Vuvuzela: Do you have one in your business?

If you’re following the 2010 World Cup, you’ve probably seen (and definitely heard) the stadium horn known as the Vuvuzela. Used by South African soccer fans to make noise in support of their teams, the Vuvuzela has reached critical mass at the World Cup so that one can’t hear announcers, officials, etc. They’re running out of supplies of ear plugs because so many fans are buying them in response to the horns.  It’s a case of too much of a good thing become a bad thing.

Do you have your own Vuvuzela in your business?

It could be a marketing strategy or tactic…it could be the way you handle client service or support issues. Don’t assume without testing that something you like in small doses actually benefits your business when implemented as standard operating procedure.

Let me give you an example…

Some businesses teach their sales force to ask “Is this your first time here?” to a prospect who walks in the door. Whether the prospect says yes or no, the salesperson has a prepared response that contains a special offer designed to make a sale. The question is primarily designed to deter salespeople from asking “Can I help you with something?” and getting the standard response, “No, Thanks. I’m just looking.”

And this can be an effective “vuvuzela” for promoting business in some cases.

Yet this same tactic has been misapplied in businesses that sell memberships.

For example, if you walked into a gym for the first time and were asked that question, you wouldn’t mind. In fact, a special offer for first-time visitors might actually convince you to invest in a risk-free trial membership.

But what about the 25th time you walk into the gym as a member? How would you feel if asked every time if it was your first time to the gym?

At this point, that question not only becomes ineffective but downright insulting. You’re a member who visits repeatedly but always treated like a stranger when you walk in the door.

Moral of the story?

Walk through the processes you use for prospects and existing clients. If there is a vuvuzela in the mix, decide when it serves your purpose to toot your own horn.

Author Mike Young, Esq.

Mike Young has been practicing business and technology law since 1994 and is an angel investor in startups. He's been an entrepreneur since 1988. To get legal help from Attorney Young, click here now or call 214-546-4247 to schedule a phone consultation.

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