Friday, December 31, 2010

Wow Your Customers With A Surprise

Customer retention is a major issue for most businesses. In this day of instant gratification, ordering online and shopping for deals for literally everything, it's tough to command customer loyalty. But if you want to keep your customers coming back, give them a surprise. Make doing business with you so special that they'll not only keep returning, they'll recommend you over and over again. How? By doing something unexpectedly wonderful.

The surprise you give your customers doesn’t have to be a big one. In fact, it’s the small touches that resonate with meaning, that make them feel like their order is more than just another job on your list. In fact, it was a little thing that sparked this idea for me. We got a Christmas card from Ed Plante Auto Detailing last year. The card wasn’t anything special, but there was a surprise inside that made it stand out from all the other business associates’ holiday greetings we received: he included a picture of our family SUV taken after his last detailing. In other words, he surprised us with a small, personal touch that made us feel just a tiny bit special.

When you do a little something extra like Ed did, you acknowledge your customer as a friend, as someone whose good feelings toward you warrant particular attention. The picture itself wasn’t any big deal either, but, as your mother always said, it’s the thought that counts.

The main factor to keep in mind is that what you do needs to be slightly out of the ordinary, something the customer doesn’t expect. That means it doesn’t have to occur at the point of service; in fact, surprises work really well when they come later, after the customer has started to forget the last time they did business with you. Secondly, the surprise should have a personal angle to it. If it’s something you do for every customer, like the book store clerk who automatically puts a bookmark in the bag with every order, it’s not going to prompt anybody to give it a second thought.

Different kinds of businesses present all sorts of opportunities to give customers great surprises. The picture Ed sent was of our clunky old family SUV with a fresh wax job. Can you imagine what kind of impact an unexpected picture of an auto restyler customer’s tricked-out rides would have? Those customers’ cars mean a lot or they wouldn’t be spending money on them. To the auto shop customer, getting a picture of his car is like getting a picture of his kids—maybe better!

Dave Donelson, author of The Dynamic Manager's Guide To Marketing and Advertising a for and

Monday, December 13, 2010

Reviewers Sing About Hunting Elf, A Doggone Christmas Story.

I got some Christmas presents early this year! Ivana Hruba put this gem under my tree:

"...a delightfully amusing whodunit set in suburban New York. Prize-winning dogs, demented dog breeders and well-meaning dog owners slash would be detectives feature heavily in this humorous caper which centers around Elf, a purebred Silky Terrier puppy with seriously desirable lineage, a couple of crazy old bags who will stop at nothing to get him, and Dan, Elf’s hapless human, who just wants to be left in peace at Christmas time."
You can read the full review at

And over at, Realeanna said:
"It is a really great read."
To which I say, "Ho! Ho! Ho!"

Dave Donelson, author of The Dynamic Manager's Guide To Advertising: How To Grow Your Business With Ads That Work a for and

Thursday, December 9, 2010

You Can Support Westchester Libraries

Westchester's libraries need your help right now!

To help get the word out about the importance of libraries and their funding, WLS has developed a Local Advocacy Network to reach out to both County and Local Legislators via email.
It's easy to use. Just click on the link below (and don't forget to bookmark it):

►Choose your local library from the drop-down box
You will find a message to your County Legislators regarding the importance of the WLS services that the county funds support.

►Fill in your information

►Click Yes
If you would like to receive action alerts from time to time from WLS when legislators need to hear your opinion as a library patron.

►Click Send

The message will be sent to the representatives noted at the top of the page.
That's it! The five minutes it takes to send one message will be invaluable to maintaining high-quality library service in Westchester.

Dave Donelson, author of The Dynamic Manager's Guide To Advertising: How To Grow Your Business With Ads That Work a for and

More Good Press For The Dynamic Manager's Guide To Marketing & Advertising

Another marketing professional offered a positive Amazon review of The Dynamic Manager's Guide To Marketing And Advertising this week.

GraceW wrote:

I worked in financial services and marketing for 30 years. I wish I had a book like this when I first embarked on my marketing career. Mr. Donelson offers some clear and concise practices to encourage success in a sales/marketing position regardless of the industry. His writing style is crisp, yet full of energy.
Click here to read the entire review.

Dave Donelson, author of The Dynamic Manager's Guide To Marketing & Advertising: How To Grow Sales And Boost Your Profits a for and

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Home-Grown Marketing Research

One of the best ways to get to know your best customers better is by a little above-board sleuthing. Start by identifying them through sales records that will let you make a list of the people who represent 80% of your sales--it will probably be about 20% of your total number of customers.

Then compile your best customers’ street addresses from credit card records, phone numbers, delivery destinations, etc. Plot them on a map and look for clusters of them. Good marketers know that birds of a feather flock together; similar people tend to live in similar neighborhoods. Once you’ve figured out where your best customers live, you can look for other birds of that feather—they’re your best new prospects.

Now drive through those neighborhoods. Guesstimate the value of the homes and look at the cars there to get a rough idea of income. Check for kids and/or their bikes, swing sets, and sports equipment (or lack thereof) to get an idea of their parents’ ages. Don’t limit your surveillance to weekdays, either. Take a few minutes on the weekend to drive through to see how many residents are doing their own yard work or washing their own cars. These things will also tell you a lot about their lifestyle. The more you know about your best customers, the better marketing decisions you will make.

If you are a business-to-business marketer, your research job is actually a little easier. You probably have fewer (but bigger) transactions with fewer customers than someone who sells to the general public, which simplifies your data-gathering. What may complicate it, though, is the tendency for businesses to have multiple decision-makers in their buying processes. Don’t be daunted by the details, though—just gather data on one person at a time until you’ve got a clear picture of who they are and what their role is.

You may also think that personal information like education and lifestyle choices aren’t relevant to business buyers since their job is to make rational, profit-oriented purchases. Nothing could be further from the truth. Corporate buyers are people, too, and they allow plenty of emotion to influence their decisions. In fact, a personal, human reaction to a vendor’s marketing approach may be the only factor that separates two competitors. The more you know about that business-to-business customer as a person, the greater your chances of tipping their decisions in your favor.

So, before you make any decisions about price, or which products to sell, or what ads to run, take a good hard look at your customers as people. Identifying your best customer takes some work. The end result, though, is marketing that works better, costs less, and generates greater profits.

Dave Donelson, author of The Dynamic Manager's Guide To Marketing & Advertising: How To Grow Sales And Boost Your Profits a for and

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Doggone Christmas Novel In FREE Audio Podcast Edition

What's better than a doggone Christmas story? How about a FREE audio podcast edition!

Hunting Elf actually began as a podcast--the print edition came later in response to requests from listeners who enjoyed the story. As one listener said:

"As the owner of 4 crazy dogs, I found Hunting Elf hilarious. The characters were very realistic and easy to relate to for me because I too adore my dogs who seem to live for trouble. I found myself remembering antics of my dogs throughout the story. The story is a great mix of comedy and caper. I recommend this book to everyone, but it is a must listen for dog lovers."
Above all, Hunting Elf is a Christmas story with a neat feature--it has 25 chapters. So, if you listen to one each day starting today, you'll finish on Christmas day! It's my gift to you--a laugh a day.

Best of all, the Hunting Elf podcast is absolutely free at You can also download Hunting Elf for free at iTunes. One iTunes reviewer said,
"If you're looking for something light-hearted and fun, this is it. Those of you who have owned a puppy will get a HUGE kick out of Elf's antics."

Dave Donelson, author of The Dynamic Manager's Guide To Advertising: How To Grow Your Business With Ads That Work a for and