I hope you have had a great week, and that you and your loved ones have been spared any of chaos caused by Hurricane Sandy on the east coast.
This is a busy time of the year with year end planning and 2013 strategy sessions happening every day.
As you look at the problems facing your business as you close out 2012 and look to 2013, I encourage you to stop throwing “people” at the problems, and consider throwing “systems” at your issues. This will help you not only now, but in the future.
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.
1. Give the product a chance and transitions 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.
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.
• Wants to stand out fromthe 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
• Driven by Excellence
• More concerned with possibilities than realities
• Always looking to be a leader
• Always looking for a new vision
• 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
• 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
• Needs 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 FREE test drive 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.
Have a Great Weekend and keep praying for the victims of Sandy!
It has been an exciting month since our last lesson. I have traveled from Californina, to Texas, to New York City. ( Prayers and Best Wishes to the east coast as they deal with the hurricane). We have also conducted over 20 year end, and 2013 planning sessions. So many great companies poised to do such great things in 2013. Thank you to all for your attention, cooperation, and hospitality.
Last time we talked about the second part of word of mouth tactics which help you put together a system to help shorten the purchasing decision time of your customers, 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 the word of mouth circulating around your company, your products and your 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.
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.
Disgruntled customers are going out of their way to discourage other consumers from purchasing your products and services. They are boycotting you.
While, not outwardly boycotting, when customers are asked about you they will give a negative response.
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.
This is sort of a neutral place to be. Customers are using your products, but don’t really talk about it. 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.
At this level we are finally starting to work our way into the positive word of mouth about you company, products and services. Plus 1 signifies that people are generally pleased with your products, but unless asked, don’t really say anything about them.
When asked, your customers will talk about how much they love your products.
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.
Your product is the toast of the town. There is an obvious buzz going around and your business is the place to be. People are not only talking about your great 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:
• Harley Davidson
• Saturn Cars
• 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 FREE test drive to get help from our experienced business coaches.
If you want to check out what its like to review your strategy and make your plans for 2013, we have opening available for planning sessions and monthly coaching times. Please feel free to contact us for a free 90 minute ” coaching sesssion”!
Next time we’re going to talk about the 30 ways to harness the power of word of mouth.
Have an Awesome Week!!
Good Thursday, I am enjoying these fall like temperatures, hope you are as well !
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 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 great advantages it has to offer you.
Remember this path when working to understand word of mouth:
• Accelerates the decision making process for increased profits.
• You can accelerate product/ service 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 a 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
• 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 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 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 FREE test drive 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.
Have a great weekend- Go OU Beat Kansas State
Wow, what a great month it has been so far. We have been busy with our 4th qtr 2012, and 2013 planning sessions with many of you, and we have been speaking at several meetings as well as working with 5 new start ups at a business accelerator her in Oklahoma City. ( BP4B). As you know, one of goals is to increase your leads, clients, and revenues by 10% each, and your profits by 35% or greater. In the past year over 73% of our clients here in Oklahoma City have exceeded those numbers on average. Way to go folks!
Since things are going to get back to regular schedule starting next week, I thought we would begin another blog series designed to help you maximize your marketing and increase your revenues.
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 in a positive way, 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 invariably 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.
The age of technology has proved to be an amazing benefit in the world of word on 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:
Increase the overall dollar amount customers spend on each purchase
Increase your number of customers
Increase 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 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 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 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 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.
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 experience in their purchasing experience that is making their decision time long, try our FREE test drive 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.
Thanks for tuning in, and heres to your success!!
As many of you know, we have a new member of the household. This year we are hosting an exchange student from Norway. Her name is Beate. We have been getting ready for her, and also have been completely covered up since she arrived. That is why you have not heard from me in a while. School begins on Friday, so I will back on a regular basis beginning next week.
In our previous posts on this subject we talked about three more ways you can work on maximizing 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 competitors- maintain the 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 road blocks they may have.
You can take the risks 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 complimentary to the original product being purchased and must create a higher perceived value. McDonalds does it with every customer, and the results speak for themselves.
Avoid the Edge of the Cliff
Continuing to test and measure your systems, products, marketing methods and all other aspects of your business allow you to see problems before they happen and therefore avoid falling off the edge of the cliff.
Here are a few specific areas you can test for potential improvements:
• 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 find many others areas for improvement that will better utilize your current resources.
This wraps up our series on how to maximize on your current resources. If you need help working through any of these or the previous areas, try our FREE test drive to learn how we are helping other business owners to increase profits, improve their quality of life, and build a business that works, without them.
Heres to your success, now get out there and get to it!!