Archive by Author

How a Bail Taxi Driver Differentiated Himself from His Competition

10 Jul
Bali Sunset

Bali Sunset

I was fortunate enough to spend time in Bali, Indonesia last month.  What a life changing experience.  If you’ve ever visited Bali, you most likely had the phrase, “Taxi? Taxi? Tomorrow?” yelled at you.

Providing transportation services in Bali is an easy way for locals to make money.  The start-up costs are relatively cheap: they need a car or motorbike; and they can market the service by sitting on the sidewalk and yelling “Taxi? Taxi? Tomorrow?” at tourists.  It’s a pretty inexpensive marketing campaign.  Taxi drivers literally line the sidewalks in some tourists destinations like Ubud.

So how did one taxi driver stand out from the rest? He didn’t yell at people as they walked passed him. He stood next to his vehicle with a sign that read, “Air Conditioning, Bottled Water, and No Hassle Rate. In Bali, you can negotiate the price of anything.  It gets to be a little tiresome, especially when you’re not sure whether you’re paying too much.  How refreshing to get a ‘No Hassle Rate.’ And Air Conditioning? Heck, the majority of his competition had air conditioning but nobody else was advertising it.  Air conditioning is huge when you’re walking around in 90+ degree heat.

Once we entered the cab, the customer/user experience was excellent.  He held the door for us.  He made sure we were comfortable.  He asked if we wanted bottled water or a soda, free of charge.  He asked what type of music we wanted to listen to; he even made suggestions about where else to stop along the way to our destination—again, free of charge.

When we arrived at our destination, he double-checked the car to ensure we didn’t leave anything behind.  He also provided us with his business card to call him directly if we needed a ride while in Ubud.  The result of his marketing efforts? We called him four more times during our stay in Ubud.  He secured a customer for life.  I also gave his contact information to another friend staying in Ubud (referral).

What can you do to stand out from your competition? Are you providing a unique, unforgettable customer experience?

Good luck.

How to Create a Unique Marketing Campaign: 3 March Monthly Observances to Crush Your Competition

5 Mar
Happy On-Hold Month!!

Happy On-Hold Month!!


We all know St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in March, but did you know the following are also celebrated in March:

1)      On-Hold Month

2)      Eye Donor Month

3)      Craft Month

Guess which March event your competitors will likely decide to advertise?  Yes, St. Patrick’s Day- just like everyone else.  What happens when you advertise/reach out to customers and prospects at the same time as all your competitors and their mothers? You get lost in the clutter.  You are the same.  You are ignored. 

How many companies mail holiday cards to customers?  Tons.  Almost every household either has a basket to collect the cards or the cards are taped to the wall in the kitchen.  Now, how many companies mail cards to customers to celebrate On-Hold Month? I don’t have the data, but I’d be willing to bet very few.

So why not stand out from the crowd?  You should create marketing campaigns around unique monthly observances to stand out!

Create a campaign around “Craft Month.” Send an email/create a blog post/share on social media/mail a letter to your best clients: Happy Craft Month! To celebrate, we’ve CRAFTed (see what I did there? yeah, pretty lame) a deal……then offer your deal/promotion. 

Can you think of any unique monthly observances/wacky holidays to create for next marketing campaign, and crush your competition?

Good luck!

How a Brownie Improved My Customer Experience

26 Feb


The aroma hit me as soon as I opened the door….the unmistakable smell of freshly baked brownies.   As I stood in line to place my lunch order, I noticed the basket of brownies next to the cash register. 

As I waited to order, the battle between my head (you don’t need a brownie for lunch) and my stomach (you can’t resist a brownie for lunch) was raging.  After changing my mind several times, my head finally convinced me that I didn’t need a brownie….or so I thought.

I placed my order while doing my best not to make eye contact with the basket of fresh brownies.  However, after I placed my order, the owner said:

“Please take a FREE brownie.  I’m training a new team member how to cut heart-shaped brownies.   The shape of these brownies is not quite up to our quality standards, but they are delicious none-the-less.  I hope you enjoy, and thank you for your business.”

My head didn’t stand a chance of convincing me not to take the free brownie.  I not only accepted the free brownie (and finished it in about 7 seconds), but also told my friends about the free brownies and the awesome customer experience. 

Can you think of a way to surprise your customers? Be different.  Be genuine. Be unique.  I guarantee it will pay off.

Good luck!

How I Survived My First Bikram Yoga Class…..and Learned a Few Business Lessons in the Process

19 Feb

funny yoga


I’m not ashamed to admit that I had to take a break with 15 minutes remaining in my first Bikram Yoga class. As I started to feel dizzy and nauseated, I decided to take a knee. Man down. The 105 degree heat finally beat me down.

However, I was perfectly comfortable taking a knee in a room full of complete strangers. You see, prior to starting my first class, the owner of the studio completed her new customer process with me–a process she automatically completes with every new customer.  Her new customer process included:

1) Greeted me and welcomed me to the studio–gave me a 5 to 10 minute tour of her yoga studio

2) Required me to complete a form, providing all of my contact information for her database (hopefully she uses it for future direct mail and email follow up)

3) Told me what to expect in the room; she explained that many people feel dizzy and nauseated when first starting Bikram Yoga (not something I was excited to hear). I was told to take a knee if this happened (and it did).

4) Introduced me to the class; told the class this was my first ever Bikram Yoga experience, and that she would be watching me closely

Before I even broke into the first move of the day, I already felt comfortable in a room full of strangers. I had an idea of what to expect.

At the conclusion of the class, she asked me how I was feeling and provided me with a free bottle of water. She discussed the different pricing structures for her studio, trying to sell me a 10-visit package for $130.00. While I wasn’t ready to purchase a package from her, I have a tremendous amount of respect for her as an entrepreneur.  She values new customers and even has systems to make them feel comfortable and cross-sell her products and services.

Do you have SYSTEMS (processes) to maximize the customer experience for your new customers? At a minimum, you should gather contact information for follow up purposes; you spend too much money on overhead to simply let fate dictate whether a new customer becomes a repeat customer.

Good luck!


One Question That Will Increase Customer Spending

14 Feb


After having too much fun the night before, I decided to walk a few blocks to get breakfast. I placed my to-go order: bacon, egg, and cheese on sourdough bread. I wanted to eat at home so I could make my own coffee and watch college basketball. After I placed my order, the nice lady behind the counter asked, “Would you like to add an orange juice to your order? It’s freshly squeezed.” 

Sold. How could I say no to freshly squeezed orange juice? The large orange juice added an additional $2.50 to my transaction. The simple question increased the transaction size for the restaurant. This strategy is also employed by McDonald’s: “Would you like fries with that?”

One simple question. I wasn’t the only customer to add the freshly squeezed orange juice; the customer behind me upgraded his order when the same question was asked. I wonder how many of their customers decided to add an orange juice? That’s $$$ in the bank!

Do you have a product or service you can cross-sell to your current customers? Train your staff to cross-sell and up-sell; make it a required part of the sales/transaction process,  and watch your sales magically soar!

Good luck!

An Easy Way to Increase Sales and Develop Customer Loyalty

13 Feb

My dad received Homeland, Season 1 for Christmas. Because he struggles with all technology invented after the typewriter, I helped him load his DVD player. Upon opening his new DVD, I noticed an excellent cross-sell marketing piece included in the packaging.



Showtime wasn’t satisfied with selling only the DVD, it wanted to parlay the purchase into a subscription to Showtime. An extremely effective marketing technique; after you watch Homeland, Season 1, you’re going to want to watch Seasons 2 & 3, so you better subscribe to Showtime.

The marketing insert is effective for four reasons:

1) Its delivered directly to its target a audience

2) It includes an offer ($25.00 cash back)

3) A deadline (redeem by Feb. 1, 2014)

4) Showtime didn’t waste an opportunity to market an additional product. It already had to create the DVD package for Season 1, so why not include marketing material for another product with the package?  I’m certain the lightweight, tiny insert didn’t increase postage expenses. Showtime paid a nominal fee to have the piece produced and distributed with its Season 1 DVD. I’d be willing to bet they saw a great ROI (return on investment) from this marketing campaign.

Do you have a marketing strategy to cross-sell your products and services? Any business, particularly small businesses, should maximize marketing budgets by developing inexpensive cross-sell programs.

Good luck!

How One Coffee Shop Lost My Customer Loyalty

12 Feb


I decided to give it one more chance. The coffee shop is less than a block from my apartment and the coffee is pretty damn good. I want to frequent the place and support a local business; however, every morning I’m greeted by an employee who acts like I just ordered a hit on a puppy instead of ordering a large coffee. 

I tried to mix up my routine; maybe I had a scowl on my face and didn’t realize it. One morning I walked in with the biggest smile and greeted him. All I got was a scowl. I tried to tip the guy $1.50 after he gave me my $2.50 coffee. All I got was silence. I’m done.

As I looked around the place, I noticed it wasn’t as busy as other coffee shops. Maybe I’m not alone in wanting at least a half-hearted greeting at a place I buy from almost every day. Now, I take my $17.50/week ($2.50 X 7), my $70.00/month ($17.50 X 4 weeks), and my $840.00/year ($70.00/month X 12) to the coffee shop that takes me an additional 20 minutes to walk to.  *Maybe I don’t spend that much, but you get the idea.*

At my new coffee shop I’m greeted by employees who are happy to see me. The owner thanks me for my business and asks if there’s anything else she can do to make my stay more comfortable. You see, as a small business owner she realizes that it’s ultimately up to her to make sure her staff is not only trained properly but also is executing the training to make sure customers are enjoying the experience.

If you own a business, or you’re thinking about starting a business, it would be wise to “mystery shop” your business. Ask 5-10 friends/customers to place an order and have them rate the experience. Because at the end of the day: it’s not your employees fault if their attitudes cause you to lose customers, it’s your fault for not having a system to identify the problem employees.

Good Luck!

3 Ways to Ruin Your Marketing Campaign

6 Sep

1) You Spend Too Much Time Promoting Your Company: 

Listen, you have a little less than 2 seconds to capture the attention of consumers. Stop wasting those two seconds by advertising exactly like your competition. Get to the point of why your product or service will BENEFIT your intended target. Do this through a headline or a promise….and do it at the beginning of your ad, to buy a few more seconds of the consumers attention.

2) Advertising Where They Ain’t:

If your target market is between the ages of 15 and 45, do you really think advertising in the yellow pages or the local newspaper is a good idea? Of course you should test whether your target market will react to ads in the local paper, but wouldn’t it be a better idea to determine where your target market likes to hang out? In a recent survey conducted by Nielsen, over 80% of consumers were either on a smartphone or tablet while watching TV over the past 30 days. Stop dumping your advertising and marketing budget in print media, and start investing in digital marketing (SEO, SEM, social media, etc..). If you’re a small business owner, operating in a niche market, you could possibly have a first-mover advantage if you embrace digital marketing.

3) Not Updating Your Social Media Sites:

I know it’s a challenge to stay up-to-date with all the newest social media channels. That’s why I recommend starting with one social media site. For example: Create a business page on Facebook and try to add relevant content to the site at least twice a week. Add blogs and pictures that are useful to your target audience. After you get in the habit of adding content to your Facebook site, then decide to add another profile to a social media site. Eventually, you will want to create a content calendar, so you can continually update all your social media sites. I promise you this: If you continually add fresh content to your site and social networks, you will quickly establish yourself as the expert in your chosen field.

Good Luck!


Why Building a Business is Like Building a House

25 Jul

Spend extra time working on your foundation!


I recently had a consulting project for a new business venture.  While any successful business relies on a strategy that:

1)      Offers the same product/service/value for a cheaper price

2)      Offers better product/service/value for a cheaper price

3)      Offers a completely new product/service/value that the market deems better than competitors’ offerings.

The new business venture already had its plan of attack to the marketplace (better product, cheaper price); in other words, it had a blueprint.  However, to actually implement the business idea, the venture required a solid foundation—exactly like building a house requires both a solid blueprint (plans) and a solid foundation.  Imagine living in a house with a faulty foundation—if/when it fails, everything else you’re trying to accomplish goes with it.

So whether you currently have a small business or you have dreams of one day opening your own business, remember to spend ample time creating a blueprint for how you plan to attack your target market, while spending even more time creating a sturdy foundation that you can build on. 

How do you build a solid foundation?  I like to start with thinking about every single step of sales process.  I call it, “What happens when…….”  What happens when a prospect calls and asks about our services/product/to schedule an appointment?  What happens when the prospect decides he or she decides to purchase something from us? Write down exactly how you want every single repeatable item to be executed and file each process in a folder so you can train and manage your staff.

Good Luck!

Don’t Outsmart Common Sense: How I Failed My Client

16 May

How I Failed My Client

I failed….well, maybe I’m too hard on myself, but I was recently reminded of an important lesson when starting or running a successful business.  That lesson: If you focus on creating (and executing) the best product or service, your odds of creating a successful business will skyrocket.

The mistake I made with my client was trying to do too much for his business.  He recently opened a restaurant, and wanted me to help him drive traffic to the new place.  I told him he would need nightly specials to entice new customers; he would need an extensive menu to please the diverse crowd he wanted to attract; and he would need to create social marketing campaigns to generate buzz about the new restaurant.

His response to me was simple: “I’m going to make the best hamburger in town and price it between McDonald’s and Five Guys.  Customers will understand the value of a superior burger and word of mouth will drive traffic.”  The restaurant opened two weeks ago– every table is packed for lunch and dinner.  While he’s going through the growing pains of hiring and training staff to keep up, he has a wildly-successful restaurant on his hands.

I was reminded that focusing, first and foremost, on creating a superior product is the first step to a successful business.  If you have a superior product, or you can create a service that is superior to your competition, people WILL find you.  Sometimes I get caught up in the buzz about the new marketing channels, and I forget success ultimately depends on creating a product or service that people love. 

What can you do to create a memorable product or service?  Is your company known for being the best at something?

Good luck!

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