Category: Small Business

WOM Meets Customers Head-On

Today we’ll cover the idea of shortening your customers’ decision-making process with positive word of mouth. There are essentially 5 stages in the decision-making process.

They are:

  1. Give the product a chance and transition from a “no” to a “maybe”.
  2. Check out the options and investigate the different products available.
  3. Observe the product to check for potential benefits, features, and operations to see if there is a fit with their needs.
  4. Become a customer and purchase their first item. They will be discriminate with their first product as they form their opinion of you.
  5. Purchases again and starts spreading positive word of mouth as an advocate of your products.

So, let’s take a closer look at each one of these.

From “No” to “Maybe”

This stage is really important because if your potential customers don’t even take a second look at your products and services, then you have no chance of sealing a deal. This is why you need to offer credible information and well-thought-out pricing, guarantees, and incentives.

Investigating Your Products

At this stage, they are taking a closer look at your product line to see if there is actually anything that could benefit their life. This is where you need to make sure your hard information is right out there in front for the customers to see and compare.

Trial Period

Customers often feel more at ease and ready to purchase when there is some sort of a trial in place. They usually want to try vicariously through someone else, so they don’t feel any risk involved. A good way to offer this is through demo videos, product demonstrations, or a tour of your facilities. This stage may invoke a reaction of “I tried it and liked it. You should check it out.”

Make a Purchase

At this stage, they have taken the risk of purchasing one of your products or services and are now evaluating how easy, convenient, cost-effective, and satisfying your product or service is. At this stage, a common reaction would be, “It was really easy to use and learn from. It’s really great, you should get it!”

Advocates for Yours Products

At this last stage of decision making the customer is immensely pleased with your product and often keeps using it and/or comes back for more products and services. They are likely telling everyone they know how much they like it, that they use it every day, and have already (or will be) back to your establishment for more.

We talked a minute ago about the different types of purchasers. Now we are going to take a closer look at their characteristics, so you can figure out which tactics are best to use at the right stage of the decision-making process.

The Innovator

  • Wants to stand out from the crowd
  • Know what’s hot and trendy
  • Likes “strange” or “weird” new products
  • Wants to be the first to try and will talk about it animatedly

Early Adopter

  • Driven by excellence
  • More concerned with possibilities than realities
  • Always looking to be a leader
  • Always looking for a new vision

Middle Majority

  • Wants to be perceived as competent
  • Concerned about practicality and easy comparisons
  • Needs an easy way out if not satisfied
  • Wants products that meet the industry standard

Late Majority

  • Generally skeptical and wants to know the risks upfront
  • Needs to shop around for the best deal
  • Needs a support system
  • Wants what everyone else has

Laggard

  • Needs it to be completely safe and traditional
  • Needs reassurance that nothing will go wrong
  • Won’t try new things unless it’s the last resort
  • Will search for loopholes and problems
  • Wants to use it in the standard industry way

As you can see, each type of consumer wants something just a little different depending on their personality type. The key to successful word of mouth is to target and cater to each type of consumer. If you need help identifying the types of consumers you are currently helping and how to attract the types you are lacking, try our GUIDED TOUR for the resources and tools you need to get the job done.

Next time we’ll talk about how word of mouth messages are delivered and what you can do to help facilitate that.

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 harass the power of WOM. So, let’s get started!

There are six steps to harassing 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 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 the 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 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 3

Last time we talked about the second part of the word of mouth tactics that help you put together a system to help shorten your customers’ purchasing decision time, which can increase your profits immensely.

Today we’re going to talk about the nine levels of word of mouth, which gives you a tool to measure word of mouth circulating your company, products, and services. You can then see where you are getting negative or weak word of mouth and find ways to correct it.

So, launching into the nine levels of word of mouth-it should seem relatively obvious that the negative levels are, well, negative and the positive levels are positive.

Minus 4

This is the worst of the worst and means your product is creating a scandal. Remember when the popular over-the-counter pain relievers, like Tylenol were deemed unsafe? Yea, you won’t want that kind of word of mouth.

Minus 3

Disgruntled customers are going out of their way to convince other consumers from purchasing your products and services. They are boycotting you.

Minus 2

While not outwardly boycotting, when customers are asked about you, they will give a negative response.

Minus 1

At this level, people are mildly dissatisfied, and while not outwardly talking about it, they will have an opinion if asked. Now they may purchase from you despite their negative feelings. This can be a little confusing.

Level 0

This is sort of a neutral place to be. Customers are using your products but don’t really talk about them. People rarely ask them about it, so they aren’t sharing their opinion with others. This can be a bit of a slippery slope because you don’t want to turn that neutral experience into a negative one. In fact, you should work to make it a positive one.

Plus 1

At this level, we are finally starting to work our way into the positive word of mouth about your company, products, and services. Plus 1 signifies that people are generally pleased with your products but don’t really say anything about them unless asked.

Plus 2

When asked, your customers will talk about how much they love your products.

Plus 3

Customers will go out of their way to talk about your products, services, company, and their shopping experience with you. This is most evident when you see how people recommend movies to their friends and family.

Plus 4

Your product is the toast of the town. There is an unmistakable buzz going around, and your business is the place to be. People are not only talking about your excellent products and services, but they are talking about their shopping experience, your customer service, and how they perceive the company to help them in the future.

Some great examples of Plus 4 companies are:

  • Lexus
  • Harley Davidson
  • Saturn Cars
  • Netscape
  • Apple Computers
  • Celestial Teas

We’re going to leave this lesson for you to mull over and take a look at what kind of word of mouth you are generating. If you need help with this process, try our GUIDED TOUR to get help from our experienced business coaches.

Next time we’re going to talk about the 30 ways to harness the power of word of mouth.

Word of Mouth Tactics – Part 2

In the last post, we started our series on word of mouth and talked about making 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 mold 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 significant 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? 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.

Compare this to advertising where you are providing a message to a potential customer where they have not established a 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 Internet’s information age.
  • It becomes part of the product’s description.
  • The source of word of mouth can be meaningful and more effective when coming from an expert.
  • Word of mouth saves you time and money.

To fully utilize 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 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.

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, 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 clients 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 not to buy your products and services.

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

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

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

Let’s take a more in-depth 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 decide to purchase more quickly. 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 minimize the friction, or stress, involved with decision making. No matter how easily people find decision-making, we all experience a certain amount of anxiety when making a purchase, especially from a new source or for a large amount of money. When you help minimize 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 customer’s 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.

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 during their purchase that makes 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 precisely this powerful tool is, and what it can be used for.

Multiply on Your Maximizing Resources – Part 4

The last few posts have discussed how to multiply the resources you’ve worked hard to maximize. So far, we’ve covered:

  1. Call in the Troops
  2. Bring ‘Em Out of the Woodwork
  3. Black Sheep Clients
  4. Olympic-Size Sales Staff
  5. Open Water Fishing
  6. Call for Back-Up
  7. Go Big Online
  8. Bartering with the Best
  9. Give Away the Farm

Today we’ll finish up this series with the last three ways to multiply your maximized resources. We’ll cover:

  1. Finding Your Pot of Gold
  2. Stay at the Top of Your Game
  3. Wealth from the Inside Out

These areas are all key to keep up the momentum you’ve found in making what you have work harder for you.

Finding Your Pot of Gold

You must always have a goal you’re working toward in order to stay on course. Your goal needs to be something you can attain and utilize your full potential. Don’t be afraid to aim high, just make sure you are clear on your goal and exactly what you need to do to get there. You need to continue to hold yourself accountable to your goal and raise the bar as you accomplish the steps to your goal.

Stay at the Top of Your Game

Once you’ve mastered these areas, you need to make sure you stay competitive and continuously come up with new ways to use your new tools. Don’t rest on one success when there are more on the horizon. To continue to be successful, your business must continue to learn and revolve.

Wealth from the Inside Out

Wealth and riches are defined within yourself, not by your profits or the world beyond. You can use all these strategies in your business and life to find a greater success level. When you naturally reflect on who you are and what you mean, you will automatically attract the right people. This will happen in life and business.

You can reach your goals as long as they are well-defined and a solid road is built to them.

Throughout the last seven lessons, we’ve talked about how to take a hard look at the resources you currently have right in front of you and maximize them to get the most out of what you already have. Then turning around and multiplying those maximized resources to take them to the next level.

If you need help with any of these areas, steps, or processes, try our GUIDED TOUR to access our resources, tools, and business coaches-All there to help you succeed.

Multiply on Your Maximizing Resources – Part 3

Over the last few posts, we talked about multiplying the resources you’ve worked hard to maximize. So far, we’ve covered:

  1. Call in the Troops
  2. Bring ‘Em Out of the Woodwork
  3. Black Sheep Clients
  4. Olympic-Size Sales Staff
  5. Open Water Fishing
  6. Call for Back-Up

Today we’ll cover the next three:

  1. Go Big Online
  2. Bartering with the Best
  3. Give Away the Farm

Go Big Online

Some businesses solely operate online, there are those with only physical addresses, and there are those who do both. Those who do both are by far more successful than the previous two. When you take the time to establish an online presence, you open up your business to the entire world through a few clicks of the mouse.

To successfully sell products online, you need to:

  1. Offer high-quality products/services that people want.
  2. Build an attractive, effective website that’s user-friendly.
  3. Generate high-quality traffic at a low cost.
  4. With all of these things in place, you can find success with your online exposure.

Bartering with the Best

If you’ve ever gone to a yard sale and paid the sticker price, then you need to up your bartering game. Everything is negotiable, and you need to take the time to barter with your suppliers. Companies are always open to bartering, and when all is said and done, you could find yourself saving significantly on the things your business needs to operate smoothly.

Give Away the Farm

Ok, so not literally, but you have to be willing to stay in contact with prospective clients and offer them products and services they will need. You don’t know what they need until you offer them everything you’ve got and then work with them to put together the perfect package that fits their needs.

When you take the time to put yourself at the front of their minds, they are more likely to work with you going forward. You can do this by offering free newsletters, a free consulting session, or another valuable tool.

This wraps up these three areas of multiplying on the resources you’ve maximized. If you’re unsure where to start or are feeling a bit overwhelmed, try our GUIDED TOUR to work with one of our amazing business coaches who can help you navigate these peaceful waters.

Next time we’ll finish up this series with the last three ways to multiply your maximized resources. We’ll cover:

  1. Finding Your Pot of Gold
  2. Stay at the Top of Your Game
  3. Wealth from the Inside Out

Multiply on Your Maximizing Resources – Part 2

Last time we talked about how to start multiplying on the resources you worked on maximizing. We covered the following areas:

  1. Call in the Troops
  2. Bring ‘Em Out of the Woodwork
  3. Black Sheep Clients

Today we’ll talk about the next three:

  1. Olympic-Size Sales Staff
  2. Open Water Fishing
  3. Call for Back-Up

Olympic-Size Sales Staff

Now we all know you can’t have a sales staff of 10,000 who work around the clock for free, but there is a tool that will do precisely that… direct mail marketing.

Direct mail is a written piece of sales and informative copy that offers information about your company and your products/services to potential customers/clients. You can create sales letters, brochures, or proposals to be mailed out to a list of leads.

This approach can not only open your door to thousands of new customers/clients, but it can also save you thousands of dollars in advertising.

Open Water Fishing

You have to be careful not to waste your time on clients who are not interested. You have to focus on bigger fish. Remember the lessons we talked about previously, how you should always be targeting higher-quality prospects.

To do this, you have to take the time to research and learn about your potential clients to make sure you are targeting the right companies to work with. Ensure they are companies who will benefit from your products/services over a long period of time.

If you’re not sure where to start finding big fish clients, go back over our previous lessons or look into purchasing a direct mailing list that specifically targets the clients you need. You can buy or rent lists with name, title, job specs, and contact information. This gives you a starting point to finding high-quality clients.

Call for Back-Up

Don’t be afraid of telemarketing. It’s a powerful tool than can be done tastefully and be highly effective. However, keep in mind, when not handled correctly, it can bring about negative reactions. To be successful with telemarketing, you need to use these tips:

  1. Your first line of defense should be mail marketing.
  2. Test before you start a telemarketing campaign.
  3. Set the price for your offer.
  4. Use a progressive approach with your campaign.

Progressive contact helps build trust and allow the potential customer/client to establish a positive relationship with you. These are the progressive steps you should take:

  1. Put your prospect at ease.
  2. Present your offer in a natural, conversational way.
  3. Avoid being argumentative or pushy.
  4. Always be honest.
  5. Perfect your 30-second elevator speech.
  6. Clearly state your name, business name, the reason you’re calling, and where you got their information.
  7. Offer the benefits of your products and services.
  8. Mention one of the features that back up the benefits.
  9. Ask preliminary questions that will give you information about the prospect.

These step-by-step methods can help you be successful with a telemarketing campaign and avoid a negative response that could stigmatize your business forever.

This wraps up these three areas of multiplying your resources. We’ll continue with this series for the next two posts to give you all the resources you need to get the most out of your current resources.

If you need help working through any of these processes or areas, try our GUIDED TOUR to access our wealth of resources and tools.

Multiply on Your Maximizing Resources – Part 1

The next series of posts will cover how to take maximizing resources and multiply them for even more significant results.

In this first of the four-part series, we’ll cover:

  1. Call in the Troops
  2. Bring ‘Em Out of the Woodwork
  3. Black Sheep Clients

Call in the Troops

Finding and securing new clients can be exhausting and expensive. Instead, work with other companies to help you find new clients. Find reliable companies with secure, positive relationships with their customers/clients. Also, ensure that their products/services are not directly competitive with yours.

Contact prospective partner companies and talk with them about helping promote your products/services to their clients. Always offer them a commission on the sales that come from their client lists.

Make sure to include these key points in your proposal:

  • Ensure that your products/services don’t compete with theirs.
  • The partnership will not take away from their current or future sales.
  • The partnership will increase their profits.
  • They won’t have to do nor spend anything on the partnership.
  • You will produce all the needed marketing materials.
  • You will offer an unconditional guarantee on all products/services.

Bring ‘Em Out of the Woodwork

If you take the time to put together a reliable referral system, you’ll draw new customers/clients out of the woodwork through everyone you already know. You can start doing this by first showing all your current clients how much you care about them.

Then show them how your products/services can significantly improve their lives or businesses. If you can do this consistently, they will naturally and comfortably bring new clients right to you.

Black Sheep Clients

One of the best ways to rejuvenate business is to find your stray clients and offer them something unique. First, you need to understand why they strayed and are no longer purchasing from you. There are generally three reasons why customers/clients leave. They are:

  1. Unrelated causes that have nothing to do with you
  2. A problem with their last purchase
  3. No longer benefit from your products/services

The best way to bring these clients back is to simply contact them. If you don’t make the first move, they’ll never come back. You make an appointment to visit them or call them if it’s not possible to meet in person.

Talk openly with your stray clients. Let them know you noticed they were no longer working with you and that you’d like to talk with them about their experiences with you and how you can improve things to work together again. Take the time to make them feel special, and work hard to make sure their experiences with you going forward are the best ever.

This wraps up the first three areas on how to multiply your maximized resources. If you need help working on any of these ideas or processes, try our GUIDED TOUR to work with an experienced business coach.

Next time we’ll talk about the following three areas of multiplying your resources. They include Olympic-size Sales Staff, Open Sea Fishing, and Call for Back-Up.

Maximize Your Resources – Part 3

In the last post, we talked about three more ways to maximize your current resources. They included:

  • Reveal your business’ soul
  • From breaking even to breaking the bank
  • Stand up and stand out

Today we’ll talk about the last three areas you can work on to maximize your current resources. They are:

  • An offer they can’t refuse
  • Would you like fries with that?
  • Stay away from the edge of the cliff

An Offer They Can’t Refuse

The secret to success is to stay ahead of your competitor – maintain a competitive edge. To do that, you need to make it easier for your customers/clients to say “yes” rather than “no.” You do this by eliminating all the psychological, financial, physical, emotional, and other roadblocks they may have.

You can take the risk for them by offering warranties and guarantees that make the customer feel more confident in you, your business, and your products/services. You also must be serious about your offer and follow through if a situation does arise. The quickest way to the bottom is to play games or take back a warranty or guarantee.

Would You Like Fries With That?

It’s the oldest trick in the book. I mean, really, how many times a week do you fall for it? Every time you sell a product or service, you need to offer an add-on, upgrade, or back-end product to go with it. These products must be complementary to the original product being purchased and must create a higher perceived value.

Avoid the Edge of the Cliff

Continuing to test and measure your systems, products, marketing methods and all other aspects of your business allows you to see problems before they happen and avoid falling off the edge of the cliff.

Here are a few specific areas you can test for potential improvements:

  • Marketing
  • Sales Copy
  • Customer Service
  • Sales Letters
  • Sales Presentations
  • Employee-Customer Interaction

Through testing these different areas, you will find products/services where you can raise the price, maybe others where you can lower the price or offer that product as an incentive item, and discover many other areas for improvement that will better utilize your current resources.

This wraps up our series on how to maximize your current resources. If you need help working through any of these or the previous areas, try our GUIDED TOUR to work with one of our amazing business coaches.