Ice to the Eskimos: How to Market a Product Nobody Wants

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-10-28
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications

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You. That's Right. YOU. You've got a problem. You've got a product that's not first in its class. It's not even second. You've got to find a way to market that product.What Are You Going To Do?You're going to read this book, that's what.Let's face it. There comes a time in the life of every business when a product or service does not sell up to expectations.Maybe your product is outmoded. Or hasn't been positioned correctly. Or is competing in a crowded market. Whatever the reason, Ice to the Eskimos is dedicated to helping you reclaim that lost ground. It's about taking a product or service and turning it into a winner. If you've got a product that is not the best in its field, then you will love Ice to the Eskimos. Take the principles Jon Spoelstra writes about and run hard with them-you'll be amazed by the results.Written by the former president of the hapless New Jersey Nets, Jon Spoelstra is the man responsible for tripling that team's lagging revenues in just three years and increasing the season-ticket holders base by 250 percent. This guy knows what he's talking about. What everyone else had seen as a lost cause, Spoelstra saw as an outstanding opportunity to reawaken a tired and beaten product to achieve unprecedented profitability.Not just for sports marketers, this lively, entertaining book successfully makes the jump from sports to whatever your product may be. The techniques Spoelstra perfected while working for teams in the NHL and NBA-from innovative packaging to image overhaul-apply to any product in any company. The numerous winning examples are sure to make Ice to the Eskimos a must-read for anyone with a product or service to sell.Ice to the Eskimos is sure to be an instant marketing classic. It will show millions of readers how to market their product...sometimes even after they've given up hope. By using the powerful techniques in this book, you too can learn to achieve the impossible and market ice to the Eskimos.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
1. Jump-Starting out of Hell Ground rule #1: You've got to want to clip on the wires and turn up the juice.
2. Ulysses, You, and Me Ground rule #2: Don't fool yourself into thinking you're somebody else.
3. The Quick Fix Silver Bullet Ground rule #3: Increase the frequency of purchases by your customers.
4. Ah So Desu (It is so, it is so.) Ground rule #4: Get the name and address of the end user of your product.
5. New Customers from Heaven Ground rule #5: The janitor isn't going to lead the charge for new customers.
6. Paying Bonuses for Mistakes Ground rule #6: Create big change with little experiments
7. Innovate, Innovate, Innovate, and When You're Tired, Innovate Some More Ground rule #7: Don't Wait for a new product to bail you out--use innovative marketing now.
8. Creating Your Own Terrorist Group for Innovation Ground rule #8: To get your ideas approved by the boss, prepare as if you were defending yourself in front of the Supreme Court.
9. The Jump-Start Golden Rule Ground rule #9: Only try to sell a product that the customer wants to buy.
10. You Can't Jump-Start from an Ivory Tower Ground rule #10: Get the feel for jump-start marketing outside the Ivory Tower.
11. Marketing to a Segment of One Ground rule #11: Only target people who are interested in your product.
12. Cheap Is Good, but Free Is Better Ground rule #12: Don't let research make the decision for you.
13. I'II Be Your Friend for Another Year Ground rule #13: Make your client a bona fide, real-life hero.
14. The Secret Weapon Ground rule #14: Run interference for your budding superstars.
15. An Offer They Can't Refuse Ground rule #15: Make it too good of a deal on purpose.
16. 1,000 Widow Ladies Ground rule #16: Feel free to butt in to other departments.
17. Choose Which Customer to Dump Ground rule #17: Differentiate between big and little customers.
18. When Will You Stop? Ground rule #18: When the going gets rough, increase expenses that are not fixed, like salespeople.
19. Is it Fun? Ground rule #19: Jumping higher than you think you can is possible with jump-start marketing.
20. Afterword World-Class
Index 269


Ice to the Eskimos
How to Market a Product Nobody Wants

Chapter One

Jump-Starting Out of Hell

Ground rule #1: You've got to want to clip on the wires and turn up the juice.

I've spent almost twenty years as an executive for teams in the NBA. Of the four teams that I have worked for, I've seen over 250 players come and go. But the most charismatic player I've ever been associated with is a player you probably have never heard of: Billy Ray Bates.

Billy Ray joined the Portland Trail Blazers about halfway through the 1981-82 season. He was a 6'4", 200-pound shooting guard who had toiled in minor league basketball for a couple of seasons. Once he got the chance with us, he exhibited dunks that only a Dr. J or a Michael Jordan could even think about. And he shot the three-pointer like a Larry Bird. One season, he hoisted the Blazer team onto his shoulders and lugged them to a playoff birth. Then he averaged 27 points a game in the playoffs. The Portland crowd loved Billy Ray more than any other player I have ever seen, including Clyde Drexler.

Billy Ray's education was spotty at best. But he sure could come up with some great one-liners. For instance, once when Billy Ray was being interviewed on our postgame radio show by Bill Schonely, the voice of the Blazers, Schonely asked him about his time in the CBA, basketball's minor league. Billy Ray said, "The CBA is a great street corner, but you can't hang around there for the rest of your life."

There are hundreds of other one-line responses by Billy Ray that we heard over the two and a half years he played for us. The best was when he was in the office one summer visiting Stu Inman, the Blazers director of player personnel. After the meeting, Billy Ray walked down the long hallway where our offices were. Stu called to him, "Billy, Billy Ray."

Billy Ray stopped right in front of my door. I looked up.

Stu yelled, "Did you see where Kentucky State [where Billy Ray starred in college] is dropping basketball?"

Without even a blink or a quick head fake, Billy Ray said, "Aw, shucks, now I won't have nothing to remember."

It sounded like Billy was referring to Communist Russia. You know, fall out of power and your name gets removed from the history books.

In reading this book, I think you'll have plenty to remember and implement. If you implement just one of the jump-start marketing principles, you'll be way ahead. If you implement a lot of the principles, you could even market ice to the Eskimos.
At the beginning of each chapter, I tell a little anecdote from my experiences in the NBA. Sometimes the anecdote is related to the chapter; sometimes it isn't. The anecdote is just an easy way to get into the chapter. If you need a small break from reading about the jump-start marketing principles in Ice to the Eskimos, skip ahead and read the anecdotes.

The principles of jump-start marketing began for me with a phone call at about 11:00 p.m. on a Sunday between Christmas and New Year's in 1991.

"This is Alan Aufzien," the caller said. "I'm the chairman of the New Jersey Nets."
Normally, you would answer, "Yes?" or something like that. Instead, I experienced one of those phenomenal thought processes where somehow we can think of a whole slew of things in just a nanosecond. In that nanosecond before I answered the chairman, I thought I was being set up by some students. You see, I had been teaching sports marketing at the University of Portland. To make a point on how not to do something, I always referred to the New Jersey Nets. For as long as I could remember, they had been the laughingstock of the NBA--both on and off the basketball court. To add some sick humor to the class, I would make some awful comment about their penchant for acquiring players who had problems with drugs. I would say, "The only thing that the Nets have led the league in were drug rehab cases." Sometimes I would add, "If the Nets couldn't draft another drug addict, they would trade for one. If that didn't work, they would sign one as a free agent."
When Alan identified himself, I immediately thought that some students had dreamed up a practical joke and got an adult to call and accuse me of always picking on the Nets. The tip-off was the time of day. At 11:00 p.m. in Portland, it was 2:00 a.m. in New Jersey. On a Sunday night. Little did I know at the time that the Nets would keep you up on any night of the week.

In that rush of thinking in that nanosecond, I had a perfect rejoinder to the students' practical joke on me. "What do you need, a new drug connection for your players?" As I started to say those words, I caught myself. I chickened out. I said, "Yes?"

As you would figure, it wasn't a practical joke. It was really the chairman of the Nets, and I didn't make a fool of myself.
"We would like for you to come and talk to us about some consulting," Alan said.
"I'm not interested," I said. After eleven years as senior VP/general manager with the Portland Trail Blazers (where I resigned) and then ninety days as president/GM of the Denver Nuggets (where I was fired), I was enjoying my career as an adjunct professor. You would, too. Think of the life I was leading.

Twice a week, I would go to the campus about noon. I would have lunch with some students. I would teach my class from 1:00 to 2:20. I would walk over to the student center and have a cup of coffee. After coffee, I would walk over to the basketball arena on campus and watch practice. After an hour or so, I would come home. My wife would ask, "Well, how was your day?" "Tough," I would say. "Really tough."

On days that I didn't teach, we would drive an hour and fifteen minutes to our beach house on the Oregon coast. Really, really tough.

"If you don't want to consult, could you at least come into New York for dinner with us and give us some advice?" Alan asked. "We'll pay all of your expenses, and a fee, of course. What would your fee be?"

I didn't want to go to New York to have dinner. The seven owners of the New Jersey Nets had a reputation for being cheap bastards, so I gave him an outrageous fee, plus first-class expenses to fly into New York to have dinner. I knew they wouldn't accept.

He said, "Okay, how about Wednesday night?"Ice to the Eskimos
How to Market a Product Nobody Wants
. Copyright © by Jon Spoelstra. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Ice to the Eskimos: How to Market a Product Nobody Wants by Jon Spoelstra
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