Marketing

The Power of Realtime Feedback for Your Business

The Power of Realtime Feedback for Your Business

When I get in a car my goal is typically to get from where I am to where I want to be as fast as safely possible. To do that, I primarily use one gauge on the dashboard: the speedometer. Sure every few days I have to pay attention to the gas gauge and, if the car doesn’t seem to be behaving as it should I glance at the other gauges but the majority of the time it is all about the speedometer. WIth my goal being to get to my destination as fast as possible I try to keep that speedometer at (or slightly above) the speed limit.

I rented a car the other day with a new feedback mechanism that completely changed the way I drive. The car was the Nissan Altima Hybrid. I don’t own the car ( the car I own is more of a truck—it has a V10 and can easily pull up the mountain into Flagstaff at 85 mph—but that’s a post for another day and perhaps a different blog). I ended up driving the Altima because the rental car company gave me a free upgrade. I drove it for 4 days in the bay area. The hybrid Altima is rated at 42 mpg. It’s got all kinds of high tech stuff under the hood that switches back and forth between and electric power and the combustion engine and delivers great efficiency. All that stuff is very cool and seemed to work very well, but the thing that saved the most gas for me was a new gauge they added to the dashboard. The gauge was a real time mpg indicator. It was cool. I could always see exactly what kind of mileage I was getting. If I pushed the pedal down to pass, the mpg indicator would drop down into the the 8 to 9 range. When I coasted down a hill it would shoot up to 80 to 90 mpg. I found if I kept it steady I could get to a nice cruising speed and still be getting over 40 mpg.

That one additional bit of information completely changed the way I, the proud owner of a V10, drove. Yes, I still wanted to get there as quick as I could but I found myself balancing that goal with the goal of maximizing my mileage. Now I know that each time I fill up I could do the little calculation and figure out what kind of mileage I got, but the fact is I don’t. Why? Because by that time, the decisions have already been made. I admit it, I am short sighted, but I have never filled my tank with gas, calculated my mileage and said, “Hmmm, I better drive slower.” On the other hand, the real time mgp gauge on the Altima had me driving slower—not always, but certainly more often,

How does that apply to your small business? What feedback mechanisms do you use to monitor the success of your business? Traditional accounting measures are like calculating your mpg after the fact. Everything is history. Sure it is a good number to know, but by the time you know it, it may be too late to influence the behaviors that need to be changed to improve it. Forward looking indicators like sales forecasts and other budgets are more like the speedometer, but even these indicators don’t give what you really need to run your business. What you really need to run your business (in conjunction with the other measures) is a realtime indicator of how your customers feel about your business. You need realtime customer feedback. You may think you know what your customers feel, want and need, but I can guarantee you that unless you are asking your customers and listening, what you think you know is wrong. I can also guarantee you that, just like the realtime mpg gauge changed my driving behavior, realtime customer feedback will change your behavior and the behavior of your staff for the better. Give it a try, you will never go back.

Anybody know where I can get an aftermarket mgp gauge for a V10?

Promoterz is the hands-free, word-of-mouth marketing service that takes care of the details so you can focus on business. Learn more

This Post Isn't Worth Reading

This Post Isn't Worth Reading

Interesting post on WorkPlayExperience about managing customer expectations to improve their experience. More specifically, lowering expectations so that customers end up being blown away. Whether you agree with the premise or not, the example used is must see material. A contestant on the British version of American Idol is a cell phone salesman that dreams of being an opera singer. You can see the judges rolling their eyes and then....

In our world of hyper-competition, keeping expectations low doesn't seem like an obvious strategy for success. Imagine the used car ad, "Come on down, but don't expect too much. Most of our cars are lemons." On the other hand, maybe something like that would be just unique and honest enough to bring them in! For more advice on lowering expectations check out Adam's post.

The growth of your business will be determined by what your customers say about it. Do you know what they are saying? Learn more

A Cautionary Tale of Costumes

A Cautionary Tale of Costumes

Got this from one of our Promoterz customers (thanks Mark). I apologize for the low quality on the picture, but what you would see if you could see it, is a guy in Subway attire handing a Subway sandwich to a guy dressed up as a Quiznos cup. In addition to the free lunch, the Subway guy handed the Quiznos guy a job application. Turns out the Quiznos cup guy would prefer to make sandwiches at Subway than a fool of himself at Quiznos so he's now working for Subway. Not sure how the picture got taken or the story made it into the paper, but I imagine the Subway guy had something to do with it.

Kudos to the Subway guy. When his competition sent "the cup" over to his end of the parking lot he didn't make irate phone calls to the competition or his lawyer, he took the guy a sandwich and turned it into a news event. Brilliant.

Find your happy customers and put a megaphone in their hand. Learn more

When "I don't know" is a Good Answer.

When "I don't know" is a Good Answer.

Had a chance to go to lunch with Tom Miller yesterday. Tom has been in the franchising industry for years and is an Executive Vice President with Murphy Business. In his own estimation, he is a "legend in his own mind." Actually, he has an extraordinary sales record and is considered The Authority on franchising throughout the business brokerage community.

As we talked about the selling process, specifically to small business owners, he noted that in the "early days" he sold direct mail. He learned quickly, that nobody wanted to hear about his business, but they loved to talk about their own. So when he'd meet with a likely prospect and they asked what he was selling, he would respond, "I don't know yet. Tell me about your business." As he learned about the business, it became obvious if there was need--and what he was selling.

So how much do you know about your customers' or your potential customers' businesses? Is learning about them part of your sales process or are you more focused on making sure they learn about you? Are you learning enough? According to Tom here is a key indicator: "If you need a closing technique you haven't learned enough."

Customers who feel that you are listening to them are more likely to recommend you to a friend. How do your customers know that you are listening? Learn more

Promoterz Gets Some Word of Mouth

Promoterz Gets Some Word of Mouth

A couple of great blogs highlighted Promoterz this week (and yes, we thought they were great before they mentioned us--now we think they are even greater).

Steve Rucinski at Small Business CEO , picked up on the Promoterz multiplying effect that enables a business owner to develop relationships with a lot more customers than they could on their own. You can read it here . Steve's blog does a great job of providing resources and knowledge to help the Small Business CEO.

Organizations that want to increase sales and visibility by creating buzz and word of mouth use Buzzoodle Buzz Marketing . Buzzoodle helps them energize and focus their advocates while measuring and improving upon the buzz created. Ron McDaniel, also known as Buzzoodle Ron, is the force behind Buzzoodle and has a blog dedicated to better understanding buzz and word of mouth. Here is Ron's post about Promoterz.

Customers who feel that you are listening to them are more likely to recommend you to a friend. How do your customers know that you are listening? Learn more
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Seeds from the blogworld
We search the business blog world looking for posts that illustrate principles, or "Seeds", that if followed, or "planted", will help small businesses grow. We list them here for your convenience. Enjoy.

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