Internet Marketing

5 Steps to a Sales-Doubling Buzz Force!

5 Steps to a Sales-Doubling Buzz Force!

Interested in doubling your sales? That is exactly what Proctor & Gamble did with their Dawn Direct Foam dish detergent. How did they do it? With a word-of-mouth marketing program called Vocalpoint. According to a recent article in BusinessWeek, this is how it works:

Procter and Gamble looks for customers that match their target criteria, in this case moms and particularly those with large social networks. They find most of them by advertising online and through referrals. Participants are asked to talk to their friends about new products. In return, P&G promises a stream of new product samples, "a voice that is going to be heard," and specific messages to share. So far 600,000 moms are participating.

According to Steve Knox, the CEO of Vocalpoint, the most difficult challenge with word-of-mouth marketing is making it predictable. His solution: find a strong reason why a person would want to share product information with a friend. The article goes on to say--and this is very important--that the message given to the participants is always different from the one P&G uses in traditional media.

For example on the Dawn campaign, traditional ads stressed the grease-cutting power, But the message sent to the Vocalpoint mom's focused on how fun the foam was for kids to use--so fun they would be asking to help wash the dishes. They also received a sponge shaped like a foot and a dozen $1.50 coupons. The result: sales in the three test markets were double those in markets where Vocalpoint was not used.

Sound expensive and difficult to manage? I don't think it has to be. Here are five simple steps to get your Buzz Force going and your sales increasing:

  1. Make it worth their while. Proctor and Gamble offers two things: product samples/discounts and a sense of empowerment. Both make their participants feel like a VIP or an "insider." That is your goal. Price the coupons such that you will be happy to see your "buzz force" using them and remember the pay-off is not just your participant coming back in with the coupon but the friends they are talking to and the feedback they are giving you.
  2. Invite your customers. The need to invite is obvious, the method can vary. Proctor & Gamble places ads to attract those interested. That can be expensive. Why not just invite your customers as you complete your transaction with them? There are several ways to do it. You can start by asking for feedback and then follow that up with an invitation to stay in touch. Another option is to invite them to join a birthday or some other kind of club and then develop the relationship from there. Finally, is the direct approach. "Interested in joining our fan club? You get discounts and sneak previews you can pass along to your friends."
  3. Give them a message worth telling. Hopefully your business is so remarkable that your customers will be anxious to tell their friends about you, but don't leave it to chance. Remember Proctor and Gamble always gives their buzz agents a specific message that is easy to share with friends. Put yourselves in your customers' shoes--what would be an easy way for them to tell their friends about you? Maybe it is "privileged" information: "Did you hear Subway is coming out with a new sandwich?" Maybe it is a great deal. "Hey, next time you need a hair cut let me know, Sport Clips gives me great coupons." Or maybe it is something just plain remarkable, "I got two movie tickets today from my insurance guy!"
  4. Give them another message worth telling. This shouldn't be a one time campaign. Stay in touch regularly. Those who have "opted-in" want to hear from you. The more ideas you give them to talk to their friends, the more likely one will work for them and you'll start seeing their friends.
  5. Listen and Learn. Perhaps this one should have been first rather than last, because it is very important. Those who join your buzz force can become your best source of market intelligence. They know and like your product, they know how people react to your product, and they are willing to put some effort into your product. Ask them what they think and listen carefully. Look to their feedback for message ideas and ways to improve your offering. How do you think the Proctor and Gamble folks figured out kids like the foam? It didn't happen in a board room.

Still sound like a lot of work? There are tools that can be used to greatly streamline the time and effort required to manage a word-of-mouth marketing program (Caution: shameless plug approaching). PromoterZ is one such tool. In simple terms, it gives users a quick and inexpensive way to invite participants, gather feedback, send messages (including online coupons), and even includes an easy online way for the buzz force to pass the word to their friends. It handles the logistics so that you can focus on the message. Check it out at www.promoterz.com.

The growth of your business will be determined by what your customers say about it. Do you know what they are saying? Learn more

Listen First!

Listen First!

Listening is hard. Let's face it, we are all problem solvers. If we weren't, chances are we wouldn't be in business for ourselves. We don't have a lot of time to spend listening to long stories. So we quickly pick out the "important facts," develop (or should I say jump?) to a conclusion, and move on to the next problem. According to Laurent Flores , the founder and CEO of, crmmetrix not listening enough to customers is exactly what is wrong with most marketing today. Here are his steps to go from marketing to consumers to marketing with consumers:

First: Listen to conversations. Learn from consumers and leverage the words consumers "recognize themselves in": a message is about an idea, and the words that support it best.

Second: Listen and engage the consumers who matter in your category. Leadership is not universal, but category related. Look at natural touch-points with your customers, such as the brand website, to find the influencers who want to engage with their favorite brands.

Third: Test the words. As stated earlier, evolving the message with influencers is key. Indeed, rather than just testing the message idea, test the words consumers will recognize themselves in. Let them have a say with a simple online VIP vote, for example.

Fourth: Seed trials and give them the ability to spread. Engage influencers further in trying and testing your product during an exclusive special VIP invitation. Give them the means to spread the word by making samples and campaign materials available (that they actually developed themselves, remember), and they will drive sales for you.

Fifth: Continue listening and keep involving them. Because markets are conversations, continuous listening to consumers during and after the campaign is key. Listening will not only provide the necessary measurement to better manage WOM, but will also naturally boost consumer engagement and relationship with your brand for your next campaign.

Some really great ideas here. When was the last time you asked your influencers or promoters (you know who they are don't you?) to vote on one of your advertising ideas? Modern technology makes the logistics easy. How about exclusive previews and samples for your promoters? You want them talking? First listen and then give them something to talk about.

Customers who feel that you are listening to them are more likely to recommend you to a friend. How do your customers know that you are listening? Learn more

Taking Care of the Golden Goose

Taking Care of the Golden Goose

Came upon an interesting post in the Life Insurance Agent Blog. The title of the entry is The Lie About Leads. Buying and selling leads is big business in the insurance industry. Do a Google search on "Insurance Leads" and you will see what I mean. Just like any other business, finding new customers can be an expensive and time consuming process. Here is a quick primer on lead terminology from the Life Insurance Agent blog:

Cold lead—this is worthless—it’s a name from a mailing list broker. The person may meet certain criteria—e.g., age, income or household value. Above that, it’s just a name, like a name from a phone book.

Warm lead—the person has requested information by completing a card, an Internet form or expressed interest with no coaxing. Your best prospects will always be the ones that take action on their own, with no one convincing, no coaxing, no call from a telemarketer.

Telemarketed lead. This is supposedly a warm lead with interest in meeting—they tell you that the prospect is waiting for your call. I doubt it. Few people have the time and inclination to talk to telemarketers on the phone and sales people.

Set appointment—this can be a very valuable lead but ask how the appointment was made. Did the prospect first call from an ad or direct mail offer and then a telemarketer set an appointment? That’s good because this prospect took the initiative.

I think he makes some great points but may have left off the most important lead of all: a referral from a happy customer. Even the most qualified lead listed above has no clue about you--your honesty, your integrity, your ability to deliver great service. On the other hand, a lead that comes from a happy customer, that lead comes with your customer's reputation attached. That is, your customer likes you enough that they are willing to put their reputation on the line with their friend on behalf of you and your business. Countless surveys have shown that referrals are without a doubt the most powerful influence on just about any purchasing decision.

Does that mean that there is no place for buying leads? No, not at all. Especially when you are getting started. You have to keep your funnel full. What it does mean, is that every lead that you successfully turn into a customer is a golden goose. Your highest priority should be to take care of that goose so that it continues to lay the golden eggs of referrals well into the future.

Think it doesn't work? Tyler Slade of Canyon Lands Insurance, one of our PromoterZ™ customers, gets a 9 or 10 from 95% of his clients when asked how likely it is they would recommend him to a friend. Not surprisingly, he has received referrals from 60% of his clients. It works.

So here is my blatant PromoterZ plug: Apply some modern technology to your client care tools to make sure your geese are being well tended. PromoterZ™ will make sure they are happy, send information to them regularly, send them a birthday greeting, and collect referrals. Check it out: www.promoterz.com. End of blantant plug.

Get customer feedback, generate referrals, and increase repeat sales for as little as $150 a month. Learn more

Best Place to Advertise?

Best Place to Advertise?

Very interesting article in the Wall Street Journalabout where small local businesses are advertising. According to the article, yellow pages still dominate but the internet is opening up some promising new opportunities. The article talks about three:

Local Television. An online company called Spot Runner will make you semi-custom ad for less than $500 and then place it for you with local stations. A pet boarding service paid $299 for an ad plus $1,400 for placement and saw their calls increase 20%

Online Search Ads. Hook up with Yahoo and or Google and for $250 to $300 a month they will host a detailed web page and provide ad listings on their search engines. A salon tried it and says they now get 80% of their new customer through the internet.

Craigslist. Craigslist is an online classified ad system that is free and growing like crazy. A carpet cleaner in New York quit using newspaper ads and gets 90% of his business from Craigslist.

Some of these ideas seem pretty good and may be worth trying depending on what kind of business you are in. What it highlights for me once again is that it is tough to get new customers in the door. In fact, it costs 5 to 10 times more to attract new customers than it does to sell more to your current customers. So once you get them, don't ever let them go. How do you do that? Give them a remarkable experience, ask them what they think, get their email address, and stay in touch with them. Not only will they come back, they will bring their friends.

More happy customers. More repeat sales. More referrals. Learn more

PromoterZ Newsletter 5/5/06

PromoterZ Newsletter 5/5/06

The latest newsletter from PromoterZ:

PromoterZ NewZ--May 5, 2006

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In this issue:

- Seeds of Growth--principles that help businesses grow
- It's May--Do you know where your specials are?
- Increasing Response Rates
- Tell Us What You Think

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Seeds of Growth--principles that help businesses grow
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Where can you learn about fishing, gas for $2.55 a gallon, and what they both have to do with growing your business? We've launched a new blog that is focused on discovering and discussing the principles that help businesses grow. Nothing too serious, but hopefully some good tidbits that will generate new ideas and help you with your business. You can check it out at http://www.seedsofgrowth.com. Leave some comments and let us know what you think. We've also changed promoterz.com--see what you think.

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It's May--Do you know where your specials are?
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One of the most valuable benefits of using PromoterZ(TM) is the list of opt-in email addresses that it collects for you. You can use the list to build your relationship with your customers, share information with them, and encourage them to return. The list, however, does no good unless it is used. Remember, these are your customers that want to hear more from you--don't let them down.

One of the beautiful things about email is that it can be current and immediate. (You can read more about that here). As you think about the month of May, here are some ideas for specials:

- NBA playoffs--If your local team is still in the running, let your customers know you are a fan. (Game 7 Special! Go Suns!)

- Mother's Day--Lot's of options here. We can never do too much for our moms.

Those are the "biggies" but there are lot's of others. The best are those that are local and current. Here are a few others to get you thinking:

May 6th-International No Diet Day (my personal favorite)
May 9th-National Teacher Day
May 10th-Clean Up Your Room Day (we are definitely celebrating that in our house)
May 14th-National Dance Like a Chicken Day (huh?)
May 15th-National Chocolate Chip Day (my other favorite)
May 20th-Armed Forces Day

You get the point. Do a web search on May Holidays and then be creative. Also don't forget that you can get an email out in literally 5 minutes. If there is something very current happening, take advantage of it and get the email out. Your customers see countless generic commercials every day. Send them something refreshing and they'll appreciate it.

If you need help with art work or getting your special set up for May, send us an email. We're happy to help.

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Increasing Response Rates
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PromoterZ(TM) is a great tool that can help gather feedback, referrals, and opt-in emails. As we just discussed, it is also very powerful for proactively communicating with your customers. But none of it happens if your customers aren't participating. So how do you get more of your customers to participate? Here are some ideas from your fellow PromoterZ(TM) users:

1) Get personal--if you are handing out an invitation card, make a personal request. Don't just leave them on the counter or shove them in the bag, hand it to them and say "I would love your feedback. Would you mind taking just 60 seconds to let us know how we did?"

2) Be persistent--Tyler Slade of Canyonlands Insurance invites his customers by email. But, he talks to them on the phone before he sends the invite and lets them know it is coming. Then he sends the invite and if he needs to he follows up by phone. His response rate is high and, not surprisingly, so are his feedback scores.

3) Share the feedback--This isn't obvious, but the best way to get your employees excited about asking customers for feedback is to share the feedback with your employees. Chuck Matheny of Sport Clips swears by this. He says his stylists take more pride in the their work and are motivated by the feedback they receive.

4) Reconsider the incentive--If you are not offering an incentive, consider offering one. If you are offering one and your response rate is still not what you would like it to be experiment with other incentives. In general a "Free" offer is more motivating than a discount. Christine switched her Subway stores from $1 off a sandwich to a free cookie with great resutls. Also, and this ties back to number 1, don't forget to offer an incentive to your employees to encourage them to ask for feedback. Run a contest and give movie tickets to the employee that gets the most feedback.

If you have other ideas or questions about improving your response rate, send us an email.

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Tell Us What You Think
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Speaking of feedback, we are always looking for it. If you have ideas or suggestions for improving PromoterZ(TM) we would like to hear about them. Over the next few weeks we will be adding new features based on requests from users like you. If you have ideas, let us know. Here is our feedback link:

http://feedbackworks.com/1327

Also, just like you, we are always looking for referrals. If you would like to send a free month of PromoterZ(TM) to a friend or colleague please use this link:

http://promoterz.com/app/referrals/1327

That is it. Thanks for reading and thanks for your business!

Happy No Diet Day!

Dave Free
President
PromoterZ

You work hard to make sure your customers are happy. Don't waste happy customers. How easy is it for your customers to share with their friends? Learn more
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Seeds from the blogworld
We search the business blog world looking for posts that illustrate principles, or "Seeds", that if followed, or "planted", will help small businesses grow. We list them here for your convenience. Enjoy.

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