Businesses commonly rely on advertising to sell their products or services. But did you know that there's a more powerful, cost-effective way to generate leads and make sales? Businesses of any size that can get customers talking about their brand and sharing with others achieve more while spending less. Word-of-Mouth Marketing is a powerful - and low cost - marketing strategy, especially for small businesses.
Why is WOMM such an effective strategy? People are skeptical about advertising hype and have learned to disregard claims that companies make. They're much more likely to listen to friends, because they know they’ll give honest recommendations. No business will tell you their product is terrible, but your friends will. This is the power of word-of-mouth marketing.
You have probably experienced this in your own business. Your product or service solves a specific problem for your target audience and attracts positive feedback and comments. But this only scratches the surface of what word-of-mouth marketing can do for your business.
When you improve your word-of-mouth marketing, you’ll be able to trigger positive conversations about your brand, expand your potential customer base, generate sales, and increase your revenue.
What is Word of Mouth Marketing?
Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) is what happens when customers or clients do your marketing for you by telling people how fabulous you are. There’s nothing better than satisfied customers praising your products and services and recommending them to others. It’s what all businesses hope for.
But you can do much more than just hope.
WOMM happens in two ways:
- Organic WOMM occurs naturally when customers are so happy with a product that they share their support and enthusiasm with friends, family, and acquaintances. They become advocates for your brand
- Targeted WOMM, sometimes called “accelerated” or “amplified” word-of-mouth marketing, occurs when businesses launch campaigns specifically designed to encourage word-of-mouth promotion in new or existing communities.
The two methods overlap. If you already have a decent amount of organic WOMM, your targeted campaigns will be much more successful.
And a good, targeted word-of-mouth marketing strategy will cause increased organic WOMM.
WOMM can help you:
- Increase revenue without spending on advertising
- Create a community which leads to customer retention
- Grow a brand and increase brand loyalty
- Develop confidence in products/services
- Build trust in online purchasing
There are 3 Key areas where you can use WOMM to grow you business:
Social Media Marketing
The powerful reach of social media makes it the obvious place to get in front of people who will make word-of-mouth recommendations. If you can harness others to recommend your business to their friends, family members, co-workers, and followers, you can achieve better brand recognition and ultimately make more sales – without breaking the bank. Social media is where you can share the buzz and encourage others to do the same. If you’ve been building your brand on social media, then you’ll be well placed to opt for a targeted WOMM strategy using the platforms you’re already on. Try to get across all platforms so you can meet your customers where they are.
User Generated Content
When you want to improve your content and increase its circulation so more people hear about you, aim to attract user-generated content (UGC). This is content people create and share about your product or service. It includes any image, video, or text posted online by your customers. UGC can be serious, informative, entertaining, or whatever angle your customer wishes to take. What’s important is that it’s engaging. It works because it’s what others are saying about your brand. It’s seen as more authentic and trustworthy than traditional advertising, so it can be an excellent avenue for improving your WOMM
A word-of-mouth marketing strategy is viral by its nature. But if you create enough hype around your brand or create something memorable, then your brand may “go viral” and be seen all over the world. This can happen with user-generated content if it captures the imagination of your audience. However, orchestrating a viral campaign won’t work if you don’t have a hook that inspires, intrigues, or wows. It’s not always possible to predict what this will be, but if you can develop unique content to attract attention and get maximum coverage, then it can happen.
An example of a campaign that went viral from recent years was the Ice Bucket Challenge where nominated participants were filmed having a bucket of ice water poured on their heads and then challenged others to do the same. It caught the attention of followers and celebrities all over the world and raised over $200,000 for research into motor neuron disease.
While you may not be able to raise $200K with your campaign, you CAN be more strategic in generating new business using Word-of-Mouth. Here's how:
Ask for testimonials.
Happy customers are usually very willing to share their experience with you. Use these testimonials in your social media and other marketing.
Create a Buzz.
To give people a reason to talk about you, create something “buzzworthy”. Identify a "hook" that will get people talking, such as a free upgrade of some kind, a free trial of your product or service, special financing, or giving a percentage of your sales to a local charity.
Share a video.
People love to watch - and share - videos. Consider product demonstrations, "unboxing", or a Facebook live with a big announcement.
Run a contest or giveaway.
There's nothing like a chance at something free to get people talking and sharing.
Find what works for your business.
There are lots of different ways to incorporate strategic word-of-mouth into your small business marketing strategy. Choose a few tactics, try them out - watch your business go to the next level!
To your success ~
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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.