Word of mouth is vital to any small local business. For a fortunate few, it just happens naturally. But word of mouth can also be planned, executed and nurtured as a marketing method. Here are seven steps to getting your word of mouth (WOM) effort underway:
Target the talkers. Makes sense, right? It is word of mouth, after all, so you need to aim your efforts at the people who like to talk about the great products, services and businesses they use. They are your customers, of course. Remember, these might include people who have a recommendation when somebody asks them for one – even if they aren’t naturally talkative or write reviews.
Develop a pitch line that’s interesting and easy for people to share. The “interesting” part is vital. Avoid being boring at all costs. Who wants to share something boring? Try not to talk in marketing-speak. This is consumer-to-consumer, so your story line should sound like one person telling another about something great they’ve discovered. Boil it down to one sentence. Maybe two.
Be amazing. There’s no way around this. If you want people to spread the word about you, you have to deliver something exceptional. So in addition to being interesting, you’ll need to deliver customer service that’s above-and-beyond – and making sure everyone who works for you does the same. Your products and packaging — including your store, office and website — should look great. If you and your employees are excited and energized about what you do, it will spread to your customers.
Put it in motion. You already have lots of ways to do this. For example, your business profile, website, newsletter, brochure, emails and social media pages should include “tell-a-friend” forms or functions. Consider using postcard mailings, coupons, stickers, buttons and QR codes. When you make it easy for people to share, they are much more likely to do so.
Have continuous reasons to talk. You can create word of mouth opportunities with special sales, great new features or something fun, such as a contest or event. Think distinctive: Do something others aren’t. Establish a unique personality for your business that includes certain colors, shapes or a stand-out design.
Connect to the conversation. Having a presence online – specifically in social media such as Facebook and Google+ — is a great way to join and facilitate conversations about your business. The best and most simple thing you can do is simply ask questions. You’ll be surprised at how willing consumers are to provide feedback when they’re asked what they think. Ask some questions about your business and its products and services. But you can also ask broader questions to get more acquainted with your customers’ goals, needs and tastes.
Show appreciation. When you hear about someone who has recommended your business, say thanks. Send lots of thank you notes. When you gain new clients, customers or prospects, ask them how they heard about you. Reply to emails, Facebook messages and blog comments as quickly as possible.