Posts Tagged ‘Useful Internet tools’

How to generate customer devotion

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

I read a blog post today that caught my eye because of the title: “Turn your customers into raving fans.”

CustomInk logoI am a raving fan, and is the object of my affection. I recently used their services to make t-shirts for a charity walk that I organized. Going into it, I had a few issues to overcome with the t-shirts:

1)      I had a deadline of less than 2 weeks to get the t-shirts printed and delivered

2)      I am not a designer and had to design the t-shirts

3)      I was trying to create something that would appeal to men, women and children

4)      I wanted to be able to get input from someone else on my team to help me make the final decision, but we don’t live in the same city

I did a search on Google for “t-shirt design” and was the first listing. (Another testimony to the power and importance of SEO, but I’ll save that discussion for another blog post.)

t-shirt frontSo there are a lot of reasons that I love this company. The first thing I discovered is that they are able to rush-deliver an order in less than 7 days. Perfect! Second, their online tool is really user-friendly and fun to use. You pick the item to design (they have shirts, pants, hats, etc.) and the color. Then you head to the “design online lab.” The tool starts you off with a blank t-shirt and then lets you add text, graphics (you can upload your own or choose from their clip art library), change colors, layouts, put effects on the text…there are wide range of options. Then, to top it all off, you can save the design, email it to people to get their opinions and then start again with t-shirt backa new design if you aren’t totally satisfied. This tool managed to help me overcome all four of the issues that I was having with designing these t-shirts. That was enough to make me love the service.

But there was more. I placed my order, got my final proofs, talked to someone at the company to answer a few questions that they had about tricky parts of the design. Great. Everyone was pleasant, I felt a high degree of confidence that my t-shirts would be done on-time and that they would look great. Then came the kicker. I got the following email:

Hi Melissa,I noticed that you have designed shirts that could possibly be for a charity event. If that’s the case, CustomInk would love to donate to your team or to the charity itself on your behalf! Please let me know if your order is for one of these events. If you  would like us to pitch in and support your cause, please include information about your charity event, a link if you have one or the organization’s name if there is no link to a team web page.Warmest Regards,
Lori Mayfield

I immediately sent them a note back with the instructions about how to donate with a comment like “wow, I really love you” or something hero-worshipping like that. To which, Lori, my personal, human contact, sends me this delightful note back:

Thank you for the information, the link worked perfectly!

We try to donate to every charity event that our customers hold close to their hearts, so we are delighted to help with this event. Of course, we wish we could offer a large sponsorship, but because we do so many, I’m limited to small donations ($30). I just want to make sure you know that, even though we know every bit counts.

This is outstanding customer service and a fantastic policy for retention. Plus, it’s just really smart. I spent more than $500 with this company. The likelihood of me doing so again is high. I ordered 33 t-shirts – this means that I will tell all 33 of the people who are getting the t-shirts the story about this company (and I did!) because the company donated to our common cause. And finally, they know that they are reaching someone who has influence – the person who is in charge of the t-shirt ordering is likely someone who is making decisions for a large group of people and probably has other areas of responsibility and influence. This is really smart business. This article from Dosh Dosh talks about 9 great ways to dominate your niche, such as focusing on your reputation and developing retention equity, and is doing all of these things.

See? I have become a raving fan.


~Today’s view:

Start the process of globalization today

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

If you want to grow your business, I can’t think of a reason to put globalization off any longer. Pick a country, any country (other than the one in which you’re currently doing business), and take a step forward. There are ways to pick what country to start with, such as determining which countries already send a lot of visitors to your site, or finding a country that has a market in which your product has a lot of appeal. Then just start.

One of my clients is starting by re-writing all of the code for its primary application in Unicode, which has the “potential to cope with over one million unique characters.” Or you could start by examining how companies like Yahoo are managing their multilingual content. Or just subscribe to a blog that focuses on the day-to-day process of globalization. Or maybe your first step is simply trying to feel comfortable working on a project with someone in another country. My suggestion is to just try it. One site I’ve used in the past for outsourcing is eLance. The online service allows you to bid out projects of many types (including translation). All you have to do is register for an account (you’ll need an active credit card or bank account to qualify to use the service, although it’s free), then post your project. You’ll get bids from all over the world. This week, via eLance I’ve worked with contractors in Argentina, Russia and India (as well as my U.S.-based contractors – this isn’t a post about outsourcing all your work overseas!) This experience alone might open you up to the possibility of exploring other markets. Just start.

~Today’s view:

How to get the domain name you want

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007


The basics of domain name registration are relatively straightforward. You contact a domain name registrar (my favorite is and you do a search to see if your domain name is GoDaddy logoavailable. If it is, you pay a small fee (anywhere from $8-$25, depending on the registrar), fill out a form and it’s done, you own the domain.

But things rarely go that simply. First of all, it’s difficult to find the domain that you want. There are currently millions of domain names that have already been registered, and there is a vibrant community of domain name speculators who are also bidding on domain names, so the pool of available names is shrinking. But there are some strategies that you can use to give yourself a better chance of getting the domain name you’re after.

If the domain name is available, buy it immediately
About a year ago, I found  a really good domain name in one of my searches, made a note about going back the next day to buy it, but when I went to make the purchase, I found out that it had already been registered and was now unavailable. This experience is not uncommon and it is happening because
someone is monitoring domain name searches. The way to avoid it is to do your brainstorming ahead of time and be prepared to buy when you find a name that is available. If you’re not sure if you want a domain name but you find out it is available, buy it anyway unless you are OK with losing it completely.

Set up an account with SnapNames so that you can bid on the domain name when it becomes available
SnapNames is a service that lets you “back order” a currently registered domain name. The idea behind this service is that when a domain name expires the expired domain name goes back on the market for anyone who wants it to buy. But, without a service like SnapNames, it would be difficult to monitor the domains SnapNames logothat you want, and depending on the demand for that domain, very difficult to get the domain at all. According to the SnapNames Web site, “about 25% of currently registered domain names–now an installed base of more than 100 million names worldwide–expire and delete each year.” This is a big pool of names that you will have access to by using this service or one like it.

Buy a domain name from a speculator or the current owner
Buying a high-price domain might not seem like an attractive option when you can buy a domain name for $8 from a registrar, but sometimes paying a little (or even a lot) more is worth the investment. There are many Web sites that offer domain names for sale at inflated prices – theoretically the price climbs the more valuable the domain. These sites include
GreatDomains or Afternic, where, for example, today you could purchase for $20,000 and where just sold for $10,100. These prices may seem high, but even one of the most notoriously expensive domain names – – which sold in late 1999 for $7.5 million, was bought in July 2007 by R.H. Donnelley Corp. for between $340 million and $360 million. The current purchase price includes the fully developed directory business, of course, but it does underscore the ability to build a huge business around a simple multi-million-dollar domain name.

Another option if you want to find out who owns a domain name is to do a WHOIS look up. Typically if there is any chance that you’ll be able to buy the domain from the owner, their contact information will be included in the record, and you can contact them directly and try to work out a deal.

~Today’s view: