Foster bias and sales

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Foster Bias & Sales is an imaginary ad agency name I came up with that offers a trifecta of marketing success. These steps to a sale apply to marketing, advertising, even memo writing.

It starts by fostering a positive and receptive environment in which to communicate with customers. Product context, entertainment and/or education are all tools used to foster interest. Gather attention and predispose consumers to listen….that’s Mr. Foster.

Create bias toward your product or against a key competitor is step two. This is where marketers become competitors. Care-abouts and good-ats are what the brand planner mines and the communicator deals in here. Creating bias is not nuanced. It’s hardball.   

Sales obviously refers to action. Real purchase, decision to purchase, or predisposition to purchase. In the sales trade this is called “asking for the order.” Even if implicit. Being too pushy is not attractive, however.  You have to know how and when to ask. If you cross the line you may damage to your ability to foster a proper selling environment. Know when to walk away. Customers appreciate commitment sans the pushy hand. They may come back.        

Peace. 

 

 

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I’ve written a few times about my desire to open an ad agency named Foster, Bias and Sales – staying away from the surname convention. Foster meaning raise or promote. Bias intended to suggest “create bias” toward a product or service. And sales meaning, well, the cha-ching of the cash register.

I was reading about racial bias today in an Op-Ed piece by Nicholas Kristof which referenced some interesting studies of racial bias among children and realized my new agency should not attempt to create bias toward a product or service, but leverage existing biases. Big difference. By leveraging ingrained product context, one can create a richer purchase environment.

An example:

At a car dealership, to create bias towards Toyota a salesperson might cite JD Power data on safely. Or higher resale value after 5 years. These are good logical proofs of product value.

Were we to leverage existing consumer biases on behalf of Toyota, maybe we’d look at the percentage of Americans who only buy America made products. Those people who don’t like to buy imports. What would it take to get them to value the brand? That’s a negative bias. Let’s look at a positive bias. Toyota was once, if not still, known to be the best selling single car brand in America. Leaders and overdogs are sometimes thought to be complacent. How about turning that bias on its head. Position the brand not as the leader, but as the hungriest car company. A company with an underdog mentality. Almost start-up like.

I can’t tell you when, or if, Foster, Bias and Sales will launch. But it’s a great brand name and always evolving. Hee hee. Peace.

 

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Good Bias.

Eric Keshin, a friend for whom I worked at McCann Erickson, liked to use the word bias when describing good advertising strategy. Creating bias toward your product resulted in sales increases the logic went. In my younger years I always wanted to start and ad agency and name it “Foster, Bias and Sales.” Foster attention. Create bias. Generate sales.

I received an email this morning about an upcoming board of education election in town. A current board member endorsed a candidate, with the candidate’s introductory email attached. The note included paragraph after paragraph about years of service, kids in the district, the challenges we face, yada yada… all the good brochure ware you’d expect. Idiot that I am and in an attempt at humor, I debated hitting “rely all” and asking “Elizabeth _____ , what type of name is that?” Of course I’d have been run out of town, but it is very Steven Colbert. And certainly raises questions about bad bias a la something you might have heard in the 60s. 

Bias is a powerful. When it takes 276 kidnapped girls in Nigeria to get the women of the senate to cross the aisle and unite, that’s bias. But bias “toward” not bias “against” can be a positive marketing strategy.

Brand planners who favor strategies attempting to build preference are on the right track. Those who work harder to create bias toward a brand — where consumers become defensive about their choice – are the true winners. Tink about it, as my Norwegian aunt might have said.

 

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My political leanings are of a certain color. I tend to read editorialists that support my views and support and form my arguments.  That said, I do make an effort to read opposing views so as to round out my world. 

In brand planning, if you gather your facts mostly from the client extended family, from product users and agency acolytes, you are not being fair to the brand. That’s why focus groups are often conducted among non-users. That’s why I like to interview lapsed users.  In fact, I developed a focus group technique called brand spanking a number of years ago, where you bring in haters to bounce the brand around. Even among haters, a few will defend you (just to be contrary) and in those defenses often lie gold.

In politics, it’s not okay to be unbalanced. In brand planning it is heresy. (Notice I wrote this entire post without using the words “authentic” and “transparent.”  It can be done. Hee hee.

Peace.

PS. When a kid, I wanted to name my ad agency Foster, Bias and Sales. It is okay to create bias, but not to be biased when developing a brand plan.

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