April 22, 2018

Column from Florida Trend's Business Coach

Follow through on details to build business

Ron Stein | 4/16/2012
Ron Stein at USF
Florida Trend's business columnist Ron Stein speaking during a recent workshop at the University of South Florida.

It’s amazing how many businesses launch a promotional campaign and seem to forget key details needed to make it work. These are usually little things that tie everything together nicely, making the difference between modest and dazzling results.

Not long ago I was looking for a place to eat downtown after a late morning meeting. As usual, my focus was on fast but healthy, and I had a number of restaurants in the main business district to choose from. Which one would catch my eye?

There it was -- a cafeteria style Caribbean café. On the sidewalk was a sign with balloons attached announcing that it was their anniversary and prices were reduced to what they were the year they first opened their door. Plus I could win two tickets to the local sports team by dropping my business card in a bowl. It didn’t hurt that I grew up in Miami and love Caribbean food and I’m a big sports fan.

So in I went. That’s when things went downhill quickly! No one greeted me, and in fact, the employees almost seemed a bit indifferent. Only one sandwich and a few full dinner meals were marked down. And that fishbowl for the ticket drawing was nowhere to be found. Too bad. Because the Cuban sandwich was very good.

Here was a great opportunity to capture a new customer and build a long-term relationship. But it was not to be. Sure I spent money there that day, yet the lifetime value of my business could have been much more than that.

  • Connect the dots. Have an objective and keep it in front of you during the promotional activity. The café I was lured into probably had two primary purposes that day; get me in the door to buy lunch and get me to come back again. There should have been a process that was carried out, starting the minute I walked in the door. Doing that leads your prospect to your desired objectives. Develop a checklist and go over it with others on your team;
  • Keep your promises. Winning tickets to a sporting event wasn’t the reason I walked into the restaurant. It wasn’t forgotten though. The bowl for business cards should have been placed at the register. More importantly, a tuned-in employee who had the checklist would have asked if I had dropped my card in the bowl and pointed out where it was. Then there was the disconnect with the reduced prices offer. Your brand is a promise that identifies what customers should expect from your people, products, and company;
  • Build a loyal following. One of the most important outcomes of a promotional activity is building an email list. Regular communications with prospects and customers is a powerful way to create sticky relationships and grow sales. Having patrons drop a card in a bowl is a good way to go, if people can find the bowl!

It doesn’t matter if you’re a one-person company or a large corporation -- follow through on the details when promoting your business. Make sure your team and partners are clued in, keep your promises, and you’ll build a large and healthy audience that is fiercely loyal.

Read earlier columns from Florida Trend's business coach, Ron Stein
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Ron Stein is the founder and President of FastPath Marketing ( He has more than 20 years experience in sales, marketing, and business development, working positions ranging from salesman to vice president of sales and marketing to CEO of startups with industry leaders such as Motorola, VideoServer, Paradyne, and SercoNet. Ron is a member of the advisory team at the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, a nationally recognized entrepreneurial and startup accelerator for the state of Florida. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or

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