A little Swiss chutzpah can get you love, clients


Mike Kennedy
National Post

August 19, 1999

SECRETS OF POWER MARKETING

By Peter Urs Bender and George Torok, Stoddart, 252 pages, $27.95

Without a doubt, one must admire the chutzpah and resourcefulness of people like Peter Urs Bender.

An immigrant from Switzerland, Mr. Bender came to Canada at age 23 armed only with a bit of money in his pocket and a ferocious determination to succeed. As a young man in search of feminine companionship he was quick to display the creative flair that later helped him to become a very successful entrepreneur. Determining that 85% of all horseback riders were women, Mr. Bender gave up on the bar and disco scene to devote his leisure time to equestrian pursuits -- even though all the while he was afraid of horses. Sure enough, his newfound pastime soon put him in contact with all kinds of eligible prospects, one of whom eventually became his wife.

Mr. Bender proved to be equally adept in using his talent and initiative to make a mark in the business world.

Starting out in sales, he later moved into public speaking, and the young man who first arrived in this country in 1967 without knowing a word of English is today one of the most sought-after business speakers in North America.

In Secrets of Power Marketing, Mr. Bender and colleague George Torok describe the promotional strategies that they've used to build high-profile careers on the international speaking circuit and show readers how they can apply these techniques to achieve greater success in their own working lives.

Secrets of Power Marketing will be particularly useful for self-employed professionals who make their living by providing a specific type of service to clients. Although the book doesn't reveal anything that could truly be considered an earth-shattering "secret," it does offer a concise and well-organized presentation of various types of marketing tactics that business people can use creatively to manage client relationships and raise their personal profiles in the marketplace.

It's clear from their book that the authors are both accomplished entrepreneurs who owe much of their professional success to their skill in getting the word out, and the ideas they offer are simple and practical tools that anyone who has to hustle for business can put to good use.

Messrs. Bender and Torok organize their work into a discussion of five distinctive "strategies" that readers can use to identify potential business opportunities and influence how they are viewed by both current and prospective clients.

The first strategy, perceptions, outlines how to cultivate the kind of personal and corporate image that establishes credibility with others and helps convince potential customers of the value of what you have to offer.

Strategy number two, relationships, focuses on the finer points of networking and interpersonal communications and presents some thoughts on how to harness the potential of your contacts and professional associates.

The remaining three strategies that Messrs. Bender and Torok present deal respectively with the issues of how to use the media as a marketing tool, how to leverage your resources and your own personal strengths to become a better marketer, and how to use database marketing to achieve your larger business objectives.

The ideas that the two authors describe run the gamut from some that are basically everyday common sense to others that may appear simplistic, but in reality are quite ingenious.

For example, in a work environment where most people are inundated with paper, what's most likely to get read first? Messrs. Bender and Torok argue it's not the traditional business letters that we've all been trained to write; if you really want to get your correspondence noticed, they maintain that sending a handwritten, customized postcard is the way to go.

Likewise, if you're interested in getting an article published in a business periodical or trade journal but have never written for publication before, what's a good way to get started? Answer: Consider writing a list of tips regarding some issue that's of interest to the publication's readers. Provided you know your stuff, an article of this kind will usually be easy to write and will likely be of great interest to many editors.

There are lots of differing opinions out there as to what really constitutes effective marketing, and if you're looking for something that will present the latest Harvard Business School theories on the topic, you won't find it here. But for readers who attach more credibility to the observations and experiences of two streetwise promoters who are both survivors of the school of hard knocks, Secrets of Power Marketing is most certainly worth a browse.

Mike Kennedy is president of Kennedy Management Services, a Toronto-based communications and consulting company, and a frequent contributor to the Financial Post


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