Be Grateful to Your Customers

If you hear a customer complaining about your product while you were having dinner with a friend in a restaurant, will you keep quiet and just pretended nothing happened? Or will you approach that table and apologize, defend your product and make amends to your customer?

Be grateful to your customers. Even if this happens online, do the same. Ensure that your customers are happy online and offline.

Invite interaction online in blogging, forum commenting, tweeting and address every complaint. Answer all questions and clear all misunderstandings. Give them what they want.

Temptations

One technique to fight temptation is to keep the stuffs that tempt you out of sight. Cover them. Hide them. Make sure you don’t see them. If you don’t see that cookie jar, you won’t overeat them. If you hide the TV in the cabinet, you won’t over watch TV.

Similarly, if you want to tempt consumers with your product, say a candy bar, put up posters of delicious candy bars being eaten. Show close ups of all that chocolate and caramel oozing our of that candy bar. Put those bars at the check out counter and convenience stores, where they are always in sight of the consumers.

Ways to be Persuasive

Instead of confusing your consumers, cut down the number of products you offer. When P&G cut down the number of products in Head and Shoulders from 26 to 15, sales increased by 10%.

When you are giving something for free to your customers, let them know that it is not exactly ‘free’, but that it have a value that you have just transferred to him.

When you use scare tactics on your customers by drumming up their problems, quickly follow up with clear solutions that they can take immediately.

Consumers prefer to stick to their original decisions, habits and commitments. So if you want them to switch to your products, ‘praise’ them that they probably made the right decision at ‘that’ time in the past. But now, there’s something better for them.

Sometimes it’s better to own up weaknesses or failures in your products. This increases trust from consumers, and let them know that you are aware and in control, rather then ‘seem’ to want to hide the problems.

If there are angry customers, repeat their complaints to show understanding. Praise them for the efforts, and smile.

Show them how your products are rare and very different actually from your competitors’.

Instead of showing consumers how they can gain from your products, show how they can ‘lose’ by not using your products. The law of risk aversion.

Show images that are more literal, or describe in words that are easily visualized by your target consumers.

Use taglines and rhymes to increase recall for your product’s benefits.

Create a sense of mystery and intrigue by giving your products fanciful names. Say for drinks: Tropical Rain Forest Cocktail, Laser Lemon Tequilla.

Depending on whether the local culture is individualistic or collectivist, write your ad to appeal to the individual or to the group.

Decision Making by Consumers

I have just read finished the book ‘Predictably Irrational’ by Dan Ariely. A fantastic book that talks about how we are often irrational in decision making. The other worse thing is that we assumed that we are rational in decision making, until we are exposed by Dan Ariely.

Take for example supply and demand, and how they determine prices. Textbooks have the term willingness to pay, meaning how much consumers will pay for your goods. However, consumers don’t really understand their preference well, and this affects their judgement on prices. Marketing and advertising is able to manipulate the mind of consumers on how much a product is perceived to be worth. This means that manufacturers can often manipulate consumers’ willingness to pay.

The power of FREE is stronger than most of us think it actually is. A FREE credit card (with no annual fees) but high interest rates is more attractive than a credit card with far lower interest rates but with annual fees. Go figure.

For money or for moral good? The moral good motivation is far nobler and stronger. Take for instance education. Teach them about the world, feeding the hungry, going to the moon, and kids will want to learn for nobler reasons. Tell them which jobs earn higher salaries, and you get Gordon Gecko type of graduates.

The power of information in marketing: Consumers often get placebo effects from using certain products. If you provide information about how the product is very powerful, tested effective and useful, the consumers will feel much better using your products. Compared to similar products with less information, your product will be above the rest.

PR Through Social Media

Take a look at Skullcandy and what it is doing right. It makes electronic audio products. To engage with its customers, it has widgets, downloadable music, custom artwork, blogs, communities, events and social networks to complement its traditional advertising. You need to communicate with, not just to your consumers.

You can track top websites for references via alexa, compete, technorati and blogpulse websites.

For good social media PR releases, focus on what you would like to read. Don’t worry too much about the traditional structures and formats. Prioritize the news, the story and the supporting facts. Keep it between 400 to 500 words per article.

Making Customers Happy

As the CEO of Zappos said in his book, “Delivering Happiness”, its all about delivering happiness to your customers in your products or services. You can give wider selections, better customer service, aspirational core values, increase engagement with consumers and making them happy.

Making customers happy go beyond just satisfying them. You can throw in a free sample or product to delight them. Make them squeal with happiness when you throw in free delivery. It is going beyond what is expected and giving them happy surprises.

Happiness starts from within. If the company and its employees are not happy, they won’t be motivated to delight the clients. Go for higher purposes first, as in something bigger than yourself. Then be passionate about it, and make the activities pleasurable.

New Consumer Values

How people consume media has changed quite a lot recently. TV viewership has not grown from 2004 to 2009, while internet usage have more than doubled.

People also trusts consumer opinions and recommendations on the internet, higher than articles from magazines or what they hear on radio. Newspapers, however, still retain good trust level from consumers.

People are also involving themselves more with the environment and charity. Philanthropy is making a comeback in recent years.

Social Technologies Trend 2

How do we execute the social technologies to engage with our customers? Here are some ways to do it.

1) Create a viral video. Blendtec has created a viral video on how its blenders can blend almost anything. Watch them in Youtube. This is the best method to generate awareness online.

2) Engage in social networking sites such as Facebook. Create a personality there for your brand, and communicate with your consumers. Ernst and Young created a Facebook personality to connect with fresh graduates that are potential employees. Adidas created personality profiling to segment consumers to its different shoes, and place them into ‘teams’ online. This generates lots of word of mouth and 2-way communication with your customers.

3) Write blogs to engage your customers. Also read others’ blogs related to your products or services to get a better understanding of your consumers. You can also help to educate consumers on how to use your products, especially complex ones.

4) Create a community to engage your consumers. P&G set up beinggirl.com to listen and reply to young girls’ questions and fears.

Costs mainly go to content production, brand monitoring services and IT platforms. Benefits come from PR values generated from blogs, and reduced calls for support. It allows companies to research on their companies at a low cost. This is followed by word of mouth and advertising value from traffic generated.

Instead of traditional brand equity measures, also measure engagement: how consumers navigate your websites, comments on your blogs, amount of buzz and sentiments on your products.

Social Technologies Trend 1

Young men are more active in social technologies, maybe because it deals with technology and science. They are most likely to blogs and their own websites, and dabble in uploading videos and audios online. They are also keen to post ratings on products online, and participate in forum discussions. They are familiar with RSS feeds and tagging.

Young women comes in on par with young men in social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook.

On a whole, young people (age 30 or less) are more likely to be actively online and involved in social technologies.

Businesses are also getting more involved online. They are doing research by listening to consumers talk about their products in forums. They are doing marketing by facilitating word of mouth awareness for your products to your consumers’ network of friends. These consumers can help sell your products to others.

Businesses also engage consumers online to support each other in using their products, and also to get new ideas for new product launches, or service improvements.

Consumer Behavior and Marketing

In ads, try to portray how the consumer feels about his problem. If he has hair loss, acknowledge the typical men going through hair loss, and how they feel. Use relevant models for the ad.

Show not just the direct benefits of using the product, but indirect benefits as well. E.g. after he has stopped hair loss and regained his hair, he can now attract the opposite sex better. Show how using the product can make him feel.

Share personal stories of using your product that consumers can identify with.

Prove the products can really work with testimonies, demonstrations and samples.

Use ‘perception thresholds’ to your advantage. If your advertising is lost in clutter, advertise in less saturated media to stand out and be above threshold. If you raise your price, soften it by shouting out your benefits or how you are the top brand. If you drop your price, shout it so that its above threshold. Or shout your product benefits at occasions where he has need for it, such as sunscreen at beaches.