Having just got married and subsequently spending a few weeks travelling on honeymoon, I wanted to write about a relatively under utilised but powerful marketing tactic I was reminded of on my travels.
First of all, as marketers we sometimes forget that our target audience and those we try to attract, engage and retain are just like us. They are not subjects or statistics, they are regular people carrying out similar activities at work, home or when travelling.
“Customers” like me use digital channels to research places to eat, places of interest etc whilst travelling and are heavily influenced by previous customer experiences. This isn’t isolated to just travelling but takes place at the consideration stage of any purchase.
Consider this…you are walking through Rome like I was last week and you’re hungry. With no idea where to go for lunch, you most likely use your mobile to do three things;
- Search Google, TripAdvisor or other review sites for restaurants nearby
- Read reviews or visit social media sites to look at pictures of the food or the interior
- Choose your spot based on reviews and imagery and go straight there
When we did eventually get to our pitstop in Rome (Pane e Salame), the queue was a mile long with many evidently having found it like us on TripAdvisor.
The reviews were amazing and they were all spot on as it was one of the nicest lunches I’ve ever had.
But what really caught my attention is that Pane e Salame like many other establishments we ate in, capitalised on TripAdvisor reviews, encouraging each and every customer to leave a positive review for the next hungry customer coming along.
It got me thinking – why aren’t more businesses using this powerful tactic to attract new customers? Why aren’t they getting customers to promote the product or service they work so hard to master or spending time building profiles on review sites?
One of the main reasons cited for clients not using this tactic is that they are reluctant to “put themselves out there” in case of any negativity. My answers?:
- No one is perfect. You may have 1 out of 10 customers who aren’t completely satisfied. But for me, the other nine positive reviews are more powerful than all of the time and money you may invest in marketing.
- If there’s something about your product or service causing a negative experience, you shouldn’t blame the customer (unless they are actually providing inaccurate or false information), you just need to deal with it. You cannot continue to learn or improve your business without having knowledge about what caused a bad experience or why customers aren’t converting.
- I would go as far as to say that responding to negative reviews in a professional and positive manner is essential for building your reputation. You show that you can own up to your faults, offer customers an incentive to return and never make the same mistake again.
Brand advocacy is a powerful force!
Here’s a quote I love from one of my favourite marketing professionals, Avtar Ram Singh, reiterating the significance of customer referrals:
I always tell my clients that one of the best ways to attract new customers is to get your existing customers to shout about you, otherwise known as “brand advocacy”.
Let’s face it – we trust our friends, family and fellow hungry tourists (advocates) more than we do the business itself telling us how good their salami sandwiches are.
In fact, McKinsey research shows that marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising in categories as diverse as skincare and mobile phones.
Entire business models are based on this concept. Just look at the likes of Air BnB or Uber and how they rank based on customer reviews, giving potential customers the chance to choose a property or driver based on previous customer experience.
There are lots of ways to encourage or incentivise reviews and to build brand advocacy. So much so that I’ll be writing my next blog about how best to do this.
But for now, at least consider making this part of your digital strategy and get your customers to start doing some of the selling for you.