Tag Archives: iir

This blog post is free*

*Okay, this asterisk doesn’t mean anything, but it is indicative of something that is becoming an epidemic – add-ons and exclusions.

I understand people buy based on the bottom line so companies price accordingly, but the hidden charges and exclusions are getting out of hand and as I surmise,  businesses will be nickel and diming themselves out of business.

We all know about airlines charging for every checked piece of luggage.  Sure they may make a few extra bucks, but how many people are they annoying because they have to check a bag at the gate or because there isn’t enough room in the overhead compartments.  Do they have a sense of how many people are making the choice to drive or video conference for their next meeting?

But the airlines aren’t the only ones, mechanics have disposal fees, big box retailers have appliance removal fees and hotels have spa fees – even if you never use the spa.

I recently read about a New York hotel that costs $1,499 a night but still charges for wireless internet access.

In a Sunday circular, Toys R Us told us buy any Lego, get the other for 50% off*.  The asterisk went on to tell us that four different Lego series were not included.

Department stores aren’t much better and should focus on having sales for specific lines versus store-wide sales that exclude half the merchandise.

With a more frugal consumer, companies are quick to focus on the advertised price to make sure they “win” someone’s business, when in actuality they run the risk of losing a long-term customer because they have charged for every little thing.

Look at your business, are you finding ways to run off your customers with add-on services?

So how do you compete?  Be open with your customers.  Show them how you ultimately provide a lower cost of ownership.

If you aren’t sure what your competition is charging, mystery shop your competition to see what they add on.  If possible build these items into your price (ideally still providing a cost savings for potential customers).

You’ll spend less time explaining everything to you customers and more time building relationships.

Your customer service costs will go down because they’ll be focused on making appointments versus dealing with unhappy customers.

Finally, customers will reward you with loyalty because there won’t be any surprises when they do business with you.

Consumers are focused on their budget and bottom line, but if they think they are on budget and then go over due to hidden fees, you’ll never get that customer back, and chances are they’ll let a few of their friends know about it too.

Don’t let your need to quickly bolster your bottom line do damage to your long-term growth.

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IIR’s Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies conference will address “Cashing in on the Conversation”.  To learn more visit http://bit.ly/d7mUWG and use code XM2205SMB to save 15%.

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Filed under Customer Marketing, recession marketing

How Do You Handle Online Criticism?

We’ve discussed the role of Passive Social Media (monitoring social media) as a way to gain consumer insight about your company. The most difficult part (by far) is hearing criticism, but one that is important to your overall growth.

The February issue of Inc. has a great story on the social review site Yelp and the impact of consumer reviews on business.  Inc. senior writer Max Chafkin lists the five steps in handling online criticism:

  1. Register – “Registering [on sites like Yelp] allows you to correct inaccuracies, receive alerts when you are reviewed and respond to your critics.”
  2. Breathe – “If there’s no way to respond to a review without being angry, profane or aggressive, don’t do it at all.”
  3. Be Gracious – “Apologize for what the customer didn’t like and offer to make it right.”
  4. Complain – “[Yelp] removes reviews in cases where there is a conflict of interest.”
  5. Avoid The Courts – “If you decide to sue, be ready for more attacks”.

The points Chafkin makes are great for handling negative reviews. It is equally important that you are not so blind to your business that you classify every negative review as wrong.

If you are a restaurant and you get negative reviews every Monday night, is there a staffing issue that needs to be addressed?

Are people frustrated with your return policy?  If so, determine if you need to change your policy or just communicate it better at point of purchase.

If you see the same point come up review after review, recognize the trend and correct it quickly. When you communicate your changes, be sure to give credit to the people who brought it to your attention.

Doing so will go a long way to endear your audience and have them defend you against unwarranted negative comments.

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IIR’s Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies conference will address “Cashing in on the Conversation”.  To learn more visit http://bit.ly/d7mUWG and use code XM2205SMB to save 15%.

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Making Social Media Work For You

Social media remains a hot topic for businesses, especially in regard to measuring the return on investment: whether that investment is money, hours or a combination of the two.

Most companies measure ROI in increased sales or revenue, but that only looks at social media from a marketing perspective and not the full potential social media can have on a business.

I have written in the past regarding Passive Social Media, using social media as a listening tool.  By listening to your customers you might discover a new product line, a way to improve customer service, predict sales or the impetus for a marketing campaign, all of which can have a positive impact on ROI.

Companies like Procter & Gamble, Burt’s Bees, eBay and Dell use social media to gain insights and will be talking about it at the Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies conference put on by IIR, May 3 – 5, 2010.

I have been invited to attend this conference and report on it, so I will be providing updates before, during and after the conference.

I encourage you to check it out if you are interested in taking advantage of everything social media has to offer.

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Filed under research, Social Marketing