Category Archives: Marketing Tools & Tactics

For Better Marketing, Channel Your Inner Three-Year-Old

Olympic Rings Donut Formation, For Better Marketing Channel Your Inner Three Year Old

Image Source: The Huffington Post

In the summer of 1991, when the unemployment rate in Boston hit 8.4 percent, I had the unfortunate need to find a job.

I was transitioning from a full-time MBA student at Boston College to part-time. I was temping during the day to pay the bills. Two nights each week I attended a three-hour summer class.

I read the want ads religiously. Veryfine Products ran an ad for a marketing research analyst in Brandweek, a marketing trade magazine, and I enthusiastically applied.

This was my second job hunt in the Boston area and I knew the competition among recent graduates was intense. In addition to reading ads, I tapped the Boston College Alumni database, searching for alums at all of the companies on my desired work place list.

One alumna I contacted was working at Ocean Spray. When we met for lunch, I learned that she had joined Ocean Spray by leaving the post now advertised at Veryfine. We hit it off and she offered to pass my résumé along to her former boss.

Two weeks later, I got a rejection letter from Veryfine’s Director of Personnel. I was crushed.

How you deal with rejection can make a big difference in your life. And your business.

Rejection Therapy

No one knows this better than Jia Jiang. He spoke about his experience at the GrowCo conference I attended in New Orleans last month.

When a prominent investor rejected Jia’s request to fund his mobile app start-up, it sent him into a tailspin.

Realizing that his reaction to rejection had crippled him at multiple junctures in his life, he set out to conquer it by exposing himself to rejection, over and over, for 100 days.

Jia Jiang, author of Rejection Proof, with me at the GrowCo conference

Jia Jiang, author of Rejection Proof, with me at the GrowCo conference


By concocting creative asks unlikely to get a positive response.

On day one, with sweaty palms, he asked the security guard in his office building if he could borrow $100. The guard refused to lend him the money and asked him why, but he just took the ‘no’ and bolted.

On day two he requested a “burger refill” at Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Though the crew member denied his request, Jia stayed long enough to ask why and to chuckle with him about it.

Day three took an unexpected twist. Jia drove to Krispy Kreme after work and made a special request: a donut formation that resembled the Olympic rings.

He was tired from the work day, expecting to get a quick no and then head home. Instead, shift manager Jackie Braun mulled his challenge and delivered in less than fifteen minutes.

Jia went on to score a mix of rejections and acceptances during his remaining 97 attempts and wrote about them in his book Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection. Along the way he got Jeff Probst (host of Survivor) to sing to his son and to fly a gyroplane. Just because he mustered the courage to ask.

Use Rejection to Gather Marketing Insights

We’re not born with fear of rejection. We acquire it based on the social constructs we are taught and from our experiences growing up.

To overcome your fear of rejection and increase your rate of success, channel your inner three-year-old:

  • Avoid taking rejection as judgment. Rejection is just an interaction between two people. While it feels personal, it often isn’t about you but about your offer not meeting your target’s needs or wants. If your target declines your offer, don’t quit or run away.
  • Ask why. Here’s where your inner three-year-old shines brightest, and if you have children you know what I mean. Three-year-olds’ curiosity leads them to ask why all the time. It’s how they learn.This is a key learning opportunity for you too. It will help you understand your target’s position. It may help you refine your approach. And you will avoid fantasy narratives that could get the better of you. Asking why lets you know rather than guess why your offer got rejected. As Jia Jiang shows in his book, asking why can also lead to referrals when the target indicates the offer is not right for them but knows someone who would like it.
  • Keep asking more targets. It’s easy to get deterred by a few or even dozens of rejections. As Jia Jiang says, “Rejection has a number.” Ask enough people and someone will say yes. Three-year-olds seem to know this approach too.
  • Address a weakness upfront. If you present a weakness in your offer and address it ahead of the ask, you increase your chance of getting a yes. This is the least intuitive and one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal. You may think that presenting a weakness in your offering sets your chances back, but if addressed well it actually boosts your credibility.

The day after I received the rejection letter from Veryfine’s Director of Personnel, that same Director called me to schedule an interview.

I could have been angry about the twenty-four hours of unnecessary dismay I had experienced, or about the appearance that I was being jerked around.

Instead I just scheduled the interview.

I later learned that the hiring manager asked to see me based on the résumé that my Ocean Spray contact had passed along. The rejection letter must have come from my response to the Brandweek ad.

My non-reactive approach paid off. I got the job!

Do you have a story of how you overcame a rejection recently? Are you inspired to embark upon a succession of crazy asks to immunize yourself from rejection? Please tell me in the comments below.

Get Free Monthly Marketing Advice
Posted in Marketing Insights, Marketing Tools & Tactics | Tagged | Leave a comment | Back to top

10 Brand Storytelling Lessons from Bruce Springsteen

Book cover image to Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run

Image source:

When I read Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography Born to Run in January, I learned that he and I have a few things in common.

  • Both of us like the smell of coffee but not the taste.
  • Neither of us can read sheet music.
  • Both of us grew up in New Jersey (okay I knew that), in a family with two girls and one boy.
  • Both of us learned our craft on the job.

read more

Posted in Brand Storytelling, Marketing Tools & Tactics | Tagged , , | 2 Comments | Back to top

Score More From Your Marketing

Fisher Stadium at Lafayette College - football game in progressOn Saturday September 24th I spent a beautiful evening with my family at Fisher Stadium in Easton, Pennsylvania, watching the Lafayette College Leopards play football against the Villanova Wildcats.

The weather was about all the Leopards had going for them. read more

Posted in Marketing Insights, Marketing Tools & Tactics | Tagged , | Leave a comment | Back to top

Eye of the Buyer

Eye of the buyerTwo weeks ago Fidelity took me on a frustrating financial odyssey. 

This summer Fidelity ditched long-time credit card partners American Express and Bank of America to consolidate its service with Elan Financial Services.  Anyone holding a Fidelity credit card received a new Fidelity Visa Signature card from Elan.

I was one of the 550,000+ who received a new card.  It was unclear to me whether I needed to re-designate where I wanted my rewards to go, so I tried to log into the new Fidelity Visa card website. read more

Posted in Marketing Insights, Marketing Tools & Tactics | Tagged | Leave a comment | Back to top

How to Use Surveys Strategically

Survey on a clipboard - how to do surveys strategically and wellOur world has gotten feedback happy.  And it’s annoying.

In a 48-hour period at the beginning of May I received five surveys.

One paper survey via snail mail with 66 questions to rate my son’s pediatrician.  One online survey from a hotel I had stayed at the prior weekend and another from a hotel stay two weeks before.  A third online survey from the conference I had just attended, and a fourth one from OpenTable for the restaurant I had dined in the Friday before. read more

Posted in Marketing Research Tips, Marketing Tools & Tactics | Tagged | 6 Comments | Back to top

Should Your Brand Be on Facebook?

Facebook like thumbs up hand and thumbs down handWhen I woke up on April 3, 2009, I did not know that I would be joining Facebook that day.

Around 8pm I had just connected on LinkedIn with friends from my high school years when one of them wrote, “You need to get on Facebook! We have been posting some old group photos that you are in.”

Talk about an incentive to join. read more

Posted in Marketing Insights, Marketing Tools & Tactics | Tagged , | Leave a comment | Back to top

Vacation by Chocolate

Evelyn's Original Chocolate Wrapper from Hershey's Chocolate World brand experienceMy husband Dan has a particular knack when planning vacations.  I’m not talking about posh accommodations or exotic destinations or exclusive restaurants.

When he was helping to plan our trip to Paris to celebrate my 40th birthday, he discovered that a major chocolate exhibition was going to be there at the same time.  Besides sampling and purchase opportunities, there were multiple exhibits including a replica of a 17th century dress made of chocolate. read more

Posted in Brand Storytelling, Brands In Adolescence, Marketing Tools & Tactics | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment | Back to top

Cases of List-taken Identity

Good list management means seeing the customer's point of view.For the past year I’ve been immersed in my son AJ’s college search.  We’ve visited 11 schools, some of them twice.  It’s been fun and one of the funny outcomes is that I have realized that I would be happy to go to college now. 

I’m not serious of course.  But there are some schools who think otherwise.  Three colleges have begun courting me. read more

Posted in Brand Growth & Rebranding, Marketing Tools & Tactics | Tagged , , | Leave a comment | Back to top

Cheap Skate Marketing

Evelyn's black boot collection for brand storytellingI love autumn in New England, so I’m a happy camper up here right now.  And yes, autumn presages a long winter, but I have found ways to enjoy that too.

One of the benefits of New England’s long winters is that you can wear boots six months of the year.  I’ve gained an affinity for black boots and wear them almost every day once the cold sets in.

In a decidedly un-Imelda Marcos-move though, I’ve not amassed a huge collection.

Instead I have a few favorite pairs that I keep in good order with a yearly visit or two to my buddy Oleg, the cobbler in Natick Center. read more

Posted in Brand Storytelling, Marketing Tools & Tactics | Tagged , | Leave a comment | Back to top

15 Tips for Using LinkedIn Updates to Grow Your Network

LinkedIn Rolodex

Image credit: Social Media Quickstarter, now known as

Do you remember the card game Concentration?  Or maybe you called it Memory or Pairs?

To start, all the cards were face down in rows.  You chose two cards to turn over.  If you made a match, finding two aces for example, you kept those cards and could turn over two more.  If you did not make a match, your turn ended and the next person tried.

The person with the most matches won.

Early on the game was a real memory tester, because you had to remember the cards that you saw based on a single short exposure. read more

Posted in Marketing Insights, Marketing Tools & Tactics | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments | Back to top