Have You Heard the News?

Posted by Athena Parthenos

Are you a gossiper? Even if you are not a person that normally likes to gossip, we’re all familiar with those so-called “word of mouth” conversations. These conversations can’t be defined as gossip, but they do resemble them:

1. Someone tells you something about a third party.

2. The topic of conversation is a positive or negative opinion of the third party.

3. You consider the information to be true.

Other people’s opinions and reviews are important to us and can be an important influence on our decision-making. The existence of an established relationship between the giver and the receiver of the information makes us more likely to accept that information as relevant and true. I personally love hearing friends’ reviews, particularly first-hand accounts of experiences of friends or acquaintances. As I know the person giving me the information and I trust his or her judgment there is a highly probability that I will follow the advice. This type of information exchange is common in our private lives, but it can also be used - quite effectively - in a business context. A very interesting example is that of Apple’s products. They say that Apple is the only company to have not customers but fans. Why? Because whoever buys an Apple product doesn’t just make a purchase: he will also try to convince his friends that Apple products are the best and encourage them to make a purchase themselves.

Apple’s fan club is a perfect example of how word of mouth can help you improve sales. Of course Apple is a gigantic company with sophisticated products, the highest standards and a huge marketing budget. Not everyone can achieve the same results. But even if you are a smaller business, people’s reviews and opinions are still extremely valuable in helping you to shape your product, understand market trends (especially if you are a B2C company) and know ahead of the rest what the next big thing will be.  To understand what the market wants, you need to know what people want. And to know what people want, it helps to know as many people as possible. If you want to be an innovator you need to hear from the horse’s mouth what people are working on and what their plans are for the future. Client feedback can be a good place to start. You can create a survey to send to your customers, or you can have your customer support center call your clients to gather their feedback. But while it is always good to know if your customers are satisfied with their purchase, their feedback will only give you a partial understanding of the market. If you are seeking to increase sales, the key is to know what people who haven’t yet bought your product are looking for - and to do that you need to know what they are thinking. Most companies start selling to their local market, firstly because it is easier to sell products where the company is based and secondly because of local knowledge: without the need for market research the company already has an idea of customer needs. If it is true that companies usually start selling on the domestic market, it is equally true that when approaching international markets more information is required. In the event of international expansion, market research is a great tool, but if you want a deeper understanding and real, on-the-ground intelligence then word of mouth is best. So the challenge now is how to obtain first-hand testimony from a large number of people from many different countries? You should approach a company that is permanently connected to many people across the globe, that works with languages, that deals with many different cultures and that at the same time understands your product and your field of work and is ready to listen to your needs when it comes to internationalization.

A company that perfectly fits this description exists. It is the type of business that people often overlook because it never takes the glory, but instead provides support to other companies on a range of matters, giving constant and invaluable help from behind the scenes. I am talking about translation agencies. These are companies that have a central office and countless connections across the globe. The nature of their business means that they are constantly connected with different people and different cultures. They have a finger on the pulse of market trends and can advise you on different techniques for entering different markets. Translation agencies won’t help you sort out how to open a new office in Tokyo, but they will help you sell in Japan, even if that Tokyo branch isn’t open just yet.

written by Noemi Clark-Piva, CEO @ Athena Parthenos

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