We can’t persuade people anymore

I love a good TV commercial advertising cars. Sleek lines, colours, speed, motivational music as the car floats along the highway. But a recent commercial for a major car manufacturer didn’t harp on how wonderful the car was, the fuel consumption, the green credentials. No, it directed buyers to a website where they could find hundreds, if not thousands of reviews of the car from other people. People they could trust.

In the old days we had to persuade people to buy, to convince people to make the purchase. We’d use push and pull strategies to help people make a buying decision. The internet has changed all that. Nowadays buyers are so much more in control and do their shopping around online.  They are looking for other people’s opinions and they believe what other people say.  They don’t believe our advertising anymore.

How many of you have read the reviews online to see what other people are saying abut the product, good or bad. And the occasional bad review adds to its authenticity.  I bet you all have, I know I do.

The new bazaar has changed things. What are you doing to collect reviews from your customers?  Are you harvesting reviews and publishing these so potential customers can get a second opinion?  And I don’t mean the plastic “Mr M from Mansfield says”.…I mean the places where customers can go online and put their remarks down without them being changed or altered in anyway, web 2.0 territory.  Naturally you’ll moderate them, but don’t sieve the bad ones out, they add to the authenticity. Too many bad ones and I think your company has more pressing problems.

  • Does your bank foyer have video clips of satisfied customers saying how great the product is, maybe a visitor’s book where comments are anonymous – dangerous that but clever, and one of my retail clients did this to great success using an expensive old style hotel visitor’s book and fountain pen.
  • A page on the website where customers can give their open opinions of services – again dangerous but it’ll improve service. A Facebook presence with customer feedback, lots of like and dislike buttons, it’s the way things are nowadays.
  • The best customer service, by the way, comes from eBay who pioneered customer feedback and many traders have built their business around open and published customer feedback.
  • Do you have copies of emails, websites of reviews, comments from customers available?
  • I once knew a financial adviser who pinned all her cards of thanks on the wall behind her desk so that everyone could see the lovely things people said about her.

And remember to publish the unfavourable comments as well, they add to the realism and people won’t believe them unless they see some negativity.