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Alan Weiss Interview – Million Dollar Referrals Book

Alan Weiss Million Dollar Referrals
Bestselling Author Alan Weiss

Alan Weiss has written over 45 books. Absorb that for a minute. That is a heck of alot of books.

His latest is Million Dollar Referrals (McGraw- Hill). A timely title about one of the most unique marketing art forms, referrals. Why timely? With constant changes in media and the rise of new channels such as social media, referrals can make or break many kinds of businesses. It is certainly an under-managed areas of marketing strategy in most organizations that has potential to improve business results. Like most marketing it requires your value proposition to be crystal clear as you are asking someone else to explain it to someone else. I can say from experience that many people skip this step.

Million Dollar Referrals is a clearly written, thought provoking read. The kind folks at McGraw-Hill were kind enough to set up an interview with Alan Weiss, the conversation is below….

The opening chapter discusses “Business Relationships are a Process, Not an Event”. You could replace the word relationships with many other concepts. Making that switch requires changing personal habits and or corporate culture. What is the best way to create this behavior change?

Alan Weiss: It merely requires educating your buyer and client. Culture change is a rubric, signifying less than nothing these days. Demonstrate to the client the nature of the relationship and partnership in terms of ongoing interaction and support.

What are the typical issues that can lead to a consulting provider being replaced? Can referrals be used effectively to ignite that need for a change in provider?

Alan Weiss: Trust that is violated. It’s very difficult to replace a highly respected consultant in a client. You can use referrals to become an additional resource as opposed to a replacement.

If you were starting a new consulting company from scratch today what areas would you take extra care to distinguish unique value in today’s highly competitive and global landscape?

Alan Weiss: Responsiveness; intellectual property; testimonials; global applicability; thought leadership; contrarianism.

You discuss that for referrals to be successful, clear communication of both targets and mutual benefit need to be present. What is the hardest part about consistently achieving this?

Alan Weiss: Being afraid to ask, failing to follow up, taking “no” too readily, not adequately demonstrating the win/win/win nature.

The are many new areas of strategic consulting involving technology convergence, search marketing, mobile, etc. What is the best way to convey certain value for new services where the price is not well established?

Alan Weiss: Price has nothing to do with it. The key is to show the value in terms of the buyer personal needs as well as the organizational need. Every client knows what he wants; few know what the need. Consultants should identify the needs.

Is there any way to create referrals when you are working with a client under a non-disclosure agreement?

Alan Weiss: Sure. You can be referred outside the industry, or without regard to the nature of the work, and without revealing that the source was a client.

Is there any major issues you think people over look with referrals?

Alan Weiss: They don’t prepare their clients or the environment, and fail to consistently ask because they are embarrassed.

I understand you occasionally put on some unique seminars? Is anything upcoming?

Alan Weiss: Just finished Thought Leadership at The Breakers in Palm Beach. Million Collar Consulting® College next week. Australia speaking tour after that. The Art of the Referral Workshop in Newport on Nov. 30.





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My Secret Love Affair With a Reusable Coupon

OK, There is this little secret love affair that I’ve been withholding from you. It all started with an innocent visit to my mailbox in late September which included a mailing with the pictured reusuable coupon for a free bagel from Einstein’s Bagels every Friday before 11AM. Each week since then this coupon has been a gateway to sesame bagels, onion bagels, garlic bagels, pumpernickel bagels and exotic new flavors such as Honey Whole Wheat! Then the seasonal pumpkin bagel arrived which was a nice change of pace. In a year that has likely been the most challenging in my life (and for almost everyone else I know too) since 2002 in the economic aftermath of 9/11/2001, the unconditional and consistent love of experiencing and sampling these bagels each week this Fall has been quite the welcome treat!
My Secret Love Affair With a Reusable Coupon

The relationship probably works so well because it is really simple and low maintenance, I need to take the coupon to my local Einstein Bros Bagels location prior to 11AM each Friday to experience a freshly made bagel.  But rather than a one time only usage, the coupon remains with me after experiencing the bagel. It sits on my counter. Quietly. Yet I see it several times a week. And I admit to thinking about it more often than that.

So why do I like this reusuable coupon so passionately?

  • It Allows Me To Experience The Actual Current Attributes of The Brand – This is critical! It’s a unique piece of marketing in that regard alone as experiencing the attributes of the brand is what it’s all about!
  • It Brings Unique Warmth That Builds A Relationship – The reusable coupon’s giving nature allows one to fell warm and fuzzy about the experience.
  • It Gives Me Something To Look Forward To Each Week – This is pretty obvious. Heck this blog post is being written on a Tuesday!
  • It Is Habit Forming – Getting in the habit of going to Einstein Bros Bagels each Friday would be unimagiable in any other way.
  • It Encourages Risk Taking / Trying New Things – I likely would not have tried the Honey Whole Wheat Bagel had I not be incentives for a free trial of it’s attributes.
  • It Serves as a Model to Mobile Marketing Pioneers – Image time windows where merchants provide deals everywhere and scan your phone in some way to create mesaurability of Word of Mouth and other types of unique marketing offers. The possibilities and combinations are endless. Get beyond the DNA of purely outbound marketing and into inbound and word of mouth possibilities.

All of the above are positive attributes that I am quite fond of and appreciate greatly in engaging marketing that builds affinity for experiencing a brand’s attributes. I love this kind of marketing!

So the coupon expires on 11/27, will my love affair with the coupon will certainly come to an end, but will I keep it a drawer like an aging love letter? Don’t know yet. What I do know is we should reward innovative and effective marketing of this nature as it’s a great pleasure to interact with when compared to non-relevant outbound marketing messages that are still too often the norm.

It would be interesting to see the vibe of this coupon applied to their website design, as according to the top 5 search entry terms to the site are currently branded search terms and account for ~60% of the site traffic currently and the word Bagel is not in the title tag of the homepage.  Hopefully the online experience will one day rival the vibe that was created by the reusable coupon that sparked my secret love affair…

Companies should have that goal to create a passionate love affair with their customers. Applications for love affairs with me are currently being accepted…

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Microsoft’s Shocking Click Fraud Lawsuit (Microsoft v. Lam, et. al.)

With the recent launch of Bing, Microsoft has been making alot of promotional fanfare. That was expected.

Seemingly almost out of nowhere, after several years of being virtually invisible to the public, click fraud appeared on the pages of the New York Times and Microsoft took on the role of being the white hat with the filing of a unique lawsuit.

Whether the timing shortly after the launch of Bing is on purpose or not, this is a highly important event.  Time may one day look back at this first of it’s kind event as the most single important action Microsoft has ever taken in the battle with other search engines.

Tim Cranton, Microsoft’s Associate General Counsel, wrote a post about the lawsuit on the Microsoft on the Issues blog, entitled (DEAD URL +”) “Using Enforcement to Crack Down on ‘Click Fraud'”, Cranton stated:

Once we became aware of the click fraud attacks we quickly took action to address any impact on advertisers and to enhance safeguards to further protect our network.  Today’s suit seeks an injunction to help stop this activity and to recover damages.

As I’ve stated on this blog before, the Internet is all about trust. If Microsoft can build trust by taking these actions, that is outstanding. Over time, the question is this, “Will Microsoft will be able to take trust away from other search engines regarding this issue?”

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Search Engine Strategies Chicago 2008: Video Search Engine Optimization

Anna Maria Virzi, Executive Editor, ClickZ

Ed Kim, Chief Executive Officer, Red Bricks Media
Greg Jarboe, President & Co-founder, SEO-PR
Steve Espinosa, Director of Product Development & Management, eLocal Listing, LLC
Gregory Markel, Founder/President, Infuse Creative, LLC
Barbara C. Coll, CEO, Inc.

I didn’t get to attend this session due to other conference activities.

However, I did learn that Greg Jarboe is working on a book about Youtube (I’d love to contribute or read an early version if you are reading this btw).  I look forward to seeing it.

I’d encourage people to check out my highly ranked post “How to do Youtube Video View (Search) Optimization” in addition to other posts about this session.

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Search Engine Strategies Chicago 2008: Search Engine Marketing and Consumer Packaged Goods

Mark Jackson, Search Engine Watch Expert & President/CEO, VIZION Interactive
Internet Marketing Speakers:
Brian Lipman, Interactive Marketing, ConAgra Foods
Randy Peterson, Search Marketing Innovation Manager, Procter and Gamble
Beth Uyenco, Global Research Director, Microsoft’s Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group
Eli Goodman, Search Evangelist, comScore, Inc

Matt Wilburn, Senior Director, CPG, Matt WIlburn and Beth Uyenco went over example of how CPG companies are starting to use search. I missed Eli’s position of the session and Brian Lipman discussed the Hunt’s response to the tomato scare earilier this year and talked about the importance of cycle time. Randy Peterson’s talk was very similar to the 2007 Consumer Package Goods session.

Matt Wilburn, Yahoo!

Search Marketing for CPG Brands – Search provides scale and relevance for CPG brands percomScore study.

Is there brand equity in search results? Yes! Brand awareness rises 160% for items in search results

2009 need – greater accountability! 98% said a lack of standardization in reporting of internet statistics

Metrics that Matter – If you can’t tie odd knots, tie a lot of them…

Accountability will drive adoption of search…digital shows better ROI than broadcast

Beth Uyenco, Microsoft:

How search fits into the digital lifestyle of CPG’s primary shoppers

Moms are experienced and tenacious “Searchers”

86% feel that search engines are the best way to find information – compare prices, find retail locations, gather production information, product reviews, find sales, coupons and incentives

Women prowl for ‘good deals’ – how can we get them smart before the cart?

While the Internet has changed the shopping game, but its just trickling down to CPG…

Price leveler, ratings/reviews, trusted sources

Toilet paper surprisingly is researched at a high level

Randy Peterson, P & G

Presented 10 myths

70% of CPG searchers believe you are not a leading brand if you are not on page one of the search engine results page for the product type

Position matters and evidence is increasing that this increases brand recall

Reduce prices through improved quality scores.

Competitor isn’t there, why do I need to be?

Rapid Response SEM Process: Identify the issue, Understand the issue, Respond

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ifbyphone Raises $4.6 Million in New Round of Venture Capital Funding

Congrats to Irv Shapiro and his team! I’ve had a close up look at what the ifbyphone is doing and I like what I see. Mike Pruyn at Communicano dropped me this note saying that “Ifbyphone is a tech start-up that specializes in building elegantly simple telephony-related software applications for SMBs.  The company has two of the most downloaded business applications on the Apple iTunes App Store. Last week, FierceMarkets recognized the company as one of its  Fierce 15 award winners” and stated this was for release today…

Infusion of Venture Capital Insures Continued Expansion Despite Economic Downturn

CHICAGO–Nov. 18, 2008—In the middle of an economic slowdown and a drought in venture capital funding, Ifbyphone said today it has secured $4.6 million in a second round of institutional funding from five venture capital firms.
Ifbyphone is a hosted telephone application platform company that provides small and medium-sized businesses with telephony features that enable them to create phone solutions that enhance customer conversations, increase sales and lower costs.
The funding round was jointly led by Apex Venture Partners and Origin Ventures, who also invested in Ifbyphone’s first round of institutional funding. They were joined by Spring Mill Venture Partners, i2A and Blue Crest Capital Finance, L.P.
“We view this new round of funding as a strong endorsement of our growth and expansion strategy,” said Ifbyphone founder and CEO Irv Shapiro. “It positions us extremely well to continue our expansion during these complex economic times.”

“We are very excited to be a part of the Ifbyphone investor group,” said Ken Green, co-founder and managing partner at Spring Mill Venture Partners. “We believe that Ifbyphone represents the next great wave of Internet-enabled business services, allowing small and medium-sized businesses access to capabilities previously only available to their larger competitors. This kind of service offers an opportunity to level the competitive playing field.”

To learn more about Ifbyphone’s affordable suite of online telephony applications, such as voice broadcasting, Smart Toll Free Numbers, Google Analytics Call Integration and interactive voice response (IVR), visit

# # #
About Ifbyphone
Ifbyphone is a hosted telephone application platform company that provides small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with tools to enhance customer conversations, drive sales, and lower costs. Leveraging Ifbyphone’s extreme usability, developers and marketers can quickly create solutions ranging from simple click-to-call links to sophisticated call-routing and interactive-marketing systems. Ifbyphone’s solutions are available directly to SMBs and through a network of resellers. For more information, click to speak to a sales professional or visit the Ifbyphone Web site.

About Origin Ventures
Origin Ventures is a venture capital firm investing in early-stage companies. The firm invests capital and leverages its entrepreneurial, marketing and management expertise to help facilitate the growth of early-stage companies. The principals of Origin Ventures have been involved in successful entrepreneurial activities since the mid 1980s.

About Apex Venture Partners
Apex Venture Partners is a national venture capital firm based in Chicago. With more than 20 years’ experience financing early stage IT businesses, Apex has invested in more than 140 companies since inception. The partners at Apex look for companies that have unique products or services that address large potential markets in which customer needs are not being addressed.

About Spring Mill Venture Partners
Spring Mill Venture Partners is an early stage venture capital firm focused on investing in strong management teams in high-growth information technology and life sciences companies located in the Midwest region. We take an active role by providing the strategic and tactical assistance that early stage companies need to grow and prosper. More information is available at

About i2A
The Illinois Innovation Accelerator Fund (i²A) is an innovative $10 million early-stage investment fund which invests in companies primarily in technology-enabled products and services, new media and education products and services, and consumer and retail products.  The fund’s goal is to provide the first external professional capital raised by companies and nurture them through their early stages of growth. Visit for more information.

About BlueCrest Capital Finance, L.P.
BlueCrest Capital Finance, L.P., a U.S.-based commercial finance company, provides debt-financing solutions to development-stage companies in a broad range of industry sectors including IT, Communications, Hardware, Software, Semi-Conductor, Electronics, Energy, Medical Device and Life Science. The team, which has been together continuously since 1998, pursues debt transactions in the $1 million-$25 million range and has consummated approximately 900 transactions with total commitments in excess of $1.9 billion.

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The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Formerly Chicago GSB

The University of Chicago Booth School of business, formerly Chicago GSB
The University of Chicago Booth School of business, formerly Chicago GSB

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, formerly The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business sent this note earlier this month.

I am very pleased to announce a remarkable gift of $300 million to the University of Chicago for the benefit of the Graduate School of Business by University Trustee and alumnus David G. Booth, MBA ’71, his wife Suzanne Booth, and their children, Erin and Chandler Booth. This is the largest donation in the University’s history and the largest gift ever in support of any business school. In recognition of the Booth family’s extraordinary generosity, the Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to name the school the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

I don’t have any comment on this at this time other than Ted Snyder would be wise to take action on the issues in this blog post about business school rankings in determining how to use these funds and needs a multi-million dollar communication plan for the world’s experienced recruiting community so that this brand does not cause alumni great harm.