Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Doing Business in Tough Times: 7 tips to get you through

Some industries are facing tough times right now, and others are facing very tough times. So we thought it would be a good opportunity to have a look at the implications of what it means for businesses when the economy is down. This doesn't apply to all industries right now, but if your segment is running flat, some important points to remember are;
  • Forget About Maximising Profits
    Now is not the time to be worrying about growing your bottom line numbers - it's time for focussing on staying in the game!

  • It's a Great Time to Build Market Share
    Even if the whole economy has moved down a notch, chances are that people are still buying what your business provides. People might buy less often, and might buy less from you, but make sure they're buying from you! Once the economy picks up, you'll be in a prime position to grow.

  • Adjust to the New Realities
    Rather than whine about changes that are negatively affecting your industry, be a leader that takes the new technologies and makes them work to your advantage. Change your business model so that you're selling where customers are buying - and if that's online, you'd better get good at that! Ensure your business is optimised for 2011 (not 1999). Rethink your marketing, your staff, your operations and your administration. What needs to change?

  • Compete on Service NOT Price
    When times are tough, the tendency is to discount, discount, discount. While there may be merit in reducing your prices somewhat, there'll only ever be one winner at that game and you probably don't want to win the prize for dropping your pants lowest! The alternative is to compete on customer service. Provide each and every one of your customers with exemplary service and showcase this to everyone else! Give customers the best experience possible and aim to be the best value, not the lowest price.

  • It's Not Personal
    Remember, your reaction to any set of circumstances is up to you. Don't let it get you down! Smile. Keep healthy. Nurture your friends and family. Look after yourself. And if you're struggling to keep things in perspective, stop and do something about it (take a break, seek advice, get some fresh air, or whatever works for you).

  • Focus on Your Sphere of Influence
    Stop thinking about and talking about how difficult everything is. (If you talk about problems, all you'll see is problems.) Start focussing on the customer in front of you and how you could make their experience a little bit better. Make them feel like dealing with you again... soon!

  • Good Businesses WILL Survive
    Remember, this is temporary and you've probably experienced something like it before. Think of these times as a shake-out designed to test which businesses should be here. If you've got a great offering and determination, obviously that's you. Be smart and you'll get through!

Businesses Urged to update their Dinosaur Marketing Strategies

We recently spoke to Bruno Cristovao from Copy Magic to see how WOMOW was working for them. Their business has embraced the transparency of consumer feedback and he urges other business owners to do the same...

"Some business owners are afraid to ask their customers for feedback, which worries me as they're missing out on a huge opportunity to promote themselves and they're doing their business a disservice. Online customer reviews are helping people find us on the web, and more importantly, to create trust and get a sense of who we are as a business."

"It took a few months for us to build our reviews, but the more reviews we get, the more enquiries we get from our online forms. We now staple a 'Review Us' flyer to every invoice we send out. Just one job that came from someone finding us on WOMOW paid for more than a year's worth of promotion, so it's great value for money. The customer was a multi-national business and we have done repeat business!"

"I know that some businesses are still wasting money on Yellow Pages and White Pages - they're the slow moving dinosaurs of the industry. Everyone's searching for businesses with a reviewed reputation online these days and WOMOW are the experts in this field . We are not the Mr Bigs of the print industry, but with customer reviews on WOMOW, we feel that it highlights that we can compete and facilate change in our business. Our focus on personalised customer service is paying off and we're growing at 30% per annum. The growth has allowed us to invest back into the community."

Bruno Cristovao, Copy Magic

Monday, June 6, 2011

Testimonials are Good, Reviews are Better (what's the difference anyway?)

Sorry - this article has moved!
>> Please click here to read it <<

How Transparency Benefits Your Industry (yes, even health and medical businesses)

We've heard through the grapevine about some health profession bodies warning their members (ie practitioners) about the 'dangers' of customer reviews. It seems that their concerns mainly hinge on some confusion about the differences between 'reviews' and 'testimonials'. Because testimonials are known to be so powerful (although not as powerful as reviews), and testimonials are under the direct control of the practitioner, they have traditionally been prohibited to protect public interests. However, while these are the grounds that are stated, it appears that some industries are afraid of transparency in general.

Savvy Consumers are Becoming the Norm

Like it or not, transparency in our society is increasing (and will continue to increase). However, we should look at this as a positive phenomenum - not only for consumers, but for businesses as well. As Seth Godin argues, increased transparency leads to increases profitability. While the tendency is to think about the possibility of negative reviews and to come up with reasons why consumers are wrong and/or don't know enough to comment, the reality is that customer reviews put more focus on service and quality outcomes.

Transparency shifts the Focus to Quality

As Seth points out, when book reviews are available, book sales go up. (Coremetrics research has proven that when people read reviews, they are 30% more likely to purchase.)

When consumers get used to transparency, they get more interested in the quality of your service, and are more willing to pay extra (or wait longer, or drive further). This means that as good service providers start getting all the customers, other (lower quality) service providers either decide to lift their game, or are forced to exit the industry. So the standards and overall quality of the industry rise, while profits also increase.

Stop Hiding and Own Your Service!

Businesses that embrace transparency and encourage real feedback will find they're soon getting a huge amount of new customers. (In fact, many businesses tell us they're amazed to find how many consumers are searching online for reviews on all kinds of businesses.)

Real reviews generate trust and help people know whether you're the type of business that's right for their needs.

But equally importantly, you'll need to live up to your reviews. When customers choose your business based on reviews, they understand the influence that reviews have on others. Whether they leave disappointed or thrilled, they'll be likely to share their experience online. Which means that when there are significant numbers of reviews, it's safe to say that good businesses shine (without needing a perfect track record), and shabby businesses are outed.

Reviews on doctors won't mean that people stop seeing doctors - but it may mean that they'll be prepared to give up more to see a reputable one.

Announcing: The Best Health and Medical services in Australia

Ever moved to a new area and wondered how to find a great doctor and dentist? What about a physiotherapist, chiropractor, naturopath or podiatrist? Your health is so important yet until now, it's been really difficult to find and choose health professionals you can trust. Even finding a great gym, personal trainer, yoga studio or masseuse is often pot-luck - there's a lot of great service providers out there, but also a lot to avoid!

As a first for Australia, we've tallied up the very BEST health and medical businesses - based solely on customer reviews.

Check out the Best Health and Medical services here...

Although some regulation bodies within the health industry HATE the fact that their profession is up for review, this is THE BEST WAY for customers to find and choose practitioners that they can trust. Customer reviews not only help individual consumers, they raise the demand for good practitioners and increased transparency will ultimately raise the standards within that industry.

We're very happy to congratulate all of these health and medical services for their outstanding service and contribution to society.