Archive for January, 2007

Clues in your Voice

January 28th, 2007

I’ve written before about the little clues we leave all the time. I’m talking about the subtle clues that customers and prospects pick up without us knowing, often without knowing themselves.

Many of these things we can’t control or even identify, but MANY of them are within our control. I was reminded of this as I read an article in Psychology Today about the science of voices. Among the facts that can be revealed through our voice, the November/December 2006 article suggested that people could guess a persons height, weight and age as accurately from listening to their voice as from looking at their picture. Voices can reveal intimidation or confidence. Voices (according to the study) can even reveal sexual promiscuity.

I was reminded of the study where people were asked to listen to the muffled voices of several different doctors as they spoke. They couldn’t understand the words, but they could hear the voice inflection, tone, and speed of the speakers’ voices. With amazing accuracy the participants in the study were able to determine which doctors had been sued for malpractice and which ones had been sued more than once.

I still shake my head when I call a performer who doesn’t have an answering machine. HELLO! this is 2007, not 1987. If you STILL don’t have some type of answering machine don’t even bother running ads or pretending to run a business.

Just as bad is when I call a performer and hear an answering machine message that is pre-recorded at the factory in a false robotic voice. How in the world can you expect to inspire confidence in callers when they don’t even know if they have the right number? You should identify your name and your business as a minimum.

I remember once calling a performer who answered the phone with what was obviously a fake accent. When I told him who I was and why I was calling him, he laughed and said “Sorry, about that. I didn’t recognize your number on caller ID and thought it might be a bill collector”. No wonder he has to dodge bill collectors. How can you get any work when you answer the phone like that! And since any number he doesn’t recognized gets this treatment, that means every calling prospect gets the same thing. Scary.

Almost as bad is the performer who, in a very flat, almost monotone voice proceeds to read his self-written script in a dry, monotone voice as he tells you that his shows are the most fun an audience can have. But he even sounds bored talking about it! If you are fun, then it should be revealed in your voice. Not in a contrived way, but in a very natural, truthful way. If you are fun, let is show in your voice.

The fact is, your true feelings ARE revealed in your voice. This is why it is hard for some people to raise their rates. If you don’t feel like your program is worth it, then you will have a hard time “faking it” when trying to sell your show.

This is NOT a suggestion to come up with some “funny” gimmick for your answering machine (although that might work for some). Rather, it is a suggestion to listen to your answering machine and try to hear it for the first time. Does your voice inspire confidence? Does it communicate your personality?

Again, I’m not talking about the WORDS you say, but your VOICE as you say them. This is hard to get, but it is worth the effort.

Just recently we got a call from an agent who wanted to represent us. But this woman’s voice sounded like she was auditioning for the Saturday Night Live skit as “Wendy Whiner“. The words seemed positive and upbeat, but the nasally, whiney sound, coupled with a depressed tempo caused my wife to tell her that we simply weren’t interested in having her represent us.

It wasn’t the voice of someone we wanted representing what we do.


100% Guarantee

January 17th, 2007

guaranteeYour business will grow dramatically when you offer a guarantee. There is risk for customers to buy from you when they don’t know you and when they have no reason to trust you. By creating systems of “risk-reversal” you eliminate one of the biggest concerns prospects have (Will this product or service live up to my expectations?)


The biggest concern most business owners have about offering a guarantee is that they will be ripped off by unscrupulous customers. However, if you talk to anyone who has ever implemented a guarantee policy will tell you that such incidents are very few and far between and the increase in business more than off-sets any “rip-offs” that do happen.


That being said, I occasionally do business with people who I suspect ordered something with the full intention of returning it after having read and/or even copied the information.


Recently though, I had someone who really took it to the next level. This is an actual photograph of a package of stuff that I shipped to someone. There were several items in the package including several CD programs as well as some printed manuals and a few books.returnsm1

About 5 weeks later it came back to me IN THE SAME ENVELOPE I originally sent it in! Upon receiving his order from me, the recipient carefully cut open the envelope and saved it while he listened to and read everything I sent (and duplicated it, I suspect).



A few weeks later he then packaged everything BACK into the same envelope that he had kept safely on a shelf I guess. He inserted a note that said only “This material did not meet my expectations so I am asking for your no-questions-asked money-back guarantee”. He then taped it up (maybe using the neighbor’s borrowed tape dispenser?) before marking the package “Return to Sender”. This way he didn’t have to pay for any postage or packaging.

Now, it could be suggested that the material truly didn’t live up to his expectations. I will tell you with pride that my material is NOT for everyone. I am well aware that not everyone will be pleased with everything I produce. I EXPECT that. It doesn’t hurt my feelings. In fact, some of my very best customers are people who have returned items to me for a refund.

I guess it was the fact that there were more than five distinct items in the original order and it seemed odd that NONE of them met his expectations including the widely acclaimed book Kid Control. This, combined with the curious fact that after 5 weeks of reviewing the material, he still had the original packaging, meticulously slit open on one end which made it remarkably convenient to re-ship the whole thing at no cost by simply scribbling “Return to Sender” in several different places on the front of the envelope.


You have to wonder about people who will go to such laborious and creative ways to rip people off. I suspect that if they worked half as hard to try and legitimately grow their business they would probably be successful beyond their dreams. I mean, you have to admit the guy was resourceful and creative.



But if you happen to see any boot-leg copies of my stuff for sale on E-Bay, let me know!


Just Finished another Workshop

January 11th, 2007

I just finished hosting my second Business Building Workshop for children’s performers. The turn out was good (just shy of 30 participants) and re-enrollment was for next year was VERY strong with over 75% re-registering on the spot, even though we didn’t (at that time) have an exact date or really even know where we would hold it (we were thinking of Philadelphia, PA, but decided to stick with Houston, TX for logistical reasons).

The success stories are already coming in with some people earning back their entire fee after only two days back in the office. That’s pretty significant, since the fee to attend the conference is no small investment.

But for those serious about taking their performance business to a whole new level, it is something you simply can’t miss.

Visit and register before midnight on January 25th and you not only get a discount off the registration fee, but you also get to spread your payments out over 12 months with no interest. This makes the whole thing very easy to manage.



January 1st, 2007

This is the last in a series of four articles about the “Four Ps of Marketing”. Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. This is the article on Promotion; what most people think about when they consider marketing.

Promotion is the factor that most people try to work on when trying to grow their business. It is much easier to assume that your sales are low because people don’t know about your product, than it is to face the fact that it might actually be caused by the fact that people DO know about your product.

Too uncomfortable to think about.

Better to just assume that it is the marketing that needs work, not the actual product or service.

Still, for many, it is true.

My daughter loves to eat at Cici’s Pizza. I find the food there tolerable, but my wife calls the place “Feces Pizza”.

So we were pleasantly surprised when we went to a birthday party at a pizza place that is CLOSER to our house and the quality is FAR superior than Cici’s. The ingredients are PILED on and the crust is really nice. They also have a much wider variety of pizzas to choose from. They serve beer there, which I like, and the price for the buffet was only 50¢ more than Cici’s Pizza.

So on our way out I asked the manager how long they had been opened.

“Three years.”

WHAT!? How could this place have been here for THREE YEARS without me ever even noticing it before? How could I have driven past here on my way to a less desirable restaurant HUNDREDS of times and never known what I was missing?

Why didn’t I know that their pizza was better?
Why didn’t I know they serve beer?
Why didn’t I know they offered a better buffet at only pennies more per person?

The answer is: Poor Promotion

Just because you are better, or faster, or cheaper, or closer, or easier to work with, doesn’t mean you will get more work. You have to be able to tell the story in a way that people will listen to and remember.

You also have to make an offer that is so compelling that you prompt people to take action. Next week I’ll post about my new favorite restaurant (even better than the pizza place) that I have known about for years but just recently decided to try and have been back several times since and told many, many people about it and continue to do so.

Why didn’t I visit the place sooner? I had no compelling reason to.

You have to give your prospects a very compelling reason to take action.

This is all part of Promotion.

Labels: four Ps, marketing, promotion