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Transcript of How to Get the World Talking About Your Brand

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John Jantsch: With all these fancy marketing channels we have, still today, the most potent form of marketing is the original form of market, word of mouth. In this episode the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I visit with my friend Jay Baer. He’s got a new book called Talk Triggers: A Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word of Mouth. Check it out.

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Jay Baer. He’s the President of the global consulting firm, Convince & Convert. He’s also the author of Hug Your Haters and Youtility. I think both books that we had him come on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast and talk about at some point. But he’s got a new book with the co-author, Daniel Lemin, called Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word of Mouth. Jay, welcome back.

Jay Baer: My friend, it is fantastic to be back here with the Duct Tapers. I appreciate the time. We should mention at this top of the show here that you are quoted liberally in this book, Talk Triggers, because you are a very smart man and at some level it’s the idea of referrals and you certainly have a handle on that. Thank you for your contributions to the book.

John Jantsch: Well, thank you for starting with that, because I had a questioned cued up here for you, if you quoted any smart marketing people. That was going to be my opportunity, but you just did it for me.

Jay Baer: At least one. No, but it’s funny you say that, because this book is about word of mouth and word of mouth is not a new idea. It’s not like we struck some sort of plutonium vein. Word of mouth has been around since the first caveman sold a rock to another caveman. There are a number of good books about word of mouth on the shelves, but here’s the thing that Daniel and I tried to do. We wanted to give people a book that allows you to follow a system to do word of mouth on purpose. A lot of people who are good at word of mouth are kind of good at it on accident, so we’re very specific and there’s a whole framework in this book; a six step process that any business can use to develop a talk trigger, a differentiator that creates word of mouth. I think what our contribution to the word of mouth literature will be is giving people sort of a thing that they can say, “Oh, now I can follow some steps and actually do this.” As opposed to just say, “Yes, word of mouth is important.”

John Jantsch: It’s funny, until you said that, I hadn’t really thought about it. Word of mouth’s probably the original channel, right?

Jay Baer: It is the only channel. Imagine before you had Papyrus, or Hulu, or Snapchat, word of mouth was the only game in town.

John Jantsch: I’ve heard you and seen you define a talk trigger as a strategic operational differentiator that compels word of mouth. You want to unpack that?

Jay Baer: Yeah. I mean, a talk trigger is not marketing. Maybe we should just end the show right there. It is not marketing. It’s not marketing. It is an operational choice that creates a marketing advantage. It is something that you do differently, not something that you say differently. I’ll give you a quick example if I may. One of my favorite examples from the book is a restaurant in Sacramento, California called Skip’s Kitchen. Skip’s is a counter service restaurant, so you go to the counter and you order two patty melts, and chocolate shake, and onion rings, and they bring your food to your table when it’s ready. Pretty simple concept. These guys have a line to get in almost every day. They were just named the 29th Best Hamburger Restaurant in the U.S. by USA Today newspaper.

Yet John, they’ve never spent a penny on advertising in the 10 years they’ve been open. They’re able to do this because they have made an operational choice. They have a talk trigger. They have a differentiator that creates conversation. Here’s how it works. Before you pay, you’re at the counter, you make your order. Before you reach for your wallet, they say, “Hey John, I got something for you to try.” They whip out a deck of cards from under the counter and they fan the cards out faced down in front of you. They say, “John, pick a card.” You select a card and if you get a joker, your entire meal is free, whether it’s just for yourself or for the entire soccer team that you just ordered for. Now, on average three people a day win. When they win, they go crazy.

They’re taking patty melt selfies, and they’re calling their mom, and there’s all kinds of social media, and a high school marching band plays. It’s very exciting. But that’s what propels this business forward. People tell that story over, and over, and over. So much so that even though there’s a big neon sign out front that says Skip’s Kitchen, people in Sacramento typically call it, “That joker restaurant.” It’s a choice, right? It’s an operational decision that they made that creates marketing, but it’s not a contest, it’s not a coupon, it’s not a campaign, it’s not a promotion. It’s none of those things that we typically associate with marketers. It’s not even content. It is an operational choice.

John Jantsch: I’m going to give you an example of … A much simpler example. My wife bought a piece of clothing from kind of an indie place, not a mail order catalog that you would know. She brought it home and put it on the first time and put her hands in it. It was a sweater or something, outer garment. She put her hands in the pocket and there was a piece of paper in there. She pulled out a piece of paper and it said, “You are a goddess.” I just-

Jay Baer: Nice.

John Jantsch: I have talked about that to so many people, because-

Jay Baer: That’s really good.

John Jantsch: What a simple thing-

Jay Baer: That’s a really good one.

John Jantsch: To do.

Jay Baer: Yes.

John Jantsch: We’re not shouting and taking … In fact, I did take a picture of that, of course, and share it on social media.

Jay Baer: Yes, yes.

John Jantsch: But it can be simple things, can’t it?

Jay Baer: It actually should be simple things. One of the tenets of the book, Talk Triggers, is that it has to be reasonable. Sometimes in marketing we want to go for the big, right? We want to do surprise and delight, we want to do this whole huge crazy thing, because it’s so competitive and attention is hard to come by and so we feel like the way to get attention is to do something dramatic, and bold, and crazy. That can work, right? Surprise and delight can work, but it’s not a strategy, right? Surprise and delight is not a word of mouth strategy.

It’s a lottery ticket, right? It’s a publicity stunt. What I love about your idea with, “You’re a goddess,” piece of paper is that really meets two of the conditions that we talk about in the book. One, it’s reasonable, right? It’s a small. Two, it’s repeatable. I presume that every garment that they sell has that piece of paper or some piece of paper in it. It’s not just every once and a while, or just on Thursdays, or on your birthday. Everybody who orders at Skip’s Kitchen gets a chance to play the joker game. Talk Triggers must be repeatable as well as reasonable.

John Jantsch: Talk a little about, you mentioned it, but talk a little bit about the research that went into kind of your conclusions.

Jay Baer: We did four different research projects for this book actually. We did a national study of the impact of word of mouth on purchases and voting behavior. That study is called Chatter Matters, which was actually released today out of media embargo. That’s got all kinds of charts, and graphs, and data points. One of my favorite findings in that piece of research, John, is that 66% of Americans would trust an anonymous online review more than they would trust a recommendation from an ex-boyfriend, which I think is genius, right? Word of mouth matters, unless it’s your ex, and then it doesn’t matter at all.

John Jantsch: Well, you bring up a great point though, because I mean, look how many people are making decisions because behavior of looking at reviews, which is sort of word of mouth, has become so prevalent that-

Jay Baer: Huge. You have no idea who this person is.

John Jantsch: That’s right, that’s right.

Jay Baer: But we don’t care. We’re like, “If it’s on the internet, it must be true.” We did the Chatter Matters research. We did a bunch of social media, deep social listening research around individual talk triggers and how much they surface in social media conversations. Then we did two deep, deep, deep studies on two of the organizations that we profile in the book. One on DoubleTree Hotels and one on the Cheesecake Factory restaurant to examine how effective their specific talk triggers are at generating chatter amongst their customers. For example, listeners may know that the DoubleTree Hotel chain gives you a warm chocolate chip cookie when you check in. They’ve been doing that every day for 30 years. Each day now they hand out 75,000 warm chocolate chip cookies per day. That’s a lot of cookies.

Well, we talked to 1,001 DoubleTree customers and found that 34% of them have mentioned without being asked, have mentioned that cookie to somebody else in the prior 60 days. Which means that approximately every day 25,500 mention the cookie, which is one of the many reasons why you don’t see much advertising from DoubleTree because the cookie is their advertising. See, the best way to grow any business is for your customers to grow it for you. You know that, you’ve written about that extensively. I could not agree more. The problem is, everybody knows that to be true, but then they don’t give their customers a story to tell. A talk trigger is the story that you want your customers to tell one another and everybody can do it, they just need to figure it out and go do it.

John Jantsch: It’s interesting, as I heard you talk about that, of course, the … I won’t call it a danger necessarily, but once you come up with a talk trigger, you have to commit to it, right? Because I mean, imagine if-

Jay Baer: Yes.

John Jantsch: You went to that DoubleTree and the cookies were cold, or just weren’t there, or somebody said, “Yeah, we’re not doing that anymore.” I mean, it almost has the opposite effect, doesn’t it?

Jay Baer: Absolutely. That’s why it really is an operational choice. One of the things we talk about in the book is how important it is to get everybody in your organization, large or small, on the same page. While it’s common that talk triggers and word of mouth programs like this will initiate with marketing, everybody’s got to be on the same page; sales, operations, customer service, because everybody’s got a pull on the same rope here for this to happen and for it to be delivered consistently.

John Jantsch: Since you mentioned operational, I’m going to use the S-word, system, for this and you have a very nice tidy four, five, six system. Again, I’m not going to ask you to spell out every aspect of that, but let’s talk about the four … No, let’s go with five. Let’s go with the five types of talk triggers.

Jay Baer: It helps, I think, to have this taxonomy, to think about what are we trying to achieve here. Because a talk trigger is really just something that defies expectations. In fact, in the process one of the things that we really recommend is doing some research of your current customers to determine what it is that they expect, because if you know what they expect, then you know what they don’t expect, right? That’s really the raw materials for your talk triggers. There’s five different types, five ways that you can execute a talk trigger. The first one and the most common one is talk about generosity, where you’re more generous than your customers expect. Free cookies at DoubleTree is certainly an example of that. Winning a free meal at Skip’s Kitchen if you pull a joker is an example of talk-able generosity. That’s the one you see the most in the wild, John, because it’s the easiest to implement in your operations.

Another one is talk-able responsiveness. This is where you are faster than your customers expect. This can have tremendous winning benefits for your organization. It is perhaps the hardest one to do though, because expectations around a speed get higher, and higher, and higher every year. What was fast three years ago is average today, so that one’s a tough one to stick, but when you can do it, it works really, really well. The third one is talk-able empathy, which frankly, wouldn’t have even been in the book three years ago, because as you well know, treating customers with empathy, with humanity, with kindness was the default state in a business for the entirety of my career and yours until recently. But I think I can say now without any degree of irony that we are now in an era of empathy deficient.

Where both in politics, and in life, and in business the default state is no longer kindness, and warmth, and humanity. When you can still play that game, right? When you can still treat your customers disproportionately well, it actually is disproportionate at this point, and it can create a lot of chatter and really be a winning word of mouth strategy for your business. That’s talk-able empathy. The fourth one is talk-able usefulness, where you’re more useful than your customers expect you to be, similar to the book I wrote called Utility. Some of those same ideas are in that one. The fifth one is talk-able attitude, which is my co-author Daniel Lemin’s favorite category. That’s when you just do things a little different, right? You’re just a little askew, a little askance. You’re just a little wacky, a little wild.

One of my favorite case studies, it’s not in the book, because we learned about it afterwards. There’s a bar in Great Falls, Montana, which is out of the way, even by Montana standards. This bar was just named one of the top 10 bars to fly to by GQ Magazine. In Great Falls, Montana. Here’s their talk trigger. Every night between 9PM and midnight, they have a giant aquarium behind the bar, live human mermaids swim behind the bar from 9:00 to midnight. Now, you cannot possibly go to that bar and not have a conversation with somebody about that afterwards. That is a good talk trigger.

John Jantsch: What’s interesting as I wrote all these down, I mean, none of them saw you’re more active on Facebook, or that you have great ads, right? I mean, they’re all operational things in a lot of ways.

Jay Baer: Yeah.

John Jantsch: Or culture things, maybe. We would say some of them, but I think it really hammers that point home.

Jay Baer: There’s two things there. One, it’s important to know that the research shows, and this is research from engagement labs, that 50% of word of mouth is offline and 50% of word of mouth is almost exactly the same is online; social, review sites, etc. Now, our research in Chatter Matters shows that the impact of offline word of mouth, that you and I talking right now on Skype, or an email between the two of us, or a face-to-face conversation has more impact than a social media recommendation, just because the nature of that relationship and one-on-one. But half and half, offline versus online. Then the other thing, is you talked about Facebook ads or anything else, that’s where the sixth step in the process where you have to amplify your trigger comes into play.

If you’ve got a talk trigger, what you want to do, not all the time, because then it gets a little yucky, but every once in a while you just want to remind people. You just want to connect the dots for them. One of the examples we use in the book that I think is really … It’s just very intuitive, is Krispy Kreme doughnuts, right? Krispy Kreme doughnuts has hot doughnuts, right? They just make them out of the assembly line, but in every single Krispy Kreme location they have a giant blinking red neon sign that says, “Hot now.” They have a hot now light, right? When you see that light driving by, you’re like, “Oh yeah, fresh doughnuts. That’s their talk trigger. That’s their thing, right?” They use the sign to remind you of their differentiator and that’s a good way to do it. That’s where you use social and other forms of advertising and marketing to just remind people that you do have something that’s a little different.

John Jantsch: I’m imagining some listeners sitting around going, “Gosh darn it, that Jay is so smart. We need to do that. Let’s create a viral stampede into our business, right?” Remember everybody first started talking about viral videos and stuff that they wanted to create. How do you really authentically create … I mean, if it was a simple saying, “Let’s do a talk trigger and the world will beat a path our door,” everybody would do it. How do you do it in a way … How do you at least brainstorm, just start coming up with what would be your authentic talk trigger?

Jay Baer: We don’t really think of talk triggers as a virality mechanism, because when I think viral, I think fast growth, rapid spread. That’s not what a talk trigger does. Talk trigger does consistent reliable spread over time. A talk trigger is a word of mouth strategy. A viral campaign is a lottery ticket. It’s not the same thing, right? You may have a similar impact, but once your viral thing is over, what do you have left? You have the memories of your viral thing. DoubleTree’s have the same talk trigger, the warm chocolate cookie for 30 years. 30 years, right? It’s a different kind of way of thinking about it.

But the first step, the first step in the whole thing is to understand your customers better. We really recommend that people looking to implement a talk trigger do some interviews with customers, specifically new customers, longtime customers, and ideally lost customers. What you want to do is take your customer journey map, sort of the different inflection points that you had with each customer, and then you say, “Okay. At this step, when we sent you our proposal, what did you expect would happen?” Then you just write all that stuff down. When you do that, what you have is an expectation map, because once you know what they expect, then you can figure out what they don’t expect.

John Jantsch: That seems like something everybody ought to do anyway.

Jay Baer: Yeah, it really … It’s a good point, right? It seems like a good … Even if you’re not going to build it into a word of mouth strategy, it’s probably good information to have.

John Jantsch: What’s the danger of your talk trigger being copy-able? I mean, I can bake-

Jay Baer: It is a danger. Yeah, it happens.

John Jantsch: Chocolate chip cookies maybe.

Jay Baer: Yeah. I mean, you would think … In most cases, right? You would think that if you’re going to roll it out you would know if it’s already in the market, right? You would know, “Hey, somebody’s already doing this, so maybe we should or shouldn’t.” But sometimes you roll one out and then everybody’s like, “Hey, that is a great idea.” Then they rush it and copy you and now it no longer works. The example of that we use in the book is Westin Hotels. You may remember, John, this is … I don’t even know how many years it was. I’m going to say five, maybe it’s longer. Westin came out with this thing called the heavenly bed and they put a ton of money into trying to convince us all that they had the best beds in all of hotel-land.

Well then, Hilton Garden Inn did the same thing, and Marriott did the same thing, and Hyatt did the same thing, and somebody else got the Sleep Number bed. I think it was Hyatt. Then everybody’s got a fancy bed, and so then their talk trigger no longer worked. They basically just got co-opted out of it. That sometimes happens. It is a danger, which is why in the process of talk trigger ideation, we always recommend coming up with five to eight ideas, and then you score those ideas on a matrix we created, which is 50% talk-ability; how interesting is it, and 50% viability; how operationally difficult is it to execute. Then if one gets stolen, right? Your competitors, say, they match you and you can’t do it anymore, then you go back to the list and you just try another one.

John Jantsch: We’ve sort of been talking about, what I would call, core talk trigger for an operational … Core talk trigger for a business. Theoretically, couldn’t a product, or a service, or even a person have a talk trigger?

Jay Baer: Yes. Definitely a person, no question. There’s a lot of “personal branding,” implications for this work, no question about it. At the product level, yes. However, you have to make sure that if you’ve got, let’s say, three different talk triggers, one for each of your three main product lines, that if all three of those stories get told it doesn’t confuse anybody, or they do not create conflict, or some lack of congruity. You just have to make sure that if you’re going to roll out a talk trigger for a division or a product that if you’re going to have multiple, that it all kind of adds up. Because you don’t want to end up having your stories fighting against one another.

John Jantsch: Yeah. It might just be that if that’s ingrained in the culture, it may just actually be a design decision that goes … As cliché as it is to say, I would like to think sometimes, at least one point in their life, apple head that. That they sort of intentionally built a talk trigger maybe even into the design of their product, but that was sort of based on their overarching aesthetic.

Jay Baer: Yeah. That’s where you sort of get this Venn diagram of talk trigger versus what is actually your brand, right? For example, on the DoubleTree side, right? The warm chocolate chip cookies is the talk trigger, but their brand positioning is the warm welcome. Even within the pantheon of the 14 Hilton brands, DoubleTree’s thing is the warm welcome. They put a tremendous amount of time and effort on staff training and lobby design to sort of own that 10 minutes between when you walk into the hotel, between then and when you walk into your room. That gap, that 10 minutes is what they want to own, and so the cookie ceremony makes a lot of sense in that context.

John Jantsch: Jay Baer, I could talk to you all day long, but I better let you go. But we are talking about Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word of Mouth. Jay, where can people find out more about what you’re up to?

Jay Baer: If they go to talktriggers.com/ducttape, talktriggers.com/ducttape, we both show a little landing page for your listeners, we’re going to give you the six step guide to how to build your own talk trigger. Because I want people to do this and when you do it, please let me know, because we’re always looking for new examples. The book, of course, has a lot more detail, but if you just want the cheat sheet, go to talktriggers.com/ducttape, download the six step process guide and get started tomorrow.

John Jantsch: That’ll be, of course, in the show notes. Kind of on a final note, I won’t say this was intentional. I didn’t think this was a talk trigger, but people over the years have responded to the name of my business, Duct Tape Marketing as a bit of a talk trigger.

Jay Baer: Oh, absolutely. It would be so simple for you to lean into that skid, right? And do something with duct tape, or what have you, to sort of extenuate that differentiator.

John Jantsch: Absolutely. Jay, thanks for joining us. I know I’m going to see you soon. This book’s out in September of 2018, depending upon when you’re listening to this. Go check out Talk Triggers. Jay, we’ll see you soon on the road.

Jay Baer: Thanks, my friend.

How to Get the World Talking About Your Brand

How to Get the World Talking About Your Brand

Marketing Podcast with Jay Baer
Podcast Transcript

Jay BaerMy guest this week on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Jay Baer. He is the founder of Convince & Convert, a digital strategy consulting firm and a New York Times best-selling author of six books.

Baer is also a highly sought-after emcee and keynote speaker, an entrepreneur and founder of five multi-million dollar businesses, and has served as an advisor to more than 700 companies and organizations, including Caterpillar, Nike, and The United Nations.

He is a go-to source for various national media outlets including NPR, USA Today, TIME, and Real Simple.

On today’s episode, we discuss his latest book with co-author Daniel Lemin, Talk Triggers, which provides brands with a guide on how to create an effective word-of-mouth strategy for their business.

Questions I ask Jay Baer:

  • What is a talk trigger?
  • What are the five types of talk triggers?
  • How should a talk trigger relate to a company’s brand?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • What elements are essential to creating an effective talk trigger.
  • Why the best way to grow your business is to let your customers do it for you.
  • How to use more traditional forms of marketing to remind people of your talk trigger.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Jay Baer:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Why (and how) you should let your customers do the advertising for you

customer advertising

photo credit: DSC_0134 via photopin (license)

I grew up in the nineties, and my parents weren’t big on technology. My first computer had a 486 processor with a monochrome screen, it ran DOS, and it had Chessmaster 3000 on it. It was given to me by the people who owned the used bookstore in town after it had finally become too dated for even them to use. I loved that little computer.

Finally, one Christmas, my parents broke down and bought a more modern computer. It had Windows 95 and could connect to the internet. I was in heaven. I quickly taught myself to write HTML and launched my first website, a resource for pet rabbit enthusiasts.

Since that time, I have been responsible for the creation and promotion of many more websites, some of which have gone on to become full-fledged, successful businesses.

I am currently CEO of a company I founded around 8 years ago: Hatchwise. Hatchwise is a crowdsourced design community that has designed over a million different logos, websites and graphics of all kinds.

When I first launched Hatchwise, I was still running an internet company I had started previously, called MyCustomLogo, which relied almost 100% on PPC ads to bring in new sales. My company was profitable, but I was constantly stressing over the daily fluctuations in advertising cost. Also, there were a massive amount of competitors who were offering services which were priced similarly to mine, who were then advertising in the same places I did. So each of these factors made me decide that I wanted my next business to rely heavily on word of mouth, and to avoid PPC bidding wars and razor thin margins.

I was successful. The vast majority of contests started on Hatchwise come from people who heard about us through word of mouth, and who then go on to tell others about us, and just about everybody who wraps up a contest on Hatchwise has nothing but good things to say about us.

In this article, I am going to detail what we focus on here at Hatchwise, and why our customers love to tell their friends about us.

1. Focus on what you are selling. If people love the experience they’ll come back.

If your main focus is on getting new customers, but you’re neglecting the service, software, or experience that you are selling, then, in my opinion, you are wasting your time. Having a solid offering will increase your conversion rate and help you maintain a healthy growth. You should always strive to be a company that you would want to be a customer of.

Make sure that you have a website that is scalable and user-friendly. You do this by getting feedback from as many actual customers as possible. For example, it may seem to you that your website is easy to navigate, but you can’t know this for sure until you’ve gotten feedback from the people who are actually using it. Ask them what they like and don’t like about it, and how you can improve their experience.

Once you have a solid website and product you can then focus on spreading the word because everyone who uses your website or buys your product will be telling their friends about you. Obviously, the same situation applies if a customer has a bad experience, which is where the next point comes in.

2. Go above and beyond with your customer service. Everyone should have an amazing experience.

In our current day and age, people expect fast and responsive customer service. One of the things we do at Hatchwise is to make sure that all emails are responded to as quickly as possible. We also try to be aware that if we are consistently getting the same questions over and over, we need to figure out what we can do to eliminate the issue that is causing the email in the first place.

We use every email we receive as a chance to think about how we could make the customer experience easier and better than it already is. There have been times when a customer had an idea, and we implemented it that day, simply because it was a great idea. Every customer is important to us, and if they take the time to provide an idea or problem we take it very seriously.

3. If you never ask you’ll never know.

Several years ago, we began requesting feedback on our customers experience after they’ve completed a contest. This really helped us scale efficiently because we quickly identified issues that affected multiple customers. One of the big issues that arose was that the site was not mobile friendly. We realized pretty quickly by hearing feedback from customers that having a mobile-friendly site was very important to them, which is something that we had, for whatever reason, not really paid any attention to.

We also created an easy way for customers to share issues and request improvements as they were in the process of running a contest. This made it simple for customers to let us know about an issue they were having without having to email us. So we have also received a lot of great suggestions through this tool.

4. Do what you do better than anyone else.

Regardless of what you sell, customer satisfaction should be your number one concern. Identify what your customers want from you and make sure they get what they want. At Hatchwise, we realize the most important aspect of our website is the design that the customer receives. With that as our focus, we’ve worked hard to make sure that the designers who use Hatchwise are completely happy. We do this by dealing as fairly as possible with the hundreds of little issues that pop off when you have a community of thousands of designers, and also, we do this by making sure the website has all the tools and features that they require in order to operate as efficiently as they can. Shortly after we launched we created a unique program that runs in the background of the site that catches most clipart and keeps designers from copying the work of other designers.

By making sure that the designers are happy, we are able to provide an overall better experience to our clients, which results in everyone being happy.

5. It’s okay to reward people.

For a long time we did not have an affiliate program. Anytime a customer referred us it was because they thought we were awesome and they received nothing for doing it. We have recently launched an affiliate program after receiving a lot of requests to implement one. The results have been great. Giving people an incentive to recommend us was something that we should have done a while ago. If people love you and also receive something for recommending you, they are going to do it way more often.

6. It’s all about happiness.

Focusing on customer satisfaction and making it easy for customers to share any issues they are having is one of the biggest things you can do to grow your platform. It’s easy to create banner ads and market your site, but if the customers you have already have are not 100% satisfied, you are wasting your money. It is much better to have your existing customers be the marketers for your website. This will save you a significant amount of money and you will have a much more stable site.

George RyanGeorge Ryan is a serial entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of Hatchwise, a community of tens of thousands of graphic designers and writers who have created over a million amazing designs and company names since 2008. George resides on the Connecticut coast, where he enjoys photography, his family, and starting new businesses.

 

2 Social Customer Service Metrics: 3 Case Studies

Featured Image

photo credit: Flickr

How has marketing changed thanks to social media? Well, now 90% of customers are influenced by online reviews. Some companies cringe when they hear this: The decision whether to buy can come down to a good or bad Yelp review. And we all know some customers can be finicky, their opinions arbitrary and skewed. But some can be incredibly on point.   

Since so many people are influenced by consumer reviews, customer service is a new form of marketing. Customer satisfaction turns into word of mouth, word of mouth converts the potential customer.

Word of mouth/peer-to-peer marketing isn’t just happening via review platforms. It’s happening constantly on channels such as Facebook and Twitter, to name the major players. For that reason, social media listening, or monitoring, helps marketers and business owners understand more about the following:

  •         How people are talking about a brand – positive/negative sentiment
  •         Likes, dislikes concerning products
  •         Additional products or product modifications customers want  
  •         Complaints

The sheer volume of conversation going on allows businesses to analyze metrics and adjust customer service and marketing based on the numbers (i.e. number of negative posts about a product vs number of positive posts). Peer-to-peer marketing doesn’t exclude business-to-consumer social marketing—it runs alongside it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We can learn quite a lot about what customers want, and what they like, from social media metrics. We can also learn from businesses who are doing this well. Here’s a look at some of the exemplars in different industries.

Five Guys

The burger franchise is all about social media for marketing and customer service. Through their efforts, Five Guys has one million followers on various channels, which has helped them open twelve-hundred locations worldwide. Online Marketing Specialist, Kenneth Westling, identifies three facets of the Five Guys social media campaign that contribute to its success:

  • Prioritizing customer service
  • Involving employees at home and abroad
  • Monitoring “engagement metrics” and “tailoring content based on what works for each social network audience”

Five Guys looks at posts related to brand and keywords and creates content based on what people are saying. Further, they use geo-locational data to zero in on marketing successes, product and service issues, and how people are feeling about unique campaigns around the world. They use Hootsuite to track as many types of hashtags about their company as possible and reach out to consumers on an individual level, talking with them, not at them.

UPS

The shipping company created a Customer Communications team to focus on, “Daily content and managing brand communications and reputation.” This team corresponds directly with a social customer service representative team, which reports to the overlying Social/Digital team. The Social/Digital team is more concerned with metrics and strategy. In terms of metrics, they measure the following:

  •         Conversation sentiment
  •         Engagement
  •         Organic audience growth
  •         Pull-through on Calls to Action

Their social customer service representatives work on responding to customer issues as quickly as possible. They get the most customer service inquiries on Twitter, then Facebook. They use social media to, “Serve as a barometer for customer concerns or business opportunities.” UPS’ efforts are an example of compartmentalizing different aspects of the social strategy, but integrating each team with the other.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines just landed on the list of Fortunes’ Top 50 Most Admired Companies. One reason is the companies’ practically legendary social media presence. Southwest’s “best practices” for social customer service include:

  •         Consistent engagement
  •         Timely action
  •         Genuine brand response

Southwest recently created a Listening Center, which they use to solve service issues, share information about their brand, and provide “one-contact resolution” to customers—which reflects their emphasis on personalization—they have teams devoted to each network and encourage flight attendants to post on social media when they find out about a customer’s special occasion.

As a take-home, here are five essential metrics to track:

  •         Engagement rate – amount of interest in a piece of content, divided by number of fans/followers
  •         Share of voice – your mentions vs those of a competitor
  •         Response time – amount of time it takes to respond to a query
  •         Response rate – percentage you responded to mentions
  •         Clicks – number of clicks

Any customer relationship management software can help you track these metrics. And ultimately, your social media campaign will benefit the more you listen.

 

Daniel_Matthewscropped_150x150Daniel Matthews is a freelance writer and musician from Boise, Idaho. In 2006, he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis from Boise State University. Throughout his twenties, Daniel worked as a Psychosocial Rehabilitation Specialist, a marketer, and a server. Last year he took the plunge and became a full-time writer. Daniel believes one of the most important, if not the most important aspect of modern business is the understanding and appreciate of diverse cultures. Please find him on Twitter.

 

Building Relationships with your Leads

You’ve invested time and energy in social media, content marketing, you’ve created a call to action that’s been generating leads, and your email list of contacts is growing. Now how do you generate sales from your current leads and expand your reach to attract new leads?

Let’s take a look at two effective techniques –influencer marketing and customer emails – and how they can help you build relationships with your leads.

Influencer marketing

Using key influencers to promote your brand to a wider market, should be an important part of your overall marketing strategy. Today’s key influencers are often bloggers, and building relationships with bloggers, within your niche, can be more valuable than money spent on traditional advertising channels. According to a recent survey, 81% of consumers say they trust advice from their favourite bloggers while only 33% trust ads.

Word-of-mouth marketing is very relevant and when word gets spread by industry influencers, there’s more potential for capturing the attention of new users and increasing your reputation.

Build a strategy around influencers

Most brands today understand the importance of content marketing, and 77% of marketers use blogging to increase brand influence. Once you’ve invested time and effort into your own blog, how do you spread your reach by connecting with other bloggers?

Software such as GroupHigh can help you identify focus areas for your target audience and find bloggers and social media influencers who will be relevant to your message. Once you’ve identified them, determine how to collaborate to the best effect. Building a successful campaign involves:

  • Identifying your goals and understanding what you want to accomplish can help you decide on whom you want to work with and what approach you’ll take.
  • Get creative. Everyone likes a good product review, but more than their attention, you want to get them involved. Sponsor giveaways for ‘best comments’ or solicit user-generated content and feature the ‘best of’ on your site.
  • Provide high-quality images and suggest creative visuals that bloggers can use for their Instagram stream.
  • Create share-worthy messages. Target a devoted niche and focus on content quality rather than traffic analytics.
  • Research your competitors. Take the time to really analyse their successes.  What does a successful campaign look like?  Don’t be afraid to borrow ideas from outside of your industry either.

Realistic Expectations

It’s important to understand that blogging is a business too. Cooperation from bloggers isn’t always free, especially the high-level influencers. When you weigh the benefits, though, blogger influence often justifies the costs. Spending on influencer marketing might be an eventuality- as part of your overall social media marketing costs.

Connect with local bloggers (i.e. newspaper sites and community leaders.) This is valuable publicity, for free! Request backlinks to your site to drive traffic and boost SEO ratings. If you don’t earn a link, that’s OK, you still gained recognition and a boost to your reputation.

Craft Smart Correspondence

The other tactic for building relationships is connecting with customers through email marketing. Email lets you communicate your brand message in personalized format while providing leads the opportunity to click through and purchase.

Segment your email list. If you’re tracking analytics, you already know where you leads are coming from. Did they sign up through your latest Facebook ad, download your eBook, or were they referred by an existing customer? You can tailor your emails based on the specific marketing approach each customer responded to.

Other ways to segment include demographics and survey responses. The list goes on, depending on the product or service that you are selling. The point is that by breaking down your large list into smaller segments, you can send out targeted correspondence which translates to a higher likelihood of generating a response.

Personalize each email. Include details about past purchases and target items to customer interests based on those purchases. The more you demonstrate an understanding of your customers, the more likely they are to return and become loyal buyers.

Building relationships with your leads is the key to conversion. Building trust with influencers and maintaining communication through email marketing are effective methods of establishing these important relationships. And these are the relationships that create results!  

courtney.capellan.headshotCourtney Capellan is a Digital Analyst for hotelmarketingWorks. When she’s not writing about marketing trends she enjoys writing fiction, practicing yoga and treasure hunting. Follow her on Twitter @courtcapellan

How to Pick a New Lead Generation Channel

photo credit: 123rf.com

photo credit: 123rf.com

To make sure everyone is on the same page, here’s what we define a marketing channel as: A marketing channel is a way of speaking to your customers. It is a communication method you use to interact with someone in order to encourage them to make a purchase or remain a customer.

Some examples of marketing channels are:

  • SEO
  • Google AdWords
  • Facebook
  • TV and Magazine Advertising
  • Trade Shows
  • Social Media
  • Face-to-face business development
  • Cold calling

All of these are ways you can start a conversation with your customers and ways you can help them down the buyer’s journey towards a purchase or renewal. If you want to find more customers than you have already, maybe it’s time to try a new lead generation channel.

But I get all my customers through word of mouth…

Many successful companies have been built on one marketing channel. For a lot of startups, that first initial channel is referrals and word of mouth. They focus on maximising that channel and grow from it fairly steadily for a period of time, but all channels have a limit and will eventually fall prey to the law of diminishing returns. Also, sometimes speed of growth is important and a company has a successful channel that doesn’t bring revenue into the company fast enough (for example, advertising in a quarterly magazine).

Look at referrals, which is often a company’s best channel early on. Things spread virally when your product is good. People talk and word gets around that you’ve built something useful. But often these early stage referrals come in slowly with no real flow. Some weeks you get 2, some you get 10, and we don’t see companies controlling this or really finding a way to monitor and improve upon it. Because when you’re growing your business through the goodwill of friends or early stage customers, you don’t want to be trying to optimize them. They’re usually people you actually know rather than prospects on a list.

So, if you’re looking for more customers or to get some customers more quickly, then you’re probably interested in testing out a new channel on top of that. But before we get there, how many channels can you actually handle?

How many channels is too many channels?

The old story goes that you need to put yourself in front of a customer seven times before they’ll make a purchase. In today’s world you can spread yourself so thinly that you can have your product in front of millions of people in very little time, but it’s important to concentrate your marketing around a certain number of channels so you can get in front of the same person more than once.

It’s a juggling act. You can’t rely on only one channel to sell your product because you don’t know when it will stop working and you don’t want to stretch yourself too thinly with too many channels by not giving enough attention to them.

How many channels you can handle depends on two simple things:

  1. How fast you need to grow
  2. How many people you have on your team

If you need to grow quickly and have a large team, then try as many as you can. If you have a small team and can afford to grow more slowly, then take your time to really focus on one channel before moving on to the next one.

In general we would recommend that one person does not focus on more than three channels. This seems to be the optimum number. Enough to create a balanced marketing output and ‘hedge your bets’ while not being so many that you lose focus and can’t capitalise. Look at your marketers and try and match channels to their skills or interests, then set them loose.

How long should I test a channel?

Now that you’ve got an idea of your capacity and the number of channels you’re going to look at, you’re ready to work out which channels you’ll want to use.

First ask yourself a few simple questions:

  1. Are my customers on this channel? (Do your customers go there/ use it? Do they attend that event? Are they active on Facebook? etc)
  2. Do they want to hear from me on that channel? (Is it natural for you to speak to them there or are you trying to sell Hello Kitty Underwear on LinkedIn?)
  3. Do they spend money on that channel? (Is this somewhere they could purchase your product?).

Once you’ve answered these questions you can pick your channels and start the testing process. Some channels need less time to test than others. For example, you can quickly run tests through AdWords and shorten the feedback cycle, but doing the same in print advertising would take a lot more time.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 2.50.46 PMSteven Moody a HubSpot qualified Inbound marketer, with a passion for trying to keep things as simple and effective as possible. Starting his career in B2B sales, then moving into marketing, he’s worked all stages of the funnel. He enjoys writing and helping clients solve problems. He works for Beachhead.io, a performance-based marketing agency helping B2B SaaS startups grow faster.  One of its top channels is lead nurturing, and you can sign up for Steven’s free 7-day course on lead nurturing here.

3 The Minimalist Guide To Managing Your Brand Reputation Online

A dissatisfied customer, on an average, tells 25 of his friends, while a happy one tells only 15. Seems like if good reviews spread like wildfire, bad reviews would be rushing with light speed. Reviews, and how the masses consume them, are human nature, but this human nature can be fatal for online businesses especially at a time when 8 out of 10 customers treat and trust online reviews just like personal recommendations.

Let me tell you, brand value is diluting. And it marks an uprise of a generation of advocates and influencers that are a part of the crowd our customers identify with.

So here is a quick look at the ways you can ensure that your online brand reputation shines forever like gold and earns you higher AOVs, bigger ROIs, and ever increasing conversions.

How to ensure that each product has at least five reviews

Tip #1: Ask and ye shall receive

Most customers will happily review your product if you ask for it. Just call them up or send a follow-up email. This picture here shows how to get reviews on site through email:

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 10.55.46 AMTip #2: Give an incentive for review

For the hesitant ones, incentivise the review process. Run a reward point campaign or a loyalty program. [editor note – the FTC frowns on this practice unless you disclose that the review was incentivized.]

Tip #3: Poach the influencers

Dig out the people whose reviews are most trusted and offer them freebies or trial packs to ensure that each product has been reviewed.

How to manage third-party reviews (off-site)

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 10.56.03 AMManaging third-party reviews can get a little twisted if you do not have an automated services like Yotpo, which will syndicate all reviews in one dashboard and give you a chance to monitor and reply them instantaneously.

The first thing you need is a customer content service and second, a Godly omni-presence. Staying social does help, but so does having a profile on every review site. A great idea would be to have a separate profile, maybe on Twitter, to handle customer complaints.

Finally, be open and amiable. A demonstration of ‘respect for your customer’s opinion’ and ‘openness to take up criticism in stride’ will take your business a long way in fetching you repeat, happy customers.

How to build a positive reputation online and leverage customers’ trust

Most of the marketing experts unanimously vouch for one factor that gets most conversions, which is openness for customer opinions.

Step #1: Patiently listen to your customer.

Step #2: Respond instantly, but in an appreciative, comforting tone.

Step #3: Be vigilant.

If you find a great review somewhere, spread it on social media and display it on your site as a badge of honor and proof of great service.

Pay special attention to negative reviews. Do not leave them unaddressed. As much as you try to delight your happy customers through giveaways and discounts, try to make amends with the angry ones too. Apologize with a genuine voice and thank them for pointing out the potholes in your service. Send them goodies or vouchers if they are really unhappy with your service. However, do not do this too often or with everyone as it will encourage bad reviews more than good ones.

Believe it or not, customer reviews boil down to one thing – perceived value or customer expectation. If you set it too high on your website and the product doesn’t live up to it, your customer is going to feel disappointed. Keep the product copy unique and compelling but do not exaggerate its features.

parasParas heads Product Marketing at TargetingMantra, a SaaS company that lets ecommerce retailers create a personalized shopping experience for their customers just like Amazon and Zappos. An expert in Personalization and behavioral targeting, Paras has consulted over 50 clients across the globe on conversion optimization and increasing customer loyalty. He is a serial entrepreneur from IIT-Guwahati and Indian School of Business, who loves to spend his time exploring new technologies. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

7 How to Add Serious Value to Your Online Community

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Jamie Thomson – Enjoy! 

According to research carried out by social media experts, Socialnomics, 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, whereas only 14% trust advertisements. Perhaps that’s why online communities are so good at generating business referrals?

Developing an online community is all about engagement. As a small business owner, you want people to participate in your forum discussions, leave comments on your blog posts and recommend your products and services to other people. But how exactly do you go about achieving this?

The answer lies in the value that you add to your members. Here’s how you can inspire your online community and create a small army of brand catalysts.

Encourage Press Release Sharing

According to press release experts, PR Web, 80 million of us read our news online every day and amongst those 80 million people are your community. If you’re not already in the B2B marketplace, get other businesses in your industry involved in your community by encouraging them to share their press releases on your site. Not only will this improve your brand authority but it’ll also add huge value to your existing community members as they’ll be able to keep up to date with the latest movements in the marketplace without having to look elsewhere.

Create a Classifieds Board

In the same way that Gumtree enables people to post classified ads in their local area, enabling people to promote their services within your industry is a great way to add value to your community. A classifieds board will encourage people to visit your website regularly to see what promotions and offers are available. Consider allowing other businesses to post job vacancies on your site too as this can help improve your authority in the marketplace and establish your brand as a market leader. This in turn, will add value to your community as your members will associate themselves as being part of a successful network.

Initiate Collaborations

‘Hi Linda, have you met John?’ Much like a business version of Match.com, your website can become a hub for people in your industry to find collaborators with whom to create new projects. Actively promote new members who join your community and encourage existing members to introduce themselves. By creating business opportunities within your community, you’ll add significant value and encourage people to increase their presence on your website.

Develop a Forum Thread Specifically for Beginners

We all had to start our business careers somewhere, right? Why not make your online forum the place that those new to the market go to for advice on getting started in your industry? Developing a thread specifically for newcomers will help expand your community and recruit new members. It’ll also give more experienced users the opportunity to share their wisdom with others. Your thread may even lead to successful mentorships for your members.

Review Related Products and Services

The chances are that your industry isn’t limited to the types of products and services that your business offers. One way to add value to your community is to review related services that your website visitors will find useful. This can help establish your business as a trusted brand and will expand your community out with your own particular niche. Writing reviews will encourage people from all corners of the marketplace to visit your site for impartial information about the latest products in your industry.

Adding value to your online community will help you retain existing community members, attract new users and position your business in such a way that you’ll benefit from having an army of loyal fans spreading the word about your brand.

 

Jamie ThomsonJamie Thomson is a freelance copywriter at Brand New Copy where he writes about small business and content marketing on his copywriting blog. He’s also the founder of The Tutor Website, an online hub for small business owners in the private tutoring industry.

 

5 How to Incorporate Brand Advocates into Your Marketing Strategy

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Holly Cordner – Enjoy!

When asked about how and why they make purchases, most people say that reviews and recommendations play a major role. That holds true even in the B2B marketplace—according to one study, 60 percent of B2B tech buyers look at peer reviews before making buying decisions.

This probably doesn’t come as a surprise. After all, when it comes to your own purchasing decisions, are you more likely to trust an ad or a person who’s actually used the product?

The question is, how can you boost positive reviews of your business and how should that play into your overall marketing strategy?

Brand Advocates: Generating Buzz

Brand advocates are more than just loyal customers—they’re ambassadors. They’re people who believe in your business and who are willing to answer questions, write blog posts, and help you create favorable word-of-mouth buzz. They can help you by reviewing your products and helping convince leads who may be on the fence about your services to take the plunge.

Who are your advocates? Where can you find them?

Begin by identifying customers who have had a good experience with your brand.

  • Get in touch with people who are interacting with you on social media or on review sites like Yelp.
  • Find customers who’ve given you positive reviews on comment cards or surveys.
  • Ask your salespeople—which customers to they turn to for references? Which customers are most satisfied with their experience?

Try to identify potential advocates on a regular basis—every three to six months or so—to keep your pool fresh.

This should go without saying, but in case it’s not obvious: in order to keep your loyal customer base large and happy, you need to provide consistently great service. It’s not enough to be just “adequate”— most companies do that—you need to “wow” your customers with attention to detail and personalized service. Try to accommodate special requests when you can, and let them know how much you appreciate them.

Setting Up a Brand Advocacy Program

Identifying advocates is only half the battle. You need to decide what to do with them once you’ve found them. Here are some ideas about how you can leverage their power to help maintain a positive image for your brand:

  • Ask them to follow you on social media and comment on and share what you post.
  • Ask them to write positive reviews and testimonials on your site, review sites like Citysearch, or their blog and social media profiles.
  • Ask them if you can film them talking about their experience with your brand.
  • Ask them to contribute to communities or forums.
  • Ask them for referrals.
  • Ask them to write blog posts or create images for you.
  • Ask them if you can use their experience as a case study.
  • Ask them to speak directly (over the phone or via email or chat) to potential customers.
  • Ask them to come up with FAQ questions and answers or identify improvements for your website.

These are just some of the ways that brand advocates can be put to good use. You should get creative and decide on which strategies will work for your business.

You should probably start small. Ask potential advocates to do something easy at first, like follow you on Instagram or give you a five star rating on Google+, before moving on to bigger projects like testimonials and blog posts. You may also want to consider setting up some sort of rewards or kickback program where advocates get a percentage off, a nominal payment, or free products (à la Amazon Vine) for completing tasks.

You should also invest some time in mentoring and quality control. You should let your advocates be authentic voices for your brand, but you may also want to set some guidelines if, for instance, you plan on connecting brand advocates with potential customers directly.

How about you? How are you leveraging the power of brand advocates in your business?

Holly Cordnerhollycordner is a marketing manager living in Salt Lake City. She writes for Needle, which helps businesses of all sizes identify brand advocates and connect them with customers. Her first love is technology with tofu coming in a close second.

 

14 Word of Mouth Versus Key Influencers

This post is a special Make a Referral Week guest post featuring education on the subject of referrals and word of mouth marketing and making 1000 referrals to 1000 small businesses – check it out at Make a Referral Week 2010

This summary of an article from the December issue of the Journal of Advertising Research (good luck finding the issue online because I couldn’t) says that common word-of-mouth advertising by regular folks is more powerful than “key influencers.” Which is to say that sucking up to A-list bloggers may not be all that it’s cracked up to be. It seems like it’s bad day for celebrity endorsements.

James Coyle, assistant professor of marketing at Miami University’s Farmer School of Business, Elizabeth Lightfoot of CNET Networks, and Ted Smith and Amy Scott of MedTrackAlert conducted the study by surveying website visitors, conducting in-depth reviews, and analyzing website usage patterns. Said Coyle:

“We find that trying to track down key influencers, people who have extremely large social networks, is typically unnecessary and, more importantly, can actually limit a campaign or advertisement’s viral potential. Instead, marketers need to realize that the majority of their audience, not just the well-connected few, is eager and willing to pass along well-designed and relevant messages.”

I agree. I think that most key influencers are pompous, insecure jerks who take themselves way too seriously. And I say this knowing that you can rightfully accuse me of being one of them. The marketing lesson is this: Create something great, sow fields (not window boxes), “let a hundred flowers blossom,” and pray that “regular folks” will spread the word.

Guy Kawasaki is a managing director of Garage Technology Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm. Previously, he was an Apple Fellow at Apple Computer, Inc. Guy is the author of nine books including Reality Check, The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, Selling the Dream, and The Macintosh Way.

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