower Of Terror at Disney/MGM exit through the souvenir store.) This is minutes in a store, and minutes translate to money.

You have to look carefully at how you manage your prospects’ or customers’ time. There is a three way linkage:

Interest+Involvement+Time

Classic involvement devices in direct-mail include the “affix these stamps to the card” Publishers Clearinghouse kind of mailing pieces. Opening sealed envelopes. Taking quizzes and tests. Even a trick used by Sugarman (and others): find the misspelled words, get the right count, win a prize. Some of these classics can move online or into other environments; some can’t. In retail, such things as trying on clothes or test driving a car. Maytag is testing stores where you bring in laundry and do it there, or cook in the in-store kitchen. The retail chain (also with a store in the Forum Shops) that gets this done through demonstration is Houdini’s Magic Shop. On my team, EVERYBODY made a purchase there – and they held us for about 30 minutes. Including the red room/blue room gambit: buy now, we’ll take you behind the curtain, in the back room and teach you to do the trick.

In-home party plan selling is making a huge comeback. Here’s why I’ve always liked it: every single person who takes the time to go to an in-home party, goes intending to buy something and does buy something; coming home empty-handed would seem like a waste of time! But instead of a quick walk-through of a store, the person is kept for two hours. Most buy multiples, spend more than they intended – because of the two hours. And the involvement: interaction with the salesperson and other customers, demonstration, looking through catalogs together – involvement. For the party plan business, INVOLVEMENT + TIME equals sales.

So, things to think about –

How can you get your prospect more invested in getting ready to buy from you and in selling himself, so the sale is more automatic, the customer will buy more, will pay more?

How can you get your prospect to invest more time reading, listening, watching, visiting?

How can you actively involve your prospect?

How can you create a buying experience?

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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Dan Kennedy is internationally recognized as the 'Millionaire Maker,' helping people in just about every category of business turn their ideas into fortunes. Dan's "No B.S." approach is refreshing amidst a world of small business marketing hype and enriches those who act on his advice. For more money-making marketing tips, tactics and strategies, go to www.GKIC.com

    12 Responses

    1. Rob Anspach says:

      I used to only send out yearly reminders…
      but now I send out 3 month, 6 month, 9 month, 12 month, 18 month & 24 month reminders… why, simply -it’s cheaper to keep satisfied clients coming back then spending money attracting new clients.

    2. Remember The Greatest Car Salesman on Earth, Joe Girard? He sent a hand written Birthday card to everybody in his box! He sold a car; He sold cars to everybody in the dude’s family.

      Any suggestions how today’s car sales-people might employ follow-up effectively, Rob?

      Thanks, Man,
      Stage Hypnotist Simone

    3. Rob Anspach says:

      Well, I would suggest sending them a nice hand written note about 3 months after the bought the car…. “Hi , I just wanted to drop a note and see if there is anything I can do for you…if there is anything about the car you find annoying in any way – if so bring it in and we will give it courtesy look over at no charge… also I’ve enlosed a free certificate for your next oil change.”

      And every three months send them a new note with a different free coupon (car wash, bottle of spotter, free tire rotation) – it gets people coming back and then the car dealer has the opportunity to sell them more.

    4. Thanks, Rob, for your applicable advice. The King of Cars, Chop, of Towbin Dodge here in vegas may get a surprise visit from the King of Sway to teach his sales staff a thing or two about a thing or two.

      Stage Hypnotist Simone
      Las Vegas

    5. Rob Anspach says:

      let me know…and I’ll fly out
      I have some friends in Vegas I should really see

      …is that show still on TV… watched a few episodes but it started to irritate me…

    6. You’re right. The show was irritating. Chop’s staff doesn’t know a thing about selling or persuasion. How they’ve achieved fame, I don’t know.

    7. Rob Anspach says:

      …most car dealers dont know a thing about getting people in the door…let alone getting them to continue to come back.

    8. Rob Anspach says:

      …and sadly, most car dealers will not make it in this economy. They don’t know how to think independantly… they’ve forgotten who their true clients are… they think they are working for the manufacturer.

      If I was a car dealer – I would focus on selling higher end cars… thats where the money is… and I would focus all my marketing efforts to get hig-end clientele in my door. I would offer to bring the cars to them… if they didn’t like the color I would offer to repaint it…

      forget that mentality of lets try toget anybody in here and sell regardless of credit – that takes too long, is a waste of time and frankly you are only turning numbers and not making any real money.

    9. Terrific insights about length of involvement time and directing the prospect’s attention. This way to the Egress!

    10. “competent technicians who are marketing nincompoops”

      Describes just about every ad designer and “marketing manager” I met during my years working for a yellow pages publisher!

    11. I think this would be far more fruitful than utopianism. So, while the Doomsday Clock will eventually have to reckon with this dangerous environment, there is no time for policymakers to waste. The must begin seriously examing how to best live within this vastly different strategic context today.

    12. Odette Raper says:

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