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How To Get Consumer Insights From Qualitative Research

In the past, marketers had limited information on customer opinions and those opinions could be biased towards the topics the marketer suggested. Today, consumers are engaged in a number of public channels and share a lot of information that different software providers are analyzing with "sentiment analysis" and other "big data" tools. While thi...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Align To Accelerate Sales Performance

Just as alignment is key to your automobile running efficiently and not wearing down the tires, alignment of your management team is also key. Unfortunately, it is also rare. Such misalignment results in silos, miscommunication, misunderstanding and unempowered employees. So how do you ensure your management team is in alignment? Ask them each ...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Getting Your Customers to Complain is Invaluable

Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business. --Zig Ziglar, U.S. author and speaker As much as you want your customers to be completely satisfied with your product or service, it’s rare for any business to ...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

How To Get Consumer Insights to Enlighten "Big Data"

The amount of consumer data available from analytics is increasing on a daily basis – from in-store sales data to social media entries. These analytics provide the opportunity to develop well-substantiated hypotheses. I’ve used regression analysis to show the positive correlation between media spending and market share growth and the inverse c...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Does your brand make an emotional connection with your customers?

Does it? Do you know? Have you asked your customers? Chipotle makes an emotional connection with me by consistently serving me great tasting, healthy food that I'm not allergic to. I have alot of allergies and have beeen eating burrito bowls at Chipotle for lunch almost everyday for the past six years. When I travel, I try to stay in hotels withi...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Is Every Business Strategy Built Around Retaining Customers?

This is an assumption suggested by Howard Lax and Robert Schumacher in a recent article entitled, "Insight Connection" in a recent edition of Marketing News. They state, "Every business strategy is built around retaining customers, and strong customer relationships hinge, in turn, on interactions andexperiences that meet and exceed customer expecta...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

5 Ways to Accelerate Sales With Consumer Insights

Thanks to Cvent for their white paper "5 Steps to Driving Sales with Customer Insights." There are proven strategies to ensure the success of your voice of the customer (VOC) program: 1) identify what matters most to customers; 2) facilitate better business decision-making; and, 3) drive revenue. Here are the five ways to accelerate sales with cons...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

10 Ways to Write Simply to Accelerate Sales

As I create and edit more content for my business and clients, I notice people getting away from writing as concisely and as simply as possible. I recently heard Dan Zarella, the social media strategist and author of "The Science of Retweets," say that blog posts, ebooks and tweets written at a fifth grade level will be forwarded many times more of...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Using Consumer Insights to Change the Perceptions of a Bank

In its prime, Wachovia Bank was in a neck and neck battle with Nations Bank, now Bank of America, and First Union for market share in North Carolina. Based on a lot of qualitative research, we had significant consumer insights that told us Wachovia was seen as the "old money" bank for wealthy North Carolinians. Nations Bank was perceived as the ag...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

How to Make an Emotional Connection with Your Customers

Making an emotional connection with your customer is critical whether your in a B2C or B2B business. If you, or your employees, have an emotional connection with your customer they are more likely to be a long-term customer with higher value to you and your firm -- economically and emotionally. An emotionally connected customer will be more inter...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

10 Ways To Get Consumer Insights Even If You're Using Big Data

>The current issue of Marketing News is entitled "Incomplete Insights" because, as I've said many time in the past, even good consumer data will not the most accurate picture of the consumer. Consumers make decisions based on emotion and then rationalize their decision after the fact. Big data provides a lot of information on the purchase, and wha...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Using Consumer Insights to Accelerate Sales of Insurance

This is a "real life" example of obtaining consumer insights from insurance agents -- the sales channel. The depth of the insights obtained by the one-on-one interviews is incredible, especially when compared to the depth of the insights from the on-line survey that was fielded to give all of the agents an opportunity to provide feedback on the ...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

15 Insights From Seth Godin to Accelerate Sales

Another great webinar courtesy of Vocus (#vocuswebinar) by Seth Godin (@sethgodin) entitled "No Secrets. No Shortcuts." Implicit in the title is there is no silver bullet, there are no secrets and there are no short cuts to successfully developing, marketing or acclerating sales of a product of service. You must create a product or service that has...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Consumer Insights From Insurance Customers

This is a prime example where the "nay sayers" in a focus group can drown out some very powerful and emotional stories. If we had simply listened to the groups as a whole, we would have never obtained the in depth insights that drove the successful campaign. Our client had built significant negative equity with consumers by attempting to convert ...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Increase Employee Alignment for Sales Performance Acceleration

Nice article by the Gallup Journal entitled Your Employees Don't "Get" Your Brand. Having worked with more than 100 companies over the course of my career, I wholeheartedly agree. From my perspective, there are three reasons why: Companies fail to identify their vision, mission, values and strategic positioning. A lot of senior executives think v...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

5 Reasons Social Media is About Relationships, NOT ROI

I read a lot of articles and posts of people questioning the ROI of social media. I find this discouraging and disingenuous. Social media is about creating, and enhancing relationships, not about making sales. People buy products and services, B2B and B2C, from people they know, like and trust. Social media is a great way to meet people, establish ...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Consumer Insights From Doctors Accelerate Sales

This is one of several "real life" examples of how consumer insights accelerate sales by getting insights that you cannot get with analytics. The depth of discussion and the ability to ask follow-up questions would not have been possible if this had simply been an online survey. Typically when I mention consumer insights, people think of end-user ...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

10 Ways to Use Social Media to Accelerate Sales

Thanks to Eloqua and their "Grande Guide to the Social CMO" for the following to which I've added my thoughts. Do's: 1. Listen. Social media offers a unique window into the lives of colleagues, customers and influencers, but only if you don't "talk over" the opportunity. Adhering to a "listen first" philosophy will help you gain valuable insights ...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Empathy Helps Obtain Consumer Insights to Accelerate Sales

Having empathy for your customers enables you to get more insights. When a customer, or a respondent in a one-on-one interviews, sees and knows that you care about what they have to say, they will tell you more. Regardless of what the data says, every person has a different story. Are you sincerely interested in hearing it? I believe it's incumben...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Listen for Consumer Insights to Accelerate Sales

I was having lunch with a colleague the other day and explaining how I obtain consumer insights from respondents. In the case of insurance agents, I asked them to take me through the process of finding a lead, scheduling an appointment, the appointment itself and how they closed. Since the agents knew I had never sold insurance, they were very pre...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

6 Ways to Improve Loyalty and Retention to Accelerate Sales

There has been a lot written recently about the decline in loyalty and the increase in price sensitivity among customers. Ultimately, if a customer doesn't have an emotional connection to a product or service provider, there will not be any loyalty -- regardless of how many points the customer has accrued. Here are six ways companies can improve c...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Consumer Insights From the Sales Channel Accelerate Sales

Usually when I say "consumer insights," people think I'm talking about the end-user consumer of a packaged goods product. The following is not about end-users of a consumer product, it's about pool and spa equipment dealers. Most homeowners with swimming pools have no clue as to the brand of pump, heater or filter they have on their pool -- they ...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

7 Ways to Leverage Your Best Customers to Accelerate Sales

Do you know who your best customers are? Not the ones who spend the most. Not the ones who visit you most often. The ones that tell others about your products and services. The ones that rave about you on Facebook. You have prospects, customers, satisfied customers and "raving fans" or advocates. Your raving fans are your most valuable customers. T...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Consumer Insights From the Energy Industry Accelerate Sales

By having one-on-one interviews with client management and customers, we learned just how complex the deregulation issues in the energy industry were and how low awareness and knowledge was among customers. Telephone interviews affirmed our findings and allowed us to pursue a segmentation strategy based on industry, energy use and potential savin...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

12 Questions to Empower Employees and Accelerate Sales

The Gallup Management Journal published an article entitled, "Involving Employees in Change." In it they discuss the positive correlation between engaged employees and the likelihood the employees will act in the best interest of their employers, as well as the productivity of the organization. They share the employee engagement hierarchy and the 1...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Customer Satisfaction Measurement and Improvement Accelerates Sales

We know more satisfied customers spend more, are more loyal and are more likely to share their positive feelings about a product or service. Two case studies below show just how much more and the impact the satisfied customers can have. As such, we aspire to increase customer satisfaction levels since that's good for the bottom line. We introduced ...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Consumer Insights Accelerate Sales in Industrial Paper

This is my favorite, "real life" example of consumer insights "saving the day" in a way that analytics never would uncover. Our client was successfully selling a paper wipe to the do-it-yourself (DIY) segment of the home improvement industry. Given the success among DIYers, our client wanted to market their paper wipe to the industrial segment as w...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Answer These 12 Questions to Accelerate Sales

Engaged employees = engaged customers = more sales. Ensuring your brand is aligned with your customer experience is critical if you want your consumers to be engaged with your brand. Every interaction your customer has with every element of your brand (phone call into your company, use, seeing it in the community -- actual and online) has an impact...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Consumer Insights Accelerate Sale of Golf Club

This is another "real life" example of insights accelerating sales; however, it was somewhat indirect. This is the third gated golf community for which I worked, but the first for which I did any formal qualitative research. By having in-depth one-on-one interviews with the members, I was able to really get a feel for their emotional attachment t...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Be Customer Centric to Accelerate Sales

Excellent webinar entitled "Unleash the Power of Marketing to Drive Innovation and Profit" presented by Ranjay Gulati, professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School and author of Reorganize for Resilience: Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business. Mr. Gulati shared the results of his research in which he studied the pe...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Get Consumer Insights by Having "Fresh Eyes"

A lot of people I present my findings to express amazement at the types of things consumers (end users, employees and channel partners) tell me during the course of an interview. In fact, one SVP of sales who had been in his role for 20 years stopped me in the middle of my presentation to explain, "how did you get them to tell you about that, I've ...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

How Consumer Insights Improved Volvo Truck's Marketing

When I was an account supervisor on the Volvo Truck account, I flew out to Ogden, Utah where Volvo had a production facility. I rode in a Class 8 Volvo TTES truck all the way back to Greensboro, North Carolina. At the time, this was Volvo's most luxurious truck. Over the course of my five-day trip, I had in-depth one-on-one interviews with truck...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Empower Employees to Accelerate Sales

I just ran across notes I took from a webinar where David Leinconi was talking about his new book 5 Elements of a Dysfuntional Team. Given all I read about the percentage of engaged employees (29%), not fully engaged (45%) and actively disengaged (26%), I believe we as business owners, leaders and managers need to address this discrepancy to improv...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

15 Questions for Channel Partners to Accelerate Sales

Following are 15 questions to consider asking your channel partners in order to get insights that will accelerate sales. Keep in mind a broad definition of channel partners. These may be your employees, your ultimate channel partners, your sales force, distributors or manfuacturers' reps who sell several products or services. Questions should b...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Positive Customer Experiences Accelerate Sales

Great study from Forrester Research entitled, "The Business Impact of Customer Experience, 2013." In the study, Forrester finds a strong positive correlation between consumers' ratings of a firm in their Customer Experience Index and consumers' willingness to buy from the company again (0.71), as well as the likelihood to recommend that company (0...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Insights From the Sales Channel Accelerate Sales

This is another “real life” example of consumer insights. The following is an example of the necessity of ensuring you consider all segments of your target audience, in this case sales channels, to develop a fully informed marketing communications plan. It also reinforces the importance of probing feedback that may not seem to matter initially ...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Are You Getting Insights From Analytics?

I was surprised at the findings revealed by Dr. Christine Moorman, director of The CMO Survey. The results of the most recent survey showed a decline in the number of projects in which companies use marketing analytics that are available and/or requested. According to CMOs surveyed, they report a 30% usage rate. This number is down from 37% a year...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Insights Reduce Churn, Accelerate Sales, in Telecommunications

Amdocs just completed a study with Informa Telecom and Media that highlights the importance of customer retention and loyalty programs. Sixty-six percent of operators believe customers are less loyal today than they were two years ago and 70 percent of service providers cite customer retention and loyalty as the critical factor for driving growth w...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Conversations Generate More Insights Than Surveys

Vovici recently posted a blog entitled "58% of Respondents Don't Like Surveys" (http://bit.ly/dWhQwz). Vovici fielded the survey and describe themselves as, "the leading provider of intelligent online survey management and feedback solutions." As I've gained more experience garnering insights from different target audiences, I recommend talking t...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Think Twice Before Cutting Prices to Accelerate Sales

It is unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot -- it can’t be ...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

How Consumer Insights Lead to New Product Development

Henry Ford said, "If I'd have asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me a 'faster horse.'" It's difficult for people to envision what they want. A really excellent interviewer and respondent may be able to get "outside of the box" but it's very uncommon. That's why it's important to use consumer insights as inspiration rather than d...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

5 Keys to Selling Services versus Products

To increase profits, stabilize revenue and provide an annuity stream, many product-development companies are seeing the benefits of providing services. Following are five key findings from B2B executives in product-development firms that are providing services: Listen to the customer. This is critical and difficult for a product-oriented company...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Consumer Insights on Reducing Churn in Telecommunications

This is another "real life" example of consumer insights improving business and accelerating sales by improving customer retention. By having one-on-one's and in-depth telephone interviews, in addition to paper surveys, we were able to get a good idea of what customers wanted in a cell phone provider. In 1992, the cellular industry was going throu...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

5 Keys to Connecting Emotionally with Customers

Emotional connections are key to building positive long-term relationships with customers. It's how you convert satisfied customers to loyal customers and loyal customers to raving fans who will buy more per visit, buy more frequently and tell their friends about your products and services. Keys to making an emotional connection is having integrity...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Consumer Insights From Moms Accelerate Sales

I am fascinated with the findings of NeuroFocus in "The Buying Brain" by Dr. A.K. Pradeep. While I was not surprised to learn the difference between male and female brains, I was surprised to see the powerful differences between the female brain and a mother's brain. This is likely a function of never being a father. Moms make it all happen in a f...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Nice Companies Accelerate Sales

Thanks to Peter Shankman, Stacey Acevero and Vocus for a great webinar today on "Nice Brands Finish First." I urge you to watch the webinar when you have 45 minutes, Peter is a GREAT speaker and storyteller. Peter would probably be happier if you bought his new book Nice Companies Finish First. Peter shares some wonderful examples of companies that...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

8 Reasons to Create a Customer Bonding Program

I have developed and implemented numerous customer, and prospect, bonding programs for clients, channel partners and employers over the course of my career. The objective of the programs is to enhance the company's relationship with its customer or prospects, after the saleis made, since any successful business' most valuable asset is its current c...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

Say "Thank You" to Customer Complaints

The Corporate Executive Board Financial Services Practice Operations Council released a study which found that 90% of financial services customers do not complain when they have an unsatisfactory experience. Perhaps this is why four banks and two insurance companies account for six of the top 10 providers of poor customer service (http://wp.me/pYHt...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

12 Ways to Adopt a "Customers For Life" Philosophy

Regardless of what kind of business you are in, you're in the service business. We're all experts in customer service because we're all customers. We buy cars, haircuts, groceries, dinners and hire plumbers. We know the difference between companies that treat us right and companies that don't. We tend to do business with those we know, like and t...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

The Difference Between a Loyal Customer and a Raving Fan

Thanks to food allergies I eat Mexican food very frequently. I'm a raving fan of Chipotle; however, my wife prefers a local full-service Mexican restaurant where we used to eat at least once a week for more than five years. I eat at Chipotle virtually every day, I own their stock, I blog about them, I introduce my friends to them, I have online con...

Tom Smith

Tom Smith