Category: Startups

Decoding WOM Messages

Today’s lesson will talk about how word of mouth messages are delivered and how you can influence those messages.

There are essentially 3 methods of word of mouth:

  • Expert to Expert
  • Expert to Peer
  • Peer to Peer

 

When experts are talking about your products or service you will usually receive an amazing rush of sales and new customers, so obviously this is one of the best things that can happen. You can also help to facilitate this by offering free products to experts for them to review.

Expert opinion can also bring about new ideas that help to fuel new products, services and operating systems within your company. If you take the time to change or develop the opinions of even a small group of experts, you will have the opportunity to help your market explode.

There is a standard word of mouth delivery system that, in most cases, takes a few years. But, you can speed this up into only a few weeks. The standard system is:

  • First impressions from an expert
  • Organized trial of your products or services
  • Pooling peer experiences

 

It’s important to know exactly who is advocating for your products and service. Take the time to find out who they are and reward them. While, you may already have a customer service system for filing complaints, do you have one for compiling praise? Most likely not. If you take the time to show these people appreciation, they will help take your products and services to the top.

  • Some of the ways you can show them appreciation are:
  • Invite them to a customer appreciation dinner
  • Offer to video tape their testimonials
  • Ask to interview them for feedback to improve with
  • Offer them a premier customer membership
  • Ask them to join a referral incentive program

 

There are lots of things you can offer your biggest fans to help spread the word about your products and services.

Conventional media has been around forever and while it can still be effective, it’s lost a little of its luster over the last few years. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Expensive and doesn’t necessarily return results
  • Boring, lacking something fresh and new
  • Too short of a time slot to offer enough information

 

While these are all true, there are ways you can make conventional media work for you. For the information to be effective it needs to be presented in the right sequence, come from the right sources, be relevant to the target customer, be credible and be delivered at the right time in the medium.

We’re going to switch gears a little and talk about the two phases of the product adoption cycle. Traditional media is great for taking you through the information stage where you can offer the information you need to your potential customers, but it’s not so great for measuring the results of those efforts.

Without these results you can’t fine tune your marketing and therefore can easily miss the boat and lose potential customers and waste a whole lot of money. Once a consumer has the information they need, they’ll go through a verification process as they analyze whether or not the purchase was a good one. They generally get their information through:

  • Direct experience with the product
  • Interaction with peers using the same product
  • Experts’ experience
  • Scientific journals and other resources
  • Independent reviews and opinions
  • You can accelerate this process by:
  • Providing your own demo’s and free trials
  • Offer them indirect experience through the experience of others
  • Offer a good true story that can be passed around

 

Once you have the ability and are able to work through these concepts, you will be able to target your customers much better. If you need help with any of this along the way, try our GUIDED TOUR to gain access to our experienced business coaches.

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 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.

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.

Word of Mouth Tactics – Part 3

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, 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 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.

Plus 1

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.

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 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:
 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 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:

  • 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 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 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.

Multiply on Your Maximizing Resources – Part 4

The last few posts have talked about how to multiply the resources that 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 what your goal is 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 are staying competitive and constantly coming 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 both your business and life to find a greater level of success. When you naturally reflect who you are and what you mean, you will automatically attract the right people to you. This will happen in life and in business.

You are capable of reaching 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 gain access to 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 how to multiply the resources that 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

There are businesses who 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 you 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 are going to need. You don’t know what they need until you offer them everything you’ve got then work with them to put together the perfect package the fit 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 other valuable tool.

This wraps up these three areas of multiplying on the resources you’ve maximized. If you’re not sure 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 exactly 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 sales letters, brochures or proposals that can be mailed out to a list of leads. 

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

Open Water Fishing

You have to be careful not to waste your time on clients who are simply not interested. You have to focus on bigger fish. Remember, the lessons we talked previously about 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. Make sure they are companies who will benefit from your products/services over a long period of time. 

If you’re not sure where to start in 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 purchase or rent lists with name, title, job specs and contact information. This gives you a jumping off point in 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 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, 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 gives you information about the prospect.

These step-by-step methods can help you be successful with a telemarketing campaign and avoid a negative response which 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 get access to our wealth of resources and tools.

Maximize Your Resources – Part 3

In the last post 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 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.

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:

  • 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 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 GUIDED TOUR to work with one of our amazing business coaches.

Maximize Your Resources – Part 2

Last time we talked about the first three areas to work through in maximizing your current resources. They were:

  • Recognize the obvious
  • Unconventional breakthroughs
  • Face the facts

 

Today we’ll cover the next three, which are:

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

 

Reveal Your Business’ Soul

Every business has a soul and you likely felt it the strongest when your business was just starting. It’s that passion, newness and momentum you had at the very beginning. Sometimes that can get lost along the way as your business gets stagnant and set in its ways. You have to break out of that rut and get back to your business’ true soul.

The philosophy of putting your client’s needs above your own is the true key to success. You need to serve your clients not sell to them. They want to build a relationship based on trust, not a used car. Add to these responsibilities your ability to solve problems, handle special situations, be a friend to your clients and focus on offering valuable, high quality products/services. Only then will you get back to the basics and find you have more resources than you thought.

From Breaking Even to Breaking the Bank

One of the classic and most used ways to attract clients is to offer them a ridiculously low price on their initial purchase and lock them in for future purchases. You see this approach with movie or book clubs and even credit card companies who offer lower interest rates for the first six months.

Essentially, you are offering them a deal on their first purchase and then you offer them back-end and add-on products along the way. These are naturally higher prices and will bring them in to more of an intimate relationship with you and your company.

Stand Up and Stand Out

You need to stand out from the pack among your competitors. They only way you can do this through consistency and value. You do this by discovering what your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is and perfecting it. Here are some tips to help you find and develop your USP:

  1. Look for unfilled needs in your industry.
  2. Use preemptive marketing.
  3. Use a technique that is clear and to the point.

This wraps up this post. If you need help with any of these areas and techniques, try our GUIDED TOUR to access a wealth of resources and tools.

Maximize 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 maximize what you already have. These include:

  • Recognize the obvious
  • Unconventional breakthroughs
  • Face the facts

 

Recognize 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 strategizing 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 utilize 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.