By Susan Frew, President, Sunshine Plumbing Heating Air LLC


Susan Frew has built a reputation as one of the most renowned names in trade service and small business. Now she’s proud to share some of her knowledge and secrets with you! Her new book, entitled Pufferfish Effect, discusses how you can be a pufferfish in your community and turn your business into a roaring success. The pufferfish is a fish that naturally puffs itself up to appear bigger than it actually is, thus giving it a larger presence in the ocean. Susan Frew wants to help you apply that same concept to your business through a laser-focused strategy for everything from your business plan to your marketing. By making your presence bigger, stronger, and better known, you’ll not only claim a bigger stake in the market and turn your business into a success, but even overcome some of the massive obstacles facing the home services industry.

An Example of a Pufferfish

It is no secret that the airline industry has been in flux for decades. In 2014, Frontier Airlines® decided to launch its new marketing plan that included making the animals printed on the tail of their planes larger and more prominent. In an article by Denver’s local 9News, one of the reasons cited for doing this included recognizing how important animals were to people and wanting to connect more with their client base. In fact, in 2016, Frontier® yielded to a year’s worth of requests from 3rd and 4th grade students in the Denver area and put Marty the Marmot on one of their planes. This was a huge public relations event that involved the community while also promoting the refreshed brand of the company. The school principal said it was a great lesson for the kids in hard work, advocacy, and activism and thanked Frontier Airlines for helping them make an unforgettable memory.

In this example, Frontier Airlines used public involvement in a simple way to self-promote and participate in the community in a meaningful way. However, by also putting animals on the tail of their planes, they (purposefully or not) made themselves look bigger and more visible, just like a pufferfish.

Do you remember the last time you were on a plane? How about the last two times? Did you fly with the same carrier? I’m sure you didn’t even think about which specific plane you were on, just what type of plane. By putting animal images on the planes, Frontier is drawing attention to the size of their fleet, rather than letting it be obscure. Do you know how many planes any carrier has? Do you care? Probably not, but if you fly Frontier, you will likely remember which animal was on your plane. You may even go look up, just like I did, how many planes they have and what animals adorn them. The animals have nothing to do with flight. In fact, they are only there for customer enjoyment. It is a simple, yet easy way to be seen, which is what their marketing department was going for. This is exactly what I want for you in your business.

The Steps to Being a Pufferfish

Take a look at the steps listed below to become a Pufferfish in your pond/corner of the ocean. Think of the new ways you can implement them.

  1. Do good work
  2. Be a networking rockstar
  3. Deliver mind-blowing customer service
  4. Shamelessly self-promote
  5. Give back to the community
  6. Create a star team

That’s all. The end. Just kidding!

They sound simple, and they are. However, most people think they are doing these things, when they either aren’t doing them or aren’t doing them effectively. We know they are effective when reality shows us they are. This means we are setting goals, tracking, and observing the results! Too often, business owners say they are doing something, but without tracking the results it’s just action. They think they know what is happening, but they aren’t tracking it to determine whether it is true and effective. Don’t get me wrong, you do have an idea of what your business is doing, but without proper tracking, you don’t really know. It’s like trying to get somewhere based on the general direction, rather than the specific address.

Even in subjective fields like therapy, we are asked to quantify our results in order to show us our progress. We need to say something to the effect of: “I think I’m about a four on a scale of 10, and I’ll know I’m successful when I’m at a seven.” Why do therapists do that? They are helping you to quantify your results so you can determine if you’ve achieved them. Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, need to be part of your everyday life, because while these six steps seem really simple, you will never know if they are effective, or if you have achieved them, if you don’t have a way to measure the results.