Internet Marketing

Gas $2.55 a Gallon!

Gas $2.55 a Gallon!

That's right, you can still buy gas for $2.55 a gallon. Only drawback? You have to drive to Evanston, Wyoming to get it. Nothing against Evanston, I've been through there several times. Problem is that it is a long way from most places people live. Why is gas so cheap there? There appear to be two reasons. First, Wyoming fuel levies are the cheapest in the country and second a family of entrepreneurs by the name of Call.

Ruel Call started in 1937 with a small gas station and then in 1960 launched his own gasoline brand, Maverik, which now has about 175 stations. They helped pioneer self-service pumps and gas station convenience stores. In the mid sixties O. Jay Call launched another discount fuel retailer called Flying J. It did $7.3 billion in sales last year at 160 truck stops.

In 2003, Kristen Call, 36, a daughter of one of the Maverick Calls decided she could apply internet technology to cut more costs and keep prices even lower. The concept: pay for your gas online or at an unmanned kiosk at an unmanned station. The company is called iFuel.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, iFuel didn't stay open long. It opened in Evanston offering fuel at 10 cents per gallon less than Maverick, but it didn't catch on with the locals. Many weren't on the internet yet and seemed confused by the concept. In addition iFuel used indoor key pads for their kiosks but didn't install them indoors. Ever been to Evanston in the winter? The key pads froze up and wouldn't work. Kristen is now focused on selling the internet payment software to big box chains with gas pumps.

So what is the take away? First, let's hear it for entrepreneurs! Want a real solution to gas prices? Turn a bunch of entrepreneurs loose on the problem--not congress.

Second, timing may be everything on a concept like this. I could be wrong, but I think if a chain of gas stations offered a 5 to 10 cent discount on pre-paid fuel purchased online they could do very well. Where do I join?

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

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 www.promoterz.com) 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 www.promoterz.com). 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!

Unhappy customers tell on average 22 other people. If you ticket price is $50 that is $1100 in revenue. How would you like to know before they tell 22 others? 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 www.promoterz.com. (end of shameless plug)

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

Word of Mouth Wins Again

Word of Mouth Wins Again

This from Double Click's report on the internet's role in the modern purchase process:

'Word of Mouth' Is the Single Greatest Form of Purchase Influence.

No great surprise there. We all experience it every day. The real question for us as business owners is: is there some way we can increase the positive word of mouth about our business?

I think it goes with out saying, that we have to start at the beginning with our product or service. It has to be remarkable. In other words, our offering needs to stand out so much that our customers want to talk about it. Assuming we've got remarkable, we can either leave the "word of mouth" to chance or help it along.

Shameless plug: a tool like PromoterZ™ is like a putting a megaphone in the hand of your happiest customers. Why leave the word of mouth to chance? Help it along by giving your customers an easy way for them to tell their friends about your business. End of plug.

Whatever you are doing to grow your business, remember: word of mouth rules. Do you know what your customers are saying about your business?

Unhappy customers tell on average 22 other people. If you ticket price is $50 that is $1100 in revenue. How would you like to know before they tell 22 others? 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.

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

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.

Blogroll