Business Technology

Use Email to Get Inside

Use Email to Get Inside

So now that you are systematically collecting opt-in emails from your customers (if you are not see how effectively are you using email to build the relationship with your customers? Do you see email as just a cheap replacement for traditional print, radio, or TV advertising? If so, you are leaving opportunities on the table.

The other day I saw a "Graduation-Wedding-Mother's Day" sale advertised on television. I was a little surprised that they left out Memorial Day, but it highlights a few of the draw backs of the medium. First, it is shotgun meaning that everybody sees the same thing so you are tempted to provide something for everybody in the same ad. Second, it is expensive and takes time to create ads, so the inclination is to make them either very generic or, again, cover all your bases.

Email doesn't have those problems. You know exactly who you are sending to (and with your opt-in list you know they want it) and you can put an email together in a few minutes and send it out (if you can't, check out With these strengths, if you are using email just to say what the other guys are saying on TV you are shooting air balls.

Think of the email you get from your friends. Do they send you "Happy Graduation-Wedding-Mother's Day" emails? No, chances are they talk about last night's game, what happened over the weekend, or a great place they visited. Email allows you to be immediate and to be current. Use it that way.

Here is an example. The Suns just lost game 4 of the first round of the NBA playoffs to the Lakers. If you've got a business in Phoenix how about a "Beat the Lakers Special" in preparation for game 5? Throw in a blurb about how many teams have come back from 1 and 3 in the first round and sign off with "Go Suns!"

Customers not sports fans? No problem, find another local or regional event to mention. The point is that there are thousands of businesses out there throwing millions of dollars at generic ads. With email you now have a way to cut through all that chaos and capture your customers' imagination and enthusiasm with some thing that is uniquely you and your business. So use it.

Hey, if you got a big guy inside--get him the ball!

If you are not regularly staying in touch with your customers someone else will. How do you stay in touch? Learn more

Building Trust Instead of Selling

Building Trust Instead of Selling

John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing fame was recently interviewed by a BusinessWeek editor. A few of the tidbits:

It appears to me that advertising itself is at an all time low for effectiveness, and businesses that really succeed are focusing on the idea of building trust and educating as opposed to selling.

When asked for the short list of what small businesses should absolutely be doing to market themselves, Mr. Jantsch responded with the following three:

  • One: Absolutely differentiate yourself from everyone. You have to find a way [to make] people say you're something different, whether that's to focus on a narrowly targeted market or [through] packaging. Otherwise you're just competing on price. And the line I use all of the time is that price is a really bad place to compete because there's always someone willing to go out of business faster than you.

  • Two: It's more important than ever, and easier and cheaper, to embrace technology, and specifically the Internet, as a tool to educate, market, and generate leads. It offers a tremendous way to automate the whole process and is a great tool for customer service and project management -- things that add value with clients. If a small business isn't taking advantage of these tools, they're giving up a great way to level the playing field with much larger companies.

  • Three: I always ask people how they got to where they are now. Amazingly, it's mostly through word of mouth referrals. The follow up question is: What do you do to systematically take advantage of that? One of the most powerful tactical aspects of marketing is referrals, and when it's done right, there could be zero cost.

Differentiate, use the Internet, and systematically generate word of mouth referrals. What a great list! I couldn't agree more. And you know the easiest way to do it? (shameless plug coming) PromoterZ is the easiest, quickest and most inexpensive way to do all three of those things. If you haven't already checked it out do it now at (end of shameless plug)

You work hard to make sure your customers are happy. Don't waste happy customers. How easy is it for your customers to share with their friends? Learn more

Small businesses main problem? They need more customers.

Small businesses main problem? They need more customers.

In September of 2005 our company sponsored a survey of small businesses in the service areas. The purpose of the survey was to ask the business owners, many of them franchise owners, what their significant business hurdles were. The key areas of the survey were customers, growth, technology and research, and employees. You can see the complete results here.

There are many things to be learned by studying the results that you can see here, and I hope you'll find them interesting and helpful. It will probably come as no surprise that the common problems facing service businesses are:

  1. Finding new customers does not occur fast enough
  2. Growth of revenue is also not as fast as desired
  3. Cutting through the advertising chaos to reach customers is difficult
  4. The internet is providing little benefit to small businesses
  5. Issues regarding costs and working capital are also significant.

No real surprises but it does highlight the need that small business owners have to gain new customers and get the ones they have to purchase more often. Doesn't that solve most, if not all, of the issues they identified?

The question is how to do it. Our suggestion?

The internet provides a powerful tool for communication and advertising that small business and franchise owners aren't using enough or effectively for marketing. It's called "internet marketing" or "online marketing" and it can include "email marketing". It's likely that small business owners don't know how to use internet marketing as the internet is seen as a big nebulus thing with no tie to location and most small businesses are tied to one location.

The business principles we espouse, regardless of the vehicle used to enact them, are:

  1. Making our businesses remarkable by taking great care of customers
  2. Listening to and acting on what they have to tell us
  3. Giving them a megaphone to tell their friends and colleagues.

It's a simple formula for success and it works. The internet provides a very inexpensive and effective means of doing so when you use the right software tools.

The Happiest customers tell on average 8 other people. Who are your happiest customers? Promoterz knows. Learn more

Email Marketing is still hot

Email Marketing is still hot

How do you communicate with your customers? We all know that there's getting to be more and more online activity. How much? According to the Pew Research Center:

The proportion of Americans online on a typical day grew from 36% of the entire adult population in January 2002 to 44% in December 2005. The number of adults who said they logged on at least once a day from home rose from 27% of American adults in January 2002 to 35% in late 2005.

On top of that, Americans don't feel overloaded by the information they're getting on the web. Pew Research stated:

Just 15% said they sometimes felt overwhelmed by the amount of information they had, while 71% said they had all the information they needed and thought it was manageable, and 11% said they were missing information that they wish they had.

It makes me further think about how we communicate with our customers. Some businesses have jumped into the blog world in hopes that their customers will come and engage with them online. That works for some but this strategy doesn't work well for many small businesses because their business just isn't the type to draw attention to itself such that a customer would want to come and read about them in the normal course of the day. Do you want to know what's going on in the world of sandwich making, hair cutting, or pool/spa maintenance? Me either, not so much that I would return again and again to hear it.

The good news is that I would like to hear about special offers my hair cutting place has or new sandwiches my favorite sub place has coming out. And I, like most people, would like to hear about it through email. There continues to be more techie ways to send information out there (like RSS), but email is THE killer application... the most used, it allows you to push your message to your customers when you wish and they pick it up when they wish. It is effective and personal because it comes from you, allowing you to share offers and news. What's more, it allows you to develop a relationship with your customers.

This is all good and true, but knowing this and doing nothing about it will not help you grow your business. Here's my shameless plug for Promoterz™, a system that automates the sending of special offers through email. It doesn't require more time from an already busy small business owner either, in fact it's kind of like having a really cheap employee that talks to your customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It also encourages your customers to send referrals about you to their friends, making it a word of mouth marketing tool. Additionally, it gives you feedback from your customers about the most important thing they can tell you about your business.

Promoterz™ is the internet marketing tool for small business. (End of shameless plug.)

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

Five Ways to Stay in Touch with Your Customers

Five Ways to Stay in Touch with Your Customers

About thirty-five years ago my father bought insurance from an agent named Roy Rohatinsky. How do I remember that? Because every year until I moved out of my parents home, I received a phone call on my birthday from Roy. “Hi Dave, this Roy Rohatinsky. Just calling to wish you a happy birthday!”

“Uh, thanks.”

“Sure. Good bye.”


When my parents asked who was on the phone, I replied “Some guy named Roy wishing me a happy birthday.”

“Oh, that is the insurance man!” My mom would say and we’d go back to whatever we were doing before the call came. Thirty-five years later Roy is still my parents insurance agent and I still remember his name. If you need insurance Roy can be reached at 3549 N University Ave. Ste 200 Provo, UT 84604. Roy knew how important it was to stay in touch with his clients.

Another example. My brother bought a house in Mesa, Arizona nearly fifteen years ago from a realtor named Becky. His experience with Becky as his realtor was good. Every year since then he has received a pumpkin on Halloween from Becky along with an invitation to attend a Christmas party. The first eleven years Becky received no payback on those pumpkins. But in the twelfth year I decided to move to Mesa and asked my bother if he knew of any good realtors. “Oh, I just got my pumpkin from Becky. Let me get you her number.”

Becky helped us find a great house for our family. When my wife’s brother got a job transfer to Mesa, we recommended Becky. They used her and had a great experience. I also recommended Becky to a co-worker that bought a home through her and, in turn, recommended her to another co-worker that also bought a home using her services.

Some might say Becky was wasting her pumpkins on my brother—especially after eleven years. Becky knew differently: eleven pumpkins for the commissions on four houses is a very sweet return. By the way, if you are moving to Arizona, look up Becky Coen, the best real estate agent in the state.

Staying in touch is powerful because it focuses on what really matters: the relationship. With modern technology it doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming to stay in touch. Here are five simple ways you can stay in touch with your clients or customers:

  1. Never forget a Birthday. This is a simple one, but it is amazing how few businesses make the effort. Ray made a phone call, but a card or an email can be just as effective. You might consider including a gift such as a coupon or discount. If you do, make sure it has real value. If your customers perceive you are just using it as an excuse to send them advertising you will lose any value you might have created. Use a tool like to automate the process.
  2. Pick a holiday and make it yours. Becky delivers pumpkins on Halloween, but depending on your business you could pick any holiday and make it yours. Give pies on the 4th of July or chocolates on Valentines. A card on Christmas is an old standby that still works, but it is easy to get lost in the flood of cards that are sent that time of year. Try something different.
  3. Be grateful. Send each of your clients or customers a thank you card or email after each purchase or just from time to time to thank them for being your customers. Gratitude is always appreciated.
  4. Get involved in a community event. Sponsor a golf tournament or a local road race or a cultural event of some kind in your city or industry. Let your clients know about the event and encourage their participation. They will appreciate the fact that you are giving back to the community.
  5. Publish a newsletter and/or a blog. Take a few minutes each week, month or quarter to tell your customers about your business and/or industry. Don’t be afraid to tell them about your self. Remember, the goal is to build the relationship and just like any other relationship, building a relationship with your customer requires your willingness to share. Tell them your story. No one can compete with that.
Do you remember your customers on their birthday? On their anniversary? Do you give special notice to recently acquired customers? Promoterz does. 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.