Would You Like Fries With That?

I was having dinner alone, in a strange community, at a nationally-known restaurant chain. I watched the waitress deliver the checks at the five other tables in her section before flagging her over.

“How many tables are in this section?” I asked. She told me six. Taking her through the math we determined that she averaged four table turns of two diners per table on each shift – approximately 48 customers per waitress per shift.

I then asked the price of the average desert on her menu. She estimated $3.50 I said, “Do you realize that if you invited each of those people to have dessert, and one out of three did, you’d make an extra $8.40 in tips every shift?”

She had that “no idea what you’re talking about” look, when she asked, “Are you telling me that you want dessert?” “No,” I said, “I’m telling you that people like to be asked.”

Want to know the sad part? Restaurants aren’t the worst offenders. You spend all that money inviting folks to your store, then your staff doesn’t ask ’em to buy. Too many employees simply don’t think about up-selling. Waaay too many. This is a management problem. It has a management solution.

Good managers know two basic facts:

1) The easiest sale is an add-on sale to an existing customer.
2) Anything that isn’t measured can’t be managed.

Make up-selling a requirement. Start at the customer contact level. Tabulate the average number of items per purchase. The only number your staff needs to track, and to be accountable for, is the average number of items on each receipt.

Do your employees think of this as (gasp!) SELLING? They’re right. If they have a problem with sales, shame on you for not making very clear at the first interview that everyone’s job was to sell. How do you describe the job? Clerk? Customer service person? No wonder your staff doesn’t have your focus.

Maybe you need new staff people. Then again, maybe you could improve this staff. Start by changing their titles.

Drop into any Waffle House. You’ll note that the waitress’ name tags all say “Salesperson.” The day they put on the uniform Waffle House employees know what the job entails.

Done correctly, all customer service jobs are selling.

Would you care to see the dessert menu?” will never produce the sales of “The chef just pulled some of his homemade apple pies out of the oven. Did you save room for a warm slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and maybe a sprinkle of cinnamon?”

Yeah, selling.

When was the last time you bought a bottle of wine and were offered an ice bucket, or a corkscrew? No, it doesn’t happen to me, either. Pity. Not only because the store could sell extra items, but also because I can never find a corkscrew. People appreciate it when you help them to save an extra trip. People are flattered by your concern.

When the customer brings a can of paint to the check out, ask if she has drop cloths, masking tape, or paint rollers with handle extenders.

When the customer asks for bedding plants, personally escort her to the plants, then ask if she has fertilizer, bug spray, a shovel.

When the customer buys the new projection TV, will she need video cables? A video switcher? Audio cables? Matching transformers? A universal remote? A DVD player? A couple new movies?

Never work up financing of the boat without reminding the buyer how much she needs life vests, depth finders, a trolling motor, a marine radio.

Selling. Refer to it as improved customer service.

What an incredible idea! Improving sales by providing genuine customer service. Put it in your ads.

Here at Ajax Company we’ll:

ease your frustrations; or
save you time; or
save you money; or
help you impress your friends,

by checking to see if you have everything you need before you leave the store.”

Go through your business department by department. Make check lists. Figure out the your obvious offers, and make your staff very familiar with all of the appropriate add-on sales possibilities. Monitor them to make sure those possibilities are being offered.

Pay attention to, and reward, improvement in add-on sales. See if your sales and your customer satisfaction levels don’t both go up.

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The Definition of Marketing

A couple of decades ago I found a good working definition of the difference between advertising and marketing: Advertising is an attempt to find someone to buy your stuff. Marketing is finding out what people want, and helping them to get it.

By that definition, best-selling author Cindy Cashman understands marketing.

Cashman’s first book, Everything Men Know About Women, has been perpetually popular, selling over a million copies since its first printing in 1988. She used the pseudonym “Dr. Alan Francis,” claiming a “landmark book on men’s understanding of that most complex of creatures: woman. Based on years of research and interviews with thousands of men from all walks of live, he presents the most complete picture ever revealed of mens’s knowledge of the opposite sex.”

The book is 150 blank pages. It sells for $3.95.

Cashman decided not to let Everything Men Know About Women get lost amid all of the titles in most bookstores, so she sold it at women’s clothings stores where it’s price made it an attractive impulse item.

Since then, Cashman has written ten more books (with text) to become one of the most successful self-published authors in America. Her titles include, Bedtime Stories For Dogs, The Book Of Smiles, Mr. Eaves And His Magic Camera, and Life’s Lessons For Women, which has been translated into seven other languages, and is being sold in ten countries.

I don’t consider myself a writer,” says Cashman. “I’m a marketer. And the more educated people are the harder it is for them to understand what I do. I have a concept. I write the press release. I write a three-page summary. I write the beginning, a bit of the middle, and the end. Then I hire a ghost writer and a graphic artist to write the text and design the cover.”

Where does she get her ideas? From ordinary people.

I used to go out in my boat and jot down title ideas. When I had a number of them, I’d gather ten women together. I’d mix ’em up: an attorney, a housewife. Then I’d give the ladies the list of titles and ask them which books they’d be willing to buy. I didn’t ask if they’d like to read them. I asked which ones they’d be willing to pay for. If I found a title that consistently got seven out of the ten to say they’d buy it, I knew I had a winner.”

She also asks “Is this what I want to be known for?”

More recently, Cashman has experimented with electronic publishing. She’s offering e-book titles such as The Million Dollar Question Handbook and As A Woman Thinketh from her web site.

Always attuned to the fickle attention of the marketplace, she got the idea for two titles three weeks before the finale of Donald Trump’s The Apprentice. You’re Hired: Unofficial Lessons From The Apprentice, and You’re Fired: 17 Things You Can Do To Help Speed Up The Process.

I got the idea Sunday afternoon, and pitched it to a publisher first thing Monday. They loved the concept but passed on the book. They said the book would take too long to bring to market, and there were only two episodes of the show left. I immediately wrote the press release, hired a ghost writer, hired a cover designer, and we all went to work. Within seven days of the first idea, the books were written, and my son had them up on the web site as e-books.”

Find out what they want, and help them get it.

Yeah. Cindy Cashman understands marketing.

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Monday Night Blues

Confession: I’m a blues fan.

I like nearly all permutations of blues. In my office, when I need to decompress I’m fond of Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and T Bone Walker. When I’m alone in the truck, it always cruises better to the heavily blues-influenced rock of Gary Moore, or Delbert McClinton’s steeped in blues honky tonk.

Now, I’m well aware that blues is marked by the use of the lowered third and dominant seventh (so-called blue notes) of the associated major scale, but that’s an intellectual observation. That awareness isn’t part of the enjoyment. The enjoyment comes from feeling the music (right brain), rather than analyzing it (left brain).

So, here I am, Monday evening, listening to Gov’t Mule’s live recording of Jesus Just Left Chicago, when I get the urge to see what Gov’t Mule has issued that isn’t already in my collection. (I’ve switched to present tense for the telling of this tale. Feel like you’re there, don’t’cha?)

Google Gov’t Mule. Click on the link to the official site. Browse. Read some of the bio material. I’m emoting. I’m ready. I’m feeling a need for new songs.

Click on “Mule Tracks.” Humm. Clever name.

Welcome To Mule Tracks.
If you haven’t downloaded shows before please check out the FAQ for info on the process. Or even if you have downloaded shows, there’s good info to be found in the FAQ
.”

You’re messing with my emotional willingness to purchase. You’re making me shift into intellectual mode. I don’t want to be in intellectual mode. I want the songs.

I scan down the left side of the page, and I see dates of specific shows. Humm. These appear to be live recordings. And it seems that they’re available for download. Cool. Is there a charge? Click on “What Do I Get” from the FAQ and read:

What do I get?
After completing the purchase process you may download the entire product in the format you’ve chosen. Individual files are not available as separate purchases – you may only purchase products in their entirety. Certain products also have printable PDF files for CD labels, booklets and tray inlays. You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or later to access the files.”

What the…? Product? I want songs. I don’t want “product.” Reading on, I come across:

FLAC
Using the appropriate software for your operating system, uncompress each of the FLAC files into WAV files. The WAV files are what you will need to burn an audio CD that can be played on most CD players. Keep in mind that not all CD burning software can burn WAV files. Be sure to check compatibility with your software. After the WAV files are extracted, burn them in your favorite CD burning application. For live performance products use the Disc-At-Once (DAO) option to avoid any two-second gaps between tracks on your CDs.”

What’s an FLAC file? Does it have something to do with that duck? And now you expect me to check compatibility with my software? Where do I find that?

I’m no longer jones’n for new Gov’t Mule songs. I’m frustrated and somewhat angry. Are you trying to keep the music from me? That’s how it feels. And just like I know about lowered thirds and dominant sevenths but don’t let it get in the way of the emotional enjoyment of the performance, I also know about file compatibility and digital rights management… but it’s getting in the way of my enjoyment of the performance.

Didn’t the Grateful Dead encourage live recording of their shows, and even rope off a special taping section just for that purpose? If they could make it that easy, why are you guys making it so difficult?

Screw it.

Warren, Matt, Danny, Andy… your music’s great. Your web site is not.

I’ve decided that I’ll wait to find the new album at Borders or Best Buy. I haven’t set foot in either place in months… but the next time I think of it, I may swing in. However, I’m sure as hell not blowing any more of my Monday evening by attempting to find out if my burner’s compatible with FLAC files.

Oh, and I’m going to send you a copy of the Eisenboys Call To Action so you can see where you lost me… I can’t be the only one. Check the web metrics and consider your conversion rate. I’ll bet it’s low. And that’s a shame.

How much money are you losing as people who are enthusiastic about your music get unenthused about the prospect of buying it?


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Would You Like Fishing For Customers In Your E-Mail?

A few times in the last couple of weeks I’ve received comments that it would be nice if people knew when there was to be a new post on Fishing For Customers.

Unfortunately, I don’t write on that tight a schedule.

So, here’s my solution: sign up in the new “subscribe” box, and get every new post e-mailed directly to your “in” box.

It’s free… and I hope it’s something you can use.

Sincerely,
Chuck

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Missing the Obvious

Radio programmers have had an expression for decades: “You can’t bore people into longer time spent listening.”

Know how to tell when a radio program is boring? You’ll recognize the unmistakable sound of radio receivers being switched off across the whole community. Likewise, you’ll recognize plummeting newspaper and magazine subscriptions as a sign that the writing is not particularly compelling.

And yet, the major media owners all seem to think that the audience is spending more time with their competitors (satellite radio and the internet) because the audience is enamored of changes in technology. In typical neo-Luddite fashion, a recent CNN/Money article explains that magazine publishers are joining together to promote magazine reading; that newspapers are joining together to promote newspaper readership; radio groups are joining together to promote terrestrial radio listening.

They’ve totally missed the point.

People aren’t buying expensive satellite receivers and also paying monthly subscription fees because they percieve an improvement in audio quality. They didn’t go to the web because they were unhappy about getting printers ink on their hands.

People went to satellite or to the internet to get content they specifically wanted to hear / view / read.

And if content providers want an audience to continue using the more traditional delivery channels, they need to come up with better content.

Offer radio programming that moves us, emotionally, and we’ll listen to it on shortwave if that’s where it’s found. Make the writing fascinating and we’ll pay for a subscription to read it.

But give us the same recycled pablum as all of your competitors, and the technology doesn’t matter at all.

Boring content is boring content no matter what the medium.


Want to make your customers and potential customers find your communications with them to be fascinating? I can’t think of a better source of information you can immediately use than you’ll find at The Magical Worlds Communications Workshop.

The workshop is based on the findings of America’s leading cognitive neuroscientists, and is personally taught by the Wizard of Ads®, Roy H. Williams. You’ll learn to do consciously what talented people do unconsciously.

The workshop scheduled for July 20, as usually happens, this class, has been sold out weeks in advance. There are still a few seats available for the August 17 class.


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The Big Lie

The Big Lie. A simple concept. Make a statement. Repeat it. Repeat it until people accept it as true.

Only one thing wrong with The Big Lie. It doesn’t work.

Its been tried by governments, and advertisers, and employers, and spouses. The Big Lie doesn’t make people believers. The Big Lie is recognized as a lie when it contradicts their experiences.

You see, statements are only accepted as true when they align with other statements that people have already accepted as true. If there’s an intellectual, or emotional conflict, people reject the new statement. They mentally catalog it as a lie.

So, if you, Mr. or Ms. Advertiser, make any statement in your ads, prospective customers are going to weigh that statement against that which they already know to be true. Does your claim resonate with truth, or does it cause dissonance within their minds?

If your ads do not reinforce what potential customers believe about your business, you’re wasting your ad budget.

No one cares what you think about your business.

Let me offer an example.

When I was a much younger copywriter, working for a local radio station, one of our salespeople brought an assignment:

My client, a local pool hall, wants to build more family business. Make us some ads showing families having fun playing pool on Friday nights.”

I wrote a series of three ads, in which kids told stories about actually enjoying their parents company. We got some good child actors to play the parts, recorded the ads, and made sure that the schedule offered enough frequency to make some impact for the advertiser.

The ads bombed.

Of course, it might have helped had the salesperson, or even the client, thought to mention that a local motorcycle gang used this establishment as their meeting place. There were so many chopped hogs, chains, and tattoos in the parking lot that any family who packed up the kids and drove to the pool hall would never let them out of the car.

The advertiser was well aware of his current clientele. He desperately hoped advertising would bring in people he wanted as his customers.

If his business had been brand new, that might have worked. Unfortunately, he had an existing clientele and an existing image. And, not only does no one care what you think of your business, they don’t care what you want them to think about your business either.

Does it matter that you believe you’re telling the truth, when your prospects don’t? Sorry. Their perception is your reality. Did those families who found a parking lot full of motorcycles care that the owner didn’t think of his place as a biker hangout? They didn’t. They recognized The Big Lie. NO ONE CARES what YOU think about your business.

Now, if your ad sounds true, it has a chance. The more familiar that new statement sounds, the more comfortable people are accepting it. Jeffery and Brian Eisenberg put it this way in Call To Action – Secret Formulas To Improve Online Results:

Words and phrases that look or feel familiar will have more of an impact on people than the unfamiliar … Too often, people talk or write the way that makes them feel comfortable and ignore what is necessary to make the audience … be open to the message.”

Step back and take an objective look at your ads. From your prospective customer’s point of view, do your ads resonate with truth, or do they it cause dissonance and discomfort? Make them uncomfortable enough, they’ll assume you’re lying. And when prospects believe you lie, they don’t buy.

From time to time an advertiser will assume that if he tells The Big Lie, the “sheeple” will do what they’re told and come buy from him. When they don’t flock to his door, he blames the advertising. He’s right. Those ads don’t work. People are not stupid. They don’t trust advertisers who lie to them.

Still, when there’s enough money riding on new sales, it’s relatively easy to start believing what you want to believe.

It’s a simple thing, isn’t it? You hire a new agency, buy a TV campaign, get your product featured in the popular magazines. If they can’t do it, hire someone who can. No more excuses. Tell The Big Lie.

In the late sixties, GE, NCR, Zerox, and RCA all tried to challenge IBM for the computer mainframe business. They all thought of themselves as electronics manufacturers, and thought of computers as electronics devices.

Unfortunately purchasing agents didn’t equate mass-produced television sets with digital computers.

When “RCA, The Computer Company” was used as a slogan, the market responded “Don’t lie to me. RCA is not a computer company. RCA is a radio and TV company.” “NCR Means Computers” feels like The Big Lie. It must be a lie. We all know that NCR does not mean computers. NCR means cash registers. IBM means computers.

By the mid 70s GE, NCR, Zerox, and RCA were out of the computer business.

Their computer divisions weren’t killed by a competitor’s superior product. They were killed by bad advertising. The advertising was bad because it created an incompatibility with the truths already in the minds of the purchasers. “NCR means computers?” Sure. Sure, it does.

All through the 50s, the 60s, the 70s, Cadillac was the symbol of success. We’ve all heard other things of quality being described as “The Cadillac of….”

Unfortunately, it was the symbol of success for old people. The average age of a Cadillac owner was 61. When Baby Boomers went looking for an entry-level luxury car, they bought Saab, or BMW.

GM’s solution? Slap a Cadillac nameplate on a Chevy Cavalier, and call it the Cimarron. But, wait a minute. Cadillacs are big, they’re quiet, they’re luxurious. Ask any Cadillac owner. Ask any non-owner. The Cimarron? Not big. Not quiet. Not luxurious. Obviously, not a Cadillac. It’s The Big Lie.

It was an expensive lesson. You’d think GM would remember 1982. Nope. Gotta get the sales curve headed up. Gotta expand the market beyond old people. And when there’s enough money on the line, it’s easier to believe what you want to believe.

In 1997 GM decided Cadillac should make another attempt to capture the younger market. They called this one the Catera, “The Cadillac That Zigs.” Humm. A non-luxury Cadillac, with a big price tag, marketed to a younger audience? Bad car, or bad advertising?

Seen any Cateras lately?

Advertising can’t help your company by making claims that can’t / don’t / won’t be accepted by the marketplace. Advertising can’t fix a broken business… or a broken business plan.

How does Roxio intend to make Napster profitable as a paid download service, when the company’s identity is so closely tied to free file sharing? Can they overcome this major intellectual and emotional discord?

Overstock Dot Com may see themselves as a high-end retailer. They can run ads forever claiming “It’s all about the O.” Bad, out-of-date sexual reference aside, will consumers buy into a luxury image from a company named OVERSTOCK?

As my dear, sweet, saintly old Grandmother, Fanny McKay, used to say: “Wishin’ don’t make it so, and neither do massive amounts of gross ratings points.”

So here’s what you can do… must do: Make sure your ads build upon what the public believes about your business. Never contradict what they already know.

The only way to do that is to find your customers perceptions of you.

You’re not going to like what you find. THIS is what people really think of my company? I promise, your fist look through their eyes will be painful. Most of what disappoints you, though, will be small stuff. Grit your teeth. Dig deeper.

Find the nuggets… those reasons that your regular customers keep coming back. Find out what your existing customers believe they can’t find anywhere else. Ah. These are the truths you can use to build a long-term advertising campaign.

They’re the truths that a competitor can never take from you.


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Love And Indifference, Part 3

In Love And Indifference, Part 1 we learned that there are actually three groups of customers that do business with you, and they can be sorted by their personal experience with your company.

You’ll find those whom you’ve thrilled with your customer service are recommending you to their friends. Call them Customer Evangelists. Those at the other end of the emotional scale, whom you can expect to say negative things about you, we’re calling Vigilante Customers.

And the group in the middle? Those who’s basic expectations have been met? Nothing more, nothing less? Call them Passive Customers.

Passive Customers probably make up the majority of the folks who do business with you. They find you convenient, or someone else inconvenient, or maybe they buy from you because the cost of changing from you to a competitor is too high (in dollars, in inconvenience, or any other measure of value).

Make no mistake, these are not loyal customers. They’re here for now, because it’s less trouble than not being here. And yet, as the largest single group, these are the customers that most businesses count on for future growth. See the danger?

Passive Customers are neither going to bring you any referred business, nor cost you any. And the bad word-of-mouth of the Vigilante Customers is easily going to cancel out the positive recommendations of an equal number of Customer Evangelists.

This means you absolutley must have more Customer Evangelists than Vigilante Customers. Many more.

How many do you have? And how many more do you need? Those are numbers worth tracking, aren’t they? But how? How do you track the net positive effect of those Customer Evangelists who haven’t been cancelled by Vigilante Customers?

You’re going to do it by asking if they are willing to put their personal reputation and credibility on the line by recommending you. You’re going to ask customers to answer a simple, one-question survey of satisfaction. Give it to them at the conclusion of each transaction with your company.

The question?

On a scale of zero to ten, how likely are you to recommend us to your friends?”

That’s it. One simple question.

Your results will be more accurate if your customers are allowed to remain anonymous. Make sure that they know zero means “absolutely no chance it will happen,” and ten means “Count on me telling everyone I know.”

When you’ve tabulated a significant number of customer transactions, you’ll score the survey. Customer scores from zero through six you’ll put in the Vigilante Customer column. Scores of seven or eight get tabulated as Passive Customers. Those who’ve rated their experience with your company high enough to recommend you to their friends, the nines and tens, will be counted as Customer Evangelists.

Now add the columns. Put the total of Passive Customers aside. Subtract the Vigilante Customers from the Customer Evangelists. Express the result as a percentage of the total number of survey respondents.

This is the Magic Number that foretells your company’s future.

The median score for most businesses is a mere 16%, but high-growth companies will score 75% – 80%. If your score is below zero, start printing your resume, find a buyer, and get out, quick.

This single-question customer satisfaction survey is too simple not to use, and too important to ignore. Knowing your Magic Number is the surest way to manage the future financial health of your company.

When you mail invoices, enclose a post card that your customers can fill out anonymously and mail back. Hand that post card to customers who’ve just made a purchase. Ask them to circle the appropriate number and to anonymously drop the card into a padlocked box. As you finish dealing with customers over the phone, ask them to answer a one-question survey, switch the calls to an answering machine with the question, and record the answer. Place a pop-up questionnaire on your web site – one question, no personal information. If you’re gutsy, you can even go to your competitors businesses and conduct quick exit polls of their customers to see how satisfied his customers are, and compare.

Implement the survey. Get the information. Use it. Resist the temptation to add more questions. You’ll kill the response rate. This is not market research, it’s a management tool.

Keep a running total and share the current numbers with your employees. Tell ’em the number of Vigilante Customers, the number of Passive Customers, and the number of Customer Evangelists, as well as the Magic Number for last week, or last month, or yesterday… whatever adds up to enough responses for an accurate sampling.

Ask your staff for great customer service stories. Share them with the other employees. Reward exceptional customer service.

Disappointed in your score? Time to re-focus on how to delight your customers and exceed their expectations. Make them eager to spread the word about their experience with you.

Some companies make this Magic Number the crucial measure of employee competence. Enterprise Rent-A-Car, for instance, refuses to promote branch managers who’s branch scores are below the company average.

As happened in Love And Indifference, Part 2, serendipity again stepped in with another example. About an hour ago, the lovely Mrs. McKay got an e-mail from Blockbuster Online:

Hello Allyson, you may have noticed a delay in the shipment of your DVDs early last week. And, by now, we hope you’re enjoying the extra discs we sent you as a token of our appreciation of your patience. Once we identified and fixed the problem that caused your delay, we immediately sent you TWICE the number of titles you were to have received. We realize the extra DVDs may temporarily find you with more movies out than typically allowed by your rental plan. Simply enjoy the extra movies and return them at your convenience.”

Delight? Absolutely. Exceeding expectations? No Doubt.

Pity they didn’t ask her how likely she is to recommend them to her friends.

Then again, perhaps they will.

Click here for Love And Indifference, Part 2

Click here for Love And Indifference, Part 1


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Love And Indifference, Part 2

I had just posted Love And Indifference, when two oddly-related things happened. First, my copy of Mike Dandridge’s book, Thinking Outside The Bulb, The Art of Creating an Amazing Customer Experience, arrived in the mail.

In chapter 48 of Thinking Outside The Bulb, Mike stated:

“Satisfaction is the bare minimum, the baseline, for customer retention, but it’s no guarantee of your customer’s business tomorrow. Think about it this way, your customer can be satisfied with your company and your competitors at the same time.

“Customer satisfaction simply isn’t enough to keep your clients from switching to a competitor when they perceive a better offer. Note that “better offer” doesn’t always mean cheaper price. In fact, though price may sometimes drive a customer to make the initial purchase from a business, it has almost no effect on retaining that same customer.

“So what keeps customers coming back? According to Gallup surveys, customer loyalty is the main component that drives repeat purchases. And what’s the biggest factor in building customer loyalty?

“You are.

“Gallup found that customers who felt “strongly positive” about the people they bought from were twelve times more likely to continue to buy.”

Then, a matter of hours later, Jeff Eisenberg, co-author of Persuasive On-Line Copywriting and the just published Call To Action, sent me a copy of a Fredrick Reichheld article titled The One Number You Need To Grow, published by the Harvard Business review.

Reichheld reported the results of a study in which the satisfaction of 4,000 individuals was compared to their purchase history over a six to twelve month period.

First, a definition. Loyalty is the willingness of someone – a customer, an employee, a friend – to make an investment or personal sacrifice in order to strengthen a relationship. For a customer, that can mean sticking with a supplier who treats him well and gives him good value in the long term even if the supplier does not offer the best price in a particular transaction.

“Consequently, customer loyalty is about much more than repeat purchases. Indeed, even someone who buys again and again from the same company may not necessarily be loyal to that company but instead may be trapped by inertia, indifference, or exit barriers erected by the company of circumstance.…Conversely, a loyal customer may not make frequent repeat purchases because of a reduced need for a product or service.”

Reichheld concluded:

Loyal customers talk up a company to their friends, family, and colleagues. In fact, such a recommendation is one of the best indicators of loyalty because of the customer’s sacrifice, if you will, in making the recommendation. When customers act as references, they do more than indicate they’ve received good economic value from the company; they put their own reputations on the line. And they will risk those reputations only if they feel intense loyalty. …

“The tendency of loyal customers to bring in new customers – at no charge to the company – is particularly beneficial as a company grows, especially if it operates in a mature industry. In such a case, the tremendous marketing costs of acquiring each new customer through advertising and other promotions make it hard to grow profitably. In fact, the only path to profitable growth may lie in a company’s ability to get it’s loyal customers to become, in effect, its marketing department.”

Very interesting. How does one go about turning satisfied customers into your company’s marketing department?

You won’t find the answer in a “customer loyalty program.”

Dandridge gave us two clues: “you are the biggest factor in building customer loyalty.” and “customers who felt ‘strongly positive’ about the people they bought from were twelve times more likely to continue to buy.

We’ll be discussing the answer, and it’s implementation, in Part 3 of Love and Indifference.

Click here for Love And Indifference, Part 3

Click here for Love And Indifference, Part 1

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When You Lie To Prospects

We all carry around fragments of things we almost remember. For instance, I can just about recall a statement David Ogilvy made in the late 70’s. I’ve been a fan of Ogilvy since I happened across a copy of Confessions Of An Advertising Man in Bismarck, North Dakota’s Owl Bookstore back in 1975.

As I recall, (and this entire statement is subject to revision when I finally find the exact quote) Ogilvy was addressing the American Association of Advertising Agencies when he said “There isn’t a school of advertising worth a damn* anywhere in the world, and I’ll contribute the first $10,000 if someone will start one.”

He later commented that making such an outrageous statement at least twice per decade is enough to keep any public figure in the public eye.

Perhaps the owners of Salary Dot Com are also fans of David O. It seems that they also make outrageous statements for publicity purposes. Shall we look at their statement?

On Monday, May 2, Salary Dot Com claimed that, based on the work she performs, the average stay-at-home Mom should be earning $131,471 per year.

As you may expect, this statement got them publicity. I became aware of it on a segment of Good Morning America.

However, I’m one of those skeptical types who just can’t accept any claim without doing the math.** (My friends frequently don’t appreciate this aspect of my personality. My clients usually do).

Salary Dot Com made some assumptions: that without any preparation for the job, without training, without a degree or a license, without a demonstration of skills or even references, they have assumed an entry level mother should receive a base pay of $21.73 per hour. They then assume she’ll put in 54 hours of overtime per week. Yougottabekiddinme.

The article further assumes two school-aged children. What does Mom do while they’re in school? Doesn’t Dad have any interraction with his kids? Mom has sole custody, never takes a break, and she and the kids never go to sleep? At $32.60 per overtime hour we need to start docking this woman for television time, telephone time, and the time it takes to read an occasional Redbook.

And finally, Salary Dot Com has assumed that our entry-level Mom could find simultaneous part-time jobs in the workforce as a nurse, and as a daycare center teacher, as a chauffeur, and as a CEO… with no training or experience in any of these careers… while earning as much as people who have chosen those career paths and work those jobs full time. I personally know several CEOs who earn much less than the $612,623 assumed by Salary Dot Com. I would also ask for validation of their assumed salaries for “van driver,” “nurse,” and “general maintenance worker.”

Ok… I reject their assumptions, which means that I also reject their conclusion. Everything from this point forward is based on my observations of the workforce. Your actual milage may vary.

Without training or demonstrable skills a person accepting an entry-level job can expect to start at about $7.00 per hour. Annual salary based on a forty-hour week equals $14,000. As for overtime, shall we be generous and say 25 hours a week? At time and a half ($10.50/hour) add another $13,650 per year.

That’s a total of $27,650 for a live-in housekeeper, cook, and babysitter. I’m reasonably sure that a typical family could find such a person on the open market.

Of course, we’d probably have to deduct our live-in housekeeper, cook, and babysitter’s clothing, her automobile, it’s insurance, her health insurance, and her retirement program. Oh, and let’s not forget that as an employee she wouldn’t be entitled to half of Dad’s net worth.

$131,470 per year my… foot.

Verisimilitude. The appearance of truth.

We started this essay discussing partial memories. If you only remember part of what I wrote today, please remember this: Chuck McKay is not anti-stay-at-home-mom. My mother was a single parent long before it became fashionable. We’d have loved for her to be able to stay at home.

My purpose in writing this is to point out that Salary Dot Com has made an irrational claim that they can’t validate.

In other words, they lied.

They might call it a promotional stunt. I call it lying.

I can no longer trust any information posted on their site.

This is what happens when you make unsubstantiated claims which don’t “ring true” with people’s life experiences. They believe that you lied. They conclude that you can’t be trusted. They quietly decide to never do business with you.

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* I wonder what David Ogilvy would have thought of Wizard Academy.

** I also do the math on public service announcements. Nearly as I can tell, based on the projections being made in the 80’s, the last square mile of Brazilian rainforest disappeared in 1987, and the last American became homeless in 1998. It probably didn’t make the news because the last American would have died of Aids two years earlier.


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Love And Indifference, Part 1

You’ve heard it said that when you please a customer she’ll tell an average of three other people, but when you disappoint her she’ll tell twenty. It’s not true. You may have even heard me say it. Sorry. It wasn’t true then, either.

Oh, you can bank on the part about unhappy customers telling twenty friends. But you see, it’s not the happy customers, but rather the customers who have merely had their basic expectations met, who will tell three others.

It comes down to personal experience doesn’t it? When you thrill shoppers with their purchases and the way they are treated, they are likely to become customer evangelists. They’ll be out preaching the gospel of your company and winning converts to whatever the degree of their persuasiveness. Will they tell twenty others? Highly probable.

But the extremely displeased group turn into vigilante customers. In their minds they’ve been wronged. You could just as well have “Wanted, Dead or Alive” posters up with your name on ’em, ’cause they’re out to get’cha. Tell twenty more? Count on it.

Is the opposite of love, hate? Nope. Love and hate are very much the same. Both are expressions of extreme emotional involvement with someone else. As any small child instinctively understands, the opposite of love is being ignored. The opposite of love is indifference.

And we certainly have enough indifferent customers. They form the third group: those who’s expectations have been neither exceeded nor violated. Because they don’t complain, you’ve been assuming that they’re happy. They are not. They’re merely indifferent. They don’t love you. They don’t hate you. Mostly, they just don’t care that much.

When asked “where did you buy that?” they’ll likely mention your store. Then, because they have no emotional involvement, they’ll forget about you. Tell three? If you’re lucky. Quite possibly they won’t think about recommending you at all.

Unless, of course, you manage to thrill them, to delight them, to please them to the point that they can’t wait to tell everyone they know about their personal experience with you.

How much delight can you offer?

Click here for Love And Indifference, Part 2


Earlier today, Bryan and Jeff Eisenberg’s new book, Call to Action: Secret Formulas to Improve Online Results, went on sale at Amazon Dot Com and has already shot to fifth place on Amazon’s best-seller list.

Download a few sample chapters and see for yourself why this book may be one of the most important you read this year.


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