Prepare for Lift Off!

Posted by michelms

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s your word of mouth campaign checklist:

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

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

Remember, if you need help with anything in this series, try our GUIDED TOUR to gain access to the best resources, tools and business coaches you can find.

Put it to Work!

Posted by michelms

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

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

Here they are:

  • Give them something worth talking about
  • Cater to your initial customers shamelessly
  • Give them incentives to engage in word of mouth
  • Ask them to tell their friends
  • The customer is always right
  • Always tell the truth
  • Surprise the customers by giving them a little more than they expected
  • Give them a reason to buy, make them come back and refuse service from anyone else other than you
  • Make eye contact, and smile, even through the telephone
  • Find ways to make doing business with you a little better: a warmer greeting, a cleaner floor, nicer lighting, a better shopping bag, extra matches, faster service, free delivery, lower prices, more selection.
  • Never be annoyed when a customer asks you to change a large bill even if he doesn’t buy anything.
  • The customer is your reason for being. Never take her for granted. If you do, she will never come back, and will go straight to your competition.
  • Always dust off items, but never let the customer see you doing it.
  • Never embarrass a customer, especially by making him feel ignorant.
  • Never answer a question coming from a desire to show how smart you are. Answer with a desire to help the customer make the best decision.
  • Never shout across the store, “How much are these condoms?” or anything about the personal items a customer is buying.
  • When you don’t know, say so. Do whatever you can to find out the answer.
  • Every customer is special. Try to remember their names.
  • Don’t allow known shoplifters into the store.
  • Don’t ever let two sales staff talk when a customer is waiting. The worst thing you can do is count your cash while a customer is waiting.
  • If you can suggest something better, they will be grateful. Always respect their choice.
  • Never pressure anyone into buying anything.
  • Never knowingly give bad advice. Just help people come to the right decision.
  • Personally visit the store of the competition or assign people to visit and report back to you.
  • Hire a shopping service to prepare periodic reports on how your people are treating your customers.
  • If you hear of a store where the management is insulting the customers, buy it, then put up the sign “Under New Management” outside. Then sell it later based on the increased sales.
  • One expert (in the drugstore’s case, a nurse or physician) who is convinced you are better brings hundreds of customers and their friends through word of mouth.
  • Always look for ways to make a stranger a customer.
  • People will walk several blocks to save a dollar, or see a smile, or be treated right.
  • Always run a sale promotion or an offbeat event. Make them come back to see what you are cooking up next.
  • Use the best sign-maker you can find and pay him more than anybody else.
  • If someone is mad at you, they will tell everyone who will listen for as long as they are angry, maybe even longer. So correct any dissatisfaction, and ask customers to send their friends.
  • Treat your employees and salespeople who sell to you the same way you treat your customers.
  • Have a zero error system. There may be terrible consequences for example, if a mistake is made filling a prescription. Have people check each other’s work for safety.
  • Occasionally make intentional mistakes to see if people are checking.
  • Always measure your performance.
  • Always ask a customer to “come back soon”
  • If customers say they are moving away, offer to send them their favorite items by mail.
  • Tell jokes.

I know this is a lot of information to digest, so I we’re going to wrap up this lesson and leave you with the homework of going through and taking a look at the tips and tricks you like best. Also, look for tips that fit your company, products, services and target customers for the most effectiveness.

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

Search & Implement

Posted by michelms

People only remember the extraordinary, strange, wild, surprising, and unusual. You need to make sure your ideas and marketing reflect these reactions. This doesn’t mean you have to have a product or service that is completely out of the norm, in fact, this could easily drive customers away. You need to have a product or service that is high quality and easily marketable, then you need to market it as extraordinary and new.

As you research word of mouth, there are some questions you need to ask along the way:

What are the users willing to tell the non-users?

  • Exactly how do your customers describe your product?
  • What are the non-users willing to ask the users?
  • What are the things they need to know, but are unwilling to ask?
  • What happens when these issues are raised?
  • Exactly what do your prospects have to know in order to trigger purchase?
  • Exactly how do your customers answer the objections, concerns, and qualms of your prospects?
  • How do your customers persuade their friends to use your product?
  • How do your customers suggest they initially get to know or try your product?
  • What warnings, safeguards, tips, and suggestions do your customers suggest to your prospects?
  • Are your sales messages, positioning, and important facts about your product getting through and surviving word of mouth?
  • What messages do you need to inject into the marketplace in order to turn the tide in your favor and how will you deliver them?

There are two main reasons why word of mouth research is so important:

  1. To get the real impression and feedback from customers
  2. To define word of mouth itself and the concept it creates

There is a simple formula that can help you conduct your word of mouth research. It’s called the “2-2-2” model.

2-2-2- Model

What this breaks down to is:

  • 2 groups of customers
  • 2 focus groups of prospects
  • 2 mixed groups (enthusiasts & skeptics)

In these groups you need to ask the following questions:

  1. What would you tell a friend?
  2. How would you persuade a skeptic?
  3. What questions would you anticipate from a skeptic?
  4. How would you answer their objections?

The best way to conduct these groups is by teleconference. This ensures you’ll get a good variety of demographics for your customers and potential customers. It also allows people to feel safe and more able to express their true feelings. These teleconferences should not be conducted by you, but an independent party to avoid adding pressure to the situation.

We’re going to transition a bit and talk about how to construct a word of mouth campaign. First we’ll talk a look at the essential ingredients you need to put together a campaign. These ingredients are:

  • A superior product
  • A way of reaching key influencers in your marketplace
  • A cadre of experts willing to bat for you
  • A large number of enthusiastic consumers
  • A way of reaching the right prospects
  • One or more compelling stories that people will want to tell to illustrate your product’s superiority
  • A way to substantiate, prove, or back up your claims and how the product will work in the real world
  • A way for people to have direct, low-risk experience, a demo, sample, or free trial
  • A way of reducing overall risk, an ironclad guarantee

Once you have those ingredients ready to use, you should consider the situations in which your company can benefit from a strong word of mouth programs. Some of these situations are:

  • When there are credibility problems
  • When there are breakthroughs
  • When there are marginal improvements
  • Where the product has to be tried in large numbers or over time
  • Where there is high risk in trying the product
  • With older or mature products that have a new story that people tend to ignore
  • With unfair competitive practices such as spreading rumors, or telling lies about your product
  • When there are governmental or other restrictions on what you may say or claim directly

While, most of the word of mouth tactics are positive for your word of mouth program, there are a few products to avoid using in this program. They are:

  • Products where a seminar would not provide meaningful added value
  • Products that can’t be tried and where there is no consensus among experts
  • Products that are clearly inferior, without having a compensating superiority for similar products
  • Products that are so personal or emotion that rational discussion is irrelevant to the decision
  • Products where the decision value is so small (low price/low volume) the medium will not be cost-effective.

This wraps up this post on word of mouth research and how that research can be used when putting together your word of mouth campaign. If you need help with the research and a plan to use the results of that research, try our GUIDED TOUR to get all the help you need with our top notch resources and tools.

Science of the Memes

Posted by michelms

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

Memes
This refers to types of ideas that spread the fastest through society, why they spread fast and how that affects consumerism. You can use this same information to create a lasting positive impression about your company, products, and services. People are more likely to try a new product or services when they feel protected and reassured by the masses.
It’s been determined that spreading ideas is essential to the survival of a society. There are 5 main situations where this occurs. They are:

  • Crisis
  • Mission
  • Problem
  • Danger
  • Opportunity

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

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

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

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

Some great places to use viral marketing are:

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

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

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

Here are other non-viral Internet opportunities to explore:

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

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

Decoding WOM Messages

Posted by michelms

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.