Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Little Big Things That Can Wreck Your Business

Seth Godin, in his book Free Prize Inside, writes about a nasty experience he had with hernia surgery. It's a lesson in word-of-mouth advertising that could boost your business -- or wreck it, if you choose to ignore it.

Here's Godin's story ...
I had hernia surgery. It costs a lot, it hurts and the hospital makes a fortune.

The places it hurts might surprise you. The surgery gives you a very sore throat, because they clamp your mouth open while you're asleep. It also hurts a lot when you pee, because they use a catheter.

The surgeon doesn't care one bit about how much it hurts. He's a superhero, he cuts and sews and moves on. But the hospital cares. The hospital cares because they know that most patients have a choice when it comes to ambulatory surgery, and that choice is dictated in large measure by how positive the word of mouth from other patients is.

The traditional way for a hospital to improve its services is with technological innovation. Buying million-dollar MRI machines or investing in a huge new facility. But that ignores free prize thinking.

As I lay in the recovery room for two hours, all I could think about was how much my throat hurt and how difficult it was to pee. The surgeon told me later that this happens to everyone. He told me that if I had gulped down some cranberry juice and sucked on a throat lozenge when I got home, I would have had a much easier time.

So here's the question: Why didn't someone offer me a throat lozenge and a glass of cranberry juice at the hospital?

The return on investment is huge. Charging $5,000 a patient for half a day, all the hospital needs to do is get one or two new surgeries a year as a result of word of mouth to pay for a lifetime supply of Sucrets.

Now, here's the irony that can wreck any business, including yours: The hospital delivered on the Big Thing Seth paid for. They fixed his hernia. It was a Little Thing -- post-operative service -- where they dropped the ball and left Seth unhappy. Worse, Seth has since told anyone who will listen about the rotten service at this hospital. Which sucks for them (and rightly so).

All too often, we business owners work like the surgeon who operated on Godin. We are "superheroes" who deliver Big Things. That's our sole responsibility. The Little Things like post-operative care are for others to worry about.

But we need to worry about Little Things. Because those are what our clients tell others about.

So, here's the question for you: What's low-cost or no-cost Little Thing is missing from your business? Something which, if you added it to the Big Things that clients pay you to deliver, would make your business remarkable?


1) Box of chocolate or other food item as a gift with purchase. If you deliver a high-priced product or service, sending a $25 gift basket is truly a Little Thing, but clients will appreciate you -- and tell others.

2) Phone call after delivery of the product or service, to express genuine concern for how the client is doing and answer any questions.

3) Thank-you note after the sale, after any service failure -- or both.

4) User guide or instructions downloaded from your web site, mailed -- or both -- to help clients get the most from their purchase.

5) Mailed receipt with a personal thank-you message and signature added.

The Little Things above are what I call Marketing Multipliers -- small actions that lead to big profits. They are simple. They cost little or nothing. And you can implement them today.

If you own a business, there's a box of 11 Marketing Multipliers waiting to be shipped to you. You can try it Free. Click here now.


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