Marketing

What You Don't Know Will Hurt You.

What You Don't Know Will Hurt You.

I was in a hobby store yesterday buying model rocket engines (think venture scouts making jet propelled barbie cars). Anyway, I noticed a new restaurant had opened up in the same strip mall. While the attendant at the hobby store was ringing up my 24 rocket engines I asked him if he had tried out the new restaurant. His response:

"It's [bleep!]"

Not sure that I heard correctly and a little taken back at the language I said, "Excuse me?" He went on to explain that he hadn't eaten there but a fellow worker had and she had been sick the rest of the day. He also said his manager had ordered a taco and it cost him six bucks and was no bigger than what you can get at Taco Bell. As he handed me my receipt he concluded emphatically once again, "It's [bleep!]" I thanked him and made my way to door once again marvelling at the power of word of mouth.

Think about what happened there. Put yourself in the position of the owner of the new restaurant that just invested multiple thousands of dollars and has been open now for just a few weeks. I doubt he or she has any idea that virtually right next door someone who has never even been in the restaurant is giving out negative recommendations (with neighbors like that who needs enemies...).

It gets worse, studies have shown that irritated customers are five times more likely to vent to a friend than a store rep and on average they will tell four friends. It doesn't say anything about how many people those four will tell, but here I am telling all of you. The study did report that those told about a friend's bad shopping experience are up to five times as likely to avoid the store in question as the original unhappy customer! (read about it here)

What's the solution? First, strive to make every customer experience remarkable. Right behind that has to be a system that consistently invites each customer to tell you how they felt about the experience.

With modern technology, there is no excuse for not inviting your customers to give you feedback. I recently rented a car from Enterprise. A week later I got a call asking how the experience was for me. Phone calls can be expensive, so use the internet. Set up an online survey and hand your customers a card directing them to the url to tell you what they think. Of course there is always the written feedback card. Just make sure you review the feedback regularly and respond to it. The only thing worse than not asking for feedback is asking for it and not responding.

Certainly not all of your customers will respond, but enough will to give you an accurate idea of how things are going and give you the opportunity to "save" a few that were about to tell their four friends who will now be five times as likely to avoid your business!

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

The Miracle of the Reservoir

The Miracle of the Reservoir

I grew up in the west and now live in Arizona. There is a simple rule for growing things out here (this rule applies everywhere but is more obvious in the arid west): if it doesn't get water it doesn't grow. Early settlers fought their neighbors over water rights knowing that land without water wasn't worth a plugged nickel. In addition to fighting, they went to work and figured out ways to divert and contain spring runoffs, rainfall and the flow of rivers and creeks to use in dry times. They built dams that created reservoirs then built a network of canals and ditches to get the water to the fields. Wallah! Arid desert became fertile farmlands. Fly over the west today and the benefits of the reservoir and resulting irrigation are obvious in the green irrigation circles that dot the land.

Now think about your marketing and advertising efforts. Paying for advertising can feel like paying somebody to do a rain dance--you're not at all sure what you are going to get. But sometimes there is no choice. So you pay and with some luck some new customers fall from the sky. With a lot of luck maybe a lot of customers fall from the sky. Then comes the moment of truth: do the customers run off like a flash flood leaving only a little green in their path? Or have you built a customer reservoir that they peacefully flow into to be tapped again and again ensuring green for many years to come?

How do you build a customer reservoir? First let's be clear, the reservoir metaphor only goes so far. While it is possible to build a dam to trap water, trying to trap customers is a recipe for disaster. Your goal is not to trap but to create something customers want to be, and remain, a part of. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Be remarkable-Find out what is most important to your customers and then be absolutely amazing at it.

  2. Be inviting-Identify your customers and invite them to be part of something great. Make it easy for them to join.

  3. Be persistent-Make the effort to stay in touch regularly, if you don't someone else will.

  4. Be contagious-Make it easy for your customers to tell their friends about your business.

  5. Be attentive-Ask your customers what they think, listen to what they have to say, and continue to make your business even more remarkable.

The early western settlers learned quickly that without reservoirs they couldn't survive. The same is true of business today, rain dances alone aren't sufficient.

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

Zero to $2 Million in One Year!

Zero to $2 Million in One Year!

Another example of the power of promoters. Shade Clothing sells undershirts for women that are longer than normal for those that aren't interested in showing the world their belly button. It was founded in September 2004 and in its first year of business it sold more than $2 million dollars worth of modest undershirts.

Listen to this quote from Chelsea Rippy, one of the founders:

Our main source of advertising is women telling other women.

In addition to selling through traditional retail channels, Shade focuses on finding promoters and giving them the tools, and the incentive, to spread the word. They call them "personal shoppers." From their website, here are the benefits of becoming a personal shopper:

Become a Personal Shopper and:
• Earn 15-20% commissions on all orders placed through you.
• Earn commissions on client orders placed online using your personal shopper code.
• Offer your clients access to exclusive products and discounts.

Additional benefits include:
• Set your own schedule
• Your parties posted on the Shade Clothing website
• Sales materials from Shade Clothing
• Discount on product
• Exclusive access to the Personal Shopper Online Management System

In return, Shade gets literally hundreds of customers that love their product, telling their friends and associates about it. Hard to argue with the results.

Do you remember your customers on their birthday? On their anniversary? Do you give special notice to recently acquired customers? Promoterz does. Learn more

Will Your Customers Carry a Cello?

Will Your Customers Carry a Cello?

I read recently about a musician--a cello player to be exact--that moved to New York City. She didn't know anyone in the city and was looking for opportunities to play her cello. Her solution? She carried her cello around the streets of New York with her wherever she went--whether she needed it or not. It didn't take long before other musicians introduced themselves and she was given opportunities to play.

That got me to thinking, what could I carry around to let people know what I do? Even more powerful, what would my promoting customers be willing to carry around to let others know how they feel about my business?

The average American consumer discusses brands 56 times a week. Are they discussing yours? Learn more

Come to the Carnival this summer and win 12 free months of PromoterZ™!

Come to the Carnival this summer and win 12 free months of PromoterZ™!

What says summer more than traveling carnivals? Cotton candy, hot dogs, rides that go around and around until you puke! Does life get any better than that? I submit that it cannot!

The blog world has a few traveling carnivals of their own and over the next few months we've been asked to host several. We haven't figured out how to deliver cotton candy online yet, but to make it interesting we're going to include a chance to win--remember the baseball throw, the ring toss, and the shooting gallery? So step right up Ladies and Gentleman! A winner at every carnival!

Here's how it works. Each time we host a carnival (see schedule below) we will choose a visitor to win 12 free months of PromoterZ™ service ($600 value). To participate, click on this link and then come to the carnival. We'll announce the PromoterZ™ winner along with the posts chosen to be in the carnival.

Don't know what a blog carnival is? It's like a traveling roadshow. The host chooses what they consider to be the best posts of the week from the blogs that submit posts and include a few editorial remarks. For the reader it is a great way to see the latest and greatest without having to hit every blog. For bloggers, it is a good way to increase exposure. Here are the Carnivals we've been asked to host:

Carnival of Entrepreneurship July 6th
Carnival of Business July 24th
Carnival of Marketing August 6th and 13th

Don't forget to sign up and submit your posts. Bring your friends and remember it is BYOCF.

More happy customers. More repeat sales. More referrals. 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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