You're at the Prom…Ask her to dance!

Matt Plapp - Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Marketing & Social Media Consultant
Matt Plapp - Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Marketing & Social Media Consultant

You just did all the work and successfully convinced a consumer to come to your store…NOW WHAT.  In-store marketing is the easiest and most cost effective marketing available. One of the business categories that should be using it more than others are restaurants. I usually eat out 8-10 times per week with clients and the family. About 3 months ago I decided I was going to keep track of what restaurants where doing to capture their clients information. Why, well it’s simple, there are 3 basic hurdles in marketing:

1. The clients need to know WHO you are.
2. The clients need to know WHERE you are.
3. They need to BUY from you.

So if I’m a business that relies on repeat business, like a restaurant, then capturing my customers information is a MUST. I’m sorry and happy to report that I came across 2 in 3 months, yes 2 out of aprox 75 restaurants actually had a way of capturing their customers contact information by a texting program, social media promotion or frequent customer card. I say happy because that’s what my company, Driven Media Solutions, does for small businesses.

I was recently at a very good 1 location pizzeria in Florence, Kentucky. The owner and I were meeting about their marketing. As we talked I noticed 5 groups of customers who dined and left. I asked the owner if she knew them, she said “no”. I then asked does she want them to come back (loaded question) and of course she said “yes”. So I asked why she made no effort to capture their info. She had no answer, she had never thought about it. Why was there not a table topper that said “text XYZ to 12345 for a chance to win a FREE lunch”. Or follow us on facebook for special offers, or have the waitress have them fill out a quick survey that offers 50% off their next meal and a frequent user’s card. EVERY customer who came in would text in to win. Most would follow on facebook and the vast majority would fill out the survey to get 50% of their next meal and a loyalty card. Everyone wants something for FREE. Once you capture their information you have just accomplished the largest part of the marketing mix. You have a list of customers who know WHO you are, WHERE you are and currently BUY from you. So when it’s time to do a coupon, sale or promotion you already have the hardest part covered. Would you rather send a B.O.G.O (buy one get one free) to 10,000 random people of which less than 1% will redeem it or send it to 1,000 current customers of which a large portion will come back for more.

Think about the texting and facebook opportunities. Imagine that the electric is out in a large part of your city (like Cincinnati in September 2008) and you have electric. You have done the work and have a text list of 1,000 local customers and a facebook fan page with 800 followers. You send out the following text or facebook message “Our electric is on and we want to help your family. Come up now for 25% off any meal and sit in our ice cold dining room”. Or it’s a Tuesday at 5pm and you have not had good traffic on Tuesdays so you send out “Buy 1 get 1 Free dinner”. You WILL get traffic and you are marketing 100% to your target market.

So to recap we just talked about the following items:
1. Capturing Your Customers Information
2. Texting Specials
3. Facebook
4. Customer Loyalty Cards
5. Creating a Customer Database of CURRENT CUSTOMERS

I know, right now you’re wondering, this will cost too much. WRONG, texting packages start at $99 per month, customer loyalty programs are basically small print jobs and facebook marketing is FREE if you do it yourself. And don’t just think this applies to a restaurant, everything I mentioned above would work for any type of business: Auto repair, clothing, office machines, apartment communities, etc. What’s expensive is letting known buyers walk out of your store without ever trying to get their information. At the same time you’re showing the customer that you really don’t care if they come back and that hurts your brand.

When I ask my customers about their brand I usually get a response targeted to their advertising. When in fact, I’m looking for a statement that defines their company and how the public relates to it. Uniforms, phone-answering, sales training, clean restrooms, trained employees, consistent company colors, clearly marked showrooms, in-store marketing and more importantly a staff that understands exactly what your brand is and how they are to carry that out in their job EVERY DAY.

Matt Plapp is a Marketing Consultant in Cincinnati Northern Kentucky the area specializing in small business marketing via grass-roots, events, guerilla, online and social media marketing. You can contact him at

So you want to have 100% Referrals

So you want to have 100% Referrals

You are at a Networking event and you start a conversation with a mature gentlemen who looks very successful. You ask him how he gets all of his clients. He says I only work on referrals.
You think that would be the ultimate quest. It would be great to only get business by referrals……

Continue reading

Power Play #36 – The Power of Networks

Paul D'Souza - The D'Souza Group - Award Winning Author – The Market Has Changed – Have You?
Paul D’Souza – The D’Souza Group – Award Winning Author – The Market Has Changed – Have You?
I have recently connected with a group of people that belong to the Business Network International (BNI) organization. Ironically, I did not have any interaction with them as a group before these last few weeks and I say ironically – because when looking in and observing how them operate, I believe we can learn a great deal from them.
Check out these metrics of success …
In 2009, Business Network Int’l passed over 6.2 million referrals in 5500+ chapters with over 118,000 members in 43 countries resulting in more than $2.6 billion in business!
One of their basic tenants is that – referral marketing is one of the strongest ways to grow your business. And I agree. This is true for many reasons – for years, I have been talking about “The way we have done things for generations” and this is just one of them. Let me illustrate;
Imagine a nice summer day 5000 years ago in a small African village in the area we now call Mozambique; a 12 year old boy starts having feelings for a young girl in his village and has this stirring in his heart where he wants to feel and be known as a man. In his culture, that is typically demonstrated by bringing down and bringing home a large animal. He decides that bringing home a large buffalo would be too much, be decides to learn how to hunt a Gazelle. Where does he start!??
As would be logical then and now … he finds an expert; someone with a reputation of being a good hunter. But not just any hunter. He is looking for the best Gazelle hunter. So he asks his friends and family … people he trusts. He gets a name from his best friends father and since he is a bit nervous; asks if the dad could take him over to the hunters hut and introduce him. The friend’s dad agrees and the introduction is made. He now has an expert hunter who will show him how to bring down a Gazelle and he is happy. But before they leave, the hunter asks the boy two simple questions;
1. Why does he want a Gazelle? he is curious about what are they celebrating? and
2. How many people does he have in his hunting party?
These are important questions, because it will help him select the right Gazelle. But the boy is confused. Hunting party? there is only one girl involved! There is no event to celebrate and there is no hunting party? What is he talking about? its just me and nobody else! The hunter replies … can’t be done.
What? Can’t be done! the boy is confused and so the hunter talks to him about the “practices” related to hunting ….
First – you have to have a good reason to hunt a Gazelle, like celebrating a special event with your family or the village itself. That will determine the size of the Gazelle and based on the event, sometimes determine your need for female or a calf. Secondly, Gazelles are very fast animals and one individual cannot catch one; you need a team of people to help you. Each person has got a task, the main hunter will coordinate them, helping them work together and position himself in the right position to make the kill, but you need 6 or 7 people.
The hunter went on to talk about what each person would do and that some of them would have to be good runners while others would have to be able to sneak up on the Gazelle and be very quiet and experienced in being quiet in the jungle. He talked about the equipment and the tools they would need and then talked about the different hunting spots they would have to go to, to try to make the kill. Finally, the hunter talked to him about the dangers involved; from the cuts and bruises one could get from running through the jungle and the open plains to being attacked or bit by other animals and snakes to the Gazelles themselves. They could do real damage with their horns.
The boy began to understand the complexity and the level of structure and organization one needed to bring down a Gazelle. There was no way he could do this alone. He needed to get a few of his friends together to help him out and he needed to coincide his hunt with a ceremony; an event that would have bigger impact than just feeding his ego. He needed a bigger “Why”. By Golly!! there were rules!

This my friends is what BNI does for you; the small business owner. They have developed a systematic body of knowledge and business practice that help you understand the basics of Referral Marketing and they not only show you, but they also create the space for you to access and leverage “Your Team”; these are people who will actively help you bring bring down the Gazelles you need. And just like in the African village 5000 years ago; they want to know your “Why” and you better have a good one. They will also hold you accountable and will seek to have you earn their trust. Which you need to earn and keep … to stay on the team.
Join the Business Network Internation if you think you could use a team of trained people to help you access more customers.

Paul D'Souza Professional Business Consultant & award winning Author

Paul D’Souza is an award winning author and Professional Business Consultant, to reach Paul visit his website.

Build Your Business On Stone

Duane Plapp - Professional Business Coach and Referral Marketing Expert
Duane Plapp - Professional Business Coach and Referral Marketing Expert

Build your business on Stone

So you are now an entenpeneur and you are now going to create your business model. You ask “ Am I going to prospect by cold calling, advertising or direct marketing or am I going to build it through relationships”.

There are several questions you must answer:

-How long are you planning on staying in business?

What kind of business model do I want?

What future am I going to have?

What makes the most sense?

How much capital am I going to invest?

The answers are easy.

Build you business on a solid foundation which will stand the test of time. Relationships are the only way to build your business so It will stand the test of time. Relationships create trust and loyalty.

If  we create business through cold calling and advertising we can create  instant but short term income. There is no trust or loyalty established.  So when we stop the advertising  or price increases the income is gone. This is the same as building my house on the sand. Lets build our houses on stone. Stone lasts and sand erodes and then there is nothing left.

Relationships if developed properly will last a lifetime. If the advertising stops and the prices increase they are still there. If your price increases the client  gives you the opportunity to keep the business because of the  relationship. If that business comes from a cold call they just call someone else and never give you the opportunity to maintain their business.

The way to create  business built on stone is through  referral marketing strategies. It has been said that we all want to create our business through referrals but very few ever develop the methodology to make it happen.


Amazing an idea which will help us build our business on stone.

The next question :                 HOW DO WE DO THIS?

We need to get educated in referral marketing. We need to get immersed in the strategies of referral marketing. We need to get our referral partners educated by the referral marketing experts.

S.Duane Plapp  Sr.

Coach and Certified Trainer

Referral Institute-Cincinnati

Are you learning from your past?

Doug Smith - Cincinnati Radio Marketing Consultant
Doug Smith - Cincinnati Radio Marketing Consultant
I’ve known this for a while, but I’ve never wanted to admit it.  However, today is the day I come clean.  My dad wasn’t as dumb as I thought he was when I was growing up.  When I purchased my first car at 16, it was my dad’s idea that I should get a car with some size because the chances were good that I would be in an accident and I needed a car with some protection.  I wanted something small and sporty, but dad won the argument and the result was a two-tone brown 1982 Buick Regal which saved my life when I was hit head-on by a drunk driver.  The car was ugly, but dad was right.
When I was a youngster, my dad would remind me every winter NOT to sled ride head first.  It was more daring to go head first down the hill, through the trees, and over the ramps, so I always did it my way even though it had been pounded into my head that, sooner or later, I was going to run into a tree and that I shouldn’t test fate.  Well, one cold winter afternoon fate won when I was going too fast and couldn’t steer away from a big tree that I swear jumped in front of me.  With a bloodied and bruised face, my buddies helped me home.  I was fortunate not to break anything, but dad was right.
I now understand that my dad was taking his past successes and past failures and passing that knowledge on to me.  Unfortunately, when you are young you think you know everything and you need to learn the hard way.
That brings me to you and your business.  Are you taking advantage of the past successes and failures of people in your industry?  I believe that SUCCESS LEAVES CLUES.  Over the course of history, there have been hundreds and maybe thousands of people who have done, or are currently doing, what you do.  Some have failed, some have succeeded, and some have become great.  But no matter THEIR outcome, you can learn something from it to help YOU today, tomorrow, and for years to come.
Who are the big success stories in your industry?
What did they do that made them successful?
Who are the biggest failures in your industry?
What did they do wrong?
If you can’t name at least one success or one failure for your profession, there is a good chance you are missing out on a golden opportunity to learn something that could help lead you to greater success.  If you ignore these learning opportunities, you run the risk of running face first into a tree.  Trust me, I know!
Doug Smith is a Senior Account Executive for WREW Rewind 94.9 and in Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky.  You can contact Doug at  (513) 535-9123 or

What's Your Brand? Part 2

Matt Plapp - Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Marketing & Social Media Consultant
Matt Plapp - Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Marketing & Social Media Consultant

What’s Your Brand

Part 2 of 52

By Matt Plapp

Next I was visiting a locally owned retail store with a large showroom. I walked it looking to buy a specific item. I was not greeted within 50 feet of the door. In fact, I was never greeted. I had to ask a guy I guessed was an employee for help. The reason I “Guessed” is because his hair was a wreck, his shirt was un-tucked and was old and not really recognizable with their company colors or logo. I did get it right though, but since he was carrying a scan gun it was somewhat a give-away. Next I asked where this product was, to which he pointed about 10 rows down and said down in aisle 15. I wanted to smack him. YOU DON’T POINT. You walk me to the item, see what I’m buying, find an item to up-sell me to and then take me to my next item. Needless to say I got lost, got frustrated and asked 2 more people. I ended up not buying anything due to this flawed process. Again, this BRAND was out of whack.

This example comes to me from a friend in Florida who owned a car dealership in the 80‘s and 90‘s. He used this example from his dealership in a marketing training I went to in 2003. He was in the showroom watching the salesman close a deal. Everything seemed ready to go as planned, everyone was smiling, shaking hands and getting ready to sign the paperwork. As he watched from across the room he noticed the wife get up to go somewhere. Within minutes she came back, whispered in her husbands ear and off they went. The owner thought something was up. He asked the salesman what happened and he had no idea. So he hurried out to the parking lot and caught them as they got into their car. He introduced himself as the owner and said he could not help but notice something went wrong, “Can I ask what happened”. The young lady told him that when she went to the restroom it was horrible, it was dirty, old and to her a slap in the face. She said that she did not think the dealership deserved her business if they did not respect their female customers enough to spend a few dollars on a nice clean restroom. WOW, this dealership owner was floored. He was widely successful, had been in the business for 20+ years and did not know what just hit him. He apologized and wished them luck on their car shopping experience. He had never been in the ladies room at his store, so he took a stroll. Once in there, he was disappointed “How could I miss something this obvious, how could I have not trained my staff to look for these type of issues” he told me. “We had a multi-million dollar facility and a $10 ladies room”. That night he called the customer and acknowledged her concerns and agreed. He let her know it would be remodeled the next few days and thanked her for telling him about it.

So to recap we just talked about the following items:

1. Employee appearance

2. Pointing instead of showing a customer

3. Restroom appearance

I know, right now your wondering what any of these items have to do with your marketing. They have everything to do with your marketing of your business. These are all an extension of your brand. Your brand is how your company/product is perceived by your customers. In these situations, these were real life examples of how each of these businesses failed to meet the expectations on their customers, and they failed to build their brand properly.

When I ask my customers about their brand I usually get a response targeted to their advertising. When in fact, I’m looking for a statement that defines their company and how the public relates to it. Uniforms, phone-answering, sales training, clean restrooms, trained employees, consistent company colors, clearly marked showrooms, and more importantly a staff that understands exactly what your brand is and how they are to carry that out in their job EVERY DAY.

Matt Plapp is a Marketing Consultant in Cincinnati Northern Kentucky the rea. You can contact him at

What do you do or sell?

Doug Smith - Cincinnati Radio Marketing Consultant
Doug Smith - Cincinnati Radio Marketing Consultant
What do you do or sell?
I’m sure you’ve been in networking and social settings where this question has been asked a thousand times, but coming up with the correct answer is much harder than you think. If your answer is the actual product or service you provide, your answer, although correct, is actually incorrect.
For example, if you work for a chamber of commerce and you tell others that you “work at the so-and-so chamber of commerce” you are not giving insight into how you could potentially help the person who asked you the question. Instead, if you said “I create opportunities for business professionals, like yourself, to grow their business through interactions with other business professionals” you are going to grab the other persons attention and a meaningful conversation begins. This answer speaks to the emotional need of the person you are talking to (who doesn’t want to grow their business?) and if you can attach your product or service to an emotional need, you are on your way to earning their business.
(At your next networking or social gathering, ask 10 people what they do and I promise you most, if not all, will answer with the obvious.)
Think of your advertising as one gigantic social event as it gives you the opportunity to come in contact with thousands of people everyday. Is your advertising message stating the obvious or are you engaging your potential customers by tapping into an emotional need? Are you using your advertisement to talk about how long you’ve been in business? Are you listing every product you sell? Are you talking about how great your customer service is? If you answered “Yes” to any of those questions your advertisement is not going to stand out to your prospective customers because you are stating the obvious and, honestly, your potential customers don’t care.
Determine the emotional need attached to your product or service and then hammer that point home in your advertisements. If you can attach your product or service to an emotional need of your prospects, you are on your way to earning a customer. (Don’t believe me? You may laugh at a commercial that claims you can get great abs by working out only 3 minutes a day, but the only one really laughing is that company….all the way to the bank.) Like I stated earlier, people don’t join a chamber of commerce to kill time, they join because they want to grow their business.
So, let me ask you again…….what do you do or sell? I hope your answer is different from the one you had two minutes ago.

Doug Smith is a Senior Account Executive for WREW Rewind 94.9 and in Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky.  You can contact Doug at  (513) 535-9123 or

What's Your Brand? Part 1

Matt Plapp - Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Marketing & Social Media Consultant
Matt Plapp - Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Marketing & Social Media Consultant

What’s Your Brand

Part 1 of 52

By Matt Plapp

As a marketing consultant I call on 100 + businesses per week. After most phone calls and visits I can’t help but wonder “What’s their brand”? Most people think about radio ads and tv ads when I say that. But I’m not talking about advertising, I’m talking about your companies brand. I’m talking about what defines your business to consumers when they think of you, if they actually do think of you. Here are a few examples of what I mean.

I recently had a customer tell me they don’t advertise when I spoke with her on the phone. I told the business owner it was a good thing she didn’t. Confused she asked what I meant. I told her it took me 4 different phone calls to get someone to answer the phone. On the 4th time when someone finally answered I could barely hear what they said when they answered the phone. Once I figured out I had the correct business after having the young lady repeat the name 3 times (maybe it was an issue with a tongue ring) I was put on hold. Once on-hold there was no message selling their business, just SILENCE, oh and I was on hold for 10 minutes. This I told the owner is why they should not be advertising, not because she thinks they have enough business or a great customer database. I don’t care how great of an advertising campaign you have, if you don’t answer the phones, put people on hold without ever checking back and don’t attempt to spend a few hundred dollars for an on-hold phone system (The Original On Hold Company, then it will won’t matter. Those experiences will define your brand to your potential customers and you will feel that pain in a few years.

Next I visited a client to see how the experience was in-store. This was a Jewelry store with a few locations. No-one at this particular location knows me so I figured I‘d get the normal treatment. This particular client told me in prior conversations that “I don’t think the advertising is working”. I always get a kick out of clients telling me this, WHY, because most have no idea. I ran a decent size local retail store for 10 years. We did every type of advertising available, I knew my marketing mix was working due to the increase in traffic and sales around our flights. But I never had proof that our cable, radio or magazine ads weren’t specifically working. It’s just too hard to gauge that for most retail businesses. OK, back to the jewelry store, I was actually in the market for a gift for my wife. I was dressed nice and I had my wife and kids with me. My wife looked at 3-4 rings and found the one she wanted. We got the price ($2,500) and I even TOOK A PICTURE of the ring with my apple iphone (for a good sales person an easy sign I don‘t mind spending money). I even told the salesman, who I later found out was the GM of that store, this was so I could come back the next day and buy the correct ring. This is where their BRAND fell apart. The GM never asked for my name, phone number or any other contact information. He didn’t give me his card or try and set up a follow-up appointment. He didn’t offer some kind of discount or reason to closee me. How about some sense of urgency “There’s only 1 left” to try and close me. HE NEVER TRIED TO SELL ME. Consumers want to be sold, especially salesman like me. Again, it does not matter how slick your radio ad is, how great the newspaper coupon offer is, if your staff can’t sell then you just wasted your money.

So to recap we just talked about the following items:

1. Answering the Phone

2. Clear Speaking when talking on the phone

3. On-Hold Systems

4. Getting a prospects contact info

5. Setting up a appointment

6. Closing a retail customer

So many times business owners think about their advertising when they hear someone say “Brand”, but it’s much more than just advertising.   Stay tuned, each week I’m going to update this series with good and bad ways that companies Brands are being represented.

Phone Numbers…In your ads?

Doug Smith - Cincinnati Radio Marketing Consultant
Doug Smith - Cincinnati Radio Marketing Consultant - Rewind 94.9
Phone numbers are everywhere.  You see them on billboards, television commercials, and you hear them on radio commercials.
Every business wants you to remember their phone number, but do you? Without looking, what is the phone number at the top of this page?  Chances are you couldn’t remember and had to look.  The reason?  It’s hard to remember a phone number.  But if it’s hard to remember, then why do so many businesses put their phone number in their advertisements?
Of course, there is always an exception to the rule and the exception for this is if you are fortunate enough to have a catchy phone number.  (My Taekwondo instructor’s phone number is 450-KICK).  Having a number like this is no guarantee someone will remember it, but it does increase your chances.  Even with that said, why take up precious space in your advertisement with something people likely will not remember.
In my opinion, there is only one place that requires your phone number.  Any guesses?  Your website!
If you said Yellow Pages, answer this question:  When was the last time you went to the yellow pages instead of the Internet to look up a business?  Oh sure, you may crack open the yellow pages once in a great while, but the majority of your searches involve the Internet. (What is your yellow pages to Google/Yahoo ratio?)  Plus, with today’s smart phones, people can find you online while on the go.
The ultimate goal of advertising is to make your business the one people think about when they are in the market for the product or service you sell.  Don’t jumble up your message with a bunch of stuff people won’t remember.  Typically you have 2 to 3 seconds to give your message with a billboard, 15 or 30 seconds on television, and 30 or 60 seconds on radio.  Come up with a creative way for people to remember your name and your message.  If your message resonates with your prospective customers, they will remember your name.  Once they know who you are, they will find you when they need you.
So, what is the phone number at the top of the page?  Still can’t remember?  It’s my cell phone…..535-9123.  I’m not lucky enough to have a catchy phone number.

Doug Smith is a Senior Account Executive for WREW Rewind 94.9 and in Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky.  You can contact Doug at  (513) 535-9123 or