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Automation Competition Customer service Marketing Technology The Slight Edge

Even a car wash has a loyalty program. You should too.

Cincinnati-based Proctor and Gamble owns Mr. Clean car washes, an extension of their Mr Clean brand that expanded into the profitable car wash supply market a few years ago – and tripled the revenue from their oldest brand. Wouldn’t you like to triple the revenue from your oldest brand after 50 years? Count me in:)

Like any smart business, they have instituted a car wash loyalty program, which is briefly mentioned in a Cincinnati Enquirer story about the new car wash: http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070720/BIZ01/307200033 ( archived at http://www.rescuemarketing.com/MrCleanWashingCars.pdf, just in case they delete the article )

Even though the Mr Clean car wash concept is new and only at one location so far, they’ve already signed up 400 loyalty program members.

I wonder if they are missing THE key element that is critical to their success in generating profits from a loyalty program…

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Automation Marketing Retail Software The Slight Edge

Outdoor businesses can make it easier to Pay, Pal.

A few posts ago, I mentioned making it easier for your customers to buy.

PayPal recently announced they have done just that – by offering PayPal payment capabilities for mobile phones that have browser capabilities.

My first thought was trade shows, but cell coverage inside trade show halls borders on worthless in many cases. A few other things quickly came up that made good sense…

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Automation Entrepreneurs Marketing Sales Software The Slight Edge

Make it easy to buy

One of the things I like to pound into your head with the subtlety of a ball peen hammer tapping on your forehead the morning after your 21st birthday is making it easy to buy.

Joel just did that, finally.

One of the differences you’ll find from a company doing ok in a business and another one doing really well in that same business is how easy it is for you to buy from them.

I’m talking about things like…

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Automation Entrepreneurs Mark Riffey

Know your customer – again…

Had a rather uneventful weekend in Conrad MT (yes, another swim meet) this weekend – which is a good thing, though I did manage to stop in and get a picture of “the convenience store sign” on the way there.

NOTE: Beverage dispensers (mainstream ones – not ones that you cant typically get parts for) that were down last weekend at this store were still down this weekend. So much for “most improved”.

Since everyone in Conrad seemed to be doing well business-wise this week, let’s join the frenzy that’s talking about the new Apple iPhone. Hey – everyone else is doing it:)

A friend referenced this iPhone post (which refers to this one, “the original post”). The second one seems to me to be a rather obvious example of a “you are not your customer” lesson.

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Automation Customer service Management Sales Technology

Would you send a customer home for 48 hours?

One of my suppliers does.

See, 3 of the material suppliers to my wholesale business have online ordering.

One of them, naturally the one I use the most, is the one that I had never used online.

Sooo, when I got in a pinch for some supplies a few weeks ago, I figured that ordering online would be faster. Plus, it was after their normal business hours – the perfect time to make sure my order would be in the pipeline first thing in the morning…

Think again.

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Automation Competition Customer service Entrepreneurs Management Marketing The Slight Edge

I’m not the one who needs the reminder…

Yesterday, we talked about appointment books and how they get used, misused and underutilized. I’d like to follow up on a related topic: reminders.

Reminder postcards from a business are a pretty common thing these days. Some businesses hand write them – after all, your receptionist isn’t exactly swamped with work since your book isn’t full.

In some cases, the business actually uploads a list of “people due for appointments” to a service, and that service prints and mails the cards to the customer who is due for an appointment.

While this is better than nothing, almost no one gets this right – and you’re leaving hard dollars on the table.

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Automation Corporate America Customer service Entrepreneurs Marketing

What would You Airlines look like?

It’s easy to blame Al Queda on the invasive, uncomfortable cattle car feeling you get when traveling by air these days.

But the fault really lies with the airlines. Not to let Osama off the hook by any means, but airline travel was lousy BEFORE 9/11. It’s like being on a 300 passenger bus from Mexico City to Tijuana.

Think about it as if you owned the airline you commonly fly on. Even if you always fly First Class, would any aspect of the experience be different?

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Automation Corporate America Management Software The Slight Edge

Customer service and the cable guy

Have you ever called a big company’s customer support line when “higher than anticipated call volumes” weren’t occurring?

That’s what I thought. Whoever anticipates call volumes sure seems to be off the mark a lot, don’t they? Do they use sophisticated trend analysis to anticipate call volumes?

Seriously, I wonder how often – or IF – they measure call volumes and adjust staffing levels. Perhaps a topic for some other time.

Yesterday, I called my cable company (Bresnan) about some signal problems and had an enlightening conversation with “Chipper”, who was very courteous and professional. He asked all the right questions, in the right order and did pretty much everything I expected – except…

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Automation The Slight Edge

Tinkering around with Glyphius, a scientific copywriting analyzer

A while back, I bought a scientific copywriting analysis tool called Glyphius, written by James Brausch.

The short story on Glyphius is that James has taken a huge pile of copy, imported it into his software, performed analysis on the nature of the copy vs the actual results of that copy, and created a method for scoring new copy based on the results that previously analyzed copy has produced.

Based on what his software learned from analyzing other people’s sales copy and the associated results, it can then score YOUR copy. The higher the score, the better Glyphius feels about your copy.

In order to get comfortable with the software and verify that the scoring works as claimed, I’m testing it on a few Adwords campaigns. I already have traffic and results for these ads and will report back when I see how the click through and conversion numbers go. Obviously, I hope it improves the click through and conversion for these ads and their sales pages.

Will it work? I have no idea, but there are a number of folks whose testing shows that it does. My engineering and programming background tells me that the concept makes sense. After all, you are bouncing your copy off of the findings of James’ testing with other copy that he has results for.

After my initial use of the software, a few suggestions come to mind as well as what appears to be a minor bug.

1) Consider an “AdWords mode” where the entry boxes for the copy are setup exactly like the AdWords entry form in Google’s system. Not a big deal, just something to make the process smoother for Adwords users. Little things like this tend to improve usability, especially for less-technical software users (an untapped market for products of this nature.)

2) To that end, if my copy has a limit on characters (like AdWords does), it would be nice to have a setting that tells Glyphius to beep, limit character entry or otherwise annoy me when I’ve exceeded the maximum # of characters allowed for an ad I’m scoring. This might be an alternative to suggestion 1, but life isn’t just about Adwords. Sorry Google.

3) Add a button to capitalize each word in the ad (or toggle the caps off). From what I’ve seen so far, Glyphius doesn’t change the score when copy moves from cap’d to regular formatting, but it would be a convenient time saver for those who test the results of both formats.

4) Based on the intelligence built into the software’s prior analysis, I’m wondering if its possible to use what it knows and offer suggestions to copy that you have in the window at the time. I realize this takes it to a whole different level, but it crossed my mind, so I figured I’d mention it:)

5) When the Clear button is pressed, it would save time if the cursor was placed in the “Enter text to score here” field.

6) When I use a word like “free” that has a negative score in Glyphius, show me a list of synonyms for “free” from the Glyphius database that DON’T have negative scores.

The bug that I found is minor. It looks like the character count displayed for the number of characters entered the copy entry box reports 1 more character than actually exists. Further research showed that it occurred on lines that did NOT wrap around. For example, if you use “discover this amazing complimentary copywriting course that can increase sales dramatically… guaranteed!” as the text to score, and display it on 1 line – you see a count of 107. If you then increase the font size to force the line to wrap, the count goes down to 106. A minor thing, but it can be critical to media where the character length of the copy is limited.

I’ll post more here as I get more ideas about it. So far, it’s simple, functional and I’m finding that it forces me to think hard about each word in my copy – and there’s a lot of good in that.

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Automation The Slight Edge Uncategorized Wal-Mart

Is your business, or some part of it, on autopilot?

As you read this, or at least, as WordPress posted it on Saturday morning, I’m out in the woods on a campout with my Scout troop.

I’m not bragging, but I am trying to make a point: Have you taken steps to automate the parts of your business that shouldn’t require manual attention? The parts that should happen when you aren’t there.

No, its not a big deal that I can set the publish date for a blog post – its a big deal that you can do it for weeks at a time. You can write your posts when you get in the zone, schedule them (in most blog software) and they will show up on your blog when you indicate.

Now, think a little bigger.

How many things in your business should (or could) happen automatically?
Some examples:

  • Leads entered on your web site automatically end up in your back office systems and become a part of the marketing funnel that all other leads are in.
  • Sales entered on your website by internet clients end up in the same database as the sales by your local retail store.
  • Inventory changes affected by online sales are automatically reflected in local retail store or warehouse inventory.
  • Online inventory counts in your web store are automatically updated when a local retail store sale occurs.

Or you can do all of that stuff by hand. There are lots of examples. These are the kinds of edges that Wal-Mart has over most retailers. There’s no reason why your business cant do the same – on a lot simpler scale than Wal-Mart has to deal with.