Sales Genie: Dumb Like a Fox
Every once in awhile... Okay, more than I'd like to admit... I get to see, hear, or read something that effectively teaches me I don't know half as much as I think I do. I watched the SalesGenie.com ad and was flabbergasted. In no way, I thought, was this worth the $2.6 million they paid for it. I was tempted to leave open the possibility that the ad had such low creative value that it stood out and was memorable, but ultimately I didn't think that mattered to anyone but advertisers. In a marketing extravaganza where consumers look at advertisements as entertainment, this certainly would fall flat, right?
Well... not so much.
You see, the bean counters at SalesGenie.com figured they needed to add only 700 new subscribers (at $180 per month) to break even. Since the Super Bowl, they added 10,000. Had they spent millions of dollars in overproducing their ad in an effort to "brand" themselves, they could very well have muddied the ad, increased their costs, and decreased the ad's effectiveness. Paul alluded to this on our last episode of DMZ... Some of these (Super Bowl) ads are creative and funny, but what good ist that if no one remembers the company? SalesGenie.com's message is simple: If you're a salesperson (and in our service economy, we have a lot of those), this product will help you succeed. Apparently that resonates with a lot of salespeople. 10,000 since the Super Bowl, in fact.
As for the "brand," well, this is where the rubber really meets the road. Brand isn't simply the warm fuzzy feeling you get from watching a great ad. Brand is, as Stan Richards says (The agency I work for, Click Here, is affiliated with The Richards Group), a promise. SalesGenie.com just brought in 10,000 subscribers willing to commit $180 per month in the hopes that this tool will help them grow their business. If it works, then their brand will be enhanced. If it doesn't work, their brand will be damaged.
I suspect that this site will be like a lot of tools salespeople use; it will work for some and not for others. If it works very well for some, they may even become evangelists. If it holds intrinsic value, then most of the people for whom it doesn't work will realize that they are the problem, not the tool. However, if all it does is open up the flow of sales calls and junk mail to the same markets, it will fail miserably to build a good brand, and SalesGenie.com will go the way of the dot bombs of the 90s.
Whatever it is that we do as marketers, we tell ourselves that we constantly have to be cutting edge. We want to wow people with our message or in the way we deliver it, since that's our job, but in reality, not everything has to be cutting edge to be effective. Sometimes it's a simple message that people are dying to hear. In the case of SalesGenie.com, it was, "Work smart, not hard with our product." Time will tell if they're able to deliver on that promise.
This applies to websites as well. Eugene Loj points us to two low-budget websites that have worked well for their owners. We should resist discouragement wrought by this discovery. We just have to be careful about the lessons we draw from it. The websites are awful by a lot of ways we can measure success, and improving the websites' design and content might just improve their businesses. But this should prove sufficiently that all websites don't need pizazz. They don't all need to be bleeding edge for its own sake.
I think we can say that it was the accountants, not necessarily the "expert" marketers, who won this round (and there are many rounds to go). But that just goes to prove Seth Godin's maxim, that marketing is too important to be left to the professionals. - Cam Beck