Referral Marketing is More Important with Social Media

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Oct, 17, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

referral marketing





I’ve done a lot of work in and around referral marketing both before and after the growth of the Internet and social media.


Referral marketing continues to be the most powerful, effective and cost efficient marketing you can have.


This is particularly true for high-priced products and services and high net-worth individuals.


I’m talking about personal referrals as opposed to providing feedback online to a group of people you don’t know.


However, this is also important since 92% of people trust what they hear from a family member or friend, 75% trust what they hear from a stranger on the Internet, while fewer than 20% trust what they hear from a company.


I don’t think most people like making referrals unless they are asked for a referral by a friend. Then they are pleased to share their positive experience on a particular product, manufacturer, service or service provider.


If asked for a referral, then the person is proud to have been asked and sees it as an opportunity to help their friend by providing information of value.


There are a couple of reasons people are not comfortable making referrals unless asked: 1) they don’t want to seem like they’re a sales person, and 2) referrals are inherently risky.


If the product or service being recommended does not live up to the expectations of the buyer, then the referrer’s credibility is questioned.


Every time a referral is made, there is an implied endorsement also being made.


As such, if you are the recipient of a referral, I suggest you over-deliver so your new customer, and the referrer are both pleased with the outcome.


This also enhances your chances of obtaining additional referrals from both customers.


What also enhances your chances of obtaining referrals is to create “raving fans.” I’m a raving fan of a national quick service restaurant (QSR) chain (Chipotle), a local auto tire and maintenance provider (Atlantic Avenue Tire) and an online book seller (Amazon).


I have personally brought all three businesses at least 100 new customers because these companies have never let me down. They consistently provide excellent service, good value and are ultimately reliable.


Regardless of your business, if you can provide consistently excellent service, product quality and value for your customers, you can build your business with referral marketing.


That is even more true today since your raving fans will tell others about you via their social media channels -- especially if you ask them to, or better yet, provide an outstanding customer experience.


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Tags: loyal customers, customer experience, raving fans, referrals, promoters, referral marketing

Use Customer Stories to Create an Emotional Connection to the Brand

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Apr, 01, 2014 @ 10:04 AM

emotional connection to the brand







One of the best ways to create an emotional connection with the brand is to include a customer's story in the campaign.


Another is to share customer stories on the brand's website and social media channels.


We did this in a campaign with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina when they were considering becoming a for profit company and when the media reported the CEO was making more than $2 million per year.


Just recently, the media reported that six executives were making more than $1 million per year.


By doing one-on-one interviews, we learned the strong positive feelings customers had for the insurance company.


We found several customers who had exceptional stories about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina helping them through very challenging, and emotional, medical events.


We produced a series of TV commercials, print ads, banner ads and billboards sharing these stories.


Negative perceptions of the brand fell 39%, positive perceptions increased 18% and the number of inbound leads doubled the first eight weeks the campaign ran.

Viewers' perceptions of the brand changed with these emotional-charged stories that showed how Blue Cross and Blue Shield was there for their customers when they really needed them. 


Once customers have fallen in love with a brand, they're more likely to be committed to it.


When customers are infatuated, they're not as easily persuaded by competitors, but they will try to persuade others, especailly during major events.


Empower your customers to spread the word about you and tell your story.


Word of mouth is still the most efficient and effective marketing. 


Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: emotional connection to the brand, connecting emotionally with customers, referrals, promoters

Curate Insights to Provide Information of Value

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Mar, 13, 2014 @ 10:03 AM

Consumer insights accelerate sales










Knowledge of the customer is key to providing information of value to the right person, in the right place at the right time.


Marketing and IT need to work together to have a digital biography of your customers -- personas, demographics, psychographics, digital journey, social media habits, interactions with your company in person, online and at tradeshows.


In order to maximize marketing effectiveness, companies need to ensure every interaction with a customer or prospect provides more awareness of the products and services that match the needs, attitudes and expectations of the customer.


Ideally the interaction is captured in the CRM which is integrated with the marketing automation software.


Most companies lack the full range of skills and capabilities to apply internal and external data to build effective targeting models. Identifying people with these skills, or training them, will be critical as customers become more sophisticated and have higher expectations of their product and service providers -- B2B and B2C.


Sending untargeted, nonpersonalized email is asking to be deleted, or worse, unsubscribed. You're better off not sending any email than sending untargeted email. Untargeted email will cause your subscriber list to shrink and make a bad impression on the recipient.


Response/conversion rates are 10% higher for prsonalized messages versus non-personalized.


Every communication does not have to sell one of your products or serivces.  Provide information of value to earn trust.


Road Runner Shoes always sends me a promotion on running shoes. They would earn my trust and respect by sending me information on nutrition or warm-up/warm-down that has nothing to do with shoes occasionally.


What information of value can you send your customers and prospects they will find useful and therefore think more highly of you because you're looking out for their best interest rather than just trying to sell them another product or service?


The trust of your customer is hard-earned and easily lost. Send them enough email and snail mail that's not relevant and you'll lose their trust.


Engage in a dialog with your customers to know how you are doing. A great way to open the dialog is with a three-question Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey. This survey has two open-ended questions that let you get voice of the customer feedback that you can respond to and that will give you insight into customers' needs and wants.


Once the customer has completed the survey, make sure you thank them for completing the survey and for their valuable feedback.


In all cases, look for client needs and determine how you can meet those needs.


For "promoters," those that gave you a 9 or 10, reach out to them to thank them for their feedback and ask if they are willing to provide a testimonial, serve as a reference, provide referrals or share their thoughts about you on their favorite social media channels.


For "passives," those that gave you a 7 or 8, thank them for their feedback and delve into what you can do to address their concerns so they will continue their relationship with you and give you the opportunity to provide a better experience than they currently perceive you providing.


You need to reach out to "detractors" immediately. Thank them for their feedback and let them know you're very interested in addressing their concerns. You don't want to lose their business and you don't want them sharing their negative experiences with you on social media.


The more you know about your customers, the more you are able to identify inflexion points at which time certain communications or offers should be made. 


Based on a study IBM conducted, the return on investment for tools that enable a highly personalized experience for the customer can reach 600%.


How are you curating insights from analytics and qualitative data to communicate more effectively and efficiently with your customers and prospects?


Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: consumer insights, dialog, information of value, CRM, promoters, passives, detractors

Empower Your Employees to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Mar, 06, 2014 @ 10:03 AM

empower employees to accelerate sales








Nice ebook from Dynamic Signal "An Introduction to Employee Advocacy" which affirms what I have shared in several posts -- empower your employees and they will help you build your business.


Empower and encourage all of your employees to send out positive messages and attract new customers, generate referrals, recruit great hires and tell a consistent story about the brand.


If your don't trust your employees to do this, how are you failing to earn their trust? Employees will only treat your customers and well as you treat your employees.


Channel the passion and knowledge of your employees so they reach out to their social networks and amplify your brand. Ensure your employees are engaged and are fully aware of your vision, mission, values and strategic position.


Doing so will drive leads, revenue and profit and further engage your employees.


According to Edelman's 2013 Trust Barometer, "41% of people believe a company's employees rank higher in public trust than a firm's P.R. department, CEO or founder."


When you empower your employees, your employees trust you and their social networks trust them. Their family, friends and colleagues see them enjoying their jobs, in person and online, and start to think more highly of the company.


For every 1,000 employees, companies can gain more than $1 million in earned media, save $500,000 in recruiting expense and geenerate millions in incremental sales.


According to Gallup, "companies with engaged employees outperform those without engaged employees by up to 202%."


Have a social media policy that's accessible and understandable. Explicitly tell people what you want them to share like a press release or video.


According to McKinsey, "when marketers empower their employees, they stand a much better chance of reaching customers in the right place, at the right time, with the right message."


According to Social Media and Sales Quota Report, "78% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers." 


Reviews, recommendations, case studies, purchase history, coupon redemption and ecommerce will all provide feedback on whether or not your employee empowerment initiatives are working.


Employees are your best sales channel, your best advocates and the greatest promoters of your brand.


Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: empower employees, alignment, one voice, referrals, promoters, emotional connection, loyal employees

Map the 7 Phases of Your Customers' Lifecycle to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Feb, 28, 2014 @ 10:02 AM

know your customers' lifecycle to accelerate sales









While marketing has evolved with the growth of the internet and social media, the phases of the customer lifecycle have not.


What you should do at each stage has certainly evolved and can be different for each industry, product, service and set of customers. Have a dialog with your customers so you thoroughly understand their buying process.


Following are my thoughts:


  1. Build awarenss to attract traffic and leads -- pursue lead generation and demand creation with both inbound (content and blogs) marketing and outbound (advertising, P.R.) marketing. Using both inbound and outbound together is more effective than just using one or the other.

  2. Help your prospect be more knowledgeable -- share information of value, answer your prospects' questions before they ask them. This builds awarenss, trust, content, SEO performance and leads.

  3. Consideration -- understand the buying process of your customer and the number of calls/contacts required to close. Know where your customer is in the cycle so you can supply relevant information of value at the appropriate time.

  4. Selection -- work with sales to identify the difference between a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and a sales qualified lead (SQL) it will make the sales process much more efficient and rewarding.

  5. Delivery & satisfaction -- check-in with your customer at delivery and installation to ensure they are satisfied with the process and to determine how you can improve the process. Make sure your customer is happy with their purchase and are receiving the value they expected.

  6. Advocacy -- once you know your customer is happy with your product and service. Know your customers' pain points so you can continue to provide solutions, make their lives easier and convert them from satisfied customers to loyal customers.

  7. Loyalty & referrals -- if you've followed-up properly with your customers, you know whether or not they are satisfied, how satisfied and if they're inclined to refer you to their friends, family and colleagues. It's very important to ensure they are happy before you ask for a referral. Work to move loyal customers to "raving fans."

I'm a big fan of using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey to determine whether or not a customer is a "promoter," a "passive" or a "detractor."


You can ask "promoters" for referrals right away.


You have some work to do to move "passives" to "promoters."


You have a lot of work to do to address "detractors'" concerns to keep them as a customer and to resolve their issues before they tell their family, friends and colleagues about you on social media. 


Commit to providing an outstanding customer experience and "promoters" will end up doing a lot of your marketing for you.

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book  "Customer Bonding Programs:  How to Get, and Keep,Customers for Life"

Tags: customer satisfaction, accelerate sales, referrals, promoters, passives, detractors

Use Net Promoter Score Surveys to Determine Employee Engagement

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Feb, 13, 2014 @ 10:02 AM

employee Net Promoter Score







As you are aware, I am a big proponent of using Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys with customers to determine their level of satisfaction with the company, as well as their willingness to recommend the company to their friends family and colleagues.

I also think it's a great way to start a dialog with a customer.


Ever since introducing Net Promoter Score (NPS) at my previous employer for both customer and employer surveys, I've been pleased with several different aspects of the methodology:

  • Ease of implementation
  • Ease and speed of response
  • Insights provided
  • Dialog promoted with customers
  • Education provided employees


I also think it's a great way to determine employee satisfaction and engagement using the same three questions, with a slight variation, that I use with customers.

The three questions are very simple and can be answered in less than five minutes, unless someone has a lot to say.
Here are the three questions I ask employees:
  1. On a scale of 0 to 10 with 10 being "extremely likely," what is the likelihood you would recommend working at ________ to a family member, friend or colleague?
  2. Why did you give us that score?
  3. What would it take to earn a 10?
By putting "Employee Satisfaction Survey -- Less than 5 minutes of Your Time" in the subject line of the email, we received excellent response rates.
Everyone who responds to the survey receives a personal "thank you" from me acknowledging their response to our request. I'm also a strong believer in saying "thank you" whenever someone gives you feedback.
Promoters, those who gave us a 9 or 10, are engaged and willing to go the extra mile for the company and their colleagues.
Detractors, those who gave us a 6 or lower, are disengaged. You need to have a one-on-one talk about these employees' concerns and agree on whther or not they can be addressed. If not, it's in everyone's best interest for these employees to find a place to work that a better fit for them. 
Passives, those who gave us a  7 or 8, are not engaged, as such you need to reach out and have a face-to-face meeting to determine what their concerns are and put a plan in place for addressing those issues.
Our goal for the emplyee satisfaction survey was three-fold:
  1. Provide a benchmark against which we can measure employee satisfaction over time;
  2. Facilitate a dialog with emplyees so we better understand their needs and wants and we develop an employee engagement program that will increase the eNPS score over time; and,
  3. Let employees see what we're asking our customers so they can gain a perspective on how customers are evaluating us.
By responding to every employee, we let them know we cared about what they had to say.  
By addressing the specific concerns of "detractors" and "passives," they know we are committed to addressing their concerns and providing a better work experience for them in the long-term.
Plenty of research validates the positive effect empowered employees and satisfied customers have on the revenue and profitability of companies.
These three questions are a great way to positively impact customers, employees, revenue and profitability.
If you need any help implementing a Net Promoter Score employee satisfaction program at your firm, please let me know.

Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: net promoter score, promoters, passives, detractors, employee engagement

Use Social Media to Improve Customer Service

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Jan, 10, 2014 @ 06:01 AM


use social media to improve customer service








I enjoyed reading "Dell-ving Into the Future" in a recent edition of Direct Marketing News.


I have long been a proponent of empowering employees to use social media and engage with customers.


It's great to see a company the size of Dell doing this.


As a Dell customer, I recently benefited from their actions after I was not able to find the solution to a problem I was having with my new laptop on their website or in an online forum.


I posted a complaint on their Facebook page and received a direct message which ultimately led to the solution of my problem. Well done Dell!


While Dell's reputation for customer service may have been lacking, I applaud them for realizing the need to improve it and for empowering all of their employees to be part of the solution.


While I was not familiar with "@DellCares," it appears the Twitter feed has been a tremendous opportunity for Dell to turn detractors into promoters -- something every business can benefit from doing.


Dell is realizing the benefit of training their employees in the use of social media so they are representing Dell's vision, mission and values.


They're also telling employees that we're all in this together and we'll succeed or fail based on our ability to satisfy customers.


This is a great stategy for the company with regards to employee and customer satisfaction.


By telling their employees they trust them interacting directly with customers, employees have a greater sense of ownership and pride.


Customers have the opportunity to get their questions answered by the most qualified person and establish a personal and emotional connection with a company that previously had only one face -- that of Michael Dell.


Dell is also being smart about their four-tier training program:


Tier 1 is basic social media policy.


Tier 2 educates employees on how to get started with social media, marketing strategies and using social media to solve business objectives -- transforming customers' perceptions, making an emotional connection with customers, being a source of reliable and objective information and protecting the Dell brand.


Tier 3 educates employees on how to incorporate the branded Dell voice into each employee's own personal voice. This is a great way for employees to understand how they are part of the vision, mission and values of the company.


Tier 4 focuses on specializing in certain social media channels including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.


Upon graduation, employees are allowed a branded "@Dell" Twitter handle.


To date, Dell has more than 9,000 (8.3% of total) social media-certified employees and 17,000 (15.6% of total) that have taken at least one class.


When you consider all of the social connections these employees have, that's tremendous reach for the Dell brand and an opportunity to connect with customers, and prospects alike, to answer questions, build relationships and learn about customers needs and wants.


Do you empower your employees to use social media to promote your brand and improve customer service?

Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales



Tags: emotional connection to the brand, customer experience, dialog, empower employees, promoters, detractors, social media

Why Don't More Firms Use NPS for Customer Loyalty?

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Nov, 01, 2013 @ 06:11 AM

Net Promoter Score







Having used Net Promoter Score for several years to get customer feedback and begin a dialogue with the customer, I'm perplexed why more B2C and B2B firms aren't using it.

It's easy to implement and easy for customers to complete.

It provides a great opportunity to learn who's a "promoter" and who's a "detractor."

Are companies afraid to hear what their customers think about them?

Do they not care?

Given the better financial performance of firms that provide outstanding customer service, and have high NPS scores, you would think more companies would use this valuable, inexpensive tool.

I recommend every company employ a three question survey that will let them know what their customers think about their products and services, as well as the fact they even care what their customers think of them.

  1. On a scale of 0 to 10, 10 being "extremely likely," how likely are to recommend __________ to your family, friends or colleagues?
  2. Why did you give us that score?
  3. What would it take to earn a 10?
This survey can be fielded in-person, via email or snail mail and takes the customer less than five minutes to complete.
It provides the company fielding the survey with tremendous insights:
  • Do your customers like what you're doing well enough to recommend it to others?
  • What do your customers see you doing "different and better?"
  • What can we do to improve our product, our service, the customer experience?
  • Who's a "promoter?"
  • Who's a "detractor?"
  • What do we need to do for the "detractor" to address their concern(s)?
  • What can we do to move "passives" to "promoters?"
  • What's happening to our Net Promoter Score -- are we improving or going backward?
If you'd like some help letting your customers know you care what they think about you, as well as invaluable insights for improving your business, let me know.
Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: net promoter score, referrals, promoters, passives, detractors, customer satisfaction measurement and improvement

9 Characteristics of Outstanding Customer Service Providers

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Oct, 24, 2013 @ 06:10 AM

customer service


Great article by Donna Fluss in the February, 2013 edition of Customer Relationship Management entitled, "Surveys Alone Are Not The Answer."

The gist of the article is that you must take action on what you learn from the feedback in your customer surveys or you're just wasting your time.

Surveying your customers and then doing nothing with the feedback is disingenuous.  

Companies field surveys to give customers the impression they care about their feedback and customers think their feedback will be used to improve the product, service or customer experience.

Companies that provide outstanding customer service share the following characteristics:

  1. Customer service is a priority and integral to the customer service.  A commitment to deliver outstanding customer service starts at the top -- it's part of the vision, mission and values of the firm.
  2. All employees and managers have customer service goals that are measured.  Employees are empowered to provide an outstanding customer experience.  Outstanding performance is recognized and rewarded.
  3. All employees view themselves, and are treated, as customer advocates.  Management values the feedback from customer-facing employees.
  4. Senior executives frequently interact with customers, solicit feedback, promote a dialogue and address any concerns.
  5. The customer service, support, or contact center reports to a senior executive and is frequently consulted with regards to how the customer experience can be improved.
  6. Customer issues are quickly escalated and resolved.  Ideally, there is minimal escalation and the customer service rep is immediately able to rectify the issue to the consumer's satisfaction.
  7. Recurring causes of customer complaints are identified and fixed. Identification and resolution is ideally made by the customer-facing employees.
  8. The organization listens on an institutional basis.  Everyone in the company is aware of the company's commitment to providing outstanding customer service.
  9. Employees are treated with great respect.  Employees will only treat customers as well as they are treated by management.

I implemented Net Promoter Score at my former employer.  Doing so raised the internal awareness of the firm's commitment to delivering an outstanding customer experience as well as our customers' awareness of our commitment.

I thanked everyone who completed the survey.  We requested testimonials and case studies from "promoters."  We resolved outstanding issues with "detractors" and we told "passives" we were committed to doing what we could to convert them to "promoters."

After all of our 

communications, our customers knew we were serious and committed to improving our level of customer service.

Is everyone in your firm committed to providing a consistently outstanding customer experience?

Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: net promoter score, connecting emotionally with customers, promoters, detractors, customer satisfaction measurement and improvement

Connect With Customers To Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Oct, 10, 2013 @ 06:10 AM

As seen on TV








The current edition of Response Magazine (#responsemag) celebrates the 30th anniversary of TELEBrands (#telebrands) and its founder A.J. Khubani, the creator of "As Seen on TV."

Part of the discussion with Mr. Khubani is the future of direct response TV, the evolution of traditional media to online and how to keep the buisiness growing.

The answer is to develop, and nurture, a relationship with your customers.

According to the 2013 financial report by the Grocery Manufacturers Accociation (#grocerymakers), more than 40% of consumer packaged goods companies plan to sell direct to consumer in 2013. This is a 67% increase over 2012.

Just like mobile is changing the B2C and B2B landscape, DTC is changing the distribution landscape by disintermediating traditional sales channels.

Companies that:

  • Engage with customers directly through their digital channels of choice
  • Earn their trust
  • Provide information of value
  • Provide an easy way for customers to buy their products and services
  • Empower their employees to provide an outstanding customer experience
  • Evolve satisfied customers into "raving fans" who will share their feelings on social media channels
will have the greatest opportunity for growth.

Fifty-two percent of U.S. customers are already buying directly online from companies they trust. It's more convenient and, in many cases, more cost efficient.

Companies that have been selling DTC already have a great deal of information about their customers. They have the opportunity to leverage that information to build a more trusting relationship and to have a "customer for life."

The future of DTC is through digital and social media channels.

People buy from those they know, like and trust.

If they've already bought from you, you've already overcome the greatest hurdle.

Now, what are you going to do to continue, and expand, the relationship?

  • Have a dialogue, either online or in person.
  • Ask the Net Promoter Score question -- "On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being 'extremely' likely, how likely are you to recommend our products to your friends and family?" 
  • Follow-up with "promoters," those that gave you a 9 or 10, and especially with "detractors," those that gave you a 6 or lower.
  • People love to talk about themselves. Ask them what they like and don't like about your products.
  • Ask them what else they'd like to see from you to make their lives easier -- their responses my give you some ideas for line extensions or new products.
  • Ask them about an outstanding customer experience they've had -- this too may give you some ideas about how to more fully engage customers.
The more your get to know your customers and show them you care, the more trust you'll earn and the greater the likelihood they will:
  • Buy from you again.
  • Become a "raving fan."
  • Tell others about you.
  • Become a "customer for life."
  • Pay a premium for your product because of the service you provide and the personal and emotional connection your efforts have created.
What are you doing in your business to have "customers for life?"
Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book  "Customer Bonding Programs:  How to Get, and Keep,Customers for Life"

Tags: customers for life, empower employees, raving fans, promoters, detractors