29 Jun

Taking the sleeping pill out of powerpoint presentations


In business marketing, or b2b marketing the board room/sales presentation is probably one of the most common sales activities.

Some people are good at it, naturally. Some people struggle. But most people have never learnt how to put a good powerpoint presentation together. I came across this site by Cliff Atkinson recently and watched the recording of his webinar “Transform Your PowerPoint Beyond Bullet Points“.

Some of the key points:

  • Most presentations have all the content in the bullet points which is subsequently read out loud by the presentor.
  • The vast majority of recipients of “standard” bullet point presentations find them boring or can’t see the point in having someone read out what is already on the screen (“might as well email it to me”)
  • Studies have shown that when you take away the text from your standard bullet point presentation retention by the audience goes up by 28%
  • The same study shows that if you remove the text from the screen the audiences ability to apply that information afterwards goes up by 78%
  • Creating presentations based on the concept of a film story board is a much more effective way to do powerpoint presentations
  • More images, fewer words.

Good stuff. It’s a long presentation, but Windows Media Player does allow you to speed-up the video….

23 Jun

Brands and a broken promises

We were made an offer recently to bundle all our telecommunications services and pay a fixed monthly sum. You’ve probably had similar offers. After looking at our total spend and comparing that to the offer, we decided that it was going to save us a fair bit. Condition was, you have to sign up for 12 months.

The first couple of months the bills were massive; this was due to “adjustments” between billing periods that I gave up on trying to understand. Finally, the “adjustments” are behind us. But the bills are still massive. When I took a closer look I realised that a 5 minute mobile call now costs me around $4.00

This company will be making a fortune out of me unless I drastically change my consumer behaviour. For the next 12 months. Probably my own fault for not digging deeper initially.

Their marketing people have done nothing illegal, they have not lied, but they have still hoodwinked me. So what is the impact of this?

Here are some considerations for their brand:

  • The telecommunications market is highly competitive.
  • Loyalty is a major problem; the cost of acquisition of a customer is very high
  • I trusted this company enough to give them all my business
  • I will never trust them again; 12 months and 1 day from now I will have a new provider never to return.
  • I will have told more than just a few people.

I wonder if these sums still add up for this marketing manager?

07 Jun

More on elevator pitches

Will Swayne has a good question/comment regarding my earlier post (April 21) on elevator pitches:

“Hi David – A lot of people I talk to are keen to come up with a great “elevator speech”. I like the idea too but it’s very hard to come up with one that works without sounding too rehearsed, salesy or corny. Can you share any examples of successful elevator speeches? “

I agree, it is very hard to come up with a good elevator pitch. The reason it is hard is because it is the final outcome of a fair bit of hard work. The elevator pitch is in essence a well-worded distillation of what your business/brand is about. One of the reasons why many elevator pitches sound rehearsed, corny or salesy is because they have been developed with the purpose of getting someone’s attention, not to engage with them.

It’s a bit like walking around with a flowerpot on your head: you will get people’s attention, but I doubt they want to give you their business.

A good elevator pitch is nothing more than a distilled version of your normal sales presentation; and that’s the catch. Unless your sales presentation clearly defines what specific problems you solve for your customers and how you differentiate from competitors it will have little impact.

The substance of a pitch is what sells first. The form is about understanding the emotional pressure points of your audience; what are their fears and motivations.

So if your elevator pitch is not as sharp as it should be don’t just work on the appearance, work on the substance and go back to work on what actually differentiates your company. Once that is clear, tell the story based on those emotional triggers you believe your audience responds to.

What are your experiences with this?

03 Jun

Too busy to think

Seth Godin wrote about “Marketing potholes” we all tend to fall into. My take on this article is that marketers (or the people in an organisation charged with marketing) spend most of their time on the tactical side of the fence (doing budgets, promotions, meet and greets) and far too little time on big ideas that can truly set a firm apart.

For small and medium business this problem is even more accute.

  1. They often don’t have a senior marketing person; the role is carved up between the CEO and the Sales Manager who are flat out trying to keep up with the day-to-day responsibilities.
  2. Marketing is not seen as “everything a company does” as Seth defines it (and I agree with) but as “promotions”. So if any “marketing” work is done, it is about promotions (the new brochure ware, the new website)
  3. If they do set time aside to take a good hard look at what their real potential differentiation is, they often don’t have the skills inhouse to evaluate what is a workable and what isn’t.

As a result, they either don’t do anything or go for the “gut feel” approach with all the associated risks.

So unless the folks running a business agree what “marketing” is in their organisation, how important it is to their success and how they will resource it, great ideas are not very likely to get beyond the brainstorm phase.

But what an opportunity for those who do.