Take a look around your community and make a list of truly superior small businesses—ones you trust so thoroughly you would recommend them to your friends, your boss and even your in-laws. Whether your mind turns to restaurants, plumbers, plant nurseries or veterinarians, chances are good your list is fairly short. Now think about all the ads for local businesses that fill your newspaper, clutter your doorstep, spew out of your radio, cover the back of your grocery receipts or reach you in dozens of other ways. How many of these businesses are on your list? More than likely, not many. In fact, I’ll bet the most heavily advertised local businesses are among the businesses you never plan to patronize—or patronize again—no matter how many 50%-off specials you are offered. If, like me, you have learned the hard way that many businesses that loudly trumpet their virtues are barely average, how do you find a top-quality business when you need something? Almost surely, whether you need a roof for your house, an accountant for your business, a math tutor for your child or a restaurant for a Saturday night out, you ask for a recommendation from someone you consider knowledgeable and trustworthy. Once you grasp the simple fact that what counts is not what a business says about itself, but rather what others say about it, you should quickly understand and embrace the message of this brilliant book. Simply put: The best way to succeed in business is to run such a wonderful operation that your loyal and satisfied customers will brag about your goods and services far and wide. Instead of spending a small fortune on advertising, it’s far better to spend the same money improving your business and caring for customers.
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