Viral Marketing

Service or Tool for Small Business?

Service or Tool for Small Business?

One of the adages that Steve Covey popularized in his 7 Habits was "give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime." The statement is obviously true and applicable in many of life's situations, but frankly there are instances when people either don't have the time or the desire to learn how to fish. I'm not talking about the welfare crowd (though that may be a problem). What I'm talking about is small business owners and what it takes to successfully sell to them.

Here is my experience: We developed Promoterz as an inexpensive, do-it-yourself system that any small business could use to collect customer feedback, generate referrals and stay in touch with their customers. In a nutshell, we help them make sure their customers are happy and get them talking to their friends. The system has been tested in multiple industries and it works. Those that use it, receive measurable benefit.

So far, so good. We've got a tool that the majority of small businesses could use to speed their growth. As we've met with business owners in person or attracted them to our website, it has become clear that most of them don't want to be taught how to use the tool. They don't have time. They would much prefer to pay for a service. In order to put fish on their table they have a list of about 100 other things they need to be learning and doing. One customer noted that when she wants an ad in the newspaper she just pays the paper and doesn't have to know how to use the press. Ouch!

As we tweak the pricing model to cover the additional service, some small businesses may balk, but I am now convinced that there are more small businesses looking for a fillet on the platter (complete with a wedge of lemon) than those interested in buying a fishing pole--even if it comes with a fly tying kit.

Food's on! Step right up!

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

True Blue Fans Create!

True Blue Fans Create!

I've written some in the past about the benefits of inviting your customers to participate in the creative process. Two benefits: 1) the content produced and 2) the fact that the more they do for your business, the more likely they are to mention it to others. Just came upon another example of that process taking place online.

CougarBlue.com is a discussion board for BYU Cougar fans (yes, I am one). Anyway, a new thread got started that suggested fans bring a white or blue towel to the football games this fall. The thread quickly became an online brainstorming session including assignments and reports on assignments etc. You can check it out here. Several pages of posts you'll need to scan through to see its progression.

Not sure if the vending or marketing folks at BYU are plugged in to or are aware of it, but it is a great example of fans (customers) getting involved and creating something that they love and will pay for. How can you turn your customers into fans, creating something they will love and pay for?

Go Cougars!

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

Is Your Marketing Self-Perpetuating?

Is Your Marketing Self-Perpetuating?

As I've thought more about guerilla advertising and how it differs from quality customer engagement that turns customers into promoters, it occurs to me that the key difference is self-perpetuation, or the lack thereof.

The goal of both efforts is to get people talking to their friends or colleagues about your business--to create buzz. But guerilla advertising is based on a staged event or gimmick that may not even be related to the business. Yes, it creates buzz, but that buzz will wear off and then all you are left with is the headache of trying to come up with the next gimmick.

Turning your customers into promoters through quality customer engagement is different. It may not get as big of an initial buzz, but it grows naturally and is self-perpetuating. People end up talking not about your gimmick, but about how remarkable your product or service is. They plant seeds in the minds of their friends that produce additional seeds as those friends give your business a try and spread the seeds to their friends and so on and so on and so on.

Self-perpetuating word of mouth--start planting the seeds.

Guerrilla Advertising is Not the Answer

Guerrilla Advertising is Not the Answer

Reena Jana of Business Week writes about Guerilla advertising-- a "catch-all phrase for nontraditional advertising campaigns that take the form of theatrically staged public scenes or events, often carried out without city permits or advance public hype"--and notes that as more and more companies attempt them, the effectiveness of the ads may be decreasing.

Just more evidence of the chaotic marketplace in which we live and consumers' increasing ability to ignore all types of advertising. Adam Salacuse, CEO of a Boston ad agency gets it right:


The focus needs to be on quality of consumer engagement.

The best way to cut through the chaos is to take care of your customers and turn them into promoters.

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

Look What I Did!

Look What I Did!

I remember having a note pinned to my shirt by my kindergarten teacher to make sure it made it home to my parents. (They don't do it anymore, probably because of liability issues--they used straight pins for goodness sakes--can you imagine all the things a five year old can do with a straight pin on the bus ride home?) What I don't remember is my teacher having to pin my artwork to my shirt. She didn't need to. It was always the first thing that got to my mom's hands-- "Look what I did!"

Nothing has changed. My kids do the same thing. We never see the notes from the teachers but we do see their artwork. And it doesn't change with age either: people are more likely to be excited and want to talk about something they helped create. What does that mean for your business? The more you invite your customers to be involved with your business, the more likely it is that they will tell others about your business.

In addition to the higher likelihood of talking about your business, depending on what you invite your customers to do, you can also gain valuable knowledge and insights.

For example, one of the simplest ways to invite your customers to get more involved is to ask for their feedback. Not only does customer involvement go up, but the content of their responses can help you improve your business. If you take the time to thank the customer for their response and mention how you are using it, their sense of "ownership" in your business will increase and with it their desire to tell others "Look what I did!"

Asking for feedback is perhaps the simplest and quickest way to get customers more involved but is certainly not the only way. American Express has encouraged customers to create 15 second commercials around their "My Life My Card" theme. Kodak sponsored a "create your own commercial" site that allowed users to upload their own photos which were then inserted in a Kodak commercial.

Just like every great idea, there are some potential pitfalls. Chevy sponsored a "Make your own Tahoe commercial" contest and ended up some that will certainly not win the contest.

Also, don't expect all of your customers to immediately begin to participate. Data is building that suggests that for every 100 people online, 1 will create content and 10 will then interact with it. The remaining 89 will just view it. Read more.

Neither of these pitfalls should keep you from thinking of ways to invite your customers to get more involved and give them the opportunity to say "Look what I did!"

Here is a final example of a company giving their customers a way to get involved and doing it successfully. This came from a post on Brains on Fire.

The company is Fiskars, the one that make scissors. Did you know there are Fiskateers? Yep, ambassadors for crafting and for Fiskars. They have a blog, a message board and gallery. Check out the community album. Any doubt those folks are saying "Look what I did!" to family and friends?

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