Do you want to become the go-to source of expertise for your audience in your niche? There are many marketing strategies you can employ to do this, but the most effective and efficient is word-of-mouth marketing.
Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) is, at its most basic definition, free advertising that happens when a customer having a great experience with your company. The happy customer is so delighted, they can’t help singing your praises to anyone who will listen.
The result is that new people hear about how amazing you or your company are from a trusted friend, not an advertisement. This subset of social proof is a highly powerful way to make sales. You can use word-of-mouth marketing to grow your customer base, make sales, and boost your business’s brand.
If you can harness the power of WOMM, you can get more out of your marketing efforts and grow your reputation using the oldest method of advertising known to mankind.
How Word-of-Mouth Marketing Works
The reason WOMM is so powerful is that people have gotten used to advertising hype. They’re savvier than ever before and they know online marketing when they see it. As a result, they’re less likely to listen when they see your promotional content online.
But with word of mouth, the message comes from friends who are giving an honest recommendation. According to marketing research, people are much more likely to make purchase decisions based on what their friends say, rather than advertisements.
When was the last time you tried something because of a friend told you about it? If you think back on your own experiences, it’s easy to see how word-of-mouth marketing works.
Organic vs. Accelerated Word of Mouth
Word-of-mouth marketing is nothing new at all. People have been spreading information about products and services for as long as language has existed. One person tells two friends, they each in turn tell two more, and so on. It’s the pre-internet version of viral marketing. If you're old enough to remember, think about the old Herbal Essence shampoo commercial... she will tell 2 friends, then they will tell 2 friends... as the tv screen expands to show how many people now love Herbal Essence shampoo!
This is also called “organic” WOMM. It’s organic because it happens naturally, with no action taken on your part. But you don’t have to rely on the hope that people will talk about you. Instead, you can make it happen by using “accelerated” word-of-mouth marketing. This is when you launch a campaign and employ tactics specifically designed to encourage word of mouth.
The idea behind accelerated WOMM is to create a buzz that gets people talking. Businesses create products and content with shareability in mind. They leverage influencers and brand advocates to help spread the word and may even offer incentives to their audience members for telling others.
There are strategies you can use that are guaranteed to get people talking and give them the nudge necessary to spread the word. All it takes is a little planning and effort.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing Examples
There are many ways businesses are using WOMM to spread awareness. One example would be to run a contest or challenge where customers make videos highlighting original, unusual, or funny uses of your products. You choose the best ones and give them awards, sharing all the submissions with your audience.
Another example would be a coffee company that creates content teaching its audience about its ethically sourced beans and how it supports local communities and causes. The company’s customers support the business not only for the coffee, but also for the core values they share. This gets people talking and telling others about the coffee that everyone should be drinking.
Another simple WOMM idea is to gather reviews and comments from your customers and post them on your website. Testimonials from happy customers are the most valuable tool in your marketing arsenal!
Best Practices for Harnessing the Power of Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Offer Expert Advice and Information. Create and share content that helps your audience solve problems they’re facing. Offer this help free with no strings attached. If your content is unique and offers value, people will be much more likely to tell their friends about it.
Excellent Products and Services. Offer excellent products and services with stellar customer service. If you offer the highest quality possible, people will tell others, especially if they get results from using them.
Learn How to Build Buzz. Since WOMM works best when people are talking, take the proactive steps to get them talking. Make everything shareable. Create events that will get talked about. Take advantage of current and upcoming trends.
Do One Thing Really Well. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Focus on one thing and do it really well. If you can do one thing better than anyone else, you’ll get to be known for that specialty. You’ll gain an edge over the competition and word will spread.
Exceed Expectations and Wow People. Go above and beyond what people expect of you. Give them unexpected surprises that will create a wow moment. These experiences are memorable and build buzz. The easiest way to wow people is to make promises and overdeliver on them.
Tell a Good Story. Learn to tell stories well. If you share stories that connect with your audience through the core values you share, this will build a great relationship. People will buy from you because of your story, and then they’ll spread the word.
Create an Experience. Don’t just create a product or service. Create an experience. Think about the journey your customer takes from initial contact to becoming a repeat purchaser and brand advocate. Make each step as engaging, helpful, personal, and enjoyable for your customer as possible. Seek ways to add value at every step along the way.
Stay in Touch with Your Audience. Good communication with your customers is the key to making WOMM work. You need to know what problems they face and why they buy from you. You should have a plan for consistently gathering both positive and negative feedback that you can take action on, continually creating an even better experience.
Ready to Make Word-of-Mouth Marketing Work for You?
Ready to get started? The first step is to identify some strategies you can use to get people talking about you. If you know your audience well, you can easily find some ways to build buzz over your products and services. Go ahead and pick from some of the ideas and examples in this article to start with. Then let your own creativity kick in.
Implement and refine, and soon you’ll know exactly what you need to do to get your customers talking about you and telling others.
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Laura Olson-Oxley is an entrepreneur, coach, speaker, marketing and business consultant, and sales professional. She has over 25 years experience working with small businesses in a variety of industries, focusing on strategic business growth through effective marketing and advertising. Also a strategist, numbers nut, project manager, and life-long learner, Laura looks at the big picture to analyze and recommend the most effective tools to take businesses to the Next Level.