Sales

Stupid Things Stupid Businesses Do

Stupid Things Stupid Businesses Do

Of course businesses aren't stupid, in fact the people in the businesses aren't stupid (I'm being kind), but they become stupid as the people in them act stupidly. How so? I’m about to explain. Before I begin I must say that I have been inspired by Pam Slim’s Open letter to CEOs, COOs, CIOs and CFOs across the corporate world.

Stupid businesses don’t grow right. They treat their customers badly. It’s likely that they don’t want to but they do because they have an environment of treating people badly. Employees are treated badly and they, in turn, treat the customers in like manner.

  1. They don’t care about the customer
  2. They’re rude or inattentive
  3. They do bad work

I know there are reasons they act this way. I was in a store recently and the cashier was so worn down that she looked like a zombie. Glassy-eyed, she hardly knew I was there. She couldn’t ring a particular item up right and offered no solution to the problem. No help. It was fun to pull her out of it and find a smile, but that was for a moment and then she was back to longing for the day to end.

Last week my daughter saw an employee at a Subway drive everyone out of the building. Literally. “I’ve had it with this place!”, she said. Once she got everyone out she locked the door!

That comes from above. Managers are above. Stupid managers make stupid businesses. Stupid managers:

  1. Overwork employees
  2. Command in all things
  3. Don’t accept feedback or suggestions
  4. Frequently criticize and nit pick
  5. Rarely give praise or recognition
  6. Lazily expect subordinates to do their work for them
  7. Yell and act in a mean manner

That creates an atmosphere for stupid employees. I have a son that works at a grocery store. His manager takes 10-15 smoke breaks a day. He comes back and finds that a yogurt container isn’t facing the right way and goes ballistic. It’s sad. Another son works in a clothing department. His manager always has it in her mind that the women’s part of the department is trashed. “Get over there and clean it up, it’s terrible!” Whether it is or not, that’s her message. It’s never right, it’s never good, and she doesn’t want to hear any different.

Above managers in the small business world are owners. Stupid small business owners make stupid small businesses. Let me put emphasis on small, I don’t mean small in size here, but small in quality and integrity.

  1. They provide no real incentives to perform well
  2. They are self serving without real regard for employees or customers
  3. They underpay, giving only what they have to

I’ve seen a business owner pit manager against employees, lie to customers, negotiate in bad faith, and do all things for their own aggrandizement and benefit. The business started in a great, innovative way but became small because of the owner.

Stupid businesses are remarkable but not in a positive way. The famous line from Forest Gump is true, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Stupid businesses don’t grow like they could, like the owner would really like them to grow. They can be planted in a good spot, sprout and start, but they will never get the powerful fertilizer of referrals or the life giving water of returning customers to grow into what they have the potential to become.

When you pass out a Promoterz bounce back card you automatically build an accurate customer list, increase repeat sales, increase referrals and prevent lost business. Pretty powerful little card. Learn more

Best Place to Advertise?

Best Place to Advertise?

Very interesting article in the Wall Street Journalabout where small local businesses are advertising. According to the article, yellow pages still dominate but the internet is opening up some promising new opportunities. The article talks about three:

Local Television. An online company called Spot Runner will make you semi-custom ad for less than $500 and then place it for you with local stations. A pet boarding service paid $299 for an ad plus $1,400 for placement and saw their calls increase 20%

Online Search Ads. Hook up with Yahoo and or Google and for $250 to $300 a month they will host a detailed web page and provide ad listings on their search engines. A salon tried it and says they now get 80% of their new customer through the internet.

Craigslist. Craigslist is an online classified ad system that is free and growing like crazy. A carpet cleaner in New York quit using newspaper ads and gets 90% of his business from Craigslist.

Some of these ideas seem pretty good and may be worth trying depending on what kind of business you are in. What it highlights for me once again is that it is tough to get new customers in the door. In fact, it costs 5 to 10 times more to attract new customers than it does to sell more to your current customers. So once you get them, don't ever let them go. How do you do that? Give them a remarkable experience, ask them what they think, get their email address, and stay in touch with them. Not only will they come back, they will bring their friends.

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!

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)

More happy customers. More repeat sales. More referrals. Learn more

Guy Kawasaki - The Art of the Start

Guy Kawasaki - The Art of the Start

Guy Kawasaki has posted the table of contents, first chapter, and index for his latest book, "The Art of the Start". If you haven't read it yet and are in the start-up process, or preparing for it, you should give this a read.

Lots of great info here. Here's a quote from Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovator's Dilemma and The Innovator's Solution:

This is a delightful, complete, and consummately practical entrepreneur's handbook-quintessential Kawasaki. Every person who wants to start a business should read it. And read the footnote on page eight. There's more good stuff in here, but this alone is worth the price of the book.

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
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