May I Suggest You Make A Suggestion?

by Dan Kennedy | February 06, 2011

I suppose I should begin by disclosing I own stock in Bob Evans Restaurants. While stopping in during the holidays one year I noticed their December placemat, which includes printed on it a list of people you might need gift certificates for. Not just a pitch to buy gift certificates. A list of people you might want them for. As they say in that old Guinness beer commercial - Brilliant!

The question used as the headline is, itself, brilliant. It doesn't ask: do you need gift certificates? It asks: how many do you need? And in this case, using the word 'need' (rather than 'want') is correct.

Beginning in 1982, I taught chiropractors doing new patient classes to pass out a Form (which I provided) at the point in the class when they asked for referrals, that featured a list of suggestions: who do you know who does a lot of heavy lifting in their jobs? Who do you know who frequently complains about headaches? Etc. About twenty such questions. I remember one of the docs I got to know well reporting going from an average of two referred leads per patient pre-Form to an average of nine with Form. In one month, he collected over 180 referred leads and, with direct-mail follow-up, brought in 22 new patients. That'd be about $40,000.00 in 1983 case value dollars.

I could make the Bob Evans placemat/list better. Want to know how? Add more blatant guilt. You can say things like:

* Your SCHOOL BUS DRIVER Who Takes Care To Get Your Children To And From School Safely Everyday.
* Your HOUSEKEEPER Who Does All The Work You Don't Want To Do!

So, the question of this Big Lesson is: how can you use (more) Suggestive Selling in your business?

A few P.S.'s about Bob Evans: first, kudos for having the good sense to give the buyer a reward for buying gift certificates. Insisting on charging full retail and/or not rewarding the buyer is dumb, dumb, dumb. Gift certificates produce new customers, for which you ordinarily incur costs. Users typically out-spend the gift certificates, too. Second, my congratulations. to Michelle Davis, the manager at the Brookpark/Cleveland Airport Bob Evans. When I stopped there, every single person was cheery and friendly. A great team. And third, get this, after the totaled check was presented, my waitress offered me a free cup of coffee to go. Which I took. What's the cost? A Styrofoam cup, hot water, a teaspoon of coffee. But this kind of "little extra" creates enormous goodwill. Find a way to send your customers on their way with more than they expected.

Dan S. Kennedy is the provocative, truth-telling author of thirteen business books; a serial, multi-millionaire entrepreneur; trusted marketing advisor, consultant and coach to hundreds of private clients running businesses from $1-million to $1-billion in size; and he influences well over 1-million independent business owners annually through his newsletters, tele-coaching programs, local Chapters and Kennedy Study Groups meeting in over 100 cities.

Glazer-Kenndey Insiders Circle, owned and operated by internationally known marketing personalities Dan Kennedy and Bill Glazer, is THE place where truly smart, progressive, aggressive entrepreneurs with a love for marketing, a sincere desire to get rich and richer (with no apologies for doing so), and an optimistic, forward-looking attitude, gather' to exchange and share timely information and "what's working today" strategies and examples. Get Bill Glazer's #1 Bestselling Book, "Outrageous Advertising" for FREE. Click here.

Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; helps entrepreneurs to creating business value that transforms their world.  She is the author of Show Me The Money and columnist for & Fox Business online.   She is available for consulting, speaking engagements and workshops.  She can be reached at or


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