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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Small Business Appeal

"Want a Massage With Your Move?" That's the title of an interesting story I found in BusinessWeek today (October 12, 2006 issue). The article describes the success behind Brooklyn, N.Y.'s Rabbit Movers. They're a 14-employee, three-truck small business making the most of word-of-mouth referrals and a website. And get this - aside from their website, they don't spend money on advertising! They let their customers spread the word about them by keeping their site stocked with customer testimonials about their great service. What's more, the site also gives descriptions of extra services that traditional and big box moving companies don't offer - massages and feng shui. Now that's definitely something I'd like to try out!

One of Rabbit Mover's customers talks about taking advantage of the feng shui service: "I was mostly in it for the practical aspect: It helped me reduce my stress by helping me set up the apartment in a logical manner." This client has referred two friends to Rabbit since!

Aside from the customer comments on their website, Rabbit Movers also has positive feedback on other business sites like Apartmenttherapy.com and Brooklynian.com with posts like "Rabbit movers are awesome. I've used them and passed them on to friends as highly highly recommended."

The article also points out that these guys aren't stereotypical movers. Lyons has done his homework and knows that lots of moving companies around his area have a bad reputation, and he's trying to combat the clumsy, super-macho stereotype. The owner (Shawn Lyons) is a writer and his employees consist of creative types like chefs, painters, and musicians!

Rabbit Movers has even rented studio space in town to display art work and Lyons believes that most of the people that will be attending the upcoming exhibition will be former customers who asked to be added to the Rabbit mailing list! So, it's probably no surprise when I say that these guys specialize in moving art for galleries. A gallery director that uses their services says "What's really great is that they're not just movers, they're really smart guys. In a business you need things that are malleable - people who are quick and able to adjust to what you need."

Wow! I love it when I hear statements like that...a good point that can apply to all businesses! This whole article is filled with positive and helpful tips, much of the same things we at MerchantCircle have been striving to spread:

1. It pays to see what other businesses in your market are offering - what things work for them, what things don't.

2. Differentiating yourself from your competitors is definitely important!

3. You don't need to spend money on expensive advertising to win customers!

4. Having a current website with customer comments to help spread the word about your business is essential!

5. It also helps to have raving reviews about your business on other business' sites.

Mostly, it seems that customers themselves are very helpful in advertising your business. That, combined with support from other businesses in your area, can make all the difference when someone is deciding between a big box store and your local business' appeal and character.

Best Regards,
Ryan
Product Marketing

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