When "I don't know" is a Good Answer.

When "I don't know" is a Good Answer.

Had a chance to go to lunch with Tom Miller yesterday. Tom has been in the franchising industry for years and is an Executive Vice President with Murphy Business. In his own estimation, he is a "legend in his own mind." Actually, he has an extraordinary sales record and is considered The Authority on franchising throughout the business brokerage community.

As we talked about the selling process, specifically to small business owners, he noted that in the "early days" he sold direct mail. He learned quickly, that nobody wanted to hear about his business, but they loved to talk about their own. So when he'd meet with a likely prospect and they asked what he was selling, he would respond, "I don't know yet. Tell me about your business." As he learned about the business, it became obvious if there was need--and what he was selling.

So how much do you know about your customers' or your potential customers' businesses? Is learning about them part of your sales process or are you more focused on making sure they learn about you? Are you learning enough? According to Tom here is a key indicator: "If you need a closing technique you haven't learned enough."

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

2,998...2,999...3,000! Sleep at last!

2,998...2,999...3,000!  Sleep at last!

Business Week's question of the week this week asks with ads everywhere "is advertising today creative--or creepy? How far should Mad Ave go?" I found the 3 responses they included interesting:

Joe Gardner, features and business affairs editor at The Onion, notes that if people "don't read all blogs with a discerning eye, they deserve any deception that's heaped upon them."

Kalle Lasn, co-founder of Ad Busters magazine, responds that "3,000 marketing messages a day seep into the average North American brain. That level of advertising is stressing us out."

And Ted Murphy, CEO of PayPerPost.com says that younger generation knows that to get free content they have to put up with product placement. In his estimation "it's a trade off they're willing to make."

As business owners, the real question for all of us is in this kind of environment is how do we effectively let those that would be interested in our product or service know we exist? There are probably many answers to that question, but near the top of the list has to be our customers. Those who have used our product or service should become our greatest and most powerful advocates in spreading the word.

Disclaimer: in an effort to help you avoid any deception being heaped upon you, this blog is sponsored by Promoterz, a great tool to help business owners turn their customers into advocates.

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

Best of Seeds 11/5/06 to 11/11/06

November 5th to November 11th, 2006

From Seeds of Growth--76% Think You Are a Liar.

We need your help. We're doing some research on building word-of-mouth with online tools. We created a 3.5 minute video and follow it up with 5 quick questions. If you are a business owner or manager, please click here and tell us what you think.

From Other Business Blogs

Number 3--

Full from Seth Godin.

Seth writes about the importance of timing and repetition in marketing. Important to be persistent in staying in touch so that when the moment is right, your customer thinks of you.

Number 2--

What Keeps CEOs Up at Night from Be Excellent.

Top line growth, customer loyalty, and profit growth are 3 of the top 4. Sound familiar? Take care of customer loyalty and the other two will follow....

Number 1--

The Three People You Meet In Silicon Valley. from Business Innovation Insider.

Apple is a remarkable company and is experiencing remarkable success right now. Here are some comments from a commencement address given by CEO Steve Jobs that give some insight into being remarkable. "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work."

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading. Don't forget to watch our 3.5 minute video and tell us what you think .

Happy Cultivating--

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

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

76% Think You Are a Liar

76% Think You Are a Liar

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association has some great statistics and presentations available on their site. The title for this post comes from the finding that 76% of consumers think that businesses don't tell the truth in advertising. That fact and other nuggets can be found in this presentation.

The obvious follow on question becomes, who do consumers trust? The answer is also obvious: each other. From the same presentation 92% cite word of mouth as the best source for new product ideas, up from 67% in 1977. The fact is that as the marketplace clutter continues to build, word of mouth becomes more and more of a necessity to grow a business.

I posted a few weeks ago about the Hawthorne Effect and the role it can play in helping to develop advocates or promoters for your business. Dr. Paul Marsden of the London School of Economics, has written extensively about the Hawthorne effect and how Consumer Advisory Panels can be a tool to harness the power of the Hawthorne Effect to increase word of mouth.

We like the way Paul thinks and decided to do some testing of our own to see what business owners think of Consumer Advisory Panels, the Hawthorne Effect, and our system Promoterz, which can be used to setup and manage online consumer advisory panels. If you are a business owner and would be willing to take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us, we'd love to know what you think. Click here. You'll be asked to watch a brief video and answer five quick questions.

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

Best of Seeds 10/29/06 to 11/04/06

October 28th to November 4th, 2006

Happy Halloween! Today's challenge is to relate each of the articles to Halloween (sorry, it has to be done).

From Seeds of Growth--They Call it the Hawthorne Effect
Hawthorne and Halloween share the same two first letters! Scary, huh? Hold on, they get worse. Actually, the Hawthorne Effect could be seriously good for your business. Use it to help turn your customers into advocates.

From Other Business Blogs
Number 3-- The Manipulators from Seth Godin.
I'm betting you'll see a lot of little Spidermen and Pirates tonight, but very few dressed as Manipulators. To see the Manipulators, logon to your email. Sad, but true, just being trustworthy makes you and your brand remarkable these days.

Number 2--12 Consumer Values to Drive Technology Related Product and Service Innovations from Putting People First.
Ok, the title alone is scary and would make it worthy of Halloween, but there is more: "For instance, to remain competitive, product makers in many sectors will need to accommodate the value of “user creativity”—the growing desire and ability of millions of consumers to create, augment, or influence design and content and share these creations with their peers." Carving Jack-O-Lanterns is just one of many examples of consumers' desire to create and share creations with their peers! (three for three, just one more to go!)

Number 1--20 Questions Toward Ethical Word of Mouth. from Church of the Customer.
Tonight one question will lead to many pounds of candy being lifted to the mouth, but for right now focus on these 20 questions that will help you avoid ethical blunders as you build word of mouth.

Four for four! Thank goodness holidays don't happen every week!

Enjoy Halloween and if you haven't done it yet check out Pollstir and get yourself prepared for the elections.

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

The average American consumer discusses brands 56 times a week. Are they discussing yours? 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.
We had some visitors in from out of state last week. One of the things they had on their list to do while in sunny Arizona was to visit IKEA. That in and of itself is remarkable. How many home furn ...more.
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 ...more.
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 ...more.
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. Co ...more.
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 mo ...more.
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 yo ...more.
Had a chance to visit a local Tempe, AZ fire station last night (career night with venture scouts). I was impressed and came away with a few lessons, or at least things to think about, to improve cus ...more.
Our company creates it’s own products, like PromoterZ, and we also do custom web development. I recently completed a site for an Arizona real estate company, The O'Keefe Group, that sells remarkabl ...more.
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, o ...more.
Reena Jana of Business Week writes about Guerilla advertising-- a "catch-all phrase for nontraditional ...more.