Viral Marketing

Hey, look what I discovered: Animal Style!

Hey, look what I discovered: Animal Style!

Did a little substitute teaching this morning at a local high school ( Go Toros! ) Think you are a good presenter? Go volunteer at your local high school. If they're not interested, they don't even pretend to be.

As part of the lesson I played a game with the kids. I made some motions with a stick, tapped it on the ground a few times and asked the kids to guess the word I was thinking. Of course, none of them could (the word was hat). I then gave one student in the class the "decoding ring" to make sense of my stick motions and senseless babbling and sent her out of the room while the rest of the class picked a new word. The student with the secret was now easily able to "guess" the word. The really interesting thing that occured was that after a few rounds other students began to figure out the code. Their reaction was always the same, they shouted "Oh I got it!" and immediately wanted to tell the world. The first student that was given the code never had the same reaction.

Here is the principle (based on purely non-scientific data): people are more excited to share that which they "discover." In fact, you have to work hard to keep them from sharing. It was all I could do to get the "discoverers" to sit still and keep it secret. After all, what fun is discovering something if you have no one to share it with?

Do you let your customers discover anything?

What? Are you saying I shouldn't shout everything I have to offer to my potential customers?

Exactly. In-N-Out Burger is a master of this. They have an entire "secret menu" that you cannot find anywhere in any In-N-Out store nor on their website , but it is part of their process. The items are in their point of sale system and print out on the receipt.

What good is a secret menu? Have any third parties ever created web pages dedicated to your menu? You can read about In-N-Out's here , here , and here and several hundred other places. Oh, and you can download a pdf version of it (complete with pictures) here. Ever met somebody that loves In-N-Out? They've got the secret menu memorized and will describe every option for you. They've discovered something and can't wait to share.

So, what are your customers going to discover today?

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

Great Coffee--and I don't even drink the stuff!

Great Coffee--and I don't even drink the stuff!

So this morning I was scheduled to give a presentation on how to create word-of-mouth using Promoterz to new Entrees Made Easy franchise owners. While the participants were on break and I was getting my laptop set up a discussion about coffee got started. I think it started with a person asking if there was more coffee. There was. She wanted hers dark. Another person overheard and said, "Oh, you've got to try my coffee!"

"Your coffee?"

"Yeah, it's just down the street. The guy is a chemist and has traveled the world to find the best beans. You know how there is a burnt after-taste with some roasted coffee?"

Everyone nods in unison. By now there were seven people listening intently (yes, I counted them.) I was listening too, and I don't even drink coffee.

"Well this guy figured out a way to roast it so that it has no after taste."

"Oh, where is this place? We're going there tomorrow."

What a perfect lead in to a presentation about the power of word of mouth! Notice how the happy customer started the conversation by referring to it as "my coffee." There is a customer that feels like she is a part of something great and is not only willing, but excited to share.

You can't buy better advertising. Are your customers that excited about your business?

Full disclosure: I'm not being paid to write this and I wouldn't know what a good cup of coffee tastes like. But, here are the details: It is called The Village Coffee Roastery and is located in Scottsdale, AZ. Here is a review from a local paper and here is their website . Looks like you can order online! Tell them Lisa sent you...

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

Get customer feedback, generate referrals, and increase repeat sales for as little as $150 a month. Learn more

The Starbucks Online Coupon Fiasco--Venti Size

The Starbucks Online Coupon Fiasco--Venti Size

Just about everybody with a blog commented on Starbuck's recent problems with online coupons. You can read the story here . John from Brand Autopsy asserts they never would have done something that dumb in his day (used to work there) and recommends more limited expiration dates. Seth has some additional principles for avoiding such issues. Countless others also weighed in on how it could have been avoided and what Starbuck's should do now that it has happened. All good stuff, but I hope the baby (online coupons) doesn't get thrown out with the bath water.

In a nutshell, Starbucks created an online coupon with about a thirty day expiration date for a free iced coffee drink. They gave the coupon to a few employees in select areas and expected it to stay limited. It didn't. It took off like wildfire thanks to the internet and they ended up posting signs in their stores saying "regretfully" they would no longer be valid at any Starbuck locations.

In my mind, the real story is not that online coupons don't work, but quite the opposite: online coupons work well--in this case too well. Remember the old days when you had to pay to get coupons printed in a newspaper or to hand out. You had to pay for every one! Not so on the internet. They multiply without costing you a dime. Isn't that just what you want to have happen? It should be. So the lesson is this: make sure that any offer you put on an online coupon is something that you would be happy to see proliferate. Tools to do that? Limit the expiration date, make it a "buy something to get something" offer, give away something with no hard costs. Have other ideas for creating coupons you're happy to see proliferate? Post them here.

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

Bringing the Diners Back

Bringing the Diners Back

Restaurant Hospitality recently listed some of the tactics that big casual dining chains are employing to try to lure diners back to their restaurants after suffering a poor 3rd quarter showing. Consensus seems to be that same store sales have slowed down due to economic conditions, an increase in the number of casual dining restaurants and a shift of consumers to a relatively new category of food service called fast casual. Fast casual is quicker than full sit down service and higher quality than basic fast food. Big chain solutions?

Reduce Prices--Applebee's has got a dinner combo including dessert for $9.99, TGI Friday's has got appetizers discounted up to 50%, Cheesecake factory has reduced portion and prices significantly on lunches, and Outback has reduced steaks by $1.

New Menu Items--Applebee's is going to try out star power by teaming with Tyler Florence from Food Network, 23 new items on TGI Friday's menu, and Cheesecake factory has 16 new items on the menu.

Seems like nothing more than the obvious to me. Any time sales go the wrong direction the knee-jerk reaction is to reduce prices and add features. Eventually that strategy is not going work. Great news for those of us that aren't big chains, but it is going to take some effort. The Restaurant Hospitality article notes:


you may have to fight to keep the business you've got, but it's still there to be gotten.

So how do you fight? Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Get in touch with your customers. Walking around asking them how their meal was is great, but what happens when they walk out the door? Do you have a way to stay in touch with them? Start gathering email addresses and stay in touch regularly with your loyal clientele.
  2. Ask your customers for feedback. Hopefully you didn't wait till sales dropped to realize that your customers want a high quality food faster. Is there someway you can meet that need for them? What else do your customers want? You should be closer to your customers than the big guys and able to move faster.
  3. Get your word-of-mouth on! The best way to "fight" for more business is to develop a force of loyal customers that are actively telling their friends and associates what a great restaurant you run. Don't leave it to chance, get a program in place that makes it easy for your customers to spread the word.

Word of mouth fills seats, now is the time to get started.

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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