Increase your sales without spending MONEY!

Can you increase your sales without spending MONEY?

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

It’s amazing to see the results of your own work.  I’ve always told my customers and anyone who will listen that “Marketing is hard, but advertising is easy”.  Many people don’t understand what I mean when I say that.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen business owners opt for buying advertising on mass media that they shouldn’t buy (because their budget is too small) and then wonder why nothing happened.  Well for the past few months I’ve been working with a great new client, The Golf Exchange in Florence Kentucky.  The owners Jason and Mark are hungry, aggressive and they understand that their biggest strength is running their golf store and not marketing.  The first time I met them, I knew we would do some great things together.  They’ve entrusted the marketing to me.  And things are rocking.  October and November have been record months and it’s not a coincidence that those are the 2 months we’ve been working together (FYI, October & November are typically slow months in the golf business in our area for obvious reasons).  Now, my head is not big enough to believe that’s all to the marketing plan we’ve put in place, but I know we are moving the needle.

What have we done?  Have we bought a bunch of media and let the reps write our commercials (like many business owners do).  Did we put an ad in the paper and watch the door?  Or did we create a really clever direct mail piece with a terrible offer and blanked Northern Kentuck… NO!

We rolled up our sleeves and put in place a Grass Roots Guerrilla Marketing Campaign.  We used something better than cash, we used our team of employees.

First we hit Social Media with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and You Tube.  Next we created an 8-week series of in-store golf seminars.  We also filmed the seminars and created  short videos to post on YouTube, their website and facebook.  We re-branded the website and made it easier to use.  Then we launched our E-Newsletter to help promote the above items.  Plus we started capturing all of our customers contact information and put in place a Customer Follow-Up Program through F.U.$.$.  And, last but not least, we’ve started trained the employees about all these new marketing programs, how they can help and guess what…they are helping drive the machine that we’ve created.


  1. 1. As mentioned the best October & November EVER!
  2. 2. A Social Media Following upwards of 700 in under 6 weeks
  3. 3. Seminar attendance of the following
    1. a. Week 1 = 30
    2. b. Week 2 = 43
    3. c. Week 3 = 50
    4. d. Week 4 = 64
    5. e. Week 5 = 83
    6. 4. Email Newsletter opened by over 1,000 customers over 3 emails
    7. 5. 17 You Tube Videos viewed over 350 times.
    8. 6. Website Traffic up 33.29% in October & 37.92% in November.
    9. 7. Some great PR by the local press about 1 of our events.

Guess how much we’ve spent to do all of this?  Aprox $500 (a banner, few signs and fliers).  Yes, we fought the urge to buy advertising, put our feet up and wait for customers to come to us.  We put a true, HARD CORE, Guerrilla Marketing plan in place and WE made it happen. The owners and employees all bought into the system and took this to a whole new level.  This is why I always say “Marketing is hard, but advertising is easy!”  Now keep in mind, all of this was done in the OFF SEASON.  Just wait until we get some sun and temperatures in the 80’s !!!

Matt Plapp is a the President of Driven Media Solutions, a Full Service Marketing Firm in the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky area specializing in small business marketing via grass-roots, events, Guerrilla, online and social media marketing. You can contact him at or

A Strike can Still Be a Hit, Stay Engaged…

Brennan Scanlon - Executive Director BNI Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky
Brennan Scanlon - Executive Director BNI Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky

A Strike can Still Be a Hit, Stay Engaged with Your “No’s” & “Not Right Now’s”

By: Brennan Scanlon
Sales people have a nasty little habit of moving quickly from prospect to prospect, appointment to appointment.  Sales books and CD sets have told us this for decades.  It’s a numbers game.  Every no gets you closer to a yes!  I get it, and of course there is truth to that.  However, allow me to challenge your thinking by making this statement;  A strike out with a prospect can still be a hit for your referral partners and then can become a home run for you!
Patty is a City Administrator  I called on last year and after 3 long months courting her as a client….I struck out.  Most sales people would leave her far behind in their rear view mirror, but I did not.  Sure, I invested 3 months and walked away without a sale, but I managed to develop something even more valuable.  A relationship.  In fact, over the next several months I went back to see Patty.  Not alone of course, I brought my referral partners with me.  One of which was a payroll provider who has since closed a deal with Patty.  Next I introduced a referral partner who sells ink cartridges to city’s at 70% of the cost of the big box office supply chains.   Am I now the guy who will help save the city thousands on toner cartridges?  Yep, that’s me.  The next time Patty is in need of my service who do you think she’ll reach out to.  You guessed it.  Also, have I also scored points toward future referrals from my payroll and ink cartridge referral partners?  You bet.
Traditional selling would tell you to leave Patty in the dust, but the best net workers realize that if you treat enough “Patty’s” like a person in need & not a closed door, you can have dramatic success in the future.  Now, your homework assignment, take a look at the last 10 prospects you did not close.  Call your top 3 referral partners and tell them who they are.  Then, set some appointments and take the show on the road.   You’ll be glad you did.

Brennan Scanlon is a Referral Institute Franchise owner as well as an Executive Director for BNI, Business Network Int’l ( SW Ohio & No. KY Region. He has been ranked in the Top 10% of BNI Directors nationally for the last two consecutive years, this ranking resulting in performance reviews submitted by BNI members.  Most recently, Brennan has been inducted into BNI’s Founder’s Circle 2008-2009 as nominated by his peers and approved by BNI’s Founder, Dr. Ivan Misner.

But, I'm not getting any referrals…

Duane Plapp - Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Referral Marketing Expert
Duane Plapp - Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Referral Marketing Expert

by Duane Plapp

What are the three most common mistakes BNI members make every week?
Ever hear I don’t get referrals from BNI?
Here are 3 of the most common reasons WHY?
1-      They don’t network – The first fifteen minutes of a BNI meeting is meant for networking, it’s not a buffer to get there late. Because the meeting starts fifteen minutes after the start time people think that is the time which allows me to get there late.  Wrong, this is the time to network and set up one to ones and start creating relationships.  It’s not the time to answer emails.  I was at a meeting the other day and one of the members was sitting with his computer and answering emails. He was not talking to anyone and when asked a question he said “I’m too busy”.  When you come to BNI, be prepared to ONLY work on BNI.
2-      They sell not educate – The goal of your BNI meeting is to educate your sales team so you can tickle their brain to create referrals.  You’re telling them who would be a good referral, why and what you can do for them.  Don’t stand in front of everyone and try and sell the people in the room your services, they will buy from you after you’ve build a great relationship.  You get to see them every week and at 1-to-1’s, they’re not going anywhere.  Everyone knows 250 to 300 contacts, you just need to figure out how to make 1 of those stick out.  Your fellow BNI members are your sales team and the more you treat them that way the more referrals you will obtain.
3-       1-to-1’s – These seem to be a foreign subject t some members.  In order to create referrals, you need to develop strong relationships with your sales team.  The better the relationship, the better the referral.  Good referrals are in direct correlation to relationships.  The stronger the relationship is, the more often you are thought of by your referral partners.  The more you are on their mind, guess what…MORE REFERRALS!
STOP SAYING I AM NOT GETTING REFERRALS, because it’s all YOUR FAULT. You’re not emerged in the basic concepts of referral marketing.  You have to network, educate and develop strong relationships to make it happen.

Duane Plapp is a professional business coach with The Referral Institute Cincinnati.  Duane can help you create “Referrals For Life”.  If you’re interested in learning more about referral marketing you can contact Duane at or 859-240-6428

Matt featured with P & G in Biz Courier Article!

John Newberry Cincinnati Business Courier Business Courier Cincinnati – by Jon Newberry

Date: Thursday, November 11, 2010, 2:23pm EST

Read more: Viral videos spread sales for Procter & Gamble | Business Courier

Scenes from one of Procter & Gamble Co.’s latest viral video campaigns: A young woman gets on a water slide, but instead of sliding down she sticks to it like glue. In another, a boyfriend tumbles out a window while trying to hurriedly pull off his girlfriend’s uncooperative stockings.
“Happy with your razor?” the tagline asks, directing viewers to a Russian website for Venus shaving products at They’re part of the latest

Proctor & Gamble Viral Videos
Earlier this year, P&G’s “Smell like a man, man” videos were a huge internet success. Read more: Viral videos spread sales for Procter & Gamble | Business Courier

attempt by P&G to engage global consumers via online videos and social media, in this case targeting Russian women concerned about razor stubble.

Created by Ogilvy Group in Russia, the water slide video won a “Silver Drum” at the 17th annual Golden Drum International Advertising Festival in Slovenia last month.
The videos follow Cincinnati-based P&G’s wildly successful “Smell like a man, man” campaign earlier this year for Old Spice body wash. Featuring actor Isaiah Mustafa, clad in a white towel, those videos garnered millions of views and massive publicity for the venerable P&G brand. At one point in July, Old Spice accounted for eight of the top 11 most-popular videos on YouTube, and more than a million people registered as fans on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, said Gillette spokesman Mike Norton in Boston.
‘The tools are out there’
Smaller businesses with more limited budgets aren’t likely to achieve that level of success, but they can learn from P&G’s experience and use online videos and social media to boost awareness with a targeted audience.
“It’s a gold mine for small businesses,” said Matt Plapp, president of Northern Kentucky-based Driven Media Solutions. The marketing firm focuses on digital and social media, managing about 150 Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages for small businesses. It also provides a range of marketing services for other clients.
Plapp relates the story of a trade show that he attended recently with officials from Blue Ash-based Ficks Reed, a maker of high-end wicker furniture. When the company’s CEO fell asleep on a chaise lounge during the show, Plapp shot some video of him, mostly to embarrass him, he said. Then a customer came along and was so impressed he bought $10,000 worth of furniture on the spot. So Plapp took the footage and whipped up a quick online video, uploaded it to YouTube, and sent an e-mail blast to all of Ficks Reed’s online subscribers.
“This is what’s great about digital media. We spent nothing on it. It took all of about 20 minutes,” said Plapp. “The tools are out there for every small business.”
Ken Williamson, senior vice president of On Location Multimedia in Cincinnati, said the cost of professionally produced videos is quite flexible, ranging from as little as $500 for a talking-head format to as much as $20,000 for a more elaborate production. Because they appear so small on screen, the picture quality is of secondary importance to the concept.
“Most of your money should be spent on the development of the idea. The real key is the creative concept,” said Williamson, whose company does videos, website development and digital photography.
For P&G, the secret to its Old Spice campaign, in addition to “absolutely great creative” from the Weiden+Kennedy ad agency, was the eye-opening consumer insight that “women were key purchasers of body wash for men,” Norton said. “That changed our conversation. Now we’re talking to both men and women.”
P&G is mum on specifics, but Norton said U.S. sales and volumes for Old Spice body wash and deodorant have increased in the “high-single to low-double digits” compared to last year.
“Old Spice is now No. 1 in body wash and deodorant,” Norton said. Previously it was neck and neck with Unilever’s Axe, he said.
P&G global marketing spokeswoman Tressie Rose said reapplying the successful elements of the Old Spice campaign isn’t limited to videos.
Viral videos can be one digital element within the total campaign, she said.
Read more: Viral videos spread sales for Procter & Gamble | Business Courier

Your Business: A Game Of Numbers

Amy Fox - Accelerated Business Results
Amy Fox - Accelerated Business Results

How ‘bout them Giants? This is the most exciting week all year for baseball. For those of you less familiar with baseball, we’re talking about the riveting end to the months-long baseball season: the World Series. As many of us know, baseball is a game of numbers more so than any other sport—batting averages, on-base percentages, error rates, etc. In addition, managers’ decision-making is driven by statistics and probabilities.
As you look at closing out your season, where will you finish? Right now, most of us have a laser focus on year-end numbers and are pushing for a strong finish. Typically our focus is on chasing new customers and bringing new business in the door. And while you absolutely need to keep your foot on the gas, it is most critical to know your numbers and follow the money. Where’s your revenue coming from and who’s buying your products and services? Being in tune with these questions and following the money can be an incredibly effective approach in order to ensure a strong close to your year and to build momentum going into the next. Here are three strategies to help you.
Lock in Loyalty
Customers want to feel valued and one of the simplest ways to accomplish this is to visit or call your top clients and find out how you’re doing. Get straight to the point and ask, “How are we doing?” There can be no other motives or agendas when you have this conversation, and it only works if you’re genuinely focused on how you are meeting the customer’s needs. When you make time to really listen and learn from customers, you’ll reap the benefits in more ways than one: you’ll gain valuable insight and it will allow you to evaluate what’s working and how what you sell translates into real value for your customers. More importantly, if your customer is less than satisfied, you’ll have the information and can resolve the issue. Sometimes what matters most is how you handle problems. The most important thing is to preserve the customer relationship—after all, it’s more expensive to lose a customer than to gain one.
Uncover Hidden Gems
During Q4, clients often have unused funds available, and sometimes these unexpected opportunities can make or break your year. Conversations with your clients may uncover hidden gems—new business ideas or leads that you were unaware of—or even plant seeds for solutions for the coming year. The key is to have the right intent and to truly play the role of advisor. Be prepared with new information—conversations that spark new thinking with customers require you to bring something to the table. Share stories about how you’ve helped customers, and keep it focused on benefits and value. Or be ready to discuss new data or research that you’ve found.
Get Strong Referrals
A customer referral is like gold. It carries heavy weight when your customers are making introductions for you. If your goal is a strong end-of-year finish, focus on finding these to move the needle on sales. If you’ve taken good care of your customers, they will be happy to refer you, but you have to ask them: “Do you know anyone who can benefit from our products and services?” In general, people want to help others, so don’t be afraid to ask. Also, be sure to make it as effortless as possible for your customers to give you referrals! Offer to write a sample email that they can tweak and easily send out.
How often should you ask for referrals? Once per quarter is the rule of thumb. In the meantime, stay top-of-mind with your customers by sharing blogs, status updates in LinkedIn, or email newsletters. These may prompt the customer to think of you and proactively share referrals. And one of the best ways to get a steady stream of referrals is to incent them. Consider sending personalized thank you notes or gifts or even providing a referral fee which can be a set dollar amount or a percentage of your deal.
While these practices should actually be implemented throughout the year, most of us analyze our numbers at the end of the year or at times that we have set aside for planning. There’s no better time than now, in the homestretch, to look at your numbers and know where your business is coming from. This is the time to play smart.
Amy Fox is the President of Accelerated Business Results, need help getting your sales to the next level, CALL AMY! 513.563.3585

You Owe Your Success To A Sales Person!

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

By Matt Plapp

For 8 years I worked in advertising and marketing sales.  It was a grind and it meant lots of cold calling and knocking on doors.  The first job in radio I had was in Cincinnati with WGRR Oldies 103.5.  I quickly realized I was in the field I was meant to be working in, marketing.  I loved helping small business owners create ideas that drove sales and profits, AND fit into their budget.  The 1 thing that drove me crazy though was how CRAPPY business owners were when it came to talking to me on the phone, setting and keeping appointments and having a genuine interest in listening to someone about their business.  They had this “I know everything” mentality, especially their ad agencies.
Then after 4+ years at WGRR I decided to run the business that my brother, father and I started a few years prior, a retail Boat & RV dealership  So I was now that business owner, and I made a pact to my friends in media that I would listen and not be the guy we had all called on.    I quickly found out how tough it was to keep up, the phone rang off the hook from sales people in every industry.  Someone always had something that was the next best product or the best marketing platform.   It was tough, BUT I LISTENED.  And it was amazing to sit back a few years ago and look at all the great products we sold that we never would have had the chance if a sales person had not done their job.  YES, the credit goes to the sales person for hammering me for a meeting and then showing me WHY to do business with them.
A few weeks ago there was an article in the local business paper about Cappel’s Costumes ( a Cincinnati Business) that talked about how they got into the Halloween Costume business.  The owner talked about back a long time ago when a sales person /buyer kept hammering them to put Halloween Masks in their store.  They finally put 8 masks in the store (after I’m sure MANY phone calls) and guess what happened….IT WORKED!  Today Cappel’s is mainly known for their Halloween business.  There is a lot of credit owed to that sales person, Cappel’s as we know it today, may not exist had that buyer from Chicago not done their job.
This is why all business owners and marketing directors owe much of the credit to the sales people that help bring you new ideas and products.
So, I challenge you to look at your business, your sales, your product and your marketing and see who you owe credit to for helping you build your business into what it is today.  And then return phone calls and keep appointments with the sales reps that are calling on you.  You never know which phone call will have the next idea to make you a few more million$$$

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

Frequency, Frequency, Frequency…

Doug Smith - Cincinnati Radio Marketing Consultant
Doug Smith - Cincinnati Radio Marketing Consultant

by Doug Smith

If you were holding a solid piece of metal that was 1/8 inch thick and 5 inches long, could you bend it? Unless you are Superman, the answer is NO.
If that same piece of metal was stretched out to a length of 5 feet, do you think you could bend it? I think you could.
Without getting scientific (which wasn’t one of my strong points in school) the metal is simply stronger the more compact it is. When you stretch it out over an extended length, it becomes weaker.
The same principle holds true in the world of advertising because the more you stretch your budget, the weaker your marketing becomes. This is a trap that a lot of small business owners fall into because they think the more advertising they do, the more people they reach, the more business they will generate. It is a great concept if you invest enough money is each of the media you use, but if are spending a little with a lot of different media, you are going to be disappointed. You are much better off telling “why you” to a smaller group of people more often, then to a large group of people less often.
In today’s over-communicated society, frequency is the key. Your prospective customers must come in contact with your message on a consistent basis for your advertising to be effective. As I’ve stated in previous newsletters, you don’t have to have a Geico size advertising budget to properly market your business. You just have to be smart with the budget you have.
If you advertise in radio, own a daypart or a specific day on the stations you use.
If you advertise in television, own a show or specific time of day on the stations you use.
If you advertise in the newspaper or a magazine, own a section.
If you have the resources to run a heavy advertising schedule across multiple media outlets, do it. But if you do not, then be more specific with the media you use.
Small businesses with small budgets can look and sound like big businesses with big budgets if they think like the 1/8 inch x 5 inch piece of metal instead of the 5 foot piece of metal.

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

Hiring Your First Salesperson…

Hiring Your First Salesperson: How to Pass the Torch

Four ways to let go of the sales role and forge a good relationship with your new hire

By Suzanne Paling |   October 26, 2010

Surprisingly, giving up the position of sales representative has been far more difficult than you anticipated. How do you let go of your former responsibilities and forge a good relationship with the new hire?

1. Be realistic.
This new salesperson is neither owner nor president. They aren’t taking over the company; they’re assuming your responsibilities in one key area only. They are an employee who comes to work each day.

Yes, you can and should expect them to work hard and show loyalty to the organization. If you’ve hired a money-motivated sales representative, they will come in early and stay late to get deals closed.

They won’t necessarily share your level of passion. They have neither the financial nor the emotional investment you’ve made in the organization. Avoid disappointment by adjusting your expectations for the new salesperson.

2. Set goals.
Forget about what you might have accomplished in a fiscal year from a sales perspective. Think about what’s reasonable to expect from your new sales representative in their first year with the organization.

Talk to peers and advisors, executives at your company and the salesperson. Set minimum standards for their productivity. As an example:

Sales Goals
Sales activity Q1 Q2
Appointments 12 36
Product Demos 8 24
Proposals 4 12
Closed Sales 2 6

If the goals prove to be too easy or too aggressive, make adjustments periodically. Do everything you can to help the sales rep hit these targets.

3. Don’t hog all the large accounts.
Whether it’s ego (“no one else knows what Account XYZ needs but me”) or fear (“if we lose that account it could be disastrous”), many company presidents continue to act as the sales representative for the largest accounts. With a few accounts it might make sense. But in the majority of cases, you should be turning these customers over to the new sales representative.

It’s normal to be apprehensive about trusting someone else to call on these valued clients. To ease your nerves, accompany the new salesperson on the first few calls and then hand them the reigns when you feel they are ready. Check in with the customer from time to time to ensure that everything is going well.

But do turn most of the accounts over. As president, you should be acting as the ambassador of your company and networking at the peer level. It’s not the best use of your time to remain involved in all of the day-to-day selling.

4. Meet, but don’t compete.
Resist the urge to compare their progress with yours. (“You’ve only closed two accounts since you’ve been here? When I started the company, I closed five accounts in the first month alone.”)

Conversations like these demoralize salespeople. Given the product knowledge and industry contacts you might have had before starting the company, they may never be able to top your early successes.

Instead of starting a rivalry, establish yourself as a mentor for the new salesperson. Call or stop by and ask them how their day is going. Inquire about the progress they’re making with a new prospect. Offer support and advice if they’re struggling to set an appointment or close a sale with a particular company.

In the early days, you handled finance, production, shipping and marketing. Oh, yes — you were the lone salesperson, too. All of this went along with the title of president.

As the company grew, you hired people to replace you in areas like marketing and finance. Through all the personnel changes, though, you continued in the role of sales representative.

Recently, you hired the company’s first dedicated sales representative. Employees and members of your executive roundtable group encouraged you to do so — and, though reluctant, deep down you knew it was the right move.

As the leader of the company, the salesperson knows that you know what you’re talking about from a product and market standpoint. Share your considerable industry expertise with them in a constructive way that works for you both.

The new salesperson knows they are replacing you in a sales capacity. Understandably, they’ll be somewhat uneasy about this. Give the salesperson all the assistance, praise, constructive criticism and information possible. They will appreciate the effort to help them succeed and pay you back with solid sales production.

More from Suzanne Paling: How to Set Sales Goals for Employees — Start new reps on the right foot, and raise productivity with existing staff.