Advertising Part D: Your Office, Store, and Vehicles Are Chutzpah Marketing Tools
What is chutzpah marketing Pronounced huts•pah
Your office or store should be a symphony of cross-marketing. Just as a musical symphony blends the brass with the woodwinds and magically incorporates the percussion instruments, so should your office or store gently and constantly inform whomever enters it… “This is what I offer.”
First, an example of how hard it is to “teach” others what services you offer.
For five years I have been working with a married couple who own a large chain of mini-marts. Every couple of weeks we get together to iron out problems between the two of them concerning management issues. I am their business consultant and sounding board. For their convenience, we have met hundreds of times at my therapy office. Hundreds of times they have sat in my waiting room.
My waiting room is child friendly, it is large and colorful. There is a homework area, and a child play area adorned with a large doll house and a larger toy chest castle. There are hundreds of children’s books, stuffed animals, and a Lego work table. The walls are adorned with large pictures of kitties and puppies.
The “adult” area has comfortable chairs and tables with magazines. The chairs in the adult area face the homework area and the play area.
I tell you all this because recently, the couple I mentioned above, came into my office for their corporate appointment. As they sat down they both burst into tears. “Our daughter has been expelled–expelled from school for fighting,” the mom said. “I don’t know who to talk to!”
To tell you the truth, I was a little confused.
“I work with children, what’s the problem?” I asked.
He said, “You work with children? I thought you only solved business problems.”
Before this incident, I thought I had 100% cross-marketing going for me. What I learned was that it is hard to get some people to see 80% of your waiting room.
Internal cross-marketing is any and all marketing that you do inside your business. From the signs on your office or store door, to the letterhead you use for business letters. Internal cross-marketing is huge, it encompasses what your staff say and do, to the smell of your rooms. Even your bathroom.
The best thing about internal cross-marketing is that you have a lot of control over it. As a chutzpah marketer, you can get a lot done for pennies.
In this section, I am going to go over many internal cross-marketing techniques. The more you incorporate into your company, the larger your company will grow. Most of the things I will share with you will honestly only cost you pennies, but they will bring you thousands of dollars of business—over and over again.
The signage for your business is very important to a chutzpah marketer. Obviously, your external signage helps your customers find your office or store, but that is just the tip of the signage iceberg. Your external signage sets the tone of your business for your customer.
Signage is not inexpensive, but it is amazingly valuable. An external sign can be a 24 hour beacon inviting potential customers into your company.
Signage has a preventive job also. Under no circumstance do you want your office or store to make a customer feel dumb, not even for a second. When signage works, people don’t pay much attention to it. But when it doesn’t work, they feel dumb. Once that occurs your customer associates feeling dumb with your company. This is not good.
Most companies rent or lease office or store space. If that is the case for you, you probably have limited control over your site sign (the big sign out front). Nonetheless, let’s start our discussion at the big sign, then we will move inside.
Let’s step outside and look at your sign. Is it inviting? Is it legible? Is it new, clean, and crisp, or is it flaking and sun worn? Your sign represents you.
I was hired to do a business evaluation on a well established law firm. I took my camera and went to the firm’s office. The complex was very nice. It had easy access from a main road, plenty of parking, and nice green spaces. The buildings were clean and well maintained.
When I got out of my car, I looked around, took a few snap shots, and just stood there. (The pictures were for my evaluation presentation.) My goal was to go to Suite 101. The problem was, I had no idea where Suite 101 was. As I walked towards the building, I noticed a dentist’s office and a hi-tech firm of some kind. But no attorney. I moseyed to my left and found four doors, one labeled “Private.” I knew I was at the correct building, the large sign near the street confirmed that, Mallard Business Park.
The building wasn’t that big, but somehow I had gotten lost.
I took a few more photos and went around the corner. I met a woman smoking who smiled at me. I asked where Suite 101 was, and she directed me. “You want to go just around that corner over there,” she pointed. “And you’ll see the path to 101.”
When I got to Suite 101, the receptionist peeked over the hundreds of files on her counter and welcomed me. “Any trouble finding us?” she asked with a smile.
“Well, kind of,” I said. “I found the building with no problem, but your office was kind of hard to locate.”
“Yeah, I hear that all the time, do you have an appointment?”
A few directional signs fixed the problem. The cost was less than $100.
Your main external sign or signs are a low cost and powerful tool. Every car that drives by is a potential customer or referrer.
Because the sign works 24 hours per day, make sure it is well lighted. By using energy efficient lighting, it is also reasonably priced to let your sign sell your services all night long.
People shop in their own neighborhoods. They desire a dentist, a medical doctor, a pharmacist, a grocery store, and takeout food within twenty minutes of home or work. Ten minutes is even better. If you are located in a larger city, your customers will want you close to a transportation hub.
Treat your major external signage like it is your chutzpah business card, simply a giant version of it.
In the sign business, the big sign out front is called a site sign. They come in lots of forms: monument, pylon, window graphic; just to name a few. I personally find that the wooden sand blasted signs look professional and connote calmness. I am not fond of florescent signs for professionals. However, as we have discussed before, if it fits your company style, then it is correct for you.
Now the good news. Signage has gotten less expensive over the last few years. As a result of the use of computer generated letters, and the reality of the Internet, signage is not limited to businesses in your own area.
I recently had two door signs made in 36 hours that are spectacular for $19.95 each. Ten years ago the same door sign would have taken a month and cost $50 each. Also, I would have been limited in colors and graphics.
Examples of signage:
Monument sign with movable message section (Pricey)
Wood framed plywood sign, painted. (Reasonably priced)
Banner sign (Reasonably priced but may be hard to put up.)
Fluorescent sign (Mid-range cost plus bulb maintenance and electricity.)
The bathroom sign above is a sign at Beijing Capital International Airport showing lines of people waiting to use the restroom, the Chinese below translates to, “If we reduce the population, everyone will feel relief.”
Sand blasted sign. Nice carved wood look but much lower in cost. (Mid to high range)
For the average company the purpose of the site sign is to mark the company’s territory. The purpose of the chutzpah site sign is to motivate new customers to use your services.
You may need a local sign installer to do larger and fancier signs. Start by consulting the Yellow Pages for companies in your area. Often there are city and county regulations concerning signs. Local shops tend to be very aware of these rules and regulations, but I advise you to check your city’s web site for the most up to date information. Many cities tax site signs annually. Make sure you know all the expenses before you commit to a sign.
Banners are large signs designed to get noticed from a distance.
Truck stop sign gets lots of attention and laughs.
As I walked into Safeway, I noticed a sign on the automatic door. “Our pharmacist gives flu shots.” Because I like signs, and didn’t know that pharmacists gave shots, it caught my attention. There were two problems with this sign:
It was on a moving door as I was walking in. This makes the sign difficult to notice, and it leads to the problem of people bumping into each other at the door as someone pauses to read the sign. Researchers have found that people do not like being touched in stores and will buy less if they feel crowded or touched. Research has also shown that any sign at the door is not noticed by regular customers. They know where they are going and thusly are not looking for directional information. To get a sign noticed, it needs to be inside the door at least 6 feet. Then, as people traverse the door area, and start to scan the store, the sign is in their line of sight.
The sign demeans the service. Safeway should be shouting from the roof of its store, “We love you one and all and want to help you prevent a nasty flu.”
The following 5 foot by 2.5 foot banner could be hung from the store: (towards all the passing cars)
This banner shouts that Safeway pharmacy loves you.
Inside the store the message needs to be reinforced with 3 by 6 foot posters on sign pedestals placed six feet inside the store.
If you ever do anything in the community such as health fairs, church bazaars, or sports boosters, your banner should announce your business.
Banners tend to be printed on nylon, poly or vinyl, depending on the length of desired use. They are colorful, durable and come in almost any size. The price is reasonable.
Banners boost traffic. Plain and simple. So in situations where you need to boost traffic, you need banners.
One non-profit I worked with had its office in a remodeled school building across from a busy transit Park And Ride lot. The program offered after school homework support for grade school kids, and if needed, family therapy. The grant they had provided no money for advertising. One large banner sign “Low Cost Homework Help For Kids,” filled their program in four days. Their mission was to help working poor families, and they found these families at the Park And Ride.
I am often asked by medical doctors, chiropractors, or health care business owners a kind of round about question.
“Every year my hospital puts on this huge weekend health fair in the parking lot. I feel obligated to have a booth, but, um, ah… how do I get out of it?”
“Why would you want to get out of it?” I ask.
“Well it takes a weekend, and I don’t tend to get new patients.”
The problem tends to be that the doctor is not getting noticed in the sea of booths. So I advise that they spend $500 to solve this problem. The money is for a big TV and an even bigger banner. The banner reads, “Free TV Giveaway!” People love free TVs. Even if they already have six, they would like seven.
The weekend of the event, the office staff hand out entry forms and collect the important name, address, phone number and email address data from each entrant. Each form says that the winner will be called Monday evening. You do not need to be present to win. Everyone who comes by the booth is handed the company’s brochure.
As the people hand in the entry form, the staff asks, “Do you have any questions for Dr. Smith? He will be here from 3 to 4 today, or you can write him a confidential note, and he will call you back.” People who want to write a note are given a clipboard with notepaper, pen, and an envelope. The envelope is stamped “confidential.” The notepaper reads, “Confidential question for Dr. Smith” and has a place for the person’s name and phone number. When the clipboards and notes are returned, the staff person says, “Thanks, all confidential paperwork is given to supervising nurse Thompson. I’ll give it to her right now.”
Over the next few days, Dr. Smith calls all the people who submitted questions. He either answers the question or suggests the need for follow up care, whichever is appropriate. If it is follow up care, he asks the new patient to hold so that Sally can set an appointment for him.
The sign drew people in and got Dr. Smith noticed in the sea of other doctors and services. For relatively little money, many potential customers were garnered.
These web sites will answer a lot of basic questions about signage:
For engraved signs, such as marble, brass or stainless steel, check out: www.plaquemaker.com
Your internal directional signage should anticipate your customers’ questions.
Remember, the goal is to prevent your customer from feeling dumb. We want them to feel like honored guests. Your signs should enhance your office’s motif. They get noticed when your guest is looking for information, but they are not the center of your office design.
The basic rule for the internal sign is that it should be in the customer’s line of sight when the customer asks themselves the question.
The office door sign should be visibly inviting. In some offices you will be limited by the building’s signage rules. The building management is not concerned with marketing as much as signage consistency. One building I rented from early in my career, had as part of the lease contract that they made all the signs in the building, passing the cost onto me as a surcharge in my second month’s bill. You can’t do much about that if you want to rent from them, but your internal signage is all your choice.
The following is an example of companies that do not have control over the site sign. I would think the following sign conflict is not good for either company.
If you have say over your signage, develop an appropriate sign for the building with chutzpah.
Example of a welcoming office door sign
For years, my wife and I had a parental pet peeve. Our boys would race to be first into the supermarket and then abruptly stop just inside the doorway and become road blocks. The reason was they didn’t know what to do next. Were we going to the produce section or to the deli?
The same thing will happen in your office or store, patrons will walk in for the first time and feel uncertain about what to do next. They’re left feeling dumb.
If you have a receptionist, and she is identified with a sign, then the new customer knows to go towards her.
Internal directional signs are a must. It is nice if your signs are consistent. To that end, all of my directional office signs start with my helpful logo, T.B. I advise you to add your logo to all your signs. It takes thousand of contacts with a logo for a customer to connect the logo with the company. So, don’t miss an opportunity. Recently I was given a gift of a Panda calendar, “I saw this calendar and thought of you,” she said. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that pandas are not technically bears. The calendar is cute, and I am using it this year in my therapy living-room.
Basic sign template - Blank
These signs are always printed in color on white card stock. The white card stock is pasted onto yellow card stock leaving a 1/2 inch yellow boarder. This chutzpah workhorse of a sign costs 25¢ to $1 depending on the size.
This charming little sign is chutzpah, low cost, and extremely important.
Common navigation signs needed in most business:
You tend to know that you need signage if a guest in your business asks a question about your physical plant.
The second form of internal signage is informational. At the beginning of this chapter, I spoke of how hard it is teach customers of the many ways you can help them.
Almost every entrepreneur has an experience where they have a customer put them in a pigeonhole. A friend of mine who is an eye doctor was frustrated when a long time customer showed him a $360 pair of protective sports eyewear.
“I told him, ‘Why didn’t you come to me, we have those for $280 and your insurance will cover half of that.’ The man just looked at me and said, ‘you have sports glasses too?’”
The eye doctor continued, “What really pisses me off is that this guy has been a patient of mine for over ten years, and we play pickup basketball together twice a week at the Y!”
What my friend didn’t understand was that his patient, who respects and appreciates his medical skills, sees him as an eye doctor, not a seller of sports eye glasses.
This is the type of lost business that internal informational signage can rescue.
Small and large posters, tent signs, and item displays, are extremely useful. Most entrepreneurs do not think that they have offers worthy of a sign. Wrong. A non profit counseling service makes real money with a lobby sign that simply reads, “Anti Rape Whistles Only $10. Available at the front desk.” I would advise more exposure and an additional line. The line would be, “3 for $28, protect a friend.” (Chutzpah marketers up sell.)
Place signs throughout your office to get added exposure. Place one in the waiting room, another in the restroom, and one more in each meeting room.
The following simple and inexpensive sign is chutzpahlishous. It is a simple tear sign with pizzazz. It is printed in black ink on pink card stock. It would work well inside also.
Chutzpahlishous ballet sign
Tent signs are easy to construct. They are made of card stock so they stand up. I have noticed that a lot of scrap booking skills are being added to tent signs. These very colorful points of interest get attention.
Remember, the point of the sign is to inform.
Tent signs that elaborate customer choices and options are very powerful. Unfortunately most tent signs used in business are orders issued to customers:
Examples of tent signs
Signs that give choices tend to work best.
Clear plastic tent frames are available at office supply stores and eBay in many sizes to allow you to put out tent signs printed from your own computer and printer.
As you look around your office, don’t forget to make available, in numerous locations, your business card and company brochure. As a customer picks up a business card or company brochure I often hear, “My friend at work is having a problem with her child, I think I’ll give her this.”
My 9-second speech is, “Thank you very much for your trust in me, take as many as you would like.”
One company that specialized in helping teens with academic issues had their office in a mall store front right next to a private (after school) learning center and two doors down from a music store that offered instrument sales and rentals along with lessons. The mall traffic was vibrant with active families.
Outside of their door they had a nicely appointed rack of tri-fold brochures with inviting titles such as: Homework Shouldn’t Be A Battle, Bullies, What Parents Need To Know, and Schools Are Obligated To Service Your Child’s Needs.
Men’s and women’s restrooms are often quite different. Many women restrooms have pictures on the walls and a small flower arrangement on the vanity. Most men’s restrooms are more subdued. This does not have to be. The restroom can be a wonderful marketing area.
Recently I was at a conference in a nice hotel. Above the urinals were small bulletin boards affixed to the wall. On each bulletin board were fliers entitled, “Todays Events.” The flier listed the events the hotel offered as well as the hours of the hotel’s restaurants.
Similarly, in the restrooms of a private collage I saw community health information sheets above each urinal and paper towel dispensers. The fliers were put out by the colleges health center. The sheet I read was entitles, “V.D. Fact Sheet.” Now that is chutzpah targeted marketing.
A sports bar has televisions in the bathroom wash area. Scrolling below the game were the specials of the day and the hours for happy hour.
With this in mind, I wonder why my large department store doesn’t place ads such as, “Baby Wipes, isle 3b” above the baby changing station in the restrooms.
A captive audience may not mind being advertised to if it is useful information.
Areas such as elevators and waiting lines are also good for cross marketing.
Name tags can be very helpful if you have front office staff. The receptionist can have a name tag that either pins onto his shirt and/or a desk plaque. This way, any customer can easily recall the person’s name without having to feel awkward by having to figure out how to ask his name, or by avoiding the use of his name altogether.
I recommend name tags and some type of uniform, matching shirts for example, if you and your staff are out in public or giving a seminar. A local realty group volunteered to join many other volunteers at a park cleanup day. The group’s crisp red shirts and caps got them a lot of attention throughout the day. I think that many people thought it was the realty group’s activity, not the park’s activity.
Scott Ginsberg has worn a name tag every day since November 2, 2000. This little name tag schtick has gotten him a lot of attention. He has been interviewed on national television, written up in newspapers and magazines, and even is mention in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not under the heading Off The Wall.
What started out as a fun experiment has grown into a thriving business for Scott, the Name Tag Guy. He speaks to audiences around the world on how to bring customers to their companies. Scott is a true chutzpah entrepreneur who is very comfortable being the center off attention. He also has a flair for getting noticed, even his books are inviting. This one is a 2 for 1 flip book. Nice chutzpah presentation. (Great Save/stick/pass-ability.)
You don’t have to go as far as Scott did to invite customers in, but he has an excellent point that inviting a customer to feel comfortable with your company is important. Scott even had a name tag tattooed on his chest so he was ready for the swimming pool.
Some ten years ago there was a rumor that computers were taking over and paper was going to become a thing of the past. To date, I have not noticed any decrease in my office paper consumption. The attorneys in my building seem to be hauling humongous files around, so I doubt if their paper consumption has decreased.
For the chutzpah marketer, paper is not simply paper, it is a marketing opportunity. All the paper in your office should have a “feel” to it. Your logo and marketing information go wherever your paperwork goes.
Years ago professionals would have very fine paper, usually 25% rag, printed for the official correspondence. It was expensive, but seen as professional. Today, most offices use a computer word processing program like MS Word or Apple Pages to write, and subsequently print, their correspondence. (Personally I am partial to Apple computers.)
I am on both sides of this issue. I use gatekeepers to help me manage sales callers, and I also need to get past gatekeepers so I can get referrals from medical doctors, dentists, Certified Public Accountants, and attorneys.
Every marketing book I have read, and every company management course I have taken, has a section about how to get M.D. referrals. They explain the importance of buttering up medical doctors as a valuable referral source.
One marketing guru told his audience that the “secret” to getting M.D. referrals was giving gifts to their wives and children. He explained how to gather familial information about local M.D.s and how to make sure that the M.D. knew, politely, where the gift came from. I adamantly advise against this marketing bribery. It is unethical and basically nasty.
Another marketing prophet had ten “secrets” of how to get by the gatekeeper so that you could take the medical doctor to lunch. All ten seemed like an embarrassing waste of time to me. So, you will not find any of those techniques in this book.
Please allow me to tease you for a moment.
How do I get consistent medical doctor referrals, often from medical doctors I have never even met?
I will tell you in a second, but let me continue the tease.
My procedure costs me nothing from my marketing budget.
My procedure gets the gatekeeper at the doctor’s office to put “me” directly in front of the medical doctor.
My procedure is professionally and ethically correct.
The answer is, cue the band… with two pieces of paper. That is it. I use two pieces of paper. Please allow me to explain.
If a patient on intake tells me that three or four times a week she is overcome with feelings of confusion, pressure in her chest, and experiencing a cold sweat, I am almost certain she is having an anxiety attack. It may even be fair for me to assume that I am almost 100% sure it is an anxiety attack. But, also I know that it could be something else, something outside my scope of training, such as symptoms of a heart attack or maybe a pulmonary embolism. I do know that “I don’t know what I don’t know,” so I am clinically obligated to refer my new patient back to her medical doctor.
I advise my new patient that it is best to rule out any medical condition that could be causing her symptoms. I ask for a Release Of Information for her medical doctor, and I explain that I would like to send him a note, explaining why I am advising her to get a complete physical. I emphasis that I will help her with her emotional turmoil, but if there is a medical issue, we need her medical doctors on the team.
This referral back to her medical doctor is best for my client and it is also a way for me to put my name in front of the medical doctor. My letterhead and 3-up brochure are seen by potential referrers, placed in front of them by their gatekeepers.
I am also a great referral source for other professionals and because of my income level, I am also a target of numerous cold calls. Brokerage firms, investment realtors, and accounting companies want me to invest in their great new program.
I am polite on the phone and listen for a few minutes to their pitch:
“Dr. Copernich (they never get my name correct), we here at ABC Brokerage would like to take you to lunch and discuss our portfolio management program. Many find it the easiest way to wealth. Are you happy with your stock returns, are you making as much money with your money as you think you should be making?”
“That sounds very interesting,” I say. “It sounds like you are good at managing money.”
“Ahhh, well yes sir, many people, like yourself, find that we put them on the road to prosperity. Are you happy with your stock portfolio?”
“Do you personally invest with your company?” I ask.
“Yes sir, I trust my company, can I take you to lunch and meet you… and go over the ways we can help you get to financial independence?”
“That sounds very good, but first I need to know I can trust your wisdom. So, I will make you a deal, please send me a copy of your last tax return. If you make more money than I do I will happily buy you lunch. I would be very interested in what you could teach me. Do you have my mailing address?”
I have been doing this for over 20 years and I have never gotten a cold call sales person to send me their tax return. (Many have said they would, interestingly enough.) But, if one does-and I’m impressed with it, I would happily buy her lunch and take notes on everything she wanted to talk to me about.
Customer note paper
By training, I am a cognitive behavioral therapist. I tell you this because a portion of every session is “teaching” new options and interpersonal skills. To help with this “teaching” I encourage my clients to take notes during our sessions and I give homework assignments between sessions.
To help with note taking, I have clipboards with paper easily accessible. I offer blank lined yellow pads and my own “note” paper. Over the years, I have noticed that the vast majority of my patients use my notepaper over the yellow pads. I think it is because it “feels” more therapeutic to them.
The notepaper is my letterhead with the following printed on it:
Throughout the year, patients report that they tear the top of their notepaper off and give my information to a friend or family member. When this happens, I thank them for their trust in me and offer them a small stack of cards to keep in their purse or wallet.
If your business gives out verbal information, I advise you to make readily available note paper for your customers. Depending on your company, single sheets of paper or small ten page “scratch” pads are inexpensive and very helpful. Many printers offer 3M Post-it Notes that are easily customized.
My mother was a lady in the true sense of the word. She had strong beliefs about manners and comportment. She believed that children should be outside playing if the sun was shinning, and inside with a book if it was not. TV was for lazy people and homework built character. She believed in hugs and using butter in cooking whenever possible. But, her number one kindness rule was, “If someone does something nice for you, you send a Thank You card.”
After about age twenty-five, I started to understand the wisdom of my mother.
Thank You cards are not just an appropriate courtesy, they are a wonderful chutzpah marketing tool.
I am blessed with people around me that are kind. So, when I hear of a kindness, I send a Thank You card. You may say, “Yeah… OK so?”
“SO?” you say. Because it is rare, it gets a lot of notice. I personally like sending the note, and I also get the secondary gain that the recipient of the note likes getting thanked.
My goal is to send 10 notes per day. When I tell people this I regularly hear, “How?”
The answer is simple, people are nice to me, and I like acknowledging and encouraging niceness towards me. I have specific notes for thanks, illness, and referrals. And I have my note cards easily accessible for me to write, envelope, and stamp. One of my drawers in my desk at the office, and in my desk at home, is dedicated to note cards. (Remember chutzpah marketers are basically lazy, so we organize and prepare to make a regular task as easy as possible.)
It costs me 60¢ to send a note card. At the present postal rate of 44¢, plus the card and the envelope. (The only exception is my chutzpah get well note that I will discuss later)
I use the Office Depot brand Baronial Invitation envelopes. They are 4 3/8” x 5 3/4” 24 lb. heavyweight bright white woven. They come in boxes of 100, and are on sale about every three months. I get a coupon emailed to me by Office Depot every week offering X off either $75 or $100 in purchases. (You can sign up for the email advertisements at www.officedepot.com. This is also the store that is most convenient to my office. But, I assume that the other national office store chains have similar offers.)
This basic invitation envelope works well with a card that is printed on 8.5” x 11” card stock paper. This is the same card stock I use for the 3-up brochures (chutzpah consistency).
Parts of the basic note card
Each page produces two 8.5” x 5.5” sheets that are then folded into a 4.25” x 5.5” tent card. See Chapter 2: Your Most Important Marketing Tool Costs 5¢: Getting your card printed, concerning printing issues. This format will give you lots of printable area:
Printable areas of the basic note card
The Thank You card is about the thanks. The cross-marketing is secondary. Feelings go on the front; no direct advertising.
Because my logo is being used, this card will be printed in color. Even without the use of a logo, I would recommend you use warm colors to connote warmth and feelings.
Example of chutzpah Thank You card (front)
On the inside of the card you have a top and a bottom half.
Advertising goes on the inside top half. The bottom half is for a personal note.
On the inside top half, stay on message concerning your business. Give your most general information. Also, please note that the message is understated for the area. The extra white space around the words soften the advertisement aspect, so as not to distract from the purpose of the card: Thank you!
Inside top of Thank You card.
We will cover what to write on the bottom half of the inside later in this section.
Quite often in seminars this is the point where the question comes up, “Won’t the person receiving the card think that this is just a gimmick to get your advertisement in front of them?”
I don’t think so. I only send a Thank You card if I have a specific reason to thank someone. I believe that my authentic reason for sending the card is “felt” by the recipient, and I tend to get direct feedback. Often the recipient picks up the phone and calls. “I just got your Thank You card… that was so kind of you.” Or I will run into someone who says, “I really appreciated your card a few weeks ago.”
My mom was right, it feels good to thank people for saying nice things about me or doing nice things for me.
Two other cards I use are a Condolence Card and I heard about you… card. In both cases the card is exactly the same as the Thank You card, except for the words on the front.
The Condolence Card is self explanatory.
The “I heard about you…” card is used to send a pat on the back to someone I know.
If a friend’s child is in the news for winning the spelling bee, I send the family a note. If I hear through the grapevine that a colleague just returned from a trip, I touch bases with a card.
Get well cards
My Get Well card is expensive, but it is a workhorse of a chutzpah card. It costs a dollar to mail, and the parts cost another buck and a half.
My chutzpah Get Well card is printed, in full color, like the others we discussed, and mailed in the same envelope.
Chutzpah get well card (front and inside)
I use the bottom of the card for a personal note, and if need be, the back of the card if I’m feeling wordy. I put no advertising in a Get Well card.
What I do put in the card is a pack of Lipton instant chicken noodle soup. I’m hoping it has magical healing powers, but it couldn’t hurt.
Because the soup is bulky, the postage is higher.
I get a lot of feedback from this get well pick me up, warm fuzzy, smile a lot, card.
I have had people request it. One answering machine message was,
“Dr. Phil, this is Gail, I’m in bed with the flu and thought you would want to know so you could send me your mother’s soup.”
I send the soup card if a customer, or anyone in her family, is laid up long enough to need it. This week my “mother’s” soup has helped heal a hip replacement and three flus.
I am often told “I didn’t eat the soup, I wanted to show it to people at work.” (If anyone at Lipton reads this, please send me a case of instant soup for helping to cross-market your product for you!) The stick and show ability of this get well card, along with the humor, is worth the expense.
I use two note pages on a regular basis. The first is a small version of my letterhead that is used to send personal notes along with other papers or enclosures. The second is a more playful note page that I use when sending messages to friends who also happen to be professionals. See below:
1/2 page note page examples
If I am sending a report to another professional, I send a formal letter on my letterhead. It is better to be overdressed than underdressed, so a typed letter is best. However, if I am sending a packet of information to, let’s say a county social worker or an attorney, I add a personal touch and send a hand written note.
Enclosed are the copies you asked for.
Hope all is going well for you and your family,
If I know the person well, I tend to be more playful. I send the note with an appropriate message.
Enclosed are the copies you asked for.
Haven’t seen you and Howard much lately. Now that Track is over, I miss running into you. Why don’t you get Howard to buy us lunch... Call me when you have time.
I use one of these 1/2 sheets if I even think of someone. For example, if I am reading an article in a magazine and it triggers a thought, “Michael would be interested in this.” I take a moment and copy the article (or rip it out) and jot a note to Michael.
Thought you would find this interesting. Paragraph three made me think of our conversation a few months ago.
My hobby is cartooning, so when I get bored with the informal note page, about once a year, I make a new one. I use something lighthearted, whimsical and fun. Last holiday season I used a Peace on Earth TB.
Peace on Earth TB
When it comes to chutzpah note cards the personal touch counts. I advise that you do not print a generic thank you message in your card. While it would save you a little time, it would not be personal. (My mother would not approve of an impersonal card.)
A chutzpah marketer takes the time to make a personal connection. So, I write a note in each card, and I hand write the address on each envelope. This personal touch counts.
I received a thank you note from an attorney that consisted of a nicely printed note card with a post-it note stuck to it. The post-it read: “Send T/U to Copitch by 3/16. J.” The printed card was signed by “J” but I assume in reality by his secretary. I did not feel the love.
As discussed earlier, by having all the parts readily available in one location, sending notes is pretty easy. In the old days, I had a huge Rolodex with names and addresses. Now I have a computer database which is much better. I simply search for the person I want to send the note to, and like magic, it is there.
My database is constantly being updated. A chutzpah marketer keeps track of his contact’s vital information. See Chapter 6. Advertising Part C: Chutzpah Gold Mining.
Entrepreneurs regularly confess to me that they like the idea of writing note cards, but in actuality, they find it a little intimidating. What do you write?
First, relax. It is not like you are going to have to write a screen play or a book. It is just a note of thanks or condolence.
Second, you have to write neatly. The goal of the note is to communicate to the reader your thanks or condolences. If it can’t be read, it communicates frustration. I choose to print. Only my wife and I can read my cursive. I’m not joking about this. Over the years, my cursive has become cursive short hand. On a regular basis I leave out the ending of words. I use shorthand codes even without thinking about it. But, when I print, I have to slow down and notice every letter. No --g for ing. No Tx or Hx for treatment or history, respectively. Remember, the goal of the note is communication. So, unfortunately neatness counts.
Third, the note has three parts: Hi, I thought of you, and bye. The Hi and Bye are easy, but so is the “I thought of you.” Label what you know, saw, or feel. Share your feelings, but not too sappy.
I appreciate your recent referral. Your trust in my work is very important to me.
Mary told me of the nice things you said about me. Thanks! I am touched that you speak so kindly of me.
I read in the paper that Bobby won the spelling bee. I am so impressed. In school I would get picked first in kick ball, but for Spelling Bee teams, my classmates pretended not to see me.
Tell Bobby how proud I am of his hard work.
I ran into Carl at Costco and he told me that you have decided to start teaching part time at the college. Sounds great! I expect your students will get a lot out of your classes. Good luck with all those challenging fresh minds.
Just heard of the loss of Egor. He was a great pup. I loved the way he slobbered and how he made you laugh. I’m sorry for your loss. I’m a phone call away if you want to talk.
I read in the paper about the passing of your aunt. I know you were very close, and I have always been impressed that you helped her so much these last few years. I am sure that you brought great comfort to her.
I have no way to help soften the pain of your loss, but just wanted you to know that I was thinking of you.
I’m a phone call away if you want to talk. Sorry for your loss.
When penning a note, be careful with humor. It is easy to accidentally offend someone. Write clearly and kindly. Writing is more powerful than speech so a little “feeling” goes a long way.
Any mail that goes out of a chutzpah marketer’s office serves at least two purposes.
If you have to spend a stamp to get a letter somewhere, your chutzpah 3-up goes for free. You get to put your information in front of somebody for free. Why wouldn’t you? You do not know where your little seed may land, but if only one makes it back home, wow! Free becomes income.
I send my 3-up out to work constantly. And a lot have returned over the years. In every envelope that leaves my office, I add a 3-up.
Blue Cross of California has a major clearinghouse in Chico, California. Chico is about an hour from my office. My 3-up has helped individuals, friends, families, and extended families of Blue Cross employees find my services.
The hardest working 3-up that I know of was one that went to a court in southern California. It was subsequently mailed by a court clerk to her sister in San Francisco, who then bought my parenting book from Amazon.com. Two years later, the book with the 3-up (now a bookmark) was loaned to a friend in Sacramento. This friend was going through a heated divorce and gave my 3-up to her attorney. I politely turned down the evaluation consult requested by the attorney. Six months later, the attorney was asked if she knew a therapist in Redding, California. She gave my name. I got to help a family. My hard working 3-up did all that for me. Sweet!
When the Macy’s Credit card bill arrives, it has cross-marketing that smells great. The phone bill has paid vender marketing from different companies. I suspect that the phone company gets a nice check from these companies for the privilege of piggybacking their advertisement in with the phone bill.
If your friend in a non competing profession is as chutzpah aware as you are, offer to place his ad in your billing statements in exchange for your ad going in his statements. If he is not as chutzpah aware as you are, teach him. It is worth your effort. This very low cost ad seeding is powerful.
As discussed above I enjoy saying thank you. Sometimes I also want to say thank you with a token of my appreciation, a gift or an incentive to keep up the good work.
To this end I have a one million dollar thank you letter. See below. It is fun and has proven to have lots of show and stickability.
It is printed in color on 8.5” X 11” white index card stock. People seem to really like getting these thank you letters. My guess is that it is fun to hope for the big prize. I have also found that people like the lucky gold penny I send along with the letter.
Fridge Art is a friendly way to get your name out. It costs pennies and children and families love it.
Fridge Art is in the form of chutzpah coloring sheets that are available in my waiting room. I tend to have 6 to 8 different types of Fridge Art for kids to color next to a big container of crayons. Often, kids ask if they can take one of each drawing home, and I happily agree. Regularly, parents ask if they can “have a few for the cousins.” Again, I’m happy to oblige.
The reason I love Fridge Art so much, is because I like where they end up. On the refrigerator. I like that my company information is clipped or magnetized to the icebox. Some go to work with parents, and many go to grandma’s house to adorn her fridge. A few teachers use my Fridge Art as rainy day activity sheets. I know of one cul-de-sac where all six homes have Fridge Art on their refrigerators.
I change the Fridge Art with the seasons and the holidays. Don’t worry if you can’t draw, you have a cousin who can. The children love to color, just give them something fun. (Teens and adults enjoy coloring in my waiting room too. And, while I think of it, they also love the Lego table and doll house!)
Fridge Art example (Reduced)
I have two Fridge Art templates. One portrait view (tall) and the second landscape view (wide). You can do this in any basic word processing program. Then, neatly paste art onto it and make copies. This pasted sheet is called a Master. Protect your masters by storing them safely, and you can make copies for years to come.
Over the next few pages you will find a few Fridge Art drawings to get you started. Feel free to put them on your own fridge advertisement, I mean art sheet. Don’t forget to add your cross-marketing information. These work well whatever your business.
I also make available free PDF downloads of my fridge art at my website: www.copitchinc.com/downloads.html.
First for the little ones:
Dot to dot and color fun!
With my friend Bunny Bun.
For the older children at halloween:
When a movie comes out that the kids enjoy (me too), I often make up a “how to draw” Fridge Art. Adults often take these with them to experience in private.
For the older kids and teens:
The following spoof was for my friend Dr. Hanson’s dental office:
“I told you to go brush!”
If you have customers that need to wait, color me, table games, and puzzle pages are great cross-marketing tools.
Signs on business vehicles are nothing new. However, with the invention of special vinyls, signs have grown up in the last few years. Your choices are huge. From window tinting with a subtle message to full vehicle wraps (expensive).
Many sign companies now offer remarkable vehicle wraps that give your vehicle chutzpah wherever it goes.
Most of these wraps are over the top with too much color and too much design. As with other forms of advertising, white space counts. You want the reader to get your message.
Window advertisement has come down in price recently. You can have vinyl letters placed on your windows proclaiming your information to the world. Or, you can get custom window graphics that still allow you to see out (moderate cost).
Custom skins for almost anything you would like to cover, from your iPad to your fleet of vans.
As this technology gets around, the prices seem to be coming down.
2 nice examples of using a small space well.
A nice option to permanent display ads is magnetic vehicle signage.
Magnetic vehicle signs are vinyl weather resistant sheets mounted onto thin magnetic backing. They hold onto the car even at well over highway speeds. If you own a fiberglass sports car, the magnetic sign will not work for you. Newer magnetic signs tend to hold up well over time, but the sun will fade them at some point.
The biggest problem with a magnetic sign is that it is easily to steal. The more “cool” your sign is the more likely to have it end up in some teenager’s bedroom.
You can get a full color magnetic sign in an industry standard size from $10-$20.
Vehicle magnets can also be cut to virtually any shape to fit your needs. You can even get signs that glow in the dark or reflect light for easier night viewing.
As with all outside signage, you have to keep in mind that the viewer is many feet away. In the following example, the little car and colorful sign catches the eye, but the advertisement value is limited because the message can not be easily read.
Magnetic signs are a form of a name recognition chutzpah ad.You will often not have the space for all four major ad components.
1. Chutzpah headline
2. Chutzpah supporting information
3, Chutzpah supporting secondary benefits
------Name and address
4, Chutzpah call to action
(You want to avoid the 5th major component of print ads, save/stick/pass-ability, for obvious reasons.)
What tends to work best is the Chutzpah Headline (Most often your company name) which is a clear announcement that you are present with the implication that you serve this section of town or part of the county.
When you design your magnetic sign, work from the assumption that your reader will be at least 10 feet away when confronted with you chutzpah notice. Using large letters with solid contrasting colors and edges is very important.
The following example shows two clear to read magnetic signs.
This next example shows an informative chutzpah magnetic sign that can be used for a few weeks to stimulate business:
A newer item is the car business card dispenser.
I got a few from Amazon that worked well for me:
I have not seen these in stores yet, but I suspect that they will show up in office supply stores soon. This chutzpah idea places your mini-billboards right next to your vehicle signage. The small water resistant boxes cost $10 each.
Up to now we have discussed cross marketing inside your office. All that information is useful inside your store also. There are lots more chutzpah ideas ideal for store cross marketing.
The goal with in store cross marketing is to anticipate a customer’s needs and present a useful and immediate answer. For example, if you sell eggs, an easily grab-able egg slicer is a nice up-sell. A small sign stating, Bread is on Aisle 3, is a helpful sales boost. One manager told me that English Muffins (a higher profit item) and single bananas move quickly next to the eggs. By moving ripe single bananas to the egg area he found that he could move bananas that had a short remaining shelf life.
Some items go together well such as beer and beef jerky. A sign next to the beer and jerky such as, Nuts, Pretzels and Chips aisle 6, encourages the beer buyer to walk through your store and see what else you offer.
Getting the customer to keep looking for must need items is important to the bottom line.
The signage industry has developed lots of ways to help you cross market inside your store. Many are low cost and reusable.
Floor and carpet graphics allow you to place an advertisement or directions at every customer’s feet. With multicolor large vinyl printers, most sign shops can offer vinyl floor graphics at a reasonable cost.
You can get more attention for a specific product such as these soft drink choices, or you can direct your customer to another part of your store with welcoming footprints. Many product distributors will help off set the cost of product specific signs if they don’t have some already made for you to get for free.
DDI Signs (www.ddisigns.com/floorgraphicsdecals.htm) for example, offers durable and colorful vinyl products that are custom made and custom cut. You can really let your imagination flow. I like their “follow me” footprints.
Vinyl floor decals are easy to apply and removable with little fuss. Some companies offer movable and reusable graphics.
Custom design carpets are a little pricer but last a long time. Companies like The Inside Track (www.theinsidetrackinc.com) can take your message or logo and inlay it into carpet:
This is an elegant way to present your company. Inlays are an art form and become quite pricey. A lower cost alternative is having your message digitally printed onto carpet.
Matco Products (www.matcoproducts.com) offers a full line of carpet advertising choices. Their welcome mats start around $50 dollars.
8. Your phone and email are chutzpah marketing tools
When I was a teenager I had a boss named Vic. Vic had a love affair with his phone. At least once a day he would blurt out, “My phone is directly connected to my customers’ wallets.” Then he would send out the tow truck to pick up someone’s disabled vehicle.
Vic owned a gas station in the posh part of town. He amassed a great fortune from this single gas station. While his competitors pumped gas, and occasionally worked on someone’s car, Vic became the go to guy for the people of this upper crust neighborhood.
Vic’s gas station gave full service. When a car pulled up, an attendant, wearing a clean uniform, pumped the gas and checked the fluids. At the end of each pumping, the attendant handed the driver a business card and said, “If you have a car problem, call Vic.”
Vic’s gas station had the highest gas prices and the most polite and helpful attendants. But Vic didn’t make his fortune by pumping gas, he made it by answering the phone. If any of his customers had a car problem, Vic fixed the problem. He had two service bays at the gas station, and another four bays about ten minutes away. It was impressive how many cars Vic’s mechanics (mostly cousins) worked on.
Vic taught me that people are willing to pay for service, and that the phone is a chutzpah marketing tool.
I agree with Vic, the phone is directly connected to your customer’s wallet. However, I also add email to this statement. So, for me, the phone and email are my direct lines to potential and established customers. If I use this technology wisely, I serve my customers well. Well served customers keep using your services, and like to tell other people about your services.
Penelope, a fellow entrepreneur, had invited me to her office to discuss the marketing of her company.
“Excuse me Phil,” Penelope said as she reached for the ringing phone.
Then she did something I didn’t expect. She reached around back and disconnected the phone line. “They’ll call back if it’s important,” she said.
“I’m sorry, if this is a bad time…” I started.
“No, not at all,” she interrupted. “I hate that damn phone. Some days, it just drives me nuts.”
This is a common reality for many professionals. The phone feels like a tightening noose, squeezing the life out of them. Professionals often speak of their dislike for the phone and the people who call them. This is a sign of job stress and potential job burnout.
In this chapter, we will discuss how to use your phone and email to transmit and gather information: how to make your phone and email a chutzpah tool. We will discuss how to tame the phone monster so that it works for you. Hopefully, by the end of this chapter, you will be in love with your phone and email again.
The phone and Internet makes the world seem small.
A few months after the release of my parenting book, I got a phone call from a woman thanking me for it. As it turned out the caller was very concerned that she may be spoiling her children and was looking for information to sooth her worries.
After she explained her situation, second marriage to a man who works constantly along with three children from their combined three marriages, I offered to make her an appointment so we could continue exploring her dilemma. She apologized for not being able to come to my office, “I need to be in Brussels next week and I have no plans to come to the States.”
As it turned out, she purchased my book from Amazon UK and was presently on her yacht off the coast of France.
At the end of the phone call she thanked me again for my book and assured me that she was giving a copy to the au pair.
Controlling the phone and email monster
Your phone and email are amazing chutzpah tools. They allow you to have easy and inexpensive contact with the world. Unfortunately, the phone and email are not respected by most companies. Thus, these ubiquitous devices often become linked in a chain of despair.
Your phone and email are amazing chutzpah tools–if they are controlled. The good news is that this monster is easy to control.
Phone machine or answering service
“Should I use a phone machine or an answering service?” It is probably the most common phone question I get from small company owners. The answer is, it depends on your company.
If you are an agency with sixteen architects, you will need an answering service and an amazingly well organized secretarial pool. If you are a single architect, you may need a service, but an answering machine may work just as well. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. The three “Cs”— cost, control, and competence need to be weighed out.
Answering services are expensive, but they position your company as “professional” in most areas of the country. Most entrepreneurs who I have talked to about answering services complain about the cost and incompetence. It is hard to keep control over the tone of whoever answers your phone at a service. I have heard horror stories about surly service and issues of privacy.
The problem with an answering machine is that it may seem impersonal to some callers. However, it has the advantage of being secure and private.
One nice thing about being a small company is that you will probably not need an answering service or a secretary.
For the last twenty years, I have used an answering machine (actually two) and no secretary. I still recall the cost twenty-one years ago. My secretary cost $60,000 with benefits and taxes, and my answering service was $2,400. These figures are twenty years old, but my rough calculation indicates that I have saved, not adding inflation, $1,248,000.00! I did the math twice; I saved over one million dollars over the last twenty years.
Please allow me to explain my system. It consists of three telephone lines and two answering machines. In my office I have two telephone lines. One is my office number that is printed on everything we hand out. This line has an answering machine on it. The second phone line is the back line (back of the office). The back line is used for all outgoing calls so as not to tie up the main phone line. The back line number is not given out. The third line is in my home den. The den line has an answering machine. The den phone number is not given out.
During my work day, the office line rings regularly, and the machine captures the message. Most of the time I let the machine answer the phone for me. At the end of my work day, I transfer the phone to my den. This is done by signing up and using call forwarding, a service of the phone company. (It is explained in the front of your local phone book).
The next workday, before I leave home, I un-forward my calls. This call forward/un-forward is a very easy process. Anyone who calls always uses the same “office” number. Only I know where I am. Last summer, my family was evacuated due to forest fires. Over the hectic week I call forwarded my office phone to my cell phone in the evenings, allowing me to take care of family matters and work matters simultaneously. (Many of my patients were also evacuated and making myself available to them prevented a lot of heartache for them.)
When I am away from the office for extended periods, I can easily check my messages from anywhere in the world by calling into my machine and using my code number to access it.
When you call my office you hear the calm voice of my wife, Geri:
Thank you for calling the offices of Dr. Philip Copitch. Please leave a message, including your name and phone number after the beep. Be sure to speak slowly and calmly, and Dr. Copitch will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you.
I get teased regularly because of the words “slowly and calmly”. When other professionals call they tend to talk very slowly and in monotone for the first few seconds of their message. “This… is… Bob… Kelsow… calling… from… Sacred… Heart... Hospital…”
The admonition, “slowly and calmly,” helps excited or nervous callers leave an understandable message. Without this cue, callers tend to speed up when they are leaving their name and phone number, making the last four digits of their number come out in a gibbering whirl.
I check my messages between sessions and once or twice per evening. I only return emergency or urgent calls as soon as I get them. More on this later in this chapter.
It is important for you to have clear guidelines concerning how phone calls are returned.
When shopping for a phone answering machine, you want one that does digital recording. No tapes. Look for a machine with at least a 45 minute message capture so you are not missing calls. But, understand it will take you 45 minutes to listen to it if it is full.
I triage messages throughout the workday, between appointments. If I am on target, I get about 10 minutes between patients. My goal is to log the patient I just saw into the computer and check calls during that time. However, bathroom runs or food can often be the priority.
I do not have a phone in my treatment areas. When I am with a patient, that person or family gets my undivided attention.
Phone and email time management
I want to tell you something that you may be shocked to hear me say. I DO NOT MULTITASK. I understand the human brain and respect it by not multitasking complicated tasks. (See Multitasking And Brain Research, this chapter.)
I compartmentalize. When I am with a patient, I am 100% focused on their needs. When I return calls or check email, I do just that. One at a time for an allotted period of time. I stay focused on my task and get it done quickly, and hopefully well. As I sit here right now writing, I have no distractions, by design. The phone ringer is off, the machine will get my calls. The email program is closed. I will check my phone and email messages during my next writing break, in about 14 minutes. Unless there is an emergency, I will take 10 minutes to check messages and 15 minutes to walk and refresh myself. Then, back to writing for two more hours. By focusing clearly on one important task at a time, I get much accomplished.
I have seen skilled adults perform at about 25 percent efficiency because of unnecessary interruptions. One entrepreneur I worked with hated the idea when I suggested no Instant Messaging (IMing) in her office. “But what if my husband or the kids want to get hold of me!” she protested.
“You’ll call them back or email them later,” I said.
“But what if there is an emergency,” she said sadly.
“Isn’t that a red herring?” I asked. “Emergencies are very rare. What you are doing is adding hours to your average non-emergency day.”
I continued, “When you are at work you have to leave the family distractions at the door.”
The truth was that she didn’t want to leave the family distractions at the door. She liked “being there” for her kids.
A graduate student I worked with spent 6-8 hours per day working at his computer on his dissertation. On most days he produced not a single page. When he removed IM and a game called War Craft, his dissertation was completed in four months and three days. What I found so interesting was that he was IMing and playing War Craft with other grad students who were “working” on their dissertations.
I tend to check my phone and email as part of opening up shop in the morning. I check my phone messages between customers, and my email midday. I schedule 30 minutes to deal with my email because I conduct a lot of business through email. At the end of my day, I check my phone and email for the last time.
Multitasking and brain research
Change: How to Bring Real Change to Your Life: The Psychology and Secrets of Highly Effective People
By Philip Copitch, Ph.D. Hutzpah Press (2008)
When it comes to the common understanding of the human brain, the public is confused. At least once a month someone tells me, “You only use 10 percent of your brain.” That’s simply wrong. We use all of our brain.
Weekly, a teenager in my office tells me that they are great at multitasking. This same teen tends to be a solid “D” student.
The reality is that the brain cannot multitask. The brain can only focus on one activity at a time. This may seem contrary to your experience. I once saw a clown juggle while playing a harmonica. You are reading, and breathing, and digesting, and scanning your environment for new sounds. All that is brain multitasking. But, the brain cannot pay attention to two things at one time. For example, do homework and watch TV. The TV may be good background noise for you to study by, but if you know what is going on, on the TV, you are watching TV. If you know what is going on with your homework, you are doing homework. The learning part of your brain is an amazing single task organ.
When a person is “multitasking” the brain takes a few hundredths of a second to switch to the next task that it then focuses on. Each refocusing takes a few hundredths of a second. That is very fast, but it has its drawbacks. If the refocusing uses different parts of the brain, then each switch also means that the brain needs to re-access the rules for dealing with each task. The part of your brain that you use for math is different than the part used for feelings. Often, it takes minutes to get back up to speed when switching between intensive tasks. If this isn’t inconvenient enough, your memory also gets affected.
One evening, my wife and I were cooking dinner together and having a very pleasant conversation. Our five-year old son ran into the kitchen and interrupted us. He excitedly exclaimed, “On Tuesdays you get mashed potatoes and aardvarks!” He laughed in our general direction and ran off.
We looked at each other and attempted to go back to our pleasant conversation. Neither of us could recall what we had been talking about. We both knew we were enjoying the conversation, but never remembered what we were talking about. Our son’s forced refocusing of our attention wiped out both of our working (short-term) memories. (Kids have that effect on their parents.)
If you are switching between known tasks, like washing the dishes, listening to the radio, and watching the kids do their homework in the next room; you can easily switch focus from task to task. But, if you are trying to learn something new, like how to calculate mortgage amortization while listening to the radio, and watching the kids do their homework in the next room, you’re setting yourself up to do each poorly. Also, you are likely to become short tempered.
Return calls and email in bunches
I recommend that you deal with the phone and email in batches. I find that I can get a lot done in 15 minutes. All things being equal, I like to use email. So, whenever possible, I use it. When it comes to email the clock is not that controlling. I can respond at 2 P.M. or 2 A.M. without bothering anyone. I tend to be in my office late, so I often have an issue of “when do people go to bed?”
My rule of thumb is, if it needs to be dealt with in the next 2 minutes-call. If it needs to be done today-email.
I have noticed that when someone calls, the reason for the call is the third thing they say.
1. “Hi Dr. Phil this is Eustace Tilley.”
2. “How are you doing?”
“Marvelously, may I help you?”
3. “I was wondering if…”
When it comes to email. We get to skip directly to number three. This saves time, which I have very little of. However, I have noticed one major drawback to email. If you request multiple tasks, often only one will get accomplished.
To help with this I started numerically listing what I wanted:
There are three parts to this task:
Please apprise me as each part is accomplished.
I have noticed if I get past three specific requests in one email, balls start to get dropped.
It is common to leave off the greeting and the closing to email. I do not allow myself to do that. My email always start with “Hi Joe,” or “Dear Jane,” and I close with “Thank you,” or “Be well,”. I see it as the base of common courtesy. I receive responses to email where the answer is in the subject line and the email is blank. I recommend against this because it seems rude, but more importantly, it can lead to confusion.
When responding to an email, it is helpful to indicate what you are specifically responding to. Most email programs will set this up for you when you hit the email reply button by giving you a new email window starting with:
On Feb. 13, 2009, at 10:52 AM, Eustace Tilley wrote:
Followed by a copy of the email highlighted and indented.
You can also cut and paste a part of a longer email, followed by your answer.
A few warnings about email:
Your email will be stored somewhere forever. Do not email any message you would not like quoted in open court.
It is common, and often recommended by counselors, to write a letter that you would never send to help you emote or cope with your feelings. This is a great idea, but not in an email program. Twice this year I have been told by astonished individuals that they accidentally sent an emotive email instead of deleting it. (One was an entrepreneur cussing out her boss.)
Humor can be dangerous in email form. Be very, very careful.
No matter how careful you are, someone will take offense at something they misunderstood or took out of context. Be prepared to apologize.
Discuss no confidential patient, client, or employee information by email unless you understand and use a secure server.
If sending a picture, keep the file size small. 5k to 30k is nice. If you send a huge picture, 250k or larger, it will be a bugger to download, and the recipient will not appreciate you.
A few helpful hints about returning batch phone calls:
Be prepared before you call. Have your information organized and in front of you. Write out the questions you need answered and tick them off as they are. A two minute call can become a ten minute call if you have to look for something.
If you are calling back customers in batches, you will often have numerous files in front of you. Only open one at a time. Avoid compromising the files. A misplaced paper can become an unnecessary liability.
When leaving a message, protect confidentiality. Do not assume that a message machine is private. You do not want a child, roommate, parent, or spouse learning something confidential from your message.
Use a quality headset. Over the course of time your neck will thank you.
Keep track of your calls. You will drive yourself nuts trying to remember if you called or didn’t. Log calls appropriately.
Avoid using the hold button. If you must, 20 seconds is the maximum. After 20 seconds, the person on hold starts to notice, and often becomes resentful. It is better to call someone back rather than to put them on hold.
At the beginning of the call, set the stage: “I don’t mean to be rude, but I only have three minutes before my next appointment. How may I help you?”
I find that people are very understanding of my request.
If the call will take longer than say, 5 minutes, I set a phone appointment so I can assist the person appropriately.
If I am initiating the call, I always start off by asking if this is a good time for them :
“Hi Mr. Bogg, this is Dr. Phil, is this a good time for me to interrupt you?”
By asking permission, I am showing respect for the person I am calling. If this is not a good time, I ask if we can set a phone appointment. Again, my mother’s insistence on manners has served me well.
I do not mix business with pleasure. If after we are done with the business of the call, a colleague wants to chat, I politely suggest, “We need to catch up, want to buy me lunch next week?”
A chutzpah professional does not take away from the money making part of the day for personal time. When I am at work, I stay focused on work. Conversely, when I am playing, I do not think of work.
If I have to leave a message with a person, I control the conversation with the following statements:
“Do you mind taking a written message?”
“Thanks, do you have paper and a pen?”
I leave a short message. Always saying my phone number slowly twice. Then I ask,
“Do you mind reading that back to me?”
Switch from phone to email if appropriate.
“That sounds exciting Barry, if you don’t mind, can we go over the particulars by email?”
I like to keep control of the movement of a project. So I offer to initiate the email correspondence.
“Give me your email address and I’ll send one to you right away. That way I’ll make sure I have your email address in my computer correctly.”
By taking responsibility for the next action, I know it will get done. I have no control over anyone else, so hoping that they will keep the ball rolling is a giant chutzpah mistake.
A few helpful hints about returning batch email:
One aspect of email that I really like is that if I have to do the same task repeatedly, my computer will allow me to automate it. I have written nine books to date (You are reading number 10. Thanks!). So I get email daily concerning them. I read and answer every one. My goal is to answer my email the day it comes in. When I notice the same question popping up, I write a template answer and cut and paste it into the email reply. It is a written form of a 9-second speech.
I recommend that you do not give any confidential information in an email.
If you are setting or confirming an appointment, always write the day and the date, such as Monday, 02/06/02. The day will help catch if the date is wrong, or vice versa. Patients who normally come in on say, Thursday, often need a reminder if the date and the day have changed.
Most email programs allow you to put predetermined text at the bottom of every email you send out. Most mail programs referred to them as signatures.
These signatures can be anything you want to make people aware of. You can have lots of signatures and change them depending on the email you are sending. Not only is this a great time saver, but brilliant chutzpah marketing as well.
Are you doing a talk? Add the contact information to a signature on all outbound email for the month prior to your date. Have a web site with amazing content? Put it in a signature!
A signature can also have graphics!
The sidebar is my basic email signature. Wherever my email goes, this advertisement goes with it. The graphics and the underlined words are hot linked. So, if someone clicks on a book in my signature, their computer automatically opens an Internet window and takes them to this book’s page at amazon.com. Google’s free email service, Gmail, sends a signature promoting Gmail on every email. A link invites readers to try Gmail. This no-cost viral advertisement is one of the reasons that Google has more money than we do.
Note: These are tiny 2k graphics. I made them in Adobe PhotoShop specifically for quick web loading.
If you put a large graphic (10+k) into your signature the email will upload and download slowly and you will upset your recipient.
When developing your signature graphics you want to catch the eye, but be very careful that your graphic is minute (under 5k). Larger graphics will clog email servers, so many service providers will not allow email greater than 100K total to pass through their system. Some service providers will simply strip the offending graphic and replace it with a broken link symbol (1k) while others will reject the email completely and send it back to you with a nasty system error or no spam note.
It is imperative that you know how people find you. Not just generally, but exactly. Most of this information is easily gathered at the first contact with a potential customer.
Ask the question:
“How did you find me/us?” (Then wait for an answer.)
“Thanks! I/we just like to keep track of how people find me/us.”
I clearly log the answer in my phone message book. At the end of each week, I transfer the accumulated information to a running log. Because I have kept this information over the years, I know a lot about my market area.
The telephone transmits feelings
When you or your staff answer the phone it is a chutzpah imperative that the highest amount of professionalism be maintained.
Probably once a month someone on the phone will compliment me on my phone etiquette. I do not think this says as much about me as it does about how other businesses treat customers on the phone. Compassionate politeness should be the norm. Chutzpah politeness is what I choose to offer.
On my way into work today, I stopped by a pharmacy to buy some Sudafed. Because of the fact that a minuscule percent of our population use Sudafed to make methamphetamine, I had to wait in the pharmacy line to buy over-the-counter decongestant. While waiting, the phone rang and I watched the pharmacy assistant answer it. “Thank you for calling Longs, your neighborhood pharmacy, can you hold?” Instantly she placed the caller on hold. There was no way she heard the caller’s answer.
Ten minutes went by until it was my turn, and another two minutes for my transaction, when I said in a low voice, “You left someone on hold.”
“Oh my gosh,” she said. “I forgot all about her.”
When you, as a business owner, look at this situation you have to question if the statement, “Thank you for calling Longs, your neighborhood pharmacy” comforted the person on hold for twelve minutes. The pharmacy assistant was very polite to everyone I saw her have contact with, and I assume she truly made an honest mistake. But was it avoidable?
What are the phone policies of the pharmacy? Do they account for busy times with two lines of customers waiting to pick up medications? Are you supposed to get permission from the caller to put them on hold, or simply ask for permission?
The phone transmits feelings. To help transmit positive feelings, I recommend three basic rules before anyone in your company answers the phone.
Only trained personnel answer the phone.
Before the phone is answered the trained personnel places a huge smile upon their face.
Place a small mirror by the phone. While on the phone all trained personnel should check their face to make sure that they are presenting themselves as happy and professional.
I want the mirror neurons in our brains to fire positive neurochemistry. Then, I want this positiveness transmitted through the phone line. I take this chutzpah seriously. When someone calls my office, I want them to know that my company works for them. I want them to know that they are important.
Anyone who answers your phone represents you
For those of us who are Star Trek fans, we understand the importance of first contact. In your shop, restaurant, or office, every contact is first contact. As a chutzpah marketer, I am always aware that my customer is constantly evaluating my services and then reevaluating them again.
If you are spending hundreds of dollars to have an amazing meal, wouldn’t you scrutinize the taste, atmosphere, and service? And wouldn’t you scrutinize through a filter of “damn this is expensive!”
You should expect your customers to do the same. If you consistently pass the test, they will tell lots of people, and that will be good for your business. Conversely, if you start to slip, they will tell even more people, and that will be bad for your business.
For example, in the last few pages I told tens of thousands of readers about my pharmacy experience. But, I’m not as inclined to tell a story about routine, proper, phone etiquette.
Phone scripts keep your company consistent
In addition to the three rules already stated, chutzpah marketers use their phone wisely.
A chutzpah phone script is one form of the 9-second speeches that are provided to all personnel that answer your office phone. (A copy should be by each phone.) Unlike the 9-second speech where the answer is personal to you, the chutzpah phone script is a collection of the best responses to common questions that are asked over the phone. If you answer your phone regularly, you probably know most of the questions. If not, you need to start a running log of questions prospects ask. Within no time you will have a decent list.
Please note: In this section I will discuss only questions associated with marketing, but you will also want to develop scripted answers associated with commonly asked business questions.
I have developed phone scripts for, and with, a variety of professionals. These documents take a lot of man hours to develop. I know of two different times when the document was pilfered. One was stolen by an employee of a chiropractor and given to her boyfriend, a competing chiropractor. The second was liberated by a part-time attorney when he left to open up his own private office.
The goal is to quickly get to the answer you need while talking on the phone. There are three common ways to display your chutzpah script.
Print the questions and answers on three hole paper and place the paper in a binder. Organize the pages by common questions. Colored card stock may be helpful in locating questions in a hurry.
Print the questions and answers on 3” X 4” paper. Place the paper in an organized fashion in a clear 3” X 4” plastic sheet photo album. This way you will easily see six Q&A sheets per plastic page. This is also a good way to develop your scripts, allowing you to move parts around as you build your questions and answers.
The most professional display is to make a set of flip cards. Each topic card has commonly asked questions on it. Your employee simply flips to the topic and can see each question and answer. The pages are spiral bound and the number of pages is individualized to your needs. Each page is made of card stock so it will hold up for a long time. See below.
Chutzpah flip cards.
No matter the format, the goal is the same, to make it easy for whomever is authorized to answer the phone to represent your company well.
Whether you are a new company or a seasoned professional, I advise you to develop phone scripts. This way you will have the best answer at your finger tips when you are on the phone. In time, you will memorize your well developed scripts. But, given enough time, we all get sloppy and a refresher course is then only fingertips away.
Let’s look at some common phone questions:
What are your hours?
Is the owner there?
Are you hiring?
What kind of certification/bonding/license do you have?
Do you take Visa, Master Card, American Express… ?
Do you accept checks?
How long before you can help me?
How much will it cost?
Avoid the hold button
The hold button should be avoided if at all possible. However, sometimes it is unavoidable. A few hints on how to use the hold button when it is unavoidable. By following these tips, your company will shine in customer service.
Do not answer the phone unless you have a few minutes to handle the call. Let the machine or service take the call if you are not in the frame of mind for customer service. Have the phone area conducive to helping callers - have paper, pens ready and keep the area free of clutter. Smile.
Always ask for permission, and wait to hear the answer. “May I put you on hold so I can get your file?”
Follow the 20 second rule. Never leave anyone unattended for over 20 seconds. People start to feel negative about your company at about 30 seconds. When you return to the caller, call them by name and thank them for their patience. “Hi Mr. Reredos, thank you for your patience…” By treating the caller’s time with respect, you are showing care for the caller.
If your task will take more than 20 seconds, ask the caller if you can call them back in a few minutes. “It will take me a few minutes to research your question, may I call you back in less then ten minutes with the information you are requesting?” Then wait for an answer from the caller.
Just before you reestablish contact with the caller, smile. Remember, you are answering the phone to bring service to the caller. (The caller doesn’t and shouldn’t know that you spilled coffee on yourself while reaching for their file.)
As Vic, the extremely profitable gas station owner, taught us at the beginning of the chapter, the phone is directly connected to your customer’s, and potential customer’s wallets. How you use your phone and email, directly influences your company’s bottom line.
Back to Business and money index