Let Customers Give You Feedback

click2leavefeedbackCustomer satisfaction is a factor that can make or break a business. Satisfied customers can potentially recommend products and services to others and become repeat customers. On the other hand, dissatisfied customers may never or rarely provide repeat business, and might even tell others about their dissatisfaction. This is why to alleviate things that irritate your customer, one should solicit product feedback.

The need to identify the areas customers may be having a less than satisfying experience is very important. How satisfied customers are with a particular physical characteristics such as functionality, prims, script load, and aesthetics of the product that they purchased? Identify the functionality that the product provides and have customers rate each aspect of its functionality separately on an even-numbered scale so that there is no neutral option available. Some businesses will create a notecard with a series of check-off boxes in it for this purpose, others might use an in-world survey kiosk or a web site.

Soliciting product feedback when the product you require feedback on is not really a physical product, but instead customer service and support offerings, is not quite as straightforward. One must examine sales and service to identify areas where customers may be experiencing a degree of dissatisfaction. It is difficult to ask open ended questions to identify these areas from customers, since most customers will not take the time to answer open ended questions, even though this type of information is the most useful form of feedback for a business.

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Making the Most of a Themed Location

themeareaThe purpose of theming a location is a form of multi-sensory marketing intended for the visitor to potentially leave their every day own world behind without having to travel very far. Examples of themed areas might be indoors (i.e. a dance club featuring pirates and ships or a performance area such as a stage telling a story), outdoors (i.e. oversized plants in an amusement park that reduces the relative size of tourists to ants), and even underwater (i.e. a submarine ride that passes by sharks and tallking fish) through the use of music, lighting, props, and smells.

The tempo of the music and sound effects can set the mood of a themed area such as ghostly sounds in a cemetery scene or whimsical tunes in a cartoon area. Colored lights can also contribute towards the sensory experience which is the case when lightning strikes appear randomly in front of the visitor while drops of water fall onto them to simulate a rain storm. Finally, props are the most common elements of a themed area and are most effective when they are unique and memorable only at that particular location. Props should be time-period consistent with the intended theme and contribute towards telling the story without overwhelming the visitor nor saturating the area.

The use of props should enhance the intended focus of the area and not detract from it such as the case when large props improperly positioned or are overlapping each other. Questions such as why a particular prop is being used should be asked throughout the setup and/or performance time to determine whether that particular prop is really needed. Observation of the initial visitors are key in determining the effectiveness of a prop as their visit time and actions (i.e. are they distracted with personal tasks such as instant messaging with others or interacting with the props) should provide sufficient clues whether the excess or lack of proper theming has occurred.

Business Advantages to Holiday Planning

holidaydecorIntegration of the various holidays that occur throughout the year can benefit a business in many ways. Recognizing that many customers are looking for specific holiday themed merchandise can draw prospects toward your products and once they are in the door or visiting your web site additional interactions either directly or indirectly (such as through social media) will commence. Bundling related products together and offering seasonally-colored merchandise makes it easy to target holiday shoppers who are ready to purchase such items at an impulse.

Planning for an upcoming holiday should start a few months in advance so that appropriate merchandise can be created, decorations can chosen, and prospective customers know that you are recognizing their interests. The specific holidays that you participate in will depend on the demographics that you are trying to appease. Some holidays are specific to religion (i.e. Christmas) while others are regional specific (i.e. Fourth of July in the United States). There are even specific shopping events surrounding some holidays (i.e. “Black Friday” for in-person store visits and “Cyber Monday” for online purchases). However, be aware that advertising too far in advance of a holiday can be a turn-off for some customers.

Finally, when it comes to decorations for a holiday one will want to keep it new and fresh rather than rezzing out the same old decorations year after year (some of which might be utilizing inefficient scripts that does not take advantage of the new mono LSL scripting).  Also be sure to establish a budget and stick to it when shopping for new festive decorations to ensure the business maintains a profit that still covers tier and marketing otherwise any additional sales as a result of the holiday will become a burden rather than a benefit.

Here is why you must Rez Objects at Eye Level

eyelevelIf the goal is to get the attention of avatars whether it be signs, products, or some other attraction then such items should be rezzed at eye level. In the real world many retail stores will place merchandise at just before or at eye level, however in virtual worlds the most common eye levels are actually the avatar’s should up about two meters above the avatar’s head (sometimes referred to as camera angle and position). This is why, unlike in real life stores, many in-world stores stack items from the floor all the way to the ceiling.

However, as with any marketing methods there are always exceptions to the rule. When an avatar is in a seated position their camera position will be closer to the floor. This is also true for some of the smaller avatars in virtual worlds which is similar to real life stores who will place items such as toys and cartoon cereal boxes closer to the ground so that those products are at eye level with kids. Depending on the circumstances, an avatar in a seated position might also be in mouse-look view in which case the camera position and angle is from the front of the avatars eyes just like in real life. Shoppers tend to scan merchandise in the same method as they read a book (i.e. left-to-right such as in the western hemisphere) and will usually find the most expensive items at eye level which the lesser expensive or generic brands are located on the very top shelf or close to the floor.

The visual impact of wall decorations such as art, paintings, and photographs should also be located at eye level even if the room has a high ceiling. When rezzing such items keep in mind that the size of the artwork should be proportional to the space. Small pictures should not be placed on large empty walls and huge paintings should not be located on small walls. When there are several small decorations to be rezzed in an area they need to be clustered together with a common theme in order to fill up the space.

There’s more to customer loyalty than just repeat sales

teleportOne of the best ways to increase sales is to sell to your existing customer base and in order to accomplish that customer loyalty needs to be established. It is especially difficult in the virtual world to retain customer loyalty due to the fact that all transactions occur via the internet, therefore unlike in the physical world businesses no longer have a local economy advantage of being close to where the customers live. Prospects can simply teleport away to another location without giving it a second thought, therefore first impressions and post-sale follow up service is a must.

The same ease that allows potential customers to consider the competition can also be used to your advantage to check out the competition yourself. One must know as much as possible about their own customers as they do about the offerings of competitors to determine whether the products offered aligns with customer needs. This may require surveying visitors and/or asking follow-up questions after the sale to determine why the customer purchased your product over someone else’s. Once this information is obtained targeted marketing (in contrast to mass marketing) is used to both attract the right type of new customer and to encourage the existing customer base to come back and purchase more.

While direct one-to-one instant messaging with customers is effective, a strong social media presence is also a must. Face-to-face interactions are less likely in a virtual world, however when a purchased product is meant for public view then teleporting to the customer’s location can be beneficial. Not only does this show the customer that one cares about follow-up service it also allows the creator to see how their item fits into different environments which can lead to specialized features in future versions. Other forms of effective social media includes maintaining a blog demonstrating your expertise in an industry as well as replying to comments posted by others in forums.

Finally, the sales process itself needs to occur smoothly in order for that customer to return and purchase more. The store environment should be lag free utilizing low-impact scripts and a minimum amount of high resolution textures. In-world vendors should be online 24/7 and alternate methods of purchase available such as via web-based stores hosted by the virtual world provider. Product delivery should be timely once the in-world currency is transferred from the customer to the creator and all store policies needs to be made available both before and after the sale. In summary, if the sales process itself is not a positive experience for the customer then regardless of how high quality and useful their new purchase is they likely will not return to make additional purchases.

Taking a closer look at Business Strategy and Competitors

forumsWriting a business strategy and marketing plan is not required in order to start a new business, however it will challenge you to answer important questions regarding every aspect of your business. The business strategy should provide, at minimum, both short-term and long term goals and can be used as a blueprint when making decision during the course of business. One of the most challenging, yet very important, areas of the plan to investigate is potential competition. Such investigations of competitors may include lessons learned from failed competitors from the past, current competition, as well potential competition in the future should a non-competitor decide to expand their business into your market.

Many consumers will compare competitive products on price alone, therefore your marketing strategy should also determine it’s pricing position. The three common pricing methods are undercutting, matching, and premium. Undercutting the competition by pricing your products at a lower price has the potential of increasing market share, but could also suggest to potential customers that your products are cheap and low quality. Matching prices set by the competition requires including a similar feature set as other’s products, however it can be very difficult to stand out and gain market share if you are both selling the same similarly-priced quality items. Premium pricing allows you to stand out from the competition by highlighting exclusive features and an impression of high quality, however due to the higher price the competition might gain a higher market share in the short term.

Every business is unique in how they include social marketing in their long term e-business strategy, however the general goal is to increase interactions with both customers and prospects. Potential prospects will want to submit inquiries about available products including how they compare to the competition. Existing customers will have support inquiries on how to best utilize their recent purchase to benefit them and/or will request new features to be added based on advertisements received from your competition. It is important to reply to these inquiries and monitor review boards and discussion forums for communications between customers and prospects. Fortunately, many product review places allow a follow-up reply to be posted for all to see as a demonstration that the business owner cares about their customers.

The Many Advantages of Billboard Advertising

billboardexampleAdvertising strategies utilize many different marketing methods aimed at engaging new clients. Marketing your business or solutions via billboards is an excellent opportunity. When you use billboard marketing make certain you keep in mind that less is more.

Outside display advertising has long been a common and efficient way to present your products or services to your local community. Billboard marketing and advertising is amongst the most inexpensive alternatives of promotion and it also certainly has credible advantages. It is often a part of a company’s overall marketing strategy, utilizing larger-than-life signs to distribute your message about products and solutions, services, or special occasions. Outside advertising and marketing is usually a type of selling channel which involves putting up announcements and promotional products outdoors where people are able to see them. Advertisements are generally found in high traffic, line-of-sight destinations for example entryways, clubs and walkways.

This is a very efficient way of getting a sales message to the area. Marketing and advertising outside suggests ads are often available the best viewing fulfillment on the prospects therefore getting some sort of recurring advertising. Individuals visit the same landmark weekly, sometime on a daily basis. Billboard advertising is most effective when you need to get to everybody in a particular geographical location and has become the most popular form of outside advertising and marketing.