Word of Mouth

The Power of the Talking Bubble

The Power of the Talking Bubble

Remember the talking bubble from the cartoons? It occurs to me that there is a lot of power in that bubble. In fact, the whole intent of word-of-mouth efforts is to get your business in your customer's bubble.

How much money do we as business owners spend getting our ads up in lights, in a magazine, on TV, or online? Fact is, consumers are more jaded than ever and better at ignoring all that expensive advertising.

The real power is not up on the billboards or on the airwaves. The real power is in the bubble.

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

What You Don't Know Will Hurt You.

What You Don't Know Will Hurt You.

I was in a hobby store yesterday buying model rocket engines (think venture scouts making jet propelled barbie cars). Anyway, I noticed a new restaurant had opened up in the same strip mall. While the attendant at the hobby store was ringing up my 24 rocket engines I asked him if he had tried out the new restaurant. His response:

"It's [bleep!]"

Not sure that I heard correctly and a little taken back at the language I said, "Excuse me?" He went on to explain that he hadn't eaten there but a fellow worker had and she had been sick the rest of the day. He also said his manager had ordered a taco and it cost him six bucks and was no bigger than what you can get at Taco Bell. As he handed me my receipt he concluded emphatically once again, "It's [bleep!]" I thanked him and made my way to door once again marvelling at the power of word of mouth.

Think about what happened there. Put yourself in the position of the owner of the new restaurant that just invested multiple thousands of dollars and has been open now for just a few weeks. I doubt he or she has any idea that virtually right next door someone who has never even been in the restaurant is giving out negative recommendations (with neighbors like that who needs enemies...).

It gets worse, studies have shown that irritated customers are five times more likely to vent to a friend than a store rep and on average they will tell four friends. It doesn't say anything about how many people those four will tell, but here I am telling all of you. The study did report that those told about a friend's bad shopping experience are up to five times as likely to avoid the store in question as the original unhappy customer! (read about it here)

What's the solution? First, strive to make every customer experience remarkable. Right behind that has to be a system that consistently invites each customer to tell you how they felt about the experience.

With modern technology, there is no excuse for not inviting your customers to give you feedback. I recently rented a car from Enterprise. A week later I got a call asking how the experience was for me. Phone calls can be expensive, so use the internet. Set up an online survey and hand your customers a card directing them to the url to tell you what they think. Of course there is always the written feedback card. Just make sure you review the feedback regularly and respond to it. The only thing worse than not asking for feedback is asking for it and not responding.

Certainly not all of your customers will respond, but enough will to give you an accurate idea of how things are going and give you the opportunity to "save" a few that were about to tell their four friends who will now be five times as likely to avoid your business!

If you are not regularly staying in touch with your customers someone else will. How do you stay in touch? Learn more

Consumer A.D.D. -- Is There a Cure?

Consumer A.D.D. --  Is There a Cure?

After describing modern consumers and their desire to watch or read what they want, when they want, the current issue of Business Week concludes:

The result: a serious case of attention deficit for every business that depends on traditional mass media to reach customers.

So the question is, what is the cure? Here is an additional question that I think leads to the answer: if consumers aren't paying attention to traditional advertising, who are they paying attention to?

The answer: their friends, their colleagues, their neighbor, their obnoxious brother-in-law--frankly, anybody but an advertiser. So what is the solution for a business? Turn your customers into promoters. Your customers are somebody's friend, colleague, neighbor and yes, even obnoxious brother-in-law. Make your customers so happy they can't wait to tell somebody--that is the cure.

Your success will be determined more by what your customers say about your business than what you say about it--no matter how much you pay to say it!

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

The Miracle of the Reservoir

The Miracle of the Reservoir

I grew up in the west and now live in Arizona. There is a simple rule for growing things out here (this rule applies everywhere but is more obvious in the arid west): if it doesn't get water it doesn't grow. Early settlers fought their neighbors over water rights knowing that land without water wasn't worth a plugged nickel. In addition to fighting, they went to work and figured out ways to divert and contain spring runoffs, rainfall and the flow of rivers and creeks to use in dry times. They built dams that created reservoirs then built a network of canals and ditches to get the water to the fields. Wallah! Arid desert became fertile farmlands. Fly over the west today and the benefits of the reservoir and resulting irrigation are obvious in the green irrigation circles that dot the land.

Now think about your marketing and advertising efforts. Paying for advertising can feel like paying somebody to do a rain dance--you're not at all sure what you are going to get. But sometimes there is no choice. So you pay and with some luck some new customers fall from the sky. With a lot of luck maybe a lot of customers fall from the sky. Then comes the moment of truth: do the customers run off like a flash flood leaving only a little green in their path? Or have you built a customer reservoir that they peacefully flow into to be tapped again and again ensuring green for many years to come?

How do you build a customer reservoir? First let's be clear, the reservoir metaphor only goes so far. While it is possible to build a dam to trap water, trying to trap customers is a recipe for disaster. Your goal is not to trap but to create something customers want to be, and remain, a part of. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Be remarkable-Find out what is most important to your customers and then be absolutely amazing at it.

  2. Be inviting-Identify your customers and invite them to be part of something great. Make it easy for them to join.

  3. Be persistent-Make the effort to stay in touch regularly, if you don't someone else will.

  4. Be contagious-Make it easy for your customers to tell their friends about your business.

  5. Be attentive-Ask your customers what they think, listen to what they have to say, and continue to make your business even more remarkable.

The early western settlers learned quickly that without reservoirs they couldn't survive. The same is true of business today, rain dances alone aren't sufficient.

Find your happy customers and put a megaphone in their hand. Learn more

Will Your Customers Carry a Cello?

Will Your Customers Carry a Cello?

I read recently about a musician--a cello player to be exact--that moved to New York City. She didn't know anyone in the city and was looking for opportunities to play her cello. Her solution? She carried her cello around the streets of New York with her wherever she went--whether she needed it or not. It didn't take long before other musicians introduced themselves and she was given opportunities to play.

That got me to thinking, what could I carry around to let people know what I do? Even more powerful, what would my promoting customers be willing to carry around to let others know how they feel about my business?

Do you remember your customers on their birthday? On their anniversary? Do you give special notice to recently acquired customers? Promoterz does. Learn more
Syndicate content

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.

Blogroll