Archive | August 2012

Why we offer a Money-Back Guarantee (and why you should too)

Money back GuaranteeDo you know what potential customers hate? The one thing that will make them run a mile or avoid dealing with your business?

It’s risk.

People don’t want to take a chance on you and your business. They want certainty.

That’s why we offer a 100% Money-Back Guarantee with our own marketing program (and to our knowledge, we’re the only marketing package available in Australia that does this). In fact, our guarantee includes an extra $100 on top of the full refund*.

Yes, it’s some risk to us and yes we’ve paid it out a few times (which has hurt), but overall it sends our potential customers a strong signal that we stand behind our offering. Sometimes businesses don’t fully understand how our program works, but this one tactic alone tells everyone that we know our program is effective, and if it’s not, they’re actually $100 better off.

If your business doesn’t offer a guarantee, we’d strongly recommend you introduce one.  Some examples of effective guarantees are;

  • We’ll fix it or it’s free.  (For a computer repairs, mechanic, appliance repairs place etc. Conditions could limit this risk to the age of the item or may require new parts.)
  • If you don’t like it, we’ll fix it for free. (For a hairdresser or painter)
  • Guaranteed to be a great meal out – or your dessert is on us! (For a restaurant)
  • On budget or it’s free (for a builder, kitchen company, mechanic, or any business that quotes beforehand)
  • On time or it’s free (for a courier or pizza / fast-food business)
  • No pain, guaranteed (for a dentist or waxing business)
  • The best massage you’ve had – guaranteed (for a massage business, but change it for a facial, cleaning service, dog wash, or whatever)
  • Don’t like it? Just return it with no questions asked. (For any retail business)

I know you’re thinking this is going to cost a bomb and you can’t possibly afford it. But really, if your product/service is good, very few people will claim. And the ones that do will be more than covered by the extra sales you’ll get.

Surprises are nice for birthdays, but not for customers. Remove any element of risk or chance and you’ll find more customers saying yes more often.

*The Money-Back Guarantee on Word Of Mouth Online’s Happy Customers Program simply requires businesses to stay with the program for 6 months and have 10 or more reviews. After this, if they don’t believe it’s delivering great value for money (based purely on their own determination), they can cancel and get a full refund, plus an extra $100 for their trouble. Because the program works, hardly any businesses claim.

The one question business owners need to ask

Children have a natural desire to know “where did I come from?” and as business owners, we need to foster that same desire to understand where our customers are coming from.  But while many businesses say they do this, when quizzed, the information they have is often not enough.

Blindfolded

Without real information, you’re making decisions in the dark.

How can you know which pipe to fix if you don’t know which one’s leaking?

The internet is an amazing source of new customers, but it does complicate things… With so many online platforms, you can’t settle for customers telling you they found you via the “internet” or even “Google” as an alternative.  You need to know more.  With over 80% of all purchases starting with an online search (Nielsen research), chances are that yes, your customers did “find” you online.  But how?  Did they know your website? Did they search for your business name?  Or, more likely, did they search for a type of service they needed?

We find that when businesses generically ask customers how they found them, the answers are often “word-of-mouth” and “the internet” or “Google”.  But when businesses dig a little deeper by asking things like “did you see our customer reviews?” or “What other businesses (competitors) did you consider?” and, “What made you choose us?” – the answers tell a revealing story.

More and more businesses are realising that their online reputation is much more powerful than they thought.  Consumers are getting incredibly savvy (especially the best kinds of customers that value quality over price).  They’re looking for customer reviews, social feedback or some sort of evidence to let them know what your business is really like.  Getting your business found online might be half of the problem, but the other half is influencing potential customers’ perceptions so that your online presence gets your business liked and trusted.

So ask the question;

“How did you hear about us?”

And then ask the follow up questions;

“What were you searching for?”

“What website were you on?”

“Did you see our customer reviews?”

Successful businesses are constantly quizzing customers to understand which parts of their marketing are effective, and which parts need tweaking.

Top tips for understanding the source of your customers…

  • Ask why customers chose you – it’s unlikely your business was the only one they considered
  • Ask what information customers saw online – maybe it was that Youtube video you just posted, your pricelist, menu, or customer reviews
  • Track customer sources in your POS system – and allow for free-text entry to avoid staff submitting the nearest match (which is often not that near)
  • If you make bookings manually, develop a code for each type of marketing you do and write this next to each new customer
  • Put up a sign at your cash register to remind you to talk to customers about how they found you.
  • If it’s too much work to do continuously, do it full-on for one week every 6 months. They answers should be fairly representative.

Forget Branding – here’s what small businesses REALLY need.

When I say forget branding, I mean branding in the sense that most of us think of it – flashy logos, imagery, clever campaigns, and other somewhat abstract uses of your funds.  There is no harm with any of this, but for small businesses, the value is questionable.  Big businesses can afford this kind of icing-on-the-cake, but small businesses need to make every dollar work.

Forget Branding

What is branding anyway?

Firstly, let’s realise that for all businesses, a “brand” is the public perception of who you are and what you do. Every single interaction you have with customers influences your brand.  And mostly, small businesses manage these interactions pretty well because they’re close to their customers and they actually care about customers’ experiences.

When small businesses say they want “branding”, what they usually mean is they want a better public perception from their potential customers – more people to know about them and the great services or products they provide.

Your Brand IS Your Reputation.

For potential customers, you brand is really the collective experiences of other people.  It’s your word-on-the-street reputation that really matters.  Even if you had millions to spend on a massive marketing campaign, these days people care much less about what a business has to say about themselves, and much more about what real people – their peers – have to say about you.  (See our “branding” definition here.)

But how do you reach your potential customers?

80% of ALL purchases start with a web search*

You read the above line correctly.  By far the best way to identify potential customers is to target people that are searching online for the products or services you provide.  This is true even in industries you might not expect.  We’ve had mechanics, butchers, vets, dentists, hairdressers shocked at how many people have found them online once they created the right presence.

So putting these things together, your Online Reputation is a probably the most important part of your brand.  Yes, you might need a basic logo, stationery and some signage to look professional, but beyond that your focus should be on building evidence online that really proves to people that your business cares about customers.

Imagine “Googling” something you needed… and finding a business nearby with 3, 5 or 15 glowing customer reviews.  You’d be sold, right?  The secret of online reviews is that they both help businesses get found online, AND they instantly build trust and positive expectations.

So if you want more people knowing how great your business is, start building a positive online reputation and before long, you’ll create a truly remarkable brand for your businesses.

Word Of Mouth Online’s Happy Customers Program can accelerate this process.  Find out more here.

*More than 80% of all purchases for goods and services start with a search on the internet, for both home and business (Neilsen Netratings 2006)

Branding: a definition that’s actually useful for small businesses

Branding DefinitionBranding has been defined in many different ways – most of which are fairly outdated and not all that useful for small businesses.

For all intents and purposes, branding is…

… your reputation – the things people are saying about you

… about doing what you promise and not letting people down

… what you find when you Google your business

… not that complicated really!