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Newsletter #713: The “Get Help From Your Fans” Issue

{Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I Thought of That Email Newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the left.}

With a little work on your end, your customers can provide feedback better than any focus group or customer service program you have in place today. Your fans are just waiting to be asked.

1> Get their opinions
2> Put them to work
3> Help them help each other
4> Check it out: Fun and inspiring business cards

1> Get their opinions

Enlist your fans' help by asking them to vote and edit your content. T-shirt company Threadless counts on its fans to find and vote for their favorite shirt designs amidst thousands of entries. Major retailers like Best Buy, Macy's, and Sears all not only encourage customers to rate and review products directly on their sites, but also ask them to rate the reviewers themselves to highlight the most helpful comments.

The Lesson: If you ask for their opinions, your fans will beat out any expensive focus group.


2> Put them to work

Fans in the form of volunteers and interns are great at helping complete projects or running events. Goodwill uses volunteers in many day-to-day operations and posts the opportunities throughout their stores, giving the positions unique names such as "Treasure Hunter" and "Book Worm."

The Lesson: Whether you call them volunteers or interns, you'll be surprised at how willing your fans are to help your business.


3> Help them help each other

Your fans can be your best customer service agents. is an unofficial and unsponsored community of 65,000+ people helping each other assemble and use Ikea products. While your fan base might not be this ambitious, you can do your part by setting up forums, encouraging discussions and rewarding your most helpful customers.

The Lesson: If one of your customers is willing to help other customers, is there a way you can make it easy for them to do it?


4> Check it out: Fun and inspiring business cards

It's a new year, and for some, that means one thing: new business cards. Need some inspiration or an interesting new design? Take a look at this amazing collection of various business cards on Flickr.

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  1. j January 8, 2009 at 12:55 pm #

    Andy, I love the stat on 65,000+! What company wouldn’t want support like that?

  2. Greg Stielstra January 8, 2009 at 3:03 pm #

    Your post inspired some additional thinking. What about creating Customer Cards–business cards for your best customers? I flesh out this idea and provide a visual example on my blog. I’m no spammer, so I’ll let you provide the link if you like. Spread the fire. GS

  3. Scott January 9, 2009 at 7:40 am #

    Business cards say a lot about a companies dedication to Word of Mouth. In lean times it might be hard to justify the added cost of high quality, double sided, multi-color business cards, but I believe the added expense pays off in the end.
    A good friend of mine is a manufacturer’s rep for several industrial metal companies; his personal business card is the same standard 3.5″ x 2″ size, but made from stamped sheet metal. I personally think it’s genius, and I ALWAYS bring it up when the subject of business cards comes up. Their web site, on the other hand, could use some work.

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