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Learning From Each Other

This is an interesting dialogue between an Inner Circle member and the two of us:


Would you please give some guidance to those of us who provide a relatively pricey luxury item to our customers?

In Maslow's Hierarchy, we seem to reside in the "Esteem" tier, which is fine, but it does present some interesting questions in terms of marketing copy, etc.

My biz partner and I have actually created a one-of-a-kind business (open since December of last year). We recognized how crazy people are about their dogs and their kids (we have both ourselves), and we wanted to create a special keepsake and a unique experience for our customers.

We use green-screen technology to star dogs or babies in their own 10-minute movies, complete with real actors, dialogue, music and credits. We have a lot of value-added items, like giving them their movie on DVD presented in a beautiful "premiere party" basket that contains microwave popcorn, candy, treats and toys for the dog or the baby, production photos that are taken during the shoot and more. We also take the dog's paw print or baby's handprint in concrete and have a Walk of Fame in the courtyard of our studio, which customers are welcome to visit whenever they like.

We know ours is a referral business and we rely on our customers for that. We know our target demographic is upscale in terms of income. We also spend a lot of time at events where we can show our movies (dog shows, silent auctions, etc.) We are networking, approaching our "gate-openers" (doggy day cares, pet sitters, etc.) with affinity marketing programs. We just need to know how to get more people in the door for a luxury item on a small marketing budget. Thanks!

As we were learning about Susan's business, we sent this short note to her:

I was just looking at your web site, and wanted to make a small suggestion. You may consider having a compelling message be the first thing visitors see - rather than asking them to make a choice. People are generally bad a choosing - and we move so quickly on the Internet, that when faced with a choice, we will often choose the back button.

She replied:

When you refer to the "choice" on our Web site, do you mean "Movie Clips" or "More About Short & Sweet Studios"? We thought we'd make it easy for folks to get to the clips, which are our true selling point. Since no one's done this before, we're learning that even in this media-savvy age people don't completely "get it" until they see clips of the movies. That's why we're actively looking for events and opportunities to set up our TV and DVD player and show our "stuff".

What would really be helpful is if you could give me some idea of the compelling message to which you refer. Our lead page is a result of another marketing "expert" who suggested we make it simple and easy.

I think by now it's clear why I jumped at the chance to learn from you guys. BTW we heard from one of our recent (and wealthy) customers today who premiered his dog's movie at a huge party Wednesday evening that one of the guests (a CEO of a very large company in Atlanta) said we had a great business concept and once the word spreads we're going to be huge. It made me feel great, and I can't wait for that one big spark that makes us catch fire.

Thanks for all you do!

Our Response:

A few concepts here.

On your web site, here's what I would do. There is a service which allows you to upload video files to a server - it then provides you with an iframe link for your site which will display instant flash playback of your video in a small window. There is a link to this service in the "Shortcuts" section of, titled "The Best Way To Add Video To Your Web Site - Instantly." Once you upload your video, make the front page of your site be the "compelling message" and with this flash video at the top. You may even want to string several videos together in one file so the visitor can see a sample of several videos without making any choices.

Now, onto that message. Without intimately knowing your business, I can't make specific recommendations, but generally speaking there's a relatively simple formula you can follow to create the message. Actually there are a few formulas. First Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. Second: Problem, Agitate, Solve. Those are relatively self explanatory. A more specific formula is this:

~headline (look to Cosmo and Glamour for examples)
~explain problem
~create desire for solution
~demonstrate solution
~demonstrate your ability to solve/make offer
~guarantee the service
~offer testimonials/proof
~answer objections (Q&A works well for this)
~restate offer
~call to action
~PS (restate guarantee, call to action)

You can see examples of this at both and This is the basic formula we use on those sites.

The major goal should be to cause interested parties to identify themselves - not to open their wallets. That's the second step in the 2-step method. Using the 2-step and a well-enough crafted message, you should be able to make your web site trickle a pretty steady stream of leads. That ultimately depends on how much traffic you're getting, which is another discussion.

Also, if you're not already, get every testimonial you can. They can double the effectiveness of your ad budget - and if that is limited, you can use all the help you can get.

As for being in esteem (maybe even self actualization), you should feel good. It's better to be selling something people want than things people need. It's easier to tap into their emotions and desires when you're talking about something they want. But remember, you're not really selling dog or baby videos. You're selling pride and the ability to show off. Much more valuable.

In talking about this, Jim and I stumbled upon an interesting idea. You mentioned your client showing this at a party. Well, that seems like a natural way to "spread the word" about your service. You see, people are generally friends with others just like them.

People who have dogs are friends with people who have dogs. Same with babies. Have you considered hosting "premier" parties at your studios for your clients and their friends? Or, consider helping them arrange a party at their place. That could include a brief report about how to do it, or perhaps you could provide (and maybe even fill out and mail) invitations.

I know that sounds like a little bit of a pain and some extra work, but if marketing dollars are limited, you've got to give something else in return. Make sure you or your partner make an appearance at all the parties - maybe bring a directors chair.

Refine the process enough, and you'll probably be able to book additional deals right at the party. Plus, it's scendsational enough that it will really get people talking. It adds value to the pride-building side of your business - which is critical.

When that is working in full swing, you can send out press release and invite the media to attend. Ka-bam!

Also, if you have a business journal in your town, they usually have a feature called "Top Dogs" which features CEOs and their dogs. Call them tomorrow and tell them about what you're doing.