It’s been quite some time since I last posted. Much has changed in the word of mouth space. The rise of social media has increased the speed and intensity of conversations that are taking place. People have a number of platforms for spreading their opinions on products, people and politicians. We got much to talk about so stay tuned.
Many organizations miss a golden opportunity to turn a negative in to a positive when they discount, minimize or ignore the value that customer complaints can add to decision making. Early customer expressions of dissatisfaction can serve as a warning system that alerts decision makers of the need to make changes to their product, brand or delivery systems.
The tendency is for organizations to put their head in the sand and hope that customer dissatisfaction and the negative word of mouth it creates will somehow disappear on its own. Customers who have taken the time and effort to let you know that something may be wrong should be embraced and serve as inputs to a continuous improvement program.
Acknowledge them and use their feedback to make changes. And be sure you tell them you did. They could become your staunchest advocates.
E*Trade’s talking and singing baby campaign has resulted in tremendous buzz about the brand. This demonstrates another way to create word of mouth. The challenge with this approach is continuing to maintain the freshness and innovation over the long run. How well they treat their customers during these trying economic times will generate more organic word of mouth. Better to offer real help than hype when it comes to trying to influence word of mouth.
As marketers pull back on making expenditures in traditional marketing tactics, low cost -no cost word of mouth marketing becomes a cost effective alternative. Consumers are not spending the way they used to and companies that earned their loyalty and trust are most likely the ones they will continue to do business with. So now is the time for companies to begin to do ordinary things extraordinarily well.
The conventional wisdom that it costs more to get a new customer than retain an existing one takes on more meaning when the economy is down. Now is the time for businesses to delight their customers and give them something to really talk about. Companies like Hyundai are thinking outside of the box and creating excitement about their brand, giving prospective a sense of comfort by offering to buy their cars back if they lose their jobs. It’s a bold move on Hyundai’s part but it is bound to give people something to talk about. It’s a sign of the times.
The leaders of the Big Three automakers received all kinds of negative press for flying individual personal jets to the bailout hearings in Washington DC. I’m sure if their marketing people had a say in the matter they may have done something different.
Imagine the positive word of mouth they might have created with a drive across America buzz campaign. They could have stretched the 8 hour drive over the course of several days using their most fuel efficient cars . They could have featured the men and women that work in dealerships and auto suppliers in each State along the way. They could have videotaped the trip and uploaded it to their websites, giving the public a sense of the very real people whose lives would be affected by allowing the Big Three to fail.
The marketing departments of the Detroit automakers may want to adopt a word of mouth marketing perspective especially as they begin to scale back some of their mass media programs, witness Buick ending its relationship with Tiger Woods, citing their economic situation. Word of mouth marketing cannot replace traditional marketing but it can be done more cost effectively and will be more credible.
Automobile marketers will have to find more cost effective ways to get the word out about their products and a word of mouth marketing perspective may be just what they need. All marketing should be designed to create positive word of mouth, and everyone would agree the Big Three sure need some positive buzz.
Public utilities know exactly who their customers are, where they are and how much they are using. Public utilities are in an ideal position to engage in the sort of one to one marketing that other service providers can only dream of.
Yet despite this unique relationship with their customers, many public utilities use one size fits all messaging in mass mediums to communicate about their various programs and initiatives. Having spent 19 years in the electric and gas utility business, I observed that the industry is very good at amassing, collecting and reporting data. Where it often falls short is in converting that data into insights.
A market savvy Chief Marketing Officer once told me, “If you don’t know who your customers are, use mass media advertising to reach them. If you know who your customers are, communicate with them directly”.
Utilities could better serve their customers by heeding such advice and shifting spending from wasteful mass media campaigns to direct communications with their customers. The lack of meaningful consumer insight is a primary reason utilities rely on one size fits all mass media campaigns. Careful analysis of existing data that results in the identification of discrete customer segments would enable utility companies to begin developing the right messages for the right customers at the right time.
By communicating directly with customers utilities would avoid the need to cut through the clutter of mass advertising to get their messages out about safety and conserving energy. Forward thinking utilities should seriously consider the increased utilization of Word Of Mouth Marketing tactics and techniques, such as leaning on webinars, email newsletters, and social media tools like Twitter and YouTube.
I came across a business inquiry on LinkedIn seeking to outsource “Personal Touch”. The requester wanted an outside company to send thank you letters to customers after they purchased a product because they don’t want to handle the follow ups internally.
This is a classic example of a transactional mindset about customers. In this day of instant communications via phone, email, blogs company websites, it’s amazing that companies feel they can’t handle building relationships with their customers. Folks, if the customer was important enough to you when they initially bought your product, then they should be important enough for someone in the company to follow-up.
Some companies allow their CEO’s to handle this function. Which company do you suppose would get more positive word of mouth, one whose CEO follows up a sale or one who follows up with a disinterested third party? You make the call.