Learn and Earn Word Of Mouth Marketing For Your Business

If you could master what has been identified as one of the most valuable forms of marketing, the one that most people trust above all others Word of Mouth Marketing 4and the one that is most likely to deliver sales for your company, would you instead choose to ignore it or leave it to chance?

Why would you simply choose to sit back and hope conversations will just happen organically about your brand? If you want to win the marketing race you need to unleash the power of word of mouth marketing (WOMM).

Most of the time, your talkers will come from the everyday actions you take to be a great business – they recommend their friends because they really like you. But sometimes you have to be more proactive about earning those talkers and getting them to spread the word.

Word of Mouth Marketing-GraphLook at the facts. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. In a recent study, 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of  marketing.

According to Susanne Fanning, President of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), the official trade association for the word of mouth and social media marketing industry, marketers need to focus on the three E’s: Engage, Equip, Empower.  If you can master these, you can become the most beloved and talked about product in your category, which will ultimately lead to increased sales. “We’ve seen a good WOMM campaign generate thousands of conversations, recommendations and triple sales in just a year (yes, even for the boring products).”

Engage—Give your fans the gift of you. Engage with them. Listen to what they are telling you. Be part of the conversation about your brand. Be a presence in your fans’ lives. @NikeSupport is a prime example of customer service done well. They constantly respond to followers on Twitter, whether it’s about their apparel, Fuel Band or other products. Every few minutes, you can watch them respond to someone new.

Equip—Give them reasons to talk. It can be amazing products, great service, insider knowledge, social elevation, incredible stories, unbelievable facts or even funny disclosures. It’s on you. It really depends on you understanding your consumers and what they like about you and providing whatever it is they need from you. Apple revolutionizes technological devices and delivers amazing products to its consumers, allowing them to naturally rave about the newest iPhone. Another area to excel in and that’s on the rise is social customer service.

Empower—Give consumers different ways to talk and share. Let them know that they are important to you and that sharing their opinions is important to you. Help them find ways to share within their circles and find ways to help move their conversations around. Lay’s is an excellent Word of Mouth Marketing 2example to highlight how they empowered their fans to “Do Us a Flavor,” and allow consumers to create a new flavor of potato chips to hit store shelves. Over 3.8 million submissions were sent in 2013 making it one of the biggest marketing campaigns for PepsiCo owned Frito-Lay.

As is typically in these times, technology has increased social connectivity making it easier for consumers to do your marketing for you. A post Word of Mouth Marketing 3that takes just a few minutes for a fan to write will be seen by hundreds of friends who trust them, and it can rapidly travel out to thousands more. Very well planned messages have been shared by millions within the span of days.

Look at the Epic Split video by Volvo featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme, the video was released on YouTube on November 14, and on the first day the film was viewed over 6.5 million times and shared over 32 thousand times. Then in four weeks it was shared over 6 million times across social networks. It quickly became the most shared film on YouTube. The clip has received extensive media coverage from all over the world as well, and has been the subject of approximately 20,000 editorial pieces online thus far.

It is simply not possible to achieve these kind of results without technology. The results are undeniable; consider the fact that those who read these posts as well as yours could potentially have hundreds of offline conversations with friends, families and acquaintances.

Engaing, Equipping and Empowering  your customers will fuel conversations and drive passionate Word of Mouth marketing that will make a huge difference for your brand and your sales.

Send us examples of your Word of Mouth achievments and be on the look out for Part 2 next week as we share these and more powerful WOMM success stories.


Suzanne Fanning is the President of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), the official trade association for the word of mouth and social media marketing industry. Her social strategies have been featured in Advertising Age Magazine, Fast Company, Forbes Magazine, and PR Week.


Are You a Good or Great Salesperson?

Award Winning SalesWhat separates a good salesperson from a great salesperson? 

In this post from Inc., 8 Traits of Great Salespeople, the best tend to share certain characteristics.

How do you stack up?

Retailers, what traits do you think constitutes a great salesperson?

Best Practices for Exceptional Customer Service

Five stars service

A customer’s most important and lasting impression often comes from customer service—that personal contact with your company’s sales or other customer service personnel. Striving to make customers feel not just important but genuinely comfortable and willing to do repetitive business with you and your organization should be the goal to strive for at all times.

Each person’s idea of exceptional customer service will vary.  But most people agree that if the person serving you goes above and beyond what is normally expected with service, products, time and insights, that would be exceptional.       

With the move toward social media and the ability for customers to comment immediately on Twitter and Facebook; customer service is under the microscope at all times.  Albeit extremely important to have presence with websites and social media, the personal connection still reigns supreme.

Exceptional customer service will absolutely save your organization tons of costs because if done well you won’t have to fix problems or correct wrongs.  Setting out to achieve and sustain exceptional customer service has a huge added benefit of developing happy customers and retaining them for the long run.   Key to achieving this goal is to develop exceptional personnel who understand the importance of customer service to the overall business.  Focusing on empowering all personnel to serve the customer’s needs will never go out of style.

So it becomes clear that the more complex our world gets, the more value there is in authentic, clear, customer connections.  Ron Frank of IBM summarized it well, “As organizations become more intelligent, top CEOs are focused on drawing deep insights from customer data making it possible to understand customers and engage with them as individuals.  In parallel, some have leveraged more traditional and personal ways to connect with their customers and the teams that serve them to a larger benefit”.

How to Improve Your Customer Service Game in 2014– is worth the read- from Intuits Small Business Blog.

What is one small customer service choice you have taken that has seen notable results?

Going beyond what may normally be expected, here are additional posts to help serve you:

15 Customer Service Skills Every Worker Needs

10 Examples of Shockingly Excellent Customer Service


Inside the Minds of 10 Successful Entrepreneurs (and what you can learn from them)

Business owners are all different, each having a unique entrepreneur mindset that contributes to their success. Their entrepreneurial approach might have to do with their personality or even the area of business which they have chosen to focus.

When figuring out your own methodology and challenges of entrepreneurship, it can help to learn from the experiences of others.

What makes a man tick?Explore the mindset of 10 well-known entrepreneurs from a variety of different fields, I particularly am inspired by stories 6-10 . The hope is that you will find something in each of their stories that will help you in continuing your own entrepreneurial adventures.

10 Mindsets of Successful Entrepreneurs

From Small Business Trends– October 2013


Learn From the Experiences of Fellow Entrepreneurs

10 mindsets of successful entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are all different. They all have a unique entrepreneur mindset that contributes to their success. Their mindset might have to do with their personality or even the field in which they have chosen to work.

When figuring out your own approach to the challenges of entrepreneurship, it can help to learn from the experiences of others.                                                                          Sharing Entrepreneurial Stories

Here are the experiences and entrepreneur mindset of 10 well-known entrepreneurs from a variety of different fields.   We hope that you will find something in each of their stories that will help you in your own entrepreneurial adventures.  From Small Business Trends (10/16/13)

How a Big Yellow Duck Delivers So Much Happiness

It’s a simple idea really…..take the convergence of 3 large rivers, the gateway of the city of Pittsburgh, and turn it into an art project representing a large bathtub.  All that was needed was a big yellow duck and the result was millions of people flocking to see the 40’ bobbing body of happiness delivering much more than anyone could have imagined.    Big Yellow Duck-Pittsburgh Point of 3 Rivers


Yes, I visited the duck one incredibly beautiful Sunday morning on my weekly 15 mile bike ride on the Pittsburgh bike trails.  I was thrilled to see the gigantic

MMScolieri on a Sunday morning bike ride w a big yellow duckbundle of sunshine along with the emotional enthusiasm in the enormous crowds delivered by the presence of “the big yellow duck”.  It was a unique bike ride that day and so is this equally happy and unique marketing perspective from the Jill Berardi Group.

       9 Marketing Musts Delivered by a Duck


Brick & Mortar Retailers – Still the Desired Destination for Shoppers

Great news from a recent study by Synqera, where results show that more than two-thirds of Americans prefer to shop in traditional, brick and mortar stores than online commerce sites. The survey found that shoppers gravitate towards retail locations that offer more customized shopping experiences, but the dreaded “checkout” remains the number one pain point for 73% of U.S. consumers.

Personal service is a big factor that drives customers to brick-and-mortar retail stores, Synqera found 80% of shoppers say they’re more likely to shop in a store that provides a customized experience for them.  Custom coupons at checkout was a requested by over 76% of respondents.

Two-thirds of consumers are more likely to shop in a store where they receive personal suggestions while shopping.  While 75% make more purchases if they are in a good mood while shopping.

Take heed and make certain your salespeople actively engage with customers, greeting them when they enter, suggesting add-on products to go with what they’re purchasing, or offering advice and insights. (This is a great way to combat showrooming – if customers know they can get the info they need from your sales staff, they won’t have to turn to their phones to look it up and possibly find the product somewhere else for less).

Showrooming is very real and very damaging for retailers that can’t easily compete with e-retailers.  In an effort to combat it, insights like those that Synqera found can help to pinpoint where retailers should focus their time, money and innovation, even in the most unlikely or obvious places, like the checkout line.

There are also ways to make suggestions without salespeople. For instance, you can display groups of products that complement each other together, such as a camera with accessory battery packs, straps and cases. You can use signage to suggest “Buy two, get a third free,” “Check out our sales items in the back of the store” or “Sign up for our email newsletter and save $5 off your next purchase.” You get the idea; suggestive signage both inside and outside the store becomes crucial to sales success.

Suggestions help engage the customer with your store.   The more actively engaged the customer is inside your store, the better they feel about shopping there.


Brick & Mortar Customer Experience Infographic

Are You Doing What it Takes to Run a Small Business?

In this thought provoking post on “What it takes to run a small business in rural America” from American Express Open Forum blog, experience the unique set of challenges these small businesss face working in rural areas along with actions and ideas to overcome these and other small biz challenges.

Help yourself and others by sharing successes of running your small business -post your stories through our comment section so we can share new concepts to strengthen and grow small business.

All stories will be shared here on The HI Note and on social media.

Here are 5 related posts to add to your small business brain trust:

How to Make a Lasting First Impression for Your Business

5 Actions That Can Affect How You Grow and Lead Your Business This Year

Social Media and Marketing Lessons from Retail Industry Expert Crystal Vilkaitis

7 things you’re already doing that could be more remarkable

5 Ways to Create More Value


Read full Open Forum article here



Pinterest and Your Business-Creative and Awesomely Simple

I will begin with a confession….for as long as I can remember I have been a collector of images, an incessantly visual person who can’t seem to get enough of captivating and beautiful images, incredible photography, displays of interiors, architecture, outdoor spaces, fashion, beautiful food and unusual locations to visit- I love and collect it all.  I particularly relish the places these types of images take the mind, those quick brain breaks we all need to connect to the underused places of our creative selves.

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Enter into the world of Pinterest, the online space that gives members the opportunity to explore products, places, sentiments, recipes, photography and so much more on a visually instantaneous, if not daydream type of level, that I find it irresistible.  Pardon my wanderings into the land of lust for beautiful things but Pinterest is the digital replacement for all of those magazine corner folds and torn out pages I’ve collected over the years and could be a creative and beautifully simple asset to you and your business as well.

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Pinterest, an invite only site, is the hype on the social media street right now, with an explosive growth user community creating and viewing online “pinboards”.  Pinterest allows users to easily “pin” an extensive array of images/videos they like on to different theme”boards”.   A sort of online replacement of the bulletin board- only on steroids. Users often “repin” images from other “boards” to create their own unique theme “pinboards” which has content spreading fast.

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The reality is that Pinterest is so new, no one can predict what impact it will have on business owners, but there is an obvious angle that all businesses can take advantage of and that’s the fact that an unprecedented amount of users are women AND there is an opportunity to present and establish your brand in a visually unique way.

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A few quick Pinterest marketing ideas to get you started:

  • Request an invite and set up your various boards
  • Pin your logo and tagline
  • Pin interesting images from your website
  • Pin testimonials from your customers
  • Pin previously published news or stories about you and your business

There are several categories of marketing muscle that Pinterest crosses into which can creatively help you with marketing your business.

Social-Pinterest makes it easy to share what you have recently “pinned” or liked with facebook and twitter, making it a seamless and easy visual/social conversation.  Plus, this is where the traffic comes from.  Your facebook audience sees something you have “pinned” and can follow the path to your Pinterest board then view your other creative theme boards.  You can also link Pinterest images to your website to provide even more information about your company.

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Engagement-When someone comments on Pinterest, there is likely some meaning or passion behind the exchange that is worth reading.  So far there is not much meaningless chatter, just short heartfelt comments and ideas.

Product approval-Find out how people feel about a new product or display.  Track the number of times your images are “repinned” and any comments users add to the stream.  Think of this as a social media focus group for your business.

Showcase your personality-Use your pin boards to showcase your brand’s personality.  Your business is a reflection of you and Pinterest is a perfect way to showcase that reflection.  You can do this by highlighting your company’s unique selling points.  Create a board of your latest product arrivals-the ones you were so excited to buy at market.  Create “pin boards” to show compelling ways to use the fun, functional or fashionable products in your business.  Think of ways to draw in your customer and have them wanting more of what you have to offer!

Creative communications with your customers-“Repin” images of your customers wearing or using your products, this is a great way to recognize their creativity.

Where there’s buzz, there’s always opportunity.  If you are already on pinterest, let me know so I can daydream….I mean follow you to see how you are using and benefitting  from this visual social sharing community.

Are you waiting for a Pinterest invite?

I have a few available, comment on this post with your information and let me know!

Read more on why retailers should be using pinterest and Check out how several small businesses are currently using Pinterest to see if creative sparks fly for you.

What is Your Unique Selling Point?

Does your business have that certain “something” that sets it apart from other businesses and has customers wanting and waiting to purchase your products or services?  I am certain it does, but have you been able to effectively define these unique qualities?

You’re not alone if the answer is no.  With some thoughtful focus on your distinct competitive business traits, you have the opportunity to change the no into a resounding yes!    Over the past 20 years, I’ve had many conversations with manufacturers and retailers in the gift, home and fashion community where I have posed the question: Can you describe your company’s unique selling points?

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To my continued surprise,  many don’t have an answer to this question.  I recognize that for most business owners, this is a difficult answer to come by in an instant, but manufacturers and retailers should either know or carefully consider:

  • What sets me apart?
  • What distinct competitive advantages does my business have going for it?
  • Could I describe my business in one word?

By definition, you are unique.  There is no one with your fingerprint or unique DNA on the planet.  Hence, your organization is unique because no other company has the same products, services or individuals as part of their team.

To help with your unique selling point focus, make a list of all the ways that your business is different from every other alternative.  Plan to use these unique selling points in all of your marketing materials, websites, e-mails, facebook page and tag lines.  Your business is unique,  people need to know the certain “somethin somethin”  that makes it one of a kind.

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Should your products or services be purchased just because you have a storefront, a website or a manufacturing business?  Should your customers purchase from you because you are, for example, the only store in town that has award winning displays, sells over 50 locally made products, provides gift wrapping or is “naturally the best” manufacturing company with the largest collection of natural materials in your products?

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All companies, no matter the size, need to take the time to think and, if necessary, research what it is that pin points their unique business traits. Are you the largest, smallest, most charitable, award winning, best in store music mix, only store offering ladies night specials, only company selling x, producing x, designing x?  Put your business under the microscope, ask and answer the questions of what makes it unique.

Sadly, until you can define your unique selling points, many of your marketing and promotional efforts are wasted.  When you take the time to define your unique selling points, you have your foundation for all of your business descriptions to build your brand – to businesses, to consumers, to your sales and service teams.

This unique selling point is the message that can be used in your business tag line, on printed materials, websites and social media.  Your unique selling point can be simple: Homestyle-“Perfecting the Business of Style” or emotionally descriptive, Simblist-“Representing products we love to live with” or speak to product attributes like Pink House Imports-“Colors women love-Prices retailers adore!” or Beatriz Ball-“Fine Metalware-Made by Hand

A recent conversation with a NYGIF vendor highlighted a clear example of the importance of understanding and using your unique selling points to grow your business.

Richard, a  manufacturer of jewelry products was expressing his frustration with some of his sales reps across the country not selling his product. He stated that he didn’t think his sales reps “got” his product and therefore were not putting forth enough effort to sell his jewelry line to the level of his expectation.  Immediately,  the marketing and sales side of my brain kicked into high gear… “What is your product’s unique selling point?” I asked.  Richard just gave me a puzzled look and did not have an answer to the question.  After a few minutes I noticed a change in his demeanor.  We talked about how essential it is to communicate to your sales team the specifics of what makes your product unique.  Like it or not, there are hundreds of jewelry lines in our industry – what makes yours so special?    The people of your company, both inside and outside,  need to understand this differential in order to effectively market and sell your products.  He soon began nodding his head and said “you are absolutely correct”  he clearly had a breakthrough and understood the importance of the conversation and the changes that needed to be addressed.

You can no longer have a “Field of Dreams” mind set of “build it and they will come” with your business.  You simply must communicate the unique reasons as to why someone should be a customer of your business.  And you must do so by using every possible avenue at your disposal; outside sales teams, customer service, web, print, social media, video.

This is absolutely “must-know” information in order to define a brand, your essential first step in defining who you are and how you want to be perceived.

So what is your unique selling point?


Take some time to consider and respond with a comment.

I will post the best replies on our Facebook and Twitter pages….this could be your first step in discovering and announcing your unique selling point with the added bonus of  free brand advertising for you!