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Sugar Frosting Coated Dog Cr#p

I came across this chapter title in a sales support book for an internet marketing product a contact of mine was showing me. They were doing the “soft-sell” on me, y’know, just showing me the product, no pressure and all that. The book came as part of the package and it was a really interesting read, if the product had been of interest to me, I would have been tempted just to get access to the book.

Anyway as part of the sales pitch the author talked about how so many businesses present a product/service with all the nice finishes, the nice package, but that it is nothing better than dog cr*p underneath all the fancy topping. I thoroughly loved the analogy and found myself reacting predictably to the descriptions in this particular chapter. That underneath all of that was something that was less than useless to the buyer, that in fact, it was insulting to even consider that they would fall for it.

He suggested that our crap-o-meter goes on high alert and jumps from zero to red-alert when we are presented with such a “gift” or “opportunity”. That as soon as we are within smelling distance of the product/service idea our noses start to twitch as a thoroughly unpleasant reaction to the obvious cr*p wafting our way. I loved the analogy and found myself reacting predictably to the descriptions in this particular chapter.

In today’s market where there seem to be more sales pitches on all types of media there is a constant need to “up your game” and offer only products and services of value. So how do you know whether your product/service is going to set off a potential customer’s crap-o-meter or not? You really like it and can see how it can be beneficial, but will they?

I’ve listed only five of the suggested ideas the author came up with for checking your product doesn’t fit into the above category. No doubt others will have really good suggestions to add to the list.

  1. If someone else suggested this to me would I be interested?
  2. Apart from friends and colleagues has anyone else shown a positive interest?
  3. How much added value am I bringing along with this, today, more than ever the consumer wants added value on top of a good product/service?
  4. Is there an after-sales support or is it a sell and run product/service?
  5. Is it properly priced?

For those of you who do like sugar-frosting-coated-topping my apologies if I have ruined a nice doughnut or cupcake.

Mairéad Kelly developed the Cute Honey System - Business training, coaching & mentoring for Mumpreneurs & Mum Biz Owners who want to buzz their business into a hive of productivity while raising young children & often can’t get out to training events, morning or evening network events due to family commitments and/or a lack of finances.

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  • Hi Mairead. It is a great analogy – good find. Your points are all valid and to be considered. The wrapping does have to be really good to get the interest in the first place, but this must be supported with a product or service that presents a strong value proposition to the customer.

  • Hi Mairead, I think what the author in question calls a person’s crap-o-meter is for me, my too-good-to-be-true-o-meter. I think most customers bring a healthy skepticism to the table, the best approach is honesty, even when you are telling people things that they may not want to hear initially.

  • Hi Mairead,

    I agree with Niall – being a natural skepic, too-good-to-be-good offers usually are just that.
    Do the promoters believe in the saleability of their products? If they did, they could list all the benefits and value to the customer.
    Sometimes its a case of ‘I like it and I want to sell it’, as you mentioned. There’s no obvious audience or real benefit, just the desire to sell. Presentation or incentives are distractions.
    Point 5 is usually a telltale sign if its the real deal!
    O’ and I still like doughnuts! lol


  • Great analogy Mairead – loved the article.
    I love frosting and well packaged products – but there is an innate suspicion within that just wonders “what’s inside” Like a gorgeous looking well presented piece of fish in a restaurant, I will always pry open the centre to make sure it’s healthy and fresh and cooked – just a peek.
    If we can allow for the peek, our clients will be happy
    Testimonials are all the rage now – are they truely effective though? Recommendations don’t always work out. Greg found this our the hard way in his heart rendering debt collection story:
    So its a tough one. I like your point about after sales support – there should ALWAYS be a point of contact made available for even a limited period – demonstrates belief in one’s product/service and sincerity. Plus it’s important to maintain contact with the client for further business, a testimonial or feedback on the product / service.

  • thanks for the comments.

    I’ve learnt to be a skeptic and when I’m presented with something in a fancy package I begin to wonder just why it is so well packaged. Most of the time it is because the contents aren’t worth it, but every now and again it is because the person presenting it has gone to the bother of adding extra bells and whistles to make it “special”, those are rare treats, because they come with all 5 of the points I’ve listed above.

    Niall & Christina, it can be called so many names, and I’m glad it hasn’t affected your love of frosting or doughnuts Elaine & Christina. Lucky for me I don’t like either.

  • Nice one Denise.
    To add to your point, it’s amazing sometimes how business owners get overwhelmed trying to understand what and how to write for the web. For example, when it comes to blog posts, the majority wants to know everything before they hit one key. Very few dare to go through the simple exercise of reading other articles to understand the content, audience and tone. Doing this first will always be a massive help before coming up with your own content.

  • Good article Denise! On point #3 (Decide on the Style of Writing), I agree that you should pick a writing style and stick to it. But I do think it’s fine to use a formal writing style on your website and an informal style on your blog, even if the blog is part of the website. What do you think?

  • I LOVE this, I’m so often told that I write like I talk and to this resonates with me on so many levels. People buy people and if your words don’t have an impact your lost.

  • Excellent post Denise. I enjoy reading your posts as they are always so personal and friendly. I would also add that a headline that grabs attention is important too since it must grab the imagination of a market saturated with headlines.

  • I think Fred makes a valid point below.

    And I know a few blogs / twitter accounts who obviously use a ghost writer or VA or someone else to write some of their articles, but have not described their own style, as the style changes between two mostly, or the “scheduled” tweets are completely different in style to the conversational tweets (which in itself is to be expected for tweeting about blogposts, weblinks etc)
    But if one is to be on the web interacting, then not being able to respond to a reply on twitter or facebook, or not to be able to comment on blogposts for days, I believe it can give the wrong impression.

    I enjoyed your comment – “Don’t mix formal and informal styles – it doesn’t work. It appears confusing to the reader and the message gets mixed up.” – I completely agree and experienced this myself when I began blogging for Seefin Coaching. Conversational is definitely more my style 🙂

  • Hi Denise, Great message! Write for the customer & not at the customer. Also people obsess about trying to include every detail which leads to too much text & very little user experience. Remember people have short attention spans online so unless you can grab them, they are probably going to move on.

  • Denise

    Hi Mairead, thanks for that. There is no point being two different people – you need to be consistent with your marketing.

  • Denise

    Hi Fred, I like your thought process. I have to admit that often I find it hard to write sometimes. But looking around, reading around, like you suggest, is exactly what I do to overcome that ‘writers block’ syndrome. I just get to it and the trick is to edit afterward.

  • Denise

    Niall – I’m going to use that line again “Write for the customer & not at the customer.” How right you are.

  • Denise

    Elaine – thanks for your wonderful example. It really shows that to be true to your readership that you ought not pretend who you are. If blogs are written by ghost writers (I ghost write a few myself!), have your ghost writer get to know as much about you as possible so that they practically be you in words.
    Make sense?

  • Denise

    Thanks for your lovely words. I’m blushing now! Headlines are a subject for another day!! 🙂 But I absolutely agree – your headline must grab your readers attention.

  • Denise

    Zuly – I started writing your comment when you posted it but for some reason it didn’t save here. I completely agree that you can use formal on your website and informal on your blog. I just think that you can’t mix formal and informal in the same document/blog/article etc as it appears very ‘copy and paste’ or disjointed.

    Elaine, above, makes the point about how some tweets and blogs appearing inconsistent and not reflecting the true person tweeting or blogging. That goes to the point about mixing of styles and how it is so important to be careful.

  • I agree, otherwise it’s futile.
    I love that ghost writers provide an invaluable service to their clients, but I agree that they should consult very closely (like go for a pint together!) to get a proper feel for the style 🙂

  • I agree with you Fay that We must write like as the customer is just in front of us. That’s why I think that blogging exerts more of this effect than static website) Blogging give us room to “speak to our customer”. Its okay to have a website, but adding a blog page would be more interactive 😉

  • This is great Denise! This is almost copyblogger-ish 🙂

    I have defintely tried to keep my posts engaging and simple and I finally feel like its starting to pay off.

    Thanks for reinforcing the point!

  • Facundo

    Interesting framework Richie. I wonder how one can implement an abridged version to serve clients better since not everyone would pay for such analysis nor have the capacity to do it themselves. n

  • Having a good design for your website will get people interested, and the content will help them stay that way. Like writing a good article, you need to grab the attention of the reader, to educate them, entertain them, or possibly both. There may be a lot of people in the internet in the same field as you, and you need to make that extra effort in order to stay relevant to your customers.

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey

    One of my favourite questions to ask in seminars and 1:1 coaching sessions, is “why do you customers really buy from you?” Even for my own business, there are times when I’m not quite sure either. Your tips are a good reminder that sales is less about our sellling ability  and more about the emotional life our customers are experiencing.

  • John Perrin

    Thank you for the awesome comments. It’s something that is being forgotten that the customer is just a cash point. Too many times do we hear/see people who have be exposed to a salesperson that takes everything without any true thought. 

    This is the problem with the image of sales and granted it will keep on going this way simply because of the greed some people begin to feel. It is also very important to remind ourselves why we believe the company is unique and what it has to offer.

  • John Perrin

    That’s very true, as much as having an asset is a good thing consider the mindset you have with one, it’s generally about the value/money that can be generated from it. This is when you need to think about the problems you can solve for the customer and how YOU can become an asset to them. Very valid point however.

  • John Twohig

    HI John, I enjoyed the post but can not agree with you opening statement that we never want to buy anything. We all have needs, different needs at different times in our lives. I do accept that the sales person holds the key to where we purchase the goods or service. As a man I will only by when I need to, what a good sales person should be able to do is get me to purchase the correct product to suit my needs. The sales person should, by the correct use of questions and listening, establishing my needs.  

  • People buy from an emotional state. They justify the logic used to accomodate that emotional state. Women are experts at this! Men are also very good at justifying exactly why they need something.
    I disagree that people only buy when they need to. Esp with B2C, clever marketing ploys can entice people to spend money they simply do not have.

    But I agree about truthfulness and authenticity. By being empathetic to a client’s pain, and providing the relevant solution to their pain, desire or fear – you are reaching into their emotional reasons why they should buy.
    Great post John, to highlight and remind us to listen to the customer, because they ARE always right – they know themselves better than us!

  • John Perrin

    Hi John, glad you enjoyed it. That’s very true, we do have our different needs in our lives but have you ever caved in to the up selling process a supermarket has? The till is lined with junk you didn’t even think you needed or actually wanted but the branding and instant desire is what sways you to buy the chocolate bar. Then you try to back up the decision to buy the bar by saying you are a tad hungry or you need the energy, yet you were fine a couple of minutes ago. The branding there sold itself to you and it changed your emotions as well.

  • John Perrin

    Thanks Elaine! I recently read a study by Ferrazzi Greenlight, which highlighted how companies saw greater growth focusing on client relationships rather then regular transactions with ‘new’ customers. It’s incredibly interesting and worth a read, but it works hand in hand with the process of dealing with the client’s problems and fixing those issues. If you become a security blanket for the client they will always return without a moments hesitation, so this should really make everyone consider what they are doing for the current client relationships they may have. 

    But marketing is what plays with our emotions, a half dressed woman has different effects for everyone but nonetheless its pushes around our emotions, which ultimately is the deciding factor for our purchases.  

  • John Perrin

    Hi Anton, thanks for the feedback. That is very true, only last week I went and bought a hammock for the summer, looks like autumn will be here first. 

    Sales as an industry has got into the mindset of 80%-20%, so more talking and less listening basically. Which then defies the logic of solving the customers problems as you don’t really have any idea as to what they require. It’s very irritating actually to see it happen so often, giving the sales industry a bad image that is already suffering with the cheesy lines people get feed.

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