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.

To Save or Not to Save?

To Save or Not to Save?

I was talking with a friend recently that works the customer service phones for the company she is with. She mentioned that her company expects her to solve any customer's problem in three minutes or less. That sounds like a policy created by someone trying to save a few bucks while thousands of potential sales walk down the street to the nearest competitor. She did mention, however, that earlier that day she had taken a call from a customer that was a personal friend of the founder. After running into several brick walls with the fulfillment department she mentioned the issue to her manager and was told, "Do whatever it takes. Just make that customer happy." Apparently the policy at this particular company is "3 minutes for customers. Whatever it takes for friends of the boss."

As wrong as that policy may be, at some level every company probably needs to come up with some criteria for deciding which customers are worth saving and, more importantly, ensure that the best customers get all the attention they need. But how do you decide who the best customers are?

The chart that accompanies this post was taken from a recent article in the alumni magazine from my graduate school. The article provides some great suggestions for setting your criteria. You can read it here.

One word of caution: as you try to determine who your most profitable customers are don't limit the analysis only to past purchases. A customer who buys little from you but tells hundreds of friends can mean much more to your bottom line than a customer that spends a lot but never tells another soul. That pauper may actually be a prince!

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

One More Chapter in a Great Story

One More Chapter in a Great Story

About six months ago I wrote about a small, bricks and mortar business that had successfully implemented and was enjoying the fruits of an online system that increased word-of-mouth marketing for their business. You can read the original post here. In a nutshell, the business is a haircut salon for men--a Sportclips franchise to be exact. The owners, Chuck and Joan Matheny, were using Promoterz to 1) Collect feedback from their customers, 2) Establish an "opt-in" email relationship through which they could communicate directly with their customers, and 3) Give their customers an easy way to tell their friends about their store. Top line result: more than a 20% increase in revenue.

Here is a new chapter in their saga:

Corporate SportClips introduced and has been encouraging franchisees to promote a "Season Ticket" concept. Customers willing to pay for six haircuts in advance get a free upgrade to MVP service on each of those haircuts (MVP includes a hot towel and shoulder massage among other things). Because several hundred of the Matheny's customers have asked to receive updates about the store by email, promoting the Season Ticket with an email seemed like a natural. Think about the value of Chuck's email list: because he had reached out to his customers and provided a way for them to opt-in, he could now communicate with those that wanted to hear from him directly and at absolutely no cost. He didn't have to wait for them to come into the store or pay for an expensive ad.

Rather than just encouraging the customers to come in to a store and ask for a Season Pass, we decided to put the technology to the test and offer the customers a quick and simple way to buy the card directly online. The email included a "one-click" buy button. Customers could opt to have the card mailed to them or come into the store and pick it up. The test has been a great success. Several customers have purchased online and the orders continue to come in. Cha-ching! A new online revenue stream for a bricks and mortar business.

Small test--significant implications. Here is a small "old industry/bricks and mortar" business that has figured out a way to use the internet--not as a glorified yellow-pages ad, but as a tool to generate new revenue streams, increase repeat customer visits and collect new leads--all of which have a direct impact on the top and bottom lines.

The real "no-brainer?" The Matheny's used Promoterz to do all of this. The cost: $50 per month per store.

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

Self-Multiplying Customers!

Self-Multiplying Customers!

I received a newsletter today from the folks at Nova Mind. Nova Mind makes a great mindmapping application that I use quite a bit. They also have a project management package for the Mac that looks good. I have yet to give it a try. Anyway, one of the lines in their newsletter caught my attention:

We often find that there is a single license sold in a particular place, and then within a couple of weeks there is a huge cluster of licenses sold within that same area, and we would like to thank all of you who think of your friends and associates now and recommend NovaMind to them.

What a beautiful thing! Isn't that what we all want? Self-multiplying customers! Nova Mind has some great products. They work well and have a significant impact on your productivity. It is hard not to talk about them (ask Joe and Dan how many mindmaps they have seen from me).

As we all know, in today's chaotic marketplace new customers are hard to get. Once you get them, it makes a whole lot of sense to not only keep them, but keep them so happy they multiply.

Need some help? See our sponsor Promoterz

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

They Call it the Hawthorne Effect

They Call it the Hawthorne Effect

In the 1930's some studies were held at the Western Electric production facility outside Chicago in a place called Hawthorne. The intent of the study was simple enough: invite a handful of employees to participate in various working condition tests to determine which conditions were most conducive to increased production. Those conditions that "tested" best were then to be rolled out to the general production floor. One of things they tested was brighter lights. Production went up. Then they tested dimmer lights. Production went up. In fact, no matter what they tested, production went up!

Dr. Paul Marsden, from the London School of Economics, brought my attention to the study and the results which have come to be known as the "Hawthorne Effect." He explains it like this in the preview chapter of his book Connected Marketing:

By singling out a small group of employees to participate in an exclusive trial, participants felt valued, special and important. The special attention they received gratified their ego and created a positive emotional bond with what they were trialing. The practical upshot was that the research trials effectively transformed the research participants into advocates for whatever it was they were trialing.

What does the Hawthorne Effect have to do with growing your business? Creating advocates, or promoters, or evangelists is the first step to harnessing the power of word-of-mouth marketing. The researchers at Hawthorne created advocates by singling out a small, exclusive group, giving them special attention, and asking for their opinion. It is possible to do the same with your product or service.

Case in point: text book publishers. Whether they know it or not, text book publishers have been using the Hawthorne Effect to sell more text books for years. The smart publishers pro-actively select instructors with large adoptions and stellar reputations to review forthcoming text books. Sure, they get good feedback to improve the text, but they also realize that professors that review texts are much more likely to adopt them. I know this because I worked with a unique company called Content Connections that helps publishers do exactly that. Content Connections has developed online tools and processes that facilitate the review process and helps authors and publishers harness the power of the Hawthorne Effect.

Put the power of the Hawthorne Effect to work for your business today. Choose some customers, make them feel special, and ask for their feedback on new products or services. Not only will you get good feedback, you'll get advocates and all those they go on to tell.

Need some help? Contact us at Zeryn.

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