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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The “Next Great Idea” to Boost Sales


 
 
My children never waited for a Sears catalog to be delivered in the mail. Like most millennials they cannot even conceptualize that a paper catalog’s arrival awakened wishes and desires in millions of people.

Of course, my siblings and I drooled over catalog pictures when we were young; but, my father, an avid reader of the Consumer Reports, always cautioned, “We cannot buy these items just because they look good. We need to get unbiased, objective information!

The Sixties also marked the beginning of what famed marketing guru Seth Godin calls the TV industrial complex – meaning TV-ads started “disrupting” viewers’ recreation time by showing them the same product over and again until, hopefully, customers bought the featured products.


While the evolution of the “Next Great Idea to Boost Sales” from traveling salesmen to mail order catalogs to TV and radio ads to sales phone calls was a natural progression, the arrival of the Internet changed everything.

Within a relatively short time period, the marketing and sales process changed from “we’ll find you and tell you about our products” to “I don’t want to be disrupted. I’ll find what I want to buy and where I want to buy.”

This topic was even discussed during the question-and-answer session of Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting on April 30. Warren Buffet called Amazon’s (and others) accomplishments remarkable. And, that “the full effect of Amazon (and others) is a big force that already “disrupted” plenty of people and will disrupt more...”

A big part of this disruption is online reviews; however, they are not disrupting the customers!

While previously consumers had to query their family and friends as well as rely on objective journalists’ reviews, today, everybody with an Internet connection can find out how others feel about a particular product the very moment they want to find out. If a product has not received any reviews that tells a story, too. 

Study over study proves that almost 8 out of 10 people consult online reviews when making the decision to buy.



Amazon pioneered the customer review. Even though some of its Hall-of-Fame reviewers have been stripped of their reviewer privileges and their reviews have been deleted, Amazon’s 134 Hall-of-Fame reviewers have penned an astonishing 386,818 reviews; and, more than 38 million people have reviewed at least one product on Amazon’s US site.


The genius element of Amazon’s strategy is that they have “outsourced” the important element – “giving unbiased and objective feedback” – to others. Unbiased and objective feedback was exactly what customers have always cared about, even when this information was difficult to obtain.

Other Fortune 500 companies have followed the trend. For instance, Home Depot offers codes on sales racks, which potential customers can punch into their smartphones to find other consumers’ product reviews on Home Depot’s website.

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However, not every review will have a positive effect on every customer. Different types of reviews appeal to different types of customers.

Here is my classification of reviews:

1) The “I just want to say ’I love this’” review

More or less useless by itself, in the company of plenty of all other types of reviews, this kind of review reinforces customers’ beliefs that “everybody likes this product.”

2) The Typical Customer Review

It is between four and six lines long and states how much the buyer liked or disliked the product. Every single one should be read by the product’s manufacturer to address customers’ needs in the future. If customers invest even more time by sharing their opinions in an even longer review, most certainly their thoughts should be taken very seriously.

3) The Technical Review

Typically unemotional, this type of review stands out by featuring measurements, dimensions, and specifications. Often, the reviewer quotes the product’s manual and/or elaborates if the manual is instructive or not. While many customers prefer to find out how they will “feel” if they buy a certain product, some customers (for instance really tall or short persons or people with an engineer’s mind) look specifically for technical reviews.

4) The Venting Review

While most manufacturers and vendors will be disappointed to find negative reviews, it is obvious that not every product will make every consumer happy. Since customers know that too, they get irritated if a product does not receive any negative reviews. The effects of the “fake review scandal” of the last few years is still lingering. Therefore, the presence of “venting reviews” proves that a certain product’s reviews are authentic. Less than two percent of negative reviews for a product will help boost sales.

5) The Funny Review

The funny review will do one thing better than all other types of reviews – it gets people talking, at the water cooler! Funny reviews get blogged about and recommended; most certainly any product featured in an exceptionally funny review will get lots of exposure.

6) The Short Story Review

Generally speaking, the short story review is the most powerful selling tool to get a majority of potential buyers to buy, if they can relate to the presented story.
A “short story review” that describes a situation the potential buyer can relate to, and also offers information on how the specific product helped, will keep selling products for years to come. Of all reviews, the short story review is the hardest one to obtain. Consumers either have a story to offer, or not.

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Obviously, the more reviews a product receives, the higher the chance that customers find the review which presents the argument they want to hear.

Today's customers who can buy ad-free entertainment, block contacts and websites, and customize what information they want to receive and when, also want to decide whose opinion they are going to believe.

The “Next Great Idea to Boost Sales” is to actively seek authentic reviews!

Authentic online reviews generate the highest ROI, because customers will read them for months and years to come (as long as the reviews/products are online). 
Reviews are the gifts that keeps on giving. 

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Gisela Hausmann is the author of “NAKED TRUTHS About Getting Product Reviews on Amazon.com: 7 Insider tips to boost Sales” and “NAKED TRUTHS About Getting Book Reviews.” 

Her work has been featured in the SUCCESS magazine and on Brian Burn's Podcast "The Brutal Truth about Sales & Selling." She is a frequent guest on WYFF-TV4, her local TV-station. 



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© 2015 by Gisela Hausmann
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