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!

Best of Seeds 8/28/06 to 9/01/06


8/28/06 to 9/01/06

We've just launched a new look and a new website for Promoterz. Check it out here. Don't miss the video (ignore the lack of "voice over" talent) and let us know what you think.

From Seeds--Have You Tried Turning it Upside Down?

Looking for ways to encourage innovative thinking? Have you thought of hanging your employees upside down? Here are a few exercises to help encourage innovative thinking.

From Other Business Blogs

Number 3-- Assumptions have a sell by date. from Creating Passionate Users.
"The really big problem is the assumptions which are so ingrained that we don't even know they're assumptions. They become an accepted Law of Physics, as good as gravity."

Number 2--Spreading the Word from Church of the Customer.
Interesting article in the LA Times, via Church of the Customer, about the power of word of mouth on the success of films. "Strong word of mouth perpetuates itself."

Number 1--Real Meaning of Innovation from Business Innovation Insider.
Many innovations come from seeing things from a slightly different perspective. How about seeing innovation from a slightly different perspective?

That's it for this week! Don't forget to let us know what you think of the new Promoterz site--

Dave

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Best of Seeds is a service of Promoterz--Happy Customers Talking

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

Customer Surveys Gone Bad

Customer Surveys Gone Bad

Asking customers for feedback is a great way to get them more engaged and find opportunities to improve any business. Unfortunately, as with anything good, if not used appropriately they can cause more grief than benefit. Here are a few holes not to step in:

1) Don't ask just because you can. There is nothing worse than a long customer service survey--so long that by the time you finish it you can't remember what the original shopping experience was like. Is anyone really using that data? Make it as short as you possibly can and then cut it in half. Your customers will thank you and you'll stay focused on what is really important. Want more detail? Contact a few of those that answered your short survey and ask them if they'd be willing to spend some more time on additional questions.

2) Pay attention to the details. Nothing destroys credibility faster than a stupid question. If you limit yourself to only a few questions all the stupid ones will go away. Here is an example from the September 2006 Readers Digest:

Maybe I was overreacting, but I couldn't help worrying about the quality of care at the local hospital. On a form titled "Some Questions for Our Pregnant Patients," the very first item was: "1. Gender? (check one) M_ F_." Jenniey Tallman, Tyro, Virginia

3) Numbers are good, comments are better. Numbers, if used appropriately, can give you a good feeling for trends and direction over time, but they are no match for free-form comments from your customers. Numbers can be manipulated and misinterpreted but actual comments like the following paint a compelling picture that doesn't require interpretation.

...location has long lines all the time (out the door). They could do something to speed up the process. Sometimes we don't go there because we know it takes so long.

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Customer feedback is a great thing. Just be careful how you ask.

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

Have You Tried Turning it Upside Down?

Have You Tried Turning it Upside Down?

Do a search on innovation over at Amazon.com. 11,859 results! Innovation is good. Unfortunately in that search you won't find (at least not in the first 100 results) what I think is one of the best "how to" books on innovation. It's called "The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards. Betty does a great job of explaining how the brain works with regards to creativity and includes exercises that can help anyone tap the right side of the brain to come up with creative solutions to business problems.

Here is a quick one to try. Get out a piece of paper and a pencil and draw the upside down picture above. Now print out the picture, turn it right side up and try drawing again. Which of your efforts look more like the original?

If you are like most people, the upside down version will look the best. Why is that?

It is because the left side of our brain is very good at what it does and is in charge most of the time. One of the things the left side is good at is assigning symbols to common objects which makes them quick and easy to reference. For example, a wheel is always round, an eye is almond shaped, etc. The left side is also very good at being abstract--taking a small bit of information and using it to represent the whole. Both are very powerful and useful skills for quickly dealing with most obstacles we face. Here is an example. The following letters in the following paragraph are all mixed up but I doubt you have any problem understanding it:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and youcan sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed erveylteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.

Let's hear it for the left side of the brain! It quickly solves thousands of puzzles a day without us even thinking about it. So why do we need the right side?

The very things that make the left side of the brain such a powerful problem solver, limit our ability to see creative solutions. Because it is quick to make assumptions and jump to conclusions, we are not even aware of the assumptions that are limiting us. In addition, symbols and names that it assigns have meanings attached that we don’t question.

Back to the upside down drawing exercise. When most of us draw, the left side of our brain uses its common symbols to help speed the process. If we're drawing an eye, it is almond shaped with a little circle in the middle. If we're drawing a wheel it is always round. Two arms are always the same length etc. Trouble is, once perspective gets involved (which it always does), rarely is a wheel in a picture round nor are eyes almond shaped. I know, I know--your left brain is telling you that is a lie. But it's not. Look at these pictures.

The men are all the same height, the tables both have the same size tops. Go ahead, get out your ruler and measure. In fact, measuring is one great way to shift from your left brain over to your right when you are looking for creative solutions. If you can invalidate assumptions that your left brain is operating on, new possibilities open up. That is one of the reasons real customer feedback is so important--leave nothing to assumption when it comes to the happiness of your customers.

Other ways to shift over to the right side? When you are trying to describe or solve a problem avoid using name references. Instead of saying draw a fingernail, say draw the hard thing on the end of your finger. Or instead of saying, "we need a new advertising campaign" say "how can we attract more new customers?" Anything you can do to avoid using terms that your left brain has assigned symbols to will help you avoid making assumptions and missing possible opportunities.

Turning things upside down is another way to get the right side of your brain involved. For some reason, the left side of the brain doesn't do upside down symbols. That is why most people are able to draw better when looking at an upside down picture--no left brain symbols involved.

Here is a final business example. When you hear the word restaurant what do you think of? Chances are you think of a building or facility where they serve food and you pay money. True enough. But what if you turn it upside down, or least take a different perspective. The symbol or definition that most of us have for restaurant includes a physical facility, but does it have to be that way? Historically it had to be because that was the only way people would know how to find you, but with today's communication devices that is no longer a requirement. What if the restaurant wasn't food in one specific place but great food in any number of many great places? Join their email list and you would be notified when and where they are serving food this week. The local zoo, middle of a football field, top of building--the possibilities are limitless. Talk about delivering unique dining experiences! At least a few entrepreneurs are already doing it.

Hpapy Iianonvntg !

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

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.
I grew up in the west and now live in Arizona. There is a simple rule for growing things out here (this rule applies everywhere but is more obvious in the arid west): if it doesn't get water it does ...more.
After describing modern consumers and their desire to watch or read what they want, when they want, the current issue of Business Week concludes: The result: a serious case of attention deficit for ...more.
What is the most compelling thing about your business from your customers' perspective? Is it remarkable? ...more.
Another example of the power of promoters. Shade Clothing sells undershirts for women that are longer than normal for those that aren't interested in showing the world their belly button. It was fou ...more.
I read recently about a musician--a cello player to be exact--that moved to New York City. She didn't know anyone in the city and was looking for opportunities to play her cello. Her solution? She ...more.
I read a great article recently about George Washington. As I read about his amazing leadership characteristics it occurred to me that they are the same characteristics any entrepreneur or business l ...more.
On the company the effect is like being assimilated into the Borg, but for users of their software it's like having a friend with a malignant brain tumor. You're going to have to say "goodbye" soon t ...more.
What says summer more than traveling carnivals? Cotton candy, hot dogs, rides that go around and around until you puke! Does life get any better than that? I submit that it cannot! The blog worl ...more.
Remarkable is the key here. These native american kids are remarkable in and of themselves. Their product follows suit. They have figured out government issues, food serving issues, product, marketi ...more.
In the cluttered marketplace we compete in, I don't think the power (and necessity) of staying in touch can be overemphasized. I learned the lesson again last week--thankfully in a good way. It had ...more.

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