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.
- Give the product a chance and transitions from a “no” to a “maybe”.
- Check out the options and investigate the different products available.
- Observe the product to check for potential benefits, features and operations to see if there is a fit with 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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. 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.
Harness the Power of WOM
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 harass the power of WOM. So, let’s get started!
There are six steps to harassing word of mouth:
- Understand your customers’ values and priorities, this will help you understand why they would 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 figure out which wording and word of mouth tactics are going to 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.
The Decision Maker Matrix is based off years of trial and error by George Silverman. It essentially charts to different concerns you may come across when working with different adopters and putting together a decision process for each one.
We are now going to move on to the 30 ways to harass the power of WOM:
Experts can come in many forms and all their opinions should be taken into consideration when putting together a WOM campaign. Some experts to gather information from include:
- Experts’ roundtables
- Experts’ selling groups
Seminars, Workshops & Speeches
These venues are a perfect opportunity to gather information. People who attend these types of events are used to giving feedback, so you can use a survey or other method to gather information you can look over later. Some events to use are:
- Speakers program
- Group selling
- Dinner meetings
- Peer selling groups
- Teleconferenced experts’ panels
- Trade show events/opportunities
“Canned” Word of Mouth
The concept of “canned” word of mouth is using hard and online products to get feedback and offer information at the same time. Some ideas for these are:
- World Wide Web
As we’ve talked about before a referral program can help with a variety of things in building your business. By 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 the feedback about them. Here’s some of the “new” media options:
- Faxback services
- Web-based word of mouth, such as forums, e-mail, etc.
- Call centers
Using Traditional Media for Word of Mouth
Using traditional media is a great way to get feedback. These are still considered main stream 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 try our GUIDED TOUR to access our exclusive resources that can help you put this whole thing together.
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.
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.
Disgruntled customers are going out of their way to convince other consumers from purchasing your products and services. They are boycotting you.
While, not outwardly boycotting, when customers are asked about you they will give a negative response.
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.
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.
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.
When asked, your customers will talk about how much they love your products.
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.
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:
- Harley Davidson
- Saturn Cars
- 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:
- Where is your word of mouth coming from?
- What products 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 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.