April provided me something of great value, unscheduled time! Due to two commitments being rescheduled to August, I took the time to finish a number of Creative Ventures projects which I had been pushing down the board in favor of client needs.

Add these to my new videos currently in final post production, the new web site in the design phase, a series of plane rides from coast to coast – and it was a FANTASTIC month of creativity and activity.

Let me know if you want summary sheets on any of the above programs or would like to know of other programs currently in development.

May has me hitting the road again, traveling east to Florida and west to California.

“With every referral you are asking someone to give a little bit of their reputation away.” – Ivan Misner

All companies thrive on referrals. It is the foundation of the classic concept, Perform well and be rewarded. The referral element is the basis for the “word of mouth” movement so feverishly fought for by companies around the world. Is there anything better than the passive, or unsolicited, referral? You know: you don’t ask for it, it is simply given by your customer as a result of the way they experienced your service or product. When you are the recipient of a passive recommendation, it is usually delivered in a simple but powerful story like, “Yesterday I had dinner at this fantastic restaurant. The food was unbelievable and they treated me like a king.”

Let’s examine this simple referral. Nowhere does the story teller say, “You have to try this restaurant!” It is implicit in the emotion of the story. Such a passive referral is the business holy grail of creating an evangelist for your service to the rest of the world. This could get even better if this diner tells the waiter, manager, or host the way he felt. Then the recognition factor would hit, and the manager could offer a discount on the customer’s next visit, or even give out a few discount coupons to be redeemed by the evangelist’s friends.

The problem for many good businesses is that often many of our best evangelists are unknown to us: anonymous evangelists! Allowing their existence to remain anonymous robs us of our ability to leverage their referral capability. So I want to introduce you to a three-part strategy that one of my largest clients and I have created, called…


IDENTIFY: The beginning is always about knowing, about investigating your current reality, the starting point for all strategy. This is done with a simple but powerful one-question survey:

On a scale of 1-10 how likely are you to recommend me to someone who would be likely to do business with me?

Personalize the question, because referrals have product/service-based foundations, but in relationship businesses they revolve around the person. This one-question survey is effective both when delivered formally to produce a statistical analysis as well as when delivered casually, resulting in a narrative outcome. You are looking for the GOLDEN CLIENTS, those who answer in the 8 to 10 range. In addition, a great byproduct from the one-question survey is that it also identifies those clients you are struggling with and who might be creating a negative passive referral, those in the 1 to 4 range. Both extreme responses deserve a role in crafting a strategic response.

CONNECTION: The most effective referrals come from an involvement with the referrer. The Golden Client is ALWAYS concerned about your approach to the person they recommended you to. We created a simple way to involve them in structuring the referral approach. By creating a simple connection with the referring Golden Client, we alleviate their fear that an inappropriate approach may damage their reputation.

THE ACTION PLAN: This is a custom, systematic approach using a specific three-part process that turns the connection potential into a Golden Client. This is the leverage in the plan. The three specific pieces involve timing, function, and reward. We can make them work in any company.

Every organization is at its heart a sales organization. Some are product producers, some are service providers, and some are both. At the end of the day for every business, sales drive growth. The struggle for sales professionals is the conversion of referrals to clients. Use this simple, powerful, and elegant Creative Ventures process to leverage your Golden Clients, and referrals will flow. This simple plan has already had a measurable conversion rate for my client and clearly will be a sales driver in 2010!


From Harry Potter and Frodo to Reality: I love the idea of a cloak of invisibility, which played a key role in both Harry’s and Frodo’s adventures. Amazingly, the cloak of invisibility is not that far from being reality. New Meta materials, tiny molecular structures smaller than the wave length of light and capable of guiding most wave lengths of visible light around objects. Think of how a boulder diverts water in a stream. Though still staggeringly expensive, the technology does exist and will give fantasy another toehold on reality.


Oh, By The Way, I’m Not Done With Referrals: The Church of the Customer (customerevangelists.typepad.com [customerevangelists.typepad.com]) recently blogged about the impact of referrals and used a neutral study (not internally driven by the companies) to show who leads the pack in knowing and leveraging their evangelists:

Others in the Top 10 included; Costco, Jet Blue, USAA and Charles Schwab.
These power companies know who their Golden Clients are and leverage them to the max!

The Swiss Battle: I have been doing a ton of work in the branding field for a number of my clients. In doing my R&D I found the following branding battle really interesting. The watch battle between Omega and Rolex is really heating up. Omega has wrestled from Rolex the positions of new and trendy. Even James Bond wears Omega, while Rolex now seems to connote old and traditional. Since the Swiss watch market represents about $35 billion in annual sales, this battle bears watching (pardon the pun). Omega is taking market share. On cost, the cheapest Rolex is 60% more expensive than the cheapest Omega (cheap may be the wrong word… how about least expensive). The real battle is in China, where Omega generates 35% of its sales. In China Omega represents 25% of all internet searches for Swiss watches while Rolex gets 18%. Don’t worry too much about Rolex, though. The 102 year-old watch maker is still the cornerstone of luxury and status wrist pieces, BUT on the branding battlefield, Omega is moving forward as new and trendy.


Interested in these ideas?


You can contact Steve at steve@creativeventures.com or give him a call at 972-490-7717.
See more at creativeventures.com and stephenharvill.com