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Sell Buzz 10/05

The power of poor service and word of mouth, and more

Sell Buzz 10/05 The power of poor service and word of mouth, and more

Carol Frank's Avian Adventures, a bird-cage and accessories company in Dallas, had really taken off when an employee took Frank's trade secrets to a competitor, who then tried to sue Frank for trademark infringement. Avian Adventures' sales plummeted from $2.1 million before the suit to $300,000 during it.

But when Frank negotiated a hefty settlement, she found a silver lining. She began telling her cautionary tale to the media, generating positive attention--and business. Earlier this year, a trade publication named her one of 25 "people to watch."

"We got a lot of publicity," recalls Frank, 46. "People still talk about 'the lawsuit' in my industry."

Luda Kopeikina helps business owners like Frank turn lemons into lemonade. In her book, The Right Decision Every Time, she offers the following tips for business owners trying to find opportunity in adversity:

  • Reach out. "Have discussions with your customers," says Kopeikina. "If you can't speak to each of them, use written communication to inform them of your side of the story."
  • Look for others to help tell your story. Because Frank was open with the media, she benefited from the exposure. Kopeikina says companies that are positive, honest and professional are often able to turn negative publicity around to their benefit.
  • Take the high road in communications. Whatever the situation, Kopeikina advises, you should never resort to mudslinging.

Quick Pick
Who says you can't buy local internet advertising? Online advertising company Kanoodle has launched LocalTarget, which targets local web page content through sponsored links, providing advertisers with the opportunity to more accurately and affordably reach local customers through regional news and other websites. The pay-per-click service is priced on a sliding scale--the more sought-after the market and the topic, the higher the price. Per-click rates can be as low as 15 cents and as high as the $5 range, but Kanoodle lets you put a cap on the amount of money you spend on your campaign.

26.7% of

consumers say word-of-mouth has the biggest impact on what they purchase compared to newspaper inserts or in-store promotions.
Statistic Source: BIGresearch

57.5% of

customers say two or fewer instances of poor service are enough to make them change providers.
Statistic Source: BIGresearch

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This article was originally published in the October 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Sell Buzz 10/05.

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