Difficult to measure, almost impossible to track, but incredibly influential. These are the traits of word of mouth (WOM) marketing. According to a study by AC Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over other forms of marketing. While WOM cannot be controlled, it can be influenced and encouraged. So here are five tips to make WOM become your next powerful marketing tool.
- Offer deals and incentives. Depending on the type of business you have, you may be able to create opportunities for your regular customers to bring guests at a discount – or even free. You would then offer incentives to both the current customers and the potential new ones. The goal is to make current customers feel appreciated, welcome new ones in a non “selling” environment, and reward both for giving you their business.
- Be active in your community. Community can mean different things to different businesses. What is key is being active in a way that is about giving and making a positive difference. A snow removal company that plows the parking lot of a women’s shelter, a dentist that performs free treatment for an inner city school, or a consultant that gives free advice to immigrants looking to start a business are just some examples. These kinds of activities make you feel good and get you noticed.
- Encourage sharing through social media. If your business provides a visual product (like cupcakes) or service (like interior decorating), be sure to encourage your customers to share their interaction with you through their social media channels. Offer to take their photo with your product, then encourage them to share it on their network. It will have greater reach and influence than you posting yourself.
- Host events. Grand openings, BBQ’s, holiday parties – these are all great excuses to welcome your friends, customers and community into your world. It can be open to the public, or an industry specific event. Either way, encourage everyone to bring a guest. Take things further and ask each guest to bring an unwrapped toy or a non perishable food item. And don’t forget to invite the local press.
- Give thanks. Be sure to ask new customers, clients, and patients how they found you. Not only will this show you what forms of marketing work best, it will also let you know who to thank for referrals. Be sure to send out a thank you card and depending on the industry, a small gift.
Marc Gordon is a recognized marketing expert, speaker and strategist. His articles appear in over 200 publications worldwide. Visit marcgordon.ca or his online show at marctv.net for more business tips.