Tips, Rips, and Reviews
By Michael Dalton Johnson

You gotta have a gimmick. —Stephen Sondheim

Salespeople can get a little crazy trying to get the attention of a potential buyer.

There is the story of the salesman who bought a pair of shoes and sent just one to a prospect he had not been able to reach. He attached this note: "Now that I have one foot in the door . . ."

As the story goes, the prospect was amused and took his next call.

The salesman who sent a three-minute egg-timer and a note, which read "Set this when you take my call, and I’ll be done before the bell goes off," deserves a special mention.

One person wrote a check for the amount his prospective business affiliate would gain through a joint business relationship. He put, "Next year’s increased income" in the memo section, and then wrote VOID across the check, and sent it with a note that read, “Your next one can be ready to cash.”

One person I know routinely sends a lottery ticket to someone who is hard to reach. "You’ll have a much greater chance for making money if you take a moment to talk with me."

File this one under chutzpah. This isn’t something I would ever advise, but it illustrates the lengths some salespeople will go to get a prospect’s attention. A very aggressive salesman I know relates this story. He was having a difficult time getting through to a promising prospect. He had called the buyer’s office countless times but could never get past the gatekeeper who always asked, "May I tell him what this is about?" After a few minutes on hold she would return to tell him the prospect was not available.

One afternoon he called the prospect’s office and, when asked what his call was about, he exclaimed, "It’s about my wife!" Within a few minutes the annoyed prospect was on the line.

"Why are you calling me about your wife?"

The salesman replied, "I had a long talk with her last night, and she told me she would leave me if I didn’t start making more sales."

There was a long silence before the prospect started laughing. He agreed to a brief meeting with the salesman.

I confess I have used a gimmick or two in the past. I once had my graphics department create an article about the CEO of a company which copied the graphic style of a Wall Street Journal article.

It was dated a month into the future. The headline read, "Bob Smith Named Entrepreneur of the Year." The faux story, which had my byline, went on to explain how his company increased its bottom line by a fantastic amount. The quote, which was attributed to him, mentioned our company and how we were one of the key elements of his success. The story concluded with how sharply his company’s stock prices had risen.

When I next called him, we both had a good laugh. Whether or not the fake article had anything to do with it or not, we ended up doing business together.

One of the funnier and most attention-grabbing gimmicks I’ve heard of is the salesperson who sent a ransom note to a prospect. The note was crafted from words clipped from various publications which were pasted on a sheet of paper to read, "We are holding thousands of your customers. If you ever want to see them again, talk with Bob Smith within forty-eight hours. He is the only person who can help you save them. Signed: A friend."

Whether he ultimately closed the sale or not, I’m certain he got the buyer’s attention.

"Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try." —Yoda

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8 affordable ways to drive traffic to your Web site
By Bob Bly

How do you drive traffic to your Web site without burning through your available cash in a couple of weeks? Here are 8 cost-effective ways to get hits to your site:

1. Google. The world’s largest search engine, Google facilitates 250 million Web searches per day for its users. As an advertiser, you can buy preference in Google’s search engine, based on key word, on a cost-per-click basis.

It could cost you as little as a dime a click or more than a dollar a click, depending on the popularity of the key word you want to buy. If the cost of the key word is 30 cents per click, and 100 people click on your site that day as a result of a Google search on the key word you bought, Google charges you $30. Google lets you put a limit on how much you spend per day, so the cost can fit any budget.

2. Overture. Another search engine that lets you buy preferential rating on key words. Overture reaches over 80% of active Internet users by displaying your business in search results on leading sites like Yahoo!, MSN, and Alta Vista.

How to you determine what you can afford to pay? Say your product costs $100 and out of every 100 clicks on your site, you get one sale, for a total of $100. You can afford to pay $1 per hit if breaking even on the initial sale is your goal.

3. Affiliate marketing. Find Web sites that cater to the same market you do. Arrange for them to feature your products on their site and in their e-mails. Online ads, e-mail blurbs, and Web pages talking about your product link to your site where the user can purchase the product under discussion. The affiliate receives a percentage of the sale ranging from 15% to 50%.

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