Category: Small Business

Prepare for Lift Off!

Last time I gave you a laundry list of tips and tricks you can use to make your word of mouth program work for you. Hopefully, you’ve taken a look and decided which ones are the best fit for your company, products, services, and target customers, so you can put them to work in your word of mouth campaign.

We are going to wrap up this series on word of mouth where we give you the specific steps to create a word of mouth campaign.

Now, let’s take a look at those steps:

  1. Seed the market.
  2. Find some way to get the product into the hands of key influencers.
  3. Provide a channel for the influencers to talk and get all fired up about your product.
  4. Offers lots of testimonials and other resources.
  5. Form an ongoing group that meets once a year in a resort and once a month by teleconference.
  6. Create fun events to bring users together and invite non-users. Saturn, Harley- Davidson, and Lexus have all been successful with this approach.
  7. Develop cassettes, videotapes, and clips on your Web site featuring enthusiastic customers talking with other enthusiastic customers.
  8. Create custom CDs for each potential customer.
  9. Hold seminars and workshops.
  10. Create a club with membership benefits.
  11. Pass out flyers.
  12. Tell friends.
  13. Offer special incentives and discounts for friends who tell their friends. Put the Internet to work.
  14. Do at least one outrageous thing to generate word of mouth.
  15. Empower employees to go the extra mile.
  16. Encourage networking and brainstorm ideas.
  17. Run special sales.
  18. Encourage referrals with the use of a strong referral program.
  19. Use a script to tell people exactly what to say in their word of mouth communication.

 

These are all amazing ways you can get the word out about your products and services and start a word-of-mouth campaign that takes on a life of its own. Before you can release your word of mouth campaign out into the world, you need to go through the checklist to make sure you’ve covered all the essentials.

Here’s your word of mouth campaign checklist:

  1. Are all of your communications sending the same simple message? If it can’t survive word of mouth, it’s not a compelling story.
  2. Is your product positioned as part of a category? Ex.”A dandruff shampoo that doesn’t dry your hair.”
  3. Are your examples outrageous enough to be shared?
  4. Do you enhance your materials with success stories from real people?
  5. Are you using experts effectively and in an objective manner?
  6. Have you created mechanisms so people can follow up on the word of mouth they hear, as well as simple ways of inquiring or ordering?
  7. Have you made the decision process easy for customers?
  8. Have you created events and mechanisms so that once your prospects hear about your product, and it is easier to try or buy?

These are all essential elements to take keep in mind when taking a second or even third check over your word of mouth campaigns. I hope you’ve found this series on word of mouth to be a great resource and are getting ready to put it into action for your own products and services.

If you need help with this anything, try our GUIDED TOUR and get all the help you need from our experienced business coaches.

If you are serious about growing your business book your free roadmap session where you and I will have a 20-30 minute conversation about exactly what you are struggling with, where you want to go, and where you are right now. I’ll help you start to plot out the roadmap a little, and if at the end of that call you say “I want to get your help to get there faster and speed up implementation, I’m happy to help you do that too! But for now, sign up for the roadmap session – I’m really looking forward to talking to you!

Put it to work!

In the last post, we talked about how to conduct word of mouth research and then put that research to work. Today we’re going to give you some great tried and true ways to use word of mouth when building and executing your campaign.

We’ve done it in a list form, so you can go through and highlight the ones you want to put into action. These are offered by George Silverman which you can find in his amazing book The Secrets of Word of Mouth Marketing.

Here they are:

  •   Give them something worth talking about
  •   Cater to your initial customers shamelessly
  •   Give them incentives to engage in word of mouth
  •   Ask them to tell their friends
  •   The customer is always right
  •   Always tell the truth
  •   Surprise the customers by giving them a little more than they expected
  •   Give them a reason to buy, make them come back and refuse service from anyone else other than you
  •   Make eye contact, and smile, even on the telephone
  • Continue reading “Put it to work!”

Science of the Memes

 Today I’d like to discuss the science of memes and how spreading ideas around and through society is ingrained in humans.

Memes

This refers to types of ideas that spread the fastest through society, why they spread fast and how that affects consumerism. You can use this same information to create a lasting positive impression about your company, products and services. People are more likely to try a new product or services when they feel protected and reassured by the masses.

It’s been determined that spreading ideas is essential to the survival of a society. There are 5 main situations where this occurs. They are:

  1. Crisis
  2. Mission
  3. Problem
  4. Danger
  5. Opportunity

Think of evangelism. This is a prime example of people not only spreading the word, but convincing people to jump on board and start to spread the word themselves. To do this effectively, you need to incorporate a few key things that always catch people’s eye:

  • Sex
  • News
  • Unique Results
  • The Unusual
  • Helping Others
  • Secrets

Next, we are going to switch gears a little and talk about viral marketing. While traditional marketing can be used to your advantage, the reality is viral and online marketing is the king of the castle. You can spread the word online like the plague if you know what to do. Here are some simple steps to do this:

  1. Find an interesting idea
  2. Make it easy for people to experience or trial
  3. Spread the idea while people who are in close contact with others
  4. Take advantage of existing communication methods
  5. Develop the way of trying your product in such a way that it automatically draws more try-ers

 

Some great places to use viral marketing are:

  • Geocities
  • eBay
  • Roger Wilco
  • ICQ
  • AOL Instant Messenger
  • MSN Instant Messenger
  • Winamp
  • Hotmail
  • “Tell A Friend” Buttons
  • E-Greeting Cards

There are six things everyone should be doing to benefit from word of mouth on the Internet:

  1. Put WOM components on your website.
  2. Assign people to monitor your viral marketing.
  3. Place testimonials in different places on your website to walk a customer through the purchasing cycle.
  4. Set up an email marketing campaign.
  5. Stay up to date on what products and services the experts in your industry are recommending.
  6. Use your website to demonstrate the great ways people are using or finding success with your products and services.

Here are other non-viral Internet opportunities to explore:

  • iPhone’s
  • Handheld PC’s
  • Blackberrys
  • And other well connected electronic devices

This wraps up the lesson on traditional and viral marketing. If you need help putting together any of the plans or successes in this lesson, try our GUIDED TOUR to get all the help you need to put these plans into action.

If you are ready to take the next step in your business book your exploration session today!

Harness the Power of WOM

Today we’re going to talk about how to harness the power of word of mouth. Including the six-step process to success and the 30 (that’s right, I said 30) ways to harness the power of WOM. So, let’s get started!

There are six steps to harnessing word of mouth:

  1. Understand your customers’ values and priorities, this will help you understand why they would buy your products.
  2. Understand the different adopter types: innovators, early adopters, middle majority, late adopters, and laggards. 
  3. Identify which decision stages are needed for your product to be adopted. 
  4. Use the information from steps 2 & 3 to figure out which wording and word of mouth tactics are going to work using the Decision Maker Matrix (we’ll talk about this in a minute).
  5. Put together the resources for the highest word of mouth impact.
  6. Create and implement your word-of-mouth campaign.

The Decision Maker Matrix is based on years of trial and error by George Silverman. It essentially charts different concerns you may come across when working with different adopters and putting together a decision process for each one. 

We are now going to move on to the 30 ways to harass the power of WOM:

Use Experts

Experts can come in many forms and all their opinions should be taken into consideration when putting together a WOM campaign. Some experts to gather information from include:

  • Customers
  • Suppliers
  • Experts
  • Salespeople
  • Experts’ roundtables
  • Experts’ selling groups

Seminars, Workshops & Speeches

These venues are a perfect opportunity to gather information. People who attend these types of events are used to giving feedback, so you can use a survey or other method to gather the information you can look over later. Some events to use are:

  • Speakers program
  • Seminars
  • Group selling
  • Dinner meetings
  • Peer selling groups
  • Teleconferenced experts’ panels
  • Trade show events/opportunities

“Canned” Word of Mouth

The concept of “canned” word of mouth is using hard and online products to get feedback and offer information at the same time. Some ideas for these are:

  • Videotapes
  • Audiotapes
  • World Wide Web
  • CD’s

Referral Selling

As we’ve talked about before a referral program can help with a variety of things in building your business. By using some of the following tactics and opportunities you can find out exactly what you need to do to generate positive word of mouth. These tactics and opportunities are:

  • Testimonials
  • Networking
  • Referral Selling Program

“New” Media

The concept of “new” media is the use of up-and-coming media sources and opportunities to get the word out about your products and services and listen for feedback about them. Here are some of the “new” media options:

  • Hotlines
  • Faxback services
  • Web-based word of mouth, such as forums, e-mail, etc.
  • Call centers

Using Traditional Media for Word of Mouth

Using traditional media is a great way to get feedback. These are still considered mainstream ways of interacting with the public and consumers. Some traditional media outlets are:

  • Customer service 
  • PR
  • Placements
  • Events
  • Promotions
  • Word of mouth in ads, sales brochures, or direct mail
  • Salesperson programs, sales stars, or peer training, 
  • Word-of-mouth incentive programs (“Tell-a-friend” programs)
  • Customer gifts they can share with their friends (articles, how-to manuals) 

Internal Word of Mouth

  • Encourage employee word of mouth and sharing feedback with family, friends, and others
  • Offer rewards or commission for the word of mouth success

As you can see there are tons of ideas you can work with to increase your level of positive word of mouth marketing. If you need help with any of this, please try our GUIDED TOUR to access our exclusive resources that can help you put this whole thing together.

Word of Mouth Tactics – Part 2

In the last post we started our series on word of mouth and talked about how to make your customers purchasing experience a short, easy one. We are going to continue with that theme a bit today. We’re going to talk about the power of word of mouth and how to mould it to your advantage.

The reality is everyone needs an advisor to guide them to make a decision. We rely on the expertise of others to make the right decisions as they are explained to us. When you take the time to understand exactly what and how word of mouth works, you’ll see all the great advantages it has to offer you. Remember this path when working to understand word of mouth:

  • Accelerate the decision making process for increased profits.
  • You can accelerate product making decisions by making the process easier.
  • Instead of low-ball advertising and the used car salesman approach, try delivering on your word of mouth promises.

Traditional advertising draws about one response for every thousand ads and most of those are to ask for more information before the customer even considers purchasing. When you get information from a friend, you are more likely to take their word for it and act. On average customers purchase two out of every five recommendations their friends make. That’s a HUGE difference.

So, what exactly is word of mouth? Well, we know how powerful it can be, but to define it: Word of mouth is a communication that happens between a customer and a potential customer. There is usually a relationship of some kind between these two people with an established level of trust. 

Now, compare this to advertising where you are providing a message to a potential customer where they have not established relationship with you or level of trust. Who are they more likely to take advice from? The answer is clear!
We talked above about the benefits of word of mouth now let’s take a look at some reasons why it works. Some of these are:

  • The information is custom tailored to the potential customer because of the friendly relationship of the referrer.
  • It’s more personal, relevant and believable.
  • It’s customer driven.
  • It’s self generating and can take on a life of its own, especially with the information age of the Internet.
  • It becomes part of the product’s description.
  • The source of word of mouth can be important and more effective when coming from an expert.
  • Word of mouth saves you time and money. 

To fully utilise word of mouth you need to understand:

  1. Where is your word of mouth coming from?
  2. What products are being affected by word of mouth?
  3. How is your word of mouth traveling?

Once you know these things you can work out a plan on how to trigger more word of mouth. This wraps up this lesson on word of mouth. If you need help understanding word of mouth and how it can impact your business, try our GUIDED TOUR to access our wealth of resources and tools.

Next time we’re going to dive into the nine levels of word of mouth. These levels help you understand which word of mouth is positive and which is not.

Book a session with one of our coaches to explore the ways we can help your business grow!

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.

Another secret revealed…

In the last post, we talked about the first secret to building a solid customer service plan and how to decide what your vision is.

Today we’ll talk about the second secret in taking your satisfied customers to raving fans. You must understand who your customers are and they want. When you know who your customers are, you will know better how to serve them. Demographics are really important here. An upper-class woman in her 30’s is going to have completely different expectations than a working-class man in his 50’s.

There are four main areas you need to consider and plan when figuring out what your customers want:

Start with empathy:

  • Listen to Your Customers when they give unsolicited feedback
  • Ask Your Customers Sincerely for feedback
  • Offer More than Just a Product/Service
  • Know When to Ignore Them

These are all important when deciding what your customers want out of their shopping experience.

When you start with empathy, you start looking at your customers as real people with real needs and desires.  This means that you will truly know what they need.

Listen to Your Customers

You need to listen to both what they say and what they don’t say. Customers may say they want one thing and really mean something else. For example, if your customers are begging for lower prices, you may find out their real priority is quick delivery.

Also, listen to your “silent” customers. These are the customers don’t bother to complain because the service is so bad they’ve just given up and don’t feel like their voice matters. They vote with their feet, when a competitor shows up, they’ll be gone.

Lastly, you need to listen to customers who only reply with “fine”. These customers are similar to the “silent” customers in that they are so used to bad customer service they only give a monotone response.

Ask Your Customers Sincerely

If you aren’t sincere when you ask their opinion, they are going to see right through you. You may be thinking, “What about the customers who aren’t saying anything?” You need to ask them sincere questions that get them thinking about their experiences. Make them feel like you really care, and you should! Customers must feel heard, so remember that you need to let them know that you have heard them, and if you are making changes let them know.

Offer More than Just a Product/Service

Your customers are looking for much more than a simple product or service, they are looking for an experience that makes them feel good. They gauge every step of the process with a value. When you take this into consideration and treat them like people, they will feel like they belong.

Know When to Ignore Them

You may think this goes beyond providing good customer service, but in reality, you can’t be everything to everyone. You have to set limits and stick to them. If your vision and company don’t meet the needs of the customer, they will be best suited somewhere else.

These are the steps and tricks to figuring out what your customers want and how you can use them to work on your customer service vision and plan.

If you get stuck, try our GUIDED TOUR and let us help you through the process.