Do You Want to Drive James Bond’s Car?

From the famous Aston Martin to the Bentley of Casino Royale, the cars of James Bond are famous enough to warrant their own Wikipedia page. Many fans who flock to the James Bond movies love salivating over these gorgeous cars and the incredible gadgets they are often outfitted with to make them even more spectacular. Like everything else about James Bond, people love the cars for their association with class, bravery, heroism, and the mysterious yet luxurious life of the world’s most famous (fictional) MI6 agent.

Of course, as anyone familiar with advertising knows, the cars chosen for the James Bond movies, just like the conveniently placed Coca-Cola, Subway sandwich, or Apple computer in your favorite movies and shows, were not chosen by accident. It’s all a part of something called product placement, and brands will pay a considerable amount of money to get their products featured in popular television and movie time slots.

Why Does Product Placement Matter?

It’s all a part of tapping into the consumer’s head in a process known as the bandwagon effect. According to the bandwagon effect, when we see people we admire or members of a group we’re a part of (or want to be a part of) using a particular product, we want to use it, too. In other words, when we see people on our favorite sitcom sitting down to enjoy a Subway sandwich with an ice cold Coke, we think that sounds like a fantastic meal option the next time we want to find something easy and fast for lunch.

Tapping into this powerful phenomenon isn’t reserved just for major brands with seemingly limitless marketing budgets. Even smaller companies can implement and reap the benefits of the bandwagon effect in their advertising. Here are some great ways to get started:

Use Images and Quotes from Real Customers

People enjoy feeling like part of a group. When you use images of real customers using your products, along with some reviews that use names (instead of just being anonymous), you help to build this type of group.

Build a Strong Social Network

People use social media to connect with their friends and family members as well as the brands they enjoy. Building a strong social network around a particular brand can help attract more people to your business. As people participate in your conversations and ‘like’ your products on Facebook, for instance, those activities will start to show up in their friends’ newsfeeds, introducing them to your brand. Similarly, if people retweet you on Twitter or otherwise interact with your brand, they’ll be spreading your company’s message. With the bandwagon effect, people will be naturally drawn to the brands and interests of their friends.

Encourage Others to Share Their Experiences with Your Brand

Encourage people to share their experiences with your brand, particularly through social media. Hold contests, and invite people to submit pictures of themselves using your products or telling stories about their use of a service you provide. Such interactions naturally help to promote positive experiences with your brand and show the number of people who appreciate your company.

Movies and television are excellent platforms for brands looking to take advantage of the bandwagon effect through product placement. If you want to see how well this psychological phenomenon can work for you, consider using some of the above techniques. Building a strong following around your brand is an excellent way to grow any business.

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Online Reviews: How to Learn from the Good and the Bad

Constructive criticism is one of the most powerful tools available to businesses of all types today. After all, who better to tell you how you’re really doing than the people you’re supposed to be pleasing in the first place? Thanks to the Internet and the scores of online review sites that have cropped up over the years, you don’t have to look very far anymore for someone’s honest opinion of a product or service, especially now that everyone has an equal voice in the proceedings.

However, the key word in the phase “constructive criticism” is “constructive.” Online review sites tend to be a collection of overwhelmingly negative reactions, regardless of whether or not they have any basis in fact. As a result, many people tend to immediately discredit them or wash their hands of online reviews altogether. In reality, there’s a huge amount you can learn from both the good and the bad online reviews — provided you know how to wade through the noise and find it.

Overwhelmingly Positive Reviews: Not as Overwhelmingly Helpful As You Might Think

Overwhelmingly positive reviews can be a great boost to your confidence as a business professional. They can be a great indicator that you’re on the right track and that you’re meeting the expectations you set for yourself when you started a business in the first place.

Unfortunately, these overwhelmingly positive reviews that give your business 11 out of 10 stars aren’t telling you anything you can actually use to make your organization better. Make no mistake: you are never as perfect as you think you are. Every business, regardless of industry, always has room for improvement. While a dramatically positive review may be a nice pat on the back, it isn’t something you should necessarily spend too much time thinking about.

Negative Reviews: Finding the Needle in the Haystack

When people are angry, their emotions tend to take over. This is evidenced in just about every one-star review you’ve ever read for a product or service online. They’re usually lengthy diatribes about how “everything was awful” and tend to even mention things that a business can’t necessarily control, like the way the post office handled a delivery.

It can be easy to quickly dismiss these types of reviews, but you really shouldn’t for a simple reason. At the core of the one-star review is still a dissatisfied customer you can learn from to make your business better in the future. Try to go through a negative review and delete all sentences that are pure emotion. A sentence that says “this is the worst company ever” has nothing valuable to tell you. Once emotion is gone, you’ll be left with a much clearer indication of what really happened.

The Math Equation of Constructive Online Criticism

If you want to quickly get to the heart of all reviews and paint the clearest possible image of how you’re doing, you need to approach online criticism like something of a math equation.

Consider three reviews: one overwhelmingly positive, one neutral, and one negative. Compare all three, and look for the common elements. Does the overwhelmingly positive review have something in common with the neutral review, like a positive employee encounter? If it does, you can rest assured the referenced employee is truly doing a great job.

Likewise, does the negative review share something in common with the neutral review? Would the neutral review have been more positive were it not for X, which is also present in that one-star comment by a disgruntled customer? If so, then you’re looking at a genuine point of contention that should be fixed as soon as possible.

Online reviews are inherently valuable thanks to the equal voice they give everyone, from the people who love your business to the people who don’t and everyone in between. People have an instinct to wash their hands of online reviews due to their anonymous nature and the grand emotions that are on display, but this is a mistake. So long as you know exactly what you’re looking for and how to find the grain of truth hidden in that emotion, you come away with valuable, actionable information you can use to make your company better moving forward.

Take the Time to Get Positive Customer Reviews

If you’re like most business owners, you love seeing positive reviews come through your virtual door, but you don’t really go out looking for them. After all, how many customers actually respond to solicitations for reviews? Is it really worth the effort?

It actually is.

Consumers are depending more frequently than ever on reviews from people they know and from sources they trust. They don’t put much faith in the write-ups companies develop themselves. They assume the organization will present itself in the best possible light. Customer reviews, however, are seen as more credible.

With that in mind, here are three ways you can use customer reviews to support your business.

Improve customer trust on your website

Place customer reviews and case studies on your product/service pages, at the bottom of your home page, and anywhere else prospects might look on your website. Positive feedback from real, live customers will encourage visitors to take what you have to say seriously and let them know that you already have numerous satisfied customers.

Harness the bandwagon effect

The bandwagon effect describes the natural human desire to try things we see others using. It explains why we instantly want the newest and latest gadget we see our friends or coworkers using. Customer reviews are a fantastic way to tap into this phenomenon.

Use customer reviews to let other people know just how much past customers have enjoyed using your products and services. Invite new prospects to ‘join the club’ of satisfied customers.

Enhance your marketing campaigns

Since customers aren’t all that inclined to believe whatever you claim about your company, don’t use your own words. Instead, use the words of your customers. Add quotes from positive reviews to your direct mail literature, social media posts, and radio ads. Think about the quotes movie producers use to promote their films. Take a similar approach with your advertising campaigns.

Customer reviews might be one of the most valuable tools you have in your arsenal. People want to do business with reputable companies they feel they can trust, and customer reviews help to build that confidence. Take the time and energy to cultivate positive reviews. You’ll be happy you did.