How tiny tweaks can beat big corporate bull


World-class customer service arts advice and training for restaurant and hotel owners and managers plus servers — for over 25 years.  

How tiny tweaks can beat big corporate bull


24 years ago, I became the fastest home loan generator in the history of General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC Mortgage). How did I do it?


For starters, I didn’t use their platitude-filled postcards, flyers, letters, and seminar material. I wrote my own.


The Chief Marketing Officer at the time, Alberto Fernandez, never believed the words I used to describe the value I brought to the market would work. So I wrote a one-page letter offering 15 available seats to a home buyer seminar hosted by me – to prove him wrong.


(Before that, my seniors in the organization would get, if they were lucky, 3 to 5 people to attend the same event)


The only incentive was free afternoon tea and coffee during my two-hour lecture about the home-buying process. The letter did so well that 43 people showed up. Which meant 28 people had to stand.


It’s worth mentioning – there was no incentive except free afternoon tea, coffee, and me – to help them spend money on one of the biggest purchases in their life, a home. Alberto didn’t think my little $200 letter would work. ($200 was the cost to send it out).


Well, it worked extraordinarily well and converted over $40,000 in commissions within 60 days, making me the fastest home loan generator in the company’s history. One conversation with one of the senior home loan specialists has stayed with me and it’s the reason for this post…


“Eric, I’ve been in the mortgage industry, with GMAC since the 1990’s, and none of us here or even our colleagues in other companies have seen results like this… are you giving these people cash on the back end of your deals?”


I could not believe my ears!


Anyhow, this popped into my mind this morning on seeing a dull advertisement for Vanguard Investments. That’s because I have shares in Vanguard Investments.


Not that I know anything about shares – I don’t – but I do know a lot about what works in advertising.


In fact Vanguards ads are rather better than most of the clueless malarkey most investment firms run. But they’re still pretty crap, which I resent as this is my money they’re pissing away.


The headline for the advertisement is “Give your children’s future a jump start.”


This prompts me to point out, whilst you’re reviewing the various magnificent schemes – automated marketing and that sort of thing – that there is often a quicker, less demanding and easier way to stick a rocket up the derriere of your profits. Before you invest considerable funds, executive time and frustration to arrive at a brilliant new strategy – or not as may well turn out – there is often a much simpler method.


All it requires is moving the odd word around and hiring people who actually understand what gets more sales and what doesn’t.


I can tell you with absolute certainty that if Vanguard bothered to measure ROI they would soon discover that seemingly tiny changes to their headlines would make a difference.


All they need do is change that headline to “How to jump start your children’s future”. This is the same number of words but would get more response.


In all humility I’m not that clever – it just happens that my partner Ally tested changing the heading to an e-mail I wrote by putting the words “how to” in front and the response went up 50%.


If you read that quickly maybe the implications don’t seize you by the throat and shake you like a rat. But imagine if, without spending a penny more, your ROI went up 50%.


Is there any area of your business where you can make that much difference, without a hell of hard work and upheaval?


The point of all of this is you can talk all you like about strategy and content marketing and so on but marketing really isn’t that complicated.


It’s just that most of the people doing it don’t have the faintest idea what they’re doing. That’s quite a claim, I know.


But if you would like me to explain to you to what degree people in marketing are clueless, get in touch and I will offer you the odd suggestion of what you can do if you wish to improve.





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About Me

Eric Valdivieso has over 25 years of sales and showmanship experience, including 5 years of film and theatre training and 9 years of table service, in high-paced and competitive environments. 

He helps restaurant and hotel owners and managers cultivate experiences that people talk about, and seek out. 

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Jonathan Tisch

CEO Loews Hotels & Co-Owner of the New York Giants

“Over the last few years, my family and I have had the pleasure to watch and enjoy, as Eric Valdivieso, nightly deliver a dining experience that is truly enjoyable. From the moment that we are welcomed by Eric at the door, to sitting at the bar and enjoying the suggestions and company to an amazing dinner, it is always one of our favorite nights. And Eric graciously and seamlessly choreographs this entire experience, without breaking a sweat. Eric truly understands hospitality, and what makes a great restaurant so great.”