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Concerning Customer Conversations…
by Stephanie Liska

Leading is a lot of responsibility. With leadership comes understanding of what your customers need both now and in the future—knowing their needs before they do! You also need to understand what your customers are saying about you, your organization, products and services. The best leaders today not only know what their customer’s are saying, but help point their conversations in the right direction towards future needs and your future solutions using a focused Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) Strategy in combination with other marketing tactics.

How do you know if you should be concerned with your customer’s conversations? If you are taking any one of the following four actions, you need to make sure you have a plan in place.

1. Announcing a New Product or Service. Diversifying your offerings is critical to keeping a competitive advantage. What services are you… or will you be offering in the future that bring your customers value? The ability to sort and store grain based on trait technology, the ability to merchandise to niche markets or the ability to advise growers on profitable options for their business? Your customers need to be talking about those services with your prospects.

2. Introducing Change. Change at any level is significant. Customers must understand why this change is in their best interest. Again, your key customers can help you explain the benefits of this change to their peers—your prospects!

3. Offering Products or Services at a Premium Price. If you're more expensive than your competition your customers need your leadership to help them understand the value they're experiencing. This is probably one of the more important areas you need to work on to impact the Word of Mouth in your trade area—or your competition will and it won’t be positive. If you are working to positively position the value pricing in your market with your customers they will talk with their peers—not about the premium price, but about the value they experience from your product or service.

4. Implementing Complexity. If there are three to five steps your customers must complete correctly in order to experience great customer satisfaction then the product or service you are offering has complexity. You can’t just explain the complex in a brochure, news letter or one conversation and expect a customer to have an exceptional experience. Customers will talk about the complex with their peers—and they will talk about what made it difficult and why it didn’t meet their expectations. We need them to talk about their exceptional experience and what steps (three to five) they followed to make sure they got the results intended. It is important that we help them talk about this in the right way to set realistic expectations in the market place.

Understanding your customer’s conversations depends greatly on the expectations and experiences they have. As you start to consider your Word of Mouth Marketing Strategy you must consider the following:

What experiences have your customers had with your organization, products, services and people?
What value have your customers experienced that they will share with their peers?
Who do you want your customers to engage in conversations with? Conversations can be held face to face, one to a group and web site postings and/or blogs.

According to Purdue University Agri-marketing Professor, Dr. Joan Fulton, who completed two studies on the impact of WOMM in Agriculture, “People want to talk about their experiences with products and services. This is an age-old and proven method of communication. The myth is that the results of those conversations are out of our hands. The reality is that a WOMM Strategy can have a significant positive impact on an organizations bottom line and a customer experience.”

Purdue’s research continues to show that when a WOMM Strategy is in place, retention of other marketing tactics, such as advertisements, newsletters, web sites etc. is significantly higher… including the retention of the marketing messages.

Understanding your customer conversations part of what leading a marketplace is about. Listening and then developing a strategy for your best customers to share their positive experiences is what Word of Mouth Marketing is about.

Stephanie Liska is the President of Beck Ag, Inc. the industry’s leader in the development and implementation of Word of Mouth Marketing Strategies. Stephanie has more than 20 years of industry sales and marketing experience. Prior to leading Beck Ag’s team, Stephanie worked for AgriBusiness Group consulting with various organizations improving their organizational learning strategies. A graduate of Iowa State University, her personal mission is to develop people towards exceptional performance. Stephanie can be reached at 866-375-4390 or by e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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