Now, we’ll start a new series talking all about Word-of-Mouth and how it can make or break your business in an extremely short amount of time. In this first discussion, we will get a feel for what exactly Word-of-Mouth is.
Word-of-Mouth is easily one of the most powerful forms of marketing and is absolutely free.
People have small talk or hopefully, talk in-depth, about ads they see, experiences they have with companies and the products they purchase from those various companies. If you treat people right and spread the word about your new products/services in a uniquely positive way, your company can be the subject of many live discussions and social media exchanges, and finally generate interest and attract the right customers and/or clients who will sustain your business for a long time.
As positive as Word-of-Mouth can be for generating new business, the other side of the coin is also in play-- how negative it can be for business as well. From a human behavioral perspective, bad news seems to invariably travel faster than good news. If you have a less than stellar product and/or a weak customer service process, then your existing customers will eventually get the word out within their circles for those they care about so as to not have them buy your products and services.
The ever-evolving technology that is driving ease of communicating has proven to be an amazing benefit in the realm of utilizing Word-of-Mouth to your advantage. Blogs such as this one, podcasts, online marketing, forums, and social networking are making it second nature for consumers to share their experiences with your products/services. And, remember these are all avenues for free advertising activities for your business portfolio of products/services as well.
Lastly, let’s change gears to discuss the importance of shortening the customer decision-making cycle to accommodate customers/clients so that they can make purchasing choices more quickly and easily.
There are three great ways to increase sales by shortening the decision cycle:
Increase the overall dollar amount customers spend on each purchase
Increase your number of customers
Increase frequency of purchases
Further, let’s take a deeper look at decision speed. Where you offer simplicity, ease and an enjoyable purchasing atmosphere, you will assist your customers to make their decisions quicker and more confidently. When this experience happens, your customers will buy more frequently, spend more money than usual, refer friends and make the decision to purchase more quickly. This can raise your market share immensely.
The time it takes your customer to decide and purchase far outweighs any other component of structuring your 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.
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 relatively large purchase price. When you help to minimize these emotional hurdles, you will soothe your customers’ anxiety and they will make their decision quicker and more confidently.
There are several components to accelerate the customers decision making process:
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 to implement and convert.
You must have simple evaluations of your products or services.
Testimonials need to be current, relevant and positive.
Your support, delivery and other operational systems must be mature and vetted.
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 further by offering toll-free support numbers, relevant downloads to aid with the process to reassure your customers that you are there with them every step of the way and have nothing to hide.
This wraps up the first post in our series on the importance of Word-of-Mouth. If you need help identifying your target market and eliminating the fog they experience in their purchasing life cycle that is making their decision time too time-consuming, contact us now!
In our next post, we will move forward with the Word-of-Mouth discussion and talk more extensively about the power of Word-of-Mouth and how you can leverage it to increase your company's revenue.