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.

Your own personal pollster

Your own personal pollster

At this time of year in the United States there is a massive amount of marketing going on. Political marketing. Email in-boxes and physical mail boxes alike are stuffed with glossy literature spinning their own story.

My wife saves all of the mailings in a big pile. Then we take the time to go through them, sort them out and try to decide who to believe. We invariably call a couple of people more involved, that we trust, to tell us how they are going to vote. We put it all together and then head off to the polls.

Recent years have been even more difficult as the number of propositions has grown. You want to make the right decisions on those, but often don't have any reliable information.

There are all kinds of polls out there, except a personal poll of people I trust. It occurred to us we could make a tool people could use to find, assemble and view the opinions of their friends.

So we made just such a tool, we call it Pollstir and it is free for anyone to use. Think of it as your own personal pollster and our little gift to a great country.

Here is how it works. You pick a ballot for your state and invite friends to "vote" and leave comments as well. You view their responses with interactive charts. Clicking on the charts will display the "reasons" behind the votes.

You can also enter PollstirIDs of others to include in your "mixins". So if you want the opinions of candidates, columnists, talk-show hosts, and celebrities you could just type in their PollstirID.

Our hope is that our little tool will help all voters, regardless of party, become more informed and therefore better voters. Just as your customer's comments about your business help their friends to "vote" on visiting your business.

If you are not regularly staying in touch with your customers someone else will. How do you stay in touch? Learn more

Thomas Jefferson on Advertising

Thomas Jefferson on Advertising

Advertisements contain
the only truths to be relied
on in a newspaper.

He'd be so dissappointed in today's marketers...

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

Customers Need Time to Learn

Customers Need Time to Learn

I had to make a late night run to our local grocery store the other night (thumb tacks for a seventh grade school project). After finding the thumb tacks I was disappointed to get to the front of the store and find that the "self-checkout" lines were closed. The only option was to go through a "normal" check out line. There was no wait but I was still disappointed.

Why is that blog worthy? Because when the self-checkout lines first got installed, I detested them. I hated that voice commanding me to put my groceries in the bag and refusing to let me do anything else until I did. I also detested having to wave my box of spaghetti (yeah, I still call it spaghetti--not pasta) five or six times over the bar code reader at every angle conceivable to get it to read. And I really hated trying to find my produce in all the little pictures (felt some kind of test).

Apparently my fellow shoppers felt the same way, because every time I was ready to check out, there were lines at the normal checkouts and nobody was using the 4 self-checkout machines. Maybe it is just me, but I hate doing nothing and I hate reading about what Brad and Angelina are doing to break Jen's heart and about who is too fat and who is too skinny. In fact, I hated it even more than the self-checkout process so I started using self checkout.

Just like anything new, there was a bit of a learning curve but it got easier. In fact, I think I can safely say I'm now as fast as Sandra down on cash register 3! Here is the amazing thing: I'm not alone. It is rare now to not see a line for the self-checkout machines. It turns out the machines gives us just what we wanted in the first place: faster checkout (or at least the perception of faster checkout).

The lessons? Well, first a better implementation of the checkout machines would probably have hastened their acceptance, but beyond that sometimes customers need time to learn and get comfortable with new innovations. Had store management reviewed the self-checkout performance after the first three months I'm sure they would have been seen as a dismal failure. Next time you're planning an innovation in your customer experience, don't forget to include learning time.

When you pass out a Promoterz bounce back card you automatically build an accurate customer list, increase repeat sales, increase referrals and prevent lost business. Pretty powerful little card. Learn more

What if All Marketers weren't Liars?

What if All Marketers weren't Liars?

Realtors are notorious for their creative use of marketing terms. "Open floor plan" means there are holes in a few walls etc. Here are a few more creatively used terms. But this morning as I was out running I noticed this real estate sign. Maybe this guy just ran out of "I'm gorgeous inside" signs and it was the end of a long day so he sighed and went with the "A Nice Place" placard. Whatever it was, it was simple enough to get my attention.

Simple and honest are remarkable. You could argue that "A Nice Place" is still stretching the truth. Wonder how many calls this sign would bring...

Promoterz is the hands-free, word-of-mouth marketing service that takes care of the details so you can focus on business. Learn more

Wanna Listen to a Good Story?

Wanna Listen to a Good Story?

We dipped our big toe into the brave new world of "podcasting" this week. For those that don't know exactly what podcasting is, Wikipedia defines it as:

Podcasting is the method of distributing multimedia files, such as audio or video programs, over the Internet using syndication feeds, for playback on mobile devices and personal computers. The term gained wide popularity as a portmanteau of iPod and broadcasting, but was seen before that as an acronym for "portable on demand".

So there you have it. A podcast is an audio file that you can listen to on your iPod (or other MP3 player) or your computer. Most podcasts are serial in nature. So once you sign up, you get a new episode every week or day or whatever the time period defined is.

Benefits of podcasting? From a marketing perspective, they are one more way to create a more personal connection with your audience and tell a story that you just can't do any other way. Think of it as getting the opportunity to sit down personally with each prospective customer and tell them personally why your product is so great. It is also a great way to establish the fact that you are an "expert" in your industry. From the listener's perspective, podcasts offer convenience. Podcasts can be downloaded at the office or at home and listened to while commuting, exercising, or doing any other activity.

How popular are podcasts? Depends on who you ask. According to this CNET article, some researchers are predicting that the U.S. podcast audience will climb from 840,000 last year to 56 million by 2010.

Not wanting 56 million potential customers to live their lives in ignorance of Promoterz, Joe, Dan and I gathered around one of our computers last week and recorded our story. Why the picture of the 3 Stooges with this post? Well, you see there were three of us...

Listen now.

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

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.