What’s the best compliment a customer can give? Loyal business and a great referral. Word of mouth marketing is a cost-effective way to achieve long-term growth. It’s more than simply asking customers to tell their friends about you. Using word of mouth marketing effectively requires research and an excellent strategy.
What is word of mouth marketing?
Word of mouth marketing happens when a customer talks about your products or services with their friends, family, or co-workers. This prompts them to come check out your business since they heard about it from a trusted source. It happens you have exceeded the customer’s expectations and impressed them. Word of mouth marketing is only effective if it is authentic. It must be credible, respectful, and repeatable to work.
This is where the marketing strategy comes in. Exceeding customer expectations looks different for every customer. Outstanding customer service is not consistent or specific enough to rely on for effective word of mouth marketing. Customer service is very personal and individualistic. A company can’t mandate unforgettable customer experiences each time it’s simply not possible and customers know that. You can put specific unique customer service policies in place that are repeatable you just can’t force the experience. There are other reliable ways to create a word of mouth marketing campaign.
Architectural – is your building memorable? A memorable building is easy to tell your friends about. The piano store is shaped like a giant piano or a coffee shop shaped like a steaming cup of coffee. It’s easy for new customers to find and current customers to tell their friends about.
Kinetic – this is a service function, but it is done for everyone so it’s effectiveness is measurable. Tossing fish at pike place market is something memorable that is done for everyone. A memorable business card or experience that can be done consistently and is unique. People will spread the word.
Generous – this isn’t simply giving money away but a customer service policy that puts the customer first. Nordstrom’s no questions asked return policy is one example. They have taken returns on items that they don’t sell in the store to preserve their reputation for stellar customer service. One example is the man who returned snow tires at an Alaska Nordstrom’s location. He wanted a refund and he received it. Despite the fact that Nordstrom’s sells designer apparel, not tires he received the refund in the name of preserving their reputation. That story is well known and has been passed on through word of mouth.
Shifting your focus:
How willing are you to try out an expensive restaurant or luxury hotel because of an advertisement you saw while taking a walk? Probably not very likely, there’s to much risk. But, what if your friend tried it out that new restaurant and told you how great it was? You would be more likely to try it out. 92% of buyers are more likely to make a purchase based on the recommendation of a friend. That number alone is enough to make you pay attention to word-of-mouth marketing. Many companies focus on collecting the sales for the day. But, word of mouth marketing is about long-term connections. How does a business make the shift?
Engage with your customers – don’t let interactions between customers feel so transactional. They are your bread and butter and you don’t have a business without them. What is it they want to see from you? What problem can you solve to earn their loyalty? Be responsive to social media to their inquiries don’t ignore them. That extra step will have them walking through your business doors instead of the competitions.
Equip – If you want your customers to talk about your company, give them something to talk about. Nordstrom’s customer service, Apple’s unique product line, Mac’s high-quality makeup and generous sampling policy. You must equip your customers with the right tools to make word of mouth marketing work.
Empower them to share their experience and opinions – Getting customer feedback is a big deal. It allows the customers to be a part of your business not just a consumer of it. Lay’s potato chips let customers help create the next flavor. If a large majority of them write back wanting peanut butter pickle chips, Lay’s works hard to make it happen.
Word of mouth marketing is an effective tool. It’s ‘free’ in the sense that you don’t have to spend advertising dollars on it. However, it requires you to plan and implement a customer-centric strategy to be effective. Looking to start your word of mouth campaign? Let the experts and Allison’s Alligator Digital Storytellers help. We help businesses improve all aspects of their online presence from social media to reputation management we do it all. Contact us today.