Monday, February 9, 2009


Hello, it me again. If you’ve been hearing about this thing called word of mouth marketing then you may have asked yourself (or anyone within earshot) ... so, what’s the deal?
I know I did! I was at the bookstore in the marketing section and there was a book entitled Word of Mouth Marketing.
“Oh Great! Another trend someone’s trying to sell everyone.”
That’s what I thought fair and square and I’m not afraid to admit it.

I was there to research books on how to market to women, you know... those folks who make 85% of all the buying decisions in the US? Yeah, you and me, baby! So I moved on, and found a book called “JUST ASK A WOMAN” by Mary Lou Quinlan. GREAT BOOK by the way!!! If you are a woman or you engage with women in your work, do yourself a favour and read it.

Anyway, between her book and several others I inhaled right there at the store, that ‘trendy’ book I scoffed flashed before my eyes and I connected the dots in a big way. Here’s a clue-glue...

Women talk! They (we) share information like nobody’s business. We research on-line and gather as much information as we can (for free), and then we talk to each other to gather feedback and bounce our ideas off other minds. When we finally do call the store to ask questions we are paying close attention to the way we are treated when we do.
• Are they polite?
• Do they answer my questions patiently?
• Is it safe to ask a silly question?
• Would I recommend this place to my friends?
• Is it comfortable here and is the staff comfortable to be around?
• Do they care about what I want or are they just interested in the sale?

I know! We are ruthless aren’t we? But, these are the things that are important to us. Remember, we are predisposed to making certain that the world is a friendly place to live in, for our kids, as much as for ourselves and others we care about.

If you are a man reading this and you’ve gotten this far, then I suspect that your female market either already loves you or is going to love you very soon. If you are still reading this, then it can only mean one thing. You are brilliant! If you sincerely care about what keeps us up at night, and understand our constant quest for value and safety, we will make sure you not only stay in business, but we’ll tell all our friends about you too because we want you to be around for a very long time.
Your success is near.

Word of mouth marketing is undeniably powerful for countless reasons, but it is key to how women decide what they buy, and from whom. It’s as old a method of decision making for us as it is for safety-making and community-building. It is every bit part and parcel of the same because sharing information is how we begin, engage in, and monitor most everything.

Okay, I know I’ve focused here on marketing to women but here’s the catch... and it’s a good one so pay attention. In learn how to market to women, you will begin to notice that it also works for male consumers.

The not-so-good news is that if you stick to traditional male oriented marketing i.e. scare-tactics, and high-pressure, you may close a few guys and maybe even a woman here or there, but you are operating on borrowed time with those old modalities. What’s worse, your customers are not going to give you their trust or their loyalty. And why should they? Your service or product will suffice only if there isn’t another option available when they need it.

And, women will buy from someone else if they think they have a any choice at all. If they do buy from a scare and close business you can be sure she probably doesn’t think she has a choice. And that, to me, is a horrible thought.

Here’s the deal. Today, choices are abundant. With the internet making products and services available to us right in our homes consumers really can’t complain about scarcity anymore. If we can think it up, we can Google it, and come up with something. For entrepreneurs and business owners, standing-out from the competition is becoming more challenging as we move forward into a time of ever-evolving-internet sophistication. Particularly if you are shy about learning online methods of connecting to your market.

But all is not lost because the thing that the internet cannot give your market is the personal touch, the human factor, the warmth of connecting with others who care about their needs and not just about closing the deal impersonally. This is the opportunity you are looking for to stand out from the rest. Here is your lottery-ticket.

Get your toes wet with a Custom Audio Interview (with you as the interviewed expert) Attach the sound file or Mp3 to your website, emails, blog or social networking groups. Use it for PR or sell it on iTunes for Profit! It's easy and its way fun!!!

The internet will go on; ever increasing opportunities for consumers to consume will evolve. Your marketing edge is in adding the human-factor BACK into the ocean of internet options. It’s that simple and it’s a win-win, for you and for your market.

Oddly, old school values are particularly important today where the internet leans toward the impersonal.
Today’s consumer is desperately seeking:

1. Someone they can trust (to give them straight answers)
2. Someone to answer their questions when they have them
3. Safety (to ask questions, look at options, decide)
4. Loyalty (they want to give you their loyalty... it’s easier)
5. Innovation (give them the best, & the latest so they don’t have to think about it)
6. A unique experience (the new criteria)
7. Value (more important today not to hold back)
8. Comfort (make it as pleasant and as easy as possible)

Become your consumer’s safety net, become your market’s super-hero, and become -as it were- their soft place to fall! You cannot go wrong from there. Garner their undying trust and long-term loyalty show them that you are, at every moment, their champion. No matter how successful you are today, there is still no place to go from where ever you are but up!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

How to Keep your Success-Navigator Ship-Shape

How do you define success? Where in your life are you burning most to succeed? Is it in your relationships? Achieving balance? Finding the perfect way to serve your community? Even if you think you know the answer, and we all think we know, it is worth asking the question over and over again. If we don’t want to ask ourselves this every day, then perhaps once a week will suffice.

The reason is simple. We tend to get distracted from our course in increments that are not obvious enough to notice at first. So asking ourselves this question regularly helps to keep our track clean and it helps to keep us current. Creating success from a vision we had a year ago -or even three months ago- can actually hemorrhage energy and enthusiasm for the journey.

So, how do you define success from here; today? Perhaps it is the right career, or greater satisfaction and reward from the one you have right now. To athletes, success can mean obtaining that gold medal, to parents’ success can mean raising children with good moral values, to doctors, success can mean saving a life and to some it can mean a job promotion or acquiring wealth. You get the idea.

Why is success often difficult to achieve? One reason is that the definition -whatever it may be- has an expiration date. We tend to define success from a perspective that is rooted in the conditions we were in when we dreamt it up. So the impetus for our vision of success, to a greater or lesser extent, is simply a reaction to those conditions. In fact, you could substitute the word Success for Solution.

Success, whilst we want it to be fun, and to present countless opportunities for fulfillment and happiness it is also, and without exception, a perceived solution to something we wish to avoid ...or protect ourselves from.

When the conditions we wish to avoid shift, even slightly, the original impetus begins to lose its relevance. How we get there, our sense of urgency around it, and perhaps even how we feel about the pursuit itself, will begin to shift also. If we continue to assume we still know what success is, (based on conditions that are no longer apply in quite the same anymore) we allow a kind of rift to develop between us and our facility to get there. The dynamics or issues that no longer apply to the present still influence us. But like a ship's navigator who continues to use the departing port as the solo point of reference rather than including calculations for where the ship is currently, your deviation from a true trojectory for success will take on tremendous significance over the course of your journey. You can bet that you will not get where you a want to… fulfillment and happiness.

Ask yourself often to assess your success/solution for changes. This practice alone will help you manage the build-up of irrelevant information that no longer applies. It will position you to more efficiently see the forces actually at work in your life at any given time. Save yourself the trouble of it getting in your way through old wounds, painful memories or a fear whose main power is the fear itself. These will only take you off course as you travel and make your task harder. They will force you to take longer, and in the end there is a very high risk that they will maneuver you somewhere that, for you, turns out to be no ‘solution’ at all.

Those who walk through life making an attempt to accomplish “success” through someone else’s standards or through the standards of one’s society will never ‘feel’ successful, and even worse, they will never be fulfilled. Hence the ones who say, “… and when I achieved everything I set out to achieve, I found I was still not happy.”

Friday, January 16, 2009

How to Leverage Internet Reviews and Client Testimonials

Has a negative on-line client review cost your company business?
That game can be played both ways!
Learn to leverage the most powerful and effective PR tool available today!

Have you felt the sharp bit of a bad online review? Did you know that everyone in the world can see it just by Goggling your name?

I know at least one excellent, five star firm that has lost business on more than one occasion due to one bad review on Well sure, It would be great if this was a freak thing. It would be great if everyone just realized how much damage is done to just one business, even when its undeserved. After all, what recourse does the average contractor or small business owner have to refute the damage done by disgruntled voice?

Don't get me wrong. I think this kind of reviewing has its place and value, and it came about as a result of consumer's need for safety, to keep vendors honest, and standards up through unsolicited feedback. But when it cuts undeservedly, it cuts deeply. In the case of the company I mentioned above, I happen to know that the company was never even hired by the reviewer. Still, that reviewer decided to leave a scathing 'review' on a very public venue. The likelihood that this will happen to you will become more likely over the next several years as it is a highly available way for consumers to vent, lash out, or praise, and all in a way that is truly effective, which ever their intent.

If you are a contractor or a subcontractor, you need to read the next sentence:
This is today's most powerful opportunity for free advertizing merely riding in on the back of a large, dark horse.

The writing is on the wall with online communities like Facebook, Angie's List, Yelp and LinkdIn. If you doubt this then you are in denial. This form of 'pre-qualifying' will continue to grow in influence. On the other hand, if you recognize the incredible opportunity to leverage these very venues then you are way ahead of the rest already... IF you actually do it.

Here's the deal: PR is no longer about just having a sign painted on the side of your truck, or business cards, or an embroidered logo on your crew's work-shirts. It's no longer just about placing an ad in some publication and hopping for the best.
Today it's about press releases, Moms clubs, and using internet technology as a mega partner in growing your bottom-line faster than before and more easily.

Two things you need to think about:

1. Word of mouth marketing is the fastest growing and most effective marketing trend today.

2. Irresistible-client-care beyond the project will give people something they can't stop talking about. Count on it!

Because of the internet, our public profiles no longer have a small foot-print. When we succeed big the world will know; when we mess up... well the world will know, because you can bet your bottom dollar someone will tell!

To double-end your campaign, here's what you do BEFORE they do:

1. Gather great Client testimonials, like they are going out of season!
You can use the ones you want and not the ones you don't. Aim for every positive client you have now, had in the past, and ever will have. Make it your standard operating procedure (SOP) and do it without fail.

2. Have them write out their testimonial and then if at all possible have them record it.
You can easily set up an online audio recorder. I use AudioAcrobat and I love them. I did everything myself within 20 minutes and now its done for ever. Every step was explained. I can help with questions for further information if you email me. You will be provided a phone number and extension that anyone can dial, from anywhere, to leave a winning testimonial.

Take a look at my testimonial landing-page. You will notice that there is a phone number and simple instruction to follow. Try it out yourself to see what your own clients might experience if they were calling to leave youa tentimonial. While you are there, take a moment and leave me a brief comment if my article is helpful.

2b. Attach the testimonial recordings, with text and client photo (were possible) to your web-site.
Don't forget to plug just one testimonial link into your email signature and e-card. This way you send out a testimonial about you every time you email anyone.

3. Ask clients to sign up with, Angie's List and other online consumer venues, to leave a positive review.
This is just as important as attaching gathering testimonials directly.These consumer venues are typically free for consumers so it's pretty painless. If they are not on-line savvy you may ask their permission to enter their written testimonial onto these venues for them, in their name and with their contact information.

N.B. It's best if they do this themselves, however. You can make a standard set of instructions (to 2-3 websites) and give it to each client to make it too easy for them NOT to follow.

Petalyn Swart Albert CPCC is a Life Transitions and Change-Managment life coach. Your comments and questions and comments may be email to Petalyn directly at:
Her Her web address is

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How to Survive Solo-preneurial Isolation.

Success Buster #1
Working Hard All by Yourself?

I'll be honest, as a designated free-spirit and lifelong work-alone kind of gal, I'm no longer a big fan of the maverick’s rule of life, liberty, and the lone pursuit of wealth. Lone methods are about as irrelevant to building a business or a hot-product today, as Eastwood’s lone gun-slinging ways (back in his Wild West spaghetti flicks days) are irrelevant to teaching kids how to smile and play nice. I believe that being a recovering maverick qualifies me to say that without apology.

Even positive thinking (all alone) won’t get you where you want to be. The law of attraction, powerful as it is, still needs some good old-fashioned shoulder rubbing to do its best work. The issues of the day demonstrate a transition from macroscopic globalization, to microscopic co-operation at the community level. The me generations and their direct ascendants grew up to feel entitled to autonomy, independence, and unapologetic wealth. Not entirely a bad thing necessarily, these expectations have taught us not to settle for less than...

Speaking strictly in terms of cause and effect, with the ebb and flow associated with all things non-mechanical kept in mind, this entitlement attitude may have come as a final accent to the 50's backlash of the post Great-Depression, Second World War. After all, part and parcel of continued bona fide ‘prosperity’ means never having to relive the bad times, right? Not ours, not our parents, and not even our grandparent's. Or so we think. When we operate from auto-pilot, we tend to behave as though joy means the absence of sorrow, and wealth as the absence of necessary inter-dependence.

The economic issues of today ask us an important question; can we afford this attitude anymore? The news, life-experience, and the wisdom of those who are radically successful, show that success is not simply a matter of having a valuable expertise, or possessing enviable knowledge. Your knowledge or service is probably well worth the world’s time to know about, but your success really depends on WHO you know.

I know! I used to hate even the sound that those words make together in the same sentence. It simply wasn’t fair, I thought. Nevertheless, it was true then and it is still true today, whether we accept it or not. The simple difference between accepting and not accepting it is that by not accepting it we make our dreams that much less attainable. Plus, it put us in an overwhelming position to have to think of and do everything ourselves. Contrary to the popular reasoning of the over-achiever this does not save time in the long run!

Not only is this a lonely way to work, but it is impossible. And even if you are the nicest person in the world it is both an arrogant and selfish attitude to operate from. So again, who we know and the quality of our interactions with them, create either success or lonely frustration.

Let me ask you a quick question. Have you ever awakened one day to the dreaded feeling that you missed a great opportunity the night before? Maybe it was a moment to just show you care, a thoughtful act, a promotion, or an opportunity to meet someone really interesting. Maybe you turned down an invitation to take part in something that could help you build a number of dynamic relationships.

As a natural introvert I certainly have. Introvert or extrovert aside, we all have, and we’ve all pondered where we might be now if we had just taken up the offer, or followed through with a new aquaintance.

All day, every day new opportunities present themselves. So it is important for anyone who uses, (or wants to learn more about) online marketing to support their business to understand when, where, and how on-line marketing happens, and how to seize the opportunities they come with. But, we first be able to spot their potential.

These days, I'm big on creating business alliances with other entrepreneurs with the strict criteria that the alliance benefits both of us and our accessibility to the public. If we develop an ethic of co-prosperity, we set up a spontaneous set of conditions that radically excite the Law of Attraction. Further, we anchor the influence of this law through altruistic co-operation and co-creating. The impact on our lives and on those around us is bigger, broader, deeper, richer and more profound than anything most of us can do alone.

Take the theory of six degrees of separation. According to Wikipedia:

“…This refers to the idea that, if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is no more than six "steps" away from each person on Earth.

Whether this theory is accurate or not, you can begin to see the theory behind venues like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The longer you hang in there the more people you will know. Let’s take Facebook, for instance; the more you connect with the folks on there, and invite friends of your friends to become your friend too, the more your contacts grow to include people you’d never have met otherwise. So, the take-away from this simple point is, that opportunities are indeed out there, and it is profoundly illuminating when we take a little time to experience this. If you do take the time, you too will experience the effect of the Six degrees of separation theory. It will begin to sink in that people aren't as far away as we had thought them to be and, they are more accessible to you than ever before through the internet. Cultivating relationships builds businesses faster, and increases the energy needed to go all the way.

Think of it, a mutual agreement with boundless benefits all around, could be just one or two conversations away. Your success-ally could be just around the corner. You may even already know them.

Irresistible question:

1. Who do you know now who through the art of mutual co-operation and co-creation could help catapult both your businesses to the next level of success?

2. How long might it take you to do the same thing alone?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Currency of a Meaningful Experience

Perhaps you heard it too. In the news a couple of days ago the message was about the new client base for a service usually associated with the rich. In these tough economic times department stores like Macy’s, Nordstrom (and even some others one wouldn’t have considered) are now offering the services of their personal shoppers to folks like you and me.

Perhaps these retailers are taking McKinsey & Company's advice from their December 2008 quarterly report Leading Through Uncertainty, that, "...organizations must [begin to]think expansively about the possibilities." The report was speaking specifically about redefining old models for conducting business in this unusual economy.

B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore introduce their collaborative book, Authenticity, What Consumers Really Want (find under My Favorites in right-hand column)in this way,(published by Harvard Business Press)
"Goods and services are no longer enough; what consumers want today are experiences— memorable events that engage them in an inherently personal way.
...People now decide where and when to spend their money and their time—the currency of experiences—as much if not more than they deliberate on what and how to buy...
But in a world increasingly filled with deliberately and sensationally staged experiences— an increasingly unreal world— consumers choose to buy or not buy based on how real they perceive an offering to be. Business today, therefore, is all about being real. Original. Genuine. Sincere. Authentic."

A passage from another HBP publication The Greater Good, indeed, focuses on the greater good that is fundamental to the best among contemporary marketing strategies. John A. Quelch says, "This sought-after advantage invariably stems from gaining insights into explicit and latent customer needs; from launching products and services that leverage these insights; from... communicating... to customers [and]...managing customer relationships."

So, the writing is on the wall wouldn't you say? The blaring message is everywhere if you are looking with a discerning eye. It will serve us to keep ourselves tuned into the right information that will shape our businesses and how we see ourselves as entrepreneurs who provide true service. We will begin to recognize ourselves as providers of what people really want from us; a innovative level of care they dared not dream of before. That is, of course, in addition to what they should and have traditionally expected for their money. It is a better world in the making. The only question is this: will you be among the first to capitalize on it or will you wait and watch others do it instead?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The New Plumb Line for Customer Service

Brilliant remodel professionals are redefining the traditional idea of customer service. They are heading toward something I call Client-Super-Care. Though only an elite few are turning up the personal in personal-service, these amazing contractors understand what word of mouth marketing (WOMM) research is just beginning to prove. Turning an otherwise happy client into a champion is profitable, and is the fast track to prequalifying clients. Extraordinary success no longer lies just in a job well done in relatively good time. That's being done by a fair number of professionals at every level and size in your area. It lies, rather, in the level of personal care you provide that others do not. It lies in your strategy to build relationships that are intended to last a lifetime, not just for the length of the job and perhaps one or two referrals.

“Long after people forget what you did for them they will remember how you made them feel.” Walt Disney

If you are a contractor then you know only too well just how true this is. So the idea of launching a client care strategy in this industry is brilliant, it’s smart, and it’s too fresh not to grow wings everywhere. There are many great companies out there doing great work; those who gross half a million per year to those who get up to 44 Million. However, today, few focus with equal facility to their production skills on the warm art of building relationships and with clients.

You might be thinking “That all sounds great, but my focus is in providing a great finished product to my clients. After all, their hiring a contractor to remodel their home within a budget, they’re not hiring a friend to hold their hand, and serve them dinner just because they want their kitchen remodeled”.

Ah… but is that really the whole truth? Actually remodeling homeowners want more. They’re just afraid to take their eyes off the ball in case someone drops it. A higher level of client care often helps clients relax more because they experience the feeling of having their contractor guard their back. There’s no mystery really, homeowners are often full of fear because of the tales they’ve been told and because they feel alone in their decisions …and in their mistakes. In terms of a remodeling, no matter where a mistake originated, fixing it can be expensive for both the contractor and the client. So, random acts of care and reassurance from get-go and throughout goes a long, long way.

Here’s a story that will show you exactly what I mean.

A client of mine (we’ll call her Lisa) was remodeling her kitchen. So naturally it was gutted. She had a micro-wave, barbeque and a small guestroom refrigerator set up in the laundry room to get her family through the months of being kitchen-less. Now, getting to this make-shift kitchen /laundry-room required climbing and descend twelve steps several times a day. Meal planning, grocery shopping and food-storage took on several logistical complications. Canned and dry goods stood everywhere in the laundry-room. And, the actual laundry itself? …Forget about it!

There was no place to chop, slice, or dice, and after she managed to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner, she had the back-breaking reward of washing the dishes in the guestroom bath-tub. The image of their new kitchen helped keep things in perspective for this family of four (most of the time), and like most people they learned to cope. Even though it can feel like forever it won’t be, they told themselves.

Then one day something happened. It was only the second week into the project when the doorbell rang. She went to answer it and found a FedEx box sitting there at the threshold. Apparently it was from a known ‘Gourmet Meals by Mail’ establishment. When she opened that box she found seven days of dinners for her whole family. The note inside was from her contractor, and it said,

“We hope this helps you take a break sometimes.
With Warmest wishes,
From the staff of Team Construction.”

Can you imagine the kudos that her contractor earned? Not to mention the staying-power of those kudos. With less than a couple-hundred bucks and one thoughtful act he won a very loyal client, and a strong champion of his company for life. He is an Irresistible Contractor! The word of mouth buzz that my client initiated with everyone she told was set ablaze… and believe me, she told everyone!

More to the point, how will you stand out from your worthy competition when everyone is hungry for work? I know you don’t want to put peers you respect out of business, but you’ve got to eat, pay your bills, and the kids will likely go to college one day, am I right? If you had to choose who had the advantage to getting work, you or your peers, who would you pick? I am going to assume that “Me, naturally!” will be your answer.

Let’s face it, there are people who refer us, and then there are people who champion us because somehow we touched them in some simple way that they never seem to forget. Which kind of contractor would you rather be? What kind of clients would you rather have and create? How many clients would you have to surprise or touch in some way before you had standing room only to your office door? What if you started with the clients you have right now? What about former clients?

Irresistible Question (IQ) #1:
How much advertizing money would you have to spend to get this kind of advocacy and good will?