Perhaps it was you who came up to me at a convention, a reception, or a drycleaning meeting and said: “I don’t pay anything to do advertising because I rely on my customers and word of mouth to do all my promoting and marketing for me’.
Certainly, satisfied customers are the lifeblood of any business, but in today’s world the value of ‘free’ advertising you might think you get from satisfied customers telling others could be deluding.
Let’s take a good hard look at reality today. How often has one of your friends, a member of your family, or even your spouse turned to you and made a spontaneous recommendation about a product or service to you? Be honest!
I can’t think of the last time my wife has recommended a new restaurant to me or pointed out an incident where she received great service. Usually, I just trip over the Amazon boxes on my front step and raise an eyebrow when she cracks the tape on the multiple boxes marked with a wry smile. But she is quick to express her disappointment when a product fails, or the picture does not compare to the actual product. Yes, my wife is just like vast majority of people who are thousands of times more likely to express their disapproval and complaints rather than offer praise and compliments.
Yes, today’s world is a world of people quick to complain, and few people will make an effort to share a compliment.
If you don’t believe me, try soliciting a testimonial or a review from your customers. Recently, I had a client send out over 7,000 email messages to his customers asking if they would take a moment to leave a Google review, a Facebook review, or a Yelp review for his drycleaning shop. Despite a 30 percent message open rate, less than a few hundred folks clicked through to the review/testimonial capture system websites, and only six people left a review. Don’t forget, this was an active concerted effort of reaching out to known, proven, active customers and only six people out of 7,000 reacted……so I ask you…
How often does a customer give a referral or share a compliment about you entirely of their own volition?
I would venture an optimistic guess of maybe once out of ten thousand, maybe even one out of twenty thousand.
People are keeping to themselves more these days, and certainly much, much more since the pandemic. People don’t want to take chances with one another, when was the last time you spoke to your next door neighbor? And stick their neck out and make a referral? Some days it’s an effort to even wave at my one neighbor when trundling the recycle or trash bin to the curb. As for taking a moment to tell her about my drycleaner offering a new wash dry fold pick-up and delivery service, puh-LEASE! And the younger folks today….they are even less into talking about anything!
So, with such trepidation and reticence, how does one even start word of mouth going?
Often, I hear drycleaning shop owners tell me that word of mouth must be happening because they have zero or very low negative feedback online, and they have a steady stream of new customers coming in despite the fact they are doing absolutely nothing to promote themselves. Yet, the forget that they have a sign over their shop that says cleaners, an online presence of some sort, maybe a social media page and website, all of which tend to enable you to be ‘found’ what a customer goes looking. My point being, unless you are actively asking every new customer: ‘how did you hear about us?’ and tracking customer’s answers, you again might be drawing erroneous conclusions
If you can’t start it, how can you control it?
Let’s assume for a moment that you actually have succeeded in getting word of mouth going. People are talking about you and streaming into your shop. Success can be great, but it can also be bad. What?!! Success is bad? Well yeah! What if you doubled or tripled the amount of work coming in? How could you handle it? Usually, when workload increases, quality drops. And when quality drops, customer satisfaction drops, and customers become upset and start to complain. So, how do you slow down word of mouth? Do you hang a big sign in your window: No New Customers Being Accepted At This Time!
How Do You Target Word Of Mouth?
Let’s say that you want more customers just like Mrs. Fiddlebard, a long-term customer who has been coming to you for ten years. She is a wealthy old widow that came from old money and runs in the moneyed crowd. Or, let’s say you wanted to reach out to new millennials to offer them your wash dry fold pick-up and delivery by subscription service. How would you reach out to such folks? Do you buy an ad in ‘Word of Mouth’ weekly news? Is there a certain radio station broadcasting to just these folks? Is there a certain word of mouth social media platform? Ah no, you have to make a colossal effort of pleasing everyone, providing 100 percent perfection with your service making absolutely no mistakes and HOPE that your customers speak to others about you.
HOPE is not a good plan!
If only there was some way of simply creating and placing advertisements to get word out. If only there are ways of promoting in a way that scales, can be controlled, turned off and on and capable of being targeted. Oh wait, there are!
Darcy Moen opened his first drycleaning shop at the age nineteen. Over the next sixteen years, he built his first 600 square foot plant into a chain of 5 stores, creating and testing his own marketing programs along the way. Darcy is a multi-media marketer, working in digital signage, video, print, direct mail, web, e-mail and is a social media expert certified by Facebook for Pages, Insights and Ad Systems. Please visit www.drycleanersuniversity.com.