It doesn’t get much better than word of mouth marketing, aka ‘WOM’. Every business owner agrees that when word of mouth kicks into high gear nothing works better. Best part of WOM advertising is the cost. It’s free…….at least most of the time. Plus, it’s an advertising message from a reliable source. There’s an honesty factor about WOM marketing that makes it more legitimate than paid campaigns.
Advertising and marketing is all about creating a reason to try and buy, but WOM does not require creativity other than to capture a positive response or experience. How DO you create a campaign to promote WOM marketing through your customers? Well, it starts with the quality of your products or services.
- Get your customers engaged in the process. You can encourage WOM marketing by using various rewards to motivate people to become your goodwill ambassadors and to promote your business. Consider rewarding loyal patrons who refer you with a freebie or a discount. Make sure the reward program is simple and enforced. It doesn’t have to cost your business a lot of upfront money. Always be thinking about using your happy customers to promote your business. It’s guaranteed to pay off.
- Leverage passion. Your buyer’s passion can influence others. If there is a part of your business that’s unique (wine list, culinary specialty, attention to detail, exceptional quality — whatever), cater to that customer segment. That might involve creating a dedicated micro-site where buyers can sing praises and share stories with other satisfied customers.
- Be an expert. Become the quotable source for your type of business. This is a merging of WOM and PR. Pretty good combination!
It may be free….but it could be costly.
WOM used to be a one-on-one process, but now with social media getting the word out for you, words travel much quicker and in multiples and the information shared is both positive and negative. Yes, social media channels have opened the door to WOM marketing in a huge way. For merchants, posted comments can be a real plus or they can cause major problems. I’ve seen several small businesses actually hire an outside social media firm to respond to “negative feedback when posted.” Some of these negative comments can literally destroy a small business if not addressed quickly. Potential customers are greatly influenced by the negative comments —- sadly, even more than positive ones. It’s amazing how much damage and money one negative review can cost a merchant. On the other hand, savvy customers also smell a “fake positive” when they read it. Beware of phony endorsements.
You can get people talking….but you better deliver.
The whole idea of positive WOM is for everyone to share the same feeling or response to your business. The commonalities of good WOM businesses are:
Most startup businesses have to do some advertising and marketing, but after your business is ‘discovered’, you can totally rely on WOM to do your advertising for you —- if you’re lucky and that good. Some examples of local businesses that thrive on WOM are: Bouchon Bistro, Stoney Knob Cafe, and Happy Tails Country Club (doggy daycare and boarding). They all started out with a great product/service and kept on delivering. This is the goal you should strive for.
Ultimately, the best WOM is tied to a customer’s personal experience, shared authentically.
And a final comment about Word of Mouth: Consider the source.