Today we’ll cover the idea of shortening your customers’ decision-making process with positive word of mouth. There are essentially five stages in the decision-making process.
- Give the product/service a chance and transition from a “no” to a “maybe.”
- Check out the options and investigate the different products/services available.
- Observe the product/service to check for potential benefits, features, and operations to see if they fit their needs.
- Become a customer and purchase their first item. They will be discriminate with their first product as they form their opinion of you.
- Purchase 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 crucial because if your potential client doesn’t even take a second look at your products and services, then you have no chance of sealing a deal. It is paramount that you have invested time in the education of your potential client. This is your chance to provide value before they give up their hard-earned cash.
You want your customer to say how much they enjoyed your presentation, or they say have you seen this new commercial. Better yet they say have you heard of (insert your product/service) I hear it is truly the best at solving their problem.
A couple of quick tips:
- Have great guarantees like trying it before you buy it or we 100% guarantee your satisfaction or will give you 110% back.
- Give value before you get value. You can do something as simple as sending a personalized card with a gift card or a copy of your favoriout book.
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 information is right out there in front for the customers to see and compare.
Think about creating a comparison between you and your chief competitor or industry leader. It is your chance to explain why your process or product is distinctively better.
- Comparison charts
- Third-party evaluation
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. An excellent 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.”
It is your chance to share how your relationship will develop. All of a sudden it becomes more about you and them instead of your product/service and their problem. This creates long-term value.
- Demo, walkthroughs, 14-day trials
- Have a communication plan in place during this period
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/service is. At this stage, a common reaction would be, “It was really easy to use and learn from. It’s really great, and you should get it!”
This is your chance to get them to become one of your champions. This can be done in a few ways.
- You can upsell them on a more premium service or product, giving them more accessible to you.
- You can engage to write a testimonial or better yet film one
- Ask them to refer a friend
It is pivotal to have a plan on how to engage them after they purchase.
Advocates for Your 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.
Types of Purchasers
We talked a minute ago about the different types of purchasers. Now we will 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 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
- 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 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. Therefore, the key to successful word of mouth is to target and cater to every kind of consumer. If you need help identifying the types of consumers you are currently helping, and how to attract the types you are lacking, book a free consultation and I’ll provide you with one year of access to our online marketing academy $1200 value (offer good until January 1st, 2021).
Next time we’ll talk about how word of mouth messages are delivered and what you can do to help facilitate that.
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:
- Understand your customers’ values and priorities; this will help you understand why they buy your products.
- Understand the different adopter types: innovators, early adopters, middle majority, late adopters, and laggards.
- Identify which decision stages are needed for your product to be adopted.
- Use the information from steps 2 & 3 to determine which wording and word-of-mouth tactics will work using the Decision Maker Matrix (we’ll talk about this in a minute).
- Put together the resources for the highest word-of-mouth impact.
- Create and implement your word-of-mouth campaign.
When creating your decision-making matrix, I strongly recommend reading The Secrets of Word of Mouth marketing by George Silverman. However, if you don’t have time, I have included a brief description of the six types of adopters to get you started.
The Innovators want to be the first off the starting block and cross the finish line. They want to be cutting edge, stand out from the crowd, and be the first to adopt the product. So, they want to hear that the product is unique and technologically advanced and that they can be the first to use it. They’re the Alpha testers and the very first users. They are driven by the desire to be outstanding.
The Early Adopters tend to be visionaries who appreciate the possibilities and potential of the product. They want to hear word of mouth about the power of the product and are willing to take chances on it for its eventual advantages. These people are driven by a desire to be excellent.
The Middle Majority tend to be people who are most concerned with the practicalities of applying the product. These people want to read a review before they try it, but they also don’t want to be the last in their friend group to have used it. They are not so much concerned with the far-reaching possibilities and uniqueness of the product as with immediate usability issues, such as quality, consistency, and ease of use. Even the later middle majority are most concerned with the practical nuts-and-bolts issues, such as delivery schedules, price, and availability. These people are driven by a desire to be competent.
The Late Adopters
The Late Adopters are most concerned with issues of self-protection. They want to avoid mistakes. They are not so concerned with the benefits of the products as they are with being right-not being criticized for the decision. They want to avoid undue risk. These people are driven by success without risk.
The Laggards will not use a product until virtually forced to do so. They are the kind of people who were told by their clients to “get an email account or I won’t do business with you.” They are extreme cynics, rejecting most attempts to change their minds. They want safety.
We are now going to move on to the 30+ ways to harness the power of WOM:
Experts can come in many forms, and all their opinions should be considered when putting together a WOM campaign. Some experts from whom you could gather information include:
- Subject Matter Experts
- Experts’ roundtables
- Experts’ selling groups
Seminars, Workshops & Speeches
These venues are a perfect opportunity to gather information. People who attend these 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
- Group selling
- Dinner meetings
- Peer selling groups
- Video conference experts’ panels
- Trade show events/opportunities
As we’ve talked about before, a referral program can help build your business with a variety of things. 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:
- Referral Selling Program
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. Most social media options could be considered “newer” media:
- Facebook, Facebook Groups, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook Live
- A host of others
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
- 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 book complete the contact form, and in the comments section, write WOM. I give you a free one-hour consultation where you will leave with a complete word-of-mouth campaign.
Last time we talked about the second part of word-of-mouth tactics which help you put together a system to help shorten your customers’ purchasing decision time, which can increase your profits immensely.
Today is not so much of a blog but a tool to evaluate where your word of mouth stands and how it affects your business. We’re going to talk about the nine levels of word-of-mouth which gives you a scale 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.
Word of Mouth Scale
Minus 4-Death Blow
This is the worst of the worst and means your product or service 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.
If this is where you are, it is most likely a death blow for your business and you have most likely done something very wrong.
Minus 3-Karen is Out for Blood
Disgruntled customers are going out of their way to convince other consumers from purchasing your products and services. They are boycotting you.
They are actively making a seen, leaving bad reviews, making their tik toks. In some respect, this can be the worst place to be. Karen does not allow you to have a minute to respond and fix the problem.
Minus 2-Unacceptable and Unhappy
While not outwardly boycotting, when customers are asked about you, they will give a negative response. They will take the time to leave a Yelp or Google review and most likely leave it at that.
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.
These people may stick with you because it is easy or the pain is not enough to change. It is important to spend time giving them a better experience.
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 slippery slope because you don’t want to turn that neutral experience into a negative one. 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 your 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-Tip of the Tong Solution
When asked, your customers will talk about how much they love your products or service. They will be a person who says something like, “o I use …” or “consider trying …”. These people need to be prompted but once they have been you’re their go-to.
They may give a review but most likely need to be prompted before they will do it.
Plus 3-Have You Heard About
Customers will go out of their way to talk about your products, services, company, and shopping experience with you. This is most evident when you see how people recommend movies to their friends and family.
These people will leave an unprompted review and 5-star score. These tend to be your 7-9 net promoter scores.
Plus 4- Champion
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.
These are the people who do not only leave a review but also go out of their way to make a social media post. These are your 9-10 net promoter scores.
Some great examples of Plus 4 companies are:
- Harley Davidson
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.
Next ti, we will talk about the 30 ways to harness the power of word of mouth.
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 will 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. For example, try delivering on your word-of-mouth promises instead of low-ball advertising and the used car salesman approach.
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 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 who has 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 information age of the Internet.
- 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:
- Where is your word of mouth coming from?
- What products or services are being affected by word of mouth?
- 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 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.
Take Control of Your Word of Mouth
It is time to start a new series, 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 explore exactly what word of mouth is and give you a chance to know if you’re using it correctly.
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. So 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 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. Unfortunately, bad news seems invariable to travel faster than good news. 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 an amazing benefit in the world of word of mouth. With blogs, podcasts, online marketing, forums, social networking, and other online mediums available, it is easier and easier for consumers to share their experiences. And remember this is all free advertising for you.
Shorten Customer Decision Cycle
The decision cycle or more commonly known as your sales cycle. This is your first opportunity to influence your client experience. There are three great ways to shorten & streamline your IAC decision cycle, plus they have the added benefit of impacting your revenue. They are:
- Decision Speed
- Friction & Stress Reduction
- Operational Flexibility
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 friendsdecide, and deciden 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.
Friction & Stress Reduction
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 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.
The final area to explore is the customer journey. This might be the most important piece of any marketing strategy. A customer journey is the ideal touchpoints and behaviors you want to see your customers exhibit. A great customer journey has the following components:
- A mapped out experience from prospect to fulfilled happy customer
- Clear explanation of business action (items you put out in the world) and response (the action you want your customers to exhibit
- The expectation of employees and responsibilities at each stage
- Training on your staff should implement these experiences
Now here is where the flexibility comes in, a great liner plan like a customer journey is an ideal experience. This means you need to empower your employees to be able to make edits, changes, skip steps, expand steps, etc to get to the finished product which is a repeat customer singing your praises to everyone they meet.
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 run into that lengthen their purchasing experience, complete our One Thing survey and get an implementable solution within 48 business hours.
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.