Tuesday, November 2, 2010

One magic question that could turn your business around

You've probably heard the saying about marketing - half of it works, the problem is knowing which half. Although we now have more data than ever before, marketing is still a black hole for most small businesses (and many larger ones). We're constantly bombarded with ways that we can spend more money promoting our businesses - but most of the time we're making decisions blindly. However, there is a fairly simple method that can help us evaluate our current marketing and guide future decisions...

You simply need to ask customers;
"How did you hear about us?"

Not clever, not perfect, but also not difficult.

And if you're not already doing this, asking this simple question really can transform your business.

Of course, there are a thousand reasons why this is difficult to do in your own business, but let's forget perfection and realise that having some data (imperfect as it may be), is an enormous improvement on having no data. Here are a few ways that this can be implemented easily within any business (including yours);
  • Include an extra column in your bookings book - there's a hairdresser I know that does this and uses a single letter code for her common sources of customers (this same hairdresser continues to swear that she gets 10-12 new clients every week from WOMOW)
  • For online orders or computerised bookings include a field in your data structure to capture this information
  • If it's too much to ask every customer, run a week-long drive twice a year and focus on asking every customer during this period only. Involve staff and make it fun to quiz customers on how they came to be using your services (I know a restaurant owner that does this with great success)
  • Spend a day on the coal-face yourself (or if you're already there, give some focus to this subject for a few days). Question each customer you come into contact with as to how they first heard about you - even customers that have been using you for a while.
  • Remember to drill into responses - if someone says, they found you 'online', ask what website they were on or what they were searching for. Likewise, if someone says 'word-of-mouth', ask who it was that referred them (you might find that certain customers are key referrers and it would be a great idea to send a thank-you)
  • Build the question into your forms so that sales/customer service staff will remember to ask the question (if this field is left blank, you should be asking some questions!)
  • If you're a retailer and can't easily build this into your POS system, consider running a mini contest between sales staff to see who can collect the most responses. Or put a prominent reminder on top of the bags or packaging so that staff are prompted to ask this question while they're chatting to customers. You can just have them fill out an paper sheet listing the purchase amount with the source of the customer.
Of course, marketing is not quite this simple as various elements usually work together and often it's not until a customer has seen you in several places that they decide to actually use you. Nevertheless, this simple question can give you some great insight and may provide some unexpected results. One mechanic I spoke to recently said "I never thought that so many people would be looking online for a mechanic - boy was I wrong!"

Be warned though, the results you get from asking customers how they found you will usually raise more questions, and you'll probably need to get a bit more scientific to answer those (which we'd encourage you to do). But likewise, it's an area where the Pareto Principle usually applies, meaning that you'll get the bulk of the benefits from this small snapshot of data. So it's an extremely worthwhile business discipline that you can implement this week!

Good luck and feel free to drop us a line to let us know how you go.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Best Startup Business is...
WOMOW - Word Of Mouth On the Web!

Last week, we were thrilled to hear WOMOW announced as the WINNER of the MyBusiness Best Startup Award!

We've now been running for 3+ years this is further evidence of the impact we're having on the Australian business landscape.

The Best Startup award was sponsored by ANZ and the judges were impressed by WOMOW's unique, word-of-mouth marketing platform, and by the win-win value proposition we offer to both consumers and businesses.

In 5 years time, we hope you'll be saying "I was onto WOMOW before most small businesses even understood what 'online reputation' was!"

Look out for us in the November MyBusiness magazine.

(Photo: Fiona Adler accepting the Best Startup Award from ANZ)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Marketing doesn't work like that!

The inspiration for this article is a conversation I had this week from a business cancelling their Happy Customers Program on WOMOW. Their reason? They had "tried it for a month and it hasn't worked" - that's right, they said one month! (And in fact, it was slightly less than that.)

I'm sorry Mr Premature Evaluator, but Marketing just doesn't work like that!

As much as we'd all like a magic tap that we could turn on and off as our business needs changed, I've been looking and I haven't found one yet! Yes, there are a lot of campaign formats that can be turned on and off easily, but the effect that they have on people is almost always cumulative. Occasionally, it happens that someone sees an ad for the first time and places an order, but that scenario is rare.

Most of the time, marketing tools work in conjunction with each other, and involve some repetition and time. For example, a prospect might;
  • hear about you through one medium, but promptly forget the name of your business
  • later, when they have a specific need, they search online, come across your business and click as it sounds familiar
  • then they do some more searching to see what kind of a business you really are
  • and finally decide to call after finding some information that convinces them you're a great business
Another prospect might;
  • search online for your service because they have a specific need
  • come across your business and be impressed by your stellar reputation and professional website
  • promptly get distracted (ie check Facebook / read an email / attend to children / answer the phone)
  • later hear about your business through another medium, remember how impressed they were when they found you, and decide to call (and then it still might take a meeting, proposal and several emails and phone conversations before they actually purchase!)
The paths customers can take are rarely straight forward or linear so the key is to choose several key marketing tools and get them working together. This is combination of tools is your marketing strategy. Yes, you should definitely track and measure your marketing, but you definitely can't do this over one month!

Using WOMOW to promote your business is all about using word-of-mouth to;
  1. Make sure that when people search for your business or, more importantly, for a service that your business provides, that they find you
  2. Present your business in the best light possible - with great reviews from your customers (the most trusted form of marketing there is)
And it should be noted that the more reviews a business has, the more traffic they get and the better this works (the Happy Customers Program also helps businesses get customer reviews).

So, Mr Premature Evaluator, with just one review and a 1 month trial, is a loss to WOMOW but sadly, his loss is far greater. I'm sure that word-of-mouth on the web would have been a fantastic way for this business to get more prospects and earn their trust (incredibly important in his industry), but unfortunately, he will probably never know and will probably continue to waste time and money trying various different things, without really trying anything at all.

There are plenty of businesses successfully using WOMOW as their only form of marketing, but they've built their profile and reviews up over a few months. Here's one we heard from this week...
"We get 90% of our work from WOMOW and we're growing fast! We don't have a shopfront, any signage on our vehicles, or even a website, but with WOMOW heaps of people are finding us online every week. On average we sign up 3 new customers a week and now have over 200 clients with regular cleans. WOMOW has been the best thing we've done for our business!"
Sandy K from Let Us Do It 4 U Cleaning
WOMOW is not a gimmick. It is part of a long-term marketing strategy to build a place on the web that shouts your praises and helps people find you. It will not (necessarily) work overnight, but with some time and some reviews, it will almost certainly help any business that provides good service where trust and word-of-mouth are important.

Monday, September 13, 2010

WOMOW a finalist in the 2010 MyBusiness Awards

WOMOW.com.au has been announced as one of the top 3 Start-Up businesses in the 2010 MyBusiness Action Coach Awards.

Thanks for your support and keep your fingers crossed for us!

WOMOW Video: How to Turbo Charge your Word-Of-Mouth Marketing

Watch this to see how you can ramp up the word-of-mouth for your business, manage your online reputation, and win more customers.

Put your word-of-mouth on steroids and let your customers become your best marketing tool yet...

WOMOW stands for Word Of Mouth On the Web. It helps businesses get found on the web and promote themselves with word-of-mouth. Did you know that most people trust consumer recommendations over ALL other forms of advertising and marketing and also that customers that read reviews are much more likely to purchase? Check out the video to see exactly how this can work for your business.

WOMOW outperforms Yellow Pages, a hairdresser tells

Natasha Varga, owner of hairdressing salon Green Butterfly, was surprised and thrilled to find that some of her customers had entered glowing reviews on WOMOW.com.au. "That was the first time I'd heard about it - when I received an email saying my business had been reviewed. I later joined the Happy Customers Program and I haven't looked back." "The majority of our new clients now come from WOMOW - way more than Yellow Pages. Plus, they're coming from all over Melbourne, not just our local area. I particularly like it how they come with a level of trust and positive expectations - it sets our relationship off to a great start and makes it easy to keep the good vibes going! Almost all of the customers we get from WOMOW will re-book straight away and most go on to become regulars so it's having a big impact on our business."

When joining though, Natasha says she was still a bit skeptical, "To be honest, I was very surprised that WOMOW would work so well for us as I'd heard that women were less trusting of the internet, but our experience here has proven that to be wrong. There are heaps of women (and men) searching the internet and finding us on WOMOW every week! Lots of our clients tell us they use WOMOW for everything now."

"We love it when we get a new review - I'll print it out and stick it up in our back room. We're particularly chuffed if someone mentions one of us by name!"

When asked what their secret is behind providing great service, Natasha says that "we haven't got any particular secrets (I wish we did!). We just try to be honest, give as much of ourselves as we can, and enjoy what we do. I think this genuine care rubs off on customers. Plus, it's much easier to provide great service when we have such great customers!"

"Since joining WOMOW's Happy Customers Program we're almost always booked out a few weeks ahead. For any businesses that wants to promote themselves with word-of-mouth but hasn't yet joined WOMOW, I'd highly recommend it. It's excellent value and it has changed our business for the better!"

Saturday, July 24, 2010

New start-up, Miss Eyelash, is off to a flying start with instant word-of-mouth

Not long ago, Emma Vosti decided to treat herself to getting eyelash extensions for a special occasion. She looked fabulous and was overwhelmed by the positive comments she received from friends and family. Fast forward just a few months and Emma now runs "Miss Eyelash" - a thriving business built almost entirely on word-of-mouth with the help of WOMOW's Happy Customers Program. Emma says; "WOMOW has been awesome for me. I've already got 90 clients - and almost all have come directly or indirectly through WOMOW".

Upon opening up about 3 months ago, Emma says she "tried some other online directories (some of which are quite expensive), and I also tried advertising in some local magazines and newspapers. But the fact is that over 90% of my customers come to me after reading the reviews on WOMOW."

But Miss Eyelash is not a hobby business as Emma says; "I'm very serious about what I do. This is what pays my mortgage, puts food on the table and sends my children to school. I love being able to make other people look and feel fabulous, but I've spent the time training and I'm now focused on building a great reputation and long-term relationships with my clients."

"I'm definitely getting lots of people finding me online as my WOMOW listing comes up quite high in Google searches. Word-of-mouth is really important for a business like this because a lot of people have had bad experiences where the lashes have been applied poorly, or just an average experience that really hasn't looked that great - so people are looking online for recommendations. It's quite a niche market but because I focus only on eyelash extensions, I do them a lot quicker, and the quality is very high. I also put in up to 70 lashes per eye whereas most salons do only 30-50."

"I'm loving this business as I'm meeting ace people all the time and helping them look fantastic. With WOMOW it's been very easy to build up a bank of positive reviews and I certainly feel like I'm getting great value from being part of the Happy Customers Program. I also love the fact that I can click a button and get more flyers sent to me. I've even met a like-minded business through WOMOW and I now operate from their premises on a regular basis, which is helping me service my growing client base."

"It's very rewarding seeing customers' feedback online and I'm looking forward to building long relationships with my clients."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Our Customers Don't Talk about our services but we still benefit from Word-of-Mouth

Melissa Whalen runs an interesting business that's thriving - yet no-one talks about it! Jeune provides a mobile cosmetic medicine service, providing their injectable treatments and hair removal services at beauty therapists salons across Victoria. And yes, amongst other treatments, that means Botox, dermal fillers and IPL.

Think you don't know anyone that uses Botox? Melissa says that's probably not true as it's actually a lot more common than most people think. The thing is that most people don't like talking about the cosmetic medicine treatments they use. Which could be a bit of a problem for a business that relies on word-of-mouth for referrals!

Melissa says that "most people find us either by doing online research, or by discussing their needs with a trusted professional. Our business model of working through beauty therapists captures the second group, and WOMOW helps us capture the people that are Googling around looking for services and recommendations online."

She says that their main focus is on providing a great service that people will be happy with, and the word-of-mouth virtually looks after itself. "We particularly focus on giving people a very honest opinion of what we can achieve. If their expectations are realistic, then we're very confident that we'll end up with a very happy client. In some cases, people actually need fewer treatments or get a better result than we'd quoted - which of course delights them."

It's a simple strategy but one that certainly seems to be working as a scan of some of Jeune's customer reviews makes it clear how much people trust in their services. In a relatively short time, Jeune has built up an incredibly loyal client base - some of whom have moved interstate and even come back to Jeune for their treatments! "Our prices are reasonable and we offer a consistent and reliable service - extremely important when you're dealing with something as personal and sensitive as cosmetic medicines."

"Sometimes we'll get a 70 year old with a very limited budget asking to look young again. While we could offer some help, they're not going to be happy with the outcome - so we'll tell them they'd get a better result by using their money to buy a new outfit! We'd rather turn a customer away than have someone less than overjoyed with our service."

You can see customer reviews for Jeune's services here: www.womow.com.au/biz/Jeune-North-Melbourne/

Proactive word-of-mouth - is it possible?

Yes, it's true - just as some people are natural athletes, some businesses seem to generate lots of positive attention because of their product or market. But in reality, these people and businesses are very few and far between. For the most part, like great athletes, great businesses WORK REALLY HARD to get positive word-of-mouth. (Think the hype surrounding every new Apple product release is accidental? Nope! That's a well-oiled PR machine working it's bum off.)

Great businesses don't sit around waiting for people to start talking about them. They ask their customers for referrals, request online reviews, keep top-of-mind with customers through interesting and relevant ticklers, and above all, they do everything in their power to provide every customer with the best experience possible.

Sounds too much like hard work? Of course it's easier to provide mediocre service, never bother keeping in touch with customers, and sit around blaming the state of the economy for the lack in enquiries - much easier! But that's not the road to a successful business that's buzzing. It does take a bit of effort and thought - but it's also worth it's weight in gold. Why? Because...
  1. People don't believe your advertising anymore
    That's right, we've become a cynical bunch and we all know how marketing works. We won't take anything at face value anymore. Advertising is still great for building awareness but it's really tricky to build trust, preference or a real connection with advertising alone.

  2. Word-of-mouth is now permanent, searchable and pervasive
    While we might not chat to our neighbours as much as in times gone by, the internet actually makes word-of-mouth much more powerful because the comments, reviews and mentions that your business gets today, can be found by people searching next week, but also next year. They can also be seen by people nearby, and people anywhere in the world looking for a business in your location (which is great for web businesses or those that service people that travel). Most importantly, thanks to the magic of search, your feedback is seen mostly by people that are actually looking for a service just like yours. People that value good quality and good service, and in some cases, will pay extra for it.

  3. You might need to call on your positive reputation one day
    No matter how good a business you run, one day you'll get some negative feedback online. Warranted or not, someone will put a ridiculously bad comment up on Facebook, Twitter, their blog, or some other online forum. If that's the only feedback about your business on the web, it's going to look really bad - whenever someone searches for your business, that's all they'll find. But if you've already built up a great bank of positive feedback, one negative comment is almost irrelevant (of course, you should still address it, but on it's own it's unlikely to do any real damage).
Some business owners are hesitant to ask customers for reviews or mentions online, but ironically, most people actually think more highly of businesses that ask for feedback and feel flattered to be singled out. If they're happy with the service they've experienced and feel that you've gone out of your way for them, most are more than happy to return the favour. In fact, they'll probably be a happier customer, just because of the fact that you've asked them for honest feedback (seems weird but you'll see for yourself).

Word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of marketing there is and if you're passionate about creating buzz for your business, you need to get this working. So don't be shy and don't be lazy, hand your customers a MEGAPHONE and start building up your online reputation!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

“Our service is paying off with the Happy Customers Program”

...that’s what Mairead Carstens from MetroMovers (furniture removals company) tells us – and it’s the same story we get from other businesses in the program. Mairead explains that “in an industry that’s not exactly known for its customer service, our focus has been on setting a new standard and doing things differently. But while this constant striving for service excellence has always been our passion, it was often difficult to convince customers of the MetroMovers point of difference. With WOMOW, we now have a tool to really demonstrate to customers that we’re serious about service every step of the way.”

MetroMovers joined WOMOW’s Happy Customers Program only a couple of months ago but has already had at least 10 new clients book after seeing their WOMOW listing (possibly more when they include the ones that say they searched online). Mairead says that “when people see our WOMOW listing, they’ve already decided to use us – so they’re definitely easier to sell to”. Plus, the enquiries tend to come from quality-oriented customers who value good service – “so they’re not going to shop around for the cheapest price”.

It’s not just about short-term client acquisition though as Mairead views their ratings as the reputation the business is building for the long-term; “we know that the feedback we get today will be a huge advantage – both now and in the future. The more reviews we can get, the stronger our web presence becomes.”

Mairead says that a side-effect has been the impact that customer feedback has on staff. “Whenever we get a positive review, we print it off and put it up in the staff room for all to see – it really motivates our people and everyone’s hoping one of their customers will mention them!”

When asked if they had any doubts about being reviewed, Mairead explained that “Like any business, sometimes things do go wrong along the way, but we’re confident in our ability to fix things up and end up with another happy customer – and we’re more than happy to be transparent about it and let everyone see how we operate”.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Customers show their appreciation for great service

Was your business ambushed in the recent WOMOW Hug-a-Business promotion? These were!

Annie, from Annie's Dog Grooming, getting a heartfelt hug from customer Kerrie. See their customer reviews on WOMOW... http://www.womow.com.au/biz/Annies-Dog-Grooming-Altona/

Happy customer, Lyn sharing the love with Ann from Klawz (recently reviewed as one of the best Hairdressers on the Gold Coast). Check out their customer reviews... http://www.womow.com.au/biz/Klawz-Nerang/

Jodie hugging the owner of Universal Seafoods - her favourite shop for quality seafoods. See their customer reviews...

Zak hugging Shakil - one of the very talented chefs at Bukhara Indian Restaurant! See there reviews... http://www.womow.com.au/biz/Bukhara-Indian-Restaurant-Double-Bay/

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

More businesses are getting hugged!

The people of Australia are getting behind the Hundred Hugs promotion in force! Business owners - brace yourselves! Customers - if there's a business that gives you great service, give them a hug (there's a voucher in it for you - see details here!)

Here's the latest hugs just in...

Natasha hugging her chiropractor - Anthony from Feel Amazing Wellness Centres. Check their great reviews on WOMOW here - http://www.womow.com.au/biz/Feel-Amazing-Wellness-Centres-Chatswood/

Valentina (on the left) hugging Michelle - the owner of Oyster Bay Massage Therapy. Valentina credits this business for keeping her out of hospital - see her full rating here - http://www.womow.com.au/biz/Oyster-Bay-Massage-Therpay-Oyster-Bay/

One happy customer! Gail (in the middle) with Dominic and Kate from Hair On Como. Check her customer review here - http://www.womow.com.au/biz/Hair-On-Como-Parkdale/

Kate with Carmen from Simply Strandz - http://www.womow.com.au/biz/Simply-Strandz-Of-Redcliffe-Redcliffe/ "I wouldn't let anyone else touch my hair!"

Why are we doing this?
Call us crazy (you won't be the first), but this promotion is to celebrate WOMOW reaching 100,000 reviews for Australian businesses. We're looking for 100 HUGS for 100,000 Ratings and we're rewarding the members and businesses that participate (we think you all deserve a hug!). So, the first 100 members to send in pics will get a $20 voucher to spend at the business they hug, and for those that also share their pic on Facebook or Twitter, we'll make this a $50 voucher. That way we're giving more business to the businesses that people want to hug. So everyone's a winner!

Get Hugging!
If you're a business owner/manager, why not ask a customer for a hug (we dare you!). And if you're a customer, give your favourite business a massive HUG from us. There's a voucher in it for you and its a good thing to do anyway!

Click here for the promotion details.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Word-of-mouth is driving my Cleaning Business

Sandy from Let Us Do It For U - Residential and Small Office Cleaning recently joined WOMOW's Happy Customers Program and says she's thrilled with how well it's working. She admits that she only joined after finding that some of her competitors were doing well on WOMOW but says she hasn't looked back since. In fact, her business has gone from doing 50 bookings a month to over 200 bookings a month! She says, "WOMOW is fantastic - I get so many calls from it and I don't advertise anywhere else."

"We've now got 6 good reviews and people love it because they get a really personal insight into what we're like to deal with. When they call us, they feel like they've done their research and they know us - which means they're ready to make a booking!"

"We also love getting the feedback - it keeps us in touch with customers and helps us understand what's important to them. We want to make sure that our service continues to be spot-on because keeping customers is even more important that getting them in the first place. Plus, we love hearing how we're helping to make our clients' lives easier."

"Our reviews on WOMOW also helped us win a sizeable contract which has made a big difference to our business. My problem is no longer 'how to get new customers', but has changed to 'how to find great staff'!"

You can see the listing and ratings for this business here - www.womow.com.au/biz/Let-Us-Do-It-4-U-Residential-and-Small-Office-Cleaning-Moorabbin/

If you would like to be featured in a WOMOW case study, please write to us telling us how word-of-mouth works for your business - support@womow.com.au

Thursday, April 15, 2010

WOMOW's Hundred Hugs have begun

We're looking for a Hundred Hugs for businesses - because we think great businesses deserve a hug! The first pics are in - don't they just make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

Jo with Fab from Food for All Seasons www.womow.com.au/biz/Food-For-All-Seasons-Warrandyte/

Charlotte hugging her favourite hairdresser - Kylie from Capelli Hair & Beauty Studio www.womow.com.au/biz/Capelli-Hair-and-Beauty-Studio-Ferntree-Gully/

Heather hugging Dr Maltby (she said he deserves a hug as he's recently made her daughter's smile even more beautiful) http://www.womow.com.au/biz/Kawana-Dental-Buddina/%20%205%20days%20ago%20from

Teresa giving her singing teacher a beautiful hug. She says Kane's given her confidence and insight into the correct way to sing (and lots of others agree) www.womow.com.au/biz/Kane-Wheatley-Marrickville/

Jan giving a hug to Jenni Kate Beauty www.womow.com.au/biz/Jenni-Kate-Beauty-Baxter/

Martine hugging Renee (on the left) who is the owner of the The Beauty Pavillion in Mt Waverley

Jane hugging her vet, Rob from Eureka Veterinary Hospital in Ballarat

Why are we doing this?

Call us crazy, but it's all about celebrating the fact that we're about to reach 100,000 ratings. We're looking for 100 HUGS for 100,000 Ratings amd we're rewarding the members and businesses that participate (we think you all deserve a hug!). So, the first 100 members to send in pics will get a $20 voucher to spend at the business they hug, and for those that also share their pic on Facebook or Twitter, we'll make this a $50 voucher. That way we're giving more business to the businesses that people want to hug. So everyone's a winner!

Want to participate?
If you're a business owner/manager, why not ask a customer for a hug (we dare you!).

And if you're a customer, give your favourite business a massive HUG from us. There's a voucher in it for you and its a good thing to do anyway!

Click here for more information about this promotion.