Category: Business Growth

Word of mouth tactics – Part 1

Today we’ll start a new series talking all about Word of Mouth and how it can make or break your business in an extremely short amount of time. In this first lesson, we’ll get a feel for what exactly word of mouth is.

Word of Mouth is easily the most powerful form of marketing and is absolutely free. People talk about ads they see, the experiences they have and the products they purchase. If you treat people right and spread the word about your new products/services positively, you’ll attract the right customers and client who will sustain your business for a long time.

Now, as positive as word of mouth can be for your business, the other side of the coin is how negative it can be as well. Bad news seems invariable to travel faster than good news and if you have a less than high-quality product or weak customer service system, then your customers will tell everyone they know to not buy your products and services.

There are some stats to support this:

Word of mouth drives $6 trillion of annual consumer spending. Word of mouth marketing spend is expecting to grow by 70% for online WOMM and 30% for its offline counterpart. 43% of marketers using WOMM are estimating an increase in sales. Offline word of mouth increases sales by about 20%.

The age of technology has proved to be an amazing benefit in the world of word of mouth. With blogs, podcasts, online marketing, forums, social networking and all the other online mediums available and making it easier and easier for consumers to share their experiences. And, remember this is all free advertising for you.

Let’s take a minute to talk about the importance of shortening the customer decision cycle to help customers/client choose more quickly and easily. There are three great ways to increase sales by shortening the decision cycle.

They are:

  1. Increase the overall dollar amount customers spend on each purchase
  2. Increase your number of customers
  3. Increase the frequency of purchases

Let’s take a deeper look at decision speed.

Offer simplicity, ease and a fun purchasing atmosphere and you’ll help your customers make their decisions quicker and more confidently. When this happens your customers will buy more frequently, spend more money than usual, refer friends and make the decision to purchase faster. This can raise your market share by over 100 times.

The time it takes your customer to decide and purchase far outweighs any other component of marketing. When you focus on customer decision speed it forces you to take a hard look at your company and brand image, positioning, value, customer service, guarantees and product quality.

The next area I want to talk about quickly is how to minimise the friction, or stress, involved with decision making. No matter how easily people find decision making there is a certain amount of anxiety we all experience when making a purchase, especially from a new source or for a large amount of money. When you help to minimise this emotional response, you will soothe your customers’ anxiety and they will make their decision quicker and more confidently.

There are a few secrets to accelerate the customers’ decision making progress:

  • Your benefits, features, claims and promises must be obvious, clear and concise.
  • The information you offer must be complete, easy to understand, credible and balanced.
  • Use comparisons that show a marked difference.
  • Your guarantees must be rock solid and more than the customer expects.
  • Make trial periods easy.
  • You must have simple evaluations of your products or services.
  • Testimonials need to be relevant and positive. (Remember that your customers are looking for social proof)
  • Your support, delivery and other operational systems must be perfect.
  • Your website can be as good as you make it.
  • You can offer more than information, you can offer an experience that guides your customers gently through the decision-making process to make it easy for them to buy. Take it a step beyond by offering toll-free support numbers, software downloads to help with the process or other classy and informative ways to reassure your customers that you are there with them every step of the way and have nothing to hide.

This wraps up the first post in our series on word of mouth. If you need help identifying your target market and the issues they are experiencing in their purchasing experience that is making their decision time long, try our GUIDED TOUR and work with one of our coaches to come up with the best way to smooth out your purchasing experience.

Next time we’ll move forward with word of mouth and talk about the power of word of mouth and what exactly this powerful tool is and can be used for.

Maximise your resources part 1

Over the next few posts we’re going to talk about how to take a hard look at your current resources and get the most out of them. This can help your capital go further and increase your profit margin.

Today we’ll cover three different ways to maximise what you already have. These include:

  • Recognise the obvious
  • Unconventional breakthroughs
  • Face the facts

Recognise the Obvious

Sometimes when you are too close to something, you can’t make out the big picture. You need to step back and really take a hard look at the resources you currently have in front of you. You are surrounded by opportunities that can boost your career and help your business become more successful.

Unconventional Breakthroughs

Don’t sit around waiting for breakthroughs you need to create them yourself. A breakthrough is merely a new way of doing things or finding a new thing to do for the same or better results. You should be having regular brainstorming sessions and encouraging your team to come forward with breakthroughs or ideas any time they have them.

Some great examples of breakthroughs are:

  • A health and beauty company discovers a side effect of a product that can be re-marketed and sold.
  • A company creates a roll-on deodorant inspired by the shape and size of a ball point pen.
  • The founder of Nike poured rubber onto a waffle iron and created the most innovative and successful running shoe ever.

When attracting or strategising for a breakthrough there are some key objectives you need to keep in mind. They are:

  1. Look for the hidden opportunity in every situation.
  2. Look for at least on cash windfall for your business every three months.
  3. The more value for your client, the better your breakthrough.
  4. Create multiple streams of idea to find the best breakthroughs.
  5. Effective breakthroughs remove all risk or resistance.

Face the Facts

Before you can put your breakthroughs to work you need to face the facts of the processes and systems that are not working for you and work to correct or get rid of them. System analysis is a good way to do this. Once you have a listing of your strengths and weaknesses, you need to compare those to the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.

There are some great questions you can present to you and your team to get a handle on where your business is right now. They are:

  1. Why did I first start this business? Why am I in this industry?
  2. What products/services did I offer then? Which were the most popular?
  3. Why are my customers/clients buying from me right now?
  4. How did I generate new customers/clients then?
  5. Which of my marketing efforts were bringing in the best results?

Once you’ve got some answers to these questions, you’ll know better how to approach your weaknesses.

These three areas we’ve gone over give you a jumping off point for how to utilise your current resources to their fullest potential. If you need any help with your strategic or systems analysis, try our GUIDED TOUR to work with one of our amazing business coaches.

Untangle the red tape

I recently watched a show where the presenter travels across America in search of adventure. In this particular episode, he went to Texas to explore the wild, which included going fishing. He met a man that was called the fish whisperer. This man would accompany him on his journey, take him to all the best fishing spots so that he would be able to catch the big fish. The fish whisperer understood the fish, given the weather on that particular day he was able to steer the boat in the direction of the biggest fish.

In the last post, we talked about how to bring the big-company mindset into your business and your team. This thinking will help you overcome the mental obstacles that keep you from being successful. To successfully sign up your ideal customer, you must know them. Today we will unpack a few of the things you need to work on as well as talk about the potential red tape you may encounter along the way.

The most important thing to know about your fish is their purchasing habits and procedures. Here are four things you need to know to be successful:

  1. Who: Find out who makes the purchasing decisions, this person will influence purchasing, they make the final decision and can kill the deal if they want. Not only do you need to know who they are; you need to understand what drives them. Once you know who controls the process, you need to make sure you do what is necessary to get in front of them. Perhaps it’s a coffee to introduce your services. Take some time to build a connection with this person, remember it is Who you know, not what you know!
  2. How: All big businesses have a procurement process. The process is designed to eliminate unsuitable suppliers and potential fraudsters. You must know what the process is, what information they will need from you and what you can do to make it easier for them.
  3. Lingo: You need to learn the company’s unique language and communications methods. These could include report names, buzzwords and even the nicknames they have for their employees. 
  4. Budgets: It’s essential you know the fishes fiscal budget, so you know exactly when they are planning their expenses for the year.

Now that we’ve talked a little about what you need to know about your fish, let’s a quick look at the red tape.

Bureaucracy might as well be a four-letter word with the emotions it stirs in all of us. Red tape is a necessary evil, but it offers a learning opportunity.  

There are two ways to learn from their system:

  1. Analyze their activity.
  2. Review their correspondence.

Being an outsider gives you a different perspective, and you can use that to your advantage. If the vetting processes irritates you, can you imagine how the employees feel! You can win some favour and potentially speed up the process by making sure you have your ducks in a row, and offering help where possible. When asked for information, find out if there is a specific format that they need it in. If number-crunching is necessary, do it for them, make sure that it is correct.

The things we talked about in this lesson will help you prepare for the big approach. If you need help with any of this, try our GUIDED TOUR to find the right tools to get the job done.

Are you in the 1%?

The Rule of 1% is simply defined as adding to your customer service one percent at a time. Before you can do this, you must have your consistency perfected or it will never work. This one percent may seem small, but if you approach the vision for your company with baby steps, you will find a huge increase over time. It is not a sprint; it is a marathon.

Avoid doing too much at once or you will set yourself up for failure. Think of the confidence you and your team will have when you improve one percent each week. By the end of a year, you will have improved more than 50%!

While, rules and standards are necessary for growth, always be flexible with your best customers. Most retailers only allow a set number of items into a dressing room to reduce the risk of shoplifting, but it generally restricts the large percentage of people who are not stealing from you. Flexibility is the key to what you deliver to your customers and consistency is the key to how you deliver it.

The bottom line is customers rely on you to deliver what you promise. If you spend too much on bulky advertising that promises more than you can deliver, even your best intentions will unravel quickly, and you will fail.

Focus on your vision and take baby steps to turn your satisfied customers into Raving Fans.

I hope you have learned a lot about good customer service and how it is essential to your overall success. If you need help with any of the steps, we have gone through try our GUIDED TOUR and get access to some of the best resources, tools, and coaches available.

In upcoming posts, we are going to explore strategies of bagging the big clients and keeping them.

Shhh…I have a secret

Customer service is a hot topic and can make or break your business. Consumers have little patience for poor customer service and easily get tired of waiting in long lines, trying to get a live person on the line, going through an interrogation to return something or trying to communicate through a language barrier.

If you provide them with a simple, efficient, pleasant experience buy more from your business over and over, they will stay longer, and, more importantly, they will tell everyone they know!

There are three secrets to good customer service, the first one we are going to conquer is knowing exactly what YOU want.

You are the captain of the ship and the visionary for the future of your business, so you need to have a clearly defined plan for your business and that includes customer service. There are three main goals you need to consider:

  1. It needs to be easy for your customers to do business with you. You can do this with advertised discounts, kiosks, your website, and other technology-based programs to help them shop.
  2. Doing business with you needs to be a warm and pleasant experience. Your staff must be knowledgeable, approachable, warm and patient. Your customers need to feel like they are getting good value for their time and money. Perceived value goes beyond the price of the products and extends to their shopping experience. Keep in mind that customers are willing to pay double the price when they perceive four times the value.
  3. Change your mindset and ask yourself “How can I NOT afford to do these things?” This should not be a question of expenses but making and keep happy customers.

With these thoughts in mind, you also need to take a few things into consideration when deciding on the actual programs and standards you will put into place.

  1. Share your customer service vision with the rest of your team.
  2. Connect your incentive programs and bonuses directly to customer service.
  3. Monitor the level of customer service your team is delivering.
  4. Know when you can ignore what your customers want.
  5. Continuously focus on your goals.

 

Now that you know what you want, you can start thinking about how to meet those wants and create a positive customer service experience.

If you’re having a hard time deciding on what you want, the tools, resources and coaches in our GUIDED TOUR can help you define the wants and needs of your company in relation to customer service.

Add compost

In the last post, we talked about the first three of the 7 specific areas you need to consider in your franchise prototype process. Here are all seven again:

  • Primary Aim
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Management Strategy
  • People Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Systems Strategy

 

These 7 areas will fine-tune your plan for the ultimate level of success. Today we are going to cover the last four.

Think of constructing your business model like planting a tree. At first, it is so small and weak you wonder if it will even make it through the night. But you keep watering, fertilizing, and nurturing it. Your ideas will grow the trunk and each of these strategies will extend out like the branches of your now strong tree. Finding the perfect support staff, employees, vendors/suppliers, and other relationships will make your tree flourish with leaves and flowers.

Continue reading “Add compost”

Expanding the life of your business

Today I’m going to talk about the life cycle of a business and how to get the most out of each cycle while also extended the lifespan of your business.

The four different stages of a business life cycle are:

  • Infancy
    Adolescence
    Growing Pains
    Maturity
    We’ll talk a little about what each of these cycles means and how they can each help expand your business’s lifespan.

Infancy

This is generally considered the technician’s phase, which is the owner. At this point, the relationship between the business and the owner is that of a parent and a new baby. There is an impenetrable bond that is necessary to determine the path your business will follow.

The key is to know your business must grow in order to flourish. You cannot stage in this stage forever.

Adolescence

In this stage, you need to start bringing your support staff together to delegate to and allow growth to happen. The first line of defense is your technical person as they need to bring a certain level of technical experience. This cycle really belongs to the manager though. The planning stage needs to start and a relationship should be built with the entrepreneur to plan for the future.

Growing Pains

There’s a point in every business when business explodes and becomes chaotic. This is referred to as growing pains. It’s a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. You are often faced with a number of choices:

  • Avoid growth and stay small
  • Go broke
  • Push forward into the next cycle
  • Maturity

The last cycle is maturity, though this doesn’t mean the end of your business. Your passion for growth must continue in order for your business to succeed. You need to keep an entrepreneurial perspective in order to push your business forward.

You see how all three of these cycles are connected and depend on a strong foundation for each one of them for your business to be and continue to be successful. All three of your key roles must also work together to work through these cycles.

If you’re having trouble putting together your business life cycles and figuring out which of the key roles you fit into, try our GUIDED TOUR and work with one of our amazing coaches.