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Word of Mouth – A New Power

A Word, A Smile, A Picture………

 

Dennis Yu, of BlitzMetrics, extends a virtual hug to all of his friends. You Know What They Say About When You Truly Love What You Do.......
Dennis Yu, of BlitzMetrics, extends a virtual hug to all of his friends. You Know What They Say About When You Truly Love What You Do…….

 

Perhaps the Picture IS the Most Powerful of All.....
Perhaps the Picture IS the Most Powerful of All…..

 

Think about this. You need to find a new doctor. You have narrowed it down to 2 possibilities.

You don’t know very much about either of them but one has a very public presence – TV commercials, billboards, an ad in the paper, a very noticeable marketing campaign. But, you don’t really know much about him, other than he spent a lot of money advertising himself. But, the office never really looks very busy. You check online, for reviews, there is not much to be found. And what is there is not very impressive.

The other is a smaller, less well known doctor, no flashy ads, no commercials, nothing like that. But, you have heard his name mentioned multiple times from friends and members of the community.

You have heard all wonderful things about his staff, bedside manner, wait times. The office is always busy, yet they will always fit you in.

Friends on social media have mentioned this doctor, shared his information, recommended him to others. He has 4 and 5 star reviews on Yelp. This doctor has neither marketed himself nor advertised his presence. Because he does not have to – his patients are doing it for him. But why?

The Power of a Strong Following.......Dennis Yu is quoted as saying: "Knowledge Should Be Free. Time Should Be Very Expensive." on Twitter.
The Power of a Strong Following…….Dennis Yu is quoted as saying: “Knowledge Should Be Free. Time Should Be Very Expensive.” on Twitter.

 

In the age of technology and digital and social media, Word of Mouth Advertising had become a very effective marketing strategy. Social Media Marketing is especially effective, as it broadens the audience from your local community to people from all over the world, and takes that community doctor scenario much, much further.

Word of Mouth is no longer limited to your local area, and in the case of national businesses and companies, it takes it to a whole new level of efficiency and effectivieness. Where do people go when they want feedback about a company or a business or a person? Yelp. Facebook. Twitter. Angie’s List. Trip Advisor.

Companies can have hundreds, even thousands, of reviews and positive feedback – and it does not cost them a thing. In fact, the company had nothing to do with it, not directly, anyway – their actions, results, business model, service, training, staff,level of expectations, their day to day operations, is what motivated people to go online, leave that review, that positive feedback, the star ratings…..and those comments, those ratings, those reviews are more effective as a marketing strategy than anything else.

Dennis Yu puts his money, or should I say his smile? where his mouth is.
Dennis Yu puts his money, or should I say his smile? where his mouth is.
During the BlitzMetrics Facebook Ads Workshop.
During the BlitzMetrics Facebook Ads Workshop.

Some statistics that show how effective this actually is:

74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision. [Ogilvy/Google/TNS]

68% trust online opinions from other consumers, which is up 7% from 2007 and places online opinions as the third most trusted source of product information. [Nielsen]

88% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts. [BrightLocal]

72% say reading a positive customer reviews increase their trust in a business; it takes, on average, 2-6 reviews to get 56% of them to this point. [BrightLocal]

On social media, 58% of consumers share their positive experiences with a company, and ask family, colleagues, and friends for their opinions about brands.

To quote Dennis Yu, the Chief Technology Officer of BlitzMetrics, a digital marketing company which partners with schools to train young adults, and internationally recognized lecturer in Facebook Marketing: “Because when we produce amazing training and openly share our knowledge, this causes positive feedback. And then the friends of those people see their posts/comments, and it continues to spread.”

And, Mr. Yu himself is an excellent example of just how well this works. Just look at the comments on social media sites.

Training with Dennis Yu and The BlitzMetrics Team, Day 2.
Training with Dennis Yu and The BlitzMetrics Team, Day 2.
Just Another Satisfied Customer.......
Just Another Satisfied Customer…….

 

VendastaCon 2017 Keynotes "Dennis Yu: Unlocking the Facebook Lead-Gen Machine"
VendastaCon 2017 Keynotes
“Dennis Yu: Unlocking the Facebook Lead-Gen Machine”

 

This is an example of a much loved and successful man, working for a popular and much admired company. Now, I have never met him, and I had never heard of his company. So how can I qualify those statements?

By the pictures taken, and the comments written, and the positive feedback on social media, that is shared and spread all over that digital highway. And neither Mr. Yu nor BlitzMetrics had to do anything extra or different or special than what they normally do every day.

Think about that.

Sources:

https://www.dennis-yu.com/about-dennis-yu/

https://www.getambassador.com/blog/word-of-mouth-marketing-statistics

Should a company always honor what they advertise?

mens-shoes-task mens-shoes-task-2 mens-shoes-task-3 Or does the company’s responsibility only extend so far? Is the company liable for what is posted on their website? Or for products and prices advertised for their website through a third party?

About a week ago I performed a basic, online Google search for Men’s Nike Air Zoom Vomero 10 Running Shoes. As is typical the search returned multiple results at different price points. The lowest price, which appeared on the first page, was advertised as $32.49 at Finish Line. Great, as the next option was $83.97! This is my lucky day, right? Happy to have found such a bargain I clicked the link and went to make the purchase on Finish Line’s website.

The order page popped up, albeit with no image, and the option to “add to cart” or “buy online & pick up in store”. The only issue is that I can use neither option to order the shoes. Add to cart resulted in a pop up telling me to choose a size – well, there was no option to choose a size. The buy online and pick up in store option did absolutely nothing, either. Frustrated, I searched for the product on the site – nothing. Yet, if I went back to Google there they were, my shoes, at Finish Line, for $32.49.

So, I contacted customer service. I included all of the details, as well as the product number (little secret for those of you who don’t know this – it can usually be found at the end of the URL). And received this reply:

“Finish Line Greetings Jen, My name is Mary Angel and I will be happy to assist you with your issue. I humbly suggest calling our Customer Care Department 1-888-777-3949, for you to transfer one of the representatives in Sales Department and place an order over the phone. I apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused you.
Thanks for Choosing Finish Line With best regards, Mary Angel O. Finish Line Customer Care Department.”

Ok, so I did exactly what was suggested – I called them. I spoke to an employee who did not seem to quite grasp the issue I was having – I had to explain it several times. And, as I am sure most can agree, online customer service is frustrating! I finally got my meaning across, she asked for the order number and…….nothing. She asked for the product name…….nothing. Her explanation?

She stated that the reason the shoes were showing up on the site, but not allowing a size to be selected, was that the shoes were no longer available in any size. She said that, once the product is sold out or no longer available, the site will not allow you to select a size / place an order. She further said that they do try and get the items off of the website as soon as possible but all items are subject to availability and at no time are specific items guaranteed to be in stock.

I asked about the Google search and she said that the item itself may still show up, but it does not guarantee it will still be available – sometimes only specific sizes or colors may be available. She also said the item should no longer show up in a Google search, as it is not available on their website, and that is a Google error, not a Finish Line error.

I explained to her that the shoes were still showing up in a Google search – still redirecting to Finish Line – still appearing as if they could be purchased. Her response? Nothing. She had none. No real apology, so offer to help find a different pair of shoes, maybe even through in free shipping for the inconvenience, a 10% discount, heck, even a sincere apology….Nope. Nada. Now, I have worked in customer service for decades – there is a right way and a wrong way to handle a frustrated customer who did not cause the problem – you find a solution. You focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. Now, I do understand that the product was no longer in stock. And the woman could not sell me shoes that were not available. But in addition to offering some minor compensation she should have also gotten the details from me so the issue could be reported to the correct department and fixed. I would bet I was not the only person that had this issue or was unhappy about it. Finish Line’s customer service, in my opinion, is seriously lacking in training and first call resolution. Instead of trying to gain a new customer this company made sure that they lost one.

But, I digress, as customer service (or lack there of) really is not the issue. The issue is whether or not this is considered faulty advertising. Who is responsible for honoring the prices and deals that are advertised by a certain company? Shouldn’t that company take responsibility for and / or fix the error? Maybe say “thanks for bringing it to our attention, it will be fixed immediately”? Contacting Google to have the product removed from the search results? “I’m sorry, how can I fix this for you?” Because, at the end of the day, it is a frustrating waste of my time. Searching for the product, trying to order it, emailing the company, calling the company…..only to have absolutely nothing resolved.

And, the funniest part of all? Go on and do a Google search for “Men’s Nike Air Zoom Vomero 10 Running Shoes”, a week later, and see what still comes up on the first page………

Hotwire’s little deception

Imagine if you were reserving a hotel room and saw this option:

Screenshot 2016-05-23 22.01.10

Notice at the bottom it say “Your selected bed type is guaranteed.”

So imagine how I felt when I checked into a Holiday Inn, after selecting the two bed option, only to be told that we get only one king bed.

Surely there must be some mistake.  But Hotwire confirmed twice that even though you can select your preference of bed types, they won’t actually guarantee it.

Screenshot 2016-05-23 22.04.09

I even paid a few dollars more for the option to have two beds. And had I known this tricky practice of Hotwire, I’d have gone to Travelocity or another hotel directly instead, where I can be sure that I get two beds when I select the option for two beds.

Shame on you, Hotwire, for misleading frequent travelers like me– and then doubling down on your mistake by not being willing to acknowledge or fix it.

At least change what’s on the site to say “You can select your preference, but we can’t guarantee bed type, even though we’re charging you different prices for different options.”

Here is my receipt, by the way, which also shows two beds.

Screenshot 2016-05-21 01.59.48.png

The first screenshot, by the way, was from another booking– sometimes you get to choose how many beds and sometimes you don’t.  But if they do let you choose, then definitely they should honor it.

Social media is so powerful that brands who attempt to play such tricks will get lambasted by consumers. There are too many review sites now to engage in misleading practices. Let’s see if there is someone who cares at Hotwire.

POSTSCRIPT: after going round and round with Hotwire, they have stood by their initial response that bed types are not guaranteed, even though the screen clearly says it is.

Burn victims don’t die immediately from their injuries

Instead they die weeks later, a painful series of skins grafts over limbs that look like rotisserie chicken.

Psychological injuries, though harder to see, are no less severe.

And burns can come from not just extreme heat, but extreme cold.

Someone once gave me their only remaining picture of their grandfather so I could make a portrait. He made me promise not to lose it. But that’s exactly what I did.  I ran away, hoping to never confront him.

Another friend started a software company with me. Even moved to California and worked at Yahoo! so he could build his coding skills. He died in a motorcycle accident, through no direct fault of my own. But I remember I had a hand in it. And it’s only once of two times that I’ve cried in the last 20 years.

His name was Chris Rummel and he put full trust in me. When he needed cash, I withdrew $20,000 from Bank of America that afternoon and gave it to him. Out of honor, he insisted on giving me his car. I refused at first, but eventually relented. So he rode his motorcycle to work and that’s how he died. I never forgave myself for not fighting harder, as that voice was warning me weeks before the accident that this would be a mistake.

Have you burned other people, either through extreme heat or extreme cold? Unintentional or not?

Fix it before it’s too late.

Consider where people have trusted you. Do anything to keep your promises, no matter what.

My Christian friends will say that the blood of Jesus covers all.  Full stop. As a child of God, you can move on from your past as a new creation.  Forgive yourself. All true.

But if you’re really changed, you’ll want to make things right. You can’t shut out that voice completely– call it your conscience or Holy Spirit, you pick.

Don’t be that weekday drunk who goes to church on Sunday morning. Don’t let church be a car wash for your sins where you can get as dirty as you please, knowing you’ll get a free wash every Sunday– unlimited.

Don’t fake holiness and passionate Spirit-filled living to please someone else. Living two lives will catch up with you, when the doors of the burn unit burst open with bodies you’ve tried to hide.

I could tell you more stories of how I’ve failed over and over in ways that would make you think I’m psycho. But one thing I know is that I never quit, especially when other people trust me with their lives.

Be grateful for the relationships you have and know it’s never too late to make things right.

The 5th law of thermodynamics

The second law of thermodynamics is entropy.  Things move towards chaos, often in irreversible processes, like burning a piece of paper. F=Ma, D= 1/2at^2 + vit, and other such formulas were things in physics I used to tutor students.

A cold, precise reality, but comforting in their certainty.

Yet people are not like bouncing balls in elastic collisions, where they bounce back up to the original height you dropped them from.  Rather, they break.