All the best "Seeds of Growth"

All the best "Seeds of Growth", principles that grow business, gathered from our own articles and from around the web. Just add water, plant properly, and grow your business.

Time to Pull a Few Heads?

Time to Pull a Few Heads?

I live in the arid southwestern region of the United States, Arizona, to be exact. I'm going on my third summer in my current home. The past two summers I have really struggled to keep my front lawn green. Yes, I have lawn. I know that some gravel and a few cacti would be more environmentally friendly, but a little patch of green lawn is more people friendly so I've kept it. Anyway, no matter what I did the sprinkler system for the front lawn never seemed to work right. The system uses little pop-up heads and they were constantly getting stuck, refusing to pop up and spray. Instead they would stay stuck in the down position, dribbling their water into a little puddle an d leaving the rest of the lawn to turn brown. I replaced many of them during the first two seasons thinking that they were just old and no longer worked. I also used my trimmer to shave the lawn directly around the heads thinking that maybe it was getting in the way. No good. The heads still refused to work.

This spring I decided to try a different tactic. It occurred to me that maybe the issue wasn't with the individual heads (they were all good heads) but with the overall system. More specifically, maybe I had too many heads resulting in not enough water pressure for the heads to perform correctly. I decided there would be no harm in testing that theory. I was ready to pull the whole system and start over with some different heads anyway. So I pulled 10 of the 23 heads. I pulled the heads and put a plug where they had been. I didn't move any of the remaining 13 around. I just strategically pulled 10 out of the midst of them. My lawn looks better than it has for the past 3 years! The remaining 13 heads all pop-up strong and have more than enough coverage to fill in for the 10 that are now in an old box in my garage.

What is the lesson for business? There are several, but I think the main one for entrepreneurs is to stay focused. There are a lot of opportunities out there--a lot of good opportunities--but being successful sometimes requires saying "no" even to good opportunities. So how is your focus? Too many sprinkler heads and not enough water pressure? Think about doing less--you could end up with a lot more green.

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This Post Isn't Worth Reading

This Post Isn't Worth Reading

Interesting post on WorkPlayExperience about managing customer expectations to improve their experience. More specifically, lowering expectations so that customers end up being blown away. Whether you agree with the premise or not, the example used is must see material. A contestant on the British version of American Idol is a cell phone salesman that dreams of being an opera singer. You can see the judges rolling their eyes and then....

In our world of hyper-competition, keeping expectations low doesn't seem like an obvious strategy for success. Imagine the used car ad, "Come on down, but don't expect too much. Most of our cars are lemons." On the other hand, maybe something like that would be just unique and honest enough to bring them in! For more advice on lowering expectations check out Adam's post.

The Negative Impact of Word-of-Mouth

The Negative Impact of Word-of-Mouth

I listened to a story on NPR this afternoon about the negative impact of bad word-of-mouth, you can listen to it here. Very scary. This is part one of a two part story by Wendy Kaufman, hopefully the second part will bring out the positive aspects from good word-of-mouth.

The basis for the article comes from research by the Wharton School of Business. They found that 1 out of 2 customers has a customer service problem when they shop. Worse is the fact that they then tell friends, family, and colleagues about it and embellish the story in the retelling. The overall result is that 1/2 of those that hear the bad news story won't shop at those places they heard about. Ouch! Those that improve on the situation certainly create a business advantage.

It goes to show the need for businesses to hear from their customers, the bad news as well as the good. Hearing the bad news you can make efforts to correct the situation so that bad embellished stories won't be spread. You even have the opportunity to turn a detractor into a promoter. You can also get to the root cause and fix it to reduce future bad experiences.

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

Buzz is Better than Ads

Buzz is Better than Ads

Great article in BusinessWeek about Chipotle's success without traditional advertising. If you've never been to one, Chipotle's is a burrito place. They used to be owned by McDonald's but got spun out and went public in 2006. Since then their share price has tripled. They've experienced double-digit growth for nine straight years! Here is the kicker: they don't do traditional advertising.

Actually, they do a little traditional advertising. Some billboards (see image with this post) and radio, but they spend less than 1% of their revenue on advertising compared with 4% or more for McDonald's and Taco Bell.

According to Steven Ellis, the Chipotle founder and CEO, "Advertising is not believable." When he opened his first store in Denver he had no money for advertising so he decided to let his burritos do the talking and started giving them away free. They recently opened a location in midtown Manhattan and gave away 6,000 burritos. People stood in line for two hours. It cost $35,000 (about the cost of an ad in The New York Times) and they got 6,000 promoters plus a mention in BusinessWeek out of it. Not bad.

What are you doing to get your customers talking?

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A Cautionary Tale of Costumes

A Cautionary Tale of Costumes

Got this from one of our Promoterz customers (thanks Mark). I apologize for the low quality on the picture, but what you would see if you could see it, is a guy in Subway attire handing a Subway sandwich to a guy dressed up as a Quiznos cup. In addition to the free lunch, the Subway guy handed the Quiznos guy a job application. Turns out the Quiznos cup guy would prefer to make sandwiches at Subway than a fool of himself at Quiznos so he's now working for Subway. Not sure how the picture got taken or the story made it into the paper, but I imagine the Subway guy had something to do with it.

Kudos to the Subway guy. When his competition sent "the cup" over to his end of the parking lot he didn't make irate phone calls to the competition or his lawyer, he took the guy a sandwich and turned it into a news event. Brilliant.

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.

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