Decoding Word of Mouth Messages

Posted by michelep

In today’s post we 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 services you will usually receive an amazing influx of sales and new customers, this is one of the best things that can happen for your business. A way to help to facilitate this is 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 services. Take the time to find out who they are and reward them. 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 continue praising your products and services.

Some of the ways you can show them appreciation are:

  • Invite them to a customer appreciation dinner
  • Offer to record their testimonials
  • Ask to interview them for feedback on things you can improve
  • 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 some of its luster over the last few years. There are a few reasons for this:

  • It’s often expensive and doesn’t necessarily return results
  • It can be boring – lacking something fresh, new and exciting
  • 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. 

Now we’ll move on to 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, 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 who are 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 to work through these concepts, you will be able to target your customers much more effectively. If you need help with any of this along the way, try our GUIDED TOUR to gain access to our experienced business coaches.

Uncomplicating the Decision Making Process

Posted by michelep

In this week’s post we are covering the concept of uncomplicating the decision making process to make it more efficient for both you and your customers/clients. There are essentially 5 stages in the decision making process.

The customer will:

  1. Give the product/service a chance to transition from a “no” to a “maybe”.
  2. Investigate the different options and products available.
  3. Observe the product to check for potential features and benefits, to see if it aligns with their needs.
  4. Become a customer and purchase their first item. They will be able to form their opinion of you and your product.
  5. Purchase again and start 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 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 them. This is where you need to make sure your information is right out there in front for the customers to see and compare. 

Trial Period

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 Your Products

At this last stage of decision making the customer is pleased with your product and often continues using it and/or comes back for more products and services. They are likely telling friends/family how much they like it, that they use it every day and have already (or will be) back to your business for more.

So now we have discussed the different types of purchasers, 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.

The Innovator

  • Wants to stand out from the crowd
  • Knows what’s hot and trending
  • Likes “strange” or “weird” new products
  • Wants to be the first to try and will talk about it enthusiastically

Early Adopter

  • Driven by excellence
  • More concerned with possibilities than realities
  • Always looking to be a leader
  • Always looking for a new vision

Middle Majority

  • 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

Late Majority

  • 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 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 different consumer types try our GUIDED TOUR for the resources and tools you need to get the job done.

Word of Mouth Tactics – Part 3

Posted by michelep

In the last post we discussed how putting a system in place to help your customers shorten their purchase decision time can increase your profits immensely.

Today we’re going to talk about the nine levels of word of mouth to give you a tool to measure the word of mouth circulating around your company, products and services. This will determine 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. 

We’ll start with the negatives, so we can finish on a positive note 

Minus 4

This is the worst level to be on, your product is creating a scandal. Remember, when the popular over-the-counter pain relievers, like Paracetamol, were deemed unsafe? This is the word of mouth you want to avoid!

Minus 3

Disgruntled customers are going out of their way to convince other consumers from purchasing your products and services. Your customers are boycotting you.

Minus 2

While, not going out of their way to boycott, when customers are asked about you they will give a negative response. 

Minus 1

At this level, people are mildly dissatisfied and while not outwardly talking about it, they will have an opinion if asked. However, they may purchase from you despite their negative feelings, this can be a little confusing. 

Level 0

This is 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.

Plus 1

At this level we are working our way into the positive word of mouth about your 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.

Plus 2

When asked, your customers will talk about how much they love your products.

Plus 3

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.

Plus 4

Your product is the talk 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.

That wraps up todays post, I hope it gives you some insight to the 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.

Stay tuned for next week’s post where we are going to talk about the 30 ways to harness the power of word of mouth.

Word of Mouth Tactics – Part 2

Posted by michelep

Last post we began our series on ‘word of mouth’ and discussed ways to keep your customers purchase experience short and sweet. Today we’re going to talk about the power of word of mouth and how to use it to your advantage.

The reality is, sometimes we need an advisor to guide us when making purchase decisions. We rely on the expertise of others to give us confidence that we have made the right decision when making a purchase. When you take the time to understand exactly how word of mouth works, you’ll see all the great advantages it has to offer you.

Traditional advertising draws approximately one response per every thousand ads and most of those responses are wanting more information before even considering making a purchase. When you get information from a friend, you are more likely to take their word for it and take action. 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:

  1. Where is your word of mouth coming from?
  2. What products are being affected by word of mouth?
  3. How is your word of mouth traveling?

Once you have an understanding of this, you can put a plan in place to trigger more word of mouth for your business. This wraps up todays post, if you need help understanding word of mouth and how it can positively impact your business, try our GUIDED TOUR to access a wealth of resources and tools.

Word of Mouth Tactics – Part 1

Posted by michelep

Today is the start of a new series, where we will be talking all about ‘Word of Mouth’ and how it can make or break a business in a very short period of time. In today’s post we will cover exactly what ‘Word of Mouth’ is.

Word of Mouth is easily the most powerful form of marketing and the best part is it’s absolutely free. People like to talk about the ads they see, experiences they have and the products they purchase. If you treat people right and spread the word about your new products/services in a positive way, you’ll attract the right customers and clients who will help sustain your business for a long time.

As positive as word of mouth can be for your business, it can also be extremely negative. Bad news seems to travel faster than good news and if you have a less than high-quality product or a poor customer service system, then your customers will tell everyone they know to not buy your products and services.

Technology proves to have amazing benefits for word of mouth. With blogs, podcasts, online marketing, forums, social networking and all the other online mediums readily available, it makes it easier for consumers to share their experiences – remember this is all free advertising for you.

Let’s take a minute to talk about the importance of shortening the customer decision cycle to help customers/client choose more quickly and easily. There are three great ways to increase sales by shortening the decision cycle. These are:

  • Increasing the overall dollar amount customers spend at each purchase
  • Increasing your number of customers
  • Increasing the frequency of purchases

Now let’s take a closer look at decision speed. Offer a simplistic, easy and fun purchasing atmosphere to encourage your customers to make their decisions quicker and more confidently. When this happens your customers will purchase from you more frequently, spend more money than usual and refer friends/family. This can raise your market share by over 100 times.

It’s important to note that the time it takes your customer to make a purchase decision far outweighs any other component of marketing. When you focus on customer decision speed it forces you to take a good look at your companies image, positioning, value, customer service, guarantees and product quality.

To wrap up this week’s blog, we’ll cover 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 decision, especially from a new source or for a large amount of money. When you help to minimize this emotional response, you will soothe your customers’ anxiety and they will make their decision quicker and more confidently.

There are a few secrets to accelerate the customers decision making progress:

  • Your features, benefits, claims and promises must be obvious, clear and concise.
  • The information you offer must be easy to understand, credible and balanced.
  • Use comparisons that show a distinct difference.
  • Your guarantees must be rock solid and more than the customer expects.
  • Make trial periods easy.
  • You must have simple evaluations of your products or services.
  • Testimonials need to be relevant and positive.
  • Your customer support, delivery and other operational systems must be perfect.

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 beyond by offering toll-free support numbers, software downloads to help with the process or other classy and informative ways 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 of this series. If you need assistance with identifying your target market and improving your customers purchasing experience, try our GUIDED TOUR and work with one of our coaches to come up with the best way to enhance your purchasing experience.