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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: September 2007

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Seven fresh ideas to better your business

Broken eyeglasses could be quick cash; check your postal times; more.

[componentheading]MENTIONABLES[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Make ‘Em Talk[/contentheading]

For the last few years, every business-advice book and consultant has touted word-of-mouth advertising. But apart from typically inane advice like “do it through a relentless focus on excellence,” few have suggested how you can really generate it. Made to Stick authors Chip and Dan Heath come closer with their “105 percent rule.” The 5 percent refers to the little things that will make you stand out from the crowd and which should be part of any product or service design process. In a Fast Company column, they cite several examples, including: Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, OR, whose voodoo-doll-shaped doughnuts bleed jelly when stuck with a pretzel pin; and Innocent Drinks, a British smoothie maker that hires grannies to knit little woolly hats for its winter drinks (so the bottles don’t catch a cold). Now that’s giving ’em something to talk about.

[componentheading]PERSUASIVE BREW[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Gain Influence[/contentheading]

Your brilliant new marketing strategy for the holidays is a sure winner but your staff just can’t see the big picture. What to do? Drug them … with caffeine. A moderate dose of caffeine (about two cups of coffee) might make them see your side, according to research published in The European Journal of Social Psychology. The study found that in addition to boosting alertness, caffeine increases the ability to be influenced. “It’s most effective in the morning, so for the sake of argument, deliver that java early,” advised Working Mother, citing the survey.

[componentheading]SPEEDY DELIVERY[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Best Time To Go Postal[/contentheading]

The best way to avoid those long lines at the post office is to find out when your local branch opens (generally between 7-9 a.m.) and get there about 30 minutes later. USPS spokes-person Monica Suraci told Real Simple there’s often a crowd at the door when post offices open, which usually fades by mid-morning. Avoid lunch time and the end of the workday.

[componentheading]THE VISION THING[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Offer A Fix[/contentheading]

Got a fancy laser welder that’s not getting as much use as it could? How about offering to fix customers’ broken eyeglasses? “It’s a great customer service for someone who is in an emergency situation,” says the Tidwell family, which owns Bell Jewelers, in Murfreesboro, TN.

[componentheading]VIRTUAL REPUTATION[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Build Your Image[/contentheading]

Believe it or not, Google Maps does have a more important function than allowing you to gaze at rooftops — it serves as the search giant’s local directory. Recently it started showing user reviews in its business listings, so recruit some of your best customers to sing your praises. It’s a simple process: Just surf to your store’s listing, click on the “write a review” link that appears in the bubble and you’re in business. If you haven’t already listed your store in Google Maps, do it now at www.google.com/local/add.

[componentheading]TOUCHDOWN[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Make It A Game[/contentheading]

While doing research for Tip Sheet, we inadvertantly strayed into the Philadelphia Inquirer’s sports archives, where a story about Terrell Owens’s acrimonious move from the Eagles to the Dallas Cowboys caught our attention. Asked before the start of last season how he’d handle Owens — widely viewed as a non-team player — Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said the key to dealing with high-performing but high-maintenance individuals is to appeal to their competitive side. “Show them the carrot. Make everything a game. And don’t sweat the small stuff,” he said. Parcells has since left the team, and the Cowboys had a mediocre season, but Owens did top the league in touchdown receptions and delayed potentially season-ending surgery on a finger to help his team-mates. Got a superstar on your sales team who needs some direction? Show them the carrot.

[componentheading]EXPERT TESTIMONY[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Solicit Stories[/contentheading]

For a creative format for a testimonial web page, check out www.zippostories.com from famed lighter company Zippo. Click on any lighter on the page and you read a different customer’s Zippo tale. You could, as Zippo does, let website visitors fill in their own stories about their experience with your products. Or take it a step further and use the actual piece one of your customers bought. Then take it another step further, and include story, pictures, and even video with each testimonial. Get your webmaster to work! (You may want to reserve the right to edit the stories though.)

[span class=note]This story is from the September 2007 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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