More on Referrals

Here’s a great example of referral marketing built right into the transaction.  I recently purchased some software called "SnagIt".  It’s a screen capture program on steroids.  It’s great, but I digress.

When I received the software, the package included a free 30 day trial of the same software.  "What’s the point of that", you ask, "You already bought it."

Here’s what it says on the disc package:  "A pair to share.  Please share this "FREE" 30-day trial of SnagIt and Camntasia Studio with your friends or colleagues."

BRILLIANT!  I obviously like the product or I wouldn’t have bought it.  Why wouldn’t I share the free trial with someone else? 

Think about it.  How can you incorporate this "free trial" offer into your business.

Shameless Self-Promotion

Link: Can Tacony Vacuum Leave Miele in the Dust?.

Svcanister_group I know this blog is about general business issues for all types of retailers, but I couldn’t resist posting a link to this Business Week Online article. 

Congrataulations to our Vacuum Cleaner team for the excellent job of keeping our dealers competitive!

Customer referrals: Viral marketing goes old school : Blog Business World

Link: Customer referrals: Viral marketing goes old school : Blog Business World.

Wayne Hurlbert writes in Blog Business World on the topic of customer referrals.  Referrals from satisfied customers are the best, and most cost-effective, way to gain new business.  Yet, chances are you’re not using referrals as effectively as you could.

It’s not because your customers aren’t willing to help.  Our own consumer surveys show that nine out of ten of your customers would reccomend you to their friends.  A whopping 78% are "very likely" to reccomend you.  The problem is that most of us don’t take advantage of these customer marketers.

It’s one thing to say that I’ll reccomend you to my friends.  It’s another thing altogether for me to actually do it.  You have to make it easy for me.

Hurlbert makes some very good points about how to ask for the referral.  You have to ask the right quesions at the right time and give the customer an incentive.  Everyone likes to be helpful, but good intentions are often just that, intentions.  We have to convert them to action.

Ken Tacony Inducted into Sewing and Vacuum Dealers’ Hall of Fame

[From Tacony News, our in-house news letter]

Like father, like son; Ken Tacony joined his dad, Nick, as a member of the Hall of Fame at this year’s VDTA (Vacuum Dealers’ Trade Association) show.

Dealer after dealer congratulated Ken and let him know how much they appreciate his leadership in the sewing and vacuum indsutries.  People went out of their way to compliment him on his integrity and to express how much they enjoy knowing him and doing business with our Company.  Dealers were bragging about the number of years they have been getting merchandise from us and recalling their memories of Nick and Ken, when he was just beginning his career.

What a great way to start our 60th anniversary year.

Read about our company history in this article from the VDTA.

Taking Care of the Customer

This morning, I attended a web seminar on the topic of customer care.  Ninety minutes and 38 slides later, the conclusion of the talk was that to grow your business, you have to give the customer what she wants.  Duh!

I suppose we all need to be reminded once in a while, but without customers, we don’t have much of a business.  In fact, we have no business at all.  The trick is to find out what the customers want and give them more of it than anyone else.  Simple to say, but not always easy to do.

As retailers, we are in a unique position to look the customer in the eye and ask the question.  "What can I do to make it easier to buy from me? "  Or, even better, "Would you reccomend me to your friends?  If so, why?  If not, why not?  Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know what your customer wants.  The information is too important to guess.  Find out!  Ask!  Then take action on what you find out.

Process Is Our Friend

Normally, I’m not crazy about the term "guru."  Maybe it’s because I’d like to be one and I’m not.  But, if anyone qualifies for the term "marketing guru", it’s probably Seth Godin.  He’s the author of several successful marketing books and has a great web site and blog.

Today, in a post called, "Why are you afraid of process?" he writes about the advantages of processes as "your ace in the hole when your intuition stops working."  Most of us take great pride in our intuition, our ability to innovate, our creativity.  Retailers, especially independent retailers, usually go into the business because we’re either good at our craft (sewing, repair, design, etc.) or because we’re good at selling.  That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re good at running a business.

If we put repeatable processes in place, for example software that figures our payroll, or a good POS system to control our inventory, that frees up our time to do the things that we do well.  We might as well face it, no one is ever going to be as good as we are at our core competencies (at least not in our minds).  Why would we want to spend more time than necessary on other things?

Most Business Owners Unprepared for Natural Disasters

Here’s an interesting article from Inc.com on disaster preparedness.  I know, none of us ever thinks we’re going to be hit by a disaster, natural or otherwise.  But, it could happen and it could be devastating to your business.

84% of small business owners surveyed aren’t worried about a disaster affecting their operation in the next 12 months, which isn’t surprising.  But, there is a difference between being "worried" and being prepared.  The article suggests three steps that you should take:

  • Keep copies of crucial documents in a safe, off-site location. many Gulf Coast business owners kept copies of financial records at home, only to find them destroyed or inaccessible. Signing up for online banking can provide a way to access financial records remotely.
  • Maintain contact information for critical parties. This includes employees, suppliers, and customers.
  • Empower staff to keep the business running. Key employees must be able to move the business forward in your absence. This means designating signatories for emergency loans and expenses, and establishing computer systems that allow remote access.

Another tip for your business and your family is to select a trusted friend or family member in another city to act as a contact point in the event of a breakdown in local communications.  Many victims of Hurricane Katrina weren’t able to contact family and business associates because local phone service was disrupted.  An out-of-town contact could relay information and help those who are separated find one another.

The Small Business Administration web site offers a Disaster Planning Toolkit.