It’s been nearly a year since we last presented at 1 Million Cups in Albuquerque. Our CEO, Mark Canon updated the crowd on boomtime‘s services and progress over the past year.
Word of Mouth Blog
Common knowledge would lead you to believe that brick and mortar bookstores have been in a downward spiral ever since Amazon gained prominence in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. As it turns out, competition from online retailers has affected big-box bookstores much more than their smaller locally owned counterparts. Although Amazon and other large online retailers have definitely added to the competitive challenges indie bookstores face, small independent book retailers are experiencing something of a modern renaissance. According to the American Booksellers Association, since 2009, the number of independent bookstores in the U.S. has grown 40%, meaning there are hundreds more bookstores open now than a decade ago. Surprised?
So what’s behind the modern independent bookstore renaissance? For one, the shuttering of most big box bookstores has been a boon to independent bookstores. There is still a large constituent of book-buyers, for whom the in-person book buying experience is irreplaceable. Marketing and management technologies have helped small business owners become more efficient. Most importantly, local bookstores are taking advantage of their ability to generate word of mouth. Indie bookstores are creating signature events, unique experiences that get customers talking to friends and relatives, and bring them back more often. Small bookstores often host book signings, musical acts, and other local events that make for great customer experiences and increased word of mouth.
According to one independent bookstore owner in Ohio, “”word of mouth – including mentions in some “hidden gem” articles about Columbus – has proved to be the store’s most effective publicity.”” (Independent bookstores hold own against online giants, www.dispatch.com)
There’s a lesson in this story from which any business, not just small local booksellers, should take note. While new technology has allowed your larger competitors unprecedented access to customers near you, it has also provided you the ability to level the playing field by leveraging your word of mouth. The factors that are driving the independent bookstore segment to grow in the face of increasing online competition are the same factors that can drive growth in any local business. We’ve seen it in our work at boomtime, and have built it into our Word of Mouth Marketing system. To drive word of mouth in today’s world, you need to design for mobile and make sure that you’re set up for local SEO. You need to know who your customers and referrals are by collecting their information online and in person. Then you can begin to build the type of word of mouth that grows businesses by reaching out to your customers regularly with compelling content. Word of mouth really is the most powerful form of marketing, just take a look at America’s growing local independent bookstore industry.
Comprehend Academy is truly a school for the internet age – built around the idea that every student is unique. The school uses online and social learning to build a specialized learning experience for every one of their students.
“Comprehend Academy is for students who want a school built just for them. Our curriculum and learning platform helps students build their confidence and motivates them to invest in their learning.”
-Monica Santiago, Dean of Virtual Education
Comprehend Academy has all the elements of a Word of Mouth Marketing success story. They are effective at what they do and they have a long list of happy students and parents to show for it. The school was already successful before becoming a boomtime client, but was looking to do something more to leverage their Word of Mouth and website referrals.
To help Monica and her school get more from their Word of Mouth, we focused on capturing more referrals, developing “Everything You Need to Know About Virtual Education,” a comprehensive guide for students and parents considering if virtual learning is right for them. Prospective students and parents first indicate whether or not they are interested in reading the guide. Then, to receive the guide, they need only provide their email address.
After receiving the content, parents have the opportunity to learn more about the school through Comprehend’s email automation, a carefully planned series of emails that introduce the school on a human level, and teach prospective parents and students everything they need to know about the school and its enrollment process. This method educates parents, and also keeps Comprehend Academy top of mind by maintaining communication throughout the research process.
We’re constantly analyzing the data we get back from hundreds of clients to optimize Comprehend Academy’s campaign in a way that creates more success.
- With boomtime, comprehendacademy.com saw a 290% increase in referrals from their website.
- Prospective parents love the content from Comprehend Academy, with emails currently averaging 40% open rates and 5.6% click through, both double the industry average.
If you’ve been following the news about United Airline’s terrible treatment of one of its passengers, you’re likely disturbed. The subsequent response by United Airlines CEO, Oscar Munoz, has further upset the public, and caused a landslide of bad PR and negative Word of Mouth that will affect the company for months, and possibly years, to come. As proof of the power Word of Mouth has to make or break any company, United Airlines Stock (UAL) has seen a loss of $255 million dollars in market value as of market close Tuesday. At its lowest peak on Tuesday, the company was down almost 1 billion dollars. The stock was down a further 1 percent yesterday.
So what should United Airlines do to maintain what customer loyalty they have left? A breach of customer trust this big requires an equally large effort to win back your customers. How? First, United Airlines needs to go above and beyond for the benefit of the man at the heart of this controversy. The CEO of United Airlines should have immediately flown to Dr. Dao, personally apologized, offered to pay all of his medical costs, and given him and his family a lifetime of unrestricted First Class air-travel. It won’t make up for the assault witnessed by millions on the web, but the conversation around United’s handling of this incident may very well change. Most importantly, to win back its positive Word of Mouth in the long run, United must make fundamental long-term changes to its customer service to slowly win back the public’s approval.
As an example of how companies should handle potential PR blunders and redeem their Word of Mouth, I’m reminded of Lexus. Lexus enjoys great Word of Mouth, and is known for providing exemplary service. It’s no accident on their part. To survive as the first true luxury Japanese manufactured car in the American market, Lexus had to deliver luxury above and beyond its better known competitors, like Mercedes and BMW. Back in the early 1990’s, Lexus was just beginning to win over critics who felt a Japanese company could never compete in the European dominated American luxury car market. When reports began to come in from new Lexus owners that the expensive cars they had just purchased were experiencing electrical problems, Lexus knew it had to act fast.
Instead of throwing in the towel and letting the recall become the PR disaster everyone had expected, Lexus saw the recall as an opportunity to create great Word of Mouth. Lexus wanted to prove that luxury isn’t only about the expectation of leather seating and advanced features. They used the recall to redefine luxury as the entire customer experience they provide. So they did the unexpected. They deployed mechanics to all of the homes and offices of Lexus owners affected by the recall to pick up the affected cars and save the owners a trip to the dealership. If the customer was out of range of a dealership, they flew a mechanic to their location. One Lexus mechanic even made the trip from Los Angeles to Anchorage, Alaska just to perform a simple recall maintenance. The result was a very costly short term solution that caused a long lasting avalanche of great Word of Mouth. It solidified Lexus as the definition of luxury in the minds of high-end American buyers, and made them millions more than they would have had there been no recall in the first place. It’s an example the executives at United Airlines clearly could have benefited from this week.
Kim started out his adult life as pre-dental student at the University of New Mexico and soon figured out during a particularly challenging quantitative analysis course that a dental career wasn’t for him. As he put it laughingly, “I figured out, maybe I’m not cut out for this. My measurements never really worked in out the lab”.
With dental school in the rear-view, he set out to pursue his passion as a professional photographer. At the time, a lot of people he knew thought he was crazy to leave dental school in pursuit of a
less than certain photography career.
Not long after, Kim was accepted to the Photography Institute of America where he was trained in the latest commercial photography techniques including fashion and product photography. His skills were honed both at the school and during field trips where he was exposed to advanced techniques at large studios in New York City.
After returning home to Albuquerque, Kim sought out some of the limited professional photography opportunities in the city and began to build good Word of Mouth for himself. It was his black and white portrait work for a local magazine displayed in a street facing window that caught the attention of passersby and got Kim the boost that really built traction for his business.
It was his unique approach in applying his commercial photography skills and applying them to portrait photography that made Kim stand out and get the consistent Word of Mouth that has sustained his business over the past 40 years. In that time, he has taken many iconic photographs of celebrities and politicians, including every current living president, and has taken the exact same care in crafting the images of every client that has come through the doors of his studio.
“I believe a lot of people’s self-image and self-esteem comes from the last portrait they had taken of themselves…Everybody has a story to tell and it’s the photographers job to bring that out in everybody”
Kim’s approach to photography is the same approach every business should take in creating Word of Mouth. Great experiences and great stories just beg to be retold by customers and once heard by a trusted friend or colleague are more effective than any traditional advertising campaign.
What is boomtime doing for Kim Jew Studios?
- We began with an agency level website making Kim’s photos the center of his homepage
- Then we optimized his site for local search and crafted a compelling offer to capture more referrals
- New referrals become new clients and experience the unique methods that made Kim Jew Studios known world-wide
- Then we help Kim Jew Studios maintain ongoing communication with new referrals and current clients
In 1992, Alisha’s son had received a nasty bump on the head while playing in the yard. After she was unable to console her crying son, a neighbor who had overheard the commotion and had come
over to help, volunteered a little brown bottle.
When the neighbor placed the bottle under Alisha’s son’s nose he immediately stopped crying. At that moment, amazed at what she had just witnessed, Alisha had to know what was in this little
brown bottle, the aroma of which was so effective at easing her son’s pain. What could have such a powerful effect?
As it turns out, the little brown bottle contained a humble lavender oil.
From that day on, she set out to learn everything she could about essential oils and aromatherapy. After graduating from the Wellspring School for Healing Arts, and years of continued practice in the field, Alisha has built a thriving practice in Nampa Idaho, the Hands on Health Wellness Center.
Alisha’s business is built on a mission that began years ago when she saw the power of aromatherapy in person. In addition to providing great customer service, Alisha has a great story to tell and those two elements are the basis for the type of Word of Mouth that builds businesses. How?
At boomtime, we took the time to learn what drives both Alisha and her practice and used that knowledge to amplify her Word of Mouth.
It all begins with a story…
- In telling Alisha’s story, we began with local SEO to make Alisha’s practice more visible locally.
- Then, we rebuilt her website, incorporating a look and feel chosen by Alisha to highlight the personality of her business that her clients have come to know and love.
- The story continues when new referrals and existing customers are presented with a compelling promotion, enticing them to receive a discount after providing an email address.
- Then, an engaging email series introduces email readers to Alisha and the decades long mission that drives her to help her clients.
- Top-of-mind awareness strategies make sure Hands on Health stays more visible than their competition and brings back existing customers more frequently.
That’s the basis for big growth through Word of Mouth and it all begins with a story. Or in Alisha’s case, a bump on the head…