I can’t imagine how difficult it is for people that sell IT services and goods to reach the people that would buy from them. Every organization has a different org structure and we are all inundated with requests for our time and attention. Many attempts to get our attention are complete failures, such failing to explain precisely what it is that you are selling. I have read complete press releases or magazine advertisements without understanding what is being sold. So, I have an appreciation for those that are able to craft a clear, efficient pitch. Some go the route of being very creative and I thought it would be fun to share some of those.
Today I got this in the mail. Not only does it include an innovative give-away (a bottle of BBQ sauce), but I really appreciated the attached letter. It starts…”Blah, blah, blah, blah, CommVault Simpana, blah, blah, blah, modern protection, blah, backup and recovery.”
They really understand how busy people read their marketing materials. They satirize those traditional materials and still communicate the most important message – what they are selling. If I were someone that was currently seeking that type of solution I would be inclined to look a little closer.
I think I am comfortable accepting a $2 bottle of BBQ sauce. But anything more valuable than that would strike me as crossing the line from attention-getter to an actual gift which is subject to several additional policies. Ministry has a policy that dictates gifts from suppliers which includes the following guidance:
- Decisions made by Ministry Associates in the course of their duties must be objective and based solely on the best interest of the Organization. Decisions should never be influenced by any considerations of personal gain or gain to any personal associate of a Ministry Associate (such as a friend or relative). Purchasing and other decisions are made solely on the basis of the Supplier/Business Associate who offers the best value for the goods and services required.
- Ministry Associates must avoid doing anything that could give the appearance or suggestion that a purchasing decision may be influenced by any irrelevant or improper consideration, whether illegal (such as a kickback or bribe) or technically legal (such as personal friendship, favors, or Gifts). Ministry Associates shall carry out their interactions with Suppliers/Business Associates in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the Corporate Integrity Program.
I am much more comfortable with things I can share in the office than something I would take home.
Lastly, I am NOT a fan of the ploy where the supplier will give me a gift if I sit through a sales pitch. Typically those enter into the realm of the gifting policy. It is important that I do not create an impression that I am deciding how to spend my time based upon personal gain.
3 thoughts on “Creative Marketing Ploys”
Thanks, Will. This was our Channel Manager’s idea. You made his day!
Will, nice post. Being on this side of the fence (sales), it is evident that CIOs are inundated with calls and advertisements. Five years ago, it was relatively easy to pick up the phone, get a CIO on the phone, and discuss a solution or service. Now, everyone is trying to sell something. We craft our messages in a way that we hope is “attention getting” but not crossing the line into unprofessionalism. The example you used from CommVault…I personally think is brilliant. Yet there are people out there that would find a way to be offended.
Many of us realize that we have a tremendous service or solution to offer, and we’re very good at delivering. Too often, the selection is made based on the charisma of the salesperson or a pseudo-relationship that is formed along the way, neither of which may be the best thing for the hospital. And those of us selling work hard to stay in touch with people without crossing the “pester” line – an often thick, gray line that moves from person to person and week to week.
When you are in sales, you get many requests: “send me a proposal” or “I’d like to see the resume of that person.” Hours are spent preparing and delivering, and then there is no response for weeks. All our partners share the same gripe. It wasn’t always like this. It seems like common courtesy has been lost. A simple, “Thanks, but no thanks” is better than nothing. And then we hear from a CIO or CFO, like you, who puts it back in perspective: you’re simply overrun with requests. So we go back to the drawing board and keep at it – find our own bottle of BBQ sauce or gadget, and take a chance with a new advertising approach.
Great stuff! I’m never disappointed by the creativity of the people trying to get in touch with you. I’m currently enjoying such creativity as HIMSS PR people are trying their best to get me to meet with their clients at HIMSS. It’s a tough job, so rather than be annoyed by their techniques, I just enjoy their effort. Then, I tweet about the ones that are clueless. I just can’t help myself. I usually don’t tweet the good ones. I don’t want to tip people off and end up with 30 bottles of bbq sauce.