Category Archives: Word of Mouth

Good Signs for Business

NOTE: This is basically the EXACT SAME STORY that I published yesterday. The only significant difference is the sign in the photo. Yet, it makes all the difference in the world!

The Personal Experience Factor (big lever #2 in the Advertising Performance Equation) begins before your customer walks through your door.

It actually begins the moment your store comes into view from whatever distance it can first be seen. In some cases, this can be miles away. For example, the local Cabela's store in my town has their colors and logo on a big water tower that can be seen from about 10 miles away. 

For most businesses, this will be a block or two at most. In a mall, unless you have some outside signage, it will be walking distance and line-of-sight. 

So, what's the first mental image (FMI) of your signage? Does it set the stage for the experience you plan to deliver once a customer crosses your threshold? Is it sending some unintended messages?

I snapped this picture on a recent trip to Canada. Let's talk about it. 

Dental sign

(click the picture for a full-size pop-up view)

This business is located in a mall on the edge of town. It's down at the end of the mall where they put all the medical businesses. 

Please note: The answers to the following questions are purely subjective. We know that it is wrong to judge a book by its cover. Yet, we proceed to do it. I don't know the owner of this store. Perhaps we can help give the owner an outsider's perspective of the message being sent to customers.

What do you think? What do you expect when you walk through the door? What will the experience be like? Given the workmanship of the sign, what can you expect from the rest of the shop? From the staff? What will the attitude of the owner be? How will you feel about yourself if you purchase here? Will you tell your friends that you purchased here? 

Spending Your Ad Budget on Personal Experience

The next 3 months are usually not the best time to "buy" advertising. I'm not saying it's a terrible time to run advertising, just that you should have already bought it before the traditional holiday push that depletes media inventories, driving prices up. I'll give you some tips on when and how to make media decisions in future posts.

So, where should you be spending this quarter if you haven't got an ongoing schedule? If you own a service or retail business that isn't reliant on holiday sales (HVAC, Medical, Financial, etc) think about putting some of your ad budget into sprucing up the Personal Experience of your customers.

Wet Paint!

Here are a few ideas…some more expensive than others.

  • Complete deep cleaning of your store/offices. Hire an outsider to help because they will see the dirt/clutter that has become invisible to you.
  • A fresh coat of paint can breathe new life into a store.
  • Interior decorators can help you imagine what your store COULD be instead of what it has become. Face it, you got into the business because you are an expert in your own field, not a designer.
  • New service vehicles…talk to your accountant to take advantage of end-of-year spending strategies…car dealerships might have screaming bargains just to move vehicles out of inventory before the end of the year.
  • New signage/Exterior remodel…evaluate how your business looks from 2 blocks away, 1 block and from the sidewalk. Are you invisible from any of these vantage points? Sometimes you become invisible just by having the same sign for too long. Many contractors would appreciate a commercial job in the off-season just to keep workers employed. Shop for good deals.
  • Spy season…hire some secret shoppers to visit your store along with all of your competitors. Don't use friends or you risk getting smoke blown up your….well you know. You want honest evaluations about how you stack up.
  • This is a good time of year to embark on some customer research. Offer a prize or discount to customers who will fill out a lengthy form or complete an interview. You'll be amazed at the good suggestions your customers will provide you when you simply ask.

The bottom line is….if the holiday season is slow for you, don't just sit on your bottom. Get busy doing something so when your own season rolls back around, your customers will be delighted by the "new" you!

QUESTION: This list isn't exclusive. What other suggestions do you have?

Be a Social Media Enabler

Photo 19 Are you giving your group/event/tribe the tools they need to talk about you?

I spoke at the Arizona Governor's Conference on Tourism last week and they were giving out these cards.

They created a unique hash tag for their conference…#AZGCOT09. It's more complicated than a hash tag needs to be, but it works.  Here's the resulting twitter search when you use my name and the hash tag. Pretty cool! (And, thanks for the nice comments!)