As marketing experts, it sometimes feels against the grain to wave the flag for word-of-mouth marketing. Surely our efforts should be more sophisticated and dynamic?
However, we firmly believe that there is a valid place for word-of-mouth in your marketing strategy. It may not be instantly measurable, and you may not always be able to track the success, but it can truly make a difference!
Word-of-mouth marketing is still significant and it shouldn’t be ignored. We wouldn’t ever recommend basing your whole marketing plan around this – it’s not the only method you should rely on. However, there are ways you can strategically, cleverly and creatively make your word-of-mouth marketing become highly impactful.
Why is it still important to still rely on word of mouth?
The world of online word-of-mouth marketing has encouraged brands to put their customers at the forefront of their campaigns. Customers now want to hear from your customers to get a valid recommendation before they proceed.
Recommendations/referrals/reviews – whatever you call them – they work! If you get recommended a restaurant by your sister, your bestie or your colleague you’re much more likely to believe them than the advert that says ‘we’re the best in town’.
People believe your customers way more than they believe you. People are extremely savvy to marketing ploys now. Customers know that there are clever marketers making things sound and look good. They want authenticity and what’s more authentic than hearing from a real-life customer?
Our top tips for effective word of mouth…
1. Be exceptional at what you do.
This may seem obvious, but if there’s one thing you remember from this blog, it’s that you must be exceptional. People don’t rave about mediocre experiences. People rave about new, exciting, above & beyond experiences. Your product or service may be similar to your competitors, but how can you wow them with your approach, your customer service and your communications? You want the customer journey to be enjoyable and unforgettable – a pleasure! Then your customers will rave and talk again and again about you.
2. Encourage customers to post reviews.
Many customers now review a company’s reviews before making a decision to proceed with a purchase. This is an essential element of your marketing strategy. We recommend you focus on Google reviews first as this will help with SEO and create a strong first impression.
3. Create local promotional offers.
We are huge advocates for local marketing. Create a mini-campaign in a set city or region and promote it to a few loyal customers and watch the word get spread. This will make the locals feel special and if you set a specific time frame it’ll add some urgency for the customer.
4. Promote refer a friend offers.
Depending on your product or service a refer a friend scheme might work very effectively. We used to work in student accommodation and this worked very well with students. Do some research into what will incentivise your customers to refer a friend – it might be money off or a special gift. We encourage you to reward both the referrer and the referee.
5. Create a community.
This might not be for every brand – but creating a community for your loyal customers is a superb way to create natural brand loyalty and advocacy. This can be a simple network that discovers your new products/services first, or perhaps trial new things and give you feedback or maybe they’re the first to be invited to your promotional events. Communities can work really effectively and create a real sense of purpose and intent – whilst promoting your brand to the people that matter.
6. Host a competition.
Competitions are always fun and are a great and easy way to create some quick buzz around your brand. There are many clever ways you can use word of mouth as part of a competition. Why not get your customers to share their positive stories about your brand and in return you enter them into a prize draw to win a fabulous prize? You can create competitions around topical events, opinion pieces or event seasonal celebrations. There’s a lot of scope to be creative here!
7. Recruit influencers.
This might not work for you if you’re a traditional brand, but there may be a version of this you can explore. If you choose the right online advocates for your brand they can be truly very powerful. For example, if you get a leading person in your field/sector to promote your brand then this can do wonders. If you need any advice in this area, please get in touch as we recommend you tread carefully.
8. Embrace strategic partnerships.
This is another one that works very well locally. Maybe you’re a local photographer and you can refer your customers to a local framing specialist. Maybe you’re a coffee shop that is a few doors down from a book shop. We’re sure you can refer customers to each other easily! Maybe you’re a local plumber that can recommend other local businesses like house decorators. Think about what your customers might buy your product/service in conjunction with and then work with these businesses to help each other get more business!
How to celebrate your word of mouth…
- Share positive customer content with your online community and thank the customer directly. This could be a customer’s photo of your product or a mention of your great service. It’s important to find time to reply to individual positive comments and shares. And do re-share them when you can!
- Reward your active social media followers. You could have a follower of the month for the most engaged and interactive customer. You could reward them with a product gift or experience that they will hopefully naturally share with their online network.
- Use your customers to inform your business development. Do you have a small group of loyal and loud customers? These are your best people to find out how to improve your product or service and how to evolve your offer. Listen to these engaged customers and learn from them.
- Have a dedicated space on your website for customer testimonials and stories. Ensure it’s clear that you listen to your customers and you adapt accordingly to their needs and feedback. Brands that put the customer first will always be the most successful.
There you go. We could talk about word of mouth for hours! There are many traditional techniques that are under-used, but we also love how word of mouth has evolved in the online world. Ultimately it’s about creating hype with your customers and getting them to shout about how great you are on your behalf. This is and always will be one of the most powerful ways to get customers interested in your brand.
There are tons of creative ways to do this and we encourage you to be bold and authentic in your delivery. Do you have any cool word of mouth marketing ideas that we haven’t covered here? Let us know!