Ever since the first person recommended buying farm eggs from the farm down the lane, word of mouth marketing has been at work.
With word of mouth marketing, people tell their friends what a good job your company did for them, and their friends tell other friends. In this way, a good job can go a long way.
We’ve known for a very long time that word of mouth marketing is the best way to make new, loyal friends and sell products and services to them.
According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family are better than advertising.
How successful is word of mouth marketing?
A recent AMA (American Marketing Association) study shows that 64% of marketing executives believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing. However, only 6% say they know how to make it work.
Some marketers rely on the three Es to deliver WOMM.
- Engage. Be part of your audience’s life. Be there for them on every social media venue you can. Let people know you’re there to answer questions and just “be part of the conversation.” Some of the folks who excel at this are Harley Davidson (a company with a highly loyal following), Lands End, and Nike.
- Equip. Give your audience, as Bonnie Raitt says, “something to talk about.” Your products, service, style, attitude — make them singular. Be the company that gets back to their customers within hours of an online request. Make the coolest products. Be the most SOMETHING. Differentiate yourself from others in your field.
- Empower. Offer lots of ways for your audience to talk about your products and/or services. Let them know how important they and their opinions are to you. Be open to new ideas from your customers. In fact, make it possible for your audience to be part of your company — quite literally. Lay’s empowered their customers to create their own potato chip flavors with their popular Do Us a Flavor campaign. Similarly, one year Crocs let customers choose the next season’s footwear. Mountain Dew asked its customers to help create the “Voltage” flavor. This “DEWmocracy” generated what PepsiCo’s president has called one of the most successful product launches in the company’s history.
I like the three Es, because they work great with social media.
I realize that everyone reading this post isn’t a Frito-Lay (PepsiCo) company or a Fortune 500 business.
But still. There’s so much you can do right in your neighborhood.
How to be a word of mouth marketer
- Engage your customers by making it clear that you value them. Be there at every turn — Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and LinkedIn at the very least. Instagram if you want to reach the 20-somethings and under. PinIt if you want to reach a mature female audience. Once you’ve developed accounts on these social media venues, offer blogs, info about how your audience can get support for their product or service, and so forth. If you’re in a small town, offer the occasional networking evening and promote it online. Sponsor local golf tournaments. Whatever. Give something to be auctioned off at a silent auction. Let your audience know you’re there.
- Equip your customers to spread your message. Be very clear about how your product or service is different from anyone else’s. This is also your value proposition, if you’re familiar with that business term. Your value proposition might be “Acme Dance Company is the fastest way to learn to dance.” Be sure you understand and can back up your value proposition first, then make sure your customers get the message.
- Empower your customers. Whatever your level of business, there is some bit of empowerment you can afford to do. Have a contest. Maybe you have a new service and you want a name for it. Maybe ask people to send in ideas for the next great widget. If you’re a plumber, make it a contest of the best household tips to save homeowners on maintenance or replacement in the future. Ask some friends and colleagues to judge the contest. Or, make it a contest to get new customers. One hair salon I know has a lovely and valuable basket of hair goodies on its front counter. The person who, over a six-month period, refers more new clients to the business “wins” the basket.
Where do testimonials fit in?
Testimonials are often the best way to begin engaging your customers beyond actual (for real) WOMM.
Testimonials are the web and print embodiment of traditional word of mouth marketing.
Some pointers about collecting testimonials:
- Collect testimonials yourself immediately after completing a job. That’s when your customer is the happiest and most engaged.
- Let people post testimonials directly to your web page. You will still be able to approve and edit each one.
- Check popular social media directories such as Yelp! to collect testimonials left about your business. Use these on your web page as well. (Yes, Yelp! is OK with it. Just follow these common-sense guidelines for repurposing Yelp! reviews.)
- Always use people’s full names. Do not identify people by “John R.” and “Karen.” Doing so really takes the wind out of a perfectly good testimonial.
- Likewise, use people’s photographs with their full names. I have never had anyone turn me down when I requested a photo or asked to take one myself.
- Consider taking a photo of the completed job, or your customer with the completed job or using the completed job. Nothing says “real human being” more than a simple mobile phone snapshot.
If you have questions about word of mouth marketing, please let us know.