Yes, they do. They certainly do! They tell everyone they know every relevant thing that has happened in their lives and they listen to each other’s relevant happenings. This trend is just what makes us humans. We are interwoven in each other’s business, whether we want to be or not. Take a look at any one of the many gossip columns or 24 hour news channels. They are chalk full of random happenings of people all over the world. This can be bliss to some, and utter torture for others. The good part is that you can utilize your customer’s need for gossiping, and spreading the word to gain new customers for your business!
We’ve talked about how to listen to your customers, and that goes hand in hand with what your customers are saying about you. Their friends are listening, which means you should be too. It is just as important to listen to your customer’s issues – both good and bad – as it is to make them pleased with your product or service. Since we all know that Facebook can be blessing to your advertising with its wide reaching social networking, you should also know that it can be a crushing blow if used by an unhappy customer. The wide reach of the social network is this generation’s average person endorsement. You have to value word of mouth just as much if not more than your bottom line.
The biggest corporations in the world have whole departments dedicated to figuring out what people are saying about their products and services. Surely, this is not a new concept, but rather an often overlooked one. These corporations however are not just listening, but encouraging people to talk. They will even pay research groups to gather up some qualifying average people to just talk about a product or service for a while. What they like, what they don’t like, what would like to see the product do, etc. And they pay large sums of cash for this information. Market research through focus groups is a fantastic way to find out what people really think about what your are selling.
In addition to the focus groups, many of the big companies will also use product test panels. They will find a group of qualifying people, give them a new product, or one that is needing improvements, ask those people to use the product for a while, and then provide feedback. Again, they pay big for this kind of service. While it is expensive to do, they are getting direct feedback from their current, past, or would be customers about their product. They take the information they’ve obtained and often will make the changes recommended by the majority. This of course is done to ensure that their product is more appealing to a larger audience.
A twist to the focus group and a product test panel is a new service being offered that combines the two, along with social networking. Again, very expensive, but very worth it – maybe even more so than just the focus groups or test panels alone. These kinds of groups are allowing people to actually try the product, tell the company what they think about it, and then encouraging them to tell their friends. Usually the tester will be provided with a freebie of the product, plus coupons for future purchases, which ideally are handed out to friends.
For service based industries, such as retail establishments, many businesses ask their customers to go online and fill out a survey about their recent visit and then either be provided with a coupon for doing so, or a chance to win a gift card, or both. Again, a bit expensive, as the company would have to pay for each response received, but well worth it to see how your business was doing at a specific day and time.
While most small business owner’s can’t afford such extravagant methods of opinion gathering, you can certainly utilize the basic concepts in your own business. Give your customers free samples, and ask for their feedback. Provide them with coupons, and ask them to share the coupons with their friends. Of course if you wow them, they’ll not only want to come back, they’ll tell their friends why they should patronize your business too. Never underestimate the power of the incentive, or the power of your customer’s need to spread the word. They’ll do it on their own, so it might as well be good chatter!
LowkeyMedia Marketing Team