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Published:July 7th, 2008 21:37 EST
Soft Spot Marketing

Soft Spot Marketing

By Joel G. Block (Mentor/Columnist)

Last week was a wonderful vacation week with my family. My wife and I took our three kids on vacation in Oahu, which is in Hawaii. We were staying in Waikiki and visiting all the typical places that tourists tend to visit.

I`m a hardliner on tourist traps. I avoid them like the plague. But you can`t help it. Hawaii is filled with tourist destinations that provide many different ways to drop dollars and have fun. I`m not cheap, and I`m not really even frugal, but I do have a penchant for avoiding flagrant abuses that are perpetrated by the tourist service community. I like to think that I am rational.

As hard as I try, and as often as I succeed, every once in a while a situation unfolds where even I fall to my knees and succumb to the trap that tourists frequently fall into. In my case, it was dinner on our third night at Senor Frog`s in Waikiki.

From the minute that we walked in, the kids got all excited. It was festive, it was fun, there was music, and there was dancing with entertainment. There were activities that energized the senses coming at us from every direction. Although each of our kids likes different kinds of activities and each of our kids gets our attention at a variety of different times, this particular destination became the fancy of the baby in our family. My 12 year old went absolutely crazy. She was snapping her fingers, dancing and clapping, having the time of her life. Let me assure you that the marketing magicians at Senor Frog`s recognized her from a mile away.

Immediately vendors, suppliers, and other cashier-toting salespeople began rushing over to our table. First, it was the balloon man. He was making hats out of long skinny balloons in every shape and size. She waived him over, clapping her hands over and over again, and he proceeded to make hats for each one of us. Before I knew it, all of us were wearing wildly colorful hats and smiling all the way. Needless to say, I couldn`t send him home empty handed and I had to give him a little wad of cash.

A minute later, over walks the photographer. Unfortunately we had left our own camera in the hotel room (because we didn`t expect any Kodak moments during what was supposed to be a simple dinner) and we were now going to be talked into buying an overpriced photograph of our kids who were having the time of their lives. How could we pass up the opportunity to purchase such a memorable picture?

Then came the magician. The magician first stopped by before we had ordered and said he wouldn`t come by until we had ordered. But to be sure, my little daughter waived him over the second that the waiter took our order and he made sure that our three kids got the performance of their lives.

Dollars kept flying, money kept moving, and it happened because the service providers at Senor Frog`s (who saw themselves as marketers) recognized who the "customer" was in our family. It wasn`t the dad, who was paying the money. It wasn`t the mom, who was controlling the credit cards. It was the little girl who wanted to buy the stuff. The marketers knew that the parents wouldn`t say no once the kids gave the signal to make the action happen. And they were right. They kept catering to the kids until we bought just about every good and service that they had for sale. It was marketing genius at its best.

It`s important to remember who you sell to. You always want to sell to the person who is the most likely buyer. That might be the user of the goods or services, or it may be someone else. If I was to take my almost 16 year old son into a car dealership, they wouldn`t be selling the car to me. They may work the finances with me but they want to sell that car to him because they know that he will influence me directly.

You have to make sure when you`re doing marketing and sales, whether professionally or otherwise, that you`re always working with a champion or an influencer who`s going to go to the person who controls the purse strings and plead the case with great passion. To be certain, that person will have significantly more persuasive control over the person writing the checks than any outsider ever could. And that was demonstrated at Senor Frog`s with my little daughter who just kept buying and buying and buying with no sense that I`d have to keep coughing up dollars after dollars after dollars to keep up with her.

So, as you are working hard every day to build your company, or as you`re building your career, make sure that you know who you`re selling to. Find the person who is going to have the greatest influence over the person that controls the purse strings. I call that person the "soft spot," but any champion or influencer will do.

About Joel G. Block, President of Growth-Logic, Inc.
Often dubbed a "Growth Architect" by his clients, Joel Block advises companies on explosive growth strategies by driving revenue and sales. Well known in the capital markets, Joel is a successful entrepreneur, speaker and advisor. To bring Joel into your company, please visit or Also, be sure to check out our newest project: a blog to organize the blogs that cover entrepreneurship - And finally, for film makers: - our newest project.